Guest: Erich Ritter, Tyson Slocum, Joseph Bruno, Ric Robinson, Clinton
Suggs, Ken Stethem
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, a terrorist is set free. Will our government now stand up and finally do the right thing? This terrorist hijacked a TWA plane and murdered a U.S. Navy diver. And the German government let him out of prison, and our government didn't do much to stop them. Tonight, the diver's brother and a close Navy friend who was also on that plane and beaten on that plane, they both come to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to say what our government must now do and how we can all help get justice for Robert Stethem.
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, thanks so much for being with me tonight. I hope you and your family had a very merry Christmas.
Tonight on the show, we are going to be also talking about a quick-thinking surfer who fought off a great white shark and lived to tell about it. Now, wait until you hear where he says he learned the skills that saved his life, and should you try this at home?
Plus, blonde bombshell Anna Nicole Smith back in the news. So, why exactly is the Bush administration hooking up with the former “Playboy” centerfold in court? We will tell you the full story later in the show.
But, first, let's start with the outrage over why a terrorist is out of jail tonight, even though he was convicted of killing a U.S. Navy diver. Now, this is a story we first brought you last week, after this man, Hamadi, walked free from a German prison. Now, this thug hijacked a TWA jet in 1985. You remember these scenes? And he brutally beat and tortured 23-year-old Robert Stethem, Robert obviously in the Navy, and Stethem was so severely beaten that his body was unrecognizable when they finally dumped him onto the runway in Beirut.
And now, for reasons we talk about, Hamadi is walking free in the Middle East.
With me to talk about this outrage, and it is an outrage, friends, and our government needs to hear about it, we have got Ken Stethem with us. He's a brother of that murdered Navy diver, and also Clinton Suggs. He was sitting next to Robert on that hijacked flight, and he was also beaten by the terrorist who was set free.
Ken, let's start with you.
What did the American government do once you and your family started notifying them back in the spring that you were afraid that this terrorist thug, who murdered your brother, might walk free?
KEN STETHEM, BROTHER OF MURDERED NAVY DIVER: Well, Joe, the simple answer is nothing.
Our family had asked for meetings through the Justice Department, and to the State Department for meetings, because of concerns we had over this possibility and some other points that we wanted to bring up. And we never once were given a response even as to why no meetings would be able to take place.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Wait a second, Ken. Did you try to get in touch with Condoleezza Rice or anybody? Who did you try to get in touch with at the State Department?
STETHEM: My parents were going through an intermediary through the Justice Department, and we absolutely tried to get ahold of Condoleezza Rice to get a meeting with her, and this is one of the few times since my brother was murdered that we have not been able to get access to the secretary of state.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Ken, this is the thing that I don't understand. Obviously the Bush administration has been waging a fierce war on terror over the past four or five years since 9/11, and yet in this case, here you have a terrorist thug with connections—his whole family has had connections to Hezbollah for some time—murdered an American, not only any American, but a guy that served in the United States Navy.
The murder was broadcast across the Arab world, and America, and everywhere else, and when you find out that he may be released, you try to contact this government, this president, this secretary of state, and they give you absolutely no assurances that they are going to work to try to keep him in jail?
STETHEM: We never heard word one back from them, Joe, and when you look at the timing, what is not just shameful but absolutely disgraceful is that the same time Bush was and the administration was preparing the speech that went public to the public, asking for continued support on the war on terrorism last week, at the same time he was planning and giving that speech, the administration knew that Germany was about to release Hamadi, and they did nothing.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Ken—and the thing is, it's very interesting that despite the fact that you couldn't get the Bush administration, you couldn't get the secretary of state, you couldn't get anybody to call your family when this terrorist, who murdered your brother in cold blood on the international stage 20 years ago was about to set free, they finally did call your parents Christmas Eve.
Talk about the president's chief of staff, Andy Card, calling your parents on Christmas Eve, and talk about that discussion. What went on?
STETHEM: Andrew Card called my parents, and my parents—our family was appreciative at the gesture, but he basically called to pass along the president's condolences, to pass along the fact that he was not satisfied with any answer that he got within the administration as to why the family hadn't been contacted, either before or after, and that he wanted us to know that phone calls have been made at the highest level.
SCARBOROUGH: What did your parents say?
STETHEM: You know, my parents, for 20 years, have supported five different administrations and have just trusted and hoped that action would be taken. And you know what, my parents understood the truth.
And the truth is the administration would have had to simply make a phone call at the presidential level, demand that Hamadi not be released or be released into U.S. custody, and pressured Germany to make that happen, and because they didn't do those three simple things, we are now supposed to believe that the administration is going to spend the time, money, effort, energy, manpower, and put the political capital at risk to go get him and bring him back? You know what?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, and, Ken, let me just say, that is what is so absurd to me tonight, listening, reading this story over the past week. Now you are hearing the administration saying that they are going to do everything they can to hunt this guy down, to track—I would say if they had a clean shot at him, they should take him out for what he did to your brother 20 years ago, send a real message to terrorists across the Middle East.
But that's not going to happen. The guy slipped into Lebanon. He's got connections. His family has connections to Hezbollah. They had a chance to keep him in custody and they wouldn't even return your phone calls. Do you think the fix was already in? Do you think the State Department knew what Germany was going to do, and so they decided not to talk to you, to let them go ahead and do it because they didn't want to offend an ally?
STETHEM: You know what, absolutely.
And whether it was apathy or indifference or ineptness, you know what, it doesn't matter. You can't say, you can't say that we are fully, totally committed to this war on terrorism and then let a convicted murderer and terrorist go.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Ken, let me just say, I mean, you have for the most part supported this president's war on terror, as have I. I mean, the guy has aggressively gone after terrorists across the globe, but they have one in custody that killed your brother 20 years ago, and they do absolutely nothing to stop the Germans from letting him go on parole.
Is that a fair characterization, that you and your family have been supporters of this president, but you just feel like it was a disgrace how this administration let you all down?
STETHEM: That's right, Joe, and I will tell you, nobody can accuse the Stethem family or myself for not supporting, absolutely supporting this war on terrorism.
We absolutely recognize the president and his administration and the fact that he has done more in this presidency than all the other presidents, the last four or five, six combined, against terrorism. But you know what, I think the obvious mistake that is being made is this. Too much, too much of the burden for this war on terrorism is being placed on the military and the military actions, and really the military actions are only as good as the policies that they support.
And we do not have the clear, concise, and deliberate policy that we need on terrorism yet, because if we did, this wouldn't have happened.
SCARBOROUGH: This would have never happened, and again, to put a proper perspective on this, there is no doubt, I agree with you, this administration has done more to fight terrorism.
SCARBOROUGH: Obviously, part that is just the times—than the past four or five combined. I think they are doing a great job in a lot of areas, but here, again, a shameful lapse.
Clinton, let me bring you in here. Talk about Robert. Talk about the situation when you knew that this terrorist had killed your friend.
CLINTON SUGGS, TWA FLIGHT 817 SURVIVOR: Well, right from the beginning, when they singled out Robert and myself as being in the military, they started with Robert, and they brutally beat him, and they executed him, Hamadi did. And he was brought to justice, and now he is released, and, you know...
SCARBOROUGH: And, Clinton, he was killed, right—he was killed and you were tied up and beaten. Why? Because you all were in the military, right?
SCARBOROUGH: How did they find that out?
SUGGS: We were traveling with military documents and military I.D. cards. And...
SCARBOROUGH: And the second you handed those over, you said you knew you made a big mistake, right?
SUGGS: Well, it wasn't a big mistake.
It was to surrender our I.D. cards to not bring as much attention to ourselves for not having passports at the time, so it seemed better to surrender than to make a fuss and then really become noticeable.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Right.
And you also—you were blindfolded, along with Mr. Stethem, and both of you were beaten very badly, weren't you?
SUGGS: That is correct. Robert was beaten several times, from the beginning of the flight, within 20 minutes, and then he was severely beaten in Beirut, the first trip.
And the second trip, it was just—it's when they killed Bob. It was
· he had no way to defend himself. He was tied with his hands behind his back, blindfolded, and there was nothing he could do. And, you know, that's terrorism, and that's what terrorism is, and our government went out as steaming to bring terrorism to justice. And then when it was brought to justice, the ball was dropped several administrations ago, and then now, we have come back to make a full force, like we are going to do something.
But when it comes to making sure these people are convicted and spend their time for the crimes they commit, they just walk, and now they are back home. And he's a hero, and he has slipped away, and he is probably back up to where he started.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I will tell you what, Ken, let me bring you back in here and ask you a question.
Just I got to believe—and I know, Clinton, you have got to be completely disgusted by this, as much as, Ken, you and your family are—but what do you think our government should do? What do you think the Israelis should do? If they have a clean shot of this guy, you think they should take him out?
STETHEM: I think the Israelis should do what they know they can do and what the right thing to do is. I think Israelis do real well on their own. I will tell you, Joe, I will tell you what I would like to see.
SCARBOROUGH: But you think—you think the right thing, though, is to shoot him, kill him, like kill him the way he killed your brother?
STETHEM: You know what, Mohammed Ali Hamadi is running around free to commit more acts of terrorism, and my brother's wasn't the only case. He was actually arrested bringing in liquid explosives into Germany. He needs to be taken out, whether it's with a bullet or with a sentence, and in jail to stay. He needs to be taken out.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, we are in a war on terror, and this thug is one of the key players in the war now, as far as I am concerned.
Ken, final question. And, again, I have supported the Bush administration. I will continue to support them in the war on terror. They have got guts. The president has got a lot of guts that all of his adversaries don't have, and I salute him for that.
But, tonight, they have screwed this up badly, Ken. Tonight, what can you and what can me, what can our viewers in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY do to help your family out?
STETHEM: I will tell you what, Joe. I would like the American people to pick up the phone and call the White House and call the State Department.
I would like them to do that on January 3, between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 a.m. East Coast time. I would like them to tell the president and the elected representatives, their elected representatives, we expect the same courage, commitment, and devotion to duty from there that we all expect of our men and women in uniform.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
STETHEM: We expect—Joe, if I could.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Go ahead.
STETHEM: We expect them to develop a clear, concise, and deliberate policy against terrorism that includes identifying Lebanon for what it is, which is a terrorist nation. They give safe harbor to 25 percent of the terrorists on the top 23 terrorists of the FBI's list, and one of them was more responsible—was responsible for killing more Americans than anyone else before bin Laden.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
Ken, we got to go. Thank you, Ken.
Thank you, Clinton.
We are going to be following this story.
And we will be right back with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Police shoot and kill a suspect in New Orleans. The question is, with all these cops with guns surrounding this guy, did they have to do it? Did they go too far? Was it excessive force? We will answer those questions when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
Now, the hottest business story of 2005, other than contaminated mullet in Pensacola Bay, involved Americans getting rocked at the pump. This year, gas prices went up, shortages threatened, and at, the same time, oil company profits soared into the billions and billions of dollars.
Now, to some of us, it sure smelled like price-gouging.
Well, earlier, I talked to Jim Cramer—he's the host of CNBC's “Mad Money”—and Public Citizen's Tyson Slocum about the fight over the rising gas prices.
JIM CRAMER, HOST, “MAD MONEY”: Finally, these guys are making a little bit of change, and we want to take it away from them. Let's hope that they are able to reinvest it and the environmentalists don't keep them from building the refineries and drilling where we need it.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, Jim, help—you got to explain this one to me, though, because I have got one or two friends still left in the oil industry, and I ask them this question.
We hear the gas prices go up because oil prices go up, and because oil prices go up, you would think the cost to oil companies would go up. And yet why is it that, when oil prices go up, we pay for it at the pump, and they get richer and richer by the second?
CRAMER: Well, look, refining business in this country, Joe, let's understand each other.
It's been very difficult to build a refinery in the country the last few years. But for 18 years, there was no money made in refining. You couldn't get return on investment. There was no reason to even do it. Now finally they are getting a return, and you want to tax it away?
If you want to oil to go to $90 a barrel and gasoline to go to $5 a gallon, sold to you, windfall profits tax.
SCARBOROUGH: Tyson Slocum, that sounds like a challenge. What do you think?
TYSON SLOCUM, ENERGY DIRECTOR, PUBLIC CITIZEN: Of course a windfall profit tax makes sense.
First of all, refining profits are through the roof not because the oil industry is coming up with great innovations, but because they have been buying out all their competitors. We have seen merger...
SCARBOROUGH: But let me ask you something, though. Hold on a second.
SCARBOROUGH: Are they gouging on us at the pumps?
SLOCUM: They're gouging us at the pump. They're gouging us at every stage of production. Remember, ExxonMobil is a vertically integrated monopoly. They produce oil in the United States and all over the world. They own oil refineries, where they're turning that crude oil into gasoline. And they're sending that gasoline out to their affiliated stations.
CRAMER: They are making so little money. This is—where did you get this guy?
They don't make no...
CRAMER: Look, cumulatively, they had a big quarter, but, for years, refining has been such a bad business. When it's bad, they get to suffer, but, when it's good, you get to take the money?
SLOCUM: Cramer, in the last couple of years, the industry has gone under a radical restructuring. We have seen ExxonMobil merge, Chevron/Texaco, ConocoPhillips. Valero brought out three other refining companies.
It's not the same industry in the '90s. They are not making money because of innovation. They're making money because they have squelched competition. That's not the American way. They're price-gouging Americans.
CRAMER: Where did you get Lenin? I haven't seen Lenin. You don't look like him, but you sure do talk like him. Come on, this isn't a means of production issue. This company, Exxon, made a lot of money. It had been making just a little bit of money since 1982. Suddenly, they are making some money, and Lenin surfaces.
SLOCUM: Well, why are you talking about past history? I am talking about present history. I'm not talking about price-gouging in 1982. I'm talking about price-gouging in 2005.
CRAMER: They are not gouging.
SLOCUM: It's going on. And, right now, consumers are suffering.
The economy is suffering, and this winter is going to be a crisis for millions of Americans.
CRAMER: So, in other words, forget capitalism. When things are good for Exxon, we ought to just take all that money away. When things are bad, sorry that you are in a crummy business? Is that the way it plays out?
SLOCUM: I guess what Enron did in California was capitalism, huh?
Just blame it on the environmentalists.
CRAMER: No. Hey, come on.
CRAMER: I testified to the grand jury on that. Don't come to me with that.
SLOCUM: It's the same thing.
CRAMER: I was the guy who went right to the California authorities, because I knew about that rigging. So, don't—you know, that's anti-capitalism. That was not—that was just—everybody would be against that.
SLOCUM: Oh, yes. Oh, sure.
CRAMER: I testified in that one, man.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me interrupt here for a second.
Jim, I want to ask you, what do you say, though, to people in Middle America who see oil prices going up, gas prices going up? This winter, there are going to be a lot of people suffering in the Northeast. Again, the people that can afford it the least are the ones that are going to be paying the most, proportionately.
What do you say to them when they say, it just doesn't make any sense to us that we are paying more and the oil companies are getting rich.
First of all, these oil companies are not—they don't—most of them don't own a lot—that much oil. They are refining. You can take a look at the breakout refining margins. Yes, refining margins have popped right here, but they have been under pressure.
Look, I am in a complete beat them, can't beat them, join them mode. I would tell these people that, look, these companies are going to be making some money for a while. Go own the stocks. Now, if they don't have the money on the stocks, I understand. But it's just a brief blip up that they are benefiting from after 18 years of not doing well.
And I can't sit here and have those profits taxed away, because we need those companies to reinvest or else gasoline will go through the roof.
SLOCUM: Gasoline is going through the roof because of uncompetitive actions by a handful of big oil companies that control the market. Proof.
SCARBOROUGH: So, you are saying...
CRAMER: You think it was a big oligopoly? You think they sit in a room? You're think they're in a room? Like, they're at the Hilton?
SLOCUM: The United States Federal Trade Commission did a major investigation of this stuff.
In 2001, before most of the mergers, they concluded that oil companies were unilaterally withholding and manipulating the market. In March 2004, the United States Government Accountability Office, the research arm of Congress, concluded that all the recent mergers directly led to higher gasoline prices.
SLOCUM: The proof is in the numbers.
SCARBOROUGH: Would you be able—how can you tell us how these oil prices are set? I mean, do you really think that it's Adam Smith's invisible hand?
CRAMER: I tell you, they are set because we don't have enough refining—we don't have enough refining capacity in this country. These guys would love...
SLOCUM: I thought the market was supposed to take care of that.
CRAMER: Talk to Bill Greehey at Valero. He would love to build a refining in my backyard, but all the neighbors around me say no. He wants to put up a lot of refineries, but we don't let him do it. He has got excess capital. He wants to build.
SLOCUM: I got three words for you, Arizona Clean Fuels. It's a small independent company outside of Phoenix, Arizona. They have applied and received state air quality permits, federal air quality permits. You are telling me that ExxonMobil, that's got like $40 billion in cash lying around, can't do the same thing that a small business in Arizona can? That's ridiculous.
CRAMER: That is enough for—like, for your Hummer.
I mean, look, you got to understand, this is a business that we have historically said, you cannot build refineries in this country. It's not worth it for Exxon to sink that money in. If you free that up, that money will go into refining capacity, because now there's a good return. But if we are just going to tax away the money they're going to make, you are never going to see it.
They're just going to just forget about building the capacity that we need, and prices will keep rising.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. It's always a pleasure to have Jim Cramer with us, as well as Tyson Slocum. Great to have both of you back in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
Speaking of being back in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, millions of you requested it. Think of it as a little holiday treat. It is time for the return of a flyover of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, stories from across America that may have slipped under your radar screen throughout the Christmas season.
First up tonight, CSI: Samsonite. Yesterday, police found the body of an 87-year-old man in a suitcase, after neighbors complained of a disgusting smell coming from his apartment. Now, the deceased wife apparently locked his remains in the suitcase because—quote—“He wanted to be buried in Arizona. And I wanted to take him there.”
The woman was dazed and a little confused regarding matters of corpse etiquette, but she is not suspected of foul play in her husband's smelly death.
Also tonight, the pastry police in Nashville, Tennessee, are on the alert—shocking reports out of the Music City confirming that an epicurious infidel stole a prize cinnamon bun that is said to resemble Mother Teresa. The thief knocked over the local coffee shop possessing the sweetly divine artifact on Christmas Day. Have they no shame?
The Mother Teresa bun has been in the glass case since 1996, when the coffee shop owners discovered its likeness, but, sadly, the beasts who ripped off what's called the nun bun didn't even leave a ransom note.
And, finally, in no-flyover news, air Oprah had a scare yesterday when the queen of talk TV's private jet collided with a bird, wrecking its windshield and forcing the plane grounded indefinitely. Both Winfrey and her long-time boyfriend, Stedman Graham, were fine—the bird, not so lucky.
When we come back, more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, going to New Orleans, where New Orleans police open fire, killing a knife-wielding suspect. It's all caught on tape. But the question is, with all those cops around, couldn't they have just aimed for his kneecaps? Tough questions for a department that is still rocked by scandal—when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
And, also, a surfer escapes the death grip of a great white shark thanks to a handy tip he learned on TV. We will explain later when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY continues.
SCARBOROUGH: The president and the “Playboy” bunny hook up in court.
We will have that story, some real news, when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
But, first, here's the latest news you and your family need to know.
SCARBOROUGH: A Christmas Eve shark attack. But the victim is alive to talk about it, thanks to something he learned on TV. And they say politics make strange bedfellows, but perhaps none stranger than Anna Nicole Smith and the White House. We will explain their new alliance later in the show.
Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY—those stories in just minutes, but, first, the New Orleans Police Department rocked again by controversy after a deadly showdown with a man wielding a knife.
The incident was caught on tape, and some are questioning whether lethal force was really necessary.
With us now live from New Orleans is historian Douglas Brinkley. We have got an attorney Joseph Bruno, who represents Robert Davis, the man who was beaten by New Orleans police officers in October, and also Ric Robinson, former state trooper and the author of “Cop: The Truth Behind the Badge.”
Ric, let's start with you.
I said it jokingly before, half-jokingly, why couldn't they have just shot him in the kneecap? But let's show this video, because a lot of—I will guarantee you, a lot of people like me that support police officers just don't understand why you got one guy with a knife, you got all these cops surrounding him, and they couldn't have taken him.
Do you just train police officers to shoot to kill, or do you train them to shoot in the legs and the limbs, other places, to take him—just to slow him down.
RIC ROBINSON, FORMER STATE TROOPER: Yes, Joe, it's always shoot to kill, and this was not a stellar moment in law enforcement. There's no question about that.
SCARBOROUGH: It's always shoot to kill. So, you are saying it's always shoot to kill?
ROBINSON: For a multitude of reasons, not the least of which, you are talking about in this particular case, this gentleman was about 10 or 12 feet from a whole bunch of people who were just walking along the sidewalk, and you don't see that in the video.
Their concern, the officers was, what if this guy turns and runs toward those people and grabs mom and the kids and starts cutting them wide, deep, and continuous? And then what we would be talking about, Joe, is, why didn't they use lethal force? But to be specific in your question...
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, that sounds like a great point.
ROBINSON: I'm sorry.
SCARBOROUGH: Go ahead. Go ahead.
ROBINSON: The honest to God's truth is, when you are talking about using a handgun, they are not particularly accurate. When you are in a stress situation, where you are going to have to pull that trigger, all officers across the country are trained to shoot at a large body mass.
To be perfectly candid, I'm an OK shot, but I'm pretty confident...
SCARBOROUGH: Let me bring in Joseph Bruno here.
Joseph, you are looking at this picture. A lot of Americans surprised by what happened here, but, as Ric says, what happens if the guy runs at a civilian, grabs them, cuts them up? Then we are attacking the New Orleans Police Department for being incompetent, right?
JOSEPH BRUNO, ATTORNEY FOR ROBERT DAVIS: No question about it.
I mean, the problem I have with it is, and I have said this before, I am not here to criticize the police department or criticize the man in the tape. My problem is that when Robert Davis came to my office the morning he hired me, he understood at that moment that anything that he said or did was going to have an extraordinary impact on this city's ability to recover. There are people in Congress today...
SCARBOROUGH: And, Joseph, while you are talking, we are going to show a picture of the video of the guy that you represent. Keep talking.
SCARBOROUGH: This happened back in October.
BRUNO: Back in October, Robert Davis, he understood then that what he said, what he did would have an impact in the Congress of this United States.
Every day, we are sitting here waiting for the Congress to decide to fund the necessary compensation for a Corps of Engineers who built defective levees in this city, and we know that this is the last thing that we need right now, facing all of the opposition that we face and getting this necessary funding.
ROBINSON: And, Joseph, that's exactly why those officers were fired, because the politicians didn't have the guts to stand behind the officers that took appropriate action with your client, under the circumstances.
According to the records, he was so ripped when he was coming down the sidewalk, he fell into a police horse. That's the thing that most people have never even heard about.
BRUNO: You know, I have got to tell you something.
ROBINSON: They couldn't hold him down. Even when two FBI agents came along, they still couldn't hold him down.
BRUNO: I have 10 eyewitnesses who will tell you right now that that man hadn't had a drink in 25 years.
ROBINSON: Yes. You probably paid all 10 of them to say that, too.
BRUNO: Well, really? I guess you paid the same on your side. So, we got a tit for tat going.
ROBINSON: I don't have to.
BRUNO: I don't play that game.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
SCARBOROUGH: Guys, hold on one second.
Let's bring in Doug Brinkley.
Doug Brinkley, you know New Orleans very well. And you are going to be writing a book about Katrina. Talk about the New Orleans Police Department. It's been riddled by scandals throughout the year and years. Is it a corrupt police department? Is it out of control? Is it undisciplined?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, NBC ANALYST: Well, the video we are watching is unfortunate. And seeing Mr. Hayes killed like that, nobody enjoys seeing that.
But the problem that we have is the police department has a history of corruption. We can't—don't have the time to get into it all, but I—don't compare it to other police departments. It's been uniquely corrupt in the United States. If you had a list of 300 police departments, it would be on the bottom of the barrel.
Now, since Katrina, we have Warren Riley that has come in. He is stepping to the plate. There's help from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, saying, we have got to have public integrity. We have got to interact with the public better. We didn't do it well enough before.
And it was one of the reasons the murder rate here was the second highest in the country on the eve of Katrina. The problem with the videotape here is, yes, this guy was a schizophrenic. He's used to hang at Burger King and Wal-Mart and Walgreens, looking for money.
The problem is that this video, we are talking about it, and somehow the New Orleans Police Department—it's not just this incident—has to turn a public-relations corner. They have to be a little more responsible to the people of New Orleans, in the sense of, why didn't you use a Taser gun?
ROBINSON: They also have to enforce the law. They have to do what...
ROBINSON: ... protect the safety...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on. Guys, just stop. OK? One at a time.
SCARBOROUGH: Ric, I will get back to you, but, Doug Brinkley...
BRINKLEY: Just the one point. You could have used a...
SCARBOROUGH: What do you say to Ric?
BRINKLEY: It didn't take seven bullets to bring that guy down.
SCARBOROUGH: Guys, listen.
OK. I'm sorry, Doug. Go ahead.
So, do you think they used excessive force here?
BRINKLEY: I think it was excessive force. I don't think that they should be suspended or punished.
I think they were in a life-threatening situation, but the guy took—we don't know yet—six, seven, eight bullets. It was ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom, and the fact of the matter was, it was on a major thoroughfare, in broad daylight, makes it even worse, in the sense that it's showing this image of what is going on in New Orleans.
Most policemen watching this show right now around the country knows they would have handled it with a Taser gun or shot to wound. I don't buy...
ROBINSON: They didn't have Tasers.
ROBINSON: You know darn well they didn't have Tasers.
BRINKLEY: But they should have Tasers. We are in a city that is having Mardi Gras parades.
BRINKLEY: And you got to have parade control.
ROBINSON: You're talking about all the evil in the world since the beginning of time, but you don't want to talk about the facts in this case. They didn't have Tasers.
ROBINSON: This old guy, Hayes, goes in, and knocks the crap out of some guy in a pharmacy, breaks his glasses, comes out with a knife in his hand.
BRUNO: I don't know where you got your facts, but you must be from another planet.
BRUNO: That's at all not what happened.
ROBINSON: The police, over about a 15-minute period, did the best they could do and corralled this guy into a corner.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. Listen, we are going to have order on this show. We are going to have order. OK? We got to do it one at a time.
Joseph, respond to that.
I just—one thing I want to remind you, Joe, and remind everybody else, my client did not, does not attack the New Orleans Police Department. We don't attack the police department today. We didn't do it before. We are not going to do it in the future. There are a lot of great guys in that department. That's not what this is about.
All we are saying is, the guys that beat up Robert Davis, they were removed from the force. There was enough evidence to justify that removal. We are satisfied with that.
With regard to what happened yesterday, all we are saying is that we are all, in this community, trying to survive. We don't need any more black eyes. I am not judging the police department. I don't have enough facts to go one way or the other. But I am telling you, like, Joe, you just mentioned a few moments ago, everybody I talk to who has seen that tape is repulsed. Now, we have to deal...
SCARBOROUGH: And, Joseph...
ROBINSON: Everybody should be repulsed that they were put in that kind of a position.
SCARBOROUGH: Everyone who sees the tape...
BRUNO: I'm sorry.
SCARBOROUGH: ... is going to—is obviously going to be concerned by what they have seen.
SCARBOROUGH: Doug Brinkley, I want to ask you, though—I want to go back to the New Orleans Police Department, because obviously all the eyes of America are going to be on New Orleans for the next couple of years. You said it's uniquely corrupt.
I remember when I went there as a young kid. My brother was like 8 or 9 years old. He pointed to a police officer. He said, hey, I hear those guys are dirty, that they are corrupt. This is obviously something that people across the Southeast have known for a long time. Why are they one of the more corrupt police departments in America?
BRINKLEY: Because of the political corruption in the state of Louisiana, and you started getting police officers, let's just say, in a housing project that would start taking parts, cuts, in drug deals.
A few years ago, we had a couple officers that were convicted for murder in New Orleans. They have a belief—a lot of it is corruption, and now a lack of training. They don't realize that there's another way to take a guy down that—instead of doing that. And when you interview, people during Katrina, you will find very few people that experienced the police—I just spent time with Tim Bayert (ph), a great New Orleans policeman, and I am profiling him in my book.
And there are great policemen, but even the police here know that there's a corruption. We are just trying to get rid of it.
BRINKLEY: And we need the help of the FBI and the feds to do that. And they are here now. They are not in Boston and Milwaukee working with the police. They are in New Orleans trying to clean things up. Warren Riley is.
ROBINSON: That's correct.
BRINKLEY: This tape didn't help.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you so much, Doug.
Thank you, Joseph.
Thank you, Ric.
And, listen, I want to underline this point. It is an extraordinarily important point that all of the guys here tonight have made. There are so many great police officers in New Orleans. There's been corruption there for a long time, but, as you all know, 5, 10, 15 percent of any police force can really cast a dark shadow across the entire force.
There are so many great people out there every night that are putting their lives on the line, protecting the people of the Big Easy. And we salute them. I certainly salute them, and I am not going to judge any police officer. I am just here asking the tough questions. That's my job, but I will tell you what. I think too many people on editorial pages across America have second-guessed our men and women in uniform for too long, and I think that's a big mistake.
Coming up next, a surfer fights back against an attacking shark, and he says he learned the life-saving move on TV.
Also, former playmate Anna Nicole Smith getting some legal help from an unlikely place. Why is the White House on her side tonight?
SCARBOROUGH: This Oregon surfer is crediting Discovery Channel's “Shark Week” with saving his life.
Brian Anderson was surfing near his home in Seaside, Oregon, on Saturday when he felt a great white shark bite his leg. But Anderson didn't panic. He says he punched the shark in the nose, a technique he claimed that he learned from watching shark documentaries on TV.
So, is fighting back the key to surviving a shark attack?
With me now to talk about that question is shark behavioralist Dr.
Thank you, Doctor, for being with us.
DR. ERICH RITTER, SHARK BEHAVIORIST: Good evening. How you doing?
SCARBOROUGH: First of all, what is the real deal about punching sharks in the face if you are attacked by them?
RITTER: Well, actually, that has absolutely no effect. The shark's intention was never to really take him out, so Mr. Anderson could have done whatever he wanted, and the shark would have let go, so punching the snout, in his case, it was luck, but normally it does not do the job.
SCARBOROUGH: What does the job? What can you do if you find yourself in Mr. Anderson's position?
RITTER: The best thing would be actually do nothing, because in most cases, the shark explores what a surfer is, so the shark will never clamp down, so by hitting the animal, we actually do more damage to the wound, but if you really want to do something, try to push away the animal, but don't hit the animal.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, this is what Brian Anderson said about his episode with the shark. I would love to read it. You got to roll the prompter, though, when I read the words that are on that prompter.
Actually, why don't we just play the clip? That will be easier for everybody involved. Go ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN ANDERSON, SHARK BITE VICTIM: I was just enjoying being out there at the moment, and then I felt like this dog biting, or a dog bite—would bite your ankle or something like that? And then it—and it just grabbed my foot. And then I looked. I was like, what? And then I saw this—the fish right there on my right side.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Doctor, you hear him talking about describing this situation. You were also a victim of a shark bite. Talk about that.
RITTER: Well, in my case, it started the same way, exploration, but then the animal got stressed. And she bit for a second time, and I had to react.
So, there's a big difference between a stress bite or a competition bite or an exploration bite. So, but in his case, Mr. Anderson's case, he says it very clearly that he just felt something. So, the animal never clamped down. It was a very hesitant, slight approach, and the animal had never intention to really hurt him.
SCARBOROUGH: And if the animal did have an intention of hurting him, chances are good he wouldn't have been sitting there in front of a fireplace with a Santa hat on, right? He would have been dead.
If the animal's intention would have been to take him out, he would have done so. It was exploration, and he was lucky that the animal let go.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you, as always, Dr. Erich Ritter from Pensacola.
RITTER: My pleasure.
SCARBOROUGH: We greatly appreciate you being with us.
SCARBOROUGH: Coming up next, Anna Nicole Smith going to the Supreme Court to get her late husband's fortune. And what a fortune it is. And now she's getting some surprising legal help.
We will explain why the White House is getting involved in this family feud.
SCARBOROUGH: So, I know you stayed up late last night asking yourself, what does a president of the United States and a former stripper turned reality TV star called Anna Nicole Smith have in common? Well, you say not much, you may be wrong. The Bush administration wants to help the blonde bombshell when she heads to the U.S. Supreme Court in February.
And NBC's Kevin Corke tells us why.
KEVIN CORKE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, an unusual pairing, Joe.
On the one hand, you have Anna Nicole Smith, the former “Playboy” playmate, who, some would argue, has made a career of being larger than life, and, on the other hand, you have a White House, a Bush administration, that could actually end up defending her interests before the high courts.
(voice-over): The case has it all, sex, money, and fame. And now Anna Nicole Smith, no stranger to the unusual, will try to make the most of it in collecting possibly hundreds of millions of dollars from the estate of her late husband.
Smith married oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II in 1994 when he was 89 and she was a 26-year-old former topless dancer. Marshall died a year later, and there's been a big fight over his money ever since, pitting Smith and her late husband's son, Pierce, a fight that will now go all the way to the Supreme Court, with the Bush administration siding with Smith.
Smith lost a previous round in state court but won a judgment in federal court. And in the latest filings, the Bush administration argues that the justices should protect federal court jurisdiction in disputes.
A high-stakes case with a Texas-sized jackpot on the line.
(voice-over): And, Joe, it now looks like we will find out some time next month if the U.S. solicitor general will be able to argue alongside Smith's attorneys when they face the high court on February 28 -- Joe, back to you.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thanks, Kevin.
If she gets hundreds of millions of dollars, will she just go away?
Let's hope so.
We are going to be right back with a big update on Operation Phone Home.
Stick around. SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. This is Staff Sergeant Rich Robosho (ph), stationed in Balad, Iraq.
And I just want to send out a happy holidays to all my friends and family in New Hampshire, to my beautiful wife and two kids. I love you. I miss you, and I will see you soon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. My name is Sergeant 1st Class Freddie Adams (ph). And I would like to wish a happy holidays to my family back in Arkansas, Gerdy Adams (ph) and Kala Nader (ph).
I love you all, and I will see you all real soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: You know, so many of our troops just can't be with their family and friends this holiday season, but thanks to so many of you out there, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY has raised more than $160,000 for Operation Phone Home.
You know, I also want to thank personally AT&T tonight. This company stepped up and donated 5,000 20-minute phone cards for soldiers serving in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. And these cards are donation cards and not available for purchase. And they are going to allow soldiers stationed 20 minutes of call time to their loved ones back here in the USA during the holiday season and beyond.
And these cards and your donations are already making such a big difference in our soldiers' lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PFC YUGEN HOTTER, PHONE HOME CARD RECIPIENT: It means to me that I am able to call to my family. I am able to get in contact with them and hear their voices again. And they can also hear my voices.
I haven't talked to my wife in a while, since I have been here. I have only talked to her like once or twice. And because of these phone cards, I have been able to get to her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And, please, do everything you can to keep these donations coming in. It really means so much during this holiday season. It's a great way to help our troops keep up their morale, to keep in touch with their loved ones, their husbands, their wives, their sons, their daughters, their moms, their dads, their friends, their family members.
You know, it's just so important that they can pick up the phone and tell them that they love them and also to tell them to thank—to thank everybody for the support.
We want to thank you for everything you have given us, and again, ask you to continue your support for SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY's efforts to connect our troops with their loved ones.
Thanks for being with us in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY tonight. We will see you tomorrow.
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