updated 4/15/2005 4:27:05 PM ET 2005-04-15T20:27:05

Guest:  Gloria Allred, Daniel Horowitz, Sheriff David Gee, Rev. Johnny Cook, Ramsey Clark

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, the mother of Michael Jackson‘s accuser talks about why watching this program was so important. 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  She tells jurors about hearing a tape on this program that she says Jackson‘s associates forced her to make.  We‘ve got the exclusive tape everyone is talking about. 

And hundreds of volunteers join in the search for a missing 13-year-old Florida girl, while police question a convicted sex offender who dated her mother.  We‘ll talk with one of the last people to see Sarah Lunde, a minister at her church. 

Plus, another ABRAMS REPORT exclusive—the former U.S. attorney general who is now defending Saddam Hussein. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m here to tell you he‘s entitled to a fair trial.

ABRAMS:  Why would Ramsey Clark want to lend his name to such a despicable client?

The program about justice starts now. 


ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket tonight, an ABRAMS REPORT exclusive becomes a crucial piece of evidence in the Michael Jackson case.  It relates to a secretly recorded audiotape of the mother of Michael Jackson‘s accuser right before the Department of Children and Family Services interviewed the accuser‘s family.  This, at the very same time prosecutors say the family was effectively imprisoned at Neverland.  The mother says the man you hear on this tape forced her to record the meeting. 




INVESTIGATOR:  All right, so it won‘t be suspicious I‘m just going to put it here.


INVESTIGATOR:  Just need a place to put it when they are interviewing you.  You don‘t have to do nothing.  It‘s working. 


INVESTIGATOR:  You just need a place—I don‘t know what you want to do.

MOTHER:  OK, I am going to put it right here.


ABRAMS:  This is just part of the tape played in court for the jury today.  We‘ll play more, but first, another explosive day in the Santa Maria courtroom that included a heated exchange between the lawyers.  The mother of Michael Jackson‘s accuser coming into court for a second day of the stand hiding from the cameras under her coat.  On the stand, she appeared more composed today than yesterday and gave details that the prosecution will hang its hat on to prove the conspiracy charge against Jackson.

Mike Taibbi was in the courtroom again as her story unfolded.  So Mike, she didn‘t seem quite as wacky as yesterday (INAUDIBLE)?

MIKE TAIBBI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well I wouldn‘t use the word wacky, but the prosecutors may need several hats to hang on several pegs because her story kept moving.  As one legal analyst, Jim Moret, put it, as the morning wore on, it seemed that this accuser‘s mother‘s meds wore off because she returned to the form of yesterday, when she was totally unpredictable and totally uncontrollable under the very careful and gentle questioning of Assistant D.A. Ron Zonen. 

She got back into the whole litany about the killers she kept calling them who she said she was told had arrived at Neverland so she couldn‘t go there, who were going to kill her kids, who were going to kill her, who were going to kill her parents, on and on and on.  And she kept repeating all of that, and again the jurors seemed to react in a way that suggested they didn‘t really know what to make of this woman...

ABRAMS:  Mike, she‘s sort of laying out—she is laying out a timeline, isn‘t she, basically as to here‘s what‘s happening here, here is what they are doing to us at this point.  This is why we can‘t leave, et cetera.

TAIBBI:  Well I think Ron Zonen is helping her lay out a timeline, you‘re right Dan, and they are going over it day by day, night by night, and meeting by meeting, and you refer to the tape that you had exclusively on THE ABRAMS REPORT a while back.  There was much discussion about that.  At one point after it was established that she and her children once again had said glowing things about Michael Jackson, she was asked by the prosecutor did you mean it when you said it?  Her answer was, I was confused, I was sad, so basically I was acting. 

Later on, that voice you heard played before was from a man named Asaf (ph), who is identified as a man named Asaf (ph), an employee of Michael Jackson‘s, and the question to this witness was and did Asaf (ph) give you any particular instructions?  And she said yes, to play the DVD, the DVD of her son and Michael Jackson, her son the accuser, and he told me that if I put Michael in a bad light that they know where my parents live, another repetition of her allegation that she was told at every turn that she or her family or her parents or her children would be killed if she didn‘t cooperate. 

Later on, another question to her:  The first tape that you listened to at that time of the grand jury was a tape from what?  And her answer was I don‘t know what you properly call the show, ABRAMS REPORT, she said.  She didn‘t say the show about justice, but I think, Dan, she was referring to your show. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, I think so too.  All right, let me just—just to put all this in context, I want to sort of lay out the timing here a little bit.  Remember, we‘re talking about the fact that this Martin Bashir documentary is played, it‘s terrible for Michael Jackson, and the prosecutors say immediately after that, that‘s when Jackson‘s team going into overdrive and here‘s how the mother lays out the timeline.  All right.

February 19:  They make this rebuttal video, where they essentially say great things about Michael Jackson.  She says that they had a script that they were following. 

December 20 is that Department of Child and Family Services interview that we‘re talking about.  I‘m going to play more of that tape from that interview in a moment.  Again, right in the time where prosecutors say that they are still being held at Neverland effectively against their will. 

February 21-25:  Confined she says to the Neverland guest cottage while her sons were with Michael Jackson.  Apparently some of the molestation, according to the prosecutors, happens then. 

February 25:  Leaves Neverland she says for her son‘s oncologist appointment.  That she met briefly with an attorney about filing suit against the guy who made that first video.  She was told the—quote—

“killers were at Neverland”, so they couldn‘t go back there she said. 

From February 25 to March 2, she‘s in a Country Inn in Calabasas, where she calls friends and she says she tried to leave clues, but didn‘t call the police because she said she was scared. 

March 2-10:  Confined to the Neverland guest cottage.  Again, she says her sons are with Jackson.  She says she was told she could move from her apartment, because it was too dangerous.  Basically, she‘s saying the whole time that she was being threatened. 

Now she said on the stand today...

TAIBBI:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... we‘ve got the tape of what happened right before that interview, with the Department of Child and Family Services, listen, you decide which side it‘s damaging to. 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  The tape begins as representatives from Los Angeles Child Services arrive at the apartment where the mother was staying. 



MOTHER:  These are the ladies from the Child Services.



ABRAMS:  They are there to interview the alleged victim, age 13, and his brother and sister.  When the caseworkers arrive, the children appear to be watching a home video of Jackson and the alleged victim.  Jackson‘s heard singing. 


MOTHER:  This is something personal.

DCFS REP. #1:  Oh, OK.


ABRAMS:  According to this Child Services report, the investigation was prompted by a call from a school official, who had seen a documentary with Jackson and some children, including the boy—quote—“in which the children had stated that they shared the same bed as the entertainer.”  The allegations, sexual abuse by Jackson and neglect by the mother. 

DCFS REP. #2:  OK, this is what we‘re going to do.  I have to interview.  We have to interview each one of you separately. 


DCFS REP. #2:  So, (INAUDIBLE) it‘s confidential, so the other people are not going to be able to remain.

MOTHER:  I also want to know the --  all the allegations...

DCFS REP. #2:  I‘m going to do that.  We‘re going to go through all of them.


MOTHER:  I want to be present when they ask my children questions. 

What are my rights?  What are their rights?

DCFS REP.:  Well you know what?  Can we—I would like to read you everything...

ABRAMS:  But on the tape, Child Services informs the mother they want to interview each person separately and alone, and the mother says she invited the others to be there. 

DCFS REP. #3:  The only people that we‘re supposed to see are you and your three children...


DCFS REP. #3:  And I understand they‘re your security...

MOTHER:  No, they‘re here for my invitation, my request.

DCFS REP. #3:  OK, I understand that, but what I‘m saying to you is that because we—of the way we work and the confidential—confidentiality laws that we have, we can only talk to you and your three children being present.  We can‘t have anybody else present during the interview process.  They can‘t know what the allegations are...

ABRAMS:  Later on the tape, the mother even seemed to work with the Jackson investigator trying to tape the interviews. 

INVESTIGATOR:  This is the tape recorder.


INVESTIGATOR:  All right.  So we won‘t be suspicious, I‘m just going to put it here...


INVESTIGATOR:  Just need a place to put it...


INVESTIGATOR:  ... while they‘re interviewing you...


INVESTIGATOR:  You don‘t have to (INAUDIBLE)...




INVESTIGATOR:  I don‘t know where you want it.

MOTHER:  OK, I‘m going to put it right here.

ABRAMS:  The mother also expresses concern that word of the allegations might leak out to the public. 

DCFS REP. #3:  This is between our department and you and your children...


DCFS REP. #3:  ... and no one else.

DCFS REP. #3:  No, well no it‘s not, that‘s what I‘m saying and that‘s exactly why we‘re trying to do this as discreetly as possible.  All the cases are sealed.  No one has any records or anything.  I know that you know 10 years ago when other allegations came out regarding Michael Jackson, things got in the news, what have you.  That‘s the reason that our unit was developed.

ABRAMS:  But the boy‘s mom also seemed worried that she was a target of the investigation. 

MOTHER:  ... I‘m cautious because you know...


MOTHER:  ... worldwide...

DCFS REP. #2:  Right.

MOTHER:  ...  billboards, bad mother and...



ABRAMS:  Mike, very quickly.  They played the whole tape today in court, right? 

TAIBBI:  Yes, they did and here‘s what I didn‘t hear in it, Dan.  She talked about that specific threat, we know where your parents live.  We listened to the tape that you listened to and put on the air, and in break when Asaf (ph), the Jackson investigator talks to her, there is no threat.  In fact, the words threat, the words killers are not used there or anywhere else in anything, in any of the tape exhibits that have been played in court so far.

ABRAMS:  Joined now by the great Gloria Allred and the great Daniel Horowitz.  Gloria so, is this a problem for the prosecutors? 

GLORIA ALLRED, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY:  No, because I think that they are putting their case together brick by brick, and I thought, by the way, it was so interesting when I was there yesterday in court, in Santa Maria at this trial, that you know there were some reporters that were really raising their eyebrow when the mother was testifying, I think trying to suggest that maybe she had real credibility issues. 

For example, about the danger that she said that Jackson and his associates said that she was in.  But then we heard the audiotape played yesterday in court, where, in fact, a Frank Tyson, a Michael Jackson representative or associate, can be heard on the tape talking to her, telling her that for her safety and the safety of the children, they have to come to Neverland, bottom line is some of what she is saying is being corroborated by tape recordings, and why did the Jackson investigator, if it‘s true that he did ask her to secretly record that child welfare services interview?  What was Jackson afraid of?  And why was he trying to isolate her and keep her at Neverland or away from the press?  What was he afraid that she would say? 

ABRAMS:  Daniel, but it sounded like on the tape that she‘s working with him on that tape.  I know she said she was threatened and was forced to do it, but she‘s sitting there saying ok, I‘ll put it here and no one will be suspicious if you put it there, et cetera. 

DANIEL HOROWITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Dan, everything about this woman says Michael is innocent.  Remember, Bashir followed Michael and these kids around and never found anything that was sexual abuse.  Sure, Michael was weird.  He slept with kids, but nothing that constituted a crime or even close to it.  Then she talks on this tape that we‘ve seen and to protective services.  Nothing.  Only after the fact, at this trial, when she can make a lot of money, if Michael is convicted.  She spins everything that helped Michael with a negative spin.  That‘s why...

ABRAMS:  Gloria, do they have to link—I mean all right let‘s see—they play these tapes in court, which from my understanding and my reading of the transcripts, somewhat incriminating, but how do you link that definitively to Michael Jackson?  Meaning to say that Michael Jackson effectively ordered him to say it, told him to say it, made him say it?

ALLRED:  Well they are going to have to link it up, but after all, a number of these people may very well have been in the employ of Michael Jackson, acting as agents for Michael Jackson, and we haven‘t heard all of the testimony from all of the employees, some of whom may testify that it was at his direction that they were told to do what they did.  And, you know, Dan is treating this—Dan Horowitz is treating this as though it‘s only a she said-he said or he said-he said, but it isn‘t because all of the testimony has come in about allegations of prior sexual abuse involving other children, so this particular accusation cannot be viewed in isolation.  It‘s got to be viewed along with all of the other evidence...

ABRAMS:  What about the fact that they knew?  What if they...

ALLRED:  It doesn‘t sound good for Michael Jackson. 

ABRAMS:  So what if they knew about the other allegations and then tried to make it, you know, sound consistent with the other stuff? 

ALLRED:  Well, that is going to be an issue.  What she knew, when she knew it, and that‘s why the cross-examination is going to be very interesting.  And I‘m sure there‘s going to be blood in the water, so to speak, when Tom Mesereau begins to try...

ABRAMS:  Yes. 

ALLRED:  ... to take this mother apart.  But right now, I think what she is testifying to in some measure is being corroborated.  Abrams: yes.  All right Dan Horowitz, final 10 seconds. 

HOROWITZ:  The big gap in the prosecution case is that from ‘93 until these accusation, there‘s not a stream of molested kids.  If he really were a molester, then there would be a lot more than just what we‘re seeing.  So I think he‘s innocent.  This is about money. 

ABRAMS:  Well...


ABRAMS:  Look at Daniel making his...


ABRAMS:  Look at Daniel making his final like little closing argument there with his final sort of—anyway.  All right.  Gloria Allred, Daniel Horowitz, Mike Taibbi, thanks a lot. 

Coming up, police searching for 13-year-old Sarah Lunde missing since Sunday.  They question a convicted sex offender who showed up at her house apparently after she disappeared.  We‘re going to talk to one of the last people to see her, up next. 

Plus, my exclusive interview with president Johnson‘s attorney general, who is now representing Saddam Hussein.  Why is Ramsey Clark getting involved with him? 

And the bizarre tale of the finger found in bowl of Wendy‘s chili taken on a life of its own. 

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:  The question, have you seen this girl, 13-year-old Sarah Lunde missing from her home since early Sunday morning?  Last seen Saturday night at about 9:00 p.m. when she was dropped off at her home following a youth rally.

All right.  Here is the timeline.  About 4:00 a.m. Sunday morning, her brother returns home from a friend‘s house, the front door is open, Sarah‘s not there.  About 5:00 a.m., same day, David Onstott, a convicted rapist, was seen leaving Sarah‘s home.  Later Sunday morning, Sarah wasn‘t waiting outside her usual ride to church.  Monday morning she didn‘t make it to school.  Law enforcement and volunteers are searching the area surrounding her home, calling on the police help of dog, divers, horses, helicopters.  Among those helping is Mark Lunsford, whose daughter Jessica was abducted and killed by a convicted sex offender last month.

Police haven‘t named any suspects yet, but they are questioning David Onstott.  Now he dated Sarah‘s mother.  He was wanted on a Michigan arrest warrant for driving under the influence, was arrested in Florida Tuesday, charged with aggravated assault allegedly threatening someone with a screw driver. 

Joining me now with latest on the search is Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee.  Sheriff, thanks very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.  Any news in the last three or four hours?

SHERIFF DAVID GEE, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY FL:  No, nothing new today, Dan.  Just an exhaustive search.  You know I have to say we are disappointed that we have not been able to bring her home yet.  But we‘ve done a big search today with a couple hundred volunteers and over 100 law enforcement officers, so a lot of effort going into this.

ABRAMS:  Can you give us any sense of what Onstott is saying or not saying?

GEE:  No, I‘m really—you know I‘ve not gone into his interview yet, any of the investigative detail other than to say that you know we have talked to him.  We are talking to him and again, looking at a lot of other areas too and of course have not been able to rule out the possibility that she just left on her own.  That is still a possibility right now that we are left with. 

ABRAMS:  And how do you make that determination? You must face this often where people will call, they‘ll say there is someone missing, and then you as a law enforcement official have to make a decision.  OK, am I convinced that this person was abducted, or could the person have left on his or her own?

GEE:  Well I think all of the circumstances, you know, in this case, we‘ve got the mother who is saying this was you know out of the ordinary, that she had done this, but it had been quite a while, and it was—at this point in her life she was really not prone to that, so we are going a lot on what relatives and friends tell us, as well as the circumstances surrounding it, you know, some of the suspicious circumstances, and you know you go at it like it‘s the worst-case scenario, and you certainly hope for the best. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Sheriff, thanks a lot for taking the time coming on the program.  Please keep up updated if you can. 

GEE:  I will Dan.  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Thank you.  Joining me now is Reverend Johnny Cook of the First Apostolic Church of Jesus, the church Sarah attended.  Reverend Cook became somewhat like a surrogate father to her.  His son was the last to see Sarah before she went missing. 

Reverend, thanks very much for taking the time to come on the program.


ABRAMS:  Tell me a little bit about why you and other family members view it as sort of a non issue, that she couldn‘t have or wouldn‘t have just gotten up and walked away.

COOK:  Well, normally she would always called to come to church, and if she ever felt at the least bit scared or anything, she would always call to stay with someone, and we‘ve often went to pick her up and let her spend the night with us or some of her girlfriend‘s family members, which lived just across the street from the church, and we have done that all along, and this is just not like her to be missing without notifying somebody from the church. 

ABRAMS:  Did you know this David Onstott guy, the guy who‘d been dating Sarah‘s mother a while back?

COOK:  No, I didn‘t know anything about him. 

ABRAMS:  And how do you know—what is your relationship to the family? We‘ve described you as sort of a surrogate father.  Explain to us what that means.

COOK:  Well we‘ve just taken her under her wing, because she was wanting somebody to be close to, and I felt like our church was a place that she could come and find freedom and what she needed in the Lord, and I believed that when she began to come to church, she got baptized and the Lord filled her with the Holy Ghost, and after that she began to feel very close to the church, and she always wanted to be around the church then.  It was just something...

ABRAMS:  Reverend, she had a pretty tragic home life, right?

COOK:  That—I don‘t know how tragic it was, other than the fact that she was just alone.  She felt alone, and she wanted to be around people that she felt close to, and we made her feel at home, and she never complained too much about her home life, so I can‘t tell you that—how bad that was, other than she just wanted to stay around the church people to feel that closeness of family and that love relationship that she desired. 

She is a sweet girl and she desired people to care about her, and she found that here at the church, and I felt like that‘s why she reached out to our youth, our young people.  She was very dedicated to the Lord and she was getting into the choir.  She was starting to go to youth functions.


COOK:  And many of those things were just a blessing to her, and we found it an honor just to be around her.  She was a sweet girl and...


ABRAMS:  From what I‘ve read about this...


ABRAMS:  ... you‘ve been a very important part of her life and instrumental and keeping her a happy human being, and I think that, you know that‘s what being a reverend should be all about.  So...

COOK:  Right.  I know her family and her mother and family members all miss her terribly... 


COOK:  ... and we would like to find her as quick as possible.

ABRAMS:  Let me try and help in that effort, Reverend, if we can, by just giving this address out, this picture, et cetera.  Any information if have you it, about the whereabouts of Sarah Lunde or anything about who might abducted her, for example, please call the Hillsborough County Sheriff‘s Department, 813-247-8200. 

Reverend, thank you so much for taking the time to come on the program.  I really appreciate it.

COOK:  You‘re welcome.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, a former United States attorney general in an exclusive interview tells me why he‘s decided to help represent Saddam Hussein. 


ABRAMS:  Coming up, another ABRAMS REPORT exclusive.  A former United States attorney general now representing Saddam Hussein talks about why he‘s decided to represent the former dictator.  I‘ve got tough questions, coming up.


ABRAMS:  It‘s been a year and a half since U.S. forces captured Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.  No date set yet for his trial.  When he does face justice, he‘ll have an unlikely ally.  Ramsey Clark, the son of a U.S.  Supreme Court justice, former attorney general under Lyndon Johnson, and a civil rights activist.  This is not Clark‘s first time advising or representing those known as the worst of the worst, including accused international war criminals.  He advised former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic and (INAUDIBLE).  But this one could be his most controversial case ever.  I asked him questions on everything from why he would want this case to how he decided to take it. 


RAMSEY CLARK, REPRESENTING SADDAM HUSSEIN:  When we saw the pictures of Saddam Hussein having been captured, I was particularly distressed about the photos of him with—he looked in disarray, and his hair was a mess and he hadn‘t shaved and some guy had his hand in his mouth, and pictures that were a clear violation of the Geneva Convention, but also human dignity in the worst way.  So I knew then that they weren‘t going to be treating him well.

ABRAMS:  How did you get in touch with his family? 

CLARK:  They were in Amman.  They started trying to contact me about the 13th of December, a lawyer from Ramadi met with him we believe, and the message that he came out after that meeting seemed authentic to me, and once we had that contact, and he said that Saddam Hussein had mentioned a desire to see me. 

ABRAMS:  Why Ramsey Clark, the former attorney general, the man whose name is familiar in the United States?  Why give Saddam the benefit of having your name associated with him? 

CLARK:  Well, if that‘s a benefit to him, I hope it won‘t tarnish his reputation, but I became deeply involved in civil rights in the ‘60‘s when I left government, and I‘d go wherever these problems are, so it became clear to me immediately, and it would seem obvious to anybody, not only that he had to have effective counsel of his choice, but that a great deal more depended on his effective representation, effective in fact and effective in appearance, credible. 

ABRAMS:  Sure, Saddam deserves effective representation, but as someone as you say, who cares so much about human rights, why—he needs a lawyer.  He doesn‘t need this lawyer.  (INAUDIBLE) why when it‘s someone who is clearly someone who has not cared about human rights in his past, why should he have you? 

CLARK:  Well, that‘s—to me that‘s...

ABRAMS:  Is that irrelevant? 

CLARK:  No.  I think in fairness, I know you‘re a good lawyer, but in fairness you really test human rights in a crisis, but his trial, a fair trial is a human right, and to show that an American stands up for human rights against those people that have been demonized by his own country seems to me to add validity to the idea that human rights are universal.

ABRAMS:  Isn‘t there a moral choice also?  I mean you‘ve given me what is strictly sort of a legal answer, which is that he deserves, as does everyone, a fair trial, and that you want to make sure that happens.  But isn‘t there also a moral choice to say he needs somebody, but I don‘t want to be that person, based on what I know he‘s done in his past? 

CLARK:  That thought doesn‘t occur to me, because that‘s me being the judge.  A lawyer is not the judge. 

ABRAMS:  But you reached out to him.  But you reached out to him.

CLARK:  I reached out to him, because I could see what a crisis it was for human rights and what‘s happening right now.  I mean his human rights are violated every moment.  He has not seen a lawyer.  He has not seen his family.  He‘s kept completely incommunicado, and it‘s imperative that you in a crisis like this in cases of most importance that you fight hardest for human rights and—but the idea that you don‘t represent someone they are awful, if they are, is contrary to the idea of the right to counsel. 

Now, can—if the United States committed the supreme international crime, a war of aggression against Iraq, can it stand above the law and not be charged with that while Saddam Hussein is demonized and charged with other crimes? 

ABRAMS:  What do you say to those who say this is just your effort to put this administration on trial and that this is your opportunity to challenge a war that you hated? 

CLARK:  Well, I don‘t like hatred, but I‘ll tell you I oppose the war with all my heart and soul.  But I also oppose the sanctions with all my heart and soul.  And I wrote and pleaded and spoke to the Clinton administration and their officials and did everything within my power, ask the Democrats.  They don‘t see me as a Democrat.  I‘m for human rights and I‘m for peace, and I think the two go together. 

ABRAMS:  You said that you think that Saddam should be tried in an international criminal court as opposed to in Iraq by the tribunal there.  The problem with that is that would mean that he couldn‘t be tried in that court for any of crimes committed before this court was established, and that would mean there were a lot of gassing and use of chemical weapons, et cetera, in the ‘80‘s and early ‘90‘s that would go untried.  That doesn‘t concern you? 

CLARK:  The international criminal court doesn‘t have jurisdiction by choice, because it believes in the rule of law for acts that occurred before July the 1st of 2002.  But that‘s before the U.S. invasion.  That‘s before all the activities of that time.  That‘s pretty serious. 

ABRAMS:  This would ignore arguably Saddam‘s most severe crimes? 

CLARK:  Well I‘m not going to presume his guilt, but in terms of the effect on the people of Iraq, what has happened since March the 19th of 2003, it is far more severe than what happened in those other periods under the worst allegations of them. 

ABRAMS:  It sounds like when you talk about Saddam Hussein you presume him innocent. 

CLARK:  Of course I do. 

ABRAMS:  And, yet, when it comes to the U.S., it seems you presume them guilty. 

CLARK:  I don‘t know why you say that...

ABRAMS:  Really?  Every time you talk about the U.S., it sounds like you are indicting them and when you talk about Saddam Hussein, you restate the presumption of innocence. 

CLARK:  Indictment is based on probable cause, not an assumption of guilt.  You know, we don‘t deny shock and awe, do we? 

ABRAMS:  But do we deny the gassing of the Kurds?  Is there any question that Saddam has committed human rights violations?


CLARK:  I am here to say he‘s entitled to a fair trial.  I will tell you that he‘s been so fairly demonized that it‘s almost impossible to hope for a fair trial.  He‘s been demonized for years and years.  Above all, you go with the rule of law, and you have to have a court that is duty constituted, that is legal, that is competent, that is independent and that is impartial, and you‘re not going to get one in Iraq.

ABRAMS:  Why shouldn‘t the Iraqis be able to try Saddam Hussein themselves? 

CLARK:  Well because the crimes involve international impact overwhelmingly.  What‘s the United States doing there, you know?

ABRAMS:  How about crimes that he committed against their people?  I mean Saddam Hussein committing crimes are against the Iraqi people.  Why shouldn‘t the Iraqi people be able to...

CLARK:  Well we can let them decide, but they don‘t even have a constitution or government yet, you know.  What you have got is a U.S.  chosen system of judges.  Certainly the Iraqi people have a vast interest in this, but their greater interest is peace.  Their greater interest is reconciliation.  They are living under the most miserable conditions of many miserable periods of times in their lives.  Right now there‘s violence everywhere.  It‘s the worst time they‘ve had in my experience there, including during the bombing in the Golf War. 

ABRAMS:  Because you know that some would say this is the best time that they‘ve ever had.  As a free people they just had their first elections, et cetera.

CLARK:  Well I don‘t—the only people that would say that are people who just made a million bucks or something that—on some contract.  There are very few that believe it‘s the best time because you don‘t stick your head out the front door, what kind of freedom is that? 

ABRAMS:  Do you have any former colleagues or friend who come up to you and they say Ramsey what, are you doing?  What are you doing getting involved with Saddam and Slobodan Milosevic and these other people?  Come on.

CLARK:  It may seem strange, but among my friends and acquaintances, I have not had a single critical comment.  I think in part because that‘s—they know me by definition and that‘s what they expect me to do.  But I‘ve had some hundreds—I haven‘t tried to count them—of people who say thank you and he deserves a fair trial, and we‘re glad somebody stands up, and I—but I read in the press that it‘s not a popular thing.  I see in the media that it‘s not a popular thing, and I never live for the popular thing. 


ABRAMS:  My interview with Ramsey Clark. 

Coming up, why those who are supporting the president‘s judicial nominees need to decide if they want the American Bar Association‘s input or not.  I say they can‘t have it both ways.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, how did a finger get into a bowl of Wendy‘s chili? 

We have the late-breaking, finger-pointing details. 



ABRAMS:  It is one of the more bizarre cases in recent memory.  A Las Vegas woman who claims her bowl of Wendy‘s chili came garnished with a severed human fingertip.  She threatens to sue Wendy‘s, drops her claim.  Her lawyer drops her as a client.  Now police are trying to figure out what really happened.  How did the fingertip wind up in a bowl of chili, if the allegation is correct, and they are asking if a leopard was ever involved? 

NBC‘s Peter Alexander has the story. 


PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  It plays like a TV crime drama. 


ALEXANDER:  A gruesome claim, a police raid on the plaintiff‘s Las Vegas home.

GENESIS AYALA, PLAINTIFF‘S DAUGHTER:  All of a sudden we hear a kick on the door.

ALEXANDER:  And a mysterious body part, the infamous fingertip found in a bowl of chili served at a San Jose, California Wendy‘s.  Some media quickly jumped on Anna Ayala‘s claim. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Just knowing that there was a human remain in my mouth, you know something in my mouth, it‘s disgusting. 

ALEXANDER:  Police want to know where did the fingertip come from, who did it belong to, and how did it get there?  Today authorities are closer to ruling out any link to the case of a woman who lost part of her middle finger during a leopard attack in February.  The portion of the finger lost in the attack they say is much smaller than the fingertip found in the chili. 

GINA TEPOORTEN, SAN JOSE POLICE SPOKESWOMAN:  We want to find out if this is an industrial accident, are the results of some type of assault that someone lost their finger, or something even more serious as an unreported homicide. 

ALEXANDER:  Wendy‘s is adamant the fingertip did not come from them and is offering a $50,000 reward for any viable lead. 

BOB BERTINI, WENDY‘S SPOKESMAN:  What we said from the very beginning is what we wanted to do is determine the truth.  We wanted to know exactly what happened.  We wanted to get to the bottom of this. 

ALEXANDER:  Anna Ayala, who settled with another fast food restaurant after she said her daughter got sick, no longer wants any part of this case, and didn‘t answer our calls. 

JEFFREY JANOFF, PLAINTIFF‘S FORMER ATTORNEY:  She‘s just tired of it.  She‘s emotionally very upset.  She‘s, you know, been on medication.  It‘s just too difficult, so she says you know it‘s not worth it. 

ALEXANDER:  Bottom line, there‘s plenty of finger pointing begun on, and authorities are looking for answers.  They tried to find a match for the partial fingerprint in a database, and DNA tests are now underway. 

Peter Alexander, NBC News, New York. 


ABRAMS:  Wendy‘s sales have apparently suffered since this story broke, but the company insists employees at the restaurant that sold the chili have all of their fingers.  They say the fingertip couldn‘t have entered the food chain with its ingredients.  No one can say we are not covering the most important stories of the day. 

Coming up, why it‘s time for those supporting President Bush‘s judicial nominees to make up their mind whether they want the Bar Association‘s input or not.  They can‘t pick and choose.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—it‘s happening again, the selected use of the American Bar Association‘s ratings for prospective judicial candidates.  Remember President Bush I think foolishly chose to exclude the ABA from the evaluation process when it comes to prospective judges, so I don‘t want to hear those trying to push through the president‘s judicial choices citing the ABA ratings, but that‘s exactly what‘s happening.

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, who is a critical figure when it comes to judicial nominations on TV today touting the ABA‘s approval of nominees that Democrats are threatening to filibuster.  Well either you ask for the ABA‘s guidance or you don‘t.  I wish the administration did.

Every president since Eisenhower has presented a candidate to the ABA before sending the name to the Senate.  Doesn‘t mean the president has to abide by the recommendation, but it‘s always held a lot of weight.  The ABA assesses whether a candidate is qualified, not qualified or well qualified based on three criteria, professional competence, judicial temperament and personal integrity.

They‘re not asking how judges would decide cases, just if they‘re qualified to do so.  A legal evaluation, not a political one.  This administration decided that in essence the ABA couldn‘t be trusted.  Turns out that only five of 322 nominees have been found to be not qualified, a number completely consistent with previous administrations.

If the president and his supporters don‘t trust the ABA the way everybody from Kennedy to Reagan, then don‘t cite them at all.  But you can‘t cite them when they suit your needs, then criticize when you don‘t like what they‘re saying.  The ABA is as fair and impartial as you can get on a topic this sensitive and I would hope once again that this signals that they‘ll be welcomed back into the evaluation process.

Coming up your e-mails.


ABRAMS:  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Last night in my “Closing Argument” I said it seems disclosing the name of a covert CIA agent it‘s only a big deal if it is political.  On Monday, Democratic Senator John Kerry and Republican Richard Lugar both seemed to have accidentally disclosed the identity of a CIA officer but unlike the Valerie Plame incident last year, there‘s no outrage this time.  I wondered whether it‘s because both sides did it and so there‘s no political gain.

Ruby Blevins in Arizona, “Come on Dan.  Quit trying to make news.  That name of the CIA operative had been out so many times it wasn‘t news to anyone.”

Dennis Jones in Nampa, Idaho, “It would seem that the reason there is no hue and cry this time is that there was no outing.  I think that you might want to correct the facts on your program.”

Ruby and Dennis and some others who wrote in the same thing, you weren‘t listening to me last night.  I‘m going to quote myself.  Quote—

“This officer‘s name has been in the press before, but only when he held a different post and his identity was not secret.”  You can find the transcripts of the show at abramsreport.msnbc.com and click on transcripts to read any of our shows from the past week. 

Also last night, Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy in front of the House Appropriations Committee requesting additional funds for the security of federal judges which I support 100 percent.  Some of you don‘t. 

Richard Capriola from Illinois, “If you argue for round-the-clock protection for federal judges, why not the same level of protection for the thousands of local state and federal prosecutors whose lives are just as much if not more at risk.  Federal judges are offered lifetime jobs with very good salaries and like it or not, the risk comes with the job.”

From Topeka, Kansas, Trish Jackson, “I love you dearly but the folks who need protection are mainly in the schools, teachers.  As a retired person who now substitutes, I‘m terrified of being in a school.”  Love you too Trish.

Finally, Jacob in Linwood, New Jersey, “Our judges are key to our government.  We can have a legislature creating laws, but without judges who will enforce them?  Why wouldn‘t we do everything possible to protect judges?”

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

“OH PLEAs!”—who would want to get taxed?  How about brothels?  Yes, brothels.  Twenty-eight of them in Carson City, Nevada, are begging for one special man to visit and his name is Uncle Sam.  The Nevada Brothel Association is asking lawmakers to extend the privilege to participate in state taxes in hopes of gaining some acceptance.  The proposed bill will put a 10 percent tax on food and drinks, sold at the bordellos and will slap customers with a $2 fee, possibly delivering $3.2 billion to the state over two years. 

But unlike many states, Nevada has more than a wealth of available women.  They also have a surplus, causing legislators to discuss rebating taxes, not collecting more.  Why do I bet that the collectors working from the State Department of Revenue in Nevada might want to add these venues to their usual rounds?  I mean talk about some dirty money.  If only the money could talk. 

That does it for us tonight.  Thanks for watching.  See you later.



Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, 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 Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.


Discussion comments