Guest: Michael Schiavo, Richard Wolffe, Melanie Lomax, Mo Rocca
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Michael Schiavo, 10 months later, a former Republican now forming a political action committee, a PAC, to challenge the politicians who involved themselves in the life and death of his wife, Terri.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL SCHIAVO, TERRI SCHIAVO‘S HUSBAND: This should not have happened, Keith. These politicians should not knocked on my door.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Tonight, my exclusive interview with Michael Schiavo.
The State of the Union, Mr. Bush resuming the speech, sort of, today, at the Grand Ole Opry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How cool would it be to give a State of the Union address in a Porter Waggoner outfit?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The outfit was the issue for Cindy Sheehan, last night arrested at the State of the Union for her T-shirt. Today, in essence, the charges against her dropped. “We screwed up,” says a police official.
Who screwed up in San Bernardino County? Southern California police under the spotlight again, as they shoot an unarmed, apparently compliant Air Force airman just back from Iraq.
All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.
When “The Washington Post” summarizes a president‘s address to Congress with the headline “The Incredible Shrinking State of the Union,” it is not a shock, maybe not even a true indicator. When “The New York Times” headline reads “Bush‘s Bold Visions Have Given Way to New Reality,” again, big surprise. But when Robert Novak‘s column in “The Chicago Sun Ties” is topped by the header “Bush Pleases Neither Side as He Heads Towards Middle,” that‘s a presidential problem.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, a State of the Union that, 24 hours after the fact, seems to be a candidate to be overshadowed historically by a dog that was in the audience, and an arrest there that should not have happened.
Case you missed it, President Bush pretty much repeating the State of the Union address this afternoon from the stage of the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee. No Grandpa Jones. He passed away.
An appropriate venue, the president‘s remarks resembling nothing if not an acoustic set, many of last night‘s arguments having already been regurgitated from other national security speeches that the president makes on a regular basis, served up again today for lunch.
And just about as appetizing, if you did not like the dish the first time around. The menu overview short and pre-fixe. Printed on the backdrop behind Mr. Bush this afternoon in Tennessee, “Americans Win When America Leads.” Democracy, it seems, still marching, and marching, and marching.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: And we‘re spreading freedom now. For those of you who are young, I, I, I, I, I want you to watch the spread of freedom in our world. It‘s amazing to see when you think about it. The vote in Afghanistan was part of freedom‘s march. The vote in Iraq is part of freedom‘s march. People in Lebanon want to be free from Syria, and we‘re working. The Palestinians voted.
There‘s some uncertainty in people‘s minds. People are uncertain, you know, in spite of our strong union because of war, and I understand that. I mean, it is—you know, my job is as much educator in chief as it is commander in chief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Our educator in chief, at least for the next five minutes, “Newsweek” White House correspondent Richard Wolffe.
Good evening, Richard.
RICHARD WOLFFE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, “NEWSWEEK” MAGAZINE: And
without a backdrop.
OLBERMANN: How are we to interpret the scaled-down national security-centric second go at a second-term agenda last night? Would it be fair to say that he to some degree abandoned anything that did not work for him?
WOLFFE: Oh, he‘s abandoned a lot, especially Social Security, and the grand vision that lay behind it. At least for the moment, this is a president who sees a virtue in being resolute. Some may call it stubborn. And I expect that he‘ll come back to this if he wins or picks up seats in November.
But, yes, it‘s about foreign policy. That‘s where his legacy lies. And he sees a winning script. He‘s basically repeating the script that won seats in 2002 and 2004, and it‘s the war, stupid.
OLBERMANN: But in one of those scripts, the spreading democracy script, does he have the final pages? In both of these speeches, the one today at the Grand Ole Opry and the one last night, touting the spread of democracy abroad as a means of fighting terrorism. But if you judge by the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections, is democracy always marching in the direction that the administration may have hoped?
WOLFFE: Well, no, it‘s not. And this has been a huge gamble, frankly, even bigger a gamble than Iraq itself. Democracy, there‘s no track record for this. Democracy has never beaten terrorism. In fact, terrorism has existed very happily with democracies, in Great Britain, for instance, with Northern Irish terrorism, Basque terrorists in Spain.
And what they didn‘t calculate here is that the terrorists are actually not killing their own people. Hamas are targeting Israelis, of course. Al Qaeda has attacked Westerners and Western influences. And they‘ve used terrorism to become more popular.
So democracy has actually boosted the support for these terrorist groups, not undermined it, and that‘s a serious miscalculation for the administration.
OLBERMANN: Something else that critics would, might, would probably
point out as a serious miscalculation, in both of these speeches, again,
the president made the claim that the NSA domestic spying program could
have helped to prevent 9/11, because of phone calls that two of those
hijackers in the U.S. placed to al Qaeda operatives overseas. The original
originator of that plan had said the same thing couple weeks ago.
But today, NBC News in touch with a couple of intelligence officials who say they are still mystified by that claim, that the problem, simply put, was not a lack of evidence before the attacks. There were plenty of dots. The problem was connecting those dots between the agencies.
WOLFFE: Right. And to be fair, that‘s something the administration and the Congress have worked hard to do. There is a lot more sharing going on than there used to be, and the director of national intelligence is actually, it seems, doing a good job in terms of pulling things together.
I don‘t know that people question the need to conduct surveillance or wiretap on suspicious calls. The real question is, is not whether it‘s worth doing, it‘s how you do it, whether they should have gone to the courts or whether they should have changed the law. But was the process legal? Should they have done something to change the legality of it? That‘s the real debate.
OLBERMANN: On last night‘s domestic agenda, which was a somewhat truncated thing in comparison to years past, is it surprising Mr. Bush spent so little time talking about the Hurricane Katrina recovery, 5,000-word speech last night, 165 words in it, slightly more than that, in a slightly longer speech, though he actually today never used the name Katrina, he just called it, That hurricane?
WOLFFE: Yes, you know, it‘s hard to remember names sometimes. Katrina has become a political nightmare for everybody concerned. This is a complex problem. Nobody has ever done this kind of thing before. And there are some people in the administration who think so that—who think that people should be able to vote with their feet, that there should be sort of free-market forces. If people want to find better jobs, better housing elsewhere, then they should be allowed to do so.
So there‘s a sort of a question mark over the commitment about how to rebuild New Orleans, and whether to rebuild it fully. The problem for the president is that under the pressure he was under at the time, he made this big commitment that the city would be rebuilt, better than ever. And following through on that is difficult. So I‘m not surprised he didn‘t deal with it, because it‘s so fraught.
OLBERMANN: And that speech is already on tape, and people can refer back to it. There‘s no reason to give them more ammunition. Richard Wolffe of “Newsweek” magazine, as always, sir, great thanks.
WOLFFE: Any time.
OLBERMANN: The fireworks before the State of the Union address last night ultimately trumping the excitement factor of the speech itself. As we reported at the end of last night‘s news hour, Cindy Sheehan, mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, hauled out of the House chamber in handcuffs, having been invited to attend by a Democratic congresswoman, and having made it through security without incident, twice.
It was unzipping her own jacket that proved to be Ms. Sheehan‘s undoing. Her T-shirt, which read, “2,245 Dead, How Many More?” prompted a security guard to yell, Protester! before grabbing Ms. Sheehan, roughly, she says, and dragging her out of the Capitol to a waiting squad car. Ms. Sheehan, writing in a blog entry today, quote, “I was never asked to take my shirt off or zip my jacket back up. If I had been asked to do any of those things, I would have, and written about the suppression of my freedom of speech later.”
The U.S. Capitol police force, eating some crow tonight, telling NBC News that it will ask the U.S. attorney to essentially drop the charges. Why? Because there is no rule or law that Ms. Sheehan actually violated.
A top official on the force saying, quote, “We screwed up.”
How convenient. That also means Beverly Young, the wife of Florida Congressman C.W. Bill Young, did not violate any laws or rules either. Mrs. Young ejected from the House gallery last night for her casual scripted attire, her T-shirt reading, “Support Our Troops Defending Our Freedom.”
Well, the Capitol police should be applauded for an even, almost bipartisan, application of the no-T-shirt-with-writing-enforcement-policy zone, however misguided that zone might have been. Mrs. Young, it should be noted, was not handcuffed, not booked, not fingerprinted, and that did not do anything to lessen Congressman Young‘s anger when he took the House floor this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. C.W. BILL YOUNG ®, FLORIDA: My wife supports our troops every day, every hour, every waking hour. It‘s with a passion, because of a passion that comes from the hours and the days and the weeks and the months that she has spent in our military hospitals ministering to those who have been wounded in the line of duty, helping with their families.
Yes, she has a real passion for our troops, and she shows it in many, many ways, and most members in this House know that. But because she had on a shirt that someone didn‘t like that said “Support Our Troops,” she was kicked out of this gallery while the president was speaking, encouraging Americans to support our troops.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Welcome to the opposition side of the aisle.
Overnight reaction to the State of the Union address hard to measure accurately, if only because, at least according to a CBS News poll, more Republicans watched the speech than did Democrats. So what if, instead, someone went to a swing state, gathering two Republicans, three Democrats, and one libertarian to watch that speech, asking for their thoughts when it was over?
That‘s exactly what our correspondent Rahema Ellis did last night at Bryn Mawr College outside Philadelphia.
RAHEMA ELLIS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When they all sat down to listen, they were anxious for positive news. And the response?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was very happy with it.
ELLIS: John Gentura (ph), a Republican, says the president addressed everything that matters to him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the war on terrorism, the economy, and homeland security. And the substance of his talk was right on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that we are...
ELLIS: Joanne Mullen (ph) is also a registered Republican.
(on camera): Your family has known firsthand what it‘s like to have someone serve in the military. Did he speak to your concerns?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He had said that he didn‘t want to pull out of Iraq right away. And I totally agree with that. I think it would be a disaster if we were to remove our troops immediately.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought that...
ELLIS (voice-over): Andrea Lynch (ph), a Democrat, was impressed by the president‘s call for exploring alternative fuel sources, but she wanted more.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he had started that initiative four and a half years ago, we‘d be within two years of having alternative fuel sources here. Six and a half years is an awfully long time to have to wait now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My first reaction was...
ELLIS: Quentin Cross (ph), a Democrat who moved to Pennsylvania after he lost everything in Hurricane Andrew, says he was disappointed the president didn‘t talk more about rebuilding the Gulf Coast.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Struck a nerve some way, just for some effect, that it was like an afterthought. I wanted to hear, like, what‘s the future of New Orleans? Like, what‘s going to happen? Like, are—where do the people want to go? Are they going to go back? I mean, (INAUDIBLE) rebuild it to a (INAUDIBLE) place where people had hoped to return?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m skeptical, let‘s just say I...
ELLIS: Recent college graduate Sean Edwards (ph), a libertarian, had doubts about the strength of the economy but says the president‘s speech was reassuring.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It may not improve his approval rating, but it at least it will almost serve to energize the American people.
ELLIS: Six American voters with mixed views, each finding something they needed to hear.
Rahema Ellis, NBC News, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Coming up, the COUNTDOWN exclusive, Michael Schiavo‘s private hell played out on the world stage during the final days of his wife‘s life last year. Now Mr. Schiavo is ready to turn the tables on the elected officials he says played politics with his late wife‘s life. Our interview next.
And the fallout from the police shooting in California. Now the FBI wants to know, why was an Air Force airman just back from Iraq shot by police, even though he appeared to be following their orders?
You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: Ten months ago yesterday, Terri Schiavo died. From every perspective, from the viewpoint of every special interest group, from every human being touched by her death and her life, comes only one grain of agreement. It was a tragedy.
Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, the man who felt the most but said the least, Michael Schiavo, Terri Schiavo‘s husband. He and I spoke this morning. We‘ll be bringing you our conversation at length tomorrow night here on COUNTDOWN. Tonight, a preview, and some perspective.
Terri Schiavo collapsed at home in 1990. After years of attempts at rehabilitation, she still remained in what doctors had diagnosed repeatedly as a persistent vegetative state. Her husband, Michael, said she never wanted to be kept alive artificially and filed a petition to have her feeding tube removed.
Her family said she did want to be kept alive, and they went to court for seven years, trying to keep the feeding tube in.
When the courts finally decided to allow Michael Schiavo to remove his wife‘s tube, hundreds of people gathered in protest outside and hospice, some even getting symbolically arrested trying to bring her water.
But it was the politicians, led by then-House majority leader Tom DeLay in the House, along with the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, and by the governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, and his brother, the president, who made all this a rallying cry for several movements, including the pro-life movement, bringing the case to Congress to pass a bill aimed at an 11th-hour attempt to force the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo‘s feeding tube.
And, as her husband told me in an exclusive interview, their interference is the reason he has now started his own political action committee, named Terri‘s PAC, after his wife, dedicated to exposing the people he says used this tragedy for their own political agenda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIAVO: This should not have happened, Keith. These politicians should not knocked on my door. And I‘m sure you would feel the same way if it was you, sitting there making a personal decision about your loved one and your own personal life, and you have these people that never even met you, never even knew you, that all of a sudden are knocking on your door saying, You can‘t do this.
It‘s not right. This is America.
OLBERMANN: But you say knocking on the door, and yet they didn‘t really knock on the door, they sort of just came through the wall, didn‘t they?
SCHIAVO: Exactly. Well, that‘s a better statement.
OLBERMANN: If they had knocked on the door...
SCHIAVO: No knocking, they just walked right in.
OLBERMANN: Yes, if they had knocked on the door, if literally one of them had said, I want to meet you, and I want to come see her, what would you have said?
SCHIAVO: Come on down. I invited the president. I invited Governor Bush. Come down, meet me. Come down and ask Terri, Here, Terri, shake my hand. She wouldn‘t have done it. Terri, can you look at me for a while and talk to me? She wouldn‘t have done it.
The autopsy has proved that. Terri was cortically blind, something that has been said in courts for years. Dr. Cranford was the first neurologist to sit there and say she was cortically blind. And the autopsy proved that. Terri was blind. Terri couldn‘t talk. She couldn‘t swallow. The autopsy proved that. Terri‘s brain was half the size of the—a normal brain. That‘s how much it had shrunk.
OLBERMANN: My exclusive interview with Michael Schiavo, tomorrow night here on COUNTDOWN, 8:00 and midnight Eastern, 5:00 and 9:00 p.m. Pacific.
From the seriousness of our politics to the file of, It‘s funny because it‘s happening to them, government in the Republic of Georgia.
And certainly it was not as strange as that fight, but there were some unusual moments at the State of the Union last night, including the first-ever special guest who was a dog. We think the dog was an all-time first. (INAUDIBLE)?
The one and only Mo Rocca joins us.
OLBERMANN: We‘re back. And now that everybody in Washington is obviously heeding President Bush‘s call to keep a civil tone in public discourse, we‘ve got to go halfway around the world to find some real political action.
Let‘s play Oddball.
We begin in Tblisi, Georgia, where—I got your civil tone right here, pal. Mr. Speaker, let‘s get it on. Good old-fashioned Georgian parliamentary debate. Today‘s issue at hand, a city current energy crisis caused by last week‘s natural gas pipeline explosion.
Also, that guy was looking at me funny, pal. Guess they got some chairs thrown when finger-pointing led to shoving, swinging, beating, and finally total chaos. What party do you belong to? I belong to this party.
After a while, order was restored, and the councilors got on with the business of democracy and voted themselves more money to buy new clothes to replace the suits they ripped. Made the last part up.
Now for something completely not so different. La Caio (ph), in Peru, hello. it‘s the annual festival of atonement and sadism that is Fiesta del Nino. Each year, the locals dress up in these fancy outfits, purge themselves of sin by whipping it out of each other. Pardon me while I whip this out, as they said in the movie—“Blazing Saddles,” excuse me.
This is a tradition dating back hundreds of years with no rational explanation other than everywhere in the world that you go, it‘s fun to watch people hurting each other.
Finally to Mexico City, where we find our own friend Master Daredevil Felix Baumgartner on top of another really tall building. I think he‘s going to jump. I know this because he always jumps. Whee. This latest leap, from the top of the tallest building in Latin America, the 50-story Tore Mejor (ph), Baumgartner parachuted the 738 feet through the thin and polluted air to the street below, where he was able to hop in a Hummer and drive off, thus further polluting the air and, more importantly, living to jump another day.
Returning to the serious news of this day, the FBI now investigating the shooting of the Air Force veteran just back from Iraq after a high-speed car chase in California. The shocking video, and the questions it has sparked, as we told you it would, about the actions of the officers.
Another bad day for James Frey. First Oprah does the public lashing.
Now his own literary agent has a one-word message for him.
Those stories ahead.
But first, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.
Number three, Kory Tippetts of Orem, Utah, today‘s dumbest criminal. Called police to report he‘d been burglarized, somebody had stolen his—marijuana. The police suggested he stop by the local precinct to identify it, which he promptly did. He is under arrest. Why do you think they call it dope?
Number two, Carrie Welling of New Kensington, Pennsylvania. Mrs. Welling, pregnant, her due date Sunday, Sunday, the day her Pittsburgh Steelers are in Super Bowl so they had them induce labor today. Her daughter, McGee, appears to be OK, proving that whatever it is, it is not hereditary.
Number one, Dennis Rodman. Today the former basketball star, who once staged a ceremony in which he married himself in drag, has bowed out due to what he says is a sponsorship conflict as commissioner of Sunday‘s Lingerie Bowl. Sponsorship problem, like Frederick‘s of Hollywood versus Hollywood‘s Victoria‘s Secret? This begs the question, what exactly does the commissioner of the Lingerie Bowl do, other than wear the lingerie?
OLBERMANN: Sadly, we‘ve come to expect it in the last decade, high-speed police car chases ending badly, especially in southern California. But in our third story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, perhaps no one could have predicted what happened in southern California this time.
The story we told you about last night, the passenger of the car being pursued is shot three times after the car has come to a halt, after he is out of the car and on the ground, after he appeared to be following the order of the sheriff‘s deputy who would shoot him.
The passenger, 21 year old Elio Carrion, Air Force Senior Airman Carrion, just back from serving in Iraq, and he was unarmed. Now the FBI is investigating. The fallout from this one has just begun. Our correspondent tonight is George Lewis.
GEORGE LEWIS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The shooting followed a high-speed chase involving this Corvette sports car. The passenger, 21-year-old Elio Carrion, is a U.S. Air Force security officer just back from duty in Iraq. On the amateur videotape, Carrion is on the ground, he appears trying to calm down a deputy yelling at him.
ELIO CARRION (amateur videotape audio): I‘m here on your side.
LEWIS: He also tries to explain he works in military law enforcement.
CARRION: I served more time than you in the (inaudible) police and the (inaudible) military. OK.
LEWIS: Much of the audio is unclear, but it sounds like one of the deputies tells Carrion to get off the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED DEPUTY: I said get up.
LEWIS: As Carrion cries out in pain, the deputy orders him to be quiet and stay on the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED DEPUTY: Shut the (inaudible) up! Shut the (inaudible) up! You don‘t (inaudible) get up, mother (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: You told him to get up!
LEWIS: Police confirmed Carrion and the driver of the car were not armed. The driver, Luis Escobedo, was arrested, later released on bail. He was not shot. Carrion is recovering at this hospital.
(on camera): The deputy who shot him has been placed on administrative leave with pay while the FBI investigates. Local authorities are also investigating.
(voice-over): Carrion‘s wife says the deputy ought to be fired.
MARIELA CARRION, ELIO CARRION‘S WIFE: Since my husband was surrendering they shot him. They shot him on the shoulder, on the chest and one on his leg.
LEWIS: And the big unanswered question, if Carrion was indeed obeying the deputy, why the shooting in the first place? George Lewis, NBC News, Chino Hills, California.
OLBERMANN: And joining me now, civil rights attorney and the former president of the Civic Review Board of the Los Angeles Police Commission, Melanie Lomax. Thanks for your time tonight.
MELANIE LOMAX, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: You‘re welcome.
OLBERMANN: What does that tape and that tape alone tell you and what should it tell us?
LOMAX: Well, I think it should tell you a couple of things. One of them is, is that in these tactical situations after high-speed chases, there‘s a lot of confusion. There‘s a lot of second-guessing. I think it should tell you also that it‘s very important to obey the instructions of the police.
Unfortunately, this problem, the problem in this case, was the instructions of the police were inconsistent. You know, one cop is telling him to stand down. The other cop is telling him to sit up. What was absolutely confusing about this videotape is which instruction was he required to follow.
OLBERMANN: Even painting it though in the most favorable light to the deputy and the unseen deputy who was there too, why shoot? How does shooting a man become the deputy‘s response to him getting up in those confused circumstances when his hands are both clearly visible?
LOMAX: Well his hands were completely visible. There‘s no information at all that the suspect is armed. And under those circumstances, there should not have been any shooting. I mean, you know, we all know after the fact that this is a man who served the country and who was a member of the military. But at the time, the police officers knew that the suspect was complying. And that is the key piece of information to prohibit the use of deadly force.
OLBERMANN: We have heard time and again that the car chase—the biggest danger perhaps in the car chase is that it gets adrenaline going so rapidly through the body of the police officers who are involved in it and that can lead to excess, bad judgment. Is that an example of this do you suspect? Is that what we‘re going to find out was the thing that made this go hay wire?
LOMAX: Absolutely. It‘s time and time again been proven and I‘m the ex-president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, but there is a punitive aspect of those who attempt to evade police and high-speed chase, it‘s not just the adrenaline, it‘s the notion that the suspects should be penalized for attempting to evade police apprehension. And that is a serious question here; because of attempting to evade the police has nothing whatsoever to do with whether you have justification for using deadly force.
OLBERMANN: Does that reflect itself also, what happens afterwards where the man is literally crying in agony obviously after having been shot three times and is being told to shut up with foul language being used by the officer?
LOMAX: Absolutely. And the problem is the police officer is trained to listen, not simply to react. They are the ones who are armed. They are the ones who are authorized under the law to use deadly force and they‘ve got to exercise good judgment. In this case, in my opinion, very poor judgment was exercised.
OLBERMANN: It‘s hard to look at that tape and come to any other conclusion. Melanie Lomax, the past president of the Civil Review Board of the Los Angeles Police Commission. Thanks for your time tonight.
LOMAX: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: They are asking similar questions this evening, didn‘t officers have other options. Did adrenaline overcome common sense? Even could race have been a factor? In St. Louis, this time the suspect was no passenger, but rather a man with a lengthy rap sheet who tried to hit officers, with his car during their chase. Still with what ensued, the questions need answers there too. Our correspondent is Lisa Daniels.
LISA DANIELS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four police officers, punching and kicking a suspect on the ground, all caught on tape. Police say the man in black had led officers on a wild chase through the streets of St. Louis after police got a call he was casing a store.
CHIEF JAMES WHITE, MAPLEWOOD POLICE: On at least four occasions on the audio tape, the vehicle being pursued attempted to run the police car off the road.
DANIELS: Finally cornered by three squad cars, police say the suspect left his van and ran. The officers in hot pursuit with a TV news helicopter overhead. The tape shows the suspect thrown against a wall, to the ground and repeatedly punched, a fourth officer jumping on the suspect‘s ankle. After the incident the officer‘s police chief viewed the tape then faced tough questions as to whether excessive force was used.
WHITE: All force is important. But the nature of a police officer‘s job is the utilization of force. The question here is whether or not the force is justified.
DANIELS: Whether the suspect was armed or resisting arrest is unclear. Experts say the video leaves questions.
LOCKE BOWMAN, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: You can‘t hear what‘s being said, what kind of warnings to him, is he responding or his he threatening.
DANIELS: Community leaders say the reaction of one of the officers when he realizes the camera is on him speaks volumes.
REV. JAMES MORRIS, LANE TABERNACLE CHURCH: And it is certainly circumspect when they stop when they see a television camera on them.
CHET PLEBAO, OFFICERS‘ ATTORNEY: These officers had the best angle, they were there. The camera was up in the air.
DANIELS: Police say the suspect is 33 year old Edmond Burns, a man with a lengthy arrest record. Burns is in police custody, as the investigation continues whether the officers acted within the law. Lisa Daniels, NBC News, Chicago.
OLBERMANN: Also tonight, the mother and daughter have now been taken to their rest, but still no answers as to who killed Rachel and Lillian Entwistle. Nor why the person of interest in the case, the late Mrs. Entwistle‘s husband, didn‘t go to the funerals and is still in his native United Kingdom.
And James Frey‘s book manager takes a cue from the woman with the book club. Those stories ahead, now though are COUNTDOWN‘s top three sound bites of this day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wild horses. One end bites, the other end kicks. Perfect for Nevada.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Now if you could be a bird, what kind of bird would you be?
MAURICE MANN, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: If I could be a bird. I don‘t know, one that flies, one that has good wings.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Like a Seahawk?
MANN: Yeah, I‘ll be a Seahawk maybe.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thirdly, when we see a threat, we‘ve got to deal with the threat. I remember growing up in Midland, Gatlin grew up (inaudible) by the way, right down the road, or the Gatlin‘s did. I was white collar and blue collar. I‘m president, he‘s a singer. (LAUGHTER) Any way, you can tell I like him, because when I put the needle out it‘s a sign of affection. Just don‘t give him the mike.
OLBERMANN: 40 miles and more than a century away on a spell defying August morning had come the most infamous American family murders, before the Simpson Goldman killings. That case, the hatchet killings of Joseph and Abbey Borden at Fall River, Massachusetts, in 1892 continues to fascinate and frustrate investigators, professional and amateur alike. An elderly man and his second wife dead in their home, his daughter, Lizzy Borden, the only conceivable suspect and the evidence against her so slim, it took the jury only 15inutes to acquit her.
Our number two story on the COUNTDOWN, a similar cloud confusing and yet compelling, seems to be forming at the home of Rachel Entwistle and her nine month old daughter Lillian. Today the mother and daughter were buried while the sole survivor, the person of interest in the case, the husband, remained an Ocean away in England. Our correspondent is Sean Hennessy.
SEAN HENNESSY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the very church where they celebrated her marriage, friends and family of Rachel Entwistle celebrated her life. While the devastated parents were greeted by the presiding priest and family friend, a single casket was carried into the church, holding the 27 year old and her nine month old treasure Lillian, both of whom were found shot to death inside their Hopkinton home last week.
DR. PRAKASH RAU, MOURNER: It‘s a very tragic event and we‘re just feeling sorry for the family.
HENNESSY: Those inside the service said it was moving. The standing-room only crowd of 500 was reminded of Lillian‘s baptism here just seven weeks ago, celebrated by the same priest who now is telling mourners about the evil that lives among us. Never ask why God would allow this to happen Father Bo McKenzie said, because God would not do this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was comforting.
HENNESSY: Comforting too, when Rachel‘s high school friend talked of her love for teaching and how she drove to herself to excellence while pushing friends to do the same.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was a jewel, she was a diamond.
HENNESSY: The service ended with two men singing a heart wrenching song about a mother and her child. In Kingston, where Rachel Entwistle grew up, she was laid to rest. Dozens crowded around the mother and daughter‘s casket, shedding plenty of tears while sharing heart warming hugs.
CHARLIE SORRENTO, HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER: It went as well as it could possibly go for two young people.
HENNESSY: Was there any mention of Neil?
SORRENTO: No, no, not at all. That whole situation is baffling to me.
OLBERMANN: No easy segue of that into our nightly round up of celebrity and entertainment news “KEEPING TABS.” And more fallout from the James Frey memoir as fiction flap. Frey‘s literary manager has dumped him. Kassie Evashevski of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment says, she is not representing Frey any more. She had been his literary manager for more than four years, if the story is true. She told “Publisher Weekly” that she did not believe Frey had intended to con anybody but that, “The trust had been broken.”
The “Smoking Gun.com” investigative piece, the genesis of that of course in Frey‘s ultimate scouring on Oprah, giving birth to yet another author‘s note, a two-and-a-half pager from Frey. He apologizes amid rationalizations like the term subjective truth while book stores consider reclassifying his non fiction best seller and putting it in the horror section. Hard to picture Kate Moss as a role model for atonement, but maybe James Frey could take a few notes here.
Apologize, clean up and if necessary, talk to the constables. Moss was back in Britain yesterday, the central London police station. 80 minutes of questioning by detectives there. It was last September when the “Daily Mirror” tabloid newspaper published pictures of Moss seemingly using cocaine in a west London music studio. She lost several modeling contracts because of the allegations, millions of dollars worth of business, but not all of them. She will appear on the cover of British “Vogue” for the 21st time, the first time since the bad publicity.
Speaking of fashion, is there some kind of dress code for the state of the union? Ladies in red, the other political oddities from last night analyzed by the one and only Mo Rocca, that‘s ahead. But first on the “Countdown‘s” list of today‘s three nominees.
Worst person in the world, the bronze, Judge Bruce Morgan from Telford Shropshire in England. He accepted the explanation of a police constable, Mark Milton, that he was just test driving the new police car on the local M54 motorway and needed to drive that fast to familiarize himself with what the car would do. Evidently, it could do 159 miles an hour. Judge Morgan‘s ruling has been over ruled, Constable Milton will be tried for speeding after all.
Tonight‘s runner up, Michael Caputo. Police in Indianapolis say he is the most wanted man in the city and they caught him, he is the dreaded manhole cover thief. They‘re charging him with stealing two of them and they think he may have stolen as many as 51. Mr. Caputo is to be considered armed and heavily armed, big ripped arms from lifting manhole covers.
But tonight‘s winners, 32 percent of the male readers of “Golf Digest”, 31 percent of the female readers of “Golf for Women”, they responded yes to this survey question. If they let you play around at Augusta National Golf Club, where they hold the Master‘s tournament, would you be willing to, in exchange for that privilege, abstain from sex for a year? 32 percent of the men said yes, 31 percent of the women and they would obviously be bringing a whole new meaning to “Master‘s” playing. Now those readers of two golf mags, today‘s worst persons in the world!
This past weekend marked the start of the Chinese New Year; it is the year of the dog. President of the United States was born in 1946. 1946 was also a year of the dog. Our number one story on the “Countdown” tonight, maybe that explains it. 24 hours after his fifth official state of the union, a lot of people are talking as much about one member in his audience as any one thing in his speech. That dog. Rex, 5-year-old bomb-sniffing German shepherd who served in Iraq, both he and his handler Air Force tech sergeant Jamie Dana seated next to the first lady.
As Harry Truman‘s wife Bess famously said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” And as with any nationally televised event, there was fashion, lots of it, nearly all of it apparently in red. Certainly not the kind of headline grabbing garb that gets you arrested. Or that ensemble will turn heads of Capitol police officers. The activist anti-war protestor Cindy Sheehan, an invited guest of California‘s representative Lynn Woolsey arrested in the chamber yesterday, charged with misdemeanor unlawful conduct for wearing a t-shirt with an anti-war slogan.
As we mentioned at the start of the start of the news hour, Capitol cops now saying they just assumed this was a violation of the law, it isn‘t, they shouldn‘t have arrested her. They have apologized. Who better to evaluate the bizarre nuances of last night‘s state of the union than television personality and presidential pant historian Mo Rocca? Good evening, Mo.
MO ROCCA, TELEVISION PERSONALITY: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Ms. Sheehan not the only person removed from the capitol for wearing a t-shirt with a slogan in it, the wife of the republican representative from Florida Bill Young wore a shirt emblazoned with “Support the Troops Defending our Freedom.” She was asked to leave, she was not forcibly removed. But amid this controversy, the big question might be, did we miss any worse t-shirts, did somebody get away with something last night?
ROCCA: Well a number of republicans were actually tossed out. One moderate republican wearing a t-shirt emblazoned, “I Went to Vote and All I Got Was This Stupid President.” That was one. And then a more far right wing republican wearing a t-shirt emblazoned, “What Happens in Iraq Stays in Iraq.” That was considered a little too provocative.
The real story that everyone missed was what happened with the Supreme Court. Outgoing Justice Sandra Day O‘Connor was actually tossed out for a t-shirt that she was wearing underneath her robe. It was a message for the president and the Supreme Court and it read, “I‘m Looking for Mr. Right not Mr. Right Wing.” And she was sent home. It was one of those really cute oversized t-shirts. No great shape. She went home and she curled up on the couch and watched “The Gilmore Girls” instead.
OLBERMANN: And the director of the state of the union television pool feed is still looking for her somewhere. He‘s still trying to find her in the camera shot. To your specialty, presidents and dogs, a dog at the state of the union, was that a first? Or did Andrew Johnson once bring a St. Bernard with a keg of brandy with him?
ROCCA: He did do that, but more memorable still was bachelor president James Buchanan in his 1858 state of the union. He brought his nuffie Laura and she sat where the first lady would have sat. They gazed lovingly at each other as the president lauded her for her work with puppies teaching them how to read. People in the chamber were confused and very uncomfortable.
OLBERMANN: Like I am now.
ROCCA: Can I ask you, do you think the Hamas leadership and the Palestinian authority is using bomb sniffing dogs in their guard, because it‘s got to be really weird getting bitten by your own security detail?
OLBERMANN: Let‘s switch over here to the women who chose red as the color of the evening.
ROCCA: Ah yes.
OLBERMANN: There was a memo I assume?
ROCCA: You know now that so many women are wearing red, that‘s the way not to get noticed. And a lot of these congress women are real shrinking—violets are painfully shy. Cynthia McKinney is the best example, don‘t be fooled, even though she nearly tackled President Bush asking for his autograph at the end, she is painfully shy. There‘s Barbara Mikulski over there I think, yes. Now these women don‘t want to be noticed and this is the best way to do it. Margaret Spellings did want to be noticed, which is why she was wearing fuchsia.
OLBERMANN: Nanci Pelosi in red, I think she did not get the memo, red stayed, blue stayed, all of that. But let‘s switch—
ROCCA: That‘s right.
OLBERMANN: About the actual speech itself. One, I think we‘ll have time for one of these clips at least. Let me play you one here first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This year, the first of about 78 million baby boomers turn 60 including two of my dad‘s favorite people, me and President Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Did he reveal some big thing between him and his father last night, some big issue? Yes, the intimacy between President Bush Sr. and President Clinton is a flash point for the younger Bush. In fact, what I failed to mention is that Bush Sr. was actually tossed out for wearing one of those t-shirts that says “Re-defeat Bush.” It‘s a—he‘s a little bit old now. It‘s an outdated t-shirt he‘s doddering at this point.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Lowest approval ratings of his presidency going into the speech, on the way out he‘s signing autographs like a rock star. Is that part of this insulation bubble argument?
ROCCA: He may seem like he‘s in a bubble but he‘s not. He touched all of us when he talked about laws prohibiting hybrid human animal clones right now, the hybridization of those. That‘s something we all care about. I know that I actually was kind of looking forward to seeing a manta core or maybe a menator or a centaur. I know that the go pan, half goat, half human is very upset about that.
OLBERMANN: And I have to get rid of my collection of our chameleons that are also my brothers and sisters.
ROCCA: Right—aren‘t you glad that President Bush didn‘t misspell OB-GYN when he was talking about healthcare?
OLBERMANN: And did not go for that second part of the line, which is if they‘re not sharing their love around the country with women. Television personality Mo Rocca, the author of “All the President‘s Pets.”
It‘s always so great, thanks.
That‘s “COUNTDOWN” I‘m Keith Olbermann, keep your knees loose, good night and good luck. Our MSNBC coverage continues now with Rita Cosby “Live & Direct.” Good evening, Rita.
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