Guests: Lawrence Korb, James Warren, John Dean, Paul F. Tompkins; Stephen Yagman
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
As he contemplates sending more troops to Iraq, President Bush visits Vietnam, and has an epiphany. There is a lesson about Iraq, he says, in Vietnam.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We‘ll succeed, unless we quit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Aha. Not, Never lie your way into a war like with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Not, Bring some plans. Not, Don‘t stay longer than the public wants. Not, Don‘t pretend civilization depends on it. But, “We‘ll succeed, unless we quit.”
Student Bush fails his Vietnam history course.
Former Reagan assistant secretary of state Lawrence Korb on the real lessons, “The Chicago Tribune”‘s Jim Warren on the political lessons for the president.
The bid to resuscitate habeas corpus. Senator Dodd of Connecticut tries to roll back most of the Military Commissions Act. John Dean will join us.
The next day at UCLA. The student TASERed a library for not producing school ID says he was profiled because he is of Iranian decent. A lawsuit is planned.
Everything but the lawsuit is planned as pressure builds on NewsCorp not to run its interview with nor publish its “If I Did It” book by O.J. Simpson.
And the Holmes-Cruise wedding looms in the immediate offing.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact of the matter is that Scientology wedding ceremonies are very, very—are quite traditional. There are vows of love and devotion and forsaking all others.
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OLBERMANN: No matter their race, religion, country of origin, galaxy of origin. But the real Tomcat question tonight, Is he going to fit in the tux? Widespread reporting about Cruise‘s wide spread.
All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.
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TOM CRUISE: You never know what I‘m going to do (INAUDIBLE).
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OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
The wisdom was written by William Goldman and given voice by Wallace Shawn in the 1987 movie “The Princess Bride.” “You fell victim to one of the classic blunders,” Shawn shouts. “The most famous is, Never get involved in a land war in Asia.”
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, analysis of the tragedy of Vietnam merits a much more serious setting than a film featuring Andre the Giant, but it also deserves more serious thought than President Bush evidently gave it in Vietnam in relation to Iraq this morning.
More than three decades after a young Navy pilot named John McCain spent five years in confinement as a prisoner of war at the infamous Hanoi Hilton, Mr. Bush today addressing reporters outside the Hanoi Sheraton, where he was asked by one of them if Vietnam holds any lessons for the war in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I think one thing, (INAUDIBLE), yes, I mean, one lesson is, is that we tend to want there to be instant success in the world. And the task in Iraq is going to take awhile. And it‘s just going to take a long period of time to—for the ideology that is hopeful and that is an ideology of freedom to overcome an ideology of hate. We‘ll succeed unless we quit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Any examination of that statement in terms of how the Republican loss in the midterm elections might actually affect Mr. Bush‘s handling of the war in Iraq would be complete only after one hearkens back to what Vice President Cheney had to say two days before the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THIS WEEK,” ABC)
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don‘t make decisions based on the polls. We don‘t make decisions based on pundits on television, or whether or not it‘s popular. It‘s the right thing to do, and that‘s why we‘re doing it.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: So will the vote on Tuesday have any effect on the president‘s Iraq policy?
CHENEY: No, I think it‘ll have some effect, perhaps, on the Congress. But the president‘s made clear what his objective is. It‘s victory in Iraq, and it‘s full speed ahead on that basis. And that‘s exactly what we‘re going to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Fewer Americans now approving of Mr. Bush‘s handling of the war in Iraq than ever before. According to the latest survey by Ipsos for the Associated Press, the number is down to just 31 percent, only days after voters voiced their displeasure in more practical terms at the polls.
Last month, approval was 5 points higher, 36.
We call on Lawrence Korb, assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan administration, and these days a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
Mr. Korb, a pleasure to speak with you again, sir.
KORB: Nice to be with you.
OLBERMANN: Obviously, there are lessons in Vietnam that could have been—that could still be applied to Iraq. But does any informed student of history think the foremost of them is, We win if we don‘t quit? Does anybody who makes that statement have any credibility on the topic?
KORB: Nobody that I know of. I mean, the problem in Vietnam is, you were trying to prop up a government that had no support among the people in Vietnam, and you had 600,000 troops there, and you were still not able to achieve a military victory, because you didn‘t have a government that had the support of the people.
OLBERMANN: I want to run my top two or three lessons of Vietnam past you, and see you if you think any of them would also be among your foremost lessons, number one being, if you start the war, or at least the full-scale war, under false pretenses, whether it was Bush and WMD or Lyndon Johnson and the exaggeration, at least, about the attack on the U.S. “Maddox” in the Gulf of Tonkin, your war is probably not going to go well.
KORB: Well, it‘s not going to go well because the people are eventually going to find out that you did it under false pretenses. The Johnson administration was actually trying to provoke Vietnam into doing something. They had the plans all ready before the Gulf of Tonkin incident happened, and it turned out, they read into it much more than really happened.
OLBERMANN: The second lesson, don‘t make it into more than it is, don‘t turn it into the end of civilization if you don‘t win. In Vietnam, we all remember the phrase “the domino theory.” We did not win in Vietnam. We did not prevent the communists from taking over.
The president of the United States is there 30 years later, negotiating deals, and at the center of the Asian summit, much as we took Iraq and made that into supposedly the front ground on the war on terror. Is there a lesson from Vietnam for that too?
KORB: There‘s two lessons. One, don‘t overhype the threat. The fact the matter is, that had we not got out of Vietnam when we did, we wouldn‘t have won the cold war. And if we don‘t get out of Iraq, we‘re not going to win this war on terror.
It‘s not going be to be the end of civilization if we redeploy from Iraq, nor was it the end of our security when we left Vietnam. People said the same thing. It would be a victory for the communists in Vietnam, it would spread all throughout Southeast Asia. That was called the domino theory. In fact, I remember when I was in Vietnam, they said, Today you‘re fighting in Saigon so you won‘t have to fight in San Francisco. Today they‘re saying, You‘re fighting in Baghdad so you won‘t have to fight in Boston.
OLBERMANN: Fight them there so we don‘t have to fight them here. One more lesson, if you continue a war past the public‘s stomach for that war, you are going to consign it, and your presidency, to the scrap heap of history. Is that the last one that you would select, or do you have a better one (INAUDIBLE)?
KORB: No, well, I think that that‘s very true. Bush‘s place in history will be determined by how the war in Iraq goes. And as you pointed out, his approval rating keeps dropping, because Americans are very clear that, in fact, the strategy he has, the current course, is simply not working, and he‘s down playing how bad the situation is, just as Lyndon Johnson, who did a lot of wonderful things, the Great Society, he is remembered as the person who dragged us into Vietnam, a war that ended up costing 58,000 American lives.
OLBERMANN: Lawrence Korb, formally of the Reagan administration, now with the Center for American Progress, with a quick and succinct and excellent history reminder about Vietnam. Great thanks for some of your time.
KORB: Nice to be with you.
OLBERMANN: Let‘s turn now to the deputy managing editor of “The Chicago Tribune,” Jim Warren, who, six years ago this month, covered President Clinton‘s trip to Vietnam.
Jim, good to talk to you. Thanks for your time tonight.
JAMES WARREN, “THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE”: (INAUDIBLE) again, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Whether it‘s a question of his being out of touch with what Americans really want, as those poll numbers would suggest, or that he just doesn‘t seem to care what they want, is this Vietnam statement the apex, or maybe more correctly the nadir, of Mr. Bush‘s disconnect with his own people on this topic?
WARREN: Well, it‘s rather head-turning, those first comments this morning in Hanoi about the long march of history and how that was so crystal clear to him. It suggests that both he and Vice President Cheney have not learned a whole lot from history.
He is sleeping tonight in the nation which we bombed or we placed more bombs, dropped more bombs in, than we did during all of World War II, and clearly we did not win.
I was talking to our good friend, mutual friend David Maranis, the “Washington Post” journalist, and author of great books on Bill Clinton, Vince Lombardi, Roberto Clemente, but also Vietnam. And he reminded me of a conversation he had with a high-ranking former North Vietnamese officer, and this was after 9/11, but before we went into Iraq. And this fellow was saying that all of your bombs, American bombs, proved futile. But the soft one you are dropping, namely capitalism, is working.
And one is reminded that we are now the largest recipient of Vietnamese exports in the world.
OLBERMANN: Iraq may need more malls. The lesson that Mr. Bush says -
talked about here today, is it, as Mr. Korb suggested, is there anything in there that‘s not based on an entirely faulty premise, in that the U.S. was, among other things, actively involved in Vietnam for 15 years, ending in ‘75? That‘s not exactly cutting and running, or quitting, in his terminology of today.
WARREN: No. I mean, I mean, is something there? I mean, I—you have to factor in too the absolute unequivocal moral certitude of this president, and his belief that we‘re fighting a war for the self-determination of this people. And that certainly was an element in Vietnam.
But again, the lesson of history, that more often than war—not, war is, you know, not a long-term solution, you know, seems to have been lost on this president. And also lost on a former secretary of state, Mr. Kissinger, who we now learn from Bob Woodward has been counseling the president.
OLBERMANN: I was just going to say, did Bob Woodward‘s book just get the Good Housekeeping seal of approval on this? Did that just make it clear that the former secretary of state is, in fact, advising the president on the war in Iraq, and his principal advice is, don‘t do what we did in Vietnam, just stay the course?
WARREN: Keith, the revelation that he‘s been in consultation with the president is more stunning than the fact that neither of us are invited the Cruise-Holmes nuptials tomorrow. The fact is that this White House has essentially repudiated the whole Kissinger balance of powers notion, the whole notion of realism has been repudiated by them, and certainly Condoleezza Rice.
The Kissinger notion, remember, had nothing to do with democracy or idealism, as the Bush view of world affairs does. It was entirely much more cynical, much more pragmatic. And all we can say is that I think this revelation tells you more about Henry Kissinger‘s modus operandi post serving in the Nixon and Ford administrations than it does about anything else.
He has been the supreme apple-polisher and, amazingly, has consulted most presidents since he left office. And part of that may be the fact he‘s been very adroit. When he has criticized these guys, he has done it in private, not gone public. Such like people such as Brent Scowcroft, they have the similar worldview.
OLBERMANN: Jim Warren, the deputy managing editor of “The Chicago Tribune.” As always, old friend, great thanks, and have a great weekend.
WARREN: Same to you guys.
OLBERMANN: Any jaw-dropping induced by the president‘s take on Vietnam history today possibly equaled if you take a gander at a new feature on the Pentagon Web site. If Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, now a short-timer at the department, he, or at least his press office hoping to tout all he has accomplished in six years at the Pentagon with a new Internet page titled, appropriately enough, “Six Years of Accomplishments with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.”
Near the top of the list, a war on terror that has, quote, “liberated more than 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq,” breaking it down specifically, 31 million in Afghanistan and 27 million in Iraq, which should equal 58 million instead of the aforementioned 50. Heck, round it off, and it should at least read 60.
And neither calculation includes anybody who‘s not really liberated yet, like from sectarian violence. The Pentagon clearly much better at hyperbole than it is at math.
And this programming advisory, Mr. Bush‘s trip to Vietnam continues throughout the weekend. Thus there is plenty of time for him to amend or worsen his misunderstanding of the lessons for us there.
A special comment, among a thousand other things urgently needed about Iraq, is a special Vietnam history tutor for this president. That will be on Monday‘s edition of COUNTDOWN, special comment, 8:00 p.m. and midnight Eastern, 5:00 and 9:00 Pacific.
Here tonight, in advance of the Democrats retaking Congress, Senator Dodd bids to bring back good old habeas corpus. John Dean joins us next to discuss the bill.
And a COUNTDOWN exclusive, more on the disturbing video out of UCLA. A student TASERed at least four times for not presenting his ID at the campus library. He says campus police reacted that way because he is of Iranian descent. We‘ll talk to his lawyer.
You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: Last week‘s midterm elections giving Democrats in Congress an opportunity to redress any number of grievances inflicted upon them and the nation during four straight years of a Republican stranglehold on the federal government.
But in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, perhaps none of them is as important as restoring the rights of habeas corpus to military detainees and thus assuring it for all of us.
At least one Democrat not even waiting for majority control to begin before doing his part, Senator Chris Dodd now introducing legislation that would overhaul the Military Commissions Act signed into law by President Bush last month.
Senator Dodd‘s bill, which he is calling the Effective Terrorist Prosecution Act, would not only restore the protections of habeas corpus to detainees, but would also narrow who exactly qualifies as an enemy combatant, and would empower military judges to exclude any hearsay evidence they view to be unreliable.
For what‘s at stake here, let‘s call in Nixon White House counsel John Dean, also, of course, old friend of COUNTDOWN.
John, good evening to you.
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: Even if Senator Dodd‘s effort fails, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, soon to be chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is said to be drafting his own legislation to reverse some of the damage. Before taking a look at whether he and Mr. Dodd and other Democrats might succeed, can you quantify how important it is that they do succeed?
DEAN: Well, I think it‘s very important, but we have to look at the context in which it‘s happening. I‘m aware of at least two motions that have been filed in the federal district court in the District of Columbia, as well as the court of appeals in the District of Columbia, to test the constitutionality of this new law.
There are something like 200 cases pending right now leading to habeas corpus, where they try to retroactively remove the jurisdiction of the court. Yet the issue has been deemed so important, Keith, that something like about a dozen former federal judges have joined in an amicus brief, a friend of the court brief, in the court of appeals to draw attention to their feeling that this is unconstitutional.
OLBERMANN: Should anybody...
DEAN: So (INAUDIBLE) -- let, let...
OLBERMANN: Oh, go ahead.
DEAN: Yes, I was just going to say, the bottom line is, if they don‘t succeed, it‘s certainly going to be very important that Dodd and Leahy or whoever do succeed, no question.
OLBERMANN: And if anybody who‘s watching us believes we‘re just talking about terrorists here, and more rights for them, about al Qaeda asking themselves, How could this possibly affect me? let me give a hypothetical, where there‘s a law-abiding permanent resident of this country who gives money to what he or she believes is some sort of worthy international relief agency, and then finds one day the federal agents knocking on their door, telling them the government believes that the money that they sent was being funneled by a Muslim charity to terrorists, and what‘s more, they believe that the person who did this, who actually gave the money, is involved in some way.
Unless the Military Commissions Act is altered, either by the courts or by the Congress, John, what happens, or what could conceivably happen, to that person?
DEAN: Well, one of the problems is, the language in the law is very fuzzy. There are conflicting sections as to the applicability of the law. I think it‘s very clear that a resident alien could probably be included under the law, therefore could clearly be detained. If that person were a citizen, they might also be detained, but the citizen would probably keep the right of habeas corpus and could bring and file a habeas corpus petition, whereas the alien could not.
Now, what‘s going to happen with either one of them, the alien can clearly be tried by military commission as an enemy combatant. You can‘t, however, there‘s nothing in the law that would let them actually try an American citizen under the commission law.
OLBERMANN: Unless they were somehow to say that, no, you have no proof that you‘re actually an American citizen, and who are you going to go, who are you go—what, to what judge are you going to get to go to make that appeal?
DEAN: Well, that‘s one of the problems. The law is difficult to interpret. The legal scholars who‘ve looked at it and sifted through it, I‘ve looked through the provisions. It‘s something of a mess. It‘s a pretty sloppy job. It was carelessly drafted. It was something of a slap at the Supreme Court when they did it, trying to react to the Hamden decision, and they didn‘t do a very good job. So I think this is more incentive for action on Capitol Hill.
OLBERMANN: Do you think, though, that the action on Capitol Hill and the bar for reversal is very high, that the president would no doubt veto any legislation that touched his Military Commissions Act, it had passed the Senate very easily, 65-24, now you would need two-thirds to override what would certainly be the president‘s veto? Would that be impossible, in this instance?
DEAN: It‘s probably not very likely, given the solid numbers the president had that adopted and passed the law and sent it to him. I think there were 65 votes in the Senate and 34 and one independent—or one nonvote against the law. Thirty-two Democrats voted against it.
So the, you know, the—for overriding a veto that‘s on the other side, if it were not deemed unconstitutional by a court, which I think is likely to happen, then it‘s not very likely that the Congress is going to get anything past a veto. However, if the president‘s got a law that doesn‘t work and has been ruled out of bounds by the court, then he‘s going to have to accept something, and I think that‘s the more likely sequence here.
OLBERMANN: To say nothing of the prospect of further inquiries, and Democratic-led Congresses holding hearings about people who might be detained. John Dean, the author of...
DEAN: It‘s going to be a very interesting year.
OLBERMANN: Yes. The author of “Conservatives Without Conscience,” also a columnist for Findlaw.com. Always a pleasure, sir. Thank you, John.
DEAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Also tonight here, O.J. Simpson‘s new project, “If I Did It,” followed by the question, why did anybody let the editor Judith Reagan do it? Answer, money. But maybe not money in the way you would expect.
And biggest gingerbread house ever. Ahh.
Oddball next on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Thirty-three years ago today, at a news conference at the annual convention of the managing Editors of the Associated Press, Joseph Ungaro (ph) of “The Providence Evening Bulletin” asked President Nixon about his reported underpayment of income taxes in 1970 and ‘71. Nixon seemed steamed, but he answered it anyway, and in so doing both showed his misunderstanding of his place in history, and wrote his own presidential epitaph. “People have to know,” Nixon said, “whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I‘m not a crook.” The man who asked the question, Joe Ungaro, died last Sunday at the age of 76.
On that note, let‘s play Oddball.
And we begin in Chicago, Midwest command center in the war on Christmas. It is here that culture warriors are holing up inside a giant 15-foot gingerbread house inside the Swiss Hotel on East Wacker Drive. Constructed with a quarter-ton of chocolate and gingerbread and decorated with 500 pounds and merengue (ph), also 100 pounds of marshmallows, it is expected to hold off the charging secular progressive hordes until the 30th of December.
If only we could do something about the ants. They‘re freaking everywhere.
In North Fresno, California, here is rare footage of a stampede of North American morons caught on tape, just one of many incidents outside retailers around the country where people so eager to do their duty as American consumers fought and clawed to be the first to pay $500 to $600 for a video game, the Sony Playstation 3. Here, people were asked to form a new line, and chaos ensued.
In Connecticut overnight, an innovative criminal tried to hold up an entire line of customers. One man was shot. But it all be worth it when the new Sonic the Hedgehog comes out. Please remain calm. You will all have a chance to be gouged.
Also tonight, a COUNTDOWN exclusive, more on the extraordinary, unbelievable TASERing of a UCLA student on campus in the library. He says it was because he‘s of Iranian descent. We‘ll talk to the student‘s lawyer.
And the Tomcat nuptials. Will the something blue be Mr. Cruise‘s face? Our moles in Italy say his tux is a wee too snug.
Those stories ahead.
But first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.
Number three, farmer Leopold Zeilinger of Austria. His cow Lulu was too sick to stand for milking, so he used a winch to suspend her 1,765-pound frame up in the air, whereupon he got underneath it to milk her, whereupon the winch broke, and Lulu dropped on top of him. He suffered only a few broken bones, but also the vague sense that he‘d already watched this in the attack-the-fortress scene in the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
Number two, speaking of film vignettes come to life, Guillerma Sanchez was at the counter of her L‘il Saints convenience store in Steward (ph), Florida, when a guy came in and threatened her with a machete. Ms. Sanchez reached under the cash register and produced her own machete. You call that a knife?
And No. 1, my cousin by adoption and marriage, Mike Tyson. The “New York Daily News” claims the former heavy weight champ is in negotiations to go to work for former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss at her new brothel for women in Nevada as a gigolo servicing the women clientele. Ah, let‘s see, that‘s $200 if you want me to bite your ear and $20,000 if you want me to sit there totally zonked out on Prozac while you bitch about me to Barbara Walters.
OLBERMANN: If there continues to be a dispute about why campus police at the University of California at Los Angeles, UCLA, Tasered a student multiple times, perhaps it can be settled in court. In our No. 3 story on that COUNTDOWN, that student, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the UCLA police claiming brutal excessive force and false arrest.
We showed you some of this tape last night through a cell phone recording by one of the students who was watching in horror. We‘ll play a longer composite of the nearly seven minute video, presently. But in the first unrecorded moments, community service officers asked Mr. Tabatabainejad to produce his student I.D. card in the computer room of the Powell Library at UCLA. He refused. He said it was because he felt he was being singled out due to his Middle Eastern appearance, according to his lawyer who will join us here in a moment.
Later, he says he decided to leave the library but an officer refused to take his hand off of him, so the student fell limp in protest and the video begins sometimes after that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOSTAFA TABATABAINEJAD, UCLA STUDENT: (SCREAMING) Here‘s your Patriot Act! Here‘s your (INAUDIBLE) abuse of power.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop fighting us!
TABATABAINEJAD: I‘m not fighting you. (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want your badge number.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, can I get your badge number?
TABATABAINEJAD: I got tased for no reason. I was leaving this god-forsaken place.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to stand (INAUDIBLE)
TABATABAINEJAD: I‘ll leave! I‘ll leave! I said I would leave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) stand up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officers we want your information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just stand up. (INAUDIBLE) you‘re going to get tased again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand up. Stand up. Stand up. That‘s all we want.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand up!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Joining me now has promised the civil rights lawyer representing the student in this case, Stephen Yagman.
Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
STEPHEN YAGMAN, ATTY FOR MOSTAFA TABATABAINEJAD: Good to see you.
OLBERMANN: To the most disputed part of this first. According to that UCLA police account, he refused to leave then he went limp. Now UCLA is saying the police used the Taser only after he had urged other students to join in this resistance, but the eyewitnesses say that your client was in the process of leaving when an officer grabbed his arm. What is your client‘s account of that start of that process?
YAGMAN: First of all I need to say it‘s horrible to watch that.
OLBERMANN: Yes, it is.
YAGMAN: It‘s just horrible. We‘re here in America; this was at a university at a library. It‘s awful. They tased him when he was limp on the ground and it‘s just horrible.
OLBERMANN: Your client did obviously go limp and much later at the end of the ordeal, after the police had hit him with this Taser device several times, we finally see the officers dragging him out. Why didn‘t the officers just drag him out when he first went limp? I mean, what is the—their contention that he did not comply exactly what they told him to do?
YAGMAN: Keith, I can‘t speak for them. I know what I see and I know what my client, Mostafa, has told me. They‘re basically ill trained law enforcement officers who have aggressive and violent tendencies which is very common in Southern California, as you probably know, that it has migrated to a university campus is kind of astonishing, but really not so astonishing.
OLBERMANN: The police in the tape, obviously, not only don‘t alter their approach when the other students plead with them or try to confront them. One officer, as we saw even tells another student to “get back over there or you‘ll get tasered too?” Do you feel like something like this just escalates to where there‘s no sense of proportion anymore, that the officers just don‘t have any connection to reality after a certain point when this gets started?
YAGMAN: I don‘t, I think that is reality. I think the reality of the situation is that these are violent police officers who are not properly trained who aren‘t under the control of the civilian authorities at the university. I can‘t imagine they‘re under the control of the authorities. They‘re just kind of unto themselves doing what they want and we can‘t have that in a civilized democratic society.
OLBERMANN: And how this started, random I.D. checks in the library at 11:30 at night except they just happened to pick the Iranian kid?
YAGMAN: They just happened to pick him and he was intelligent enough, because he‘s gotten a good education at UCLA, but to suggest that they go get the I.D. of all the white guys sitting there so that he could feel assured that he wouldn‘t have to participate in his own racial profiling. He didn‘t want to participate in them racially profiling him, but they didn‘t want to do that, which I think is the proof that he was being racially profiled.
He finally finished the work he as doing on his computer for a paper that was due Wednesday morning and he decided to leave rather than hang around and he was leaving which is when they pounced on him, when they pounced on him he decided to go limp because if he was passive he thought nothing would happen to him. That didn‘t work. And then when they started brutalizing him, it was kind of like a rape. He started screaming because he intelligently believed that if he called attention to what was going on, it would be less likely for the police to continue to brutalize him, but that didn‘t work either and the police turned on the people who were telling the police to stop. It‘s awful. It‘s just horrible to watch.
OLBERMANN: Is there—there was some report originally that he had at some said—you client at some point said, “I have a medical condition,” do you know if that‘s true?
YAGMAN: Yes, it is true. And god forbid he had had a pacemaker or something in him. They could have murdered him.
OLBERMANN: So, what is the status of the suit, you can update us on the blank facts of the potential legal case here?
YAGMAN: Sure I can, we were retained just yesterday, sometime next week when I get back to Los Angeles, I live in New York, but I work in Los Angeles, I commute—I‘ll draw up a lawsuit and hopefully maybe next Wednesday or the Monday after, we‘ll file it in federal court alleging police brutality under the federal Civil Rights Act.
OLBERMANN: We‘ll see how it turns out. Other extraordinary videotapes have somehow made to mysteriously—the meaning, at least—mysteriously disappear. I don‘t know how this one could happen that way.
Stephen Yagman, the attorney for the student in the UCLA incident.
Thanks for your time tonight.
YAGMAN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Also here, O.J. Simpson‘s bizarre, “If I Did it” project, why the editor Judith Regan did it and was willing surrender a million dollars to be seen on TV doing it.
And late word tonight of some legal hot water for Nancy Grace. The surviving relatives of the woman who killed herself after an interview with Grace, want her held responsible for the suicide. That‘s next, this is COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: The outrage over O.J. Simpson‘s hypothetical confession. The book‘s publisher tries to explain poor judgment away and would rather give away a huge chunk of cash then let somebody else interview Simpson on TV.
And Nancy Grace could be facing a judge as a defendant. And Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, the big day is coming but for Tom‘s waist, the big day may already be here.
OLBERMANN: The pressure on FOX television and Harper-Collins Publishing to kill the O.J. Simpson project mounted today. Our No. 2 story on the COUNTDOWN, both companies are arms of Rupert Murdoch‘s infamous News Corps, but both the book and interview belong to editor Judith Regan. And now she has issued a rationalization for the indecency and remarkably holier-than-thou one, considering the nature of the sleaze. And considering how married to the project it turns out she is.
Regan has defended the book and the TV interview she personally conducted in a 226 word, self-indulgent rant in which she compares herself to the murdered Nicole Brown Simpson and explains the book was her bid for personal justice as a once battered woman.
And there is word in publishing circles that Regan was so desperate to do the Simpson interview herself that she included a clause in her publishing agreement that would have given her a bonus of $1 million if she wasn‘t the one seen on FOX interviewing Simpson.
Our correspondent, Peter Alexander, with more on her side of the story, if any.
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So, why did she do it? In a statement, publisher Judith Regan, now says it was personal comparing herself to murder victim Nicole Brown. Regan explains that she too was abused and nearly left for dead by a man she loved, a man who was also tall, dark, and handsome. “A great athlete,” she adds.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not guilty of the crime of murder.
ALEXANDER: Regan says she always knew Simpson would be acquitted because of what happened to her. .
“I‘d seen it before: The men in court, dressed in their designer suits, blaming the woman they attacked. I‘d seen first hand the criminal injustice system.”
JUDITH REGAN, EDITOR: You wrote I had never seen so much blood in my life.
O.J. SIMPSON, FMR ATHLETE: I don‘t think any two people could be murdered without everybody being covered in blood.
ALEXANDER: Regan says, “Nicole and Ron (Goldman) were in my heart. And for them I wanted Simpson to confess his sins, to do penance and to amend his life. Amen.”
(on camera): So who is Judith Regan? The former “National Inquirer” reporter is no stranger to controversy.
(voice-over): She‘s published a series of best sellers, including Jose Canseco‘s “Juiced, and Jenna Jamison‘s “How to Make Love Like a Porn Star.”
“If I Did it,” won‘t be released for nearly two weeks, but already the book has reached No. 30 on amazon.com‘s best seller list.
Twelve years after the murders, the families of both Brown and Goldman are outraged.
JONATHAN POLAK, GOLDMAN FAMILY ATTY: O.J. Simpson is a killer and killers are not supposed to be glorified by society. We hold that publication house just as responsible for the murders themselves.
ALEXANDER: On Thursday lawyers for the Goldman family took action to make sure any money Simpson gets from the new book goes to them. Reagan claims she didn‘t pay Simpson, but says some money from a third party will go to his children. Regan says publishing the book is not an endorsement, but a way to make Simpson‘s story public.
“If you doubt that,” she writes, “ask the mainstream publishers who keep Adolf Hitler‘s ‘Mein Kampf‘ in print to this day.”
Regan says she considers Simpson‘s statements a confession and says she never lost her desire for a conviction. “If Marcia Clark couldn‘t do it,” she writes, “I sure wanted to try.”
Peter Alexander, NBC NEWS, Los Angeles.
OLBERMANN: From the legal woes of celebrities to the legal woes of the pundits who cover them, that marks our transition into our nightly round-up of celebrity and entertainer news, “Keeping Tabs.”
Nancy Grace will go from prosecutor to TV talent to defendant. The CNN Headline News host drew national criticism for her over the top interview with Melinda Duckett in September. Duckett‘s two-year-old son had disappeared in August, Grace interrogated her during a taped interview about her whereabouts at the time of the disappearance. The day the interview was set to air, Duckett committed suicide.
Now her family says it will file suit against Grace for wrongful death and intentional infliction of emotion a distress. Grace stands by her interview, but has not commented about the looming lawsuit. Duckett‘s son has not yet been found and police say there is a very real possibility the mother had nothing to do with her son‘s disappearance.
Angelina Jolie‘s bodyguards are back in the news today. Jolie is in Mumbai shooting a movie about the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl, some scenes filmed at a local school led to a melee. Jolie was still there as classes were letting out, as parents tried to pick up their kids, the paparazzi tried to enter school grounds as well. The British bodyguards tried to keep the photographers out about where allegedly also manhandling parents in the process.
Eyewitnesses say the guards screamed “bloody Indians” at the locals. Police stepped in and arrested three of the bodyguards; they are out on bail but are face the prospect of three years behind bars if convicted of the charges brought against them.
Jolie defends her bodyguard‘s actions and is blaming the presence on the presence of the paparazzi.
Surprising that any of them were not in Italy. It‘s Tom-Kat time. Inside a Scientology wedding and forget Katie fitting into her dress, word on the street is Tom‘s having a hard time fitting into his tux. Oh, here we go.
But first time for COUNTDOWN latest list of nominees for “Worst Person in the World.”
The Bronze to this Bill-O. Ever get the feeling some people have just stopped trying—a Bronze, seriously?
Well, anyway, on his radio show he dismissed as “anecdotal” the statistically driven research from the Economic Policy Institute that discrimination exists in this country. Later in the same show, he said that bigotry does exist and to prove it he told an anecdote about how TV executives were prejudiced against him because he was “shanty Irish” from Long Island and instead they gave the anchor jobs to guys named Stone and Forest. Same show.
Oh, by the way, they didn‘t let you anchor because you‘re not good at it, Bill!
Our runner-up, Laura Ingraham, you remember on election day she urged her radio listeners, well listener, to jam Democratic Voter Protection hotlines. At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, the assistant attorney general of the Justice Department‘s Civil Rights division described Ingraham‘s actions as “a voter fraud scheme.”
Laura‘s a lawyer; she knows the implications of that testimony.
But our winner, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who until January will remain the chairman of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works. This morning he declared that any global warming owes to “natural causes” and is “due to the sun.” “God‘s still up there,” he added.
So senator, you‘re blaming global warming on god?
Senator James “is it just me or is it hot in here” Inhofe, today‘s “Worst Person in the World.”
OLBERMANN: We still have no idea whether it will be legal and bets are surely being taken on how long it will last. But our No. 1 story on the COUNTDOWN, tomorrow will mark day one of a marriage and the heavens may rejoice by unfold with multiple UFO citing that rip the sky like a sheet over the union of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.
Our frequent political guest, Craig Crawford, who is vacationing in Italy confirms rumors that Cruise‘s med-sections has widened as have the number of celebrity invitees roaming the streets of Bracciano, like John Travolta, Will Smith, Jim Carrie, Jennifer Lopez, David Beckham, Brooke Shields, Russell Crow, and Steven Spielberg, also invited. Oprah Winfrey was not.
Since twice divorced, Cruise cannot marry Ms. Holmes in a Catholic ceremony, it‘s Scientology to the rescue. But local authorities said Mr. Cruise had not asked for permission of a civil service so the wedding may be purely ceremonial, which is fine since that‘s all that planet Zenu requires.
As for that Scientology service, it is somewhat tradition, the bride wears white, the man and woman exchange rings, but the five possible wedding rituals were all written by L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950‘s. Which could explain why the script of one of those sermons read like this: “Now girls need clothes and food and tender happiness and frills, a pan, a comb, perhaps a cat.”
Also curiously the complete Scientology book of ceremonies weighs 10 pounds. That doesn‘t include the cat.
Joining us now our resident Tom-Kat specialist, comedian, frequent contributor to VH-1‘s “Best Week Every,” Paul F. Tompkins.
Paul, good evening.
PAUL F. TOMPKINS, COMEDIAN: Good evening to you Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right, we get a sense of the Scientology ceremony there as written by L. Ron Hubbard including that bit about how girls need a pan, a comb, perhaps even a cat. Does it have to be in that order, Paul, first the cooking, then the grooming, then you get a cat?
TOMPKINS: Absolutely, you have to first prove that you can cook and make yourself presentable before you‘re aloud to handle a house pet because there‘s an off chance that that animal may turn out to be the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard.
OLBERMANN: Yeah. Now we also know that this entire book Mr. Hubbard‘s Scientology ceremony weighs 10 pounds. Do you get the feeling that perhaps there‘s some other stuff in there that has not been revealed to the public?
TOMPKINS: Oh, there‘s tons of stuff. But it‘s not as sinister as you might think it is. It‘s just that Scientology has a ceremony for everything, for opening a door, making coffee, masking your homosexuality by hiring a minor actress to be your legal wife, you know, that sort of thing. They just love pomp.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, you know those old ad, “Page 78 how to mask your homosexuality by hiring your minor actress as a prop.” Speaking of that, that 10 pound total there, these stories about Tom Cruise reportedly plumbing up, I mean there are descriptions of the buttons on his shirt pulling against the holes. How bad is it, do you know?
TOMPKINS: Well, he has been cited in the Versace store shopping in the husky section of the boys‘ department.
OLBERMANN: Is that perhaps in preparation for a new movie role or now that he‘s in his third marriage, is he ready to be a couch potato instead of a couch jumper?
TOMPKINS: Well, the weight gain is actually a reflection of his climbing up the ladder in Scientology, the more—the higher you get the more weight you gain. So, you look at Travolta, he‘s obviously up there pretty well, and according to a recent Oprah appearance, Kirstie Alley, I think, got demoted for something.
OLBERMANN: Now, Brooke Shields—it‘s odd enough that Brooke Shields is there, but she was quoted as saying, “I hope they remember this whole weekend.” Is that a blessing from her or a curse or is it just a warning against the effects of—on memory of excessive use of psychoanalytical drugs?
TOMPKINS: It‘s actually Brooke trying to sort of charmingly downplay the gift that she got Tom and Katie, which was a box set of the entire series of “Suddenly Susan,” which includes all never before seen episodes, the entire series.
OLBERMANN: That‘s right, and of course, bonus DVD with the “Blue Lagoon” in it. The local media there reporting guests are going to receive towels embroidered with the couple‘s initials. What are the guests supposed to do with towels?
TOMPKINS: Well, if you‘ve been lucky enough to be invited to that wedding, read your invitation carefully, because you are expected to change your initials. Tom and Katie want this to be special, so you know, they‘d like you to play ball because they don‘t want to put anybody in a underwater cave.
OLBERMANN: So, we‘ve got—as a last point, we got prime positions
for paparazzi being sold, we‘ve got satellite truck parking being permitted
how are the spaceships Zenu going to land discreetly under those conditions?
TOMPKINS: Look, if Internet prankster can disguise a water gun as a microphone, I think Tom Cruise knows how to camouflage some light spacecraft. You know, what I‘m saying? Is that a horse-drawn carriage? Well, why does it have a tractor beam?
OLBERMANN: Comedian Paul F. Tompkins, contributor to the VH-1‘s “Best Week Ever” and of course, contributor to the chronicling of the events like this one, that alter and illuminate our times.
Paul, thanks for being with us again.
TOMPKINS: Hail Zenu, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1,294th day since the declaration of “mission accomplished” in Iraq.
From New York, I‘m Keith Olbermann goodnight and good luck.
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