updated 6/8/2007 12:00:34 PM ET 2007-06-08T16:00:34

Guests: Dana Milbank, John Dean, Arianna Huffington, Tom O‘Neil

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

Scooter Libby good, George W. Bush bad.  That‘s the headline from the fifth of the scheduled 193 presidential debates.  What would the Republicans do with the future ex-decider-in-chief?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOMMY THOMPSON ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I certainly would not send him to the United Nations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  But the Scootman, United Nations, CIA, home, whatever works.  Two Republicans would pardon Libby.  Two others say—

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  This is excessive punishment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Excessive fear-mongering.  New York‘s current Republican mayor does not toe the party line when it comes to the JFK terrorists‘ pipeline pipe dream.  You are more likely to be hurt by lightning or hereditary disease, he says, than by terrorism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG ®, NEW YORK CITY:  You can‘t sit there and worry about everything.  Have a—get a life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Not that anybody objects to a Republican official insisting we shouldn‘t run around like chickens when the sky is falling.  But why is Mayor Michael Bloomberg showing such calm common sense?

None of that in British television, where the documentary on Princess Diana‘s final moments is telecast tonight, despite the pleas of her sons, the princes.

Nor any common sense in the new British Olympic logo.  We don‘t know if it will get the movement to give London the 2012 Games, but apparently it can give viewers epileptic seizures.

Nor is there any common sense among the starlets.  Lindsey Lohan in rehab, reportedly planning out her big birthday blowout in Vegas.  Paris Hilton in jail, reportedly not eating.  And the news there is what?

Speaking of the news, Roger Ailes compares Fox Noise to al Qaeda.  And the news in there is what?

All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLOOMBERG:  Get a life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Good evening.

It is believed to be a first for a sitting president.  At his own party‘s presidential debate, he emerges as the clear loser.  And he isn‘t even one of the candidates.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, the good news for President Bush, only one of the former members of his cabinet was there to throw him under the bus in New Hampshire last night.  The bad news for Tommy Thompson and the other would-be Republican nominees to succeed Mr. Bush, they will not be running against him.

All in all, it is enough to make a man skip town, the president having already done that, still in Germany for the G-8 summit, though no one there appears all that happy to see him either, not even his old friend German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the president‘s talk of climate change goals going over with a thud, his fellow leaders at the G-8 wanting action, back in the U.S. on Capitol Hill, his fellow Republicans finally wanting action on Iraq, several Republican senators led by Lamar Alexander and including Bush loyalists Judd Greg and Robert Bennett introducing legislation that would call on Mr. Bush to adopt the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, some seven months after the group‘s report was released, and in New Hampshire, during last night‘s Republican debate, the candidates struggling even to say they would welcome the president playing a role in their own administrations, should they win next year.

Take the words of former Bush Health and Human Services secretary Tommy Thompson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You were a member of President Bush‘s cabinet as Health and Human Services secretary.  How would you use George W. Bush in your administration?

TOMMY THOMPSON ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I certainly would not send him to the United Nations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, without a hint of irony, said he would make Mr. Bush serve as a disaster ambassador overseas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think he would probably take a position the way his dad did, saying, You know, I think you need to have your time in the limelight.  And I‘ll be willing to help out if you have a tragedy overseas.  His father‘s been excellent in the tsunami that hit Sri Lanka and other places, and helping fundraising.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo envisioning no role for former president Bush in his administration, nor for the president‘s Turd Blossom in chief, Karl Rove.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TOM TANCREDO (R-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Some time ago, at—

(INAUDIBLE) 2003, I think it was, that I got a call from Karl Rove, who told me that because of my criticism of the president, I should never darken the doorstep of the White House.

I have been so disappointed in the president in so many ways, since his, actually for the last several years, not just the immigration issue, but several other things, including the No Child Left Behind and the massive increase in government that we call prescription drugs, Medicare prescription drugs, that I am afraid I would have to tell the president of the United States, I mean, as president, I would have to tell George Bush exactly the same thing Karl Rove told me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Don‘t let the door to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue hit you on the way out.

Time now to call in our own Dana Milbank, national political reporter of “The Washington Post.”

Dana, good evening.

DANA MILBANK, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: 

Pleasure to darken your door.

OLBERMANN:  Thank you.  Last night was the third Republican debate.  Does it seem that with each of these, as we‘ve moved along, the candidates are becoming more and more aggressive about attacking the president?  Is it beyond mere distancing themselves at this point?  Is this now a Republican talking point for 2008?

MILBANK:  It is extraordinary.  I mean, if these guys got any more aggressive about attacking President Bush, they‘d find themselves on some Secret Service watch list as potential threats to him.

Not only are they getting more aggressive in each debate, they are now more aggressive in attacking Bush than the Democrats have been in attacking Bush.  And it‘s really extraordinary, way beyond the—anything that we‘d seen in previous cycles.  And it really indicates exactly where the president stands now.

OLBERMANN:  But it would seem strategically that there might be just one small flaw in that equation.  How difficult is it going to be for Republicans to paint themselves as anti-Bush, to be as critical as you‘ve just suggested they are, and not merely succeed at driving votes to the Democrats?  I mean, the bad news for them is, they will not be running against George W. Bush.

MILBANK:  Right.  It all works very well now.  In fact, House Republicans today held a press conference explicitly to say all kinds of nasty things about the president.  So this—they‘re hoping that this will work in the primaries, and then it‘ll all be forgotten next year.  President Bush won‘t be on the ballot.  They can move on (INAUDIBLE).

The danger is, they‘re attacking him from the right on issues like immigration, as you mentioned, on Scooter Libby‘s part.  These kinds of things could certainly come back to bite them in a general election.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, there are, there are videotaped copies of these. 

They (INAUDIBLE), they just don‘t go out into the ether anymore.

Two of the more prominent candidates on that stage, Senator McCain, Mayor Giuliani, announcing today they will not participate in the Iowa straw poll this summer.  Both said they will still be part of the caucuses there in January.  Are we going to believe them on that point?  If they intend to take part in the caucuses, why would exactly would they be skipping the straw poll?

MILBANK:  Well, McCain skipped it last time and skipped Iowa, so there‘s reason for skepticism.  But in this case, the Ames straw poll has become something of a joke, because it‘s fairly nonrepresentative.  One candidate, a couple of cycles ago, based his entire straw poll effort on bringing a lot of chiropractors there for the event.  It corresponds to the sort of the quality and quantity of barbecue you‘re serving there.  So I wouldn‘t read too much into this.

OLBERMANN:  I think I could support a chiropractor-oriented campaign.

MILBANK:  Particularly if he serves good barbecue.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  The, this, suddenly on Capitol Hill, the GOP attempt to trot out the Iraq Study Group and its recommendations again.  Other than it‘s about seven months too late, what are we making out of that?

MILBANK:  Well, there‘s a little of CYA going on here.  Potentially vulnerable Republicans don‘t want to wait until the next reckoning in September.  President‘s not interested in having this forced upon him.  He says he‘s following those recommendations.  But he would prefer to have the latitude to pick and choose.  But it‘s mostly a sort of a face-saving effort at this point.

OLBERMANN:  And one more political headline, Dana.  Newt Gingrich said today, he gives himself four-to-one odds against running for president.  That‘s a pretty odd thing he‘s quoting odds on himself, when you would think he would know the answer.  But does he have Frank—Fred Thompson to thank for that?  What is the logic behind four to one?

MILBANK:  Fred Thompson has complicated his problems further.  Also, the accelerated primary cycle.  It all along has been about him just sort of hoping lightning would strike and it would—everything would line up for him.  As it turns out, lightning did strike at the debate last night and blew out the sound system.  But the candidates are still standing, and there‘s not a whole lot of room in the field for Newt.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, those were those audible ZZZZZZ sounds, those were—that was not a new campaign platform, although they may turn to it yet.

Dana Milbank of MSNBC, and, of course, “The Washington Post.”  Great thanks for your time tonight.

MILBANK:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Last night‘s Republican debate not without more than a few head-scratchers.  And COUNTDOWN would not be COUNTDOWN if we did not hold the men who uttered them to account.  The first on our list, Governor Mitt Romney, apparently emulating the one woman in the race, even though that woman is a Democrat.  You will recall Senator Hillary Clinton thought to have won Sunday‘s Democratic debate for her command in refusing to answer questions about hypothetical military situations, last night, Governor Romney attempting to do the same thing with a question.

Unfortunately, it was about the very real war in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN:  Knowing what you know right now, not what you knew then, what you know right now, was it a mistake for the United States to invade Iraq?

MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, I answered the question by saying, it‘s a non sequitur, it‘s a non—null set kind of question, because you can go back and say, If we knew then what we know now, by virtue of inspectors having been let in, and giving us that information, by virtue of, if Saddam Hussein had followed the U.N.  resolutions, we wouldn‘t be having this con—this, this discussion.

So it‘s a hypothetical that I think is an unreasonable hypothetical, and the answer is, we did what we did.  We did the right thing based on what we knew at that time.  I think we made mistakes following the conduct or the collapse of Saddam‘s government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  One note to the governor.  The war in Iraq did happen, is still happening, and it appears it will be happening for quite some time to come, probably even enough for President Number 44 to have to deal with it.  The words “hypothetical,” “null set,” and “non sequitur” do not seem to apply here.  In fact, they seemed (INAUDIBLE) constitute a non sequitur.

And that said, if you‘re going to take a page out of the Mrs. Clinton playbook, the idea is, do not answer the question.  You‘re supposed to show Wolf Blitzer who is boss, not the other way around.

Traveling around the globe apparently something that anti-immigration crusader, Mr. Tancredo, has never done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TANCREDO:  Believe me when I tell you this, English, the preservation of the English language is important for us for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is because it is what holds us together.  It is the glue that keeps a country together, any country.  Bilingual countries don‘t work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  He might have a point about English, but bilingual countries don‘t work?  Canada?  English and French?  Low crime, universal healthcare, quality education?  Mon dieu.  Ireland, English and Irish, otherwise known as Gaelic?  An economy so strong, it‘s known as the Celtic Tiger?  Afghanistan, Dari, Persian, and Pashtu?  All right, we‘re willing to concede, Congressman, that with the Taliban resurging and with American forces devoted elsewhere, Afghanistan is indeed a bilingual country that is not working.

Finally, with no introduction, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas on cancer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWNBACK:  The leading cause of fear in America today is that you‘ll get cancer.  And this is one that‘s actually within our reach.  And it‘s something I think we can go at, and we should go at, and it touches a lot of Americans.

BLITZER:  The question—

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  There is no disputing that statement.  I would not even want to try.  Just imagine, though, if—if—instead of fomenting fear of terrorism and debating strawman arguments, the Bush administration devoted its considerable resources to fighting a war on cancer, a very present fear, as Senator Brownback mentioned, that kills nearly 1,500 Americans every single day.

In the interim, Scooter Libby and lying, not such a straightforward issue for conservatives.  From the debate to the pundits, it seems the so-called law-and-order crowd does not like it when law or order happens to get applied to them.  John Dean on reaction to the Scooter Libby sentence.

And Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s reaction to the New York JFK airport plot.  The Republican mayor of New York City tells everybody to calm down with the terror threats, and get a life.

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Conservatives used to joke that if a man killed his parents, liberals would advocate mercy because the man was an orphan.

In our fourth story tonight, today a revised version of that joke starts with Scooter Libby stealing a man‘s glasses, and conservatives advocating mercy because the man then could not pick Libby out of a lineup, specifically, because Libby‘s lies prevented prosecutors from determining whether other crimes occurred, despite the verdict of a jury picked by Libby‘s defense, despite the fact of a Bush-pointed prosecutor, despite yesterday‘s sentence from a Bush-appointed judge, the right today is howling for a pardon, not after Libby admits guilt nor serves his sentence as federal guidelines require, not after his appeal, but right now, a fellow cheerleader of the Iraq war, “Weekly Standard” editor Bill Kristol, writing, “For President Bush, loyalty is apparently a one-way street.  Decency is something he‘s for, as long as he doesn‘t have to take any risks on its behalf, and courage, well, that‘s nowhere to be seen.  Many of us used to respect President Bush.  Can one respect him still?”

Then there is expected presidential candidate Fred Thompson, formerly of “Law and Order,” the show and the concept, not just calling for a pardon, but sitting on the board of the convicted felon‘s defense fund.  At last night‘s GOP debate, only two candidates flatly supported the pardon, but only two flatly rejected it.  Former prosecutor Rudy Giuliani even argued that lying to prosecutors does not require tough sentences.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI:  And the sentence was grossly excessive in a situation in which, at the beginning, the prosecutor knew who the leak was.

BLITZER:  So yes or no, would you pardon him?

GIULIANI:  ... and he knew a crime wasn‘t committed.  I recommended over 1,000 pardons to President Reagan when I was associate attorney general.  I would see if it fit the criteria for pardon.  I‘d wait for the appeal.  I think what the judge did today argues more in favor of a pardon...

BLITZER:  Thank you.

GIULIANI:  ... because this is excessive punishment...

BLITZER:  All right...

GIULIANI:  ... but when you consider, I‘ve...

BLITZER:  (INAUDIBLE)...

GIULIANI:  ... prosecuted 5,000 cases...

BLITZER:  Trying to get a yes or no.

GIULIANI:  ... here --  Well, this is a very important issue.  This is a very, very important --  A man‘s life is at stake.  And the reality is, this is an incomprehensible situation.  The—they knew who the leak was, and ultimately, there was no underlying...

BLITZER:  All right...

GIULIANI:  ... crime involved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Joining us now, John Dean, White House counsel to Richard Nixon, the last administration to see such high-ranking officials go to prison.  And he, of course, author of “Worse Than Watergate” and “Conservatives Without Conscience.”

As always, John, great thanks for your time tonight.

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL:  Pleasure, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Libby‘s lawyers have until tomorrow to file papers on why he should stay free as they pursue an appeal.  Hearing will be next Thursday.  You predicted the 30-month sentence.  Keep the predictions going, tell us what happens now.

DEAN:  Well, I don‘t have a crystal ball yet, but it was pretty clear what was going to happen on the sentence.  On the appeal, there are really two issues that are coming up, that the judge says he looked at both of them.  One is whether or not the special prosecutor was properly appointed constitutionally, and within the strictures of the statute creating the Department of Justice, the other being whether or not Libby should have been able to admit memory expert testimony.

And the judge, before he ruled and before he did the sentencing, said he looked again at his ruling, and he‘s very comfortable with them.  And he doesn‘t believe that the court of appeals is going to overturn him.  So I think he‘ll probably send Libby off to surrender sooner rather than later, and will not give him the—an appeal bail situation.

OLBERMANN:  So obviously, that will just amp up the reaction to this on the right.  I‘m confused by why, in such an apparently rock-solid case, where a respected prosecutor wants to ensure the future Libby-type guys have a real incentive to tell the truth, a sword of Damocles again, why are so many conservatives willing to sell out that law-and-order reputation that they fight for the rest of the time, and figuratively spit in the face of every prosecutor out there, who needs these kinds of laws to—as leverage to get the truth in their own cases?

DEAN:  Well, just listening to Rudy Giuliani, it‘s very surprising that a former prosecutor like he would say that there was no underlying crime involved.  The crime was obstruction of justice.  That‘s very frequently prosecuted without any underlying other offense.  Martha Stewart, for example, they didn‘t have an insider trading offense against her, but yet they prosecuted her for obstruction of justice.  No one in the right called for her to be pardoned, though.

So I‘m not really sure what this is up to.  I think they think it appeals to the base.  I‘m not sure what base this appeals to.  But they‘re playing it this way anyway.

OLBERMANN:  The base of people nicknamed Scooter, perhaps.  The president emphasized his history of not intervening, not, not granting pardons, which might be some sort of signal to Mr. Libby, Don‘t hold your breath.  In your column on Findlaw.com, you identified a legal reason that Bush may not want to pardon him.  What is that reason?

DEAN:  Well, it‘s a very real reason.  If there‘s any lesson to Watergate, it is, you don‘t want to walk around the halls of the White House when one of your colleagues is headed off to prison and start talking to the president about pardons.  That was one of the things that Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Mitchell, Colson, et al., were all included in their indictment for obstructing justice.

And it was also included in Mr. Nixon‘s purported or planned bill of impeachment.  There were a number of taped conversations with Nixon talking about pardons, and it was indeed an abuse of process in the context it came up.

So it‘s very dangerous.  There may be an ongoing obstruction of justice going on right now.  And if that‘s the case, they‘ve been very clever in creating an outside group to try to push this issue rather than doing it internally.

OLBERMANN:  And, of course, according to Justice, pardons are supposed to come after release, after the convict has shown contrition, cooperated.  If the president were to do an end run around those requirements, where would a Libby pardon stand in the context of history?

DEAN:  Well, I guess I would put it somewhere between Hoffa‘s pardon and Nixon‘s pardon.  And I say that, Hoffa was actually in prison, but they cut that short for pure political reasons.  Nixon never was charged, and he was pardoned for purely political reasons.  So this would be somewhere in there, a pardon for pure political reasons, and not one that is in the tradition of the pardon power.

OLBERMANN:  John Dean, author of “Worse than Watergate,” “Conservatives Without Conscience.”  Once again, John, many great thanks for your time.

DEAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  A grim threshold crossed tonight in Britain, despite objections from Princes William and Harry.  A British broadcaster has gone ahead and aired images of Princess Diana in the minutes after her car crash, and in the minutes before her death.

And the Lindsey Lohan saga.  While you‘re in rehab, should you really be planning your big Vegas birthday blowout?

That and more, ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  In case you still doubt that the climate can change rapidly and badly, in the spring and summer of 1815, the volcano Mount Tambora reached the peak of a multiyear series of eruptions in Indonesia.  And on this day, a year later in New England, June 6, 1816, June 6, 10 inches of snow fell.  The high temperature in Savannah, Georgia, that Fourth of July was 46 degrees.

On that note, let‘s play Oddball.

And we begin on the Internets, with another tip of the hat to the fine folks at YouTube, without whom we might never get to see this video made by two idiots with big, giant balls.  That‘s America‘s youth in action, folks.  Today‘s—no, tomorrow‘s leaders today.  Day-after-tomorrow‘s leaders today.

And at the South Tyrol Archeological Museum in the Italian Alps, a shocking development in the death of Otsi (ph), the 5,000-year-old iceman found sticking out of a mountainside glacier in 1991.  It turns out that Otsi‘s story is a tale of murder.  Scientists initially thought he died from a fall, because of injuries found on his ribs.  But after an autopsy this week, boy, it‘s a long waiting list there.  It was determined Otsi was shot in the back with an arrow.  The murder would have taken place around the year 3,000 B.C., which would rule out Phil Spector.  But other than that, authorities have no leads.

As the, quote, “mastermind” of the, quote, “JFK terror plot” is revealed to be a homeless guy, the Republican mayor of New York tells city residents to not panic about terrorism, insists there is a difference between workable terror plots and the JFK plan (INAUDIBLE).  Boy, is he getting blasted for his common sense.

Paris in the pokey, day 3.  She‘s reportedly not eating, and she wants her cavities searched, and she wants it now.

That‘s ahead.

But first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.

Number 3, the American Red Cross of New Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania.  Yesterday, it was a guy holding a woman at gunpoint, forcing her to buy him $15 worth of gas.  Today, the Red Cross says blood donors in Jersey and the Philly area will be entered in a raffle.  First prize, $3,500 worth of gas.

Number two, from blood donors to blood tests.  Trina Silvera, of Rapid City, South Dakota.  Police pulled over Ms. Silvera, who was driving around her boss, Rapid City mayoral candidate Tom Johnson, as he put up campaign signs.  Several problems.  Ms. Silvera was drunk, and 18 years old.  And by the way, though dressed as one, she turned out not to be a female.  Boy, did that surprise Alderman Johnson, who insisted there was no hanky-panky here, quoting, “Obviously, if I had a sexual relationship with this individual, I‘d know it was a man, wouldn‘t I?  I‘m not interested in men, period.”

Moving on, number one, from drunk to drinks.  Christopher Woods of New York who has sued the pharmaceutical company Novartis Consumer Health, claiming he drank its protein drink beverage Boost Plus and got quite a boost, a case of priapism.  If you don‘t know what that is, you can look it up.  P-R-I-A-pism.  Trust me, though, it‘s bitterly ironic, given Mr.  Woods‘ last name.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  It is something of a measure of post 9/11 life that a Republican elected official can make headlines by simply encouraging reasoned analysis, calm and perspective, in the wake of the continuing panic about terror, and the escalating panic about people not being panicked enough about terror, and the increasing evidence that the entire subject has been wildly and cynically politicized. 

Our third story in the COUNTDOWN, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York astonishing some of his critics and comforting some of his friends, but not only not joining the stampede after the revelation of the technically impossible JFK pipeline plot, but actually encouraging New Yorkers to remember just how unlikely terrorism truly is. 

At last night‘s Republican debate, the candidates repeatedly referring to both the JFK story and the similarly dubious Fort Dix pizza delivery fantasy as ominous signs of the worldwide terrorist threat and the need to continue the war in Iraq in particular.  Mr. Bloomberg‘s predecessor, Rudolph Giuliani, using them as examples of the looming possibility of another 9/11 and as the cornerstone of his campaign. 

But Bloomberg did not even attend the hand ringing news conference at which his city‘s own police chief and a U.S. attorney appointed by President Bush described one of the, quote, most chilling plots imaginable.  Mayor Bloomberg called it a bad plot, caught in plenty of time and he bristled when it was suggested it does not matter whether the alleged plan was workable or not. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG ®, NEW YORK CITY:  You have a much greater danger of being hit by lightning than being struck by a terrorist. 

There are lots of threats to you in the world.  There‘s a threat of a heart attack for genetic reason.  You can‘t sit there and worry about everything.  Get a life!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And for that, a screeching paranoid editorial in “Investors Business Daily” excused Bloomberg of foolishly encouraging complacency.  Before focusing on Mayor Bloomberg‘s remarks, this quotation from an article today in the Long Island newspaper “News Day,” headlined, “Credibility of JFK Terror Case Questioned.”  “When U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf described the alleged terror plot to blow up Kennedy Airport as one of the most chilling plots imaginable, which might have caused unthinkable devastation, one law enforcement official said he cringed.  The plot, he knew, was never operational.  The public had never been at risk.  And the notion of blowing up the airport, let alone the Borough of Queens by exploding a fuel tank was in all likelihood a technical impossibility. 

“And now with a portrait emerging of alleged mastermind Russell Defreitas as hapless and episodically homeless, and of co-conspirator Abdel Nur as a drug addict, Mauskopf‘s initial characterizations seem more questionable, some go so far as to say hyped.  I think her comments were over the top, said Michael Greenberger, director for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland.  It was a totally overstated characterization that does not comport with the facts.  Greenberger said he has no argument with police pursuing and stopping the alleged plotters.”

For more on the politics of fright, we welcome Arianna Huffington, founder and editor of HuffingtonPost.com.  Arianna, thanks for your time.  Good evening. 

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  Thank you Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  The old joke is, here‘s a man who‘s not going to sit around and act calmly when a situation calls for panic.  Here‘s Mike Bloomberg doing the reverse and getting criticized for it.  What is he doing?  Is this part of that possible presidential independent bid?  Or, as unlikely as it seems, could he actually just be a rational, actual leader? 

HUFFINGTON:  It actually sounded very authentic to me, and he did sound like a leader.  Remember, after all, that one of the greatest leaders in American history, FDR used that great line that has now become a cliche, but remains incredibly truthful and important: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” 

So when that kind of fear mongering goes on and is exploited, as it was in last night‘s debate by Mayor Giuliani, to talk about how this is part of what Islamic terrorists are doing to this country, and basically linking not just the JFK plot, but Fort Dix to the dangers facing America.  It is really something for which I think our politicians and our media need to be held accountable. 

OLBERMANN:  And last night—you mention Mayor Giuliani—he was asked if his commitment to Iraq was open ended.  He didn‘t really answer that, but he said that the JFK plot showed we have to fight them over there.  Which is, of course, interesting at one level, considering these particular, quote, unquote, terrorists were domestic or they from Ghana and Trinidad. 

But you blogged today that Giuliani looked kind unhinged as he answered.  Do you he is playing this terror card too often, even to his own purposes? 

HUFFINGTON:  I think so.  Also, his statements last night were full of contradictions.  At one point, he said that we are actually safer now because we‘re in Iraq.  And then he also evoked all these terrors that are looming I suppose if we don‘t put him in the White House.  Not to mention the fact that suddenly having Giuliani as this great national security expert, when remember he was the one who wanted Bernie Kerik as head of Homeland Security, an appointment which would not exactly have made America safer. 

But more important is the constant use of fear to manipulate the electorate.  That is something, of course, which has been used throughout history.  And we need to kind of protect ourselves against it.  We need to be very vigilant when we hear remarks like that to actually investigate what the truth is. 

OLBERMANN:  So Bloomberg and Giuliani, both mayors of New York.  They did to some degree overlap.  The Bloomberg campaign occurred concurrent with 9/11.  He was there too.  Both popular in the polls.  One constantly warning of terror and threat and fear; the other tell people to put it in perspective, not to ignore it, but not to obsess about it.  Is one of them making a political blunder and the other one catching a new wave here politically? 

HUFFINGTON:  You know, it all depends us on.  I think if the public says enough is enough, enough of the fear mongering.  We‘ve been down this road before.  Remember, before the JFK plot we had the Fort Dix Six.  And before the Fort Dix six, we had the Liberty City in Florida.  And what has happened to all these plots that were endangering our lives? 

Would not we want to know what happened?  Of course it is very important for the FBI to look at potential problems, as they failed to do before 9/11, but not at all these imaginary plots.  Also, remember, the use of, in the case, a convicted drug to bring the culprits to justice, supposedly, is very important also, because they have a motivation.  They can their sentences reduced. 

So we need to look with even more skepticism at what is the evidence that they bring us. 

OLBERMANN:  Yes, the plots, we might be inadvertently using the word plots from another language.  It has an entirely different meaning.  But lastly, Arianna, Obama said this last fall, that the 9/11 fever was breaking.  Has it broken?  Are people now looking realistically, knowing we have to be vigilant, knowing that there is something we didn‘t know six years ago, but we do know now, but knowing that fear is not the answer to this?  Is that fear factor going to wear thin with the voters or is it always going to resonate with people who haven‘t thought it out? 

HUFFINGTON:  Well, I think it is always good go the resonate because we have that part of our brain that is called the amygdala, which is the kind of primitive, the lizard brain, if you want, that does respond to fear much more than it responds to reason. 

So it is not going to be enough to say, fever has broken.  We have to remain vigilant.  We literally have to kind of guard against it and help each other to find fearlessness.  I wrote a whole book about it.  In the course of doing research for that, I discovered that, in fact, fear reduces our immune system, makes us less healthy and it is father itself that is, in fact, the greatest danger we are facing right now. 

OLBERMANN:  Yes, Franklin Roosevelt hit the nail on the head.  And it comes to pass every week that we think of it again.  Arianna Huffington, the founder and editor of the “Huffington Post.”  As always, great thanks Arianna.

HUFFINGTON:  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  Despite the strongest of pleas from the sons of Princess Dianne, tonight, for the first time ever on British television, images of the dying princess were broadcast.  And the other controversy in London, this Olympic logo, not just ugly, but possibly hazardous to your health.  And wait until you see what it costs!

first here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three sound bites of this day. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Were you surprised that you won? 

EVAN O‘DORNEY, SPELLING BEE CHAMP:  Not really. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Scombrdiae. 

O‘DORNEY:  Scombridae? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes.

O‘DORNEY:  If you‘re not saying it right, I‘ll probably not spell it right. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you want to just give it a try? 

O‘DORNEY:  S-C-O-M-B-R-E-I-D-A-E? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You added an extra E. 

O‘DORNEY:  Did you say scombridae or scombridae? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Scombridae.

O‘DORNEY:  Scombridae?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes. 

O‘DORNEY:  It‘s because I couldn‘t hear you.  I thought you were saying Scombridae. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Why should she be treated differently than anybody else?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All she is doing for America.  She‘s got everybody smelling good. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  She‘s got a DUI my friend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Two DUIs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Everybody had a drink, even the president.  It‘s a joke.  Paris, don‘t do no time, baby. 

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER:  What the president said is disingenuous. 

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  It was ridiculously stupid, about as dumb as it gets. 

JOHN STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  Flash from Washington, D.C., apparently official, 11:08 Eastern daylight time, some 15 minutes ago, the conservative base of the Republican party has officially bailed on George W. Bush. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  For nearly 10 years, the images have been taboo, even to Britain‘s infamous tabloids.  But in our number two story on the COUNTDOWN, for the first time ever, the grainy paparazzi shots showing Princess Diana‘s last moments alive have tonight been broadcast on British television.  The producers at the network in question, Channel 4, claimed the photos were an essential part of its documentary entitled “Diana, the Witness in the Tunnel.” 

And so, as our correspondent Keith Miller reports, the station decided to go ahead with it, despite a direct request from Princess Diana‘s sons. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEITH MILLER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Pleas from Prince Harry and William to delete the photos were reviewed by the network and rejected.  The princes called it gross disrespect to the memory of their mother. 

JULIAN BELLAMY, HEAD OF PROGRAMMING, CHANNEL 4:  We have thought very, very carefully about the issues involved, and weighed that out—we must weigh that up with the fact that this is a measured and responsible documentary about a matter of really important public interest. 

MILLER:  “The Show Goes On,” headlined “The Daily Mirror.”  The princes were just 15 and 12 when their mother was killed.  Ten years later, the retelling of Diana‘s death in pictures has crossed the line. 

JAMIE LOWTHER PINKERTON, THE PRINCES‘ PRIVATE SECRETARY:  They have decided long ago that one of the great duties of their life is going to be to protect their mother‘s memory. 

MILLER:  The network says the documentary is responsible and there are no clear images of the princess.  Diana‘s face has been blocked out in one shot where a doctor is trying to save her life.  In another, Diana is being treated in an ambulance. 

(on camera):  Princes William and Harry have objected to photos before.  The images seen in the documentary have never been shown in Britain.  And even the tabloids have shown unusual restraint, calling the shots taboo. 

PINKERTON:  It is their mother‘s last moments on earth and it is an invasion of her privacy. 

MILLER:  The network stands by its decision, saying the documentary is in the public interest. 

ROBERT JOBSON, ROYAL CORRESPONDENT, “EVENING STANDARD”:  It is to do with timing.  It is to do with ratings.  And it is to do with controversy.  And that is unfortunately what this documentary is more about. 

MILLER:  And there could be more.  The tenth anniversary of Diana‘s death is just three months away and her image remains compelling and controversial. 

Keith Miller, NBC News, London. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  We remain in the tabloid capital of the world for our nightly round up of entertainment news, Keeping Tabs.  Dateline London, where desperate citizenry bravely stands up to the blitz of ugliness.  The London summer Olympics of 2012 unveiled its logo, which is meant to look like 2012 -- you can just barely see it—as it would be drawn by an artsy fartsy design firm that charged 800,000 dollars for the privilege, which it was. 

London critics are up in arms, but there is a bigger problem.  A British health charity said several epileptics reported suffering seizures from watching the animation of that logo.  Let‘s try it again.  Anyone?  Anybody?  Well, they pulled the animation from the website regardless. 

On to perhaps the first divorce ever precipitated by melting glaciers.  Larry and Lori David curbing their enthusiasm for each.  A spokesman confirming a New York newspaper report that they are recycling their marriage of 14 years into a friendly relationship.  He the co-creator of “Seinfeld,” she the co-producer of Al Gore‘s “Inconvenient Truth,” who hit the road with Cheryl Crow to promote hybrid cars. 

They perhaps should have known something was up two years ago when Larry David told “People Magazine,” quote, “I hardly ever see her except when she is telling me she is giving my car away or I have to appear somewhere on behalf of the Prius. 

On the theory you never outgrow your need for Paris Hilton, a cavity search in prison, did she get one or not?  That‘s ahead.  Did they deem it unnecessary because it had been done so often in the past?  That‘s ahead.

First time COUNTDOWN‘s latest list of nominees for Worst Person in the World.  The bronze to Lee Rogers, best known as the flunky for the infamous San Francisco right wing water carrier Melanie Morgan.  You want to know who the far right is next throwing under the bus, simply identify who Mr.  Rogers was talking about when he said, quote, “the woman has morphed into Madeleine Albright, and in those spike healed boots of hers, she looks like the hostess at an S & M parlor.”

Correct, Condoleezza Rice, a right wing host is trashing a right wing secretary of state. 

Runner up tonight, the National Guard, which is charging Specialist Lisa Haze (ph) of Ringe, New Hampshire with desertion because she has overstated her home leave since the end of March and not return for a third tour of duty in Iraq.  She did not return because a court had given her custody of her seven-year-old daughter after repeated incidents of domestic violence in her ex-husband‘s home where the child lived. 

The Guard refused to bend, saying it was her fault she hadn‘t come up with a, quote, responsible family care plan, possibly because other than the ex-husband, Specialist Haze is it for the little girl.  As she prepared to surrender to authorities, Haze notified them that she had to bring her daughter with her because there was no one to take care of the girl. 

But our winner, Fox Noise chairman Roger Ailes, who last night criticized Democrats who will not participate in his network‘s shooting fish in a barrel debates.  To the audience at an awards ceremony in New York, he said, the candidates that can‘t face Fox can‘t face al Qaeda and that‘s what‘s next. 

Mr. Ales, thank you for finally acknowledging the similarities of the threats posed by Fox and al Qaeda.  Roger Ales of Fox noise, today‘s Worst Person in the World!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The origins of the term are unclear, but some speculate it refers to the small cramped space inside of a cell.  Tonight, in our number one story, an unpleasant and unwanted insight into why prison might be nicknamed the pokey thanks to Paris Hilton, also known as inmate number 9818783.  In the ongoing conflict reports about whether she, like all her other fellow jailbirds, had to submit to the most of invasive of procedures, the body cavity search. 

The “New York post,” kind of a newspaper addition of a body cavity search, citing an inmate who does maintenance work at the Century Regional Detention as part of his work release program reporting that Paris Hilton did not have to undergo the procedure.  In the words of the Post‘s impeccable sources, quote, she didn‘t have to spread em. 

But good news everyone.  TMZ.com learned from its jail source that Miss Hilton did indeed have to submit to the internal intrusion, known in the words of the website as the bend over and cough search for contraband.  That detail alone enough to explain why other sources tell TMZ that Miss Hilton has been crying on the phone and spent two hours with her psychiatrist yesterday. 

To help us all make sense of this, if that word sense is allowed in the same sentence as the name Paris Hilton, we‘re joined by the senior editor of “In Touch Weekly” Magazine Tom O‘Neil.  Tom, thanks for your time tonight.

TOM O‘NEIL, “IN TOUCH WEEKLY”:  Good to be here, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  I thought Miss Hilton was going to get the kid glove treatment in prison, not the rubber glove treatment.  What happened here?

O‘NEIL:  Well, it is a great mystery, isn‘t it, whether she had this body cavity search or not.  On one hand, you have to wonder why would they bother because we have all seen the movie “One Night in Paris.”  We know what‘s up there.  On the other hand, there have been many nights since and no sequels, so I think they had to.  

OLBERMANN:  But that‘s the one thing I am confused about; she gets a cavity search, she doesn‘t get a cavity search, which does she perceived as the hardship? 

O‘NEIL:  This is Paris Hilton.  I‘m sure she‘d be outraged if they didn‘t do it.  Come on.  She‘s got a reputation to maintain.  Come on Keith, a girl has needs. 

OLBERMANN:  All right., there are also, according to sources, reports that she is not sleeping well because she only has the three blankets, and she has to use one of those as a pillow, and also the jail is cold and rowdy and noisy at night.  Does that not kind of sound like camp?

O‘NEIL:  Yes, she is supposed to be an expert at camp, right, not just society camp or humor camp, but that show little on E Network called “The Simple Life” goes to camp.  But yes, she is crying every night.  She is taking this really hard.  I think she misses tinkerbell. 

OLBERMANN:  According to a E Online, as we hit the major journalist websites here, Paris Hilton‘s family sending her a care package that will include an eye mask.  Do we know—I‘m sure you‘re not an expert on prison, but will an eye mask be allowed and will that solve her sleeplessness? 

O‘NEIL:  I really wondered about that too when that news report broke today, because we are hearing a lot of things that are not allowed.  For example, tweezers are not, nail polish, leg wax, I mean, some essentials are not allowed.  So it will be interesting to see whether they let her have that.  She‘s not sleeping.  You know, in jail they have light on you all of the time and there is noise, noise, noise.  So it‘s a real issue.   

OLBERMANN:  And another thing, she is reportedly hardly eating anything at the jail either, and I would like to ask again, why is that news? 

O‘NEIL:  I know, she weighs, we found out the other day, 115 pounds.  We did here, by the way, on her first day there she ate a bowl of cereal, but she missed a bologna sandwich the other day.  I don‘t think she had ever met a bologna sandwich before. 

OLBERMANN:  Your magazine, Tom, to switch young women on us here—your magazine is reporting that Paris Hilton‘s nemesis, Lindsay Lohan, is also not doing too well in her own kind of incarceration, rehab? 

O‘NEIL:  No, she is supposed to be in Promises practicing that fifth step, taking a serious personal inventory of herself.  Keith, she is on the phone with her friends all the time, finding out what she is missing at the clubs.  And she is going out during the day a lot, going to the gym.  It is not like she is focusing on what she should be. 

OLBERMANN:  And also planning a birthday bash for herself?  Is that right?

O‘NEIL:  Yes, this is the real scary part, because on July 2nd she finally turns 21.  She is planning this big bash in Las Vegas.  And her father, who knows a lot about substance abuse issues, says if she goes to Vegas, if she goes to the party, this is a prescription for disaster.   

OLBERMANN:  Yes, she is not practicing the fifth step, she is practicing getting a fifth of something to take with her to take with her to Vegas on the bus.  Tom O‘Neil, senior editor for “In Touch Weekly,” as always, Tom, great thanks. 

O‘NEIL:  Thanks Keith.

OLBERMANN:  That is if COUNTDOWN for this the 1,498th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  Our MSNBC coverage continues next with “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.”  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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