updated 9/15/2005 11:21:45 AM ET 2005-09-15T15:21:45

Guests: Steve Gallodoro, James Cobb, Alan Dershowitz, John Baker, Wendy

Long, Beth Holloway Twitty, Jeff Duncan

DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, Louisiana prosecutors say they‘re going after anyone responsible for avoidable deaths in New Orleans‘ hospitals and nursing homes. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS (voice-over):  The first arrest, the owners of a nursing home charged with 34 counts of negligent homicide.  Their lawyer joins us and we‘ll talk to a firefighter whose father died there. 

Plus, we‘ve heard the horror stories, but what does the Superdome look like now?  We go inside with one of the only people allowed in since it was evacuated. 

And Joran van der Sloot is in school in the Netherlands, the key suspect in Natalee Holloway‘s disappearance out of jail and out of Aruba.  We‘ll talk with Natalee‘s mother live. 

The program about justice starts now.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  New Orleans‘ mayor, Ray Nagin, saying he wants to open parts of the city affected by flooding, at least the least parts, as early as Monday and yet, still warning about the dangers of the water in other parts. 

MSNBC‘s Lisa Daniels is in New Orleans.  She joins us now.  Hi, Lisa. 

LISA DANIELS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Hi Dan.  There are signs besides that that New Orleans is trying to get back to normal.  A quick example for you, you‘ll remember when you were down here just a couple days ago that you basically ignored the traffic signals, doesn‘t matter if it‘s a one-way street or not.  If there isn‘t a tree in the middle of the road or an abandoned car, you can go on that street. 

Well we were traveling around in our car and what happened was a cop pulled us over and said starting right now, the traffic signs are going to be obeyed and he said I know it looks like there‘s a lot of debris here, but we have to get the city back under control.  I think you‘re seeing a lot of traffic for this time in New Orleans, a lot more compared to the last two weeks. 

Now as you mentioned, there are signs on the ground that the situation is improving, again New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, saying that the Business District and the French Quarter may open as early as Monday.  That is much quicker than first expected.  He says he is waiting for official word and then he will give the go-ahead.  The EPA just has to clear that the air is safe, that these conditions are sanitary.  But this comes as welcomed news for so many of the residents here. 

You remember that they were so fearful that they were going to be forcibly evacuated.  Officials were saying that any day now, they would be removed and now comes word that maybe even on Monday new residents who had fled this area may be coming back, and again, business owners even on the street.  We‘re not standing in the central of the business district, but along this street there have been signs of people coming back, checking out their businesses.

Just a couple of minutes ago, we just missed it, but people were grooming that area.  Let me just look at the number, that 840 building.  They were taking their brooms and sweeping it away and the people we talked to said there was no damage, no water damage whatsoever.  They just need power and they are good to go.  Now that said, there are daily reminders that the situation is not improving in certain sections, the searching for the bodies continues and we have some new video to show you where officers are going door to door, their forensic team, searching for any type of remains and they‘re conducting that search in a very organized systematic way. 

But again, the search is just so sad and even though every day we reported to you—remember, we‘re talking about mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and you don‘t get to see that here on the ground because people are so optimistic that the district, both the French Quarter and the Business District seems to be getting some life back into them—

Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Lisa, all right, so the French Quarter not really impacted by the water.  Any update on the status of the water level in some of the areas that were impacted by it? 

DANIELS:  Well, I can tell you especially in the downtown area, the water has gotten so much less.  Just a few days ago, we were looking at—it was a traffic signal and I remember one of the photographers was saying that the water had come to his waist.  There is no more water.  The hot hair and the humidity—remember it‘s like in the mid 90‘s today—have evaporated that water and so what you‘re left with is this horrendous smell, really intense. 

ABRAMS:  Yes. 

DANIELS:  It‘s the worst it has been since the 10 days I‘ve been here, but that is a sign that the water is receding because the sewage is rising to the surface—Dan. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Lisa Daniels.  Thanks very much. 

While President Bush is taking responsibility on a federal level for government mistakes in handling the aftermath of Katrina, Louisiana‘s attorney general is assigning some specific blame.  He‘s charged the two owners of a nursing home in New Orleans with multiple counts of negligent homicide for the deaths of 34 elderly and disabled residents who died in the floodwaters there.  We‘ll talk to the attorney for the nursing home‘s owners in a moment.  Last night on the show, Attorney General Charles Foti did his first interview and explained why he brought the charges. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES C. FOTI, JR., LOUISIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL:  They had a duty and a standard of care to people that could not care for themselves.  If you or I decided we are going to stay, we do it of our own free will.  We could have gone, but we decided not to do.  The people in the nursing home don‘t have that choice, unless their family members are able to come and get them, if they have family members.  Then they are really at the mercy of the people who are running the institution who are charged with the duty to protect them. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Joining me now by phone is Steve Gallodoro whose 82-year-old father died at St. Rita‘s Nursing Home.  He‘s also a firefighter in St.  Bernard‘s Parish.  Thanks a lot, Steve, for coming on and we are so sorry about your father‘s death. 

STEVE GALLODORO, FATHER DIED AT ST. RITA‘S NURSING HOME (via phone): 

Thank you, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you, Steve, about the conversations that you had with the people at St. Rita‘s before the hurricane hit. 

GALLODORO:  Approximately two days before the storm, we knew it was tracking to hit New Orleans and we made preparations to get our families out of harm‘s way.  I was activated, knew I would be held in the fire department services so I made arrangements for my family.  My father is one of my family members.  In consulting with my sister and my brother, my sister had large concern of leaving him back. 

I went to talk with Sal Mangano and he assured me that they had an evacuation plan upon mandatory evacuation that they were going to transport all of the patients at the nursing home to either Baton Rouge or Alexandria.  He assured us that he was going to have a full staff on hand and the necessary buses to do the transport and that they would be safe.  I tried to assure my sister that it would be better to have the professionals handle him, that we could not provide the medical assistance that my father needed to make the trip of that many hours on the road. 

ABRAMS:  And so Steve—so they tell you that they can‘t take that sort of trip.  Your father can‘t take that sort of trip, and yet, you say that when you objected at one point, that the response you got was well, we‘ve endured these hurricanes before, the levee won‘t break.

GALLODORO:  Well, he told me that the morning that they did the mandatory evacuation, after my family had left the parish and I was the only one in because of being a firefighter, the morning they gave the mandatory evacuation, I cleared up some time and went down to the nursing home and asked them if they needed assistance in loading the buses, that I would get some personnel over there.  I was informed at that time that they had made a decision to stay, that the levees would hold, and that they never had water in that area before. 

I was not happy with that answer.  I was called on my radio to report to a location in Chalmette to assist in loading evacuees who had no means out of the parish and I went up there and we loaded seven buses with people who didn‘t have transportation out, some of them had medical needs, some of them were in wheelchairs.  We had to provide special transportation for them and I remarked to two of the councilmen that St. Rita was staying and that I wasn‘t happy with that and they told me that they had offered transportation and manpower to load the buses and St. Rita‘s refused to evacuate. 

ABRAMS:  Well let me ask you, when they said to you oh you know what, we‘re just going to stick it out, the levees haven‘t broken before.  What were you thinking? 

GALLODORO:  I was angry.  They had made a promise to the families that they had a plan in place that they would not stay for the storm, that they were going to move them to safe ground and I personally couldn‘t force that but I was seeking some authority that could. 

ABRAMS:  What do you think of the fact that the owners of the nursing home have been criminally charged now? 

GALLODORO:  I‘m going to leave that up to the judicial system, to the jury, to the judge to decide.  I personally believe that they were negligent, that they made a very bad decision.  I don‘t believe they had that option.  They had to submit an evacuation plan to the state of Louisiana when they got their license and their permitting and it‘s not just simply submitting a plan.  It‘s adhering to the plan and getting those people out of harm‘s way and they didn‘t do that. 

The only reason I‘m talking to any reporters, it‘s not very easy for me to do this, but if I can avoid a situation like this happening again, if no other family members have to lose a loved one because an administrator or an owner decides not to evacuate, then maybe what I‘m doing right now is worth it. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Steve Gallodoro.  Thank you for coming on the program.  Thank you for all the work that you‘re doing in that area and again, I speak for my viewers when I say our thoughts are with you. 

GALLODORO:  Dan, can I give one more remark? 

ABRAMS:  Please. 

GALLODORO:  I know you‘re going to have James Cobb, the attorney for the Manganos on the show, and I know he‘s going to do an excellent job in representing them.  I only wish that the Manganos would have done an excellent job in taking care of the people that they were charged to take care of.  And thank you for having me on the show. 

ABRAMS:  Thank you, Steve. 

GALLODORO:  All right. 

ABRAMS:  All right, joining me now is James Cobb, the attorney for St.  Rita‘s Nursing Home owners, Mable and Salvador Mangano.  Thanks a lot for taking the time.

JAMES COBB, ATTORNEY FOR NURSING HOME OWNERS:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  You‘ve heard Steve Gallodoro tell a story of warning the people at St. Rita‘s, of talking to them about their evacuation plan and then by the end they said (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you know what, the water won‘t break.  We‘ll be OK.

COBB:  Well, Dan, thanks for this opportunity.  Let me first say to Steve, who I don‘t know, my personal condolences to him, his family and everybody else.  That was a very moving interview that you just did.  It‘s a terrible tragedy.  Person-to-person, I‘m sorry, sorry for your loss.  With respect to the hurricane evacuation plan, we had a plan of record.  It was filed as it had to be filed under state law into the Department of Health and Hospitals.  It was filed in St. Bernard Parish.  The call for evacuation based upon a mandatory order.  My folks have told me that that mandatory order was never received or communicated and that‘s why the mandatory evacuation was not effectuated. 

ABRAMS:  But it does sound like...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... like Steve is telling a different story, meaning he says he spoke to...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Right.  I mean he says he spoke to the people, the owners of the nursing home, told them—they clearly knew about the mandatory evacuation, he says, and that they decided (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you know what we‘re just going to stick it out. 

COBB:  Well I would sort of object to the characterization that oh, we just decided we‘re going to stick it out.  I have no—all I can say is my information is different from what Steve has said.  That will come out at the end of the day in the discovery process, as you know, and the facts are going to be what the facts are. 

My objection is that this conduct that took place, this decision that these folks had to make does not rise to the level of a criminal charge under the law of the state of Louisiana period.  And I think General Foti knows that and that I think it‘s unfair, certainly the civil process will address any damages, if any, that anybody has sustained. 

But to charge these folks, and I think part of the reason why Steve had his dad there and all the other residents at St. Bernard Parish had their loved ones there is because Sal and Ms. Mable cared about those folks and they know that, and this was not a decision that was anything but the best interest of everybody...

ABRAMS:  Let me do this...

(CROSSTALK)

COBB:  Not a single person has said anything other than our folks were good caring folks.

ABRAMS:  Let me do this.  I‘m going to take a break.  I‘m going to come back.  We‘re going to talk more about this on the other side of the break.  I also want to play you some of what the attorney general had to say.  So if you could stick around that would be great. 

Plus later on in the program, breaking news out of Aruba, two big rulings in Natalee Holloway‘s disappearance.  This nearly two weeks after Joran van der Sloot was released from jail.  We‘ll talk with Natalee‘s...

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FOTI:  What we‘re talking about is they were warned, both by the media, by the St. Bernard Office of Emergency Preparedness.  We had people like call them and alleged they had buses ready to move them.  They did not move them.  They had a contract with Acadian Ambulance to move people.  They never called them and they never tried—to the best of our knowledge, they never tried to move them. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  That‘s Louisiana attorney general on the program last night, talking about the charges of negligent homicide.  Thirty-four counts filed against the owners of a nursing home where 34 people died in flooding in New Orleans.  The A.G. saying the nursing home was warned of the danger, that they should have evacuated the elderly and disabled patients. 

Joined again by James Cobb, the attorney for the owners of that nursing home, Mable and Salvador Mangano.  What exactly do they say happened?  I mean is there claim basically, we didn‘t think we could transport all these people safely? 

COBB:  Well, their claim is a couple things.  One, that we were—our plan called for us to evacuate upon an order from civilian authorities for a mandatory evacuation.  My information is that that order was not communicated.  If you take a look at Dr. Pertisi‘s (ph) statement I think on your air and in the media, he called and volunteered buses before there was any alleged mandatory evacuation order.  A voluntary order is not—a voluntary evacuation is not mandatory.  If they had gone mandatory, if the parish had gone mandatory, they show up at the place with a couple of buses and the sheriff‘s deputies and we put folks on buses and we leave. 

The problem, Dan, is that if you go voluntary under this situation, as has happened in this storm, nursing home residents die in buses.  In this evacuation, 20 patients from Friend Crest Manor (ph) in New Orleans died in the buses.  Last year for Ivan, dozens died in voluntary evacuations, so it‘s a very difficult spot to be in...

ABRAMS:  Let me ask...

COBB:  You know in our facility...

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you this...

COBB:  ... in our facility we had a number of critically ill patients who couldn‘t sit up.  If you put them on a bus, you know you‘re going to lose on the front end multiple patients.

ABRAMS:  Did the owners...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Did the owners stay there through the storm?

COBB:  I‘m so glad you asked that question.  The owners, Sal and Ms.  Mable, their children, their grandchildren, their nieces and their nephews, all of whom live next door adjacent to the facility, rode the storm out with their residents 100 percent of the time, never left.  When the wall of water came because the protection levee—that‘s a funny name that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers uses for it—the protection levee failed and the wall of water came into the facility and Mr. Sal, his children, his grandchildren, his nephews, saved 52 lives.  That doesn‘t sound like negligent homicide from where I sit Dan.

ABRAMS:  But what happened with the other 34? 

COBB:  Well obviously the other 34 couldn‘t be saved and they couldn‘t be saved not because of a failure to evacuate, but the proximate cause of this accident, the storm had passed the facility.  The storm had passed.  The wind had shifted to the northwest.  The Manganos had gone outside to check the storm damage. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

COBB:  It wasn‘t raining.  All of a sudden, a six-foot wall of water comes rushing down the highway.  The facility fills with water to 10 feet in 15 to 20 minutes.  You can imagine the harrowing experience that all of these folks lived through and I think their actions are heroic.

ABRAMS:  If you could just stick around for a minute I want to bring in my panel, former Louisiana state prosecutor and Louisiana State University law professor John Baker and Harvard Law Professor and sometimes defense attorney Alan Dershowitz.  He‘s written a new book called “The Case For Peace: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can Be Resolved.”

Alan, this seems like a hard case for me for the prosecutors to win.  I mean you‘ve got all of these people who are to blame for various things, for the levees bursting, for the fact that people weren‘t warned earlier, the fact that FEMA didn‘t come faster.  All of these people are being blamed and yet, these owners of this nursing home are basically being told you‘re the ones who are going to be criminally responsible. 

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR:  This is a case of scapegoating, clear and simple.  People died, somebody has to get blamed and these are the people who are being blamed.  This is a case in which prosecutorial discretion should have been exercised, never to bring a prosecution.  You don‘t prosecute people because they made choices which in retrospect turned out to be wrong, if they did turn out to be wrong.  You don‘t prosecute people if they didn‘t intend some evil consequence.  They didn‘t have the mens rea.

ABRAMS:  But that‘s what negligent...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... that‘s what...

(CROSSTALK)

DERSHOWITZ:  Negligence, that‘s civil.  Negligence is generally civil...

(CROSSTALK)

DERSHOWITZ:  ... in most jurisdictions...

ABRAMS:  But not in Louisiana, they‘ve got negligent homicide...

(CROSSTALK)

DERSHOWITZ:  I understand that and negligent homicide requires an exercise of discretion.  You should require before you convict somebody of homicide that he stood there and did the to be or not to be.  Today, do I cross the line and become a serious felon and that didn‘t happen here.  It shouldn‘t depend on what. 

What if everything had happened the way it had happened but the levee had held.  Would these people have been prosecuted for reckless disregard or negligence?  No.  It‘s the fact that the levee broke, which is something they couldn‘t have anticipated...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

DERSHOWITZ:  ... and I don‘t believe this is an appropriate case for prosecution...

ABRAMS:  Professor Baker, what do you make...

DERSHOWITZ:  I think this is scapegoating. 

ABRAMS:  Professor Baker.

JOHN BAKER, FORMER LOUISIANA PROSECUTOR:  I agree that it‘s a very tough case, as you said, Dan, but negligent homicide cases are always tough cases.  I would say that based on what I heard General Foti say—he at least has probable cause to bring the indictment.  But listening to the defense attorney, this is going to be a very tough case. 

The real question is whether the defense attorney and the court and the jury understand what the proper legal standard is regarding criminal negligence.  Criminal negligence has been a problem for courts all over the country and in some case—in some states, there‘s criminal negligence on what is almost a civil...

ABRAMS:  Right.

BAKER:  ... standard want but not in Louisiana. 

(CROSSTALK)

BAKER:  Even though the statute itself, the language is not great, it basically has to be recklessness in Louisiana. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right.

ABRAMS:  Let‘s make it a little simpler.  Here‘s how the A.G, basically sort of boiled it down on the program yesterday. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FOTI:  The pathetic thing is in this case, once again is that they were asked if they wanted to move them.  They refused to move them.  They had a contract to move them.  They did not. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  That was from the press conference.  What about that, Professor? 

BAKER:  Well that‘s why it‘s close and this is a highly regulated industry.  So the fact that they had regulations, they had a plan or they didn‘t follow through with it will be a big part of the prosecution case.  On the other hand, under Louisiana law, the fact that one has violated a regulation or statute is not, per se, criminal negligence. 

ABRAMS:  I got to...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Mr. Cobb, final 15 seconds. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Let me let Mr. Cobb (UNINTELLIGIBLE) yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh sure.

COBB:  Yes, but the definition of Louisiana is gross negligence, willful and wanton, disregard of the safety of others.  How can they prove gross negligence and willful and wanton disregard of the safety of others when they saved 52 lives?  It‘s preposterous. 

ABRAMS:  Well, I mean look...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... saving 52 lives, I mean after the fact, I don‘t think answers the question.  I mean if they...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Wait...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Wait...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Wait...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Wait...

COBB:  It does.

ABRAMS:  If they should have put people on buses and they should have called the ambulances before the storm, the fact that they later were able to save 52 of the people, none of whom they should have had to save, is not the answer. 

(CROSSTALK)

COBB:  But what General Foti has said on your air, which is an incorrect statement of the law, is that we deviated from the standard of care.  The law in Louisiana is the state is required to show more than a mere deviation...

ABRAMS:  All right.

COBB:  ... from the standard of ordinary care in order to get the criminal negligence...

(CROSSTALK)

DERSHOWITZ:  Imagine what would have happened if they had put them on the buses, they had died...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

DERSHOWITZ:  ... some of them, and then the levee hadn‘t broken. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Yes...

DERSHOWITZ:  They would still be prosecuted for negligence.  You can‘t be prosecuted for negligence if either decision you make leads to that result.

ABRAMS:  Got to wrap it up.  James Cobb and John Baker, thank you so much.

COBB:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Appreciate it.  Alan Dershowitz is going to stay with us.

(CROSSTALK)

COBB:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, we go inside the Superdome with one of the only people allowed in since they evacuated the thousands who suffered there for days in Katrina‘s wake. 

And Judge John Roberts back on the hot seat.  Senator Biden accuses him of engaging in a kabuki dance.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, senators grill the man who will likely be the next Supreme Court chief justice about his views on the death penalty, right to die, even his favorite movies.  Did he give any answers?  First the headlines.

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE:  With all due respect, you‘ve not—look, this is—it‘s kind of interesting, this kabuki dance we have in these hearings here.  As if the public doesn‘t have a right to know what you think about fundamental issues facing him. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I understood the end part.  I don‘t know exactly what a kabuki dance looks like.  But a frustrated Senator Joseph Biden, a Delaware Democrat, unable to get Supreme Court-nominee John Roberts to say on the record what he thinks about a variety of issues that he might consider on the court.  Other Judiciary Committee Democrats also complaining that Roberts is refusing to answer the tough questions as his confirmation hearings wind up second day.  Committee Republicans praised Roberts‘ performance and Roberts defended himself. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE JOHN ROBERTS, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE:  I think I have been more forthcoming than any of the other nominees.  I have taken what I think is a more pragmatic approach and said if I don‘t think that‘s likely to come before the court, I will comment on it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  “My Take”—this hearing is and I would assume almost all the hearings in the foreseeable future will be a waste of time.  The Senators spout off either about issues they care about and how they want answers or about how great Roberts is.  In this polarized environment these hearings have become useless, I think.

But back with us is Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law professor, former Supreme Court clerk and Wendy Long who clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas.  She‘s now legal counsel for the Judicial Confirmation Network. 

Alan, hasn‘t this become a kind of a waste of time? 

DERSHOWITZ:  It has, but I think it‘s important for this reason.  Remember that the Republicans are saying we want an open-minded judge.  We want a judge whose decisions we can‘t predict.  And Roberts has said over and over again, I‘m not going to give you anything to be able to predict.  But Bush knows, after all, the mantra of the Republican Party is no more suitors.  No more suitors. 

And so the Bush administration picked somebody who they knew wasn‘t a suitor.  They know what his views are.  They know he‘s predictable.  They know he‘s reliable and now we‘re being denied the right to know what they know and there‘s no basis whatsoever...

ABRAMS:  But come on, Alan...

DERSHOWITZ:  ... president knowing...

ABRAMS:  Wait...

DERSHOWITZ:  ... more than the Senate.

ABRAMS:  Wait.  But if they know it then—you‘re saying they know it only because they‘ve read some of the writings that haven‘t been released.  I mean they know it.  The Democrats know it.  Everyone knows it.

DERSHOWITZ:  The Democrats don‘t know it.  No, the Democrats don‘t know it.  The Democrats and the public don‘t know what his views are on separation of church and state because he‘s not written about that.  But you can be sure that the Bush administration knows that this guy is going to break down the wall of separation.  He‘s not going to be one who believes in a high wall of separation. 

They—you know what his views are going to be on capital punishment.  You know what his views are going to be on a range of other issues.  He is a guaranteed, certified, non-suitor.  They know...

ABRAMS:  All right.

DERSHOWITZ:  ... because they have an opportunity to talk to him in private.  They have an opportunity...

ABRAMS:  Wendy...

DERSHOWITZ:  ... to view records...

ABRAMS:  ... do they know more...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... do they know more than the Democrats and the public?

WENDY LONG, JUDICIAL CONFIRMATION NETWORK:  They do not know more.  In fact Judge Roberts was asked today by Senator Feinstein whether he had been asked by the administration what he‘d do about Roe and he answered truthfully no.  Of course we know his general judicial philosophy.  George Bush is not going to appoint someone in the mold of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

That‘s not what he promised.  He promised someone in the mold of Justice Thomas and Justice Scalia and that‘s exactly what we‘ve got.  It‘s very clear from the testimony and yes, it‘s clear from his record, but you know what, it was clear from Justice Ginsburg‘s record too exactly what kind of justice we were getting with her. 

ABRAMS:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

DERSHOWITZ:  But there‘s a big difference.  Justice Ginsburg could have been appointed by George Bush the first, as could Stephen Breyer.  They are centerists, moderates in the center wing of the Democratic Party and here, the Republicans have constantly either made mistakes or done it correctly, but they‘ve appointed people who they think are right wing ideologues.  Sometimes they guess right.  Sometimes they guess wrong...

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me let Wendy...

DERSHOWITZ:  This time they made sure they didn‘t make a mistake.

ABRAMS:  Let me let Wendy respond to that real quick and then I want to play a sound bite.  Go ahead.

LONG:  You‘re exactly right that this President Bush is doing a much better job than President Regan and the first President Bush about getting justices...

ABRAMS:  All right.

LONG:  ... with a judicial philosophy consistent with his, who won‘t put up with the kind of silliness, I predict, that we saw today again out of the Ninth Circuit on the Pledge of Allegiance. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  We‘ll talk about that as a district court judge.  But here‘s what I think the problem is.  All right, listen to Senator Specter, who is a moderate Republican, who is the chairman of the committee, and it seems that he‘s more—he was very concerned about the justices insulting the Congress.  Listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER ®, PENNSYLVANIA:  We do our homework evidenced by what has gone on in this hearing and we don‘t like being treated as schoolchildren, requiring as Justice Scalia says, a taskmaster.  Will you do better on this subject, Judge Roberts? 

ROBERTS:  Well, I don‘t think the court should be taskmaster of Congress.  I think the Constitution is the Court‘s taskmaster and it‘s Congress‘ taskmaster as well. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Alan, this is their one chance, right, to say to the justices, stop doing this to us.

DERSHOWITZ:  Well you know, here you have one issue where most people agree, it‘s judicial activism to do what the Rehnquist court did, strike down nearly 30 laws duly enacted by Congress and so the senators get on high dudging (ph) and they‘re defending their own right.  This has all been about power...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

DERSHOWITZ:  ... the Senate‘s power, the Republican‘s power. 

ABRAMS:  Right.

DERSHOWITZ:  We haven‘t heard a word about little people.  We haven‘t heard a word about the disenfranchised.  We haven‘t heard a word about the people who the Constitution, the Bill of Rights...

ABRAMS:  You‘re not going to get...

DERSHOWITZ:  ... who‘s really intended to protect. 

ABRAMS:  You know you‘re not going to get the answers...

DERSHOWITZ:  But I have my answers.  I know that Justice Roberts and I‘ve been assured by your other guest, Justice Robert is not going to defend the rights of atheists.  She‘s not—he‘s not going to defend the rights of dissidents.  He‘s not going to defend the rights of people who don‘t have special interest behind them to support them. 

ABRAMS:  Let‘s talk about that issue...

LONG:  And we just heard that Professor Dershowitz disagrees with the whole concept of judicial review.  It‘s the job of the Supreme Court to strike down a statute that is incompatible with the Constitution.  That is not judicial activism.  Judicial activism is when the court reaches out and takes upon itself a role that is not assigned by the Constitution...

ABRAMS:  All right, let‘s talk about...

DERSHOWITZ:  Like Bush v. Gore...

(CROSSTALK)

DERSHOWITZ:  Like Bush v. Gore...

ABRAMS:  Real quick, let‘s talk about this issue that came up today and that is a federal judge in Sacramento has ruled three school districts in the Sacramento area cannot lead students in reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance when it says “under God”.  A religious rights group, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty will appeal to the Ninth Circuit.  Alan, this is going to get overturned, right? 

DERSHOWITZ:  Well, it has to get overturned because the judges eventually watch the election returns.  Ninety-nine percent of Americans want “under God” in the pledge.  You cannot write a decision, keeping under God in the pledge, without changing all the law that we‘ve had before. 

ABRAMS:  And you can have under God on the money...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  You can have under God on the money...

DERSHOWITZ:  Well no, you have—the money is different than the pledge...

LONG:  How about the Declaration of Independence?

DERSHOWITZ:  ... because the pledge is in public schools for captive audiences...

ABRAMS:  Wait, wait...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Wait...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  When you go to public school...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... Alan, with money to pay for your cafeteria food at the public school...

DERSHOWITZ:  Right.  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... you‘ve got under God on the money. 

DERSHOWITZ:  Let me talk about the Declaration of Independence for a minute.  You don‘t like the God who‘s in the Declaration of Independence.  He is not the God of the Bible; he is not Jehovah...

ABRAMS:  All right...

DERSHOWITZ:  He is not Jesus.  He is the God of nature.  He is the non-Christian God of Jefferson...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Wendy gets the 10-second last comment...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Wendy, 10 seconds.

LONG:  The same God in the Pledge of Allegiance is the same God in the Declaration of Independence.  He was put there...

(CROSSTALK)

LONG:  ... by Congress—yes—to reaffirm that our rights come from God.  They don‘t come from the state. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  I‘ve got to wrap it up.  Alan Dershowits, Wendy Long, thanks very much. 

Coming up...

DERSHOWITZ:  My pleasure.

ABRAMS:  ... there is breaking news out of Aruba.  A judge has issued a big ruling in the case of missing Alabama teen, Natalee Holloway.  This after Joran van der Sloot was released from jail almost two weeks ago.  Natalee‘s mother joins us next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY‘S MOTHER:  The suspect who took my daughter from Carlos N‘ Charlie‘s on the last night of her senior trip, who the last to be seen with her alive and who offered at least a dozen different versions of what they did with her and who admitted to committing or witnessing sexual assaults against her while she was unable to defend herself are now free. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  While the nation geared up for Hurricane Katrina about a week and a half ago, there was stunning news in the disappearance of 18-year-old Natalee Holloway in Aruba.  On September 3, all three suspects in her disappearance released from jail.  They remain free today.

There was a ruling today that the three suspects do not have to give DNA samples and that Joran van der Sloot does not have to return to jail.  The other suspect, the Kalpoe brothers, Satish and Deepak, had been jailed, released once, then rearrested August 26 on rape and murder charges.  Now they are free again.

Joran van der Sloot jailed since June 7, also now a free man.  He returned home to cheers from friends and family. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(APPLAUSE)

ANITA VAN DER SLOOT, JORAN VAN DER SLOOT‘S MOTHER:  What happened to Joran from being a happy 17-year-old teenager could have happened to any other 17-year-old boy here in Aruba.  It is an eye-opener for a lot parents who have teenagers.  Joran looked at a very bright future, just graduated, accepted at a lot of universities and was ready to go to Tampa to study.  His life has been turned upside down completely. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Days later, van der Sloot boarded a plane for the Netherlands where he‘s taking classes at a local university.  Natalee Holloway was supposed to go to the University of Alabama.  Classes started there three weeks ago today. 

Joining me now is Natalee Holloway‘s mother, Beth Holloway Twitty.  Beth, thanks.  Good to see you again.  All right, so what is your reaction to this ruling today? 

TWITTY:  Well I was just listening to Anita van der Sloot and how she was describing Joran and that you know what happened to him could happen to any other Aruban 17-year-old male and you know that‘s simply not true, Dan.  And you know no other 17-year-old Aruban young man would have abducted and raped a young female American tourist.  You know I just—it‘s just incredible that this Dutch young man chose to, you know, commit this horrendous crime against Natalee. 

ABRAMS:  You are obviously convinced that he is responsible.  What do you think happened?  I mean why was he ultimately released and the Kalpoe brothers? 

TWITTY:  You know, I‘ve seen several of Joran‘s statements and I don‘t know why he was released.  I hope that these statements were not withheld from evidence presented before the judge of instruction because they are hugely, hugely showing his involvement in this crime against Natalee.  I mean he has her coming in and out of consciousness, repeatedly throughout his statements.  You know he admits to bringing her to his home and even gives a date and a time, 1:40 a.m. on May the 30th, and has sex with her in his home.  You know, I just hope those statements made it before the judge of instruction. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, because it does seem hard to believe.  I mean you can understand—I haven‘t seen these statements, but if this is in those statements, it does seem hard to believe that a court would have released them and so anything else out there?  I mean, there‘s got to be something else that led it them to say, look, we just don‘t have it on him. 

TWITTY:  Well, they do have it on him.  And you know, this is—I think that they‘ve just shown the world in how that, you know they‘ve chosen to hide underneath the cloak of Hurricane Katrina.  And I knew there was corruption, but I had no idea that they were going to be cowards involved in this and take advantage of the situation. 

ABRAMS:  I should say that we asked the attorneys for Joran van der Sloot to come on the program tonight.  They declined.  Look, this—you—this story has gone to the backburner as a sort of news story in the last week and a half as a result of Katrina.  Are you concerned that it is not going to stay in the public consciousness and as a result that it‘s really going to be over in terms of the investigation? 

TWITTY:  No, Dan, I‘m not.  And you know, no matter where I am,

whether I‘m in Florida or I‘m in California, you know people have Natalee -

they are carrying her so safely in their thoughts and prayers.  And you know I‘m not concerned about that, Dan, and you know we will continue to fight to search for truth and justice.  But the media has been just absolutely wonderful to Natalee.  As you—as everyone can see, it takes just—it takes that amount of pressure on this Dutch government in order for them to you know have some accountability in what has happened to a female tourist on their island. 

     

ABRAMS:  Do you plan to go back? 

TWITTY:  Oh, yes.  I will return as possibly as early as the middle of next week.  So we will continue doing this until we have answers, until they step forward and have some responsibility for what has happened. 

ABRAMS:  Do you blame the prosecutors or you blame the judges?  I mean are you happy with the work the prosecutors have been doing? 

TWITTY:  Well I think first and foremost, I blame this Dutch government that is involved on the island right now, the MEP Party (ph).  I mean I think they have failed Natalee greatly.  You know, I can‘t imagine this Judge Smith (ph) ruling—you know choosing to release Joran from prison when he has all this evidence presented before him. 

You know something now that concerns me, Dan, is I gave a statement to a detective on June 1 and of course they‘re printed in Dutch and translated to English for me, and I signed it.  Well that same day, the same detective brought me another statement and asked me to sign it because they had to change the date and I did.  Well I just found out a week ago, Dan, that it‘s not my statement.  It had been altered greatly.  So it‘s just hard to tell what all has happened since the beginning.  It‘s just been unbelievable. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right, Beth, thanks a lot for taking time.  I can just tell you that even in the aftermath of the hurricane we were still getting a lot of e-mails from people saying please have Beth back on.  Please update us on the story.  Let us know what‘s going on.  Good luck, Beth.  Thanks for coming back. 

TWITTY:  Thank you, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  It has become the representation of the horrors in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, little food, no water, reports of violence.  Our next guest went to the Superdome last week, will show us the latest pictures.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Before Hurricane Katrina hit, New Orleans residents gathered to ride out the storm in what seemed like a pretty safe place, the Superdome, the city‘s football stadium, home to the New Orleans Saints.  But as we now know, the Superdome was anything but a safe haven.  Thousands of desperate people trapped there in the days after the hurricane with little food, water, no electricity, no air conditioning, reports of violence, even rape at the city‘s largest shelter. 

We‘re now getting a first look inside now.  Jeff Duncan is a reporter with “The New Orleans Times-Picayune”.  He went inside the Superdome with a photographer on Friday and he joins me now.  Jeff, thanks for coming on the program.  So how bad was it? 

JEFF DUNCAN, REPORTER, “THE NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE”:  Well you know we had read a lot about obviously the conditions in there being bad, so I wasn‘t shocked at the amount of debris and the amount of trash because you expected that.  But I was really surprised at the amount of damage that was done to the facility, a lot of shattered windows.  The suites were trashed.  The couches and chairs turned over. 

The Superdome offices were completely trashed with file cabinets and archives completely looted, so a lot of damage.  And I think that revealed the frustration of the people that were in there waiting for those buses, waiting to getting out of that place. 

ABRAMS:  Did you have to wear one of those, what looks like Hazmat suits that we see people wearing in one of your pictures? 

DUNCAN:  Oh, yes, of course.  I mean it‘s a very dangerous environment.  They weren‘t going to let anybody in there without wearing those protective gloves and gas masks and boots.  The people we went in with were contractors for hazardous waste removal companies who are right now in the bid process of trying to determine how bad the situation is there.  How much is it going to cost?  Because all of that has to be done before insurance adjusters and anybody can get into the facility to see exactly what it‘s going to cost to salvage the Superdome, if it will be salvaged, or if they‘re just going to tear it down. 

ABRAMS:  Now I know the Convention Center is being used as a sort of staging ground.  They‘re bringing people there, gathering them together and evacuating them from the Convention Center.  Is the Superdome being used at all at this point or is it just empty and they‘re just waiting to figure out what to do with it? 

DUNCAN:  That‘s exactly right.  Nobody is in that building at all right now.  It‘s being actually on lock-down guarded by the 82nd Airborne Division, which is here in town controlling a lot of the French Quarter.  It‘s just not a safe environment, so they really can‘t let anybody inside there for the time being.  I think it‘s going to be a few weeks before really these hazardous waste, hazardous material companies get in to do the work and get it decontaminated.

ABRAMS:  And is the hazardous material primarily sewage? 

DUNCAN:  Yes, sewage and of course, you‘ve got you know human waste and you know the building is basically one big giant science project right now.  There‘s no circulation in there, a lot of water because the roof of the Superdome, which everybody has seen, has been stripped off.  That was all the weather coating that kept the water out and it just was allowed to seep down through.  So you‘ve had this basically small little...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

DUNCAN:  ... biosphere inside the Superdome for weeks now. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Jeff Duncan, thanks for taking the time. 

Appreciate it. 

DUNCAN:  My pleasure. 

ABRAMS:  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Sorry we didn‘t have time to get to your e-mails tonight.  We will certainly try and get to that tomorrow.  That is the address, abramsreport@msnbc.com.  We‘ve just had jam-packed shows.  We‘ve had breaking news coming to us during the show and it‘s just been throwing us a little bit, but I‘m still reading every day, going through all your e-mails, so thank you for writing those. 

“HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews up next.  See you tomorrow.

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