updated 9/28/2005 11:16:30 AM ET 2005-09-28T15:16:30

Guests: Thad Allen, Charles Griffith, Jack Stephens, Jerry Stephens,

Michael Turner, Ash Joshi, Martha Zoller, Harris Faulkner, Franki Phelps,

John Newsom, Rod Wagner

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Tonight, an exclusive interview with the man in charge of the hurricane recovery.  Are the feds getting the job done this time?  And why is the FEMA director blaming authorities in Louisiana and the press, everyone but himself?

Plus, Joran Van Der Sloot makes another surprising admission about the night Natalee Holloway vanished in Aruba.  See what he says in his own words.

And a bombshell from the woman held hostage by the accused Atlanta courthouse killer.  She says she gave him drugs.

But first, another bombshell out of New Orleans, the chief of police suddenly calling it quits.  NBC‘s Jay Gray is live in Abbeville, Louisiana, with the shocking news—Jay.

JAY GRAY, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, Rita.  And you‘ve been on the ground here.  You know there have been a lot of questions, a lot of controversy about how this department was led by Eddie Compass during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  Finally, today, it all caught up with the chief.  He did resign.  There had been rumors that more than 200 officers walked away from their posts during hurricane duty.  So again, Eddie Compass, the chief of police, has resigned.  Many in this state say that‘s the first of several officials that will be removed from office or resign as a result of the problems here.

But on the ground, in the strike zone, they don‘t have time for the political tug of war or finger-pointing.  There is just too much work to be done here.  In this house in Abbeville, that was under water for so many days, the family finally got home today, only to find that nothing really was left, nothing they could salvage, pulling everything out onto their porch here and trying to let it dry out.  But again, nothing that they could really find in this house that they think they could save.

The waters are beginning to recede in southwest Louisiana, but they are revealing some severe problems here.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over):  President Bush was back in the strike zone Tuesday, touring the damage and talking to those hardest hit by Rita.

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I heard loud and clear from the parish presidents and the mayors that, you know, people are getting frustrated.  And I understand that frustration.

GRAY:  There was a growing frustration for those working around the clock on recovery.  The sheriff in Vermilion parish says FEMA is taking way too long to help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Start taking applications and start helping these people!

GRAY:  In Washington, congressional leaders grilled the man many say is responsible for early failures in the federal response.  Former FEMA director Michael Brown blamed local and state officials for the massive problems in Louisiana.

MICHAEL BROWN, FORMER FEMA DIRECTOR:  My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional.

MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS:  For a FEMA director to be, you know, in Washington and trying to deflect attention off of, you know, his performance is unbelievable.

GRAY:  Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco also responded to Brown‘s testimony.  She says she did request federal help 48 hours before Katrina and that his comments, quote, “clearly demonstrate the appalling degree to which Mr. Brown is either out of touch with truth or reality.”  After a month of turmoil within the city of New Orleans and its police department, Chief Eddie Compass resigned Tuesday afternoon.

EDDIE COMPASS, NEW ORLEANS POLICE SUPERINTENDENT:  I‘ll be retiring as superintendent of police, and I will be going on in another direction God has for me.

GRAY:  But as thousands make the trip back home, trying to find anything left of their lives before the storms, they are beginning to understand that normal will never be the same as it was before Katrina and Rita.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

And especially for those families in neighborhoods like this one in Abbeville, whose homes were literally under water for several days, another problem they‘re having to deal with, because there is a dawn-to-dusk curfew here, everybody pretty much gone now, they‘re working during the day.  It‘s been unbearably hot and humid.  In fact today, as they were pulling the furniture and other things out of this home, the temperature was close to 100 degrees.

Live in Abbeville, I‘m Jay Gray.  Rita, back to you.

COSBY:  Jay, thank you very much.

And meantime, former FEMA director Michael Brown was on the hot seat today, congress grilling him on why the government failed to help Katrina victims.  But get this.  He put the blame on local leaders and even the people of New Orleans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN:  My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And now to a LIVE AND DIRECT exclusive, Vice Admiral Thad Allen, who‘s the man who replaced Brown on the ground in New Orleans.  He joins me tonight.

Admiral Allen, what do you make of Mike Brown‘s comments essentially blaming everybody in Louisiana but virtually accepting no responsibility himself?

VICE ADMIRAL THAD ALLEN, U.S. COAST GUARD:  Rita, I haven‘t heard Mike Brown‘s comments in their entirety.  My job‘s here on the ground in New Orleans, and I think that‘s where the people of America want me working.

COSBY:  Absolutely.  But he did say that there was incredible dysfunction in Louisiana.  And he said that that made his job difficult, that it made, basically, the job for everybody difficult, that they couldn‘t get organized, that there was in-fighting, and that created some of the chaos.  Is that your assessment, as well?

ALLEN:  Well, Rita, I didn‘t arrive down here until about the 5th of September, and since I got here, we‘ve been working on a unified effort.  I‘ve worked with both Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco, the parish presidents and everybody in the state.  And the teamwork that I‘ve seen since I‘ve been down here is terrific.

COSBY:  Did you see any, you know, dysfunction, as Mike Brown says, in the early days?  I mean, that‘s what he was saying was happening in the early days and created the chaos.

ALLEN:  Nothing I would term dysfunction.  Rita, you need to understand, after you‘ve had a hurricane like Katrina and Rita, nothing is going to be the same.  And to call anything functional is probably a misnomer.  But dysfunctional is a really subjective term.  I‘ve been working really hard with both the governor, the mayor of New Orleans and the parish presidents, and we‘re making significant progress down here.

COSBY:  Did you feel there was any dysfunction in your assessment in the early days that could have attributed to some of the problems?  I mean, he‘s saying—he‘s basically passing the buck and saying, It was local officials, it was their chaos, and that‘s why I couldn‘t get anything organized.

ALLEN:  Rita, when I got to New Orleans, I found a town that had become just as much a victim as the folks that had to evacuate and were caught in different places, trying to leave town.  And what we‘re trying to do is put back, basically, the elements of a civil society, rebuild the infrastructure and set the parameters so New Orleans can be reconstructed.  That‘s an extraordinary situation for any city to find itself in, and quite frankly, my focus is moving ahead and working with the mayor and the city leaders and the governor to make that happen.

COSBY:  But the problem is, obviously, people are pointing the finger, so it‘s creating a lot of delays.  Are you disappointed at all the fingerpointing happening in all the different directions?  Because even Governor Blanco came out today, sir, and said, you know, Look, Mike Brown is essentially lying.

ALLEN:  Rita, I‘m pretty busy down here.  I don‘t have any fingers to point anywhere except in the New Orleans, the state of Louisiana and helping these folks.

COSBY:  Well, that‘s what I want to ask you.  Is it disappointing for you to hear the others making the thing?  I‘m not saying you are.  But do you believe that maybe the fact that all these other folks—maybe that‘s not where the time should be spent?

ALLEN:  Rita, all I can tell you is I work in Louisiana right now, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas for the people who‘ve been impacted by these storms.  That‘s my focus.  I‘m not a politician.  I don‘t work in Washington.

COSBY:  Do you believe there should be an independent investigation of some sort?  That was brought up again today.  At least to look at it, you know, and that way—that way keeps the integrity, the credibility of everything.

ALLEN:  Well, I think it‘s prudent after any event of this magnitude that you have some inquiry to make sure you want to have lessons learned.  There‘s things that we can learn and move forward on.  I think that‘s a natural good leadership or management decision anytime you have something of this magnitude.

COSBY:  Another big resignation today.  A lot of people were very surprised by this, sir, Eddie Compass, who I got to spend a lot of time with when I was down there in New Orleans, shocked a lot of people and resigned.  Were you surprised by that?

ALLEN:  Rita, these individual decisions about when to have a change in your career and go on to a new phase of your life are very intensely personal.  They involve family discussions and a lot of context that‘s not available to anybody else, and I wouldn‘t want to comment on it.

COSBY:  Will it make your job more difficult, though?  Because now there‘s sort of a new man in charge, at least a temporary person running the police force.  Does that make your job more difficult, that suddenly, there‘s a change at the helm?

ALLEN:  I don‘t believe so.  We‘ve had a very strong connection with Terry Ebbert, who is the director of homeland security for the city of New Orleans.  The fire, police and emergency services report up through him.  He‘s been our main conduit in dealing with the city on almost every issue we‘ve had regarding security and different issues around the city since I‘ve got there, and he‘s a very strong partner and we continue to work well together.

COSBY:  You believe things will still move forward?  It won‘t cause any friction or any holdups?

ALLEN:  Moving forward at good speed.

COSBY:  Talk about, in fact, moving forward in terms of the recovery.  I know it‘s quite a massive task, particularly after Hurricane Rita, the second hurricane to hit New Orleans, unfortunately.  How much of a mess are things today?  How much has that set everybody back?

ALLEN:  Well, Rita—I‘m using Rita twice here.  I apologize.

(LAUGHTER)

ALLEN:  Hurricane Rita went to the west of where Katrina struck in Louisiana.  The last two days, I‘ve spent a lot of time in a helicopter flying over Cameron parish and Calcasieu parish, surveying the damage down there.  The damage from Hurricane Rita in southwest Louisiana was extensive.  I‘ve flown over Waveland, Mississippi, and the areas that were devastated by the tidal surge and the wind damage in that part of the coastline.  I can tell you that Cameron parish, Vermilion parish and Calcasieu suffered equal damage from Hurricane Rita.

COSBY:  How long of a setback, do you think?  And also, I‘m sure you were just so disappointed—you and I talked about the levees before—but for them to overflow so quickly, and we‘re only midway, as you know all too well, through the hurricane season?

ALLEN:  Could you restate the question, Rita?  I couldn‘t hear you.

COSBY:  It‘s got to be disappointing to you about the levees overflowing so soon after the other, and here we are, still only midway through the hurricane season.  Are you nervous?

ALLEN:  Well, I think we all should be nervous about the levee system in New Orleans.  It‘s in a significantly weakened state.  As everybody saw, we were able to rebuild the levees, or more specifically, the Corps of Engineers was able to rebuild the levees to about a five to seven-foot height, and it exceeded that during this storm surge with Hurricane Rita.  It‘s going to take us at least until next hurricane season to reestablish these levees in the strength that they were before Hurricane Rita.  Corps‘s working at best speed, but we just need to be mindful of the fact that the levee system is not going to be viable for probably another year.

COSBY:  And finally, you said at a FEMA presser today that now‘s not the time to sort of come back to certain parts of Louisiana.  Is it too early for some of those residents who are returning, even in some parts of New Orleans?

ALLEN:  Well, we‘ve said previously, until we have a good handle on

the health and safety environment in New Orleans, even with the water gone

and we‘ve been able to go through and assess all the buildings—there needs to be a very cautious line taken, as far as reentry.  I had extensive conversations with Mayor Nagin and his staff, and I think we‘re all in agreement.  The business district can be reinhabited on a daily basis to do assessments, check damage and start the rebuilding.  The west bank is viable for reentry.  It‘s the rest of the New Orleans, where the water has receded, we now have a lot of sediment there, and there‘s almost going to have to be a dwelling-by-dwelling assessment done regarding the conditions of the house.

And I think Mayor Nagin‘s intentions are to give people access to that, to let them come in and see it, understand what the conditions of their houses and their belongings are, but in the long run, there‘s going to have to be some significant decisions made by the city almost on a dwelling-by-dwelling basis on whether or not the dwellings are viable or are going to have to come down.

COSBY:  And it‘s going to take a long time, I‘m sure, to assess all of those.  Vice Admiral Thad Allen, thank you so much for being with us, sir.  I know you‘re doing a great job on the ground, and we really appreciate you being with us.  Thanks so much.

ALLEN:  My pleasure, Rita.

COSBY:  You‘re welcome.  You‘re welcome.

And today, President Bush headed to the region for the seventh time, and he faced a lot of critics, among them Judge Charles Griffith of Jefferson County, Texas, who was on our show last night, you may recall, even advocating for local authorities to take supplies away from FEMA by force, if necessary.  The judge feels FEMA has let his county down big-time, and planned to meet with the president today to get some answers.

Judge Griffith joins us now live on the phone to tell us how his presidential meeting went.  What did you tell the president, and how did it go?

JUDGE CHARLES GRIFFITH, JEFFERSON COUNTY, TEXAS:  Well, Rita, it went well.  As I expected, President Bush, when he was governor, he was attentive, and the things that I asked him to do when I was sheriff then, those things got done.  And I‘ve seen a difference in the—it appears the supply line for our supplies getting to FEMA into the other operational units on the ground are enhancing.  I think we‘re getting the things here now.  They haven‘t completely gotten the supply line working to the public, but it‘s getting better.  So I see a difference from this morning to this evening.

The FEMA folks on the ground here are incredible.  They‘re good people.  They‘re trying to do their job.  They don‘t have enough boots on the ground to—you know, and so you can‘t criticize the people on the ground trying to do the job because they‘re trying.  They‘ve just got to have support to do it.  And if we don‘t give them enough support, they can‘t do their job, and that‘s what‘s happened.

COSBY:  Well, I‘m glad...

GRAY:  In the bureaucracy...

COSBY:  I‘m glad to hear you got some positive answers.  And I want to ask you—I got to ask you about the—your comments about, basically, Look, if you need supplies, you‘re encouraging local folks to even take it by force from FEMA.  Have you gotten any heat from that, Judge?

GRIFFITH:  No.  No, not at all, because what happened—you know, the night before last, when I did that, it was not for my county, it was for a county just north of me that was really in dire straits.  And quite frankly, when I gave them the three-hour ultimatum—Either do it, or we‘re going to take it—and I asked the judge to send a truck and trailer down here, he was here, and when truck and trailer got here, they loaded the generators on the trailer.  I mean, there was no sense in them sitting another night in a dark emergency operations center.  It didn‘t make sense.  They came in and got it, and FEMA put the—loaded them on.  We didn‘t have to do anything else.

So you know, I—we—we‘ve got an understanding, I‘ve got an understanding with senior official here on the ground, and I think he‘s trying to make things work.

COSBY:  Well, I‘m glad to hear you‘re making some headway.  Judge Carl Griffith, thank you.  Keep us posted.

GRAY:  All right.

COSBY:  And everybody, this is just the beginning of our show.  Still ahead, a big detail we did not hear from the woman held hostage by the suspected Atlanta courthouse shooter.  That is, until now.  She gave her captor more than prayer.  Get this.  She gave him crystal meth.

And why is the New Orleans police chief turning in his badge?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NAGIN:  He decided to retire on top.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Is he leaving on top or taking the fall?  The city council president joins me live.

Plus, wait until you hear what Joran Van Der Sloot has to say about the night Natalee Holloway vanished?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JORAN VAN DER SLOOT, SUSPECT IN NATALEE HOLLOWAY DISAPPEARANCE:  It was totally consensual.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Much more ahead on LIVE AND DIRECT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN:  I very strongly personally regret that I was unable to persuade Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin to sit down, get over their differences and work together.

NAGIN:  For a FEMA director to be, you know, in Washington and trying to deflect attention off of, you know, his performance is unbelievable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Well, the former head of the FEMA and the mayor of New Orleans are now blaming each other for what went wrong with Hurricane Katrina.  And if that wasn‘t enough, the chief of the New Orleans police department now calling it quits.  Superintendent Eddie Compass is resigning as new questions are raised about the department‘s response to Katrina.

So how are local leaders reacting to these big developments?  We‘re joined now by Sheriff jack Stephens of hard-hit St. Bernard parish, Louisiana.  And also with us is former FEMA regional director Jerry Stephens.

Sheriff Stephens, let me first start with you.  What was your reaction to Eddie Compass, the superintendent, stepping down?  What was your reaction?

SHERIFF JACK STEPHENS, ST. BERNARD PARISH:  I was surprised.  I‘ve known Chief Compass for a long time, and I‘ve always considered him to be a very capable superintendent of police and a tough street cop that came up through the ranks.  So his announcement today did come as a surprise.

COSBY:  Yes, it was a real surprise to me, too.  And in fact, I talked with him, as you know, quite a bit when I was down there.  Let me show a comment from Eddie Compass when he handed in his resignation just a few hours ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMPASS:  A man in leadership positions must know when it‘s time to hand over the reins to someone else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Jerry Stephens, what‘s your sense?  Is he being made a scapegoat?

JERRY STEPHENS, FORMER FEMA REGIONAL DIRECTOR:  I don‘t think so, Rita.  I think we should all be very sympathetic with the sheriff this evening because anyone in a first-line responder position has dual conflicting priorities in a disaster.  They have their own personal families at stake.  In this case, he had his whole police force at stake, and he was trying to manage that, as well as his own personal situation.  So I think...

COSBY:  Well, that‘s why I‘m—that‘s what I‘m asking you, Jerry.  I mean, a lot of people are saying it was Mayor Nagin who should have been handing in his resignation today, not Chief compass, who was trying to keep everything together.

JERRY STEPHENS:  Well, I think that those chips will fall in the future, and the facts will lay out who is responsible at those levels.  I‘m more concerned about some of the things I saw that—at the hearing today that Michael Brown said and a focus on some other people who should have a spotlight on them, as well, not just at the local level.

COSBY:  And in fact, let me show some comments.  This was an exchange with Chris Shays, Congressman Chris Shays and Mike Brown during the hearing today.  And Sheriff Stephens, (INAUDIBLE) get you to react, but let‘s listen first.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN:  We had no real-time information or intelligence about what was really going on in the convention center.  You had a hysteric media reporting rapes and murders and everything else, which I think even the reports today begin to say probably weren‘t true, which compounded the problem even further.

CARL QUINTANILLA, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  These people haven‘t seen security here at the convention center for four days.  The fear was that they would turn violent, that they would attack supplies and buses.  And look at them.  They‘re sitting peacefully.  They‘re just waiting for a ride (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And Sheriff Stephens, we don‘t have the Chris Shays exchange.  I don‘t know if you heard the whole thing, but basically, Mike Brown in this exchange blaming the press, you know, calling it a hysteric press, saying that the press drove them.  And then we just showed a little clip from Carl Quintanilla, one of our great reporters, you know,  calm, cool, collect, just saying what city officials are telling him.  Is it fair to blame the press?  Isn‘t that obscene?

JACK STEPHENS:  I think that‘s really laying off the blame onto someone.  I understand Mike Brown is still on FEMA‘s payroll, and I‘d like to be paid to critique my own performance over my political career.  I mean, it‘s just unbelievable that they‘re still having him do that.  And I mean, I might be the worst person to evaluate performance because I‘ve been basically incognito for 31 days now.  But to have Mike Brown say that the press overestimated or overreported the problem now is just obscene.

COSBY:  And he also—he even blamed even that he had press appearances, that he couldn‘t do his job, saying that the press drove him.  As someone who has been in the thick it, Sheriff Stephens, isn‘t that insane to say?  And what kind a leader is that, not accepting any responsibility?

JACK STEPHENS:  Well, you know, FEMA‘s reactions, initial reactions to this catastrophic weather event might be representative of Mike Brown‘s leadership there.  I mean, if the first thing he wants to do is blame the mayor of the city of New Orleans and the government of the state of Louisiana for his agency‘s poor response, I think that‘s why he‘s not director of FEMA anymore.

But more importantly now, Rita, and what we‘ve been concerned about all along, is that these hearings would detract from the real work that‘s going on down here.  You know, we‘re still at the bottom of the food chain, and we still are struggling to deliver essential governmental services in my jurisdictions, in parts of New Orleans and the city of Slidell and the parish of Plaquemines.

And we need help.  We don‘t need the Congress basically wasting time on finding out who did what wrong, what went wrong during this or that.  We need help.  And there‘ll be a lot of time for the finger-pointing.  But you and I discussed this when you were down here.  You knew it was coming where everybody would be rolling this problem from one table to the next.  And it‘s something—we‘re at a crossroads in the history of this metropolitan area, and if we don‘t get some sense of urgency from the Congress and from the people who are responsible for helping us at the governor‘s level, we‘re going to be a footnote in history.

COSBY:  No, you‘re right.  And Jerry Stephens, you know, there is a lot of fingerpointing.  In fact, Governor Blanco of Louisiana already responded to some of these comments, of course, Mike Brown pointing the finger at her and also Ray Nagin.  I‘m not going to read you the whole statement, but she basically says that Mike Brown comments are full of falsehoods, misleading statements, a series of things.  She is stunned.  She‘s going to testify tomorrow.  How much does this hurt the process, Jerry Stephens?

JERRY STEPHENS:  Well, it kind of reminds me of three parrots in a cage, all pecking at each other‘s feathers.  I think that we‘re through with nitpicking and finger-pointing.  We need to move on with what needs to be done.  And frankly, Congress needs to investigate less and innovate more.  And one thing in particular that came out of this particular disaster is the critical need and the role the military can play in these disasters.  We need to carefully look at triggering events and threshold criteria which would provide the president with the authority to mobilize the military for search, rescue, communications and relief operations, functions that they perform very well.  Have the capacity to do that, and I think they‘ve demonstrated that in this disaster.

COSBY:  No, you‘re right.  And in fact, when the military came to town, I think everybody was breathing a big sigh of relief.  Gentlemen, thank you both very much.

Well, FEMA is trying to get to thousands of homes and trying to get those who are now left homeless in the devastated region.  Joining me now is senior manager of Mobile Enterprises, Michael Turner.  He has a mobile home community in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which was devastated by Hurricane Rita.

Mike, you brought in some pictures.  You‘ve got some really incredible pictures of some of the damage.  How bad is it in your area?

MICHAEL TURNER, LAKE CHARLES, LA, MOBILE HOME COMMUNITY:  It could have been worse, Rita.  I have to say, when we left for Lafayette to evacuate for the hurricane, we actually thought we were coming back to nothing.  And although it was pretty devastating, it, like I said, could have been worse.

COSBY:  Now, what‘s stunning to me when you look at these pictures—and I don‘t know if you can see the ones we‘re showing, I know you supplied them—it looks like it‘s decimated.  No one was injured?  Is that correct?

TURNER:  Amazingly, the only injury that I saw was to a dog who was, unfortunately, chained up outside and bared (ph) the storm in the outdoors.  But other than the poor pooch, nothing at all.  No one was injured.  And there were quite a few people who stayed in the park.  Some people actually stayed in the mobile homes during the storm.

COSBY:  They stayed in the homes, and that was it, even though they were told, of course, that‘s the last place you should be?

TURNER:  I certainly wouldn‘t have been in one, and I evacuated the park, although some of the tenants stayed.  We provided a shelter in one of the stick buildings on site.  But I was nowhere near it at the time, knowing that mobile homes are the beacon for hurricanes and tornadoes.

COSBY:  Absolutely.  What‘s it going to take to rebuild?

TURNER:  It‘s going to take quite a lot.  We‘re really not sure where to get started.  We have no power.  We have no water.  We‘re using a generator to keep the pool running, so the people can bathe and just get the general necessities.  We really haven‘t considered what we‘re going to do to clean up the mess.

COSBY:  Now, you called FEMA after your community, your mobile home community was just devastated.  What kind of response did you get?

TURNER:  You know, we‘re a number of companies.  We have a number of parks in Texas and Louisiana.  And actually, for the past month, we‘ve been calling, attempting to provide our services in support for FEMA.  And unfortunately, we‘ve really not been able to get in touch with the right people to provide the mobile home lot spaces, which we had...

COSBY:  Now, why is that?  Why haven‘t you been able to get in touch with the right people?  They‘re just not been responding, or it‘s too complicated?

TURNER:  It‘s a good question, Rita.  It‘s—I don‘t think it‘s a lack of response, but when we call into the main numbers and the numbers that are provided over the television, over your network and over the Internet, the responders really don‘t know what is going on at the upper levels of FEMA.  In fact, we learned that most folks at the lower levels that are the responders to the incoming phone calls actually don‘t know that FEMA is looking to place 200,000 mobile homes in the Texas and Louisiana area.  So we‘ve just not been able to get in touch with the right folks.

COSBY:  Well, it sounds like the folks in the lower rung need to know what the folks on the upper rung are doing.  Mike Turner, thank you very much.  Hopefully, they‘re watching tonight.

TURNER:  Thanks.

COSBY:  And coming up, a shocking confession from the woman held hostage by the suspected Atlanta courthouse killer.  She told the world it was a religious book that helped save her life.  It turns out, so did crystal meth.  The shocking role of drugs in this case.

And you‘ll hear the prime suspect in the Natalee Holloway case saying that Natalee was more than willing to be with him in Aruba.  But can anyone believe this admitted liar?  Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And tonight, a shocking revelation from the Georgia woman held hostage by the accused Atlanta courthouse killer.  Ashley Smith now says she gave her captor crystal meth from her own stash during the seven hours he held her hostage.  Smith says Brian Nichols wanted marijuana but she didn‘t have any, so she gave him meth before reading him chapters from a religious book. 

She‘s dropping the bombshell in her new book called “Unlikely Angel:

The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero.”  She was rewarded with about $70,000 for helping put Nichols behind bars, but she never mentioned the drugs when she first told her horrific story back in march. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASHLEY SMITH, AUTHOR, “UNLIKELY ANGEL”:  It was Bridgewater Apartments, and he said he didn‘t know, just randomly.  But after we began to talk and he said he thought I was an angel sent from God and that I was his sister and he was my brother in Christ and that he was lost and God led him right to me. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Four people including a judge were killed in the rampage that started at Atlanta‘s Fulton County Courthouse.  Live and direct tonight from Atlanta is Ash Joshi.  He is a former senior assistant district attorney for that city.  Also here tonight is radio talk show host Martha Zoller.  She is the author of the upcoming book “Indivisible: Uniting Values in a Divided America.”

Ash, let me start with you.  How surprised with you by this revelation of drugs? 

ASH JOSHI, FMR. SENIOR ASST. ATLANTA DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  Very surprised by the revelation of drugs, not so surprised that Ms. Smith hadn‘t been completely forthcoming with what she‘d initially told the police and told the public in general. 

COSBY:  And why is that, Ash? 

JOSHI:  There were a lot of people, myself included, who had some serious questions about the credibility of what Ashley Smith was telling us.  There was too many things that didn‘t make sense.  Why would Brian Nichols be up there?  Why would she be leaving to go get cigarettes at 2:00 in the morning? 

There were a lot of loose ends that never made sense, and a lot of people in Atlanta always suspected that there was more to her story, whether there was a relationship between the two or not, certainly more than she was initially telling people. 

COSBY:  And there‘s definitely some contradictions in her book.  I want to show one of the quotes that she writes in this new book.  It says quote, “I wasn‘t going to die tonight and stand before God having done a bunch of ice”—referring to crystal meth—“up my nose.”  Isn‘t that really a contradiction, Martha, as we look at the quote? 

MARTHA ZOLLER, ATLANTA RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, I have to tell you, it was—certainly she was a person that came from a very bad background.  She had had a lot of problems in her past.  And I think there were a lot of loose ends in the stories, but she is not the criminal here.  She‘s not—she did end a killing spree and so that is a good thing that happened. 

COSBY:  Absolutely.  And In fact, I want to show another quote.  She is still a hero.  I mean, look, she did negotiate an end to this.  She said to Brian Nichols, “nobody else needs to get hurt, dude.  And if you don‘t turn yourself in, somebody else will get hurt.  You‘ll keep going and you‘ll kill more people and you‘ll probably die too.”   I mean, Martha and, in fact, you know, whatever method it is, she did end the killing. 

ZOLLER:  That‘s right.  And I think what was tough about her is that this was really full circle for her.  Her husband had been killed in a very violent way.  She had lost her child because of the kind of lifestyle she was leading with drugs and that sort of thing. 

She had started down a road.  But if you‘ve ever known a person that was with involved, drugs, alcohol, heck, cigarettes, they usually take a few steps back as they‘re going down that road. 

COSBY:  Yes, it is interesting though because, of course, we always heard just the religious undertones.  This is a ...

ZOLLER:  Right. 

COSBY:  ... I want to show—this is from the Gwinnett County Police Department.  This is one of the statements.  And it says, “when we had our opportunity to sit down with Mrs. Smith, she did divulge information about drugs in her apartment.  That opportunity was several months after Brian Nichols was captured.  This department never executed a search warrant.  We did not see any illegal contraband.”

Ash, you know, first of all, are you surprised the cops didn‘t find this out sooner, that they never checked?  I‘m also stunned, Ash, that they never gave him a drug test.  Here is this guy on a shooting spree.  Shouldn‘t they have given him some drug tests to know if there was meds in his system?

JOSHI:  I think they should have done something with Mr. Nichols.  I‘m not surprise that the police didn‘t execute a search warrant, because I think that police, just like everyone else, was very caught up in the moment, it was extremely tense, there was a tremendous police force and everyone was very happy with how this ended.  I don‘t think anyone wanted to execute a search warrant or had even any thought of doing that. 

ZOLLER:  Well, I think too ...

COSBY:  OK, go ahead, Martha.

ZOLLER:  We wanted a hero.  And we always want heroes.  And then we elevate those heroes up to a level that nobody could live up to and then we start chipping away at them.  Look, she had a lot of problems in her past.  There‘s no doubt about that.  But she did end this in a way that I‘m not sure many of us could have done. 

I don‘t know that I would not have panicked in a situation like that. 

I don‘t know that I would not have ended up dead in a situation like that. 

It was a difficult situation. 

COSBY:  Martha, how is history going to judge Ashley Smith now?  will it change the perception of her? 

ZOLLER:  No, I don‘t think so.  I don‘t think there was enough drugs involved? 

COSBY:  Ash? 

JOSHI:  I don‘t know about the perception of her.  I hope it changes the perception of Brian Nichols.  The whole situation is not what they want us to believe.  It won‘t be what she wants us to believe in court if she testifies on Mr. Nichols‘ behalf.  That‘s the real criminal and I don‘t want to lose sight of that either. 

COSBY:  All right, guys.

ZOLLER:  That‘s right. 

COSBY:  Thank you, very much.  We appreciate it.

And now to Aruba and the prime suspect in the disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway.  He is breaking his silence tonight.  You‘ll hear what Joran Van Der Sloot is and is not saying about the night that Natalee vanished. 

Our “CURRENT AFFAIR” correspondent, Harris Faulkner, joins me now live with the details.  Harris, it‘s interesting to see him.  First of all, there‘s accusations by his attorney—he was on our show last night—that it was an ambush interview, that he felt totally under pressure.  Was that the case? 

HARRIS FAULKNER, “A CURRENT AFFAIR”:  Well, you know what?  Our producer asked him for permission can we talk with you? 

COSBY:  It looked like a comfortable exchange though. 

FAULKNER:  It was a comfortable exchange.  But come on now, Rita, this went on for more than 30 minutes. 

COSBY:  Right, that‘s not an ambush.  Right.

FAULKNER:  At one point, Joran had talked for so long he puts his backpack down on the ground.  And I should say this.  His father arrived sometime during that interview.  Out of purview of the camera when it was over, his dad was standing off to the side and had a few words with Joran about you know, giving the interview. 

It was a situation where he was asked.  He stood there for more than 30 minutes.  He easily could have walked away.  And when he was done, he said, you know what?  I‘ll talk to you guys later.  I got to go.  So, I really think there‘s more to the story.  I know there‘s more to the story.  He said that there‘s more to the story. 

COSBY:  And, in fact, let me show a clip because it‘s interesting.  In it, he talks about, first of all, the night at Carlos ‘n Charlie‘s making it sound like it‘s all consensual.  Take a listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JORAN VAN DER SLOOT:  Well, obviously, she was drunk.  I had stuff to drink too.  But now that I don‘t respect that, the Aruban authorities pinned it that it was a rape case.  She wanted to go with me.  I wanted to go with her.  It was totally consensual.  I had something to drink.  She had something to drink. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  It makes it sound like nothing wrong, no big deal.  Basically, it‘s her responsibility.

FAULKNER:  Well, you know what?  He comes across as a likable young man.  I will tell you that the first thing we wanted to do at “A CURRENT AFFAIR” was show Beth Holloway Twitty the tape, and you can imagine why.  He calls her by name in the interview. 

COSBY:  He even points a finger and says she‘s responsible for all the blockade on Aruba. 

FAULKNER:  Exactly.  And so we sat down and we watched this in its entirety before it ever started airing on “A CURRENT AFFAIR.”  And Beth pointed to a couple of areas of concern, at least this point in particular, legality.  He talks about buying Natalee the very last drink she had.  He was 17 at the time, not of drinking age of Carlos n‘ Charlie‘s, or on the island of Aruba.  I mean, he‘s incriminating himself just by talking, and I can understand why maybe he always has had someone with him, but he‘s a free man.

COSBY:  And he also says they all came up with the lying plan. 

FAULKNER:  Right.

COSBY:  But he leaves some things hanging.  I want to show—this is another comment.  I think this is fascinating, basically saying I‘m not telling you everything.  Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VAN DER SLOOT:  One day I will explain exactly what happened.  But right now I don‘t feel ready to do that. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FAULKNER:  And what is that?  You know, I mean ...

COSBY:  What does he mean?  How long do you need?  What?  Ten years to explain the truth? 

FAULKNER:  Well, and he says in the interview, if Natalee‘s mom wants to know what the truth is tell her to look at the statements and so when we sat down with her, we said, what did the statements say that you saw, Beth?  and she said, well, he said in those statements, according to Beth Twitty, Natalee was in and out of consciousness while they were having sex.  That wouldn‘t be consensual. 

And by the way, when we asked Joran the sex question, he gave three different answers.  First, it was, it‘s none of your business which is the gentlemen way to say it.  Number two was—well and you heard it—she was drinking, I was drinking, it was consensual.  Number three was I didn‘t have sex with her.  The Kalpoe brothers didn‘t—nobody had sex with her.

COSBY:  So he‘s even inconsistent with the no thing (ph).

FAULKNER:  He‘s contradicting himself.  But, I will say this much for Joran Van Der Sloot.  He talked, and he stood there for quite awhile, you know?  So, I mean, he believes what he is saying.

COSBY:  Interesting.  It‘s fascinating to look in his eyes and see him respond.  You guys did a great job.

And coming up, everybody, tomorrow, we‘re going to get reaction from Beth Holloway Twitty, to Joran‘s explosive interview.

Plus, find out why Beth is making a special trip to Philadelphia to help move the investigation along.  That‘s all tomorrow night right here on LIVE & DIRECT.

And coming up tonight, everybody, new information about the brutal murder of a young little girl.  Did the man accused of molesting her best friend take out a 13-year-old witness? 

And big-named celebrities with a big problem: Stalkers.  Coming up, the L.A. investigator who goes undercover to keep the creeps away from the stars.  He joins us undercover on LIVE & DIRECT coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And right now, the hunt is on for a man suspected of brutally killing a 13-year-old girl who told police that he was molesting her best friend.  As we told you last night here on the show, Katelind Caudill was found dead with a shotgun—with a gunshot to her head shortly after she blew the whistle to police.  She pointed the finger at this man that you‘re seeing here, Melvin Keeling. 

Now, he‘s on the run and police think that he may have already killed two other people, two store clerks. 

Joining me now is Katelind‘s aunt, Franki Phelps, and on the phone with us is Major John Newsom with the Warren County, Ohio‘s Sheriff‘s Department. 

Franki, do you have any idea where this man could be?  Do you believe he‘s still in your area? 

FRANKI PHELPS, KATELIND‘S AUNT:  I really wouldn‘t like to speculate on anything like that.  I hope he‘s not.  Because we‘re afraid.  We‘re afraid if he does come back, you know, he might want to finish the job. 

COSBY:  Which is just a frightening thought.  Major Newsom, how dangerous is this man?  Is he armed?  We believe he has some sort of drug history too, correct? 

MAJ. JOHN NEWSOM, WARREN COUNTY SHERIFF‘S DEPARTMENT:  We‘re not going to get into his drug histories.  He‘s never been arrested for anything like that. 

We do believe he‘s armed.  His firearm never turned up, and when his car was found, the firearm wasn‘t in there. 

COSBY:  How concerned should residents be and individuals be with this man on the lam now? 

NEWSOM:  I don‘t think this is anybody that you want to take any action against yourself.  He seems to have a measure of desperation in his actions.  So I think—I think they ought to call local authorities and not even try anything if they think they see him. 

COSBY:  Do you have any substantive leads at this point as to where he may be?  I know last night, they were talking about Chicago.  Do you believe he‘s on the lam, or do you believe he could be in the area? 

NEWSOM:  No, I really think he‘s outside the Cincinnati area now.  He‘s—we have a lot of leads that are still being run down by both our local agencies and also in cooperation with agencies in Gary, Indiana and Chicago. 

COSBY:  I bet it‘s scary.  You know, Franki, as you hear about this man‘s history, if he‘s watching tonight, this man, Melvin Keeling, what would you like to say to him, Franki? 

PHELPS:  That he‘s a coward.  He‘s a small, little man that would want to pick on a 13-year-old.  You know, what kind of man does that?  Except a monster who wants to make himself feel big and has to take it out on a 13-year-old girl, and then shoot two other innocent people who did nothing, nothing at all to them.  And just brutally murdered him—murdered them.  I‘m sorry. 

COSBY:  And it is—it sounds like he‘s obviously out of control. 

You knew him.  There‘s—you know, obviously he had a relationship with the family to some degree.  What type of a person was he?  Are you just stunned that he would do this to, you know, to your beautiful 13-year-old niece? 

PHELPS:  Yes, I am very stunned.  I never thought that it would happen.  I wasn‘t afraid of him.  I just thought he was a lot of talk, you know, a small, little man who just liked to run his mouth and tried to control every situation that he could, because that made him feel like a man. 

COSBY:  What did Katelind‘s grandmother tell you about the day she died?  What did you hear? 

PHELPS:  Well, a neighbor called me and asked me to come over, said something was wrong with Katie.  And from the events of that and from what my mother has told me, you know, she just got her up for school, and my mother went and laid back down.  She heard two bangs, came in, saw Katie‘s light on, and thought she had just taken off for school, and walked off and left the lights on.  And she walked into her room and found her body still twitching and bleeding. 

COSBY:  What kind of a person was Katelind?  She just seems like such a beautiful young girl. 

PHELPS:  She was a very beautiful girl.  And I know our lives will never be the same without her.  We miss her so much.  She was just a very fun-loving, aggravating, (INAUDIBLE) -- aggravates you to death, but that means she loved you.  I used to call her my favorite, and she would just call me if she wanted minutes for her cell phone.  And, of course, aunt Franki would go get her anything I possibly could.  She was a spoiled little brat, but I wouldn‘t have it any other way. 

COSBY:  Well, we hope that you get some answers and your whole family too.  And she‘s a beautiful little girl.  And we want to show everybody now, this is the tipline.  Please, please call if you have any information, if you have seen Melvin Keeling‘s whereabouts.  If you have any tips at all, please give some comfort to this wonderful family.  The number is 513-421-4310. 

And we‘ll be back after the break. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jennifer Aniston and Pamela Anderson have at least one thing in common besides being some of Hollywood‘s A listers: Celebrity stalkers.  Pam Anderson is the latest in a long line of celebrities who now has a restraining order against a suspected culprit. 

Joining me now is Los Angeles Sheriff Department‘s lead investigator detective Rod Wagner.  He joins us in silhouette tonight, because he is undercover, working on cases like this. 

Mr. Wagner, let me ask you, I know you‘re in silhouette, because you are undercover.  What kind of things do you do undercover in these types of cases? 

DET. ROD WAGNER, L.A. SHERIFF DEPARTMENT LEAD INVESTIGATOR:  In these types of cases, we will follow suspects around.  We as well do other cases, besides the stalking, and then threat assessments in my unit.  We also handle kidnappings, extortions, as well as murder for hire. 

COSBY:  Now, Jennifer Aniston, she recently won a restraining order against a man.  Pam Anderson has filed a restraining order.  Is that enough?  Does that ever deter these guys? 

WAGNER:  At times it does, yes. 

COSBY:  It does?  How often does it?  I am surprised to hear that, because I thought most of the time, it does not work. 

WAGNER:  You know, I do not have any statistics on the percentage of time it does prevent this, but when you have a court ordering an individual to stay away, unless it‘s going to be a very hard-core stalking suspect, it will help out. 

COSBY:  How often are the folks hard-core stalkers, who are repeat stalkers?  This isn‘t their first time doing it? 

WAGNER:  Unfortunately, you‘ll have that situation where stalkers will continue to stalk either their intended victim or else move on to another subject. 

COSBY:  What kind of people are stalkers?  Who are these people that do it?  What is going on in their mind? 

WAGNER:  It‘s a good question.  It‘s difficult to say.  A lot of them in my experience have mental health issues, to where if they are not taking their appropriate medications, they are not getting the family support needed, they will go down the wrong path there. 

COSBY:  What is the worst case, and, again, if we can show you in silhouette, because it is incredible, you are undercover there.  What is the worst case that you have seen? 

WAGNER:  Well, that I have personally seen, you have cases where a victim is tormented to where she is just in fear so greatly that it affects her whole livelihood.  She cannot continue her life the way that she had prior to the stalking. 

COSBY:  It‘s frightening when that does happen.  And Detective, thank you very much, keep up the good work, and we appreciate you being with us. 

And still ahead, everybody, Jack Kevorkian is sitting behind bars for helping disabled and sick patients end their lives.  Has he been in jail long enough?  That‘s coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  The man known as Dr. Death, Jack Kevorkian, is sitting behind bars right now, but do you think he should stay there?  I talked to Jack Kevorkian about his time in prison, about all the people that he helped to commit suicide, and about the one death that sent him to prison.  I asked him if he would do it all over again, and if he had any regrets, and if he would help people die again if he were to get out of prison. 

We want to know what you think.  Go to our Web page, rita.MSNBC.com, and answer that question.  Is seven years enough for Dr. Kevorkian?  That‘s what he has spent so far behind bars. 

And then this Thursday night, you got to make sure that you watch my exclusive interview with Dr. Kevorkian, and decide for yourself if Dr.  Death has served his time, or if he should stay put behind bars. 

Fascinating question, and someone we have not heard from in a long time. 

You have got to tune in for that interview.  Again, it‘s on Thursday night.

And that does it for me tonight on LIVE & DIRECT.  I‘m Rita Cosby.  Be sure to stay tuned.  My pal Joe Scarborough is coming up right now.

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

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2005 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes

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