updated 10/16/2007 11:13:15 AM ET 2007-10-16T15:13:15

Guests: Michael Reagan, Rachel Maddow, Niger Innis, Eric Herman, Julia Morrow, Pam Bondi, Brady Barr

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  It may be this 629th day since mission accomplish in Iraq.  But it seems that at least one important general gets his way.  They may be declaring mission accomplished, again.  This time against al Qaeda in Iraq.  Today, “The Washington Post” reporting that Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal, head of the Joint Special Operations commands operations in Iraq is the chief promoter of a victory declaration and believes that al Qaeda has been all but eliminated.  His optimism sounds familiar, the same commander in Iraq who echoed proclamations of mission accomplished back in 2003.


LT. GEN. STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, HEAD, JOINT SPECIAL OPS, IRAQ:  The major combat engagements are over because the Iraqi units on the ground cease to show coherence.


ABRAMS:  My take.  Are they kidding?  They want to declare victory against an organization that only exists because of the broader war that continues?  We didn‘t invade Iraq to fight al Qaeda there.  We invaded Iraq to stop Saddam from stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.  Sure, that‘s become a crucial battleground against al Qaeda and there has been some real success as of late.  But why would we want to embarrass ourselves by proclaiming victory again.  That of course would also mean that this is just a civil war in Iraq, something the administration won‘t admit.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER:  You believe it‘s a civil war, sir?

PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT:  I can only tell you what people on the ground who are judging this.  It is hard for me living in this beautiful White House to give you an assessment, firsthand assessment.  I haven‘t been there.  You have, I haven‘t.  But I do talk to people who are and people whose judgment I trust and they would not qualify it as that.


ABRAMS:  And you have to wonder whether this desire to declare victory again is the beginning of an exit strategy so maybe they can somehow both declare victory and maybe get out of the war?  I don‘t know.  Joining us now radio talk show host, Michael Reagan, Rachel Maddow of “Air America” and Colonel Jack Jacobs, MSNBC military analyst.  Alright, Colonel Jacobs, let me start with you.  Why would the general want to declare victory against this particular element?  Meaning, al Qaeda in Iraq?

COL. JACK JACOBS, MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST:  While you said one possible reason.  I‘m not a fan of single factor analysis, but one possible reason is that he is echoing perhaps the observation of Senator Skin about 40 years ago when in the Senate he said the way to get out of Vietnam is to declare victory and go home.  Had we done that, probably a lot of people who died would probably still be alive and the result would be pretty much the same.  Another possibility is that in fact al Qaeda is fragmented now.  But that‘s beside the point, because there is a civil war going on.  And by and large, we have a great deal of difficulty there with Shia fighting Shia, Shia fighting Sunni and so on.

ABRAMS:  But Michael, would you concede then that this is now a civil war?

MICHAEL REAGAN, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST:  No, I‘m not conceding a civil war.  You‘ve got Iran who is in there doing everything they can to support Shia fighting Shia, trying to get a civil war going.  This general you‘re saying declaring victory, he‘s telling about some good things that are in fact going on, that we‘re decimating al Qaeda where they stand in Iraq.  Deaths are down when it comes to American soldiers - 71 percent. 

There is good news.  Why?  When -


ABRAMS:  That‘s fine.  Good news is fine no, but it‘s not about—no one‘s challenging the fact that there‘s some good news coming out on this particular issue.  The question is should they be declaring victory against al Qaeda in Iraq?

REAGAN:  Well, listen, I don‘t know if he‘s really declaring victory against al Qaeda in Iraq.  The fact of the matter is we are winning and pushing al Qaeda back.  They are decimated.  We have them on the run.  That‘s what we‘re supposed to be doing with the surge; hopefully we do get to victory in Iraq.  I think if in fact, we do have victory in Iraq, we should be saying isn‘t that great news?

ABRAMS:  Yes. But, well, look, if that were the case, I think we‘d all

be celebrating.  But the problem is that we‘re not seeing, quote, “Victory

in Iraq,” we‘re seeing what may be a victory with regard to an element and

the question, Rachel Maddow -

REAGAN:  But we are fighting al Qaeda in Iraq.  If there‘s victory against part of that element, that is good thing.  We have to keep on going.


ABRAMS:  That‘s great.  But, you know what?  But it gets to this changing definitions again, Rachel - I mean, its success - victory.  It seems that we keep changing the goalposts tall time.  That‘s what I don‘t get.

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA:  Declaring victory over al Qaeda in Iraq is by saying, look I stopped banging my own head against the wall.  Isn‘t that impressive?  Haven‘t I made a lot of strides here since I started banging my head against the wall?  Al Qaeda in Iraq is a creation of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.  So, as to declaring victory - victory for the entire war because we‘ve defeated this one thing that was only created because we started it is farcical.  It is absolutely farcical.  It is an attempt to put a victorious label on what has been a disastrous war in Iraq.  So, they can move on to the next one.

ABRAMS:  Michael, do you disagree that keep changing the definition—one time it‘s success, another time it‘s victory and what that means changes by the day?

REAGAN:  I think that Rachel said very well—victory is we win, they lose.  We have to get to that point in time where we win -  (inaudible)

ABRAMS:  Wouldn‘t it be great if life were so simple.

REAGAN:  What you said about al Qaeda, that we created al Qaeda in Iraq.  We won the first war, which was to get Saddam out of Iraq and topple Saddam.  Then al Qaeda came to Iraq to fight America in Iraq.  That‘s where the battleground is they put al Qaeda there to fight us.  We have to win it in Iraq.

MADDOW:  Michael, let me put it this way.  In jolly in Baghdad, U.S.  military briefing said—and it was the highest estimate that anybody credible on the subject had said.  They said maybe 15 percent of the attacks in Iraq right now are al Qaeda.  So, if we‘re going to declare victory over al Qaeda in Iraq, that means - great, 15 percent of our problems are now over.  Does that mean that the war in Iraq was a success, does that mean that we ought to move on so that we can bring the troops home?  It‘s a declaration they want to make for semantic political purposes.

REAGAN:  It means, when you look at his word, but you ask the general, I mean, you can have this same argument when it came down to Second World War, First World War, Vietnam, all these things.  Everybody wants like the perfect situation.  There is no perfect situation.

ABRAMS:  We don‘t want to be deceived, Michael.

MADDOWS:  Right.


ABRAMS:  Michael, the point is we don‘t want to be deceived.  I don‘t want to be told that victories and successes.  Listen to this.  Here‘s General James Jones, all right, being asked by Senator Evan Bayh about this question of what percentage of the attacks in Iraq are actually al Qaeda in Iraq.


RET.GEN. JAMES JONES, SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER, IRAQ:  Two percent or fewer of the adversaries that we‘re facing in Iraq and the Iraqis are facing in Iraq are foreign jihadis, are al Qaeda in Iraq affiliates, that 98 percent or more are Iraqis fighting amongst Iraqis over the future of Iraq.  Is that consistent with your understanding?

SENATOR EVAN BAYH, (D-IN):  I think we would agree with that.  Yes.


ABRAMS:  Two percent, Jack.

JACOBS:  Yes.  And of course it doesn‘t mean that it‘s not significant.  I think the most important thing about all this is - is that the administration should have learned some time ago that the best policy is to keep your mouth shut, even if you‘re successful, and General McChrystal, who ought to know better, runs a Joint Special Operations Command, is heavily involved in raids, intelligence development and so on, who ought to know better, also ought to know better, to just be quiet about it, even if it‘s a huge victory, just shut up.

REAGAN:  General, can I say something?  But general, that should be on all sides.  If you tell the administration the generals that are there who are doing nothing but probably reacting to other generals being on TV talking about the bad stuff that‘s going on, maybe they have to react the other way.  Then all generals should shut up, everybody included.

JACOBS:  I‘m all in favor of all generals shutting up.  That would be a great idea.

ABRAMS:  But the point is again, Michael, it doesn‘t seem that you‘re addressing the issue of changing the goalposts, of changing the definition of success and victory, depending on what‘s happening at the time.

REAGAN:  But Dan, things change.  The surge changes all the equations.


ABRAMS:  Wait, just said, Michael, you‘re the one that just said that defining success is really easy.  You‘re the one who just said, oh, you know what?  We‘re winning or not.  And now you‘re saying now you know what, you got to figure out what‘s happening.

REAGAN:  No, I didn‘t say winning, when we win and they lose.  When we can sit here and say, you know something, there‘s finally some peace going on in Iraq.  These people can live under their government.  Listen, we had to do it with Japan, we had to do it with so many countries in our history.  We still have soldiers in the Middle East and other parts of the world who were put there by the previous administration.

ABRAMS:  Do you think this is a trial balloon on their part to figure

out could this be our exit strategy where we can declare victory and pull

out?  Rachel -

REAGAN:  I hope not.

MADDOWS:  If it were, I would shut up and applaud and be very quiet about it.  I don‘t think they‘re planning on getting U.S. troops out of Iraq.  I think they‘re planning on sending U.S. troops into Iran or at least sending U.S. bombers to Iran.  And what they‘re wanting to say in time for the 2008 election is - “Hey anti-war left, hey Democrats, you didn‘t believe that anything good would come out of Iraq.  We stuck it out.  And look at this great victory we won.  Now listen to us about why we need to attack Iran.”  This is a trial balloon about the next war.  I don‘t think they have any intention of leaving Iraq.

ABRAMS:  Alright, Rachel and Michael and Jack, thanks a lot. 

Appreciate it.

Up next: It sure sounds like Don Imus may be back.  This time on the nation‘s number one talk radio station, and they may be looking for a television deal as well.  So what about all those people and groups who demanded that he be fired?  Have they changed their tune?

And an ex-model kills three musicians in a car accident that may have been her own effort at suicide.  Her murder trial begins tomorrow.


ABRAMS:  The rumors are rampant.  In media circles tonight, the Don Imus is coming back.  All indications are that he‘ll begin at WABC, the nation‘s number talk radio station in December.  A deal that would likely include syndication across the country.  Imus is also reportedly looking for a TV deal.  Back in April, both CBS and MSNBC fired him following those derogatory comments about the Rutgers women‘s basketball team.  So, what‘s changed now?  Are the same people who wanted him off the air back then demanding he stay off the air now?  Joining me now is Niger Innis of Congress of Racial Equality and Air America host Rachel Maddow.  Alright, Rachel, does Imus—I mean, there‘s been a six-month period here where he‘s been off the air.  Does this have to be a permanent banishment?

MADDOW:  It will be interesting to see if six months shelf life will be enough for people to stop calling him the nappy headed host guy.  That‘s going to be all the difference as to whether or not his resurgence as a commercially viable win or not or whether we are going to forget that.

ABRAMS:  What do you think?

MADDOW:  I think that he‘s the nappy headed host guy forever personally, but other people might disagree.

ABRAMS:  This is from the National Association of Black Journalists.  “To put him back on the air now makes light of his serious and offensive racial remarks that are still ringing in the ears of people all over this country.”  Then, the National Organization for Women - “It‘s like a bad dream.  Didn‘t they learn anything?”  What do you make of that, Niger?

NIGER INNIS, CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY:  I certainly applaud NABJ on their stance on Don Imus.  And even though I disagree with their remedies, I mean for Don asked for forgiveness he went to the Rutgers University students that he offended.  He asked forgiveness.  He was given forgiveness.  I know I wish that Kim Gandy and the National Organization of Women and Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were as outraged as they are with Don Imus as they should be with Hillary Clinton who went to a fund-raiser and got close to $1 million from Timberland one of those gangster rap types.  And I say, when you look at the problems of African-American community and the problems of hip-hop culture.  It is Don Imus the real threat or is it the fact that the entertainment media industrial complex glorifies these guys?

ABRAMS:  But the question here is not what is the great threat.  I

mean, I don‘t think anyone was suggesting that Don Imus was a great threat

to the future of you know, African-American culture.  The question was at

the time whether what he said was inappropriate -

INNIS:  And it was.

ABRAMS:  And by the way, I should point out before I give Rachel a chance to respond because she was laughing at what you said.  Jesse Jackson has just issued a statement where he said, we respect his right to return to the airwaves, but the American people who criticized his actions will watch him closely.  So, Rachel, it seems that Jesse Jackson is supporting Don Imus‘ right to be back on the air?

MADDOWS:  Well, it‘s never been an issue of right.  It has been an issue of commercial viability and taste.  And it‘s - I mean, everybody - you‘ve got a right to say anything in this country.  I‘m a first amendment purist.  I don‘t think that anybody would say that he doesn‘t have a right to say that.  The question is whether or not he ought to have a national radio show for which to broadcast those views.  I think that he‘s embarrassing.  And so, I think that it‘s embarrassing for us as a culture to have him be a celebrated radio talent when that‘s what he puts out there in the world.  So, no - I don‘t want to see him return to the national airwaves.  But CBS is going to have to decide or MSNBC is going to have to decide or ABC or whoever it is going to be, has going to decide if there‘s enough time has passed so that he can be something more than an embarrassment?  I don‘t see it.  But apparently somebody does, enough to throw a whole lot of money his way.

ABRAMS:  I don‘t think that there‘s no question that he‘s going to do well, you know financially.

MADDOW:  Do you think he‘ll get all his highfalutin guests back though?  Who wants to be on with the nappy headed host guy?

ABRAMS:  Well, look, whether he gets all the guests back or not, I think that there‘s  no question that he‘s going to have a lot of listeners.  And Niger, do you disagree?

INNIS:  No, I don‘t.  I think he is going to have a lot of listeners.  And I think actually Don Imus has an opportunity to show a different side if you will, of the minority community.  What‘s unfortunately many within the cultural elite, some of these very folk that attacked Don Imus are silent on Hillary Clinton going to a fund-raiser with Timberland.  They‘re silent on Chrysler and T-mobile having Snoop Doggy Dogg on commercials.  On the Hollywood entertainment elite, producing a movie, a biography of fifty cents - on a drug dealer.

MADDOWS:  Nice shot.

ABRAMS:  Go on, Rachel.

MADDOWS:  Niger - Niger -


ABRAMS:  Well, hang on, Niger, before you go on with your long list of all the sins that you think have been committed in society, let me give Rachel a chance to respond.

MADDOWS:  We and I are friends and we get along great Niger, and you know I respect your opinion on this stuff.  But I feel you are - you are about six months behind the times in terms of people who express outrage about Imus also expressing appropriate outrage about inappropriate language and imagery in hip-hop culture.  I think that it is out there, people have criticized it.  It‘s - I don‘t think you‘re crossing any new ground here by saying that‘s bad, too.  There‘s nothing about Don Imus that is made any better by the fact that there‘s other bad cultural representation out there.

INNIS:  No, we crossed the line some 15 years ago and have been

consistently before don Imus made the comments that he made.  And what

we‘re—where we‘re crossing the line is pointing out the gross hypocrisy

of the elite within entertainment and within Hollywood that continue to

this day.  You can turn on -

ABRAMS:  What about that Rachel?  What about picking and choosing?  What about the fact that it does seem that people have chosen this as a cause to go after Imus, and yet there are a lot of other causes as they can pursue when it comes to racial equality and sensitivity to women and African-Americans?

MADDOWS:  Sure, you have to choose your battle and there‘s an opportunity cost every time you decide to fight one.  But it needs to be seen whether it is OK to let something like this slide?  I mean - should people have just ignored it and laughed it off like every other racist thing Imus have ever said and been laughed off for a generation?  Or someone finally decided to say, we‘ve got it on tape, there‘s no explanation for this he‘s got to answer for this and this is not OK to have a nationally broadcast show where you‘re not seen as an embarrassment and get away with this kind of stuff.  The same reason O‘Reilly has been in trouble and the same reason Rush has been in trouble.

ABRAMS:  Ten seconds, Niger.

INNIS:  Sure Don Imus has apologized.  He‘s fired and he‘s been

rehired.  I want to know when are the executives that are making millions

and billions of dollars on this hip-hop culture being -

ABRAMS:  No is disagreeing with you about that.


INNIS:  When are they going to apologize.

ABRAMS:  Niger, Rachel Maddow, Thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

INNIS:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  Thank you, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Coming up: A father calls 911 after discovering an 18-year-old softball star‘s body in his son‘s closet.  But he did not call right away.  A new forensic evidence could should she did not die where she was found.

And the Fox Business Channel went on the air today.  Who knew business news could have so much in common with Beavis and Butthead.  The tag line for one of their shows, where Wall Street meets rock ‘n‘ roll! Yeah!


ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press, our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV.  First up: The Fox Business channel started today.  And you know what?  They‘re just really cool.  You know, like real world and like Beavis and butthead.  Cool.


CODY WILLARD: And I‘m Cody Willard.  This is indeed where Wall Street meets rock ‘n‘ roll.


ABRAMS:  Rock on, Cody.


REBECCA:  You‘re going to have to get used to Cody‘s one-liner.  He‘s famous for them.

CODY WILLARD;  Every day I‘ll have a new one for you, Rebecca.

REBECCA:  Join us for happy hour tomorrow, same place, same time, we‘ll mix it up.

WILLARD:  Bring your rock ‘n‘ roll, guys.


ABRAMS:  Rock ‘n‘ roll, yeah!

Next up, “The New York Times” insuring it will continue to endure the wrath of most in the military.  They were the only New York newspaper not to report on the first Medal of Honor recipient from the war in Afghanistan.  Lieutenant Michael Murphy a navy S.E.A.L., from Long Island, New York, killed in combat trying to save the lives of his comrades.  Newspaper across the country and every newspaper in the New York region covered the honor except for the “Times.” You can be anti-war and still recognize that the recipient for the first recipient of the nation‘s highest honor for valor in Afghanistan still fits into all the news that‘s fit to print.

Finally, Fox‘s Bill O‘Reilly is now dabbling in sitcom critique.  Who knew?  His review of the show “30 rock” an outlandish conspiracy theory.  He watched the Emmy award winning sitcom and determined it is not funny and I bet you can guess what‘s to blame.


BILL O‘REILLY:  I believe there‘s ideology in this, Bernie.  I believe this is a big left wing crew.  They love those people because of their politics and they‘re going to cut them slack.


ABRAMS:  Absolutely.  It‘s all - and he nailed it.  How he gets it every single time?  Maybe the address, 30 rock, where NBC has its headquarters just sorts of, intimidates him a little.

We need your help beating the press, if you see anything amusing, absurd, right or wrong.  Please go to our website - Abrams.msnbc.com.  Leave us a tip in the box.  Please include the show and the time you saw the item.

Up next, Senator Larry Craig is fighting back.  We‘ve got his first interview since his arrest in that airport bathroom sex sting.  He‘s got some harsh words for some, including the man whose campaign he had been supporting, Mitt Romney.


SEN. LARRY CRAIG:  I was a co-chair of his campaign on Capitol Hill, and he not only threw me under his campaign bus he backed up and ran over me again.


ABRAMS: Plus, a man on the run after assaulting a police officer, steals a truck, leads police on a high speed chase.  Now we hear the other side, from him.  Why would he do this?  It is a new MSNBC series that asks and answers, why they run.



ABRAMS:  For the first time Idaho Senator Larry Craig is answering questions about that airport bathroom sex sting.  The senator and his wife sat down for an exclusive interview with Matt Lauer about the arrest, his decision not to resign, and those who have and have not supported him, including Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. 


SEN. LARRY CRAIG ®, IDAHO:  I was very proud of my association with Mitt Romney.  I worked hard for him here in the state.  I was a co-chair of his campaign on Capitol Hill.  And he not only threw me under his campaign bus, he backed up and ran over me again.  And you know, you kind of look and blink a little bit.  And while they were reacting that way, there were another set of senators who were calling us and saying, what‘s going on?  What can we do to help you? 

MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, “THE TODAY SHOW”:  Will you resign? 

L. CRAIG:  No, I won‘t resign.  I will finish out my term.  Let me

tell you -

SUZANNE CRAIG, WIFE OF SEN. CRAIG:  Because there‘s so many more who don‘t want him to resign.


ABRAMS:  All right.  Well, today he filed a new appeal hoping to convince the Minnesota court of appeals let him withdraw his guilty plea.  Matt‘s exclusive interview with Senator Craig airs tomorrow night on NBC at 8:00/7:00 Central.  And we will have more of the interview and probably talk about some of the things he just said tomorrow night on the show as well.

ABRAMS:  But first, a former model is now on trial for murder in Chicago.  Two years ago, Jeanette Sliwinski allegedly rammed her Ford Mustang into a car in a failed suicide attempt.  All three passengers, musicians aged 29, 35 and 39 killed.  She walked away with an ankle injury.  Opening statements are scheduled for tomorrow.  Her attorney is now saying Sliwinski had no idea what she was doing. 


THOMAS NEEDHAM, JEANNETTE SLIWINSKI‘S ATTORNEY:  Suffice it to say that we believe the evidence is going to show that Jeannette Sliwinski on July 14th was legally insane when this accident occurred, and believe at the end of the day, the court and you all will agree with our position. 


ABRAMS:  Sliwinski was supposed to meet with a psychiatrist the day of the crash.  Joining me now, Eric Herman from the “Chicago Sun-Times,” prosecutor Pam Bondi, and defense attorney Julia Morrow.  Thanks to all of you for coming on.  Appreciate it.  All right, Eric, what do we know about this?  When they say failed suicide attempt, does that mean she was supposedly trying to crash into another car, or she was just trying to crash into a tree? 

ERIC HERMAN, STAFF REPORTER, “CHICAGO SUN-TIMES”:  We don‘t know.  All we know was that she set out that day with the intention of killing herself.  She got behind the wheel of her car.  And She intended to crash into something.  She intended to get into a crash that ended her life, whether that was a tree or another car, we don‘t know yet.  

ABRAMS:  Julia, what kind of defense is that? 

JULIA MORROW, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  The insanity defense?  Well ...

ABRAMS:  Well, in this particular case.  I mean this is not sort of a standard insanity defense, is it? 

MORROW:  No, I would actually say it‘s a diminished capacity defense.  There‘s no way she‘ll meet the standard for legal insanity.  But the reason why they‘re even going with that, Dan, is because the state has actually charged her with first degree murder.  This is not a situation where they‘re just alleging extreme recklessness, which in my opinion, that‘s what this is.  She‘s been charged with first degree murder, specific intent to kill.  And you can rebut that mens rea requirement with a diminished capacity or an insanity defense. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Pam, why do you think that they went for the murder charge here? 

PAM BONDI, PROSECUTOR:  Well, because, Dan, she didn‘t have to intend to kill those three innocent men.  She was going 70 miles an hour in the middle of the day at lunch time.  She blew through three red lights.  And she wanted to kill herself.  She knew what it took to do it.  Unfortunately she only hurt her ankle and three men lost their lives.  And you know, insanity is the toughest burden there is out there.  You know, that‘s a really, really burden for the defense.  So I think they are going to have a rough time meeting that burden.  But I clearly believe this is first degree murder.  

MORROW:  It‘s not first degree murder. 

ABRAMS:  Eric, is she expected to testify? 

HERMAN:  Well, again, we don‘t know.  That‘s something that the defense lawyers have played very close to the best.  But I would like to respond to something that one of the women said.  It‘s absolutely right.  I mean the prosecutors would say that she didn‘t have to have the specific intent to kill these men to be guilty of first degree murder, that it‘s enough if she knew that her actions were substantially likely to kill or grievously injure another person.  That that‘s enough to show the requisite intent for first degree murder.  

MORROW:  That‘s murder.  That‘s murder.  That‘s not first degree murder.  There‘s all different degrees of murder.  That‘s not first degree murder. 

ABRAMS:  Opening statements are scheduled for tomorrow.  Eric Herman, thanks very much for coming on.  Appreciate it.

There are new details in gruesome death of 18-year-old Amanda Buckley.  Remember the softball player from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida who was allegedly raped, strangled, beaten, shoved into closet, only weeks after starting college on a scholarship.  She was found in 26-year-old Jason Shenfeld‘s bedroom. 

He‘s now accused of killing her.  She had neck injuries that may have come from a dog leash found in a garbage bag at his home.  Also found at the scene, duct tape, a pair of balled up underwear, and a used condom.  Buckley took multiple blows to the head, legs, and showed signs of having been sexually abused.  The Jason‘s father, John Shenfeld, found the body the next day.  Then an hour later, after calling his lawyer, made this 911 call. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 911 DISPATCHER:  911 emergency, do you need a paramedic.

JOHN SHENFELD, FATHER OF MURDER SUSPECT:  Yes, uh, no.  I want to report a drug overdose.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 911 DISPATCHER:  Who had a drug overdose?

SHENFELD:  Pardon?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 911 DISPATCHER:  Who had a drug overdose?

SHENFELD:  Oh, this girl.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 911 DISPATCHER:  Is she there with you?

SHENFELD:  Yes.  She is in my son‘s room.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 911 DISPATCHER:  What did she overdose with?

SHENFELD:  I don‘t know.


SHENFELD:  Oh, no.  I think she‘s dead.


ABRAMS:  Jason Shenfeld is in court this week, ultimately could get the death penalty.  All right, Pam Bondi, this is a case where the father - let me ask you about that first - has not been charged with anything.  He‘s not really guilty of a crime for not calling immediately, and calling his lawyer first, is he? 

BONDI:  No, Dan, he‘s not.  That‘s a real fine line with prosecutors because he‘ll probably be a witness in the case.  So most likely, they‘re going to need him.  He is a father.  You know, that‘s a real fine line when you‘re dealing with something like that, trying to cover up for your son.  At least he eventually did the right thing.  Of course, none of us believe it was a drug overdose.  

ABRAMS:  And Julia, what is the defense here? 

MORROW:  Well, the defense here - Shenfeld has already said that she died of a drug overdose; that would explain why her body was in his closet.  For all we know they were out in the woods, they were doing drugs.  They were having rough sex.  They came back to his house for more drugs, more rough sex.  She died, he panicked.  He put her in the closet.  If that‘s the case, all he‘s guilty of is abuse of corpse.  

ABRAMS:  Wow, that‘s quite a little tale that you just created there.  

MORROW:  Well, someone‘s got to defend the guy. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, I understand.  That doesn‘t mean that somebody else ...

MORROW:  I‘m just doing my job here.  

ABRAMS:  Yes, I know.  I mean, you know - but all right.  This is more of the 911 call from, I mean, you know, the notion that she also has these signs of abuse on her body.  This rough sex defense, I‘ve always found, is almost always not true, and always offensive.  This is more of the 911 call that the father made. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE 911 DISPATCHER:  Is she cold to the touch?

SHENFELD:  Yes, yes.  I think so.  I‘m pretty distraught over this whole thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE 911 DISPATCHER:  I understand.  When was the last time she was seen?

SHENFELD:  Well, it‘s like, she was here yesterday.  And you know her car was parked here.  And she was supposedly sleeping in my son‘s room.  And I guess he got panicky because she passed away and oh.  She passed away yesterday and I found out just about an hour ago and I‘ve been in a panic ever since.  I‘m just in a ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE 911 DISPATCHER:  This is your daughter?

DISPATCHER:  No, this is not mine.  That‘s somebody else‘s.  That‘s my son.  He got scared and oh, Jesus, I don‘t know what to tell you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE 911 DISPATCHER:  So it‘s an acquaintance of your son?



SHENFELD:  It‘s just terrible.  I don‘t know what to say.  I‘m just - my wife and I - just don‘t know what to do.


ABRAMS:  All right.  So, to Julia, in addition to all of  the hemorrhages and the blows found on her body, this is a defendant who, February 2002, convicted of robbery.  Followed a woman driving an SUV, assaulted her in a driveway.  Beat a woman over the head with a cell phone.  Made off with $13, sentenced to five years probation.  He also, in other cases, had been accused of sexual assault of an 18 and 19-year-old women that he allegedly forced them to perform sex acts on him.  Carried a knife at the time.  Threatened them with a pit bull.  The prosecutors declined to file charges.  This is not exactly the kind of guy that you‘d want as your client, right?

MORROW:  No, I certainly wouldn‘t want him as my client.  It would definitely be a challenge.  But he wasn‘t convicted of those things and the prosecutors declined to bring charges against him.  

ABRAMS:  The second things.  The second things.  Yes.

MORROW:  The second thing.  The robbery he was convicted of.  The sex thing he wasn‘t.  And they declined to bring charges because there were inconsistent details in the stories and no corroborating evidence.  And it certainly can‘t come in this case, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Well, it‘s always rough when someone‘s bruised and battered, raped body is found in your closet ...  

MORROW:  This is not a good case, Dan.  Let‘s face it.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Let me get Pam the final word on it.. 

BONDI:  Well, Dan, the prosecutors aren‘t seeking the death penalty.  I think it‘s completely appropriate in this case.  I think they‘re going to have heinous, atrocious and cruel as one of the aggravators.  He bound her wrists.  The evidence shows her vaginal area had been badly, badly bruised along with her eyes, her face, her body.  I think they may even have heightened premeditation.  So this probably is a very strong death penalty case for the prosecution.  

ABRAMS:  Pam Bondi and Julia Morrow, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.


BONDI:  Thanks, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Up next, Coke versus 7-Up, when a man high on cocaine steals a 7-Up soda truck and leads police on a high speed chase. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I knew I was going to jail.  So I figured, I might as well smoke it as much as I could.


ABRAMS:  A new MSNBC documentary talked to the people behind some of the most spectacular police chases to find out why they ran.  Coming up. 

And later, work bites for a TV reptile expert attacked by a 12-foot python.  He lived.  And will tell his tale to us in tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”



ABRAMS:  Do you know there are about 9600 police pursuits around the

country every year?  Up next, MSNBC‘s new series, “WHY THEY RUN” takes a

look at the other side of these chases.  We hear from the people driving

about why they did it


ABRAMS:  Police across the country are involved in dozens of car chases every day.  What really drives these suspects to run from the law?  Especially since most are initially pulled over for minor traffic violations?  We learned why in a new MSNBC documentary “WHY THEY RUN.”  Here, a man steals a 7-Up delivery truck and a hot pursuit unfolds on the streets of Los Angeles. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over):  It was coke versus 7-Up as a man under the influence of crack cocaine steals a 7-Up delivery truck, leading Los Angeles police on one of the most bizarre chases ever to be caught on camera.  Why?  Because this isn‘t your typical freeway chase. 

BOB TUR, HELICOPTER PILOT/REPORTER (voice over):  7-Up truck is still continuing here in the San Fernando Valley being chased by the police.  Using the number one lane, we‘re now on (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  And he‘s coming - oh, look at that!  Bottles of 7-Up flying out of the truck and hitting automobiles.  Looks like we have a few broken windows.  The automobile‘s parked on the side truck.  He‘s now entering another intersection.  This pursuit has been going on for the last 25 minutes.  Another bottle flying and hitting an automobile.  Terribly dangerous.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over):  The man behind is wheel is 29-year-old John Edward Butner, a drug addict from Missouri, on the run for assaulting a police officer with a deadly weapon.  And everything he does is a surprise to police and to the guy in the sky.  

TUR (on camera):  I couldn‘t believe what I was watching.  7-Up cans and bottles flying out of the back of the truck.  And these are like deadly missiles flying from the shelves and they‘re moving at 30, 40 miles an hour.  Should they strike somebody, it could kill somebody. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over):  It was very dangerous, but danger seems to be what this guy is after.  The night before this wild pursuit, Butner took police on another high speed chase in a pickup truck, only that time he managed to get away.  

DETECTIVE ROBERT RUNNELS, L.A. POLICE DEPARTMENT:  He ditched the truck he was in, and then fled on foot, and made his escape.  But he stayed in the area looking for another way to get out, another vehicle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over):  After hiding in bushes all night, Butner spotted this 7-Up truck parked outside the convenience store.  Keys in the ignition.  What was this guy thinking? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When that truck backed up and parked, I was sitting there until he got done.  He went around to the front door, and that‘s when I jumped in, started up, and took it.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over)  L.A. Police Detective Bob Runnels(ph) remembers first hearing the call over the radio.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s an unusual vehicle to steal.  And based on the description of the suspect, we thought that he might be a drug user.  And so we went down to Sepulveda Boulevard, part of Columbus Avenue, which is an area notorious for drug dealers.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, I was driving on back of Sepulveda.  I was getting ready to pull it over and get out of it, and call my father-in-law to come get me.  As I was getting ready to turn in the intersection, that‘s when the cop came through and got on me.  That‘s when the chase started.  

RUNNELS:  There were times that we could jockey ourselves to a position to be able to see the pursuit as we unparalleled it.  And I could see that he was smoking.  I turned to my partner and, “Look at that.  He‘s smoking while he‘s driving the truck.”  You know, it turned out later on - and talking to detectives, he was smoking crack cocaine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I used quite a bit of it while they were chasing me.  I knew I was going to jail.  So I figured I might as well smoke as much as I could.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over):  Now on fuel, Butner suddenly veers into a quiet suburban street. 

TUR (voice over):  He‘s doing about 25 miles an hour.  LAPD Air Unit overhead.  There‘s a school.  He‘s slowing down.  Cab door is open.  Suspect is out, he‘s running.  The suspect is running.  It‘s a foot chase right now.  LAPD units moving in. 

He‘s passed by some people on the ground, some kids, some women.  He‘s now moving up ahead.  He‘s running full clip.  OK, into an apartment house.  He‘s running into an apartment house.  He‘s inside.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over):  What the police don‘t know at that time is that our fugitive knows the neighborhood.  Hiding in a tree near his mother-in-law‘s apartment, Butner(ph) knows it is only a matter of seconds before police close in and find him.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A Mexican lady kept telling them in Spanish I was up in the tree. 

DOLORES DELOERA, WITNESS:  (speaking Spanish) And some of the officers knew Spanish.  He understood her, and that‘s why they caught him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I knew I was history.  You know, but it was either the tree or the trash can.  I wouldn‘t hide in no trash can. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE POLICE OFFICER:  Put both hands right where I can see them.  Get on the ground.  Get down. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think my bond was - I‘m thinking it was - $175,000 is what I think it was.  He asked me if I was going to bond out, and I told him “No, I need a vacation.”  I was ready to go dry out.


ABRAMS:  This guy seems to think it was all funny.  Sentenced to three years for the cocaine induced chase and additional years for a prior police pursuit.  He is eligible for parole in 2016.  He‘s eligible for parole in 2016.  “WHY THEY RUN” premieres tomorrow at 10:00 p.m.  Eastern on MSNBC.

ABRAMS:  Up next, will tonight‘s bigger or loser be Rudy Giuliani who says he‘s ready for an alien attack?  A sign that looked alien to New Yorkers because it featured a barn from New York even though it was welcoming people to - sorry, a barn from Vermont?  I‘ll explain later.  Or an animal trainer that had a close encounter of the scary kind with a 12-foot python.  We‘ll hear how he survived the attack up next in “Winners and Losers.”



ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 15th day of October, 2007.  Winner, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, who fielded in an out of this world question at a New Hampshire town hall meeting yesterday. 


UNIDENTIFIED CHILD:  If we find that there is something living on another planet and it is bad, and it comes over here, what would you do? 

ABRAMS (voice over):  The former New York mayor assured the boy that his administration would be prepared in the event of an extraterrestrial attack. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Die you alien—uh-oh.


ABRAMS:  Loser - Howard Manilli(ph), a current New York politician under attack from a far closer place - his neighbors in Vermont.  Turns out the Malone, New York, sign welcoming visitors to the state of New York had a little error.  The rolling hills and red barn on the sign were actually from neighboring Woodstock, Vermont.  Town officials now embracing their terrestrial transgression saying they‘ll keep the sign of the possible tourist attraction.  I‘m not sure you would want your kids to enroll in their schools though with that welcome.


ADAM SANDLER:  I hate cursive and I hate all of you.  I‘m never coming back to this school! Never!


ABRAMS:  Winner, 13-year-old Minnesota football player Avi Duncan who has defied the odds making his eighth grade football team even though he was born with no legs.  

AVI DUNCAN, FOOTBALL PLAYER:  I just love football.  I like to tackle people, you know.

ABRAMS:  Avi uses his arms to run and tackle - an inspiring story that‘s quickly made him a home town football great. 

Loser, former football great O.J. Simpson who had his legal legs taken out from under him by a pair of former friends.  Co-defendants Charles Cashmore and Walter Alexander turned on The Juice today copping a plea deal in exchange for their testimony against him, a crippling move that could mean trouble for O.J.‘s defense. 

But the big winner of the day?  South Korean TV anchorman, Chung Dung Yung(ph). 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I look good.  I mean, really good.


ABRAMS:  Nominated by that country‘s liberal party to be their candidate for president.  


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t know how to put this, but I‘m kind of a big deal.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  People know me. 


ABRAMS:  Bitten by the political bug, but still a long shot to actually win.  


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘ve just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story.  I need all of you to stop what you‘re doing and listen.  Cannonball!


ABRAMS:  The big loser of the day?  A TV animal trainer bitten by something far more dangerous than a bug.  Try a 12-foot python.  Brady Barr was rushed to a Singapore hospital and shot up with pain killers after being attacked by the snake in an Indonesian cave. 


BRADY BARR, TV ANIMAL TRAINER:  Here comes the head.  Here comes the head.  Watch it, watch it.  Watch it.  Oh, (EXPLETIVE DELETED)!.  Oh! Oh!  He got me.  Oh (EXPLETIVE DELETED)!  Let go, let go.  He‘s bitten me.  Ow!


ABRAMS:  Ew.  He lived to tell about the attack.  He was on “THE TODAY SHOW” this morning.  Matt Lauer asked him what he was thinking as the python wrapped itself around his legs sunk its teeth into his thigh.


MATT LAUER, HOST, “THE TODAY SHOW”:  You see a tail of this python in the water.  You tried to pull it out.  And one thing leads to another.  All of a sudden the snake‘s in the water with you.  When you can‘t find of the head of the snake, which is not a good thing when dealing with a python, correct? 

BARR:  Oh man, these guys have over a hundred real curved, needle-sharp teeth.  And you do not want to feel the bite from one of these things.  

LAUER:  It‘s not a venomous bite, though.  Correct, Brady? 

BARR:  No.  That‘s correct.  These are constrictors.  They put on the big squeeze.  They squeeze their prey.  They just use this bite - they use the bite as an anchoring point just to hang on to their prey.  

LAUER:  I want to show people.  Unfortunately we‘ve got a lot of people sitting at home right now eating their Cheerios.  But I want to show this bite.  We‘re looking at the bite right now.  I mean, that is a nasty gash.  And complicating this whole thing is you‘re in a very remote area of Indonesia.  How much danger were you in? 

BARR:  Well, the danger was really the chance of infection.  I mean I‘ve got these gaping open wounds that are filled with bat feces and in a remote location.  So that was the real danger.  I mean, it was a 27-hour journey to get to a hospital to get proper medical attention.  

LAUER:  And isn‘t it true that a colleague of yours had recently lost a leg due to infection?  That had to be going through your mind.  

BARR:  Yes, that‘s going through my mind.  But you know, if you‘re a field researcher and you‘re working on wild animals or you know, whether you‘re a geologist working on volcanoes or an oceanographer working in the deep sea, there are risks in what you do.  And we just try to minimize those risks when we‘re in the field.  

LAUER:  But when is it too much?  I mean, the show is called “Dangerous Encounters.”  So you‘re telling people right off the bat that you‘re going to put yourself in dangerous situations.  But what about the risk reward?  I mean, not only is it you in that cave in that water with the python, but you‘ve got a crew there as well.  How much danger are you willing to put those people in? 

BARR:  Well, I mean, our safety - I‘ve been doing this for a long, long time, over a decade.  And the number of accidents that have occurred, you know, I can count on my fingers.  We‘re really, really careful.  But it is called “Dangerous Encounters.”  You work on crocodiles or you work on snakes.  These are dangerous animals, but you just try to take every precaution while you‘re out there.


ABRAMS:  Or you can just be like me and stay here.  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Up next, an all new “Predator Raw.”  Thanks for watching.  See you tomorrow.



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 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.


Watch Live with Dan Abrams Monday - Thursday at 9 p.m. ET


Discussion comments