updated 7/6/2005 11:01:35 AM ET 2005-07-06T15:01:35

Guest: Craig Crawford, John Dean

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

The prosecutor still wants the “TIME” reporter to testify about the leak, or go to jail.  A “Newsweek” reporter says one of the sources of the “TIME” reporter is Karl Rove.  One of the sources of the “Newsweek” reporter says the prosecutor may really want to prosecute Rove.  Craig Crawford and John Dean will straighten this out for us.

An 8-year-old and her alleged abductor, a sex offender out in public, captured on security video hours before she was rescued.  Why didn't she run?  What has happened to her brother?  And is Megan's Law working?

We blew a hole in a comet, and there was much rejoicing.  Except from an astrologer in Russia who says NASA messed up her charts.  By the way, any other aftereffects to that Deep Impact stuff?  Uh-oh.

All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.

Good evening.

It reads like a political version of the cliche game Clue.  When Ambassador Joe Wilson discredited the infamous 16 words in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, the ones about Saddam Hussein trying to buy components for nuclear weapons in Africa, who was so intent on, in turn, discrediting Wilson that he or she was willing to destroy the cover painstakingly built by Wilson's wife and out her as an important CIA  operative?

Was it Bush's so-called brain, Karl Rove?  And if it was, why does that matter?

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, Rove's attorney says it was not him, “Newsweek” magazine says Rove was one of “TIME” magazine's sources on the story, and the “TIME” reporter could still wind up going to jail, even though his employers turned over all pertinent documents about the case last week.

Today's news first.  Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the case of the CIA leak, says despite getting the e-mails and such of “TIME” magazine Matthew Cooper, he has told a judge he still wants Cooper to testify or go to jail for contempt as early as tomorrow.  Same for Judith Miller of “The New York Times.”

Both reporters have refused to testify about the sources they talked to while chasing the CIA story in 2003.  Ironically enough, Miller never even wrote the story.

None of this stopped TIME Inc. from turning over Cooper's data.  Its rival magazine, “Newsweek,” reporting, quote, “The e-mails surrendered show that one of Cooper's sources was White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove.”  “Newsweek” also reported that one of two lawyers representing a witness sympathetic to the White House said, again quoting, “There was growing concern in the White House that the prosecutor is interested in Rove.”

Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, confirmed that his client had spoken to the reporter Cooper, and that Rove had also talked to this grand jury two or three times and even signed a waiver authorizing any reporter to testify about any conversations they had with Rove.

But to “The Washington Post,” Luskin said, “Karl did nothing wrong.  Karl did not disclose Valerie Plame's identity to Mr. Cooper or to anybody else.  Who outed this woman?  It wasn't Karl.”

In a moment, John Dean on the law here, and a special counsel and the unnamed worrier who thinks the real target of prosecution is Rove.

For more on the leak and the possible leaker, I'm joined by our own impeccable inside source, although I won't to go jail to protect him, Craig Crawford of “Congressional Quarterly.”

Good evening, Craig.

CRAIG CRAWFORD, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY”:  Good to see you.  We need to consult Kafka on this one, I think.

OLBERMANN:  I think so.  It certainly reads that way.

Cooper does not say that Rove outed Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. 

Our friend Lawrence O'Donnell says, yes, Rove did out her.  Rove denies it. 

Politically, where does this stand as a political football right now?

CRAWFORD:  Well, Rove is such high-profile figure, obviously, we've talked about him the most.  But we do have to note that we're talking about multiple sources here that these reporters may be protecting.  That seems pretty clear.  But if Rove was a source for this information, one thing his lawyer said that caught my attention, Keith, is, he made a point of saying that Rove did not, quote, “knowingly” disclose any classified information.

Interesting thing about that is, the controlling statute in this case, that's the language of the statute.  It's a crime only if you, quote, “knowingly” disclose information.  So that, I thought, made it a bit more suspicious in my mind that there is a legal exposure here for Karl Rove that the lawyer was so careful to use that language.

OLBERMANN:  Speaking of pinpoint and precise, how important is the timing here?  I mean, didn't Rove previously testify that he did not talk to any reporter about Valerie Plame's identity, her job, her favorite kind of handbag, whatever, until all that was revealed in the Robert Novak column?

CRAWFORD:  And it depends on whether he said it that way, or how he did say it to the grand jury under threat of perjury, because his lawyer did say he talked to the grand jury two or three times.  So whatever he said out in public wouldn't be, if there's any difference there in what he, if he qualified it more in testifying to the grand jury, we just don't know that, it's all secret.

But the question is, the language, again, if you look at what Rove said, is there any wiggle room there?  And I think we've learned with politicians, there's always wiggle room, you just don't always see it at first.

OLBERMANN:  As if the politics and the legalities were not enough to deal with, there's an aspect here of two reporters going to the penitentiary, and given that you qualify as a reporter, I think your stance on this is a little atypical.  You think they should go?

CRAWFORD:  I think it's time to just go to jail, do the perp walk, and let's have this thing out, because I don't think it's avoidable anyway.  I am going to, I don't see how they have a legal ground to stand on.  The federal courts, Keith, have completely abandoned any notion of a reporter's privilege to protect a source in the common law, which is what they interpret.

What we need is a federal shield law that would apply to future cases, not this one, like 49 states have, that would protect this privilege.

But the issue here, really, is the idea of whistleblowers or any good guys out there who want to get information out there that's for the public good.  Reporters are going to be have a difficult time doing that confidentially, largely because their bosses, the news executives, worried about the bottom line and legals fees and everything else, are not going to let that information get published.

And I think the harm to the public there is more severe than any, than if a criminal were to go free.

OLBERMANN:  Well, if they go to jail, it'd probably be for 120 days, meaning that at the 82-day mark, they can go and read more of Craig's thoughts on the media under fire.  That's when his new book, “Attack the Messenger,” comes out.  Till then, there's always the pages of “CQ” and with us, periodically.

Thank you kindly, sir.

CRAWFORD:  All right, thank you.

OLBERMANN:  So now we have to look at this legally.  Why is the prosecutor in the case, Patrick Fitzgerald, still insisting that Cooper take stand, if he already has all the documents?  And why is somebody telling a magazine that they're worried Fitzgerald is really after Rove, when Rove's lawyer insists that Fitzgerald told him last fall and last week that Rove isn't a target?

Law, politics, and confidential sources have all intersected again.  Whenever that happens, it is our habit to turn to Nixon White House counsel John Dean for guidance.

Good evening, John.

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  John, you've been following this case intently for a great period of time.  Why, in your opinion, does prosecutor Fitzgerald still want the reporter Cooper to testify, if he already has Cooper's notes and Cooper's e-mails to Cooper's bosses?

DEAN:  Well, having not seen the notes and what actually the material is, my first reaction, when I heard “TIME” saying that they were going to turn this over, that it wasn't going to solve the problem, because it's probably hearsay information.

The other thing is, it may well be the prosecutor needs to have somebody authenticate the material.  So you would need testimony on that basis.

The other factor is that the e-mails themselves may raise questions that really need to be answered that a piece of document won't do.

So there are lots of reasons he would want that.  And we know from the way Judge Hogan has handled this case, that it is an important case, and that they're looking at a serious offense.

OLBERMANN:  The report is that that—or the presumption in the reports over the weekend has been that that offense could conceivably involve Karl Rove.  Let me, let me give you two statements that seem mutually exclusive.

Rove's lawyer to “The Washington Post,” Fitzgerald reassured him last week again that Rove is not a target of the investigation.  That's A.  And B is, a lawyer for a witness sympathetic to the White House telling “Newsweek” that the White House has growing concern that the prosecutor is interested in Rove.

How could both of those statements be true, John?

DEAN:  Well, first, there are three statuses that one can have before a grand jury.  One is to be a target, meaning that the prosecutor has information already in its possession that believes that this is a defendant, and someday they're going to very likely going to indict.

The next level is to be a subject of a grand jury inquiry, which means that they're looking at you.  They're investigating.  And subjects can become targets when they get more information.  This is all spelled out in a manual of the U.S. Department of Justice, and U.S. attorneys and special prosecutors follow it.

The last status, and the one that you're home free on, is when he tells you you're only a witness.  And apparently, he has not been told he's merely a witness, otherwise he would be home.

OLBERMANN:  So when Mr. Luskin, the attorney, says he's not a target, that has nothing—that's not the clear, free representation that being just a witness would be.

But that, do you think that Rove or whoever is the subject, if it's not Rove, might therefore be a subject and the prosecutor in some way needs Cooper and Miller to address something about him?  And if so, what kind of laws are we talking about that might have been broken?

DEAN:  Well, I can't believe that Hogan, Judge Hogan, would have gone this far without looking at a real case, and knowing that this testimony is vital to the case.  And I don't—it doesn't appear to me on the face that it's the violation of the Identities Act that protects CIA  agents.

There are lots of statutes that might be involved.  One, it could be a perjury situation.  It might not even be perjury, perjury by Rove.  It might be somebody else that he can testify about.  So I'm not making that assumption.  But it could well be that that's why the testimony is needed.

It could be the fact, a theft of government property, a conversion of government property issue, which is a very broad statute.

But let me tell you the hooker, and the one that got everybody at Watergate, and that was the conspiracy to defraud the government, because you can defraud the government by not doing your job.  And you wouldn't be doing your job if you are using and revealing to the press inside information about CIA assets.

So there are lots of statutes that could well be used, and could create a problem for Mr. Rove.

OLBERMANN:  Last question here.  Is there not a huge and final irony about the entirety of this case that these reporters, Cooper and Miller, could be going to jail in essence because they are protecting sources who broke the law, ruined the usefulness of a CIA undercover agent at a time when we really need CIA undercover agents, in order to carry out a political vendetta?

DEAN:  It would be a travesty if these two have to go to jail to protect somebody who has revealed a valuable asset to the government.  Whoever it is, he or she is a huge coward.  And the fact that they would let somebody do this—this is the sort of thing that Mafia people do, that drug kings do, not somebody who's serving in the White House as a public servant.

And we should keep that in mind if that does happen.

OLBERMANN:  It all sounds all so familiar.  Nixon White House counsel John Dean, as always, sir, on whatever topic you're kind enough to share your opinions and information on, we thank you for your time tonight.

DEAN:  Thank you, Keith, always.

OLBERMANN:  Also tonight, the first business day since Supreme Court Justice O'Connor quit.  The president has no replacement ready.  He's not rushing to it, but he's already getting pounded, by conservatives.

And an 8-year-old girl paraded in plain sight by a serial sex offender.  Breaking news, she says tonight he molested both her and her brother repeatedly.  Wasn't this exactly what Megan's Law was meant to prevent?

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Be careful what you wish for, goes the oldest bromide in the book, you might just get it.

Only in the political America of 2005 could a Republican president finally get his shot at appointing a Supreme Court justice, and without him saying a word, that president get climbed all over by critics, namely conservatives.

Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, with friends like that, who needs Democrats?

Mr. Bush he has mentioned no potential nominees.  But apparently because he has not eliminated his attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, he has taken hits from the far right.  The Coalition for a Fair Judiciary, a group of conservative organizations, says those groups are split on Gonzales, some thinking his record, quote, “does not fit the conservative mold.”

The president felt compelled to defend Gonzales.  He did a phone interview with “USA Today,” saying, quote, “Al Gonzales is a friend of mine.  When a friend gets attacked, I don't like it,” adding that he hopes the special interest groups will help tone down the heated rhetoric and focus on the nominee's credentials and philosophy.

We should all hope that they listen to the president, but don't put money on it.  Another conservative group, the Federalist Society, has hired the same media team that helped the so-call Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.  It is entirely possible that its slam ads could this time be slamming someone the president has nominated or is considering nominating.

Spokesman Scott McClellan says today the process is going to take at least a few weeks, and adds that the president spent a few hours today en route to the G8 summit reviewing the briefing papers of at least six candidates.

Vice President Cheney will be involved in (INAUDIBLE) selection process.  So too the attorney general and Karl Rove and others.

Six candidates, eh?  And who would they be?

Our justice correspondent, Pete Williams, has been good enough to join us again from Washington.

Good evening, Pete.

PETE WILLIAMS, MSNBC JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Well, which six biographies do we think were on that presidential homework pile on the plane today?

WILLIAMS:  “Think” being the operative word, because we don't know.  But my guess would be two judges from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals based in Virginia, J. Harvey Willkinson and Michael Luttig, two other appeals court judges from the D.C. Circuit here, John Roberts.  From the 10th Circuit out in Utah, Michael McConnell, I think possibly a woman, maybe Edith Jones from the Fifth Circuit down in the Southeast.

And then I would be very surprised if Alberto Gonzales is not on that list, for six.

OLBERMANN:  “The New York Times” had a similar list over the weekend, which it said had been compiled from White House officials and ranking Republicans, with the caveat that it was created on the assumption, as everybody had, that it would be Chief Justice Rehnquist quitting and not Justice O'Connor.

WILLIAMS:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  So that top four included those four appeals court judges that you mentioned, did not include Jones or Gonzales.  The question about Gonzales, the forcefulness with which the president defended him—presidents don't do phone interviews, as I understood it.  Does it suggest that if the far right or the far left, for that matter, were to continue to push against Gonzales, that the chances would go up that the president would nominate him?

WILLIAMS:  Well, no, I don't think so.  My guess is that the president will make the decision on his own, cognizant of what's going on out there, but make the decision on his gut.

Now, I think there are a couple of things at play here.  First of all is—again, this is all sheer rank speculation, but that's what we're here for, I guess...

OLBERMANN:  Yes, it's cable.

WILLIAMS:  The first possibility is, I think you have to assume that the president has always wanted to appoint Alberto Gonzales to the Supreme Court.  Whether he would do so or not when it finally came down to it, we don't know.

But now that it's the O'Connor seat open, some have thought, Well, maybe he can nominate a conservative to fill her seat, and then, on the assumption that Chief Justice Rehnquist health will not permit him to fill out the president's term, perhaps before George Bush's term expires, he'll get a chance to appoint Gonzales.

Now, I have to say, Keith, there are those who.  So I would say some, a conservative now, Gonzales later, or someone more conservative.

There are those in town who argue it exactly opposite, that it's easier for the president now to nominate Alberto Gonzales, considered somewhat less conservative, to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, certainly less conservative than the three on the court, Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas.

So you can argue it round or flat.  But I think the president will make his decision aware of what's going on out there, but ultimately what he thinks is the right thing.

OLBERMANN:  Is there a headliner among Wilkinson, Luttig, McConnell, Roberts, and Jones?  Is there somebody who would make one side or the other really scream in anger?

WILLIAMS:  Well, I think that the conservatives would be most happy probably with Mike Luttig.  Mike McConnell's an interesting person, because on the one hand, the religious conservatives probably like him the best.  He's feels very strongly about the separation of church and state issues, that the government should be able to fund religious schools, for example, like school vouchers.

On the other hand, he had critical things—now we're talking about McConnell—he had critical things to say about the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, and he also questions the flag-burning amendment.

So the conservative groups, he makes them a little nervous.  But on the religious groups like him because he feels so strongly about those issues.

OLBERMANN:  Long term, take-a-guess question, as if the other ones were not take-a-guess questions, not about a name, but about the reaction to all this.  Is the president going to get more criticism from the Democrats, or from the 114 different Republican and conservative groups who ultimately will not get fed with their guy?

WILLIAMS:  I think you can assume that some of the Democratic groups, and really, Keith, you know, we talk about Democrats and Republicans.  What this is really about is not the Senate and the White House, this is really about liberal and conservative interest groups.

They're, you know, the conservatives pushing the president, the liberal interest groups pushing the Democrats in the Senate.  That's what this is really all about.

So who will make them happy or not?

I think the liberal interest groups could probably would fire the least amount of powder on John Roberts, possibly the most on Mike Luttig.  And the interesting thing is here, you know, they raised all this dough, assuming they had to fight one nominee.  If it turns out to be two, then they might have to calibrate their response.

OLBERMANN:  Justice correspondent Pete Williams.  Great thanks for staying late with us tonight, sir.

WILLIAMS:  You bet.  My pleasure.

OLBERMANN:  From the bare-fisted politics to the bare-bottomed protests, the annual precursor to the running of the bulls in Pamplona, the running of the nudes in Pamplona.

And an astrologer says NASA deformed her horoscopes by blowing a big hole in a passing comet.  Oh, like, she didn't read the horoscope and see this coming?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  We're back, and we pause our COUNTDOWN of the day's real news now for the strange video and weird people portion of the program.  Tonight we have nearly naked men, men building wooden cars, men nearly being blowed up by their cars.

Let's play Oddball.

We begin in Pamplona, Spain, where tomorrow begins the nine-day festival of boozing, singing, and animal cruelty known as the running of the bulls.  Today the annual prefestival protest, the running of the nudes.  OK, so they're not running, and they're not nude, really.  But about 700 people in skivvies and bull horns marched down the cobblestone route today in an attempt to shock people into banning the bull run.

Of course, any witness to the drunken mayhem that accompanies these nine days in July may wonder if anybody in Pamplona could really be shocked by just a bunch of dopes in their underwear.  Nobody's getting killed out there.  But I guess it gives the bulls something nice to look at the day before judgment day.

Stay tuned for special coverage, the running of the bulls, each night here on Oddball, where we always root for the bull.

To Bellevue, Washington, dude.  Cool Ferrari.  Whoa, hot Ferrari.  Hot Ferrari, man.  Surveillance camera video from the Little Store Gas Station where Derrick Walker had stopped off to fill up the tank of his 1977 yellow Ferrari 308.  Nobody's sure why the gasoline burst into flames rather than simply going into the car.

But Walker escaped without serious injury.  Same could not be said for the rare Italian sports car, which was a total loss.  Luckily Walker has another car he can drive, a sweet Ford Tempo.

And that, dear consumers, is why it's always better to have a car made out of wood.  Should it ever catch fire at the gas station, the entire neighborhood will be treated to that rustic savory aroma of smoked hickory or oak, as is the case with this Volkswagen, from Chelniac (ph), in Bosnia.  Oak's nice.  Momar Bojic (ph) says he spent more than a year gluing 20,000 slabs of wood onto the 1975 Beetle.

Why?  Well, it appears there's not much to do in Chelniac.  But every inch is covered now, even the windshield wipers.  The car runs great.  So as soon as Bojic can whittle himself a driver's license, he'll be good to go.

Back to the serious news of the day, and serious questions about the efficacy of Megan's Law after a violent sex offender manages to take his alleged victim for a casual stroll in broad daylight.  There's breaking news on this awful story too.

And TV science fiction turning science fact.  They have rebuilt him. 

His new arms are artificial, but he has feeling in them.

Those stories ahead.

Now here are COUNTDOWN's top three newsmakers of this day.

Number three, Corncob Bob, the mascot of the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, alternate fuels.  He was supposed to appear in Ottawa's Canada Day celebrations.  Then the Shell Oil Company found out and called organizers.  Corncob Bob got uninvited.  The organizers have apologized, but as you see, Bob's expression has not changed at all.

Number two, Katharine Harris.  Speaking of corn, “The Orlando Sentinel” revealing that four years ago, as Florida's secretary of state, when the state's trees were hit by one of the frequent citrus canker blights, she encouraged the Florida Department of Agriculture to protect those trees with celestial drops, water blessed by a rabbi, who, when asked if it was Kabbalah water, answered, It is, and it isn't.

Well, that would explain that recount stuff.

And number one, Snow White.  Disney reportedly planning a remake in which she gets new co-stars.  No more dwarfs, now Shao-Lin monks from the 19th century.  You got it, “Snow White and the Seven Ninjas.”  Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, you die now.

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OLBERMANN:  When the 42-year-old man and the 8-year-old girl sat down at the Idaho restaurant, they did not raise many eyebrows.  Fortunately, just one was enough.  Our third story on the COUNTDOWN tonight: Shasta Groene is safe tonight and Joseph Edward Duncan III charged with two counts of first degree kidnapping, one about the girl, other about her 9-year-old brother.  Other charges may yet be forthcoming because court documents just released quote the girl as saying that Duncan repeatedly molested both her and her brother.  As Duncan was arraigned, authorities were still waiting to see if DNA from remains found in an area near where Duncan was believed to have been with those children matches that of Dylan Groene.

And they and others are wondering if that restaurant had not been full of people who had seen the girl's picture or knew of her kidnapping or both.  Also, today, surveillance video showing the girl with Duncan just hours before his arrest.  According to authorities, Shasta Groene made a point of stopping in front of several customers in a gas station convenience store.  Officials believe she was attempting to let at least one of them recognize her.  So it's a case with a child kidnapped and her mother, stepfather and brother all dead.  The only suspect thus far arrested, a convicted sex offender, raising anew questions about whether we're even close to doing enough to keep just the predators we already know about away from the kids.

Our correspondent in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, is Michael Okwu.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL OKWU, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  With the release of this video this week showing alleged kidnapper Joseph Duncan hiding in plain sight, his alleged victim right beside him, parents across the country today are wondering exactly how effective state by state sex offender registry laws really are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you understand the nature of the charges, Mr.

Duncan?

OKWU:  Duncan faced kidnapping charges today, but it is still an agonizing rerun for parents like Erin Runnion, whose 5-year-old daughter, Samantha, was killed by a serial abuser.

ERIN RUNNION:  We've got to make some purpose out of these kids who lose their lives to these perpetrators.

OKWU:  Megan's law was name after Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old raped and murdered in 1996.  The law requires all 50 states to release information about sex offenders, but it never defined how states would do that.  Every state enforces the law its own way.  Some states mandate active notification, law enforcement putting up posters, going door to door to tell local residents there's a sex offender moving to the neighborhood.  But 22 states require only passive notification, meaning the residents themselves have to take action by accessing sex offender registries on the Internet or writing to local law enforcement.

And in the end, the system relies on the offenders themselves to register.  Child advocates say it's an honor system with little hope of being enforced.

LAURA AHEARN, PARENTS FOR MEGAN'S LAW:  We are expecting them to go and visit their parole officers so that we can be informed of their presence in a community?  It's outrageous.  It's ludicrous.

OKWU (on camera):  Child advocates say there are more than 550,000 registered sex offenders in the country.  Almost a quarter of them do not comply with sex registry laws and simply just vanish.

(voice-over):  Civil libertarians say the concern is often overstated.

ROBERT PERRY, NEW YORK CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION:  What's often also left out of this debate is that 90 percent of young people who are the victims of sex crimes know their perpetrators.  These are family members and neighbors and acquaintances.

OKWU:  Nonetheless, today Senator Charles Schumer called for a national registry designed to close the loopholes that convicted sex offenders who strike again often slip through.   Michael Okwu, NBC News, Coeur D'Alene.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  Joining us now, former FBI profiler MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt.  Good evening, Clint.

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER, MSNBC ANALYST:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The surveillance tape, the mental processes of the two people we see in it—the girl first.  They think she tried to make eye contact with people.  But as near as you can tell, why didn't she run?

VAN ZANDT:  Well, you know, we've got this psychological phenomena.  It's called identification with the aggressor.  That's where you're taken, basically, hostage or kidnapped, and you are so fearful for your life.  This person has probably told you, you know, he controls everything you do.  He's killed or he knows that everyone close to you has died.  He tells you nobody cares about you.  He tells you that if you try to say anything or do anything, perhaps you and other people will be injured.  You tell that to an 8-year-old, and what does she do?  She has no frame of reference, nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide.

OLBERMANN:  On the other hand, this Duncan, even with that kind of sense of authority—why would he take her out in public?

VAN ZANDT:  Well, you know, you've got this two-legged monster.  You know, this is somebody with a reptilian brain, almost.  I lose it, Keith, after all these years of dealing with all these monsters, and to know what he put this little girl through.  That is the biggest question.  I mean, the one person that's going to, hopefully, put this guy in a gas chamber, electric chair or wherever else he belongs, is this little girl.

And for whatever his reason, knowing that he was a preferential child molester, in essence—he liked little boys better than little girls.  Somehow, he initially held onto Shasta and her brother, Dylan.  Now we think Dylan is dead, and he kept her with him.  And why?  That's something that's still to be determined.  It's either the dumbest thing that's ever been done for him, but of course, it's the most fortunate thing for this little girl and society.

OLBERMANN:  Duncan was in violation of his parole.  He'd been accused of molesting a 6-year-old, or convicted of molesting a 14-year-old and accused of a 6-year-old.

VAN ZANDT:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  Authorities were are looking for him anyway.  What else, short of putting a chip with a global positioning satellite thing in it into the bodies of violent offenders—what can we do?  What do lawmakers tell parents?

VAN ZANDT:  Well, we know for sure, Keith—we know absolutely for sure that two thirds of these offenders, when they get out of jail, will reoffend within three years.  We know that.  What we don't know is how many more reoffend that we don't know about.  You know, Keith, I don't want to put a Martha Stewart ankle bracelet on these guys.  She today said even she knows how to get out of the bracelet.  So what about a violent offender who wants to slip away from law enforcement?

Keith, I don't want to see an ankle bracelet on these guys.  I want to see steel bars 24/7 around them.  Our children are our most precious commodity.  They expect us, as parents and adults, to protect them.  We're doing a lousy job of it.

OLBERMANN:  Former FBI profiler, MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt. 

Thanks, as always, for your insight, sir.

VAN ZANDT:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  From the same sheaf of similar stories, new developments on the ground from Aruba tonight on the disappearance of an Alabama teenager named Natalee Holloway.  A judge there has released two of the three men suspected of involvement in her unknown fate, two brothers, Deepak and Satish Kalpoe, leaving the detention center after the court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to continue to hold them.  Aruba's attorney general considering an appeal of that decision.  The third suspect, 17-year-old Joran Van Der Sloot, was ordered held for another 60 days, even though formal charges against him have yet to be filed.

Meanwhile, the mother of the missing girl making an extraordinary statement to the governments of the other countries around the world about the release of the Kalpoe brothers, which, depending on your viewpoint, could be perceived as a plea or as hysteria.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, MOTHER OF MISSING GIRL:  I am asking all nations not to offer them a safe haven.  I am asking this in the name of my beautiful, intelligent and outstanding daughter, who I haven't seen for 36 days and for whom I will continue to search until I find her!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  A different kind of international story tonight.  They will award the 2012 Olympics tomorrow morning.  Tonight, a much tougher question.  Does anybody really want the 2012 Olympics in their city?  And Martha Stewart sharing the secret of her new status, like the nickname she got in prison.  Here's a hint.  It was not the high doyenne of “I'm going to cut you, sister!”

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OLBERMANN:  It was through the 1972 Olympics that much of the world was introduced to international terrorism.  It thus moves from the category of ironic towards that of nauseating that as the International Olympic Committee gathers in Singapore to decide which city will get the 2012 games, a prominent terrorist group would announce on its own Web site its opinion on the prospective host cities.

Our number two story on the COUNTDOWN: With Moscow one of the five finalists, the leader of the Chechen rebels says, “The Olympic games do not interest us much.  Our people have other problems.”  But he adds that if Moscow get the games, quoting again, “No one could guarantee the athletes' security.”

As Anne Thompson reports from another finalist city, New York, the Olympic choosers also face a much more mundane problem.  Does anyone want these games?

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ANNE THOMPSON, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  The clock is ticking on New York's Olympic dream.  And 9,500 miles away in Singapore today, the city's leaders were selling hard from an unaccustomed position, the underdog.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG ®, NEW YORK:  Every athlete would love to compete in the Big Apple.  It's the ultimate stage.

THOMPSON:  So flanked by some of the games' most famous faces, including gymnast Nadia Comeneci and swimmer Ian Thorpe, New York is positioning itself as the comeback kid, undeterred by the defeat of its first stadium proposal or the lingering fears of terrorism.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK:  We're telling you that New York City is the place to bring the 2012 Olympics because the people of New York are resilient.

THOMPSON:  But New Yorkers also needed convincing.

(on camera):  Here in New York, the selling point is money, the projected $12 million in 135,000 new jobs the organizing committee says the games will bring.  But observers say be careful what you wish for.

(voice-over):  Economics professor Lawrence White points to Montreal's $1.5 billion shortfall for the '76 games.

PROF. LAWRENCE WHITE, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY:  Montreal is a famous case, in which it was a bust for the host city.  For Los Angeles and 1984 and a number of cities since then, it's been either a breakeven or a plus.

THOMPSON:  In fact, LA made $232 million financing its games through corporate sponsorship.  The Salt Lake games came out $100 million ahead.  Answering the call to go faster, higher, stronger, revved up road projects and hotel improvements.

KELLY MATTHEWS, EXEC. VP AND ECONOMIST, WELLS FARGO:  It changed the image of Salt Lake City, we believe, in a way that will enhance our economy.

THOMPSON:  Benefits that aren't always measured in dollars and cents.

E.M. SWIFT, “SPORTS ILLUSTRATED”:  An Olympics can also sort of be a host's party.  It doesn't have to be about making money for the city.

THOMPSON:  But tonight, it's the promise of financial goals that has five cities, including New York, racing to the finish.  Anne Thompson, NBC News, New York.

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OLBERMANN:  The official live coverage of who gets to host or who has to host 2012 Olympics, from a national sense, not Lampley (ph).  Lampley has to host one way or the other.  It comes tomorrow here on MSNBC in the morning, 7:00 AM Eastern, 4:00 Am Pacific, my old friend, Mr. Lampley, presiding.  Be there.  Aloha.

And from Olympic aspirations to Olympic egos in our nightly round-up of celebrity and entertainment news, “Keeping Tabs.”  Lord only knows what they called Martha Stewart on her way up the proverbial ladder, but we do know what they called her while she was in prison: M. Diddy, Stewart, who finishes house arrest at her Bedford estate next month, telling “Vanity Fair” magazine, quote, I hate lockdown.  It's hideous.”  She claims prosecutors used her to, quote, “scare other people,” and she says she knows how to remove her electronic monitoring ankle bracelet.  Quote, “You can figure out how to get it off.  It's on the Internet.  I looked it up.”

yes, but she can do it using a tea cozy, a bottle of Jacqueline Smith California perfume from K-Mart and a book of kitchen matches.

Stewart says she once apologized to her probation officer when she arrived home a few minutes late.  In her upcoming version of “The Apprentice” show, she says she will not be using the Donald's catchphrase, “You're fired.”  She'll simply destroy the contestants with heat beams emanating from her eyes.

In light of that, let's hope Paris Hilton is one of the contestants.  Ms. Lightbulb of 2005, who will be marrying Parris Latsis, doesn't want to get married in Paris, she says.  She tells “Hello!” magazine, quote, “I've always wanted to be a princess on my big day, and only a wedding in England could make that happen.  St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle—any one of them would do just fine.”

“Hello!” magazine.

Problem?  Only royals or heads of state may marry in those venues, but Hilton says she's written to Prince Charles asking for a special dispensation.  Quote, “I'm the closest thing to American royalty anyway.”

As to her future husband, well, obviously, he's already been in Paris so often that it can't be that much of a thrill anymore.

But building bionic bots and blowing the shinola out of a comet?  Why, that's always fun with a capital F, F, F!

That's ahead, but first, time for the COUNTDOWN's list of today's three nominees for the coveted title of worst person in the world.  Number three: Whoever runs the campus police at Texas State University in San Marcos.  A man named Dave Newman (ph) saw a stranger drowning in the swirling San Marcos River.  Newman went and saved him.  As he got out of the river, Newman was handcuffed by a Texas State University cop, who said Newman had ignored repeated warnings to get out of the river.  That's nice.

Then there's French president Jacques Chirac.  He thought he was just passing time with Gerhard Schroeder of Germany and Vladimir Putin of Russia.  He didn't know there were three translators and a reporter present as he started an international food fight about the English, saying, “The only thing they have ever given European farming is mad cow disease.  You can't trust people who cook as badly as that.  After Finland, it's the country with the worst food.”

But today's winner, Paula Jones, not only complaining to “The New York

Daily News” that she's been left out of the Bill Clinton president library

·         maybe they can just stuff her and put her on a pedestal there—but she's threatening to visit the library.  If some company pays her to do so, she would wear its logo on her T-shirt.

For that, today, at least, Paula Jones is the worst person in the world!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Flash news out of Coronado, California.  The retired vice admiral James Stockdale, for seven-and-a-half years a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, one of the heroes of the Navy, has died at the age of 81 after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease.  He will be remembered as Ross Perot's vice presidential running mate in the third-party candidacy of 1992.  And despite his bravery and his service, he may ultimately be best remembered for his opening statement at the vice presidential debate of that year, “Who am I?  What am I doing here?”  James Stockdale, a true hero of the United States Navy, dead at 81 of the aftereffects of Alzheimer's disease.

We do a lot of science stuff on this newscast, at least in comparison to others, which basically do none.  We do this despite the fact that I don't understand half the stuff I'm talking about.  To me, it's almost all, as our number one story tonight suggests, science fiction.

Every once in a while, they come up with something that I get.  For instance, engineers at Cornell University, my alma mater, claim they have invented another new robot,  This one can reproduce itself.  I'm pretty sure I went out with her in college.

Oh great, you built a box!  This is from the engineering school through which all us communications and history types tended to walk quickly for fear of being transmitted into another dimension.  Each square robot contains a microprocessor which enables it to pick up other square components and assemble them into a new robot.  Thus, it can reproduce itself.

Cornell inventors Hod Lipson and Victor Zykov admit the robot has no function besides reproducing itself, but of course, the same claim has been made about the Cornell Engineering students, too.

Don't like robots?  How about a robot suit?  Sam, you made the microprocessor too long!  These are our Japanese friends in action again.  The suit's computer picks up the nerve signals the brain sends when it's trying to make the limbs move.  That kicks in motors that help with lifting.  That means somebody who could only leg press 175 pounds could, while wearing this suit, leg press 400 pounds.

Oh, it's a replacement for steroids!

And we can rebuild him.  We have the technology.  This is Jessie Sullivan (ph) of Tennessee, the man with the bionic arms.  These are the first.  They are computerized, like the ones in Japan.  They, too, respond to nerve signals directly from the brain.  Essentially, they have replaced Jessie's original arms, which were lost in an accident.  And just to weird you out a little more, he says he has feeling in them.

Meanwhile, you'll notice that the world did not end yesterday, we think, meaning that when we blew that big hole in the comet, we didn't hit it wrong and send millions of destructive meteors earthwards, nor did we disrupt the space-time continuum.  I think.

But you can't please everybody.  Marina Bai has filed a $300 million lawsuit against NASA in Moscow.  She is an astrologer, and she says the Deep Impact probe altered the comet's orbit, thus screwing up all her astrological charts.  Presumably, NASA already has its unanswerable answer ready, which is simply that if Ms. Bai's astrological charts had actually been worth the paper she printed them on, they would have told her in advance that NASA was going to make boom-boom on the comet and she'd have to adjust the charts accordingly!

Kiss your astrological charts good-bye, sister!

So other than altering the course of Russian fortune telling, how'd that whole “blow up a comet on the 4th of July” thing go anyway?  Answers from our correspondent, Tom Costello.

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TOM COSTELLO, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  The pictures are breathtaking, the final moments of an unmanned spacecraft's suicide mission head first into a comet some 83 million miles from Earth.  At NASA's Jet Propulsion lab early Monday morning, elation as scientists realized they'd pulled off a mathematical hole in one.

PETER SCHULTZ, DEEP IMPACT SCIENCE TEAM:  Our experiment went very, very well.  We touched a comet, and we touched it hard.

COSTELLO:  So hard, it created an explosion far bigger than anyone expected and left the comet trailing a plume of dust and debris that so far is preventing a peek inside the crater.  But still, a lot to see.  This thermal image shows the comet is hotter in some areas than others.  The question now: Is there ice deep inside?

SCHULTZ:  My guess, first guess, is it's down there.  It's deep.  But how deep, I can't tell you yet.

COSTELLO (on camera):  And if there's ice, could comets contain other chemical compounds that have been around since the solar system was formed, the so-called building blocks of life that may have helped seed the earth billions of years ago?

(voice-over):  The mother ship that launched the Impactor probe, then peeled away to document the collision, is transmitting volumes of data.  And the public is fascinated, a record 1 billion hits on the NASA Web site and planetariums packed with people anxious for a better view.

ALEXANDRA BARNETT, CHABOT SPACE AND SCIENCE CENTER:  There was that moment of kind of tension and confusion when the NASA guys weren't quite sure what had happened.  And we all thought, It's got to have hit by now.  And then it turned out, yes, it had hit, and we got confirmation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And it happened like clockwork.  And I think that's something to be proud of on America's birthday.

COSTELLO:  A stellar accomplishment that will leave astronomers digesting data for months and years to come.  Tom Costello, NBC News, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  What do we do if it turns out that evidence from the comet shows that life on Earth began four billion years ago when somebody else blew a hole in some other comet out there?  Eee!

That's COUNTDOWN.  Tucker Carlson drops in next, so you can see what kind of situation his “SITUATION” is in.  I'm Keith Olbermann.  Keep your knees loose.  Good night, and good luck.  I hope I can make it from here.

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

END   

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