Guest: Ted Nugent. Dena Sansing, Debra Opri, Michelle Suskauer, Pamela
Davis, Mark Hurlbert, Jose Melendez, Ken Nacke
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, GUEST HOST: Folks, stay right where you are, because we have got a huge show in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY tonight.
Is the Duke rape case unraveling? Or will arrests happen at any moment? We have got the latest. And who is the real victim in this case? Is it the woman or the Duke lacrosse team? I'm going to ask that question of the man who prosecuted Kobe Bryant.
And then, from immigration to “American Idol.” Ted Nugent, the Motor City Madman, is with us live.
But, first, there were 19 hijackers that brought down four planes on September 11. There was supposed to be one more. Flight 93, the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, had only four hijackers on board. The 9/11 Commission said that's one of the reasons the passengers on Flight 93 were able to take control of the plane.
And, in a moment, something you will see only in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY -
· we're going to talk to the man whose quick thinking kept that fifth hijacker off the flight.
But we begin with an emotional day at the death trial of Zacarias Moussaoui. For the first time, the audiotape that captured the final moments of that flight was played in open court.
And NBC's Pete Williams was there and has all the chilling details.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Michael, good evening.
Until today, only family members of the people who died aboard Flight 93 and federal investigators have actually heard this tape for themselves, the sounds from inside Flight 93 in the minutes before it crashed in Pennsylvania.
But, today, the entire courtroom here was transfixed, as the jurors heard it for themselves.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: United 93. (INAUDIBLE)
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The government played the final half-hour of sound recorded inside the Boeing 757 cockpit.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: United 93, United 93, do you hear Cleveland?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Forty-six minutes into the flight piloted by Captain Jason Dahl, the hijackers break in. At 9:31, Ziad Jarrah, now at the controls, speaks into his microphone.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ZIAD JARRAH, 9/11 HIJACKER: Ladies and gentlemen, hear the captain. Please, sit down. Keep remaining seating. We have a bomb on board, so sit.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The hijackers then struggle with someone in the cockpit, a woman. Investigators says it was likely a flight attendant.
“Don't hurt me. I don't want to die,” voice says.
From 9:37 on, she is no longer heard.
A hijacker says: “”Everything is fine. I finished.”
9:39, Jarrah makes another announcement.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JARRAH: Is the captain. I would like you all to remain seated. There is a bomb on board and are going back to the airport and to have our demands. Please remain quiet.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: 9:45: A hijacker asks, “Should we let the guys in?” an apparent reference to the other two hijackers aboard. Captain Dahl was apparently still alive, because a hijacker says, “Bring the pilot back.”
The passenger revolt begins at 9:58, when a hijacker asks, “Is there something, a fight??
The tape captures muffled sounds of a struggle and repeatedly of glass
shattering. Investigators believe the passengers were ramming the cockpit
door with one of the plane's beverage carts
The hijackers begin to pray: “Allah is greatest.”
In the background, passengers yell: “In the cockpit. In the cockpit.”
Hijacker pilot Ziad Jarrah rocks the plane violently back and forth.
It's now 10:00 a.m. “Is that it? Shall we finish it off?” a hijacker asks.
“No, not yet,” says the other. “When they all come, we finish it off.”
Outside the door, passengers yell: “In the cockpit. If we don't, we will die.”
And the sounds of a struggle grow louder.
By 10:01, the hijackers seem determined to crash the plane.
“Is that it? Shall we put it down?”
“Yes,” comes the answer. “Put it in and pull it down.”
10:02: The plane rolls onto its side, turns upside down and goes into a steep dive.
The hijackers recite, “Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest,” nine times in all. At seven seconds past 10:03, the recording abruptly ends.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: United 93, United 93, Cleveland.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WILLIAMS (on camera): Based just on listening to this recording, it's impossible to tell whether the passengers actually succeeded in making it into the cockpit. Family members who have listened say they think so. Federal investigators say it's impossible to tell. But the investigators do conclude that the passengers prevented al Qaeda from crashing the plane into the White House or the Capitol—Michael.
SMERCONISH: Thank you, Pete. That's some tough stuff.
Joining me now, Ken Nacke. He lost his brother Louis on Flight 93.
Mr. Nacke, please, sir, accept our condolences here in SCARBOROUGH
KEN NACKE, BROTHER OF SEPTEMBER 11 VICTIM: Thank you very much.
SMERCONISH: You, sir, have heard the complete tape. We are not able to play that, because it is not going to be publicly available. What's most significant, if one does hear the entire 30-minute tape?
NACKE: The reason why I listened to the cockpit voice recorder, along with my sister, it was not to—to hear my brother's voice. It was, more or less, just finding out how he lived the last 30 minutes of his life. And, to me, that—that was very important to me, so, that that's the importance of it for me.
SMERCONISH: Were you able to discern your brother's voice on the tape that you heard?
NACKE: To be honest with you, yes.
You know, there was a—there was a time when we listened to it, you
· they kind of divided your attention. They put a transcript up on a big screen. And they made each of us wear headphones to listen. So, what—what I did was, I just closed my eyes and just listened to the audio portion of it. And out of respect for the family members that chose not to listen to it, I—I really don't want to tell you what I heard.
But it was kind of—not chilling, but, you know, in my heart, and in my head, and even on the hairs on the back of my neck, there's a point in time where I could hear his voice on—on the CVR. And it's because, as a young kid, following him in his footsteps, I was chaste.
And I could hear that tone, the energy behind it, and the words that were used.
SMERCONISH: Mr. Nacke, I—I, certainly, sir, don't want to add to your level of pain. But, as an American citizen, there's a part of me that says I—I, too, would like to hear that recorded conversation, battle, which transpired in the last 30 minutes.
Do you have an opinion as to whether it should be publicly made available? And I should tell you the tit's not some prurient interest on my part, but, rather, I think that, unless we continue see the footage of the planes hitting the towers, and unless we listen to the recording from the cockpit, Americans will forget the lessons of September 11.
NACKE: And—and I can understand your point.
But, you know, unfortunately, not all family members were allowed to listen to the tape. They were pretty selective in who could and who could not listen to the tape.
So, I think, out of respect for the—the loved ones that chose, A, not to listen to it, or were not allowed to, would you want to be sitting home, watching the news and, all of a sudden, hearing the cockpit voice recorder for yourself?
SMERCONISH: No, I—I certainly would not.
Mr. Ken Nacke, again, we—we extend our condolences to you, sir, for the passing of your brother Louis aboard Flight 93. And we thank you for being in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
NACKE: Thank you for having me.
SMERCONISH: Folks, now a story you will only hear in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, perhaps the greatest untold story of September 11, the man the 9/11 Commission says is responsible for keeping the fifth hijacker off that flight.
He's INS agent Jose Melendez. He joins us from Washington tonight.
Mr. Melendez, welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
JOSE MELENDEZ, CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: Thank you, Michael.
It's my pleasure.
SMERCONISH: Let's turn back the clock, sir. It's August the 4th. It's 2001. It's a month before the events of September 11. You were working where and what was your job?
MELENDEZ: I was working at Orlando International Airport as a secondary officer.
SMERCONISH: And, on that particular day, a Saudi national comes before you for secondary screening. Why did Mohamed al-Kahtani come before you for secondary screening? What is it that had tripped up the security process?
MELENDEZ: When he came in front of the primary officer, he didn't have his form properly completed, which was his I-94, and his custom declaration form.
SMERCONISH: So, some of the...
MELENDEZ: And he...
SMERCONISH: Some of the paperwork that one fills out before the plane is to land?
MELENDEZ: That is correct.
And he also stated that he didn't speak any English. And because the primary officer could not communicate with him, she decided to send him to secondary inspection to complete the inspection.
SMERCONISH: So, he comes before you, Jose Melendez.
Had his luggage been searched?
MELENDEZ: Not at that time, sir.
SMERCONISH: When it was searched, was there anything unusual that was found in it?
MELENDEZ: Not that we know, no, sir.
SMERCONISH: You plugged his name into the computer. Did you get any hits?
MELENDEZ: No, sir. It was the first time that he was coming to the United States.
SMERCONISH: OK. So, there is nothing in the luggage that has aroused suspicion. There are no hits in the computer.
But, still, Mr. Melendez, you don't let the man into this country.
MELENDEZ: Well, first of all, I noticed that he didn't have a return ticket. Number one, he didn't have a—number two, he didn't have a—a hotel reservation.
And when I went into the secondary room to get him to be interview and to complete the inspection, he gave me a—a dirty look and a challenging look that—that make the whole room so cold. You know, I mean, I thought there was something wrong.
And, you know, I told myself, well, why this guy is looking at me like that? You know, is something wrong in here?
SMERCONISH: In other words, in—in—in Philadelphia, Mr. Melendez, we like to refer to the hairy eyeball. You gave him the man the hairy eyeball, and—and he didn't pass the smell test.
MELENDEZ: That's correct.
SMERCONISH: I want to put up on the screen show everybody what you said to the 9/11 Commission under oath on this.
You said: “When the subject looked me, I felt a bone-chilling cold effect. The bottom line, he gave me the creeps. You just had to be present to understand what I'm trying to explain.”
So, that really is what triggered your suspicion about this man, Mohamed al-Kahtani?
MELENDEZ: That's correct.
SMERCONISH: At the time that you were contemplating not allowing him into the United States, what was the advice of those around you?
MELENDEZ: Well, I have some of the officers that stated that I was going to get in trouble, because he was a Saudi national, and we were supposed to treat them with special care.
However, I would like to mention that that was before when we were in INS. And then, when we became Custom and Border Protection in March of 2003, all those nonsense policies went out of the window. And now we have the mechanism in place and the directive from headquarters that anybody that is coming to this country, and we suspect that is coming to do some harm, we will get him out of here in no problem at all.
SMERCONISH: But I think the point needs to be made clearly that, at the time—and it's a month in advance of September 11 -- there was an element of political correctness at play here, was there not, Mr. Melendez?
MELENDEZ: That was correct.
SMERCONISH: You were...
MELENDEZ: It was...
SMERCONISH: You were being told that these Saudis, they have political clout, and be careful before you turn one of them around and send them home?
MELENDEZ: That is correct. That was the—that was an unwritten policy, but that was throughout the whole United States.
SMERCONISH: And—and—and, nevertheless, you decided, no, I'm not comfortable letting this man into the country.
Now, when you turn him around and put him on a flight, as I recall from your testimony, back to the U.K., and then on to Dubai, which is where he originated, right?
MELENDEZ: That is correct.
SMERCONISH: The man who—who apparently couldn't speak English looks at you and says what?
MELENDEZ: “I'll be back.”
SMERCONISH: So, in a very Schwarzenegger-like way, all of a sudden, he has found his command of the English language.
MELENDEZ: That is correct.
SMERCONISH: And, Mr. Melendez, this man, Mohamed al-Kahtani, is back in this country, isn't he?
MELENDEZ: Yes, sir. He's in Guantanamo right now.
SMERCONISH: And he's in Guantanamo, why?
MELENDEZ: Because he was caught in—caught in Afghanistan fighting with the Taliban when we invaded Afghanistan.
SMERCONISH: He was caught in the battle of Tora Bora, and now he's in Guantanamo Bay, where they refer to him, I think, as detainee 063.
And perhaps some of the folks from SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY will recall, he was profiled on the cover of “TIME” magazine last summer.
Now, a very significant aspect of this story, the 9/11 Commission reassembles the telephone records of Mohamed Atta after the events of September 11. And—and they're able to figure out what, Mr. Melendez?
MELENDEZ: That Mohamed Atta was waiting for Mr. Kahtani upstairs in the airport in Orlando.
SMERCONISH: So, you're at the Orlando International Airport on August 4, 2001. September 11 has not occurred. Did you even know who Osama bin Laden was? Did you even know who al Qaeda was as of that time?
MELENDEZ: I don't have any recollection of knowing anything about it, if I will be honest with you.
SMERCONISH: I mean, the point—the point that I want is, you know, now, those words just spill off of our tongues. But, at that particular time, nobody knew who al Qaeda or bin Laden were.
But you, nevertheless, kept him out. The 9/11 Commission then determines that Mohamed Atta was there to pick this man up. And that's the basis for the belief that he was to have been the fifth terrorist on board Flight 93. True?
MELENDEZ: That is correct.
SMERCONISH: All right.
Now I want to read everybody on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY the words of Richard Ben-Veniste, one of the 9/11 Commission members, who told, in the day you testified—quote—“Taking into account that the only plane commandeered by four hijackers, rather than five, crashed before reaching its target, it is entirely plausible to suggest that your actions, in doing your job efficiently and competently, may well have contributed to saving the Capitol or the White House.”
In other words, Mr. Melendez, the 9/11 Commission came to the view that that building, sir, which is over your right shoulder, arguably, you protected, by your actions, one month in advance of September 11.
MELENDEZ: Yes, sir. That's what he say.
SMERCONISH: You're a great American, Mr. Melendez.
What are the lessons of your exchange?
MELENDEZ: You say again? I'm sorry?
SMERCONISH: What are the lessons of your interaction with Mohamed al-Kahtani? What we should take away from this, apart from not being politically correct?
MELENDEZ: Well, Michael, I think that we have learned a lesson.
Since we became Custom and Border Protection, we took care of all those nonsense policies that were referring to be treating some countries in a special way. Right now, we have only one set of rules. And that set of rules mean that anybody that we think that is coming to this country to do any harm or to add to the population of illegal immigrants, that we have the mechanism to get them out.
Fortunately, headquarters, CVP have provided us with all the mechanisms and all the support that we need to accomplish our mission. Also, we have a great training program, in which we are going in the right direction to ensure that what happened doesn't happen again. And we learned the lesson. And we have to be thankful for that.
SMERCONISH: Jose Melendez, you're one of the great heroes of September 11. And we're privileged to have you in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
MELENDEZ: It is my pleasure. And thank you for the invitation, sir.
SMERCONISH: Thank you.
You can read more about Jose Melendez in my new book, “Muzzled: From T-Ball to Terrorism - True Stories That Should Be Fiction,” which debuted on “The New York Times” list just today, as a matter of fact. Political correctness, it's a dangerous, dangerous thing.
Coming up tonight on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, a lot more to come—a new twist in the Duke investigation. We have got the latest. Plus, is the team getting a raw deal? I will ask the man who prosecuted Kobe Bryant.
And, later, from immigration to the White House, no topic is off limits when the Motor City Madman, Ted Nugent, comes to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
We will be right back.
SMERCONISH: Oops. She did it again—more trouble for new mommy Britney Spears—why child services came knocking. We will have the latest.
SMERCONISH: Welcome back.
Tonight, a new twist in the Duke gang rape investigation. Sources close to the case tell MSNBC a second round of DNA tests are under way—this, after the first round failed to connect any lacrosse players to the alleged rape. Why is the DA still pushing so hard on this case? Could it be that his job is on the line?
Listen to what he said at tonight's DA candidate debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL NIFONG, DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I didn't pick the crime. I didn't pick the time. But I'm going to do the case right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: The Durham DA election is less than three weeks away. Is the DA's stance in the case more about political gain than seeking justice?
Joining me now, somebody very familiar with high-profile rape cases, Eagle County, Colorado, district attorney Mark Hurlbert. He prosecuted the Kobe Bryant rape case.
Mr. Hurlbert, welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
MARK HURLBERT, EAGLE COUNTY, COLORADO, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Thank you for—thank you for having me.
SMERCONISH: The—the—the DA down there in—in the Duke jurisdiction, Mr. Nifong, was quoted recently—as a matter of fact, right here on Dan Abrams—Dan Abrams' program—as saying, “I am convinced that there was a rape, yes, sir.”
Was that an appropriate comment for him to make?
HURLBERT: Well, you know, it's—it's—the question is not whether
· really, whether it's appropriate. But it does kind of leave him into a
· really, kind of bind, because it's—it really leaves him into a tough position, because, if he does not file charges or does not take it to the grand jury, then the victim and the community that's backing the victim will say: I thought we—we thought you had a great case. Why aren't you filing—not filing charges?
The—if he does file charges, then, of course, the defense is going to say, well, he influenced the grand jury by saying, we had a great case.
So, I—you know, I would—whether it's appropriate or not, I'm—
I'm not quite sure. But, certainly, it does leave him on the horns of a dilemma.
SMERCONISH: You—you correct me if I'm wrong, but my recollection is that you didn't make any similar statements when were you evaluating the evidence concerning the—the—the Kobe Bryant case. You never weighed in before there were charges brought and said, you know, I believe this woman.
HURLBERT: I—no, I—I never did. You're right.
SMERCONISH: There's a lot of debate...
HURLBERT: But it—but it's...
SMERCONISH: I'm sorry. Go ahead, sir.
HURLBERT: But just, you know, it's—it's—he—he's in a different—different position right now than when I was.
Although the media attention is very, very—very, very hot and heavy, he is also in the middle of an election, that he needs to tell the people that, you know, look, your DA's office is still a good office. He also needs to—he is in the middle of a very divided community, that he needs to say, look, your DA office is a very good office.
SMERCONISH: Mr. Hurlbert, who...
HURLBERT: ... and still can prosecute the crimes.
SMERCONISH: Who is being unfairly trashed in this case? Is it the lacrosse team from Duke? Is it the alleged victim?
HURLBERT: Well, I—you know, I don't know all that has been said about the lacrosse team at Duke. It is—it is my understanding that there was some, early on, talking about these lacrosse players, although I didn't really hear much of that.
And, certainly, that is—that is inappropriate, too, until the—until the—you know, until the—really, things get going. And I don't know where that came from.
SMERCONISH: Well, here's...
HURLBERT: But, also, the...
SMERCONISH: Here is my specific question.
Is it—is it fair fodder for public discussion, that knowledge of these charges that were brought against her for giving a lap dance to a taxi driver, then stealing his cab, and attempting to run down a member of law enforcement, should that be out in the public domain?
I mean, my own view is that, if they're going to report about 15 of the lacrosse players having prior brushes with the law, then it's—it's only fair that we should know a little bit about the alleged victim as well.
HURLBERT: Well, what's the—what's the relevance of the victim doing a—stealing a taxicab five years ago? Does that mean that she wasn't raped? All this is, is trashing the victim, for the sake of trashing the victim.
SMERCONISH: I think I would argue...
HURLBERT: And that is absolutely inappropriate.
SMERCONISH: ... to you that it's—it's—if—if—if an individual attempts to run over someone from law enforcement in a car, that tells me a little bit about their character in a he said/he said case. Wouldn't that make you less inclined to believe what it is she is telling you if you know that, in the past, she stole a man's car and tried to run over a cop?
HURLBERT: Maybe, maybe not. I mean, that's—this is—this is a question of whether she was raped, not whether she stole a car.
SMERCONISH: All right.
Let me—let me bring in criminal defense attorney Michelle Suskauer and former prosecutor Pamela Davis.
And—and, Michelle, I will begin with you, the same question that I asked Mr. Hurlbert.
I mean, is—is it relevant that she gave a lap dance to a taxi driver, stole his cab, and tried to run the guy over, a law enforcement officer, who responded?
MICHELLE SUSKAUER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I absolutely agree with you.
It certainly is relevant, because this is a he said/she said situation. And her credibility is directly at issue. And her truth and veracity, her reputation in the community, what she does for a living, whether she has had prior arrests, whether she has made false accusations in the past, it absolutely is relevant, especially because we have heard about all these little minor incidents that these lacrosse players had, like public urination and maybe public intoxication, that sort of thing. So, it absolutely is.
SMERCONISH: Pamela, do you agree?
SMERCONISH: Is it relevant?
PAMELA DAVIS, FORMER PROSECUTOR: At this point in the game, I don't know that it's necessarily relevant.
I—I just don't agree. I mean, if we're trying her in the public, then, I suppose maybe it's relevant. But I think that this is something that should wait until trial and be determined if it is relevant...
DAVIS: ... for the jury to hear, and then the determination can be made.
SMERCONISH: Mr. Hurlbert, just hours ago...
SMERCONISH: ... if I could direct to you, the district attorney defended his decision to proceed with the case.
And give a listen, if you would, sir.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIFONG: The reason that I took this case is because this case says something about Durham that I'm not going to let be said. I am not going to allow Durham's view in the mind of the world to be a bunch of lacrosse players from Duke raping a black girl in Durham.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: I mean, I am totally uncomfortable with—with the statement that I just heard.
This is a guy who is playing the role of judge, jury, and executioner, not investigator.
Mr. Hurlbert, what am I missing?
HURLBERT: Well, I'm—I'm not sure he is actually playing the role of judge, jury, and executioner. It is his job to decide whether to take this to the grand jury. It is the job of the district attorney to decide whether to bring charges.
HURLBERT: Ultimately, it is the jury's job...
SMERCONISH: Well, how about if he stands up...
HURLBERT: Just a minute.
SMERCONISH: How about if he stands up...
HURLBERT: Well, but hold on a sec here. Hold on a second.
SMERCONISH: But let me just finish my thought...
HURLBERT: Hold on a sec here. Granted...
SMERCONISH: ... and I promise you can finish.
Why can't he stand up and say: I am not going to allow it to be said about Duke that we falsely accuse 45 guys of such illicit conduct?
I mean, I hear no one speaking for individuals who haven't been charged with anything so far.
HURLBERT: Except the defense attorneys are talking about—talking about that.
I'm not saying that his statement was necessarily appropriate. It seemed to be very strong in what it was. But that's—but that is not necessarily a—I mean, he still is—still has his job to do, of trying to charge this case.
SMERCONISH: Michelle Suskauer, is he making comments out of turn?
This—what this prosecutor has done is, he has dug his heels in right away, before DNA evidence, before he—before, possibly, she made any photo I.D.s, before he has—he finished investigating, in terms of—of talking to witnesses and said, this woman was attacked.
He dug his heels in and made those statements. And I think it's really going to bite him later on.
SMERCONISH: Pamela, let me ask...
SUSKAUER: I mean, he didn't know her credibility.
SMERCONISH: Pamela, let me ask you a question as a former prosecutor, if—if I may.
Now, there's a—there's a report that comes from ESPN tonight, which says that someone, a source in the hospital where the alleged victim was treated, has reported that, when she arrived, she was hysterical, but didn't make any specific comments as to exactly what had happened to her or who had been involved.
And, you know, common sense dictates—and there's the quote that you see on the screen—“Never said one thing about Duke, anyone or anything. She just kept hollering and screaming. She never said who did it.”
Common sense, at least to me, dictates that, if a woman has just been gang-raped by the lacrosse team at Duke, she is—she is running around in the E.R. saying something like, you know: Those blankety-blanks from Duke and the lacrosse team, they just raped me.
What conclusion should I draw from the absence of any identification of the Duke players, if that report is accurate?
DAVIS: You know, I disagree with your take on that.
I think that a woman that's hysterical that comes into an emergency room may not be saying who it was that did something to her. She is just in hysterics.
And my understanding is, at the time, she might not have known that it was the lacrosse team. And she doesn't know the name of the people who attacked her. So, the—you know, I just think that it would be normal to come in and be in hysterics, and maybe not be able to name the people that had—had taken this action against you.
SMERCONISH: A lot more to come. It still remains to be seen who the real victims are in this case, at least in my opinion.
Thank you, Mark Hurlbert, Michelle Suskauer, and Pamela Davis.
HURLBERT: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Thank you.
Coming up, how can a Marine returning from Iraq for the second time be on the terror watch list?
And is he there? There he is, yes, baby, the Motor City Madman. Hey, is he going to be the next governor? And, if so, of what state? The world according to Uncle Ted—coming up in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SMERCONISH: Are you ready for some full bluntal Nugentity? We're just minutes away the Motor City Madman, Ted Nugent, here in “Scarborough Country.” And from President Bush to Paula Abdul, we will be talking about it with Ted.
But first, here's the latest news from MSNBC world headquarters.
COLETTE CASSIDY, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Colette Cassidy. Here's what's happening.
A tape allegedly by Osama bin Laden's top deputy al-Zawahiri has been posted on the Internet. It is dated last November and praises insurgents in Iraq.
The head of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency arrived in Tehran for talks aimed at defusing an international standoff over Iran's nuclear activities. Mohamed ElBaradei says he hopes to convince Iran to suspend nuclear enrichments, which it announced yesterday it had accomplished for the first time.
Governor Mitt Romney signed a landmark bill making Massachusetts the first state to require all residents to have health insurance. The measure provides subsidies and sliding scale premiums for poor and low-income residents. It's seen as a standard for other states to follow.
And Britain's Prince Harry graduated from military college today and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the British army. His grandmother, Queen Elizabeth; father, Prince Charles; and stepmother, Camilla attended the ceremony at Sandhurst Military Academy. The prince will now train with a regiment that could be sent to Afghanistan or Iraq.
Those are your headlines. I'm Colette Cassidy. Now back to “Scarborough Country.”
SMERCONISH: Britney Spears and Kevin Federline get a visit from child welfare services after their baby suffers a hairline fracture to the skull. Are the Federline's fit to be parents?
Plus, if giving birth to sextuplets sounds painful, wait until you see what happens to one couple who faked the births just to collect money.
Welcome back to “Scarborough Country.” I'm Michael Smerconish in for the big guy tonight. Those stories in just minutes.
But first, from immigration to “American Idol” to Dick Cheney to the queen of daytime Oprah Winfrey, who could possibly have an opinion that you need to hear on all these subjects? Uncle Ted. The Motor City Madman. The Nuge. Back in “Scarborough Country.”
Hey, Nuge, how are you?
TED NUGENT, MUSICIAN: How are you doing, Michael? Happy turkey season. Welcome to the Nugent home.
SMERCONISH: Hey, Nuge, on the way in to MSNBC, you will be thrilled to know that on my iPOD I listened to “Stranglehold” 11 times in succession.
NUGENT: I can tell. I've seen the energy. Congratulations with some great segments on MSNBC here. That Jose Melendez piece was brilliant. America needs to hear that stuff. And congratulations on “Muzzled” making the “New York Times” bestseller's list. You're my man, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Thank you.
Hey, Nuge, here's the question we all want to know. So you're down there in Crawford. You're one of the president's neighbors. Who's better armed, the secret service or Nugent?
NUGENT: Well, I'm not going to give any secrets away. Let's put it this way. Quid pro quo comes to mind.
I'm lucky. I get to train with the greatest warriors in the world from the U.S. military to the federal marshals and law enforcement. And let's put it this way, Michael, we have some wonderful ballistic barbecues at the Nugent ranch with my friends in the federal agencies.
SMERCONISH: You still standing tall with W? Because I know we both supported him twice. And we've had some areas of disagreement. But how do you sit with the president and his politics, the situation in Iraq today?
NUGENT: Well, first of all, I want to clarify that when I speak, I don't just selfishly speak for Ted Nugent. I get to wander this wonderful nation of ours and communicate with working hard, playing hard families from every imaginable walk of life, Michael.
And today, at the feed mill and the hardware store, and at school and at church, I get a pulse, a vibration, if you will, from people of logic, decency, goodwill and that still revere the constitution, the Bill of Rights, the 10 commandments and the golden rule.
So I echo what is quite common and sensible across this land that George W. Bush is a real good president, oftentimes a great president, especially when it comes to the war on terror. But we're upset with his free for all spending. We're extremely concerned and fearful of no immigration policy and no border security.
So though he's a good man, like all of us, he needs some upgrade and I make sure I remind my elected officials what kind of upgrade the Nugent family expects.
SMERCONISH: The vice president, you know, became a great controversy
· that hunting accident—nobody knows more than Uncle Ted about hunting and the protocol and so forth. Give me the bottom line on what went on, from your perspective.
NUGENT: Bottom-line, a whole, much to do about nothing. There were more people injured and killed in showers that day than all quail hunting accidents since the invention of gunpowder. I mean, that is a statistic from every imaginable safety scrutiny.
But the media has to be our ears and eyes and unfortunately they're not very professional and not very accurate, oftentimes. But whistle blowing is job one for we the people. And it's important that we keep track and monitor our elected officials, especially the vice president when there's an accident involving firearms.
But the bottom line is the reason it was such an orgy of overreaction is because it was a member of the Bush administration with a gun hunting innocent little birds. So it was everything the liberals like to make fun of and they really hurt themselves by overreacting.
SMERCONISH: Nuge, in addition to everything else you hunt, you hunt down political correctness. How are you doing in that battle?
NUGENT: There's no bag limit and I have a varmint license, yes. Political correctness, it seems to be only found in either the left or the right media, either New York City and New Jersey and Massachusetts or the West Coast.
Because as I travel the heartland, logic is still common and sensible across the land. And everybody's about had it. I think when the liberal media takes their bias against guns, their bias against hunting, their bias against true and effective education reform and welfare reform and court reform; they're hurting themselves more than they're hurting the people.
Except that the apathy from we the people, not speaking up, allows policy to be formed by the liars and the misrepresentatives from the media and the left who are better represented than the heartland. And that's where apathy is kind of kicking our own ass. And my main goal is to get rid of apathy in this country. Then I think logic will prevail.
SMERCONISH: You mentioned the immigration battle a couple of minutes ago. Are you using that lexicon of undocumented workers or does Uncle Ted talk about it in terms of illegal conduct?
NUGENT: Yes, I'll never forget, Michael, when I was driving along with a sheriff deputy once. There was a bank robbery. And of course, it was referred to as an undocumented withdrawal. This kind of nonsense is laughable except that it's constantly parroted out there.
They're illegal. If I was illegal, I would want me to be locked up. If anybody is illegal, I would want the repercussions to follow the rule of law. And that's the whole mess that we're dealing with here and it's embarrassing, isn't it?
SMERCONISH: “American Idol” is still kicking butts and taking names.
Any of those folks in the competition worthy of Uncle Ted's band?
NUGENT: Hey, does music enrich our lives or what? I love art. I love expression. I love creativity. And though I don't watch “American Idol,” my wife, Charmaine (ph), and my son, Rocko (ph) like to watch it. And when I've walked through the room and seen what's going on, I get a kick out of it. I like anything that would prod and inspire creative people to be the best that they can be.
And if there's this completion at heart, I think it's inspiring a lot of people to dig in and get that black rhythm and blues soul that I hear coming across even from the whitest of artists. So that's very inspirational to me. And I think it's something to be applauded and pursued.
SMERCONISH: Hey, Nuge, you've got to see something on the monitor here. We have tried to envision what it would be like if Uncle Ted joined that group of judges. It would go something like this: you and Randy and Paula. I would love to see you in that role in place of Simon.
NUGENT: Well, I would get a kick out of it. You know, I love music. I still create unbelievable, brutal, ferocious music with Barry Sparks and Mick Brown. We'll do over 100 concerts this year.
In fact, Michael, we're going over to Europe. And we call it the Ted Nugent Ballistic Marshall Plan II European Tour.
SMERCONISH: I'd like to be a roadie.
NUGENT: So I still love music. I would love to be on “American Idol.” And maybe someday I could be a judge.
SMERCONISH: Nuge, take me along as a roadie on that caper.
All right, I've got one more for you. You've been called, I think, by the “Chicago Tribune” the Oprah of Hunting. What's that all about?
NUGENT: Well, it's probably because I'm so non-caucasian. My music is just too black for my own white self.
I think it's because I really celebrate hands on conservation, and responsible, intelligent and successful resource stewardship. That's why there's more lions and more bears and more turkey and more deer and more elk, more waterfowl than probably in recorded history in North America. And that's because hunting, fishing and trapping is honest consumerism and hands on conservation.
And because I promote that and celebrate that every place, people turn to me when they want to get turned on to this good mother earth relationship that is the purity and perfection of hunting.
SMERCONISH: All right. Final question for Uncle Ted. Michigan or Texas? Which one will get to claim you as its governor?
NUGENT: Well, you know, I'm a Michiganiac at heart. No more of this Michigander stuff. It's Michiganiac.
I'm a Michiganiac at heart. I'm living here in Texas because I've got to teach these people how to barbecue. They need my help desperately.
I love Texas. I love Michigan. And I have threatened, and sincerely threatened, to run for governor in Michigan because this once great work ethic, this great state of hospitality, though it's still alive and well, is being compromised and chipped away at.
And I would like to go back and demand that maybe Michigan is operated like the Nugent family where everyone is more responsible, more law-abiding, more accountable and more productive, to try to be the best that they can be. Instead of seeing what somebody can do.
SMERCONISH: So you're serious about it? You may do this? You may throw your hat into the ring in Michigan?
NUGENT: I may just throw the camouflage cowboy hat into the ring in Michigan, yes, Michael.
SMERCONISH: All right, Uncle Ted. Good to be with you, man. Love being with you.
NUGENT: Happy turkey season. God bless you, man.
SMERCONISH: You too.
All right. We are joined by Tucker Carlson, host of “The Situation with Tucker Carlson.”
Tucker, what's the situation tonight?
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION”: The situation is, Michael, I would vote for Ted Nugent for governor, king, viceroy, prime minister. I don't care. I would vote for that guy for anything. I love that guy. Excellent guy.
Tonight, Cindy Sheehan takes her crusade from the war against Iraq to the war against the U.S. military. She's got a new book, “10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military.” We will talk to one of her co-authors.
And Tiger Woods gets in trouble for using the word “spaz.” Add that to the long and growing list of words, for some reason, you are not allowed to use. We'll defend him.
SMERCONISH: Unbelievable. Take the muzzle off a Tiger. Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Thanks, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Be sure to tune into “The Situation.” It's next at 11:00.
Coming up, why can't a Marine finishing his second tour in Iraq get home without being hassled by airport security? Wait until you hear this one.
Plus, is the pop princess really cut out to be a mom? Britney Spears' mothering skills are called into question again. This time by family services.
We'll be right back to “Scarborough Country.”
SMERCONISH: Britney Spears has done it again. This time, child welfare services is involved. Authorities visited Spears and husband, Kevin Federline, after they took their six-month-old son, Sean Preston to the hospital. They told doctors that he had fallen out of his high chair.
It's not the first time that Britney's parenting has come under fire. You'll remember this photo from two months ago with Spears driving with her baby on her lap.
Here to talk about Britney's mommy troubles, Dena Sansing from US Weekly and celebrity defense attorney Deborah Opri.
Dena, let me start with you because I'm a guy here in “Scarborough Country.” I need to be educated a little bit. Britney is the one in the Bob Dole commercial, right? That's how I think of her.
She's married to some guy now who ditched his pregnant wife. Am I right about that?
DENA SANSING, US WEEKLY: Yes, she was married.
SMERCONISH: OK. So I'm two for two so far.
SMERCONISH: She drove with the kid without a lap belt sitting in the front seat, laid it off on the paparazzi. And now her child falls out of the high chair?
SANSING: Yes. She's two for two here. You can't resist saying oops she did it again. This is the second time we've seen her involved in a situation that we're saying, is she a good parent?
SMERCONISH: Is it much to do about nothing? I have four at home and I'm sure that all four of them fell out of the high chair, although we didn't drive in the front seat of the car without a belt.
SANSING: Well, I really think it's about it being the second time. The first situation was much more serious. Obviously driving without a car seat is a huge deal. This situation is not quite as serious. Yes, kids fall out of car seats. It's going to happen.
SMERCONISH: Debra Opri, my understanding is that a doctor is called to the home after the kid does a header. And then a couple of days later, Britney is concerned about the sleep pattern, takes the child into the hospital for evaluation. And somebody drops the dime and that's when child welfare comes to pay a visit. First of all, do I have the facts correct? At least as far as you know?
DEBRA OPRI, CELEBRITY DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, so far. Not everything has been fleshed out in the press but it's going to be unfortunately. As a lawyer, one time it's OK. Two times, plus, you start asking questions. Child services is properly investigating this.
And to be honest with you, my mom and dad raised six kids. We never fell out of a high chair. As we got older we jumped off of the garage roof but that's a whole other story. In all seriousness, this is something that has to be investigated, in terms of drug usage, alcohol abuse, violence...
SMERCONISH: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
OPRI: Hold on now. No, no, let me finished.
SMERCONISH: But they weren't even home, were they? When the kid falls out of the high chair they aren't even there.
OPRI: Well, that's the story. That's the story. First of all, people of their element are going to be searching and researching the nannies and the people who are taking care of the kids. That's the first thing. Second of all, do we know if they were or were not at home? Third, child endangerment is a very serious issue. And if it turns out that they are entrusting the child to someone who is not qualified, that's reason to remove the child.
SMERCONISH: Let me ask you this question. The dime gets dropped by the folks in the E.R. because they've got some responsibility, I take it, that if a child comes in and presents with a particular condition, you've got to call the authorities. Is that true?
OPRI: Yes. You drop the dime anytime there's a serious injury. And the fracture and the fracture is serious.
SMERCONISH: Well, wait a minute. Here's my question. Why didn't the doctor who was the first responder days before the child is taken to the E.R., why didn't he make a report?
OPRI: All right, first of all, you have to ask, was it an E.R. attending physician? I have another friend whose 20-year-old son went to the emergency room of a hospital and they said a muscle spasm. It could have been a heart attack. What was the qualifications of this doctor? These are all questions that have to be answered.
SMERCONISH: All right. Let me show you something. Here's what
Britney's lawyer had to say about the incident. “DCFS immediately
responded and determined there was no problem and no reason to open a
formal investigation. They determined that the parents weren't involved in
the injury and nothing was improper within the home,”
Dena, it's life in the fish bowl, right? Everything that she does and that he does, they get examined and we make mountains out of molehills.
SANSING: Exactly. She lives her life in the public eye. Every time she leaves her house there are photographers following her. She is a young mom and she's a first-time mom. First-time moms make a lot of mistakes. But she is caught on camera every time she does something wrong.
SMERCONISH: Debra, 30 seconds left. I take it you think this is as serious as Jacko juggling his kid off the balcony?
OPRI: Well, let's put it this way. When you have a series of incidents that are close together in time, you have to start asking questions. I defended Britney Spears last time with the child in the front seat. I'm saying at this point in time, you should be asking more questions. This is an initial investigation. The lawyers' statements are somewhat wonderful. But it's not the end of the investigation.
SMERCONISH: All right. Dena Sansing and Debra Opri, we thank you very much for being in “Scarborough Country” tonight.
Up next, a Missouri couple goes to great lengths to get some cash. Wait until you hear this. They faked the birth of sextuplets. That's next in Flyover Country.
And must see S.C., why are residents of this town so eager get a lashing? The answer when we come back to “Scarborough Country.”
SMERCONISH: Time now for another flyover of “Scarborough Country.” First stop, St. Paul, Minnesota, where a group of Marines had to wait for one of their own held up at Los Angeles International Airport.
Police pulled aside staff sergeant Daniel Brown on his way home from Iraq. Why? Because his name appeared on a terror watch list. Why is a soldier on a terror watch list? Last year he was stopped in St. Paul on his way to Iraq because airport security found gunpowder on his boots from his first tour of duty. Hey, TSA, let's start looking for terrorists who look like terrorists.
Next stop, Grain Valley, Missouri, where police say a couple faked the birth of sextuplets to profit from the generosity of others. Sara and Chris Everson are these rocket scientists. They claim to have given birth to four boys and two girls on March 8.
Authorities have now learned that the Everson's made up the story to help pay off the couple's mounting bills. It's not clear how much money the Everson's made on the sextuplet scam. But authorities are prepared to bring charges against the couple for the hoax.
On the subject of hoaxes, we go to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where a teacher played a hoax of her own to raise money. Heather Faria (ph) told people that she had stomach cancer in 2003, collected more than $35,000 in donations from friends and colleagues.
It turns out she is healthy as a horse. Authorities believe the former special ed. teacher spent the money on a trip to St. Martin, a new television and jewelry.
Faria (ph) pled guilty to charges of larceny and fraud today. She will be sentenced sometime in June.
And one more thing to show you. The faithful are flocking to a home in Cali, Columbia, where an image of Jesus has mysteriously appeared in a drip of hot chocolate on the side of a mug.
The image was first noticed during breakfast, word spread quickly, and now an altar has been set up inside the kitchen so devotees can light candles and pray to the image on the mug. The local church is investigating the authenticity of the stain because it appeared during Holy Week.
We'll be right back. And don't forget, “The Situation with Tucker Carlson” is just minutes away. So stick around.
SMERCONISH: Time for tonight's must see S.C. That's video you must see. You've heard of the bridge over troubled water? Well, this time it's the bridge that's in trouble. Demolition crews blew up this 77-year-old bridge in Charleston, South Carolina. The 540 tons of steel took just seconds to come tumbling down. There you go. And another bridge in the same area will be demolished next year.
And in El Salvador, residents of this town are jumping in front of demons to get whipped. They want to get whipped because each lash takes away a sin. It's part of a traditional ceremony representing the last temptation of Jesus Christ. A person dressed as Jesus eventually defeats the demons and proves that good always triumphs over evil.
That's all the time we have tonight for “Scarborough Country.” I'm Michael Smerconish. I get one more shot tomorrow night, in for Joe.
Coming up right now, it's “The Situation with Tucker Carlson.” And it begins at this moment.
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