Guests: Jack Hickey, Joe Cantamessa, Susan Filan, Mark Souder
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight‘s top headline, justice for George. A congressional committee opens an investigation into the cruise industry, after what missing honeymooner George Smith‘s family calls a cruise line cover-up.
Now, we‘re going to have a preview of that hearing, the latest on the investigation. Plus, the Smith family talks about his wife, Jennifer Hagel.
Then, on the eve of the Iraqi elections, the president lays out a plan for the future, and NBC News has an exclusive interview. And we will bring you all the details.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. No passport required, 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: Thanks so much for being with us tonight. Greatly appreciate it.
Now, I‘m in Washington for the congressional hearings that we‘re going to be talking about in just a minute. Plus, going to be talking about the movie version of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” It was the top movie of the weekend, and Disney purposely marketed this movie to a certain group, Christian conservatives. We will look at that and ask why.
But, first, right now tonight all eyes on a California prison, where Stanley “Tookie” Williams is scheduled to die by lethal injection in just a few hours. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger denied Williams‘ clemency earlier this afternoon.
And MSNBC‘s Rita Cosby is going to witness Tookie‘s execution.
She is with me now, live from San Quentin State Prison.
And, Rita, you have been out there. If you will, set the scene for us tonight with the execution planned just a few short hours from now.
RITA COSBY, HOST, “RITA COSBY: LIVE & DIRECT”: Yes.
And, in fact, Joe, it‘s slated to take place five hours from now. And a number of the people out here, most of these folks are Tookie supporters. They were hoping that the death penalty would not be carried out, that the execution—something would happen, that maybe a last-minute appeal or that Governor Schwarzenegger would decide to grant him clemency or at least try to delay it at least by a few days to reconsider.
And I can tell you, when they found out midday today, so much steam, so much disappointment by the people out here, who are, again, Tookie supporters. Also, then the word came down from the U.S. Supreme Court just about an hour ago saying that they will not block the execution. And that was the last hope for Stanley “Tookie” Williams, who of course was the co-founder of the Crips gang, responsible and convicted of killing four people.
That conviction took place in 1981, and that‘s when he was sent to death row here in San Quentin, where he‘s been ever since. The scene outside here, lots of celebrities have taken up the cause for Tookie Williams, saying that this is a guy who‘s written eight children‘s books, and also his autobiography as well, and a guy who they say has convinced a lot of kids to stop being on gangs, to drop gangs, to drop violence.
Indeed, his message has been one of peace in his books. But if you talk to victims‘ families, and, of course, these people who lost so much when their loved ones were killed, and, of course, Tookie Williams convicted of that killing, they say that this man deserves to die. They wrote some very strong letters to Governor Schwarzenegger and others involved in the case, saying that they want justice served.
And, indeed, just five hours from now, Joe, justice will be served here outside the gates of San Quentin. As you mentioned, also, I will also be inside. I have been chosen as one of 17 media witnesses to actually watch and witness the execution. It will be by lethal injection. We‘re told the whole process takes about 25 to 30 minutes.
It is an open glass, so he will be able to look out. And this is also, Joe, someone that I have talked to. I talked to him three times. In fact, we just did an interview about a week-and-a-half ago. And, at that point, he said he is not going to say he‘s guilty for these crimes that he‘s been convicted of.
He maintains he‘s innocent, maintains he was railroaded, and says that he wants to go down quietly and with dignity. And we will be able to see what happens tonight—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Rita, you can‘t look into the soul of any person, I suppose, but in the three times you have talked to Tookie Williams, how does he strike you?
COSBY: You know, when I met him—the first time I met him, I was here on death row. I went inside the visitor‘s cages.
And if you could see the visitor‘s cages, they‘re basically four by six feet. It‘s almost like an animal pen. And, sadly, he looked like the most peaceful guy there. The other ones looked totally crazy on both sides of me. And he seemed—on one hand, seemed sincere, when he said, look, I didn‘t do this. I did do a lot of bad things.
On the other hand, he has also told me in interviews that even though he was the co-founder and one of the leaders of the Crips, he never ordered a killing, never participated in a killing. And a lot of people find that a little bit disingenuous and hard to believe—a very mild-mannered man, a man who I do definitely believe is trying to convince other kids not to go down the same road he is.
But the big question is, is that enough; is it too little, too late, after these crimes, all the ones that he has been convicted of and the other ones that he probably participated in even before he was sent to prison?
SCARBOROUGH: Rita, obviously, celebrities and a lot of other Californians and Americans have been appealing to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger through the week to save Tookie‘s life. He decided not to do that earlier today. Do you have any information to suggest that it was ever a close call for the governor?
COSBY: You know what?
A couple people close to the governor told me over the weekend—in fact, I spoke to somebody yesterday, who said to me that he was mulling it over, but what kept gnawing at him—and you even could see it in the statement that was released by the governor—is that he did not say that he was guilty of these crimes.
And that seemed to be the final decision. And that was the first thing that they pointed out to me that the governor really took issue and and really had a hard time with. If he was someone who said, look, I did these horrible things; I am pleading for you to save me; I deeply apologize for what I did. But that was not the case.
Tookie Williams has always maintained that he did not do this. He said that he was a black man who was railroaded, and because he was such a popular figure, the co-founder of the Crips, that everybody was sort of out to get him and—quote—“to frame him” in this case. And because, to the bitter end, he denied having any role in these killings—in fact, one was a store clerk, a 7/Eleven clerk. The other was a family of three about a week-and-a-half later.
And he said he‘s not guilty, that he‘s innocent of all four of these killings. And that was the issue that I heard really hit the governor. In fact, in the statement, he said, there‘s no sign of atonement, no sign of redemption, and that, they believe, would have been the true sign, if he said, look, I did these crimes; I participated; I‘m deeply sorry.
That might have had a different impact. But Tookie Williams said to the bitter end that he was an innocent man being framed. And that‘s how he‘s going to die.
SCARBOROUGH: Rita, you know, because of the position that this man held earlier in his life, obviously, again, founder of one of the biggest gangs in America, if not the world, L.A. tonight is a city on edge.
Talk about that part of this story. If in fact he ends up being executed—and certainly there‘s no reason to believe right now, about five hours before the scheduled time of that execution, that he will be spared—if he is executed tonight, how bad may the scene be in Los Angeles?
COSBY: Well, there is extreme concern.
In fact, I‘m told that there are extra deputies on duty, particularly in South Central Los Angeles, was where the Crips were founded by Tookie Williams and his partner now almost more than three decades ago.
And, also, I‘m also told, Joe, in addition to that, outside the prison and inside the prison, you can see there‘s lots of extra deputies on hand. There was some word that members of the Crips—remember, gangs are very prevalent in prison. Also, the Crips, which is one of the gangs still existing today, not just in Los Angeles, but basically throughout the world. There‘s a huge Crips following in South Africa and also in South America, and they really looked up to this guy, followed this guy.
And he also refused to rat on the gangs in prison. That was another issue that a lot of people took exception with. When he was brought into the prison, the prison said tell us who else was involved; tell us some of the tactics; that might help you, get you off. He never did. He said, I‘m not going to snitch and also harm other people. So, he never gave up that information.
So, because of that, a lot of the gang members have looked up to this man. So, there is potential not just on the streets of Los Angeles, but within some of the prisons throughout the country, where Crips are prevalent, extra security on duty. There was some concern that maybe some security guards could be injured in retaliation, and, of course, we‘re hoping that that‘s not going to be the case. But folks are definitely on edge in the cities and also behind bars, not just at this prison, but places where gangs are extremely prevalent.
SCARBOROUGH: Rita, just on a personal note for you tonight, you‘re going to see a man die, again, in about five hours. Talking about what you‘re thinking about as you‘re going to go in and witness the execution of this man that, again, you have talked to three times.
COSBY: You know, and I do have mixed feelings, Joe, because when I heard that he was going to be executed, of course, that‘s not our decision. That‘s the court‘s decision to make.
And then when I found out that I was picked as a witness, I do have mixed feelings. On the one hand, obviously this man committed very atrocious crimes. He was co-founder of the Crips, participated—spawned generations of gangsters, not just his own life, but the spawning of others.
On the other hand, this is a man that I have met three times. We sat knee to knee, because the cell was so small on death row, and he looked at me and said, I didn‘t do this. I do want to help. I do want to make a difference.
I do believe that he is trying to make a difference. Again, as I pointed out, it may be a little too late. And it is going to be hard to watch. It doesn‘t matter what someone did. To watch someone lose their life in front of us, even though it is lethal injection, a much less painful method—you don‘t see apparently too much reaction. He basically goes to sleep peacefully.
But it is going to be an open glass. He does know me. We did meet. And, again, we have spoken three times. I have been already warned by the prison that he‘s probably going to look over at me, maybe make some gesture to me, nod his head or do something. That‘s going to be a hard thing. And I think it‘s going to stick with me a long time, no matter what he did.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, I‘m sure it will, Rita. Thank you so much for that report.
And, obviously, we‘re going to be coming back to you throughout the hour with any developments.
And, also, MSNBC is going to have updates throughout the night as the situation merits, and certainly all the way into tomorrow to get the reaction not only from across America, but, more importantly, in Los Angeles, because, again, tonight, the police are locking the city down, concerned about the possibility of riots after the execution of Tookie Williams.
SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY is just beginning. Tomorrow, there‘s going to be a hearing right behind me on Capitol Hill, and they‘re going to be investigating what happened to that man, George Smith IV, and whether the cruise line that he was on with his beautiful wife covered up a murder, or at least covered up evidence of a possible murder for profit.
We will talk about that and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Are you safe on the high seas when you go on a cruise liner, like George Smith IV, seen here dancing with his mother on his wedding day? Tragedy followed. We are following up on it, continuing our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY investigation, which comes to Capitol Hill tomorrow.
We will tell you all about it when we return.
SCARBOROUGH: And now to the case of the missing honeymooner George Smith.
The 26-year-old vanished from his honeymoon cruise five months ago, and now Congress is bringing the cruise industry to Capitol Hill, as we in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY have been demanding for months.
Now, Congress is going to hold hearings right here in D.C. tomorrow to try to get answers on what the cruise industry is doing, and to be quite blunt with you, what they‘re not doing to keep you and your family members safe when you go on a cruise.
It‘s what George Smith‘s family calls justice for George.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BREE SMITH, SISTER OF GEORGE SMITH: George‘s disappearance has brought attention to the dire need for reform in the cruise line industry. Congress needs to act now to protect citizens and to give government investigators greater powers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: With me now is Indiana Congressman Mark Souder. He‘s chairman of the House subcommittee that‘s convening tomorrow‘s hearings.
Mark, as always, it‘s great to talk to you. I hope everything is going all right with you.
REP. MARK SOUDER ®, INDIANA: Great out here in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And, baby, you‘re in the heart of it, aren‘t you, right middle of Indiana.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, we have been pushing for these hearings for months. Obviously, I know that you have not only been following this case. But there are also other issues in the cruise industry that concerns you.
What is the main thing you want to learn tomorrow from the hearings?
SOUDER: Well, this is a joint hearing with Chris Shays. He chairs in Government Reform the Homeland Security Committee. I chair the one with oversight over the FBI and the Justice Department. And both of us are senior members of Homeland Security.
So, we have a joint mission here. One is to look at the maritime security issue, which is a huge issue, which includes cruise ships, but other liners, too, and then a second panel of Royal Caribbean, Carnival and the cruise industry group representative as a whole, so we can ask them in our briefs. We have all this information. As you know, you get good staff briefs from all sorts of experts.
And what they‘re saying is most crimes are reported. They‘re—often, they do this, that there are jurisdictional questions, many of the things you have been highlighting on your show. And we need some answers to this. What do they mean by most crimes? What is the standard that‘s employed in international waters? And we‘re going to be able to ask this of the FBI, the Department of Defense, the cruise lines, as well as the Coast Guard.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, Mark, the thing that concerns me and certainly concerns me about this George Smith investigation is that they seem to be the police, the judge, the jury, when it comes to investigating crime scenes and figuring out what‘s searched, what‘s not searched. Of course, it certainly looks like somebody that contaminated the crime scene.
There was, it looked like, the bloody outline of George‘s body on the cruise ship. And they came and scrubbed it off immediately. Why is it that in this billion-dollar industry there‘s not better security on these ships and people can just go missing in the night and never be found again?
SOUDER: Well, it‘s disturbing from a national security question.
I one time boarded out in Los Angeles and Long Beach with what was then called the sea marshals, one of the cruise liners. And we not only watched them as they checked the passengers. We went down below. It‘s very difficult to even identify who may have gotten on board. Obviously, there are huge language questions with many of these crews.
And the cruise ships‘ big purpose is to turn a profit. So, they don‘t want to spend a lot of time in port. They want to turn around and get out. And when they get in international waters, you often have the ship based in one company, that you have them flagged in other country. They‘re in international waters, often disputed international waters, and while our U.S. laws may be clear, it isn‘t clear in international waters how it works.
And, quite frankly, if we can‘t get this sorted out, everybody who boards a cruise ship should be told before they get on that it is murky who‘s going to do the law.
SCARBOROUGH: And you sacrifice your rights, too.
And the thing is about a lot of these cruise liners, they‘re based out of Miami. They have a different flag on their ship. And it just seems so obvious what they‘re trying to do here, is to make sure the jurisdiction is murky. I mean, can that be cleaned up?
SOUDER: I hope so. I want to find out from the FBI what the process is.
For example, there ought to be guidelines that if there are U.S. citizens on board that you don‘t alter the crime scene until an FBI agent should get on board. Do they notify them from sea or did they wait to get to port? If it waited to get to port and they cleaned up the crime scene before they got to port, we wouldn‘t even have had that option.
And we need to have some standards here. Also, depending on the type of crime, if it‘s in even the border waters of the United States, what role does the Coast Guard have? And we want to ask the Defense and department - - the Coast Guard, is, we hear some statistics, but are they getting other statistics that we don‘t get the FBI if it‘s a different type of a case, not to mention all the sex crimes and other things that appear on board?
I mean, the cruise industry seems to say these are floating cities and it‘s a huge problem. Look, these are pretty small cities; 3,000 to 4,000 is a lot of people on these big ships. At the same time, that‘s not that big a city, to have somebody, when they‘re missing—usually, if there‘s a crime scene there, you secure the crime scene. And I don‘t know any town of 3,000 in the United States that doesn‘t do that.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Unfortunately, it doesn‘t, Congressman.
Well, thanks a lot. I will see you up on Capitol Hill tomorrow, and looking forward to seeing you there again.
SOUDER: Thanks for bringing this more to the attention of the American people. Look forward to seeing you tomorrow in Washington.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. See you tomorrow.
Now, big question tonight is, could these hearings force major reform in the cruise industry? And how big is the cruise industry? What‘s at stake?
With me now is “Today Show” travel editor Peter Greenberg.
And, Peter, if you could, just give us an idea of how big the cruise industry is. It certainly seems to be growing by the year and, really, more popular than ever.
PETER GREENBERG, TRAVEL EDITOR, “TODAY”: More popular than ever.
It‘s been growing exponentially by double-digit growth.
But what the congressman pointed out, quite rightly, is you have two separate issues here, homeland security and crime scene investigation. And when it comes to homeland security, those hearings should have been held a long time ago, in terms of how you protect your passengers, in terms of terrorism and acts like that.
But when it comes to crime scene investigation, here‘s the problem with jurisdiction. You have got ships with Bahamian, Panamanian, Liberian flags. Once you get outside of U.S. territorial waters, who takes over the investigation? In the case of the George Smith situation, his death—or his disappearance, I should say, was reported when the ship came into Kusadasi in Turkey, the Turkish officials came on board the ship.
But here‘s the problem. A cruise ship‘s schedule, its sailing schedule does not lend itself to good forensic work in terms of preserving the crime scene, hair and fiber, the chain of custody of evidence. And it‘s a real problem any time you have a moving object and you‘re trying to secure a crime scene.
SCARBOROUGH: How big is the cruise industry as far as dollars go and the Americans that—the number of passengers per year?
GREENBERG: Well, I‘m saying it‘s growing between 10 and 12 percent a year. It was stable for about 14 years. And, for the last eight years, it‘s been growing in double digits.
We have—if you take a look at Carnival alone, it‘s 13 separate brands and 66 ships. If you add that—if you do the math, 2,000 people a ship. That‘s 120,000 people cruising a week, maybe even more. So, that‘s a lot of people.
SCARBOROUGH: Very powerful industry also, not only in the state of Florida, my home state, but also in Washington, D.C., right?
GREENBERG: Correct, because they generate a lot of jobs. The revenue is huge.
But the real problem here is what are your rights, and not only just a crime scene, but what would we call in a prosecutorial sense persons of interest. If there are key witnesses who don‘t necessarily be—are American and they‘re foreign nationals, they have a tendency sometimes in these investigations to literally disappear to their home countries. Very difficult to get back to testify.
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it. Hey, Peter, thank you so much for being with us. And we look forward to having you back as this story continues, as we know it will.
Right now, let‘s bring in maritime attorney Jack Hickey.
Jack, what kind of answers are you looking for from tomorrow‘s hearings? You are a maritime attorney. You have been chasing the cruise industry to try to get answers in some of these cases. What do we need to get fixed tomorrow, so I will feel comfortable sending my parents or my kids when they get older on cruise ships?
JACK HICKEY, MARITIME ATTORNEY: Well, Joe, the perspective I bring to this is for many years I represented the cruise lines, and now I fight them in court in Miami every single day.
The question, Joe, the questions that we need to get answered in this, in a very specific sense to this case is, number one, what did those 97 videotapes that the cruise line says that it turned over to the FBI some months ago, actually, only after your reports started, by the way, what did those 97 videotapes show, number one?
Number two, why were they out there cleaning up or covering up the crime scene with the scrubbing off the blood right after that, right after, at 7:00 a.m., some two-and-a-half-hours after this was reported?
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, come on, Jack. You know the answer to that. It‘s because they controlled the crime scene. And they didn‘t—again, this is just my opinion. But I think it would be most people‘s opinion that looked at it as neutral observers.
SCARBOROUGH: They wanted to clean up the blood. They wanted to clean up the mess. They wanted to clean up the evidence.
And why didn‘t they respond in the first place? You go back to the beginning of this whole thing. When Clete Hyman, at 4:00 a.m., reports that there is a fight next door, why did the security guards or security personnel wait until some half-an-hour plus or minus later to go down to the cabin, knock on the door? They don‘t hear anything, so what do they do? They walk away. By that time it‘s too late—lack of security, complete lack of security here.
So I think what you‘re going to be seeing on Capitol Hill—and I talked to Congressman Shays‘ office today—and I have gotten a partial list, a witness list, for tomorrow anyway. And you‘re going to be seeing a lot of lawyers, the judge advocate general for the Coast Guard—That‘s the top lawyer for the United States Coast Guard—FBI, etcetera.
And I think the one topic—there‘s three or four topics I wrote down that I think you‘re going to see. The one big topic, as your other speaker said, is jurisdiction. Hey, what can the Coast Guard, what can the FBI do once a crime scene like this or a crime like this is reported, number one?
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Yes.
You know, Jack, and I will tell you what. We‘re going to break right now and we will get you on the other side of the break. But I got to tell you this. Everybody‘s talking about jurisdiction. The bottom line is, friends, these cruise liners, they are based—their businesses are based, a lot of them, out of my home state, out of Miami. And don‘t tell me if they get based out of Miami and because of that and because of protections under the United States, under our laws, don‘t tell me that we can‘t hold them accountable, and if they‘re making most of their money off of American tourists, that we can‘t go on board, that the FBI can‘t go on board and find justice.
And that‘s what I want to hear tomorrow. I want to hear a lot of other things tomorrow. Also, I want to find out why Carnival decided in this—Royal—excuse me—Royal Caribbean, why they decided this past week, when somebody went overboard, to actually turn the ship around, which happened, and we will talk about that in a little bit.
But let me sell you something. When George went overboard, they kept moving forward, stayed on schedule, and, because of it, we still don‘t have answers some six months later.
Now, when we come back—and, again, not Carnival, Royal Caribbean—when we come back, we look at the investigation, and we‘re going to have the very latest developments inside the George Smith case, inside the investigation. And we‘re going to be talking with experts and ask the question, could an arrest be just around the corner?
SCARBOROUGH: The FBI has been quietly working behind the scenes in the George Smith investigation. We‘re going to be asking tonight, are they any closer to an arrest? Is one just around the corner? We will talk about that and much more.
But, first, here‘s the latest news you and your family need to know.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
Right now, an important investigation into the disappearance of George Smith. He was last seen on a dream honeymoon cruise with his beautiful bride, Jennifer Hagel. And, tonight, sources close to the Smith family are hopeful that an arrest could come in the future.
Still with us is Jack Hickey. And also with me now for the latest on the investigation, former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt, Susan Filan—she‘s a former Connecticut state prosecutor—and retired FBI special agent Joe Cantamessa.
Let me start with you, Clint.
Is this case going to get solved? I‘m hearing so much behind the scenes. It sounds like something‘s about to pop. What can you tell me?
CLINT VAN ZANDT, MSNBC ANALYST: Yes, and I think it is, Joe.
I have talked to the FBI a number of times about this now. They‘re not laying out their investigation to me, but they have made it very clear, if we thought this was an accident, if we thought this was a suicide, we would have closed the books. The U.S. attorney‘s office would have closed the books. We would have been gone.
They‘re at the case. It‘s an ongoing investigation. Joe, something is going to jail on this, and it‘s just a question of who‘s going to jail.
SCARBOROUGH: In these days of 24/7 cable news coverage...
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
SCARBOROUGH: ... you see so many investigations blown because somebody‘s a publicity hound.
Here you have these two families. You have got the Smiths. You have got the Hagels. They have kept quiet. They have done everything right. You have got the FBI. They have been quiet.
VAN ZANDT: It‘s driving the media crazy, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Driving the media crazy.
VAN ZANDT: Crazy.
SCARBOROUGH: But that‘s just the way you want it done, isn‘t it? And because of it, there may be justice for George.
VAN ZANDT: All the time.
You know, everyone has been on the wife‘s case from the beginning. You know, what was she doing on the ship; where was she that night; why didn‘t she come forward? I will tell you, Joe, the smartest thing she could have done was to keep quiet and let the FBI do their investigation.
SCARBOROUGH: Same thing with the parents.
The parents, just like her—she did everything right. Her family did everything right. The parents are saying—you know, told me, everybody, where are you? Why aren‘t you fighting for your son? They said that the FBI told them to keep quiet. That‘s exactly what they did.
VAN ZANDT: And they were fighting through the FBI.
You know, it‘s like the old Maxwell Smart cone of silence. You know, that comes over.
VAN ZANDT: The FBI wants that. They want to be able to do the investigation.
But there reaches a point where they have maxed out on the investigation, and now they want to do something, I think, through you, through the Congress, to get some changes made so that the FBI and other agencies have more ability to conduct these investigations.
I think that‘s why we see people coming forward. And, again, your show has kept it right on our frontal lobes all the time, anyway, and it needs to be there.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ll tell you what. It does.
And, again, the family, because of what they did and the way they did it, we may get some answers.
Now, Susan Filan, take us inside this investigation. You have been so close to it from the very beginning. Does it sound like somebody‘s about to go down?
SUSAN FILAN, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I don‘t know if it‘s going to happen right away.
But I still believe that law enforcement will be able to solve this case and there will be justice for George. I know that they‘re working on it very, very hard. They have hit it from absolutely every angle. They have never given up. In fact, law enforcement has taken over this case where they have actually had to fight for jurisdiction, which is why these hearings tomorrow that you‘re going to be attending, Joe, are so incredibly important.
There should be legislation that if an American citizen is on board a ship, the United States law enforcement agencies have jurisdiction of that ship, so that when you‘re at sea you‘re not literally out to sea.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Susan, also, the cruise industry better keep their hands off of the crime scene, and if they clean up a bloody stain, there‘s going to be hell to pay when they get back into port in Miami. I mean, how about that for a change?
FILAN: Absolutely. Why is that not a criminal act? Why is that not tampering with evidence? Why are they not called to the carpet for what—if a citizen did that, an ordinary citizen did that, they would clearly be under arrest.
You have got a bloody human print to an awning and somebody takes a hose and cleans it? It‘s shocking; it‘s shameful; it‘s a cover-up. And, to me, it‘s just about dollars and cents, when what we should be talking about is human lives.
SCARBOROUGH: Susan, talk about these Russian guys that keep coming up. Are—do we suspect that in the end they may be the ones that are going to be arrested?
HICKEY: Well, I think a lot of this case is going to be based on circumstantial evidence and what little forensic evidence we have left.
Look at the circumstantial evidence. Clete Hyman, the next-door passenger, who hears this bumping and thumping and then this terrible thud, which we now believe was the body going overboard, which yields the bloody print on the awning, opens his door and sees three people walking down the hallway, the two Russians and the California teen.
Now, aren‘t they then the last people to see George alive? And so based on the circumstantial inferences that one could reasonably draw, doesn‘t it make sense that we should be focusing our attention on them?
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. No doubt about it.
Joe, let me bring you in here. Talk about this investigation. Take us inside of it. It sounds like the FBI has been quietly laying this out step by step by step. What can you tell us how something like this goes? How does it break down?
JOE CANTAMESSA, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, first of all, as was said earlier, this textbook of cooperation with the families has been really helpful on so many fronts.
The FBI‘s focus has been around the evidence, what little evidence was obtainable, and quite a few interviews with several people who might not have normally been very cooperative. But it‘s been slow. I mean, we have been shaking our head at every turn in this investigation, just not believing what we have been hearing or seeing. But progress has been made, but it‘s been through some great amount of effort.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Jack, I want to ask you why. Let‘s follow up on what Susan said. Why is it that if you have a crime scene, you have the bloody print of a passenger—Susan—or tell us, why is it that, from what you know of the cruise industry, Jack, they can‘t be held accountable for scrubbing down a crime scene like that?
HICKEY: Well, you know, Joe, you‘re talking about really two different things, two different realms here.
One is the criminal realm. And, as Susan pointed out, and I think that‘s a very good point, that in itself could be, should be a crime. And that‘s called destruction of evidence, you know. And it‘s standing in the way of and destroying an investigation. The other realm is the civil realm.
SCARBOROUGH: Wait. Wait. Wait. So, you said it should be a crime. But is it a crime if it‘s found that they destroyed evidence on that cruise ship?
HICKEY: It all depends upon jurisdiction.
And we get back to those very tricky jurisdictional issues. Under international law, that ship, because that ship, particular ship, happens to be flagged, I believe, in the Bahamas, is a piece of the country of the Bahamas. And that‘s...
SCARBOROUGH: OK. OK. Hold on, Jack. Again, you‘re a lawyer for the
you used to be a lawyer for the cruise industry. If they‘re based out of Miami, if my loved one disappears on a cruise ship, why can‘t I get jurisdiction in Miami, in the state of Florida, the United States?
HICKEY: Well, a lot of it depends upon the legislation which gives the FBI and the United States Coast Guard its powers.
And I‘m sure the judge advocate general tomorrow—and you will hear this—are going to be talking about jurisdiction. It‘s a big, big thing. But the other realm, Joe, the other realm is the civil realm. That‘s if—you know, where the Smith families or the families of...
SCARBOROUGH: Decide to sue them, right.
HICKEY: Yes, right, brings them in civil court. And a different standard applies.
In civil court, we have something called spoliation of evidence. It‘s a highfalutin word which means, hey, if you destroy evidence, you‘re going to suffer consequences, one consequence being you can have your pleading stricken.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
HICKEY: That means, hey, you file an answer, you‘re going to have it stricken.
SCARBOROUGH: Jack, stay with us. We‘re going to keep all of you with us and talk about not only this case and solving this case, but what‘s going on, on Capitol Hill tomorrow and figure out if—who knows. Maybe the cruise industry will be found and this cruise line will be found liable, if it‘s found that they destroyed evidence on that ship that got in the way of this investigation.
And I‘m going to ask congressmen tomorrow, if that‘s not a crime, why not? They‘re making billions of dollars off of you and me and the American public. Shouldn‘t they be held accountable under our laws?
We will be right back with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in a minute.
SCARBOROUGH: Susan Filan, what do we need to see done tomorrow on Capitol Hill?
FINEMAN: Joe, I think, on Capitol Hill tomorrow, you want to see the debate kicked up to the level where the question is asked, if something happens to an American on board a ship, why doesn‘t that ship automatically open its doors to United States law enforcement agencies? Why isn‘t that ship automatically sealed and treated like a crime scene? Why isn‘t everything stopped, it‘s frozen in time, evidence is preserved, United States law enforcement comes on, treats it like a crime scene?
I would also like to know, why didn‘t this cruise ship allow the United States law enforcement agencies to take a more active role? Why did they have to fight to muscle their way in? Why is jurisdiction being fought over?
If there‘s an American on board a ship that—foul play is clearly suspected here. Nobody really thinks it‘s an accident or a suicide. Why are they fighting to get jurisdiction over this case? So, tomorrow, Joe, when you‘re there on Capitol Hill, I hope you can somehow focus the questions to, A, why didn‘t this ship open its doors automatically, and, B, how can we make it that if you‘re an American on board a cruise ship and something, God forbid, happens to you, there is no fight over jurisdiction?
FILAN: Even if it means you have to partner it with the ship that it‘s—the country that it‘s flying under or the country that‘s going to be the next port of call.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
FILAN: Who cares? Americans, you‘re on that boat. Americans, you can take jurisdiction to...
SCARBOROUGH: Americans got to know they‘re going to be safe when they go out on these cruise lines.
What needs to be done tomorrow?
VAN ZANDT: Well, if it‘s a crime on the high seas, Joe, as it‘s clearly—against an American citizen, Joe, it‘s clearly the FBI.
But if it‘s within the six-mile, 12-mile jurisdiction, you‘re always going to have that jurisdictional issue. What needs to be done is that, first of all, the cruise ships have got to be willing to slow down. You know, they want to get to the next port and the next port and the next port.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, it‘s because of money.
VAN ZANDT: Because they‘re making money.
SCARBOROUGH: And there‘s no problem with them making money.
VAN ZANDT: No. And—and...
SCARBOROUGH: Just don‘t scrub blood off of a crime scene.
VAN ZANDT: Don‘t screw up the crime scene.
And the FBI has to have the ability to scramble a team of investigators and get there them quick. Like, if it takes place in Greece or Turkey, there‘s one FBI agent who maybe shows up who is in that country. We have got to get agents there faster. They have got to control the crime scene. They have got to do the appropriate interviews, because every day that goes on, you‘re—you‘re losing people off that ship. The crime scene is being contaminated and the case might be being lost.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. And, again, Royal Caribbean said they did everything right, Clint. All I know is...
VAN ZANDT: Too little, too late, too slow.
SCARBOROUGH: Too little, too late. And, also, I understand some of these people weren‘t interviewed for four or five days, because they didn‘t want to distress the cruise passengers. So...
VAN ZANDT: Don‘t distress the passenger is going to be the keynote of the cruise line industry, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it.
VAN ZANDT: And that‘s got to be balanced with the safety and security of the passengers, especially in these international cases.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thanks a lot, Clint, as always. Appreciate it.
VAN ZANDT: Thank you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank you, Jack.
Thank you, Clint.
Thank you, Susan.
Thank you, Joe.
Greatly appreciate you all being with us.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m joined now by Tucker Carlson. He‘s host of “THE
SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON.”
Tucker, what‘s the situation tonight?
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON”: You know, Joe, I have always been against the death penalty, because I just don‘t think the government ought to be killing people, except in self-defense.
But after a day of reading about Tookie Williams, I‘m almost as opposed to the people who support him as I am to the death penalty. They know nothing about this case, the names of the people he killed, the fact that he killed them for racial reasons. They know nothing about the details of this case. And they‘re going to learn tonight, because we have got those details.
SCARBOROUGH: Wait. Wait. Wait. What do you mean, Tucker? You said
what do you mean that he killed these people for racial reasons? What do you mean?
CARLSON: I‘m going to read you an exact quote. This is what he said to Tony Sims, one of his accomplices in the murder of the 7/Eleven clerk in 1979.
He says, “I killed him”—quote—“because he was white”—end quote. That‘s something that you‘re not going to see on the Snoop Dogg Web site.
SCARBOROUGH: Probably not.
CARLSON: And I‘m not defending the death penalty, which, again, I‘m against. But I am saying that people who defend Tookie Williams ought to face up to the truth about him. And they‘re going to have to tonight.
SCARBOROUGH: And Al Sharpton is going on be to the show?
CARLSON: Yes, he is.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Can‘t wait to see it. Going to be interesting. Thanks a lot, Tucker.
CARLSON: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And make sure you tune into “THE SITUATION.” That‘s coming up straight ahead, 11:00.
And, when we come back, who‘s to blame for the slow reaction to Katrina victims? Brian Williams asks the president that question, and you may not believe who he is blaming tonight.
SCARBOROUGH: Three-and-a-half months after scenes like this shocked the nation, President Bush is responding to criticism his government was too slow reacting to the crisis in New Orleans, Mississippi, and across the Gulf Coast.
NBC‘s Brian Williams had unprecedented access to the president today, and among the topics of conversation, Katrina.
This is what the president had to say about that killer storm on board Air Force One.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The federal government and other levels of the government fell down on the job. I was appalled that a nation as wealthy as ours was not able to respond as effectively as we should have, and took blame for it.
I mean, to the extent that the federal government was ineffective, I‘m responsible, and I understand that. And now the question is, how do we learn lessons from the response and how do we effectively help the Mississippi Gulf Coast and New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana rebuild?
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR: Were you watching the coverage? Were you seeing the same pictures that Americans were seeing?
BUSH: I was. I was. I guess my reaction was, where‘s the communications? I mean, we had news people able to really be the fact witness on the ground, when, in fact, it should have been government officials at all levels gathering the information, sending it back to headquarters, so there could be appropriate response.
WILLIAMS: After the tragedy, I heard someone ask rhetorically, what if this had been Nantucket, Massachusetts, or Inner Harbor, Baltimore, or Chicago or Houston? Are you convinced the response would have been the same? Was there any social or class or race aspect to the response?
BUSH: Somebody—I heard a couple of people said, Bush didn‘t respond because of race—because he‘s a racist, or alleged that.
That is absolutely wrong, and I reject that. Frankly, that‘s the kind of thing that—you can call me anything you want, but do not call me a racist. Secondly, this storm hit all up and down. It hit New Orleans. But it hit down in Mississippi, too. And people should not forget the damage done in Mississippi.
WILLIAMS: Biloxi was hit terribly hard.
BUSH: Absolutely, and Pascagoula and Waveland.
You know it. You saw it firsthand, what it is like. It‘s—and we have people from all walks of life affected by that storm. I remember saying that—when I thanked those chopper drivers from the Coast Guard, who performed brilliantly—they didn‘t lower those booms to pick up people, saying, what color skin do you have?
They said, a fellow American is in jeopardy and I‘m going to do my best to rescue that person.
WILLIAMS: It‘s been two months since your last visit to the region. Was there any notion of making it a domestic Marshall Plan of your administration, of saying, let‘s get together and rebuild this area?
BUSH: Well, we are doing that. We have got $62 billion on the table.
And, Brian, as you know, the devastation is so big, it‘s going to take a while to rebuild. I think it‘s very important for people to not focus on politics, but focus on how we work together to achieve what we all want, which is a Louisiana and a—that‘s vibrant, and a New Orleans that‘s the shining—shining light down there, and a Gulf Coast of Mississippi that‘s been rebuilt and is vibrant and thriving.
SCARBOROUGH: With me on the phone now is Douglas Brinkley. He‘s a presidential historian and New Orleans resident.
Doug, thanks for being with us tonight.
We have both been critical of the president. But that sounds like a president who‘s stepping up to the plate, saying the buck stops here and possibly turning the corner. You‘re the presidential historian. What‘s your reaction?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, NBC ANALYST: Well, I think Williams had a major interview today.
I think people are going to be quoting it and talking about it, the first time, really, President Bush seemed to take some personal responsibility for just the complete fecklessness of FEMA during the crisis.
It was an odd quote, I thought, when he said, “I‘m not a racist.” I don‘t think anybody thinks he is, except for some people on the fringe. And he made the point about Mississippi and New Orleans and the whole region was devastated.
But I do think he‘s short on the compassion. It did not seem, either now or then, that he seems to be able to connect with the areas, whether it‘s the Lower Ninth Ward or whether it‘s Waveland or Biloxi. He doesn‘t seem to be connecting, in my opinion, enough to the people of the region. I think he wants to.
But, somehow, the compassion is not there and it‘s not being communicated enough. But today was a good start, at least rhetorically, of starting to set the record and show some leadership here.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Doug, my forward chief of staff, a guy who‘s in politics now, said to me that the thing that struck him the most about George Bush after Katrina, vs. George Bush after 9/11, is that you could see George Bush‘s heart break on TV in the days after September 11, but that he seemed—and this is a guy that loves George Bush—he seemed strangely detached after Katrina. Did you pick that up?
BRINKLEY: Absolutely. I mean, his...
SCARBOROUGH: And, Doug, the thing that‘s so strange about it is, this guy ain‘t a New Yorker. I mean, Louisiana and Mississippi, those are his people.
BRINKLEY: He seemed to be just removed from them.
And that‘s why I think people were talking about the race issue, because you were seeing that it was—could he land in New Orleans with a largely African-American population and communicate to those—could he have a bullhorn moment in front of the Superdome? I think he decided no.
But when he went to Mississippi and Alabama, that‘s when he made his famous Brownie quip. And then, also, if you really look back at what his comments were after Katrina, it was, I used to drink a lot in my fraternity in New Orleans. And, boy, some day, I will sit on Trent Lott‘s porch in Pascagoula.
But he didn‘t seem to touch the poor people or the people that just lost everything. There was not the amount of emotion you would expect from him. And I agree with you. I think if you‘re—someday, there‘s a Bush presidential library in Dallas or Waco or whatever, that bullhorn moment at 9/11 will be one of the film clips that people will watch.
I don‘t think he ever had that Katrina moment. It seemed to be stumbling out of the gate constantly. But he can make good now by addressing what Brian Williams asked.
BRINKLEY: Should there be a Marshall Plan?
His answer was, there is kind of one now with $62 billion.
It‘s not enough. And, so, I don‘t think he can claim that he‘s doing a massive rebuild of the region.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thanks, Doug. I appreciate you being with us.
And I agree with you. Up to this point, there hasn‘t been that bullhorn moment. But I have got to tell you, I really liked what I saw of the president. Again, I have been critical of him throughout Katrina. I really like the tone that he was taking, and I‘m looking forward to seeing the entire interview tomorrow, because this is a president—I‘m telling you—and I told you all this back the day that Karl Rove got off of the charges—and certainly it seemed like he got off the charges from Fitzgerald—that the president might look back at that day as the low point of his presidency, but things would be turning around.
I think they are starting to turn around. And you can just—you can always see this with politicians. You can just see—you can see the confidence coming back in this man.
Now, when we come back, we‘re going to have more, plus, “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” just minutes away.
Be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, make sure you tune in tomorrow night for an MSNBC special report with Brian Williams, “A Day With the President.” Going to be right here at 10:00 p.m.
And that‘s all the time we have for tonight. Please stay with us, because “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” starts right now.
Hey, Tucker, what‘s the situation tonight?
CARLSON: Well, it‘s out in California, Joe. Thanks.
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