updated 10/8/2007 10:48:20 AM ET 2007-10-08T14:48:20

Guests: James Risen, Robert Baer, Joan Walsh, Brandon Friedman

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST (voice-over):  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

When everything is classified, how do we know President Bush is not lying?  How do we know he is not using the nuance definition cherry-picked for him by his Justice Department when he insists again today... 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  This government does not torture people. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And everything is classified.  And if you ask, you are helping the terrorists. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  You want to know the techniques that we use so we can tell al Qaeda exactly what we are going to do?  That‘s absurd. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The question isn‘t will al Qaeda know what, it‘s whether or not we know what we are doing. 

The religious fundamentalists head for the hills.  James Dobson demands anti-abortion nominee or he will support a third party candidate. 

Who in the current parties is the most polarizing?  Romney, Giuliani, Clinton?  Surprising results from the, yeah, polarization poll. 

Rush Limbaugh‘s phony soldiers‘ cover-up.  The Republican National Committee now turning it into a fundraiser.  Limbaugh having attacked the votevet‘s legitimacy, then their patriotism, now questioning their intelligence.  This, on the same day he boasts that he passed his latest drug test. 

The extraordinary public admission by Olympic track gold medalist Marion Jones. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARION JONES, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST:  So it is with a great amount of shame that I stand before you and tell you that I have betrayed your trust. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  She did use steroids.  She did lie about it.  We will play you her entire moving statement. 

And the always necessary cartoons, though even the mascots are getting political.  If this is the best you can do for me on a flying car, I‘m taking the bus. 

Oddball‘s plays of the month tonight.

All that and more, now on “Countdown.” 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They defecate all over the place. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN (on camera):  Good evening from New York.  To paraphrase the last president of the United States, whether the Bush administration tortures its terrorism suspects depends entirely on what your definition of torture is.  It may also depend on whether you are willing to take, on faith, despite six and a half years of repeated obfuscations and lies, the president‘s claim today that his government is not in the torture business. 

Our fifth story on the “Countdown” claims mere talk, all that was forth coming from the White House today as it was defending its methods for detaining and questioning terrorism suspects, and who knows who else, in the wake of yesterday‘s revelation of secret memos from February 2005, in which the administration secretly endorsed brutal interrogation practices while publicly claiming all torture, quote, “abhorrent.” 

At a hastily called appearance at the Oval Office this morning in which he also tried to assert the economy is strong—taking a look at the dollar lately, sir? -- Mr. Bush repeating the talking point that his government does not torture.  Why?  Because he says so. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  This government does not torture people.  You know, we—we stick to U.S. law and our international obligations. 

OLBERMANN:  In addition to how the administration questions terrorism suspects is the matter of where it questions terrorism suspects.  The president having revived the CIA‘s secret overseas prison system of so-called black sites.  Mr. Bush alluding to that program this morning with great emphasis and pride. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  I have put this program in place for a reason.  And that is to better protect the American people.  And when we find somebody who may have information regarding a potential attack on America, you bet we are going to detain them. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  As for that pesky thing called congressional oversight, President Bush alleging that lawmakers were in the loop. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  The techniques that we use have been fully disclosed to appropriate members of the United States Congress. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  That‘s not quite how the appropriate members of Congress see it, seeing how they never saw the actual documents describing the administration‘s interrogation methods. 

The Intelligence Committee Chair Senator Jay Rockefeller issuing a statement, quote:  “The administration can‘t have it both ways.  I‘m tired of these games.  They can‘t say that Congress has been fully briefed while refusing to turn over key documents used to justify the legality of the program.” 

Senator Rockefeller writing to the acting attorney general, Peter Keisler, asking for copies of all opinions on torture since 2004. 

White House Counsel Fred Fielding probably drawing up the executive privilege response as we speak. 

Why the need for such secrecy, you ask?  If you have to ask, the White House press secretary is employed to tell you it is done for a reason.  Because, by asking, you are helping terrorists.  You want to know the techniques that we use?  She said in a vapid response to a torture question, so we can tell al Qaeda exactly what we are going to do? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERINO:  It is absolutely important and critically—it‘s critically important that we keep this information secret.  It is secret for a reason.  We don‘t go around classifying things just for the willy-nilly.  You do it for a reason.  I would object to anyone saying that this president would not do whatever needs to be done, within the law, to make sure that people are taken care of. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  I checked with James Comey on that in the law part.  That we even know there were secret memos from 2005, is due to James Risen, along with his colleagues Scott Shane and David Johnston, who broke the story in yesterday‘s editions of the “New York Times.”  Mr. Risen is also the author of “State of War, the Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.”  He is kind enough to join us this evening. 

Thank you for your time tonight, sir. 

JAMES RISEN, COLUMNIST, “NEW YORK TIMES” AND AUTHOR:  Thanks for having me. 

OLBERMANN:  The president and the press secretary, Ms. Perino, both trying to claim this morning that members of Congress were fully briefed on the government‘s interrogation techniques.  Even if they weren‘t shown the actual memos that outlined those methods, might it be possible that they define fully briefed the same it defines not torturing, broadly and vaguely and fluidly as possible? 

RISEN:  The problem is that in 2005, they had clearly left the impression with Congress that they had changed and that they were no longer doing what they had been doing before.  And that—you have to remember this was at a time when the McCain Amendment was working its way through Congress. 

And the first of these memos was really in anticipation of what Congress was about to do.  It‘s very clear—this is what we reported yesterday—was that these memos were in anticipation of the McCain Amendment.  Really, in an effort to make the McCain Amendment academic and irrelevant.  So that it didn‘t stop them from doing what they wanted to do secretly. 

I think what they are trying to say is that while it‘s true that Congress has been briefed on the operations of the interrogations, what they were not briefed on sufficiently, I think most of them would argue, was the status of the legal standards by which the administration was using and pursuing this. 

OLBERMANN:  Given all the people you talked to in your reporting, all the reporting you have done on this story, do you find much to support the distinction that the White House made today that there is consistency in the interrogation policies of December of 2004 during the period of time that this was declared abhorrent, that torture was abhorrent and February of 2005, the time of the new memo? 

RISEN:  What they are really missing, I think, and what they‘re trying to do by saying we don‘t torture, is that what you have got to remember is what the office of legal counsel and the Justice Department does is it defines torture.  So the importance of these legal memos was that they then say what is torture and what is not torture.  What is legal and what is not legal. 

The importance of the secret memos is that they were defining torture in a way to make it so that none of the interrogations methods that the United States had been using were torture.  They secretly continued to say that they were not torture after they had said we‘re no longer going to do what we had been doing, which, publicly, had already been criticized as being torture. 

It‘s essentially a tautology.  They are saying it‘s not torture because they had a Justice Department official who said it wasn‘t torture. 

OLBERMANN:  Wonderful and descriptive word, tautology.  Let me read you something NBC News obtained today, a memo that General Michael Hayden, the director of the CIA, sent to his employees today, in response to your story, the revelation of the secret memos.

Among many justifications he gives for agency interrogation policies, the general says this:  “The agency has worked closely with the Department of Justice and others in our government to ensure that the interrogation program operates in strict accord with U.S. law and take full account of any changes in the law.  We have been proactive in seeking opinions that anticipate new legislation or fresh interpretations of exiting laws and treaties.

Mr. Risen, would fresh interpretation of laws and treaties be a fresh way of saying the Geneva Conventions are quaint? 

RISEN:  Yes, basically what they‘re saying and what they‘re acknowledging there is that the whole purpose of the 2005 legal opinions was to reflect the CIA‘s concerns about how they had been operating for the last few years.  You have got to remember by 2005, they had a lot of experience with interrogations.  Much more so than they had when the first legal opinions had been written in 2002. 

And what one of them—really interesting parts of the 2005 memo, was it dealt with the combined effects of all of the various interrogation techniques.  That really reflected the experiences of the CIA for the last few years.  It wasn‘t just that you water board somebody.  It was that you do a lot of different techniques in combination. 

OLBERMANN:  James Risen of the “New York Times.”  Thanks for your time tonight and great thanks for the excellent reporting on this extraordinary story. 

RISEN:  Thanks very much. 

OLBERMANN:  Thank you. 

CIA Director Hayden justifying the agency‘s methods today by claiming to his employees that they work.  Another passage from that memo saying that the U.S. and their allies have used, quote, “the priceless intelligence from these men to disrupt plots, unravel networks and save lives.”

Such a track record has been achieved and we have to take the unverified word of a dubious government for that, it is unprecedented in human history, which is shown time and time again and that as former POW Senator John McCain put it in South Carolina just yesterday, quote, “I can ensure you if you inflict enough physical pain on someone, they will tell you anything that they think you want to know to relieve the pain.” 

For a further reality check on this subject, let‘s turn to former CIA Case Officer Robert Baer whose books “See no Evil” and “Sleeping with the Devil, were the basis for the movie “Seriana.”  He‘s now a columnist on intelligence matters for the web site of “Time” magazine. 

Bob, thanks for your time tonight. 

ROBERT BAER, AUTHOR:  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  The administration‘s defense, thus far, seems to be the semantical one.  What would you call, if we are going to get gown to definitions, what would you call simulated drowning, head slapping, near freezing? 

BAER:  Torture.  It causes pain and that‘s the definition of torture.  These are techniques that American police are prohibited from doing under the Eighth Amendment of our Constitution.  It‘s illegal.  It‘s torture.  It‘s always been defined as torture temperature. 

OLBERMANN:  General Hayden, President Bush both claimed today to have gotten valuable information from high-value detainees.  In your experience, does that happen frequently, infrequently?  Does torture, if we want to use their terminology, harsh interrogation, whatever it‘s called at the moment by whoever is calling it?  Does it frequently work or is it more the rare case when something productive is actually gathered? 

BAER:  Keith, I spent 21 years in the Middle East working for the CIA.  I have seen the results of torture in countries from Egypt to Syria to Saudi Arabia.  And the intelligence is drivel.  It leads to false leads.  People will say anything if the pain is bad enough.  It is useless.  And I reiterate it‘s useless. 

I have spent three years now visiting Israeli jails, talking to Hamas prisoners and talking to Shinbet, their intelligence service.  They agree it‘s useless.  They use tradition police techniques, interrogations, legal interrogations and they get more out of an investigation than torture. 

OLBERMANN:  As a professional and experienced researcher now in this, I imagine something in the “Times” story yesterday might have been the most disturbing thing here, just on a professional what-in-the-world-are-they-doing level to you.  The case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was severely interrogated over a period of two weeks, but the problem was, as the “Times” put it, the initial interrogators were not experts on Mr.  Mohammed‘s background or al Qaeda. 

Instead of beating him up, does it shock you that the agency could have been, you know, much more easily served by having some guy who knew what the hell he was talking about and ask him questions?  Because, obviously, a lot of these statements proved wildly false and, as you said, produced extraordinarily misleading lines of inquiry and, perhaps, who knows what else besides inquiry. 

BAER:  Well, we know that he lied about his participation in the murder of Danny Pearl, the “wall street journal” journalist who was killed in Pakistan, his head cut off.  He just made that up that he wielded the knife.  He did that under torture. 

The problem I have is, if he is our main source of information on what happened on 9/11, and it was extracted by torture, which everyone will tell you is unreliable, I‘m not quite sure what happened on 9/11.  We are just adding to conspiracy theories when we get information like this.  That‘s not to mention that we‘re trying to win the hearts and minds of people in the Middle East but that‘s a moral question that someone should answer. 

OLBERMANN:  Robert Baer, formerly of the CIA, now a columnist with time.com.  Great thanks for your perspective.  I wish it were under other circumstances.  Thank you, sir.

BAER:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  The intelligence on the campaign trail, the GOP had said Senator Clinton was the most polarizing candidate running?  What if polling suggests she is the least polarizing candidate running? 

And a new wrinkle to the Rush Limbaugh phony soldier cover-up.  First he smeared the troops, then he vilified Sergeant Ryan McGuff.  Now he is enabling the Republicans to raise campaign contributions on the backs of those brave soldiers.  You are watching “Countdown” on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  What once seemed unthinkable, that a pro-choice Republican would have even the slightest chance of being his party‘s nominee for president.  Equally unthinkable, that the divisive Republican wedge issue of abortion could divide Republicans themselves. 

Our fourth story, the “Countdown” to 2008 and the message from religious fundamentalists, in case we were not clear the first time, we will go to a third party candidate if necessary. 

Just months before the first primaries, Rudy Giuliani, with a substantial lead of Republicans in national polls, illustrates the unthinkable is a growing possibility that led Focus on the Family‘s James Dobson to send warning signals when he met with other self-described pro-described pro-family leaders last weekend.  They ruled out support for any pro-choice nominee like the front runner Giuliani. 

Dobson now amplifying his intentions by writing in the “New York Times” promising a mass defection of the Christian right to some third party if a Republican or a Democratic nominee refuses to take a pledge to uphold, quote, “the sanctity of human life.” 

There is candidate Mitt Romney, once a defender of abortion rights, now in the cross hairs of a new ad by the Log-Cabin Republicans.  The gay rights group hinting that Romney is faking his conservative credentials. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  For years he has fought conservatives and religious extremists.  Mitt Romney. 

MITT ROMNEY, ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country.  I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years we should sustain and support it? 

ANNOUNCER:  Mitt Romney supported the gun lobby, even Ronald Reagan. 

ROMNEY:  Look, I was an independent during the time of Reagan-Bush. 

I‘m not trying to return to Reagan-Bush. 

ANNOUNCER:  A record fighting the religious right.  A pro-choice record.  Massachusetts values.  Mitt Romney. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And more signs of a polarized GOP in the latest polling.  A Rasmussen survey shows 27 percent of Republicans would defect to a pro-life candidate were Rudy Giuliani to win the nomination.

And a “Washington Post” poll to find the most polarizing candidates, 41 percent of Americans say they would never vote for Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton, the candidate reported to be the most divisive in history. 

Every leading Republican scored worse from Rudy Giuliani‘s 44 percent absolutely not rate, to Romney‘s 57 percent utter rejection. 

Joining us tonight Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of salon.com and editor of My Columns there. 

Joan, good evening. 

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, SALON.COM:  Good evening, Keith.  Nice to see you. 

OLBERMANN:  You let‘s get to this notion first of Hillary Clinton unifying candidate.  Is this a surprise or have we just had a far right template about how divisive she is beaten into our heads so often that it seems like a surprise. 

WALSH:  Well, it‘s both, right?  We‘re surprised because it‘s been beaten into our heads.  Maybe we are more surprised because we are part of that constituency that‘s had the most doubts about Hillary, which is the media.  The media has sold her as unlikable and brittle and too extreme and, in fact, what we are seeing out on the campaign trail is that people like her.  They find her warm.  They find her convincing.  I never hear anybody complain about her laugh, except for other reporters.  So, I am surprised, but I guess I shouldn‘t be because it‘s all about the media portrait of Hillary. 

OLBERMANN:  Hand in hand with this, literally, the latest the “Washington Post” poll also indicated that Bill Clinton is as much of an asset to his wife‘s campaign as the topic of 9/11 is an asset to Rudy Giuliani.  As to Mr. Clinton, most persons are said to like him, would welcome him as the first first man.  Does this eliminate or mitigate to some degree this worry that, again, that largely we hear from other members of the media as opposed to, say, people, in the Clinton campaign, this supposed worry that this baggage from his presidency would affect her candidacy? 

WALSH:  Yes.  I think it goes a long way to mitigating that worry.  You know, Bill Clinton though, even at the worst of his presidency, even during impeachment, was a wildly popular president.  He left office with an extremely high approval rating.  So he, again, was somebody who got a really hard time from the media.  But Americans loved him.  He looks better after six years of the Bush administration. 

OLBERMANN:  Joan, to the “Times” op-ed by the Focus on the Family‘s James Dobson where he denies the Christian right is splintering.  Does that mean the Republican Party is splintering?  Would they really support this 27 percent or whatever that they constitute, according to the other polling, would they really support an ultra conservative third party candidate, even though that would—logic suggests that would decide the election in favor of the Democrats? 

WALSH:  You know, I don‘t know if it will be as high as 27 percent.  But I think it will be quite high.  And James Dobson is really gunning for Rudy Giuliani. 

You know, I wonder why they are not coalescing behind former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.  Keith, you know, he has got everything they say they want.  He is stridently antiabortion and anti-gay marriage but he doesn‘t have a golden rolodex and he doesn‘t have one other thing, which is he is not a hater.  He says actually in the debates, if you want somebody divisive or somebody who is going to demonize, don‘t vote for me.  It‘s strange is he a Baptist minister and they are not flocking to him.  I don‘t get it. 

OLBERMANN:  Last point here, Rudy Giuliani took swipes at Hillary Clinton, made this unfortunate McGovern reference considering he voted for McGovern. 

WALSH:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  She is running this ad about Ground Zero and fighting for the workers there who got sick under his watch.  Does it seem that presidential campaign, specifically Giuliani vs. Clinton, has already begun and to hell with the primaries and the caucuses? 

WALSH:  It does seem that way.  It seems he is dieing to run against her.  It‘s dangerous for him.  He did not run a good Senate campaign in 2000.  He dropped out because of his prostate cancer.  He already was wounded in a different way.  He does not quite know how to go at her.  I think she is a formidable candidate, specifically against Rudy. 

OLBERMANN:  Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of salon.com.  Great thanks for your time and great pleasure to finally have you on the show, Joan. 

WALSH:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Not perhaps since the resignation and revelation of New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevy has a public figure spoken so bluntly. 

Track star Marion Jones with a mea culpa about steroids.  We will bring it to you in full. 

No human growth hormone in play at this competition.  In fact, no evidence of any human growth whatsoever.  That‘s next.  This is “Countdown.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  On this date in 1829, Chester Allen Arthur was born, destined to become the 21st president of the United States after the assassination of President Garfield.  He holds a unique distinction among all our commanders in chief.  At the time that he took the oath of office, he was a dying man, having been told of the incurable nature of his kidney ailment Bright‘s Disease.  He, in fact, died 20 months after leaving the White House. 

On that odd note, let‘s play “Oddball.” 

We begin in Budapest, Hungary, with the annual Guys Not Getting Any convention, also known as the world‘s Rubik‘s Cube convention.  I kid.  There were lots of women there, mostly moms dropping off their sons.  Anyway 300 cube enthusiasts descended on the puzzle party.  They will all compete in the tournament to see who can solve the puzzle the fastest.  Arno Rubik (ph), the cube‘s investor, native Hungarian, will be on hand to crown the victor and reminding fans, reminding them that they turned the enjoyable past time into a colossal waste of their lives.

To Tokyo, where the future of ugly-ass cars is now.  This is Nissan‘s new Pivo II.  It is battery powered.  It has wheels and the cabin that rotates 360 degrees so there is never any driving in reverse, and parallel parking is a snap.  Of course, it looks like a blue version of Cinderella‘s pumpkin wagon, only a little smaller, but her ride did not have a robot in the dashboard.  A little R-2 unit gives directions and senses your mood as you drive so it can cheer you up as you flip people off in traffic.  What will they think of next? 

And finally back to Maiden, North Carolina, where we once again find Shannon Wisenett (ph), who discovered an embalmed leg in the meat smoker he bought at an auction.  For the first time, Mr. Wisenett (ph) met with John Wood, the guy to whom the leg used to be attached.  He lost the leg in a plane crash.  So Wisenett‘s (ph) going to give him the leg back, end of story, good night, right?   

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  I‘m selling a new book.  Thanks.  It‘s great having my pals.  Join us Monday for 5:00 and 7:00 eastern for more honorable.  “Countdown” with Keith Olbermann starts now. 

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST (voice-over):  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

When everything is classified, how do we know President Bush is not lying?  How do we know he is not using the nuance definition cherry-picked for him by his Justice Department when he insists again today... 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  This government does not torture people. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And everything is classified.  And if you ask, you are helping the terrorists. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  You want to know the techniques that we use so we can tell al Qaeda exactly what we are going to do?  That‘s absurd. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The question isn‘t will al Qaeda know what, it‘s whether or not we know what we are doing. 

The religious fundamentalists head for the hills.  James Dobson demands anti-abortion nominee or he will support a third party candidate. 

Who in the current parties is the most polarizing?  Romney, Giuliani, Clinton?  Surprising results from the, yeah, polarization poll. 

Rush Limbaugh‘s phony soldiers‘ cover-up.  The Republican National Committee now turning it into a fundraiser.  Limbaugh having attacked the votevet‘s legitimacy, then their patriotism, now questioning their intelligence.  This, on the same day he boasts that he passed his latest drug test. 

The extraordinary public admission by Olympic track gold medalist Marion Jones. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARION JONES, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST:  So it is with a great amount of shame that I stand before you and tell you that I have betrayed your trust. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  She did use steroids.  She did lie about it.  We will play you her entire moving statement. 

And the always necessary cartoons, though even the mascots are getting political.  If this is the best you can do for me on a flying car, I‘m taking the bus. 

Oddball‘s plays of the month tonight.

All that and more, now on “Countdown.” 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They defecate all over the place. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN (on camera):  Good evening from New York.  To paraphrase the last president of the United States, whether the Bush administration tortures its terrorism suspects depends entirely on what your definition of torture is.  It may also depend on whether you are willing to take, on faith, despite six and a half years of repeated obfuscations and lies, the president‘s claim today that his government is not in the torture business. 

Our fifth story on the “Countdown” claims mere talk, all that was forth coming from the White House today as it was defending its methods for detaining and questioning terrorism suspects, and who knows who else, in the wake of yesterday‘s revelation of secret memos from February 2005, in which the administration secretly endorsed brutal interrogation practices while publicly claiming all torture, quote, “abhorrent.” 

At a hastily called appearance at the Oval Office this morning in which he also tried to assert the economy is strong—taking a look at the dollar lately, sir? -- Mr. Bush repeating the talking point that his government does not torture.  Why?  Because he says so. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  This government does not torture people.  You know, we—we stick to U.S. law and our international obligations. 

OLBERMANN:  In addition to how the administration questions terrorism suspects is the matter of where it questions terrorism suspects.  The president having revived the CIA‘s secret overseas prison system of so-called black sites.  Mr. Bush alluding to that program this morning with great emphasis and pride. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  I have put this program in place for a reason.  And that is to better protect the American people.  And when we find somebody who may have information regarding a potential attack on America, you bet we are going to detain them. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  As for that pesky thing called congressional oversight, President Bush alleging that lawmakers were in the loop. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  The techniques that we use have been fully disclosed to appropriate members of the United States Congress. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  That‘s not quite how the appropriate members of Congress see it, seeing how they never saw the actual documents describing the administration‘s interrogation methods. 

The Intelligence Committee Chair Senator Jay Rockefeller issuing a statement, quote:  “The administration can‘t have it both ways.  I‘m tired of these games.  They can‘t say that Congress has been fully briefed while refusing to turn over key documents used to justify the legality of the program.” 

Senator Rockefeller writing to the acting attorney general, Peter Keisler, asking for copies of all opinions on torture since 2004.

White House Counsel Fred Fielding probably drawing up the executive privilege response as we speak. 

Why the need for such secrecy, you ask?  If you have to ask, the White House press secretary is employed to tell you it is done for a reason.  Because, by asking, you are helping terrorists.  You want to know the techniques that we use?  She said in a vapid response to a torture question, so we can tell al Qaeda exactly what we are going to do? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERINO:  It is absolutely important and critically—it‘s critically important that we keep this information secret.  It is secret for a reason.  We don‘t go around classifying things just for the willy-nilly.  You do it for a reason.  I would object to anyone saying that this president would not do whatever needs to be done, within the law, to make sure that people are taken care of. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  I checked with James Comey on that in the law part.  That we even know there were secret memos from 2005, is due to James Risen, along with his colleagues Scott Shane and David Johnston, who broke the story in yesterday‘s editions of the “New York Times.”  Mr. Risen is also the author of “State of War, the Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.”  He is kind enough to join us this evening. 

Thank you for your time tonight, sir. 

JAMES RISEN, COLUMNIST, “NEW YORK TIMES” AND AUTHOR:  Thanks for having me. 

OLBERMANN:  The president and the press secretary, Ms. Perino, both trying to claim this morning that members of Congress were fully briefed on the government‘s interrogation techniques.  Even if they weren‘t shown the actual memos that outlined those methods, might it be possible that they define fully briefed the same it defines not torturing, broadly and vaguely and fluidly as possible? 

RISEN:  The problem is that in 2005, they had clearly left the impression with Congress that they had changed and that they were no longer doing what they had been doing before.  And that—you have to remember this was at a time when the McCain Amendment was working its way through Congress. 

And the first of these memos was really in anticipation of what Congress was about to do.  It‘s very clear—this is what we reported yesterday—was that these memos were in anticipation of the McCain Amendment.  Really, in an effort to make the McCain Amendment academic and irrelevant.  So that it didn‘t stop them from doing what they wanted to do secretly. 

I think what they are trying to say is that while it‘s true that Congress has been briefed on the operations of the interrogations, what they were not briefed on sufficiently, I think most of them would argue, was the status of the legal standards by which the administration was using and pursuing this. 

OLBERMANN:  Given all the people you talked to in your reporting, all the reporting you have done on this story, do you find much to support the distinction that the White House made today that there is consistency in the interrogation policies of December of 2004 during the period of time that this was declared abhorrent, that torture was abhorrent and February of 2005, the time of the new memo? 

RISEN:  What they are really missing, I think, and what they‘re trying to do by saying we don‘t torture, is that what you have got to remember is what the office of legal counsel and the Justice Department does is it defines torture.  So the importance of these legal memos was that they then say what is torture and what is not torture.  What is legal and what is not legal. 

The importance of the secret memos is that they were defining torture in a way to make it so that none of the interrogations methods that the United States had been using were torture.  They secretly continued to say that they were not torture after they had said we‘re no longer going to do what we had been doing, which, publicly, had already been criticized as being torture. 

It‘s essentially a tautology.  They are saying it‘s not torture because they had a Justice Department official who said it wasn‘t torture. 

OLBERMANN:  Wonderful and descriptive word, tautology.  Let me read you something NBC News obtained today, a memo that General Michael Hayden, the director of the CIA, sent to his employees today, in response to your story, the revelation of the secret memos.

Among many justifications he gives for agency interrogation policies, the general says this:  “The agency has worked closely with the Department of Justice and others in our government to ensure that the interrogation program operates in strict accord with U.S. law and take full account of any changes in the law.  We have been proactive in seeking opinions that anticipate new legislation or fresh interpretations of exiting laws and treaties.

Mr. Risen, would fresh interpretation of laws and treaties be a fresh way of saying the Geneva Conventions are quaint? 

RISEN:  Yes, basically what they‘re saying and what they‘re acknowledging there is that the whole purpose of the 2005 legal opinions was to reflect the CIA‘s concerns about how they had been operating for the last few years.  You have got to remember by 2005, they had a lot of experience with interrogations.  Much more so than they had when the first legal opinions had been written in 2002. 

And what one of them—really interesting parts of the 2005 memo, was it dealt with the combined effects of all of the various interrogation techniques.  That really reflected the experiences of the CIA for the last few years.  It wasn‘t just that you water board somebody.  It was that you do a lot of different techniques in combination. 

OLBERMANN:  James Risen of the “New York Times.”  Thanks for your time tonight and great thanks for the excellent reporting on this extraordinary story. 

RISEN:  Thanks very much. 

OLBERMANN:  Thank you. 

CIA Director Hayden justifying the agency‘s methods today by claiming to his employees that they work.  Another passage from that memo saying that the U.S. and their allies have used, quote, “the priceless intelligence from these men to disrupt plots, unravel networks and save lives.”

Such a track record has been achieved and we have to take the unverified word of a dubious government for that, it is unprecedented in human history, which is shown time and time again and that as former POW Senator John McCain put it in South Carolina just yesterday, quote, “I can ensure you if you inflict enough physical pain on someone, they will tell you anything that they think you want to know to relieve the pain.” 

For a further reality check on this subject, let‘s turn to former CIA Case Officer Robert Baer whose books “See no Evil” and “Sleeping with the Devil, were the basis for the movie “Seriana.”  He‘s now a columnist on intelligence matters for the web site of “Time” magazine. 

Bob, thanks for your time tonight. 

ROBERT BAER, AUTHOR:  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  The administration‘s defense, thus far, seems to be the semantical one.  What would you call, if we are going to get gown to definitions, what would you call simulated drowning, head slapping, near freezing? 

BAER:  Torture.  It causes pain and that‘s the definition of torture.  These are techniques that American police are prohibited from doing under the Eighth Amendment of our Constitution.  It‘s illegal.  It‘s torture.  It‘s always been defined as torture temperature. 

OLBERMANN:  General Hayden, President Bush both claimed today to have gotten valuable information from high-value detainees.  In your experience, does that happen frequently, infrequently?  Does torture, if we want to use their terminology, harsh interrogation, whatever it‘s called at the moment by whoever is calling it?  Does it frequently work or is it more the rare case when something productive is actually gathered? 

BAER:  Keith, I spent 21 years in the Middle East working for the CIA.  I have seen the results of torture in countries from Egypt to Syria to Saudi Arabia.  And the intelligence is drivel.  It leads to false leads.  People will say anything if the pain is bad enough.  It is useless.  And I reiterate it‘s useless. 

I have spent three years now visiting Israeli jails, talking to Hamas prisoners and talking to Shinbet, their intelligence service.  They agree it‘s useless.  They use tradition police techniques, interrogations, legal interrogations and they get more out of an investigation than torture. 

OLBERMANN:  As a professional and experienced researcher now in this, I imagine something in the “Times” story yesterday might have been the most disturbing thing here, just on a professional what-in-the-world-are-they-doing level to you.  The case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was severely interrogated over a period of two weeks, but the problem was, as the “Times” put it, the initial interrogators were not experts on Mr.  Mohammed‘s background or al Qaeda. 

Instead of beating him up, does it shock you that the agency could have been, you know, much more easily served by having some guy who knew what the hell he was talking about and ask him questions?  Because, obviously, a lot of these statements proved wildly false and, as you said, produced extraordinarily misleading lines of inquiry and, perhaps, who knows what else besides inquiry. 

BAER:  Well, we know that he lied about his participation in the murder of Danny Pearl, the “wall street journal” journalist who was killed in Pakistan, his head cut off.  He just made that up that he wielded the knife.  He did that under torture. 

The problem I have is, if he is our main source of information on what happened on 9/11, and it was extracted by torture, which everyone will tell you is unreliable, I‘m not quite sure what happened on 9/11.  We are just adding to conspiracy theories when we get information like this.  That‘s not to mention that we‘re trying to win the hearts and minds of people in the Middle East but that‘s a moral question that someone should answer. 

OLBERMANN:  Robert Baer, formerly of the CIA, now a columnist with time.com.  Great thanks for your perspective.  I wish it were under other circumstances.  Thank you, sir.

BAER:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  The intelligence on the campaign trail, the GOP had said Senator Clinton was the most polarizing candidate running?  What if polling suggests she is the least polarizing candidate running? 

And a new wrinkle to the Rush Limbaugh phony soldier cover-up.  First he smeared the troops, then he vilified Sergeant Ryan McGuff.  Now he is enabling the Republicans to raise campaign contributions on the backs of those brave soldiers.  You are watching “Countdown” on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  What once seemed unthinkable, that a pro-choice Republican would have even the slightest chance of being his party‘s nominee for president.  Equally unthinkable, that the divisive Republican wedge issue of abortion could divide Republicans themselves. 

Our fourth story, the “Countdown” to 2008 and the message from religious fundamentalists, in case we were not clear the first time, we will go to a third party candidate if necessary. 

Just months before the first primaries, Rudy Giuliani, with a substantial lead of Republicans in national polls, illustrates the unthinkable is a growing possibility that led Focus on the Family‘s James Dobson to send warning signals when he met with other self-described pro-described pro-family leaders last weekend.  They ruled out support for any pro-choice nominee like the front runner Giuliani. 

Dobson now amplifying his intentions by writing in the “New York Times” promising a mass defection of the Christian right to some third party if a Republican or a Democratic nominee refuses to take a pledge to uphold, quote, “the sanctity of human life.” 

There is candidate Mitt Romney, once a defender of abortion rights, now in the cross hairs of a new ad by the Log-Cabin Republicans.  The gay rights group hinting that Romney is faking his conservative credentials. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  For years he has fought conservatives and religious extremists.  Mitt Romney. 

MITT ROMNEY, ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country.  I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years we should sustain and support it? 

ANNOUNCER:  Mitt Romney supported the gun lobby, even Ronald Reagan. 

ROMNEY:  Look, I was an independent during the time of Reagan-Bush. 

I‘m not trying to return to Reagan-Bush. 

ANNOUNCER:  A record fighting the religious right.  A pro-choice record.  Massachusetts values.  Mitt Romney. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And more signs of a polarized GOP in the latest polling.  A Rasmussen survey shows 27 percent of Republicans would defect to a pro-life candidate were Rudy Giuliani to win the nomination.

And a “Washington Post” poll to find the most polarizing candidates, 41 percent of Americans say they would never vote for Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton, the candidate reported to be the most divisive in history. 

Every leading Republican scored worse from Rudy Giuliani‘s 44 percent absolutely not rate, to Romney‘s 57 percent utter rejection. 

Joining us tonight Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of salon.com and editor of My Columns there. 

Joan, good evening. 

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, SALON.COM:  Good evening, Keith.  Nice to see you. 

OLBERMANN:  You let‘s get to this notion first of Hillary Clinton unifying candidate.  Is this a surprise or have we just had a far right template about how divisive she is beaten into our heads so often that it seems like a surprise. 

WALSH:  Well, it‘s both, right?  We‘re surprised because it‘s been beaten into our heads.  Maybe we are more surprised because we are part of that constituency that‘s had the most doubts about Hillary, which is the media.  The media has sold her as unlikable and brittle and too extreme and, in fact, what we are seeing out on the campaign trail is that people like her.  They find her warm.  They find her convincing.  I never hear anybody complain about her laugh, except for other reporters.  So, I am surprised, but I guess I shouldn‘t be because it‘s all about the media portrait of Hillary. 

OLBERMANN:  Hand in hand with this, literally, the latest the “Washington Post” poll also indicated that Bill Clinton is as much of an asset to his wife‘s campaign as the topic of 9/11 is an asset to Rudy Giuliani.  As to Mr. Clinton, most persons are said to like him, would welcome him as the first first man.  Does this eliminate or mitigate to some degree this worry that, again, that largely we hear from other members of the media as opposed to, say, people, in the Clinton campaign, this supposed worry that this baggage from his presidency would affect her candidacy? 

WALSH:  Yes.  I think it goes a long way to mitigating that worry.  You know, Bill Clinton though, even at the worst of his presidency, even during impeachment, was a wildly popular president.  He left office with an extremely high approval rating.  So he, again, was somebody who got a really hard time from the media.  But Americans loved him.  He looks better after six years of the Bush administration. 

OLBERMANN:  Joan, to the “Times” op-ed by the Focus on the Family‘s James Dobson where he denies the Christian right is splintering.  Does that mean the Republican Party is splintering?  Would they really support this 27 percent or whatever that they constitute, according to the other polling, would they really support an ultra conservative third party candidate, even though that would—logic suggests that would decide the election in favor of the Democrats? 

WALSH:  You know, I don‘t know if it will be as high as 27 percent.  But I think it will be quite high.  And James Dobson is really gunning for Rudy Giuliani. 

You know, I wonder why they are not coalescing behind former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.  Keith, you know, he has got everything they say they want.  He is stridently antiabortion and anti-gay marriage but he doesn‘t have a golden rolodex and he doesn‘t have one other thing, which is he is not a hater.  He says actually in the debates, if you want somebody divisive or somebody who is going to demonize, don‘t vote for me.  It‘s strange is he a Baptist minister and they are not flocking to him.  I don‘t get it. 

OLBERMANN:  Last point here, Rudy Giuliani took swipes at Hillary Clinton, made this unfortunate McGovern reference considering he voted for McGovern. 

WALSH:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  She is running this ad about Ground Zero and fighting for the workers there who got sick under his watch.  Does it seem that presidential campaign, specifically Giuliani vs. Clinton, has already begun and to hell with the primaries and the caucuses? 

WALSH:  It does seem that way.  It seems he is dieing to run against her.  It‘s dangerous for him.  He did not run a good Senate campaign in 2000.  He dropped out because of his prostate cancer.  He already was wounded in a different way.  He does not quite know how to go at her.  I think she is a formidable candidate, specifically against Rudy. 

OLBERMANN:  Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of salon.com.  Great thanks for your time and great pleasure to finally have you on the show, Joan. 

WALSH:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Not perhaps since the resignation and revelation of New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevy has a public figure spoken so bluntly. 

Track star Marion Jones with a mea culpa about steroids.  We will bring it to you in full. 

No human growth hormone in play at this competition.  In fact, no evidence of any human growth whatsoever.  That‘s next.  This is “Countdown.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  On this date in 1829, Chester Allen Arthur was born, destined to become the 21st president of the United States after the assassination of President Garfield.  He holds a unique distinction among all our commanders in chief.  At the time that he took the oath of office, he was a dying man, having been told of the incurable nature of his kidney ailment Bright‘s Disease.  He, in fact, died 20 months after leaving the White House. 

On that odd note, let‘s play “Oddball.” 

We begin in Budapest, Hungary, with the annual Guys Not Getting Any convention, also known as the world‘s Rubik‘s Cube convention.  I kid.  There were lots of women there, mostly moms dropping off their sons.  Anyway 300 cube enthusiasts descended on the puzzle party.  They will all compete in the tournament to see who can solve the puzzle the fastest.  Arno Rubik (ph), the cube‘s investor, native Hungarian, will be on hand to crown the victor and reminding fans, reminding them that they turned the enjoyable past time into a colossal waste of their lives.

To Tokyo, where the future of ugly-ass cars is now.  This is Nissan‘s new Pivo II.  It is battery powered.  It has wheels and the cabin that rotates 360 degrees so there is never any driving in reverse, and parallel parking is a snap.  Of course, it looks like a blue version of Cinderella‘s pumpkin wagon, only a little smaller, but her ride did not have a robot in the dashboard.  A little R-2 unit gives directions and senses your mood as you drive so it can cheer you up as you flip people off in traffic.  What will they think of next? 

And finally back to Maiden, North Carolina, where we once again find Shannon Wisenett (ph), who discovered an embalmed leg in the meat smoker he bought at an auction.  For the first time, Mr. Wisenett (ph) met with John Wood, the guy to whom the leg used to be attached.  He lost the leg in a plane crash.  So Wisenett‘s (ph) going to give him the leg back, end of story, good night, right?   

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Maybe if I have it in my custody for Halloween and a month there before, we may have split custody. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Sounds fair to me.  See, Wiznett wants to keep cashing in on Wood‘s leg.  He is currently charging adults to come see it and has already raked in 27 American dollars. 

Whether you have been robbed by a nude burglar or merely car jacked by a baboon, you cannot afford to miss the newest edition of COUNTDOWN‘s plays of the month. 

And comedian Rush Limbaugh‘s phony soldiers cover up is now a fund raising opportunity for the Republican National Committee.  These stories ahead, but first time for our Goof balls and good guys.  Here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three best person in the world. 

Number three, best alleged thief, Lynn K Daily of East Lampeter Township, Pennsylvania.  Accused of stealing a 44 cent donut from a convenience store and trying to sneak out concealed in the back of her pants.  Asked what type of donut it was, a police officer replied, quote, smooshed. 

Number two, best unfulfilled dreams, Clive Halford of Wolber Hampton (ph) in England, tried to steal 330,000 dollars worth of nickel and copper from a metals warehouse.  He actually got a truck—stole one to cart it all off.  But he did not calculate his weight ratios too well.  He loaded up the tons on nickel and copper onto the stolen truck and the suspension on the stolen truck promptly collapsed. 

Number one, best follow-up.  First the South Koreans brokered that unexpected nuclear accord with the North Koreans.  Now the Seoul government will move on to something really big, an international conference beginning Monday featuring 100 negotiators from 50 nations trying to set new international quality and size standards for condoms.  Said the president of South Korea‘s leading condom manufacturer, the size of South Korean condoms now meets international standards, helped by an increase in the size of men‘s penises here. 

No wonder the North finally made a deal with them. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The day after the Republicans lost the Senate and the House last November, Rush Limbaugh admitted to having carried water for many in the party.  Now he is carrying actual fund raising duties on a day when his water is in the news again, as in his drug tests.  Our third story in the COUNTDOWN, the continuing cover up of Limbaugh‘s phony soldiers story being turned into a pitch for contributions. 

The Republican National Committee now turning Limbaugh‘s ravings into hard campaign dollars.  The committee sending an email written by Congressman Eric Canter to supporters asking them to sign a petition to stand with Limbaugh and the unmistakably and fully contextualized claim that any soldier or veteran who criticizes the war in Iraq is, in his terms, a phony soldier.  There is a link where you can send money to the party, bash a vet and make bucks.

This is the same day Limbaugh proudly told his audience that he has passed another court-ordered drug test after the doctor shopping pill popping charges, and a day in which Limbaugh‘s echo chamber continued to bash troops like wounded war vet Brian McGough, claiming he was dooped by anti-war groups, continuing to claim any veterans who disagree with Limbaugh must be stupid, a strategy that Limbaugh started, as you will recall, on Tuesday. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Whoever pumped him full of these lies about what I said and embarrassed with this ad has betrayed him.  They are not hurting me.  They are betraying this soldier.  Now, unless he actually believes what he is saying, in which case it‘s just so unfortunate and sad when the truth of what I said is right out there to be learned. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Brandon Friedman is vice president of VoteVets.org and himself a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He was written about in “The War I Always Wanted, The Illusion of Glory and the Reality of War.”  Thank you for your time tonight, sir.

BRANDON FRIEDMAN, VICE PRESIDENT, VOTEVETS.ORG:  Thanks for having me on, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  All this week, Limbaugh denied he referred to veterans who opposed the war as phony soldiers.  He compared Brian McGough to a suicide bomber, and denied he did anything of the kind.  He has edited the audio that was posted online.  He transformed phony soldiers into poor manipulated soldiers.  You wrote a piece today called “When Chicken Hawks Attack.”  You seem to think this goes further and higher than Limbaugh. 

FRIEDMAN:  I think it does, Keith.  What you have—you had Rush Limbaugh at the top and you have people above him like the RNC.  They push this kind of language that disparages veterans.  And the problem with it is it‘s very influential.  People in middle America hear this stuff and they repeat it.  If I could, I am going to read you a couple of pieces of mail we‘ve gotten from Rush Limbaugh‘s listeners this week. 

This is written to combat veterans.  “Do us all a favor shoot yourself.  You are a waste of human flesh.  Tell the truth about Rush you phony piece of explicative.  You traitorous bunch of explicative cowards.  Rush Limbaugh is a great American and you are a phony.” 

You know, people hear this and they hear it from Rush.  And when that stuff is said enough times, it becomes accepted fact.  This is what we saw happen to John Kerry in 2004.  As combat veterans, we are just not going to accept this.  We are going to defend ourselves.  We are just not going to take this from people like Rush. 

OLBERMANN:  Other than the stark inhumanity of making a U.S. soldier who was wounded by a car bomber, which was Brian McGough‘s story, sound like he is the political equivalent of a suicide bomber, maybe the worst element of this week has been, what?  This idea that he has propagated that the average soldier could not possibly think for themselves if they didn‘t support everything they saw?  There must be something wrong with them? 

FRIEDMAN:  Well, it is.  And that‘s what people do when they have nothing to fall back on.  When their argument has lost all its merit, you know, their argument that our Iraq policy is successful.  That‘s what they do.  They fall back, they call us traitors.  They call us cowards.  They call us phony.  They do everything except listen to us, when we tell them, we who have been there on the streets of Iraq—we who have been in the mountains of Afghanistan. 

And they don‘t listen to us.  They don‘t want to.  They just want to call us names. 

OLBERMANN:  You wrote also today that this kind of attack seems to be something akin to a game with the far right.  Why do you think they are so insistent that all veterans support this war.  Is this the Don Rumsfeld thing about how anybody who doesn‘t under understand what the administration is doing must be morally or intellectually confused?  Or is it baser than that?

FRIEDMAN:  They know if they lose the veterans, which they essentially have if you read the poll data—they know that if they lose us as veterans that they are going to lose America with their policies.  The veterans have now come around, the people who have been there, and said that these policies in Iraq are not working, and we want to do something different.  We need to find a solution so that we can go after al Qaeda in Afghanistan. 

And, you know, people like Rush Limbaugh, they know that if they lose us, they have got no leg to stand on.  And so that‘s why they are desperate to keep us.  That‘s why they‘re desperate to discredit us as combat veterans. 

OLBERMANN:  Lastly, what about this news today of it being turned into a Republican fund raiser? 

FRIEDMAN:  Well, you know, if that‘s true, that‘s deplorable.  I would think that the Republicans themselves would have a lot to lose by supporting Rush Limbaugh and the comments he has made about soldiers.  But if that‘s what they want to do, then they can do that.  I think American—

I think the American people are going to see that and I think it will reflect in the polls next year. 

OLBERMANN:  As Senator John McCain criticized Limbaugh and said, whatever he meant, he shouldn‘t have said it and he should have corrected it immediately.  Brandon Friedman with VoteVets.org, and the author of “The War I Always Wanted,” great thanks for your time.  Great thanks for your service to our country, sir. 

FRIEDMAN:  Thanks for having me on, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  No mincing of words, no talk of the pressure to succeed.  Track star Marion Jones admits, apologizes, begs for forgiveness and retires.  An extraordinary public document.  We will bring it to you in full. 

And the other meaning of extraordinary, Oddballs plays of the month, almost fully fired up, ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  For the whole of the seven years since her Olympics of glory at Sydney, Australia, gold medal sprinter Marion Jones has fervently and furiously denied ceaseless reports linking her to steroid suppliers and accusing her of steroid use.  She has threatened more lawsuits than can be counted.  Tonight, in our number two story, in a real life moment worthy of comparison to the apocryphal story of the tragic baseball figure Shoeless Joe Jackson facing a child pleading “say it ain‘t so, Joe,” Marion Jones confessed it was so. 

This afternoon in a New York federal court, Jones pleaded guilty to lying to authorities when she denied steroid use for the 2000 Olympics.  Jones was given the steroid known as The Clear by her trainer, Trevor Graham (ph), who got them from the Bay Area lab company, the same company involved in the Barry Bonds steroids story.  Then on the courthouse steps came one of the extraordinary public apologies of our times. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARION JONES THOMPSON, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST:  Good afternoon, everyone.  I am Marion Jones Thompson.  And I‘m here today because I have something very important to tell you, my fans, my friends and my family.  Over the many years of my life, as an athlete in the sport of track and field, you have been fiercely loyal and supportive towards me.  Even more loyal and supportive than words can declare has been my family and especially my dear mother, who stands by my side today. 

And so it is with a great amount of shame that I stand before you and tell you that I have betrayed your trust.  I want all of you to know that today I pled guilty to two counts of making false statements to federal agents.  Making these false statements to federal agents was an incredibly stupid thing for me to do.  And I am responsible fully for my actions. 

I have no one to blame but myself for what I have done.  To you, my fans, including my young supporters, United States Track and Field Association, my closest friends, my attorney, and the most classy family a person could ever hope for, namely my mother, my husband, my children, my brother and his family, my uncle, and the rest of my extended family, I want you to know that I have been dishonest. 

You have the right to be angry with me.  I have let them down.  I have let my country down.  And I have let myself down.  I recognize that by saying that I‘m deeply sorry it might not be enough and sufficient to address the pain and the hurt that I have caused you.  Therefore, I want to ask for your forgiveness for my actions.  I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. 

I have asked almighty god for my forgiveness.  Having said this, and because of my actions, I am retiring from the sport of track and field, a sport which I deeply love.  I promise that these events will be used to make the lives of many people improve, that by making the wrong choices and bad decisions, can be disastrous.  I want to thank you all for your time. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Marion Jones, who may now not only be forced to hand over the three gold and two bronze medals she won in Sydney in 2000, but will also be back in court in January for sentencing. 

Ugliness in sports of quite different sort and these damn airlines giving away all the good seats to celebrities.  The Oddball plays of the month next.  First time for COUNTDOWN‘s Worst Person in the World.”

Number three, Fixed Noise legal analyst Peter Johnson, trying to take a shot at my colleague Chris Matthews, who mentioned the Bush administration‘s efforts to influence the content of his show, mine too, you may remember.  Chris said the administration had, quote, finally been caught in their criminality.  This Johnson then says, Chris has, quote, forgotten he is not in some Capitol Hill bar room talking about criminality in the White House. 

Like his boss may have pardoned him in violation of the spirit of several laws, but Scooter Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice while in the administration.  That would be, by definition, as any real legal analyst would know, criminality in the White House. 

Our runner up, Senator John McCain; boy, yesterday best, today worst, he is all over the map.  Joked that if elected president, he would appoint ex Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan to lead a review of the tax codes even if Greenspan were dead, quoting here, if he is alive or dead, it doesn‘t matter.  If he is dead, just prop him up and put some dark glasses on him like “Weekend At Bernies.” 

That‘s Nice, Mr. Greenspan is 81.  Senator McCain just turned 71.  Plus, this is a rerun.  McCain did the same “Weekend at Bernies” joke about Greenspan in February 2000. 

But our winner and we welcome him back tonight.  I thought he had retired, CNN‘s Glenn Beck, saying to Sharita Mckenzie (ph) of the Muslim Peace March organization, quote, how do we know the difference?  I mean you are reasonable.  How do we know the difference between you and those that are trying to kill us? 

Probably through talking to them, not being paranoid, using common sense, recognizing how few of them are trying to kill anybody.  You know, the same way you tell the difference between Glenn Beck and somebody who isn‘t a bigot or isn‘t trying to tear the country apart. 

Glenn “Prejudice Poster Boy” Beck, today‘s worst person in the world. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  One hundred five years ago today Ray Crock was born.  He was the milk shake machine salesman who drove into an obscure California hamburger joint in 1954 and saw a market.  If there was one of these places in every town in America, he thought, he could sell an awful lot of those milk shake machines.  So he went into partnership with the two brothers who owned the joint, and they stuck with their name on it, because it sounded better than Crocks.  Thus, we have McDonald‘s.

As one customer once explained its success, you know, I kind of like this blank.  Speaking of which, it‘s time for Oddball‘s plays of the month, September edition. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN (voice-over):  We begin in North Korea. 

We begin in Little Rock, Arkansas.

We begin in Aiken, South Carolina, where the justice is swift and just two dimensional. 

We begin with water, giver of life, master and servant to mankind.  At long last, these fellows have figured out how to make it catch fire. 

to Mexico City and the debut of young Rafael Mirabel (ph), the 11-year-old child prodigy of Mexican bull fighting.  As you can see in the tape of the youngsters first fight, he is terrible. 

To the 17th hole of Saturday‘s Turning Stone Championship in Verona, New York.  Brandon Dejean pulling his tee shot left into the gallery.  As you see, the ball lands here.  Clearly no nobody was hurt except that spectator.  Oh my leg.  I think it‘s broken. 

Anyway, Carbon Dale, Pennsylvania, this naked guy is trying to stick up a mini-mart, which to those who have seen the unpixolated surveillance video, the term mini-mart seems entirely appropriate. 

We begin at Laguardia Airport, where Abraham Lincoln is waiting to board the Delta D.C. Shuttle.  Wait a minute, Lincoln at Laguardia?  Not at JFK?  Conspiracy theorists, hello.

We begin in Cape Peninsula, South Africa, with another edition of animal crime caught on tape.  Excuse me, I‘m baboon jacking you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  People here are getting very angry.  They move around the house and they defecate all over the place. 

OLBERMANN:  Defecating at the scene of the crime.  Have you monkeys no shame? 

We begin in Nashville, Tennessee, where we meet tonight‘s Oddball‘s real man of genius.  Today we salute you, Mr. I flipped a tractor-trailer full of bud light.  With the driving skill of a drunken ship, you overturned your 18-wheeler carrying cold bud light and you walked away with minor scratches. 

We begin on the Gridiron, with what is becoming ugly trend in modern sideline entertainment, the specter of mascot on mascot violence.  Down goes Duke the dog.  By the way, thanks for the help cheerleaders. 

In West Palm Beach, Florida, where a local news item on injured Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett‘s miraculous recovery from spinal injury turned into a sports caster‘s worst nightmare. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Now News 12 sports with Pat Murphy. 

PAT MURPHY, NEWS 12 SPORTS:  Great news regarding Bill‘s tight end Kevin Everett.  He moved his arms and legs today and doctors now believe—that‘s the wrong video by the way. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Traffic troubles on the northwest—wow!

OLBERMANN:  Scientists say the koala‘s white hair is a rare occurrence in nature.  Scientists also note this guy‘s parents had a polar bear for a milk man, so—

To the Montgomery County Aquarium store in Pennsylvania where this turtle has got his head up his arse. 

To the Internets for another edition of our award winning series things not to try at home, like putting fireworks in your mouth and lighting them.  

From fireballs to fur balls, the world mustache and beard championships, the one day a year when these guys can leave the house without getting beaten up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My wife coifs me.  So I like to say my wife does me every morning. 

OLBERMANN:  Thanks for sharing.  But wait, what‘s this?  Behold, the water propelled flying car.  Take off hoser. 

Science, 19-year-old suspect fleeing cops at speeds at 80.  After a while, the perp turns his truck into a ditch and flees on foot.  A massive search followed.  But cops turned up nothing and sped back to headquarters.  It was during the return trip when the cruiser happened to cross the suspect catching a few Z‘s in the middle of the road.  Aw, look, he is so cute when he is sleeping? 

Security camera catching two women, one with a dagger, the other with a sword, dressed as Japanese warriors, knocking over the gas station.  Have no fear, Richland P.D. is keenly aware of what they are up against. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They were covered in black and carrying swords. 

So yes, it did appear that they were dressed like Ninjans. 

OLBERMANN:  Ninjans?  Ninjans?  Like the wild west out there, only with nun-chucks.  We‘ve got ninjans. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this is the 1,619th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  From New York and behalf of all the ninjans everywhere, I‘m Keith Olbermann and good luck.

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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