updated 11/16/2004 10:28:52 AM ET 2004-11-16T15:28:52

Guest: Tom O‘Neil, Robert Sarmast, Michael Duffy, Dana Priest

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALISON STEWART, HOST:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?  Four more years, four more resignations.  None bigger than Colin Powell stepping down as secretary of state.  The implication, at home, abroad, and for those who might like to have his job. 

Spies like us, and another shake-up in Langley, Virginia.  The pro‘s and con‘s of CIA director Porter Goss‘s purging of the intelligence agency‘s leadership. 

A fatal Falluja decision, the eyewitness story of a U.S. Marine and a wound insurgent.  Can the shooting of an unarmed prisoner ever be justified? 

Decision 2008, hey it‘s never too early.  Just ask the people that paid for this ad to amend the constitution so that the governator can become the presidentator. 

And the sunken city, we‘ll take you under the sea to show why you one American researcher thinks he has found the lost city of Atlantis. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEWART:  Good evening.  And I‘m Alison Stewart in for Mr. Olbermann.  On the breaking new scale of shocking developments, it was an announcement that held all the suspense of President Bush winning the vote in Texas.  Nevertheless, it is now official, Colin Powell is a man with an exit strategy of his own and he it wasn‘t only one looking for a method of egress. 

Our fifth story, cleaning house before W. II begins.  Get toward see a lot less Powell and a lot more Rice.  The secretary of state confirming his resignation today.  One of four resignations from the first term Bush cabinet revealed today, Secretary Powell said he will stay until his successor is confirmed.  And if the president has his way, it looks like that successor could be none other than National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. 

NBC News has learned that the president has named Dr. Rice to the position and it is a job she has accepted.  Powell‘s tenure was not without controversy.  The secretary says one term and out had been his plan all along. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE:  In recent weeks and months, President Bush and I have talked about foreign policy and we‘ve talked about what to do at the end of the first term.  It has always been my intention that I would serve one term.  And after we had a chance to have some discussions on it, we came to the mutual agreement that it would be appropriate for me to leave at this time. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART:  Also leaving the Bush cabinet, their announcement all but lost amid Colin Powell‘s, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, Education Secretary Rod Paige, and Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, bringing to six the number of bush cabinet members to resign thus far.  No word yet on whether Homeland Security Security Tom Ridge and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will be joining them or sticking around for a second term.  Place your bets now it is and likely there‘s someplace you can likely do that online. 

If a resignation like Powell‘s has been expected, does that make the departure any less significant? 

Here to help us answer that question, Michael Duffy,”Time” magazine, Washington bureau chief. 

Michael, good evening to you. 

You know, we‘ve heard it repeatedly tossed around that Powell was an outsider in this administration, didn‘t really have the ear of the president.  How does that translate into what he could or could not accomplish as secretary of state? 

MICHAEL DUFFY, “TIME” MAGAZINE:  I think he has been the odd man out almost since before September 11.  This someone who‘s always found himself on a more moderate course than most of the hard liners and neo-conservatives in this administration, from the vice president on down.  And he has struggled, sometimes mightily, to win over and sometimes he‘s won.  But mostly he has lost.  And he hung on like a good soldier.  I think partly to keep the neo-cons and the hard liners from winning everything.  And he didn‘t want them to have absolutely clear field on every issue.  But now the time has come and I don‘t think it surprises anybody that he has decided to do something else. 

STEWART:  Let‘s step back in a time machine when they were putting together this cabinet four years ago.  Why do you think he was chosen then? 

DUFFY:  He was popular and an African-American and he always indicated early on that he was a Republican.  And having Colin Powell at your side was a huge vote of confidence among people who thought George W. Bush would be a moderate on foreign policy.  It was a huge signal.  It happened to be something of a head fake.  But it worked.  And Powell had some successes but over and over, he found himself slapped down or cut out or often time, just on the losing end of the argument.  And it‘s been a rough road for him.  You have to give him some credit for hanging on as long as he did. 

STEWART:  With Powell resigning, should we assume Donald Rumsfeld, he‘s just going to stay put? 

DUFFY:  Yes, for the time being.  Rumsfeld has said he wants to continue this transformation of the military zone, mostly he is involved in war.  He wants to continue making the force lighter and more fleet-footed.  And he probably will need a lot more time than he‘ll get to do that.  Probably about a year is what we expect him to stay.  There hasn‘t been a clear alternative to Rumsfeld, either.  And I think that has helped him stay through this transition.  I suppose it is possible, he could still go, Alison, but that doesn‘t look like the way it‘s going to go. 

STEWART:  Well, especially with the president‘s announcement that he wants Condi Rice to be the new secretary of state.  Let‘s talk about that choice for replacement.  Considering her performance on the job as national security advisor and as presidential advisor, what would you U.S. diplomacy be like as led by Dr. Rice? 

DUFFY:  It will be really interesting to watch.  Powell has sometimes taken on assignments that nobody else wants in foreign policy.  It will be interesting to see if she starts there and builds on it.  And goes back to a more traditional role of secretary of state, leading say in the Middle East.  Surely she‘ll have a big hand in relationships with the former Soviet Union, with Russia.  This is her strength and her expertise.  But she now has vast experience that she didn‘t have four years ago.  And it is not entirely clear what will be her one or two top things. 

It hasn‘t been real clear, Alison, where she has quarreled with the Cheney/Rumsfeld faction and where she is simply executed the orders.  We‘re going to maybe see more now in a way we couldn‘t see when she was at NSC where she stands on some things.  What she is willing to fight for.  And where and if she ever takes some to lose.  So, that‘s going to be something worth watching here.  And it‘s been hard to see when she is NSC Advisor. 

STEWART:  OK, Michael, before we let you out of our clutches, one more question.  Nearly, half the Bush cabinet resigning, and considering who has resigned, will you read the tea leaves for us and tell us what you think the tone of the second administration might be? 

DUFFY:  Well, so far he has taken a couple people from his White House staff and replaced them in the cabinet.  Ashcroft left at justice, he appointed his legal counsel at the White House, Alberto Gonzalez.  It looks like that Rod Paige is leaving education, he has appointed his domestic policy adviser in the White House to go over to the cabinet.  Here again, Powell has left.  He‘s named his national security advisor from the White House. 

He is obviously taking people who were very close to him in the first term and putting them in as cabinet positions.  What this tells that you we‘ll have people very close to the president now at the cabinet, in the Bush administration.  The cabinet is functioned so far just as an extension of the White House.  It will be even more so in the second term.  The White House will have even more control over what is going on at those places. 

STEWART:  Good tea leaf reading.  Thank you so much, Michael Duffy.

DUFFY:  You bet.

STEWART:  “Time” magazine, Washington bureau chief, have a good evening. 

More turnover within the Bush administration to report tonight.  This time, in the intelligence community.  Two senior deputies at the CIA handing in their resignations today, all part of a major shake-up by the agency‘s new director, that is Porter Goss.  A dozen top officials have now retired.  Been fired, or abruptly resigned in the two months since former Congressman Goss took over.  The latest to turn in their papers today, two top spies who run the critically important clandestine service.  Critics say that change is needed in the wake of intelligence failures that led to the 9/11 attacks. 

Chief among those critics, Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, a leading member of the Armed Services Committee said he thinks the shake-up at the CIA is just the right thing to do. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  This is a dysfunctional agency and in some ways, a rogue agency.  This is the agency that gave the president of the United States, when he asked for information about weapons of mass destruction, he said, it‘s a slam dunk.  We know little more about North Korea and Iran than we did 10 years ago.  This agency needs to be reformed. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: “Washington Post” national security correspondent Dana Priest has been covering this story all day.  And she join us tonight from the paper‘s newsroom. 

Dana, are the changes we‘re seeing at the CIA an indication of typical turnover or is this tumultuous or both? 

DANA PRIEST, “WASHINGTON POST”:  It‘s a little of both.  I think it was typical turnover until last week.  Typical in the sense that the senior officials, the political appointees, George Tenet and some of his top aides, all have left.  Now what we‘re seeing is the next layer down.  Those officers, especially in the director of operations, are not particularly political.  And Senator McCain‘s allegation that it is a rogue operation really is very serious.  It will be taken very seriously there.  I think critics of Goss are saying that he is too partisan and he is looking for people who might not have supported the Bush administration‘s policy.  You know, it is not a job of the CIA to support or not support someone‘s policy.  It is the job to give them intelligence.

And so people within the CIA are really worried that he is not making the distinction between people who have served there for a long time, who remain loyal to the president, and others who are more political in nature.  And that this may destroy the morale, certainly of the people in the directorate of operations who conduct and manage operations worldwide.  Especially in these times, counterterrorism operations. 

STEWART:  And in terms of Goss, he has actually brought in some of his own people who have been ruffling feathers. 

PRIEST:  Well, that is another part of the equation.  He brought with him four people, three of them are former mid level CIA employees, who all left rather disgruntled many years ago.  And the other one who is his chief of staff, Patrick Murray.  Has really had quite sharp elbows.  It reminds me of what happened when Donald Rumsfeld took over at the Pentagon and started to really be very disrespectful to a lot of uniformed senior officers who have spent their entire career there.  That is what it is beginning to sound like over at the CIA.  People who have dedicated their whole life to covert operations and doing risky things, are now being accused of being disloyal.  And that does not sit well with people over there.  Especially since many of them supported or worked hard to bring intelligence to the White House, that on Iraq, on weapons of mass destruction, and have worked very hard to try to find Osama bin Laden and to destroy the al Qaeda network.  And have won a lot of praise from the president for doing just that. 

STEWART:  You bring up Osama bin Laden.  On Friday the head of the secret Osama unit resigned.  He is a man who has been very critical of the agency.  Under the name Anonymous, he wrote that book, “Imperial Hubris, Why the West is Losing the War on Terror.”  He is no longer anonymous, obviously.  What is he out there saying about the CIA at this point?

PRIEST:  Well, this is Michael Scheuer.  I talked to him today.  His main point is, that he thinks the senior leadership at the agency, and that really means former director George Tenet, but also, the oversight committees who funded the agency, and the administration to a certain point, are not, still not adequately committed to finding bin Laden and to understanding and putting enough resources behind the counterterrorism mission. 

He says that there are still not more analysts in the bin Laden unit, which analyzes what bin Laden is up to, there are not more senior analysts there than there were before 9/11.  In fact, they‘ve brought in a lot of people that they rotate in and out and they don‘t have the experience level that he believes they need.  So he is very critical of the management of the agency for not responding adequately to 9/11 still.  And of course, the agency allowed his book to be published, said it could be done anonymously.  And then when he started to speak, he started to speak about Iraq.  It was close to the presidential elections.  The White House got uncomfortable.  The CIA got uncomfortable and told him to stop talking.  And he has just decided that he wants to keep talking about these issues, and so he quit. 

STEWART:  I‘m sure that part of the story is to be continued.  Dana Priest from the “Washington Post.”  Thank you so much for sharing all your reporting and hard work with us. 

PRIEST:  My pleasure. 

STEWART:  Making your vote count.  Tuesday, preparing to recount ballots.  Will we get this election mess fixed by 2008?  Maybe. 

And candidate Arnold, a drive began in earnest today to give the governator a shot at the White House. 

And an eyewitness story in Iraq.  Could a marine now face murder charges for shooting an insurgent?  The rule of war front and center again. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEWART:  He is a scholar and a gentleman.  Four years after every satellite truck on the eastern seaboard, and legions of reporters spent weeks camped out on the steps of the Florida state house, four years after Katherine Harris became a household name and Chad wasn‘t the jerky quarterback of your high school football team, oh, what a difference four years can make, unless, that is, they make no difference at all. 

Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, validating the vote.  The recount that wasn‘t in Florida, as two more states get ready to count again.  It is your tax dollars in action.  Day 14 of the 2004 election irregularities investigation.  Election officials in Florida quietly signing off on that state‘s voting results over the weekend.  Just one photographer in a handful of reporters on hand observes Secretary of State Glenda Hood reading the results. 

If only life were so simple over in the state of, say, Ohio.  Election officials only just beginning their count of 155,000 provisional ballots.  That‘s right.  155,000.  A process that could take all month.  And that‘s just the provisional ballots.  Now imagine a statewide recount of all ballots.  It could happen.  Especially with today‘s announcement from the Green and Libertarian parties, that they have already raised 150,000 in donations to meet filing fees and expenses.  Now, they‘re trying to raise at least 100,000 more for additional costs. 

Ralph Nader already had his do-over in New Hampshire.  The Independent candidate‘s request for a recount in at least 11 precincts has not only been approved, state officials tell COUNTDOWN they expect to begin the recount in five of those jurisdictions on this Thursday. 

COUNTDOWN‘s commander-in-chief Keith Olbermann, as always, keeping an eye on developments on bloggerman@COUNTDOWN.MSNBC.com.  Keith is still on vacation but, no, all Internet reports to the contrary, it is not a permanent one, people. 

And if talk of recounts keep Election ‘04 from completely winding down, there‘s just as much evidence that both parties are already gearing up for 2008. 

First, the Republicans.  One GOP star, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, may have proven he can win over California voters and even fit his name on a bumper sticker—not that easy—but there is one very large hurdle remaining: The constitutional requirement that you must be born in the United States of America to run for president.  Though Schwarzenegger has said he would consider running for president if the Constitution were changed, he has never pushed for such a change himself. 

As Mike Taibbi reports from L.A., he may not need to. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You cannot choose the land of your birth.  You can choose the land you love. 

MIKE TAIBBI, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Call it a California grassroots movement, with national consequences. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Help us amend for Arnold. 

TAIBBI:  A group called Amend for Arnold wants to amend the U.S.

Constitution and allow foreign-born citizens to run for president.  Specifically, the ad campaign pumps up a candidacy for California‘s popular Austrian-born governor, though Michigan‘s Democratic governor, Jennifer Granholm, could also benefit.  She was born in Canada. 

Many in Congress say it‘s time for a change. 

SEN. ORRIN HATCH ®, UTAH:  This restriction has become an anachronism that is decidedly un-American. 

TAIBBI:  But the momentum is coming from Schwarzenegger‘s supporters. 

LISSA MORGENTHALER-JONES, AMEND FOR ARNOLD:  In the next four to six years, Arnold will be experienced enough, smart enough, strong enough, to lead the greatest nation on Earth. 

TAIBBI:  And from Schwarzenegger‘s own comments to “60 Minutes”... 

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA:  With my way of thinking, you always shoot for the top. 

TAIBBI:  And to Tim Russert on NBC‘s “Meet the Press.”

SCHWARZENEGGER:  There is no reason why not.

TAIBBI (on camera):  But even though the debate over changing the natural citizen clause inevitably includes mention of Schwarzenegger‘s name, it might not be the governor who benefits. 

(voice-over):  For one thing, popular as he remains, he is also a polarizing figure with determined opponents. 

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, POLITICAL COLUMNIST:  Is there a Gandhi or a Nelson Mandela alive and eager to run for president of the United States?   That might give it the momentum it needs.  But Arnold Schwarzenegger? 

TAIBBI:  Moreover, changing the Constitution is heavy lifting.  It takes a two-thirds majority of both the House and Senate.  Then at least 38 states must ratify. 

SHERRY JEFFE:  It is not going to pass in time to help Arnold.  It takes a long time to get through the process. 

TAIBBI:  But some of his supporters don‘t believe it will or should take a long time, and are saying so starting now. 

Mike Taibbi, NBC News, Los Angeles. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEWART:  Now, if the hurdle for Schwarzenegger is constitutional, the hurdle for Democrats may simply be spiritual.  Speaking to Tim Russert on “Meet the Press,” Democratic strategist James Carville said that his party can recite the Bible as well as or better than Republicans.  He said that Jesus urged people to, quote, “love thy neighbor.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  I think you can make a very good argument.  In fact, there‘s a much better argument that Jesus was very sympathetic—in fact, he never said a word about the gays.  In the whole New Testament, Jesus Christ himself, he was so concerned about the issue, he never uttered a single word about it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART:  And there‘s evidence of that on matters of scripture, Democrats are speaking from the same playbook, or good book.  Senator Hillary Clinton speaking at Tufts University last week said the Bible should be used to win the debate on poverty.  Clinton said, quoting: “No one can read the New Testament of our Bible without recognizing that Jesus had a lot more to say about how we treat the poor than most of the issues that were talked about in this election,” end quote.

Well, Senator Clinton refused to say whether or not she would be a presidential candidate in 2008.  She did mention to great applause that in recent elections in Afghanistan, women managed to get on the ballot for president. 

From the Democrats to dominoes.  That transition signals only one thing: “Oddball” is next.  And a shot at Guinness world record superstardom. 

And for making history to finding it.  We‘ll talk to a man who said he spent the weekend finding the lost city of Atlantis.  Yeah, OK.  Whatever.  I went to see “The Incredibles.”  It was really good.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEWART:  I am Alison Stewart, holding down the fort for Keith Olbermann, and we‘ve reached that part of the show when we pause the COUNTDOWN of the day‘s breaking news for a quick stop at the sideshow of broken news.  Let‘s play “Oddball.”

We begin with dominoes.  Everybody likes dominoes.  Especially apparently country singer Shania Twain, who was on hand in the Netherlands to push over the first domino in a bid for the Guinness world record.  When that didn‘t really work, a guy with a really long stick set the process in motion. 

And nearly four million dominoes went tumbling over to the joy of the crowd on hand and the live television audience watching at home—

3,932,396 dominoes in all.  So big I couldn‘t say it.  They believe it‘s a new world record, but the Guinness people say they need to authenticate it before they can enter it into the big book.  Apparently, someone is going to actually have to count all those things. 

And you may have thought the defining moment in the march of U.S.-style democracy into the former Soviet Union came 15 years ago when the first McDonald‘s restaurant opened in Moscow. 

Well, you‘d be mistaken.  The true indications were placed just this week, with Russia‘s first lawsuit against McDonald‘s, filed by a woman who burned herself with hot coffee.  Russian media is reporting the 37-year-old woman suffered first and second-degree burns after spilling the java on herself and is now looking to cash in.  It has been 10 years, people, since the granddaddy of all poor me lawsuits here in America, when a jury in New Mexico awarded $2.7 million to a woman who spilled hot McDonald‘s coffee in her own lap. 

A judge later lowered that award by about a half million dollars.  The Russian woman is suing for $14 in health care costs, and $3,500 for emotional distress. 

And finally, another day, another two-headed turtle.  These things are

becoming so common, the single-headed ones, they‘re rare.  This little guy

·         or these little guys, I guess, are found in Dorchester, England.  A perfectly healthy box turtle made for two.  Sadly, however, as you can see here, the two-headed turtle has been ostracized from the rest of the group, and they likely tease him and don‘t let him join in their reindeer games—

I mean, turtle games.  Luckily, the two heads have each other just to keep the other guy company.  

We will turn back to the serious news of this day.  The military says Fallujah has been 100 percent secured, but the dangers of taking over the insurgent stronghold could put a U.S. Marine behind bars.  An exclusive report is ahead.

But first here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of the day. 

No. 3, Guadalupe Madrigal, a singer who recently flubbed a few lines of the Mexican national anthem while singing the song before a soccer game.  Mexico‘s Interior Department has fine Madrigal $40 for violating the law, ensuring—quote—“the necessary respect that patriotic symbols deserve.”

No. 2, Michael Martin of East Feliciana, Louisiana, Sheriff‘s Office.  It was his deputies who tracked down nearly $40,000 stolen last week from the Lucky Dollar Casino in Greensburg.  They had a tip that the dough had been stashed in a local creek, but, at first, were unable too find it until they went downstream a bit and found that beavers had taken the cash and built part of a dam with it. 

And, No. 1, the employees of Acxiom Corporation in Little Rock, Arkansas, a 12-story building overlooking the new Clinton Library, being dedicated this week.  Workers there were sent a memo from management today reminding them that, despite the opening of deer hunting season, it is against company policy to bring firearms to work, and—quote—“This would not be a time to violate that policy.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEWART:  And thanks for joining us here on COUNTDOWN.  I‘m Alison Stewart, filling in while Keith takes a little vacation. 

Our third story tonight, the graphic realities of war in Iraq.  In a moment, an investigation into possible illegal killings made by U.S.  Marines.

But now a call to arms allegedly from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.  In a two-minute Internet audiotape, he urges insurgents to launch preemptive strikes against U.S. troops and supply lines.  And he warns that once U.S. troops are finished in Fallujah, they will be fanning out across central and northern Iraq, where militants are already in action.  Three near simultaneous attempted suicide bombings between Fallujah and Ramadi wounded four U.S. soldiers today. 

Another bomb wounded five in Mosul and in and around the town of Baquba, militants killed an Iraqi police chief and civilians.  In Fallujah itself, the week-long siege has left 38 American troops dead, some 320 wounded.  The military has now declared the town 100 percent secure, even though there are still regular skirmishes across that city. 

One of those skirmishes took place inside a mosque this weekend.  And the Pentagon is now investigating what may be the illegal killings of wounded and unarmed insurgents inside.  MSNBC has decided not to show some of the more gruesome images. 

Our correspondent Kevin Sites was embedded with Marines during this mission and has this exclusive eyewitness account. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEVIN SITES, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  These U.S. Marines have had to fight for nearly every inch of ground taken in Fallujah.  They‘ve inflicted heavy casualties on insurgents here, but also have suffered many of their own, some from a new and harrowing tactic, booby-trapping dead bodies to explode when Marines come near. 

On Friday, insurgents attacked the Marine unit NBC is with, firing on them with rifles and RPGs from this mosque.  Marines hit back, killing 10 insurgents and wounding five inside.  These weapons were collected from the dead.  This, Marine believe, is just one more example that mosques are being used by insurgents as fighting positions. 

They treat the five wounded, but leave them behind to be picked up later as Marines continue their offensive south. 

(on camera):  The next day, the Marines got reports that some of the areas they had cleared the day before had been reoccupied by insurgents, including the mosque. 

(voice-over):  What happens that Saturday is not entirely clear.  A Marine unit which was not involved in the prior day‘s attack on the mosque now fights its way up the street toward the mosque.  They‘re taking fire, perhaps from the mosque.  One squad moves around the back.  A second approaches through the front.  There are gunshots.  When the second squad followed by NBC reaches the entrance, the first has already been inside. 

Inside the mosque, the same five men that were wounded the day before are still there.  But now one of them is dead, while three others lay dying.  Only one is untouched.  Then a Marine notices one of the severely wounded men is still breathing.  He did not appear to be armed or threatening in any way.  In fact, there were no weapons visible in the room except those carried by the Marines. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s (EXPLETIVE DELETED) faking he‘s dead. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, he‘s breathing. 

SITES:  The Marine then raises his rifle and fires into the man‘s head. 

The pictures are too graphic for to us broadcast.  At the same time, just a block away, one Marine was killed and five wounded by the booby-trapped body of a dead insurgent.  So, as dangerous as Iraq is, could the shooting be self-defense? 

Lieutenant Colonel Bob Miller is heading up a full-scale investigation into the case. 

LT. COL. BOB MILLER, STAFF JUDGE ADVOCATE, 1ST MARINES:  The policy under the rules of engagement authorize the Marines to use force when presented with a hostile act or hostile intent. 

SITES:  The Marine who pulled the trigger in this case has been removed from the field and is currently being questioned pending possible charges.  Just the day before he was shot in the face during combat but had already returned to duty. 

MILLER:  Any wounded, in this case insurgents, who don‘t pose a threat would not be considered hostile. 

SITES:  But this war zone like most is rife with uncertainty and confusion.  Young men here are often forced to shoot faster than they can think.  And that can create a deadly place indeed. 

Kevin Sites, NBC News, Fallujah. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEWART:  Now, to help assess the ramification of what happened in that mosque, we are joined by MSNBC military analyst, retired Colonel Jack Jacobs. 

Colonel Jacobs, thanks for being with us tonight.

RET. COL. JACK JACOBS, NBC MILITARY ANALYST:  Good evening.

STEWART:  We watched that report, a tough report to watch.  Is it ever acceptable under the terms of the Army to shoot a wounded or unarmed insurgent? 

JACOBS:  No.

You are never supposed to shoot somebody who is unarmed.  Anybody who is captured is captured, and you‘re supposed to treat them according to the Geneva Convention.  I‘ve been in about as much combat as most people.  I‘ve never been in a situation in which it was ambiguous what was the right thing to do and what was the wrong thing to do. 

STEWART:  Well, as we watched Kevin‘s report, he explained how many of the bodies, some of the dead bodies, were being booby-trapped with bombs.  Is it possible that this soldier felt that his life was in danger, that his company was in danger; perhaps this person was going to detonate himself? 

JACOBS:  Well, that‘s the only circumstance in which you can defend yourself.  If you think you‘re in mortal danger, you can shoot back. 

We don‘t know the entire story.  It is possible that the guy pulled a gun out.  It is possible that there was some evidence, perhaps, that he had a bomb.  But it‘s going to be very, very difficult to prove in a circumstance in which everything was watched by 10 or more people, including a reporter. 

STEWART:  Well, you bring up an interesting point, the idea that we might likely not know about this had there not been cameras there.  Do you think it is the number of other soldiers?  Had it just been two men, would this have been another incident in, I hate to use the overused phrase, but the fog of war? 

JACOBS:  Well, there was no fog of war here, it doesn‘t seem to me. 

But you do raise an interesting point.  It‘s the law of large numbers.  The more people who are witnesses, the less likely something bad will happen and it won‘t get reported.  You had a lot of people there who witnessed this.  It is unlikely we are not going to get the complete and full story.  There‘s an investigation going on right now.  And they will sort it out.

JACOBS:  Well, let‘s talk about the bigger picture, because, obviously, the idea is that we want Iraq to be a stable place, where people can live and have lives under a democracy.  But they don‘t trust us.  And I‘m sure this won‘t help.  I‘m thinking about Abu Ghraib.  I‘m thinking about how this is going to play.  Perception is so important for Iraqi people. 

JACOBS:  Well, it is not going to help.  But recognize the fact that this is an area that—where people don‘t like us already.  It is a Sunni a Sunni area.  It‘s a Wahhab area.  So it is not going to help. 

But those people feel so badly about us to start with, there‘s not much difference.  It is liable to have a deleterious effect in how we‘re viewed in Sunni areas.  But I think, overall, the intelligent, mature way that the command will handle it and the fact that this kind of thing happens very rarely—I never saw it happen in all the time I was in combat—will give people some pause that this is not a routine kind of exercise. 

Our presence there is extremely difficult for the Iraqis, particularly for the Sunnis, who are in a position where they‘re going to wind up losing all the power, have lost all the power that they had for decades.  So, this incident is not going to help in the Sunni area.  But because they dislike us so much, it is not so much of a hindrance. 

STEWART:  Sure.

JACOBS:  What we need to have is the security situation under control and the rule of law obtained.  And I think that is what we‘re trying to...

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART:  Colonel Jack Jacobs, we thank you so much for checking in and helping us understand all this. 

JACOBS:  You‘re very welcome.

STEWART:  Behind the scenes of a star-studded wedding of the year.  All your inside dish on the wedding of Star Jones, the gifts, the tears, food, the advice.  You can‘t miss that. 

Now here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three sound bites of the day. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “MEET THE PRESS”)

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST, “CROSSFIRE”:  I think that Kerry is going to get 52 percent.  Democrats, 52.

TIM RUSSERT, HOST:  And Bush what? 

CARVILLE:  Forty-seven. 

(CROSSTALK)

RUSSERT:  I see.

CARVILLE:  Do you know what I‘ll say?  I‘ve got egg on my face. 

MARY MATALIN, BUSH CAMPAIGN ADVISER:  Oh, my God.

(LAUGHTER)

RUSSERT:  I don‘t believe this. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But, most recently, a suspicious looking man has swiped their tip jar. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  My heart was beating so fast. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Police are searching for this bandit on a bicycle. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re looking for the mulleted guy on a bike with a tip jar.  If you see him, call the police.  We‘ll be happy to talk to him.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE:  I‘m still the secretary of state. 

And President Bush has made it clear I operate with his full authority. 

And what am I going to do next?  Well, I don‘t know. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(COLIN POWELL SINGS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEWART:  Payless shoes, a groom as pretty as the bride, and a plea to keep it hot between the sheets, what could these three things have in common?  Star Jones‘ wedding.  What else?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEWART:  Well, the promotion was relentless, on-air plugs on national television for a month, corporate sponsorships offered and accepted.  The Oscars, a Super Bowl, “The Apprentice”?  No, just our No. 2 story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, the wedding of Star Jones. 

The star-studded nuptials between the lawyer and the co-host of “The View” and investment banker Al Reynolds took place on Manhattan‘s Upper East Side Saturday evening.  Guests included Samuel L. Jackson, Patti LaBelle, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

Critics and at least one New York tabloid had taken to calling the new Mrs. Reynolds “Bridezilla” for the unapologetic way she courted freebies from wedding vendors, even asking for payment to include their products in gift bags for guests.  But those expecting the bridesmaids to be decked out like a NASCAR for a walk down the aisle were disappointed. 

“In Touch Weekly” covered the big day.  The magazine‘s senior editor, Tom O‘Neil, is with us. 

Tom, good evening.  So, all right was it a tacky or tony affair? 

TOM O‘NEIL, SENIOR EDITOR, “IN TOUCH WEEKLY”:  It was surprisingly tony. 

We feared that we could see Star walking down the aisle with that sign on her back saying, eat at Shakey‘s Pizza.  That‘s how ridiculous some of these scenarios played out, because she was so aggressive in courting these sponsorships.  But I think that Bridezilla nickname actually came from her staff. 

STEWART:  True?  Why? 

O‘NEIL:  Why? 

STEWART:  Yes. 

O‘NEIL:  Well, because—why this wedding has such a high giggle factor is, Star brazenly went after these sponsorships and maybe taking the celebrity events to a whole level here. 

Let me give you an example here.  The day before the wedding began, Star gathered her bridesmaids, gave them a gift each, and when they opened the box, they were—quote, unquote—“shocked,” is what they told us.  Inside were Payless shoes, Alison.  And they were expected to wear them at the wedding.  This was on Park Avenue, this wedding.  Those bridesmaids went up in Payless shoes. 

STEWART:  And we have got to point out that Ms. Jones is a spokesperson for Payless, right?

O‘NEIL:  Yes.  Absolutely. 

STEWART:  All right, this guest list was quite eclectic, everybody from politicians.  Give us some of the bold-faced names.  And let me know, did some of their family actually get to go to this?

(LAUGHTER)

O‘NEIL:  I hope so. 

The reception held 440 people.  Star wanted a lot more, but the Michael J. Fox Foundation hogged the larger ballroom at the Waldorf-Astoria upstairs.  But, nonetheless, as we saw, Samuel L. Jackson and Barbara Walters were there and Kim Cattrall, Blair Underwood, Chris Rock and Kelly Ripa.

It was interesting that Hillary Clinton showed up without Bill.  Bill had been invited.  Al Gore‘s daughter Karenna was there.  She‘s very big on the social set here in New York.  So—but it was interesting to see her there. 

STEWART:  It seems like this has become a cottage industry, her marriage, for Star Jones, her photos being sold on a TV program, a whole lot going on. 

O‘NEIL:  Well, that happens all the time, though.  The photos are often exclusively sold to one magazine or one media outfit.  We expect that.  But when you start having things like airline courtesy of Continental for the guests and this kind of thing that happened, it took it to a whole new level. 

STEWART:  Tom O‘Neill, you always have the good dish from “In Touch Weekly.”

O‘NEIL:  Thanks, Alison.

STEWART:  Thanks for joining us. 

O‘NEIL:  Thanks. 

STEWART:  Oh, this is an easy transition tonight to the stories of “Keeping Tabs” and that tabloid staple Anna Nicole Smith. 

Now, the buzz around Hollywood at the American Music Awards last night is, what is the matter with Anna?  The blond bombshell, who appeared to have lost quite a bit of weight on her new Trim Spa diet plan, also appears, though, she may have ingested something just a little bit stronger, leading host Jimmy Kimmel to joke—quote—“I told her to stay away from Snoop Dogg‘s brownies.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNA NICOLE SMITH, ACTRESS:  I was honored to be on in our next performer‘s new video.  And if I ever recorded an album, I want this guy to produce my—make me beautiful duet, because he is a freaking genius. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART:  I‘m so confused. 

Hidden mysteries of the sea.  Explorers found the Titanic‘s watery grave.  But tonight‘s No. 1 story is even a bigger find.  Has the lost city of Atlantis finally been uncovered? 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEWART:  When the Greek philosopher Plato described it, he painted a portrait of modern society so close to perfection both in thought and design that, for generations, artists, historians and scientists alike have sought to prove its existence. 

Our No. 1 story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, the lost continent of Atlantis has been found again.  American researcher Robert Sarmast announcing his discovery of the legendary lost city 50 miles southeast of Cyprus.  He found it over the weekend, apparently.  And as these pictures clearly show, the scene centuries in the making, breathtaking—oh, hang on a minute.  Wait a minute.  Our bad.  Wrong pictures.  Sorry.

These are the first images of what Sarmast claims to be Atlantis.  It is, of course, not the first such claim.  It may, however, be the most credible.  According to the researcher, the sonar imagery clearly shows manmade trenches and walls, one nearly two miles in length.  Cyprus‘ chief archaeologist remain skeptical of the discovery, simply saying more proof is necessary.

Earlier, I had a chance to speak with expedition head Robert Sarmast, who is still on location in Cyprus. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEWART:  Mr. Sarmast, what leads you to believe that this is actually Atlantis that you found?  What‘s down there? 

ROBERT SARMAST, RESEARCHER:  We found some really strange anomalies about a mile down, roughly midway between Cyprus and Syria, which is quite startling.  It‘s confounding the scientists.  There is no really no explanation for it. 

We‘ve been pointing to this area for a number of years and saying that this is where we‘re going to find the acropolis hill, because we‘ve developing maps and models for the last few years and we have a perfect match with a very detailed description that comes from the ancient world about what this island and the rectangular plain at its foothill and the city, the capital city, Atlantis City, looked like, measurements, weather patterns, flora and fauna, minerals, animal life, so forth.

And all of these things have matched with an uncanny rate of accuracy.  So, we just launched an expedition, went down here.  Well, we didn‘t actually go down, but we sent the side-scan sonar camera down there to maybe 30 meters above sea bed to get a very close look.  And what we have found is perfectly in line with what Plato had written about this place. 

STEWART:  A lot of people are skeptical.  A lot of people believe Atlantis is just a wonderful utopia tale, a cautionary tale about what happens when people get greedy and self-consumed or, as one person I read put it, the land mass version of Bigfoot.  What would you say to the skeptics who say, Atlantis doesn‘t really exist; it‘s just a wonderful story?

SARMAST:  Well, I think they should do a little more homework.  If you familiarize yourself with ancient history, comparative world mythology, you will start to realize that the ancient world really didn‘t see this as a myth. 

STEWART:  Let‘s talk about what‘s next for you and your team.  What‘s going to happen next?

SARMAST:  Well, we just came out of an expedition.  We were out there for about five days.  We came back Saturday.  We took some very good sonar readings that we‘re going to be processing and creating 3-D models from.  There may still be things that we haven‘t even seen yet.  We have to create a mosaic.

Right now, what we have is a literal perfect match with what Plato wrote.  Trust me, if you read what Plato wrote and you compare these to these maps and models we‘ve created using science—there is no hocus pocus here.  There‘s no one with a dowsing rod.  This is all based on what we know.  This area was above water. 

So, at this point, all we can do to further substantiate what we‘ve found is to use even better technology, which is available, which can look under these anomalies, these walls, canals, river paths, that we‘ve found this hill, which look completely manmade.  And we have sonar devices that can penetrate the silt and see what is under there.  If there is hard substance, if there is a wall, we‘ll be able to find it. 

But, right now, what we have is quite startling in itself.  But it will keep going for a little while longer, I‘m sure.

STEWART:  Well, we wish you luck with the quest. 

Robert Sarmast, thanks so much for joining us.

SARMAST:  Thank you.  Thank you very much. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEWART:  And that‘s it for COUNTDOWN.  We‘ll 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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