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'The Abrams Report' for February 24

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guest: Aitan Goelman, Curt Levey, Beth Holloway Twitty, Clint Van Zandt,

Michelle Suskauer, Susan Filan, Walid Phares

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, Natalee Holloway's mother is with us to respond to what suspect Joran van der Sloot said about her in an exclusive interview. 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  The chief suspect in Natalee's disappearance says Natalee enticed him, wanted to have sex with him.  He also says she said terrible things about her own mother.  Beth Holloway Twitty joins us. 

And “Scooter” Libby's lawyers head to court trying to get the charges thrown out.  If not, hoping to get access to classified documents they say will help show how busy he was at the time he was talking about CIA agent Valerie Plame.  But could that explain any lies? 

Plus time running out for American hostage Jill Carroll, her kidnapers threatening to kill her in two days. 

The program about justice starts now. 


ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff “Scooter” Libby in court.  Libby's lawyers say they need between three and 500 more classified documents to defend their client against charges he lied to the FBI and a grand jury about conversations with regard to outed former CIA officer Valerie Plame.

They also want the indictment dropped, saying special prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald's appointment was unconstitutional.  For his part, Fitzgerald says Libby's document requests are—quote—“a transparent at graymail, a term prosecutors use when a defendant demands government secrets they believe in an effort to get the government to drop the case rather than let those secrets go public. 

David Shuster, correspondent for MSNBC's “HARDBALL” joins us now from the U.S. district court in Washington.  David, so what's going on?  What's the latest?

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC “HARDBALL” CORRESPONDENT:  Well Dan, the hearing is still going on, but the judge has already given every indication that he is going to rule against “Scooter” Libby's request for the presidential daily briefs, essentially, the PDBs.  These are the same documents that the 9-11 Commission had to struggle to get from the White House. 

The judge even said and again what “Scooter” Libby is trying to do is he's trying to show the nature of the information that he was having to deal with at the time and that therefore he couldn't exactly remember something minor like Valerie Plame.  What the judge said today is he said if I order this, it is going to sabotage the ability of this case to go forward. 

The judge even referred to the vice president once describing the PDBs as these are the family jewels.  So again we're expecting the judge to eventually rule against “Scooter” Libby on that particular issue.  But Libby did get a victory on another issue that prosecutors had opposed and that is the government in this case has already produced 250 pages of handwritten notes that “Scooter” Libby—essentially notes to himself and memos around the time period of July, June 2003, around the time period of the Valerie Plame leak. 

Libby's lawyer had said no, he wants every note from a 10-month period, because they want to be able to show what was on “Scooter” Libby's mind after the leak but before “Scooter” Libby allegedly lied to the FBI, lied to the grand jury.  The government opposed this, saying this is going to gum up the trial, it may push back the trial date, beyond even January of 2007, but the judge said no, “Scooter” Libby is entitled to his handwritten notes.  The prosecution said but we don't have these notes.

We'll have to get them from the White House.  We'll have to transcribe them, but the judge said well I'm ruling against you.  “Scooter” Libby is entitled to these handwritten notes over the 10-month period that he wants.  One other issue, Dan, that was very interesting and that is there's been some filings in the case about the status of the investigation and a lot of speculation about is this investigation done now that “Scooter” Libby has been charged. 

Patrick Fitzgerald indicated in one document that the investigation is open.  And the judge reiterated that today.  The judge said that because of the status of the investigation, because the status of the investigation is open and ongoing, the judge therefore would not give one particular document to defense that the judge said might reveal some of the prosecution strategy for this open investigation.  Again, the idea that this investigation continues, that others might be charged other than “Scooter” Libby, I'd say that's probably one of the headlines out of today's hearing—Dan. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  David Shuster, if you could just stick around for a minute.  Let me bring in Aitan Goelman, former federal prosecutor and Curt Levey is general counsel for the Committee for Justice and host of the radio program “Talking Politics and Law”.

Gentlemen thanks for coming on the program.  All right.  Aitan, look, it sounds like we're talking about sort of these arcane discovery fights, what are they going to get, what not—what are they not going to get, but the bottom line is the rulings on these issues really determine whether this case is going to go to trial.

AITAN GOELMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Well, yes.  I think one of the concerns that the prosecutor here has is keeping the case on track for trial, and you know, worries about kind of all the secondary and tertiary litigation, if the PDBs are released, what is the White House going to—what position the White House going to take, and is that going to have to be litigated and if “Scooter” Libby's defense team issues subpoenas to all kinds of media organizations, are they going to claim reporter's privilege and I think Pat Fitzgerald you know is concerned that this case you know be tried sometime in the next couple of years and not get dragged out in unending discovery litigation for third parties. 

ABRAMS:  Right.  But the bottom line is this is kind of a nuclear defense, right?  I mean it's saying, you want to come at us, come at us, but when you do, we're going to do everything we can to try and prevent this case from going to trial at all.

GOELMAN: It doesn't look like they want to make it easy. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Curt Levey, let me read you from something in the motion that this is from Pat Fitzgerald.  He said the defendant's request to compel the production of approximately 277 presidential daily briefs, the PDBs, for the sole purpose of showing he was preoccupied with other matters when he gave testimony to the grand jury is a transparent effort at graymail. 


ABRAMS:  Isn't that true? 

CURT LEVEY, COMMITTEE FOR JUSTICE:  No.  I don't think so.  And let me say that it's not just—you said it's not arcane, because the trial, the result can hinge on it.  It's also not arcane because there's very important constitutional rights involved here, and that's the right to confront the evidence against you, that's probably the most fundamental...

ABRAMS:  How...

LEVEY:  ... of all constitutional...

ABRAMS:  How is the presidential daily brief relate to the evidence—he's going to be able to say...


ABRAMS:  ... I was so busy, you know, I just kept forgetting because I was thinking about all these other things. 

LEVEY:  Well, you make fun of that argument. 

ABRAMS:  I do.  I do. 

LEVEY:  But I think that when you're working 16-hour days, I mean it's a typical—what the prosecutor is doing here is quite typical, which is if you can't someone on the merits that he violated the law by disclosing the name, then bring someone in for enough questioning and eventually you'll get something where they're mixed up...


LEVEY:  ... and they don't remember...


LEVEY:  ... and then you indict him on perjury. 


ABRAMS:  This was detailed, very detailed accounts, which turned out not to be close to the truth.  I mean this is not just a little mistake here and a little mistake there.  We're talking about, you know, fundamental differences in his testimony, from all the other people who were testifying. 

LEVEY:  But Dan we're not talking about the merits here.  Ultimately a jury will decide whether the argument is credible...

ABRAMS:  But you don't just get to throw out everything...


LEVEY:  The judge wants to take away his ability to even make the argument.  That's the problem...

ABRAMS:  No, he can make the argument.  They're just saying we're not going to sit here and let you delay this trial for years and years, and in fact, make sure this trial can't even occur because we can't release these secret documents for some possible theoretical maybe defense. 

LEVEY:  That's all speculative.  Two years from now or one year from now, come back to me and say there's unreasonable delays, but to say up front that we're going to deny it because maybe it will turn out your strategy is to delay, that's just not there.  Again, if the government can't prosecute without disclosing national security secrets, then they shouldn't be prosecuting.  He has as much right as any defendant to confront the evidence before him.  If he's guilty and is convicted, so be it, but it should be through a fair process.

ABRAMS:  Yes but see—but Aitan, this has been something that's been used in history as a defense in past cases, is what they try and do is they try and throw everything out and say we need this, we need this, we need this, in an effort to hope that the government will say oh, well we can't release that document, so we're going to have to drop the case. 

GOELMAN:  Yes and to make the whole effort burdensome.  I mean you know part of the issue right now is the same issue that we faced in the McVeigh case.  The McVeigh defense team wanted us to search you know every branch of every agency in the executive branch for you know particular documents and here their request isn't that broad, but they want the special counsel to go out and look for, you know, documents in other places besides their own offices.  Maybe they're entitled to that and maybe they're not, but clearly part of the strategy is to make life harder for Pat Fitzgerald and his team. 

ABRAMS:  And that's something that you faced often as a prosecutor, in particular in the McVeigh case. 

GOELMAN:  You face a lot, yes. 

LEVEY:  Well excuse the defendant for not rolling over.  A defendant is supposed to make it hard for the government to convict them. 

GOELMAN:  On the merits...

LEVEY:  That's the whole point of our system.

GOELMAN:  On the merits.  I mean you're not supposed to make it hard -

·         look, I mean the problem with this is what Dan said.  The defense that I was real busy, I had a lot of other things on my mind, that's fine if we're talking about case where he didn't remember a conversation, but if you, you know affirmatively make up a detailed conversation that doesn't happen, it's really tough to prove that it's material under rule 16. 

LEVEY:  Again, he may very well fail as a matter of proof, but I think you should have the case to make the argument.  I'm not taking a position on whether it's a good argument or bad.  I just don't think that because he served his country by dealing with national security matters that he should therefore...


LEVEY:  ... less of a defense than other defendants would.

ABRAMS:  Wait.  Wait.  He has to be able to show that that is relevant to the case. 

LEVEY:  I agree, but your—that's not the argument—you guys are making an argument which sort of presumes from the start that this is all intended to delay.  And I'm saying, give him a chance.  We may conclude down the road...

ABRAMS:  I'm not...


ABRAMS:  No, I'm not.  I'm saying not just intended to delay, I'm saying it's intended to get the charges dropped. 

LEVEY:  Well again, if he cannot be given the evidence necessary to defend himself, the charges should be dropped.  In the end, nobody should go to jail in this country because their defense would somehow compromise...


LEVEY:  ... national security. 

ABRAMS:  David Shuster, when do most people think this trial will actually take place? 

SHUSTER:  I'm guessing Dan, sometimes perhaps maybe February, March or April of 2007.  I mean it seems pretty clear that they're already talking about pushing this back.  And then the other thing, Dan, as you mentioned, the whole play with reporters, one of the things that struck us is so interesting today is that part of “Scooter” Libby's defense is going to turn on trying to somehow establish that Tim Russert was wrong. 

When Tim Russert said he did not reveal information about Valerie Plame, he didn't know anything about Valerie Plame, that it was “Scooter” Libby who told him in court just a few minutes ago, you know and “Scooter” Libby's lawyer saying we want to pursue this theory that perhaps Tim Russert heard it from other reporters and that in fact, yes “Scooter” Libby was merely getting information from Tim Russert.  And again it gets back to one of the difficulties that so many people have mentioned, and that is if it's “Scooter” Libby's word against Tim Russert's word in front of a jury, that's a tough case I think for “Scooter” Libby to make. 

ABRAMS:  Right.  But I think that in the end it's not just going to be the word against the word.  It's going to be the word against I believe, Russert's word plus all of the other evidence that has been brought to back that up. 

SHUSTER:  That's absolutely right and a whole series of conversations...

ABRAMS:  Right.

SHUSTER:  ... that “Scooter” Libby had with other government officials...

ABRAMS:  Right.

SHUSTER:  ... government officials including Ari Fleischer are prepared to testify that they spoke with “Scooter” Libby about Valerie Wilson before “Scooter” Libby even had...


LEVEY:  So you'll both get your wish and he'll be convicted...

ABRAMS:  No...


ABRAMS:  Look, the bottom line is this—you can—I think you can make the argument that this was a case that never should have been brought at all...

LEVEY:  I agree.

ABRAMS:  ... and that may be—that's an argument that I'm willing to listen to, but the idea at least right now that the defense is going to be I was so busy and that might have led to me forgetting things, I'm just not willing to accept that.  I'm willing to listen, I'm hoping he comes up with a better defense, which he may, which I look forward to hearing, but until we hear something better than I forgot, and, you know, as a result, I was so busy, I'm going to keep criticizing. 

LEVEY:  If that's his only defense, then ultimately he will lose.  I agree.

ABRAMS:  David Shuster, Aitan Goelman and Curt Levey, thanks a lot. 

Appreciate it. 



ABRAMS:  Coming be, Natalee Holloway's mother gets the final word after suspect Joran van der Sloot's big interview.  He says he'd probably hate Natalee if he saw her today and had some harsh things to say about Natalee's mom.  So what does Beth Twitty think?  We'll ask her next. 

And Jill Carroll's family appeals again for her release.  The American journalist kidnappers say they'll kill her in two days if their demands aren't met.

Your e-mails  Please include your name and where you're writing from.  I respond at the end of the show.


ABRAMS:  He's the one everyone been waiting to hear from, Joran van der Sloot, the main suspect in Natalee Holloway's disappearance.  Natalee last seen almost nine months ago, just a day before she was supposed to head home to Alabama from her trip to Aruba celebrating her high school graduation.  Joran and the other two suspects, Deepak and Satish Kalpoe were the last to see her.  In an interview on ABC's primetime, Joran insisted he had nothing to do with Natalee's disappearance. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did you kill Natalee Holloway?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did you harm Natalee Holloway?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did you help someone else who harmed Natalee Holloway?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did you see Natalee Holloway in distress? 



ABRAMS:  Joining me now is Natalee Holloway's mother, Beth Holloway. 

Beth, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  We appreciate it. 


ABRAMS:  So what do you make of this interview that Joran did, now you've gotten a chance to hear it, what's your reaction? 

TWITTY:  Well you know I think my reaction is, you know as usual, Dan, Joran places all the blame on Natalee, all the initiation of any of the activities where they went that night, you know how she behaved that night.  You know it just seems to be going right along with Joran's M.O. of always placing every built of responsibility on Natalee and it's just—it's so difficult for him—for me to sit here and let him do that. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  He talked about when they met at the bar and here's what he said about what actually led them to start really talking. 


VAN DER SLOOT:  She took me by the hand and she took me to the bar and she jumped on the bar, laid down and told the bartender to give me a jelly shot to put in her belly button and take the jelly shot off her. 


ABRAMS:  Is that one of the comments that you're talking about?

TWITTY:  Exactly, Dan.  I mean there again he's making Natalee look as if—you know it's almost as if he's trying to say that she asked for it.  That everything—every aspect about it was due to her initiation. 

ABRAMS:  How do you feel about the comments that he made about you?  I mean he talked about your interaction with him, but he also said—made a very hurtful comment that he claimed that Natalee had said that—some horrible things about you.

TWITTY:  Well, they're just simply untrue.  There again, I mean, you know there was a comment where Joran was saying that I was—something about I'm Hitler's daughter, that I was yelling at him and you know, Dan, that night I remained seated in the back seat of a car the entire time.  I was so stunned that I couldn't even get out of the car to approach Joran.  I mean he approached me in an aggressive matter.  I didn't even approach Joran. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  This is—here's again what he said.  He says that the first time that you all met, you were screaming at him.  Here's what he said and then I want to hear you—hear what you have to say. 


VAN DER SLOOT:  All she said to me, she screamed at me was tell me where my daughter is. 


VAN DER SLOOT:  I told her that I didn't know. 


ABRAMS:  And that's not the way it happened? 

TWITTY:  No, Dan, I was seated in the back seat of a car, and the door was ajar and Joran is the one who approached me in the car and yes, I did in a firm manner ask him what did he do with Natalee and you know he just kept hitting his chest and throwing his head back and was just so arrogant and so condescending to me and you know, Dan, I was so stunned that I couldn't even hardly come up with anything besides, you know, what did you do with Natalee?  And it's just—what he's saying is just simply untrue and I hope that all of your viewers see straight through this. 

ABRAMS:  How do you feel about the fact that he did the interview?  I mean on the one hand, I've got to assume it's difficult for you to listen to.  On the other hand, you know you filed this civil lawsuit and I'm sure your lawyers have told you that as a legal matter, having more statements out there is better. 

TWITTY:  Well, I think you're exactly right and one thing I'm really glad is that Joran is willing to travel to New York.  He's shown us it's very convenient for him and he's willing to give interviews, so I don't see why now, since John Kelly has—you know we filed this civil lawsuit that he can come back and answer questions from him under oath, so I think it was a positive move on Joran's part as far as us proceeding forward in a civil suit. 

ABRAMS:  You know I was struck by some of the things that he said that you know even if he believed some of this stuff, for him to say it now was at the very least in bad taste.  He said—talking about the first—when he first found out that Natalee had gone missing, the first thing that popped in my head was he said an expletive. 

What if something happened to her?  What if she went swimming?  I was thinking after everything she told me that she probably might have gone back to her hotel, gone with someone else, hooked up with someone else and wanted to stay another day on the island.

TWITTY:  You know, Dan, and if anyone believes that, then how can we go back and see that Joran had fabricated that story within several hours of the family arriving on the island, and you know, Joran didn't know Mickey John and Abraham Jones.  He had to have help from adults, whether it was in the police department, on the island of Aruba. 

Somebody knew the history of those two suspects to implicate them.  You know this didn't come from Joran van der Sloot and Deepak and Satish Kalpoe.  I think of all the work and organization that went on behind this one lie is incredible. 

ABRAMS:  Joran was asked about the allegation in the lawsuit that he has used drugs to drug women, and assaulted other women in the past, or at the very least, mistreated them, and he said simply not true.  He's never used any sort of date rape drug; he's never had anyone who's complained about his behavior et cetera.  How are you so certain that it has happened in the past? 

TWITTY:  There were two—I know of two young girls.  One was 16 and one was 14 years of age, and it was difficult for these girls to do, but they did come forward.  They had to hire an attorney.  They gave statements to the police.  You know, these were real girls that were coming forward.

We don't know what happened or what transpired, why that never went any further than it did.  We don't know if it had something to do with—I was told that Dennis Jacobs (ph) had strongly—had talked to the girls and was really putting the pressure on them to retract this, so you know, we just don't know how far that some individuals in that police department were going to go to put a stop to those girls coming forward.  But they were real girls and they had been assaulted by Joran under the influence of drugs. 

ABRAMS:  How hard was it for you to watch this interview? 

TWITTY:  Oh, I—you know, I saw it last night and I don't want to see it again, Dan.  I don't want to watch it ever again. 

ABRAMS:  Because watching I assume even him speak about anything has got to be hard for you.

TWITTY:  You know and I think it is and the most difficult part is that I see Joran is able to somewhat try to defend himself, although every time he does, he really just more lies evolve, but you know Natalee can't do this, Dan.  She's unable to defend herself, just as she was that night that she was in the car with those three suspects.  She's in the same position today. 

ABRAMS:  Yes and this is what Joran said about how he'd feel if Natalee turned up alive.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What would you say to Natalee if you were still able to speak to her?

VAN DER SLOOT:  If I were to see her, if I—if she were to be found tomorrow, I think I'd hate her.  I'd hate her...


ABRAMS:  Yes, that has to be hard to hear. 

TWITTY:  Yes.  Well...

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you this...

TWITTY:  It's just one (INAUDIBLE).

ABRAMS:  How certain are you that Joran van der Sloot was involved in Natalee's disappearance? 

TWITTY:  Involved in her disappearance?  He is responsible.  He and Deepak and Satish Kalpoe are solely responsible for the disappearance of Natalee. 

ABRAMS:  You are entirely convinced? 

TWITTY:  They are the suspects.

ABRAMS:  You are entirely convinced?

TWITTY:  They're the—yes.  They are the suspects that took my daughter from that establishment that no one has seen since.  And Joran has admitted to sexual assault that he committed against her.  He has placed himself being the last one seen with her, so yes, they are solely responsible in the disappearance of Natalee. 

ABRAMS:  And he denies ever having sexually assaulted Natalee.  In fact, as you know, he is basically saying, you know, I asked her if she wanted to have sex, she was fine with it, I didn't have a condom with me though in my wallet.  I won't have sex with a girl without a condom.  Again, you just don't believe it? 

TWITTY:  No, I don't and I believe the statements that he gave to the police and I believe the statements from the witnesses that were there on the island the very first night that we met Joran when he was admitting the sexual assaults he committed against Natalee while she's coming in and out of consciousness, Dan.  I believe those witnesses.  They heard Joran say that and there are statements from Joran that he has given to the police where he has admitted this.

ABRAMS:  Would you have wanted to be there for the interview?  And I don't mean to just be an observer.  I mean to give him a piece of your mind? 

TWITTY:  You know, no, not at this point, Dan.  Not at this point.  What I would really like to do though is you know have some, you know, more interviews from Joran, you know place him under oath.  Just really continue to try to get to the bottom of this. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Beth, this has again you know got to be another difficult day for you to have just seen this extended interview with the man who you're convinced is responsible for your daughter's disappearance, and I thank you for taking the time and as always, our thoughts are with you.  Thanks a lot. 

TWITTY:  Thanks, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, more of what Joran van der Sloot had to say. 

Plus, time running out for American journalist Jill Carroll held in Iraq now for nearly seven weeks.  Her kidnappers say they will kill her on Sunday if certain demands are not met. 

Our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to help find missing sex offenders before they strike.  Our search today is in Montana. 

Authorities are trying to find Delton Hill.  He's 28, six-foot, 171.  He was convicted of abusive sexual contact with a minor, has not registered his address with the state.  If you've got any information on his whereabouts, the Big Horn County Sheriff's Office wants to hear from you, 406-665-1503.

Be right back.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, did anything in Joran van der Sloot's exclusive interview last night shed new light on the case?  First the headlines. 


ABRAMS:  We're back.  He says he has nothing to do with her disappearance.  He says she was the one coming on to him.  He says she's the one who wanted to spend her last night in Aruba on the beach with him.  We're talking about Joran van der Sloot.

Quote—“She said she didn't want to go back to her hotel and she wanted me to stay there with her because it was her last night and she didn't want to go back to Alabama.  She was having too much fun in Aruba.” 

Joran van der Sloot is talking.  Natalee Holloway's family does not like what they're hearing, not surprisingly.  We just heard from Beth Holloway Twitty. 

Joining me now MSNBC analyst, former Connecticut prosecutor Susan Filan, criminal defense attorney Michelle Suskauer and MSNBC analyst and former FBI  investigator Clint Van Zandt.  All right, Clint, you've now heard the whole interview. 


ABRAMS:  Joran van der Sloot for about an hour talking about all the details...


ABRAMS:  ... of what happened, when it happened, how it happened. 

You're the FBI guy.  What do you make of it? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, you know, number one, your show has been following this from the beginning, and in day one, I didn't like the guy's interview, I didn't like what he had to say, I didn't believe him.  The international investigators that I know that are involved in it didn't believe him. 

They felt he was a predator from day one, based upon their investigation, based upon their statements and information they had gathered.  I've seen nothing to suggest anything other than that initial believed investigative characterization of this young man and those who are with him, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Michelle? 


I'm not surprised by anything that he said because he went into self-preservation mode, but even if you believe half of what he said, it's not completely unbelievable.  That he's saying is there is a girl who—and we talked about it yesterday—very little chaperoning, probably having fun, drunk, and coming on to a guy. 

That's not very hard to believe.  So you know, I don't think that

probably half of what he said is probably not unbelievable and so—I mean

·         and I don't think he had anything to lose really by coming on and talking about that, because he's been made out to be a monster and he's been demonized. So...

ABRAMS:  Here's...

SUSKAUER:  ... I think he did OK.

ABRAMS:  Here's Joran van der Sloot talking about one of Natalee's friends, telling her as they're leaving the bar to get out of the car that Joran van der Sloot was in with two of his friends. 


VAN DER SLOOT:  (INAUDIBLE) get out of the car now. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And how did you take that? 

VAN DER SLOOT:  Oh I took that—in fact we were standing still and Deepak told her if you want, go ahead and get out of the car and she was like no I want to stay with you guys. 


ABRAMS:  You know Susan, regardless of whether substantively what he says is consistent or makes sense, his demeanor seemed to be what you'd want it to be if you were his attorney, if you were going to make a statement. 

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:   If you want him to be without affect, without emotion, to come off like a cold, lying monster, sure.  He did great. 

ABRAMS:  How would you have said—I mean in terms of his demeanor—

I mean look, if he had started crying, everyone would have said oh crocodile tears.  I mean am I right in saying no matter how he came across, assuming the same substance of what he said, you wouldn't have been happy with it? 

FILAN:  Not necessarily, Dan.  I mean I can't tell you...


FILAN:  ... that I would have been happy with this guy period...

SUSKAUER:  Oh come on.

FILAN:  ... but look, the bottom line is and you said it yourself, Dan, perfectly.  The devil is in the details and there are just too many things in his statement that don't ring true.  For example, she picks him out.  She initiates the contact with him.

She says do a Jello shot or a jelly shot off my stomach.  She's lying on top of him when they're making out on the beach.  He's the one that says he won't have intercourse with her. 

SUSKAUER:  Why is that unbelievable?

FILAN:  He leaves his shoes behind. 


FILAN:  How do you leave your shoes behind?  Shoes are something that are expensive...


FILAN:  ... you're not going to easily just leave your shoes behind. 

It's baloney and it stinks.

ABRAMS:  Here's—Joran says here's why—Joran says he lied.  I lied because yes, I was scared.  I had a girlfriend at the time.  I didn't want my dad to think bad of me.  I didn't want my friends to think bad of me.  Go ahead, Clint.  You wanted to jump in?

VAN ZANDT:  Yes, Dan.  He—you know how could he have done this?  He could have done it.  He could have sat there and said you know, I'm very sorry.  I don't know what happened to her, but I'm sorry.  I can fully understand her parents being upset.  I was the last one with him.

I obviously lied because I was afraid.  I made some major, major mistakes.  I'm sorry for the parents.  I'm sorry for their loss and right now I want them to understand, please know I had nothing to do with the loss of your daughter.  That's what I would have liked to have seen him say, Dan, not victimizing her further which is what he did. 

SUSKAUER:  I don't think the prosecutor and the former FBI agent are going to be happy with anything or anyway that this guy...

VAN ZANDT:  I just told you what I would be happy with. 


VAN ZANDT:  I just told you what I would have liked for him to say. 

SUSKAUER:  Oh come on...

VAN ZANDT:  How is that wrong?  I said, had he come off, had he been somewhat contrite, had he said I'm sorry this happened.  I don't know what happened. 


VAN ZANDT:  I understand the mother being upset, then yes, I would have said, you know, I still don't believe you, but at least you're...

SUSKAUER:  OK, this is a guy...

VAN ZANDT:  ... coming off like a human being...


VAN ZANDT:  ... not like a roboton (ph). 

SUSKAUER:  OK, but this is—first of all, we don't know what his personality is like.  He was also locked up for something that he believes that he didn't do...


ABRAMS:  All right, he says he didn't do...


ABRAMS:  OK.  Go ahead, Michelle.  Yes.

SUSKAUER:  OK.  I'm just saying he's 18 years old.  OK, so obviously he hasn't been—I mean this is his personality.  Obviously it's not the greatest personality in the world, but...

ABRAMS:  Michelle, let me ask you...

SUSKAUER:  ... it's the way that he came off.

ABRAMS:  Put your defense attorney hat on, keep it on.  You're representing Joran.  In retrospect, are you sorry he did this interview? 


ABRAMS:  You are.


ABRAMS:  Why? 

SUSKAUER:  Well, because he's still under investigation.  He's now served with a civil suit, which by the way, I'd love to talk about the fact that how coincidental this is that he's doing this interview, he's being served on the plane and suddenly a book is coming out like a month or two later.  Kind of strange.  But yes, I mean...

ABRAMS:  What book? 

SUSKAUER:  He doesn't come across as this lovable guy.  You have to know about that, and so no...

ABRAMS:  Well...

SUSKAUER:  ... but he did it so it's out there. 

ABRAMS:  I guess you're talking about Dave Holloway's book. 



ABRAMS:  Let me—here's what Joran says about his mistake.  I think what I did wrong is leaving her there at the beach.  I should have brought her back to her hotel or I should have made sure I left her with someone, one of her friends, but I just should have gotten her back to where she should have been.  Susan? 

FILAN:  Absolutely.  To say that she is the one that wanted to be left alone in the middle of the night in a compromised state after having been drinking, on a beach is absolutely absurd and absolutely preposterous and for him to have imperiled her safety and left her alone on the beach like that is absolutely wrong, which is why I think it is a big fat lie.

And Michelle, to say that I wouldn't be happy with anything he said. 

That's just patently false, but where is the protestation of innocence?  Where is the indignation?  Where is the outrage?  You as a defense attorney have surely come across people who are innocent and falsely accused and you can hear the passion. 

You can feel the vim and the vigor in their speech, the tears in their eyes.  It's the worst thing that's ever happened to them and the more they talk, the less they're believed.  It's almost like they're in a hamster wily (ph).  They've got sticky glue on them and they can't get out from under it.  This kid is just too cold. 


FILAN:  He does not add up. 

SUSKAUER:  Susan, you really can't generalize and say that everybody is going to react in a situation the exact same way.  He's just—he obviously does not express himself well, and just because that's just the way he is doesn't mean that patently he's guilty...

FILAN:  That tells me you haven't had too many innocent...

SUSKAUER:  ... because he's not crying on television.

FILAN:  ... clients that you've had to defend. 

ABRAMS:  All right. 

SUSKAUER:  I'm sorry.  I couldn't hear that. 

ABRAMS:  I wanted to play this piece of sound again where he says again and again I didn't do it.  I didn't do it.  Anyway...


ABRAMS:  ... because he was asked.  You know Chris Cuomo did a good job with this interview and asked him the questions and Joran...


ABRAMS:  ... said again and again he didn't do it.  All right.  Susan Filan, Michelle Suskauer, and Clint Van Zandt, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 

FILAN:  It's a pleasure.

SUSKAUER:  Thank you.

VAN ZANDT:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, no word on the fate of Jill Carroll, the American journalist being held hostage in Iraq.  The deadline, this Sunday.  The latest coming up. 

And later, the uproar over the new James Bond movie.  Apparently some saying he is not manly enough to play the character.  I say he's an actor, not a real spy.  It's my “Closing Argument”. 

Your e-mails  Please include your name and where you're writing from.  I respond at the end of the show.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, did anything in Joran van der Sloot's exclusive interview last night shed new light on the case?  First the headlines. 


ABRAMS:  While Iraq appears to be teetering on the brink of civil war.  The clock is ticking for American journalist Jill Carroll being held hostage there.  Her captors set a deadline of February 26, this Sunday, to meet their demands of freeing all Iraqi women prisoners and possibly other demands that we don't know about.  Last we heard from Carroll was more than two weeks ago when her captors released this video. 


JILL CARROLL, HELD CAPTIVE IN IRAQ:  February 6 -- February 2, 2006, I am with the mujahideen.  I sent you a letter written by my hand, but you wanted more evidence.  So I am sending you this letter now to prove I am with the mujahideen.  I'm here.  I'm fine.  Please just do whatever they want.  Give them whatever they want as quickly as possible.  There is a very short time.  Please do it fast.  That's all.  February 6 -- February 2...


ABRAMS:  Carroll was abducted on January 7 along with her translator who was killed.  Her family has pleaded for her release and this week they spoke out again. 


KATIE CARROLL, JILL CARROLL'S SISTER:  Jill is the strongest and most caring person I know.  I'm proud of her and I hope that young journalists around the world are inspired by her passion.  It is my wish that Jill (INAUDIBLE) will soon be able to resume their work in bringing the stories of Iraq to the world. 


ABRAMS:  Joining me now is a terrorism expert and MSNBC analyst Walid Phares.  All right, Walid, thanks for coming on the program.  Walid, how is the unrest in Iraq going to have an impact, if any, on this kidnapping? 

WALID PHARES, MSNBC ANALYST:  First, it will have.  Now, there is what I call geopolitics of this kidnapping.  Stage one, as we all know, they had the kidnappers, al Qaeda, the jihadists, a specific demand freeing a number of Iraqi women prisoners or detainees, and as you said, Dan, other issues that we don't know about. 

Now the geopolitics of Iraq are changing.  She's supposed to be in the Sunni triangle, if indeed this is the group that kidnapped her and over the past few days and over the next few days, one would project a lot of changes, people are attacking locations, so that would suppose that the group that has her, will have to move her, geographically speaking.  That's on the one hand. 

On the other hand, there's this whole issue of stage two.  They need spots in the Arab media.  They need spots in basically the international media and that's not going to happen now with the evolution of events, dramatic events in Iraq. 

ABRAMS:  And when you say that, you mean they want attention? 

PHARES:  They want attention.  Because stage one did not bring any real results, so what they have been using her for is basically to get those video clips on Al-Jazeera, put pressure also, use a political pressure on the public in the United States, but with the events, as you can see, are public here in Europe, in the Arab world is really looking as a drama in Iraq, so they're going to get (INAUDIBLE) number 10 on Al-Jazeera or number five. 

ABRAMS:  But could that lead them to release her, Walid?  I mean they have gotten some Iraqi women released.  The Americans, the Iraqis would say that that wasn't related to it, but they can come across and say, we've achieved certain goals.  We've been holding her for a long time, and is it possible this could help in the sense that they could release her and people wouldn't ask as many questions as to what happened? 

PHARES:  Critical question, Dan.  It is a possibility.  If you are—if I am in the mind of the jihadists who did it, I would say what would I need her for right now?  It could go either way, 50/50.  One 50 would say she's too dangerous.  The other 50 would say well basically if I release her now, get a press release, get clerics to say hey we did this for you.  They may get some political interest.  We are really 50/50 on this issue now. 

ABRAMS:  They've let a cutoff date come and go already.  I would expect that they would probably let this one come and go as well.  Would you not? 

PHARES:  My instincts are close to yours.  Once they cross the line one time and in view of the dramatic changes in Iraq, let me put it that way, they may use the fact that a lot of things are changing to make that dramatic decision of releasing her, keeping in mind the other 50 percent or 49 percent that they may not...

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you Walid, is it possible knowing and studying terrorists and terrorism the way you do, is it possible that they would come to like her and they would say, you know, this is not someone who we want to kill? 

PHARES:  If this is the case, it would have happened before, weeks ago and even before they abducted her, and the way they are presenting her, you know, with the different forms of (INAUDIBLE) and what have you means that she is talking to them.  I mean what this tells me, that there is a dialogue between her and them. 

I mean she is also an expert in the region, speaks the language, and that is very important.  Different from somebody who has no idea about the culture.  There is interaction, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Walid Phares, as always, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

PHARES:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, on a lighter note, some devout James Bond fans claiming the new 007 is just not studly enough to play the womanizing martini-swigging spy.  I say I got a secret for you.  It's not real life.  It's my “Closing Argument”.

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike.  We wrap up our search today in Montana.

Authorities need your help finding Henry Bad Bear.  He's 45, five-six, 168.  Bad Bear was convicted of abusive sexual contact with a minor.  He had not registered his name with the state.  If you've got any information, they're looking for him, Big Horn County Sheriff, 406-665-1503.

Be right back.


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—the Internet rebellion against actor Daniel Craig as the newest James Bond.  A group of overly consumed Bond fans have created a Web site called “Craig not Bond” to launch a formal protest against the selection of the British actor and apparently is picking up steam.  Their concerns are many.  That Craig is blonde.  They say 007 is not. 

Craig cannot drive a stick shift.  Bond's famous car, the Aston Martin DB5 is of course a stick and those fans are appalled that the car had to be retooled so Craig could drive it.  I'm not sure why they didn't just teach him how to drive stick, but anyway.  They also say that Craig is not manly enough. 

When he was first introduced to the press in a very spy-like speed boat, shooting down the River Thames, he was wearing a life jacket, choosing safety over studly and since he started shooting the newest Bond film, “Casino Royale”, Craig's most un-Bond like trait has been revealed.  He's apparently afraid of guns and announced he's opposed to individuals owning handguns. 

Who in the world Bond fans ask in the United Kingdom's most effective spy—how in the world can the world's most effective spy be terrified of guns?  Fair enough.  He was trying to become a real spy, a real member of England's infamous MI6 Intelligence Service, some of those would be valid concerns.  But and the real diehards may want to cover their ears.  He's an actor.  It's not real. 

News flash, Heath Ledger is not gay or a cowboy and yet he adeptly played a gay cowboy in “Brokeback Mountain”.  Julia Roberts is not a prostitute, yet she did an excellent job portraying one in the 1990 movie “Pretty Woman”.  Actor Henry Winkler was a short, Yale trained actor and yet he still got the thumbs up as a motorcycle riding, finger snapping, juke box starting Milwaukee mechanic swarmed by beautiful women.

Oh and best I can tell, actor Steve Carell is not really a 40-year-old virgin.  Are we really going to start judging movies by the actors' real lives?  If Craig is not as convincing on the screen as Pierce Brosnan was, then he's not the right person for the part, but the test is not whether he drinks shaken martinis at home.  The question is how well does he fake it because after all that is what good actors do. 



ABRAMS:  Your e-mails are next.  Be right back.


ABRAMS:  I've had my say, now it's time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Last night we debated the new South Dakota law that would outlaw almost all abortions except to save the pregnant woman's life.  I said this bill effectively spits in the face of the U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

R.L. Fritz in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, “You're right.  With all the problems that need resolving in this state, our grand leaders believe it better to waste time on a totally unconstitutional law.”

But Abe Kean from Pierre, South Dakota asks, “Although it is probably a symbolic procedure, how else would a state create standing to directly challenge Roe and Casey?” 

Well that's true, except it also suggests the court's clear and unambiguous ruling is not binding on the legislators and it is.

Warren Bronson in Maryland making the point made my many comparing Roe v. Wade to the Supreme Court separate but equal ruling, which was overturned.  He writes, “I find it amazing that you hold the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court in such high regard.  No decision rendered by the court is beyond reproach.”  

Warren, I do hold them in high regard, even when I disagree with them, but that does not mean any of us have the right to ignore them. 

Finally last night one of my guests suggested that I should presume all defendants to be innocent.  I told her that my program is not a court of law and does not have the power to take away anyone's freedom.  To presume everyone innocent on this show would be to presume the police got it wrong in every case I cover.  I won't do it.

S. Syndur in Philadelphia, “I must disagree, Mr. Abrams.  Assuming innocence on your show doesn't mean we expect you to say the police are wrong.  It means you provide a forum where both sides are represented equally and fairly and you as the host let the evidence speak for itself.”

Not so actually.  A presumption of innocence would mean I am going in to every conversation presuming the defendant or the suspect is innocent.  That presumes the police have arrested or are focusing on the wrong person.  I do let the evidence speak and very often, that is a language defense attorneys and defendants don't want to hear. 

Your e-mails abramsreport—one word --  We go through them they end of the show.

That does it for us tonight.  Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  I'll see you here on Monday.  Have a great weekend.



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