updated 7/28/2005 12:07:12 PM ET 2005-07-28T16:07:12

Guest: Tim Miller, Lincoln Gomez, Jossy Mansur, Don Clark, Edina Lekovic,

Joseph Petro, Harris Faulkner

LISA DANIELS, GUEST HOST:  Coming up, authorities in Aruba could be moments away from their biggest discovery yet in the search for Natalee Holloway. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANIELS (voice-over):  We are live at the scene where firefighters are pumping the pond that could help solve the mystery of what happened to Natalee. 

Plus, we want to do everything necessary to keep ourselves safe from terrorists, but does that include racial profiling?  Are the benefits worth alienating a group of innocent people?

And a young honeymooner goes missing on a 12-day cruise.  His disappearance thought to be an accident.  But now Connecticut‘s top federal prosecutor is involved.  Could this be a case of foul play? 

The program about justice starts right now. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DANIELS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket tonight, we‘re on the verge of what could possibly be a huge discovery in the investigation into missing Alabama teen, Natalee Holloway.  Firefighters, that is, are draining a pond in the area where a witness says he saw Joran van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers in the early morning hours after Natalee Holloway went missing.  Authorities started draining the pond last night.  They say it could take 24 hours to finish.  That means it could be any minute now that they finish. 

It was a big day in court for both the prosecution and the defense attorneys for all three suspects.  A lot of news—let‘s go right now to NBC‘s Michelle Kosinski who is standing by at the pond with the latest.  Michelle, fill us in.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Hi there.  Well we‘re still seeing this incredible operation going on.  It‘s been going on since last night.  In fact, crews today have doubled the capacity for their ability to pump this field and pond free of water but still, even at this rate, they‘re not expecting to be through until...

(VIDEO/AUDIO GAP)

KOSINSKI:  ... this is the same area where this new witness says early the morning Natalee Holloway disappeared, he spotted all three suspects parked in a car after the time that the Kalpoe brothers claim they were already at home.  This witness said he was going through the field on a cut through, a dirt road to get to a friend‘s house.  He says that the suspect‘s car was blocking the path.  He went around them very slowly, so he says he had a very good view. 

And he says when the suspects saw him they covered their faces and did not want to be seen.  So while that continues out here, we‘re also seeing developments in the courtroom.  All three suspects‘ attorneys showed up before the appeals court.  Joran van der Sloot was brought out of jail to be present for this.  What these attorneys want to do is have those DNA samples that were taken recently from all of the suspects have them thrown out. 

The attorneys say that this was just not done procedurally correctly.  He said that there were problems with the way the order was issued and was carried out and at this point, prosecutors are agreeing with them.  Prosecutors say yes there were some problems with this, so let‘s just put aside that order to take the DNA samples and we‘ll file for a new order to get the samples. 

And one of the defense attorneys says the reasons that prosecutors want these samples so badly is because they want to compare the suspect‘s DNA with male DNA that was found on Natalee Holloway‘s toothbrush inside of her hotel room.  So while we have these developments, that means that the case is moving forward in a number of ways and that gives Natalee‘s mother enormous comfort. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY‘S MOTHER:  I‘m just really encouraged that all this is happening.  It‘s like—I mean this is something we‘ve worked so hard for, for eight weeks and you know now to see, you know, we‘ve got the fire department involved.  You‘ve got the authorities out there.  I mean, you know, that‘s huge. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSINSKI:  We also have Joran van der Sloot‘s attorney in court today, asking that Joran not be moved anymore to do interrogations.  His attorney is trying to stop a judge‘s order that allows him to be taken places like the police department for questioning.  His attorney in fact says he doesn‘t want him to interrogated anymore.  He says everything this kid has already told police is all that he‘s going to say.  And we‘re expecting some rulings on all of these motions on Friday afternoon—back to you. 

DANIELS:  Michelle, has the family been down there at all where you are at the pond? 

KOSINSKI:  Well, they drive by it.  It‘s obvious to see, this is a large area and now police have put barricades all around it.  So yes, they have seen it.  They have not gotten out and looked around and supervised the operation in any way, but they do know what‘s going on.  They‘re obviously busy with other things.  They have meetings almost every day with law enforcement.  They are happy that this is going on.  They say it‘s an enormous effort on the part of investigators, but of course, you know what they‘re looking for.  They want to see if Natalee‘s body may have been placed here and that is never a happy thing for any family to have to think about. 

DANIELS:  Absolutely.  Michelle Kosinski.  Thanks so much, Michelle.  We appreciate it. 

Well EquuSearch, a Texas based team of volunteer searchers, has spent a better part of the last eight weeks going back and forth to Aruba.  They‘re combing the island for Natalee or any evidence linked towards her disappearance.  They are actually now back in Aruba, this time with ground-penetrating radar. 

Joining me now EquuSearch director and volunteer Tim Miller.  Good to have you on the show, Tim.  I know it‘s windy...

TIM MILLER, EQUUSEARCH VOLUNTEER:  Thank you.  It‘s good to be here. 

DANIELS:  Good, try not to be blown away by the wind.  I know your team searched the pond that investigators are searching right now.  You searched it when it was really just a muddy landfill.  Now the water‘s came down there.  There‘s a little bit of a pond.  But I believe that your team didn‘t find anything.  Are you going to be surprised if investigators now find a body? 

MILLER:  No.  No, I won‘t be surprised.  In fact, there was water in there before, certainly not as much as there is now.  We‘ve walked about maybe 60 percent of that pond which was two and a half, three foot deep and didn‘t come up with anything.  But then on the north end of the pond, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) probably 40 percent, it drops down to probably five or six foot deep and there‘s a lot of tree stumps and a lot of things in there that we‘re really interested in, and it‘s an area that we weren‘t able to use the side scan sonar because there‘s so much debris, an area of really dirty water that you can‘t really dive in so we really suggested pumping this pond two weeks ago. 

But I don‘t believe that would have worked out even if we would have done it then because we wanted to do that about two days before Hurricane Emily came in, so it would have just filled it back up with water, so you know, it—I think that it needs to be pumped.  I suggested it two weeks ago...

DANIELS:  That‘s interesting...

MILLER:  We saw some things over that area.

DANIELS:  Tim, why did you suggest...

MILLER:  Go ahead.  I‘m sorry.

DANIELS:  ... pumping it two weeks ago, because just now this new witness has come forward saying that that area he can place the three suspects.  That‘s why they‘re pumping the pond right now.  Why would you guys be searching it two weeks ago? 

MILLER:  Well, we knew that there was one witness two weeks ago.  We knew that for sure.  That one witness did see the three of them there and we actually, when we searched that area the very first time before we even knew anything (UNINTELLIGIBLE) witness, that‘s real early on we got here.  We did get somewhat of a foul odor.

The dogs couldn‘t find it.  I mean the wind blows so hard out here; it‘s just terrible conditions for a dog.  And we actually saw some things.  We took a backhoe in there the next morning and we dug up three areas looked like could be just possible gravesites or something.  There‘s a tremendous amount of debris and stuff that‘s dumped over there and while we had that backhoe, we moved all the debris to make sure she wasn‘t buried under that. 

DANIELS:  OK, so let‘s just clarify...

MILLER:  And we really...

DANIELS:  I want to be very clear.  You guys searched about 60 percent of the pond.  Would you agree? 

MILLER:  Yes, we did about 60 percent.  Right.

DANIELS:  And what is your gut saying right now, Tim?  Do you think they‘re going to find something there? 

MILLER:  Well, you know what, nobody wants to get their hopes up and build themselves up for disappointment.  I think it needs to be done.  If Natalee is not in there, even if maybe some of her clothes are in there or if they come up empty-handed, you know it just shows that everybody is doing everything that they can do to eliminate any areas. 

And I mean we‘re all working very hard in this and very close.  I‘m working real close with the new detective on the case, the main detective that‘s working this case, and I‘m meeting with him tomorrow morning at 9:00.  We brought a methane gas detector over here because we know that a human body releases a certain amount of methane gas if it‘s buried or even possibly in water for up to three months or more. 

DANIELS:  Are you working with the FBI...

MILLER:  So we‘ve got that...

DANIELS:  Tim, are you working with the FBI right now? 

MILLER:  We‘re not working with the—no, we‘re working with the local authorities.  Last night—right now while we‘re here and you know the FBI, they‘re working the investigation in with the authorities here.  So we don‘t want to get focused on the investigation.  We just want to do what they asked us to do...

DANIELS:  But there‘s so many teams down there, Tim...

(CROSSTALK)

DANIELS:  There‘s the Holland investigators, the FBI, the Aruban investigators, the newspaper teams, the private eyes.  You guys stepping on each other‘s toes at all? 

MILLER:  Well I mean think that we‘re fortunate because we‘re getting along with all of them.  You know it didn‘t start out exactly like that, but it really wasn‘t all that bad neither, but you know what?  We‘re the searchers.  We‘re getting support from everybody here on the island.  We‘re getting support from everybody at home and you know, as long as that support keeps up we‘re going to stay until we just can‘t do anything else and you know, everybody‘s mission, I believe is to find Natalee, take her home. 

Let this family get some closure and put their life back together.  This has been a terrible time for them, and I‘ve been through it my own self.  And just we need to all join together for one reason.  I think we‘re all doing that and you know this search is far from being over.  I do know that for a fact. 

DANIELS:  All right.  Tim Miller, we wish you the very best in your search and everyone else‘s.  Thanks so much, Tim.

Well we heard from Michelle about the latest appeals and the requests made by both the prosecution and the attorneys representing Joran van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers.  Here to help us better understand what these motions mean, Aruban attorney Lincoln Gomez.

And Lincoln, it‘s very confusing.  I guess my first question is why are Joran and the Kalpoe brothers‘ attorneys asking for the DNA evidence to be thrown out now.  We heard Michelle say it was a procedural mistake, but it seems so late in the game. 

LINCOLN GOMEZ, ARUBAN ATTORNEY:  Well, whether it‘s late in the game or not, it‘s kind of hard to tell.  But you know defense counsel are doing their best to scrutinize other procedural steps in this matter and you know, it‘s never too late in this case.  They can file the injunction and if they get what they want, the judge will throw that sample out and they will have to take new samples or follow the proper procedure, whatever that might be.

DANIELS:  Joran‘s attorneys are also making a motion to stop all these constant interrogations.  They say you interrogated him enough.  You have his answers.  Nothing is going to be accomplished by interrogating him anymore.  What‘s the likelihood that the judge is going to buy that? 

GOMEZ:  Well, I‘m not sure.  The one thing that van der Sloot has is the right not to incriminate himself and he can say that I have no more statements to say and I stick to what I‘ve said so far.  He‘s not obligated to answer, but whether or not that means that the police will be no longer to able to ask him those questions is a different story. 

DANIELS:  What about the Kalpoe brothers?  I imagine they‘re going to face some heat now.  They‘re still suspects.  Now, according to at least one witness, their alibi is crumbling.  It doesn‘t add up.  Do you think they‘re going to be facing some more questioning by police? 

GOMEZ:  Well, absolutely.  They‘ve been asked for—to give their cooperation so far because they are no longer in custody.  And as this develops, they may ask them more and more for their cooperation. 

DANIELS:  Well, cooperation is one thing, what if these guys don‘t cooperate?  No one wanted to give their saliva slabs to the investigators.  What if they say no, we don‘t want to talk.  I imagine they will say that. 

Do you think they‘re going to be hauled back in police custody? 

(CROSSTALK)

GOMEZ:  Well to the extent they don‘t cooperate, the prosecution can go out there and get court orders to get, for instance, a DNA sample and at the end of the day, if they already spent their time in custody and now they can go back to jail, but it could definitely impact—have an impact on when it‘s time to go—time to trial. 

DANIELS:  Well you know the prosecutors were trying to say, keep these Kalpoe brothers in police custody.  We need to interrogate them.  They seem to exhaust all their arguments, but again, now have you a new witness coming forward saying I saw the Kalpoe brothers outside this Racquet Club.  Another witness saying...

(CROSSTALK)

DANIELS:  ... I saw them going back and forth.  Isn‘t that enough to bring them in again? 

GOMEZ:  Yes, under our laws that will be an argument that will be presented at trial and may contribute to a possible conviction. 

DANIELS:  Yes, that‘s what I‘m worried about.  I think they‘re going to be hauled back in.  Under Aruban law—I have another question—can Joran‘s attorneys speak to these witnesses who are coming forward now?  Are they allowed?

GOMEZ:  Not at this time.  Not at this time.  We‘re still in pretrial.  When the case—and if the case does go to trial, then all the defense counsel will have the chance to go and counter question all the witnesses that have been presented so far. 

DANIELS:  OK, so private investigators hired by newspapers, they can.  We know they have.  Everyone else can, but Joran‘s attorneys and the Kalpoe brothers‘ attorneys, they are not, correct? 

GOMEZ:  I‘m sorry.  I‘m not getting any audio. 

DANIELS:  OK, can you hear me now?  All right.  We may have lost Lincoln, but we thank him so much for all those insights. 

We‘ve got a lot more coming up on what‘s happening right now in Aruba.  A lot happening as firefighters continue to pump a pond that could bring us a lot of clues about what happened to Natalee Holloway. 

Also, police in New York searching bags for select passengers riding the subway.  They say they‘re not profiling the people they select to search based on race.  The question is should they.  We‘re going to debate that coming up. 

Plus, more on that story about a missing honeymooner who mysteriously disappeared from a cruise ship.  The Connecticut attorney general is now on the case. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Bottom line is people don‘t disappear from cruise ships every day. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DANIELS:  All right.  We‘re going to hear more from him coming up.

And of course your e-mails, send them to abramsreport@msnbc.com.  Remember to include your name and where you‘re writing from.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TWITTY:  I think that it takes a while for individuals to come forward and to have that assurance and trust to know that there will not be any repercussions if they should, you know, come forward with this information.  So I‘m really encouraged that people might be stepping forward now. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DANIELS:  And that was Natalee‘s mother earlier today, her feeling on the new witnesses coming forward in the past couple of days.  We‘re still monitoring the draining of the pone in the area where two witnesses say they saw Joran van der Sloot, also the Kalpoe brothers in the early morning hours of Natalee‘s disappearance over eight weeks ago.  That draining expected to be done within the next hour or so.  We‘re keeping a close eye on that. 

Joining me now, managing editor of Aruba‘s “El Diario” newspaper, Jossy Mansur.  Jossy, what do you think of this pond being drained?  Is this it?  Is this the big break we‘re waiting for? 

JOSSY MANSUR, “EL DIARIO” MANAGING EDITOR (via phone):  Perhaps it is.  Perhaps it isn‘t.  We don‘t know.  But they‘re digging with such care and they‘re exercising so much (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  I think that the police have good leads as to what they‘re looking for. 

(CROSSTALK)

MANSUR:  Not only from the witness, but from other leads that they may have and we don‘t know of.

DANIELS:  Well let‘s not forget, Jossy, it was you who tracked down this witness.  It was all your work. 

(CROSSTALK)

DANIELS:  What else did the witness tell you?  There‘s got to be more. 

MANSUR:  If he did tell, he told it to the police.  Not to us.  I agree with you that I think there‘s more that he said to the police than he did to us.

DANIELS:  OK.  What did he tell you, Jossy? 

MANSUR:  He told us that between 2:30 and 3:00 in the morning on the 30th of May, the morning that Natalee disappeared, when he was moving from his own room to another room that‘s air conditioned, he had to drive on the dirt road by that pond that they‘re draining now and he met this car parked in the middle of the road.  He took a lot of care and he went slow (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  He had a good look inside and he saw these three suspects in there, Joran, behind the wheel, one of the Kalpoe brothers beside him and the other one in the back. 

DANIELS:  OK.  Now, we also know, I believe there‘s a woman witness, a different person than the gardener who says she saw the boys driving in and out of the Racquet Club.  Have you spoken to her? 

MANSUR:  We haven‘t spoken to her but I know what she said.  Because I spoke to the person that has spoken to her...

DANIELS:  OK, go ahead.

MANSUR:  ... and she said that about a week or 10 days afterwards, she saw the same car doing one or two turns or three turns around that same pond because it wasn‘t drained and it didn‘t have any water, and said these boys were searching for something. 

DANIELS:  Something. 

MANSUR:  Something or trying to see if something came up or whatever. 

DANIELS:  Did you speak to any other witnesses like a witness who says that they know where the body is? 

MANSUR:  No. 

DANIELS:  There‘s that witness, too, no?

MANSUR:  No.

DANIELS:  OK.  What I‘m going to do now is—and try to work with me here, Jossy—I‘m going to put up a map for our viewers because it is very confusing for us to understand what‘s going on.  I know they started at Carlos N‘ Charlie‘s.  Then what‘s out latest theory?  What‘s the working theory as to where they went next? 

MANSUR:  Well according to their statements they went to different places but the one that they (UNINTELLIGIBLE) left was from Carlos N‘ Charlie‘s.  The two Kalpoe brothers took Joran and Natalee to the beach immediately to the north of the Marriott hotel. 

DANIELS:  OK, so to the north of the Marriott hotel.  How far is that from Carlos N‘ Charlie‘s? 

MANSUR:  I think it‘s about a 25, 30-minute drive. 

DANIELS:  OK.  Then what? 

MANSUR:  Then they said that they dropped Joran and the girl there and they went home, the two Kalpoe brothers. 

DANIELS:  OK.  Now, bring in what some of the witnesses are saying? 

MANSUR:  Well what the witnesses are saying is that they saw these three kids over there between 2:30 and 3:00 in the morning and we also have the statement made to the police by Joran himself that at 2:00 a.m. he was on the beach with Natalee and with Deepak.  He doesn‘t mention Satish. 

DANIELS:  And now where does the Racquet Club fit in there?  Where is the Racquet Club?  It‘s near the Marriott.

MANSUR:  It‘s very, very near the Marriott.  It‘s across the street from the Marriott.  You can see it from the Marriott.  They have some tennis courts, et cetera, over there.  And we understand that Joran was a member of the Racquet Club so he knew that area extremely well.  He knows the area extremely well. 

DANIELS:  All right.  That definitely seems to be the focal point.  Hey, we‘re also hearing that there‘s a helicopter right now, hovering over the pond that we‘re looking at.  What do you make of all this?  It really seems all investigations—and there‘s so many right now—are focusing on this pond—a lot of resources being used to drain the pond—the helicopter right now overhead.  Give me your working theory. 

MANSUR:  Well my working theory is that based on what this witness declared and whatever else she may declared to the police that she didn‘t to us and whatever other testimony that the police have, for example, of that second witness that saw the car, drive two to three times around that pond, that they‘re contemplating based on whatever knowledge they have now on that pond. 

DANIELS:  Yes.  That definitely seems to be clear.  Jossy, you‘ve always been so good in helping us understand what‘s going on in your investigation and others.  Thanks so much.  I really appreciate it.

MANSUR:  Quite welcome. 

DANIELS:  And joining us now, retired FBI special agent Don Clark who can give us even more insight.  Don, the pond is being searched.  Within two hours, this thing could be empty.  It could be emptied within the show.  Do you think that we‘re going to find the body here?  I know you don‘t know, but what is your best bet? 

DON CLARK, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT:  Lisa, the bottom line is, whatever happens here, it‘s going to be huge.  If they find Natalee or something that‘s associated with Natalee, clearly that‘s going to be huge and this witness is going to move into the stratosphere in terms of being a key witness as this thing proceeds through.

On the other hand, if nothing happens, that‘s going to be big because it‘s going to be unfortunately a tremendous let down.  Lisa, I just want to say real quickly here is that, you know, we need to look at this thing from a management perspective of this investigation.  As I hear all of these things that‘s going out—going on there, I‘m wondering if there‘s a management structure set up to really follow. 

You‘re getting information from every piece, you‘ve got different law enforcement entities and now you‘ve got the civilian component in terms of private investigators coming in and what they are trying to do with this investigation.  And all of that may be good, but there has to be a team set up to be able to put these pieces together or at the end of the day, I‘m wondering—I know that we probably won‘t be much further than we are now. 

DANIELS:  I agree with that.  In fact, I was asking yesterday, who‘s heading up this team.  You‘ve got the Holland investigators.  The FBI is coming in.  You‘ve got newspapers with their own P.I.s working the case and they‘re all visiting the same sites over and over again.  They‘re tainting evidence. 

(CROSSTALK)

DANIELS:  What do you think?  Who‘s in charge?  Is it the FBI at this point?

CLARK:  Well I suspect that the Aruban police are in fact in paper in charge, but I know that the FBI has experience.  I ran an office here in New York and I know that those people should know how to put together a management team to manage such investigations here because it‘s really going to take that to try to put these pieces of the puzzle together because there‘s evidence all over the place or there are pieces of evidence that‘s got to be brought into this picture. 

DANIELS:  Don, help me understand this.  If the DNA evidence comes back, let‘s put aside the fight to keep it out, and let‘s just assume, a big assumption here, that the boys‘ DNA, the three suspects‘ DNA is connected to Natalee‘s toothbrush.  So what?  We knew that they were with her.  What does that tell us? 

CLARK:  Well what that tells us is, is we have another piece of this puzzle that could bring them closer to possibly being the people responsible for Natalee‘s disappearance.  But it clearly shows an association although there‘s other evidence that shows an association.  And Lisa, as you just said, just because it‘s on the toothbrush doesn‘t mean that something happened—that they caused something to happen at 3:00 in the morning.  So if they did, in fact, do that, then there has to be another piece of evidence collected someplace else to join those two together...

DANIELS:  Yes.

CLARK:  ... and it really has to keep on in that pattern to be able to make a case here. 

DANIELS:  Yes, we‘re going to need a couple more links to get them connected to this case.  Don Clark...

(CROSSTALK)

DANIELS:  ... stay with us.  We‘re going to use you again for your insight. 

We appreciate it. 

Coming up, breaking news on the space shuttle—we‘re going to have more details coming up next. 

And the NYPD checking bags in New York subway stations—the question is should they also be checking the faces of subway riders after the London subway bombings.  Is it time to start using racial profiling? 

And it was supposed to be a romantic honeymoon cruise for a Connecticut man and his wife, but somewhere between Greece and Turkey, he went missing.  Nobody knows why.  We‘re going to have the very latest on the now criminal investigation. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK) 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATY STEWART, BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND RESIDENT:  All we heard was what we thought was gunfire which turned out to be taser and we saw the kind of deflecting lights from that.  And at some point, we also heard the name Hassan shouted twice. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DANIELS:  And that was an eyewitness to today‘s key terror raid in Britain‘s second largest city, Birmingham, where police used a taser stun gun to detain this man, Yasin Hassan Omar.  He‘s‘ a 24-year-old, came to Britain as a refugee from Somalia when he was only 12.  And one of four suspects in last week‘s failed London bombing, while he‘s being interrogated, the search goes on for the three other bombers before they can strike again and other arrests were made today. 

In Birmingham, police detained three more men after smashing down the door to this home.  Another man was arrested at an airport near London before he could board a flight to France.  Also police released pictures of one of as many as 16 bombs taken from a car rented by (UNINTELLIGIBLE) suicide bombers.  And as you can see in this x-ray, look closely.  While the bomb is small, it is coded with nails that would rip their way through flesh and bone in an explosion. 

Well fear of similar attacks in the U.S. have police, passengers and passersby on edge while many Muslim Americans fear that they‘re going to be subjected to racial and religious profiling, harassed as terror suspects because of their appearance and religion.  And for more on that we go to NBC‘s Michael Okwu in Los Angeles. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL OKWU, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  It may be a sign of the times.  This week, a Manhattan sightseeing bus is evacuated.  Five foreign tourists, handcuffed and questioned after the bus operator feared they might be terrorists.  Then yesterday, pilots divert a London-bound United Airlines flight to Boston after three Pakistani passengers are reported acting suspiciously. 

SALAM AL-MARYATI, IRAQI-BORN MUSLIM:  Well, now, it‘s here we go again. 

It‘s—we know that there‘s going to be a backlash. 

OKWU:  Iraqi-born Salam Al-Maryati says after the London bombings, American Muslims prepared for the worst.  His own 10-year-old son, Zade (ph), complains people at airports fear he‘s a terrorist. 

AL-MARYATI:  The issue I think that we all feel is everyone of us becomes a suspect.

OKWU (on camera):  The question is are we all over reacting or is the American public in a quandary?  After all, our own government has repeatedly said, be vigilant.  And right or wrong, most people think they have an idea what to be vigilant for. 

(voice-over):  Experts say intelligence stops terrorism, not individual profiling.  But many argue when Middle Eastern men are so often the perpetrators, it‘s natural to suspect them, a sentiment expressed with controversy by Washington, D.C. talk radio host Michael Graham.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Islam is a terrorist organization that is in the process of murdering people to achieve its terror goals. 

OKWU:  Attitudes like that plus a frightened public on the lookout for possible bombers could make for a volatile mix. 

ELSA LEE, COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT:  The general population is going to be swayed in a direction where they are going to be looking for a certain look of what they think a terrorist is.  We need to train ourselves on what to look for and what to report. 

OKWU:  A plane rerouted.  Innocent people humiliated.  Racist or reasonable?  Baseless or unnecessary evil? 

Michael Okwu, NBC News, Los Angeles. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DANIELS:  All right.  So that‘s the question.  Is it time to start profiling right here in the U.S.? 

Joseph Petro is a former Secret Service agent and the author of this book “Standing Next to History: An Agent‘s Life in the Secret Service”.  Also joining us Edina Lekovic is the communications director for the Muslim‘s Public Affairs Council.  A big thank you to both of you for coming on the show.

Edina, let me start with you.  Is racial profiling ever...

(AUDIO GAP)

EDINA LEKOVIC, MUSLIM PUBLIC AFFAIRS COUNCIL:  Racial profiling is not justified.  Heightened security, heightened parameters and standards by which to examine individuals is.  We realize that there is a heightened security initiative across this country and Muslim Americans are actively engaged in that process as well.  Muslim Americans... 

DANIELS:  OK, but why...

(CROSSTALK)

DANIELS:  Why—let‘s go back to racial profiling.  Why is that so bad? 

LEKOVIC:  Racial profiling is bad bottom line because it just doesn‘t work.  You‘re not going to catch folks like Jose Padilla, like Richard Reid the shoe bomber, or any of these folks.  One of the London bombers was a Caribbean.  These people are going to slip through the cracks if we‘re just looking for a racial or a religious profile. 

DANIELS:  The argument...

LEKOVIC:  There are better ways of doing it. 

DANIELS:  OK, here‘s the argument.  Sure, we‘re not going to catch everyone using racial profiling, but we‘re going to have a large net cast and we‘re going to catch a lot of them.

LEKOVIC:  Right.  But we‘re walking on a high wire here.  We‘re trying to balance on a high wire here between national security and civil liberties and for Muslim Americans, there is no net to catch us.  If you subject Muslim Americans across the board to heightened security and to racial profiling while you—racial profiling has not proven itself to work yet.  If I were convinced of that, my opinion would be very different.  The data doesn‘t suggest...

(AUDIO GAP)

LEKOVIC:  Instead what it does is it alienates the very people we need most in this war on terrorism and that is Muslim Americans who are working actively to launch their own anti-terrorism campaign. 

DANIELS:  All right.  So you‘re saying it just doesn‘t work.  You want to see more empirical evidence that it does.  Joseph, does it work? 

JOSEPH PETRO, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT:  Well I attend to agree.  I‘m not sure it does work.  I don‘t think that racial profiling is a good thing.  Although I have to say there‘s been a tension for many may many years between security and civil liberties.  I think U.S. law enforcement has worked very hard over many years to eliminate racial profiling and I think they‘re still trying to do that. 

I think what we‘re seeing today is the general public is—has not caught up to that.  They realize the stakes are very high here if someone slips through, that there could be a tremendous loss of life and I think there‘s a general apprehension around the country.  I think people are much more attentive than they‘ve ever been.  They‘re reporting much more suspicious activity than they ever have.  And unfortunately, many of them are reporting Arab-looking young men. 

DANIELS:  OK...

PETRO:  ... that‘s the fact.

DANIELS:  ... but we do live, Joseph in a very...

(AUDIO GAP)

DANIELS:  ... things that people think and there are things that people say.  Do you think that most people in America, if you really talk to them are for racial profiling in this war on terror? 

PETRO:  I can‘t speak for the country but I would think that most people would not be in favor of racial profiling.  We‘ve had some very bad incidents of that here in this country over the years.  And I‘m not sure anyone‘s prepared for that to return.  I think the concern today is over the seriousness of this and the general public‘s awareness of what‘s around them now.  You see it in New York all the time now.  I live in New York and there are many more suspicious activities being reported and the police have to respond to them.  They have to respond in a way that‘s appropriate...

DANIELS:  All right...

PETRO:  I think what occurred on—the other day in New York—I think the police did act—responded appropriately and given the information they had at hand. 

DANIELS:  So, let me just be clear.  Joseph, you agree with Edina?  You‘re not sure if it works?

PETRO:  Oh, I agree with her.  I don‘t think racial profiling is a good thing.  I think we have to—someone mentioned earlier on the show here that intelligence is what‘s going—is going to find these terrorists, not racial profiling. 

DANIELS:  All right, so since we have two guests that agree so much, let me play the devil‘s advocate even though this may not be what I think.  But I think some people would say, hey, look at the war on terror, look at the suspects, those included in 9/11 and those after.  If you take a photo of them, most of them are of Mid-Eastern descent.  Won‘t we have a better tool if we stop those people rather than Lisa‘s grandmother at the train station, ask those people to open up their bags.  Joseph? 

PETRO:  Well, I—yes, I think that—and I think that‘s what you‘re seeing around the country.  That people have watched the news reports.  They know the facts.  They know that most of these terrorist acts are being committed by young Arab males.  There have been a few females in the Middle East.  You know this is the profile that‘s been established...

DANIELS:  So why not use that profile?  That‘s the argument.

PETRO:  Well because I‘m not sure it works.  I mean you can‘t stop every Arab, young Arab male in the United States and search them.  I mean it‘s just not—it‘s not a workable option... 

LEKOVIC:  Lisa, can I add something here?

DANIELS:  Go ahead, Edina.

LEKOVIC:  Well I would just say that, you know, terrorists aren‘t stupid.  We can call them a lot of things and hardened criminals is what we choose to call them, psychopathic killers, but they‘re not stupid.  And people—none of the 19 hijackers of 9/11 were flagged during security.  They got through security.  They didn‘t bring anything on.  They made it through two rounds of security.  That‘s not—terrorists can be chameleons better than anybody else.

That‘s part of their game.  So what we need to do is profile based on behavior, suspicious behavior and other characteristics.  Some of those have been outlined and that‘s, you know, we need to go after intelligence and we need to go about this war in an intelligent fashion.  The cheap band-aid fixes aren‘t going to work. 

DANIELS:  OK, Joseph Petro...

PETRO:  Well I would...

DANIELS:  We‘re actually out of time...

PETRO:  OK.

DANIELS:  ... but I appreciate your insight so much.  Thanks so much. 

Coming up, NASA says it‘s grounding its shuttle fleet because of foam that came off the shuttle‘s fuel tank after it launched.  We‘re going to get some late-breaking details coming up. 

Also, a young newlywed goes missing on his honeymoon cruise.  Now somebody else on board says she saw blood on the deck.  And a top federal prosecutor says the newlywed could be the victim of foul play.  The latest on the investigation.  That is next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DANIELS:  Coming up, a Connecticut man on his honeymoon goes missing on a cruise ship.  Authorities believe he could be the victim of foul play.  We‘re going to have the latest on that case, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO/AUDIO GAP)

CHARLES HADLOCK, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  ... figure out exactly what is causing this problem.  I have a model of the external tank and this is where the...

(AUDIO GAP)

HADLOCK:  It came from an area right along in here and that is what you see in that image that we‘ve been playing over and over.  That piece of chunk of foam flying away.  It came off of this piece right here and of course there‘s no way to tell because this external tank falls into the Indian Ocean upon reentry so there‘s no way to retrieve the tank to find out exactly what is wrong so they just have to rely on these thousands of photographs they have been taking.  And that‘s what‘s unusual.  This could have been happening through the course of the shuttle program.  This is the first time they‘ve had cameras where they‘re located to see such an event.  Once they saw it today, they realized, we‘ve got to ground the fleet until we know it‘s safe, Lisa. 

DANIELS:  All right.  Charles Hadlock with that breaking news.  Thanks so much, Charles. 

HADLOCK:  You bet.

DANIELS:  A young newlywed goes missing on his honeymoon cruise.  Now somebody else on board said she saw blood on the deck.  Could it be a case of foul play?  We‘re going to have the very latest on the investigation.  That is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DANIELS:  It‘s been more than three weeks since newlywed George Allen Smith, IV just vanished from a cruise ship where he was honeymooning with his new bride.  Concerns about Smith‘s whereabouts are growing. 

Reporter Logan Byrnes of NBC Hartford station WVIT has the story. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We have reason to believe that there could have been foul play here. 

LOGAN BYRNES, WVIT REPORTER (voice-over):  U.S. Attorney Kevin O‘Connor says the FBI and his office are heading up the U.S. investigation in conjunction with Turkish and Greek authorities into the disappearance of 26-year-old George Smith IV.  The Greenwich resident vanished July 5 during his honeymoon aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise somewhere between Turkey and Greece. 

KEVIN O‘CONNOR, U.S. ATTORNEY, DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT:  It‘s an active investigation.  A lot of work is going into it in terms of cooperating with, you know, international and national authorities. 

BYRNES:  Smith had just wed 25-year-old Cromwell native Jennifer Hagel in a ceremony in Newport, Rhode Island.  Turkish officials say the two had spent the evening in question drinking heavily and gambling at the ship‘s casino.  The next morning, bloodstains were spotted in the cabin, as well as a handprint on the side of the ship.  That prompted Turkish officials to request blood samples from Smith‘s relatives for comparison. 

O‘CONNOR:  Just the fact that this individual has disappeared and there does not appear to be a plausible explanation being given at this point. 

BYRNES:  Other passengers have also described hearing loud male voices arguing in Smith‘s cabin and then a horrific thud.

O‘CONNOR:  There are a lot of stories going on what happened that night. 

But at the end of the day, I don‘t want to jump to any early conclusions. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DANIELS:  And that was Logan Byrnes reporting. 

Joining us now “A Current Affair” correspondent Harris Faulkner, and back with us, a familiar face, former FBI special agent, Don Clark.  Good to have you both. 

So, let‘s start with you Harris.  I understand you have some new information.  What is it?

HARRIS FAULKNER, “A CURRENT AFFAIR” CORRESPONDENT:  Well one of the places where they found blood on the ship was the bloody overhang outside the couple‘s cabin.  Well today we talked with the young passenger who took a photograph that the FBI has yet to even ask for, of that bloody overhang.  It‘s pretty amazing.  She‘s only 16 years old and you know what she said to me?  She thought it might be evidence. 

I mean this is a whole new generation that we have here keeping its eyes open for crime.  And she was absolutely right about that.  It‘s an amazing picture that shows quite a bit of blood on that overhang.  And of course that would be the third place where authorities now say they found blood.  Again, inside the cabin, on the hand railing of their balcony and now that bloody overhang. 

DANIELS:  OK.  So we have a teenager, a Nancy Drew basically, who sees something suspicious, says hey, this doesn‘t look right, I‘m going to take a picture.  And you‘re telling me that the FBI has yet to ask for that photo? 

FAULKNER:  Right.  Now that‘s point number one.  Another thing, Lisa, which I think is interesting, she and her older sister, Sarah, 18 years old, went to their mom, mom said oh my goodness, OK, let me go right away to the front desk of the ship in the middle of the cruise, the morning of July 5.  George Allen Smith had just vanished.

She gets to the front desk and she says, Lisa, this is what we have.  And they say OK, well let‘s take your cabin name and number down and we‘ll call you.  Five full days later they slip a note under the door, a letter saying we kind of want to talk to you about that.  Our Royal Caribbean lawyers would like to speak with you about that.  And then that was the end of it. 

DANIELS:  Hindsight, of course, is 20/20.  Let me bring in Don.  Don, does this sound like a sloppy investigation in its making or...

(CROSSTALK)

DANIELS:  ... you know, there are things to be done, we‘re going to get to it? 

CLARK:  Yes, this doesn‘t sound like somebody that‘s really giving an investigation precedence here.  But you know, I don‘t know if those things exist or not.  But I can tell you what, Lisa, we‘ve gone through a case like this 20 years ago when I was a young supervisor in Newark, we handled Achille Lauro and you might recall that case and while it was terrorists involved in that, in terms of gathering evidence and being able to talk to everybody who could have possibly had something to do with that, that‘s what we went through right in Newark, New Jersey.  I suspect that that type of activity should be going on if the—from the U.S. aspect if they are going to investigate this case thoroughly. 

DANIELS:  OK, but big difference here, Don, unlike that case, the first people on the scene are the Royal Caribbean attorneys.  Is this scene now tainted by the cruise ship who has its own motive?  Those people, of course, want to protect the cruise ship and the company.

CLARK:  Yes, I understand that and I understand that makes it difficult.  But nonetheless, while they are trying to protect or not, as soon as the authorities can get there, there will still be evidence.  But one thing that is important is that perhaps some of your greatest evidence is going to come from talking to everybody that...

FAULKNER:  Absolutely.

CLARK:  ... could have conceivably had something to do or been associated with that.

DANIELS:  All right.  What about the wife, Harris, Jennifer Hagel?  Any suspicion on her?

FAULKNER:  Well this is a grieving bride and I think that‘s where we kind of have to leave this unless there is some evidence.  We can tell you that the morning that she woke up authorities have reported that she told him that she had no idea that her groom was missing from the room.  You know one more thing about the witnesses coming forward, the passengers and all this, Lisa, because I think he makes a really good point about this. 

That‘s where so much of your evidence is going to come.  Because this is a moving crime scene now.  So you‘ve got to talk with those passengers.  So many of them have contacted “A Current Affair” because we‘ve put the word out we want to talk with them.  And now you know from talking with the Redland (ph) deputy police chief, Cleat Hyman (ph), that some of them have not even been contacted by the FBI and they have some interesting information.  Mr. Hyman (ph) and his wife, in the cabin very next door to the Smiths, who heard some loud noises the night...

DANIELS:  Yes.

FAULKNER:  ... it sounded like a couch going off the balcony in the early morning hours...

DANIELS:  This investigation is just getting started. 

(CROSSTALK)

CLARK:  Lisa...

DANIELS:  Harris Faulkner, thanks so much.  Don Clark, got to go.  We‘ll be right back.

CLARK:  You bet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DANIELS:  And that does it for us tonight.  Stay tuned to MSNBC throughout the evening for the very latest on the search for Natalee Holloway.  If authorities do find any new clues we‘re going to bring them to you. 

And for more on the missing newlywed be sure to tune in to “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”.  That‘s at 10:00 Eastern.  Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. 

Have a great night.

END

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