updated 6/30/2005 8:18:39 AM ET 2005-06-30T12:18:39

Guest: Jossy Mansur, Ron Gilbert, Don Clark, Joe Coffey, Joe Episcopo, Andrew Visconti, Antonio Mendez, Amna Buttar

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, Natalee Holloway‘s mother says she is devastated that Aruban authorities had to release the father of a lead suspect in the case. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That was such a huge setback that I felt as if I was taken back to May 31 at 2:00 a.m. in the morning. 

ABRAMS (voice-over):  Beth Twitty says she‘s convinced that Paul Van Der Sloot knows more than he is saying.  She fears Aruban authorities are now just back to square one.  We hear from her. 

Plus convicted sex offender John Couey confessed to killing Jessica Lunsford and burying her alive, even told police where to find the 9-year-old‘s body, but now many saying his confession could be thrown out of court?  Did the authorities blow the case? 

And an Italian judge issues an arrest warrant for 13 American operatives, accused of kidnapping a terror suspect on the streets of Milan and sending him to Egypt.  The Italians now demanding they be extradited to face trial.  Could it actually happen? 

The program about justice starts now. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket, the family of missing Alabama teen, Natalee Holloway, frustrated, disappointed, angry with the progress or lack there of, of the search and status of the investigation.  Natalee now missing in Aruba for over four weeks. 

Since then, seven people have been arrested.  Four have been released.  Now still in custody, Dutch teen Joran Van Der Sloot, brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe.  The two latest suspects to be released, Joran‘s father, a judge in training on the island arrested last Thursday, and released on Sunday a party boat D.J., Steve Croes—actually Steve Croes was released yesterday after being detained for 10 days.  Both were order released by a judge.  Aruban police and the FBI and now a private search team from Texas have been searching for Natalee.  It is clear her family is getting fed up. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY‘S MOTHER:  Here it‘s been a month.  I mean that is so hard to even begin to realize what we have been living through for a month.  But you know and at this point you would think that you are well into it and you are progressing right through it and you‘ve almost got your answers.  And after this weekend, I don‘t think it‘s any surprise that, you know, we were devastated.  You know that was such a huge setback that I felt as if I was taken back to May 31...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right.

TWITTY:  ... at 2:00 a.m. in the morning. 

JUG TWITTY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY‘S STEPFATHER:  There are just a lot of things that need to be cleared up for me and for Beth.  And you know we‘re going to—we‘re determined to find Natalee and get her back.  You saw Steve Croes get released today and I don‘t know if the picture they show on TV is him being arrested or him being released, but if you‘ll notice he is just smiling like, you know, he‘s got this cocky smile on his face—the same thing with the guard that got—I mean the security guard that got arrested two or three weeks ago or...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They were released a couple of weeks ago.

J. TWITTY:  Both of those guys were like they are smiling because they know that they don‘t have anything on them.  They are probably not guilty.  Did Joran—was he smiling when they arrested him?  No, I don‘t think so. 

Was the dad running from everybody when they were trying to interview him?  I think so.  I mean it‘s just unbelievable to me, you know, that the people can‘t understand or—I feel that the judge has a lot more—he knows a lot more than he is saying.  I‘m not saying he is guilty of anything, but I know that he has more information. 

B. TWITTY:  The hardest part for me is not to see how close we are to actually finding Natalee.  That is what we have been looking for since May 30 at 11:00 p.m. and I cannot see where I am, and that is the most frustrating part for me. 

J. TWITTY:  We did everything possible to get her as quickly as we could and that—and had we not done that, had we not gone to the judge‘s house, had we not gotten the clues ourselves we would probably wouldn‘t be here this far right now. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  You can understand their frustration.  Joining me now managing editor of Aruba‘s “Diario” newspaper, Jossy Mansur.  Jossy, thanks for coming back on the program.  We appreciate it.  So...

JOSSY MANSUR, MANAGING EDITOR, “DIARIO”:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  ... is the sense there that this investigation is stalled? 

MANSUR:  No, we don‘t have that sense.  What we do have is a lot of disappointment that the father was let go because we thought that when the prosecutors arrested him they had sufficient evidence in which they claim to have, and when he was let go, there was quite some bewilderment here.  However, we do have a lot of confidence in the police force of Aruba.  I think that they are doing a good job and I think that they will solve this case. 

ABRAMS:  Is it commonplace that you have at this early stage in investigation, prosecutors fighting to keep someone behind bars and a judge saying no, you simply don‘t have enough? 

MANSUR:  It‘s not very uncommon.  It is not very common, either.  But it did happen in this case because the man was held for three days, that is the law.  And after three days he had one judge, the judge of instruction, (INAUDIBLE) had to look at the evidence and decide whether he would be extended in his detention for another eight days, and he found a lack of evidence and he set him free. 

ABRAMS:  Why are you so confident that they‘re going to solve this case?  I mean look you know the police force there far better than those of us sitting back here in the United States, but I think to outsiders there is a sense that—or starting to become a sense that maybe this case isn‘t going to be solved at all. 

MANSUR:  Well you know, because the ways—the procedures here are different from in the United States.  I see many cases in the United States where the police holds—every few hours or every day they hold press conferences and they keep the public informed of what‘s going on.  Here that is not the case.  They don‘t speak anything.  They don‘t say anything.  There is nothing coming out into the public.  That doesn‘t mean they are not working on it or that they don‘t have very solid leads. 

ABRAMS:  But I guess the reason that I think people are fearing that is because of all of these releases.  I mean you have the two security guards who were arrested, then released.  You have Paul Van Der Sloot, who was arrested and then released.  Steve Croes, the same thing, and I think that there is a fear among some that they just don‘t have the evidence, and maybe they just don‘t know exactly where they are going with this investigation. 

MANSUR:  But they do have the three main persons and three main suspects still in jail.  They will probably be extended in the detention coming weekend.  And while that is the case, I wouldn‘t be too disillusioned with this.  They still have the main suspects there and they are questioning them every day. 

ABRAMS:  And this weekend is when a judge will review whether the three of them remain behind bars? 

MANSUR:  Yes, sir or they will get another 60 days extension. 

ABRAMS:  Wow.  All right.  Jossy Mansur, thank you once again for coming back.  We appreciate it. 

MANSUR:  Quite welcome. 

ABRAMS:  Last week, Natalee‘s family sought the help of EquuSearch, a private search team based in Texas.  The team of volunteers equipped with sonar equipment, cadaver dogs began their search last Friday.  They have combed the island, the surrounding water. 

Joining me now is Ron Gilbert, an EquuSearch diver who has just joined us after completing some work out there.  Ron, thanks very much for coming on the program.  I know how much the family appreciates all of you being out there helping as best you can.  Give us a sense of exactly what you have been doing so far. 

RON GILBERT, EQUUSEARCH DIVER:  Well, we have given an area that is tremendously large area, and we‘re trying to prioritize and trying not to waste too much of our time in the short time that we‘re going to be here.  So we prioritize our areas we want to search.  We try to get those areas searched first. 

ABRAMS:  How deep is the water generally where you are searching? 

Does it vary? 

GILBERT:  It does vary, absolutely.  There‘s inland quarries.  There‘s some stuff offshore and of course offshore has endless possibilities.  A lot of the—I‘m sorry—a lot of the quarries inland are also black water, so that slows your search down quite a bit. 

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you this question  more theoretically.  It makes me a little comfortable to ask it to you this way.  In searching for a body, any body in this kind of water, are—is it like searching for a needle in a haystack or could you really find something if it is there? 

GILBERT:  If it‘s there we can find something.  If we had descent information we can find something, but when you don‘t even know where the haystack is at it‘s very difficult to find the needle. 

ABRAMS:  Has there been anything that you thought might be significant that you‘ve seen so far that turned out I guess not to be? 

GILBERT:  Yes, there is.  When we do some stuff offshore you find things like you know shoes and towels and clothes and what not and every time you find something you hope in your heart that it‘s going to be a piece of the puzzle and just we haven‘t found anything yet that is a piece of the puzzle. 

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you this—you are a volunteer, right? 

GILBERT:  That is correct. 

ABRAMS:  What do you do at home?  I mean I think people are really appreciative of the work you‘re out there doing.  What do you do for the rest of the time at home? 

GILBERT:  We have a group of individuals here that are handpicked and we are public safety divers back in the states. 

ABRAMS:  And you have a separate job, et cetera, back in the states at home, et cetera? 

GILBERT:  Yes, sir, that is correct. 

ABRAMS:  Have you met with the family? 

GILBERT:  Yes, I have. 

ABRAMS:  And how did that go? 

GILBERT:  You can imagine, you know, I just told them that we are here to do all we can, and you know we are not going to go home not knowing that we didn‘t do the best we could and I really believe that we have.  We‘ve—our group of divers that we have, we work very hard.  Nobody is really in charge.  We are professionals.  We agree on things by tribunal, and we get the job done. 

And we try to do the best we can.  So that‘s what I told them, that hey we‘re here to do the best we can.  I am very sorry, but I‘ve got a blond-haired, blue eyed 2-year-old at home that you know I feel a sense of duty not only to my country, but to the family to do all that I can and that‘s what we have done. 

ABRAMS:  How long are you going to stay? 

GILBERT:  I have to go back home tomorrow.  Our dive operation today we suspended them for the meantime because we have to wait 24 hours before we fly.  But today we did some stuff around the coastal waters and some inland stuff, doing some reconnaissance work.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right, well Ron, I know how much our viewers, how much the family, how much the people involved appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to go down there and do the work that needs to be done.  Thank you. 

GILBERT:  Well we just hope it turns out good. 

ABRAMS:  We all do. 

All right.  Joining me now, former FBI special agent Don Clark.  Don, let me shift gears with you.  Let me go back to the issue of the investigation.  But in the context of what we just heard, how long can a search like this or should a search like this go on? 

DON CLARK, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT:  Well, time is not your friend here, Dan.  And you‘ve got to have something.  You‘ve got to have targets.  You‘ve got to have priorities.  And when you get to a point that they seem to kind of dwindle away, then you start to see the search sort of go away.  And this is what I can really understand Natalee‘s mother‘s comments and I feel for those people because I have been through that too many times myself. 

It is really difficult to understand that why you are not keeping—keep throwing the amount of resources that you always have at these things, but law enforcement really has to look at these things in a strategic matter, prioritize and go where they think that they‘ve got the leads and that they‘ll be able to strike gold, if you will, or find whatever it is they are looking for.  So it‘s not their friend right now and now knowing what clues they have out there makes it really difficult to continue. 

ABRAMS:  This is a foreign country, primarily a Dutch territory.  They are doing this investigation on their own.  Can the FBI put any sort of pressure on them or do they basically have to just say look, if you need us, we are here for you? 

CLARK:  You know, Dan, I don‘t think the FBI would want to put any

pressure on them.  I think this department and the Dutch and the Aruban

authorities have been very generous and reaching out for the FBI and asking

·         and I am going to bet that they have been consulting them along the way because the FBI has a significant amount of experience in these kind of cases...

ABRAMS:  But isn‘t there—but my concern would be that they‘re too -

·         that they might be too proud.  That they might say oh you know what, we know how to do these investigations, we don‘t need your help. 

CLARK:  You know, Dan, I really hope that that‘s not the case.  Because you know the FBI has a school back in Washington, D.C. where they bring in foreign police officers.  My guess are that you probably have an Aruban police that‘s been back to this school, so they kind of understand each other.  And I would think the opposite would be—the contrary would be what they are looking for and that is, is that they would welcome that breadth and depth of experience coming into this island saying here are some things that we can provide for you. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right, Don Clark, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

CLARK:  Always a pleasure, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, this story just unbelievable, convicted sex offender John Couey confessed to killing 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, but now because he asked for an attorney, his entire confession could very well be thrown out. 

Plus, an Italian judge wants to arrest purported CIA operatives who allegedly took a terror suspect off the streets of Milan to have him sent to Egypt.  The Italians now demanding the 13 be extradited to Italy to face trial there.  Is that going to happen? 

Your e-mails abramsreport—you know the...

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF DAWSY, CITRUS COUNTY SHERIFF:  John Couey admitted to abducting Jessica and subsequently taking her life.  We have built the case, a very methodical case, and I‘ve got my man. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  All right.  Well Sheriff Dawsy has his man, but the case he built against accused killer John Couey could be falling apart.  It‘s unbelievable.  Couey confessed to raping and killing 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford back in February, even told authorities he buried her alive in a garbage bag and told them where to find her body. 

Prosecutors charged Couey with capital murder, promised he‘ll get the death penalty, but now it seems the confession may never make it into court.  Transcripts of the interview conducted by the Citrus County Sheriff‘s Office with Couey after he was arrested have been released and show Couey told police six times he wanted an attorney early on in the questioning.  Police didn‘t provide him with one.  They continued interrogating him, eventually getting him to confess. 

Now the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that once a suspect asks for an attorney, police need to stop asking questions until an attorney is provided.  Even the prosecutor—Prosecutor Ric Ridgway, who‘s going to be prosecuting the case against Couey told us tonight he expects this issue will be raised in this case. 

“My Take”—if this confession is excluded, which is a legal matter, it very well may be the public is going to hate the legal system more than ever.  He was not forced or coerced into making the confession.  It will be a real travesty. 

Joining me to assess the damage here former Florida Assistant State Attorney Joe Episcopo and former New York homicide detective Joe Coffey, who got a confession out of serial killer David Berkowitz, also known as the “Son of Sam” back in 1977.  All right, gentlemen, thanks very much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

All right, Mr. Coffey, let me start with you.  As a matter—as an investigative technique, at this point they had not found her body, how bad a job did they do? 

JOE COFFEY, FORMER HOMICIDE DETECTIVE:  Well I don‘t like to criticize these people because I am not in their shoes at this time, but the basic Miranda 101, when you give a Miranda warning and the suspect asks for an attorney you give him one or you provide access to one.  In this case, if they didn‘t do that, it was a major, major foul-up.  If any evidence was developed by this confession, that is germane to the case and critical to the case, that is called the fruit of the poison tree. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

COFFEY:  That they can‘t use it if the judge throws the confession out. 

ABRAMS:  I‘m going to talk about the legal stuff in a minute with Joe Episcopo.  Let me read exactly what happened, all right, because a lot of people are talking about it.  Let‘s just lay out for you exactly what happened and this is what could mean that this confession could be in jeopardy. 

The detective says John, would you take a lie detector test for us? 

Couey:  I guess I‘m just --  I want a lawyer, you know.

Hang on, hang on John.  All right, hang on.  I‘m just asking.

If that‘s what you want to do, but I mean, you know...

I‘m just asking.  Would you --  I‘m not saying do it now.  I‘m saying would you?

I said I would.  I just want to talk a lawyer.

OK.

I want a lawyer here present.  I want to talk to a lawyer because I mean if people trying to accuse something I didn‘t do, I didn‘t do it.  I ain‘t, you know...

OK.  So if we do, so if we do...

I don‘t know.  I just said I want to talk to a lawyer to get this thing straight.

OK.  Hang on.  Hang on.  Hang on.  So if we were to do a lie detector test, you‘d want to get a lawyer for that. 

I want to talk to a lawyer first.

You want to talk to a lawyer first?

Yes sir. 

Are you OK with talking to us still now about stuff?

Joe, legal matter, boy this is trouble. 

JOE EPISCOPO, FORMER FLORIDA PROSECUTOR:  Yes.  I think what they should have done was maybe stop the questioning, go away for a while, and come back and see if he would reinitiate a conversation in which case they might be able to get around the problem that they have caused. 

ABRAMS:  But I mean the problem with this is, Joe, and I think you can understand that people are going to listen to what I‘m going to now read to you, which is his confession, and they are going to be horrified with the idea that this is not going to be somehow admitted in a trial. 

Detective:  Did she know that we were out there looking for her?

Yes, she knew.  I told her you all were—I told you all—I said that they‘re out looking for you and she‘d seen it on TV too. 

What happened next?

I went out there one night and dug a hole, put her in it, buried her. 

I pushed—I put her in a plastic bag, plastic baggies.

Was she dead already?

No, she was still alive.  I buried her alive like it‘s stupid, but she suffered.

Joe, how do you explain to people—Joe Episcopo, how do you explain to people that that confession—it is not like they were sitting there with a bat, it‘s not like they were not forcing him to say it—somehow doesn‘t make it into a case. 

EPISCOPO:  Well you know, they—no one wants to accept—you know what else you got?  You have the additional evidence that was found as a result of that confession that also was thrown out, and that‘s the hard thing to explain, the exclusionary rule of all the other evidence.  You know you‘re never going to be able to explain it.  And you know here‘s another thing.  How are you going to find jurors—many of them have heard about the confession, to put the confession aside...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

EPISCOPO:  ... and still be fair and impartial? 

ABRAMS:  I don‘t care about that.  You know honestly, that I don‘t care about.  They‘ll find a jury.  What I am worried about is—the bottom line is, if this is excluded, this is a pure confession.  I think there is going to be an uproar in this country.  If John Couey—I mean look, the prosecutors would say they still have enough evidence.  But if this guy walks out because of this, there is going to be a major uproar against the legal community. 

Look, I understand why this would be excluded.  I am just saying, Joe, that as a practical matter, people are going to be going crazy about this, if for some reason, for some reason excluding this confession means that Couey walks. 

EPISCOPO:  Well you know, an elected judge is going to have to make that decision, and that is where the pressure is going to be.  And you‘ve got an elected state attorney and an elected sheriff.  They all might pay the price. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right, Joe Coffey, look, they are under a lot of pressure at this point when this is happening, right?  They haven‘t found the body yet.  Is it fair to say that sometimes when you haven‘t found a body you try and do what you can?  It sounds like what the detectives here were trying to do was say all right we understand you want a lawyer with regard to the lie detector, but we‘re asking you something separate.  Do you ever fined yourself in that situation or was this just done poorly? 

COFFEY:  Well I found myself in that situation many times, but the point here is that these detectives who are investigators or sheriff‘s deputies, whoever they were, were so intent on finding that body, finding that child, that they disregarded some of the rules understandably so.  I can understand how that would happen. 

But the bottom line is you always have in the back of your mind as an investigator what‘s going to happen in the court proceedings.  You have to put that to the forefront of your mind.  I was around pre Miranda.  I was around pre excubado (ph).  I was around pre Berger (ph).  There are certain Supreme Court decisions that alienate not only the law enforcement community, but they alienate the public, and this is going to be one of them right here. 

EPISCOPO:  But you know, something, Joe, I‘m going to ask you this as a policeman.  Usually when you start questioning a suspect, you don‘t tape record it.  You wait until you get all the background information and you get through everything, then you hit the button.  But it looks like they prematurely recorded this conversation and they got no way out of it. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me read one more part of the confession here.  And again, I‘m saying this just because it is going to be so troubling if this is excluded. 

OK, so she gets up and walks out of the house with you.

Yes sir.

Where did you go?

I take her to my house.

In your bedroom?

Yes sir.

She climbs up that ladder with you?

Yes sir.  Yes, she went in first.

OK and then what—then I went behind her.

What happens next?

Then I sexually assaulted her.

All right.  Well look, I‘ve said it, I‘m warning everyone I know—I get it as a legal matter.  As a practical matter this could be a huge problem in this case.  We‘re going to continue to follow it.  Although the prosecutors would say they still have enough other evidence in this case to convict Couey, I certainly hope so. 

Joe Episcopo, Joe Coffey, thanks a lot. 

An Italian judge puts out an arrest warrant for 13 officials allegedly associated with the CIA, accused of taking a terror suspect off the streets of Milan, sending him to Egypt where he said he was tortured.  The Italians are now demanding that the 13 be extradited to Italy to face trial --  13 Americans. 

Plus, why are the Pakistanis still preventing a woman who was ordered gang raped the opportunity to freely visit the U.S. to tell her story? 

A reminder, stay tuned to MSNBC, live coverage of President Bush‘s speech to the nation from Fort Bragg tonight, war in Iraq.  It‘s coming up at 8:00 p.m. Eastern...

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, an Italian judge issues arrest warrants for 13 Americans who may have been affiliated with the CIA, accused of taking a terrorist off the streets in Italy, sending him to Egypt.  Could they really be sent to Italy to be tried for this?  First the headlines.

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  It is an all-points alert in the war on terror, but it‘s not for suspected terrorists.  The request of an Italian judge, Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization is looking to arrest 13 alleged CIA agents.  And if they can‘t be grabbed in Europe, Italian authorities want the alleged agents picked up in the U.S. and sent to Italy for trial. 

The case starts in Milan.  According to the Italians, CIA agents kidnapped terror suspect, Osama Nasr in February 2003.  An eyewitness say they sprayed chemicals in his face, forced him into a van.  Prosecutors say the agents brought Nasr to Aviano Air Force Base, flew him to Germany, then to Egypt for interrogation and according to some, tortured. 

It‘s believed to be the first time ever that a foreign government has filed charges against American agents involved in alleged anti-terror actions.  Antonio Mendez, a veteran CIA agent, honored as one of the agency‘s 50 trailblazers, the author of several books including “Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA”.  And Andrew Visconti is a correspondent with Italy‘s “L‘Espresso” news magazine.  Gentlemen, thanks very much.  Appreciate it.

All right, Mr. Visconti, let me start with you.  Are the Italians serious about this? 

ANDREW VISCONTI, “L‘ESPRESSO” CORRESPONDENT:  Well, let me put it this way, I don‘t think that for those 13 it would be a good idea to be tourists in Italy anytime soon or in the rest of Europe for that matter, because it could be problematic.  Now are the Italians serious?  It looks pretty serious because the case is really developing in three different directions.  It is a judicial case, it is a diplomatic case, and it is a political case.  So there is a lot of ramifications here. 

ABRAMS:  I get the sense, Mr. Visconti, that they are particularly upset about the fact that they had their own investigation going on this guy, and then their sense is we‘re investigating this guy, we‘re doing surveillance on this guy, and then the CIA agents basically snatch him off the street.  Because I think everyone agrees that this guy is a very, very bad guy. 

VISCONTI:  Absolutely.  Nobody in Italy believes that this is a nice guy.  This is someone who in 1997 was granted political asylum in Italy, but that still doesn‘t mean that there was not an investigation trying to find out what were his connections to terrorist organizations.  He is an Egyptian national, but he was legal in Italy. 

And that is where the Italian authorities now, the Italian judges now are trying to find out what happened.  Who gave permission?  Who authorized this action?  Because as long as this person was legal in Italy, the Italian system will not allow anyone to just snatch someone off the street and just make them disappear. 

ABRAMS:  Well Mr. Mendez, does that happen?  I mean is it that unusual for American operatives to snatch someone? 

ANTONIO MENDEZ, FORMER CIA AGENT:  Well you‘ve heard about these extraordinary renditions a lot since 9/11.  It doesn‘t mean they hadn‘t happened before, but it‘s one of those wrinkles that‘s come along with the so-called war on terrorism.  I think during my time in the ‘70‘s and ‘80‘s we had you know a problem with terrorism and I think there are probably one or two cases.  One that comes to mind readily is the Mark Conzi (ph) case where he was finally lured out of the place that bin Laden is probably hiding right now and he was arrested in Pakistan.  But I think those were all joint operations.  This one sounds a little bit like you know there‘s a lot of interesting squalid kind of detail that sounds a little unusual... 

ABRAMS:  So this doesn‘t—this is not ordinary course of business stuff? 

MENDEZ:  Maybe you can chalk it up to exuberance of being, you know 2003, I guess it when it happened and maybe people were out doing these sort of things, but certainly the profile is way beyond what you would expect for any (INAUDIBLE) operation.  You have to know that there are thousands of operations going on every day, and I‘m sure the Italians there in Washington, D.C. doing whatever they have to do. 

ABRAMS:  You know what troubled me, Mr. Mendez, if you look at—the judge is basically saying that they were able to trace these guys‘ cell phones, their hotel bills.  They verified some false addresses.  The Italian judge‘s report mentions by name the person who is believed to be the CIA Milan bureau chief.  I mean if this were some sort of undercover operation that is very disturbing. 

MENDEZ:  Yes it is.  It is disturbing and like I say, let‘s hope that a lot of this is overblown because you know you don‘t want to leave a trail, you don‘t want to even have a mark that you have been there and to have that kind of profile would be extraordinary—an extraordinary case. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Bottom line, though, Mr. Mendez, you‘d agree that the U.S. isn‘t going to be sending any of these guys anywhere, right? 

MENDEZ:  Well, as our friend said, you wouldn‘t want to be vacationing in Italy in the near future.  Of course, I wouldn‘t want to be vacationing in some of the places that I operated, either.  So you know that goes with the territory. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right, Mr. Visconti, final question.  How much pressure are the Italians going to put on the Americans?  My guess is not that much.  That this is going to be a big sort of statement.  They‘re going to make a cause out of it, but they‘re not really going do that much behind the scenes.  Do you agree with me? 

VISCONTI:  I think you are correct.  Especially because let‘s not forget that when this investigation started to surface, it was also while in Italy there was the case of (INAUDIBLE), the Italian journalist who was abducted in Iraq and then freed and there was another diplomatic case between Washington...

ABRAMS:  Right.

VISCONTI:  ... and Rome back then.  Therefore, this does not seem to be a good idea for the Italian government to cause another diplomatic problem with the U.S. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Yes.  Boy, when I heard about this, the idea that 13 people allegedly involved in the CIA are being extradited—they are trying to get them extradited to Italy to face trial.  Antonio Mendez, Andrew Visconti, thanks very much.  Appreciate it. 

VISCONTI:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, a follow-up on a story we brought you months ago.  A Pakistani woman ordered gang raped.  That woman now wants to come to the United States to speak out about violence against women.  Why is her country, an American ally in the war on terror, not letting her at least freely visit the U.S.? 

Remember when I talked about how impressed I was with those three service men just back from Iraq and Afghanistan that I met in the airport in California, one of you became inspired.  Your e-mails coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, a woman ordered gang raped in Pakistan by a tribal council wants to come to the U.S. to tell her sickening story, but now she‘s being victimized again.  Her government won‘t let her come here freely.  That story coming up.

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back now with a story I promised we would follow up on and one I think is being ignored by the media.  One that should be of great concern to anyone who cares about women.  Three years ago Mukhtar Mai, was ordered, ordered gang raped in Pakistan.  She walked home barely clothed to the jeers of some sickos in her community.  Apparently, some sort of retribution for her 12-year-old brother supposedly having sex with a woman from some higher social class—seems that probably never even happened, but it‘s sort of beside the point. 

Rather than hang her head in shame quietly, Mukhtar fought back against the men and the tribal council who ordered the rape.  Fourteen men eventually tried.  It looked like almost all would walk, but today Pakistan Supreme Court stepped in and overturned 13 acquittals. 

Even so, the government is still afraid of what she‘s going to say. 

Earlier this month her passport was taken, she was put on an official list

of people prevented from traveling abroad.  This after she was invited to

the U.S. to speak about her horrific experience in Pakistan.  President

Musharraf even admitted that he ordered it for fear that she would—quote

·         “be bad-mouthing the country.”  Well now it seems that she can‘t at least come alone.  This story makes my blood boil. 

Joining me now president and founding member of the Asian-American Network Against Abuse of Women, Amna Buttar, who invited Mukhtar to the U.S.  Thanks very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.

All right.  What is the status?  I mean is she allowed to come here? 

What, they‘re going to send some government minder with her or something? 

AMNA BUTTAR, ASIAN-AMERICAN NETWORK AGAINST ABUSE OF WOMEN:  Last I heard from her was yesterday, and yes, she has her passport, but she is still being, of course, coerced into not coming.  They are saying that she can come if they escort her.  And she is saying no, she wants to come here freely like she was planning to come. 

ABRAMS:  And your organization invited her here so she could speak out about what happened and serve as an inspiration to many women. 

BUTTAR:  Our organization is Asian-American Network Against Abuse of Women, and we formed this organization three years ago...

ABRAMS:  But why did you invite her? 

BUTTAR:  We invited her because our goal is to really bring awareness towards violence of women—violence against women of Pakistan...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

BUTTAR:  ... and we invited her to be a spokesperson because she has now become an activist. 

ABRAMS:  She is amazing woman, isn‘t she?  I mean the fact that where she grew up, rape is a topic that is “A” so shameful, “B”, you know it seems the women who are the ones who are blamed and there she is, coming out publicly, saying this is what happened to me and I‘m going to fight these people. 

BUTTAR:  She is an amazing women—woman, Dan.  She brings hope to all those women who cannot come forward.  Typically these women are expected to kill themselves or their family kills them because they are dishonored and they bring dishonor to the family.  Yet, she fought back.  She said she‘s going to fight the system.  Since Mukhtar, 1,200 women have been gang raped in Pakistan, so today those 1,200 Mukhtarans who never spoke to the media, whose story has not been brought to you are also hoping to...

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you about—those other women, are they in a similar situation?  Meaning that these—some awful tribal council ordered it or are you just saying in general there have been 1,200 incidents.  I‘m not meaning to minimize it.  I‘m just asking you for purposes of statistics.

BUTTAR:  Gang rapes are happening and these are gang rapes.  These are not other rapes.  These are gang rapes and majority of them are (INAUDIBLE) rapes.  Some of them are rapes because of vindication and other violence towards women, but these are gang rapes.  So these are horrible crimes that are happening and these women are also not getting justice and a lot of that is because of unjust laws.  Laws that are discriminatory towards women.

(CROSSTALK)

BUTTAR:  And that is the reason why Mukhtar couldn‘t get justice.

ABRAMS:  Right and look, and that‘s why we‘re doing this story.  Listen, when she gets here to the U.S., bring her on the show.  We‘d love to talk to her.  You know, keep up the fight.  Thanks for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

BUTTAR:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, your e-mails on my “Closing Argument” last night to columnist Robert Novak should finally come forward about his role in the investigation into leaked the CIA agent‘s name to the press.  This as two of his colleagues prepare to serve time.  Your e-mails are next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Last night in my “Closing Argument” the Supreme Court refused to hear the case of “New York Times” journalist Judith Miller, “TIME” magazine‘s Matthew Cooper.  Both now preparing for jail after refusing to disclose their sources about who leaked the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame.  Now I pleaded with Robert Novak, the guy who outed her in the first place and who seems to be in the clear, to come forward and provide his colleagues, one of whom never even published the name with information that could help keep them out of jail. 

Elia Esparza in California, “If Robert Novak doesn‘t step up to the plate then it will prove that he‘s nothing more than a sellout and a pawn for the Bush administration.  If Novak does not come forward, he confirms he‘s worse than scum and will go down in history as being the moron who tarnished those other journalists who still hold the foundation of integrity and credibility sacred.” 

Pam writes, “No one seems to want to touch this topic.  I applaud you for discussing Robert Novak and his disgraceful potentially unlawful role in publishing the name of a CIA operative.”

And the man known as the BTK killer pleaded guilty in a Wichita, Kansas courtroom yesterday, then described how he picked, tortured and murdered his victims in gruesome detail.  I said that we debated whether to air the tape of him for fear that‘s what he wanted.

Belle in West Virginia, “Why is the media giving this man his 15 minutes of fame?  Please do not give this man any more time.  He doesn‘t deserve it nor does the victims of the families who have to endure listening to this garbage.” 

But Marvin Lambert writes, “You‘re doing the right thing by airing the BTK segment.  People need to pay attention to the mannerisms, look, habits and the things that a person like this says so they can be armed and not become victims of such a horrible monster.  We as a society are desensitized to a degree.  When it becomes real to us then we become passionate, active and do something about it.  Thank you for your great work.”  Thanks Marvin. 

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I told the story of three servicemen I met in the airport who headed home to attend funerals of comrades who died on Memorial Day in Iraq.  I watched the men kick into action, helping an elderly man who had fallen and was bruised and bleeding.  I saluted their heroism both on and off the battlefield.

Ericka in Granada Hills, California with her own story.  “I saw your show two weeks ago about the three soldiers and how we should appreciate them and say thank you.  I was in the airport last week and got up enough nerve to say thank you to this one woman.  She looked at me and gave me the best hug I‘ve ever had in my life.  At that moment, I got it.  Thank you.”  Thank you Ericka.  It‘s a really nice note. 

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

Coming up, you‘ve heard of bank robbers getting caught red-handed, but what about one being caught red in pants?  Our “OH PLEAs!” is coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  “OH PLEAs!”—a bank robber in New York may not have been caught red-handed but red-faced with embarrassment over some stained pants.  A thin white male in his mid 30‘s walked into a bank in midtown New York and demanded money, threatening to shoot the teller if the teller didn‘t hand over some cash.  The suspect left the bank with over $1,100 stuffed into his pants.  Who would have thought the bandit‘s successful heist made him—you would have thought he would explode with excitement, but apparently it was his pants that were doing the exploding. 

The bills of cash the thief stashed down his pant were equipped with dye packs, small explosive charges - ouch—attached to money that spray red dye.  With the robber still on the loose, the police have called various hospitals inquiring about a patient with an unusual groin injury. 

That does it for us tonight.  Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Chris hosts a live town hall meeting tonight about the role of religion in politics.  Then at 8:00, Chris continues our live—with our live coverage of President Bush‘s speech to the nation from Fort Bragg about the progress of the war in Iraq.  So make sure you stay tuned. 

Thanks for watching.  I‘ll see you here tomorrow.

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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