updated 12/13/2007 1:09:35 PM ET 2007-12-13T18:09:35

Guests: Coleen Rowley, Wesley Clark, Frank Gaffney, Donald Shields, Shelton Whitehouse, Pam Bondi, Julia Morrow, Andrea Visconti

DAN ABRAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Keith.  Tonight, growing evidence that the White House knew more than they admitted about the secret CIA tapes.  And day three of our series, Bush League Justice, politics taking over at the Justice Department.  They are not admitting that either but the statistics are astounding.

Plus my exclusive interview with suspect Drew Peterson.  He admits nothing but tells me he loves his missing wife and tries to explain why he isn‘t helping to find her.

But, first, the mounting evidence tonight that the White House was aware of the decision to destroy videotapes of CIA interrogations.  According to “Newsweek” magazine quote, “An extensive paper or e-mail exists documenting the contacts between the CIA and the White House regarding what to do about the tapes.”

Still senior administration officials including the president continue to publicly deny knowing anything about them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  I spoke to the president this morning about this.  He has no recollection of being made aware of the tapes or their destruction before yesterday.  He was briefed by General Hayden yesterday morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You knew nothing about those tapes?

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT:  That‘s true.  My first recollection of whether the tapes existed or whether they were destroyed was in the Michael Hayden briefing.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE:  . knowledge of the tapes, but this is something that I‘m sure Mike Hayden who is providing excellent leadership to the CIA will resolve within their internal processes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  So it all comes down to the CIA director, General Michael Hayden, who is now admitting he knew about the tapes even when he was deputy director of national intelligence back in 2006.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL HAYDEN, CIA DIRECTOR:  I did not personally know before they were destroyed, no, not at all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Did you know about them when you were in .

HAYDEN:  I was aware of the existence of the tapes but really didn‘t become focused on it until the summer of ‘06 when I became director.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Now, it‘s worth noting he didn‘t mention that when asked about them yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAYDEN:  The taping was done under Director Tenet and destroyed under Director Goss, is before my time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  But for the first time today the chief conceded that members of Congress were not fully informed of the fact that the agency had tapes or that they were destroyed three years later.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER HOEKSTRA, ® MI:  But it‘s pretty clear that the House Intelligence Committee was not kept fully informed of what was going on with these tapes, whether it was the existence of these tapes, the discussion and the plans to destroy these tapes and then actually the destruction of these tapes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  A far cry from the department‘s previous claim that congressional leaders had been informed about the tapes and the intention to destroy them.  It is starting to feel like the White House may know more than they are saying.

In a minute we will talk to Colleen Rawley, former FBI agent turned whistleblower.  In 2002 he was named on of “Time Magazine‘s” people of the year, a person of the year, for the effort to warn the FBI about the attacks before September 11th.

But first here is MSNBC analyst General Wesley Clark and Frank Gaffney, former Reagan administration official and president for the Center for Security Policy.  Frank, great to have you back on the program.

All right, Wes, let me start with you.  As a practical matter, is it believable that the White House knew nothing about this and, of course, then there is the “Newsweek” story that says there were contacts?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, (RET), MSNBC ANALYST:  No, it‘s not believable.  Of course the White House knew about it.  The White House would have known from the beginning about the existence of the tapes.  The interesting thing will be to see whether they were getting real time updates on the progress of the waterboarding as it was going on.

ABRAMS:  What about the destruction of the tapes?  I mean, there are two issues here.  There is the existence of the tapes and then there is the destruction of the tapes.  Are you convinced that they knew about the destruction, also?

CLARK:  It seems from the evidence that‘s come out that there were those in the White House who were apprised of the fact that the CIA was considering destroying them.  Harriet Miers apparently knew about it and she was in the White House at the time and warned them not to destroy them.

ABRAMS:  What do you make of that, Frank?

FRANK GAFFNEY, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY:  I have no idea whether the White House knew about this.  I‘m not as persuaded as Wes is that it‘s absolutely clear cut.

ABRAMS:  Does it matter?  It seems like you don‘t think it matters.

GAFFNEY:  I guess I start with, what were the tapes of?  The tapes were of some harsh interrogation techniques of people who had information that when it was divulged saved American lives.  It‘s the kind of aggressive investigation or interrogation techniques that I know it‘s not on your network but on Fox you see practically every night when Jack Bauer is trying to wrest information from people in a position to kill Americans.

And my sense is that most Americans think that‘s important.  In fact, they find it interesting enough to watch with very considerable passion.

ABRAMS:  I think they know it‘s important.

GAFFNEY:  But here is the point.  We are spending a prodigious amount of time in a flail, a self-flagellation exercise about what happened to the tapes .

ABRAMS:  But it matters—it‘s not irrelevant to say it doesn‘t matter.

GAFFNEY:  Here‘s the relevance.  Here‘s what really matters.

(CROSSTALK)

GAFFNEY:  If I may suggest to you .

ABRAMS:  Let me read it to you.

GAFFNEY:  If I‘m being asked the question.

ABRAMS:  Hang on one second.

GAFFNEY:  The main question before us now, I think, is, is this a technique that Americans want our government to use or not?

ABRAMS:  Right.  I understand .

GAFFNEY:  But should we be disclosing to the world .

ABRAMS:  But here is what I want—I understand that.  Look.  I said this on this program many times.  I think it‘s torture.  I also think it may be necessary at times.  And I think we need to have an open and honest discussion about it, period, fine.

CLARK:  I think it‘s torture.

ABRAMS:  But that‘s not what I want to talk about tonight.  I want to talk about the investigation, OK?  I want to talk about the fact that a U.S. district judge in 2005 said the following, “Safeguard all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment and abuse of detainees.  Now,” here‘s the key part, though.  “Now at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.”

Now, Wes, the argument there is well, Guantanamo Bay and these were not detainees necessarily being held at Guantanamo Bay.

CLARK:  Look, this was evidence and the CIA knew it was evidence.  It should have been retained.  And it should not have been destroyed.  It‘s that simple.  It does warrant an investigation.  It is probably against the law.  It is evidence of torture and Frank Gaffney, I want to tell you as one American who has served in uniform, I never believed my country was a country that tortured people.  I thought the other guys did it.  Of course, their excuse when they did it was national security.

GAFFNEY:  Well, Wes, with your experience, I‘m sure you appreciate that we subjected military personnel with some regulator to this technique in order to train them to deal with the kinds of interrogations they might face.  I don‘t think anybody called them terror or torture when we did that.

CLARK:  They absolutely knew.

GAFFNEY:  We were preparing them for what they might face.  Here‘s the bottom line.

CLARK:  No.  Frank, this is—just a moment.  Just a moment.  Our people knew they were being trained.  They were not being tortured.  This is torture.

GAFFNEY:  These people were being subjected to exactly the same technique that you find so offensive.

CLARK:  I don‘t think that‘s true.  That‘s not true, Frank.

GAFFNEY:  If it means keeping people from getting killed in this country, I‘m not ashamed to have it done when we have to and I think even Dan agrees with that.

ABRAMS:  Fair enough .

CLARK:  Whether Dan agrees with that and there is no evidence to suggest that is the only way we could have gotten that information.

ABRAMS:  Let‘s now come back to today.  And again, this is ongoing debate about what we should or should be doing, shouldn‘t be doing.  But this is Republican Senator Kit Bond.  OK?  Here is he talking about waterboarding.  And he is not the first Republican to sort of refer to it.  And it is not the way Frank Gaffney is referring to it but this is the way he described it, all right?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you think that waterboarding as I described it constitutes torture?

SEN. KIT BOND, ® MO:  There are different ways of doing it.  It‘s like swimming.  There is freestyle, backstroke .

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  You would concede that‘s—it was a dumb comment, right?  He shouldn‘t—right?

GAFFNEY:  I‘m not going to speak for anybody but myself.  On this .

ABRAMS:  What‘s your opinion of his comment?

GAFFNEY:  My opinion of his comment is it‘s his comment.  My opinion of the practice is .

ABRAMS:  I understand.

GAFFNEY:  You know, we‘re spending time talking about an investigation.

ABRAMS:  I understand you want to talk about it, Frank.  I understand.

GAFFNEY:  Without it being grounded in the reality we‘ve got to do this.

ABRAMS:  We understand that, Frank.  OK.  So coming back, Wes, coming back to this issue, again, this seems to me that it‘s now becoming sort of talking points to some degree is to mock waterboarding.  And again, I‘m not suggesting Frank is doing that, I‘m talking about Kit Bond and there have been other Republicans on television who have been saying oh there are different ways to do it, etc.  There are not different ways to do it.

CLARK:  Sure because the White House - Dan, the White House has been caught red handed executing torture under order of, I suppose the president of the United States.  And if he is proud of it, he should take credit for it.  I think it‘s against the law.  We signed the International Convention on Torture.  I think this needs to be unraveled because the United States‘ good reputation and name and ultimately our national security is at stake here.  Our reputation is important.

GAFFNEY:  Your reputation is as much as anybody, Wes and I think you ought to take responsibility for doing that.  Given what we have seen with the Abu Ghraib pictures, I would be very unhappy seeing pictures of waterboarding thrown up in the way that it has been to undermine this position—the position of the United States.

CLARK:  Me too, Frank.

GAFFNEY:  And I would just as soon not see these things out in public.

CLARK:  I agree with you, Frank.  We got the both of best possible worlds.  We know the tape existed and we know the president and the White House is accountable.  They should be held accountable.

GAFFNEY:  Hold them accountable.  But I think hold them accountable for saving lives which is the first order of business here.

ABRAMS:  Frank Gaffney thank you very much.  Appreciate you coming in. 

Good to see you again.

GAFFNEY:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Wes Clark.

Let me bring in Colleen Rowley here.  You wrote in the “New York Times” the following letter.  You say you don‘t need to have worked as an FBI agent for 24 years as I did to know that shredding the evidence is always a clue.  Now, again, you became renowned for being a whistleblower pre-9/11.  What do you make of the claim here that, look, they were just trying to protect the identity of some of the people involved and that‘s the reason that they destroyed the tapes?

COLEEN ROWLEY, FORMER FBI AGENT:  Well, being a whistleblower and, of course, understanding what the whistleblower in Abu Ghraib who actually did bring the photos out, that the retaliation that that whistleblower faced, I have often seen that the person who tries to bring the truth out is actuality person retaliated against.  And it becomes very crucial to people who are trying to suppress the truth, to shred evidence.  You don‘t have to be an FBI agent to understand that.

ABRAMS:  Colleen, you make a very serious allegation in your letter.  You say, “Their contempt for the rule of law cannot get much worse.  They learned from Nixon‘s Watergate and they‘re trying not to leave any Oval Office tapes around.”  I mean it sounds like you are convinced that the White House is behind this.

ROWLEY:  I‘m convinced that the White House has actually committed illegal acts.  I used a few other things in that short letter.  But I think that they are very much trying to hide behind some of these covers and, certainly, talking heads on television that can make light of such a terrible thing as waterboarding and torture.  It‘s just—I find it incredible.  I taught FBI agents for 13 years the finer technicalities of the Miranda rule that I‘m even debating this issue about whether torture is right or wrong.  That‘s actually an incredible thing.

ABRAMS:  Yeah.  I mean, and finally, what did you make of the CIA agent who came out yesterday and gave this account of what happened?

ROWLEY:  I don‘t think the CIA and the FBI have the same roles.  And I don‘t think that he benefited from the larger view.  He certainly saw a very small sliver.  I wish our FBI director and many other great FBI interviewers and interrogators would take up this cause of explaining how torture does not produce reliable, good, probative evidence.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Colleen Rowley, thanks a lot.  General Clark, Frank Gaffney, appreciate it.

Coming up next, day three of our series “Bush League Justice.”  Tonight we expose how the administration appears to have corrupted the Justice Department by placing politics over competence at almost every turn.

And a Drew Peterson exclusive.  I have just gotten off the phone with the man who remains a suspect in his wife‘s disappearance.  He told me he still loves his wife but still is not going to look for her.  I will tell you why.

And, later, the American college student being held in Italy after her roommate‘s murder finally speaking out from behind bars.  It sure sounds like she is talking trying to talk to directly her boyfriend also being held as if to say I‘m not turning on you.  Don‘t turn on me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Day three of our week long series “Bush League Justice.”

Tonight, what appears to have been the political corruption of this Justice Department.  How the numbers and newly released documents show that the Bush Justice Department, unlike any other in recent history was used as a political sword against Democrats.  It‘s a department where it seems political loyalty trumped experience, qualifications, and, in the end, objective justice.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS (voice-over):  They promised they wouldn‘t do it.  But, under the Bush administration, justice has too often been determined by politics, not law.  A blistering study reveals this Justice Department has investigated or indicted Democrats nearly six times more than Republicans.  Six hundred thirty one Democrats compared to only 142 Republicans.  The DOJ tracked which of its attorneys were members of the conservative Federalist Society and even ranked their loyalty to the administration when deciding who to hire and fire.

BUSH:  The future of hope and opportunity requires a fair and impartial system of justice.

ABRAMS:  Exactly what the administration did not deliver when they fired eight U.S. attorneys who were not towing the party line.  Bush loyalists stacked the DOJ with graduates from Pat Robertson‘s Regents University, ranked in the lowest quarter of law schools in the nation.  Including former White House Justice Department liaison Monica Goodling, who left the office shortly before attorney general Gonzales was ousted.

MONICA GOODLING, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  I may have taken inappropriate political considerations into account on some occasions.

ABRAMS:  And those political considerations were often driven by Vice President Cheney.  Karl Rove, and other White House advisors.  Given unprecedented access to internal Justice Department information.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS (on camera):  Joining me now, Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse who is also a former U.S. attorney and leading voice in the Senate in the probing of the firing of the U.S. attorneys and Donald Shields, professor emeritus from the University of Missouri, St. Louis, who co-authored the political profiling study.  Thanks to both of you for coming you on the program.  Appreciate.

All right.  Professor Shields, let me start with you, these numbers are startling when you look at them; 631 Democrats investigated or prosecuted compared to 142 Republicans.  How confident are you in these numbers?

DONALD SHIELDS, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-ST. LOUIS:  Pretty confident. 

That‘s 5.6 Democrats to each Republican investigated.  And/or indicted.

ABRAMS:  When you compared the federal prosecutions led by the Justice Department to a whole range of state prosecutions, when you looked at the states, it was fairly even.  Democrats to Republicans.  But when you looked at what the Justice Department was leading, the federal government, it was entirely skewed towards prosecuting Democrats.

SHIELDS:  That‘s right.

ABRAMS:  What is the statistical chance that, you know what, maybe this is just what happens.  There are statistical aberrations, etc?

SHIELDS:  Well, it‘ significance at the 0.001 level.  That‘s one in 10,000 chances of that data occurring by chance.

ABRAMS:  Let me bring in Senator Whitehouse.  In context of the U.S.  attorney‘s firing, there were documents that were handed over and one of the documents within the Justice Department made it clear that one of the ways the U.S. attorneys were being evaluated, and you are a former U.S.  attorney, was what loyalty they exhibited to the president and to the attorney general.

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE, (D) RI:  Whether they were loyal Bushies.

ABRAMS:  And is that unheard of?

WHITEHOUSE:  It‘s disgraceful.  It‘s interesting because over many different administrations, for many decades, there has been a feeling around the Department of Justice that when you step in and you take on that responsibility, you set other things aside and there has been a lot of work done to protect the Department of Justice from this kind of political corruption.  And under this one attorney general, under Gonzales, an enormous amount of damage was done.  So it‘s not just these statistics, Dan, it‘s the fact that these statistics align themselves very clearly with tearing down the firewall that protected the Department of Justice from White House political interference.

ABRAMS:  Political profiling.

WHITEHOUSE:  Allowing political calls to be made on cases that were pending.  Intruding people who had a lot of political loyalty but very little practical experience into decision-making positions.  You line that all up, and it starts to paint a pretty bad picture.

ABRAMS:  Senator, I want to play this piece of sound.  This is of you questioning attorney general Gonzales in the wake of the U.S. attorneys being fired.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHITEHOUSE:  What on earth business does the office of the vice president have in the internal workings of the Department of Justice with respect to criminal investigations, civil investigations and ongoing matters?

ALBERTO GONZALES, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL:  As a gentleman, I would say that‘s a good question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  That‘s a very good question, senator, I‘m glad you asked it.  But the question remains that it seems that the office of the vice president and Karl Rove had enormous influence over the Justice Department.  Now, some people that don‘t know the workings of the Justice Department the way you do might say look, he‘s vice president, he is the presidential advisor?  What‘s the big deal?

WHITEHOUSE:  There was actually rule that existed before the Bush administration that limited contact about ongoing cases and investigations to four people in the White House and three people in the Department of Justice.  The very top level people, so that there wouldn‘t be this kind of political back and forth between the White House and the Department of Justice.  Under the Bush administration, they stripped those laws out, not once, but twice.

ABRAMS:  And another thing that has really been troubling me is the timing of some of these investigations and prosecutions occurring right before elections.  Again, something that would have been considered, you know, totally unacceptable in other justice departments.

WHITEHOUSE:  Not only was it unacceptable in other Justice Departments, but there was a manual for United States attorneys that specifically prohibited doing just that.

And when the Gonzales-Bush Department of Justice was caught doing this, they didn‘t stop doing it, what they did was they rewrote the manual and as Senator Dianne Feinstein, my colleague from California, pointed out in the hearings, you can put the new manual against the old one and the language that had prevented that had been stripped out.

ABRAMS:  The fundamental problem and correct me if you disagree with me, the fundamental problem is they need to distance themselves.  They need to be an independent Justice Department where they can investigate.  So that‘s why when we hear for example now that the Justice Department is going to be investigating what happened with regard to the destruction of these CIA tapes, there is a lot of distrust there because there is not the sense that this Justice Department has been working independently.

WHITEHOUSE:  The Bush administration forgot that the sign outside says United States Department of Justice.  Not Bush administration Department of Justice.  And the cost to us as a country and the cost to the department, in particular, has been terribly high.

ABRAMS:  This is it.  This is a really important issue.  And, Senator Whitehouse, I know you are going to be pushing the new attorney general on this in an effort to try to regain the faith in this Justice Department that those of us who are lawyers, those of us who care about justice in this country feel is so important.  Senator Sheldon White House, thank you so much for coming on the program, appreciate it, and Doctor Shields, thank you as well.

SHIELDS:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, over at Fox News, liberal host Alan Colmes pushed to the sidelines again last night.  Maybe they should think about changing the name of that show to “Hannity and Company.”

And also coming up, my exclusive interview with suspect Drew Peterson in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press.”  First up, poor Alan Colmes, the Fox News token liberal sidelined once again for another Sean Hannity interview.  It‘s supposed to be “Hannity & Colmes.”  It sure feels like the conservative “Hannity and Company.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN COLMES, FOX NEWS HOST:  Earlier today Sean spoke in an exclusive interview with the architect Karl Rove.  We now continue with Sean‘s interview with former senior advisor to President Bush, Karl Rove.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  He is stuck in the studio again, watching Sean‘s interview.  I‘m not holding my breath for Alan Colmes‘ exclusive that Hannity is throwing to from the studio.

Much how Rick Sanchez over at CNN is showing he is a valuable reporter.  Last night he interviewed an illegal immigrant who saved a nine year old‘s life in the Arizona desert then was deported to Mexico.  Rick interviewed him in Spanish and was able to translate the conversation for viewers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN HOST:  (In Spanish)

I‘m asking him what he first found in the dessert when he came across this accident.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I‘m just guessing that his colleague, Lou Dobbs is reacting something like this when he is hearing it.  We need your help beating the press.  If you see anything right or wrong, amusing or absurd go to our Web site at abrams.msnbc.com.  Please leave us a tip in the box.  Please leave us a tip in the box, include the show and the time you saw the item.

Up next, my exclusive interview with suspect Drew Peterson.  He told me tonight he has not been trashing his dead third wife and his missing fourth wife when he said things like this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DREW PETERSON, MURDER SUSPECT:  Stacy would ask me for a divorce after her sister died on a regular basis.  I‘m not trying to be funny, and it was based on her menstrual cycle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  But more important, he tried to explain to me why he is not out searching for missing wife who he claims to be still very much in love with.  My exclusive is coming up.

And later, the American college student held in Italy after her roommate‘s murder finally speaking out from behind bars.  It sure sounds like she‘s using the media to tell her boyfriend, who is also a suspect, don‘t turn on me.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We have breaking news tonight.  Just before going to air, I had a 20-minute conversation with Drew Peterson, still a suspect in his wife Stacy‘s disappearance.  Peterson was willing to speak just about everything related to the case except what happened the night Stacy disappeared.  I asked him why he is not helping to look for his missing wife because that could clear him if she is alive as he claims. 

Quote, he said, “Well that would cause me to wrap up the children and travel nationwide.  I just learned you can leave the country without your passport being checked.  They check you when you come in.  She could be anywhere.  She‘s been sighted in all these places but they don‘t have the manpower to find her.  I don‘t know what to do.  I‘m not going to go out checking fields and forests for her because I don‘t believe she‘s there.”

I then asked Peterson.  If he really believes that Stacy hated him so much, that she would stay in hiding and let him be accused of killing her, Peterson then said, quote, “I don‘t know, or was she afraid?  I have one lawyer telling me she‘s either going to surface or she‘s going to go deeper because she‘s afraid.” 

And he said this, “The runaway bride got criminally charged and had to pay $100,000 or something.  So I don‘t know.  I don‘t know what is going through her head.  But I took good care of her and spoiled her and no one could say that‘s not true.”

And then this.  Peterson fanning the flames that his lawyer ignited on this show last night, Joel Brodsky, suggesting that Stacy may have been having a relationship with the family pastor who came out and spoke out about all of this. 

Peterson saying, quote, “I know Stacy was very infatuated with the guy.  If it was a two-way relationship, I can‘t comment.  Every time she‘d go meet with him, she‘d be all dolled up in something voluptuous and seductive and her makeup was perfect.  And it was odd to go and meet a pastor like that.  I don‘t know if something was going on, but I didn‘t know about these other guys either.”

Wow! I have got more quotes to read to you in a moment.  Let‘s bring in prosecutor Pam Bondi and defense attorney Julia Morrow.  All right.  Pam, let me just let you get the first crack at the information that I just got from Drew Peterson.  What do you make of him? 

PAM BONDI, PROSECUTOR:  Great interview, Dan.  He‘s sick.  That‘s unbelievable.  Everything he still says is about I, me - I spoiled her.  I took care of her.  This guy is - he is a sociopath or more likely a psychopath.  I can‘t believe that he is not out there beating the bushes looking for his missing wife. 

ABRAMS:  You know, Julia, the question that I still don‘t feel that I‘m getting an adequate answer to is she would really have to hate him so much.  He says maybe she would have to be afraid.  But to literally stay in hiding while - with some guy, remember, he claims that she calls him and says she - that she‘s run away with some other guy - that she has got to despise him so much that she is going to allow him to possibly be indicted for her murder as she continues to hide away. 

JULIA MORROW, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, first of all, Dan, he hasn‘t been accused yet.  He hasn‘t been indicted.  He is merely a suspect.  And, think about the situation here.  I mean - you know, let‘s assume, for the moment, that she took off because she was sick of him.  She was sick of being a mom, stuck in that house, which, by the way, she complained to her friend Scott about.  She complained about being stuck in the house. 

She takes off.  All of a sudden there is all this fanfare surrounding her disappearance - the media, the police.  It‘s on every channel.  Everyone is talking about her.  And then she thinks, “Well, you know what?  What am I going to do now?  What kind of trouble am I going to be in if I go back there?  What am I going to have to face with the media, with the police with my husband, with my family?  I better just stay in hiding right now.”

Maybe if he ever does get charged, maybe then she would surface.  But I don‘t think it‘s that implausible right now to assume that she is not somewhere thinking, “You know, I don‘t want to come out right now because of all the trouble that‘s going to come crashing down on me.” 

ABRAMS:  What do you make of that? 

BONDI:  Dan -

ABRAMS:  I mean, the problem is it‘s not just this case.  It‘s the

fact that his third wife is dead.  He‘s now -

MORROW:  Sure.  He didn‘t kill her.  Dan, he has a lock solid -

ABRAMS:  How do you know that he didn‘t kill her? 

MORROW:  Because he has a lock solid alibi for that.  How do you know that he did? 

(CROSS TALK)

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know he did. 

MORROW:  How do you know that he did kill her?

ABRAMS:  Let me be quite clear.  I don‘t know. 

MORROW:  How does anyone know that? 

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know that he killed her. 

MORROW:  OK.

ABRAMS:  What I do know and I have said this before, that if his third wife - and he even said to me he had contentious relationships with both his third and fourth wives, all right?  So if his third wife dies accidentally in the bathtub after having this contentious relationship, and his fourth wife mysteriously goes missing, as I said before, set unluckiest man in America since O.J. Simpson. 

BONDI:  Absolutely.  And Dan, for her to stay missing, she would have to totally disregard her children and her family.  She has a very loving family, very loving friends.  It makes no sense. 

ABRAMS:  Let me read you this, Julia.  This is, again, I asked him - I told him, it seems to me like you are trashing your ex-wives in these interviews. 

He said, “I haven‘t been trashing them.  It‘s other people saying I‘m trashing them.  Both of these women, my heart went out to them because of their crappy childhoods.” 

He then went on to give me specifics about why he thought they were crappy.  “I took better care of these women in the first couple of months of the relationships than their families did in their entire lives.  So all these people coming out saying things about me.  I spoiled both of them.  Stacy wanted something, she got it.  LASIK, braces, boob job, all this stuff was expensive stuff.”  He then went on to use a cuss word.

“Stacy, from the time she met me, was pampered.  These people really had nothing bad to say about me besides the fact that I was 30 years older than her.”

Julia, at the very least - and I would say this to him.  I know he is watching the program.  He doesn‘t seem to get it.  When he makes these kinds of comments about his ex-wives, that they got all the things that they wanted, that they got the boob job, that they got the LASIK, there is something insulting about talking about her boob job now. 

MORROW:  Well, you know, Dan, there is nothing wrong with being angry about the fact that two women you were very good to were ungrateful.  I mean, there is nothing wrong with that.  What makes it, perhaps, a little odd is that the one is now dead.  The other one is now missing.  And maybe he should be, you know, a little more sensitive or appearing to be a little more sensitive.  But he is being himself because he doesn‘t care, and he has nothing to hide. 

ABRAMS:  And I should tell you that throughout this conversation, he was - he would make jokes and he was laughing.  He said to me, “You know, look, this is the way I deal with stress.  I make jokes out of it,” et cetera.  But it seems and feels inappropriate.  Again, I think that that‘s a continuing problem.  I asked him also - I said, “Why do you seem so angry with your exes?”  I followed up on the question of what I still believe is him trashing them. 

“I‘m angry the relationships didn‘t work out,” he said.  “I wanted it.  I‘m still very much in love with Stacy.”  That‘s the first time I heard him say he is still very much in love with Stacy.  But again, that belies what Julia just said which that he is angry and that, you know, they were falling apart, essentially.  Pam? 

BONDI:  Right, and that he says she ran off with another man and he has no idea where she is.  He is not out there looking for her.  Nothing he says, Dan, makes no sense.  I think in his mind he got away with what he probably did. 

ABRAMS:  And I should point out before I read - he said about the first couple months, “I took better care of them in the first couple months.”  I said, “Why are you only saying first couple months?  What about the rest of the time?”  No.  I did the rest of the time too but things - but both of them went down hill.

All right.  I asked him if he thought he would be indicted.  His answer. “I don‘t know.  I think they‘ll indict you for a bad suit.  I don‘t know what‘s going on in this investigation.  I know they‘re looking into friends, girlfriends of friends.  It‘s hilarious.  Trying to dig up anything they can.  I‘ve never seen anything like this.”

I mean, I have to tell you, Julia, when he starts saying they‘ll indict a bad suit, true or not, it sounds to me like he is kind of resigned to the fact that he is going to be indicted. 

MORROW:  Well, it does, perhaps, sound like that, Dan.  But at the same time, I mean, look what he is faced with right now.  Every time you turn around, there is another person, you know, coming out with some crazy story.  I mean, now the sister is coming out with, you know, the gunshot fired in the house, you know, nine days before Stacy went missing. 

I mean, what is he supposed to think?  Is he supposed to be positive about this?  He is just being pummeled right now with all of this bad press and all of these rumors.  He‘s helpless. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, but I have to say, Pam, I think he brings a lot of this on himself.  Again, he was very calm in the conversation.  He was very controlled.  He was almost charming but, yet, there is still part of it that says to me he is not quite getting it.  That is, getting it in the sense that even if he is angry, it‘s not helping his case to be effectively trashing his ex-wives. 

BONDI:  No.  And I think you said it right.  He believes he is so charming that he can basically con everyone he talks to, Dan.  I mean, there were 18 calls of domestic violence to that house.  So, how can he even say, claim that they had a decent marriage? 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  Well, look, this was a fascinating interview.  We - I have invited him to come on the program.  And, again, I know Drew Peterson is watching the program tonight, so I do invite you to come on.  I will be fair and, as I told you on the phone today, I have concerns about the way you‘ve been behaving.  I told him that. 

I said I‘m going to be honest with him on the phone.   I was.  I‘m going to say it again on television that you are invited to come back on the program - on the phone, live, in an interview.  And we‘ll give you a chance to lay out your story even further. 

Up next, American college student, Amanda Knox speaking out from her Italian prison cell where she is being held in connection with a roommate‘s murder, saying she didn‘t do it, but also sounding like she wants her boyfriend to know she is not turning on him. 

And later, scientists genetically modify a mouse so it‘s not afraid of a cat.  That mouse is one of tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”  

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Did you know Italy ranks number 47 in murders in the world?  The United States number 24?  Coming up, American college student Amanda Knox is interviewed from the Italian jail she is being held since her roommate‘s murder.  She sure sounds like she‘s trying to make sure her boyfriend knows what she is saying and doesn‘t turn on her. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  American college student Amanda Knox speaking out.  Suspected of being involved in a roommate‘s sexual assault and murder in Italy, she‘s speaking out to her lawyer.  The University of Washington junior gave an interview to an Italian newspaper saying quote, “I hope they finally believe me.  It makes me feel terrible that people think I killed Meredith.” 

She also seems to be trying to mend her relationship with her Italian boyfriend who is also being held, quote, “I tried to write to him form here, but I don not think he has received my letter.  I only wanted to tell him that I never believed he accused me and that I never accused him.”

Here now Andrea Visconti, a correspondent with the Italian newspaper “L‘Espresso.”  They‘re the ones who had the article.  And once again, prosecutor Pam Bondi and defense attorney Julia Morrow.  All right.  Actually “La Republica” is the one that had it.  And I‘ve got the newspaper here.  Same owners.  What do you make of this? 

ANDREA VISCONTI, CORRESPONDENT, “L‘ESPRESSO”:  Well, I spoke with Neo Ponte(ph), the journalist with “La Republica” who conducted the interview.  It was quite a coup.  It took him almost a month to get this interview. 

Finally the attorney wanted him to talk to Amanda.  Mind you, he did not meet Amanda in person.  He sent questions in through the attorney.  The questions came back, possibly - maybe in a translation that was like something that was missed in translation.  However, the message is, “I‘m a good girl.  I‘m not the monster that the media has tried to depict.”

ABRAMS:  “In reality, I never confessed,” she said.  “I do not have anything to confess.  I said those things that were used against me in while in a state of confusion.”  But that is a concession that she did make statements that would get her in trouble? 

VISCONTI:  She did.  However, on Monday, she is going to be heard by the magistrates in Italy.  So all this is in preparation for her being in front of the magistrates and sort of presenting this image and saying, “Wait a minute, I was on drugs.  I never denied that I was not doing drugs.  In fact, that‘s bad.  That‘s something that I don‘t want to do anymore but that‘s when I made those statements.” 

ABRAMS:  You know, Pam, these are always tough arguments to make.  She says, “In Italy I was drunk on freedom.  Sometimes I exceeded the limits in ways that I now think were a mistake.  However, all of this was the result of my youth and my love of life, certainly not of a dark and sinister side of my personality.”  I mean, this is - you say it‘s in Italy.  We see it happening in the United States all the time.  The defendants want to change their image and they also want to change their stories. 

BONDI:  Sure they do, Dan.  It happens no matter where you are.  As a criminal defendant, it sounds like a lawyer speak to me in that entire statement.  And I think it‘s interesting how her lawyer filtered and answered every question and nothing came directly from her. 

ABRAMS:  Julia Morrow, in continuing with this interview, “It isn‘t easy to be locked up for over a month in an Italian prison.  It makes me feel terrible that people think I killed Meredith, just as the things they said in the newspapers and on TV about me and my family.  That all hurt me, too.”  You think this is actually going to help her? 

MORROW:  I do.  I think it‘s great damage control.  She is attempting to humanize herself by expressing grief over the death of her roommate and also speaking finally about her boyfriend.  And all of the stories swirling around this, you know, there is all of these different scenarios.  But what we do know for sure is she didn‘t have sexual intercourse with Meredith and she didn‘t slit her throat. 

So I think it‘s a good thing that‘s she‘s trying to humanize herself and trying to explain away prior inconsistent statements.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  I mean, and look, as a legal matter she doesn‘t have actually been the one to have done the slitting, et cetera.  But she is trying to speak - don‘t you think she is trying to speak, Andrea, to the boyfriend saying, “Hey, don‘t turn on me.”

VISCONTI:  I‘m not so sure she is speaking so much to the boyfriend as

much as to the other attorney in the sense that the two cases are running

parallel.  What is happening to one is happening to the other one and I

wouldn‘t be surprised at the strategy of the two attorneys starting to be

very similar.  In fact, just a few days ago, her Italian boyfriend was

supposed to speak in front of the magistrates but he reserved the right to

not to testify. 

ABRAMS:  She is back in court on Monday.  Andrea Visconti, Pam Bondi, Julia Morrow, thanks a lot. 

BONDI:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Up next in “Winners and Losers,” a mouse who is not afraid of a cat.  A teacher survives being trapped in a toilet for four days.  And a skater who wiped out and gets back on his board. 

A little rodent with no fear; a teacher who spent too much time on his rear; or an unbreakable skateboarder back in gear?  Which will be tonight‘s big winner or loser? 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

It‘s time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 12th day of December 2007. 

Our first loser, Republican Missouri Senator Kit Bond.  When pressed on whether he believes water-boarding is torture, his astounding answer appeared to compare the brutal technique to a leisurely lap around the pool. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR KIT BOND (R-MO)  There are different ways of doing it.  It‘s

like swimming, you can free style, back stroke -

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  But bond is not alone.  The aquatic analogy apparently has become a talking point. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RACHEL MARSDEN, TV COMMENTATOR:  One man‘s torture is another man‘s CIA-sponsored swim lesson. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I guess water-boarding is just like a swim to some like Kit Bond. 

Our first winner, a fearless mouse who‘s bonded with a kitten.  Japanese scientists genetically modified the mouse to no longer fear its feline enemy.  They removed receptors in the rodent‘s brain that caused fear at the mere scent of a nearby cat.

Our second winner, a Scottish teacher who survives after being trapped in a toilet for four days. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Be right out. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  David Leggat spent the time locked in a loo after the bathroom door jammed on the inside, and the handle fell off on the outside.  The 55-year-old endured freezing temperatures before being rescued by the cleaning lady, surviving the hairy situation of being locked in a john. 

Second loser, the bidder who shelled out $48,000 for a lock of John Lennon‘s hair.  The Beatles‘ beautician coughed up the curls putting them up for auction today in London.  His mane was only expected to fetch $4,000 or so, but ended up selling a hair short of $50,000.  Included was an autographed copy of the Beatles‘ Book. 

But the big loser of the day?  Spirit Airlines.  The discount airliner recently offended the PC Police with its MILF promotion - Many Islands, Low Fares, claiming they had no idea the term could possibly refer to something else. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  MILF.  Mom I would like to -

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  We mocked the story on this show, a fact they couldn‘t resist working into their latest press release.  Spirit Airlines, a winner last week for unveiling the promotion.  But now that‘s wiped out after the flier‘s disingenuous and back-padding press release. 

The big winner of the day?  A skateboarder who nearly broke his back, but not his spirit, when he wiped out after flying through the air. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh my god. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Jake Brown has battled back from the injuries he sustained from that 45-foot fall four months ago.  Despite suffering liver and lung contusions and a fractured back, the unbreakable skateboarder just made return to the ramp. 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(MUSIC)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh my god. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE TV HOST:  That was the heaviest slam we have ever seen.  Oh my god.  How are you feeling?  Did it hurt when I put my arm around you? 

JAKE BROWN, SKATEBOARDER:  No.  I‘m feeling fine. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE HOST:  You are OK? 

BROWN:  Yes. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE HOST:  What was it like to get back on the board and get back into big, high-level competition? 

BROWN:  It feels amazing just to be skating again.  I had to wait a few months.  I feel really good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE HOST:  Up to four months. 

BROWN:  Four months.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE HOST:  But you just started skating in four days before the competition? 

BROWN:  Like 12 days of practice.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE HOST:  That‘s unbelievable to me.  

BROWN:  I just wondered if I could make it to the last contest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE HOST:  You didn‘t damage your brain in the fall, did you?  Geez.

BROWN:  I might have. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Tomorrow, though, another installment of our series “Bush League Justice.”  The topic?  The Alabama outrage - another example of how the Bush administration is putting politics over justice and has used the law as a political weapon.  The story‘s stounding in Alabama.  The governor there is behind bar.  He‘s a Democrat.  Questions of Karl Rove being involved, et cetera.  

Up next, stay tuned for another all-new episode of “LOCKUP, HOLMAN, EXTENDED STAY.”  See you tomorrow.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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