updated 12/4/2007 11:31:40 AM ET 2007-12-04T16:31:40

Guests: Cliff May, Chris Lehane, Monica Lindstrom, Joel Brodsky, Andrea Visconti, David Schwartz

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Tonight an explosive new intelligence report about Iran‘s nuclear weapons program suggests the Bush administration has been playing it loose with the facts.

And Hillary Clinton says she has proof Barack Obama is playing it loose with the facts.  Exhibit A, his essays from kindergarten.  Really?

And new witnesses come forward to say suspect Drew Peterson has been

playing very loose with the facts in connection with his missing wife,

Stacy

But first, a new government intelligence report released late today calls into question much of what the Bush White House has said for the last year about the growing threat from Iran‘s nuclear weapons program.  The National Intelligence Estimate which represents the opinions of all 16 American spy agencies, reports that “We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.  We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its weapons program as of mid 2007.”  The Bush White House even conceding tonight that Iran no longer appears to be the threat it once was.  But the president reportedly knew the basics of the report as early as last year.  And senior intelligence officials told NBC News today that President Bush was aware of new information on Iran months ago and was briefed on key judgments four to six weeks ago.  Despite this, in the past four to six weeks, the Bush White House has continued to ratchet up its rhetoric against Iran and its nuclear weapons program.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:  So I told people that if you‘re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them to have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.

VICE PRES. DICK CHENEY, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:  Iran is pursuing technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons.  The world knows this.  Our country and the entire international community cannot stand by as a terrorist-supporting state fulfills its most aggressive ambitions.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

ABRAMS:  And the Energy Secretary, Samuel Bodman on November 13th said quote, “We are convinced that they are developing nuclear weapons.”  This has been going on for months and no one is suggesting Iran is not a threat.  But this report makes clear that Iran is not rushing to develop a bomb now.  And despite reportedly getting wind of this new information as early as a year ago, the administration has continued stoking fear about Iran‘s looming nuclear program.  Knowing what we know how, the administration‘s comments fit somewhere between gross negligence and rank dishonesty on the most important issue facing this nation.  I‘m joined now by MSNBC political analyst, Lawrence O‘Donnell; Cliff May, the president of the Foundation of Defense of Democracies, and Pat Buchanan, also an MSNBC political analyst.  All right.  Pat, look, this seems to me that there‘s no other way to describe this apart from the fact that the administration has been dishonest about Iran‘s nuclear weapons programs.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, it does appear that the administration has been raising alarms about the almost - the imminence of Iran getting nuclear materials and getting the ability to build nuclear weapons and suggesting it could be closer than any of us imagined, when they may had information that contradicted that entirely.  Now, I think this has blown a hole in the administration‘s policy.  I don‘t think you can threaten war against a nation if your intelligence agency says they‘re not going for nuclear weapons right now.  I think it‘s going to make it very difficult for the president to get sanctions at the United Nations and get the Russians and Chinese to sign on.  And, frankly, Dan, the real aggrandizement of this is that the likelihood that the United States is going to launch air strikes on Iran‘s nuclear facilities which apparently they say now could not produce nuclear materials until 2010.  That likelihood has diminished to the point of almost disappearing.

ABRAMS:  Yes, I mean, Cliff, you can say Iran is a problem.  You can say Iran is a possible threat.  And you can also be honest about where they are in their nuclear technology.

CLIFF MAY, FOUNDATION IN DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES:  Yes.  But, Dan, you are so missing the point.  What we know from this intelligence report is that in 2003, according to them, Iran stopped developing nuclear weapons. 

What happened in 2003 that might induce them to do that?   History buffs

among us, well, we use military force to topple a regime in neighboring

Iraq.  So maybe they said, you know what?   Let‘s not develop nuclear

weapons while Bush is president.  We can always go back to it later.  And

guess what?   It‘s 2009 that they could do it.

                ABRAMS:  Let‘s assume that‘s true.  And I‘ll go to Lawrence on that in

a minute.

MAY:  Not assume it‘s true.  That‘s what the NIE says.  They‘re still

enriching uranium.  Do you think -

ABRAMS:  If we‘re going to accept everything in there, Cliff, then you got to admit the administration has been lying to us, period.

MAY:  No I don‘t.  Not at all, David.  Dan, they‘ve been putting

pressure on Iran and if that pressure has meant that Iran has backed off

its nuclear program -

ABRAMS:  No, it‘s not the question, Cliff.  If you want to answer my question?  Cliff, are we being lied to or not?  Don‘t talk around the issue.  I‘m asking a question—doesn‘t this mean that all the statements that we just played have been lies about Iran‘s nuclear program now?

MAY:  No.  It means they are still enriching uranium and they still have research programs that can be used for either civilian or military capability and they can produce weapons as early as 2009, which happens to be the year that Bush is out of office.  Unless we keep the pressure on, they will turn back to developing weapons.

ABRAMS:  That‘s not how I read the exact same report that Cliff -

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Let me let Lawrence in here.  Go ahead, Lawrence.  Hang on a second.  Lawrence go ahead.

MAY:  I understand.

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Dan, I can understand

your reaction to this.  The administration has been using very strong

threat language with Iraq and has been using in rhetorical terms the notion

that Iran is a very serious threat to us.  Where I—I disagree with Pat

because Pat has long believed that this administration was intent on

attacking Iran.  I have never believed that.  I have thought since the

invasion of Iraq that this administration was for a bunch of reasons

incapable of attacking Iran, never intended to do it.  So I don‘t think

this NIE report will have any effect on administration policy.  But will it

have an effect on administration rhetoric, which as you point out, Dan, has

been extremely overheated, given what we now know the administration has

known for over a year about Iranian -

ABRAMS:  Go ahead, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Dan, this is a way, however, Mr. Bush—where I disagree with Lawrence is, I believe until up physical a couple of months ago, the administration‘s rhetoric was so really powerful that the president and Cheney had painted themselves into a corner that they had to attack Iran or they would have to back down from their statement.  However, I do think what this does for the president and the administration; it gives them a way to walk the cat back.  They can say, in effect, the intelligence has come in.  They‘re not doing it.  Therefore, we don‘t have to act as we said we would.

ABRAMS:  Let me - look, you may be right, Pat.  I think‘s a very interesting point here but I have to tell you that there‘s got to be something to honesty.  There‘s got to be something to being told the truth by your government.  Listen to Dana Perino on October—I‘ll let you respond, Cliff.  This is Dana Perino on October the 26th.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESPERSON:  The problem is Iran.  And Iran has not stepped back from trying to pursue a nuclear weapon, and—or were processing and enriching uranium which would lead to a nuclear weapon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Just - Cliff, just not true.  I mean - just not true.

MAY:  Dan, do you actually believe that Iran is enriching uranium because it needs a lot more electricity for the air conditioners?

ABRAMS:  Wait, you just told me to believe the NIE report, OK?  I‘m going to tell you that the NIE report tells us that they have abandoned and you have a fair and interesting explanation with regard to 2003.

MAY:  Exactly.

ABRAMS:  But they have abandoned their nuclear weapons programs as of 2003.

MAY:  No.  Suspended, not abandoned. What they have done is to have

all the pieces in place -

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  All right. They‘re not pursuing it.  Don‘t play lawyer with me.  They‘re not pursuing it.

MAY:  Dan, you‘ve got to give me a chance.  I‘m three against one here.  They‘re not putting thistle material on top of the missiles. 

They‘re not doing that right now.  And we should all be glad that they‘re

not doing that right now.  But I have to tell you -

BUCHANAN:  All right.  They don‘t have the thistle material.

MAY:  They don‘t have the thistle material yet that‘s absolutely right.  And they‘re enriching uranium, a lot of it, which may allow them to make it as soon as 2009.  (INAUDIBLE).

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  But let me ask a question.  Look, I agree if you have the centrifuges the 3,000 and they‘re working well and they‘re working well, you could have the material at the end of next year.  Why, Dan, did this report say they can‘t build a bomb until 2010?   We must have found out that what they‘re doing in enriching uranium is not that effective.

ABRAMS:  Or 2013, actually.

MAY:  One thing is - Pat, it says by the end of 2009 they could.  The other thing it says is this is only their declared programs.  We don‘t know anything about their covert programs.  Do you think there‘s a chance they have covert or secret programs?

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Wait, wait.  You‘re going to suggest to me—wait, wait.  Cliff, you‘re going to suggest to me that the NIE report and let me take this to Lawrence which is that this is the 16 spy agencies in the United States are coming forward with a report as to the best information they have and all they‘re saying is this is based on what‘s declared.  Come on.

MAY:  Read the damn report, Dan.

ABRAMS:  I did read the report..

MAY:  It says they don‘t know what covert activities they have.

ABRAMS:  That‘s right.  Look, yes, that‘s right, come on, Cliff.

MAY:  And by the way, the CIA -

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  The NIE screwed it up leading into Iraq.  You know that they‘re going to be very careful.  Let me give Lawrence a chance to respond here.  They‘re not going to say, as they said, they‘re very clear in this.  They say, look, we don‘t know.  They could still be pursuing it.  Fine.  But that‘s not the findings.  The findings here are very bad for this administration, Lawrence.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Let me let Lawrence, go.  Hold on.

O‘DONNELL:  Most importantly, Dan, it‘s the complete reversal of the last NIE report on this subject in 2005.  But notice that Stephen Hadley, the National Security Advisor at the White House, very wisely greeted this report as good news.

ABRAMS:  Yes.

O‘DONNELL:  That supports Pat‘s notion that this White House can now use this report as a way of downgrading their rhetoric from this point forward on how much trouble we‘re in with Iran.  I never believed we were going to attack.  I don‘t think we have the capacity to attack anymore.  We weren‘t going to do it.  But now the rhetoric is going to start to match the policy, which is really that we‘re doing nothing.

ABRAMS:  Real quick, Pat.  You can say the final word.

BUCHANAN:  What‘s coming is a de-escalation with Iran and maybe kind of engagement.

ABRAMS:  Cliff, final word.

MAY:  I may agree a little bit with both Pat and with Lawrence in the following.  What this report says is the Bush policy being tough on Iran appears to have worked.  They‘ve suspended their program.  But this report contradicts the last report.  And we don‘t know the next report.  The CIA has been wrong on the nuclear capabilities of Iraq, Pakistan, North Korea and India and other places as well.

ABRAMS:  If the viewers‘ heads aren‘t spinning.  From he - talk about spin.  My goodness.  Cliff May, you are the king spinner.  Now, Cliff‘s great.  Thanks a lot, Cliff.  Good to see you.

MAY:  Thank you, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Pat Buchanan, appreciate it.  Lawrence is going to stay with us.

Coming up: The Hillary Clinton campaign now citing Barack Obama‘s kindergarten and third grade essays.  Seriously, to show his flip flopper, no, really, pinkie swear, they are.  It‘s beginning to sound a lot like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD‘S VOICE:  Do we want a president with a name like that?

His name is really difficult to say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And FOX‘s Carl Cameron had a rough day on Friday.  First, he forgets to strap on his seat belt in a new FOX election vehicle as they speed towards the Kelly (ph) and campaign hostage scene.  They arrived safely then he managed to mangle the facts.  That‘s coming up in Beat in the Press.

And remember this coach known for throwing a chair across the basketball court?  Now, a new home video shows not much has changed with Bobby Knight.  That‘s in tonight‘s Winners & Losers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Do you know 2008 would be the first election in 56 years that an incumbent president or vice president seeking a nomination.  Coming up to Hillary Clinton campaign has uncovered some stunning dirt on Barack Obama.  Essays he wrote in kindergarten and third grade which could prove, he‘s a flip flopper.  And if you don‘t believe it, you could go ask his teacher.  Yes, it has gotten this absurd.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Remember when Hillary Clinton mocked Barack Obama for citing the four years he spent as a child in Indonesia as support for his foreign policy know-how?  Hillary had it absolutely right when she said that living abroad says nothing about foreign policy experience.  So what the heck is her campaign pulling out Obama‘s essays from that same period in his life to prove he‘s a hypocrite?  The Clinton campaign is actually citing Obama‘s kindergarten and third grade essays, among others, to accuse him of lying when he says he had not been planning to run for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m not running to fulfill some long-held plans or because I think it‘s owed to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  They say the little kiddie ones prove that‘s not true.  The real campaign starting to feel like these spoof attack ads.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD:  Barack Obama.  Do we want a president with a name like that?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD:  His name is really difficult to say.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD:  Hillary Clinton is a thief.  She steals stuff from the White House like towels and plates and other stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD:  Hillary Clinton, I can‘t believe you.

ANNOUNCER;  This message is sponsored by swift kids for truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Here now, a Democratic strategist, Crystal Lehane who supports Clinton and still with us is Lawrence O‘Donnell.  All right.  And so, first of all, Lawrence, what is the Clinton campaign doing?  I mean, look, yes, they cite other things to prove that Obama has always been wanting to run for president.  But literally having on their Web site - you know and this is put up their press release, number three—in third grade, Senator Obama wrote an essay entitled I want to be president.  In kindergarten, Senator Obama wrote an essay entitled I want to become president.  I mean, isn‘t this political insanity?

O‘DONNELL:  I think we all wanted to be president in kindergarten, Dan.  This is political insanity.  It is disastrous.  This is the Clinton campaign staff officially pressing the panic button.  I‘m shocked by it.  I thought they were much more professional than this.  They had run a great campaign right up to this week.  I think they can get over this if they cut this off right away.  But this is not playing well.  You know, the press is not—Hillary is not the press‘ favorite candidate.  She doesn‘t make it easy for them to cover her.  They‘ve been kind of waiting to get their knives out against during in a situation like this.  The coverage, the print coverage, of this has been terrible.  This is a really bad mistake.

ABRAMS:  Chris, look, I will concede that there‘s an element of gotcha here.  I‘ll concede that.  But the Clinton campaign knows better than anyone about gotcha politics, all right?  So knowing that, what are they doing citing kindergarten and third grade essays of Obama?

CHRIS LEHANE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  For the record, I wanted to play shortstop for the Red Sox in third grade.

ABRAMS:  Great.

LEHANE:  But seriously, there‘s a serious point and fun point here.  Serious point is that barracks Obama did attack Hillary Clinton several weeks ago, claiming  that she and the former president had a 20-year plan.  They were quoting or referring to some book written where the reporting was very suspicious.  And so, Obama opened up this door.

ABRAMS:  OK.  What is Hillary doing going through it?

LEHANE:  We all know when you put something out like that, you‘re going to be held up to the hypocrisy standard.

O‘DONNELL:  Well, Chris -

(CROSSTALK)

LEHANE:  Let me finish.  Are you going to let me finish?

ABRAMS:  Go ahead, Chris.

LEHANE:  Let me finish.  They opened up the hypocrisy door.  There is a litany of facts that they been talking about the fact that he had talked about running for the president in the past.  It goes to the hypocrisy issue which is a corrupt character issue that people look for presidential campaigns.  And I think, I actually think that you‘re taking the kindergarten and third grade thing a little too seriously.  I mean, my sense is they put that out with the wink-wink and all over the top of themselves and that you are the one who are taking it seriously.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  But Chris, look, you know politics, as does Lawrence.  I mean, you know—the Clinton campaign doesn‘t—shouldn‘t be making foolish mistakes as I view this is, as a mistake.  Don‘t you think that—

I mean, you can say it was tongue in cheek, but interpretation is everything.  And how people talk about it and look, there are a lot of people who know a lot more about inside politics than I do who are looking at the polls and they‘re saying, this is panic.  I mean, I have four polls here, all of which show Hillary Clinton going down in Iowa.  Let‘s start with one - who would you vote for?  This is the most recent - asked are likely female caucus goers back in October of ‘07, Hillary was up 34 to 21. 

She‘s now down 31 to 26.  I mean, national polls -

LEHANE:  Let‘s talk about the polls.  There‘s a number of polls up

today which show her doing exceedingly well, including another poll in Iowa

showing her ahead.  Strong ahead in South Carolina.  A poll in California

showing her way out in front.  And National Polls showing her way out in

front.  So I would challenge the premise that this is desperation because

you‘re -

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  I‘m not saying it‘s desperation.  I‘m saying it‘s a mistake.

LEHANE:  I disagree.  I think when someone makes an attack on you and

look at -

ABRAMS:  So you would have advised—Chris, you‘re the Hillary advisor.  I‘m asking you a question as Hillary, Chris, you‘ve worked in the White House, right?  Someone comes to you and they say, all right, we think Obama‘s being a hypocrite here.  We think he‘s been trying to run for president since the day he was born.  Do we cite his kindergarten and third grade essays, yes or no, Chris?

LEHANE:  I think you cite a litany of factors and have a little fun with it.  You cite people who, prior to what he said in college, you cite former staffers, you cite law school friends.  All of those things were in the collection of information that was put out today, in addition to having a little bit of fun with a third grade essay.

ABRAMS:  Lawrence?

LEHANE:  I think you need to lighten up.  I think they‘re having fun with it.

O‘DONNELL:  Chris is spinning away from the answer which is a yes or no answer.  This is what happens in campaigns.  Chris has worked in Democratic campaigns; I‘ve worked in Democratic campaigns.  You sit in the room.  And something like this comes up and you take a vote in effect.  And you would have voted absolutely not.  Don‘t touch the third grade.  Don‘t touch anything in high school.  Don‘t touch anything in kindergarten.  Don‘t do it.  And Chris will not sit here and say to you that he would have advocated using the kindergarten other third grade essays.

ABRAMS:  OK.  Go ahead, Chris.

LEHANE:  We‘re going to have a new principle, the Larry O‘Donnell third grade principal quote, “Going forward.”

ABRAMS:  All right.  Look, I have to say, you know, look, it‘s funny.  It is funny, but it‘s also absurd.  I don‘t know.  Anyway, Chris Lehane and Lawrence O‘Donnell, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

LEHANE:  Thanks for having me.

ABRAMS:  Coming up: Two truckers say they may have been approached by suspect Drew Peterson to try to move a large container.  Lo and behold, that was the night his wife Stacy was reported missing.  Peterson‘s attorney will be here to give us the latest brush-off of what seems to be mounting evidence against his clients.

An intercepted phone call may prove American, Amanda Knox was at home the night her roommate was murdered even though she has said she wasn‘t.  Things not looking good for Amanda.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s Beat the Press.

First up: Over on FOX News, Carl Cameron had a rough day Friday as he rushed to the hostage scene underway at the Hillary Clinton campaign office in Rochester, New Hampshire.  Broadcasting from their new election vehicle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  Well, it‘s a sad turn of events to have to unveil this technology in a situation where it appears as though a man has taken all of these hostages in the Clinton office in Rochester, New York.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  First of all, for the first few minutes his seat belt was not buckled as they sped to the scene.  Then he reported the man took hostages in the Clinton office in Rochester, New York.  It was Rochester, New Hampshire.  That was seven hours each.  And his rough day continued as he misidentified the man holding hostages for over two hours instead of rushing to be first, maybe they should have rushed to be right.  They report, you decide.

Next up: You‘d expect the ladies of “The View” to take up for the British woman initially jailed and sentenced in Sudan for letting her students name a class teddy bear, Muhammad.  She could have been punished with up to 40 lashes with demands from some that she‘d be executed.  Instead of blaming the Islamic fundamentalist, some of the ladies of the view blamed the lady.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You know, you would think that with her being in Sudan she would know the rules and customs.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG:  I find that maybe we are not—when I say we, not just as European and American - we‘re not as anxious to learn the customs before we go places.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Learn the customs?  She let the students name a teddy bear.  Thankfully pressure from other more sane media and political folks led the Sudanese president to pardon her.

Finally: We don‘t normally advertise job openings of other networks.  But this one is worth sharing.  It reads, CBS News is seeking a vibrant reporter for their eco-beat and is expanding its coverage of the environment.  OK, noble idea.  The ad continued—knowledge of the enviro beat is a big plus but not a requirement.  Not a requirement.  I guess for their eco beat, the word vibrant was more important than reporter.  We need your help for Beating the Press.  If you see anything right or wrong, amusing or absurd, please go to our Web site Abrams.msnbc.com.  Leave us a tip in the box, please include the show and the time you saw the item.

Up next: Stacy Peterson‘s pastor going on the record saying she told him she feared for her life because of her husband who is now a suspect in her disappearance.  Of course, Drew Peterson‘s attorney now disputing it.  First it was his relative and ex-wives who were lying about him.  Now a man of the cloth.  Peterson‘s attorney will try to defend the latest sacrilege.

And later: Police now saying there‘s no sign of pepper spray on Miss Puerto Rico‘s gown or makeup.  They‘re investigating whether she lied about being sabotaged.  As you might recall, I was smitten with her unless she say, if true, I‘ll be devastated.  It‘s coming up in Winners & Losers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Up next, more bad news for American Amanda Knox still being held in connection with her roommate‘s murder.  Now, an intercepted phone call may place her at the crime scene even though she reportedly said she wasn‘t there. 

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, more trouble for Amanda Knox, the American college student being held in Italy in her roommate‘s murder after an intercepted phone call sure sounds like she‘s placing herself at the crime scene.  

And Florida Highway Patrol spots 60 pounds of pot on the side of the road.  They then asked people to call in, “Hey, if it belongs to you - get this.”  Dozens of dopes did.

Plus, investigators now questioning Miss Puerto Rico‘s account of her makeup and clothing being sabotaged.  After interviewing her and preparing for that interview, let‘s just say that could just break my heart.  It‘s in tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”

But first, another possible clue tonight in the case of missing mom Stacy Peterson.  Illinois State Police say on the day Stacy disappeared, two men, one believed to possibly be her husband, Drew, approached a pair of truck drivers at a rest stop near Peterson‘s home.  At 3:30 in the morning, the driver asked if the two men would move a package to an undisclosed location.  They refused.  But now, police are calling on other truck drivers for any information on other possible sightings of Drew Peterson.

Also, a pastor at Stacy Peterson‘s church confirming that Stacy met with a minister there in the summer saying, quote, “She feared for herself because of her husband” and feared bodily harm.  Over at the Peterson house in suburban Chicago, the former cop is putting up “No Trespassing” signs on his lawn.  He wouldn‘t comment on the new developments in the case.  He did, however, offer this analysis and advice related to the nation‘s foreclosure crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DREW PETERSON, SUSPECT IN THE DISAPPEARANCE OF STACY PETERSON:  Folks, this is the holiday season.  I know at least five families that are losing their homes that are in this area.  We probably should put maybe a little bit of effort into saving these people and their families, reaching out to your fellowmen.  If someone needs a shoulder to cry on or they need a meal for their families, you guys should be maybe putting a little more effort into doing that rather than harassing my family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Shoulder to cry on, maybe like the family of Stacy Peterson.  Here with us once again, Joel Brodsky who is Drew Peterson‘s attorney and former prosecutor Monica Lindstrom.  All right.  Joel, thanks for coming back on the program.  I appreciate it. 

JOEL BRODSKY, DREW PETERSON‘S ATTORNEY:  You‘re welcome.  

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me ask you this.  First of all, let‘s talk about the pastor. 

BRODSKY:  OK.  

ABRAMS:  Now, so far, any time anyone‘s come out and said anything that is potentially incriminating to your client, they have been described as liars or hypocrites or something else.  Are you going after the man of the cloth, too? 

BRODSKY:  No.  But when you look at what he says, what he did, he says that Stacy talked to a pastor and said that she feared bodily harm.  But they didn‘t obviously think it was very serious because they didn‘t report this to the authorities.  They made a judgment call, they say, and they didn‘t think it was serious enough to report it.  So it really must not have been a very emphatic plea or emphatic charge by her.  

ABRAMS:  Right.  So you‘re blaming the pastor, right?  Just so I‘m clear?  Right?

BRODSKY:  I‘m not blaming the pastor.  I‘m just saying -

ABRAMS:  Man of the cloth is now at fault here.  

BRODSKY:  He‘s not at fault.  What I‘m saying is that whatever she said must not have been very emphatic.  She must not have sounded very disturbed because they didn‘t follow the law and reported it, which they should have if they thought it was serious.  

ABRAMS:  Are you saying you don‘t believe them? 

BRODSKY:  I‘m not saying I don‘t believe them.  I look at their actions, not their words.  Their actions said, we‘re not reporting it to the police as we‘re mandated to do if we believe it‘s serious.  

ABRAMS:  But you‘re not saying that they‘re lying, correct? 

BRODSKY:  No.  

ABRAMS:  OK.  Now, let‘s talk about the business about the truck stop, all right?  Now, I know that you‘ve talked about this many times.  But look, this is not the end all here, but it‘s just another piece where, you know, these truckers may have seen Peterson and someone else trying to dispose of a container. 

BRODSKY:  Well, I find it interesting when we - on Thanksgiving when the Peoria letter about a Peoria, Illinois, sighting of Stacy came out, everybody said, “Well, it‘s probably some crazy person trying to insert themselves into a high-profile case.” 

But now, this - a couple of weeks later, a month after she disappears, a couple of truckers come forward and say, you know, “We saw Drew,” and all of a sudden they‘re credible and they‘re fantastic.  All because it goes against Drew.  It seems there‘s a slant here that if it‘s for Drew it‘s bad.  If it‘s against Drew, it‘s good. 

ABRAMS:  Except the problem is that that letter had, (A) no name and, (B) no way to back it up at all.  On the other hand, when it comes to Drew Peterson potentially disposing of the body along with a relative of his, this is a friend of the man who apparently says he helped Drew dispose of the body - this is what he said on the “Today” show.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALTER MARTINECK, JR., DREW PETERSON‘S NEIGHBOR:  His eyes were sunken in the back of his head. He took me by my shoulders and told me I can‘t say anything, and he just told me that he thinks he helped dispose of Stacy‘s body.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  See, that‘s why the truckers were a little more credible, Joel, because there are other people backing up the story of Drew and someone else disposing of the body.  

BRODSKY:  Except that the physical description of Thomas Morphey doesn‘t fit the physical description of this 50-ish, stocky man who supposedly was with Drew.  So what you‘re expecting everybody to believe is Drew is involving a lot of people in an improbable criminal act.  

ABRAMS:  Joel, is your client willing to take a lie detector test? 

BRODSKY:  Oh, no.  I‘ve -

ABRAMS:  How about one administered by your office?  You don‘t have to do it through the authorities.  

BRODSKY:  No, no.  I‘ve read articles on this.  Since this issue came up, I‘ve done a little more research.  The statistical probability of a lie detector test is the same as flipping a coin.  

ABRAMS:  No, it‘s not.  

BRODSKY:  So it‘s the same thing as saying - Yes, it is.  

ABRAMS:  It‘s not true.  Come on.  (CROSS TALK)  I‘m not saying they‘re infallible, but the notion they‘re useless is - come on.

BRODSKY:  To say whether it‘s true or false on blind tests,

statistically, it‘s a 50/50 chance.  So you may as well flip a coin and say

the guy‘s guilty -  

ABRAMS:  So, he‘s not going to take a lie detector test? 

BRODSKY:  No.  

ABRAMS:  OK.  All right.  Monica, before I get on to some other issues, do you want to jump in?  Do you have any questions for Joel? 

MONICA LINDSTROM, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  Well, no question, but this is a classic defense tactic.  He has to spin the facts because he can‘t change the facts.  And he has to attack the people because he can‘t control the facts.  So he has to go after the credibility, like you said. 

Everybody that says something against Drew, they‘re a drug addict, they‘re mentally incompetent, they‘re disturbed.  They‘re just not telling the truth.  Nothing‘s credible.  It‘s what he has to do.  And now, he‘s starting to taint the potential jury pool that‘s out there.  

ABRAMS:  I don‘t buy tainting the jury pool argument.  But go ahead, Joel.  

BRODSKY:  But Thomas Morphey - we‘re not making that up.  Thomas Morphey is clearly, on the record, a troubled man.  I mean, we didn‘t make that up.  

LINDSTROM:  Well, he‘s not the only one you‘re attacking.  You‘re attacking everybody which is a classic defense tactic.

BRODSKY:  Well, who?

ABRAMS:  You two - you have attacked each of the ex-wives who have come forward and said anything bad about him.  

BRODSKY:  Tell me an ex-wife that says anything good about her ex-husband.  

ABRAMS:  Monica just said - Monica just made a point that you‘ve attacked everyone.  You said who.  I‘m telling you who.  You‘ve attacked every prospective witness, including - you‘re now saying that the pastors were at fault.  The pastor was at fault for not coming forward earlier.  I mean, everyone who says anything about Drew, hears about it, initially from Drew Peterson and now from you. 

BRODSKY:  Well, for example, the pastors - I‘m not saying they‘re not

telling the truth.  I‘m just saying look at their actions.  When you look

at the actions, they didn‘t follow through in a way that you would seem if

somebody had made a serious -

(CROSS TALK)

ABRAMS:  I‘ve got another problem for you to deal with, all right?  That is that misconduct on the job.  Drew Peterson allegedly ran computer background checks on Stacy‘s friends.  The Bolingbrook PD turned over the evidence to prosecutors.  Is that not true also? 

BRODSKY:  He didn‘t do anything that was unauthorized or not allowed

by the Bolingbrook Police.  And what we know is that it‘s very common

practice in the Bolingbrook Police Department for people to run name checks

and warrant checks on friends and relatives.  What we‘re saying is -

ABRAMS:  The whole police department was corrupt? 

BRODSKY:  No.  I‘m not saying they‘re corrupt.  I‘m saying this was the common practice.  

ABRAMS:  Well, that‘s corrupt.  You can‘t run background checks on friends and family just because you work at the police department.  

BRODSKY:  Well, if that‘s what‘s occurring, then how can you charge Drew with a crime for doing that without charging everybody else? 

ABRAMS:  Monica, are they going to charge him for a little crime - for this? 

LINDSTROM:  No, of course not.  They‘re looking at the picture.  And this is one more brick on the pile that‘s making their case.  What this shows us is consistent with what other people have said.  He‘s controlling.  He‘s power hungry.  He wanted to know what she was doing, who she was talking to, who she was seeing.  He wanted to completely control her life.  That‘s consistent with what other people have said regardless of what defense tactics are used.  

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  Joel Brodsky, we will have you back.  Thank you very much, once again, for coming on the program. 

BRODSKY:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  As always, I appreciate it.  Monica Lindstrom, I appreciate it. 

Up next, American Amanda Knox‘s own phone call now could keep her behind bars in Italy in her roommate‘s murder.  It sure sounds like she was saying she was at the scene of the crime.  

And later, police now saying Miss Puerto Rico‘s clothing and makeup were not pepper sprayed.  They‘re now investigating.  If it was all made up, I‘ll tell you I would be devastated to hear that.  That was me preparing for the interview last week.  The heartbreaking tale coming up in tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Did you know that in Italy you can hold someone in jail for a year without charging?  Coming up, American Amanda Knox still being held in connection with her roommate‘s murder, now reportedly claiming in a jail house diary that her boyfriend sexually assaulted her roommate, stabbed her to death and planted Knox‘s fingerprints on the murder weapon.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Tonight, new problems for American college student Amanda Knox, being held in an Italian jail, suspected of involvement in her roommate sexual assault and murder.  At a hearing, Friday, investigators presented an intercepted conversation between Knox and her parents while in jail where Amanda reportedly said, “It‘s stupid.  I can‘t say otherwise; I was there and I can‘t lie about that.”

Remember, she had reportedly said she was not there, then she was there, then she‘s not there again, now she is there.  And last week, investigators said her bloody fingerprint was found on a bathroom sink at the crime scene.  In addition, her DNA had reportedly been found on a knife belonging to her boyfriend. 

Now another twist - a diary written by Amanda in jail seized.  She suggests her boyfriend was the murderer and that she was framed, quote, “This could have happened.  Raffaele went to Meredith‘s house, raped and killed her, then having come back home, pressed my fingerprints.  I was asleep ... onto the knife.”

Wow.  If this is true, this is going from bad to worse for Knox.  Joining us now, Andrea Visconti from the Italian news magazine, “L‘Espresso,” and defense attorney David Schwartz.  Thanks to both of you.  I appreciate it.  All right.  Andrea, you had a chance to speak with her attorney.  What did he say? 

ANDREA VISCONTI, CORRESPONDENT, “L‘ESPRESSO” MAGAZINE:  Well, you said she was there, she was not there.  That‘s exactly what he said.  He said, she said she was there.  She didn‘t say there - where.  Was she referring to the apartment where the crime took place?  Or was she referring to the apartment where her boyfriend was asleep? 

ABRAMS:  Did he say anything to you about her changing her stories at all? 

VISCONTI:  No.  He claims that she never denied that she was on drugs

that night, so her memory is totally confused.  So, he admits to that.  She

admits to that.  And for him, that‘s -

ABRAMS:  No.  He did not say anything, I assume, about this possible framing of her, wrapping her finger around the knife, et cetera.  Nothing like that, right?

VISCONTI:  No, he did not.  We talked about the diary.  I spoke with him maybe five or six hours ago.

ABRAMS:  What did he say? 

VISCONTI:  He said the diaries are something totally private so they

do not enter into this case.  And he said they only have to do with

privacy.  In fact, they are suing for the privacy of the diary, but not -

ABRAMS:  So he‘s saying under Italian law, they would not be able to admit those diaries into evidence?

VISCONTI:  Exactly.  Yes.

ABRAMS:  But David Schwartz, evidence aside, the totality of the circumstances here seem to be getting harder and harder for Amanda Knox.  

DAVID SCHWARTZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY;  Well, it is hard on her.  She should keep her mouth shut at this point.  I mean, yes, she‘s always there.  She lives there, Dan.  Of course, her fingerprints are in the apartment.  

ABRAMS:  Bloody fingerprints? 

SCHWARTZ:  A bloody fingerprint with her blood on it, not with the victim‘s blood on it.  So what does that show?  People don‘t bleed in their own house?  I mean, there are many, many defenses her, but obviously, she needs to keep her mouth shut.  But the bottom line is, she could sit in jail for a year without any evidence whatsoever being presented to a grand jury or anybody. 

ABRAMS:  But they just did.  But they just did.  On Friday, they just presented evidence - so I mean, that‘s the point.  

SCHWARTZ:  Presented evidence?  Presented statements from the police as to reports that they have.  They didn‘t present real evidence to a grand jury in a preliminary hearing. 

ABRAMS:  You can complain about the Italian system for days. 

SCHWARTZ:  I‘ll complain about it for years, Dan.

ABRAMS:  All right.  You don‘t like the Italian system. 

SCHWARTZ:  No, I don‘t.

ABRAMS:  She‘s in Italy.  Live with it.  I mean, that‘s it.  You‘ve got no choice.  She‘s in Italy. 

SCHWARTZ:  That‘s the bottom line.

ABRAMS:  That‘s where she decided to -

SCHWARTZ:  We should demand that she should get house arrest.  The government should get involved in the case.  She‘s one of our citizens, and she‘s not being treated fairly - treated fairly in Italy.  

ABRAMS:  Oh, come on.  Come on.  

SCHWARTZ:  Come on, Dan.  

ABRAMS:  You want Italians calling us every time one of their citizens is in a jail here saying, “Oh, you know, they‘re not being treated fairly?”

SCHWARTZ:  Maybe you want to jump in.  What kind of system is that

where you can put somebody in jail -

(CROSS TALK)

ABRAMS:  I don‘t want to debate the Italian system.  I‘m not debating the Italian system here. 

All right, Andrea, let me ask you about this police theory that Amanda may have stolen money for drugs.  This is - Apparently there was a withdrawal from Meredith, the victim, to pay rent, $365, the equivalent, found on Amanda when searched, $315.  Now, that could be really problematic because these are not kids with a lot of money.  

VISCONTI:  Well, I‘m not sure that I would give that much credence to 250 euros.  That‘s not exactly a lot of money.  

ABRAMS:  For a college student to be carrying around? 

VISCONTI:  For a college student studying in Italy? 

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know.  Is everything in Italy that expensive?  I don‘t know.

VISCONTI:  Yes, it is.  

ABRAMS:  Let me bring in Monica Lindstrom who is still with us.  Monica, look, it seems to me - David Schwartz is complaining about the Italian system.  Let‘s talk within the scope of the fact that she is in Italy.  It does seem that with each day, there‘s another problem for her.  But it also seems that the Italian investigators are leaking this. 

LINDSTROM:  Well, clearly they are, because where else would we be getting the information?  But for the first time, we are getting information on what the motive might be.  The whole issue about the money, the smoking marijuana and having to pay her dealer, those are new facts we haven‘t had before that clearly showed there‘s a motive there. 

Now, it may not seem are like a whole lot of money to some, but I‘ve had lots of cases with addicts.  And let me tell you, every dollar matters.  They commit all kinds of crimes to get just those couple of bucks to get their next hit or pay their dealer.  

ABRAMS:  Andrea, real quick.  What do you make of the drug theory? 

VISCONTI:  This is a pusher who says this.  I don‘t think that this is necessarily the person that we want to listen to.  

ABRAMS:  We shall see.  Andrea Visconti, great to have you on the show.  I appreciate it.  David Schwartz, as always, and Monica, thanks.  

Up next - in “Winners and Losers,” a Mississippi business owner is shot, his life saved by his wedding ring.  Basketball coach Bobby Knight accused of shooting at a fellow hunter‘s home.  And police say Miss Puerto Rico‘s story of beauty pageant sabotage may not be true. 

               

A man whose wedding band blocks a shot; a coach who loses his temper a lot; or a beauty queen breaking this host‘s heart if it‘s a phony plot.  Which will be tonight‘s winner or loser?   

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 3rd day of December 2007.  Our first winner, a Mississippi business owner who owes his life to his wedding ring.  Donnie Register had just opened the doors to his antique shop when a pair of armed intruders stormed in, demanded money, then fired a shot at him.  Donnie raised his left hand to protect himself.  The bullet struck his wedding band and bounced away.  The sort of superman suffered injuries to his neck and finger but credits his ring for helping him dodge the bullet. 

Our first loser, hothead basketball coach Bobby Knight, who allegedly had a fellow hunter dodging bullets. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE HUNTER:  Pellets fell on my house.  

BOBBY KNIGHT, BASKETBALL COACH:  I didn‘t shoot once in that direction.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE HUNTER:  Pellets fell on my house.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

I‘m filming you.  

KNIGHT:  You do whatever you want.  

ABRAMS (voice over):  The hunter confronted the coach claiming the coach purposely peppered his yard with pellets. 

KNIGHT:  I did not shoot once in that direction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE HUNTER:  Do not move the gun towards me again.  

KNIGHT:  Nobody moved a gun toward you.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE HUNTER:  It‘s on film.  

ABRAMS:  Local police investigated the incident and determined the curmudgeon coach did nothing wrong.  

KNIGHT:  You can film whatever you want to film.  I don‘t care.  We‘ll go wherever you want to go with it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Our second winners, Florida Highway Patrol cops who spotted 60 pounds of pot popped up on the side of the road.  They confiscated the cannabis, then posted this picture and a hotline for anyone to call in if the pot belonged to them.  Unbelievably, dozens of dopes called in to claim the illegal weed, worth more than 50,000 bucks and some time behind bars. 

ABRAMS:  Our second loser - pot-pushing TV talk show personality Montel Williams, the long-time advocate for medical marijuana now admitting he‘s a dope.  Play school intern Courtney Scott asked Williams a question about pharmaceutical profits. 

Williams stormed out and then tracked down the team and screamed, “Do you know who I am?  I‘m a big star and I can look up, find where you live, and blow you up.”  I‘ve tried that line.  This weekend, Montel apologized for the rant and invited the team to come on his show. 

But the big winner of the day?  An Idaho woman who survived what seemed to be a fatal lightning strike.  Laura Oosterman(ph) was walking with her mom and kids when a bolt of lightning suddenly struck her in the head. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 911 DISPATCHER:  Can you start CPR?

KATHY LARSEN:  Yes, I have, but I think she‘s gone!

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  She was in a coma for three weeks but defied the odds. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA OOSTERMAN, LIGHTNING STRIKE SURVIVOR:  well, I should buy a lottery ticket.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Laura said she saw the storm clouds rolling in, but couldn‘t get to safety before the lightning struck. 

The big loser of the day?  Miss Puerto Rico, now under a cloud of suspicion after investigators struck down the possibility that her pageant clothes and makeup were laced with pepper spray.  Ingrid Marie Rivera told the world she survived the lightning strike of beauty pageantry by battling the pain and going on to win the crown.  This weekend police announced there‘s no sign of pepper spray, and they‘re investigating whether she lied about the whole incident.  

As you may recall, I interviewed Miss Puerto Rico last week.  I liked her.  I believed her.  It was an interview I did a lot of preparation for, so if it turns out it was invented, I will be heartbroken.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

ABRAMS:  Thank you so much for coming on the show and congratulations on the win.  I appreciate it.  

INGRID MARIE RIVERA, MISS PUERTO RICO 2007:  Thank you.

Do you think this suit is too light?  I had a darker suit on last night. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It doesn‘t matter.  Let‘s stay focused here.  Last year Puerto Ricans had a gross domestic product per capita of over $19,000. 

ABRAMS:  I just feel like a beauty contestant would prefer something a little lighter, like a yellow tie.

RIVERA:  Burning.  Burning.  It was itching.  Reddish, swollen. 

ABRAMS:  So, how long have you been a beauty queen?  No, no, no.  So, when did you get into the pageant business?  Where did you get that dress?  Do they give you clothes for free?  Would you ever think of moving to New York?  You‘re definitely staying in Puerto Rico? 

ABRAMS:  You were able to persevere and continue on? 

RIVERA:  Yes, yes.  I just tried to stay focused and do my thing at the moment. 

ABRAMS:  Ola, my name is Dan.  Ola, my name is Dan.

RIVERA:  I had to go to dermatologist and put on some cream, special cream for it.  

ABRAMS:  Well, I‘m no dermatologist, but I think you look great.  

RIVERA:  Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Say it‘s not so.  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Stay tuned.  Coming up next, it‘s “LOCKUP, SAN QUENTIN, EXTENDED STAY,” one of the series of “LOCKUPs.”  I will see you back here tomorrow.   See you then.

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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