updated 8/22/2007 11:23:31 AM ET 2007-08-22T15:23:31

Guests: Paul Rieckhoff, Pete Hegseth, Mayor Hilary Gordon, Sarah Baxter, Jon Leiberman

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Today the U.S. military and 82nd Airborne respond to that scathing “New York Times” op-ed story written by seven active duty soldiers critical of what they call the “occupation” of Iraq.  The question now, whether those soldiers will be punished for writing it without authorization.

In the article, they said, quote, “We are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day.”  “Reports that a majority of Iraqi Army commanders are now reliable partners can be considered only misleading rhetoric.”

Today, the military responded, saying, quote, “We offer soldiers a variety of means by which they can express their personal views, provided they don‘t compromise operational security or Army regulations.”  So did they compromise Army regulations?  And will and should the Army punish these soldiers for speaking out against the war?

Here now is Paul Rieckhoff.  He‘s a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the executive director and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  And 1st Lieutenant Pete Hegseth, who served as an infantry platoon leader with the 101st Airborne in Iraq.  He‘s also executive director of Vetsforfreedom.org.  Gentlemen, thanks for coming on.  Appreciate it.

All right, Paul, should they be punished?

PAUL RIECKHOFF, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETS OF AMERICA:  No, they shouldn‘t, Dan.  They‘re well within their legal rights, according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  They did not compromise any operation security.  They did not violate any Army regulations.  The Multinational Force Iraq actually issued a statement yesterday praising them for their courage and for the valuable aspects of their voices added to this dialogue.  So it looks like they‘re in the clear.  The Army has always encouraged dialogue and professional discussion, and I think this is consistent with that.

ABRAMS:  Before I—before I go to Pete on this, when we‘re not talking about officers—and this is from the Army regulation 530-1 -- they‘re supposed to consult with their immediate supervisor and their officer for review prior to publishing or posting information in a public forum.  Didn‘t happen.

RIECKHOFF:  Well, there are actually two regulations, and this is where we get into the gray area.  There‘s also paragraph 6-6C of the Army regulation 360-1 that says unofficial materials do not require clearance.  It is the author‘s responsibility to ensure security is not compromised.

So we‘ll ultimately see how this pans out.  If the Army wants to take a stand, they can.  But I think we‘re in a gray area here.  This is a new media environment, and these guys are not officers.  They‘re noncommissioned officers, and again, at the tip of the spear with the 82nd Airborne in central Baghdad.  And I think their voice is valuable, and I think the people in the Army, even at the highest ranks, understand that and want our soldiers...

ABRAMS:  My guess is that Pete is going to say that this may have jeopardized security.  Pete?

PETE HEGSETH, VETSFORFREEDOM.ORG:  Well, Dan, I‘m not saying it would necessarily jeopardize security, but I wonder whether they did give their chain of command a heads-up.  I value their opinion.  I think—and I agree with Paul that their opinion is extremely valuable.  Those soldiers on the front line should be heard.  It‘s just whether or not they went to their superiors and said, Hey, we‘re going to give you a heads-up before we...

ABRAMS:  They didn‘t.  They didn‘t.

HEGSETH:  Well, then, I think that chain of command is going to deal with that issue.  But I still...

ABRAMS:  How do you think they should deal with it, Pete?  I mean, do you think that they should be—I mean, look...

HEGSETH:  It‘s not up for me to decide.

ABRAMS:  Well, but what‘s your opinion, though?

HEGSETH:  It‘s really not up for me to decide.  My opinion is that, you know, that company commander, that platoon leader, that battalion commander is going to make a decision based on the record of those soldiers, based on, you know, what the environment is like in that company and in that platoon.  And that‘s literally up to those commanders.  And I think that‘s the way the Army‘s going to treat it.

But their voice is valuable, and their opinion is important, and it‘s also important to remember that the—some of the opinions they expressed are indicative of one particular portion of Baghdad that hasn‘t seen any of the virtues of the surge yet.  And so they‘re expressing a lot of opinions about—about failed strategies that I don‘t think have necessarily...

ABRAMS:  But Pete, what about the fact...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  What about the fact...

RIECKHOFF:  Can I just say, Dan...

ABRAMS:  What about the fact that they‘re serving now?  I mean, what -

is that—I mean, let me read you again more of what they said in this op-ed piece.  “In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect.  They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are, an army of occupation, and force our withdrawal.”

HEGSETH:  I think it‘s—I think it‘s—in many ways, it‘s

irresponsible to speak that way about a mission in the middle of a battle

zone.  But again, that‘s up to the chain of command and how they want to

deal with that.  And it‘s—these soldiers are writing from Sadr City and

a place that has not yet been touched by the surge.  And so a lot of these opinions, while important and extremely valuable and I honor their service, you know, might not be reflective of the way the security environment is turning and has turned in places like Anbar province, Diyala and other neighborhoods of Baghdad...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Paul, I don‘t want to get into the specifics of where things are—where there‘s more progress than others just because I‘m almost out of time here.

RIECKHOFF:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  But on the specific question, Paul, of whether you think that anyone in the Army or in the military is going to take any sort of action here—I‘m not talking about criminals, I‘m talking out administrative action here against these guys.  Do you think they will?

RIECKHOFF:  No, I don‘t think they will.  And I think the Multinational Force Iraq issued a statement yesterday basically saying that.  And we‘ll see what happens here.  I would imagine they probably let some folks in the chain of command know at some level.  I would be very surprised if their platoon leaders didn‘t know this was coming.

And with regard to their perspective, these are seven guys who are right in the middle of it with the 82nd Airborne.  And prior to this, we were basing a lot of the national dialogue on two think tank policy analysts...

ABRAMS:  Right.  Pete, could this...

RIECKHOFF:  ... who spent eight days in Iraq.

ABRAMS:  Pete, could this hurt...

RIECKHOFF:  So I‘d rather listen to a sergeant than a policy wonk any time.

ABRAMS:  Could this hurt them, Pete, in terms of getting a promotion?

HEGSETH:  It could, depending on the environment that they‘re in.  I just think- if they didn‘t let somebody know, whether it‘s the military or not, it‘s bad form.  If you‘re someone in an office elsewhere and you don‘t let your superior know that you‘re going to go public with grievances, that‘s generally bad form.

ABRAMS:  Well, that...

HEGSETH:  Whether or not it‘s illegal...

ABRAMS:  Right.

HEGSETH:  ... in the regs...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Well, that‘s the question.  That‘s what we‘ll have to see if they take action here.  There‘s no question that they did not inform them, at least according to the military officials we spoke with.  But we‘ll see if they take any action.  I think both of you are right, though, that probably no administrative action will be taken.  It just wouldn‘t be smart.  All right.  Paul Rieckhoff and Pete Hegseth, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

RIECKHOFF:  Thank you, Dan.

HEGSETH:  Thank you, Dan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD STICKLER, MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION :  No matter how a miner might access the main west area, seismic activity and pillar instability will pose significant risk.  The suspension that we have on the underground operation will remain suspended indefinitely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Officials have called off the underground search for those six trapped miners in Utah, conditions inside the mine deemed so dangerous that the only hope now is the slow process of drilling from above.  Now angry family members are demanding that the rescue efforts resume, and they are none too pleased with the mine owners.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE ALLRED, BROTHER OF TRAPPED MINER:  My brother is trapped underground, and I‘m hearing that they‘re—they‘re basically giving up.  And that‘s unacceptable, absolutely unacceptable.  I can‘t live with that.  His family can‘t live with that.  We‘ve got to—one way or the other, we‘ve got to have closure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  My take.  I completely understand his feelings, but it is also time to address the real question here.  It‘s not, Do we desperately want to find those missing miners?  Of course.  It‘s not whether it‘s worth the financial cost to continue.  Of course it is.  The question is whether it‘s worth the possible human price.  Is it worth risking any other lives more than two weeks after these six men went missing, knowing that even when they locate them, it‘ll probably take two more weeks to reach them.  Realistically, this must now be viewed as a recovery effort.  Three rescuers are already dead, more injured.  The mountain is still moving.  Holding out hope is necessary.  Demanding that no one be left behind is noble.  But can we really put more brave rescuers in harm‘s way now?

Hilary Gordon is the mayor of Huntington, Utah, where the mine is located.  Mayor Gordon, thank you for taking the time.  Appreciate it.  Let me ask you, what is the reaction in the community to the decision to call off the rescue effort?

MAYOR HILARY GORDON, HUNTINGTON, UTAH:  I think most of the people in the community are accepting of the decision and understand the reason why it was made.  I can understand the family‘s emotional attachment and I can also understand their feelings right now, to want some closure, to have that person, or the body, and be able to go on with life.  And I understand it from both sides.

ABRAMS:  Mayor, have you had to take a public political position?  I would assume that this is the issue of the day in this community.  Have you, as the mayor, had to take a position one way or the other on the rescue effort?

GORDON:  No.  No, I have not.  That has not been anything that I have been actually asked to be involved in.  I have been with the families and with the original families of the ones that we call the “lost six” and have been with those and was with them yesterday when Mr. Murray came down and talked to them and understood their reaction and...

ABRAMS:  Are they angry?

GORDON:  You know, some of them were angry.  But I think that what happens is that when it finally sinks in, if that‘s the way to put it, by the time you realize what has actually taken place, then it‘s like denial.  And then you just want to reach out or lash out.  It‘s natural human tendency to do that.  I‘m not saying it‘s right, I‘m just saying it seems to be that you want to lash out there.  And I can see that the families were frustrated and they felt that maybe they had not been getting the exact truth.

But I really think that the management, the owners, were doing the best they could to give the truth.  There were a lot of hints and innuendoes going on all through these weeks, these last two weeks...

ABRAMS:  So maybe...

GORDON:  ... as the fact that they may not be there.

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you this.  Do you—you know, apart from the political side of this, as a practical—as a member of that community, do you support the decision to call off the rescue effort?

GORDON:  I myself do.

ABRAMS:  You do.

GORDON:  My own self, I support that decision because I see—today we had a funeral for Dale Black and two others in the next few days that gave their lives in trying to rescue men that—I think in the beginning, maybe the families didn‘t understand the enormity of this cave-in.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  I agree with you, Mayor.  As I‘ve just said, I think that, you know, there‘s no good answer here, but...

GORDON:  No.  No, there‘s not.

ABRAMS:  It seems that when the choice is potentially risking more lives and the reality is that the chances are really infinitesimal at this point that this is still a rescue effort, I think you have to make that tough choice.

GORDON:  Yes.  I had said even before it was made that I hoped I would never have to make that choice because it certainly was a tough one.  It was tough for Mr. Murray.  I could see he was having a very difficult time last night delivering that information to the families.  But he held fast to the truth that he knew.

ABRAMS:  All right.  And my heart goes out to these families.  I understand their reaction, as do you.  Mayor, thanks so much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

GORDON:  You bet.  Thank you for asking.  And thank you for everyone and their concerns.

ABRAMS:  Up next: A new lead in the search for missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann, who vanished while on vacation.  Now police are saying her disappearance may be linked to a string of burglaries which took place in the same vacation complex where she went missing.

And later: New immigration outrage in the brutal killing of a 15-year-old Oregon girl.  Just months before the murder, the suspect admitted in court he was in the U.S. illegally.  Immigration officials were never notified.  How is this still happening?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  New developments tonight in the case of missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann, who disappeared from her parents‘ vacation home back on May 3.  Police are now closing in on a possible new suspect they believe may have killed the girl during a botched robbery and possibly even dumped her body at sea.

Joining me now is Sarah Baxter from “The Sunday Times” of London and Jon Leiberman from “America‘s Most Wanted.”  His producer spoke to Portuguese officials and the McCann family today.

All right.  So Jon, I understand the development is that the family has been advised not to leave Portugal.  What does that mean?

JON LEIBERMAN, “AMERICA‘S MOST WANTED”:  Well, Dan, the family was—said that they were going to go back to England this week, in fact.  The police have said the investigation is heating up, that they should stay put in Portugal.  Here‘s what police told us today.  They said that sniffer dogs have uncovered significant evidence both in the apartment where Madeleine was staying and other areas around that, as well.

Now, we do know that tests, DNA tests—we‘re waiting for the results to come back on blood specks that were found in the apartment where Madeleine was staying.  Now, we‘re also told that police are re-interviewing people all in that entire set of villas because, it turns out, many of those people told police that they had been burglarized, as well, with people who may have even had keys to their apartments because there was no forced entry.

So now police are operating under the theory, at least, the assumption that perhaps Madeleine McCann was the victim of a botched robbery.  Maybe she woke up when somebody was in there ransacking the place, or trying to ransack the place, and she tried to interrupt a burglary, and she was killed right in the apartment.  That‘s the operating theory right now.

ABRAMS:  Sarah, why has it taken so long to get here?  I mean, we‘re talking about a girl who went missing in May, and now the authorities have this new theory with—they want to go re-interview people months later.

SARAH BAXTER, “SUNDAY TIMES” OF LONDON:  Well, I wonder if they‘re clutching at straws, really.  But there was a lady living in the apartment above Madeleine who said that she‘d surprised an intruder nearby.  And another resident has come forward to talk about these burglaries.  They‘re pretty petty burglaries, I must say.

But the police have been stumped for a long time about a motive for killing Madeleine and have been hinting that she may have been killed in the apartment either by accident or design for some time.  And I think they‘re desperate now to get some sort of theory together.  They‘re talking about a decisive breakthrough, but what they‘re really saying is, We haven‘t got a live girl, we haven‘t got a body, but we may have a workable theory of what happened to her.

ABRAMS:  But Jon, look, you work for “America‘s Most Wanted.”  That would change the way they go about this search.  I mean, it would change the basics of what they‘re doing in terms of police work.

LEIBERMAN:  Well, the fact that they‘re executing new search warrants, Dan, indicates that have new evidence.  And the fact—look, I agree with you 100 percent.  They have botched this thing from the beginning.  You don‘t find blood specks 120 days after the fact.  I mean, their crime scene has been contaminated, et cetera, et cetera.  However, by telling this family that has really been through it, I mean, this courageous family—by telling them, Look, stay put in Portugal, we‘re getting to a certain point, there is progress in the case.

ABRAMS:  And Jon, what about—I mean, we‘re putting right up there the new evidence, the multiple burglaries, witnesses saw a man carrying a child in a blanket towards the sand the night she disappeared, no evidence connected to this guy they said was a person of interest.

But let me ask you, you guys have created this new description of the suspect in the case, Jon.  Who is this guy?

LEIBERMAN:  Well, this is a description that police have given us, and it‘s stayed pretty consistent overt the past couple months.  And this is a witness who saw this man with a young girl the night that she went missing.

ABRAMS:  Got it.

LEIBERMAN:  This is somebody police are still looking to question. 

But again, it‘s wide open in terms of suspects right now.

ABRAMS:  So Sarah, can the family still hold out hope that Madeleine is alive?

LEIBERMAN:  Look, we talked to...

ABRAMS:  Let me ask Sarah.  Let me ask Sarah that.  Sarah, go ahead.

BAXTER:  They‘ve been through so many ups and downs.  Poor Maddy‘s mother said not that long ago she‘d almost rather know what happened to Maddy and that she was no longer alive than spend the rest of her life in limbo.  But of course, they‘re hopeful.  They never want to give up on their little girl.  But it does seem a bit cruel that just as they were psychologically girding themselves to leave Portugal with their two young twins, something they said they didn‘t want to do because they didn‘t want to leave behind their missing girl—just as they‘re getting ready to go, the police say, Don‘t go yet, and yet don‘t seem to have anything really concrete to say.  It‘s all very speculative.

ABRAMS:  All right.  We‘ll continue to follow this.  Sarah Baxter and Jon Leiberman, thanks very much.  Appreciate it.

LEIBERMAN:  Sure.

BAXTER:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up: New outrage over a grisly murder of a 15-year-old girl.  It‘s another case where one of the suspects was in the country illegally, and the authorities knew about it, never contacted immigration officials.  How do these guys slip through the cracks?

But first: Fox‘s Bill O‘Reilly proves he‘s smarter than a former bikini model.  We‘ll report, you decide, next in “Beat the Press.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press, our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV.  First up: Last night, Fox‘s Bill O‘Reilly invited on a former bikini model who is starring in a reality program where she serves as a news anchor at a local station.  But it seemed that O‘Reilly just wanted to lecture about how good he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”:  Did you see the interview I just did with the Navy SEAL?  Could you have done that interview?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well, maybe not exactly up to par as you did it, but I think that I could take a stab at it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  No, Bill!  You can‘t ask her to be as good as you are!

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘REILLY:  All right.  Do you know where the Hindu Kush is?  Do you know what the Pashtuns are?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Next up: Last night, I interviewed a conservative radio talk show host about a new proposal that would require all porn stars to cough up personal information about themselves.  He went head to head, so to speak, with porn legend Ron Jeremy.  But John DiPietro (ph) sure seemed to have an extensive knowledge of Ron‘s work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s funny that someone like Ron Jeremy, star of “Planet of the Whores” and also “21 Huff Street” and some of these other films, says they want to protect themselves with the 1st Amendment.

Dan, why would you trust the sleaziest industry, people that make “The Mutiny on the Booty”?

When you were making “Throbbing Hood,” how do you know that everyone that was a star actor in that movie, that they were actually of age?

Dan, this is not going to affect the next time Ron wants to a remake of “City Lickers.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Must have been hard for John to appear on a program with a personal hero of his.

We want your help in beating the press.  If you see anything amusing, absurd, right or wrong in the press, go to our Web site, Abrams.msnbc.com.  Please leave us a tip in the box.  Please include the show and the time you saw the item.  Tip in the box—sounds like I‘m asking for money.  We‘re not.

Coming up: An illegal immigrant accused of killing a 15-year-old girl.  We‘re now learning authorities knew the man was here illegally before the murder.  They never notified immigration officials.  How and why is this still happening?  We‘ll debate.

And later, inside a real-life CSI, MSNBC‘s rare, in-depth look at how a group of investigators use forensic science to solve a puzzling crime.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Up next, California prosecutors dropped the case tonight against that self-described pedophile who appeared on this program.  That is next, but first, the latest headlines.

(NEWSBREAK)

ABRAMS:  Breaking news tonight, prosecutors dropped the charges against a self- described pedophile blotter, Jack McClellan.  McClellan was arrested last week for violating a restraining order that prohibited him from being within 30 feet of any child in the State of California.  The prosecutors say they dropped the case for other reasons including the judge that issued the order failed to offer him with a proper hearing.  Last week authorities arrested the 45 year old in a lobby of an infant development center on the campus of UCLA then hours later McClellan was arrested a second time for trespassing after he returned to the campus for a TV interview.  Joining us now is former California prosecutor Paul Pfingst. 

All right.  Paul, why did they do this?  Lay it out for us in English/

PAUL PFINGST, FORMER CALIFORNIA PROSECUTOR (on phone):  Dan, if anybody could be accused of violating a court order, it has to be a lawful order.  In this case, when the judge issued the order, he did not do the things he needed to do to make the order lawful.  He did not follow the steps, he didn‘t dot Is, he didn‘t cross the Ts.  Therefore the order was unlawful and nobody could be prosecuted for violating an order that is not lawful.

ABRAMS:  And why don‘t you explain to us because some people will say, is that for the prosecutor to decide?  Shouldn‘t another court make that decision rather than the prosecutor?  How do you respond to that?

PFINGST:  In a criminal contempt action, which this was, is the prosecutor‘s duty to see whether the case can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.  And if the prosecutor determines that it cannot, the prosecutor has an ethical responsibility to not go forward with the case.  That is what happened here.  The prosecutor recognize that there was a spot in the way the court did its order and the prosecutor behaved responsibly.

ABRAMS:  Here‘s what Jack McClellan said when he was on this program.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  You can understand, can‘t you, that you are every parent‘s worst nightmare?

JACK MCCLELLAN, PEDOPHILE BLOGGER:  Yes.  And I am listening to all this criticism and anger, that‘s especially in the last few months, and I‘m taking everything into account.  I hope to eventually tailor the site to where it is not generating so much hysteria.

ABRAMS:  Jack look, you are scaring a lot of people out there.  I think you know that, right?  You are scaring a lot of parents to death.  You have got to stop.  You are committing to us that you‘re going to stop, right?  You‘re not going to go photograph and you are not going to go stare kids.  I‘m not saying that people are not going to be out to get you, but I am just saying for the sake of moving forward here, you‘re not going to do this anymore, right?

MCCLELLAN:  Well, I do not know.

ABRAMS:  That is a lot to ask, isn‘t it?  It is a lot to ask, not to do that?

MCCLELLAN:  All I am telling you right now is that I am definitely not going to put any pictures that I believe would upset anyone.  The only pictures I have taken here in California are just real wide field shots.

ABRAMS:  Somebody is going to come and hurt you.  I‘ve got to believe that you‘re going to be trolling one of these playgrounds and there‘s more to be some dad who is going to come up and punch you.

MCCLELLAN:  If he could see me at these events, and I was at the Orange County fair recently a number of times this month and there were no problems. I do not think anyone would really know unless the saw that mug shot that has been floating around for the last few days but other than that I don‘t think I really stand out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Paul Pfingst, final 10 seconds, is there anything that they can do to him out of the charges can be dropped?

PFINGST:  Absolutely nothing.  The problem with this case has always been that he has not actually committed a crime and the law restricts prosecutors, police, and the law enforcement criminal justice system from prosecuting people for what they think.  It only permit us to prosecute people for what they do.

ABRAMS:  Paul Pfingst.  As always, thanks a lot.

PFINGST:  You‘re welcome, Dan.

ABRAMS:  It is hard to believe it has happened again—an illegal immigrant who could have been stopped before he brutally murdered a promising young student.  Fifteen-year-old Danni Countryman (ph) was found dead under a blanket on her sister‘s couch with boot marks across her face and neck after a going away party the night of July 27.

According to court documents, Alex Rivera Gamboa awoke to the sounds of his cousin, Arlano Gamboa (ph) and Danni struggling on the floor.  He apparently helped his cousin restrain her by pressing his foot against her neck until she stopped moving, but it could have been avoided.  Last year, Gamboa admitted to being in the country illegally after two DUI convictions.  In fact, he actually signed a court document and checked a box admitting he was not a citizen of the United States.

From the district attorney to Gamboa‘s probation officer, no one alerted immigration officials.  Gamboa and his cousin now charged with aggravated murder, attempted rape and attempted sexual assault.

My take, how does this happen?  In Newark, New Jersey, an illegal immigration repeatedly charged with child rape was set free and then he allegedly executed three promising college students.  Why isn‘t there a one strike and you‘re out rule when an illegal immigrant breaks the law.

Joining us now, Jim Redden, reporter with the “Portland Tribune”, Lars Larsen, a Portland radio talk show host a criminal defense attorney Jeralyn Merritt.  Thanks to you all for coming on the program.

All right, Jim, first lay out the facts for us.  Exactly what happened according to the authorities that night.

JIM REDDEN, “PORTLAND TRIBUNE” REPORTER:  There was a party at an apartment complex in Milwaukie, Oregon where Danni Countryman and her sister had gone to visit friends.  It was a going away party for Danni.  She was going to be returning to Texas.  Her sister last saw Danni alive at about 5:00 in the morning and then discovered her body in an apartment at a few hours later.

The prosecutors believed that Danni went into the next-door apartment where she was assaulted and killed by the two cousins who were living there.  And that is basically what happened that night.

ABRAMS:  Jeralyn Merrit, let me read you this.  This is from the Clackamas County probation official who said that their experience is that immigration officials do not do anything unless it is a felony.  And even then, it just depends.  They basically say if they don‘t have a felony, don‘t bother us.

Why should they not be bothering them for any crime when it comes to an illegal immigrant?

JERALYN MERRITT, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Because not every crime requires deportation.  Nor should it.

ABRAMS:  For illegal immigrants.

MERRITT:  That‘s right.  There is no crime wave among illegal immigrants.  Look at the crime, not the status of the person.  This guy was at accused and convicted of DUI.  That is a misdemeanor.  It does not require automatic deportation.  The Supreme Court has said so.

ABRAMS:  He should still be able to remain in the country illegally after two DUIs just because it is not a serious enough crime?

MERRITT:  No, I am saying that he is in here illegally, they have the right to start—to start deportation proceedings and get him out.  But he is in custody for a DUI which is not a deportable offense.  We have law-enforcement that needs to act as law enforcement, not as immigration officials.  That is a federal job.

And if there is somebody under arrest that police feel may be an illegal immigrant, they can call ICE, they can ask ICE to lodge what‘s called a detainer against a person so that when the person makes bond or when the person is convicted ...

ABRAMS:  But they do not do that.  That‘s the problem.

MERRITT:  Well, that is a problem with this particular jurisdiction, but not a problem with illegal immigrants or undocumented residents.

ABRAMS:  And I‘m going to ask Lars Larsen to focus on that issue because Lars, I know that you have a big problem with immigration in this country in general.  But if you can focus on this particular issue because you‘re a talk show host there in Oregon.  I‘ve got to assume there are a lot of angry people.

LARS LARSEN, KXL, RADIOPORTLAND, OREGON:  There are a lot of angry people.  And I want to tell you something.  I do not have a problem with immigration, I have a problem with illegal aliens and there‘s a world of difference.  This man was not an immigrant.

ABRAMS:  All right.  But let‘s focus on that.  Let‘s focus on what happened in this case.  And it sounds like it‘s a matter of course.

LARSEN:  Here is what it is.  Oregon and many states have become a sanctuary places for illegal aliens.  They are lawbreakers in crossing into our country.  They are lawbreakers when they work, they are lawbreakers when they steal Social Security numbers.

ABRAMS:  Let‘s focus on committing crimes.

LARSEN:  Jeralyn is wrong.  There is a crime involving illegal aliens

they are estimated to be three percent of Oregon‘s population, for example, but they‘re seven percent of our state prison population.  They are on some nights, 30 percent a sign of our jail population in some of our counties which means we have a problematic population full of people who have broken the laws of our country and are inclined to break more of them including, and this happens far too often.  Young girls become the object of sexual attention from a adult illegal aliens to the point where two years ago, the Mexican consul here in Portland said that he was dismayed that so many young men who were dating 14-year-old girls were being described as rapists.  Well, they are rapists.

ABRAMS:  And Jeralyn, this is a guy who checked a box in his DUI case saying I understand I am not a citizen of the United States.  A criminal conviction could cause me to be deported, denied U.S. citizenship or refuse to enter the United States.

I mean, what is wrong with saying that any illegal immigrant who gets convicted of a crime - again, convicted of a crime, immediately, that the immigration authorities should find out about it and immediately they should be the priority people to get out of the country.

MERRITT:  Because the vast number of immigrants in this country are law-abiding .

ABRAMS:  Who commits crimes?  Focus on the question.

MERRITT:  Now, if the person commits a crime, there should be a way to take into account that individual‘s circumstances.  For example, perhaps it was a minor crime, like a DUI, the person has lived here for 30 years, has never had any other trouble with the law.  Is paying taxes and raising a family here.  That person may not deserve to be deported.  On the other hand, our federal law already provides mandatory deportation for anyone convicted of what‘s called ...

ABRAMS:  Give you a final word on this Lars.

LARSEN:  Jeralyn is wrong on this.

MERRITT:  I am not wrong.

LARSEN:  The average DUI has driven drunk 200 or 400 times before they get caught the first time.  This guy had been caught twice.  He had put people‘s lives at risk in my country and he had no right to be here, which is why he should have been booted.

MERRITT:  Target the crime, not the status as an immigrant.

ABRAMS:  I‘m targeting the crime and his—You can do both.  I am targeting his crime and his status.  The bottom line is .

MERRITT:  You shouldn‘t target his status.

ABRAMS:  . if you are an illegal immigrant and you commit a crime, one strike and you are out.  It is not that hard.  It seems pretty straightforward.

MERRITT:  It is also wrong.

ABRAMS:  Are right, well, take a look at that picture of that girl. 

Let‘s put it up one more time.  And we can then.

MERRITT:  It could have just as easily been an American who murdered her?

ABRAMS:  But it wasn‘t.  It was not.

Tim Redden, Lars Larsen, and as always Jeralyn Merritt.  Thanks a lot. 

Appreciate it.

MERRITT:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  Up next, behind the scenes of a real-life CSI case.  We‘ll show you an up close look at how crime scene investigators used forensic clues to solve a murder mystery.  And later the miraculous rescue of a dog trapped underground for four days.  The dog‘s owners are with us ahead.  And “Winners and Losers.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is a damn shame we did not get to him sooner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I sure will miss him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You know, David, I have seen a fire ant bites in my time, but never anything like this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  “CSI” is praised for its real life gritty feel, but how real is it?  Do cases play out for medical examiners the way they do on primetime TV.  MSNBC‘s new documentary “Dead Men Talking, Double Homicide” tries to answer that question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Humans can be quite creative in the ways that they can hurt each other and in the way that they actually cause the death of someone else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Crime investigation is a team effort, according to Dr. Traci Corey (ph), the chief medical examiner for the state of Kentucky.  She is one of several investigators to work to unravel the mysteries behind the deaths of the victims who arrive in her autopsy room.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I like puzzles.  Every single case presents its own mysteries to try to figure out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You will see all that it takes to solve one of those mysteries.  Coroner Ron Holmes (ph), homicide detectives including Chris Middleton (ph), and forensic experts race to the scene where two dead bodies are found inside a car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  As best as we can tell right now without opening the car up there‘s one person shot in the side of that and the other person, we cannot tell yet because of the position.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  A young man and a woman slump in the seat. 

Troubled lovers?  Maybe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The first thought was murder suicide.  He shoots her and then he shoots himself.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Working with detectives, coroner Holmes and deputy coroner Joanne Farmer (ph) help nail down the victims‘ identifications.  The man through his car and later, his driver‘s license.

The female victim has no ID on her.  The police are receiving leads about a missing 18-year-old girl.  They believe they have a match based on her tattoos and clothing.  The cops and crime scene technicians swarm around the car, taking photographs, searching for clues and checking for fingerprints.  The coroners are now backing off their murder/suicide theory.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I see a personal vendetta here.  The wounds are very personal.  Now, I think is a homicide.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Our job is to decide how the person died.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It is a job that gives new meaning to the question, “what is a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Every single case presents its own puzzles and its own mysteries to try to figure out.  And when you can figure out a particular case and put the whole picture together, that is very rewarding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Dr. Tracey Corey, Kentucky‘s chief medical examiner, is a star of a real-life drama that played out daily in this room in an old converted hospital in downtown Louisville.

TRACEY COREY, MEDICAL EXAMINER:  The other I find personally rewarding is when I can help families find the answers that they are seeking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Her professional life as some similarities to the highly stylized depictions in shows like “Crossing Jordan” and “CSI.”

Mostly that each day at autopsy she faces death in many of its most violent forms—the tragic accident, the suicide, the murders.

COREY:  My role is to do a complete examination, to gather all the physical evidence that I can, to document that physical evidence to the best of my ability.  And by doing so, that allows the victim to tell me the story and I should tell the story to those people who have the right to know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Dr. Corey finds that the victims‘ wounds provide clues, clues that will help investigators determine a key detail—how close the gun was to the victim.

Now, the bodies of the gunshot victims, Ashley Yennis (ph) and Anthony Housey (ph), are being about evaluated by medical examiner, Tracey Corey.  She is looking for any evidence to help investigators crack the case.  Dr.  Corey is at a crucial stage in Ashley‘s autopsy.  She is searching for the bullet that killed her.

COREY:  I think is impacting the inner table of the skull here and then it just doesn‘t have enough energy so we‘re going to get the bullet from right under there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And after several minutes of probing, there is an unmistakable sound.  Metal on metal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  One down.

COREY:  One down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Continuing your search, Dr. Corey finds a second bullet.  And extracts it.

She is pleased that the condition of this bullet, like the one already recovered, could help the police track down the murder weapon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  “Dead Men Talking: Double Homicide” premieres tonight at 11:00 Eastern on MSNBC at 11:00.  Up next will today‘s big winner be a dog trapped under ground for four days, stiletto wearing athletes who run like the wind or survivors of a fiery airline accident.  Earth, wind and fire and we look at the day‘s winners and losers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s winners and losers for this 21st day of August, 2007.

Our first winner, the Pennsylvania golfer Sheila Drummond (ph), who sunk a hole in one during driving rains.  Did I mention that she is blind?  Her 144 yard drive cleared a water hazard and two sand traps before striking the flag stick and dropping in the whole.  Sheila did not need to see it to believe it.  She said she actually heard it hit the pin and a drop in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It is in the hole.  It is in the hole.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Our first loser, this yet to be nabbed thief, seen stealing a handgun once owned by Elvis.  Electronic eyes caught this burglar as he snagged the King‘s old nine millimeter gun at the Elvis After Dark Museum Graceland.  But maybe he heard the sounds of jail doors closing.  He took after dropping it in a hole, a portable toilet behind the museum.

The second loser, China Airlines.  They offered a measly $100 to each of the 157 passengers who survived this airline inferno yesterday.  Each got a handshake from the company‘s CEO and a red envelope with their $100 payoff.

The second winner, 100 high-heel wearing women, who took part in a 100 meter run over the weekend.  Each stiletto stumbler sported shoes with a minimum of more than 2.5 inches.  The winner finished the race in under 15 seconds, taking home $12,900 more than of the survivors of the China Air flight.

But the big loser of the day, this 30-year-old California man who led police on a high- speed chase, then needed to be rescued after his car burst into flames.  The officer pursuing the vehicle smashed through the passenger side window, pulled out the trapped driver, and he was left with a broken collarbone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAEL:  Help me, I do not want to die.  Stop, drop, and roll.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You are not on fire, Ricky Bobby.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The big winner of the day, collared canine Alex the Dalmatian, rescued by his owners after being trapped underground for four days.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I got my dog.  I got my dog.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The Dalmation disappeared Thursday, wedging himself in a pipe 25 feet underground.  His owners heard his cries for help and used a backhoe to dig down and rescue their pet of 15 years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I really didn‘t think he would be alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Here with us is Mary and Larry Thompson and their Dalmatian, Alex.  Thanks a lot for coming on the program, appreciate it.

All right, Larry, so I understand during this time you were able to actually communicate with Alex?

LARRY THOMPSON, DOG RESCUED:  Yes, during most of the time, I was able to communicate with him.

ABRAMS:  How did you do it?

L. THOMPSON:  Well, when I first discovered him missing, the only way I could locate him was with a drainpipe that he had entered into.  And I knelt down and I could hear him breathing through the drain pipe.  That is the way I found out, discovered where he was.

ABRAMS:  And then you kept communicating with him, talking with him, trying to send down food and water.

L. THOMPSON:  Yes.  I kept communicating with him so he would stay alert.  And realized that someone was there and comforted the dog during the time.  Actually I did not know how long he was going to last through this stuff.  A couple of times I had just about give him up.  He surprisingly survived the incident.  We are happy for him.

ABRAMS:  Mary, how is Alex doing now?

MARY THOMPSON, DOG RESCUED:  He has some cuts and bruises.  And he is very tired at the moment.  I think he is going to be fine.

ABRAMS:  It looks like he is taking a well-deserved snooze right now.

L. THOMPSON:  Yes, he is.

ABRAMS:  All right, Mary and Larry Thompson, thank you very much for coming on the program.  And it sounds like a lot of hard work over four days paid off.

L. THOMPSON:  Yes, a lot of work.  Thank you very much.

ABRAMS:  Good luck to Alex, as well.

L. THOMPSON:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  That is all we have for tonight.  Up next, LOCKUP “Inside Alaska,” 500 inmates are housed there.  Thanks for watching, see you tomorrow.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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