updated 5/23/2005 3:39:28 PM ET 2005-05-23T19:39:28

Guest: Ben Wolfinger, Pat Brown, John Timoney, Sarah Leah Whitson, Nancy Pfotenhauer, Ann Bremner, Stacey Honowitz, Trent Lott

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Good evening and welcome to SCARBOROUGH

COUNTRY. 

If you thought waking up this morning to pictures of Saddam Hussein in his underwear splashed across your newspaper was shocking, you ain‘t seen nothing yet. 

Minutes ago we received new pictures that many believe could be catastrophic in the case against Saddam Hussein. 

But first we‘re following the heartbreaking mystery in the heartland, a desperate call to find two small children.  I‘ll tell you, that‘s what they‘re talking about in my hometown. 

Look at the faces of Shasta and Dylan Groene.  They were last seen Sunday just before an unspeakable discovery in their home.  Here is the very latest on this story from NBC‘s Michael Okwu in Idaho. 

MICHAEL OKWU, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Joe, divers explored all the rivers and streams within miles of the crime scene, searching for evidence that could provide clues to the whereabouts of young Dylan and Shasta Groene.  But in the words of one investigator, they just came up empty. 

All of this, of course, followed a massive ground search that covered more than 400 acres, a search, by the way, that officials now say has all been exhausted.  And they are calling the search no longer a local one but a national one, which perhaps is another way of saying they are simply at the public‘s mercy to come forward with any kind of tip or information that will help them solve this mystery. 

It has been tough going for this small community.  In fact, shocking for the community just about eight miles east of Coeur D‘Alene and especially hard for the children‘s father, Steven, who this morning, on “THE TODAY SHOW,” was praying for his children‘s safe return. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVEN GROENE, FATHER OF MISSING CHILDREN:  All I can say is, you know, please release these children unharmed.  They‘ve been through way too much. 

You know, we‘re not sure whether they witnessed any of what happened in the home.  And regardless of whether they did or not, I know that they know that they‘re not in a familiar surrounding and not with familiar people.  And I have to imagine they‘re terrified. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OKWU:  Officials say that there are now some 40 investigators looking at major leads, and they‘re expecting FBI profilers to arrive this weekend. 

There has been major speculation, of course, about what happened here.  The fact that all three victims were gagged and that they all died of blunt force trauma is raising some suspicions that there was more than one killer and that this could have been personal, that perhaps the killer or killers were either very angry or very desperate. 

Investigators also say that they have talked to just about every individual who was here at the home at a barbecue on Sunday, and they‘ve also collected physical evidence which they are sending to the FBI Crime lab in Quantico.  Clearly, they‘re going to test those individuals with that evidence, see whether they can rule out suspects or perhaps try to find out who those suspects may be—Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks a lot for that report, Michael.  I‘ll tell you what, this is such a devastating crime.  And, again, you have two young children that many believe are still out there. 

And of course, as you know, we‘ve had our campaign in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to protect children, especially children that have been abused.  Nothing like this, though.  Obviously, America is praying also for Shasta and Dylan.  It is such a tragedy. 

Now, earlier today there was a lead.  Somebody said they spotted a man in a van with two young children, but unfortunately, this afternoon that report turned out to be false. 

Now just minutes before we came on the air, I spoke with Captain Ben Wolfinger, who‘s leading the search for these children.  And I asked him where things stand at this moment. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAPT. BEN WOLFINGER, KOOTENAI COUNTY SHERIFF‘S DEPARTMENT:  Well, Joe, unfortunately that hint—that tip we had here in north Idaho did turn out to be false. 

However, the tip line is working.  Hundreds of calls have been coming into our tip lines and those investigators are busy following up on each and every one of those. 

They‘re interviewing people who knew the family, who may have been involved at the little gathering they had Sunday.  They‘re following every lead that comes in the door and over the phone.  We‘ve finished the ground search in the area. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Captain—Captain, the thing is—and I know you know this but just explain it to our viewers.  The missing children just don‘t seem to add up. 

Here you have three people bludgeoned to death violently, you know, suffering violent deaths.  One of them a child, a young boy.  And yet you‘ve got these two missing children. 

Does that suggest to you tonight these children are still alive out there somewhere?

WOLFINGER:  Joe, yes, it does.  And that‘s the beauty of it.  We have hope because why—if you‘re really wanting to kill the entire family, wouldn‘t you do it in one place?  Why would you take these children away?

We think they‘re still alive.  We have hope.  We‘re sure we‘ll find those children and bring them back home to the rest of their family. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Captain, I hate to suggest these things.  I‘m sorry.  I‘ve got to do it, though, because Americans want to know. 

Sometimes when you look at these murders you look at the victims‘ background.  Have you seen anything in the victims‘ background that would suggest a love triangle or this could be possibly a drug execution or some other evidence in the victims‘ background that would suggest to you there was a motive for these brutal slayings and the disappearance of these two young kids?

WOLFINGER:  Well, Joe, I know the investigators are looking at all angles of it: victims‘ background, associates, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  They‘re looking at everything and not taking—throwing any angle out or motive or possible suspects. 

So we‘re going to let the investigators work that angle just like they‘re working all the rest of them. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But still no leads?

WOLFINGER:  Well, we‘ve had lots of leads.  We‘ve had, like I said, hundreds of leads, hundreds of calls.  We haven‘t had that last—that golden lead that identifies our suspect or makes the arrest or, most importantly, finds the children. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, captain.  Final question, Americans all over this country are watching tonight.  They want to know what they can do to help these two young children find their way back home.  What advice do you give America tonight?

WOLFINGER:  America should be looking for these children.  Go to the web sites, all of the news web sites and get pictures of these children.  Get those pictures.  Keep them with you.  Look for those children.  Help us find them.  Call us. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And what‘s that web site again?

WOLFINGER:  Any of the news web sites.  Any of the major news web sites, your web site, all have those pictures available.  The Missing and Exploited Children web site has those pictures available.  Just look for those children for us. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thanks so much, Captain.  We greatly appreciate it.  And our thoughts and our prayers and our hopes are going to be with you as you move forward in this investigation.  Thanks for being with us tonight. 

WOLFINGER:  Thanks, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And I would request if you can, America, go to our web site, Joe.MSNBC.com.  We‘ve got pictures of the two children posted and a phone number you need to call.  That‘s Joe.MSNBC.com. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  And don‘t forget to call the number if you know anything.  Now with me now to talk about this mystery in the heartland are criminal profiler Pat Brown, author of “Killing for Sport: Inside the Minds of Serial Killers,” and also Miami Police Chief John Timoney. 

Pat, give me your gut, are these children alive?

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER:  Well, Joe, I have to say I‘m not thinking it‘s very likely. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Why not?

BROWN:  Here‘s the problem.  I think these children were probably taken as hostages. 

One thing that happens when these people commit crimes like this where we see a lot of passion, we see a lot of rage, a tremendous amount of anger at the crime scene.  What happened there we don‘t know and we don‘t know why.

But at some point he took the children.  Why?  Most likely because he thought, “I‘ve got to get out of here.  I‘ve got to get on the road.  If somebody tries to stop me, maybe I can use these children as hostages.” 

But it‘s been awhile now; days have gone by.  Where are the children?

Another thing that happens when people take hostages, they decide along the way it‘s too much work.  It‘s too much trouble.  And they get rid of the hostages.

SCARBOROUGH:  So you‘re not—you‘re not positive.  Let me ask you, Chief Timoney, talk about the crime scene.  Help us with the crime scene investigation.  Do the murders, the way these murders occurred, suggest drugs, a love triangle, crimes of passion?  What does the murder scene tell you?

JOHN TIMONEY, POLICE CHIEF, MIAMI, FLORIDA:  I don‘t think a crime of passion.  Usually when victims are bound up it‘s usually to elicit money or information from them or some other—or something else.  And then when they don‘t comply or they say they don‘t have it, then often they‘re shot and killed.  In this case they‘re bludgeoned. 

And so it‘s—but usually, usually, you would find all five people killed, and that would leave no witnesses.  And so it‘s a little bit different here that two of the children were taken away. 

The profiler may be right.  Pat may be right that they‘re taking them as a kind of an insurance card, you know, in case they need him to, you know, broker a deal later on with the police.  But who knows?

You know, in all of these cases there are no absolutes.  However, most of the time you find all the victims killed.  No witnesses are left.  And passion usually—if passion‘s involved, you usually won‘t see the binding ahead of time.  That usually indicates maybe the beginnings of torture, trying to elicit information, get money, or something else. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And when that happens, obviously in the state of Florida, chief, a lot of people immediately, especially over the past 10, 15 years, a lot of people think drugs. 

TIMONEY:  Joe, you know the famous theme from “Scarface” was the guy with the—with the chainsaw, if you remember, trying to get where is the money. 

And so I‘m not suggesting for a second that drugs are involved here, but often when people are gagged and bound it‘s not to kill them initially.  It‘s to scare them, gain control of them, and then either get money or information or something else. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Brown, what does the crime scene tell you?  You investigate the crime scene, what‘s it say?

BROWN:  I think we‘ve heard a very good analysis.  There was a control of the crime scene.  This person wanted something from these people. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You say this person, but there were three people that we know of that were bound simultaneously.  Doesn‘t that suggest there may have been more than one person going in there?

BROWN:  There may have been more than one.  That is possible.  But you know what?  Surprisingly enough one person can control a crime scene quite well, much more than we realize they can do so. 

So I don‘t know what the police have seen there, whether they‘ve seen actual evidence there were two people there, or they‘re just guessing maybe there could have been two as well as one. 

But I think we—I think that‘s a good analysis we just heard that there was a control of the crime scene.  This is very personal.  Somebody wanted something from the people at the crime scene, not the 13-year-old, but probably the resident of the home. 

And that‘s why the police are going to be looking at what kind of background do these people have?  What are they involved in?  What kind of dealings do they have that somebody might have gotten that angry at them and wanted something from them that badly. 

So I think you‘re on the right track, too, when you say is it drugs? 

Is it money?  Something was going on there that really got somebody upset. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And chief, I‘ll ask you about the investigation as we move forward.  Obviously, all of America wants to find these two children.  They also want to find out why this happened. 

You‘re running the investigation.  What do you look for at the crime scene?  What do you look for in these people‘s background?

TIMONEY:  Well, you‘re doing a few investigations simultaneously.  Obviously background checks on all of the victims and then anybody they knew, people who were there at the picnic the day before.

And then also I know they did a search for some kind of trace evidence, whether it was rags or blood splatters or clothing dropped along the way.  It looks like they‘ve come up empty-handed so far in the search.  And so maybe those kids were taken out, put in a van or a car and just—and just whisked out of there. 

So you know, right now looks pretty difficult without those children.  What you‘re depending on now is really doing the labor of going—doing backgrounds. 

The speculation is that they may have known who these intruders were. 

You know, there doesn‘t appear to be any forced entry into the home.  Again, they—it‘s not a crime of passion, even though there‘s a lot of rage, once they don‘t get what they want. 

So my sense is that there may be—there may be, you know, prior knowledge between the victim. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  All right.  Thank you so much.  We appreciate it, chief.  Thank you, Pat Brown, also.

BROWN:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:   Appreciate you being with us tonight. 

Coming up, forbidden love becomes legal.  The wedding years in the making happens, finally. 

But first new pictures just in tonight of jailed dictator Saddam Hussein.  Could these pictures have a catastrophic effect on his trial?

Plus, Dan Rather speaks for the first time since “60 Minutes Wednesday” was axed. 

But I‘ve got issues.  Don‘t go away.  We‘re just getting started in

SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

Lawyers and human rights groups enraged by a very private view of Saddam Hussein, now splashed on newspapers across the world.  And tonight, we have even more pictures.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:   Welcome back. 

Now that the photos of Saddam Hussein became—began this morning in the British tabloid paper “The Sun.”  A photo of Saddam Hussein in his Iraqi jail cell in his underwear, hours later reverberated to our shores.

And tonight there are more photos in Saturday‘s edition of “The Sun.”  And now there are pictures of fellow prisoners, Chemical Ali and Chemical Sally.

“The Sun” says they got the pictures from an unnamed military official.  The Pentagon says it would never authorize this, and the White House has ordered an investigation. 

Here‘s President Bush from earlier today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I don‘t think a photo inspires murder.  I think they‘re inspired by an ideology that is so barbaric and backwards that it‘s hard for many in the western world to comprehend how they think. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:   So what will the fallout of these pictures be?  With me now are Sarah Leah Whitson.  She‘s executive director of Human Rights Watch.  And also in our studio is Nancy Pfotenhauer.  She‘s president of the Independent Women‘s Forum—Women‘s Forum. 

I appreciate both of you coming on.  And let me start with you, Sarah.  What is the problem with Saddam Hussein having his image splashed on “The Sun” and “The New York Post”?  A lot of people would say I don‘t feel sorry for this guy at all. 

SARAH LEAH WHITSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH:  Well, as Donald Rumsfeld reminded us in March 2003 when pictures of American POW‘s were splashed across the media by the Iraqi government at the time, it‘s a violation in the laws of war to display such photos, and specifically, a violation of the Geneva Conventions, Article 13, in that you cannot violate the—humiliate or insult prisoners of war.

But more importantly, what‘s wrong with them is the tremendous damage to the credibility and the reputation of the United States, as a country that respects international law, that respects the dignity of prisoners of war, and isn‘t doing something to intentionally humiliate someone who‘s seen as a representative of Arabs. 

SCARBOROUGH:   Sarah, though, a lot of people would say when you consider what this guy did to his prisoners, how he treated his prisoners, how he literally sicced dogs on them and had them—had them eaten to death, threw them into vats of acid, taking a picture of this guy in his underwear seems like a pretty good deal for him. 

WHITSON:  Well, I don‘t know whether or not it‘s a good deal for him or it‘s a proper form of punishment for the crimes he‘s committed.  I think the proper place to decide what kind of punishment he should face for his crime is a court of law. 

What‘s done in these photos does far more harm to U.S. interests and the interests of American soldiers who face similar treatment if not worse for these kinds of violations. 

And right now we‘ve succeeded in making him, and this might succeed in making him a poster child for the humiliation of the Arab nation and turning a villain into a victim. 

SCARBOROUGH:   Nancy, let me bring you in here, because you look at these photos.  OK.  Let‘s do a full screen with these photos.  Here‘s Saddam Hussein on the screen.  Would you want an American general splashed up on the screen in his underwear if he were a POW of let‘s say the insurgency in Iraq or Afghanistan?

NANCY PFOTENHAUER, PRESIDENT, INDEPENDENT WOMEN‘S FORUM:  I wouldn‘t necessarily wish for it but I also wouldn‘t consider it a crime against humanity, certainly not on the level of what this person has done to his own people. 

SCARBOROUGH:   But we‘re supposed to be better than that, right?

PFOTENHAUER:  That‘s true, but context does matter.  Pardon me.  This is the butcher of Baghdad.  We‘re not talking even about what he‘s done to Americans.  We‘re talking about what he‘s done to his own people. 

This is a man who sanctioned and gleefully watched the raping, torturing, and killing of women and children in his country and then forced the brothers, fathers, and sons of those people to watch. 

SCARBOROUGH:   So no—no sympathy for this man?

PFOTENHAUER:  I have to say that it is important to look at each action within its own context.  And with all due respect, and I have a lot of respect for the people who labor hard in the field of human rights.  And they‘ve done tremendous work, particularly in protecting the people who are in refugee camps.  But they do tremendous work. 

But context does matter.  This is a man who has made a mockery of his religion.  He is not emblematic of his religion.  He has defiled his people and persecuted him—and persecuted them, not lifted them up.  He is a modern day Hitler. 

SCARBOROUGH:   Now, Sarah, Saddam‘s attorney talked about the photos this morning on “THE TODAY SHOW.”  This is what he had to say. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIOVANNI DI STEFANO, SADDAM HUSSEIN‘S ATTORNEY:  Well, of course, all of us are outraged, and it is, of course, regrettable that the situation has arisen. 

However, what I‘m more outraged and what is more regrettable, that here we have a man that is 19 months in custody and still does not have an indictment or a charge.  That gives me and my colleagues far greater concern than a photograph of Saddam Hussein in his underwear. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:   Sarah, it seems like even Saddam‘s lawyers dismissing the gravity of this underwear shot. 

WHITSON:  This—the gravity of this underwear shot, and particularly, the indignity to Saddam Hussein, is really not the point here.  And I think it‘s wrong to focus on it.

Nor is it important to focus on what a terrible person and what horrible crimes Saddam has committed.

The issue is what does this do to the reputation of the United States?  What does this do to the millions and billions of people around the world who have been watching the United States in terms of how it treats its prisoners?

PFOTENHAUER:   Oh, my. 

WHITSON:  You would think that if the United States could keep—could keep cameras out of juries and courthouses, they could at least keep cameras away from soldiers who are monitoring Saddam‘s prison cell. 

SCARBOROUGH:   I‘m sorry.  This reminds me of Saudi Arabia lecturing us on this “Newsweek” Koran in the toilet story when you have Saudi Arabia arresting 40 Christians for reading a Bible. 

I mean, who out there can come, especially from the Arab world, and judge the United States of America on how they treat their prisoners?

PFOTENHAUER:  I am really tired, frankly, of the holier than thou attitude that is out there. 

I mean, was I proud of how our—of how our military treated some of our prisoners?  No, not necessarily, but let‘s put it again in context. 

American civilians and military personnel—personnel were having their heads cut off in front of cameras.  Prisoners were—their prisoners were having underwear put on their heads.  That‘s a little bit different. 

And, you know, and I think that—that most of the American public is getting a little tired, frankly, of the hypocrisy and the cognitive dissidence of how we are being held accountable to a standard that is ridiculously higher than our opponent. 

We did not take—our military did not take these pictures and make them public.  I mean, that‘s why I don‘t understand why we‘re supposed to explain why the military is responsible for these pictures having been made public. 

SCARBOROUGH:   Sarah, let me—let me read you what “The New York Post” wrote, and this is how “The New York Post” justified its decision to run the photos.

They said, “Saddam Hussein is a genocidal maniac who tortured, gassed, and killed tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis.  The photographs published today by ‘The New York Post‘ show the U.S. military is treating him with a regard that he never showed his own people.”

Respond to that, Sarah. 

WHITSON:  Well, first of all, “The New York Post” is not—is not party or is not subject to the laws of war, and it can choose to disregard the Geneva Conventions and the laws of war in a way parties to a conflict cannot. 

The reason that this involves the United States military and the U.S.  military‘s responsibility is that even the U.S. military recognizes that these are photos that were published and presented by a U.S. soldier, a U.S. soldier who, at minimum, they failed to supervise properly in preventing him from having a camera.  So there is responsibility here. 

SCARBOROUGH:   That‘s a good point.  I mean, even—even Rumsfeld, President Bush, others very upset by what‘s going on.  Don‘t you think this is going to hurt the possibility of possibly convicting Saddam Hussein?

PFOTENHAUER:  Gosh, I hope not.  It would seem to me just a travesty and a tragedy if that were the case.  What a joke.  This human being did things that were unspeakably evil.  Now the fact that he has been somewhat humbled I find, frankly, not that upsetting. 

SCARBOROUGH:   And, again, you know, you talk about—I want to thank you, Nancy.  I want to thank you, Sarah, also.  Appreciate both of you being here. 

But you know what?  Again, like Nancy said, it‘s all about proper context.  We Americans every day, every day, are lectured on human rights by people, by nations, by leaders, by sheiks, by princes that have absolutely no right at all.  And they have no standing to be self-righteous when facing a leader from the United States of America. 

Anyway, we‘ll see what happens.  The fallout will continue, and we‘ll stay with the story. 

Now the wedding everybody is talking about, at least teachers that like to prey on their children.  Mary Kay Letourneau and her student, they‘re legal tonight.  Details coming up next. 

And whatever happened to sit down and shut up?  A bus driver in a fight on tape. 

I‘ve got issues coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s a classic story, boy meets teacher.  They have an affair.  Teacher goes to jail, then teacher has boy‘s baby.  Then they get married. 

But will they live happily ever after?  It‘s a wedding that all child molesters are talking about tonight. 

But first, the latest news your family needs to know. 

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know you saw that news, the Justice Department has decided to follow SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY‘S recommendation. 

I know you‘ve been sending a lot of e-mails to Capitol Hill.  We had Mark Foley, John Walsh talk about because of what you were doing that Capitol Hill was going to get moving on some of these things. 

Now we hear the Justice Department is moving forward with a national sexual predator web site.  I say it‘s about time.  And, again, I commend you for all your hard work and for all your e-mails coming from SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  I‘m telling you, friends, it‘s making a difference. 

Now I don‘t condone road rage, but I‘ve got issues with something that happened today. 

I‘ve got issues with school bus drivers fighting with the kids they drive.  A bus driver in Florida and two middle school students were arrested after an argument on their ride home from school. 

The driver, Anthony Taylor, slapped and choked a 15-year-old student when he refused to behave.  The resulting swearing and physical struggle, all caught on tape, led to the three arrests.  The two boys were charged with felony assault and the driver with misdemeanor battery.  The driver is also suspended without pay. 

I‘ll tell you what, friends, watching this scene marks the first time I‘m glad my 17-year-old son drives himself to school. 

And I‘ve got issues with a yearbook recall going on in Boynton Beach, Florida.  In a photo for the senior superlative Most Whipped, which is slang for a boy being controlled by his girlfriend, senior Robert Richards poses on a leash being held by his girlfriend. 

Now the photo has sparked outrage, as Richards is African-American and his girlfriend is white.  Roberts‘ mother complained that her son resembled, and I‘m quoting here, “a manacled slave.” 

Now the school has ordered stickers to cover up the photo and is asking the 240 students who already received their yearbooks to turn them back in so the photo can be covered up. 

The pair posing for the picture think it‘s fine.  And Robert Richards?  Hey, he‘s 19 years old.  And let me tell you something, Ma, if he really is the most whipped boy in that high school, it‘s best that you just let it go. 

And he may not be anchoring the evening news anymore, but I‘ve still got issues with Dan Rather.  Today the former anchorman gave an interview with CNBC‘s Tina Brown and in the interview, which airs Sunday night, Rather ruminates on everything from loyalty to disgraced CBS News producer Mary Mapes to the end of “60 Minutes II.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN RATHER, FORMER CBS NEWS ANCHOR:  I‘m disappointed, because it is, for whatever everyone thought of “60 Minutes Weekday,” was another place where journalists were at least trying to deliver overall integrity-filled journalism that matters.  Now there‘s one less place for that.  And I‘m disappointed about it. 

But what I want to do, first, is be concerned about the people who are at risk of losing their jobs.  That‘s first and foremost. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Whatever.  You know, I think when you look up the word “integrity” and “journalism,” I don‘t think there‘s a picture of Dan Rather in “60 Minutes Wednesday” there. 

But let me tell you something, it‘s a fascinating interview, and you can see the entire interview Sunday night at 8 p.m. on CNBC with Tina Brown.  You‘re not going to want to miss that one.  I promise you.  I‘m going to be watching it. 

Now that‘s the perfect segue to tonight‘s “Media Watch” segment. 

I take back the nice things I said about “The New York Times.”  Forget the day the editorial page wrote a few nice words about our soldiers in Iraq.  Today the “Times” proved once again that the mainstream media just can‘t print enough bad news about our troops. 

Today, shocking evidence that U.S. troops abused prisoners in Afghanistan.  It was splashed in a massive front-page article on “The New York Times.” 

Now, the details come from an Army report, and the timing of the “Times” article, so close to the “Newsweek” debacle, is suspect at best. 

Now this is no small article.  I mean, take a look.  Here‘s the punch line, friends: the report detailed abuse comes from 2002.  That‘s right.  “The New York Times” finds allegations of abuse that goes back three years. 

Now I‘ve got to tell you something: it‘s just like politics.  When I

was in politics, I found out if somebody was attacked and there was a false

·         a politician would—throws mud at somebody like “Newsweek” threw mud at our soldiers, if that didn‘t stick, another attack would come and another attack would come.  Soon enough the mud would stick. 

You know what?  I don‘t think—I still don‘t think these guys and women in mainstream media get it.  Americans will never give them credit for circling the wagon to protect anybody in the mainstream media if it comes at the price of bashing our troops. 

This is all about a battle that continues to rage between the old media and the new media.  But unfortunately, friends, I‘ll tell you what.  Tonight our soldiers, these brave Americans, are the ones that are caught in the media crossfire.  And I‘ll tell you what.  It‘s a disgrace. 

But that‘s tonight‘s “Media Watch.”

And now here comes the bride.  It‘s finally here, the day that Mary Kay Letourneau‘s been waiting for. 

Letourneau, the teacher convicted of raping her 12-year-old student, is now marrying him, tonight, now that she‘s out of jail. 

She‘s 43.  She‘s spent 7 ½ years behind bars.  He‘s 22.  He‘s been waiting patiently for his lady for 10 years.  And we‘re told they‘re going to be married tonight very soon in a private winery in Washington state, that the whole event has produced—has been shrouded in such secrecy you‘d think it was a secret government operation. 

Speak now or forever hold your peace, friends. 

While this situation appears finally to be over, the message to youngsters in America just can‘t be a good one, can it?

With me not to talk about it is Stacey Honowitz.  She‘s Florida‘s D.A.  assistant attorney in the sex crimes and child abuse division.  Also with us, attorney Ann Bremner, a friend of Mary Kay Letourneau. 

Ann, let me start with you.  You say you‘re friends with Mary Kay. 

What are your emotions tonight as she marries the boy she once raped?

ANN BREMNER, FRIEND OF MARY KAY LETOURNEAU:  Well, Joe, I wouldn‘t say I‘m a friend.  I defended a case brought by Vili Fualaau and his mother that people don‘t remember very well as we have this happy day.  Only in America.

He and his mother sued my client, the police, and the school district for failing to protect him from Mary Kay Letourneau after he‘d gone out and gotten tabloid money, saying he had not been a victim of Mary Kay Letourneau. 

I told the jury they‘re going to get married.  It will be a pay-per-view wedding and there will be a lot of money.  And I was right. 

Lawsuits make strange bedfellows.  Mary Kay Letourneau was on my side, and so she helped me in that case.  I know it sounds strange, but that‘s really what the situation was. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Stacey Honowitz, what are your emotions tonight as you look at this marriage?  What kind of message does it send out there to child predators and also to children?

STACEY HONOWITZ, D.A. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY, FLORIDA:  Well, it certainly can‘t be a good message.

BREMNER:  Yes.

HONOWITZ:  And Ann and I have discussed this on many shows before.  I mean, this message, how could it be a good message?

What you have here is the media and everybody else, you know, allowing this to go on.  It‘s fine.  She‘s 43 now.  He‘s 23. 

But we have to go back to the original charges in this case.  He was in sixth grade when she had sex with him.  She‘s a child molester.  It doesn‘t send a good message.

And I‘ll tell you another thing, Joe.  If this was a male teacher who was involved with a female student, we certainly wouldn‘t have the media and everybody else giving them applause, having “Entertainment Tonight” and everybody else give them, you know, a big day and a big event.  And what we‘re doing now is really condoning...

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what it would be called?  It would be called rape.  And this is what I don‘t understand.

HONOWITZ:  Is rape.  It is rape. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Right now—it is rape.  But you know what?  The media is not calling it rape because, again, it‘s an older woman with a younger man. 

And I‘ll tell you what, there‘s an epidemic out there.  I mean, you remember this Lafave character that did the same thing?  She got on the phone.  She was talking to her boy toy.  And she talked about, what was it, she talked about...

HONOWITZ:  A pinky promise.  A pinky promise.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... a pinky promise.  A pinky promise. 

Do we have that tape to roll that tape of Miss Lafave and her pinky promise with her boyfriend?

We don‘t.  That‘s OK.  You guys know what it is. 

Tell me—tell me about it, Ann.  Why is there such an epidemic with these older teachers preying on these younger children?  Did it all start with Mary Kay Letourneau?

BREMNER:  Well, she—her case shocked the world.  And you know, that‘s why we won our lawsuit because it wasn‘t predictable in many ways.  Maybe you have copycats. 

Stacey and I have debated many times in terms of whether or not there should be different punishments for women, whether they‘re predators, whether they act like men do as pedophiles. 

But I agree with Stacey tonight that the media should not be applauding this, and this should not be a million dollar wedding with more money to come.  It‘s not over.  This is the Letourneau triangle.

HONOWITZ:  Let me tell you something.

BREMNER:  This is the Letourneau Triangle.  We used to say, “As the World Letourneaus.”  You know, that this is something that makes money. 

There‘s love advice from them on the web on “Entertainment Tonight.” 

Oh, you know, isn‘t this—is she the Joan of Arc of forbidden love? 

I simply—Stacey, I know you‘ll be surprised tonight, but I completely agree with you.  You can‘t sell, sell, and sell and make money, money, money, on something like this. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s awful.  And it‘s a horrible message. 

HONOWITZ:  She‘s benefiting. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And you all remember, again.  Let‘s talk about Debbie Lafave, also, the teacher accused of having an affair with her 15-year-old student.  Her trial begins in July. 

And I want to talk about double standards again here, Stacey.  Listen to this clip from the phone conversation that we were talking about, and then let‘s talk about it. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I just didn‘t want to get you pregnant or anything.                I was just thinking about it, how we‘ve had sex about three times, and I should have used, like, a condom or something.

DEBBIE LAFAVE, TEACHER ACCUSED OF ABUSING STUDENT:  Eww, you‘re being weird.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So what time are you planning on heading over?

LAFAVE:  Are you sure?  Like, I just feel—I mean, I don‘t want you lying to your mom.  I mean, it‘s like...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, it‘s all right.  She‘s (UNINTELLIGIBLE) all day.

LAFAVE:  Are you sure?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.

LAFAVE:  Promise?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.

LAFAVE:  Pinky promise?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Stacey, we only have 10 seconds, but if a man had talked that way to a young girl, it would have been all over.  But a woman does it, and everybody laughs about it. 

HONOWITZ:  They would have called for his execution.  And let me tell you something.  I prosecuted a female teacher with a male student, same type of situation.  It‘s almost like a rite of passage.  People don‘t think that it‘s bad when an older woman goes with a younger man. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s a double standard.

HONOWITZ:  It needs to be changed.

SCARBOROUGH:   It needs to be changed, because these boys suffer the rest of their lives. 

We‘ll be right back in a second.  Thanks a lot, Ann.  Thanks a lot, Stacey.  We greatly appreciate it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  The Senate has been hot this week, especially today, and it‘s looking like a showdown over the filibuster next week.  We talked to Senator Trent Lott, and he gave us the latest. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. TRENT LOTT ®, MISSISSIPPI:  The Democrats were not going to agree to anything that would lead to these nominees getting an up or down vote, and I quit participating in that. 

But there are those that are still meeting, trying to work out something.  I felt like last week we were actually going to go forward and have the vote. 

I would prefer that we make it clear in the rules of the Senate that these nominees, whether it‘s Republican or Democrat, now or in the future, get an up or down vote for the federal judiciary. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Dr. James Dobson obviously, Focus on the Family, very powerful force in Christian politics, attacked those that were negotiating and said, “For Monopoly players that‘s like offering to trade Park Place and Boardwalk for Baltic and Mediterranean.  If Republicans consent to this disaster, they‘ll not only be abandoning the men and women who put them in office.  They‘ll be demonstrating that they do not deserve the leadership entrusted to them.” 

Sounds like a threat from Dr. Dobson to those still negotiating with Democrats.  What‘s your reaction?

LOTT:  Well, sometime—sometimes people threaten their best friends and undermine their own cause.  And they don‘t really know what they‘re talking about, what might even be being discussed. 

There‘s no need getting into that.  I‘m not going to start by, you know, criticizing others‘ viewpoint or their effort.  I appreciate the fact that they are supportive of stopping this procedure that‘s been used to defeat, really, 14 total federal court nominees. 

And that did not happen until beginning four years ago, but it‘s been continuing.  It‘s repeated and we‘ve got to get it under control.  And I welcome all the support we can get. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Senator, I—you suggested, as I did, that this fight was about abortion, but I personally think, and you may not want to admit this on the air, it‘s also about Bill Frist running for the presidency of the United States.  I don‘t knock him.  You know, I call it like I see it. 

And in fact, during the Republican National Convention a lot of people were saying, “Hey, this guy wants to run for president in 2008.”  And I think he‘s got to keep down this track. 

But you told the newspaper, “The Hill,” quote, “I don‘t think any senator can win the nomination.  If they get the nomination, they won‘t be elected president.”

Why is that?  Why is it hard for somebody like Bill Frist?  Why is it hard for somebody like John Kerry or John McCain to get elected president of the United States?

LOTT:  It‘s the nature of the institution, Joe.  It is an institution, caused by our forefathers and developed over history, that forces you in trying to find a consensus, trying to get a result that moves the ball forward that may not necessarily be a perfect one or the one you would prefer. 

And you also find yourself over the years, you know, you do vote on one side of an issue.  And you find out more information, and two or three years later you vote the other way.  And you become a flip-flopper, like John Kerry appeared to be and has been in his career. 

The Senate is just not a place that lends itself to the image of a decision maker and a strong leader.  It forces you sort of into the group. 

Now people can say, “Well, it doesn‘t have to be that way.”  I‘m telling you I‘m an old House member.  I still love the House.  And—but I‘ve been the leader in the Senate.  This is a tough place to do business, and it doesn‘t hone you well for the presidency. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Especially when 99 percent of the people in the Senate you‘re trying to lead think they‘re going to be the next president of the United States. 

LOTT:  That‘s a—that‘s a big problem.  And also this rule that we have, or the rules we have where it gives the power to any one senator to basically inconvenience, tie up 99 others.  It leads to a sense of arrogance and self-importance that I think is not helpful.

(END VIDEOTAPE) 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, as always, it‘s great having Senator Trent Lott visiting SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  He really tells it like it is.  And I greatly appreciate that. 

Thank you, Senator Lott.

Now coming up next, this week‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY champion, or should we say champions?  I‘m telling you, this one is going to bring a tear to your eye.  You don‘t want to miss it.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now it‘s time for this week‘s “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY Champion.” 

Now, do you remember that great Super Bowl commercial?  The one with the people in the airport who were cheering for troops coming home?  You know I can‘t watch that without my eyes tearing up, because I told—I‘d heard from soldiers, telling me that it would happen in the middle of the night. 

And while that may have been from the imagination of somebody on Madison Avenue, I can tell you, friends, it does happen.  A lot of times it‘s spontaneous, all across America.  But it‘s happening for real in Bangor, Maine. 

A group of dedicated people, some veterans, many not, come out to meet every single military plane that comes through their town.  The Maine troop greeters have been doing this since the war started, no matter what the weather is, no matter what time day or night it is.  They‘re letting the troops know how much they love them and how much they‘re appreciated. 

Now one of the greeters explained why he‘s out there all the time. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BAT. CMDR. RONALD KILBY, TROOP GREETER:  The first time when I came back from Vietnam, I hitchhiked from the airport here 100 miles east of here.  So—and absolutely nobody met me at the airport. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, the amazing thing is, they don‘t even know these troops that are coming. 

Now, the troops themselves don‘t expect it.  After all, Bangor is just a refueling stop. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Truthfully, I was shocked.  I wasn‘t expecting anything.  I JUST—I thought it would be nice and quiet.  Nobody here.  And as we were walking the gauntlet, as it were, I just—I think everybody got really choked up. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  God bless these people.  I‘ll tell you what: they are “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY Champions.”  And we greatly thank them for all the work they do.

That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  We‘ll see you on Monday.

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

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.

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