Guests: John Murtha, Jonathan Turley, Andy Borowitz
BRIAN UNGER, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? The war in Iraq? The House votes to reject a timetable for pulling out troops while some Iraqi officials apparently want a timetable.
And the vice president says fighting the war there has prevented terrorist attacks here. Congressman Jack Murtha joins to us talk about Iraq and responds to political tactics of the GOP and Karl Rove.
REP. JACK MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Here‘s a guy sitting on his fat backside in an air conditioned office talking about the troops. He doesn‘t have a clue what‘s going on in Iraq.
UNGER: And will a new privacy bill protect you from Uncle Sam? Hillary Clinton proposing new privacy protections as the federal government sues to keep one state from finding out to much about the NSA program.
A new twist in a family tragedy. A woman drives off a cliff with her kids strapped in the back seat. Now her husband is charged after admitting he knew she was suicidal.
And this just in. Britney Spears wants to have her baby in Namibia, of course. Oh, my God, like what a copycat. Will she bring her nanny? Where will she get her frappuccino? Will they even let K. Fed into the country? All that and more on COUNTDOWN.
UNGER: And good evening. I‘m Brian Unger, in for Keith Olbermann.
While Congress passed an essentially symbolic resolution reaffirming support of the troops, equating the war in Iraq with the war on terror and rejecting an arbitrary deadline for withdrawal of American forces, came word of a new tape from al Qaeda in Iraq, mourning the loss of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, more promising that his death will make the organization, quote, “fiercer and stronger.”
Our fifth story on THE COUNTDOWN, possible evidence of the insurgents‘ renewed determination, and this new development. Two U.S. soldiers are missing after an attack on their checkpoint near an al Qaeda stronghold. It happened in Yusufiyah Friday night.
Insurgents attacked a traffic checkpoint, killing one soldier. When a rapid reaction force was deployed to the scene, they couldn‘t find the other two soldiers, raising concerns that they may have been kidnapped.
On Capitol Hill, it may have looked like lawmakers were debating the policy that put 138,000 American troops in Iraq in the first place, but what really seemed to be under debate was the patriotism of the Democrats, now threatening to take back the House in the November election.
The Republican resolution, urging the U.S. to stay the course in Iraq, passing easily, by a vote of 256-153. Never mind that the Iraqi government itself has indicated it is now time for American troops to start heading home.
The Associated Press reporting that Iraq‘s vice president personally asked President Bush to set a timetable for redeployment when he met with him on Tuesday. Funny how Mr. Bush did not seem to mention that at this is press conference when he got back.
Meanwhile, just one heart beat away, our own vice president, Dick Cheney, turning his war rhetoric up to 11, claiming that the conflict in Iraq has actually prevented further terrorist attacks here in the U.S.
It is not surprising that a Democrat might disagree with that. But when that Democrat is a Marine Corps veteran who has spent most of his 32 years in Congress as a traditional hawk, well, it‘s time to sit up and take notice.
Earlier, I had a chance to ask Congressman Jack Murtha about the state of the war in Iraq, beginning with Mr. Cheney‘s claim that the conflict has actually prevented new attacks on American soil.
MURTHA: The thing that‘s discouraged me so much and one of the reasons I spoke out is so much rhetoric and mischaracterization of what‘s going on. I never know what the truth is. They continually say how well things are going, and then I cite statistics that show it‘s not going so well. So I just have no idea the way to measure whether there will be any tax or not.
I don‘t know of any attacks that have been stopped because of our going into Iraq. There was no terrorism in Iraq before we went in, and now it‘s the heart bed of terrorism. As a matter of fact, attacks have increased substantially on our troops and on the Iraqi people.
So you know, when they say something like that, I have never seen any backup that would prove that what he‘s saying is true.
UNGER: So it‘s more rhetorical than something that‘s actually provable?
MURTHA: Well, and that‘s the thing that‘s so frustrating. It‘s a mischaracterization, a misrepresentation about what‘s going on. And then you go back—and I say to the staff, when they say something like that, give me some proof of something like this. And they can never give me the proof.
And so it‘s frustrating as it can be when you hear those kind of comments just thrown out. I heard this all day yesterday and all day today, these kind of things. Not that particular comment but things like that.
UNGER: Congressman, after initially supporting the war you now advocate deployment. The sooner the better. Now, we have learned that the Iraqi vice president asked President Bush to set an absolute time table for withdrawal. What‘s your reaction to that?
MURTHA: Brian, I stated on the floor that I‘d read that article and not only the vice president but the president of Iraq confirmed that he agreed with the vice president.
Eighty percent of the Iraqis in the latest poll we have, which is a couple months old, want us out of there. Forty-seven percent of the Iraqis say it‘s all right to kill Americans.
And then I heard a disconcerting story that some of the Iraqis, they‘re going to give amnesty to people that killed Americans. Now they said they fired the guy, but it shows you how important it is to change direction in Iraq.
Reagan changed direction in Beirut. Clinton changed direction in Somalia. We need to change direction. And they can‘t seem to get it. And our troops are caught in a civil war. That‘s the thing that‘s so distressing to me. I go to the hospitals almost every week, and I see the results of the explosive devices they they‘re using.
And it‘s just frustrating to me that they say we‘re fighting. We‘re not fighting it. The troops are fighting it. They‘re wearing 70 pounds of armor, and they‘re inside armored vehicles which are not air conditioned. They‘re out there every day, looking for IEDs. Forty-two percent of them don‘t even know what their mission is.
This is frustrating, this mischaracterization of what‘s going on. We‘re not doing the fighting. They‘re doing the fighting. We‘re proud of them. And every time I go to the hospital, I‘m inspired by them, but that‘s not the point. The point is it‘s not going well, and they won‘t admit it.
UNGER: Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, for one, likening the granting of amnesty to insurgents to efforts that earned Nelson Mandela a Nobel Prize. Is letting insurgents who killed American troops go free the next step toward a functioning democracy in Iraq?
MURTHA: I cannot imagine any American endorsing the fact that there would be amnesty. We don‘t want to give amnesty to illegal aliens—illegal immigrants, let alone those to people who have killed Americans. And this is the thing I‘ve been talking about. Forty-two percent of the Iraqis think it‘s all right to kill Americans, and yet they‘re going to give them amnesty?
And so when they say amnesty, that‘s absolutely outrageous. I cannot imagine a senator making that kind of a statement.
UNGER: Congressman, let‘s talk about some of the debate we‘ve been listening to over the past couple of days. The House, of course, as you already know, today rejecting a timetable for redeployment after a very partisan debate that didn‘t seem to, actually, debate the administration‘s policy in Iraq, merely painting Democrats as weaklings.
I think that was—apparently, was the reason they introduced this resolution, to try to show that anybody that voted against the resolution, which supported the president‘s policy, which is an open-ended policy. It‘s no policy. It‘s to stay there and pay and pay a heavy price in personnel and people and families. And of course, $450 billion a year we spent, $300 million a day we‘re spending in Iraq. We‘re staying, we‘re paying.
What I‘m saying is redeploy and be prepared to go back into the country. Be ready, redeploy and be ready is what I‘ve been saying. And I‘m convinced that we can do everything from outside the country. I think we have become the enemy. We‘re the occupiers. At one time we were welcomed as liberators.
UNGER: This has been an incredibly sad week, having passed the milestone of 2,500 Americans in uniform killed. Sir on Thursday, the White House said that, while painful, 2,500 is a number. That was the quote, 2,500, it‘s a number, suggesting that these are sort of benchmarks that are set by the media to sort of perhaps fan the political flames. What is your opinion about that when the White House says it‘s a number?
MURTHA: That breaks my heart. I go to visit the hospital almost every week and I see these young folks blown apart. I‘ve had 13 people killed from my congressional district. I talked to the wives of two of them who their husbands were killed early on. Every one is an individual death. Every one is precious to that family.
It‘s not getting better, and our troops have become the target, and the incidents have increased substantially. The number of insurgents have gone from a couple hundred up to 20,000. And so we‘ve been over there all that time. So how can you say it‘s getting better? That‘s what‘s been—it‘s been frustrating, the things I‘ve been talking about.
UNGER: Sir, it is inarguable that there is a value to having been in combat and many in this administration simply have not been in combat. I mean, do you think that this has affected the prosecution of this war?
MURTHA: I don‘t know if it‘s affected the prosecution, but it certainly affects the way they look at it. When they say it‘s just numbers, that leads me to believe that it has.
The combat situation makes—your buddies are your family. You live with them the whole time you‘re there. And when you‘re on the field for a period of time, you get to depend on them, and you feel every time one of them is hurt.
So I think there is something to be said about knowing what goes on on the ground, knowing the pain, knowing the boredom, knowing the intensity. And this is one of the most intense experiences I think I‘ve ever known about, as much as I‘ve read the history of World War I and the Civil War and World War II, they go out every day and they don‘t know whether they‘re going to lose an arm or they‘ll lose a leg or their friend‘s going to be killed or they‘re going to be killed by an explosive device. And the stress gets to be tremendous on these young people.
And they—I had a young sergeant call me—when I say young, he‘s retiring after 24 years in Special Forces. He said, “We stand around the television and watch you, because you‘re speaking for us.” These guys sitting on their fat backsides in Washington—he didn‘t say that. He said, “These guys sitting in Washington in air-conditioned offices are not speaking for us. You‘re speaking for us.”
Now, that‘s only one sergeant, but he felt very strongly that I understood what was going on out there, and I would hope that I‘m portraying it accurately.
UNGER: Let me ask you about that. You‘re always speaking to soldiers. And I want to know, is that anecdotal? Or did—how many soldiers or how many in the Pentagon speak to you regularly, daily and say, “Congressman, you‘re speaking for us. Thank you”?
Is it just—how would you quantify it?
MURTHA: I don‘t know how you‘d quantify it, but I talk to them all the time. The general officers are obviously very careful about what they say. But as I say, General Pace said we can‘t win this militarily. All the general officers know that. You cannot win a guerrilla war militarily. It has to be won diplomatically.
The Iraqis are the only ones that can win this war. And I‘m convinced that, until we redeploy, we‘re going to be the enemy, the occupiers. And we‘re actually recruiting terrorists into Iraq.
The only people that want us in Iraq is al Qaeda and North Korea, Iran, Russia and China, because we‘re depleting our financial resources and our human resources. So there is no question in my mind in the end—and I predict before the end of this year you‘ll see substantial redeployment, because the Iraqis, if they have already said it—and you remember the prime minister came here, the interim prime minister. He said we want you out of here, and they covered up—he said oh, he didn‘t mean this, that kind of stuff.
So I‘m convinced by the end of the year you‘ll see a—before the end of the year—before the election you‘ll see a redeployment.
UNGER: Speaking of the elections, Jack Murtha weighs in on Karl Rove‘s tactics in framing the debate on the war on Iraq and responding to the latest round of personal round of attacks leveled against him. That‘s next.
And later, the great privacy debate. Hillary Clinton pushes for a new privacy bill with the federal government takes legal action to stop a state from learning anything about the NSA phone surveillance program.
This is COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
UNGER: The politics behind the war debate. Jack Murtha unleashes his thoughts about Karl Rove and the other partisan attackers trying to squash the discussion about Iraq.
And Murtha weighs in on his own political future. That‘s next. This is COUNTDOWN.
UNGER: Using personal attacks to make ideological points won‘t win you any friends, but it will win you elections. Just ask Karl Rove.
Our first—fourth story on THE COUNTDOWN, the swift boating of the 2006 election has begun. Getting personal. Far more important, it seems than getting the facts right.
Congressman Jack Murtha, no stranger to vicious personal attacks since he started speaking out against the war in Iraq. He also isn‘t shy about confronting his critics. Earlier, I asked Congressman Murtha about Mr. Rove‘s tactics and how he chooses to fight back in part two of our interview.
UNGER: Congressman, I‘ve been waiting for about 12 hours to ask you this question. In yesterday‘s floor debate, Congressman Louis Gohmert of Texas attacked you personally, personally for your position on Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT ®, TEXAS: Thank God for his ministering to grieving families but thank God he was not here and prevailed after the bloodbath at Normandy and in the Pacific or we could be here speaking Japanese or German. Thank you.
MURTHA: Can I ask the speaker, was the gentleman at either of those locations? Was the gentleman either at Normandy or either of those locations?
GOHMERT: You want to know which locations?
Normandy was a horrible bloodbath.
MURTHA: I say were you there?
GOHMERT: No, I wasn‘t.
MURTHA: Were you in Vietnam?
GOHMERT: No, sir I wasn‘t.
MURTHA: Were you in Iraq?
GOHMERT: I‘ve been over there. I haven‘t been fighting.
MURTHA: Troops on the ground?
GOHMERT: And do I admire the gentleman‘s compassion and I do appreciate all that he‘s done for our wounded. He has done a great service. Appreciate it to you, Mr. Murtha. Thank you for your work.
MURTHA: Thank you, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURTHA: Yes. This happens every once in awhile. They get carried away over there.
UNGER: Does that -- let me ask you something. Does that have a place in a debate on something at this point, at this stage in the war?
MURTHA: You know, what I say is that I‘m debating the policy. It‘s nothing personal; it‘s not that I don‘t like George Bush. As a matter of fact, I consider Cheney a friend, who I worked with when he was secretary of defense. And I was chairman of the defense appropriations.
But these guys have a tendency, rather than answer my suggestions substantively, they answer them rhetorically. And they make these answers that make no sense at all.
UNGER: Does that infuriate you? Does it bother you when someone says to you that this whole country would be talking—speaking in the language of Japanese if we had listened to folks like you?
MURTHA: Yes, I do get upset and I told him in no uncertain terms. One said something about Normandy. He said that, if you had my position, we wouldn‘t have gone to Normandy. That‘s ridiculous.
My dad, three of his brothers served in World War II. There of my brothers were in the Marine Corps. I mean, we know something about this stuff. If you disagree with the policy, as Theodore Roosevelt said, you have an obligation. I have an obligation as a member of Congress, when I disagree, it would be treasonous not to say something, Theodore Roosevelt said. And I say the same thing. It‘s my obligation to speak out when I disagree with the policy.
So I‘m going to get out and say something like that. They‘re reading something somebody gave them.
UNGER: Congressman, the charges repeated this week by Karl Rove.
Many are scratching their heads. Some are looking at their history books. But it‘s about the charge that Democrats are cutting and running. Who cut and ran? Who exactly is advocating this strategy to cut and run? That‘s the question no one seems to be able to really answer. Who is cutting and running?
MURTHA: Well, it‘s just—it‘s a slogan. That‘s all. There‘s a guy sitting on his fat backside in an air conditioned office, talking about the troops. He doesn‘t have a clue what‘s going on in Iraq. He doesn‘t have a clue that they have 70 pounds of armor, that they‘re inside. It‘s 130 degree temperature inside an armored vehicle.
And every day they go out, every convoy is hit by explosive devices, and their mission to find these explosive devices so they can protect the convoys against them. I mean, that‘s just a slogan. The slogan—stay the course is a slogan.
There‘s no plan. I‘m saying give us a plan. Somebody has got to make some sense out of this thing and redeploy our troops, I‘m convinced as quickly as practicable, and let the Iraqis fight out among themselves.
UNGER: Congressman, I want to talk about you for a moment. I understand that you‘ve held off on your bid to become majority leader if the Democratic Party wins the House in November. What drove your decision? Was it—did you feel that it may have been a little premature to start thinking about that?
MURTHA: Well, it wasn‘t premature to start thinking about it. I had to put a place holder in place, but I think it was premature to start campaigning. It distracted some of the members. Every time they talked to the press, instead of talking about they consider really important issues, they‘d ask who they‘re going to vote for. So I decided that wasn‘t the best thing.
And I sent them all a letter today saying I‘m still in the race, and I‘m serious about this. And I want you to know that I hope I‘ll get your support, but I—if I hadn‘t gotten in this early, you know how it is in a race, people say, “Well, I didn‘t know you were in it, so I—the other guy came to me.” And I felt it was absolutely essential that I put my name out there early.
And now that I‘ve stirred it up, I don‘t hesitate to wait until the election is over. First of all, we‘ve got to win the majority, obviously.
UNGER: But you‘re in?
MURTHA: I‘m in.
UNGER: My conversation with Congressman Jack Murtha earlier today on his political future and the politics surrounding the war debate, or the lack of it, on Iraq.
Time now for a much needed break from the serious news of the day, some of it seriously bizarre. No more crying. “Oddball” is next.
Fresh off Britney‘s tear fest with Matt Lauer comes breaking Britney news. Yes, she is packing her bags for Namibia to give birth to her second child. I smell a trend here.
UNGER: I‘m Brian Unger, wrapping up a week in the anchor chair. Keith Olbermann. Keith will be back on Monday night. Of course, the chair will be sent out for cleaning. And for one last time this week I get to say, let‘s play “Oddball.”
And we begin once again in India where we outsource so much of our odd news. The bottom is falling out of the market. And what is wrong here? Why are these women weeping? Did a family member pass? Has cholera hit the village? Did their donkey run away? Well, probably, but none of those things has to do with this sobbing today.
This is the big annual weeping contest. These women are vying for the title of crying queen. The previous title holder, of course, Elton John.
Now, about 20 women took part in the event, which seeks to revive the ancient Indian tradition. The winner of the event was actually in a fairly good mood. In fact, she just got a raise at work. That‘s what separates the best from the rest. She‘s a professional. And when it‘s time to cry, you leave all that good stuff at home and sob like a champion.
And finally to Port Saint Lucie, Florida, where life imitates—Boca Vista (ph). Hell hath no fury like a condo association board member scored. This security camera video shows three men. The shirtless guy with the towel brandishing a firearm, he is Jay Hanson, member of the condo association.
The two other guys are breaking the clearly posted rule by drinking from glass containers in the pool area. Hanson has been arrested and charged with aggravated assault for the episode. Police say he went too far when he pretended to be a cop and waved the gun around to enforce the laws of the swimming pool.
If you‘re going to wave a gun around at a pool, please, always put on a shirt—and no running.
Hillary Clinton announces a push for a new privacy bill to protect the rights of Americans. This, as the feds sue New Jersey to stop its probe into the NSA phone spying program. Details ahead.
But first, time now for COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.
No. 3, 3-year-old Henry Schally from St. Paul, Minnesota. He got to choose his own theme for his birthday party this year. And his parents say he went with his favorite TV show, “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer” on PBS.
Henry‘s parents made a cake with the crew (ph) of the show on it. Party hats featuring Jim Lehrer. And Lehrer himself sent an autographed photo as a present. Lehrer signed, quote, “To my youngest fan, signed Jimmy Jimmy Bo-Bo”.
No. 2, 23-year-old Jonathan Fasselius of Coralville, Iowa, who fell over the side of a bridge at about 2 in the morning. He fell into a river, was swept away by the current and went over the side of the dam at the University of Iowa‘s hydroelectric power plant.
A witness called 911. Police and rescue units searched for more than three hours for his body until they got a phone call. It was Fasselius. He had survived, walked home and called police when he heard they were searching for a body.
And No. 1, Lenny Abbey of Atlanta, Georgia. This 68-year-old retiree was surfing the Web this week when he accidentally stumbled upon a web site detailing attacks—plans to attack, at least, and blow up a high school in Toronto, Canada. He contacted authorities, who are investigating the author of the site.
It‘s a good story. This last line makes it better. Abbey says he was searching the Web for advice on how to clean Tabasco sauce from bed sheets when he just came across the site. Somebody call the authorities.
UNGER: Now in the, has anyone sensed my constitutional rights portion of the program, domestic wiretapping, stolen personal data, police searches and all around good old government intrusiveness. Sounds like a job for you new privacy czar.
In our No. 3 story on the COUNTDOWN, the Privacy Bill of Rights.
Hillary Clinton‘s proposal to keep consumers safe and government in line. Clinton, who considers herself an expert in the loss of privacy during the aggressively probative years she spent in the White House, calls the nation‘s privacy laws broken, inadequate, and out of date. Her Privacy Bill of Rights not solely a response to the warrantless wiretapping, but aimed at average Americans, increasingly the victims of identity theft. This in a speech, the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, but with a broader audience in mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Terrorists don‘t hesitate to use modern information technology, cell phones and the internet. We need to be able to track them. Americans are genuinely unsure about whether we can keep both our privacy and our security. But this is one of the most fundamental questions about what kind of country we will be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNGER: Now, as for the breadth of warrantless wiretapping, still uninvestigated, still undisclosed, still pretty much unscrutinized, is still something the government does not want the public to know about, judging by a federal lawsuit to block subpoenas issued by the state of New Jersey. That state, the first to legally wade into the NSA Program and order five telephone companies, in New Jersey, to provide records about their participation in the NSA wiretapping program. With the fed‘s move to block, a legal showdown is coming over state consumer rights versus national security.
Joining me now, Professor of Constitutional Law, George Washington University, Jonathan Turley.
Thanks for your time, sir.
JONATHAN TURLEY, PROFESSOR OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: Thanks for your time, Brain.
UNGER: Jonathan, let‘s start with the Hillary Clinton‘s Privacy Bill of Rights. Is this her shot at framing the debate between personal privacy and national security?
TURLEY: Well, it‘s certainly long overdue for anyone in Congress to pay attention to the fact that privacy is a diminishing quality in our society. We‘re becoming a fishbowl society, but to create a privacy czar in the White House, particularly it in this administration does not exactly seem promising. We already have an attorney general who‘s more general than attorney. And you know, the anticipation is that if we have a privacy czar in the White House we would have an anti-privacy privacy czar. And so what we really need is an independent commission, some group that has the ability to track losses of privacy in our country, propose things to Congress, to really take this seriously.
UNGER: But, look, any effort to pay attention to privacy, particularly during these years, is welcome. But this Congress is just not interested, quite frankly. You know, there‘s a lot, you know, sort of bread and circus politics going on in Congress. They‘re you know, talking about flag amendments and gay marriage and focusing on those types of issues while privacy and other issues just simply dwindle away.
UNGER: Isn‘t that the job of Congress to be the privacy czar? Isn‘t that all part of the bag of, you know, checks and balances, here?
TURLEY: It is. But you know, the 109 Congress, I think, will go down in history as the vanishing Congress. You know, it is virtually nonexistent in the functioning of government. They have yielded so much ground to the administration. And this is one of those issues that‘s crying out for Congressional action. And it‘s not conservative or liberals. Conservatives feel as deeply about privacy as do liberals, but nobody in Congress is taking this on because it‘s viewed as critical of the administration.
UNGER: Will Congress take this on if there is a shift in power—in the balance of power in Congress? I mean, is that what it‘s going to take to get both houses to look at the issues of wiretapping?
TURLEY: Certainly with the wiretapping it is. You know, I just testified not long ago in front of the House Intelligence Committee and I told them frankly, that many people view the whistleblower and the oversight system as a joke, a complete joke. That Congress hasn‘t exercised oversight in the last 10 years over the intelligence area, any meaningful oversight. All right now, whether we‘ll have a change in parties and will that make a difference, look I have a really low impression of both of these parties. I think that we are going through a political devolution. We have just a horrible situation and it is not partisan. I think the citizens are going to have to demand something better from both parties.
UNGER: I want to go to the state of new jersey trying to get answers from phone companies about whether they handed over records to the NSA New jersey‘s attorney general is saying her state has the right to that information. The U.S. Government is basically saying this is a matter of national security. No way. What‘s the outcome?
TURLEY: Jonathan, I want to go to the state of New Jersey trying to get answers from phone companies about whether they handed over records to the NSA. New Jersey‘s attorney general is saying her state has the right to that information.
UNGER: U.S. government is all ready basically saying this is a matter of national security, no way. What‘s the outcome here?
TURLEY: She‘s right. That‘s her job. I‘m very impressed. That the attorney general of New Jersey is taking a stand. Her job is to protect her citizens including against the federal government. Her job is to protect them from threats. And I think that these surveillance programs represent a clear and present threat to citizens. Many of us believe and many of us have testified that the government‘s NSA program is unlawful. I believe it constitutes a federal crime. And so it‘s up to state officials to draw a line in the stand and say we want information. Now, will they win? Probably not. Because the federal courts are conservative and they tended to roll over when the administration makes this assertion, but this is a legitimate function of a state officer. And if anything should concentrate the mind of this administration is when state officers are stepping forward and sayings if you‘re not going to protect citizens then we‘ll protect them state by state.
UNGER: Jonathan, I want to go to the other privacy issue that we talked about just a moment ago. There‘s a Supreme Court ruling, a 5-4 ruling that essentially said that police no longer, basically, have the need to knock before they enter a home when they have a warrant? Now, this was a decision that might have come out differently if Sandra Day O‘Connor had not been replaced by Judge Alito?
TURLEY: It definitely would have come out differently. The.
UNGER: What‘s the precedence before this vote? Why has it changed?
TURLEY: Well, you know, this is something that I expect some people in the administration would relish, the idea that we have lots of rights but they can‘t be enforced. Because you know, that‘s what we have here. The Supreme Court said previously, unanimously, that knock and announce is a constitutional principle that it is unreasonable under the fourth amendment not to have a knock and announce before you go into a home.
Now you have these police officers, in this case, that admitted that they didn‘t do knock and announce, admitted they violated that rule, and what the five justices said, including Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito is that there will not be a penalty. We will not exclude the evidence. Well, you know, that‘s bringing us back in time. We created what‘s called the exclusionary rule, of excluding evidence because we went through a couple—about 150 years in which evidence was introduced and there was no deterrent. And this is, unfortunately, a bad sign; because it‘s something that many citizens could well find their homes engaged in this type of activity.
UNGER: Constitutional law professor, Jonathan Turley thanks so much for your insight.
TURLEY: Thank you.
UNGER: A bizarre accident in New York takes an unexpected twist, a van plunges over a cliff, killing a mother and slightly injuring two girls strapped in. Now, the father faces charges because he knew his wife was suicidal. And it‘s one thing to invite Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie into your country to provide for a peaceful birth from—away from the paparazzi, but will Namibia really do the same for Britney Spears and Kevin Federline? Those stories are ahead, but first here are COUNTDOWN‘s “Top 3 Sound Bites” for today.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Now, Splash, I want you to show me the ball. Will you show me the ball, Splash? You know, I want that ball. Look, see he‘ll show you the ball, but he won‘t let you have it. You know I want that ball. Splash Kennedy, I want that ball. He‘s teasing me. You know, I want that ball. He just teases me.
CONAN O‘BRIEN, TALK SHOW HOST: Let‘s talk about happy things. This week the Olson twins celebrated their 20th birthday.
Not surprisingly, they celebrated with the same cake from last year.
REP. LYNN A. WESTMORELAND ®, GEORGIA: The 10 commandments is not a bad thing for people to understand and to respect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m with you.
WESTMORELAND: Where better place could you have something like then in a judicial building? Or in a courthouse?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is a good question. Can you think of any better building to put the 10 commandments in than a public building?
WESTMORELAND: No. I think if we were totally without them we may lose a sense of our direction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are the 10 commandments?
WESTMORELAND: What are all of them? You want me to name them all?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, please.
WESTMORELAND: Hmm, (INAUDIBLE), don‘t lie, don‘t steal, -- um, I can‘t name them all.
UNGER: Beyonce auctions out a night on the town for charity and gets a surprise by the people who won. And Namibia is in for a potential rude awakening. Will Kevin and Britney go to Africa to have baby No. 2. That and more ahead on COUNTDOWN.
UNGER: It initially appeared to be a terrible accident. A family drives to a scenic mountain road, dad steps out to take a photo and the car goes over a cliff with his family inside. His wife dies, his kids are injured. Now in our second story on the COUNTDOWN, turns out it may have been premeditated. Apparently his wife deliberately drove the car off the cliff wanting to kill herself and their two young children. And correspondent Claire Leka explains, police say dad knew what she intended and let her do it.
CLAIRE LEKA, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Victor Han was arraigned on multiple charges, reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child and helping his wife commit suicide. Police said Han and his family had stopped at a lookout point Wednesday evening to view the scenery in Bear Mountain State Park, 40 miles north of New York City. Han then got out of the minivan to take a picture, leaving his wife in the passenger‘s seat and the couple‘s two young daughters in the back. What happened next was tragic. His wife locked the doors and put the vehicle in drive, hit the gas and sent it plunging 300 feet down the mountainside. The couple‘s daughters suffered only minor injuries because they had their seatbelts on, but Han‘s 35-year-old wife, Hejin, died in the crash. After questioning, police determined that Mr. Hahn had knowledge of his wife‘s suicidal tendencies and moved to file charges.
COL. JAMES WARWICK, NY STATE PARK POLICE: Mrs. Han was suicidal, she had threatened her husband (INAUDIBLE) if she would if—had the opportunity would hurt herself and her children and we believed that he afforded her that opportunity.
LEKA: Victor Han has pleaded not guilty and is being held in a New York county jail pending a court appearance next Tuesday.
Claire Leka, NBC News, New York.
UNGER: Turning to the world of celebrity entertainment news, “Keeping Tabs,” and an ambush by animal activists. Singer Beyonce thought she was dining with two fans who had won a charity dinner benefiting VH1‘s Save the Music Foundation, turns out they were members of PETA in disguise, intent on persuading the singer to stop using fur in her designer clothing line. They even brought an undercover video camera with them. The footage showing Beyonce‘s gradual realization that she‘s been had.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don‘t people will not like you if you didn‘t wear fur. You know what I mean? Like you‘re so gorgeous you don‘t really need to kill animals. You‘re so talented, you‘re—you don‘t need any adornments to be the one everybody wants to look at and be like. So, I mean, have you ever thought about not wearing fur? You know?
BEYONCE, SINGER: I‘m not using fur.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not using fur? I‘ll just tell you, I‘ve been on a Chinchilla ranch...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know. I know, but they electrocute them when
the ones that they‘re gong to use for their fur. Hey. Sorry, I‘ve gone on to an uncomfortable topic. I was just saying that we‘re animal lovers and Beyonce is so gorgeous and so talent that she really doesn‘t need to be. Like, promoting fur for people to like the way she looks and, you know, what she does.
Beyonce, your fans just want to know why, you know, anybody who sees the truth behind how animals are killed for their fur. They‘re strangled, they‘re electrocuted.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need to leave.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We‘re just trying to talk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNGER: There go the charity dinners for Beyonce. And speaking of unwelcome, it‘s the end of the road for Dan Rather at CBS News. The veteran newsman who has spent 44 years at CBS News is leaving because executives want him out even though Rather‘s contract with CBS doesn‘t expire until November. Rather said, “Well, they wanted this resolution and I‘m willing to accept that and move on.”
Since stepping down from the anchor chair in March 2005, Rather has filed eight reports for the news magazine “60 Minutes” far less than his colleagues. “USA Today” reports executives have said that CBS wants to usher in a new look and feel for the top-rated news magazine.
And finally just when you thought that news about Michael Jackson couldn‘t get any stranger, reports are that he‘s thinking of marrying a third time. His would-be bride? The children‘s nanny. Of course.
Michael Jackson, seen here under a traditional women‘s outfit, in his new home country, Bahrain, apparently thinks marriage will help his chances of winning a custody battle against his ex-wife. Debbie Rowe is trying to win back Jackson‘s eldest two children and a judge ruled that secret documents from their divorce must be made public next month. Those documents allegedly show that Jackson is not the biological father of Prince Michael and Paris. Their nanny, 38-year-old Grace Debbie Rowe is nicknamed “The Enforcer”—I thought that was Clint Eastwood—in the Jackson camp. That‘s who she is because of her enthusiasm for organizing Jackson‘s life. No word yet if or when a wedding could or might happen. Jackson is also allegedly thinking of adopting a fourth child from Japan.
Namibia prepares to possibly seal its borders yet again, Britney spears looking into the possibility of pulling a Brangelina and giving birth in the seclusion of the African nation. Does in a minute Namibia understand what it‘s getting into?
UNGER: You can just imagine the shock and anger when the one Namibian celebrity, the most famous Namibian in the world, before May 27, Olympic Silver Medal sprinter, Frankie Frederick‘s found out he‘d been knocked off his perch by a kid named Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt. Well, today, I‘m sorry to report that Frankie‘s about to go from No. 2 to No. 3.
In our No. 1 story on the COUNTDOWN: Wake the kids, alert the neighbors. Britney Spears is in talks with the Namibian government to give birth to her second child in Namibia. In a moment we‘ll bring in comedian an author Andy Borowitz to help digest this baby delivery development. First the details.
Deputy Environment and Tourism minister, Mr. Leon Joose has confirmed to the “Associated Press” that officials have received an inquiry on behalf of Britney Spears to come reproduce in their jungle. “She has shown interest to come over to Namibia.” Joose says, “But she might change her mind if we reveal too much now.” Spears and her husband, K-Fed, are no doubt interested in the Namibian birth because bigger stars, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt turned the trick last month with their first child together. And while they should be commended for shining the bright light of American media on the third world conditions of that African country, Britney Spears‘, her obstetrics needs raise some serious questions.
To dive into these issues, we are joined now by Mr. Andy Borowitz and Web site theborowitzreport.com, and author of the book “The Borowitz Report: The Big Book of Shockers.”
ANDY BOROWITZ, COMEDIAN: It‘s good to be here, Brian.
UNGER: Hey good to see you. Question No. 1 does Britney spears know where Namibia is?
BOROWITZ: You know, I don‘t think so. Today she told a reporter I‘m going to have my baby in Namibia and I don‘t care how long a drive it is. So, I don‘t think geography is her strong suit.
UNGER: Yeah, we have a map, just in case she‘s watching. But someone‘s got to tell her Namibia isn‘t a town between La Jolla and San Diego, right?
BOROWITZ: That‘s right.
UNGER: OK. Any Spears representative was mum on the whole Namibian story, but you know, you‘ve got to wonder about the Namibian government commenting like that. Don‘t you think that by leaking this story they may be trying to keep her and K-Fed away?
BOROWITZ: They defiantly are. There are other signs, Brian. They recently have tightened their whole car seat and seatbelt laws. They‘re trying to discourage her from coming.
UNGER: Hey, let‘s talk about Federline, A.K.A. K-fed. He‘s got it pretty good here in America. You know, you don‘t have to be a backup dancer to know that, you know, the whole freeloading concept worked very well in Beverly Hills, but when you‘re in a tent in the jungle, not so god, right?
BOROWITZ: That‘s correct. There‘s no way he‘s going to Namibia. My sources tell me that he recently Googled Namibia and found that they do not have a Hooters. So I don‘t think he‘s going on that trip.
UNGER: Do you think there‘s a trend here, Andy, this Namibian baby trend? I do see, if two can be called a trend, I mean are we going to see other celebrities taking off to Africa to, you know, spawn their children there?
BOROWITZ: Well, you know, I‘m part of that trend. You know, Namibia has unbelievably good health care. And I don‘t know about you, Brain, but once you‘ve been on COUNTDOWN, you really get mobbed by fans when you go walking down the street. So, actually I get all my dental work now done in Namibia. It‘s much more—there‘s so much more, sort of, seclusion there.
UNGER: Yeah, I‘m looking forward to Olbermann coming back, because the attention really has been very, very difficult.
BOROWITZ: I just want my life back. I‘m sure you feel the same way.
UNGER: Thank you, I could not have said it better. Hey, I really want to get your opinion on another big, big, huge celebrity story. OK? “Forbes” magazine‘s has come out with their, you know, Top 100 Most Powerful Celebrities. And I want to show you that list of the top 100 most powerful celebs, all 100 that made it and I want to get your reaction. Take a look.
OK. Now that you‘ve had time to really, really study the list, we at COUNTDOWN want to know, who didn‘t make the list, Andy, and who‘s feeling very slighted by this “Forbes” list and screaming and yelling at their assistant today?
BOROWITZ: Well, I think the biggest omission was clearly Daryl Hannah. You know, I think she‘s had a horrible week, first being arrested in that tree, and now this. I feel very badly for her.
UNGER: Where do you think she goes in the lineup on that?
BOROWITZ: I would put her somewhere between Oprah and Carrot Top on that list, from just what I saw of the pictures going by. I also have big problems with the inclusion of 50 Cent. I mean, clearly the fix was in. He is very close to publisher, Steve Forbes. Steve Forbes is a member of the G-Unit and in 50 Cent song “Candy Shop” he said very flattering things about Forbes‘ flat tax proposals. So, that was really all about politics, as far as I‘m concerned. Log rolling, all the way.
UNGER: Andy, it‘s always good to see you, and with this sort of very crucial information on Britney and other things. Thank you.
BOROWITZ: Thank you, Brain.
UNGER: Andy Borowitz of “The Borowitz Report.” That‘s it for this edition of COUNTDOWN. A quick reminder to join us again at Midnight Eastern tonight, 11:00 p.m. Central, 9:00 Pacific, for the late edition of COUNTDOWN. Until then, a special edition presentation of “Lockup: Inside Kentucky State Penitentiary.”
I‘m Brain Unger in for Keith Olbermann. He returns Monday night.
Have a great weekend.
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