updated 10/4/2005 11:23:49 AM ET 2005-10-04T15:23:49

Guests: Charles Lipcon, Pamela Davis, Vito Colucci, Jack Stephens

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Well, our top headline tonight:  An investigation is launched into whether 100 homicide charges can be handed down in the wake of Katrina.  The Louisiana attorney general may bust hospitals and nursing homes for possible Katrina killings. 

Then, supplies that never get delivered, trailers that remain empty, and Americans whose suffering never seems to end five weeks after Katrina.  We will investigate tonight. 

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required and only common sense allowed. 

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

I hope you had a great weekend.  We have got a lot here tonight.  We‘re going to be talking about new developments in the case of missing honeymooner George Smith IV.  His family has now spoken out.  You‘re going to hear their emotional words and the call for action.  Will their words move the investigation to Capitol Hill?  Well, we‘re going to be talking about that later on in the show. 

But, first, the Louisiana death toll from Katrina hits 964, as another body is discovered in a nursing home.  And the attorney general now says he‘s investigating the deaths of over 100 people during the hurricane.  Should those deaths, could those deaths have been prevented? 

Well, we begin tonight with NBC‘s Donna Gregory.  She‘s live in New Orleans. 

Donna, what can you tell us about this possible investigation? 

DONNA GREGORY, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hey, Joe.

This story just continues to get more horrific with each passing day for the family members of those who died during and after Hurricane Katrina. 

In fact, the coroner says he will investigate allegations of possible euthanasia of some of most of the critical patients when it appeared that the rescuers simply wouldn‘t be able to make it.  We also have word today that the attorney general is spearheading an investigation into six hospitals and 13 nursing homes where all of those patients died during Katrina and during the flooding that immediately followed. 

One of those hospitals is the main public hospital here in New Orleans, Charity Hospital.  And one of the nursing homes is the one you mentioned, where another body was found, the beleaguered St. Rita Nursing Home in St. Bernard Parish, where, as we mentioned, the body of a woman was found with a feeding tube.  That just happened.  And they‘re not sure if she was a patient in the nursing home.  But they‘re going to be investigating that. 

This is the same nursing home that‘s in St. Bernard Parish where our crews videotaped searches going on.  These are secondary searches of these homes.  And these rescue crews said they found three bodies in just the last few days.  So it‘s very serious here, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thank you so much, NBC‘s Donna Gregory. 

Greatly appreciate it. 

You know, friends, when you‘re in charge of a hospital, when you‘re in charge of a nursing home, you have a higher standard of care that you owe people that are taken care of.  I mean, let‘s look at it this way.  Certainly, if we have to take our friends or loved ones to a hospital or if we have to take our—any members of our family, God forbid, to a nursing home, we expect them to be treated much better than, again, if they were staying in a hospital or elsewhere. 

There‘s a higher responsibility.  There are higher levels of regulations.  And when people that control these—these institutions don‘t step up, they should be held liable, the attorney general of the state of Louisiana, again, investigating charges of possibly—and, again, we‘re just saying possibly—over 100 counts of negligent homicide. 

Now, earlier today, Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti said the

patients should not have been left behind.  This is what he said—quote -

“You decide you want to leave the hurricane, that‘s fine.  But when you have the custody, you have somebody placed in your care”—and that‘s what I was talking about—“you have to use reasonable care to protect them.” 

And that‘s the $64,000 question right now.  Was reasonable care used in this case or not? 

Let‘s go right now—want to go to Sheriff Jack Stephens.  He‘s a man who has seen the nightmare up close down there.  He‘s the sheriff of St.  Bernard Parish. 

Sheriff, thank you for being with us tonight. 

What‘s your take on the investigation into these deaths?  Do you believe, do others believe that they could have been prevented at hospitals and also at nursing homes if reasonable care had been used to save these elderly people? 

JACK STEPHENS, SHERIFF OF ST. BERNARD PARISH:  Well, Joe, this is a question that came up immediately after we discovered that there were multiple fatalities at St. Rita‘s Nursing Home. 

Questions immediately started to rise as to what the protocol should have been at other medical facilities and senior resident facilities in the New Orleans metropolitan area.  And I think it‘s just an ongoing tragedy with regards to this horrible weather event that we have had here that has exposed so many weaknesses in our emergency systems and certainly in our evacuation system. 

But in terms of—and I just heard what you just mentioned about standard of care.  Someone asked me whether I thought the attorney general‘s original charges were warranted.  And my response was, I had almost 400 prisoners in my parish jail and they were in my custody.  And I took care to evacuate them.  And I think the residents of these nursing homes should have been at least afforded the same opportunity as the inmates that I had in Parish Prison, and that is to escape the worst, the worst of the storm. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Sheriff Stephens, I have got friends that own nursing homes over in Mississippi in the areas that are impacted.  They had an evacuation plan.  They got their people out safely. 

And, really, but what you say tonight I think is even more compelling, that, in the wake of Katrina, as this hurricane was crashing on shores, your inmates got better treatment than senior citizens in New Orleans whose families, whose loved ones paid a lot of money to have them taken care of. 

I mean, if that‘s what it comes down to, do you think the attorney general could move forward with charges, possibly? 

STEPHENS:  Absolutely. 

I spoke to General Foti about an hour-and-a-half ago.  And he was giving me some of the background of some of the—basically, the widest scope of this investigation.  He said there were at least 100 deaths that he ruled as questionable right now, and they were being very aggressive with regard to try to get the facts together. 

The body that we found in the vicinity of St. Rita‘s, he advised me, had not been definitively been designated as a resident of that.  But Charlie Foti is the former sheriff of Orleans Parish.  I don‘t know if you know that.  He has been in law enforcement most of his political and professional life.  He‘s a good man.  He has a good team of investigators with him.

And I think he‘s going to do the right thing here.  You know, whether it was negligence or whether it was something more, maybe even a high degree of criminal activity, of felonious activity here, I know he‘ll get to the bottom of.  And I think this—this tragedy at St. Rita‘s and the ongoing investigation in multiple deaths at these medical facilities really is—paints a pretty iconic picture of what is going on with this storm. 

It‘s almost like we‘re living in a post-apocalyptic world in the New Orleans metropolitan area.  And it‘s difficult to describe to people the conditions we‘re facing here.  But this—this singular tragedy of St.  Rita‘s and the expanding investigation now certainly are representative of the horror and the grief and the pain this whole area is suffering. 

MATTHEWS:  And, Sheriff, as NBC‘s Donna Gregory reported at the top of our show, the horror may be taken to another level.  There are reports that the coroner is now investigating the possibility that some of these patients may have been killed.  Euthanasia may have been applied to them as so-called mercy killings, so they would die before the storm hit. 

Have you heard any rumors of that? 

STEPHENS:  As a matter of fact, there have been rumors.  I won‘t mention the specific location.  When it is—when and if it is disclosed, I‘m sure it will come as a shock to most people.  But it‘s just—you know, everyone is just mortified by these events.  But the pain that people feel with regards to the loss of these seniors has just—has spread throughout Louisiana.

And I know I have talked to several of the families who had loved ones in St. Rita‘s.  And the grief is just palpable.  They feel that they let them down in a way by having them in the institution.  And it‘s just, again, hard to understand, if we could take the care as parish sheriffs to evacuate our inmates, why couldn‘t these facilities take the care to evacuate their residents? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Sheriff, that is—that is probably the most damning question of the night.  Thank you so much for being with us.  And God bless you and all the people that stayed there with you to help the people of your beleaguered area. 

I know you guys have been hit the hardest, but, again, we thank you for staying there and helping, and helping your people, when so many others fled. 

STEPHENS:  Thank you, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Sheriff.

Let‘s move on now.

I want to go to presidential historian Doug Brinkley.  Doug is writing a book, actually, on Katrina. 

Doug, boy, the sheriff, talk about a damning indictment, saying, my inmates got better care than these elderly people and also even younger people that were in hospitals who were basically left to die.  Talk about that, if you will.  And can you think of another instance in American history recently where so many people were left behind to die? 

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, NBC ANALYST:  Well, you know, two of the things you‘re talking about, Charity Hospital and St. Rita, they‘re two of the truly ugly chapters of Hurricane Katrina. 

St. Rita, it‘s hard to even imagine, the people that ran the facility,

what they‘re—what they‘re like as human beings to abandon that many

people that were dependent on them and just flee and let them die.  It is a

it really adds a kind of nasty, stinging ugliness to the whole Katrina mess. 

               

I will say that you‘re going to find people when you—when you—I have talked to a lot of the—and just residences and people in housing projects, many people with Alzheimer‘s disease, or people that were being home-cared, but were kind of hindrances to people, got left behind, meaning people in their 80s who maybe didn‘t have their mental facilities with them.

And so they—you know, you‘re going to be getting more and more of these kind of stories.  But I think St. Rita‘s is the worst. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Doug, what—we know that scapegoating is always par for the course in any tragedy that hits, but it seems, in this case, there are so many people that deserve, legitimately deserve, criticism, whether you‘re talking about the feds, or people at the state level, the local level.  Now we‘re talking about business owners, hospital owners. 

What‘s the sense in the New Orleans community right now about these hospitals and these nursing homes, again, who it looks like, again, didn‘t afford adequate treatment to their people, allowed inmates to be treated better than their people?  I mean, obviously, if there are charges down the road, it‘s going to be the people of New Orleans, the jury pools from New Orleans, that will determine whether these people go to jail or get out. 

What—what‘s the sense down there in New Orleans right now in these cases? 

BRINKLEY:  Well, you know, I think Charles Foti has been an outstanding kind of moral force here.  He‘s making it clear that these things aren‘t going to be swept under the rug. 

One of dilemmas New Orleans is facing is, on the one hand, something like a place like Ochsner Hospital, that did a great job, people want to talk about those doctors who worked those 18-hour shifts and did miraculous work rescuing people.  On the other hand, you don‘t want to forget Charity Hospital, which, you know, just collapsed into a ridiculous muddle of mistakes.

And so, it‘s a sort of a kind of yin and yang situation.  Everybody on one hand wants to talk about the new New Orleans and how unique the culture is, with jazz and great architecture.  And, on the other, hand, it‘s just a wiped-out community.  You have tens of thousands of homes that are—that can‘t be repaired. 

And so, I think people are still a bit in that dazed and confused stage and they‘re trying to figure out what to do next.  But there‘s a lot of anger directed towards FEMA, a lot towards Mayor Nagin, a lot towards Governor Blanco.  And it‘s anger that‘s not going to go away quickly. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it. 

Doug, stay with us.  I‘m glad you brought up FEMA, because, when we come back, I‘ll tell you what.  We are going to about FEMA and how our government is still getting it wrong. 

Katrina evacuees are still waiting for a home and they say the government promised them they would have some sort of shelter several weeks back.  Well, you‘re going to be shocked when you see what‘s really going on there. 

And then, it‘s been three months since George Smith IV disappeared on his honeymoon cruise.  Now his family breaks its silence, and a congressional investigation is sure to follow.  You‘re going to want to hear their emotional words and their call for action.  That‘s being heard in Washington tonight. 

We‘re just getting started in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Don‘t go away. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  George Smith IV would have turned 27 years old today.  Now his family finally breaks their silence.  We will read that emotional statement to you when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  So, it‘s been five weeks since Hurricane Katrina struck, and yet FEMA‘s spending more than $1 billion for 120,000 trailer homes.  There‘s a problem, friends.  Fewer than 1,000 families have moved in. 

Tonight, victims say they‘re victims of a broken promise.  Big surprise. 

With more on the FEMA fumbles, here‘s NBC‘s Rehema Ellis. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REHEMA ELLIS, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Good evening, Joe.

It‘s another night in shelters for thousands of people across the state and no definite word on when that will change. 

(voice-over):  Veronica Braggs (ph) has been living in a FEMA shelter for a month because she has nowhere else to go. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We need to get out of here. 

ELLIS:  She and other relatives have been sharing space here in Baton Rouge with 875 people.  Braggs and so many others, like Rhonda Brown, have been promised a trailer by FEMA, but have no idea when they‘ll get one. 

RHONDA BROWN, EVACUEE:  I‘m really ready to settle down. 

ELLIS (on camera):  There are trailers available like these, nearly 600 of them just down the road from Baton Rouge.  But it‘s hard to find out when they‘ll be ready for people to move in. 

(voice-over):  There is progress in St. Tammany Parish near New Orleans, where Kevin Davis, parish president, got 300 trailers delivered yesterday, only after he threatened to go take them from FEMA. 

KEVIN DAVIS, PRESIDENT, ST. TAMMANY PARISH:  Got them here.  There is hope.  We‘re going to get them to our citizens just as fast as I can talk to them and convince them to start mobilizing. 

ELLIS:  With so many people left homeless by Katrina, FEMA reportedly spent $1 billion for 120,000 trailers.  But because they have to install plumbing and electricity, they admit they‘ve only been able to move less than 700 people into those trailers. 

RON SHERMAN, FEMA HOUSING TASK FORCE:  That‘s not fast enough for me and it‘s not fast enough for my folks.  We have been working very hard at this at this and we need to work faster. 

ELLIS:  But officials at the state‘s planning office say they have run out of patience. 

JERRY JONES, LOUISIANA OFFICE OF FACILITY PLANNING:  It‘s time to change the rule book, changing playbook, and let‘s get something that actually does work. 

ELLIS:  Five weeks after the storm and so many still waiting for permanent shelter. 

(on camera):  Late today, FEMA officials said they hope to start moving families into trailers near here sometime this week—Joe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks so much, Rehema.

Doug Brinkley continues.  Just FEMA mistakes continue to pile up.  You were an early critic of this agency, even before other people were complaining about it.  Again, I ask you, as a historian, for some sort of perspective.  Can you think of any other federal agency that‘s botched a relief effort or a national emergency as much as FEMA has botched Hurricane Katrina‘s aftermath?           

BRINKLEY:  Well, you know, when Lyndon Johnson had his Great Society programs and even, to some extent, some of FDR‘s New Deal, you starting feeling government programs got large and bloated.  That was part of the Republican revolution of Ronald Reagan to cut back on these things.  FEMA is a Jimmy Carter-era creation. 

And it started as a very viable, almost SWAT team for emergencies.  As you‘ve said on your show many times, Joe, it worked very well with Jeb Bush in Florida in recent hurricanes.  But I think, under the leadership of Mr.  Brown and the fact that FEMA got placed into Homeland Security and a kind of bureaucratic inertia came to it, and people didn‘t understand the distinctive nature of particularly the city of New Orleans, with the Pontchartrain, Mississippi River, whole levee system, it‘s just been a recipe for disaster. 

And, as you mentioned on the outset of your show, “The New York Times”‘ Scott Shane and Eric Lipton wrote an extraordinary article about all the ice, in which about 91,000...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Doug, I‘m glad—Doug, I‘m glad you brought that up.  This is what I don‘t understand.

We had Lisa Myers on this show.  She did an investigation several weeks ago, talking about the ice, how they were rerouting it all over the place.  We read “The New York Times” yesterday.  They have an extraordinary article that‘s really a follow-up three, four weeks later.  You‘ve got FEMA spending $1 billion on housing.  They‘ve got 700 people in.  There are Americans out there that are sick and tired of this. 

And, listen, it‘s not just in New Orleans, as you know.  I have been going to Mississippi over and over again, and I‘m hearing the same complaints from Mississippi officials, that FEMA is dropping the ball every step of the way.  I mean, what‘s going on here?  Why can‘t this federal agency figure it out? 

BRINKLEY:  I think they don‘t communicate with each other.  I think it‘s become just such a shell of an organization.  The public doesn‘t respect them anymore. 

The people particularly in the Gulf Coast region have zero respect.  They virtually laugh or walk away when a FEMA official comes.  The private sector has now been burned by—you know, by FEMA.  And it‘s not just that the ice got turned back, but you take all these companies that were trying to bring supplies down.  They lost supplies because FEMA didn‘t do anything with them.

I think President Bush has to move in very quickly and reorganize FEMA, make it a national priority, and put somebody as a reconstruction czar who would also have to be in charge of FEMA, somebody quickly in the federal government. The Bush administration has got to get control of this organization, because the very word FEMA now is becoming such a joke nationally that you almost have to abolish the agency and start from scratch if some really quick repair work isn‘t done, and I‘m talking about within the week. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  I agree with you, Doug Brinkley. 

And for those people that are saying we need to federalize everything, of course, Jeb Bush is opposed to that.  Alabama Governor Bob Riley is opposed to it.  And you look how badly FEMA is doing, it certainly doesn‘t help those people who believe the fed should step in more strongly. 

Doug Brinkley, as always, thank you so much for being with us and providing such important perspective. 

BRINKLEY:  Thank you.  Hey, thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now to Washington, D.C.  The Oval Office was the setting today, as President Bush introduced his second Supreme Court nomination, Harriet Miers.  But a lot of people out there aren‘t really pleased with the president‘s selection. 

With me now to talk about the pick is MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan. 

Pat, you‘ve written about this.  I got to tell you, the tipoff was this morning, when I saw George Bush, who seemed quite gleeful standing next to John Roberts when he nominated him.  This morning, it looked like a morgue inside the White House.  What‘s going on with this pick?  Why did he pick Harriet Miers? 

PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, if you look at Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, they were all smiles today, Joe. 

Well, the president‘s problem is, he picked someone who—for the fact that she‘s a woman and the fact she‘s a friend of his and his personal lawyer.  I think he‘s subject to a charge of cronyism and affirmative action in a critical appointment to the United States Supreme Court.  And I think the president‘s base is on fire and up in arms. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Is she not qualified? 

BUCHANAN:  She is—I don‘t know what her qualifications are to sit alongside John Roberts and Antonin Scalia, no. 

She‘s not a famous jurist.  She‘s not even a judge.  She‘s not a great legal scholar.  She‘s a good friend of the president‘s and a competent lawyer.  But there are 100,000 of those in the United States of America.  If she weren‘t the president...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, I talked to somebody tonight, Pat—I talked to somebody in the White House tonight who was reviewing the process out there and what has been going on today, and they said—quote—“It‘s getting ugly out there.”

Do you think the White House is in trouble with its base? 

BUCHANAN:  Oh, it‘s in trouble with its base.  I think Ms. Miers will go through.  Republicans will just nod and go along.  And I think the Democrats are delighted.  They‘re relieved.  The great battle didn‘t happen.

They thought they would be fighting a Luttig or some figure that could change the direction of the Supreme Court.  I think the president could have blown an historic opportunity, Joe, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to redirect the United States Supreme Court. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Why did he do it? 

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t know.  It looks like he doesn‘t want a fight. 

Secondly, it looks like Mr. Bush may be more comfortable simply rewarding friends than really reaching for greatness.  Again, I think—I mean, he‘s got some wonderful appointments to the appellate court.  Roberts was considered a coup, a 10-strike.  I can‘t understand why he did it, unless you say, the president‘s under fire; he‘s hurting; he‘s weak; he didn‘t want to fight. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Pat, the—and conservatives—well, let‘s say movement conservatives out there may disagree with this, but, you know, I have talked to the president one on one, talked to him about court picks one on one back when I was in Congress for some time. 

I can tell you, at his core, George W. Bush is a very conservative man when it comes to judicial nominations.  Don‘t you think it‘s possible, likely, that he‘s talked to this lady, that he understands that, really, she is a conservative, and when she gets on the court, she‘s going to deliver the votes that conservatives want and that the president wants on, let‘s say, Roe v. Wade? 

BUCHANAN:  Let me ask you something, Joe.  Edith Jones is younger than Harriet Miers.  She‘s got a dozen years on the federal appellate bench.  She‘s more conservative.  She‘s tested.  She‘s a fighter.  She‘s a warrior. 

Even her critics would say she was qualified, although they might try to stop her.  Why has Harriet Miers been appointed and Edith Jones has not? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, Pat, a lot of people would say, though, Pat, again, just playing devil‘s advocate here—actually, I agree with you—but just playing devil‘s advocate, a lot of people would say, we‘re sick and tired of everybody coming out of Harvard or Yale or clerking for a Supreme Court judge and then being a judge their entire life.  Isn‘t it great that we finally have somebody that‘s not an elitist, that went to SMU, that understands politics, that‘s sort of—sort of a product of Middle America, a Middle American success story? 

BUCHANAN:  Joe, she could have gone to Bob Jones University if she were a great acknowledged legal scholar. 

The Supreme Court is the acme.  It‘s the highest point of the profession.  The whole nation respects it.  You ought to have excellence there.  Can you tell me this is the most excellent choice he could have made, whether she‘s in politics or out of politics or on the court or not?  I don‘t think so. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, Pat Buchanan, as always the case with these Supreme Court nominees, history will be—be the ultimate judge.  And we will find out later. 

But thank you for being with us, Pat.  Greatly appreciate it. 

BUCHANAN:  Thank you, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up next, we have got a major development in the case of George Smith IV.  He, of course, is the missing honeymooner.  For the first time, his family is speaking out.  You‘re going to here their emotional words.  And could a congressional investigation, which we have been calling from the very beginning, finally break this case open? 

That‘s all coming up next when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Today would be George Smith IV‘s 27th birthday.  That‘s why his family is finally speaking out several months after the missing honeymooner disappeared and is considered dead.  We will have that story and much more coming up. 

But, first, here‘s the latest news you and your family need to know. 

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Nearly three months ago, George Smith IV vanished from his honeymoon cruise.  And today, he would have turned 27 years old. 

Now, for the first time, his family is breaking their silence and you‘re going to hear their emotional words in just a few minutes.  You‘re also going to hear about the call from Connecticut Congressman Christopher Shays for a congressional investigation into the cruise lines.  We have been calling for that for quite some time.  Now, Congressman Shays is going to be in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY tomorrow night.  And he‘s going to tell us what he plans to do. 

E-mail us the questions you want asked of the congressman, not just about this case, but, more importantly, about the cruise liners and what they‘ve been—in my opinion, what they‘ve been getting away with for far too long.  And, also, whatever you want the investigation, what direction you want it to move.  E-mail us that, too, and we will get it to him. 

Now, there‘s a lot of confusion out there about this case, about the evidence, and about what it all means.  Former FBI agent Clint Van Zandt sat down with “Dateline NBC” and he broke down all the evidence that we have so far.  A lot of that evidence, of course, came from us here in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY first. 

Well, here‘s “Dateline NBC”‘s Dennis Murphy with that part of the story. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLINT VAN ZANDT, MSNBC ANALYST:  First, in a case like this, you‘ve got to go in and you have got say, well, what happened?  We have got a missing person.  OK.  If he‘s gone, is it a homicide; is it a suicide; is it an accident? 

DENNIS MURPHY, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  What about an accident?  Both witnesses either side the Smith cabin noticed one of the metal balcony chairs had been turned around, so that its back was near the four-foot-tall railing.  Hypothetically, did George Smith foolishly perch on the balcony rail for literally a last cigarette? 

VAN ZANDT:  I put the chair up against the balcony.  I sit up on the edge.  I have a cigarette.  The ship hits a bump or something and I go over the side?  We can‘t say that didn‘t happen, because we don‘t have the body to get the forensics from.  So, I cannot at all discount the idea of an accident.

MURPHY:  The former FBI man eliminates suicide right away, since there‘s nothing that he sees in George Smith‘s background to remotely suggest it.

VAN ZANDT:  We get homicide and accident.  We take our legal pad.  We draw a line down the middle and then we start to build a case on either side and see which one we can support with the evidence.

MURPHY:  We looked at each bit of evidence in turn, starting with the photo of the bloodstain.

VAN ZANDT:  When you look at this picture here, you see this point right here.  That looks like that was pooling blood.  This is 10 feet-plus wide here, so, if a human body fell here, if this is perhaps evidence of a head injury.

MURPHY (on camera):  A bleeding kind of injury, right?

VAN ZANDT:  A bleeding, where there was continued bleeding.  It can be blood that had been contaminated with water, sea spray, something like that, that made it spread out like this.  Perhaps, George Smith, by whatever means went over the balcony two floors down.  He crashes on top of this metal awning.  He lays there for awhile.  He‘s already bleeding.  He bleeds out a little bit.  And then he starts to crawl. 

Does he pick himself up?  Does he zig when he should have zagged?  Or does someone come up on the body and help it over the side?

MURPHY:  Does this picture tell you:  I am the victim of an accident;

I‘m a victim of foul play? ‘

VAN ZANDT:  Don‘t we wish.

MURPHY (voice-over):  Since the bloodstain doesn‘t tell the full story, that makes the statements by witnesses all that more important, here, not eyewitnesses so much as ear-witnesses, the two sets of people in the cabins on either side of the Smiths, starting with the deputy police chief Clete Hyman, a 31-year law enforcement veteran.

VAN ZANDT:  In this particular case this is a cop who‘s kind of leaning forward in the saddle and saying, “What‘s going on next door?”

CLETE HYMAN, PASSENGER ON CRUISE:  I saw three younger males walking down the hallway. 

MURPHY:  Assuming those three people had just come from George‘s room, Van Zandt thinks that could be important for the foul-play theory.  Remember, they had been a group of five.

VAN ZANDT:  Four as a posse, plus George.  Five.  Three out the door. 

George is still there.  Where is the other person?  And who is that? 

Somewhere in between is the story of that fourth person.

MURPHY:  And something else in the police officer‘s recollection intrigues Van Zandt.  After the three leave, the business about a lone voice in the cabin.

VAN ZANDT:  The challenge here is this single voice.  Is this, this alleged highly intoxicated man talking to himself?  Or, is this, perhaps, George Smith laid out on a bed and this other person still in the room of this group of four?  One is still there?

MURPHY (on camera):  The chief hears that voice moving.

VAN ZANDT:  Who‘s up moving around, opening and closing cabinet doors?  What would George Smith be looking for if he‘s opening and closing cabinet doors, moving furniture?  Or what could somebody else be looking for?

MURPHY (voice-over):  Likewise, Van Zandt thinks the couple through the other cabin wall, Pat and Greg Lawyer‘s description of loud noises, is an important clue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What it sounds to me like is, somebody was throwing things against the wall, like throwing furniture in the room against the wall or against the floor. 

MURPHY (on camera):  Purely speculation:.  What the couple hears, what they regard as this kind of violent moving about of furniture. 

VAN ZANDT:  Yes. 

MURPHY:  Could it be a physical fight? 

VAN ZANDT:  What we‘re missing is:  Why are you doing this to me? 

Don‘t hit me again.  You no-good so-and-so.

We‘re missing the profanity that might normally accompany this type of fisticuff.  Now, it doesn‘t mean it didn‘t happen.  And it may mean that one person was simply not capable of talking.

MURPHY (voice-over):  What Jennifer has said of events is known by the FBI, but not us.  We do know that she‘s not a suspect in the foul play theory and the investigators likely do know where she was in those early morning hours.

VAN ZANDT:  Probably by the security cameras on board the ship, by statements of people who may have seen her, and by her key card, that at least would have showed what time she went in and out of the room, if she did at that critical night.

MURPHY:  As for the three Russian Boys, it would be very helpful to line up their statements against those of the people on either side of the cabin and with Josh.  But, like Jennifer, we don‘t know what they‘ve said.  The FBI does.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Josh is back in bed by 5:15 that morning. 

MURPHY:  And that leaves us with Josh‘s statement, as told through his lawyer.

VAN ZANDT:  Josh is a critical piece of information here.

MURPHY:  Van Zandt wonders about Josh‘s account of being in the Smith cabin bathroom as the Russians settle down a drunken George.

VAN ZANDT:  He knows they put him to bed.  They take his shoes off.  How does he know that if he‘s in the bathroom?  I‘m missing that aspect of it.

MURPHY:  And then there‘s the bootlegged Turkish deposition video.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m not letting her go to jail.  I‘m not letting her go to jail. 

(CROSSTALK)

VAN ZANDT:  All of a sudden, he‘s pointing fingers at other people.  I mean, that‘s interesting.  I want to take that information, but I also got to take a step back and say:  Why are you bringing other people into this when I‘m only saying What do you know about it, not what do you know about others.

MURPHY:  In response to Van Zandt, Josh‘s lawyer says George‘s disappearance was very upsetting to his client and that Josh has been honest and forthcoming with authorities.

Keep in mind, FBI investigators have many more interviews, photos and presumably forensic evidence than we‘ve talked about with Clint Van Zandt.

But it maybe most intrigues the former criminal-mind profiler that the bureau is still actively working the investigation at a time when the agency has many other demands on it.

MURPHY (on camera):  When you look at all what we are calling the evidence, if you rule out suicide, where do you come down between accident and foul play?

VAN ZANDT:  I‘m the surfer and I‘m right on the line between here the two.  I have a hard time ruling out foul play.

MURPHY:  Are we ever going to know what happened to George Smith?

VAN ZANDT:  I think we will.  I think that, somewhere between the men that had access to George, to Jennifer, to the cabin, be they passengers or be they crew members, there‘s too many people, Dennis, not for somebody to break from the pack and roll over and tell us the story.  So, I think we‘re going to know.

MURPHY (voice-over):  If so, know the end to a marriage that lasted only 11 days, the sad voyage of Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  That was “Dateline NBC”‘s Dennis Murphy. 

And, as we have mentioned, there‘s been a major development in this case.  For the first time, the Smith family is breaking their silence.  And you‘re going to hear their words coming up next. 

But, first, I‘m joined by Tucker Carlson.  And he‘s host, of course, of “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON.” 

Tucker, what‘s your take on the Supreme Court nomination by the president earlier today? 

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION”:  I think this is a moment, Joe, we‘re going to look back at five years from now and say, that was the moment Bush began to lose the people who supported him all along. 

Nothing Bush can do will make the left like him.  He could nationalize the railroads, throw everyone in Halliburton in prison, make abortion mandatory, and they would still hate him.  They would always hate him.  But it‘s his base, the people who love him, who voted for him in 2000 and in 2004, who were turned off, I think, by this decision today to nominate Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.  I think this was a huge mistake on the part of the president.  And I think that‘s going to become clear very soon, including on our show.  We are going to talk about that extensively.

The left doesn‘t even support her.  It‘s a disaster. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks so much, Tucker. 

Make sure you tune in to “THE SITUATION” next at 11:00.  Great show, as always. 

Now, coming up next, the emotional words from the family of George Smith IV.  We will give those words to you when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Right now, you‘re looking at some of the last photos of George and Jennifer Smith. 

As I said earlier in the show, today is George‘s 27th birthday.  And his family is using this time to finally break their silence.  Now George Smith‘s family has released a powerful statement.  And let me read part of it to you. 

They said: “George was such a wonderful son, brother, uncle, cousin, nephew, and husband for a short time and a very loyal friend to many, many people.  His life was cut short when a horrific tragedy occurred while aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise during his much awaited honeymoon.  The phone calls relaying this news to the family were surreal, heart-wrenching, and chilling.  How could this have happened?  Who was responsible?  When information from the American Embassy in Turkey was originally released to the family, George‘s sister, Bree (ph), an attorney, quickly realized something was horribly amiss. 

“There was much more to this tragedy than we originally suspected.  Contacting the FBI on July the 5th, Bree was able to get the Connecticut agents involved.”

George‘s parents, Maureen (ph) and George III, left a few days later for Greece and began their own search.  They met with the American ambassador to Greece and the Greek Coast Guard, posted pictures of their son, and visited hospitals, all with invaluable and compassionate assistance of the American Embassy in Athens.”

The family thanks the FBI and their communities of Greenwich and Cromwell, Connecticut.  And they go on to say—quote—“Congressman Christopher Shays and his staff have been extremely supportive and responsive throughout this ordeal.  Our family is seeking legislation that would create affirmative obligations and responsibilities for cruise lines in protecting their passengers.  If this is a cause that you believe in as well, please contact your local congressman or senator in memory of George.  Although we can never replace a person of his stature and character, we believe his legacy can be the one that helps families spared of tragedy like ours. 

“We would like to thank the hundreds of people who have lifted our spirits with heartwarming cards and condolences, hugs and prayers.  It gives us comfort knowing that so many people cared for him.  And remembering the lives he touched continues to help us through this unbelievable and heartbreaking time.  Warm regards, Jennifer, George, Maureen, Bree, and family.”

With me now to talk about this case, we have got private investigator Vito Colucci, criminal defense attorney Pamela Davis, and maritime attorney Charles Lipcon. 

Let me begin with you, Vito. 

Talk about This investigation.  Talk about the congressional investigation that‘s coming up.  Do you think that can do anything to help us figure out what really happened to George on the night of July of the 4th

VITO COLUCCI, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR:  I think, Joe, it‘s going to help more for anything in the future.  Kudos to Congressman Shays, my congressman from Connecticut.  I think it‘s great that he‘s going forward to this. 

I don‘t know how much it‘s going to help this case.  I think it‘s back in the spotlight again after these hurricanes.  I have all the confidence still in the Connecticut FBI.  I have dealt with them since I was an undercover organized crime cop, I deal with them now as a private detective.  And they are really good, the Connecticut office. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Pam, why now?  The investigation is moving forward.  The congressman is stepping forward into the fray.  Do you think this could make a difference in moving the investigation forward, putting pressure on all parties involved? 

PAMELA DAVIS, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  I think it‘s a perfect opportunity to put a little more pressure on the investigation that‘s going on. 

A lot of things have been happening and taken it out of the spotlight.  And I think, for the family, it is important that we have a congressman stepping forward and saying, you know, don‘t lose sight of this and keep the pressure on.  And I think the earlier segment talked about the fact that there is likely evidence out there that we don‘t know about.  And the FBI has likely been pursuing this the whole time.  But it is good that it‘s back in the spotlight and, you know, Congress is going to be hopefully taking a look at it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Charles, the family talked about how they believe that cruise lines should have an obligation to protect their people. 

Talk about that aspect of this case, the fact that so many people die or disappear or apparently are raped on these cruise lines, and, yet, from what we have heard from guests in the past, so few of them ever seem to be brought to justice, so many of the aggressors. 

CHARLES LIPCON, MARITIME ATTORNEY:  Well, I think you have to give a lot of credit to the family here to try and bring something good out of this terrible tragedy that has occurred. 

And because it‘s in the spotlight with the media with all of this attention, this is the great opportunity to actually move it forward.  Once before, it was brought up in Congress and it went nowhere.  And I‘m very hopeful that, this time, something really can be done that will help people in the future avoid this type of heartache.  And I think—you know, I think you just have to take your hat off to this family, in the depth of the tragedy that‘s occurred to them, to think about other people.  And that shows you what kind of family that this really is. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  No doubt about it, Charles.  And, of course, it‘s got to be heartbreaking. 

I will ask our panel to stand by. 

It‘s got to be heartbreaking.  You consider, again, this is his 27th birthday, 27th birthday today, terrible for the parents.  I can tell you, though, for me, I also—I‘m so glad the family stepped forward, because they want to start holding the cruise lines accountable for the fact, again, that, when something happens on a ship, you just don‘t have the same protections that you‘d have if it happened on a plane or if it happened at a resort, on land somewhere. 

Now, we are going to come back to our panel when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns and have a lot more on the case of George Smith IV and the congressional investigation that may crack this case wide open. 

That‘s coming up when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s bring back our panel right now. 

And I want to go to Pamela Davis. 

Pamela, what strikes you the most about the family‘s statement released today, on his 27th birthday? 

DAVIS:  I think that, for me, it shows that the family is finally able to deal a little bit with the pain and the suffering and this tragedy that they have gone through.

And I realize that there will be some cynical people out there who think that maybe they are making a public statement because there is some civil lawsuit pending in the future.  But, you know, from a legal perspective, for myself, I think it‘s the—the family is ready to come out and to, you know, accept that this tragedy is a—is a public moment and that, you know, they would like to have some assistance and they would like Congress to step up and to assist in this process. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks so much, Pamela.  Greatly appreciate it.

Vito, thank you. 

Charles, as always, appreciate you being in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

And, friends, you can make a difference.  E-mail us at Joe.MSNBC.com.  We are going to have the congressman leading the investigation on tomorrow night.  We are going to take your questions.  Give it to him.  Help this family ease their pain, end their suffering and get answers.  What happened to their 27-year-old son?

We will be right back in a minute. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Friends, we showed you earlier how FEMA was wasting our tax dollars.  But, as the Gulf Coast is recovering for Hurricane Katrina, we are going to following the money.  If you have any examples of waste or outrageous spending in this relief effort, send me an e-mail at Joe@MSNBC.com.  We are going to be the watchdog when nobody else is watching your money. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.

You know, again, you heard on the tease me talking about money wasted when I was in Washington.  I don‘t know if I have ever told you that before, but, yes, I was in Congress.  And I saw that congressmen and senators wasted billions of dollars.  We are going to make sure that the Katrina money is not wasted.  You are going to help us by being a citizen journalist. 

That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Let‘s go on right now to

“THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON.” 

Tucker, what is the situation tonight? 

CARLSON:  Good for you, Joe, by the way.  I‘m glad you‘re doing that.

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

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