updated 7/22/2004 9:29:40 AM ET 2004-07-22T13:29:40

Guest: Gerald Posner, Chris Smart, Steve Sipek

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over):  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? 

The eve of the 9/11 Commission report: It will not say it could have prevented, it will list 10 missed operational opportunities.  It will not show this, the first videotape of the last missed opportunity.  The highjackers of flight 77, who would crash into the Pentagon, going through security in Washington.  Lisa Myers with the exclusive details.  Investigative Reporter Author Gerald Posner, what the report includes and omits. 

Is that a document in your pocket or are you just glad to see me? 

More charges, more countercharges in the Sandy Berger case.

Same city, same team, same volunteers, searching for another person in the land of Elizabeth Smart.  We will be joined by her uncle. 

And Bobo, the story that will not go away: A new and unhappy twist that has the tiger‘s owner and the tiger‘s killer on the same side.  The owner joins us.

All that and more now on COUNTDOWN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  Good evening.  It will be a ceremony that might itself be an unintended symbol of the kind of bureaucracy that contributed to the tragedy in the first place.  Tomorrow morning the final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States will be handed by Chairman Tom Kane and the Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton to President Bush.  He, of course, will have already known for nearly a day virtually every that‘s in it.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Fifty-two days shy of the third anniversary of the 9/11, itself, the report is finally ready.  In a moment, Investigative Reporter Gerald Posner on what‘s in it and what‘s isn‘t and what should be, and Investigative Correspondent Lisa Myers with never before seen videotape of the highjackers actually passing through security on their way to the plane that they would crash into the Pentagon. 

First the report.  What will go in history as the nation‘s silent catalogue of that day of cries and anguish and sirens, is between 500 and 600 pages long.  We know from the latest leaks that it will include 10 missed operational opportunities to interrupt the plot.  It will not conclude that 9/11 could have been prevented. 

And on that point, President Bush, briefed on the report by Condoleezza Rice, Andrew Card, Alberto Gonzalez; themselves briefed by the commission leaders, today.  Not only agrees, but agrees even on behalf of his predecessor. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Had we had any inkling whatsoever that terrorists were about to attack our country, we have moved heaven and earth to protect America, and I‘m confident President Clinton would have done the same thing, any president would. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The 10 missed opportunities to impede the plan, the “Washington Post” reports, will divided into six during the Bush admission and four during the Clinton administration.  It is useful tonight to note that as late as a year ago, it was difficult to even publicly suggest there had been any missed opportunities. 

Time will tell just how much our next guest contributed to the change in that atmosphere, but contribute he certainly did.  Gerald Posner‘s book, “Why America Slept:  The Failure to Prevent 9/11,” was published last September, it remains the benchmark on the nightmare. 

Thank you again for your time tonight, sir. 

GERALD POSNER, AUTHOR, “WHY AMERICA SLEPT”:  Thank you, Keith.  Good to be with you.

OLBERMANN:  Whatever else one makes of his testimony to that commission, Richard Clarke took the opportunity to apologize to the families of the victims to say, “Your government failed you.”  One would have to gather from all that has leaked out so far, that this is not the tone of this report.  Why not? 

POSNER:  Well, why not because it‘s a mistake.  That‘s really unfortunate.  You have it absolutely right, Clarke got it right.  He said you know what, your government failed you, I failed you, and this is correct.  In—you can‘t have 10 missed opportunities, which this report will highlight tomorrow and then not draw the logical conclusion that 9/11 was preventable. 

The American people know it, the people how have been watching your show know it, the people who have read my book know it, and it‘s too bad that the commission decided not to pull that trigger and announce that we as politicians, as members of the government, both administrations, are responsible for this failure, as well.  But they shirked their responsibility at the last minute, evidently. 

OLBERMANN:  When you get your copy of this and it will be in paper back and in bookstores by this time tomorrow, what particular will you look for first? 

POSNER:  Well, I‘ll tell you one thing, I‘m flipping right to the index and I‘m going to look for the name of a Saudi prince, a fellow called Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz to find out whether he is in there, because his name was given to us by a captured al-Qaeda terrorist as a man who had some foreknowledge of the 9/11 plot. 

He happens to be the nephew of the king of Saudi Arabia.  We can‘t talk to him because he‘s dead, having died at the age of 43 of supposed blood clot in a Saudi hospital.  I‘d love to see the 9/11 look into him. 

I‘m also going to look in the index under Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to see what, if anything, they are saying about the cooperation our allies gave before 9/11. 

And finally I‘m going to look under the “S” section of the index for Sudan, to see if the 9/11 Commission has determined, with any certainty, whether, in fact in the Clinton administration, we allowed Osama bin Laden to play out in Sudan and let him get away, an opportunity that we would have intercepted the plane.  That‘s still being debated today.

OLBERMANN:  You mentioned planes and flying out and bin Laden, is there likely to be anything in here about the infamous flight on September 18 that cleaned up a dozen or 13 members of bin Laden‘s family and sent them from this country to Paris and then on to Saudi Arabia? 

POSNER:  You know, one of the other things about this, Keith, I mean, I have high hopes for this commission‘s report, I think it will explain a lot of things, but there are some things that already they seem to be weak on and this is one of the and that‘s flying bin Laden‘s family out on the days after the attack on America. 

I couldn‘t imagine after 1995 when we had the Murrah attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City, that we‘re suddenly going to let Timothy McVeigh‘s family go on a vacation to Disney World in France and say “by the way, we don‘t want to talk to you.” 

These are possible suspects.  This is a family, the family means a lot, it‘s one of the most powerful dynasties in Saudi Arabia.  It‘s a family held together by business connections.  And it‘s one thing to say, “by the way, Osama‘s the black sheep of the family, we have nothing to do with him” it‘s another thing to have him spearheading and masterminding the largest attack and most deadly on American soil ever and family members are able to depart within days of that without being questioned adequately.  That‘s a disgrace and the 9/11 Commission should draw that conclusion tomorrow, but I don‘t think they will. 

OLBERMANN:  I hesitate to ask this, but if this—because I know that the commissioners approached all this very earnestly, but if this is basically a political document and not truly an investigative one, is it inevitable, right now, that this commission is going to be treated basically the same way that history has treated the Warren Commission, and if so, how rapidly? 

POSNER:  As a matter of fact, you raise a key question.  I had an editorial in the “New York Times” this week which has not yet been run, I don‘t know if it will, and it was that very issue.  How does the 9/11 Commission prevent itself from being treated, with this report, as the Warren Commission was, which was widely dismissed and discredited by the majority of American people in not time at all. 

And, one of the things that they‘ve done that I think will hurt their overall creditability, is what we talked about before, not admitting that this attack was preventable and I think if there‘s any hope of this report sort of salvaging the day, it has to be detailed, those 500 pages have to include absolute finger pointing and names have to be named about individuals who dropped the ball time and time again.  We‘ll wait to see until tomorrow.

OLBERMANN:  There is also, of course, a basic issue, we remember 9/11 visually, the report will be vivid, but it will still ultimately just be words in a book.  But in an irony of timing, something visual has just turned up tonight.  Gerald Posner, stay with us, I want your reaction to this next story.

As words, they were impactful, but not really overwhelming.  A staffer from that commission saying, “All 19 highjackers were able to pass successfully through checkpoint screening.”  Tonight, for the first time, those words have become visual imaging themselves. 

Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Myers now with details of the one of last of the missed opportunities on the morning of 9/11 itself, as the highjackers of the flight that would crash into the Pentagon got passed the last line of defense—Lisa. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA MYERS, NBC CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT:  Keith, NBC News has obtained videotape from security checkpoints at Dulles Airport recorded September 11, 2001, and never before seen by the public.  The tape reveals the highjackers set off alarms repeatedly, but quickly were cleared to proceed to their flight. 

(voice-over):  September 11, Dulles Airport.  At 7:18 a.m., two highjackers approach the security checkpoints.  They are Majed Moqed and Khalid al-Mihdhar.  Both set off the alarm and are directed to a second magnetometer.  Moqed fails again and is wanded by hand.  Both are allowed to proceed to their flight. 

7:35 a.m.:  It‘s Pilot Hani Hanjour‘s turn.  He breezes through without triggering any alarms.  One minute later, Nouaf (PH) and Salem al-Hazmi enter the same checkpoint.  Salem sales through, but Nouaf sets off the alarm of the magnetometer, not once but twice, and is then wanded by hand before being cleared.  The 9/11 Commission reviewed this tape, never before made public. 

WILLIAM JOHNSTONE, 9/11 COMMISSION STAFFER:  All 19 highjackers were able to pass successfully through checkpoint screening to board their flights.  They were 19 for 19, 100 percent.  They counted on beating a weak system. 

MYERS:  The commission says the highjackers managed to sneak on box cutters and investigators say they almost certainly used Leathermen utility knives.  It is not clear from the video tape where the weapons were hidden. 

At 8:20, American flight 77 took off from Dulles headed west.  At 8:54 it made an unauthorized turn to the east.  At 9:38, the terrorist crashed into the Pentagon, killing 64 on the plane and 125 on the ground. 

(on camera):  This tape of Dulles highjackers making their way through airport security is one more piece of evidence.  Frustrated investigators see it as one of a series of missed opportunities right up to the last moment before attack that might have changed history—Keith.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  Lisa Myers in Washington.  Great thanks. 

Back with Investigative Reporter Gerald Posner.  It‘s heartbreaking, it‘s enraging to see that video, but is it at all instructive, is it useful from an investigatory point of view? 

POSNER:  No, I don‘t think it is.  And you know, certainly the TSA and new airport security are going through training and they will use that film to show what not to do.  But it is frustrating, it is absolutely infuriating. 

You know, Keith, we know what‘s happening next and there‘s a part of you that wants that security agent to just go over with the wand one more time and discover something and find one of them.  Two of those highjackers, on that very film that Lisa Myers just had, al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, also were stopped by the police and given traffic tickets in the weeks before 9/11, but they weren‘t on a terrorist watchlist. 

Those very same two men had been followed into the U.S. in January of 2000m 18 months before the attacks, by the CIA, who had never told anyone else they were in the country.  And they made the plane reservations for the flight that we just saw them board on that video in their real names. 

If the FAA Had known their names they could have been pulled off right there at airport security, but no one was sharing the intelligence.  So, you watch this film and you know what happened behind the scenes and it absolutely makes your blood boil. 

OLBERMANN:  Behind the scenes and in the scene we are seeing.  Seeing this again brings up the simplest and ultimately, I suppose, the most important question in all of this: Could those two last lines of defense, the one about the pulling them over and being ticketed and the other one about them getting through security, could those lines of defense be breached again tomorrow morning at 7:00 at Dulles Airport? 

POSNER:  Unfortunately, and I hate to sound pessimistic on this, the answer is yes.  I fly frequently, where there‘s no doubt we are safer at the airport, we have done a better job with security, but if we think we have a fail-safe system for air travel today, we are still far from it, unfortunately.  Not with 10s of thousands of flights up everyday in the air. 

OLBERMANN:  Gerald Posner, the author of “Why America Slept:  The Failure to Prevent 9/11,” helping us look ahead to another report tomorrow, that may not be quite as informative as his own book.  Our great thanks, as ever, sir. 

POSNER:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  We will provide full coverage of the 9/11 Commission report tomorrow, here on COUNTDOWN. Following us tonight, at 9:00 p.m.  Eastern, 6:00 Pacific, A special edition of “Hardball.”  Chris Matthews with Lisa Myers on the same topic, in particular, the 12 missed signs that could have altered the outcome of that fateful day, coming up at the top of the hour, here on MSNBC. 

Lastly, among all this grim news and sorrowful recollection, what might be slight reassurance from the House of Representatives on one point, anyway.  Tomorrow, the House is scheduled to vote on a resolution stating, quote, “The actions of terrorist will never cause the date of any presidential election to be postponed and that no single individual or agency should be given the authority to postpone the date of a presidential election.”  On the other hand, the House resolution is nonbinding. 

COUNTDOWN opening tonight with 9/11, new pictures and old conclusions. 

Up next, tonight‘s No. 4 story:  John Kerry sitting down with Tom Brokaw.  Among the topics, did the democratic nominee know about the Sandy Berger investigation?  Did the republican president know?

And later, America‘s bravest:  Technology helping them forget the war for a few minutes to reconnect with their loved ones half a world away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Next here on COUNTDOWN:  John Kerry trying out his convention message on Tom Brokaw.  And the fight over Sandy Berger and those documents spirals upwards further still.  Stand by.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  What is considered the first true detective story was penned by Edgar Allen Poe in 1845, it was called “The Purloined Letter.”  Stolen documents have been a staple of the genre ever since.  And in our fourth story in the COUNTDOWN the current version is like a series of Robert Ludlum novels, all about the same darn papers and coming out three or four per day. 

John Kerry‘s campaign today directly accusing the White House of leaking news of the investigation of Sandy Berger for political gain.  The Berger saga, just one of the topics he addressed when he sat down with our own Tom Brokaw in Boston‘s historic Faneuil Hall, to discuss the challenges facing the nation, today. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I‘m not looking to cast blame, I‘m looking to take America to a safer place, and what I am running to do is to offer the leadership that makes our country safer.  Now, I believe there are things we could have done in the last three years since 9/11 that, the last three years, we haven‘t done. 

I have a plan to rebuild our alliances in the world so that we‘re once again operating with other countries.  I have a plan to be able to strengthen our military, to do the Homeland Security that we should have done here at home so our ports are more secure, our chemical facilities, our nuclear plants are more secure.  I don‘t need to go backwards.  I want to go forwards. 

TOM BROKAW, “MEET THE PRESS”:  Has this been a failure of the United States Senate as well, and its oversight of those agencies, the FBI and the CIA. 

KERRY:  Tom, it‘s the president‘s job, as the chief executive, to propose—to make thing happen that really administer correctly, that do the job of implementation.  It‘s the president who chooses the CIA director, it‘s the president who appoints the secretary of defense, secretary of state, each of them have their own intelligence gathering techniques and processes.  I recommend this a long time ago. 

BROKAW:  If you are elected, and if Sandy Berger clears his name in time, will he have a prominent part in your administration? 

KERRY:  I have no way—you know, I‘m not even getting into the guessing game of who might or might not play a role.  We‘re involved in a campaign.  My focus is on everyday of this effort to talk to American... 

(CROSSTALK)

BROKAW:  Did you know that he was under investigation? 

KERRY:  I didn‘t have a clue.  Not a clue.

BROKAW:  He didn‘t share that with you?

KERRY:  I didn‘t have a clue. 

BROKAW:  Let me ask you about Iraq.  The insurgents, obviously, are going after the interim government, and the idea of sovereignty.  If this interim government comes to the United States and says, “look, we‘re in danger of being toppled here, we‘re going to need more American troops on the ground in Iraq,” would you support that idea? 

KERRY:  Not in a vacuum, not all by itself without doing the other things necessary that this president should have done to protect our troops in Iraq and to maximize the opportunity for success.  This president, I believe, has lost credibility, sadly, with too many players that are important to making this a successful long-term effort at least cost: at least cost in lives, at least cost in dollars to the American people.  So I would want to make sure that we‘re doing this in a way that just doesn‘t feed a dark hole.  And that means...

BROKAW:  What are the chances that there would be more American troops acceptable to you in Iraq? 

KERRY:  Tom, that‘s—I think that‘s the wrong way to come at the question.  The question is, how do we maximize the ability to succeed in not having a failed state in Iraq?  And the way to maximize that is to bring other nations to the table. 

BROKAW:  Senator, with all due respect, I‘ve talked to a lot of Europe leaders and officials at the United Nations, their resistance to getting involved is firm and deep and it doesn‘t have to do just with George Bush.  What makes you think that they‘ll be more responsive to you as president than they would be to George Bush who went to NATO and asked for help and got less than a full loaf? 

KERRY:  Everybody who has been part of the effort over the last years, who‘s had any kind of engagement with those countries, Tom, will tell you that this administration has not invited them in a way that gives them the prospect of success and shares with them the responsibility for decision-making.  Essentially, it‘s been a “hey, come on in, we want you to help us, but by the way, we‘re going to make sure Halliburton and our companies are going doing the reconstruction and we‘re going it make sure that we‘re the ones calling the shots on everything that happens.”  That is not an invitation to people to share in this kind of global effort.  There is a different equation that could be put into place and I am basing it on my knowledge of 20 years of working with these countries and on the imperatives of what is at stake in the region. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  Senator John Kerry with John Brokaw and as you just heard, the senator just said he was blindsided by word of the Sandy Berger‘s investigation.  What President Clinton‘s national security advisor calls an “inadvertent mistake.”  Yesterday the advisor stopped advising the democratic candidate, at least for now.  Day two of the fallout brought accusations from the Kerry campaign that the Bush White House was behind the leak that surfaced only days before the 9/11 Commission is due to release its report. 

Quote, “The timing of this leak suggests that the White House is more concerned about protecting its political hide than hearing what the commission has to say about strengthening our security.”

Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe filing a Freedom of Information Act request today, asking that any correspondence between the Justice Department and the White House on the Berger investigation be released immediately.  The president himself, not saying much today, at a photo op with his Romanian counterpart, but what he did say, he said twice. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  I‘m not going to comment on this matter.  It‘s a—this is a serious matter and it‘s—will be fully investigated by the Justice Department. 

QUESTION:  (OFF MIKE)

BUSH:  I‘m not going to comment on it, it‘s a very serious matter that will be fully investigated by the Justice Department. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:   And no, nobody has yet explained why if, as they reportedly testified, employees at the National Archives saw Mr. Berger walking off with the merchandise, they didn‘t stopped him. 

COUNTDOWN now past our No. 4 story.  We dearly need a break tonight, that‘s what “Oddball” is for, and sometimes that‘s what the idiots in the car chases are for.  A hint about today‘s entry, what you‘re looking at is not a slow-mo replay. 

And later, a new dimension to the furor that continues over the killing of Bobo the tiger in Florida.  There are death threats. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Especially on a day when the news is of great import and weight, we like to stop counting down for a moment to bring you the light and the irrelevant.  Let‘s play “Oddball.”

And we begin in El Monte, California with the COUNTDOWN car chase of week and it‘s a bat out of hell—a very slow bat out of hell.  This terror in a Toyota has police in hot pursuit.  Ok, tepied pursuit—at speeds exceeding 12 miles an hour.  Any slower and we‘d be telling you about the standoff in El Monte, California.  And hey, this is his car chase.  Who are we to tell a man how to flee from the law? 

Checking the “Oddball” scoreboard, history tells us he‘s little chance to escape.  For the year, it‘s cops 49, guys who think they can slowly get away, zero. 

But, perhaps he thought he was going to backup past them.  If nothing else, at lease it was an easy day for the officer in charge of the spike strip.  He actually had time to drink a cup of coffee before he rolled them out, made sure they were nice and straight and further slowed down this unbearably dull chase.  Look out!  Oh, the humanity. 

It all ended a short time later with a slow-speed hit maneuver and surrender.  Now this Sunday driving scofflaw can pass the time however he likes, where he‘s going, the big house. 

To Russia where apparently nine months of winter a year is not quite enough.  They are skiing in the summer.  You know, I always thought the key to skiing was snow.  But, no white stuff does not mean no challenger, there is the added threat of really sharp rocks, poisonous desert scorpions, and the chance to both tear up your knees skiing and drawn at the same time.  The sport is already becoming a hit in other European countries and some places in the Middle East where they refer to this sand skiing simply as, “Skiing.”

And finally the Hawkins County four are safely back in custody after a daring prison break this week in Tennessee.  The four inmates walked out after somebody left their cell doors unlocked.  They propped the outer door open with a bible, they visited a nearby market, bought four cases of beer and then returned to the jail. 

No truth to rumors that they thought they were going to be picked up outside by their buddy who was driving his getaway Toyota in from El Monte, California.  The four men have been charged with escaping and bringing intoxicants into a prison.  And not to worry though, the Sheriff Alan Kidd has locked up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERIFF ALAN KIDD, HAWKINS COUNTY, TENNESSEE:  And the whole block could have left and we‘d had a—major jailbreak on hand, but they—they came back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  “Oddball” in the record books.  Now up next, tonight‘s No.  3 story: An eerily familiar scene in Salt Lake City, police hope to draw on their experience in the Elizabeth Smart case while the first alarm bells have gone off about the husband. 

And later, Prince Charles with a big first today, getting a taste of how the other half lives when (UNINTELLIGIBLE) gets around town.

Those stories ahead, first here are COUNTDOWN‘s “Top 3 Newsmakers” of this day: 

No. 3: The Krispy Kreme Company, the doughnuts are not enough, apparently.  It has now introduced a frozen beverage, in essence, a liquid doughnut.  We‘re going to suggest a motto for them: Have a six-pack today, and a bypass tomorrow.

Two news makers who remind us to pay attention, damn it. 

No. 2: Eric Ingle of Sacramento, driving a tractor-double trailer rig on a Bay Area highway, forgot the cruise control button and the dump load button are next to each other.  His 12 tons of gravel blocked traffic for an hour.

And No. 1: The understandably unnamed woman from Johannesburg who inherited some rare coins from her mother.  But she‘s kind of forgetful about glasses, so she went out shopping and reached for a coin to put into the parking meter and deposited a 1904 Kruger Sovereign worth around $1,100 bucks.  The good news is she gets to keep the car parked there for the next 61 days.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The actual importance of the tragedy or crisis of one family is an entirely subjective thing.  From the so-called Lizzie Borden axe murders of 1892 to the present day, the news, justifiably or otherwise, has been one long string of private nightmares transformed in public sagas.  One key ingredient, they wouldn‘t stay public sagas without some resonance for the public. 

Our third story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, three such stories tonight, including breaking news in the case of the missing 27-year-old Utah woman, Lori Hacking.  In Salt Lake City, our NBC affiliate, station KSL, is reporting tonight that her husband, Mark Hacking, has been a patient at the psychiatric hospital of the University of Utah since the night of his wife‘s disappearance.  The 27-year-old pregnant woman has been missing Monday when she went for a morning jog in a canyon near Salt Lake City.

Family members had said Mrs. Hacking and her husband, Mark, were getting ready to move to North Carolina so he could attend medical school.  But tonight officials at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill say Mark Hacking is not registered there as a student.  There has been no word yet about the school at Duke University only a few miles away. 

As part of the investigation, police were questioning Mr. Hacking, whether before or after his admission to the psychiatric facility is unclear.  They also impounded two of the couple‘s vehicles.  They say that is routine procedure.  Before the news came out about the hospitalization, Mark Hacking‘s father spoke on behalf of his family.  He said he intends to have a long talk with his son tonight. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOUGLAS HACKING, FATHER-IN-LAW OF LORI HACKING:  The hard thing for us to understand is that he had gone back to North Carolina.  He and Lori picked out an apartment, had packed all their belongings, had arranged for a moving truck to come to pick up their belongings.  He and I were going to drive out there and tow their spare car behind his car. 

So these were all arrangements that were made.  And I have no explanation for this new development.  I just can‘t understand it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Repeating the news that broke tonight after that news conference, our NBC affiliate, KSL in Salt Lake City, Utah, reporting tonight that Mark Hacking is currently a patient at the psychiatric hospital at the University of Utah. 

This kind of high-profile, high-pain case is all too familiar to the police and to the residents of Salt Lake City police.  The wounds are still fresh from the abduction of Elizabeth Smart, which ended happily, but only after nine long months.  Chris Smart, Elizabeth Smart‘s uncle, has been helping Lori‘s family in the search.  And he joins us now by phone from Salt Lake. 

Mr. Smart, good evening.

CHRIS SMART, UNCLE OF ELIZABETH SMART:  Good evening.

OLBERMANN:  I must ask you at the beginning here about these two developments.  And if you don‘t know anything about them, I will understand, obviously.

But there are two seeming inconsistencies, seeming developments in this story, one, that Mark Hacking had told his family that he was moving to North Carolina to become a medical student and there is no apparent registration for him anyway in North Carolina.  And the second story, that he has been in the psychiatric facility at the University of Utah, do you know anything about either of those stories? 

SMART:  I don‘t know anything about the latter, but the first one, I just heard the same press release that you guys just heard.  But it really doesn‘t change the situation.  And that is the fact that Lori is missing.  And we want to try to find her and bring her back to her family. 

OLBERMANN:  Have you found yourself sharing with Ms. Hacking‘s family things that you learned from experience, bitter experience, that will help with their process, if not exactly with the pain or the investigation? 

SMART:  We have gone ahead and had opportunities to talk and we try to

·         I try to help them understand some of the different things that are going to be happening and just trying to keep things focused. 

And the main focus is that, you know, Lori is not here yet.  We want to get her back and just to understand that there is going to be serious ups and downs and you have to stay strong, have to stay focused and keep going. 

OLBERMANN:  Are there practical things about this search that you find yourself trying to underscore with them, too?  Here, it took so long to bring your niece back.  Yet ultimately it proved she had been taken by transients.

And I gather the police went directly to the area‘s transient camps.  Is that the kind of sort of practical thing that you can talk the family through as well, the investigation process? 

SMART:  You know, the area here in Memory Grove and City Creek Canyon, this is where she was going jogging and this is where she disappeared.  And there happen to be a lot of transient camps up here.  So whether it‘s a coincidence or not, I couldn‘t really tell you.  There‘s a lot of joggers that go through this area. 

OLBERMANN:  Chris Smart, once again finding himself dealing with reporters as he tries to help find a missing person, we thank you for your time tonight, sir. 

SMART:  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  The second component to the No. 3 story, another human condition story turns out to be behind what ran pretty much universally yesterday as mere great video. 

You have doubtless seen the Wisconsin woman who led police on a 100-mile-an-hour chase across Green Bay before trying to dive head first off a bridge.  Only a split-second approach by State Trooper Les Boldt saved her life.  He was able to grab her with just one hand, pulled her back to safety.  Even then, she was fighting him, biting him, struggling to break free. 

Local reports now saying her family believes she is suffering from severe postpartum depression, a terrible form of that condition that often follows the birth of a child.  Her husband reportedly had gone looking for her before calling 9/11.  This woman is now being treated at a hospital tonight. 

And in the third part of this story, postpartum depression was of course cited by the lawyers who mounted the insanity defense for Andrea Yates, the Texas mother serving a life sentence for having downed all five of her children in a bathtub.  She too is in a hospital tonight, having been transferred from a prison in Galveston, because, apparently, she is trying to starve herself to death. 

Her lawyer says she is refusing nutrition and that he was not allowed to visit her last night because she was incoherent.  Prison officials confirming that Ms. Yates has been hospitalized.  They say they cannot provide any further details.

Two stories shy of a completed COUNTDOWN.  Next, using high-tech to try to minimize the impact on the family of the most common trauma of war, separation.  Then, later, why Florida‘s Fish and Wildlife officers now find themselves in danger, so much so they are being ordered to go into work incognito. 

All that ahead.  First, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three sound bites of this day. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O‘BRIEN”)

CONAN O‘BRIEN, HOST:  The fact is, a lot of people are angry at you for using the term girly man.  They think it‘s sexist.  And homophobic.

(SCREAMING)

(LAUGHTER)

O‘BRIEN:  Oh, good rebuttal, Arnold. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORRIS POWELL, DNC MASCOT OWNER:  He gets special treatment all the time.  As a matter of fact, he has his own corral he stays in by himself kind of privately.  We have three mules and two horses.  And they are a little jealous of him.  They want to beat him up or put him out in the pasture with them. 

SEAN “P. DIDDY” COMBS, SINGER:  We have over 40 million strong in the youth vote.  In the last election, only 39 percent of us voted.  We could be the deciding factor in this election.  We will be the deciding factor, but we can‘t just stand on the sidelines.  We have to own up to our responsibility. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Next on COUNTDOWN, opening new lines of communication in and from Iraq, not for fighting, but for family.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Justifications for war in Iraq are one thing.  Justifications to end the American presence in Iraq are another.  But in a larger sense, both ends of that spectrum and every place along in it are subsumed by one fact.  The number of American dead there has now by one count reached 900. 

Our second story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, Iraq viewed entirely as a story of the people who have gone there, in one case, a small but powerful effort to bridge the distance, geographical and emotional, between U.S.  service personnel and their families, in another, the small but equally powerful effort to make the lives of outsiders, U.S. and otherwise, a living hell.

The dark side first, a roadside bomb detonating about 45 miles north of Baghdad shortly after midnight.  One of the American soldiers on patrol in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle died, elevating the American death toll as calculated independently by the Associated Press to 900.  The Pentagon official count is 896, plus two Defense Department civilians.

Meantime, a terrorist group claims it has taken six more foreigners hostage today, three Indians, two Kenyans and an Egyptian, with the familiar threats and familiar demands.

Those final traumas are unspeakable, and little can be done to ameliorate them, but there are thousands more American families who will not have to face them.  That hardly means their lives are without trauma.  Separation, separation with mortal danger, is traumatic enough. 

COUNTDOWN‘s Monica Novotny is here now with the story of one attempt to reduce its impact on those families. 

Monica, good evening.

MONICA NOVOTNY, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Keith, good evening.

For service members overseas and those relatives waiting here at home, sharing in everything, from milestone family events to everyday conversations, is limited to the rare phone call or the long-awaited letter.  But one foundation is using technology to change that, uniting families free of charge with the help of satellites and the Internet, helping soldiers keep their commitments to their country and their families. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  There is daddy. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What are you looking at? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey, buddy boy.

NOVOTNY (voice-over):  It‘s dad‘s best call of duty.  Army Specialist Jason Favier (ph), in Iraq since April, reaching out more than 6,000 miles to wife Pamela (ph), daughter Katie (ph), and getting his first glimpse at 2-week-old Nicholas (ph). 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So, OK.  He‘s got my sleeping habits and your hardheadedness.  I see how it works now.

NOVOTNY:  These are Freedom Calls, bringing hundreds of troops home each day. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s me.  It‘s me, daddy. 

NOVOTNY:  Virtually, a free Internet service provided by a public charity that is building an international communications network. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing):  Happy birthday to you.

NOVOTNY:  With the help of corporate sponsors and private donations, Baghdad‘s Camp Cook is home to the first of what will be nine Freedom Call facilities in Iraq, with two in Afghanistan. 

JOHN HARLOW, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WWW.FREEDOMCALLS.ORG:  It‘s been absolutely amazing.  We have had people get married on the network, see their first children. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We get a good look at Hanna (ph) there.  Goodness gracious. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  There she is.

HARLOW:  Go to graduations, talk to their son or daughter‘s new boyfriend or girlfriend. 

NOVOTNY:  For troops, it is a moment of freedom to forget the front lines and focus on family.  Soldiers, say hello to your son, who is so excited, he fell asleep. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Give me something, buddy.  Oh, was that a grunt? 

I could deal with a grunt. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Nick (ph), you are not cooperating here.  Daddy wants to see your eyes. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Nicholas, I command you to wake up.

NOVOTNY:  We watched as the Faviers went from call waiting to call of the wild. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There he goes. 

NOVOTNY:  These virtual reunions are meant for more than landmark moments. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Say hi, dad.

HARLOW:  They can just talk across the dinner table once a week and see what their child has brought home from camp or school.  And it‘s the little things that are just as important. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And I am probably going to be smiling for the next couple of weeks, at least. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  At least I get to see him smile.  I miss seeing that. 

NOVOTNY:  There is the inevitable downside. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It just kind of makes me a little more homesick. 

NOVOTNY:  Still, this free call is priceless. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I love you more. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I love you too, Katie bug. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOVOTNY:  Fifteen hundred soldiers pass through the Camp Cook facility each day.  In addition to video conferencing, they can also make Web-based phone calls and send e-mails. 

Now, the foundation is hoping to have the other facilities up and running in Afghanistan and Iraq within the next three months.  And at that point, about 40,000 soldiers will have access to Freedom Calls. 

If you would like to donate, you can find out how on our Web site at COUNTDOWN.MSNBC.com. 

OLBERMANN:  COUNTDOWN‘s Monica Novotny, many thanks. 

NOVOTNY:  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  We make the sudden left turn into our nightly roundup of celebrity news and what not.  We call it “Keeping Tabs.”

And the first item reminds us of two stories of the obliviousness of the rich and powerful.  You already know the tale of the French queen, Marie Antoinette, told that the citizens have no spread, she is supposed to have said, let them eat cake.

Then there was the millionaire owner of the old newspaper “The New York Herald Tribune, Ogden Reid.  Told that his staff was contributing towards the funeral expenses of an indigent former employee, Reid asked, can‘t they just deduct the cost from his estate? 

Everybody‘s favorite royal, Prince Charles, attended a London reception honoring the taxi drives who have piloted the city‘s famed trademark black cabs for decades.  He went by cab.  The cab driver, John Sheen, tells the BBC that the prince tipped beautifully, 30 percent, out of his own pocket and confessed that, at the age of 55, that was his first cab ride. 

Sheen added that Charles—quote—“said as a boy he went on a double-decker bus once, but that‘s about it as far as public transport goes.”

No word as to whether or not Charles has ever been an English soccer hooligan.  They must be stunned at news that Libya‘s Moammar Gadhafi is reportedly looking to invest in ownership of the venerable London soccer club Crystal Palace.  The supporters seem split on the issue, some announcing they do not need the colonel‘s blood money, others realizing that a rich brutal tyrant calling the shots of a professional sports franchise can result in championships.  Just think of the New York Yankees.  Or maybe not.  Just think of the New York Mets. 

Up next, death threats in the case of the death of Bobo the tiger. 

We‘ll be joined by the man who loved the big cat best.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  It is doubtful that anybody would talk lightly about killing a fish and wildlife officer.  But if somebody mixes in the name of Claude Dallas to that talk, alarm bells go off.

Claude Dallas was a Nevada trapper who shot and killed two Fish and Game officers about whom a song and a book were written and a movie made.  So when the spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission got a call from a woman who said he should be hanged and invoking the named of Claude Dallas, he and his colleagues took notice. 

Our No. 1 story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, more and more grim aftermaths to the shooting by Fish and Wildlife of Bobo, the pet tiger of Steve Sipek, the Florida man who once portrayed Tarzan in the movies.  That spokesman, Officer Willie Puz and his fellow officers have gotten at least five death threats and they‘re taking them seriously enough to stay out of uniform for the time being. 

It was just last week when the 600-pound Bengal-Siberian mix tiger escaped from the home of the former Tarzan actor at the end of a daylong search.  A 24-year-old officer shot Bobo, claiming the animal had lunged at him.  Florida Fish and Wildlife called it self-defense.  Mr. Sipek used a different term. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE SIPEK, TIGER OWNER:  Murder is the word, murder of a poor, helpless animal, who only looked ferocious. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Hundreds of mourners attended Bobo‘s funeral this past weekend.  Now all of the employees of Florida‘s Fish and Wildlife Commission have been urged not to wear their uniforms for at least the rest of the week. 

Mr. Sipek joined us in the hours after his beloved cat‘s death, and he‘s doing so again.

And again, sir, we thank you for your time tonight. 

SIPEK:  You‘re welcome, sir. 

OLBERMANN:  Let me start with these death threats against the Fish and Wildlife officers, particularly the one who had appeared on television.  What is your reaction to news of those threats? 

SIPEK:  Well, it is unfortunate that this is happening.  But this is terrible.  It really is.  No man has the right to take anybody else‘s life, whether it‘s an animal or a man. 

OLBERMANN:  Understandably, last week, in the aftermath of Bobo‘s death, you were in a great deal of pain.  You yourself called them murderers at that point, the Fish and Wildlife people. 

Do you think that in any way that statement contributed to the breadth of the reaction from the public and the e-mails and the calls that these people got? 

SIPEK:  I don‘t think so. 

The facts that I point out to the public is the one that caused that, the facts, how they killed Bobo.  They didn‘t have to kill Bobo.  Bobo didn‘t have to die.  I was right behind him, running to save his life.  Bobo walked with me home three times before.  But, yet, they never left us alone.  They blasted us with a helicopter three times.  And the fourth time, I lost him and didn‘t find him until the day after.  So...

OLBERMANN:  You had said at the time that you were going to try to independently verify that and continue the investigation.  Have you been continuing to investigate Bobo‘s death? 

SIPEK:  Yes.  We have the facts. 

When Bobo laid down for the day, he never disturbed the shrubbery above him.  He‘s four feet tall, 600 pounds, and 6 feet long.  If he lunged at somebody or he attacked somebody, like they claimed, he would have had to have made a sharp turn to the right or to the east, and he would have died somewhere in between 31 feet, the length that was marked from the place where I found him dead and where the officer‘s fired the gun, because I found three shells 31 feet away from Bobo. 

That was more than enough room for them to back off and call me.  No, instead, they choose to shoot him as he woke up or turned to the right.  And all he had a chance, to raise his head and try to make the effort to get away.  He never made it.  They shot him twice in the head and once in the shoulder, the wounds that I personally witnessed, because I hugged him at the moment. 

I hugged him so hard that blood of my Bobo squirted all over my body.  I can still feel his heart trying to beat and let me know that he loves me, let me know that he is never going to come home again, because he cannot.  His life was over.  And I knew that.  And I don‘t know why—I will never know why, because the incident that these people—the attitude that they have towards animals is horrible. 

And I‘m not surprised that people who love animals are angry and sad and made threats.  I wish that they would stop it.  I wish that they did not continue.  I wish that they would just back off and let the law take its course.  But it‘s not up to me. 

(CROSSTALK)

OLBERMANN:  Yes, we‘re out of time. 

Steve Sipek, once again, we thank you for your time tonight. 

SIPEK:  Thank you, sir. 

OLBERMANN:  To briefly recap the story from Salt Lake City, there, our NBC affiliate KSL reporting that the husband of the missing woman there, Mark Hacking, has been a patient at the psychiatric hospital at the University of Utah since the night of his wife‘s disappears. 

That‘s COUNTDOWN. 

Next, a special edition of “HARDBALL” focusing on tomorrow‘s 9/11 Commission report.

I‘m Keith Olbermann.  Good night and good luck. 

END   

Content and programming copyright 2004 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2004 FDCH e-Media, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and FDCH e-Media, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,