updated 7/12/2007 12:24:41 PM ET 2007-07-12T16:24:41

Guests: Joan Walsh, Bill Gavin, Larry Flynt

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  We got breaking news tonight.  The Associated Press is reporting that analysts have now concluded that al Qaeda is back to its 2001 operational abilities.  So that may explain why homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff made this controversial comment to “The Chicago Tribune” editorial board yesterday.


MICHAEL CHERTOFF, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY:  I believe we‘re entering a period this summer of increased risk.  Summertime seems to be appealing to them.  We do worry about whether they are rebuilding their capabilities.  These things give me a—kind of a gut feeling that we are entering a period of increased vulnerability.


ABRAMS:  A gut feeling?  Today, Chertoff under fire, saying he didn‘t mean to alarm anyone.  The White House is saying there‘s no credible specific intelligence to suggest an imminent threat.

My take.  So is it just coincidence, then, that the AP and “Newsweek” are reporting tonight about al Qaeda‘s increased operational abilities?  If he knew about that, then he should have said it.  Are we really to believe the homeland security secretary is just winging it?  We‘re all shaking in our boots about the possibility, the likelihood of another terror attack on U.S. soil.  His gut feeling means my gut is churning.  Chertoff has got to know that he‘s our primary window into what the intelligence community is saying.

Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan knew that even the size of his briefcase was scrutinized to assess whether he might change interest rates.  Chertoff has got to know his every word is crucial.  But with the new report tonight, you have to wonder whether Chertoff wanted to protect the administration.  He must known about the conclusion that al Qaeda has regained its strength, but might have been reluctant to concede that all the bombings, anti-terror tactics and wars have not crippled the terrorists.  In fact, the National Intelligence Estimate has attributed increased terrorist recruiting to the Iraq war.

Joining me now, Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of Salon.com, Pat Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst, and Bill Gavin, former assistant director in the FBI in New York.  Thanks to all of you for coming on.

All right, Pat, I mean, it does seem, now that the evidence is gathering, now that we‘ve got a new AP report tonight, a new “Newsweek” report tonight saying that government analysts are concluding that al Qaeda is as strong as ever—we put that together with Chertoff‘s statement from yesterday, and it seems that it wasn‘t his gut feeling, he knew about the conclusions.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, it certainly seems like Chertoff—he obviously—look, he had to know these reports of al Qaeda strengthening to 9/11 strength.  He had to know that what happened this summer over in Britain, that those have happened in London, both of them have been in the summer.  9/11 was in the late summer.  So he says, Look, it‘s my sense we could be hit.  And he tried to cover up, I think, his hard knowledge information, not let that out, at the same time to indicate his apprehension that something may be coming.

So in retrospect, what looked like a flippant and foolish and frivolous comment may have had something behind it.

ABRAMS:  Yes, but the problem that I have—and let me go to Joan on this.  The concern that I have is the reason that he didn‘t want to say it is he doesn‘t want to concede that all of the efforts—because in the NIE report, it specifically refers to the fact that the Iraq war has led to the increased recruiting of terrorists—he doesn‘t want to concede that, and so he starts talking about guts and summertimes and this and that, as opposed to talking about the facts of what he really knows.

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  I think you‘re exactly right, Dan.  He had to have an inkling that this report was about to be released, it‘s about to be discussed.  He covers it up with this crazy comment about gut feeling that made me think of the old Johnny Carson routine, Carnack (ph) the Magnificent, thinking about an al Qaeda attack this summer.

But also does seem to be politically motivated.  I keep trying to take it apart, though, because you have the White House this morning in kind of a slapdown, saying, Well, we don‘t have any credible evidence of a summer terror attack planned.  And by the way, Mr. Chertoff did not even bother to share his feeling with the president.

So I don‘t think anybody in this administration is totally trustworthy or completely dealing with this information in a way that the American...

ABRAMS:  But let me just...


ABRAMS:  Look, Bill Gavin, it‘s not even true that al Qaeda tends to like the summertime.  I mean, you have the homeland security secretary suggesting that summertime is a time that al Qaeda particularly likes.  And again, who knows when al Qaeda is going to hit?  I mean, we went through, actually—let‘s pull up number 5.  We—there‘s a source—this is from NPR, that they go month by month of when al Qaeda attacks tended to occur, and there‘s no indication that there were more attacks during the summer.

WALSH:  Right.

ABRAMS:  Bill?

BILL GAVIN, FORMER NY FBI ASST. DIRECTOR:  Dan, you‘re absolutely right.  What—I think what he was trying to stress is that he has a gut feeling that there‘s an increased vulnerability during the course of this time.  But you know, he just misspoke, I think.  He could have chosen his words a whole heck of a lot better.

ABRAMS:  But Bill, you know how important it is when someone in that position...

GAVIN:  Absolutely.

ABRAMS:  Right?  I mean, I‘m sure...

GAVIN:  Yes, I do.

ABRAMS:  ... when you were in the FBI, whoever was the director at the time had to watch every word they say, particularly on something as sensitive as terrorism.

GAVIN:  He‘s the secretary of homeland security.  He‘s got to realize everything that he says, people hang on those words.  True, there is much more training going on up on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border.  Those tribal leaders up there don‘t care who‘s running either one of those two countries.  They do what they want to do and when they want to do it.  And you know, he has additional information that the rest of us don‘t have.  That‘s fine, but he ought to be very careful how...

BUCHANAN:  All right, Dan...

GAVIN:  ... he chooses those words because this is awful.

BUCHANAN:  Dan, but wait a minute, now.  I think what you‘ve here with Chertoff—he‘s seeing the Pakistan thing.  They know they‘re training them out there in Iraq.  They know they‘re—he sees the strengthening of them.  He fears something is coming.  I think he wanted—I think—my feeling is maybe he wanted to get out ahead because he fears something is coming, so that he will be able to say, if it does come, that I was apprehensive and I said so.

ABRAMS:  Well, what do you think of that, Pat?  I mean, that‘s not exactly admirable, is it?

BUCHANAN:  Well, you know...

WALSH:  That‘s CYA behavior.  I mean, that‘s ridiculous.

BUCHANAN:  Well, look, maybe he doesn‘t—maybe he didn‘t feel that he ought to come out and say, Look, we have hard evidence here that al Qaeda is at its peak strength since 9/11.  Maybe he didn‘t want to say that.  But look, I just don‘t think the guy—OK, he probably shouldn‘t have used those words, but I really don‘t see that there‘s malice behind this at all, and I think it‘s probably a mistaken phrase.  But I think we‘re piling on him too much, when you realize what he‘s sitting on, which is this very frightening report.

ABRAMS:  Look, and that...

WALSH:  We‘re piling on him because of what he‘s sitting on.

ABRAMS:  But let‘s be...

WALSH:  We‘re aware of that.

ABRAMS:  But let‘s be clear, Pat.  I‘m scared, all right?  I mean, he

I‘m scared.  It‘s not—I‘m not one of these people who‘s suggesting that there‘s no real terror threat out there.


ABRAMS:  I absolutely believe it.  Every day, I live my life thinking about that.  The problem that I have here is I want to know I can trust our guy at the top of the Homeland Security Department.  That‘s what I...

WALSH:  Right.

ABRAMS:  I need to know I can rely on him.  And I‘m concerned that when he starts talking about gut feelings, and the next day, tonight, we learn about an AP report that says that government analysts have concluded that there‘s an increased threat, that says to me I don‘t know that I can trust this guy.

WALSH:  It seems to me that...

ABRAMS:  I‘m going to let Pat respond.

BUCHANAN:  Well, look, I think what—look, I think what the guy is doing is trying to alert you that there is a heightened threat here before the hard information came out.  And so again, I think the choice of words was bad, but I don‘t think the motivation was at all bad.  And I think it‘s a—it‘s a reflection, Dan, of this guy‘s deep apprehension inside that something may be coming.  So I mean, I just can‘t pile on him on this one.

ABRAMS:  Let me read—this is from “Newsweek,” a report coming out tonight.  NIE‘s conclusions about al Qaeda activities in Pakistan suggest a growing and dispersed worldwide army of angry jihadis inflamed by the U.S.  presence in Iraq.”

Let me read another one.  This is number one, again from “Newsweek.”  “Al Qaeda has reconstituted its core structure along the Pakistani border and now may be a stronger and more resilient organization today than it appeared a year ago.”

Bill Gavin, let me just wrap this up by asking you about the terror analysis here.  I mean, look, that doesn‘t seem to me to be a big surprise, that they‘re building up on the border of Pakistan.  Is that also believed to be, then, the sort of the hub where they may be able to direct attacks elsewhere from?

GAVIN:  I believe it probably is, Dan.  As Pat says, the terminology and the verbiage he used is bad.  But you know, this is an adult forum that he‘s speaking to, the United States citizens.  Tell us the truth.  If that‘s what you...

ABRAMS:  Exactly.

GAVIN:  ... mean by it, just tell us the truth, and we can deal with

it.  But if you camouflage it and (INAUDIBLE) about gut feelings, it‘s just

a poor choice of words.  Tell us that they‘re building.  Tell us that

they‘ve reached the strength of pre-9/11.  That‘s fine.  We can deal with

that- -

ABRAMS:  And I got to tell you...

GAVIN:  ... so say it.

ABRAMS:  ... I‘m troubled by even the way Tony Snow responded to this.  I mean, we get these same—these pat answers again and again.  When the administration is asked about something like this or about terror threats, we get answers like this one.


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  I don‘t want to try to get into gastrointestinal descriptions.

What the White House does know is that we live in a world where terrorists want to do us harm.  And in that world, we can all help each other by being vigilant.


ABRAMS:  OK.  You know, that‘s great, and—but not particularly

helpful.  I mean, when you have your homeland security chief making

comments like this—and let me make this the final question to you, Pat -

do you think that the White House has an obligation to say more than that?

BUCHANAN:  Yes, I do.  I do.  Maybe they‘re holding up to on this—until this report comes out.  But look, I agree with you, Dan.  Look, this is a very alarming, frightening, riveting report...


BUCHANAN:  ... that these guys are at 9/11 strength, especially after what happened in London and all this.  And so, yes, I think they ought to take that very much more seriously, especially when they‘re talking about an issue like this.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Joan Walsh, Pat Buchanan and Bill Gavin, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

BUCHANAN:  Thank you.

GAVIN:  Thanks, Dan.  My pleasure.

ABRAMS:  Up next: “Hustler” publisher Larry Flynt says he‘s responsible for outing Republican senator David Vitter in the D.C. madam scandal.  He‘s ready to out others, as well.  And Flynt joins us, up next.  And we‘ll also ask, Could Vitter be guilty of a crime?

Plus, stunning developments in that  bizarre and elaborate murder case.  Prosecutors now say pizza delivery man killed after robbing a bank with a bomb around his neck was in on a plot.  They‘re not calling it officially a murder case.  His brother is now furious.  We‘ll hear from him.

And later: The WWE ratings taking a hit after Chris Benoit‘s death. 

Why reality may be a bad thing for a fake sport.  Coming up.


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  Republican senator David Vitter didn‘t show up at his office today.  He‘s skipped hearings, stayed away from the office since his number was tied to the D.C. madam‘s escort service list and new allegations surfaced that he frequented a brothel in New Orleans.  In a minute, we‘ll talk to “Hustler” magazine‘s Larry Flynt, who‘s claiming credit for exposing Senator Vitter.

But first: The senator says he has been forgiven by his wife and by his maker, but what about by the law?  Here now MSNBC senior legal analyst and former prosecutor Susan Filan.  Susan, good to see you.  So Susan, the D.C. madam says, “Why am I the only person being prosecuted?  Senator Vitter should be prosecuted if he broke the law.”  What do you think?

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  You know, she has a point.  It seems unfair to go after the prostitute and not go after the john, the same way it would be unfair to go after the dealer and not the buyer.  Law of supply and demand.  She couldn‘t do her job if there wasn‘t somebody there to purchase it.

In this case, though, Dan, I think the problem is twofold—statute of limitations and a proof problem.  What they‘ve got is a phone record and him saying, I talked to my God and my wife,” but not about what.  So he could easily say, I called this house of prostitution to find out what her vote was on a particular issue, not necessarily to solicit, pander, patronize...

ABRAMS:  It sure...

FILAN:  ... or engage in unlawful sexual activity.

ABRAMS:  But it sounds like he‘s admitting—I mean, you know, it sounds like he‘s admitting some sort of indiscretion here, at the very least.  I mean, I...

FILAN:  OK, indiscretion...

ABRAMS:  It sounds like—it sounds like...


FILAN:  ... or illegal.

ABRAMS:  Yes, it sounds like what a lot of people are claiming is that they got massages from her, right?

FILAN:  Yes.  But you know, there‘s a—there‘s a massage and then there‘s a massage, Dan, and one‘s legal and one‘s not.

ABRAMS:  But the statute of limitations, one year.  So that would mean that if it occurred, you know, anywhere before then, no prosecution.

FILAN:  Yes.  The only way—and it‘s very, very much a long shot, and I‘d say he‘s got pretty good legal advice, which is why he‘s made the statement that he has—that they could go beyond that statute of limitations if he‘s going to be charged as a principal himself in some ongoing racketeering...


FILAN:  ... you know, criminal enterprise, with predicate acts and he‘s a principal.  I think he‘s just a john, or allegedly just a john.

ABRAMS:  And Susan, what about Louisiana?  There‘s this other woman in Louisiana saying he was frequented (ph) there.  What‘s the statute of limitations there?

FILAN:  Same.  I mean, he‘s over and out, you know?  I mean, this came out far too late.  Interesting, of course, would be to see what he‘s been up to in the last year and whether there‘s probable cause to do any kind of a search on that.

But you know, she does have a point.  You can‘t just go after the prostitute and not after the john.  And D.C.‘s got impoundment statutes, where if you use your car, let‘s say, to go to a prostitute, they take your car.  They seize your car.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Here‘s his statement.  “This was a very serious sin the past for which I am, of course, completely responsible.  Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife (INAUDIBLE) confession and marriage counseling.”

All right.  Susan Filan, thanks.  Appreciate it.  We‘ll talk to you again later in the show.

FILAN:  You bet.

ABRAMS:  “Hustler” magazine publisher Larry Flynt is claiming credit for outing Senator David Vitter‘s connection to the so-called D.C. madam.  He joins us now.  Larry, thanks for coming back on the program.  Good to see you again.


ABRAMS:  All right.  So Larry, how do you know that you were the one that outed him?

FLYNT:  Oh, we know because, you know, we ran the ad in “The Post” a little over a month ago.  But our information on Vitter actually came from some (INAUDIBLE) that the D.C. madam turned over to us.  And she really wasn‘t sure what she gave us because, in retrospect, when ABC did their show, in an effort to (INAUDIBLE) conclusion to that story, they didn‘t have the right phone number for Vitter.  But the one that we got was an older number of his (INAUDIBLE) working number.  And we find out that he called the escort service twice.

We immediately, you know, went to New Orleans because of rumors of other prostitutes in New Orleans and were able to, you know, build a substantial case there.

ABRAMS:  Do you have other big-time political figures that you‘re getting ready to out on this one?

FLYNT:  This is the most successful ad I‘ve ever taken in “The Post,” even moreso than in Watergate (SIC).  We have at least 30 solid leads.  It‘s going to be a great election year, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Larry, what do you say to those people who say it is absolutely absurd, the idea that Larry Flynt of “Hustler” is serving as sort of the morality police?

FLYNT:  Well, Dan, I‘ve been jailed (ph) nine times, been shot and paralyzed, all for publishing “Hustler” magazine.  So let‘s just say that it‘s payback now, and payback‘s a bitch.  And that‘s what I‘m doing.  I don‘t like people in Washington legislating morality for me.  When you look at Vitter‘s voting record and some of the statements that he made involving the sanctity of marriage and abstinence programs and things like this, there‘s no human being, unless it‘s some right-wing nut (INAUDIBLE) say, I want this guy representing me in the Senate.

ABRAMS:  So let me ask you this.  So if you get information about a Democrat, let‘s say, or someone else who has not been out there publicly professing morality, are you going to out that person, as well?

FLYNT:  (INAUDIBLE) give anybody a pass, you know?  It hurts me to say that because I‘ve been a die-hard Democrat all my life.  But Republicans are much more fun.  They‘re easier to catch because, you know, they bring a lot of baggage with them, you know?  And most of the ones that we‘ve turned up over the years have actually been fundamentalists.

ABRAMS:  When you say this has been the most successful ad you‘ve put in “The Post,” even moreso than Watergate, does that mean that we‘re going to be hearing about other people who are the level of Vitter, meaning U.S.  senators and I assume congressmen, as well?

FLYNT:  Absolutely.  We have two serious investigations with other senators, and we have a total of 25 congressmen.  And there are several other ranking—top-ranking officials so...

ABRAMS:  Do they know who they, are this point, Larry?

FLYNT:  It‘s going to be a lot of fun.

ABRAMS:  Do they know who they are?  Meaning, have you guys reached out to them?  Do any of them suspect, Oh, no, “Hustler‘s” after us?

FLYNT:  No.  The last thing we do is reach out, and that‘s what we did to Vitter.  When we put the case together, we called him for a comment.  He didn‘t return our phone call, and instead he ran out to the Associated Press, trying to get in front of the store (ph) (INAUDIBLE) the story and make himself look as good as possible.  And that—you know, that was it.  That was...

ABRAMS:  Did you have any other...

FLYNT:  ... the wrong thing for him to do.

ABRAMS:  Did you have any other evidence, part from that phone call, on Vitter?

FLYNT:  Yes, we have a lot of other evidence from him.  We have better evidence in the state of Louisiana than we do in Washington, D.C.

ABRAMS:  And that‘s from that other—the brothel where that woman—the other brothel runner was speaking out about?

FLYNT:  Yes.  That‘s one of them, but there are several.  You know, this guy was like Livingston, you know?  He made Clinton look like Mary Poppins.

ABRAMS:  And just let‘s go—I mean, this is the sex scandal bounty hunt of ‘98.  We have a list here of people who—various things came up, former Judiciary chairman Henry Hyde, former impeachment prosecutor Bob Barr, former congressman Bob Livingston, not all of them accused of not necessarily sexual indiscretions, but you‘re looking for any hypocrisy.

FLYNT:  Absolutely, whether it involves corruption, you know, taking graft.  But most of it is (INAUDIBLE) sex, and that‘s what they can‘t deal with.

ABRAMS:  Larry, you don‘t care what anyone thinks of you, do you.

FLYNT:  Pardon?

ABRAMS:  You don‘t care what anyone thinks about Larry Flynt, do you?

FLYNT:  No.  Your buddy Tucker called me a slimeball, and I said, yes, Tucker, that‘s right, but you still can‘t dance.


ABRAMS:  Larry Flynt, thanks for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

FLYNT:  OK.  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Still ahead, the bizarre case of the pizza bomber is solved.  Or is it?  Prosecutors are now saying a man killed in this elaborate bank robbery years ago, after a bomb locked to his body went off, was actually in on it.  His family is furious.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He did not know any of these people.  That‘s why they had to lure him to the tower (ph) to clamp the bomb on him.


ABRAMS:  And coming up, Michael Moore‘s unhealthy showdown with CNN. 

What the heck were they really fighting about?


ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press,” our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV.  First up, Michael Moore and CNN‘s Dr. Sanjay Gupta have been involved in a tit-for-tat over questions Gupta rightly raised about the facts in Moore‘s movie “Sicko.”  But they may have know exactly what they were fighting about, but much of the time, I didn‘t.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT:  $251 is what you cite in the movie.

You have 228 on your Web site.

Where you pulled that 251 number, why didn‘t you use the 5,700 number...



ABRAMS:  Enough with the numbers!

Next up: “Good Morning America” weatherman Sam Champion interviewed his former colleague, WABC weatherman Bill Evans (ph), about his new book, and one of the finest weathermen in town was referenced.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘ve got a couple of weather people who are on air.  Based after anybody you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, Richard Carlisle (ph), the meteorologist, most beloved weatherman in the morning in New York City—that‘d be you.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘d be you!



ABRAMS:  No, no, no.  That‘d be you!  You (INAUDIBLE)

Finally: We sometimes joke here about non-exclusive exclusives, but this one really may take the cake.


ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST, “HANNITY AND COLMES”:  Joining us now in a “Hannity and Colmes” exclusive is the president of the National Action Network, Reverend Sharpton, and the managing editor of TMZ.com, Harvey Levin.


ABRAMS:  Do you ever watch cable news?  Al Sharpton and Harvey Levin, an exclusive?  They‘re two of the most ubiquitous and familiar faces on all of cable news.  That‘s an exclusive?

Still ahead: Prosecutors announce they now believe a pizza delivery man was an accomplice in his own strange death, at least with regard to the robbery, when a bomb exploded while locked to his body.  His family is furious, fighting to clear his name.  We hear from them.

And later: The WWE ratings could be down.  Why the ugly truths about the Chris Benoit case could be hurting the bottom line.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, remember that bizarre case from a few years ago were a pizza delivery man robbed a bank with a bomb strapped to his neck?  Now, years later, charges have finally been filed, and prosecutors say he was in on it, at least at the beginning.  His family not happy about that suggestion.  We hear from his angry brother.

But, first, the latest news.



DISPATCHER:  911, what‘s your emergency?

CALLER:  I‘m calling about that bank robbery at PNC Bank, Downtown Plaza (ph).

DISPATCHER:  Yes. What happened?

CALLER:  The guy just walked out with a—I don‘t know how much cash in the bag. He had a bomb or something wrapped around his neck.

DISPATCHER:  You saw him with the bomb or whatever it was?

CALLER:  Yes.  He‘s got it strapped around his neck.


ABRAMS:  It was almost difficult to believe, summer 2003, a Pennsylvania pizza delivery man goes into a bank with a bomb locked to his neck.  He eventually pleaded for the police to help, but to no avail.  The bomb exploded.  He was killed.  Today, in an almost unbelievable press conference, authorities announced that the pizza delivery man was not just a victim, but they believe he‘d been in on the robbery attempt. 

NBC‘s Ron Allen was at that press conference today.


RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  The scene in a mall parking lot that August afternoon still seems unbelievable.  Pizza delivery man Brian Wells in a standoff with police after robbing a bank, moments before a bomb locked around his neck detonates.  Today, nearly four years later, federal prosecutors insisted he was not an innocent victim. 

MARY BETH BUCHANAN, U.S. ATTORNEY:  It may be that his role transitioned from that of the planning stages to being an unwilling participant. 

ALLEN:  The indictments say this woman, 58-year-old Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, apparently planned the robbery help pay the other person charged today, Kenneth Barnes, to murder her father.  It‘s still unclear how Wells got involved, but when he was called to deliver two pizzas that day, he apparently wanted out of the plot and was forced to wear the bomb. 

Prosecutors say Armstrong and Barnes even watched Wells rob the bank from a safe distance.  But then police closed in.  Wells‘ relatives insisted he had nothing to do with this.

JOHN WELLS, BRIAN WELLS‘ BROTHER:  He did not know any of these people.  That‘s why they had to lure him to the tower to clamp the bomb on him.

ALLEN:  But prosecutors say Wells could have alerted someone before robbing the bank, and they don‘t know whether Wells ever knew the bomb was real.  The two charged today already are in prison for other crimes.  The apparent end to a case even a local crime writer said was “too strange to dream up.”

Ron Allen, NBC News, Erie, Pennsylvania.


ABRAMS:  Joining me again is MSNBC senior legal analyst Susan Filan and Jon Leiberman, from “America‘s Most Wanted,” who is at the scene.

All right, Jon, I‘m still not quite getting this.  This guy is delivering pizzas to the scene.  And even the prosecutors seem to be conceding that, at some point, he‘s saying, “Hey, I don‘t want a bomb strapped around my neck.”  So what do they have that suggests that this guy is somehow in on it?  

JON LEIBERMAN, CORRESPONDENT, “AMERICA‘S MOST WANTED”:  Well, they didn‘t make their evidence clear, of course, because he‘s not actually indicted for any crime, Brian Wells.  But here‘s what they suggested.  Prosecutors said Brian went to that scene that day thinking he was going to get a fake bomb strapped around him, and that was his role in this whole robbery, and that he also had met previously with a few other people to set up this robbery.  Of course, he gets to that scene to deliver the pizzas, and they strap a real bomb on him, and we know what happens after that. 

So we have still yet to hear from prosecutors what motivation Brian Wells would have.  It doesn‘t seem to be money.  His family says he didn‘t need money.  We don‘t know why he got involved. 

ABRAMS:  Well, I mean, he didn‘t need money.  He‘s a pizza delivery man.  Let me play this.  This is the U.S. attorney talking about what the motive might have been.


BUCHANAN:  We can‘t talk about why he became involved.  We can‘t comment on what his motive may have been.  We know from the information that we have collected that he was involved in the planning stages, but we have reason to believe that, certainly at the point when this bomb was strapped to his neck, that he had expressed a strong desire to terminate, however, for whatever reason.  Unfortunately, he did go forward and commit the bank robbery. 


ABRAMS:  All right, so, Susan, why are these other defendants now not charged with murder? 

SUSAN FILAN, FORMER CONNECTICUT PROSECUTOR:  Well, that‘s a great question, Dan.  I was listening very carefully to the U.S. attorney today as she announced the charges, and I can‘t tell whether something else is coming or this is all there is.  But it seems that you couldn‘t say, because he was in some way a willing participant, it isn‘t murder.  I mean, that‘s not the answer.  But I don‘t know where she‘s going at this point. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Marjorie Armstrong is this woman who‘s at the center of all this.  And it‘s really—she seems to be the mastermind behind this.  All right, let‘s go through—it‘s a little complicated—what all her connections are, all right?

Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, currently behind bars for the murder of her boyfriend, who she shot and killed, allegedly, just before the bank robbery, because he found out about the plot.  Authorities say she was plotting, but the actual plot was to have her father killed, but she needed the money to do it, so she solicited the help of her friend, Kenneth Barnes.  And to get the money, she also gets Brian Wells, who is the pizza delivery man.  

And yet, Jon Leiberman, you‘ve been talking to her.  Apparently she‘s been talking to some members of the media, and she‘s saying, “Oh, I had nothing to do with this.” 

LEIBERMAN:  It‘s crazy, Dan.  We‘ve been corresponding with her since 2005 through letters.  Actually, our investigative team went to the Munsie jail (ph), too, and met with her face-to-face.  She said she had nothing to do with Brian Wells‘ murder.  However, she said she did have information that would be valuable to the FBI, but she would only give it up if they would make a deal with her.  And, of course, as you saw today with the indictment, no deal. 

ABRAMS:  You know, I can understand why the family of this guy is upset.  They‘re not getting any information about how their now-dead relative might have been involved in this.  Here is the brother of Wells talking, really angry today, talking about what the federal prosecutor had just said. 


WELLS:  When you have a bomb locked to your neck and the federal authorities chop your head off to get the bomb off, there was no way Brian put that on himself.  Nineteen hours after the bomb had gone off, the federal authorities chopped his head off to get that collar off.  Brian did not put that collar on himself.  I‘m sorry. 

My brother was a brutal murder victim.  He didn‘t know any of these people.  The fact that he delivered Rostina pizza (ph) does not make him a co- conspirator.  When he delivered pizzas to the DEA, that did not make him a prosecutor.  When he delivered pizzas to the Haman medical center (ph), that did not make him a doctor.  When he delivers pizza to a murderer, that doesn‘t make him a co-conspirator.

I‘d like to see their evidence.  I would like you guys to demand to see their evidence.  I‘d like you guys to demand, you know, that people in positions of power do their jobs.  Those four officers that day, in my opinion, they‘re all cowards and should be fired.  But the Pennsylvania Police Department gave them honors for their outstanding bravery for that day, and not one of them had the intelligence to call the bomb squad. 

You know, it‘s kind of hard to talk like this, and I know I‘m getting upset, and the truth will come out.  And it‘s sad that these people just came out here on national TV, and they‘re going to be made to look stupid. 


ABRAMS:  Susan Filan, that‘s going to be helpful to the defense, is it not? 

FILAN:  Oh, my goodness.  He‘s the first witness you want to call.  The police got it all wrong, they‘re idiots, they should be fired, it‘s a botched investigation.  The problem is, it‘s going to backfire against convicting the people that are allegedly responsible for his brother‘s murder.  If his brother is an innocent victim, these are the people you want to see convicted of it.  But what he‘s saying now is pretty much going to torpedo the case. 

ABRAMS:  All right, we‘ll follow it.  Susan Filan and Jon Leiberman, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

FILAN:  You bet.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, the latest in the murder-suicide case of wrestler Chris Benoit.  His doctor may soon face even more charges.  And we‘ll talk to the doctor‘s lawyer.  The scandal really may be hurting WWE‘s ratings. 

Plus, Republican Congressman John Boehner says senators who now oppose

the surge in Iraq are “wimps.”  Isn‘t he the one who‘s crying a lot on the

floor?   Today‘s winners and losers, coming up.

                (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

                ABRAMS:  More bad news for wrestler Chris Benoit‘s doctor.  Tonight,

his attorney is bracing for more criminal charges.  Prosecutors are going to a grand jury a second time, after pouring through documents seized at Dr. Phil Astin‘s office.  Manny Arora is Dr. Astin‘s attorney on joins us on the phone.

Thanks very much for coming on.  We appreciate it.

MANNY ARORA, DR. PHIL ASTIN‘S ATTORNEY:  Thanks for having me, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Is your client being charged with anything in connection with the Chris Benoit case? 

ARORA:  First and foremost, I want everybody to understand, we put in a joint motion together asking the judge for additional time, because the indictment was done so quickly.  It‘s giving the government additional time to look through to see if any additional charges are appropriate and also for us to actually go through the documents ourselves and, you know, work up our defenses to the allegations that the prescriptions were done improperly. 

ABRAMS:  But you expect more charges, right? 

ARORA:  I expect more charges, simply because of the fact that I could very easily defend against two patients, but if the government is able to say, “Well, these 15 or 20 cases that may be close calls under medical discretion standards,” it may taint the jury a little bit more in their favor and put a higher burden on us at that point to try to prove his innocence.  So there‘s going to be strategic reasons for why they do it, as well as it‘s just going to be medical opinion.  And so I do expect more charges, but I don‘t think it‘s anything really damaging.  We‘ve expected that from the beginning.

ABRAMS:  Anything in connection with the Benoit case?  

ARORA:  Not that I‘ve been told, and not that I anticipate.  There‘s going to be some talk about hormones being prescribed to Benoit that I‘ve heard sort of through the grapevine, that the government is saying that they may have some records, but I haven‘t found anything in the evidence dealing with anabolic steroids.

ABRAMS:  Is the defense that these were all legitimate steroid prescriptions? 

ARORA:  Well, the defense is that even we have the man steroids, period.  I don‘t think there will be evidence of that.  I think a lot of the press releases that were done, they were done right after the raid, which was heavily publicized, because the government had actually called the press back on June 27th hours in advance of the raid, and so the Atlanta news media was actually there in Carrollton, Georgia, which is about an hour-and-a-half away, rolling film live as they were walking into the place.  And you don‘t really see that everyday.

ABRAMS:  So there won‘t be any way that the authorities can link Dr.

Astin to Chris Benoit? 

ARORA:  I don‘t believe there will be any link with regards to the anabolic steroids.  There‘s no doubt that he was his patient for the last six years.  And they can go through the records, just like they did in the indictment with the two patients from back in ‘04 and say perhaps you over-prescribed pills.  What I think the case will boil down to, Dan—and I‘m sure your experience will tell you this—is they‘re going to call in medical experts that they pay for to say x, and we‘ll retain experts from the universities and the medical schools around here.  And it‘s going to be basically which doctor is going to be able to convince the jury to say that this is within medical acceptable practices or not, and I think that‘s what the case boils down to.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Manny Arora, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

ARORA:  Thanks for having me.

ABRAMS:  There‘s bad news for the WWE tonight, as well.  The entertainment powerhouse, usually a ratings juggernaut, but in the weeks since the Benoit murder-suicide, ratings have gone down by close to a million viewers. 

Look, “My Take.”  Everyone is suggesting it‘s the steroids and the stain of this case that might be driving people away.  Maybe.  But I‘ll bet it‘s also the constant discussion of the fact that the sport is, well, staged, fake.  Yes, fans, I know the action and physical demands are real, but there‘s no denying that the storylines are scripted and the outcome is planned.  And I wonder whether hearing that over and over again is taking a bit of the fantasy away from the fans. 

Former wrestler Marc Mero, also known as Johnny B. Badd and Wildman Marc Mero, wrestled with Benoit, who, as his friend, joins us once again.

Marc, thanks for coming back on the program.  What do you make of that, that maybe people are souring on the idea that wrestling isn‘t real? 

MARC MERO, FORMER PRO WRESTLER:  Well, Dan, thanks for having me back.  I want to read a statement of something I said last night, Dan.  Last night, I said the Benoit story may be turning away wrestling fans.  I said one thing that was incorrect.  I said Monday night‘s editions of “Raw” was the lowest in three years.  It was actually the lowest in 20 months.  However, there has not been a non-holiday rating lower than Monday‘s “Raw” in the summer months in over nine years.  Wrestling fans are speaking up by tuning out. 

ABRAMS:  And why do think?  I mean, do you really think that it‘s the issue of steroids or do you think it‘s something else?  Like, I‘m suggesting that they‘re kind of looking at wrestling now and saying, “You know, I kind of suspended my critical look at this before, but now that it‘s put in my face that it‘s staged and it‘s scripted, I don‘t want to watch it”?

MERO:  Well, they came out years ago and said it was scripted.  I mean, Vince McMahon, when they became sports entertainment, they came out and said it was predetermined.  But, you know, I think what‘s really turned away fans, could it be possibly murder?  You know what it‘s like to talk to your kid at the dinner table when one of the former WWE champion murdered his wife and his kid?  How do you explain that to a young child? 

ABRAMS:  Marc, were you angry at the wrestling world before all of this happened about what you felt was the lack of regulation, et cetera?

MERO:  Absolutely.  You know, I have seen so many of my friends die in this business that I never understood—even when I was in the business, I was at a pay-per-view, when we were waiting for Brian Pillman.  Everyone was wondering, where was Brian Pillman?  And he was found dead in his hotel room.  He was supposed on the pay-per-view that day.

And I remember many times that, you know, not understanding why something hasn‘t been done, why has there been no regulations?  But now with Congressman Stearns stepping in, who‘s going to be investigating professional wrestling, I applaud him, and I‘m looking forward to hearings on this. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Marc Mero, once again, thanks for coming back on the program.  Appreciate it.

MERO:  Thanks for having me. 

ABRAMS:  Up next, you know about O.J.‘s supposedly fictional book, “If I Did It”?  Ronald Goldman‘s family would like to see it called “Confessions of a Double Murderer.”  And now they may get to do that and use the proceeds to pay off some of his debt to them.  They were in court today.  It‘s one of the day‘s “Winners and Losers,” coming up.



ABRAMS (voice-over):  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 11th day of July 2007.  Our first loser?  Merriam-Webster‘s dictionary, which concluded that ginormous, a Valley Girl combination of gigantic and enormous is a word worth adding to its new collegiate dictionary. 

WILL FERRELL, COMEDIAN:  Have you seen these toilets?  They‘re ginormous!

ABRAMS:  Our first winner?  An Australian beachgoer who stumbled on a ginormous squid that had washed up on shore, six-and-a-half feet in length.  The deep sea creature is one of the largest ever found.

Our second loser?  Representative John Boehner.  Known to burst into tears on the House floor... 

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER:  Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you...

ABRAMS:  He‘s now calling Republican senators who oppose the surge in Iraq “wimps.”

Our second winner?  Jessica Hackerd.  Also prone to bursting into tears, the 13-year-old girl broke down after President Bush publicly mocked her question about immigration after a speech in Ohio. 

JESSICA HACKERD, QUESTIONER:  What is your next step with the immigration bill?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Yeah, thanks.  I view it as...


ABRAMS:  An apologetic President Bush quickly retreated, answered her question, and invited her backstage. 

But today‘s big winner?  An off-duty detective who arrested a man after that man posed as a police officer and tried to pull the real cop over.  The fake cop, armed with a phony police badge and lights on his car, quickly realized his mistake, tried to make a run for it, but got caught. 

Our big loser of the day?  The man whose name is now synonymous with running from police, O.J. Simpson.  His “If I Did It” book may now be renamed “Confessions of a Double Murderer,” if the family of Ron Goldman get their way, with the proceeds going to the victims‘ families.


ABRAMS:  O.J. was paid over $600,000, even though the book was never published.  The Goldman family has been aggressively seeking the rights to that book.  A court was set to award the rights solely to the estate of Ron Goldman, but today the family of Nicole Brown Simpson was in court seeking some percentage of any proceeds from the book.

Joining us on the phone, the father of Ron Goldman, Fred Goldman. 

Fred, great to have you back on the show.  Appreciate it.


ABRAMS:  Before I talk to you about this money issue, tell me about your desire to change the name of the book. 

GOLDMAN:  Well, I don‘t want to have his name on it.  You know, I‘d rather name it something like “Of Course He Did It.”  And the name that keeps getting floated around is something about a double murder.  The fact is that I‘d like to see it published and I‘d like people to read the ramblings of this maniac, this double-murderer. 

ABRAMS:  Do you believe that this is actually his confession?

GOLDMAN:  I believe that it‘s as close as we‘re ever going to get to him admitting that he murdered Ron and Nicole. 

ABRAMS:  And what about the details in the book?

GOLDMAN:  The details, thank goodness, are not what I originally imagined, as gory, how-to book.  But the bottom line is, when one reads this, I think, without question, they will come away saying, “Without question, this guy murdered, butchered two people.” 

ABRAMS:  Fred, are you going to be able to work out this money issue with the family of Nicole Brown?

GOLDMAN:  You know what?  The fact is that we‘re a secured creditor.  The Browns have made in behalf of the young adults who are part of the scam and the sham to form this entity to defraud creditors are coming to court now asking for an equal share.  The fact is that we‘ve made all this effort and all those years to collect on this judgment, and I don‘t criticize the Brown family for not doing that, but that‘s been our choice, and they‘ve made their choice. 

ABRAMS:  But is it getting ugly between you and the Browns?  I hope not.

GOLDMAN:  As far as I‘m concerned, no.  I‘m sorry to hear some of the kind of rhetoric that Denise was using today.  That‘s very sad to me.  It‘s uncalled for.  We made a choice:  to pursue this judgment.  According to Arnelle Simpson, in her deposition, she stated that the family knew about this all along. 

ABRAMS:  Well, look, Fred, I hope—I know you hope this, too—that you all can work this out and that O.J. stays the unified enemy here, as opposed to between you and the Brown family. 

GOLDMAN:  Absolutely.  The bottom line is he is a world-class loser.

ABRAMS:  Fred Goldman, good to talk to you again.  Thanks a lot. 

Appreciate it.

GOLDMAN:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Coming up next, confesses of a serial killer.  Stone Phillips‘ prison interview with Jeffrey Dahmer, only months before he was killed by a fellow inmate.  Thanks for watching.



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