Guests: Jack Burkman, Rachel Maddow, Valerie Huber, Joel Brodsky, Gina Mendola Longarzo, Larry Kobilinsky, Pam Bondi, Chris Echegaray, Michelle Suskauer, Steve Ross
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Tonight: The president‘s own words coming back to haunt him on Iran as he tries to spin a blockbuster new report and new reality.
And: New studies haunting abstinence only proponents. So why are taxpayers forced to spend more than ever not telling kids about reality.
And: Suspect Drew Peterson‘s own words coming back to haunt him about the death of his third wife. It seems he‘s never had a very good grip on reality.
But first: The Bush administration in full spin mode tonight, trying to somehow embrace a government intelligence report that says Iran halted its nuclear weapons program as far back as 2003, meaning—Iran is not the imminent nuclear threat the administration has been hyping for months. The Bush team now playing lawyerly tricks, avoiding the real question that needs to be answered tonight which is—have they been dishonest about Iran and their nuclear weapons program? Sound familiar? After no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, the administration changed the reasoning for that war in Iraq. They‘re now asserting that this new report somehow proves they‘ve been right all along. But today, it became clear on the issue of what they knew, when they knew it and what they said about it, the administration‘s story does not add up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM AXELROD, CBS NEWS: Are you saying at no point while the rhetoric was escalating as World War III was making it into the conversation, at no point nobody from your intelligence team or your administration was saying, maybe you want to back it down a little bit?
PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES: No, nobody ever told me that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: The problem, that‘s not what the president‘s National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley said yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: When the president was told that we had some additional information, he was basically said told, stand down, it needs to be evaluated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: OK. Well, Hadley says he learned of it, quote, “A few months ago and it‘s clear the president and vice president had not been standing down.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: So, I told people, if you‘re interesting in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interesting in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.
VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY, UNITED STATES: The Iranian regime needs to know that if stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences. The United Stated joins other nations in sending the clear message—we will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: I‘m a lawyer. The way you make a case is based on evidence. Instead, as the evidence against Iran falls apart, somehow they claim it makes their case stronger. Joining us now is Republican strategist, Jack Burkman, Air America host, Rachel Maddow and MSNBC political analyst, Pat Buchanan. All right. Pat, look, we heard the president speak today, he is trying to embrace this report as somehow proving that he‘s been right all along. That‘s dishonesty, isn‘t it?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALSYST: Well, look, the president has been stampeding the country toward a war with Iran based on his belief if we didn‘t strike their nuclear installations or disarm them that we were headed for World War III and a nuclear holocaust. The question really here Dan, is the old one—what did the president know and when did he know it?
BUCHANAN: We now know that the intelligence community was dead wrong in 2005 when they said Iran was driving for nuclear weapons and here we are in 2007 and the president was acting as though we had to go to war to stop a program that‘s been dormant for four years. You‘ve got an intelligence failure of enormous magnitude. Secondly, a credibility problem in the White House and with the vice president and with the neoconservatives and everybody else. When did they discover that the consensus in the intelligence community was moving toward the fact that it had been wrong for four years?
ABRAMS: Yes, but it seems to me pretty clear, Rachel, when you look at the timeline here, they all are saying they knew about it in July, they knew about it a few months ago. And the president says today, well, you know what? I only learned about it a week ago—they told me something was up but they didn‘t what it was. First of all, that‘s a little bit hard to believe in and of itself?
RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA: Well, yes, that the president wouldn‘t ask, if McConnell walks into his office and says, we‘ve got something big and new on Iran the president looks up from his desk and goes, oh, really, OK. Doesn‘t ask what it is. You don‘t want that person in your leadership role.
ABRAMS: Yes but it also, it defies—I don‘t believe it. I mean, it‘s hard to believe that that‘s what happened.
MADDOW: Yes, “Washington Post” reports that Bush administration officials were getting briefed on this in July. The White House admits that Bush knew something in August but yet, since August, since July, we‘ve had the most rhetoric. So, even if they only knew that something was up and they didn‘t know what it was, they should have dialed it back rather than ratcheting it up confrontation.
ABRAMS: All right. Jack, now look, don‘t - I don‘t want to change the question here. The question is not - is Iran dangerous or could Iran be dangerous, OK? Because everyone, I think, on this panel will concede that Iran could be dangerous. That‘s not the question. The question is - has the administration misled us in the last few months about Iran‘s nuclear capability?
JACK BURKMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, I think not in any way. I think this, if anything, makes the president‘s case stronger. I think he was charitable today, Dan. There‘s a very fine line between an intention to have a program and having a program. These people have always intended to have a program. What you have today is clear and convincing evidence for the first time that these people have a program. You now have concrete evidence on the table. The difference is, and I think this will appeal to you, you were making the analogy to a courtroom in your opening piece. You can‘t make that analogy because the stakes here are higher. If we‘re wrong, you could have hundreds of thousands of people killed. What you have to understand is this at the end of the day is not North Korea because North Korea at the end of the day is China‘s problem, it‘s Russia‘s problem, it can be contained.
ABRAMS: Yes, but don‘t change the subject. I‘m not going to let you change the subject. That‘s what all the Bush team is trying to do. They‘re trying to change the subject away from whether there‘s been dishonesty. And Rachel, I saw shaking your head. It is infuriating, I agree with you because I see you getting the notion that somehow this report proves they‘ve been right all along. I mean, the 2005 report suggested that Iran had a nuclear program. So, this is not the first time we‘re hearing about the possibility. And the fact that they halted it in 2003, has to make us ask questions about what we were being told in 2007?
MADDOW: The only way you can understand this as a validation of what the White House has been saying is if you completely deny everything the White House has been saying. What they‘ve been saying is that Iran has a nuclear weapons program and that they aggressively want a nuclear weapon. But National Intelligence Estimate rejects this and I quote, “With high confidence.” So, I don‘t know how that means that proves the opposite of that is true.
BURKMAN: If I may Dan. The issue - the White House did not that say that. I think Rachel mischaracterized what they‘re saying. What they‘re saying is they are developing and working toward. That‘s what Dana Perino said, that‘s what Stephen Hadley had said.
MADDOW: But no, that‘s not what they said. They don‘t want nuclear weapons.
ABRAMS: That‘s a dishonest representation of what I said. Go ahead,
Pat. I want you to -
BUCHANAN: Look, how can you credibly say Iran is driving toward nuclear weapons when they voluntarily shut down their nuclear weapons program four years ago? That tells me they‘re thinking over whether they really want to have them. If they shut down their secret program, it means they‘re not driving toward nuclear weapons. And it means they may be enriching uranium for the reason that they‘ve got a right to do that under the treaty that they signed.
ABRAMS: And Jack, let me ask you this one, how do you spin Samuel Bodman, the Energy secretary‘s comment on November 13th - “We are convinced that they are developing nuclear weapons.” What‘s ambiguous about that?
BURKMAN: I don‘t think you have to spin it because I think if you have in the recent past, and three or four years ago is certainly the recent past, somebody clearly working toward a program, you have evidence of that.
ABRAMS: This is - as you‘re saying - again, we‘re now learning that this administration knew—I‘m concerned about the dishonesty here because I think Iran is a threat, I really do. But I‘m concerned about being dishonest. I want the truth from my government. I don‘t want people spinning things. And that‘s what I feel like has been happening even though they knew it. And let me let Pat take us inside.
BUCHANAN: I think it‘s worse than that in this sense. Look, we were driving straight toward an attack on Iran. The president and vice president and the neoconservatives were painting us into a corner where we had no choice but to destroy these nuclear facilities. And if they knew they had shut down a program and they knew that the intelligence is saying, look, we may think the Iranians backed off from this four years ago, they were stampeding us toward war, the same way it was done in 2003.
ABRAMS: Go ahead, jack.
BURKMAN: You see, Dan, the margin for error is zero. This is a guy who‘s committed to the destruction of Israel. The president of Iran is committed to the destruction of Israel quote on his words, “I want to wipe Israel off the map.
ABRAMS: But you‘re changing the subject again, Jack. The subject is not is - look, we can talk about whether Iran is a threat. Iran is a possible threat, alright? No question about it. The question is whether we have been lied to as of late. Let me play you two pieces of sound, Jack. I want to ask you if this make you nervous? This is comparing the president talking about Iraq in 2005 and talking about Iran now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Iran was dangerous. Iran is dangerous and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.
We did find out that he had the intent and the capability of making weapons, which in my judgment still made him a dangerous man and the world understood how dangerous Saddam Hussein was.
We talked about Iran and the desire to work jointly to convince the
Iranian regime to give up their nuclear weapons -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: I didn‘t need the last piece of sound there, Jack. You listen to the talk about the dangerous man—it‘s a little bit frightening and it goes to Pat‘s point about being on this sort of road to war.
BURKMAN: Let me respond specifically to your legal question. I think it is an appropriate question. I don‘t see, Dan, a material distinction between an intention to develop a nuclear program and actually developing a program when, when that party has already engaged in moving toward developing a program.
ABRAMS: No, that ignores the significance, Rachel, of this new report.
MADDOW: Yes, you cannot make a case to the American people that we ought to invade a country because there‘s a bad man there or somebody who once had a nuclear thought. The case they were making to us about attacking Iran was that Iran posed an imminent danger because of this nuclear weapons program that we now know doesn‘t exist. The evidence is bunk.
ABRAMS: Right. Pat, final word, I‘ve got to wrap it up.
BUCHANAN: We‘re headed for war because we could not take the risk and there was, as far as we know now, no risk there.
ABRAMS: And we were and I am concerned about the credibility factor.
I don‘t want that to be lost on this. Don‘t let them change the subject.
They‘ve got to answer the question, have they been telling us the truth?
Jack Burkman, Pat Buchanan, Rachel Maddow, thanks.
ABRAMS: Coming up next: The evidence is in; abstinence-only education programs don‘t seem to work. But that hasn‘t stopped the president and many others from asking taxpayers for an additional $28 million in funding.
And later: Breaking news in the Stacy Peterson case. Tonight, police are searching the home she shared with suspect and husband, Drew.
Plus: Spirit airlines getting heat over their MILF promotion. They say no one ever educated them about else, quote, “MILF can mean.” That scored them a place in tonight‘s Winners and Losers.
ABRAMS: Did you know one in 16 have signed so called virginity pledges, 88 percent of them break that vow before they marry. Coming up:
New study has proven that abstinence only education does not work, that hasn‘t stop the Bush administration from asking for a $28 million funding increase for the programs. We debate that.
ABRAMS: A new study says abstinence-only education programs don‘t work. So, how would that possibly justify a $28 million increase in Federal funding for these programs? A recent national study included that no evidence exists that abstinence programs delay the initiation of sex or reduce the number of sexual partners among teens. This comes on the heels of a long awaited congressional report released in April that also found that teaching abstinence didn‘t decrease the likelihood that teens would have sex. So, are those in Congress who know these programs don‘t work are you using them as bait to trade with hardcore conservatives who would like them to work. The taxpayers are stuck with a nearly $200 million bill for it. Here now is Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association and Rachel Maddow is still with us. All right. Rachel, let me start with you. I mean, it seems absurd to me that Democrats in Congress can‘t say, we‘re going to cut it off. Instead they‘re using it as bait and constantly saying, oh, you know, we‘ll trade you, we‘ll keep in the money for the abstinence-only program.
MADDOW: Yes, I‘m hoping that this is a trick because I understand why the Bush administration would ask for this money. They have pushed for this for a long time and they have resisted all of the scientific evidence to the contrary that this is a waste of money or maybe even harmful. But the Democratic Congress to go along with it, I‘m hoping there‘s something I don‘t understand about it because otherwise, there‘s no depending it.
ABRAMS: All right. Valerie, look, I know you‘re going to tell that you disagree with some of these new studies. Look, I believe the evidence is pretty clear that comprehensive sex education is probably more effective in reducing pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and et cetera. But let‘s even assume that there‘s a disagreement. Why do you think then that 14 states are refusing Federal funding for abstinence-only programs?
VALERIE HUBER, NAT‘L. ABSTINENCE EDUCATION ASSOC.: Well, we know it‘s a part of a coordinated plan by a historic opponent of abstinence education that through misinformation and misguided selective science regarding abstinence education they are convincing governors that this is not a good plan.
ABRAMS: So, the congressional study wasn‘t true?
HUBER: We know that - that there are a number of reports that show
that abstinence education is effective -
ABRAMS: The congressional—let‘s talk about the congressional study. That one isn‘t true? I mean, it says that really that there was no evidence that it works?
HUBER: Well, actually what that study does reveal is that abstinence education, we need to have more of it rather than less.
ABRAMS: Wait, because it doesn‘t work, so we‘ve got to have more of it to make it not work even more?
HUBER: Actually if you look at the study, what it reveals is that you cannot present abstinence education one time to young teens and expect it to have a stick factor, it has to be continued and reinforced throughout their difficult adolescent years.
MADDOW: (INAUDIBLE) I‘m sorry to interrupt you, I‘d just interject for a moment that I feel like what we have learned about abstinence-only education is that not only is it not effective at either delaying or stopping young people from having sexual intercourse but by pairing it with abstinence—by making abstinence only approach, people receiving that form of information get less information about pregnancy, STDs and HIV‘s and it makes them more susceptible to those things.
HUBER: Actually that‘s not -
ABRAMS: Valerie, go ahead.
MADDOW: I didn‘t argue that it didn‘t work; I will argue is that it‘s harmful.
HUBER: Actually, that‘s not true at all. Abstinence education is a holistic method that provides information on relationship building and accurate information on STDs and yes, accurate information on contraception all within the discussion of why abstinence is the best choice.
ABRAMS: Wait. Let‘s be honest. What you mean by talking about what they‘re teaching about the use of condoms, et cetera, is that they don‘t work? Right? Abstinence-only only talks about the failure rate of condoms?
HUBER: Abstinence education provides a realistic and accurate discussion of contraception all within the context of why abstinence is the best choice. Teens are presented all the information necessary to make wise decisions.
ABRAMS: What do you do about the fact that 58 percent - let‘s put up this number set here 34 percent of U.S. teens have premarital sex by the age of 20, 58 percent of teens have had sex before the age of 18, 14 percent of teens report of having sex with four or more people. How do you deal - I mean, your argument would be you want to reduce the number from 58 percent before the age of 18. But now, let‘s deal with the reality. And that is that 58 percent of them are having sex before the age of 18. I guess that the position of abstinence-only is to just go like this and say, oh, please tell me they‘re not going to do it, I hope they‘re not going to do it?
HUBER: No, the reality is that teens are resonating with the message of abstinence education in increasing numbers. There‘s trend data to show more and more teens are abstaining.
ABRAMS: That‘s not what the study show. You‘re losing on the studies, you are.
HUBER: No, that‘s not true. In fact, a recent study just released
ABRAMS: From who? Before you tell me what the study is, who did the study?
HUBER: Virginia‘s abstinence education program, state of Virginia
HUBER: And actually showed that teens engaged in an abstinence
education program were half as likely to -
ABRAMS: Virginia, one of the states that‘s refused federal funding if I was correct.
MADDOW: Whenever I evaluate myself, I turn out to be doing awesome as well. So that‘s—I think it‘s important—there was a congressionally mandated study that looked at abstinence-only programs over 10 years on the national level and it was the result of that study that told us that abstinence-only does not work to delay or stop teens from having sex before they get married. They just don‘t work. And so, if abstinence doesn‘t work, it‘s a waste of money. If abstinence programs are being used to substitute for program that actually give people usable information about contraception and STDs and HIV and they are killing people. They are not just expensive.
ABRAMS: Valerie, you get the final word on this.
HUBER: Teens receive all the information necessary to make a good decision recording their sexual health. And the misinformation regarding abstinence education that are other guest has been communicating is not at all consistent with what is taught in abstinence education programs.
ABRAMS: All right. I will say this -- $200 million, whatever you think of this ladies and gentlemen is at the very least controversy, $200 million for a program that is the very least controversial doesn‘t seem to me to be a very good use of taxpayer dollars.
HUBER: Actually -
ABRAMS: But, Valerie Huber, Rachel Maddow, thanks a lot for joining.
HUBER: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up: Breaking news in the Stacy Peterson case tonight.
Police now searching the home that she shared with suspect husband, Drew.
It‘s happening as we speak.
And Bill O‘Reilly complaining at the corrupt media drove the Don Imus story. I guess you forgot that someone on his own network takes credit for exposing the I man. That revelation coming up next in Beat the Press.
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: Last night, Bill O‘Reilly was complaining about who drove the Don Imus story back in April.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, TV HOST: The corrupt media, and that‘s what drove this
is the Internet smear site that drove this whole thing, it wasn‘t you, it
wasn‘t any honest broker of information -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: This is one of those times Bill O‘Reilly is absolutely right. At least one person in the corrupt media did drive it, FOX host, John Gibson said, bragged on April 10th quote - “A FOX radio program, mine, pointed out what the morning host said last Wednesday.” So according to John Gibson, he was the first or at least one of the first to point out what Imus said. O‘Reilly‘s right, it did not come from an honest broker of information.
Next up: Since the end of October, we‘ve known Drew Peterson wife Stacy is missing and his third wife is dead. Sometimes, there‘s an ambiguity on how to define breaking news and then sometimes, there‘s not. This is what “CNN Headline News” considered, quote, “Breaking” in that case last night. One dead, one missing. Six-week-old breaking news from CNN. Finally the folks over at “60 Minutes” probably think they‘re all household names. But Steve Kroft learned the hard way from Will Smith‘s childhood teacher that in truth, to most people, all those 60 Minutes folks are interchangeable, Steve, Morley, Safer, whoever.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You‘re on “60 minutes”.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You‘re Morley.
STEVE KROFT: No, I‘m Steve.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Steve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Yes, I thought she almost said Maury if she says Maury Povich, I don‘t know. Unless, I didn‘t (INAUDIBLE).
We need your help Beating the Press. If you see anything right or wrong, amusing, absurd, 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: Breaking news in the Stacy Peterson case. At this time, police are now searching the property that she shared with husband, Drew who is now a suspect in her disappearance. There are cadaver-sniffing dogs at the scene.
And later, Debra la Faye, the infamous teacher who slept with a 14-year-old, busted again.
ABRAMS: Coming up, former Florida teacher and convicted sex offender Debra Lafave busted again. And Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia caught off guard commenting on, of all things, whether O.J. Simpson killed his wife. And a new study shows that chimps have better memories than humans in tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”
The breaking news tonight, police executing a search warrant this evening on Drew Peterson‘s property. Now, Peterson was at the home while police executed the search. They used cadaver-sniffing dogs.
Joining me on the phone right now as this is happening is Drew Peterson‘s attorney, Joel Brodsky. Joel, thank you for joining us. I appreciate it. All right. So, we‘re reading from reports that they executed a search warrant on his home. Are you saying it was not on his home?
JOEL BRODSKY, DREW PETERSON‘S ATTORNEY (on the phone): No, I have a copy of the search warrant right here in my hand. They delivered a warrant to him at his home about - the search warrant was only in regards to the cars, the dark blue GMC Denali and the 2002 purple Pontiac Grand Prix. It has nothing to do with his home.
ABRAMS: This report says they seized two cars, computers, eight handguns, three long guns and ammunition, true?
BRODSKY: That was done in the warrant that was served back when the house - the first warrant for the house which is back November 6th of ‘07.
ABRAMS: But the two cars is something that was new?
BRODSKY: No. The two cars were originally taken by a warrant that was issued maybe about a week after the November 6th warrant. And now, this is the fourth warrant that was just given to us today, which is fairly extreme as far as the number of warrants go that I‘ve ever seen.
ABRAMS: All right, Joel. If you could stand by for a minute -
ABRAMS: Let me bring in my panel. We‘ve got Gina Mendola Longarzo, Larry Kobilinsky and Pam Bondi. All right. Pam, you‘re the prosecutor on this panel. You heard Joel saying that this is a very unusual, the amount of the search warrants now being executed. They‘ve now gone back to his home tonight to execute a search warrant with regard to his car. Unusual?
PAM BONDI, PROSECUTOR: No, Dan, not if they keep receiving new information and they‘re being sure that it‘s done properly by going back to a judge, keeping the information fresh, the search warrant fresh. So, no, not at all. And it‘s a great sign for prosecutors in that they must feel that they have more evidence and that it must be linked to him.
ABRAMS: Larry, what do you think they‘re looking for?
LARRY KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: Well, they may have no evidence from the home. They may be looking for the possibility that she was transported in the vehicle. Obviously, just finding her DNA there is not enough, her hair, her fibers. They‘re looking for any indication that there was violence that took place.
ABRAMS: All right. Gina, hang on for one second. We‘ve got NBC‘s Alison Kartevold on the phone who was just there at the home. Allison, I understand you actually got to speak to Drew Peterson. What did he say?
ALISON KARTEVOLD, NBC REPORTER: Well, I went up to Drew‘s door and knocked on it. By the time I got here, there were no official vehicles or anything happening. And I asked him whether or not a search warrant had been executed on his home this evening and he said, no. He said that they had not executed a search warrant tonight.
And I said, what was it that they brought to you, the paper that they brought? And he - I asked if it was a subpoena for someone in the house. And he said, no, he said, “That was just paperwork for my attorney. No big deal.”
ABRAMS: And then he closed the door and said good-bye?
BRODSKY: Dan, I have to disagree with your panelist that this is a good sign. To me, this is the second warrant for the car. And - the cars. And if they had found something on the third warrant, they wouldn‘t need a fourth warrant. To me, this shows that they‘re continuing to execute search warrants and they‘re not finding anything.
ABRAMS: But Gina, that is fairly standard procedure in cases where they follow up with search warrants or second warrants. Sometimes, they didn‘t get everything they needed et cetera.
GINA MENDOLA LONGARZO, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, exactly. They have to follow up on all leads. I tend to agree with Mr. Brodsky because so far, it doesn‘t look like they have much of anything. They‘re looking for a smoke gun. They‘re looking for a clue here because they don‘t have a body and they need something.
ABRAMS: Let me direct this to Mr. Brodsky. How would you know whether they don‘t have anything?
BRODSKY: Well, as I said, this is the second search warrant for the same property, for the cars. The language - you know, the boilerplate language in these warrants is relatively same, looking for trace evidence, fibers, et cetera, et cetera. So, if they were able to find it in the third warrant - they didn‘t find it in the third warrant.
They‘ve issued the fourth warrant, I believe, because I filed a motion to get the cars back. And this is their response. This is their attempt to justify keeping the cars longer in an attempt to hope that they can develop something because they have nothing up to date.
ABRAMS: Pam, what do you make of that?
BONDI: You know, Dan, it‘s what you just said. We just don‘t know yet. And what‘s happening is they want to do a very, very thorough search. He did file a motion to get the cars back so that was good defense work on his part. But, again, they may now be taking that car completely apart. We‘ve had cases where you can find a drop of blood way underneath the carpet in the car. So maybe that is what they‘re doing. It‘s simply more thorough.
ABRAMS: And Larry, that‘s what they have to be. They have to find something incriminating because she lived with him. So finding her DNA in the car in and of itself is not anything.
KOBILINSKY: Her mere presence in the car is meaningless. They need to find some evidence of some force, some aggressive activity. For example, if they find a clump of hair that was pulled, the evidence would be - the hair has roots, that would be an indication that something violent took place. Obviously, blood is another indication. It would have to be in a large enough amount. But that‘s what they‘re looking for in lots of nooks and crannies in the car.
ABRAMS: Gina, look - Mr. Brodsky can answer this because he is the attorney, and now I‘m asking you in sort of - the macro picture. If you were his attorney, you‘d be worried, wouldn‘t you? You‘ve got the third wife problem. You‘ve got the fourth wife problem. You‘ve got another search warrant being executed tonight.
LONGARZO: Yes, I would be worried. But also - they don‘t have a body here and we still don‘t know what their defense is. The best advice I would say, at this point, for the defense is to say nothing. Don‘t give any statements. The Fifth Amendment right is sacred, it‘s crucial and it has to be preserved.
ABRAMS: That brings me to an interesting question. Joel, I want to ask you about this. You wrote a note to Fox News, an angry note, about an appearance you made on Fox News. And one of the things that you said is with regard to the timeline and whether you would talk about exactly what he was doing that night.
You said, “The only way I will even consider addressing this issue is if the Illinois State Police release their report of the interview Mr. Peterson gave them shortly after Stacy‘s disappearance. Mr. Peterson will not repeat himself.”
Look, I understand as a lawyer your position is going to be echoing what Gina just said, which is you want to minimize the number of statements that you have publicly about what he did. But I think that many in the public are going to say, “Look, if he‘s innocent and his wife is missing, why wouldn‘t he say, I was here and then I went here. And this might help us find my missing wife?”
BRODSKY: Well, I don‘t know. You know, Drew has always said that beating the bushes or looking in ponds is not going to find his missing wife because she‘s run away. But that being said, he sat down and gave the Illinois State Police a full and complete accounting and a full and complete statement of what occurred during the relevant period of time. The human language is an imperfect tool and to start repeating yourself is nothing but incriminating. And he‘s not going to do it.
ABRAMS: Can you tell us what it is he said to the Illinois State Police about his whereabouts?
BRODSKY: No. I mean, I haven‘t read the reports. He gave them a very full - it was a very long interview. It was a very complete interview, a very thorough interview. And I don‘t know all the details. I‘d like to get a copy of that report but they‘re not going to release it to me until and unless there‘s a charge.
ABRAMS: So your concern would be, let‘s be honest here, your concern would be in saying what he was doing that night, you might say something that might be slightly inconsistent with what he said, intentionally or unintentionally?
BRODSKY: Yes. Well, it wouldn‘t be intentionally. It would be unintentionally. And it would also be because what we‘re dealing with is human language and human memory and human recollection which is very imperfect. You say it once. You lay it out. You cooperate. You make your statement. You tell your story and that‘s it. You‘ve told it and you‘re not going to repeat yourself. And that‘s the way it is.
ABRAMS: You know, Pam, I hear Joel is a lawyer. I see Gina here nodding. As a lawyer, I get that. I get why lawyers would be giving this legal advice. I hear them both. But I think that a lot of people are still going to say, “That‘s the lawyer speaking.”
What about the grieving husband speaking who‘s going to go out and say again and again, “Here‘s where I was, I want my lovely Stacy back.” Now, I guess the argument would be that, well, if she supposedly said to him, “I left with some other guy,” that he just wanted to kind of go away? Pam?
BONDI: Exactly, Dan. And, you know, fundamentally, what do we want to know? We want to know the truth. That‘s all they‘re seeking is the truth. And the problem with his statement is he‘s being very selective.
And I agree with Gina, the right to remain silent, that‘s one of our most precious protected rights. However, he‘s coming out giving all these interviews selectively. He‘s saying what he wants to say and then he comes back and says, “Well, I don‘t want to say this.” So I think he does. I think he should come out and say where he was and what time.
ABRAMS: I mean, Joel, he‘s got enough time to go on the air and bash his ex-wives. And you can go on and you can be very critical of all the witnesses who seem to be becoming forward with potentially incriminating evidence against your client. And yet, neither he nor you can go on and offer something as basic as a timeline as to what he was doing that night.
BRODSKY: Well, like I said, he gave a timeline. He gave it to the authorities which are the relevant parties. But when you‘re talking about Drew wanting the search - I always find it a little bit disingenuous. Because the authorities have decided in their own minds that she‘s in a pond or a pool or in a field somewhere. And that‘s where they‘re limiting their search. If they were trying to be open-minded, they would also be searching as a missing person, seeing if she‘s in Saskatchewan, or up in Alaska, or down in Cancun, hiding out somewhere. But right now their focus is - they‘re convinced. They‘ve already decided that there‘s been a criminal act. And I think that that‘s the problem.
ABRAMS: But, Mr. Brodsky, they can give up on the search for the third wife, right? She‘s dead.
BRODSKY: What I mean -
ABRAMS: Yes. I know.
BRODSKY: But they - all right.
ABRAMS: Joel Brodsky, Alison Kartevold, and thank you to everyone on the panel. I appreciate it.
Up next, former teacher Debra Lafave admitted to having sex with a 14-year-old student. She was busted again today.
And later, are you smarter than a monkey? A new report actually says chimps have better memories than humans. They did a test. It‘s unbelievable, in “Winners and Losers” tonight.
ABRAMS: Did you know almost 10 percent of U.S. public school students have received unwanted sexual attention from school employees? Coming up, Debra Lafave, the teacher infamous for having sex with a 14-year-old is busted again.
ABRAMS: Tonight, former teacher Debra Lafave has been busted again. In 2004, the then 23-year-old Lafave drew national attention after she admitted having sex with her 14-year-old student. She pled guilty to lewd and lascivious behavior, sentenced to three years house arrest and seven years probation.
Well, today she was busted for violating that probation. The violation report says she had numerous nonwork-related conversations with a 17-year-old girl she worked with. In a minute we‘ll talk about whether she should have been arrested. But first, Lafave, long ago, admitted that what she did was wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBRA LAFAVE, CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER: I came on this show to tell my side of the story. And all I‘m being is truthful. I‘m going to be the first person to say, yes, it‘s my fault and I‘m dealing with that. He consented but I should have been the one to say, “Look, you are a kid and this is not a good idea whether you want it or not.”
MATT LAUER, HOST, THE “TODAY” SHOW: You should have said it on a number of occasions.
LAFAVE: Oh, yes.
LAUER: You should have said it when you first started flirting with him. And you clearly should have said it before you had sex with this young man.
LAFAVE: Clearly. I committed a sex offense, but I‘m not a sex offender, even though I‘m labeled as that. I made a really, really, really bad choice.
LAUER: You don‘t see yourself as a predator.
LAFAVE: It‘s hard. It is so hard because I lived 23 years of my life, you know, knowing who I was. I was a kind-hearted person who loved children, who would never do anything to break the law. I was a good person. And then now everything has just changed. So it‘s just really hard for me to accept that. I think I should be in jail.
LAUER: You think you should be?
LAFAVE: Yes, by the standards, what I did - that‘s the law. I should have gotten jail time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right. Well, now she may. She violated a condition, what‘s known as 69 of her probation, meaning she had contact with a minor, a 17-year-old co-worker. Joining us now is Chris Echegaray, a reporter with the “Tampa Tribune.” Chris, thanks a lot. I appreciate it. What happened here?
CHRIS ECHEGARAY, REPORTER, “TAMPA TRIBUNE”: Thank you. Well, according to the arrest report, Deb Lafave was speaking to an underage co-worker about family issues, boyfriend issues, sexual-related issues. And that conversation violated the term of her probation.
ABRAMS: Where was she working?
ECHEGARAY: She was working at Danny Boy‘s as a waitress in Sun City Center for almost two years without incident, according to the manager, Scott Griffin, who I interviewed earlier today.
ABRAMS: And they liked her? They thought she was doing well?
ECHEGARAY: Clean record, always punctual, very pleasant, good worker
rave reviews from Scott Griffin. He claims that this was a complete surprise. He was unaware of what was going on. He claims there was no lack of supervision when Lafave was there. He claims the 17-year-old female co-worker did not complain about the conversations to him. And despite it all, he claims that this is a big surprise.
ABRAMS: Let me bring in Michelle Suskauer here. All right, look, Michelle, technically I guess this is a violation of the probation. She‘s not supposed to be in contact - this is a 17-year-old co-worker who she‘s talking to about life.
MICHELLE SUSKAUER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Who‘s going to be 18. Right.
She‘s going to be 18 in January.
ABRAMS: So she really needs to go - they really need to send her back. I mean, look, whether you think they should have gotten jail time in the first place, separate question. She didn‘t. So now, are they actually going to try to put her away for talking to an almost 18-year-old at a restaurant?
SUSKAUER: Well, it‘s completely up to the judge. And the standard, Dan, is a knowing and willful violation. So did she know that this girl was 17 and was this a willful violation? And it‘s really easy to prove a violation of probation in Florida. It‘s to the conscience of the court.
So it depends on -
ABRAMS: She‘s not allowed to talk about nonwork-related issues, right?
ABRAMS: So that means when she‘s at work at the restaurant, if they talk about anything apart from forks, knives and napkins, she‘s in violation of her probation?
SUSKAUER: Well, you know, it looks like she may have taken it a little bit further than that. If she‘s talking about - and sure, if they want to prove this, they‘re going to have to bring this girl in or someone who overheard this conversation. What were they talking about?
Boyfriends, sexual-related issues? It really, look,- Dan, we‘ve -
ABRAMS: I‘ve got to go, Michelle. But look, I think it‘s time to end this. Michelle Suskauer and Chris Echegaray. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it.
ABRAMS: Up next in “Winners and Losers,” Spirit Airlines gets some heat over their MILF promotion. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says that O.J. Simpson killed his wife. And a 5-year-old chimp beats college students in short-term memory tests.
An airline that keeps a controversial ad; a smart judge who agrees O.J. did something bad; or a primate who proves he may be smarter than your dad. Which will be tonight‘s big winner or loser?
ABRAMS: It‘s time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 4th day of December, 2007. Our first winner, Spirit Airlines. The discount flier getting extra ink over its new promotion called M.I.L.F. - many islands, low fares, offering up to $9 flights to the Caribbean. Airline officials now swear they had no idea the term M.I.L.F. could possibly have another meaning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: M.I.L.F., mom I‘d like to (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ABRAMS: Despite the ad‘s intriguing island alignment, the airline pleaded ignorance, saying the only thing obscene is their competitor‘s prices.
Our first loser, the New York Archdiocese whose new coloring book deals with another kind of M.I.L.F. - minors interacting with lonely fathers. One page features an angel telling an altar boy to avoid being alone in a room with adults. The pedophile priest prevention coloring pamphlet passed out to 700 schools and religious groups across the State.
Our second winner, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson.
The White House hopeful just scored the endorsement of a former U.S.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN SHEEN, AS PRESIDENT JOSIAH BARTLET: In this building when the president stands, nobody sits.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right, all right. It‘s the endorsement of Martin Sheen who played one on TV, not reality.
Our second loser, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, caught off-guard today endorsing the reality that O.J. Simpson killed his wife. When discussing another case at the court, the Simpson case was mentioned, and Scalia said, “It‘s also a case in which a man killed his wife with a knife.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: I want the truth.
JACK NICHOLSON: You can‘t handle the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Nice to hear the usually guarded Supreme Court justice is offering up some straight talk.
But the big loser of the day, employees at a Papa John‘s pizza parlor in Florence, Alabama, who allegedly sprinkled a little something extra on top of a pie they delivered to a local church group. Police say the pie was peppered with pot. No word on whether any of the group are now suffering short-term memory loss.
The big winner of the day? Chimps whose short-term memory may actually be better than humans. Aiamu(ph) was one of those who dominated his human counterparts in this memory test. The numbers one to nine flashed on the screen for a fraction of a second. The chimps managed to remember the arrangement 80 percent of the time. Their college-age competitors, only 40 percent.
So this may actually prove that in some ways the simians are smarter than the humans. Here is now is ape research expert Steve Ross from Chicago‘s Lincoln Park Zoo. Steve, thanks for joining us. I appreciate it. This is a little hard for many people to believe, that in some ways chimps may actually be smarter?
STEVE ROSS, APE RESEARCH EXPERT, LINCOLN PARK ZOO: Well, it‘s a remarkable finding, really. It challenges some of the long-time assumptions that humans hold cognitive abilities that are far superior than all other animals.
ABRAMS: Is there any other explanation here? I mean, how do you think the researchers could possibly explain how the chimps may in this particular way be, quote, “smarter”?
ROSS: Well, I think it‘s long known that chimpanzees and some other species such as dolphins have highly advanced cognitive abilities. These chimpanzees in particular have long-term training that they‘ve been working with. And I think it‘s interesting to show and to challenge these types of assumptions about human intelligence and animal intelligence.
ABRAMS: Look, here is someone who has obviously spent a lot of time with chimps, unlike most of us. Were you surprised when you heard - they didn‘t just do as well or they didn‘t just do well on a memory test, but they actually did twice as well as humans?
ROSS: Yes. The youngest chimps did best of all. They were able to complete the task much quicker than human subjects. And although this is a little bit surprising, having seen these chimps in action and worked with chimps for a while, there is some element of expectation for the performance of these chimps and other chimps like them.
ABRAMS: Really? So this didn‘t come as a big surprise?
ROSS: No. We work with chimpanzees and gorillas at Lincoln Park Zoo on touch screen work. And every day we see them perform things we wouldn‘t expect in the meantime.
ABRAMS: Wow. Unbelievable stuff. Steve Ross from Chicago‘s Lincoln Park Zoo, thanks a lot. I appreciate it.
ROSS: Thanks Dan.
ABRAMS: That‘s all the time we have for tonight. Up next is “THE DOCK BLOCK.” I will see you here tomorrow.
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