updated 7/22/2005 9:22:23 AM ET 2005-07-22T13:22:23

Guest: Charles Shoebridge, Chris Whitcomb, Steve Pomerantz, Lillie Coney,

Rodney Benson, T.J. Ward, Beth Twitty

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, four explosions rock London, eerily similar to the attacks two weeks ago. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS (voice-over):  London police say could have been worse.  Some of the bombs didn't go off.  No one was killed, but the suspects are on the loose.  How did four bombs go off without a single death? 

Security here at home beefed up.  Tomorrow, random searches begin at New York City subway stations.  And some are now yelling and screaming that their civil liberties will be violated. 

And the lead prosecutor in charge of the Natalee Holloway investigation takes a vacation?  We get reaction from Natalee's mother as she posts a $200,000 reward for the safe return of her daughter. 

The program about justice starts now. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS (voice-over):  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket tonight, we've got breaking news today in the London bombings.  NBC News has learned that the backpacks and explosives used in today's attacks identical to those used in the July 7 attacks, indicating that the same group could be responsible for both.  Both had four almost simultaneous explosions, three in the underground train system, one on a bus.  The big difference, the first attack killed 56 people, but this time it seems they failed. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIR IAN BLAIR, METROPOLITAN POLICE COMMISSIONER:  Clearly the intention must have been to kill.  I mean you don't do this with any other intention.  And I think the important point is that the intention as a terrorist has not been fulfilled.  The London ambulance service tell us that they took no casualties from these scenes.  There is a report of one casualty at one hospital, who may have been self-reporting and may or may not be connected to this. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  No casualties, how is it possible that four bombs go off and no one dies? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLAIR:  From what I understand, some of the devices remain unexploded, if I could describe it that way.  We do believe that this may represent a significant breakthrough in the sense that there is obviously forensic material at these scenes, which may be very helpful to us. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And if this is the same group, it is crucial to catch them now.  Joining me now is former FBI assistant director, former FBI national counterterrorism chief, Steve Pomerantz, former FBI agent Chris Whitcomb, and NBC News terrorism analyst, Charles Shoebridge. 

All right, Charles, so we're getting this information out of London that they believe the same backpacks were used.  Does that simply tell you that this has got to be the same at least mastermind behind it? 

CHARLES SHOEBRIDGE, NBC NEWS TERRORISM ANALYST:  I think if we look at the M.O., the method of operation of this group today, it is so similar with the M.O. employed two weeks ago, including the apparent use from what witnesses are telling us, that the alleged bombers were actually present there on the trains today when these detonators possibly exploded.  This suggests very strongly indeed that the same organization or structure, if we can call it that, is involved.  And the events of today will, without doubt, greatly increase the abilities of the police to make their way up that chain away from these foot soldiers of today to identifying those concerned at a higher level. 

ABRAMS:  And Chris, I've got to believe that the same bomb maker made these bombs today.  I'm not saying as the ones previously but made all four of the ones involved today because it sounds like most of them just didn't work. 

CHRISTOPHER WHITCOMB, FORMER FBI AGENT:  Right, Dan.  Look, it's not terribly difficult to make a bomb, but you have to have some training and some expertise.  And the FBI has a unit that goes around the world, looks at the remnants of bombs that have gone off, and tries to find characteristics that identify the maker.  And I think it's very likely here they've gotten a wealth of information.  Thank goodness they didn't go off, but it's going to help investigators enormously.

ABRAMS:  Steve Pomerantz, explain to us what it means that it didn't go off.  I mean there still were explosions in London. 

STEVE POMERANTZ, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:  Yes, well the most likely explanation for that, Dan, is what went off were the detonating devices.  Most bombs have some sort of a device that—a lesser charge that then sets off the larger explosive.  And what we probably had here was the detonators exploding but failing to set off the main charge.  And that would kind of explain what we're—the kind of reporting that we are getting. 

ABRAMS:  All right, so Charles, we were told early on that the previous bombings were likely the work of some al Qaeda-related group, al Qaeda sympathizers, whether it was actually al Qaeda or not sort of beside the point.  But al Qaeda and their operatives usually plan these things out far in advance.  Does this seem to you if this was the same group that they planned to do two operations within two weeks of each other? 

SHOEBRIDGE:  Yes, very much so.  It is not completely normal to have this kind of targeting in exactly this way.  But certainly, al Qaeda and their affiliated groups do keep us guessing.  It's unusual to follow one attack with exactly the same kind of attack, but maybe another attack is planned (UNINTELLIGIBLE) maybe for a bar, maybe for a shopping center. 

What we do know is that they are trying to kill as many as possible.  But what I would say as well is that what we have seen today is entirely consistent with—if homemade explosives were used, if this was the same explosives prepared for the bombs of two weeks ago, and it took quite a high likelihood that that explosive would have deteriorated to the point that again, as one of your contributors just said, that it is deteriorated to the fact that it cannot now explode, and that would account for today's lack of success for the terrorists.

ABRAMS:  Chris, what I have always been struck by is how strikingly successful investigators have been in finding these people in all of these sort of terror bombings.  You know you get the feeling sometimes either it's a suicide bombing or it's someone who does it and runs away, that how are we ever going to find them?  And yet, most of the time it seems that we do. 

WHITCOMB:  Dan, look every time an explosive goes off it leaves a great deal of evidence behind.  The type of material used in the explosive is a trademark.  The type of detonator is a trademark, a timer if that's in fact used.  Many, many things investigators get.  A bomb goes off, a great deal of destruction, but it always leaves evidence...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  How do you find that detonator?  You say it leaves a mark.  It leaves a sort of—an imprint effectively.  But OK, so you get an imprint.  Where does that lead you? 

WHITCOMB:  Well it leads you to the manufacturer.  I mean it's—certainly there's a finite number of manufacturers from materials used in bombs.  Some of them are fairly significant, the type of material used in the explosive itself, but a lot of times other little things have characteristics of a particular maker.  Someone that taught Soviet techniques, for example, somebody learned it in the United States, whether it was used in construction, whether it was used in other bombings around the world.  There are a certain number of people train a lot of these bomb makers and they can trace those characteristics back.  Like I said, the FBI has a unit that is very, very successful with that, but other units, including the Brits have the same sort of technology. 

ABRAMS:  Continuing our live coverage of this new information just coming in, that authorities in Britain believe that the backpacks used in today's bombings were the same as the backpacks used in the bombings of two weeks ago.  And that certainly could mean—very well may mean that the same group was behind both of them.  But this time, Steve Pomerantz, there is a difference.  And that is there are unexploded devices.  And when you talk about the evidence that Chris Whitcomb is going through, it's going to leave a lot more of it than if the bomb goes off. 

POMERANTZ:  Yes, that is certainly true, Dan.  And we've talked about the forensics, and Chris has talked about that and he is right.  The forensic examination at the beginning of these investigations is critical, but it also plays out against all the intelligence information that both the police and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) case of Britain, MI5 have and so you match the forensics against all the other information that you have. 

And pretty soon in most of these cases you are right, the success rate in solving these here in the United States and as well in Great Britain has been very good.  The problem is that we don't want to be in a position where we have to solve these.  What we want to be is in a position where we have sufficient intelligence to prevent them.  That's the real measure of success in these cases.

ABRAMS:  Charles Shoebridge, I want you to listen to this piece of sound that I'm going to play from the authorities in England.  And I want you to tell me what the language that they are using.  Meaning, they are using specific terms.  They are not using the word terrorist.  What that can tell us.  Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLAIR:  No community should be smeared with the responsibility for these matters.  This is—these are criminal acts.  And we are in pursuit of a set of criminals in relation to it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Was I reading too much into this, Charles, to say that I thought that in the immediate aftermath of today's bombings, that it sounded like they were almost going out of their way to use the word criminal, criminal acts as opposed to terror and terrorism? 

SHOEBRIDGE:  I don't think you should draw too much from that other than the political situation which the chief of police here in London, and indeed anyone in the United Kingdom finds himself.  He is not saying that this isn't an act of terrorism.  What he is saying is that he doesn't want to associate these kind of actions with what he has widely described as Islamic terrorism or Islamic extremist terrorism. 

He has a difficult balancing act to play between engaging the public's attention to help him and especially when you've got escaping bombers, as today, the public's help is absolutely critical between that and labeling entire communities, not saying that he is doing that, but (UNINTELLIGIBLE) doing that.  We have 1.6 million Muslims in the United Kingdom.  Almost certainly the intelligence, which will eventually lead to the capture of these people at the high level will come from either them or from foreign intelligence agencies, and I think he's walking a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) tight rope when you hear...

ABRAMS:  Chris, you agree with that?

WHITCOMB:  Yes, I agree with it completely.  It's a very big issue, Dan, and law enforcement is very sensitive everywhere.  You've got to go to the source pool.  You've got to go to people that would have exposure to talk of these sorts of things and that's the community.

And remember we're talking often times about the Arab community and of course with the ties to Pakistan.  Pakistan is central Asian country.  So it may be Islamic in its face, but not necessarily Arab.  And I think that that's something they don't want to do is brand the Arab community in Great Britain as the source of these crimes.  It is a political issue, but I think they are looking at this and saying we're going to do a criminal investigation.  We're going to get to the bottom of it and let us do our work.

ABRAMS:  All right, let me read this just coming in to us from our NBC London bureau.  Per police sources, they say from the behavior of the two suicide bombers, at least two of them, when they detonated the bombs, according to all eyewitness accounts, they expected to die.  In Shepherd's Bush the bomber was blown onto his back.  He came around after a few minutes.  He got up looking totally disoriented and surprised to be alive. 

At the Oval, the bomber with the rucksack ran away.  He was tackled by three people on the street.  The rucksack came off his back, but he got away.  The police were able to trace the explosives and conclude they were the same as the explosives from July 7.  Police not sure if today's four bombers were ever in physical contact with the other bombers.

All right, so Steve Pomerantz, if they were expecting to die, what does that tell us?

POMERANTZ:  Well I think the obvious conclusion you draw from that is these are fanatical jihadists that are—they're in-viewed with the same radical fundamentalist ideology that motivates al Qaeda and the like and as hard as we try, again, I agree with the other folks here that you want to be careful in what you say, but that's the conclusion that you have to draw from what you just said and that's who we're dealing with and that's just the reality of the situation.

ABRAMS:  I just remain stunned in an extremely pleased, thrilled way that somehow no one died today and I just think that is amazing...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Very quickly.  Very quickly, Chris, yes.

WHITCOMB:  If they've got a body they've got huge leads.  This—the person that they have a witness, one of the bombers, is much more valuable than the bomb itself.  This is a huge lead for the investigators.

ABRAMS:  All right, Chris Whitcomb, Charles Shoebridge, Steve Pomerantz is going to stick around.  Thanks to everyone.

Coming up, starting tomorrow random searches of backpacks in the New York City subways.  Sure seems like a reaction to today.  Already civil rights groups crying foul.  Why is this any different from airports?

Plus, take a look at this tunnel, 360 feet long, concrete floors, wooden supports along the walls.  You could live down there.  Federal agents watched it go up between the U.S. and Canada.  We'll talk to one of the agents who helped shut it down.

And later the prosecutor in charge of the Natalee Holloway case goes on vacation, vacation?  She's got a suspect in jail being held for only a few more weeks, few clues as to what happened to Natalee.  She's taking some time to relax.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY:  We don't have any plans to stop people walking down the streets.  You probably don't have the legal right to do it, but there is no reason to do that, I wouldn't think.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Not people walking down the streets, but today after the second bombing in London in two weeks, New York Mayor Bloomberg said there will be random searches of people getting on the subways. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLOOMBERG:  Every certain number of people will be checked.  It won't be done on a—certainly no racial profiling will be allowed.  It is against our policies.  But it will be a systemized approach to checking bags.  Ideally it will be before you go through the turnstile.  You know you have a right to turn around and leave.  But we also reserve the right to do those types of searches if in fact someone is already inside the system. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  “My Take”—what is the big deal?  How is this so different from airports?  Our subways get hit with bombs there will be more than just random searches.  I think it's time for us to start getting used to living with this reality. 

Joining me now is Lillie Coney, of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a public interest group in Washington, D.C., and back with us is Steve Pomerantz, who is a former FBI assistant director. 

All right, Lillie, why is this so different from airports? 

LILLIE CONEY, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, EPIC:  Because subways aren't airports.  The population that travels through the subway system in New York, the numbers look like 4.5 million people a day.  And the numbers that travel through the airports of—that service the New York area is much smaller than that. 

ABRAMS:  So how—but how does that change whether it is proper or improper to do it?

CONEY:  If you think about what you expect when you enter a metro station, what's routine, what's expected, being singled out for searches on a random basis is not part of the daily commuting routine. 

ABRAMS:  But shouldn't it become part of that?  I mean the point is when we look at what is happening in London, if this had been in place, it's possible, it's not necessarily the case, but it is possible that something like this might have been thwarted.

CONEY:  I think that is reach.  But what is very important to remember is what we're talking about in this circumstance.  Mayor Bloomberg said that it would be temporary.  He also said that riders would be given an opportunity to refuse the searches...

ABRAMS:  Right.

CONEY:  ... which I think is very important when you look at what in fact will be taking place... 

ABRAMS:  So you don't have a problem with this then? 

CONEY:  We have a problem in the sense that it is an opportunity to encroach on the privacy rights of individuals.  Now whether there is, in fact, in place training and protocols that will (UNINTELLIGIBLE) allow people to refuse searches that is yet to be proven. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Well, Steve, look, it doesn't sound to me like even Lillie has a huge problem with what they are doing now.  I've got no problem with it and I don't see as a practical matter how it is a whole lot different as opposed to the numbers from airports. 

POMERANTZ:  Well the reason you don't have a problem with it, Dan, is that it is very reasonable.  I mean it is unfortunate that we have come to that, but I think again given what's happened now twice this in a city with very many of the characteristics that New York has, it is just a reasonable thing to do.  And I think they have dealt with the issue of numbers. 

In airports where there are smaller numbers, everybody is subject to the search.  Here, because of the greater numbers, it's going to be more random.  So they've dealt with that issue.  And unfortunately, again, it seems to me that under the circumstances on a temporary basis, it seems like a very reasonable thing to do. 

CONEY:  Well you know what they say about the details, it is hard to say at this point whether it will be reasonable or not.  We haven't seen exactly what will be taking place on the ground where individuals are being pulled aside (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to have their bags searched.  Will they in fact be allowed to refuse to have their personal effects searched? 

Will police know where the line is when they are doing these searches?  Will they be able to search your iPod?  Will they search your notebooks or are they just looking in general to see that nothing else is in the bag other than routine items. 

ABRAMS:  Wait until there is a bombing in a New York subway station and we

won't be even having this discussion.  There will be a lot more than just -

·         this sort of very noninvasive rules that we're talking about here.  I think—bottom line is we've got to start expecting it.  It's going to be coming and most people are going to want it. 

CONEY:  Well I think that's hard to say what most people will or will not want...

(CROSSTALK)

CONEY:  It's important to understand that this is a country that is grounded in civil liberties and privacy and individual freedom. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

CONEY:  That if we plan to have a country where we think and believe that those freedoms are of value...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

CONEY:  ... that as we look at new policies, we have to also ensure that those freedoms are not squashed in the rush to address...

ABRAMS:  Yes, my concern is...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... that automatically the civil liberties groups came out and started making statements this is going to be encroaching on civil liberties, this and this and that.  And you know I say to them first ask yourself what is the danger?  What is the risk?  And this one is an easy call for me. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  I've got to wrap it up.

POMERANTZ:  I think you're right about that Dan.

ABRAMS:  I've got to wrap—Lillie Coney, thanks so much for coming on the program.  Steve Pomerantz, appreciate it.

Now to another story about a threat to homeland security—this one thwarted by U.S. and Canadian officials who yesterday raided the first illegal tunnel ever discovered on the Canadian border.  Take a look at this elaborate tunnel. 

Stretches more than 100 yards over the border, concrete floor, iron reinforcements, wooden supports, ventilation and electricity.  It links together two buildings, one in British Columbia, the other in Washington State.  It took more than a year to build. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEE WINCHELL, IMMIGRATION & CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT:  That tunnel could be used to smuggle aliens into the U.S.  It could be used to smuggle equipment into the U.S. for those who could do harm to the United States. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  It was spotted by Canadian border officials back in February.  You know what they did?  They watched and waited for months as the project came together.  They then placed cameras and microphones in the house on the American side and watched three guys carry bags full of pot across the border.  They raided the tunnel, made three arrests yesterday. 

Joining me now special agent in charge of the Seattle field division of the Drug Enforcement Agency, Rodney Benson.  His agency supervised this investigation.  Sir, thank you for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

RODNEY G. BENSON, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, SEATTLE DEA:  How are you Dan?

ABRAMS:  I'm doing well.  All right, so tell me about this.  So you all or the authorities knew since February about this and just bided your time, made sure you knew what they were up to, kept an eye on them and let them do their business, made sure you knew what was going on? 

BENSON:  That is right, Dan.  Since February they have been digging with shovels on the Canadian side.  We watched them over a period of months as they continued to dig and construct this tunnel, excavating the dirt out, putting in concrete reinforcement.  And ultimately in July, they reached the residence on the United States side. 

ABRAMS:  And was this the first time that they actually moved bags?  Or did you allow them to move smaller items and just waited for the big get? 

BENSON:  You know, Dan, we watched them for several weeks.  They completed the tunnel.  We then began to see them move loads of narcotics.  We let some of those loads go through the tunnel.  We followed those loads to the distribution cells located in the greater Seattle area and then we intercepted those.  We then—late yesterday then executed arrest and search warrants and closed the tunnel down. 

ABRAMS:  Now, we've been talking about drugs.  Were these—quote—“drug dealers” or were these people who were paid to build the tunnel who might have used it for whatever reason? 

BENSON:  Dan, there is an international criminal drug enterprise that is responsible for the construction of this tunnel.  The individuals that we arrested today—that's the first step.  We shut this tunnel down.  We are now pursuing the leadership and we're pursuing as well, some of the distribution cells located in the United States. 

ABRAMS:  This has been done before between the Mexican and American borders.  I don't think it has ever been done before between the Canadian and American borders.  Were you surprised at how elaborate this was? 

BENSON:  I was in that tunnel today, Dan, and I will say that—I mean the construction and the effort that went into the construction was very, very significant.  You could see the two-by-six by-12 pieces of lumber.  There was probably about 900 to 1,000 of them used to construct it.  As I was in the tunnel today, it was about four feet in length and about four feet in height.  And what we observed them is loads of B.C., Bud marijuana in hockey bags that were dragged through that tunnel, brought into the U.S.  residence, and then we subsequently intercepted them. 

ABRAMS:  So, as they are building this thing, you guys are seeing them like lug in huge pieces of wood and other items, and I assume that's what initially got people suspicious? 

BENSON:  That is correct.  That's correct, Dan.  You know we watched them and we collected evidence for some time that resulted in the charges that were filed today here in Seattle. 

ABRAMS:  Agent Benson, congratulations...

BENSON:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  It's a big get.  Appreciate it. 

BENSON:  Thanks.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, big developments in Aruba.  The prosecutor goes on vacation?  This as Natalee Holloway's mother increases the reward for information leading to her whereabouts.  And the family hires a private eye.  We'll talk to him and to Natalee's mom coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, developments in Aruba.  The chief prosecutor overseeing the Natalee Holloway case decides it is a good time to take a vacation.  This as Natalee's mom offers a reward for her daughter's whereabouts.  A live report is coming up after the headlines.  We'll talk to the mom as well.

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Missing Alabama teen Natalee Holloway's family announced today they are increasing the reward for her safe return to $200,000.  The reward for information leading to her whereabouts is up to $100,000.  All this while the lead prosecutor thinks to herself (UNINTELLIGIBLE) this might be a good time for a vacation. 

Michelle Kosinski is in Aruba with the latest.  Michelle, the prosecutor decided to take a vacation now? 

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, apparently this is something that has been planned for some time.  She doesn't talk about it.  People in her office say that that is the way that it is.  But that if something were breaking in this case, that potentially would change.  As far as the investigation stands right now, we know that that piece of potential evidence, the only one found so far on the island, the duct tape with the hairs on it is at the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia. 

Today the FBI tells me that they are assessing it.  They say the sample was quite small and they're deciding which way they are going to go with analyzing it.  The other part of that sample was sent to Holland for Dutch authorities to analyze and they told me that that was due to arrive yesterday.  So that already should be in place. 

Again, there's not much information is coming out on the island, Natalee's mother, Beth, has come up with a plan of her own.  She announced this much larger reward today -- $200,000 leading to Natalee's safe return and then $100,000 leading to information that would take us to her whereabouts.  It also comes with an anonymous tip line. 

Now today people, tourists, many of them spread out around this island and they put up 400 posters announcing that reward.  We also found out police have had a tip line in place for some time.  They tell us that they are still getting some tips and information on that.  But on this island it is not customary or procedural for them to also have a reward.  So this new tip line that Beth Holloway Twitty created will be in conjunction with her new reward, and she's really hoping that this helps. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY'S MOTHER:  Given the sensitive nature of this case, the person who gives the information will remain anonymous.  To secure anonymity, the person calling the tip line will receive a code, which will also be used in case a reward will be paid out. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSINSKI:  Now we've seen in our country, many times a reward is what brings people out.  The Dutch here, the Dutch authorities on Aruba just don't feel that that is something they want to get into.  But here, Beth Holloway Twitty and the family of Natalee feel that that could bring some information out. 

Now you mentioned the prosecutor being on vacation.  We have talked to her office about that many times.  Once the test results come back from the DNA from that hair sample, we are told that they will release whatever information they can, and that is entirely up to them.  They will release it through a spokesperson in the prosecutor's office here.

So just because she is not on the island doesn't mean we won't be getting information.  But again, the release of whatever information, and whatever form it is, is entirely up to her. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

KOSINSKI:  So we are just going to have to wait and see. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, I don't think that's particularly encouraging for the investigation if the lead prosecutor is saying oh you know what, even though there is this key piece of evidence that's being tested, I'm going to take a vacation.  All right, Michelle, thanks lot.  Appreciate it.

I will be talking with Beth Holloway Twitty in a moment, Natalee's mother.  But first, it's been seven and a half weeks.  Recently her family hired a private investigator from the U.S. to help in the investigation.  He joins me now.  T.J. Ward, president of Investigative Consultants joins me now. 

T.J., thanks a lot for taking the time to come on the program.  Appreciate it.  All right, so look, the Aruban authorities...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... investigating, they've got this piece of tape.  They've got the hair on it.  Are you—have you been able to get any leads that you think that maybe the Aruban authorities have not been able to get? 

T.J. WARD, HOLLOWAY PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR:  Well, at this point I've been here on the ground for about 24 hours and we've already tried to deal with the Aruban authorities, so I think it is a dead end for this private investigation is concerned.  Our goal here not only to gather new information, but to start from the beginning.  And we need to find out what happened to Natalee before we can find out where she is. 

Beth Twitty has kept a very, very good timeline that we have spent some time and gone through.  And there are a lot of people that have knowledge to this case that were not interviewed by the police.  And although we know that the law enforcement agency did not gather information from the beginning of this investigation the way they should have, so it is now time for us to try to take control in a parallel mode and gather information and interview people that may have personal knowledge of this case. 

We do know, and we believe, that the parties that are in jail now have involvement in this case.  And we have gathered information from the individuals that have personal knowledge of this case and we plan to go forth and interview...

(CROSSTALK)

WARD:  ... them and gather information.

ABRAMS:  What do you base that on?  The information about the people, the person in custody, Joran Van Der Sloot, having some connection to the case? 

WARD:  Well, we know on several occasions he has told lies.  We know that he has had communication with his father.  We know that he has had communication with the other two boys who got released out of jail.  And we know the stories are not consistent at what they are talking about.  They're not telling the truth. 

And we believe that the parties that the government has in jail now are the right parties behind bars.  It is just a matter of being able to prove and pull information.  The reward has just went out today (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we believe that there will be individuals come out who have knowledge of that, and I am sure I will be in assistance in the lead with Beth Holloway of identifying these individuals whether they're telling the truth or their story is fictitious for money. 

ABRAMS:  I certainly hope so.  Let me ask you about the Kalpoe brothers, these two guys have been released.  That means that you can go up to their house, knock on the door, see if they will talk to you.  I know you have only been there 24 hours, but is that part of the plan? 

WARD:  Well, we somewhat have to be very careful just the same way that the laws in the U.S.  If they are represented by counsel, then it would not be proper for us to try to interview them.  But there are people that they have talked to that are not represented that have knowledge to their conversations that we can identify and talk to and may give us information. 

Again, I believe the reward is going to bring people out that have personal knowledge of this information.  And we're going to take this and go forth with it.

(CROSSTALK)

WARD:  And I will turn this information over to the Twitty family and they can do what needs to be done with it. 

ABRAMS:  Have the Aruban authorities said to you anything about you know welcome, or stay away, or here are the rules?  Anything like that? 

WARD:  No, they haven't.  When we were here three weeks ago with the layered voice analysis and we attempted to try to let them use this, Ms.  Janssen asked in the paper, we went public with it that they needed new technology here in order to help solve this crime.  And we brought the layered voice analysis down here.  We shared it with the Aruban government and we shared it with the law enforcement agency. 

They said it's great equipment but we can't risk bringing this in and jeopardizing our case.  But we do have information that we were supplied from the media, interviews from some of these individuals directly...

ABRAMS:  All right.

WARD:  ... and indirectly involved and we've gathered good pertinent...

ABRAMS:  All right, T.J., good luck.  We'll be following it.  Appreciate it. 

WARD:  Thank you very much. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, Natalee Holloway's mother joins me with her reaction to the latest developments.  What does she think about the prosecutor taking a vacation?  Am I overstating this?  I don't know.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)  

ABRAMS:  Coming up, Natalee Holloway's mother increases the reward for Natalee's safe return.  She joins me, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TWITTY:  There will be a cash reward in the amount of United States dollars, $200,000 for anyone who provides information that leads to the safe return of Natalee.  For information given to the leads of the whereabouts of Natalee Holloway will receive a cash amount of United States dollars, $100,000 shall be awarded to that person who provides that information. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Well there you heard it, from Beth Holloway Twitty.  She has been on the island since right after Natalee went missing and she joins us now from Aruba.

Beth, thanks so much once again for coming back on the program.  Let me ask you about this prosecutor going on vacation.  Before we talk about the reward and I want to get into that, but does it trouble you that in the middle of the investigation, right at the point when a piece of duct tape has been found, which might have some connection to the case the lead prosecutor is going off the island on vacation? 

TWITTY:  Well, Dan, actually I had heard that—I am sure there are a couple of reasons why she departed for Holland.  But one of them was that she was actually carrying the sample that was discovered from the park ranger over the weekend.  As far as the other reasons why she was going, you know I am not aware. 

ABRAMS:  If you're comfortable, I'm comfortable.  I mean you know I need to know that you are comfortable with it, and you know then I'm going to forget about this. 

TWITTY:  Well, and I just don't...

ABRAMS:  Fair enough.

TWITTY:  ... I do know that that is one of the reasons.  But other than that, you know, she'd have to disclose that. 

ABRAMS:  Fair enough.  Let's talk about the reward.  You announced it today, $200,000 for the safe return, $100,000 for information leading to her whereabouts.  Apparently people have been putting up posters all over the island. 

TWITTY:  Oh, they have.  You know, we met some—well actually a friend of

mine that is with me met some tourists and some local citizens at the lobby

of the Wyndham and when they came back in, it was probably two, two and a

half hours later, and they were just completely drenched.  They had—I

don't know how many posters they had put up.  It was just incredible and I

·         oh I was just so grateful for them being there and ready to do that. 

ABRAMS:  Do you get the sense that there are still people on the island who don't know about the case, and as a result, that, you know, maybe this will make them aware? 

TWITTY:  No, absolutely not.  I truly think that opening up another facet of this reward—you know we always had the one for her safe return in place, but you know, opening up to have now just for disclosure of her whereabouts, you know I think that could open up some new possibilities for us.  We are so hopeful. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Can't hurt, right? 

TWITTY:  That is right. 

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you about the—this new evidence or possible evidence, duct tape, hair, being sent for DNA testing now.  Are you encouraged by that? 

TWITTY:  Well I'm—no.  I mean I'm glad—you know when I go back (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I'm just so grateful that the park ranger was observant enough to find a piece of evidence and then turn it over to the authorities.  And then it, you know, continued through the proper chain of command.  I mean that, you know, that to me is a huge sign.  And then for it to be—you know I know it's being taken to Holland now for the DNA analysis.  So, you know, I think that is very encouraging to me and I just hope that, you know, pieces of evidence are continually found. 

ABRAMS:  Are the authorities still keeping you up-to-date, still keeping you in the loop as much as they can, even though time has been passing?  Are they still as attentive as they were at the outset? 

TWITTY:  Well, you know, Jug and I were—and a couple of other family members, we were just speaking today and you know we really feel like that things could be turning around.  We are hoping that, you know, with some—we know that a new investigative—a new person is coming in—I think his name is Eric Suma (ph) and then there's another guy.  I can't think of his first name, Mr. Trump (ph).  We are looking forward to having a fresh set of eyes look at the investigation and even possibly going back to the beginning and seeing if we've missed anything.  So I mean I'm hopeful that we're going to cover it really thoroughly. 

ABRAMS:  You know I was really moved hearing you talk about the letters that you have been receiving from all over the world.  And people are sending letters that just say Natalee Holloway's mom, Aruba, and they're getting to you.  Tell us about that a little bit. 

TWITTY:  Well, I think that is incredible.  And yesterday I went to get my mail, and it is not only just—it used to come in just a bundle, maybe just with a rubber band around it.  But yesterday it was in a grocery sack, the plastic kind.  And I was just—it is just incredible the amount of mail that people are sending and their support is just phenomenal.

ABRAMS:  Do you plan on staying on the island? 

TWITTY:  Oh I'm not—you know when I speak of leaving—I mean I'm not leaving Aruba, but you know everyone knows that I have a 16-year-old child, too, and there will be a time when I'll have to take a few days.  I would have to take a leave from Aruba, but it would be very temporary and I will be right back on the island.

ABRAMS:  Beth Twitty, I can imagine what those letters look like and I told you this before because I see the letters we get that are directed to you and talk about the respect and the profound admiration that so many of my viewers have for you, which I share as well.  Thank you once again for coming back on the program.  Good luck. 

TWITTY:  Oh, thank you for having me, Dan.  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Coming up, the attorney general of California decides to brighten up his office with some paintings, asked some local lawyers to submit their artwork.  He got this.  Obviously artifact anodes (ph) are not thrilled, but some state Republicans are downright angry, saying it is anti-American.  It's my “Closing Argument”.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—the attorney general of California is learning an important lesson this week, if you want to invite a group of people to cheer up your office building with some art, ask kindergartners for a finger-painting or maybe a struggling artist looking for a space to get noticed, but you know what, don't ask lawyers.  You might get something a little controversial like this.  It is called “T'anks to Mr. Bush.”  It depicts the star-spangled map of the U.S. being flushed down a toilet.  It has caused quite a stir.  Part of an exhibit at the State Department of Justice, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer asked the group, California Lawyers for the Arts, to submit paintings.  I mean really, what did he expect asking a group of California lawyers for submissions. 

Well now it seems conservative commentators and the State Republican Party are demanding that Lockyer, a Republican, have the painting removed.  One conservative blogger has collected over 1,000 signatures, calling on Lockyer to remove it.  The state party spokeswoman says the painting is blatantly offensive to people who think that America does not belong in the toilet and that it certainly shouldn't be displayed in a state building. 

But Lockyer has an anti-censorship poster hanging in his office, is refusing.  His communications staff says he likes that it makes a point a lot of people disagree with.  He's right that it doesn't mean you endorse an artist just because a work is permitted to be shown, but I've got to tell you, I'm concerned about the quality of the art. 

The artist, California attorney Stephen Pearcy, says it took him 20 minutes to make it.  Shocker.  Look, I don't know much about art, but it doesn't look like fine art to me.  Looks more like a middle school art project gone bad.  What's up with the boots?  Once the government gets into the business of acting as art critic, there is no way to draw an appropriate line. 

How about a painting of President Bush with donkey ears or a pig nose on former President Clinton?  Would those have to be removed?  Come on, lighten up.  Criticize the painter if you want.  Don't hire him as your lawyer, but come on, this is an issue for people with too much time on their hands. 

Coming up, is it possible sex offender John Couey's roommates really didn't know he kidnapped Jessica and was sexually molesting her right in their trailer?  Most of you don't buy it.  Your e-mails are coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  I've had my say, now it's time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Last night we went over some of the disturbing facts revealed in a 852-page report about 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford's alleged abductor and murderer John Couey.  Some of the people in the house where Couey said he had held little Jessica for days admitted they knew Couey was a sex offender.  They knew Jessica was missing, but all of them said they didn't know Jessica was being kept there. 

Burr Robson from Portland, Oregon, “Give me a break.  The trailer where Jessica was kept and repeatedly molested was 400 square feet and yet the state attorney feels a jury wouldn't logically come to the conclusion that the other three in that trailer knew what was going on?  A better question would be how could the other three not hear what was going on?”

Paul from Rhode Island, “During the time Jessica was in the house, did she have to go to the bathroom?  And if so, how did she get to it without the others knowing she was there?  Therefore, the others knew she was in the house.”

Paul, Couey actually claimed that he told her to just use the closet but no physical evidence was found to support that. 

President Bush's Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, Sandra Day O'Connor's replacement.  Charlie Waters from Boynton Beach, Florida, “As a woman I urge you to raise your strong voice to reflect my outrage and question why in all good conscience a woman is not being nominated for our Supreme Court?  Is the president making the point that there is no woman in our country sufficiently disciplined and intelligent to merit consideration?” 

No, Charlie, I think he is just making the point that there is no quota.

Clyde Crockett writes, “Justice O'Connor remarking that she liked everything about Judge Roberts except he wasn't a woman indicates her intellectual breadth.  The reason she was a swing vote is because she never could get it straight.”

OK, Clyde, she was number three in her class at Stanford Law, 24 terms on the Court.  I'm sure you are right, that many are saying if only Justice O'Connor had Clyde's intellect. 

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

“OH PLEAs!”—Scotland's biggest triathlon figures it's better to be safe than sorry, insuring each athlete for over $1.5 million for the swimming portion of the race, but isn't exactly insurance against proving swimming hazards.  No, this is insurance just in case the Loch Ness monster attacks.  Some fear the splashes and noises from swimming in Loch Ness Lake may disturb old Nessie and cause the monster to act out, even bite the contenders.  The official Loch Ness monster fan club doesn't dispute that Nessie exists, but they told “The Guardian” everyone knows she is friendly and has never hurt a soul.

If they're interested, I'm happy to provide Sasquatch insurance for the running leg.

That does it for us tonight.  Coming up next, “HARDBALL”.  Thanks for watching.  See you tomorrow.

END

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