updated 1/31/2005 1:35:41 PM ET 2005-01-31T18:35:41

Guest: Diane Dimond, Linda Fairstein, Daniel Horowitz, Rick Lamkin, David Harrington, Paisley Dodds, Jonna Mendez, Juliette Kayyem, Randall Hamud

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, just three day before Michael Jackson‘s trial begins, the judge rules the boy will have to face Jackson in open court. 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  And prosecutors can show jurors adult books and magazines taken from Jackson‘s ranch.  And they‘ll see that documentary on Jackson‘s life that some say started this whole episode. 

And a teacher‘s aide caught on tape disciplining a student by slamming him against the classroom wall.  His lawyer says the tactic might not be so uncommon. 

Plus, a new report claims female interrogators at Guantanamo Bay used their sexuality to try to pull information from detainees, strutting around in mini skirts and thongs, rubbing up against prisoners and generally trying to use the prisoner‘s religious beliefs against them.  But even if it‘s true, is that really a big problem? 

The program about justice starts now. 


ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket tonight:  With just three days to go—it‘s hard to believe—until the start of the Michael Jackson trial.  Some big rulings from the judge—generally good news for prosecutors.  The jury will see dozens of adult books and magazines and videos found at Jackson‘s Neverland ranch in 2003.  One of those magazines allegedly adorned with the accuser and Jackson‘s fingerprints. 

The state can show a documentary it calls the pivotal element of the case against Jackson.  In that movie, Jackson admits sharing his bed with young boys and talks about that infamous baby dangling incident.  On the other hand, Jackson and his accuser will face off in open court.  Prosecutors argue the courtroom should be closed to spare the 15-year-old accuser.  Judge sided with the defense and with some media entities and in a semantic victory for the defense, those dirty books can‘t be called pornography, obscenity or erotic, only—quote—“adult or sexually explicit.”

The judge even had to tell the parties what to call each other.  The defense can refer to the prosecutors as the government while the prosecutor can call themselves the people.  As for the alleged victims, prosecutor can call them—quote—“victims” only in closing arguments.  Give me a break. 

“My Take”—I agree the books, videos, and magazines taken in 2003 should be let in.  I agree the jury should see the documentary.  The accuser testifying in open court a tougher call.  I think since there are no cameras in the court and the media well is not going to reveal the boy‘s name anyway, it is the right call legally.  As for the semantic decisions, this is an absurd and a waste of time I think for the judge to tell the lawyers what they can call each other and the complaining witnesses just silliness. 

Joining me now Court TV‘s chief investigative analyst Diane Dimond, who was in the courtroom today, famed former prosecutor Linda Fairstein, who led the sex crimes unit of the District Attorney‘s Office in Manhattan for 25 years.  She‘s the author of the book “Entombed” and California criminal defense attorney Daniel Horowitz. 

All right, Diane, what was the most important ruling do you think today? 

DIANE DIMOND, COURT TV CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE EDITOR:  Oh I think probably that the Martin Bashir, the British version of that documentary can come in.  You know, we all in the media have seen it and we figure everybody has seen it, but you know, come on, they probably haven‘t and certainly not in the sanctity of a courtroom.  It is going to be the keystone of the state‘s case and late today here, Dan, we heard the judge rule that Martin Bashir, the talent on that documentary, will be called as a witness here, but he will not be gagged.  So you can still see him on another network do reports on this very case. 

ABRAMS:  Linda, any surprises here with the rulings?  I mean it seems to me that the judge generally did what would be expected in most of these rulings. 

LINDA FAIRSTEIN, FORMER SEX CRIMES PROSECUTOR:  I think that‘s right, Dan.  And Diane is right.  I think the biggest piece is certainly the Bashir video, which the prosecution wants to claim started Jackson‘s frantic efforts to re-control, damage control the terrible slurs he felt the video had caused.  And I think the ruling, as you mentioned earlier, about whether the young man, the accuser can testify openly, Judge Melville seems determined, as he said at the end of his remarks, that the world see the criminal justice system fairly. 

Most of the time we prosecutors try and shield a very young child from the open court, from the process.  This young man was 13 when these allegations were made.  He is 15 now.  He‘s an adolescent verging on young adulthood...


FAIRSTEIN:  ... and I think it‘s probably a tough call but the right call...

ABRAMS:  Let‘s go through these one by one, real quick.  Daniel Horowitz, the erotic materials here, you are a defense attorney.  Sure, you try and get them excluded.  You say who knows if they were Michael Jackson‘s.  They could have been somebody else‘s found in the house, but bottom line is I assume you would have expected to lose that ruling, right? 


ABRAMS:  Really? 

HOROWITZ:  No, really because the First Amendment says those are legal materials for Michael Jackson to have.  Now, if he is guilty of this crime, then the reason he has those books in his house is because he‘s getting erotic pleasure from them.  If he‘s not guilty, then they‘re just art books.  They don‘t prove anything in the case.  It puts the cart before the horse and it presumes guilt...

ABRAMS:  Even though the boy‘s fingerprint was allegedly found on one of the pages of one of the magazines?  You don‘t think that‘s relevant? 

HOROWITZ:  Dan, I—every young man, and you know this, looks for pornography in adult‘s houses, grabs it.  That is part of being young.  It doesn‘t mean that Michael showed it to him for nefarious purposes. 

ABRAMS:  Diane, go ahead.  You wanted in.

DIMOND:  Dan, I got to tell you, this is not just art books here.  As we heard in open court today, the district attorney‘s representative said this was male on male pornography, a lot of books of naked children, some graphic, some—quote—“very graphic”, and a whole slew of magazines showing young women, I guess they were 18 years old, but dressed up to look like little schoolgirls all according to the state designed to arouse the young boys.  Not only...



DIMOND:  ... the accuser but his younger brother. 

HOROWITZ:  I watched—Dan, you had one of those books.  You didn‘t show the pictures on your show...

ABRAMS:  That was the book from ‘93 though.  I mean that was the book from ‘93 that Diane broke...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And that may still come up...

ABRAMS:  Right...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And that may still come in. 


HOROWITZ:  ... an art book...

ABRAMS:  Yes...

HOROWITZ:  That‘s an art book. 

ABRAMS:  Linda quickly and then I want to move on, yes.

FAIRSTEIN:  The accuser may put this in context.  The accuser may tell how these books were used by Jackson...

ABRAMS:  Right.  Exactly.

FAIRSTEIN:  ... and it will have added relevance. 

ABRAMS:  This seems to me that this was an easy call for...

FAIRSTEIN:  Absolutely.

ABRAMS:  ... the judge.  All right, the Bashir documentary.  Let‘s play a little piece of that documentary.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When people hear that children from other families have come and they stayed in your house, they stayed in your bedroom. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But you know, some have.  And they say, is that really appropriate for a man, a grown man to be doing that?  How do you respond to that? 

JACKSON:  I feel sorry for them because that‘s judging someone who wants to really help people.  Why can‘t you share your bed?  The most loving thing to do is to share your bed with someone. 


ABRAMS:  Oh boy.  All right.  Well look, that boy you see sitting there with his face obscured is the boy in this case.  He is the subject of this entire case and the prosecutors are alleging that the abuse occurred after that.  But Linda, here what the prosecutors are saying is this video was essentially the motive for the conspiracy to imprison the family, et cetera, and that the jurors have to see in it that context, right? 

FAIRSTEIN:  Right.  Normally this might be considered hearsay.  Here in California they are calling it operative facts.  That it is the fact of these statements that Jackson made on this video.  The nature of the entire interview that caused Jackson to then frenetically try and get this family back under his control, to abduct them as the first count of the indictment charges, to try and coerce them to say positive things about him because the spin from this was so devastating. 

ABRAMS:  Daniel...

DIMOND:  You know, Dan in court today...

ABRAMS:  Go ahead, Diane.  Yes.

DIMOND:  In court today the district attorney, Tom Sneddon, said to the judge, he said, Your Honor, when—we have to show this documentary because after it aired, it created—quote—“a catastrophe within team Jackson.”  They absolutely panicked.  It was supposed to elevate Michael Jackson‘s career and they knew once they saw it, it was going to do exactly the opposite.  And that‘s when everybody panicked and did what they did with this family. 

ABRAMS:  You know, and Daniel...

DIMOND:  So that‘s why this is...

ABRAMS:  Daniel, can‘t this documentary also help the defense in the sense that the claim is that he goes on TV with this kid and basically says, look, I‘m a great guy.  I don‘t abuse children, this and that, and that then days later he abuses the very boy that they see there in the documentary.  I think that‘s one of the defense‘s strongest arguments here that that timeline is hard to accept. 

HOROWITZ:  Exactly, Dan.  That videotape and the fact that Michael was willing to open his house to Mr. Bashir really shows that Michael had a consciousness of innocence and really meant what he said on that tape, that sharing your bed is just a personal relationship with no sex involved.  And the fact that only after that tape came out there were accusations shows that, in fact, these accusations were in response to the outcry that this tape unleashed in the media.  On the other hand, that tape really was a hit piece on Michael Jackson.  I don‘t understand why the judge let it in to the courtroom...

ABRAMS:  He had to.  I mean come on...


ABRAMS:  I think either you got to throw out the conspiracy charge or you got to let this in.

HOROWITZ:  You let in pieces of it Dan, but it‘s almost to me like playing “Fahrenheit 9/11” before the presidential debate and then letting the people debate.  It‘s too much...

ABRAMS:  All right...

HOROWITZ:  ... of a hit piece to let it in...


HOROWITZ:  ... in its entirety.

ABRAMS:  I‘m out of time here.  I want to get to - I got to skip over the issue of the open court for the accuser.  He‘s going to have to testify.  The public is going to be there.  You heard Linda Fairstein talking about that a minute ago.  But Linda, am I right on the semantics business that the judge is telling the prosecutors what they‘re allowed to call themselves and...


FAIRSTEIN:  Well that‘s because the defense...

ABRAMS:  Hang on a sec.

FAIRSTEIN:  ... filed a bunch of motions...

ABRAMS:  I know.  No, look...

FAIRSTEIN:  ... asking him to do that.

ABRAMS:  ... I agree and the prosecutors filed a motion, though, on this.  I mean...

FAIRSTEIN:  Right...

ABRAMS:  I don‘t - Linda, is this craziness?

FAIRSTEIN:  It is a waste of time.  I mean the only one I care about I think - never in New York, was never allowed to call the witness the victim during the trial.  That‘s what the jury is there to decide if he or she is a victim or not.  And so I think that‘s the right ruling.  The rest as long as the judge didn‘t spend more than five minutes on it and a piece of paper, then it‘s OK...

ABRAMS:  But, Diane, basically the judge is saying OK, the prosecutors are allowed to call themselves the people and the defenses are allowed to called them the government...

DIMOND:  And then...

ABRAMS:  ... right?

DIMOND:  ... he said and stop all this name-calling.  You know, I think the most poignant thing that was said in court today, Dan, was Judge Rodney Melville, you know, you got to love this guy.  He had a motion before him from the state saying hey, they can‘t be so mean to us and he said take a deep breath.  You know, he said look, the world is watching America justice and I am hoping that both of you, both sides will show them what a fine system we have.  Stop the name-calling.  Stop the rhetoric.  Let‘s get going on this case on the law because that‘s what it‘s all about.

ABRAMS:  Yes, I don‘t know.  They‘re advocates.  Let them call each other whatever they want to call them - I don‘t know.  Anyway, Diane Dimond, you‘re doing a great job out there.  I‘ll see you out there on Monday.

DIMOND:  Thank you sir.

ABRAMS:  Linda Fairstein, great to have you on the program.  I  hope we can...


ABRAMS:  ... have you back.  A real pleasure to have you on.

FAIRSTEIN:  Thank you Dan.

ABRAMS:  And Daniel, as always, good to see you.

It looks like a teacher physically assaulting a student by slamming his against the classroom wall in this surveillance tape.  The teacher‘s attorney says it‘s not that bad.  I‘ll ask him about it.

And a new report indicates that female interrogators may have been

using their sexuality to get information from Guantanamo detainees, strut -

·         excuse me—strutting around in miniskirts, rubbing up against prisoners, even smearing detainees with fake menstrual blood.  It sounds bad, but is it that different from techniques used at home by the police?

And more than 1,000 soldiers have died in Iraq since the war began—their families get over $12,000 and a personal letter from Secretary Rumsfeld.  My “Closing Argument”—it‘s time for them to get more.

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com.  Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.  I respond at the end of the show.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, surveillance video shows a teaching assistant physically assaulted a 13-year-old boy in school for allegedly stealing a pencil.  The teacher is under arrest.  We‘ve got the tape coming up.



ABRAMS:  Caught on tape.  A Kentucky teacher‘s aide gets physical with a student.  Now he‘s facing a felony assault charge.  NBC‘s Kelly O‘Donnell has the story.


KELLY O‘DONNELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  School surveillance camera recorded the December 13 incident, pictures but no sound, as a teacher‘s aide confronted and restrained a 13-year-old student.  The boy, Dimitri Ross, was accused of stealing a pencil and causing disruption in class. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and my head hit the wall and I jumped up real fast and I brought up my fist. 

O‘DONNELL:  The altercation moved to a second room where again teacher‘s aide Charles Parrott gets physical.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He did it again and I jumped up real fast and I cussed him out. 

TROOPER BRAD SMITH, KENTUCKY STATE POLICE:  I‘ve seen the tape probably 40 or 50 times and I looked specifically for did the boy make any aggressive moves towards Mr. Parrott and I don‘t see any.

O‘DONNELL:  This is not a typical Kentucky public school, but a day treatment center where troubled students are placed often by the juvenile justice system.  Parrott is a 42-year-old married father of five.  He‘s worked in the district eight years and coaches sports at another school.  Now charged with felony assault, he entered a not guilty plea. 

(on camera):  A school district official was quick to praise Parrott, calling him a person of good character.  The district says employees like Parrott go through training on how to physically restrain out of control students at the treatment center.  The question now is did he go too far? 

(voice-over):  The 13-year-old was taken to the hospital, but the extent of injuries, if any, has not been made public. 

Kelly O‘Donnell, NBC News, Chicago. 


ABRAMS:  All right.  “My Take”—this is clearly more than restraint.  The teacher‘s aide seems clearly overreacted.  That said, this is also not just a random, unprovoked incident.  Dimitri is a troubled kid.  He‘s been known to act out in the past, even admitted to cursing this teacher out.  Still, not justified, but under the law, you got to have serious injury for it to be a felony and I‘ll be talking to the prosecutor in a minute. 

I hope we are talking about more than a few scrapes and bruises here for it to be considered a serious injury.  My prediction, this case will eventually get resolved with some sort of misdemeanor plea at the most.  Who knows? 

Joining me now the attorneys for both sides, Rick Lamkin representing teacher‘s aide Charles Parrott and David Harrington, Kentucky‘s Calloway County prosecutor.  Gentlemen thanks very much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

All right, Mr. Harrington, what is the defense here? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think you need to talk with Mr. Lamkin.  He is representing Mr. Parrott.  I‘m the prosecutor.

ABRAMS:  I apologize for that. 


ABRAMS:  Go ahead.

RICK LAMKIN, CHARLES PARROTT‘S ATTORNEY:  Well, as you know, Mr.  Parrott is charged with felony assault, and felony assault requires the use of a dangerous instrument or a serious physical injury.  While we‘re awaiting receipt of the medical records from the emergency room the evening that this young man was admitted, we believe the evidence will show, number one, that there likely wasn‘t a physical—a serious physical injury and number two, if the child was injured, he was very likely injured after he left the school that day.  And that is the basis of the injuries he has, whatever he has. 

ABRAMS:  Do you concede that your client did something wrong? 

LAMKIN:  No, I concede Mr. Parrott followed the rules and regulations of the Calloway Day Treatment Center by restraining a child who was out of control. 

ABRAMS:  Even using the sort of restraint you see on that videotape? 

You think that‘s within the bounds of acceptable treatment? 

LAMKIN:  We—no one can condone the videotape, sir.  But what methods of restraint are taught?  Do you restrain him on the floor?  Do you restrain him in a chair?  Do you restrain him in a desk?  This child was out of control.  The conduct, the language, the threats he was making and the gentlemen who were in the tape other than Mr. Parrott will be testifying about the threats he was making, about Mr. Parrott, his family, his son, his job. 

And in a moment of frustration, this out of control student was restrained.  It‘s unfortunate that he was—he spent four seconds on the wall with Mr. Parrott holding his collar.  He never hit him.  He never slapped him.  He never punched him or kicked him.  He merely held him by the collar against the wall. 

ABRAMS:  Boy, it looks like more.  But we‘ll ask Mr. Harrington about that in a moment.  I‘m going to take a quick break.  When we come back, we‘re going to talk more about this.  We‘ll hear what the prosecutors say their investigation has turned up. 

And a new report claims female interrogators strutted around in miniskirts and thong underwear to break detainees at Guantanamo.  Religious Muslims aren‘t allowed contact with women who aren‘t their wives, but is this really so different than the way police act toward suspects at home?  We debate. 


ABRAMS:  We‘re talking about this videotape, which appears to be disciplinary action caught on tape.  And you just heard the attorney for that man, Charles Parrott, explaining that his client really wasn‘t doing anything wrong.  That he was merely trying to restrain a troubled kid who refused to essentially give in.  David Harrington is the prosecutor there in Calloway County.  All right, so Mr. Harrington, what has your investigation turned up?  You don‘t accept Mr. Lamkin‘s account. 

DAVID HARRINGTON, CALLOWAY COUNTY, KY PROSECUTOR:  Oh no, we don‘t.  The state police investigated this matter soon after it occurred and we were fortunate to have a police officer who himself was trained in appropriate restraint techniques.  And after examining the video, he came to the conclusion that I came to that there was obviously no aggressive, physical action on the part of the student and the restraint techniques implored by Mr. Parrott were just simply totally out of control and inappropriate. 

And he was—in particularly he was concerned with the violent action where the child was jerked and hit against the wall, resulting in physical injuries and resulted in his vomiting and his hospitalization.  And that is basically our position that we feel as though that Mr. Parrott‘s actions basically crossed the boundary where they went from restraint to basically physical assault. 

ABRAMS:  And for a felony, you do need serious physical injury here.  What are we talking about?  What led you to file a felony charge here believing that there was serious physical injury? 

HARRINGTON:  Well, we‘ve just now received the medical information and we just really did not know what the extent of the injuries were.  And, of course, there are physical injuries such as marks on the neck and bruises and things of that nature, but the real concern was the concussion that occurred.  And we have been able to medically establish that a concussion did occur...

ABRAMS:  But Mr. Lamkin says it occurred afterwards.  I mean his position is that it had nothing to do with the incident itself. 

HARRINGTON:  Well, we have investigated those allegations, and we find that the injuries sustained were consistent with the actions on the video.  So it‘s our position that the injuries sustained by the juvenile were caused as a result of the assault by Mr. Parrott. 

ABRAMS:  Here is what the mom of Dimitri had to say. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think that when you are dealing with children that you know are ADHD with emotional problems or have whatever type of problems that they have, like Dimitri has, then you have to deal with them on certain levels.  It may get on your nerves.  It gets on my nerves, but you are there to do a job.  Do it.


ABRAMS:  Mr. Lamkin, what to make of that and the comments from Mr.


LAMKIN:  Well, admittedly the child is troubled.  He has social, medical problems that she‘s discussed.  And very likely the day before this incident there wasn‘t a problem because he wasn‘t out of control.  He wasn‘t threatening bodily harm, and the other factor that nobody‘s brought up, there‘s a school nurse on staff the entire school day. 

Two or two and a half hours later he rode the bus with Mr. Parrott back to his home in Mayfield.  They didn‘t call the school nurse because the child wasn‘t injured.  There were no scrapes.  There were no abrasions.  There was no concussion.  There was no vomiting.  There was no anything until later that evening when it was reported at the emergency room with his mother.  Now, if this child was injured, do you not think the school nurse wouldn‘t have been there in a moment because the administrators would have brought her in. 

ABRAMS:  Final 10 seconds, Mr. Harrington, your response. 

HARRINGTON:  Often times the effect of a concussion, as we know, does not take place until several hours later and I agree with what the child‘s mother said.  Those that are charged with working with special needs students need to accept that responsibility...


HARRINGTON:  ... and control their actions and make sure that their actions are in conformity with...


HARRINGTON:  ... proper methods of restraint. 

ABRAMS:  I‘ll be surprised if this case goes to trial.  I think you will see those two gentlemen reach some sort of agreement, but so far it doesn‘t look that way.  Rick Lamkin and David Harrington, gentlemen, thank you so much for coming on the program.

HARRINGTON:  Thank you.

LAMKIN:  Thank you very much.

ABRAMS:  The Associated Press reports female interrogators at Guantanamo used their sexuality to pull information from detainees, strutting around in miniskirts, rubbing up against prisoners.  It violates their religious beliefs, but is this anything we—is this so different, basically from what we see here at home with the police...



ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  Are miniskirts, thong underwear, fake menstrual blood, and sexual touching all part of America‘s arsenal in the war on terror?  In an exclusive story, Associated Press reporter, Paisley Dodds, says a former Army translator has written a manuscript describing how sex and sexuality were used in an attempt to break Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay‘s Camp Delta.  The Army‘s southern command, which runs Camp Delta insists prisoners haven‘t been abused.  It‘s no secret the administration has used some controversial tactics in the war on terror as Attorney General designate Alberto Gonzales said at his confirmation hearings earlier this month. 


ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL DESIGNATE:  We have captured some really bad people who we were concerned had information that might prevent the loss of American lives. 


ABRAMS:  “My Take”—let‘s assume it‘s all true.  It is still no Abu Ghraib.  Prisoners at Camp Delta are supposed to be the worst of the worst.  Some of these techniques were apparently used on Saudi prisoners who refused to talk, including one who allegedly trained as a pilot before 9/11.  I wonder whether it‘s all that different from lies and deception police use all the time to try to get information from prisoners in situations where there is a lot less at stake. 

Now I think they probably crossed the line here, but the question is, is it really that big of deal?  But first let‘s go to Puerto Rico and Paisley Dodds, The Associated Press reporter who broke this story.  Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  All right, give us a sense of what we‘re talking about here. 

PAISLEY DODDS, REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS:  Well I think that what‘s important right now to consider is that there are a lot of different issues that concern Guantanamo.  The biggest issue is that you have about 550 men who are presumed innocent, who have been held at the prison camp for more than three years...

ABRAMS:  Right.  Right, but I don‘t want to talk about...

DODDS:  ... without charge...

ABRAMS:  ... I don‘t want to talk about Guantanamo on the whole.  I want to talk specifically about these allegations, about this story that you broke.  Exactly what is it that supposedly happened? 

DODDS:  Well, we have separate documents suggesting, some from an Army linguist who worked at Guantanamo for about six months, he mentions two separate incidents.  One involved a civilian contractor who was working as an interrogator, female.  She supposedly used a miniskirt, a thong underwear, and a bra for some of her late night interrogations of Saudi prisoners. 

And he also talked about another military female who worked as an interrogator.  She was described as using a little bit more aggressive techniques that included smearing a Saudi detainee‘s face with what she said was menstrual blood. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me read—let me quote from the manuscript that you cite. 

The female interrogator described removing her uniform top to expose a tight fitting t-shirt and began taunting the detainee, touching her breast, rubbing them against the prisoner‘s back, and commenting on his apparent erection.  The detainee saw what appeared to be red blood on her hand.  She then wiped the red ink on his face.  He shouted at the top of his lungs, spat at her, and lunged forward so fiercely that he broke loose from one ankle shackle.  He began to cry like a baby.  The interrogator left saying have a fun night in your cell without any water to clean yourself.

Now Paisley, am I right that some of this was condemned, correct?  Meaning, there was one instance where some of this was done and the person who did it was scolded, correct? 

DODDS:  That‘s correct.  The military has said that there have been 10 substantiated case of abuse since the detention mission began in 2002.  Now some of these cases don‘t appear that they are included in the 10.  This one may or may not have been.  Certainly the details are similar to what the military has released, but the military in this circumstance with what you were reading talks about a female interrogator who smeared a detainee with red ink that she said was blood after he spat at her.  So the details are a little bit different. 

ABRAMS:  And very quickly, did they consider this abuse or was she simply told that‘s not acceptable? 

DODDS:  Well, in this case, as I said, they have documented 10 substantiated cases of abuse.  So if this is indeed the same one that they documented, then the military itself was calling this abuse. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Paisley, if you could just stick around with us for a minute, talk more about what this means and whether it‘s torture, abuse, or just sort of the dirty work necessary.  Defense attorney Randall Hamud, one of his clients is a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay.  Jonna Mendez, a former CIA intelligence officer, co-author of the book “Spy Dust: Two Masters of Disguise Reveal the Tools and Operations that Helped Win the Cold War”, a founding member of the International Spy Museum, and Juliette Kayyem, MSNBC terrorism analyst and a professor at Harvard University‘s Kennedy School of Government. 

All right.  Ms. Mendez, what do you make of what you‘re hearing? 

JONNA MENDEZ, FORMER CIA INTELLIGENCE OFFICER:  Well it was a pretty remarkable report to read the first time around, but what you said, Dan, about the question have we crossed the line I think is the heart of it.  I think the question really is where is the line... 

ABRAMS:  Is this that big a deal?  I mean I understand—look let‘s accept the fact that maybe they shouldn‘t have done things the way they did, but there‘s a lot of talk here about abuse and cruel and unusual punishment and grand words that are suggesting this is a big deal.  I mean some people are comparing this to Abu Ghraib.  What do you make of that? 

MENDEZ:  I think that this is on the way to Abu Ghraib.  I think it is a big deal.  I think the American population has a mental picture of what America means and how our soldiers represent us both in battle and in peace.  I don‘t think events like this are anywhere on peoples‘ minds.  I think it startles the population, just like Abu Ghraib did. 

ABRAMS:  See, I got to tell you, I don‘t think there‘s any comparison, Juliette Kayyem...


ABRAMS:  ... between this and Abu Ghraib.  I think that, look, as I said a moment ago, that you are talking about lines and...


ABRAMS:  ... probably some lines were crossed, but only by a little.  Police in this country deceive suspects every day.  They lie to them.  They tell them they‘re going to indict their family members and their wives and their children...


ABRAMS:  ... are going to get involved.  Why is that sort of deception so, so different than what we are talking about here...


ABRAMS:  Hang on. 


ABRAMS:  Juliette, go ahead. 

JULIETTE KAYYEM, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST:  I agree with you in many respects that I don‘t think that this is similar to Abu Ghraib and I think especially when you sort of no physical harm seems to have been done to these guys.  This was clearly done to humiliate them based on some perception of how they would react because they are Muslim.  But I disagree with you to the extent that I think it is reflective of this sort of not really knowing what to do on Guantanamo Bay.  I mean when we look at the history of interrogations on Guantanamo Bay, what we‘re hearing about, you know, these sort of sex flirtation, I mean it‘s to humiliate these guys.  It‘s not really to get information out of it.  No one thinks—no one has alleged that this got good information about it.  I think...

ABRAMS:  But just because they didn‘t good information doesn‘t mean that they weren‘t doing it in an effort.  Look, the police sometimes do things that don‘t work. 

KAYYEM:  Absolutely.  I won‘t disagree with you on that, but I don‘t think you can separate it from Guantanamo Bay and sort of what are these guys doing here and why are we interrogating them in this way and is it successful?  Look, Dan, if this were three weeks after September 11, maybe you have a point, right...

ABRAMS:  Right.

KAYYEM:  We just need to find out what‘s going on.

ABRAMS:  No, you‘re right...

KAYYEM:  We‘re talking about...

ABRAMS:  The timing is a fair point.  I just got to get Randall Hamud in here. 

KAYYEM:  Right.  OK.

ABRAMS:  Go ahead Randall.  Go ahead.

RANDALL HAMUD, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Dan, it‘s a huge deal.  This is merely next in the sequence of terrible treatment and torture like treatment of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay...

ABRAMS:  So to you, this is the equivalent of...

HAMUD:  Remember, there was physical abuse as well as mental and physical suffering.  This is added to the equation.  This is also going to get huge play in the Middle East because it is a sacrilege, it‘s an attack on Islam, and it will create this story alone 20,000 new mujahadeen fighters...

ABRAMS:  Oh come on...

HAMUD:  ... to go to Iraq...


HAMUD:  I‘m telling you, Dan...

ABRAMS:  You‘re going to tell me—wait, you‘re going to tell me...

HAMUD:  ... trust me on this. 

ABRAMS:  ... Abu Ghraib wasn‘t enough and they needed something—they‘re thinking yes, I saw the pictures in Abu Ghraib, but you know what?  Now that I heard about this, this is what‘s really going to get me going. 

Come on Randall...

HAMUD:  This more than establishes that the United States has left the moral high ground behind.  It‘s morally bankrupt in the treatment of detainees of Muslim persuasion.  It is a religious war now that we‘re provoking with this sort of behavior and it‘s becoming manifest and just because we want to accept Torquemada as our new attorney general doesn‘t mean the world will accept that.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Well...

HAMUD:  Absolutely.  This is a very serious situation.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Look, going to take a break here.  We‘ll come back.  We‘re going to talk more about this.  I think we‘re overstating this particular incident quite significantly, but we‘ll continue to talk about that. 

The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq billed by the government extensions of 9/11.  So why do our fallen soldiers‘ families get so much less than the families of the 9/11 victims?  It‘s my “Closing Argument” coming up. 




GONZALES:  I share his resolve that torture and abuse will not be tolerated by this administration and commit to you today that if confirmed, I will insure that the Department of Justice aggressively pursues those responsible for such abhorrent actions. 


ABRAMS:  That‘s Attorney General designate Alberto Gonzales.  We are talking about this new report reported by Paisley Dodds of AP about female interrogators using their sexuality in essence to try and elicit intimidation.  Again, this is one of the quotes.

The female interrogator described removing the uniform top to expose a tight-fitting t-shirt and began taunting the detainee, touching her breasts, rubbing them against the prisoner‘s back and commenting on his apparent erection. 

All right.  So Jonna Mendez, if this is a last-ditch effort, let‘s assume they‘ve tried everything else, and they believe that some of these people are the worst of the worst, is it ever OK to do something like—let‘s just say what you just heard in that particular quote? 

MENDEZ:  Dan, I‘m not sure that it would get them anywhere.  I can imagine the frustration of the interrogators.  I mean, their job is to get information out of these guys and these guys must be just about as tough as you can imagine, but there are a lot smarter things they can do. There are better ways to interrogate.  There are classic ways of applying pressure, physical fatigue, stressing out an individual...

ABRAMS:  But physical fatigue, you will hear—the minute you talk physical fatigue, Randall Hamud, physical fatigue, you‘re going to go crazy, right? 

HAMUD:  Torture convention violation, war crimes act violation...

ABRAMS:  Yes, see...

HAMUD:  ... torture act violation...

ABRAMS:  See, Jonna, you‘re not going to be able to get anything done with Randall representing these people.

MENDEZ:  Physical fatigue is a...


MENDEZ:  ... one of the classic tools that‘s used.  If a person is, for whatever reason, unable to get enough sleep, they become disoriented...

ABRAMS:  Why isn‘t that...


ABRAMS:  Why isn‘t that worse than what we‘re talking about here, which is some women walking around in thongs with tight-fitting tops? 

MENDEZ:  Because if you want to understand, if you understand your enemy, you realize that what we‘re doing to these men is taking their religion and using it as a club for no apparent purpose.  These guys are not going to break because these women are strutting around...


MENDEZ:  ... in their thongs.  These guys are simply being humiliated.  Their faces are being rubbed in it and when this is over, and it‘s going to be over some day, you‘re going to have another level of gentlemen in the Middle East who hate our guts. 



ABRAMS:  Yes, I mean look, if it doesn‘t work, that‘s...


ABRAMS:  ... look, I don‘t—you know better than I do about whether it works as a technique.  What I‘m talking about is whether this is as big a deal as we‘re making it out to be.  Very quickly, Juliette, legal matter, anyone—no one is going to be prosecuted here...


ABRAMS:  ... for this, right? 

KAYYEM:  No.  This may violate some internal Army reds or depending on who the people were if they were contractors.  We really should—I mean no one is justifying Abu Ghraib.  It was awful.  That was clearly torture in some instances, but let‘s be careful about the term “torture”.  I think we denigrate the really bad things that our U.S. government...

ABRAMS:  Right.

KAYYEM:  ... has down in Guantanamo Bay or Abu Ghraib when we use it to extend it.  But what I will say is this—what we‘re hearing, this story, I think, is reflective of sort of a general sort of, you know, attempt to get information at any cost, and no one here is talking about whether we got any good information.  I think the short answer is probably not.  And that‘s how we should also judge this, but this is not torture and we should be careful about throwing that word around. 

ABRAMS:  And the bottom line is when—if we get hit again, this sort of niceties that we‘re talking about, about line drawing, Randall is going to be back on this show every day as he was in the days after 9/11 talking about the various techniques...

HAMUD:  I‘m going to be the conscience of the country because apparently this country has no conscience anymore, Dan, the way it treats Muslims and the world.

ABRAMS:  Randall...

HAMUD:  I will be the conscience...

ABRAMS:  Randall...

HAMUD:  ... because America has lost its way...

ABRAMS:  All right.  Randall gets the final word. 


ABRAMS:  All right.  Paisley Dodds, Randall Hamud, Jonna Mendez, Juliette Kayyem, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 

MENDEZ:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, a new bill in the Senate aims to increase the benefits given to the families of our fallen soldiers.  What took so long?  It‘s my “Closing Argument”. 


ABRAMS:  It almost sounds like a joke.  A judge goes to a domestic abuse seminar and let‘s just say he uses a hands-on approach with some of the women attorneys.  Our “OH PLEAs!” coming up.


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—as we head into what could be an especially brutal weekend for our troops with the Iraqi elections on Sunday, and coming off of the deadliest day for the U.S. military in 25 years -- 37 American troops dead in one day in Iraq—it‘s a good time to ask, why has it taken so long to offer more to the families of those who die for this nation?  Nobody likes to talk about the value of life.  While judges and juries and courtrooms across the country do it every day after plane crashes and car accidents, it‘s still uncomfortable and particularly emotional. 

But it‘s a topic we cannot and should not ignore.  The family of service members who lose his or her life in Iraq get $12,420 from the government.  Compare that to the families of New York City firefighters who died on 9/11.  They each received $50,000, not to mention the approximately 1.5 million every victim of September 11 received.

A new bill in the Senate propose raising military survival benefits to 100,000.  What took them so long?  I don‘t know.  Weren‘t the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq billed by the government as extensions of 9/11?  Why are these wives, husbands and children left behind worth so much less?  I know some say that members of the military volunteer for their jobs, making this a possible occupational hazard while the victims of September 11, for example, didn‘t.  But I say all the more reason to appreciate their valor.  They chose to fight for the country and this country should reciprocate by ensuring their families are appreciated back.

Up next, lots of people telling me I look like one of the actors in the Court TV movie “The Exonerated” we talked about last night.  I‘ll give you a hint.  It‘s not Susan Sarandon.  Your e-mails are coming up in 60 seconds.


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Last night we debated if the Court TV movie “The Exonerated” about six people freed from death row is an accurate portrayal.  There have been questions about whether at least two of the six were truly innocent.  One of my guests, Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project, and a member of O.J. Simpson‘s team accused another guest of having no shame five times. 

V. Doerr in Delray Beach, Florida.  “Don‘t you think that Mr. Scheck was a hypocrite yelling have no shame to one of your guests.  Did he forget or just think that it was OK to get a murderer like O.J. Simpson off?”

Donna in Plantation, Florida.  “Barry Scheck has done some great work with DNA, but let‘s not forget that O.J. Simpson is walking free because of him not in spite of him.  Shame on you.  Shame on Barry Scheck.”

And Gail Duke in Missouri.  “I‘m amazed that Scheck could possibly call someone else shameful.  If I had been on O.J. Simpson‘s defense team as he was, I still wouldn‘t be able to show my face in public.”

And in my “Closing Argument” last night I said I feel sorry for Amber Frey.  She was in court Wednesday.  This time she‘s battling for custody of her new baby with her ex boyfriend.  Yet another failed relationship for Amber.  As I predicted many of you e-mailed complaining. 

Lisa DeBenedittis, “Your public expression of sympathy for Amber Frey was very transparent.  It‘s clear you are vying for your next interview with her.”

Lisa, I hate to tell you this, but Amber not exactly a sought after interview anymore. 

But Leona Jayne thinks I have a different motive.  “How in the world could you feel sorry for her?  You better lock your doors and change your phone number.  You announced on television that you like her.  Next thing you know she‘ll be asking you to pick up her daughter.”

I feel sorry for her, OK. 

Finally, Karen Shane writes about one of the actors in that movie “Exonerated”.  “I think you and actor Aidan Quinn were separated at birth.”

You know, Karen—people have actually told me that, I swear to you, for years.  In the words of one person who I did not know very well, -- quote—“You know, you look a lot like less good-looking version of Aidan Quinn.” 

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com.  We go through them at the end of the show. 

“OH PLEAs!”—you‘d think a conference on sexual abuse and domestic violence would be the last place a woman would have to worry about being groped, by a judge no less.  Apparently the Honorable Franklin C. Jones wasn‘t listening too closely to the lectures at a state sponsored conference on domestic abuse in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.  While at the hotel bar, the Rochester judge decided to take things into his own hands.  Literally. 

Five women accused the 56-year-old of grabbing their breasts and buttocks and get this.  All five had argued cases in Judge Jones‘ court in sexual and domestic abuse cases.  The hands-on judge pleaded no contest to five counts of misdemeanor, simple assault, was given a one-year suspended sentence, a suspension from the bench, one year probation, ordered to attend either a week at an alcohol rehab center or a week in jail.  Talk about judicial discretion. 

That does it for us tonight.  Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Thanks for watching.  I‘ll see you Monday from Santa Maria, California.  Day one of the Michael Jackson trial.  I‘ll be there.



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