Guests: Chuck Todd
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Waterboarding-gate: now has missing waterboarding-gate tapes. The CIA, which told the 9/11 Commission there were no tapes of interrogations of terror detainees now say there were. But they erased them to protect the identities of the interrogators. You bet. Senator Rockefeller—we were never told they were to be destroyed. Congresswoman Harmon—we wrote to the CIA telling them not to destroy them. Senator Durbin—the attorney general must investigate. The White House—tapes? Tapes you say?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has no recollection of knowing about the tapes or about their destruction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: National Intelligence Estimate blow back (ph): All 16 Intel agencies say, Iran stopped the nuclear program that was at the heart of the war hawk‘s dreams so the war hawks today conclude all 16 Intel agencies must be lying to sabotage the president. Senator Enson demands a commission to investigate neglecting the fact that the president obviously believed what the NIE told him, otherwise he wouldn‘t have rephrased his rhetoric starting last August.
Sex on the city: Rudy Giuliani‘s free ride started earlier than reported. His mistress‘s police taxi service started early in 2000 not late that December.
On the next arrested development, hope reborn in the bid to make a movie out of one of “Time” magazine‘s 100 best TV shows of all time.
And don‘t celebrate that yet. No premature jocularity. There are many hurdles yet to vault and who knows what obstacles may appear suddenly out of nowhere but at least you can rest soundly tonight, knowing we are bringing you Oddball‘s plays of the month. All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty good, huh?
OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening. This is Friday, December 7th , 333 days until the 2008 presidential election. It was Richard Nixon‘s profound and prophetic observation—it‘s not the crime that brings you down, it‘s the cover-up. He left out the corollary. Or maybe it‘s both. On our first story on the COUNTDOW: In a page out of Watergate, it now turns out not only were there tapes in waterboarding-gate but just like the 18 ½ minute gap from 1973, those tapes were erased. The CIA destroyed at least two video recordings showing al Qaeda suspects being subjected to waterboarding and other interrogation techniques allegedly because of concerns the interrogators could be facing legal consequences for their actions and the news breaking tonight on this at least somebody in the White House reportedly knew about the destruction of evidence in advance. Administration officials indicating tonight to NBC News that before these tapes were destroyed in 2005, then White House counsel Harriet Meyers knew about the plans and urged the CIA not to do it. There is no reporting yet as to whether or not she did or did not apprise the president or anybody else. CIA Director Michael Hayden apprised us of all this, while in the process of trying to beat the “New York Times” to its own scoop by admitting late yesterday that the tapes had been destroyed back in 2005. As for what those tapes showed, officials say waterboarding better known as drowning without death was used on the al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah on one of the destroyed videos. The suspect on the other tape is not named. General Hayden telling agency employees in a memo yesterday that the tapes were erased because of fears that if they were to be leaked they would pose a security threat to, quote, “Your CIA colleagues.” And of course that kind of stuff is embargoed for Mr. Novak‘s exclusive use. General Hayden also saying that the leaders of Congressional Oversight Committees had been fully briefed for the spokesman for Republican, Peter Hoekstra, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee in 2005, saying that even that noted friend of the administration Hoekstra was never briefed or advised that the tapes existed or that they were going to be destroyed. His Democratic counterpart, however, Jane Harman countering that she told CIA officials several years ago that destroying those tapes would be a bad idea. Good luck sorting that one out. Over at the White House this morning before tonight‘s reports, that then in house counsel, Meyers knew about the destruction in advance and was warned against it, it was once again Tony Snow appreciation day. His replacement as press secretary, Dana Perino, viewing her job description in the most narrow of terms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERINO: I spoke to the president this morning about this. He has no recollection or made aware of the tapes or their destruction before yesterday. He was briefed by General Hayden yesterday morning. He has complete confidence in General Hayden and he has asked White House Counsel‘s Office, like I said, who‘s already in communication with the CIA general counsel as the CIA director continues to gather facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: So there was no step short of destruction of the tapes that could have addressed the CIA‘s concerns?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERINO: After gathering facts, I think that it‘s best that I not comment along the way and let them do that review over at the CIA and have us be supportive of it without us characterizing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But what‘s the level of concern at the White House that a law or many laws or all laws might have been broken here, can you at least characterize that?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERINO: I think I‘ll decline to comment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why?
PERINO: Well, look, as I‘ve said they‘re continuing to get the facts so, I don‘t think that it‘s appropriate for me to comment on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But the senior senator from Illinois believing it would now be appropriate for the Justice Department to intervene.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN ENSON, ® ILLINOIS: The CIA has also withheld information about these video tapes for the federal court and from the bipartisan 9/11 Commission. Today, I‘m sending a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, calling on him to investigate whether CIA officials who covered up the existing of these video tapes violated law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Attorney Neil Katyal from the Hamdan case in a moment. First, time to call our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek” Magazine. Richard, good evening.
RICHARD WOLFFE: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: This would seem to be a case of obstruction of justice and thus, a huge problem for the new attorney general Mr. Mukasey and with the news at the White House‘s Counsel Office knew about it in advance, this could be or would have hurt at CIA and the White House, could Mukasey possibly block an investigation or more than investigation of this?
WOLFFE: Well, you‘re quite right. It‘s already a world of heat at the White House. You just have to listen to that press briefing by Dana Perino to know that this has been heavily lowered already that serious legal jeopardy for them making any statements and anyone involved in it so far. And remember that Mukasey really laid out his credentials for his nomination based on his judicial independence and his rulings specifically on interrogation techniques when he was a federal judge. So, at this point, you‘ve got to think that he has to lean towards investigating this more fully because the legal ramification of what happened seems to be pretty obvious.
OLBERMANN: Yes. If he didn‘t - if he doesn‘t, did not know if waterboarding was torture before his appointment, he understands it or will understand soon. Ms. Perino said, the president didn‘t know that said it was made before this Harriet Meyers bombshell tonight, this would also mean if she‘s correct that his attorney know but he didn‘t know and four members of Congress knew more than the president of the United States, is that even plausible and if it is plausible, how sad a commentary would that be?
WOLFFE: Well, I hate that it is plausible, it‘s very plausible. I remember that this is a president who can‘t define waterboarding, he doesn‘t think that‘s torture and even if you look at it as they would prefer to call it in the White House - harsh or extreme interrogation technique. That‘s justified because of the extent of the criminal nature of the so called terrorists that they‘re torturing. So, look, the problem here is that for a White House in this period, they just had the “Washington Post” breaks the story about the secret CIA presence. They‘ve already gone through a rebellion inside the Justice Department on the warrantless wiretapping program and so frankly for the President to know about these tapes or even care about these tapes, never mind whether they had been destroyed, yes, I think it‘s plausible that he wouldn‘t been informed actually.
OLBERMANN: Yes, unfortunately, (INAUDIBLE) think it‘s obvious that the waterboarding or anything else could be spinning at the guy, it doesn‘t matter what‘s on the tapes, it‘s the destruction of the tapes that‘s going to be the issue at that point. But the administration claims to be about law and order and protecting everybody uniquely against terrorist, yet, but would the destruction of the tapes have done significant damage to any chances of convicting terrorism suspects who were being taped, I mean, Moussaoui‘s legal team has already filed a motion for retrial. They did that this afternoon as soon as the implications of this story become apparent.
WOLFFE: Right. For me, this is always been the most damaging part of this. Whatever part of the interrogation procedure, time or day, it‘s the undermining of the very real cases against very real terrorists out there that previous administrations successfully prosecuted criminal cases against terrorists. Courts across the country have been able to deal with confidential, top secret information and maintain confidentiality, so what this administration did was (INAUDIBLE) on unparallel system which has no basis in law and (INAUDIBLE) they have a terrible track record of bringing terrorists to justice.
OLBERMANN: Last question - is it possible we‘re misreading this that the tapes weren‘t destroyed because they showed torture that they might have been a value to the defense attorneys in torture cases or in terrorism cases but maybe there were things that two men who were being tortured revealed that (INAUDIBLE) I know about the fringes of conspiracy theory here but could there have been things nobody wanted a record to exist of?
WOLFFE: Well, of course we don‘t know. And that‘s a problem about not having the information that my guess is they were concern about the legal opinions this administration had really justifying waterboarding in this period. Those tapes would have put legal jeopardy unto those interrogators that has been a concern of the White House and the CIA throughout. And the tapes were smoking gun, I mean, anytime someone shreds documents or destroys tapes, you know there‘s something to hide.
OLBERMANN: Rosemarie (INAUDIBLE) perhaps laughing right now somewhere. “Newsweek” Richard Wolffe once again joining us from Des Moines tonight, great thanks, have a great weekend.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.
OBLERMANN: For more on the legal fallout as promised, we‘re joined now by Neal Katyal, the Georgetown University law professor, the man who argued the Hamdam case into the Supreme Court, leading the justices that the Geneva Conventions did apply to prisoners even ones who happen to belong to al Qaeda. Thank you again for your time tonight, Neal.
NEAL KATYAL, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: My understanding of obstruction of justice is that you have to first prove that there is a relevant case or cases that were in progress when the obstruction occurred. The obstruction of this case, destruction of evidence, of videotapes. The recordings weren‘t provided to the federal court hearing of the Moussaoui case; is that obstruction of justice and other possibilities?
KATYAL: Well, that‘s what you need the investigation to find out. At the moment, this looks extremely, extremely damaging for the administration and the Justice Department and the prosecutors involved that is that we don‘t know exactly when the tape was destroyed. That‘s the first key question we need to find out. But it looks like according to press reports that was destroyed just days after the judge in the Moussaoui case asked for the videotapes of interrogations and soon after the 9/11 Commission had asked for those videotapes. So, it does look like obstruction of justice but of course, you know, that‘s what we need an investigation to find out and an independent investigation not an Alberto Gonzales style - trumped up, you know, shut down investigation but a real, independent, incredible one. And here, while I have a lot of - great respect for the new Attorney General Mukasey, I am little dismay that he hasn‘t done what I believe attorney general misdeed right when the Iran contrast scandal broke which was issue of preservation order, ordering all the federal government employees to make sure no further documents are destroyed because who knows what‘s been shredded right now as we speak.
OLBERMANN: Indeed. The staff members of the 9/11 Commission, its
co-chair, its Democratic co-chair Ray Hamilton (ph) expressed surprise when
they were told that interrogation tapes have been destroyed in 2005 because
they all said that the panel which finished its work a year before have
been told it had received all material of this kind from the CIA. Is it -
either like series of crime here? We have three of them going on because
lying of the existence of the tapes before hand of non existence, lying in
individual cases where they might have been valuable and then this
additional level of lying to legislative oversight committees about their
KATYAL: Yes. So, you‘ve got all three of these at play, that‘s exactly right and I believe also the Republican co-chair of the 9/11 Commission, (INAUDIBLE) has also made a similar complaint. There is a federal crime 18 US 1512 which makes lying to an official investigation a crime. Now, it‘s unclear that that applies to the 9/11 or not but I do think that it is another reason why we need an independent, credible investigation, something that we‘d not really frankly seeing in this country for the past six years except when Patrick Fitzgerald is involved.
OLBERMANN: In the statement that he made to CIA employees yesterday, Neal, the extraordinary statement from General Hayden added that the agency had acted inline with the law and that he had to do this to protect other CIA employees rights, identities, protect them against prosecution, there‘s a whole Alice through the looking glass quality to that one too, is there not?
KATYAL: Yes. I mean, I‘m sure that he does believe it was of compliance with the law but I think the law on this argument is the law of Syria not the law of the United States and the law of the United States prohibits torture, it‘s a federal crime under the virtually unanimous law passed by Congress back for the decade ago but what the administration did is they hired in 2002 a bunch of legal sycophants who basically wrote secret memos that said the president can do whatever he wants that that is the law. So, I‘m sure General Hayden that that is compliance with the law because the president can‘t defy the law when he gets to make whatever that law is. That isn‘t actually, sadly what the law and when you start thinking of that way if you‘re the president, you‘re start thinking that way, the result is scandal after scandal, the ones you talked about a moment ago and the other distrusts of the American people when it comes to the basic question - does the president obey the law? You know, I am not surprised - Senator McCain just a couple of hours ago, said you know I‘m not surprised with the scandal because it‘s just the standard ammo of this administration - toast a (INAUDIBLE), let us do whatever we want, we are above the law.
OLBERMANN: And the final irony is protecting CIA agents and their identities after you‘ve outed Valerie Plames as well.
KATYAL: Exactly. I mean the idea that this was done to protect the identities is laughable. I mean, I remember watching Miami Vice in 1984, you can block out the agents‘ names on television, that‘s easy to do so, it can‘t be that protecting identities.
OLBERMANN: The government is not as sophisticated as Miami Vice. Neal Katyal of the (INAUDIBLE) and law expert associate professor, Georgetown University. Many thanks, professor, have a good weekend.
KATYAL: Thank you. You as well.
OLBERMANN: The Republicans meanwhile are screaming not about this but being lead by the nose down the garden path about Iran but with demands from them for an investigation of who quote, “Doctored the National Intelligence Estimate about Iran.”
And drip, drip, drip. Now the sex on the city scandal turns out to have started six months or maybe a year earlier than previously admitted. You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: The president was wrong about Iran. The vice president was wrong about Iran. John Bolton was wrong about Iran. Norman Potheridge (ph) was wrong about Iran. So, naturally, there supporters at the GOP are demanding congressional investigations of Intel that proved they‘re all wrong. Forgetting that by his actions, the president already admitted he was wrong about Iran and that there are hearings if they happened the Democrat will also get to ask questions. And in Worst, Bill O versus Mike Huckabee on an astonishing remark about dead American troops from Senator and Minority leader, Mitch McConnell. All ahead here on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Five years after the Bush administration first sold us bogus cherry picked intelligence about Iraq hiding all the dissent over it, Republicans in Congress are finally calling for hearings on the political twisting of Intel. In our fourth story tonight, it is not the Iraq intelligence which even Mr. Bush has criticized and which turned out to be wrong at the cost of thousands of Iraqi and American lives. It‘s not that intelligence the Republicans want to investigate. No, Republicans are pouncing on the new intelligence about Iran. The National Intelligence Estimate revealing that Iran stopped pursuing nuclear weapons in 2003, intelligence not even Mr. Bush nor vice war monger Cheney have questioned. Who is questioning it? Nevada‘s Senator John Enson introducing legislation next week he says to create a commission to find out how we got such bad Intel as the Iran NIE—an NIE released under the edges of Mike McConnell, the intelligence director appointed by President Bush representing the consensus of 16 intelligence agencies which Mr. Bush has had seven years to remake in his own image. An NIE that the president has praised for reflecting reforms made after the whole messy Iraq WMD thing and which already had survived the scrutiny of Mr. Cheney at length who reportedly had kept the NIE tied up for months as analysts rebutted his baseless theories about why it had to be wrong. An NIE that one retired military intelligence officer, Colonel Pat Lang says we only learned about because senior career intelligence officials threatened to go public and release it themselves if necessary a crime for which they were prepared to go to prison. In other words, an NIE whose only flaw appears to be its conclusion. We turn now to Rachel Maddow who fill air weeknights on Air America Radio. Rachel, good evening.
RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We‘re missing a fundamental thing here. Is this not by definition a nonstarter? Didn‘t the president validate the legitimacy of the NIE when he changed his rhetoric when he dialed it back just slightly, just legally the moment, he allegedly first got wind of this back in August?
MADDOW: Yes. The White House is walking a real tight rope here in terms of what the president knew and when he knew it. Because initially, they were saying, oh, the president only found out about this last Tuesday in order to quiet any fears that the president might have been hyping a threat that he knew was false. On the other hand, it does seem clear when you go back and parse the language thanks to Dan Frenkin (ph) and other bloggers who have pointed this out going back and parsing the language, it seems like starting in August which is when they say they first had the information that resulted in this big change in the NIE from the NIE two years ago starting in August, Bush did start tweaking his language to indicate that he‘d been told something about it. So, they‘ve got to figure out which Bush they want to go with here in terms of how much that he knew. But if there is going to be a big Republican effort to try to smear the NIE I think they‘ll have to realize that Bush and actually maybe, Dick Cheney, too, are probably going to be on the other side of that effort.
OLBERMANN: Yes. He was either briefed August sixth to August ninth or it‘s the greatest guess on anybody‘s part in world history.
OLBERMANN: Now, the military industrial Right has this history and it‘s had a history of producing bad intelligence to bolster threats of the bogeyman of the generation. They overstated Russia‘s power apparently by a factor of two to one according to Crusheff‘s son, who‘ve said it was closer to 10 to one. Then, in the ‘90s, there was a Rumsfeld commission that scared us about ballistic missiles, then the Iraq WMD thing. Why? And why especially in the context that there are real threats out there?
MADDOW: Yes, it‘s - I mean, if you have policies, if you have policy goals in mind, if you either want to attack somebody, you want to start a war somewhere, or let‘s say you have a weapons system that you‘d like to fund and buy, and you find that the intelligence that‘s available from the mainstream intelligence community does not fit those policies again and again and again, the American Right has decided to meet their own intelligence. So, with the Soviets they had team B which came up with as you said intelligence about the Soviet Union that hyped that threat. In the ‘90s, it was Donald Rumsfeld telling us that Burkina Paso was going to shoot a ballistic missile into Indiana and so, we needed a multibillion dollar ballistic missile defense to protect us from developing countries that didn‘t have ballistic missiles. In the Iraq war, it was Paul Wolfowitz with the Office of Special Plans, making stuff up about Iraq and the threat posed there. Over and over and over again, they have shown that when the policy doesn‘t fit the facts they will just make new facts.
OBLERMANN: The pure politics, Rachel, of this far Right lunatic fringe reaction from Senator Enson and company, Colonel Lang says the Democrats should support his call for this open committee commission, whatever, probe of the NIE. Do the Republicans not get that the Democrats would necessarily control these hearings and they would call the witnesses and they could ask questions about, say, why the NIE was delayed by Dick Chaney or they could, perhaps, mention the previous NIE‘s about Iraq or anything they wanted to do about Intel, anything they wanted to do about the CIA destruction of the waterboarding tapes. Why are they opening Pandora‘s Box for the Democrats?
MADDOW: Well, I would love to see the Democrats in Congress investigate all of those things that you‘d just mentioned. I don‘t necessarily want to see Congress going back and picking over the reports of the intelligence community and trying to change the raw material. I think that pushes us more in the wrong direction and gets us closer back to the disaster that we had with the bad NIE, the bad, politicized NIE on Iraq in 2002. I have to tell you I am so disappointed with the Democratic Congress and their inability to stand up to the White House on anything involving national security and, in particular, anything involving intelligence, that while I wished Colonel Lang was right, that putting this in Democratic hands would result in a real sock it to ‘em punch and Judy show I just don‘t believe it.
OLBERMANN: Yes, they‘d wind up sending somebody, maybe Speaker Pelosi would be shot as an arrow into Iran at the end of that hearing. Rachel Maddow of Air America Radio, great thanks. Have a good weekend, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you, Keith. You, too.
OLBERMANN: Now, if you focus back about six major scandals from the Iran disaster a quick note about the top ethics watch dog at the State Department. Howard “Cookie” Krongard, he has resigned today and blamed the media in the process. Now, let‘s try to remember this man. Cookie was memorable from such hits as his congressional testimony that he had no ties to Blackwater whose occasionally fatal contract work Cookie oversaw at State, that his memorable testimony later in the same day that oh, yeah it turned out his own brother, Buzzy sat on a Blackwater advisory board. Cookie rescued himself immediately. Congress announced it would look into the matter with new hearings. Buzzy left Blackwater shortly, afterward. Cookie‘s retirement today, effective January 15th, effectively robbing us to held the much anticipated prospect of Congressional joint Cookie/Buzzy hearings. Muffy and spanky had no comments.
Barry Bonds had little comment on the first of what are likely to be many court dates in the baseball steroid scandal. Turns out the next big date may be sooner than anybody else thought—next Thursday. We‘ll tell you what that‘s about and when they say they‘re having a 50 percent off sale that does not mean you have to take 50 percent off. We‘ll explain this, next on COUNTDOWN.
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: On this date, 85 years ago in Terryville, Connecticut, was born Tadeusz Wladyslaw Konopka. By late 1940s, he was appearing in local theater in Hartford. By 1960, he had an uncredited cameo as a cop in the Alfred Hitchcock‘s movie, “Psycho”, and by 1970, he had gained immortality as the man behind the persona of Ted Baxter on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”. We lost Ted Knight far too young in 1986 and this is my annual chance to apologize for using an impression of his priceless Baxter voice when I read the words of—you know. Good night and good news. Let‘s play “Oddball”.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: We begin in Scottsdale and the late night shift at the local Chevron gas—hello! They bought that which they desperately needed: Skittles, tea, and a doughnut. They forgot the clothes. Then they sauntered back out again. The manager did not call the police, saying there was no harm done except to her eyes.
LADY STORE MANAGER: I‘m saying, it was okay when you see him naked but the other one, you kind of wanted to put his clothes on.
OLBERMANN: So, ma‘am, you‘re saying it wasn‘t exactly a stick-up? To Homestead, Florida, forget fish stick Jesus, plate-glass window Jesus, or oyster shell Jesus. The real Jesus is in a torso x-ray of Mr. Reynaldo Parinas. According to him, Mr. Parinas who recently went to the hospital complaining of chest pains and when doctors x-rayed his chest, the only thing clearly visible was, he says, the face of Christ. Still unclear whether or not Jesus‘ HMO is going to pay for the payment required at the hospital for that x-ray.
No, no, no, I said Santa comes down the chimney. “Oddball‘s” plays of the month: cuddle with alligators and wrestle with baristas. Speaking of scantily clad women, these stories ahead: the concluding Rudy Giuliani story is ahead but, first, I‘m going to talk about the best persons in the world.
Number three, “best attempt at increasing market share”: the Balducci store on 14th Street in Manhattan, New York City, offering for just $8.99 a pound boneless spiral ham. Noting on the sign also that it is delicious for Hannukah. The sign has been removed.
Number two, “best stopping to smell the roses”: Kevin Shelton of Sarasota. Accused of robbing a bank in that city, he then fled on foot to a nearby salon where he asked for hair extensions and a manicure. A beautician was just finishing up the first of his hands when police arrived and arrested him. Presumably, not...(inaudible)
And number one, “best surprise endorsement”: Gennifer Flowers. She insists she is still officially undecided but seems to be willing to—well, here is her quote—“I can‘t help but want to support my own gender and she is experienced as any of the others except maybe Joe Biden.” Gennifer Flowers is leaning toward supporting Hillary Clinton. If we hear from Monica Lewinsky, I‘m going to have to take a month off!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Soon, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will be able to fill a bath tub with the drip, drip, drip of damaging reports especially those centering on his past private use of public funds. The latest in our third story on the countdown that his then mistress, now wife Judith Nathan, was getting police protection and the attendant chauffeur services from police personnel even before her affair with the then mayor had been made public and much earlier than previously disclosed by either the NYPD or Mr. Giuliani‘s presidential campaign. The sources in this case eyewitnesses, neighbors of Ms. Nathan‘s at the time, also a law enforcement official familiar with mayoral protection. The “New York Daily News” reporting those sources‘ accounts as a, quote, “full-scale valet service at Nathan‘s beck and call” and it began before May 2000. When Mr. Giuliani‘s affair with Ms. Nathan became public, it possibly would have been rationalized or would have rat! ionalized her protection as a public figure under those circumstances. The police source says Nathan got bodyguards as early as 1999. The other sources placed the protection as beginning in early 2000. And the newly reported incidents also pre-date another hugely significant line of demarcation: December 2000. That was the date given for when Ms. Nathan‘s full-time police detail began according to then Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik who acknowledged this in January 2001. Aides to Mr. Giuliani have now conceded to the “Daily News” that Nathan received protection quote, unquote, quote sporadically, unquote, “before December 2000”. Meantime and probably not coincidentally St. Rudy of 9/11 is finding his national front-runner status further evaporating in the newest polling. The former mayor still leads with 26% of those polled nationally but former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has jumped to second place—his 18 percent support significantly up from 10 perc! ent in a similar survey just a month ago.
NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd. Good to talk to you, Chuck.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Good evening, sir.
OLBERMANN: I‘d like to break this down first, to the Giuliani‘s camp response and then, to the substance of this charge. We already knew that his then mistress was getting taxpayer-sponsored chauffeur service after the affair became public. Mr. Kerik once stated the round-the-clock detail began after an unspecified threat against her but now the Giuliani aides have told the “New York Daily News” that Ms. Nathan received more previously undisclosed threats and that‘s when the sporadic protection began earlier in 2000. This thing came out at the political website, then the further reporting in New York made it worse, then that happened a second time. Today it‘s happened a third time. Why has the Giuliani campaign been continually defensive on this?
TODD: Well, they‘re a little defensive because I think they don‘t want to have a full-scale look into his private life 27 days before the Iowa caucases where you have moral voters—you know, voters who probably don‘t approve of somebody who had an extra-marital affair and they don‘t want to have to delve into the details of it. So, I really think that they are hoping that they could just sort of push this down the, they are going to sort of kick the ball down the street because if they get by the primaries, then they think in the general, if this stuff comes out, it won‘t be as big of a deal.
OLBERMANN: But wouldn‘t it rather have been better to dump this all out when it first broke and just let people judge him as he wants to be judged in some sort of total package? Because, each time it—a little bit—comes out, it‘s a separate big story rather than, “Yes, by the way, here‘s the actual: it didn‘t start in 2001. It started in 1999.” You get it all done at once.
TODD: It‘s Inoculation 101 there. You are absolutely right, Keith. It‘s sort of, you know, probably, when the political story came out, they should have said, “You know what? Not only that but, actually, you know, this thing started x,” and they should have just dumped all this information. You know, he has slowly been inoculating himself in his TV ads. You know, he talks about it all the time. “Look. I made mistakes. I‘m not perfect.” Almost using it as a badge of honor because he thinks it‘s a good contrast with Mitt Romney who sometimes looks too perfect, almost looks like he‘s too much out of central casting. And why they just didn‘t do this, I think they‘re going to regret this a little bit because now, what they have, they have a New York City press corps who is now going to sit there and re-report stuff, even stuff that had already been done. And, this is what happens to candidates when they run for president. They think that news that was reporte! d five or six years ago when they were either a governor of Arkansas or a mayor of New York City, they somehow think it won‘t get brought back up once you‘re on the presidential stage. And, I‘ll tell you, it always comes back up.
OLBERMANN: And, Chuck, you mentioned the former governor of Arkansas. It is not just that Giuliani gets a new one of these things every ten days or so but, Huckabee may be surging in the polls with particular support from southerners, from conservatives, from Evangelicals, and in that AP poll, that‘s what‘s indicated. The “Newsweek” poll in Iowa puts him hugely ahead—there is 30 percent.
OLBERMANN: So, is the Giuliani national lead not so wide and certainly not so deep?
TODD: Well, I think that‘s always been a fear among some in the Giuliani camp. You know, the other thing I think is not a coincidence, as Senator Clinton‘s numbers have come down, as it looks like that Democratic race is a lot closer than anybody thought it was going to be, say, three months ago, I think that‘s hurt Giuliani. Giuliani‘s best selling point to Republicans was, “You know what? I can beat her. I can beat Senator Clinton.” But what happens if it‘s not Senator Clinton? And the rise of Obama on the Democratic side, I think, you‘ve seen it‘s almost coincided with Giuliani falling a little bit. So, he needs Hillary Clinton to pop back up again. The stronger she is, the stronger he is in the Republican primary. Right now, she‘s not looking so strong and now, he‘s not looking strong.
OLBERMANN: How remarkable that Giuliani‘s fortunes might be tied to Hillary Clinton doing well. Chuck Todd, political director of NBC news. Thanks for staying late with us, Chuck. We appreciate it.
TODD: Good-bye to you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: From the point of view of millions of still passionate fans, its network made a huge mistake when it canceled one beloved sitcom. Tonight, could an arrested development movie finally be in the works?
And, war is cruel but war in Iraq particularly cruel but not as cruel as what the minority leader in the Senate has just said about dead American soldiers in Iraq. You will not believe it when you hear it. In “Worst Persons”, next on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Barry Bonds pleads not guilty. Its fans plead for what is again newly rumored a movie based on one of the most loyally followed TV comedies of all time. In “Worst Persons” billo and Governor Mike Huckabee have a hard time fending off a Republican Senator who makes an unbelievably crass statement about the American dead in Iraq. That‘s next in COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: No surprise and almost no comment in our number two story tonight: Barry Bonds pleading not guilty today to charges that he lied to a federal grand jury investigating the use of steroids in sports. Bonds, indicted on one count of obstructing justice, four counts of perjury, including denying under oath that he knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs. The judge releasing Bonds with no travel restrictions as long as he posts a $500,000-, well, bond. The, at least, for the moment former baseball star reportedly blanching at retainers asked for by prominent defense attorneys. The next hearing is February 7. As if he needs it, Bonds may have further troubles as early as next Thursday. The very clued in baseball writer of the Associated Press, Ron Glove, reporting tonight that the investigation on steroid and other performance-enhancing drug use by baseball players conducted by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell will be presented next week!
, probably the 13th. By the way, if you somehow have the impression that Bonds had today pleaded guilty here‘s why. Actual screen grab from early this afternoon. Always remember: the brand name over there is fair and balanced not true.
Turning now to “Keeping Tabs”, if it‘s not Britney Spears keeping the scandal sheets busy, it‘s Paris Hilton and tonight it‘s both. The “Daily Star”, a tabloid with a reputation that it‘s not exactly the coin of the realm, reporting that the two had a falling out at Britney Spears‘ 26th birthday bash on Sunday with the singer threatening to release an x-rated tape of Ms. Hilton onto the internet in revenge, like we all don‘t have an x-rated tape of Ms. Hilton we could release in revenge. This tape, though, is said to show Ms. Hilton in a passionate make-out session with a female friend. The news there, of course, would be she still has a female friend?
Millions of hearts remain a-flutter tonight after actor Jason Bateman, erstwhile star of television‘s smartest sitcom ever, “Arrested Development”, raised from the dead the prospects of a movie picking up where his series left off. The “Arrested Development” movie is not dead. “Au contraire,” said Bateman—who‘s not actually French—while doing a publicity tour for his latest film, “Juno”, which, coincidentally, also stars Michael Cera from “Super Bad” and played Bateman‘s son in “Arrested Development”, he said he‘d reach out to the show‘s creator, Mitchell Hurwitz, about writing a film about the singular Bluth family which consisted of himself, Sarah, Jessica Walter, Willard Neck, Tony Hail, David Cross, and the impeccable Jeffrey Tumbler.
“It‘s something we‘re very interested in doing but only after the writers‘ strike and only after the powers that be approve,” Bateman and Hurwitz say in a joint statement to COUNTDOWN. The caveat that Mr. Bateman, Mr. Cross, and Mr. Tumbler are friends of mine and few television programs have ever reached the level of intelligence and humor over three weeks which “Arrested Development” maintained over three seasons. It took its viewers into a bizarre world of hysterical greed and self-obliviousness and, yet, managed somehow to create and stick to its own logic, its own sensible nonsense. So, Mr. Hurwitz, your nation calls upon you in these perilous times. “Arrested Development” was more than a comedy series, sir. It was the promise of blessed relief from the nightmares that envelope us and it was so richly written, so intricately woven that the audience would find new joys even on the third or fourth viewings. In short, Hollywood moguls, you could sell them a t! icket to an “Arrested Development” movie and then sell them a DVD six months later and, then, maybe, a pop-up book or souvenir Bluth cornballer or something. It is, Mr. and Mrs. Studio Executive, up to you.
Good night. Good luck. And come on!
Somebody must have been swearing a blue streak in a gas station. The joy that is “Oddball‘s” plays of the month next. But, first time for the worst persons in the world. The bronze: presidential candidate Mike Huckabee almost had everybody fooled with his debate line about immigration and how America is better than that. He has now proposed a 120-day window for all illegal immigrants to register and then leave the country and then re-apply for formal admission. All others would be expelled and banned from this country for ten years. Two problems, governor. One, America is better than that. Not you apparently, though. Two, the last official INS estimate in 2000 is that there are seven million illegal immigrants in the country and you‘re going to get them to leave how exactly?
Runner-up billo, turning yet another tragedy into fodder for his illegal alien paranoia, a Houston homeowner fatally shoots two guys trying to break into—not his house—but his neighbor‘s house. The two guys are illegal immigrants. The naive conclusion from the Frank Burns of news, these two illegal aliens are dead because of Houston‘s sanctuary city policy. That‘s why they are dead! These guys are dead because of chaotic immigration policies. That‘s why they‘re dead. What, Bill, do you think the dead men were wearing illegal alien signs? Whether the shooter was right or wrong they‘re dead because the guy shot them. Grow up, junior!
But our winner: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell with what might be the coarsest, harshest, least human statement made yet about the war in Iraq and the Americans who are dead there because of the policies and decisions he helped to shape and approve. Quote, “Nobody is happy about losing lives but, remember, these are not draftees. These are full-time professional soldiers.” Unquote. Well, that‘s all right then. Senator, you need to resign. And then you need to go look for a soul so you can get it implanted into your body. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, today‘s “Worst Person in the World”.
OLBERMANN: Any of the various theatrical versions of the “Mutiny on the Bounty” give you a pretty good idea what happened to Fletcher Christian and the others who took command of the ill-fated British naval vessel in April 1789. What happened to Anthony Hopkins or Charles Latin or, really, Captain William Bly? He not only sailed his way home in essentially a row boat but he lived on for another 28 years until this date, December 7, 1870. In those ensuing decades he was the victim of three more mutinies.
On a more optimistic note, let‘s play “Oddball‘s Plays of the Month”.
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OLBERMANN: We begin in Tokyo, we begin in Salinas, California. We begin in Queens. We begin in Monroe, Texas, where a mercenary, in the war on Christmas is making a daring night time raid. We begin in Las Vegas where for once the scantily clad ladies on the corner are not selling, you know. Welcome to “SexxPresso”. Stripped down and wearing only lingerie, they serve the java. Stay tuned for a special six-hour special by Bill O‘Reilly on this story.
No, don‘t lose your head. Let‘s just begin in Kawasaki, Japan, with completely inappropriate public displays of affection from the resident red panda population, turning an innocent trip to the zoo into x-rated panda quarters.
We begin in Luxor, Egypt, where for nearly a century the world‘s museum-goers have known the image of King Tut only by the beautiful gilded visage standing outside a sarcophagus. Yesterday, for the first time, we got a look under the hood. It is my sad duty to report to you that King Tut is but a face. 300 years after the boy king‘s death and he looks awful.
It‘s the only shoulder chopsticks holder for the environmentally conscious bra-wearing lady on the go.
“Modern Toilets”: this restaurant chain series dedicated to all things eliminatory. Customers sit on toilet seats, drink from replica chamber pots, and eat their soft-serve ice cream. Why would you do this?
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE CUSTOMER: It‘s new-fangled. Never eaten on toilets before, even at home.
OLBERMANN: Even at home? Well, excuse me, Mr. Rockefeller Van Gates.
At Japan, the first place to get a box of France‘s famous Baudelaire(ph) wine and they‘re swimming in it. Fun for the whole family. Don‘t drink that, son. It was a wise, older gentleman who summed up the swim best: “I‘ve lived for 68 years but I‘ve never had a fun bath like this.”
He then added, “Has anybody seen my trunks?” You, you‘re cut off, buddy.
We begin in Thailand with this Japanese television report about a man who adopted a crocodile as his son. The two were so close they even share a bed, holding hands as they sleep. It‘s getting creepy. Yes, like it didn‘t start out creepy.
This time on the gridiron, in the crimson tide, in Bama versus Auburn, in the fourth quarter, Quarterback Jerraud Powers, defending a pass in the end zone, runs it back to the end zone where he is bitten on the hand by a police dog. Oh, doctor, that‘s got to sting. What a souvenir!
We begin in Parma, Ohio, and a ghost hanging around the self-serve island at a gas station, so says the owner, anyway. We at “Oddball” have enhanced the video and gotten to the bottom of this for ourselves. As you‘ll see, it‘s Blue Berry, everybody‘s favorite blue cereal ghost and he is pissed off about the price of gas going through the freaking roof.
We begin in Pennsylvania, one of the executive management say to Virginia where you are paying taxes, because it is the city‘s old dominion, to pay the governor tribute, two dead deer. The governor accepted the deer on the condition that nobody told him where they came from.
Seven of the original 124 munchkins from the 1939 film classic “The Wizard of Oz”, receiving their own star on the Walk of Fame. The afternoon went off without a hitch until a swarm of jealous flying monkeys busted up the party.
(Unintelligible) Village, India, where, I tell you, this guy‘s life is a real dog. I mean, this guy‘s life is a real dog. And there we see Selma Makur(ph) placing the ceremonial mandel(ph) sutra around the dog‘s neck, and you may now kiss the bitch.
That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1,672nd day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. From New York, I am Keith Olbermann. Hope to see you on Sunday on football night in America. Good night and good luck.
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