updated 6/9/2005 2:55:23 PM ET 2005-06-09T18:55:23

Guest: Michael Cardoza, Susan Filan, Eric Raney, Steve Emerson, Chris Lejuez, Giovanni Lane

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, jurors in the Michael Jackson case wrap up their fourth day of deliberations.  Again, no verdict.  What does this mean for Jackson? 

And Michael Jackson and his lawyer lashing out at friends and supporters speaking on his behalf.  Are they talking about Jesse Jackson?  And could this mean there‘s dissension within the defense camp? 

And a judge in Aruba rules there‘s enough evidence to keep two suspects in jail in connection with that missing 18-year-old from Alabama.  One of the suspect‘s lawyers joins us to talk about the evidence against his client. 

And an American father and son arrested here in California, possibly part of an Al Qaeda terror cell?  Could they have been planning an attack on hospitals and supermarkets? 

The program about justice starts now. 

ABRAMS:  Hi, everyone. 

First up on the docket, another day of deliberations in the Michael Jackson case has ended.  Six more hours logged in the jury room.  The total now at 20 hours over four days, no verdict. 

Some indication today that there could be trouble inside the Jackson camp.  We‘ll bring you the details on that. 

But first, what does this mean?  The jurors have been out since Friday with nothing more than a single question that‘s been described as administrative.  Who‘s happy?  Who‘s hurting? 

Joining me now, NBC‘s Mike Taibbi, MSNBC legal analyst and former prosecutor Susan Filan, criminal defense attorney and NBC analyst Michael Cardoza, and Jackson family observer and MSNBC analyst Stacy Brown. 

All right, bottom line, Mike Taibbi, you‘ve been speaking to your sources on both sides.  One side or the other telling you they‘re nervous? 

MIKE TAIBBI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, no, neither side is admitting that they‘re nervous, if they are.  They‘re both saying that the delay to this point couldn‘t even really be characterized actually as a delay. 

A prosecution source did tell me that once deliberation goes beyond a certain point, it‘s clear or probable that there‘s discussion on substantive issues having to do with individual accounts, and that might be generally read as being favorable to the prosecution, because there was not a quick decision with an early straw poll saying, “We don‘t think there‘s anything to this case, period,” et cetera. 

But he said don‘t—he cautioned me to not reach that conclusion at this point because there‘s so much material, so much in the way of evidence, so much testimony over all the weeks of testimony in this case that, if this jury is going to take its job seriously, and it was charged to do by this judge, as apparently they did throughout this trial, they will be going over everything and will be reviewing evidence.  They do have a handle on it, and it‘s just a lot of stuff to get through. 

ABRAMS:  Susan Filan, you said before, and I agree with you, that, look, it may not be good news necessarily for either side, it may not be bad news.  But the bottom line is that the defense would have probably been more encouraged if there‘d been a verdict already, right? 

SUSAN FILAN, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  Absolutely.  Thomas Mesereau invited this jury in his closing argument to toss this case out of court.  He said, “If you find one lie, if you find five lies, 10 lies, 40 lies, how many lies is it going to take?  If you find a lie, toss the case.”  And they haven‘t, which means I agree with Mike.  They are deliberating. 

The other thing I think is that it‘s not really clear to me that they‘ve actually begun deliberations.  My feeling is that they‘re still going through a strategy for approaching this case.  They‘ve probably listed every single witness.  They‘ve looked at all the exhibits. 

They‘re asking each other, well, what do you want to see?  What do you want to play?  What do you want to hear?  Which counts should we start first, the hard ones or the easy ones?  Which ones are the hard ones?  Which are the easy ones?  And then they‘re going to tackle it.  I think that they haven‘t had enough time to really have delved into it.  They‘re just getting started. 

ABRAMS:  And you know, Michael, what I find in these high-profile cases is that jurors tend to deliberate more deliberately because they know that the process is going to be scrutinized and questioned after the fact, and so they want to make sure, even if they‘re all unanimous already one way or the other, they want to make sure no one‘s going to accuse them later of being the O.J. jury. 

MICHAEL CARDOZA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, you know, they all know the world‘s watching.  So certainly they‘re going to go through it rather slowly. 

Susan‘s right.  A quick verdict would have meant a good verdict for the defense.  But they are going through, remember, 600 exhibits, 140 witnesses.  So they‘ll take their time and go through this. 

I sort of laughed at what Mike Taibbi said when the both sides are saying they‘re not nervous.  Give me a break, guys.  Are you kidding me?  You poured your life into this for the last year putting this case together.  Those guys that tried this case are walking on pins and needles.  They couldn‘t concentrate on anything for more than 10 seconds. 

I‘m telling you, they are nervous people.  They cannot wait for this verdict.  Their whole lives was poured into this.  And this jury is making them wait, and rightfully so.  They will go carefully through all the evidence and hopefully come to a verdict. 

ABRAMS:  Just to give you a sense of how long other juries in high-profile cases have deliberated, O.J. Simpson case, nine months of testimony, jury acquitted in less than 4 hours.  Scott Peterson case, five months of testimony, jury convicted after more than seven days.  Charles Manson, nine months of testimony, jury convicted after nine days deliberation. 

Menendez brother case, very interesting, four and a half months of testimony, then Eric‘s jury—they had separate juries at first—Eric‘s jury deadlocked after 19 days.  Lyle‘s jury deadlocked after 25 days.  I certainly hope we‘re not here that long.  And then there was a second trial in front of one jury that ended in a conviction after 20 days. 

Yikes, 20, 25?  I mean, does it matter, Susan, that this is not a murder case?  Is that going to make it a quicker or longer deliberation? 

FILAN:  Matters not at all.  This is a really hard case.  Remember, we‘re talking about a child molestation case, man on boy. 

In this case, we do have an eyewitness.  We usually don‘t.  We have got some corroborating evidence.  But there‘s no forensics.  It‘s a he said/he said case. 

The other thing I want to point out is, I have never seen a case go to verdict without questions from the jury.  So far, one tiny procedural question means nothing.  They haven‘t gotten into it yet.  We‘ll start understanding where they are when the questions start coming. 

ABRAMS:  You know what‘s interesting, Susan, though?  You know what‘s interesting is that in this case—and I they don‘t do this in a lot of other courtrooms—they let them take in with them all of the jury instructions.  Some states they do that, others they don‘t.  Sometimes it‘s judge to judge. 

But a lot of the time they‘ll have to ask the question and then the judge will then have to read back a portion of the jury instruction.  Here, they‘ve got that 98-page jury instruction back there with them. 

FILAN:  That‘s exactly right.  That‘s a great tool to them.  But what this judge, in my opinion, is doing wrong—and I think it‘s a travesty—he‘s not having questions on the record.  He should be bringing the lawyers into court, the jurors into court, the media should be able to be in there.  This should be—the notes should be made a court exhibit.

ABRAMS:  Oh, don‘t worry, Susan.  Susan, no, don‘t worry.  He‘s holding a hearing on June 16th about that.  Oh, wait a second.  The trial will probably be over. 

FILAN:  Oh great, oh great.

ABRAMS:  Thanks, judge. 

Michael Cardoza, go ahead. 

CARDOZA:  You know, I‘ll tell you, Dan, number one, the jury instructions I find now—most judges are sending those into the jury rooms.  It used to drive me nuts when they did it, especially when I was prosecuting, because here they go.  They‘re going to read the jury instructions for days.  Everybody‘s going to try and interpret the law. 

Now I know that it doesn‘t bother me anymore.  Send it in.  They‘ll look at it.  They‘ll look at what they need.  And Susan, maybe that‘s not why they‘re not asking a lot of questions right now.  We don‘t even know if they‘re asking questions. 

FILAN:  No way.  No way.  No way.

ABRAMS:  Let‘s move on.  Does controversy outside the courtroom today indicate potential problems inside the Jackson camp?  At the courthouse today, Jackson‘s spokesperson, Raymone Bain, took to the mike. 


RAYMONE BAIN, JACKSON SPOKESPERSON:  If Mr. Mesereau didn‘t want me here, I wouldn‘t be here.  So don‘t listen to so many rumors. 

QUESTION:  ... enforcing your presence? 

BAIN:  Yes, he is.  I never speak to the media without talking to Tom Mesereau because I understand, quite unlike many of you, that this is a serious situation.  And so, therefore, if I had not spoken to our team, I would not be here. 


ABRAMS:  Just hours later, Jackson‘s attorney issued a court-approved statement.  Quote, “I have not authorized anyone to speak or hold any press conference on behalf of Michael Jackson or his family.  A gag order is in effect.  The defense team will continue to honor it.”

And only moments after that statement was released, this statement showed up on Jackson‘s Web site.  Quote, “The efforts of Michael Jackson‘s friends and supporters are noticed and very much appreciated at this time.  However, only Michael Jackson‘s attorneys of record have been authorized to speak on his behalf.”

So what is going on?  Well, about two hours ago, Raymone Bain responded on Donnie Deutsch‘s CNBC show. 


BAIN:  Tom Mesereau is not referring to me in his statement.  There have been an—I was aware that that statement was going to be released.  I don‘t know why there are people who feel that it applies to me. 

I‘m Michael Jackson‘s authorized spokesperson and publicist.  I don‘t conduct any interviews, nor do I make any statements without first getting the approval of either Michael Jackson or Tom Mesereau. 


ABRAMS:  And you can see that whole interview on CNBC at 10:00 p.m.

Eastern time. 

Stacy Brown joins us now.  Stacy, what is going on here?  I mean, on the one hand, you‘ve got the statement, which sure sounds like they‘re saying only the attorneys, and then you‘ve got Raymone Bain saying, “Well, it doesn‘t apply to me.”  I mean, were they talking about Jesse Jackson and all the other sort of friends and family members who were walking around the courthouse? 

STACY BROWN, JACKSON FAMILY OBSERVER:  Well, I agree with you guys earlier.  It‘s time to go home.  Everybody wants go home.  I want to go home to my wife.  Everyone wants to go home.  But you know, this is ridiculous. 

To have these two statements come out, and then Raymone come having to defend her position as a spokesperson, I think it‘s pretty embarrassing.  It shows you that there is dissension going on here, or at least miscommunication, because those statements seem to point toward Raymone Bain and Jesse Jackson. 

ABRAMS:  Mike Taibbi, what are your sources telling you about this? 

TAIBBI:  I talked to one defense source just before we went on the air, not an attorney but a defense source who has been part of the defense team, and he said he didn‘t think it referred to Raymone Bain. 

He talked about Jesse Jackson who, as you know, has stepped in front of every camera available.  And when he did have the mikes in a press conference setting the afternoon, really did a long soliloquy, answered every question that was thrown this way, and talked about things that would have been beyond the very careful kinds of statement that an attorney would make, for example, or an appointed spokesman would make, talking about conspiracies, that sort of thing.

Dick Gregory, my source said, had did some things over the weekend that were seemed as being questionable, at the very least, in terms of being good for Michael Jackson.  So who knows who it was referring to?  This source says it wasn‘t referring to Raymone Bain. 

We‘ll all find out.  But I think, at the end of the day, it‘s going to be just something that passes in the larger story.

ABRAMS:  And look, maybe it‘s referring to all those friends and family members of various Jackson members, family members who are coming up to me and saying, “Oh, I‘m the friend of this Jackson, and I‘m the friend of that Jackson,” and, et cetera, et cetera, and maybe they‘re doing interviews.  Who knows? 

All right.  We‘re going to talk about this more.  We‘re going to talk about whether this means that the defense team is concerned, maybe that the defense team is in chaos, after this break. 

And the Reverend Jesse Jackson has been making some comments taking on the sheriff based on an exclusive from our show, upset that I took a little visit with former Santa Barbara Sheriff Jim Thomas to the jail where Jackson will go if he‘s first convicted.  Jim joins us, when we come back, to defend himself. 

And a judge in Aruba rules there is enough, quote, “suspicion” to keep two suspects behind bars in connection with that missing high school senior who disappeared on the island.  We talk to a lawyer from one of the men. 

Plus, a father and son arrested, possible ties to Al Qaeda right here in the U.S.  They may have been planning an attack on supermarkets or hospitals? 

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


MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC ANCHOR:  MSNBC keeps you up-to-the-minute every 15 minutes.  I‘m Milissa Rehberger.  Here‘s the latest. 

California Judge Janice Rogers Brown is heading for a seat on the U.S.  Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.  The Senate approved her long-delayed confirmation by a vote of 56-43. 

Former child actor and Michael Jackson witness Macaulay Culkin pleaded guilty to misdemeanor drug charges in Oklahoma.  He was arrested last September for possession of half an ounce of marijuana and eight Xanax tablets. 

And to Las Vegas, Harrah‘s and Caesar‘s officials say the FTC has given the two companies the go-ahead to merge.  Nevada gambling regulators still must sign off on that $9.4 billion merger.  That would make Harrah‘s the world‘s largest gaming company. 


ABRAMS:  We‘re talking about whether there‘s dissension in the Michael Jackson defense team.  This as the jury deliberated for a fourth day with no verdict in this case. 

The reason we ask is because both the attorney for Michael Jackson and apparently Michael Jackson and his family released statements saying that they have not authorized anyone to speak or to hold any press conferences on their behalf.  And in fact, the statement from Michael Jackson says only Michael Jackson‘s attorneys of record have been authorized to speak on his behalf. 

Susan Filan, does this mean that there‘s trouble in the defense team or are we just reading into this too much? 

FILAN:  No, I mean, it doesn‘t sound good at all.  You know, earlier we talked about this.  And I‘m not so sure myself that it wasn‘t the judge that hauled the lawyers into chambers and said, “What the heck‘s going on out there?”  And that‘s why Mesereau had to come out with this statement. 

I‘m really not sure what started it.  Mesereau went into the judge and said, “May I release this?”  Or the judge said, “What‘s going on out there?”  But the fact that you‘ve got different people supposedly speaking for Jackson and Mesereau trying to shut it down certainly sounds chaotic. 

And I agree with Stacy.  It‘s really embarrassing.  And perhaps there‘s just utter chaos, panic and pandemonium in Neverland.  I don‘t know.  Raymone Bain says it‘s calm and they‘re managing, but, boy, by the looks of it, it sure doesn‘t seem that way. 

ABRAMS:  But Stacy Brown, as you pointed out earlier, this is sort of par for the course when it comes to the Jackson family, right? 

BROWN:  Oh, absolutely.  As you mentioned too, earlier today and yesterday, too, there were several people that are, quote, unquote, “close” to the Jacksons, including Jermaine Jackson‘s own assistant, speaking to different media members. 

There was Majestic the magician speaking to different media outlets here.  There are several people—Randy Jackson‘s assistant was here, even a friend of Katherine Jackson was here.  And they were speaking to media.  So perhaps this was not directed at Raymone Bain. 

ABRAMS:  You know, I always hate it—and it just drives me nuts when my magician is out there speaking on my behalf.


ABRAMS:  When my magician does that, I want—I‘m going to—All right.  The bottom line, though, is, let‘s even assume for a minute that—

Mike Taibbi, you wanted to get in there.  Go ahead, Mike. 

TAIBBI:  Yes, I think one point to think about right now is that we‘re also at a stage in this process, which we began a long, long time ago, where suddenly all the media, whoever signed up to be part of this, and a lot who‘ve added their names since then, are all here now.

So now you‘ve got a huge audience of media, tons of microphones, and anybody who wants a piece of that shows up.  Jesse Jackson being a person in that group.  Dick Gregory doing that.  You‘ve got a fundamentalist out there, bible-thumpers screaming at the pro-Jackson people.  And the cameras all swarm.

And so, you know, I think a lot of people don‘t want things to get out of control.  I don‘t know whether it says anything about chaos at Neverland.  It certainly is a reflection of the chaos here at the courthouse campus. 

CARDOZA:  Dan?  Dan?  ABRAMS:  All right, yes, very quickly, Michael, yes, yes? 

CARDOZA:  You know, what Michael said really makes sense, because you have got the judge in there watching what‘s going on outside.  The sheriffs were searching people the other day, found fist-sized rocks, rocks buried. 

You know, Jackson could be inciting some of those people to riot out there.  And the judge is going, “Wait a minute.  What‘s going on?  Who are these people speaking for?”  Slow them down. 

ABRAMS:  They apparently did find that the rocks were there, apparently to help put up the signs because it‘s so windy out here, et cetera.  But you‘re right.  Look, all right. 

Now to a controversy, another controversy brewing outside the courthouse.  A result of my exclusive look at the jail where Jackson would likely be brought if he‘s convicted.  Apparently, some Jackson supporters, including the Reverend Jesse Jackson, believe it was part of an orchestrated effort. 


REV. JESSE JACKSON, JACKSON SPIRITUAL ADVISER:  In some sense, advertising the jail cell, which the sheriff promised back in November 2003, one makes that kind of psychological warfare.  Michael has not reacted to that.  It‘s not taking him off of his focus.  His focus on his self-confidence, on his hands in life are the fate of the jury, and his faith in god and belief in this jury and his lawyer.  He remains steadfastly focused on that. 


ABRAMS:  All right.  So now joining me, MSNBC analyst and the former Santa Barbara county sheriff, Jim Thomas, who took me on that tour of the grounds. 

So Jim, psychological warfare?  Are you engaging in psychological warfare by taking me on that tour? 

JIM THOMAS, FORMER SANTA BARBARA COUNTY SHERIFF:  Hey, Dan.  No, in fact, you and I were the only ones that knew about the tour except the camera and the staff. 

The thing about this is that Michael Jackson has two ways to go at the end of this trial.  He either walks out the front door and goes home or he walks out the back door and takes a van to the Santa Barbara county jail.

They‘ve talked often about what they were going to do in a vindication and celebrations after there‘s a vindication and an acquittal.  And it‘s fair for people to know what would happen going the other way.  All we wanted to do was show what the process was, and the fact the sheriff that‘s currently in office will do everything he can to ensure that Michael Jackson is treated fairly and is protected while he‘s in his custody. 

ABRAMS:  You know, and the bottom line is that, you know, we had some viewers write in saying, “Oh, it presumes Michael Jackson guilty.” 

You know, my response was, what, we can‘t talk about what the possibility or what happens if Michael Jackson is convicted?  I mean, every time you answered one of my questions, you would say “if convicted,” right? 

THOMAS:  Right, right.  You know, and it‘s just one of the two possibilities that could be there.  And as you recall, we talked about generalities for the most part, what most inmates go through as far as the rules and the clothing, so that people would get an idea of, if he has to go through that backdoor when this verdict comes out, they‘ll have an idea of what that process will be and what he will face. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Look, I think it was perfectly—I have no problem with it. 

Michael Cardoza, you don‘t have any problem with it, right? 

CARDOZA:  No, I have no problem with it at all, Dan.  Because look what happened in closing argument.  The defense—and they weren‘t supposed to do it—mentioned punishment.  When Ron Zonen, the D.A., got up, he told the jury, “You are not to consider punishment in this case.” 

So why is the defense now complaining?  They brought it up.  It would strike me that would help them.  Because if somehow magically it gets to the jurors, it would re-enforce it.  If you convict, Michael walks through that backdoor and goes to the horrible jail here.  So really consider whether you want to convict or not. 

It helps them.  I don‘t know why Reverend Jackson got all up in the air about that.  It helps the defense.

ABRAMS:  Very quickly, Stacy Brown, could Michael Jackson survive prison? 

BROWN:  I don‘t think so.  Based on all the accounts I‘ve heard, being around the family for so many years, I doubt that very seriously. 

ABRAMS:  And what happens, Stacy?  I mean, what—I mean, they‘re going to have him—Jim Thomas told us he‘s going—they‘re going to have him on suicide watch if he‘s in there. 

BROWN:  Well, you know, I can‘t tell you what happens then, Dan.  All I know is that there won‘t be anymore tours or anything like that. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, that‘s for sure.  And the reverend Jackson did come on this program awhile back and said, if Michael Jackson is acquitted, one of the first things he plans do is build theme parks in Africa.  So we‘ll have to see. 

Jim Thomas, Mike Taibbi, Susan Filan, Michael Cardoza, Stacy Brown, thanks a lot. 

Coming up, the area around the courthouse here is practically an armed camp, including some people who give out jaywalking tickets.  But we take a tour of what the sheriffs are doing, not the police, the sheriffs to keep things under control.

And a judge rules there‘s enough evidence to hold two men arrested in connection with the disappearance a teenager in Aruba.  We‘re going to talk to the lawyer for one of those suspects from Aruba.

Plus, a father and son arrested in Northern California after the son allegedly confessed to training at an Al Qaeda camp.  The question then you‘re asking now, was there a sleeper cell operating within the U.S.?  The guy apparently confessed to training. 

Your e-mails, Abramsreport@MSNBC.com.  Please include your name, where you‘re writing from.  I‘ll respond at the end of the show.



ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  There may not be enough evidence, but there‘s plenty of suspicion, so says the judge presiding over the case of two men detained in connection with Natalee Holloway‘s disappearance, the 18-year-old high school senior missing in Aruba.  The judge ruled there is sufficient cause to hold them while the investigation continues.  The two were arrested on Sunday on suspicion of first and second-degree murder and kidnapping. 

Both were once security guards at a hotel very close to where Natalee was staying on that island.  At the police station for this morning‘s hearing, Jones‘ mother and girlfriend were there.  His girlfriend said that she‘s the alibi.  They were together at the time of Holloway‘s disappearance.



Abraham and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) my friends. 


DEGRAF:  We finished; we went to get my daughter at my mom‘s.  We went at the gasoline station, got some bread...


DEGRAF:  ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) went home.


ABRAMS:  Joining me now is Giovanni Lane, news editor of Aruba‘s “Diario” newspaper.  Thanks very much for coming on the program.  All right, explain this to us.  They have suspicion but no evidence.  I mean are they literally just suspicious of these guys? 

GIOVANNI LANE, NEWS EDITOR, “DIARIO”:  Good night, Dan.  Yes, they‘re suspicious.  In Aruba the laws are so that you don‘t have to really have conclusive evidence to keep people detained for a few more days.  So they want to be sure to keep these guys, to ask them more, to find out, to investigate more, if they can find more clues to what happened.

ABRAMS:  But Giovanni is the reason that they‘re suspicious because these guys were known for sort of walking up to tourists and trying to hit on women and acting inappropriately, et cetera?  I mean is that all they have? 

LANE:  Well that‘s what‘s been said before, but some people say—that someone said they saw a guy who looked like one of the suspects dressed in like the uniform at the Holiday Inn a few hours before the girl would have disappeared.  So that‘s one of the things that we heard because the police is not revealing much of the evidence they have, if they have any evidence. 

ABRAMS:  But they are still searching, right, in the hope that maybe somehow they would find her alive, correct?

LANE:  Yes, they are still searching because there are thousands of tips coming in, people calling saying that they‘ve seen Natalee here or they seen her there.  The big question is, why do those people who say they seen her don‘t—why don‘t they approach her or call the police or follow her? 

I mean there is also a reward, so you know that can be an indication.  If you have actually seen Natalee, why—the question is why haven‘t they contacted the police?  People think in Aruba that—a lot of people are saying that they think she‘s alive and that she may be hiding.  Maybe there‘s more to it.  Maybe her family‘s not revealing whatever problems they have.  It‘s all speculation, but that‘s...


LANE:  ... what a lot of people are thinking right now in Aruba.

ABRAMS:  Yes, that sounds to me like people in Aruba are trying to protect their own, no?

LANE:  Well Aruba‘s been known to be very safe and until now there‘s no evidence that it‘s not safe in Aruba.  And the media, the press—the international press can portray it as if we are—this is not a safe island, but everything indicates that Aruba is a safe island, always has been.  And that‘s why the people are very—the people here are very helpful.  They‘re trying to help find Natalee to prove that it‘s that way. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  Giovanni Lane, thanks very much for coming back on the program.  We appreciate it.  If you have any information on the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, please call 877-628-2533. 

You know, I don‘t know.  There‘s just something about that sort of—

I get it.  The people in Aruba say it‘s a safe island and as a result they‘re saying oh the family is not telling us everything.  I mean look I don‘t think there‘s anything to indicate that the family is not telling them everything.

Bottom line is that her suitcase was found in her room packed, her passport was there.  She just left everything there.  I mean the idea that she‘s going to somehow you know leave all of her personal belongings and her passport and everything in this room to sort of just go and—anyway the hope is I think that maybe someone took her and that she‘s alive and that they may be able to find her. 

Joining me now is once again Chris Lejuez, the attorney for Abraham Jones, one of the men being held in connection with Natalee Holloway‘s disappearance.  Sir, thank you very much for coming back on the program. 

So—all right, so there‘s now been a court hearing.  Explain to us as a legal matter at this point do the prosecutors have to tell you anything about what evidence or suspicions they have? 

CHRIS LEJUEZ, ABRAHAM JONES‘ ATTORNEY:  Yes, they do, and they did.  I have documentation regarding the statements of several witnesses that say that they have seen my client with another security guard on the beach on that day, but not at the night and not on the hour that Natalee Holloway disappeared. 

ABRAMS:  Did they—did any of the witnesses say anything about having seen Natalee with your client and this other man? 

LEJUEZ:  No, sir.  Nobody has seen my client in the proximity of Natalee.  There is no proof whatsoever in the file that Natalee was would not be alive.  So it‘s very difficult for the defense to accept what the judge says that hey, he finds there is a legal detention—if there is—if the person is alive, how could you be a suspect detained for things like homicide and murder? 

ABRAMS:  So I understand legally, in Aruba, if I‘m correct, the fact that this judge has said at least there‘s enough suspicion—and again, he doesn‘t have to say there‘s any evidence.  He just has to say that there‘s enough suspicion—these men can now...


ABRAMS:  ... be held for something like 116 days or so before they‘re entitled to some other hearing? 

LEJUEZ:  My question is suspicion of what, suspicion of a crime?  What crime?  The crime would have to be murder or homicide.  For murder—for you to have a murder or homicide, you have to at least some evidence or some indication that somebody‘s dead.  We don‘t have that here in this case, not at all. 

ABRAMS:  So you say that a number of witnesses saw your client and this other man on the beach near the area apparently where Natalee went missing.  You say the timing doesn‘t match.  Explain that to us. 

LEJUEZ:  No, I didn‘t say several men.  I said one witness said that he saw them there on the beach some time or the other.  We don‘t even know what time that was.  It was—possible that it was even a whole different day.  We don‘t know that, but one thing is for sure. 

He did not say that he saw my client there with any other man at the hour that Natalee disappeared.  And furthermore, nobody ever has seen my client in the vicinity of Natalee Holloway. 

ABRAMS:  All right, I thought you said—I‘ll go back and listen to the tape—I thought you had said witnesses—that you had received statements...


ABRAMS:  ... from witnesses who had seen your client on the beach.

LEJUEZ:  No, sir.  There is one witness that had said that.  Other witnesses have said they have seen two security guards walking but they have not identified the security guards. 

ABRAMS:  Oh, got it, OK.  All right, Chris Lejuez, thank you very much for coming back on the program.  Again, we‘d like to have you back on as we continue to follow this story and this case.  Thank you, sir. 

LEJUEZ:  You‘re welcome.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, as the jury deliberates, more people are gathering here in Santa Maria.  I‘ve got to tell you it‘s getting a little bit tense here.  I took a look at some of the security precautions. 

Plus, authorities bust a possible al Qaeda cell in California, possible targets that included supermarkets and hospitals.

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, authorities bust a possible al Qaeda sleeper cell here in California, coming up.



ABRAMS:  Authorities near Sacramento, California may have cracked a terror ring, a possible sleeper cell with ties to al Qaeda, suspected of operating right here in the United States.  Two men arrested this weekend on charges they lied to FBI officials are now believed to have been linked to al Qaeda in Pakistan. 

One of the men is an American named Hamid Hayat, who works in a fruit plant in northern California.  Now he first denied having any connection to terror groups, but U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott says that after Hayat willingly took a lie detector test and faced more questions...


MCGREGOR SCOTT, U.S. ATTORNEY:  Hamid admitted that he had in fact attended a Jihadist training camp in Pakistan for approximately six months in 2003 and 2004.  He also confirmed that the camp was run by al Qaeda operatives. 


ABRAMS:  And that‘s not all.  Hamid Hayat also told the FBI—quote -

·         “that during his weapons training photos of various high ranking U.S.  political figures including President Bush would be pasted onto targets and that he and others at the camp were being trained on how to kill Americans.”

He went on to explain he came to the U.S. to complete his jihadi mission and his potential targets included hospitals and supermarkets.  His father was also arrested.  Two other men, Muslim leaders who live in the same area have been charged with immigration violations and are also the subjects of the investigation.

Joining me now is our favorite terrorism expert Steve Emerson.  All right, so Steve, look let‘s make one thing quite clear.  If you‘re going to an al Qaeda training camp in 2003 or 2004, and you‘re an American—you know we can talk about pre 9/11 all we want—but any American who‘s going to a jihadi training camp in Pakistan between 2003 and 2004 and then coming back to the United States is a serious threat to this country. 

STEVE EMERSON, TERRORISM EXPERT:  Without doubt, Dan.  The fact, as you pointed out, he volunteered to come back to the United States to carry out jihadi missions according to the complaint that was filed, and in fact he had been trained, as you noted, in various aspects of al Qaeda warfare or just militant Islamic terrorist warfare.  Not necessarily can we even say that this is an al Qaeda cell.  That makes it even more insidious and more dangerous because it shows that he‘s not part of this orchestrated organized hierarchy.  That in fact here‘s a guy who is living in the United States...


EMERSON:  ... he goes to Pakistan to train for two years, voluntarily comes back to carry out a jihadi mission here or terrorist attacks.

ABRAMS:  You know, Steve, a lot of the people who have been arrested -

·         quote—“in connection with terror” to me have been small fry.  People are doing—getting busted, making stupid comments, et cetera.  I‘m not saying they shouldn‘t be charged, but the bottom line is this seems to me more serious than many of the other cases that we‘ve heard about. 

Let me read you from the criminal complaint, because if this is true, this is scary stuff.  Hamid admitted that he attended a jihadist training camp in Pakistan for approximately six months in 2003, 2004.  Hamid stated that al Qaeda supports the camp and provides instructors.  Hamid described the camp as providing structured paramilitary training including weapons training, explosives training, interior room tactics, hand-to-hand combat and strenuous exercise.

I mean look this guy‘s defense is going to have to be that he lied, right?  I mean if he‘s going to admit that then he was clearly not telling the truth to the authorities at the very least. 

EMERSON:  Well yes obviously it would seem to me he‘s going to claim that his confession was coerced or it was involuntary or whatever...

ABRAMS:  Right.

EMERSON:  ... but in fact I believe that the government has other evidence showing that he was connected to the Islamic terrorist training camp because why other—why else would they have picked his name up and actually cited it on the no-fly list when he was first intercepted going from the far East to the United States about a week ago?

Clearly, U.S. government had an operation going on for a while, perhaps as long a year and a half, maybe even two years, showing that this individual and perhaps others—and I think there are others who are going to be arrested, Dan, in the next few weeks or perhaps months.  I don‘t know for sure—connected to this larger training of jihadists in the United States...


EMERSON:  ... who went to Pakistan and who were going to carry out attacks.  We don‘t know at what time or what point they would do it, but they were prepared to carry out attacks. 

ABRAMS:  Hamid advised—this is from the affidavit—that he specifically requested to come to the United States to carry out his jihadi mission.  Potential targets for attack would include hospitals and large food stores.

Steve, I‘m going to ask you a tough question.  Is this the most important arrest in this country in the war on terror since September 11, 2001? 

EMERSON:  You know I don‘t know because frankly I think the other ones have been pretty important also.  They‘ve all be interdicted at a different point prior to the execution of their actual—before they could carry out those attacks, but clearly the arrest in Lackawanna, the—Portland, in Seattle, in Florida, in Chicago, these are other cases that are I think equally important, Dan, except they don‘t resonate...

ABRAMS:  Really?

EMERSON:  ... because we don‘t really have the—quote—“smoking gun” of someone planting a bomb.  The fact of the matter is the FBI...

ABRAMS:  We also—Steve, we also don‘t have any of them going to training camps, do we, after 2001, after September 11, leaving this country to go to training camps and coming back to the United States? 

EMERSON:  We don‘t have—you‘re right—we don‘t have them going—leaving after—well we do actually, on the “Portland Seven” I believe they left after the war in Afghanistan and also in the Brinkema case in the eastern district of Virginia, the painful jihad case, they were volunteering to carry out jihad after the 9/11 attacks.  So I think that when you add up all of these other cases, you have here this mix and this brew of jihadists that are wannabes, aren‘t formally connected to al Qaeda, Dan, but are in-viewed (ph) with the hatred of the United States to the point that they actually elected to carry out jihad after the 9/11, knowing the full consequences of their actions.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Well it sounds like this operation worked and that‘s good news.  Steve Emerson thanks very much, appreciate it. 

EMERSON:  You‘re welcome.  Sure.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Coming up, court officials here in Santa Maria try to avoid another scene like this one.  And we‘ve got a statement from Michael Jackson‘s spokesperson Raymone Bain, responding to what seems like dissension in the defense camp, coming up.


ABRAMS:  Remember the Scott Peterson verdict, hundreds of spectators showing up just to be there when the verdict was read?  Well here at the court where jurors continue to deliberate Michael Jackson‘s fate, the authorities are preparing for a lot worse.  They‘re getting ready for thousands.  I took a walk around the courthouse today with Sergeant Eric Raney of the Santa Barbara Sheriff‘s Department to talk about the preparations. 


SGT. ERIC RANEY, SANTA BARBARA SHERIFF‘S DEPT.:  It‘s definitely taxed us.  It‘s definitely something that‘s out of the ordinary for us but it‘s something that we‘ve been able to handle. 

ABRAMS:  You look at what‘s going on here now and it‘s pretty calm and there‘s not that many fans.  People are sort of milling about, et cetera, but when there‘s a verdict, you know, it‘s going to explode, as it‘s happened in other high profile cases.  Are you guys ready? 

RANEY:  We‘re ready for it.  We‘ve got a lot of different plans in place to handle any number of different contingencies. 

ABRAMS:  Even if hundreds more people show up, you guys are ready? 

RANEY:  We‘ve anticipated that we‘ll have the same volume of people as we had at the arraignment and there were upwards of 1,000... 

ABRAMS:  That‘s when Michael was dancing...


ABRAMS:  That‘s when he was dancing on the...

RANEY:  Correct. 

ABRAMS:  ... the SUV. 

RANEY:  Correct.  So we‘re confident that we have the staffing to handle that type of crowd level.  And even more in the city of Santa Maria has also increased their staffing to be able to accommodate that.  And we know that we‘re having an increase in media and what is different now than back then is that we‘ve got this media pool and all of the plans in place and everybody has been working together so well for the last five months that we anticipate that it should go rather smoothly. 

ABRAMS:  So this is where Michael Jackson and his team come in every day, sort of open like the Red Sea and then you close it up again. 

RANEY:  Exactly. 

ABRAMS:  Is everyone allowed to come in this way?  I mean is Michael Jackson getting different treatment than an ordinary defendant? 

RANEY:  Well an ordinary defendant, somebody who didn‘t have the public popularity as Michael Jackson, wouldn‘t have any issues in coming into the courthouse. 

ABRAMS:  Are you going to get a warning from the judge when there‘s a verdict? 

RANEY:  We‘ve been told that we‘ll have an hour notice from when the jury brings in a verdict to when it is read. 

ABRAMS:  So Sergeant, this is the other side of the courthouse where the jurors come in and out right here.  Have you guys ever had to make these kinds of preparations for taking jurors in and out of the courthouse? 

RANEY:  I don‘t recall ever having to do this in terms of maintaining the security and integrity of a jury pool. 

ABRAMS:  No jury problems so far, right? 

RANEY:  So far not that I‘m aware of. 


ABRAMS:  We‘re coming back with more from the heavily fortified courthouse in Santa Maria in a moment.


ABRAMS:  Welcome back. Now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal.”

Vernay Lewis in Deleware writes about the new tell-all book from Jackson insider Bob Jones, quote, “Are we expected to believe that someone who would sit back and watch these occur for more than 20 years and not say a word?  Are we to believe that he suspected something not right with Michael and these children, but he wasn‘t compelled to come forward until he was fired?”

Elizabeth Quesenberry with a random thought from Massachusetts, “I watch your show everyday and feel your an intelligent, honest man.  If I were 50 years younger, I‘d make a play for you.”  Thanks.

Brandon Thurston in New York. “I have to say the Abrams Report is very entertaining show.  Maybe even more entertaining than the show itself is the opening theme music.  I can barely contain myslf until 6:00 pm to rock out and air guitar to that awesome riff.”  I don‘t like the music that much either.

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

Thanks for watching.  I‘ll be here until the verdict.  See you tomorrow.


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