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'The Abrams Report' for March 3

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guest: Clint Van Zandt, Casey Jordan, Michael Gaynor, Davidson Goldin,

Jennifer Palmieri, Joe Petro, Husain Haqqani, Gary Berntsen, Steve Emerson,

Dick Wolf

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, hundreds of New York police officers search in the vacant lot where criminal justice student Imette St.  Guillen's body was found. 

The program about justice starts now.  

This is the scene in Brooklyn, New York.  Hundreds of officers return to the vacant lot where the mutilated body of 24-year-old criminal justice graduate student Imette St. Guillen was discovered on Saturday, police scouring the area for clues in her brutal killing.  Imette St. Guillen last seen at about 4:00 a.m. Saturday in downtown Manhattan.  Her body discovered about 17 hours later, in Brooklyn. 

She was battered and bound, her head wrapped in tape like a mummy.  Her sock—a sock stuffed in her mouth, presumably to muffle her cries for help.  She had been sexually assaulted, suffocated and strangled to death before being wrapped in a blanket and dumped on the side of the road.  Right now in Boston, Imette's wake is underway.  Her family and friends grieve and prepare to lay her to rest tomorrow. 

Hi everyone.  First up on the docket, the hunt for Imette St.  Guillen's killer.  Joining me now, criminologist Casey Jordan from Western Connecticut State University, Michael Gaynor, former NYPD detective, now a private investigator with his own firm East Coast Detectives.  Davidson Goldin, “New York Sun” columnist and Clint Van Zandt, former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst who actually retraced Imette's last steps in New York today. 

All right, Clint, you were out there.  What did you see? 

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER:  Well you know you got to start out at the two bars she was at.  You got to start out at the Pioneer, then you've got to move to the next one, realize it's only about a 10-minute walk between bars, so when she walked out of the one bar, when her friend said you know why don't you go with me, Imette said no, I'm going to say. 

She walks 10 minutes, she goes—she hits the next bar.  She's there.  That bar at 3:30 they tell me they have last rounds they call for.  At 4:00 everybody is out.  So she's seen sitting there at the bar by herself, she opens up a piece of paper, folds it, walks out by herself, and walks into destiny.  Now her body is found some 20 plus miles away from there. 

You go out to the—what we would call the disposal site where her body was found and one of the things that grabbed me, Dan, not only is the remoteness of the location, but her body was laying alongside this road, but it was laying under the only outdoor light in the entire area.  Now, why would the killer, number one, drop her body when he could have carried her five more feet over the embankment and she wouldn't have been found?  And number two, if that's a functioning light—no, I was there in the daytime—if it was a functioning light, he laid her under the only streetlight in the entire area. 

ABRAMS:  Casey Jordan, it sounds like he wanted the body to be found.

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST, WESTERN CT UNIV.:  Yes, I agree, and I think Clint's analysis is right on target.  There's a lot there, in terms of where the body was dumped, the fact that a phone call was made.  It could have been there for hours, maybe even days before somebody actually went to the trouble of unwrapping the quilt to see what was inside of it.  It does indicate that this person, who made the phone call, probably is related to the crime, and that there are things that the killer or killers is doing, to play a little bit of a cat and mouse game with the police. 

ABRAMS:  Michael Gaynor, why are we only seeing the police out there today?  Is that just a matter of seeing them on camera today? 

MICHAEL GAYNOR, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE:  Well that has a little something to do with it, not just for the public but for the suspect as well.  They're not going to miss an opportunity to find any clue.  They're looking for proverbial needle in the haystack and if it's there, the NYPD will find it. 


DAVIDSON GOLDIN, “NEW YORK SUN” COLUMNIST:  And also Dan it's worth pointing out that the way this story has developed over the last few days is each day the NYPD has tried to have something to give the public to show that they're on this case.  As far as we know now, they're not anywhere close to figuring out who...


GOLDIN:  ... did this and they want people to at least see they're working today. 

ABRAMS:  Right and here's what—this is from the “New York Daily News”.  No fingerprints have been recovered from the tape used to wrap her face, leading investigators to believe her attacker wore gloves or used an industrial tape dispenser to bind her.  Former Detective Gaynor, what do you make of that? 

GAYNOR:  I don't know.  There could be a lot of theories out there.  Any of these possibilities may be true.  It's also possible that he was wearing a set of rubber gloves or that the prints are there and they haven't been discussed.  We don't know yet for sure.

ABRAMS:  All right.  But Clint, let's assume for a moment this is true, that no fingerprints have been recovered...


ABRAMS:  ... leading investigators to believe her attacker wore gloves or used an industrial tape dispenser to bind her.  That certainly seems to indicate, again, not just a sort of crime of circumstance, right? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, we've also been told that there was no semen found on the victim's body or within her body either, so here we have somebody who should the assailant be a man we have a man making the calls, we have to assume a man may be involved.  Here we have an assailant who is slick enough not to leave fingerprints, slick enough not to leave DNA, but drops her body under a streetlight—under a streetlamp.  These are inconsistencies that suggest like you say, he may be taunting the police. 

ABRAMS:  And Casey, it allows you to profile the person as well, right? 

JORDAN:  Well, can you come up with a few parameters based on known crimes that are similar and the sadism in this particular crime is undeniable.  And most basic element, we know that the criminal is organized as opposed to disorganized, that there's a great deal of planning and forethought in terms of having gloves and having tape.  I'd be very curious to find out whether the sock was new or used, whether any DNA came from that.  But we do know that whoever did this, did put some thought into it if there are no body fluids and no fingerprints involved or identified yet.

ABRAMS:  Here's again what the sister of Imette had to say on MSNBC earlier this week. 


ALEJANDRA ST. GUILLEN, IMETTE ST. GUILLEN'S SISTER:  The person who did this obviously you know needs to be brought to justice.  This could happen again...


A. ST. GUILLEN:  ... this could happen to someone else, you know.  Imette, if anything, you know, bring her some peace that this person doesn't do it again.


ABRAMS:  David, and before the show, you were asking Clint about whether this could be made to look like a serial killer. 

GOLDIN:  Well it certainly looks like a serial killing.  I mean it looks like the textbook example of a serial killing and given that this was a criminal justice student, a forensic student at a school where lots of people around her are taught about this, one area that one might think the police could be looking at is whether this was designed to look like something that it might not be. 


VAN ZANDT:  Yes, Dan, we've either—you know maybe a serial killer or a serial killer in the making.  I mean everybody—every serial killer has to kill for the first time.  This is the type of profiling case, you draw a line down the middle of your page and on this side you say this specific victim was targeted because of who she was.  On the other side of the page, it was what she represented, intelligent attractive women or maybe just women in general or was she simply a victim of opportunity? 

If she was targeted specifically, somebody had something against her.  If she was simply a victim of opportunity, wrong place, wrong time, she shouldn't have been out there as far as the killer was concerned, then that bothers me because that's the type of person that will be back. 

ABRAMS:  Detective Gaynor, we keep hearing that the authorities are looking away from the whole connection to her being a criminal justice student and more the idea that this was a more random type of killing.  Is that something that just might be being said at this point, or do you think based on your conversations and what you know about these types of investigations, that that's where they really seem to be going? 

GAYNOR:  No, based on my conversations and what I know about these types of cases, the police are going to send out mixed messages and they're going to see what comes back.  There's a lot of possibilities here and not the least of which is the fact that people do watch movies, read books and they're well versed on what serial killers are supposed to do. 

All they have to do is turn on one of the television shows that elude to these type of cases and then the next thing you know, they say maybe I'll cut off a lock of hair and that will be the trophy and the body will be at a place where it will be easily found.  I don't know if this particular killer is taunting the police or trying like hell to defer blame someplace else. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, this is what we know.  That her body appeared to have been nude, haircut—her haircut, hands and feet bound, tube sock stuffed in her mouth.  Her face taped from forehead to chin. 

GAYNOR:  Well it's very likely that many of the things that happened in this case escalated.  The so-called domino effect where maybe the intentions were not to kill this young lady in the first place, but things got out of control and then the ultimate cover-up.  You know, don't forget about the murderer that sets fire to the apartment or the building to try to hide the fact that he killed somebody. 

ABRAMS:  I think it's important that we lay out the description of the clothes she was last seen wearing, because those clothes have not been recovered—a purse, jeans, a white hooded sweatshirt, and a knee length gray coat.  Casey, the fact that they have not recovered those items is in and of itself a clue. 

JORDAN:  Absolutely because those items have to be somewhere.  I am less fond of the theory that the killer may have kept them as trophies.  More likely just disposed of them.  I think the best clue we have right now is the bedspread, the king sized bedspread, which appears to have come from a relatively inexpensive motel.

I know that the police haven't really been able to figure out where it came from, but that would probably be the scene of the crime, the vacant lot, far more likely of course a dump site and the chopping of the hair, pieces of that hair have to be somewhere.  Again, I think that was meant to humiliate her.  I don't really believe the killer would have kept that as a trophy, but if you can find those items and where they've been disposed of, there should be clues at that location. 

ABRAMS:  David, you're getting a sense that this is a major priority for the New York Police Department right now, right?

GOLDIN:  I can't imagine the New York Police Department has any bigger priority.  Already news that killings in New York City are up, they've been way down, so the law of big numbers is that you can have spikes from relatively small numbers look big in terms of percentage terms.  It's also a very high profile case and Dan we brought this up yesterday, going now into the first weekend since this news came out, lots of young women going out tomorrow night, it will be interesting to see how much the police flood these popular trendy areas.

ABRAMS:  Well I can tell you, I already have friends who are telling me, female friends who are saying I don't want to go out alone in New York right now.  I don't want to be hailing a cab by myself because I'm afraid.  Clint, you want to say something? 

VAN ZANDT:  Yes, two things are going to happen tonight and tomorrow night.  Number one, there's going to be a lot of police both overt and undercover on the streets looking and number two, there's going to be a lot of interviews because you always go back a week later and you...


VAN ZANDT:  ... same night, you find young women and you say did anybody try to pick you up?  Did a gypsy cab come by and really work to try to get you in it?  Did anybody try to pick you up in a bar that made you uncomfortable?  These are the things that the investigators need to find out.

It's been seven days, but this is a scary time, but remember, Dan, forensically, we still have the potential under her fingernails, the skin, the DNA of her offender, that's going to tell us the sex of the individual...


VAN ZANDT:  ... and potentially the race. 

ABRAMS:  And again everyone keeps telling us that this case is going to hinge on tips, that people out there must have seen something.  That's the number, 1-800-577-TIPS.  If you've got any information at all about what happened that night, remember, we're talking about very late at night, early in the morning, 3:30 in the morning, 4:00 in the morning and—so please call that number if you've got any information. 

All right, Casey Jordan, Michael Gaynor, Davidson Goldin, and Clint Van Zandt thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 


ABRAMS:  You know we're going to have more on this case later.  I'm just tired of people blaming her for her own murder.  A lot of people writing in saying what was she doing out?  It's my “Closing Argument”.  I'm going to rant about this for a while. 

And at this hour, President Bush sleeping in perhaps the most dangerous place he spent the night, Pakistan, just days after an American diplomat was killed by a suicide bomber.  Can the Secret Service guarantee the president's safety?  And for the first time he's probably in the same country as Osama bin Laden.  Keep hearing he's on the run.  Is he really? 

Plus, the man who brought us “Law and Order” is back again with another legal drama, this time the focus, young prosecutors.  Dick Wolf joins us. 

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


ABRAMS:  This is President Bush arriving in Pakistan for what is being billed the most dangerous trip of his presidency.  Air Force One landed under the cover of the night, all lights on the plane turned off, window shades drawn in an effort to conceal the most recognizable airplane in the world.  From the airport, he was off to the U.S. embassy in Islamabad where he is spending the night, the embassy surrounded by a brick wall, topped off with coils of barbed wire. 

Because of Secret Service decoys, we still don't know if the president traveled to the embassy by limo or helicopter.  Just hours before the president arrived, Pakistani police arrested a Belgian man who they suspect might have been planning an attack during the president's visit.  And 700 miles away in Karachi yesterday, a suicide bomb attack killed at least four, among them, a U.S. diplomat, David Foy, and his driver. 

The question:  Is there really any risk for the president in Pakistan?  Joining me now, Joe Petro, former Secret Service agent for President Ronald Reagan and author of “Standing Next to History: An Agent's Life Inside the Secret Service”, Jennifer Palmeiro, a former White House deputy press secretary for President Bill Clinton. 

She was with the president when he traveled to Pakistan in 2000, and Husain Haqqani, Boston University international relations professor.  He served as an advisor to three Pakistani prime ministers.  Thanks to all of you for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

All right.  Jennifer, I was reading that you said that the only time you really feared for your safety traveling with President Clinton is when you traveled to Pakistan.

JENNIFER PALMIERI, FORMER CLINTON DEPUTY PRESS SECY.:  Yes, it's true and it was partly because the—and Joe can speak to this better—but it was partly because I knew how anxious the Secret Service was and how—they were—either they don't ever tell the president you can't travel here, but they were very, very concerned about his safety and you know, unlike President Bush, we didn't spend the night.  We were just on the ground for about six hours, and it was definitely tense, it was a very tense situation on the ground. 

ABRAMS:  Joe Petro, look we don't want you to give away secrets as to how they're protecting the president, but in terms of an overview, is this a safe place for him to go?  Can they make it safe?

JOE PETRO, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT:  Well I think everybody recognizes Pakistan is a dangerous place, but the Secret Service has a lot of experience taking presidents into high risk countries and I would—I'm convinced that given the intelligence that they've received, given the preparations and planning that they've done, given the cooperation and the expertise of the Pakistani military and police, they obviously had enough confidence to take the president in there.  I don't think they would take him in if they thought it was going to be dangerous. 

ABRAMS:  Husain Haqqani, I've got to believe that this is an enormous priority for the Pakistanis.  I mean this has got to be one of the most important times for them and they have got to be pulling out all the stops to make sure nothing goes wrong. 

HUSAIN HAQQANI, BOSTON UNIV. INTL. RELATIONS PROF.:  Absolutely.  General Musharraf, of course, needs President Bush's support to survive politically.  After all, the Pakistani military is pretty hostile to the United States ideologically, but it is supporting General Musharraf simply because of the goodies that flow from the relationship between him and the U.S. president. 

So they will pull no stops—they will pull all stops to make sure that this is a successful trip.  One square mile area in Islamabad is going to be like a ghost city until President Bush leaves.  Anybody who is even mildly suspected of anything is going to be picked up and arrested and detained. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, and I guess Joe Petro...


ABRAMS:  I mean I guess if they're able to protect the green zone in Iraq, they should be able to at least create a perimeter to protect the president in Pakistan. 

PETRO:  Well, the key to this is perimeters, and you know given the support they're going to get from the Pakistani military, I'm sure the perimeters are going to be very good, very tightly controlled.  I don't think there's going to be any concern inside those perimeters. 

I would be concerned outside the perimeters and as we saw in Karachi yesterday, you know that those kind of things can happen.  But the Secret Service is working again with the Pakistanis, have I'm sure created a perimeter that provides adequate protection for the entire entourage. 

ABRAMS:  Here is National Security Advisor Steven Hadley yesterday talking about the precautions that were taken. 



with the Pakistanis have taken a number of precautions, and what they

assess is whether those precautions in their view are adequate, given the

risks, and that was an assessment that was made before we decided to come -

·         to make this trip and to take the trip, and it's something that they reassess up to the point where we head to Pakistan.  And at this point, people are comfortable that the precaution—necessary precautions are in place. 


ABRAMS:  Jennifer Palmieri, when you went there with President Clinton, actually, they switched planes in the sense that he didn't actually ride on Air Force One? 

PALMIERI:  Right.  Well, I mean technically, and Joe will tell you this, Air Force One is whatever the president is on, so technically what he was on was Air Force One but we did do a bit of a shell game where Clinton appeared to have boarded one aircraft that had the United States of America markings on it, and then—but actually slipped in the back, got on an unmarked Gulf Stream, and landed in Islamabad and was already at the meeting place where he's meeting with Musharraf before the fake Air Force One, if you will, touched down and the door opened up and there were all the dignitaries on the—you know doing a red carpet and some—an agent resembling Bill Clinton got off. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, they—I mean what we're seeing there is Bill Clinton, but there was another plane that landed with an agent who looked like Bill Clinton getting off first?

PALMIERI:  There was another plane that landed ahead of time without -

·         yes, that did not have Clinton on it, but pulled into what was supposed to be Air Force One.  And I mean that was from our standpoint and I—that

·         I think this is right—that the agents do an incredible job in protecting the president in a perimeter and what the—what's dangerous is the airspace, and that's what you really worry about, is, your know flying and developing the right flight patterns so that you can avoid more dangerous areas. 

We had—there had been part of our trip had to be cancelled because they had found rocket launchers in a village in Bangladesh the night before we were going to go.  And so it was already a pretty tense situation, but it's moving the president around that I think is more problematic, so I'm sure that now that they're in Pakistan...


PALMIERI:  ... they'll be safe. 

ABRAMS:  Husain, I mean you've had three known assassination attempts, even on General Musharraf.  I mean you have April 26, 2002, remote detonator failed to activate a bomb planted on his motorcade route.  December 14, 2003, a bomb detonated minutes after his convoy crossed the bridge.  December 25, 2003, two suicide bombers' cars missed the president.  But all of these were pretty close calls, right?

HAQQANI:  Absolutely and they were not very far from where the president is staying.  They were along the road from the airport to the center of Islamabad where the diplomatic enclave is, which is where the American embassy is located.  That said, all of those experiences have hardened the Pakistani security forces into figuring out better security plans and I think the security plans are...

ABRAMS:  But the concern, as you know, is going to be that there are people inside the Pakistani security system, be it individuals or be it high level people who are going to be working to sabotage it, right? 

HAQQANI:  Yes.  But at the same time, we must remember that the American security services have been working on this for quite a while.  There are several hundred people on ground, maybe more than a thousand, who are dealing with the situation and the security in American hands.  To the extent that Pakistanis are involved, I think they have all been vetted several times over and I'm sure that there is an American overlooking the Pakistanis, and the Pakistanis who have been selected are probably people that General Musharraf and his most trusted lieutenants trust...


HAQQANI:  ... so it's a concentric circle approach to security. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  And Joe Petro, how involved does the Secret Service get in assessing which of the people are truly trustworthy? 

PETRO:  Well, that's a difficult thing.  I would like to go back to the Musharraf assassination attempts, because I think it's important to note a distinction between what happened to Musharraf and the president's visit.  Musharraf lives in Pakistan, he establishes routines, patterns.  The people have a long time to plan and execute some sort of an attempt against his life. 

It's a little different with the president, who comes in, just there

for 24 hours.  The events are much more fluid, much more difficult to plan

something.  For the Secret Service to assess the credibility of the local -

·         no matter what country you're in, it's very difficult for them to do. 

But they have utmost confidence in the Pakistani military...

ABRAMS:  All right.

PETRO:  ... and in President Musharraf to provide the kind of support they're going to need.

ABRAMS:  Yes and look, the Secret Service has done a fantastic job over the years and you've got to believe as you said earlier, they wouldn't have let him go if they thought there was a real concern.  All right, Joe Petro and Jennifer Palmieri, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

PETRO:  Thank you.

PALMIERI:  Thanks for having us.

ABRAMS:  Husain, stay with us.  Coming up, President Bush likely in the same country as Osama bin Laden for the first time.  We'll get new details about the manhunt for America's top enemy.  Is he really on the run? 

And the man who changed the face of legal dramas with “Law and Order” is back with a new show, this one about the lives of young prosecutors.  Dick Wolf is with us. 

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

Authorities are searching for Shannon Longjaw.  He's 29, five-ten, 230, convicted of third degree sexual assault, has failed to register his address with the state.  If you've got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the Nebraska State Patrol Offender Registry, 402-471-8647.  Be right back.


ABRAMS:  Tonight, President Bush is in Pakistan and many believe so is Osama bin Laden.  We ask, is he really on the run?  First the headlines. 


ABRAMS:  This is where President Bush is sleeping tonight at the U.S.  embassy in Pakistan's capital.  While in another part of Pakistan, the search for Osama bin Laden continues.  So far, there's been a lot of talk, but so far, not a lot of results. 


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I want justice.  And there's an old poster out West, as I recall, that said wanted, dead or alive.  All I know is that he's running.  And any time you get a person running, it means you're going to get him pretty soon. 

We've dismantled the chief operators of al Qaeda.  If Osama bin Laden is alive, the people reporting to him, the chief operators, people like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed are no longer a threat to the United States or Pakistan for that matter. 

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN:  Nobody in the world can be sure where he is.  The CIA Is not sure of where he is.  We are together trying to find out and trying to fight terrorism. 

BUSH:  I am confident he will be brought to justice. 


ABRAMS:  Many believe bin Laden is in what some are calling the friendship zone, a belt of territory across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.  Gary Berntsen is a retired CIA field commander, who spent months in Afghanistan hunting bin Laden.  He's the author of “Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda”.  Steve Emerson is a terrorist expert.  I'm joined again by Husain Haqqani, advisor to three Pakistani prime ministers. 

All right, Gary Berntsen, where is he? 

GARY BERNTSEN, RETIRED CIA FIELD COMMANDER:  Probably along the Afghan-Pak border, as you stated, living among 25 million batons. 

ABRAMS:  Why do we think he's there? 

BERNTSEN:  Well it's a perfect place for him to be.  He has a lot of support there among that—those communities, those tribes.  He helped them during the 1980's.  A lot of them fought with him inside of Afghanistan at different points, so you know, this is a good place for him to be.  We can't put in troops on the ground to hunt him there, because we don't want to destabilize Musharraf, because Pakistan is such an important place and Pakistan has got nuclear weapons. 

ABRAMS:  Steve Emerson, Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, said the following.

We have provided President Musharraf of Pakistan with a lot of very detailed information on acts of terrorism and discussed in great detail what actions Pakistan could now take. We expect results.

I mean it sure sounds like Afghanistan is saying to Pakistan hey you guys better get bin Laden. 

STEVE EMERSON, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST:  Well they're certainly laying the gauntlet down for him and they're putting the pressure on him to deliver and as Gary pointed out, the fact is Pakistan has really been in (INAUDIBLE) in a very sense of an ironical perspective, he's got—bin Laden has got more protection being in Pakistan that he does in Afghanistan, because of the inability of U.S. to get troops on the ground or to do intelligence gathering.  So there is an irony here and that's one of the reasons why Musharraf is going to be pressed very hard I think by the president to do a lot more aggressive efforts and to allow probably U.S.—more of a U.S. aggressive presence on the ground in Pakistan.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Husain, will they let that happen? 

HAQQANI:  Well, we must understand that General Musharraf has been a principal beneficiary of 9-11 in the sense of economic and political and military assistance from the U.S.  Will he give it all up?  We do not have evidence that he does the right thing always, so he may want to prolong the hunt for the simple fact that he gets a lot of benefit from being part of the hunt. 

ABRAMS:  But Steve, we keep hearing from Musharraf either that they're close to catching bin Laden or at other times that they've surrounded senior bin Laden aides, et cetera, and it turns out not to be the case. 

EMERSON:  Well, yes, we've seen the usual suspects get sort of rounded up or at least been quarantined and then suddenly they escape, and that's happened a couple of times with Zawahiri.  Look, almost the United States got Zawahiri a little over five weeks ago, with that strike, but if the U.S. had the ability to put people on the ground, they might have been even more successful, even capturing him. 

Musharraf really has to deliver here.  He hasn't really delivered.  They don't even have bin Laden on the most wanted poster in Pakistan, so it's an acknowledgement on his part that he's not in his territory, but he really is. 

ABRAMS:  Gary, do you think bin Laden is running or just comfortably sitting in one of these territories along the border? 

BERNTSEN:  He's likely to be sitting.  He's not going to be moving around very much.  He's going to have had the support of a fortress and a local militia, that will be defending him when we go after him, it's either going to—we're going to have to get him either with a kinetic strike or a battalion sized operation, because he'll have a lot of physical security. 

And it will be layered out over five and 10 miles out in big circular fashion.  They'll identify people coming close to them. 

ABRAMS:  But I don't get it.  If all that's the case and if he's probably staying in one place, probably fortified in a somewhat secretive way but still somewhat fortified, why after all this time if he's not running around can't we get there? 

BERNTSEN:  There's a lot of fortresses like that.  This place—

Musharraf has got about 70,000 people you know of his own soldiers in there and a lot of them are behind the wire.  They go out and they get attacked.  There have been some significant battles on the ground between Musharraf's people and the local warlords and in the Northwest Frontier Province in Waziristan.  It's a tough place. 

ABRAMS:  What did you do when you were on the ground there, Gary?

BERNTSEN:  Well I was in—of course in Afghanistan...

ABRAMS:  Right.

BERNTSEN:  We were attacking, physically attacking al Qaeda and the Taliban and destroying them.  We destroyed about 75 percent of his force in Tora Bora before he fled across the border into Pakistan. 

ABRAMS:  Was there ever a time—I mean the reports are that we were actually very close to catching him in Tora Bora, right?

BERNTSEN:  We were close.  Well not catching him, but you know we had a location on him.  We threw a BLU-82, a 15,000-pound device at his location.

ABRAMS:  So why didn't we get him? 

BERNTSEN:  Well my understanding was he was injured in that and I know that Zawahiri had lost his family there and a lot of these people died there but bin Laden somehow survived.  He consistently sacrificed the lives of young Muslims to save his own skin.  He doesn't want to martyr himself.  Believe me.

ABRAMS:  Steve, is all that consistent with what you're hearing? 

EMERSON:  Yes, absolutely.  I mean look, Gary's on the ground and he participated in those operations and he knows that.  I guess the question is, and I still have a question as to why we can't more precisely identify the quadrant that he's in and infiltrate, even though he's got the layers of security and the tribal intelligence that will alert him to anything that's going on that's sort of foreign in that area. 

ABRAMS:  Husain, do you have an answer to that?

HAQQANI:  Well, one of the things that everybody makes a mistake about is that everybody assumes he's in the tribal areas.  He could very easily be in one of the Pakistani cities where all his lieutenants have been arrested and being very comfortably ensconced in some residential area and a neighborhood where he just lies sufficiently low, not to come up on the American radar screen.  Look what we have to understand is that bin Laden has a lot of sympathy and a lot of support, both in the Pakistani state apparatus, as well as amongst the populace and he takes advantage of it and we don't have the right intelligence...


ABRAMS:  But Steve, maybe this is a question that's a little too broad, but why is it that the Israelis can seem to find all of the Palestinian terrorists that they're looking for or at least know basically where they are?  They don't always catch them, but a lot of the time they do, and yet, if what Husain is saying is right and he is in a Pakistani city, you would think that the same sort of intelligence mechanisms, particularly over this amount of time, in a search for one person would be able to bear some fruit. 

EMERSON:  Well in fact, the Israelis though are able to go in and they've developed, you know, they've had 50 years of being—of utilizing human intelligence and they've also been able to acquire a set of informants on the ground, whereas the U.S. really is at the mercy of the Pakistan government in terms of collecting...


EMERSON:  ... its own informants. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  Gary Bernstein, Steve Emerson and Husain Haqqani, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

Coming up, what's it like being a young prosecutor in New York City?  Dick Wolf, the man who created “Law and Order” joins us next to tell us about his new show. 

And later, a lot of people writing in blaming the brutal death of a New York City forensic student on the victim.  I have had enough and 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, the creator of “Law and Order” has a new legal drama premiering tonight on NBC and this time it's not just about what they're doing in the courtroom, if you know what I mean.  Dick Wolf, the creator, joins us next.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You're better off without her, I promise. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The truth is she should have dumped me six months ago. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Good.  Then you should come dancing with us. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Betty (ph), you've seen me dance.  It's over. 



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I'm very forgiving. 


ABRAMS:  Ouch! This is the latest legal drama, “Convictions”.  Dick Wolf, the creator of “Law and Order” is back in action with a new show focusing on the lives of young Manhattan assistant district attorneys and the emotional situations, the cases that they confront. 



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Christina?  Oh, what's wrong? 




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Here.  I know it's tough.  But...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I just—I can't believe he's dead and that I have to rather than just deal with this, (INAUDIBLE) I have to worry about some (EXPLETIVE DELETED) judge dismissing my case...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What do you mean dismissing your case? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well I lost my evidence. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Judge Harrigan (ph) wants to see you in chambers right away. 



ABRAMS:  Joining me now is Dick Wolf, the creator and executive producer of “Convictions”.  Dick thanks a lot for being on the program.  We appreciate it.  So...


ABRAMS:  ... give us a sense of what makes “Convictions” different than the other “Law and Order” shows. 

WOLF:  Well, it's kind of the yang of the other “Law and Order” shows.  The—I have—and everybody associated with the show literally for the past 18 years now has known that the characters' personal lives are forbidden territory.  All the writers, all the actors, it's been a source of frustration that they have not been able to emote about their personal feelings for years. 

The—Jerry Orbach put it best when about eight years ago he came up to me, he said Dick, can't somebody die in my arms so I can get an Emmy nomination and literally in the pilot of “Convictions”, somebody dies in somebody's arms.  I mean, it is about as far from the storytelling patterns of the branded shows, “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and Criminal Intent” that all carry the “Law and Order” brand as you can get and still be a legal show, because fully, half the emphasis in any given episode is on the characters' personal lives and how the stories affect them as people...


WOLF:  ... as much as the law. 

ABRAMS:  And I've got to assume that you chose to make all of them young to also see how—no, but I don't mean just in terms of their personal lives, but also in terms of being fresh faced D.A.s where they have all this power and they have this very important job, and yet at its heart, they're still very young people. 

WOLF:  Well, it's the—the interesting thing is that if you take the two polls of dramatic television, which for the past 30 years certainly have been cop, legal shows, and medical shows, there is a reason that they deal with life and death and there is no other—there are no other venues like medicine and especially prosecution where people in their mid to late 20's are literally getting life and death control over other people's lives.  So it's a very rich dramatic caldron to keep up with. 

ABRAMS:  Is there still an appetite for more legal shows? 

WOLF:  I don't think it's a question of any genre is worn out on television, it's just that there are high and low watermarks and there is now at the current moment a real taste for legal and medical shows.  I mean it's not just limited to the legal arena.  There have never been more—in my memory, there have never been more medical shows... 

ABRAMS:  Did your staff talk to a lot of young D.A.s to figure out...


ABRAMS:  ... what was really—your other show is ripped from the headlines.  Is this ripped from their personal lives? 

WOLF:  Well it's ripped from their personal lives.  It's—and as the writers and I have discussed frequently, it's not really ripped from the headlines because these are the cases that never get headlines, they never even make it into the papers.  I mean the excitement of the show is really watching these people learn how to hopefully become the next Jack McCoy.

They're not Jack McCoy now.  They are making mistakes, learning the process, and learning their own vulnerabilities, and mixed in with that are their personal lives of—which it's very hard as you well remember, whether you're a prosecutor or a first or second year associate in a big firm in New York, you have no personal life. 


WOLF:  Your personal life is the office. 

ABRAMS:  Finally my friend, Stephanie March it seems is back in her old role.  I mean she's basically taking the role that she had at “SVU” and coming back on this program. 

WOLF:  Well, she's actually been promoted.  She's now the bureau chief.  The wonderful thing is that we had an actual reality-based way to get her back, which most people don't realize.  You don't go into the witness protection program forever.  You go in until the threat that was manifest has been taken care of.  Most people in actual fact stay in the witness protection program for anywhere from six months to two years.  So her timetable is actually in the world of law enforcement, remarkably accurate. 

ABRAMS:  Dick Wolf, good luck.  Thanks a lot. 


WOLF:  Dan Abrams...

ABRAMS:  I love legal shows, so you know...


ABRAMS:  I hope everyone else does too.  I know you love them, I love them, so I'm watching. 

WOLF:  I don't think you'll be disappointed...

ABRAMS:  You can see the premiere...

WOLF:  ... thanks for the airtime.

ABRAMS:  You can see premiere episode of “Convictions” tonight on NBC at 10:00 Eastern, 9:00 Central. 

Coming up, I am tired of people suggesting that the New York woman who was brutally murdered did something to deserve it.  What time was she out, how much was she drinking?  It is unacceptable.  Your e-mails on that followed by my “Closing Argument”. 

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike.  Today we're searching in Nebraska.

Authorities would like your help finding John Lamont McCray, 57, five-eight, 170, was convicted of attempted third degree sexual assault, has not registered his address with the state.  If you've got any information on where he might be, please call Nebraska State Patrol Sex Offender Registry, 402-471-8647.  Be right back.


ABRAMS:  We're switching things up tonight.  The “Rebuttal” first, because I'm going to respond to my “Closing Argument”.  This really gets me going.  We continue to get a lot of e-mails on this brutal New York City murder case.  Many people writing in saying Imette St. Guillen is effectively responsible for her own death because she was out drinking until 4:00 a.m. in New York City the night she was abducted and many of you criticizing me for defending her on last night's show.

Gid White says, “You certainly overreacted when some people and rightfully so suggested that perhaps a victim bears some sort of responsibility for doing something incredibly stupid and irresponsible.”

Eric James in Texas, “By your dismissal of any talk regarding personal responsibility, you're preventing the education of other people who might avoid such dangers.”  Not so, but you'll hear that later.

Dan Johnson writes, “She should not have been alone and drunk in New York City.”

And worst of all, a woman whose name sounds a lot like mine unfortunately, Danielle Abramson writes, “She was a volunteer, not a victim.  There are a lot of victims, but she wasn't one of them.”  Nice, Danielle.   

But Lana Coulter says, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I hate people who say what was she doing there at night or what was she doing there in a bar.”

Lana, I hate it too, so much so that I have some strong words for all of those people in my “Closing Argument”. 

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

And coming up, my “Closing Argument” about why I will not sit and watch as people blame the victim.  That's next. 


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—my response to all the people writing in effectively blaming Imette St. Guillen for her own murder.  Imette was out drinking until 4:00 a.m. in New York City the night—about a week ago.  She was abducted and killed and so it seems many believe that she has no one to blame but herself for being brutally raped and killed.  I just read a number of e-mails to that effect. 

As I said last night, I just will not let it go unanswered.  I was stunned how many people wrote in saying I'm not blaming the victim, but what was she doing out that late or I'm not blaming the victim, but why is a single woman out drinking so much?  Well I hate to break the news to you but you are blaming the victim.  You're only asking the question to suggest she could have, maybe should have prevented her own murder. 

That's despicable.  There's only one person to blame and that is the brutal killer.  If you want to use this case to provide a morality lesson in your own home, fine, tell your kids what can happen to them if they're not careful, great.  But to suggest that this lovely young woman somehow brought this on herself is unacceptable.  Was it the smartest decision to let her friend go home without her?  No. 

In retrospect, should she gone on to a second bar alone?  No.  But should she or anyone else have expected that she might likely be raped, mutilated and suffocated, her head wrapped in duct tape, her naked body dumped on the side of the highway if she did?  Absolutely not.  Thousands of women do it every day in this country, many of them in New York, and it does not get them killed.  I'm sure some of you believe that young women should never be drinking at bars late at night no matter you know where they are. 

Others probably think young women shouldn't be drinking at all.  Fine.  You're welcome to those opinions.  But it's just downright insulting to this family for you to provide a morality lecture on how Imette could have saved her own life.  Blaming the victim, particularly female victims, has become an all too common practice in this country and I for one don't intend to sit on the sidelines and watch it happen to Imette or to anyone else. 

Now you can all feel free to write me back and complain again about my comments here, but I'm going to continue to defend Imette on this program as long as we cover this story and until the killer is found.  Because that's the only person to blame.

That does it for us.  Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. 

Have a great weekend and I will see you on Monday.



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