updated 7/15/2005 11:20:32 AM ET 2005-07-15T15:20:32

Guest: Arlene Ellis-Schipper, Benvinda De Sousa, Chip Lewis, James

McCormack, Con Coughlin, Barbara Marcus, Steve Zeitchik

DAN ABRAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Coming up, some interesting words from an Aruban court as they ruled the only suspects behind bars in the Natalie Holloway case isn't going anywhere.  There is enough evidence to keep Joran van der Sloot in jail say the judges but not enough to re-arrest two other possible suspects as Natalie's family had wanted. 

And multi-millionaire Robert Durst admitted to killing his neighbor, cutting him into pieces and throwing the body into a nearby bay.  But a jury found him not guilty.  Tomorrow he'll walk out of prison even though he's considered a possible suspect in two other murders.  Might he be a danger to society?  I'll ask his lawyer. 

Plus, Harry Potter mania pushing security to unprecedented levels.  Not even a wizard and his attorney could break through the ironclad contracts bookstores are signing to make sure the newest edition doesn't get out early.  The program about justice starts now. 

Hi everyone. 

First up on the docket tonight, the lead suspect in the Aruba disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway will remain in prison.  Just hours ago an appeals court there issued a decision saying this about Joran van der Sloot's appeal. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE HOLLOWAY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY'S FATHER:  Best case scenario would be that all of them were put back in jail and they were able to renew or begin the interrogation process again to get the answers.  They know the answers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  OK, that was the wrong piece of sound.  That's the father there talking about it. 

Brothers Satish and Deepak Kalpoe, arrested along with van der Sloot but released last week, remain free.  The prosecution lost its appeal to have them rearrested. 

Joining me now with the latest is NBC's Michelle Kosinski.

Michelle, before I go to you, let me do this.  I want to play a piece of sound from the court clerk because we missed a piece of sound there.  If you can either . . .

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  No problem.

ABRAMS:  If we can put - let's play a piece of sound from the court clerk talking about the ruling today. 

OK.  We don't have it. 

Michelle, I was surprised that the court is being so specific in its statements about comments made by Joran van der Sloot in the context of this investigation. 

KOSINSKI:  Right.  That was interesting.  That surprised us too.  There were some details.  But when you look at it, it really doesn't lend a whole lot more information than we already knew about this case. 

Now telling you more about what happened today also.  The family of Natalee Holloway described their reaction to all this as a big sigh of relief.  They didn't even get everything they wanted.  All three of those suspects are not still in jail but that key suspect, Joran van der Sloot, still is. 

So he is still the suspect that remains behind bars.  The court said basically, here's this serious suspicion against him that does not exist with the Kalpoe brothers.  Those are the guys, you remember, who said they dropped off Joran and Natalee on a beach the morning she disappeared.  There's obviously not enough evidence to keep them in jail. 

And the court really delineated that.  They describe the words as serious suspicion.  They hold that toward Joran van der Sloot but not the Kalpoe brothers.  Even though there were some similarities in the way they described all suspects.  Here's how the court of appeals describes it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ISELLA WERNET, COURT CLERK:  The serious objections against the suspect consist of the fact that's, until briefly, before the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, he was in her company and gave varying statements about what happened then and afterwards. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSINSKI:  So the court of appeals rejected all five appeals that came before those judges.  Joran van der Sloot's appeal to get out of jail, rejected.  At the same time, they rejected prosecutors' appeal to put those Kalpoe boys back in jail. 

But it was interesting.  As you said, we got a little detail.  The court described, basically, the situation as virtually the same for all three suspects.  That all three of them spent some time with Natalee shortly before she disappeared.  That all three suspects gave statements that seemed to change over time.  The difference is that serious suspicion that they used in relation to Joran van der Sloot.  The court said, it wants to keep him in jail to sort out his statements to try to get to the bottom of his story. 

ABRAMS:  Just so I'm clear . . .

KOSINSKI:  And the Kalpoe's - just, there's no justification there.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Michelle, just so we're clear.  The court is says that all three of them made inconsistent statements?

KOSINSKI:  Absolutely. 

ABRAMS:  All right.

KOSINSKI:  That all three of them made statements that changed over time.  But still, that suspicion wasn't there to - and enough of an extent to keep the Kalpoe boys in jail but certainly was for Joran van der Sloot.  So, once again, the appeals court is affirming that there is more evidence against Joran than the other boys.

ABRAMS:  Michelle Kosinski, thanks very much.  Appreciate it.

All right.  For a sense of - oh, do we have Natalee's family's attorney?  Arlene.  OK.  Arlene Ellis-Schipper is an attorney there in Aruba and she joins us now. 

Thanks very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it. 

Let me play you a piece of sound.  I'm going to try and get this piece of sound ready.  This is the court clerk talking about some of Joran's statements and then I want to ask you about it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WERNET:  The investigation requires that the preventive court, that the appeal of the suspect against a ruling of the investigative judge of July 4th is unfounded because the serious objections and the grounds upon which this ruling is based are still valid. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  All right.  It's one of those days, Arlene.  Let me read you the piece - the quote I was looking for.  “The investigation requires that the custody be continued because the subject recently retracted earlier statements again and that further investigation is required to verify the exactitude of the most recent statement in connection with all the other statements.”

So it sounds like what they're saying is, yeah, OK, all three of the guys have made inconsistent statements but we need to keep Joran van der Sloot behind bars because we need to sort out his inconsistent statements more than we do some of the others?

ARLENE ELLIS-SCHIPPER, ARUBAN ATTORNEY:  No, that is not as I perceive this.  What I understand is that Joran van der Sloot has changed on numerous times his declarations.  And that appears to be lying.  That - in Dutch you'd say (INAUDIBLE), means appearing to be lying.

From what I know from the Deepak brothers is that in the first instance, all three boys had the same story and then changed it and withdrawal their first declaration.  So, indeed, they have changed their story.  But after that, they maintained the same story. 

ABRAMS:  But still, I mean, basically what you are say is, that it sounds like Joran van der Sloot changed his story more than the Kalpoe brothers is what the court's saying?

ELLIS-SCHIPPER:  Not only did he change it more often, it was confirmed from what was - from the prosecutor in the office that Joran van der Sloot, at one point, admitted that he was the last one to be with Natalee Holloway and not the Deepak brothers.  So you have to take that into account as well.  You have a time line here where you have first the three boys with Natalee, then the two boys leaving the couple at the beach.  So that time line puts him in more suspicion.

ABRAMS:  What - I was sort of surprised at one of the comments made by Satish Kalpoe's attorney.  Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, my client is still a suspect in the case, so none of that changes.  And basically he can still be tried in about two years.  Based on jurisprudence, he should be tried within in two years. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  So let's be clear, Arlene.  What we're saying here is that all three of them are still suspects.  The prosecutors may still decide to charge all three of them.  But when it comes to keeping them behind bars now, the court is saying, you can't keep the Kalpoe brothers, you can keep van der Sloot. 

ELLIS-SCHIPPER:  Yes, you have to keep in mind that this is a pretrial detention.  This - they have not been summoned to court.  In your legal terms, charged.  So you have to have grounds to keep someone in pretrial detention.  And that is the assessment of what the judges have made today and the court decided that there was, at this point in the case, simply not enough grounds, not enough serious objections against their release. 

ABRAMS:  Arlene Ellis-Schipper, as always, thanks very much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it. 

ELLIS-SCHIPPER:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  All right.  For a sense of how Natalee's family is handling the news, I'm joined once again by Benvinda de Sousa, an Aruban attorney with has been hired by Natalee's family.

Thanks for coming back on the program.  We appreciate it.

BENVINDA DE SOUSA, NATALEE HOLLOWAY'S FAMILY'S ATTORNEY:  Thank you for having me.

ABRAMS:  All right.  So the family had wanted the Kalpoe brothers rearrested.  The court is saying that is not going to happen and yet they also wanted Joran van der Sloot to remain behind bars.  That will happen.  How are they reacting to the news?

DE SOUSA:  Well, they are very pleased that Mr. van der Sloot is being kept behind bars.  They had, of course, hoped that the two Kalpoe brothers would be rearrested.  But they do understand that if an independent panel of three judges decides that for now there is not enough evidence to keep them behind bars.  They accept it. 

ABRAMS:  Let me play the piece of sound from the court clerk I was trying to play earlier.  This is talking about some of Joran's statements. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WERNET:  The investigation requires that the preventive custody is continued because the suspect recently retracted earlier statements again and that further investigation is required to verify the exactitude of the most recent statement in connection with all the other statements of the suspect without the suspect having the opportunity to influence the investigation. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Was that news to you, Benvinda?

DE SOUSA:  About what?

ABRAMS:  About the fact that they're coming out and saying publically that Joran made statements, retracted them, that further investigation is needed to verify the exact - they're basically saying that he lied.  I mean, there were reports about it.  There were conflicting reports.  But the first time we've heard it from the court. 

DE SOUSA:  Oh, he's been lying from day one and that's one of the facts that's been held against him.  He obviously has admitted to being the last person with Natalee and that, in combination with the fact that he has been changing his statements continuously, is one of the main reasons for keeping him in custody. 

ABRAMS:  What about the Kalpoe brothers?  I mean it sounds like the court is also saying that they've offered some inconsistent statements. 

DE SOUSA:  Yes.  But as my - as Mrs. Arlene Ellis-Schipper just said a little while ago, they have changed their statements but the last statement that they gave has been very consistent.  They did not change the statement that they dropped off Joran van der Sloot at the beach. 

ABRAMS:  What happens now?  I mean there's a 60-day period that they can hold van der Sloot if the continue the investigation?

DE SOUSA:  Yes, it's a 60-day period.  And they will continue with the investigation.  That has been confirmed. 

ABRAMS:  Family going to stick around?

DE SOUSA:  Yes, we're going to stick around. 

ABRAMS:  You're certainly going to be there, but do you expect the Twitty and Holloway families to remain as well?

DE SOUSA:  Yes.  Yes.  When I say we're going to stick around, I mean the Twitty family is going to stick around. 

ABRAMS:  All right. 

All right, Benvinda de Sousa, as once again, thank you very much for coming on the program.  Please send our regards to the Twitty family. 

DE SOUSA:  I will.  Thank you very much. 

ABRAMS:  One of the most bizarre murder cases in years.  Multi-millionaire living as a woman admits killing his neighbor, admits chopping him up.  A jury says, not guilty.  Now Robert Durst is about to walk out of prison.  The question, is he a danger to society?  I'll ask his lawyer and someone who's trying to keep him behind bars. 

And London police want to know who saw this alleged bomber.  We now know a lot more about all four suspected suicide bombers.  Scariest thing is, they seemed like the guys next door. 

Plus, it's a book for kids everywhere this summer, but don't even think about trying to get your hands on a copy of Harry Potter before it comes out.  That contract bookstores have to sign to get a copy makes Donald Trump's prenup look easy to break. 

Your e-mails, abramsreport@msnbc.com.  Please include your name, where you're writing from.  And I'll respond at the end of the show. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLETTE CASSIDY:  MSNBC keeps you up to the minute every 15 minutes.  Good evening, everyone.  I'm Colette Cassidy. 

And we have some breaking news to tell you about.  Officials say a medevac helicopter crashed moments after takeoff from a rooftop helipad at a hospital in Valparaiso, Indiana.  Officials say they believe there were four people on board:  the pilot, a doctor, a nurse and a patient.  No serious injuries have been reported just yet. 

And NASA now says it won't try to launch the space shuttle Discovery until at least Sunday but they call that “really optimistic.”  Officials say they probably face several days of troubleshooting to figure out why a fuel sensor failed forcing cancellation of yesterday's launch.

And President Bush gave a high profile show of support for his embattled advisor Karl Rove leaving the White House together for a presidential visit to Indianapolis. 

Now back to THE ABRAMS REPORT.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  For the verdict of the jury is such.  We, the jury, find the defendant, Robert Durst, not guilty. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Not guilty.  A verdict that stunned many, including me.  Robert Durst admits he shot his neighbor, admits he dismembered the body, admits he dumped it in the bay, admits he was on the run as a woman but somehow he escaped conviction. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOANNE GONGORA, JUROR WHO ACQUITTED DURST:  There was no evidence to prove

that he was the one that fired the gun that killed Morris Black.  We don't

·         we don't know, so there was reasonable doubt.  All the jurors had reasonable doubt as to the actual death of Morris Black.  Yes, Bob Durst did dismember him.  I felt it was in a state of panic.  I can understand in my mind as to what happened. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Really?  Based on his own admissions and lots of physical evidence, a conviction really seemed pretty certain against the cross-dressing, eccentric millionaire Robert Durst, tried in Texas for the premeditated murder of his 71-year-old neighbor, Morris Black.  Prosecutors said Durst killed black to steal his identity.  Durst told the jury the situation was a bit different. 

Quote Durst.  “He died struggling for the gun.  I did not kill him.

Prosecutor.  “He was killed, was he not?”

Durst.  “I like died better.”

So why did Durst cut up the body and try to cover up the crime if it was all an accident?  “Morris was shot in the face with my gun in my apartment, and I rented this apartment dressed as a woman.  I just didn't think they would believe me.”

At time of the killing, Durst was living and posing as a mute woman in Galveston, Texas, after fleeing New York because he feared being charged here in connection to his wife's disappearance in 1982.   Durst spent some time in a county jail for bail jumping and evidence tampering and when he was released was met by U.S. marshals who picked him up on firearms charges.  He's been in federal prison for almost seven months but tomorrow Durst will be a free man. 

My take, this is scary that this guy is going to be free.  Just based on what he did with the boy, et cetera.  And he's a possible suspect in two other murders?

Joining me now, one of Robert Durst's attorneys, Chip Lewis.  And here with me in the studio is Jim McCormack, the brother of Robert Durst's first wife, Kathleen, who disappeared in 1982.

Gentlemen, thanks very much for coming on the program.

All right, Chip, let me start with you. 

You're going to tell us we should feel safe with Robert Durst on the streets?

CHIP LEWIS, ROBERT DURST'S ATTORNEY:  There's no danger to you or anyone else with Robert Durst on the streets, Dan.

ABRAMS:  And how can you say that with such confidence?  I mean - and even if - look, let's just take the fact that this jury used a very sort of legal definition to acquit Robert Durst.  But when you look at the big picture, forget about the legalities for a minute, just look at big picture, dismembering the body, hiding, running away.  It really looks very bad for Robert Durst as a member of society. 

LEWIS:  Yes.  The dismembering and all the sensational part of the case was a pure product of panic, as the juror said in your opening piece, Dan, as everyone in the courtroom came to know and believe.  What Durst did after Morris Black was accidentally killed was out of sheer panic that no one would believe him.  He was chased down here as a political pawn in Jenine Peero's (ph) game (ph).  That's why he was living as a deaf woman under her cloud of suspicion.  It really wasn't suspicion.  We've implored her for two years now, Dan, charge him.  Put up or shut up.  She ain't going to charge him.

ABRAMS:  Right.  That's bad luck, huh, that he's on the run from Jenine Peero and then suddenly, whoo, he gets in this gun battle with his buddy - his neighbor.  And then afterwards he checks into a waterfront hotel, orders room service, returns to the crime scene, dismembers the body, dumps it in the bay and cleans up the blood. 

LEWIS:  I don't think it has anything to do with luck.  I think it has to do with Miss Peero using Rob Durst as a ploy in her political ambitions.  And the fact of the matter is, she's never charged him, she's never going to charge him.  It was all a big blustering Jenine Peero, sent Bob Durst into a panic.  We all know that Bob Durst has had a lot of psychological problems over the years. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Well, look, Jenine Peero may be blustering (ph).  Jim McCormack is the brother of Kathleen. 

You know, Jim, we were talking about this before.  You consider Robert Durst a threat to society, right?

JAMES MCCORMACK, ROBERT DURST'S BROTHER-IN-LAW:  Yes, I do.  Yes, I do.

ABRAMS:  Why are you so convinced that he was involved in your sister's . .

.

MCCORMACK:  Well, when I came to know him after the first years of their marriage, I mean he was prince charming, she was, you know, Cinderella.  It was a love affair.  And then the relationship degraded and I got to see another side of Robert Durst that, you know, he degraded. I mean, he became abusive, violent, contemptuous of civility and I think he's just gone into a hole.

ABRAMS:  And well let's also be clear.  I mean, you know, and, Chip, I'll give you a chance to respond to this in a minute. 

But your sister had said that Durst abused her and that she feared him.  She was in the process of ending the marriage when she was last seen.  Told friends, if anything happens to me that they should look at Durst.  Robert Durst reportedly the last to see her alive.  Body's never been recovered.  And - yeah.

MCCORMACK:  It goes on and on and on.  The history is pretty convincing that, you know, the - I'm not sure how to describe it.  The purposeful acts.  I mean they talk about Robert Durst panicking down in Galveston, Texas.  The things he did was purposeful, not panic driven. 

ABRAMS:  You know, Chip, let's talk about the '82.  You're saying that Jenine Peero's in some sort of witch hunt to get Robert Durst. 

LEWIS:  Oh, Dan, I didn't say witch hunt. 

ABRAMS:  All right, what did you say?

LEWIS:  It's a political ploy. 

ABRAMS:  Political ploy.  All right, political ploy.

LEWIS:  You've got to remember, Dan, back then she was posturing for governor of New York.

ABRAMS:  All right, fine, political ploy, witch hunt, means the same thing.  Bottom line is, you're saying she didn't have justification to go after him and she went after him for reasons that don't relate to the evidence.  And the bottom line is, you look at the evidence and, you know, this is a woman who said, if anything happens to me, check with Robert Durst.  And she - you know, she's reportedly the last one to see her alive.  She said that he abused her and that she feared him.  It's so ridiculous for people to say, hey, maybe this is the guy?

LEWIS:  I don't think it's ridiculous at all.  The problem with the case up there in New York is, it's built around people much less credible than Mr.  McCormack.  It's built around a bunch of past drug abusers, naysayers, people that had a lot of incentive to say what they wanted to about what Kathy might have told them.  That they lack as much credibility at Peero's accusations do.

ABRAMS:  Really?  So - but - so do you, I mean, does Mr. McCormack lack the credibility too?

LEWIS:  Not at all.  I don't think that Mr. McCormack has ever, of all the things I've heard him say or have been attributed to him, said anything that a loving brother wouldn't say. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, but it's not just loving brother.  I mean the bottom line is that it just seems that your former client - all right, I don't know if he's still your client - still your client, has had a lot of bad luck then with people.  I mean his publicist suddenly disappears in 2000.  She's killed execution style.  I mean you've got to admit it, at best, he's had a lot of bad luck. 

LEWIS:  Of course.  I mean anybody can tongue and cheek, say this is all bad luck.  But it's a lot more than that.  The fact of the matter is, you've got very well-trained law enforcement officers both in New York for 23 years and Los Angeles for seven years that have looked at this case and they're never going to charge Bob Durst because he didn't do it. 

ABRAMS:  But that's fine.  But - well, they may not ever charge him but I'm talking about the fear of having him as a member of society when coincidentally his wife disappears in 1982, coincidentally his publicist disappears in 2000 and coincidentally he has this battle with his neighbor over a gun that accidentally goes off. 

LEWIS:  Well, not coincidentally.  For 60 years prior to his incarceration in Galveston, he's had no blemish on his record.  He's been a perfectly contributing member of society.  He's had absolutely no convictions on his record (INAUDIBLE).

ABRAMS:  Neither did the BTK killer. 

LEWIS:  Well, and BTK will get what he's got coming, Dan.  Don't try to equate him to BTK.  Bob Durst is an innocent man who's going to get his freedom finally tomorrow. 

ABRAMS:  Jim McCormack, what do you make of that?

MCCORMACK:  Well, he may have been judged innocent, but I don't believe he is innocent.  Quite frankly, Robert Durst, as I've come to know him over the years and through contact with his family, or lack of contact with his family, is criminally cunning, he's contemptuous of civility.  He'll have his way through power, through money, through influence.  And, you know, that's basically his mode of operation.

ABRAMS:  I'm going to play a real quick piece of sound here.  Even the jurors didn't believe Robert Durst's own testimony during the trial.  Let's play number two, parts of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS LOVELL, JUROR IN DURST TRIAL:  He lied.  He was lying through his teeth.  His defense attorneys told us in their closing arguments - and they must have seen that - and I don't know how much of it was true.  I believed how much of it, I didn't believe.  I know I didn't believe all of it.  There's parts of it that may be true.  There's parts of it that I know he lied about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Chip, you guys get a lot of credit for legally getting this guy off.  I mean, the jurors didn't even believe his testimony. 

LEWIS:  I appreciate that but I don't think the story's about us today, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  I don't know, I think the story's - I've got to tell you, I think the story's about people looking over their backs, you know, with . . .

LEWIS:  I'll make a promise to you, Dan.  I won't bring him to the Soho house. 

ABRAMS:  Chip Lewis, Jim McCormack,  thank you very much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

MCCORMACK:  Thank you so much.

ABRAMS:  New details on just who the four suspected London suicide bombers were.  One of them a school teacher who parents said they trusted. 

And if your kid wants the newest “Harry Potter,” tell him or her to get in line.  With the iron clad security at bookstores, there's no way you're getting one early.  We talk with a woman responsible for keeping “Harry Potter” under wraps. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the newest edition of the “Harry Potter” book comes out on Saturday. You'll need more than a wizard and your lawyer to breakthrough the unprecedented security holding on to the book until then.  But first the headlines. 

CASSIDY:  MSNBC keeps you up to the minute every 15 minutes.  Good evening, everyone. I'm Colette Cassidy.  Here's the latest. 

Chief Justice William Rehnquist is back home now after two nights in a suburban Washington hospital.  The 80-year-old Rehnquist was taken to the hospital with a fever and admitted for observation and testing.  No details have been given on his current condition.  Rehnquist, as you know, suffers from thyroid cancer and has been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy.

And Hurricane Emily has strengthened to a dangerous category three storm with maximum sustained winds nearing 115 miles an hour.  It battered the Caribbean island of Granada today.  On its current course, Emily will likely miss the U.S. and hit the northeast coastline of Mexico.

And First Lady Laura Bush and her British counterpart, Cherie Blair, paid tribute today to the thousands who died in Rawand's genocide.  The two laid wreaths at a site commemorating the 1994 violence which claimed 800,000 lives in just 100 days.  Mrs. Bush is expected back in the U.S. tomorrow after a week in Africa. 

Those are your headlines.  Now back to THE ABRAMS REPORT.

ABRAMS:  London's Big Ben tolling for two minutes of silence for the victims of last week's London terror attacks.  Observed by people around Britain, Europe, the world.  The death toll in the bombings is now up to 54.  At least 700 injured.  Meanwhile, police continue to search in the northern city of Leeds, in the town of Elsberry (ph), for any clues about the terrorists and the network that's presumed to be behind them. 

So question one, why did 18-year-old Hasib Hussain, the terrorist believed to have bombed this London bus, detonate his blast nearly an hour after the three London subway trains were attacked?  Police release these pictures of Hussain on his way to the attacks hoping witnesses might be able to provide some clues to his movements.  Police have also released the name of the fourth alleged terrorist, though not his picture.  He's said to be Germaine Morise (ph) Lindsey, a Jamaican-born Muslim convert.  And while not much is known about him, police who knew another alleged terrorist, 30-year-old primary school teacher Mohammed Sidiqi Kahn, say they're stunned. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I can't be Mr.  Kahn.  It can't.  They must have got it wrong.  Somebody's got it wrong somewhere.  I just feel that something's gone certainly wrong for that guy to have been involved because he was a really nice guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And another friend of the accused killer, 22-year-old Shehzad Tanweer, wants people to understand what a great guy he was. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you hung around with (INAUDIBLE), you become his friend. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He was just a great guy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Great (INAUDIBLE).  That's why we were are upset one (ph).  The people are just - people just want to make him out to be a through and through bad people but you don't understand, they were good people.  So why are they doing it (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  OK.  Well, Con Coughlin is an MSNBC analyst, writer for the “London Sunday Telegraph” and an author. 

Are you surprised, Con, that - you know, with a lot of these guys, with the 9/11 hijackers, et cetera, people were - you look back on it, people would say, oh, I could see it coming or, oh, he had - he had become so religious and so angry, not with all of them but with most of them.  Here you hear people saying what nice guys they were. 

CON COUGHLIN, “LONDON SUNDAY TELEGRAPH”:  Well, good evening, Dan. 

I mean, I think the first point I think we should make is that al Qaeda has learned from its previous terror outrages.  And in the past, after 9/11, and some of the other attacks, people have been taught, key members of the network have been arrested or killed because people have been talking. 

The new al Qaeda - and I know we're jumping guns here, but I think we can safely assume that the people who did these attacks in London were in some way affiliated with al Qaeda.  The new al Qaeda basically tells its people to keep their counsel, to go deep undercover, not to change the way they live, to maintain family relationships, their personal friendships and just keep a very, very low profile.  Behave as normal.  And then, of course, when they carry out their attack, people are just stunned, as you saw in your report about Leeds.  People just don't believe that these people were capable of carrying out these attacks. 

ABRAMS:  Let's focus on this one guy, Mohammed Sidiqi Kahn.  All right.  Thirty years old.  Married with a young daughter.  Teaching at a primary school.  Apparently set off the bomb at the London Circle line train.  I mean, married with a very young daughter. 

COUGHLIN:  Well, that's it.  And there is now a widow and an eight-month-old child.  And this guy, as you said in your report, was working at a local school for young children, counseling difficult children, basically the sort of person that you would expect to be a pillar of the community.  And here he is going off with a group of other young men to London and blowing himself up and in the presence of doing so killing a lot of innocent civilians in London, some of whom were Muslims. 

ABRAMS:  And people were talking about him being sort of a great teacher and kind of loved his students, et cetera.  I mean, you know, this reminds me of a case almost where I was reading about where someone came from Cuba and basically just came to start a life, sort of to effectively become a spy, and found a wife, et cetera, and found a family.  I mean, is that what we're talking about here?

COUGHLIN:  Well, of course, the really important thing about the London bombings and the thing that's really shocked the intelligence community in this country, is that basically so far all the bombers are home-grown.  They're all born in Britain.  Their parents came here as immigrants but the bombers themselves were born in this country.  They were raised in this country.  They went through this country's education system and yet, after all that, they still wanted to blow up the people in this country.  And that has come as a really big shock.  Nobody expected that to happen here.  We thought that if there was an attack it would be by foreign jihadists coming to the U.K., not by locals. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Con Coughlin, thanks very much.  Appreciate it. 

COUGHLIN:  My pleasure, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the hottest book around, protected by the toughest contract since Michael Jackson's settlement with the '93 accuser.  If you want an early copy of the newest edition of “Harry Potter,” forget about it.  We'll talk to the woman keeping Harry under wraps. 

And it sure sounded to me like Tom Delay was passing the buck in the Karl Rove case.  The investigation seemed to be blaming “Time” reporter Matt Cooper.  My closing argument. 

Your e-mails, abramsreport@msnbc.com.  Please include your name, where you're writing from. I respond at the end of the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CASSIDY:  MSNBC keeps you up to the minute every 15 minutes. 

Good evening, everyone.  I'm Colette Cassidy. 

NASA says the earliest they could try again to launch the space shuttle is Sunday but officials say there's only a very remote chance of that.  They say it will probably take several more days to figure out why a fuel sensor malfunctioned causing them to scrub yesterday's launch.

Former President Bill Clinton urged the U.N. to keep up the momentum in recovery efforts after last December's Asian tsunami.  He is the U.N.  special envoy overseeing those recovery efforts and says the most difficult phase in the process is yet to come. 

And Former President Gerald Ford is celebrating his 92nd birthday.  He's stayed out of the public eye since suffering a stroke in 2000.

Those are your headlines.  Now back to THE ABRAMS REPORT.

ABRAMS:  Get ready all you warlocks and muggles, the next installment in the “Harry Potter” series hits bookstores this Saturday at 12:01 a.m. and not a moment sooner.  The publishers are going to great lengths to make sure no one gets their hands on the latest edition of “Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince” before the official release date. 

We are talking Fort Knox like lengths.  Touring the book printing plants to make sure the books and even the shredded remains of printing mistakes are kept under lock and key.  Demanding bookstores sign contracts promising they won't sell the book early and threatening those who don't comply.  Telling them if they break the rules this time they might not get the next one.  Amazon.com is keeping the books in a restricted area.  Employees need a special pass just to enter.  And shocker, Barnes & Noble is predicting tremendous sales. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN RIGGIO, BARNES AND NOBLE CHAIRMAN:  We will sell 50,000 copies per hour of this book in the first 24 hours. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  All right.  Before I introduce my guest, let me take off my glasses and my - joining me now, Barbara Markus, executive vice president of Scholastic Incorporated, which is publishing the book here in the U.S. 

Thanks very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it. 

BARBARA MARCUS, EXECUTIVE VP, SCHOLASTIC INC.:  Thank you.  I loved you in your glasses, though. 

ABRAMS:  Thank you.  Thank you.  I think I looked - I think I looked quite fetching. 

MARCUS:  You did. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Thank you. 

All right.  So we're talking great lengths here and we understand why.  I mean, you know, the whole part of the goal here is to make sure that the surprise as to who dies and other elements of the book are kept secret.  Give us a sense of - if I'm a bookstore, what do I have to do?  What do I have to promise?  What do I have to sign in order to get “Harry Potter” books?

MARCUS:  Well, I think what you have to do is to believe - first you have to believe that what J.K. Rowling is asking all of us is the right thing, which we believe, which is that all the children come to the book at the same time and have a chance to read it at the same time.  That no one spoils the information. 

ABRAMS:  Right.  Right.  OK.  Right.

MARCUS:  OK, OK, OK.

ABRAMS:  That's the concept.  Right.  Now let's talk about the practical realities.  What do I have to do?  I've now bought into it.  I'm - well, I put on my “Harry Potter” glasses . . .

MARCUS:  Good.  Great.

ABRAMS:  I've got (INAUDIBLE).  I'm ready to go.  I'm ready to play. 

MARCUS:  OK.ABRAMS:  Now tell me practically, what do I have to do?

MARCUS:  Well, all you really have to do is you have to - what we ask you to do is sign a piece of paper that says that once you receive the books you will put them in a separate area, you will make sure that they do not go on sale until 12:01 on July 16.  That you don't take “Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince” out of its boxes, that you don't bring it on to the selling floor, that you really keep it in a safe place that is guarded and just make sure that it doesn't come on the floor.  If you're a small bookseller, it's your backroom.  If you're a larger bookseller or a larger distributor, it's in a really secured area guarded by security guards. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, guarded by security guards, yes.  Yes, and how do you make sure that they comply?

MARCUS:  We don't make sure they comply.  They've given us their word.  They have said they would do this.  They've said they believe.  We talk to them on a regular basis.  And you know what, everyone - most everyone believes that we're doing the right thing. 

ABRAMS:  No - but no one's talking about the wrong thing.  I mean, I don't think there is a right and wrong here.  I mean the bottom line is, you're trying to protect your copyright on the book, et cetera (INAUDIBLE).

MARCUS:  Right.  Right.  So I don't think it's . . .

ABRAMS:  But I just - but you have to admit that this is unprecedented lengths you have to go to.  I mean, there have been other books where there, you know, there have been secrets out, Reagan's book, other books that this has happened. 

MARCUS:  Right.  Yes.

ABRAMS:  But the bottom line is, there's something about the “Harry Potter” books that makes people crazy. 

MARCUS:  Well, you know what, there are websites devoted to “Harry Potter.”  We're printing 10. - Scholastic is printing 10.8 million copies.  This is a phenomenon.  This is something so beyond any other books. 

ABRAMS:  And so as a result, you've got to do - you've got to do extra, extra things to make sure that no one's sneaking a peek. 

MARCUS:  Well, I think it's the right thing to do.  I think - and I think that everyone is cooperating.  It is - it's the printers.  It's the transportation companies.  Everybody has joined together to keep the secret. 

ABRAMS:  Well, joined together.  I'm sure they're getting a lot of threats that basically say, you ever - you think about looking at . . .

MARCUS:  No.

ABRAMS:  Oh, come on, you've got to threaten some people. 

MARCUS:  No, we . . .

ABRAMS:  You're going to tell me you don't threaten anybody?

MARCUS:  We - the - oh, no. 

ABRAMS:  Of course you do.

MARCUS:  We don't threaten people. 

ABRAMS:  Oh, come, of course you do. 

MARCUS:  I don't - I would not call it threatening people.  I think we say to people that this is . . .

ABRAMS:  All right.  Yes.  It would be very bad if this happened. 

MARCUS:  All we say is that, if you sell the “Harry Potter” books before their time, you will receive the books after the on sale date next time. 

ABRAMS:  I understand.  All right.

Barbara Marcus, thank you very much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it. 

MARCUS:  Thank you.  Have a good read on Saturday. 

ABRAMS:  Thank you. 

Joining me now is senior news editor for “Publishers Weekly” Steve Zeitchik.

All right, Steve, I'm not getting a completely straight answer out of Barbara.  I don't blame her.   I'd be saying the same thing if I were her.  But the bottom line is, there's something about this book that is making the publishers crazy in terms of security. 

STEVE ZEITCHIK, SR NEWS EDITOR FOR “PUBLISHERS WEEKLY”:  Yes, no, I think you're right, Dan.  I think it's making a lot of people crazy.  It's certainly making the children and the fans crazy.  But it's also making Scholastic crazy. 

I mean, you know, there's a carrot and sticks approach here.  You know, we've seen some embargos broken even over the last couple of days and certainly with the previous books where either lawsuits were threatened.  And in one case last - two years ago against “The Daily News,” a lawsuit was actually brought.  And then there's also a carrots.  You know, there's sticks and there's carrots.  And so, you know, a kid who gets a copy of the book and reads a few - a few pages gets a signed, you know, muggle or autographed book or gets something, you know . . .

ABRAMS:  He it gets bought off?

ZEITCHIK:  There's - it's a carrots and sticks approach.  I think they'd - there's a certain amount of diplomatic strategy that's going on here.  And you'd be right, I think, to call it crazy in some cases. 

ABRAMS:  Any other books like this?

ZEITCHIK:  You know, not really.  I mean, you know, you mentioned the Reagan book having secrets.  Hillary Clinton's book two years ago and Bill Clinton's book last year both had kind of a serious - more serious air (ph) about them.  Of course, those were dealing with matters potentially of national security and this is dealing with matters of fictional security.  I mean, I think one of the things that's going on here is that embargos in general have just become more and more of a factor and publishers are getting more and more crazy and more and more anal about protecting them, sometimes to absurd lengths. 

ABRAMS:  Steve Zeitchik, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 

ZEITCHIK:  Thank you, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, House Majority Leader Tom Delay suddenly sort of acting as a journalism professor in terms of the Karl Rove investigation.  He's going after Matt Cooper's journalistic ethics.  It's my closing argument.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  My closing argument. 

Whether Karl Rove actually committed a crime when he spoke to “Time” magazine's Matt Cooper has become a bit of a moot point in Washington where politics has taken over and both Republicans and Democrats suddenly know all the detail about the special council's secret investigation into the release of CIA Officer Valerie Plame's name.  Democrats calling for Rove's head even though it remains unclear if he did anything beyond talk to a reporter.  And Republicans defending Rove's actions, even though he could have revealed the name of a covert agent and broken the law. 

But my favorite distraction from the real issues came from House Majority Leader Tom Delay.  Yesterday, who in defending Rove, is now blaming Cooper for being “unprofessional.”  Saying Cooper should never have published a story about his conversation with Karl Rove because Rove was talking to him “on background” to make sure he didn't publish an inaccurate story.  Of course, that's irrelevant in determining whether Rove violated the law. 

Boy, I would hope anyone who buys into that creative logic is demanding that “New York Times” Reporter Judith Miller, currently sitting in jail, be released.  After all, she didn't even publish a story based on what her source told her.  It's a nice discussion about ethics and journalism, but it sure is twisted logic to suggest Cooper, not Rove, is at fault if Rove was the source.  Of course, Congressman Delay also knows “on background” means “don't quote me” and Cooper never quoted Rove.  And furthermore, that really says nothing about whether Rove did or didn't violate the law.  Talk about passing the buck. 

Coming up, a man in Ohio charged for not wearing a bro.  Our, Oh Pleas is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  I've had my say, now it's time for your rebuttal.

Last night in my closing argument I asked why so many in the media are still so afraid to call terrorists, terrorists.  Instead, they continue to use less accurate words like insurgent, militant and  rebel and, in the case of the most recent terror attacks in London, bombers. 

Rowena Davidson in Massachusetts.  “You're pointing out how some news services use whitewashed language is excellent.  Such techniques are hurting our war against militant Islam.”

But from Astoria, New York, Drew writes, “Dan, Dan, Dan.  If I wanted to

watch Fox News, I would.  Bill O'Reilly covered the same subject on July

10th.  I would respond to you in my own words, but “The New York Times”

does it so much better.  'Our well informed readership does not need to be

reminded in every single reference that a man who kidnaps and kills for the

purpose of terrorizing a populace is a terrorist.'”

Well, first of all, take a look back.  It's an issue I've been complaining about for years.  But what you and “The Times” ombudsmen ignore is that the word rebel or insurgent or militant is being chosen instead.  I would think we'd all want to be as accurate as possible.  We're talking about targeting civilians.  And sometimes it's not accurate to refer to it the way that they're doing it.  That's why in my September closing argument I compared the dictionary definitions. 

Dan Coates.  “What is the difference between war and terrorism?  War just has a bigger budget, bigger bombs, more bombs, more soldiers, more bullets and they both do the same thing, cause terror.”

Intent, Dan.  With war, the goal is not to terrorize.

Finally, Edward Pearlman in Largo, Florida.  “It always amuses me how Mr.  Abrams always lists at least three e-mails supporting his myopic views, the few against are always saved for last.  If he gets to voice his views in the 'Final Arguments,' why does he need to read e-mails that bolster his opinion?”

Because I want to accurately reflect the views of my viewers.  Each side gets basically the same amount of e-mails on the show as we got in the box.  Interesting answer, huh, Eddie?  Maybe not as myopic as you thought. 

Oh, pleas!  Some call it a bro.  There we go.  Others call it a manseer (ph).  However you describe the man breast holder, it seems the police in Ohio think a man should be charged if he does not use Kramer's invention.  Twenty-three-year-old Jerome Mason (ph) was walking in Cincinnati shirtless early one morning when police noticed Mason's unusually large pecks.  It seems the police found Mason's bare chest a little too bux (ph) and even woman-like and charged the 6'2”, 100 pound man with indecent exposure.  Mason's public defender says the charges should be dropped because it's not technically illegal to expose breasts in public, let alone man breasts.  I guess it goes to show you that size really does matter. 

That does it for us tonight.  We'll see you tomorrow.

END

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