Guests: Chris Cillizza, Catherine Crier, John Kelly
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Nonbinding, nonvoting. The Senate reels after Republicans block a vote on a measure that doesn‘t do anything anyway. Now, the Democrats up the stakes. One bill to begin withdrawal by year‘s end, another to begin withdrawal by May 1.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Americans expect us to vote on the war.
SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), MARYLAND: We was robbed. We was robbed of our ability to be able to vote on this resolution.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
OLBERMANN: Life and truth robbed in Iraq. A British family learning, learning just now that their son and husband was killed by American friendly fire in March 2003, that all this time, there has been cockpit video of the nightmare, and the remorseful American soldiers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m going to be sick.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The Libby trial, the Libby tapes, strong-arming the media and insisting he forgot all about it.
And maybe you can forget about the vice president testifying.
Something this man would like to forget, what he said about the kidnapped and sodomized Missouri teenager, Shaun Hornbeck.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, HOST, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR,” FOX NEWS CHANNEL: What‘s going to happen is, there was an element here that this kid liked about his circumstance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Why is anybody who would blame the victim of child abuse still supposed to be the keynote speaker at a fundraiser for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children?
And too weird for words. She drives 900 miles from Houston to Orlando to kidnap, even kill, her rival for a man‘s romantic attentions. Punchline, she and the man were both space shuttle astronauts. Punchline atop the punchline, so she wouldn‘t have to stop anywhere during the drive, she wore adult diapers for those 900 miles. Are we underestimating the chance that space travel can make you crazy?
All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and liftoff...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening.
You can walk safely in Washington, D.C. tonight. The law of gravity still works there, despite all evidence to the contrary in the Senate. That‘s where one of the senators who proposed the nonbinding resolution on Iraq voted to block discussing his own resolution. That‘s where the antiwar Republican senator from Nebraska voted not to vote on Iraq. But the moderate Democratic senator from Nebraska asked, Do we wait for more troops to die before we oppose the president‘s plan?
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, Democrats now talking about moving directly to legislation scheduling troop withdrawals, while the new secretary of defense went to the Hill to defend the president‘s huge budget increase for the armed services, and to speculate that if the droop escalation worked, U.S. troops might be able to start coming home by the end of the year.
The Democratic lawmakers stepped up to facilitate that withdrawal, Senator Kerry introducing a bill to require the complete redeployment of American troops within the year, Senator Obama proposing that a withdrawal begin by the first of May, though given how Republicans blocked debate on Iraq in nonbinding form, it is unclear how such legislation would even make it to the floor of the Senate.
After killing the motion to debate the Warner-Levin nonbinding resolution last night, the minority leadership successfully quashed any antitroop-increase measure by instead pushing for a vote on Senator Judd Gregg‘s resolution to stop Congress from cutting off funding for the troops.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, MINORITY LEADER: Our colleagues on the other side do not want to vote on whether troops should be funded, period. There is no more critical question at this moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Democrats crying foul about that argument, saying that the issue is not funding for a troop increase, it is the increase itself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: This is a diversion. This is a diversion. We just finished the Super Bowl. This is a trick play by the Republicans. The real issue before this body is surge or no surge, escalation or no escalation. That‘s the debate the American people deserve.
LEAHY: Americans expect us to speak up on the war. Americans expect us to vote on the war. Americans expect us to vote on the issue of the surge. Now, I understand some senators will support the surge. Some will oppose it. But allow us to have those votes. Allow us to have the vote. Allow us to express the conscience of this nation.
MIKULSKI: We was robbed. We was robbed of our ability to be able to vote on this resolution.
SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), NORTH DAKOTA: What is the role for the United States and its soldiers? Is the role to continue to be in the middle of a civil war in Iraq, to surge additional troops, as the president suggests? That‘s what was to be debated here this week in the United States Senate.
But at this point, we still cannot debate that, because we‘re debating whether we‘ll be able to debate it. It‘s unbelievable to me. Only here, in this small piece of real estate, one of the wonderful places on this earth, the United States Senate, do we have a serious debate about whether we should debate.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: It is absolutely outrageous. It is immoral that we cannot vote on whether or not we agree with this escalation.
OLBERMANN: Joined now by Chris Cillizza, political reporter for WashingtonPost.com.
Thanks again for your time tonight, Chris.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, POLITICAL REPORTER, WASHINGTONPOST.COM: Hey, thanks for having me, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Given that the motion to even talk about a measure that has no actual legislative weight by itself was killed, and swiftly, by a minority in the Senate, do the more strident bills, like the withdrawal proposals from Senator Kerry, from Senator Obama, do they have a chance at all of even being voted on?
CILLIZZA: Yes. In short, I think it‘s going to be a real struggle. I mean, the reality of the situation in the Senate—and we heard a lot of words in those clips—but the reality of the Senate is, it‘s still very narrowly divided. Remember, Democrats have 51 seats, Republicans have 49 seats. And you have Tim Johnson, the Democratic senator from South Dakota, in the hospital and unable to vote. So bring that down to 50.
It‘s going to be hard, I think, to see any kind of legislation that is deemed radical. I‘m not saying it is, but it‘s deemed sort of on one end or the other, really get any hearing in the Senate. Again, they can‘t even agree on the language of a resolution. It‘s going to be hard for me to imagine that they‘re going to agree on a troop pullout or a date certain or anything like that. I just don‘t think those kind of proposals are going to come up for a vote.
OLBERMANN: So does this pass now to the House? What‘s going on with nonbinding resolutions there?
CILLIZZA: Right. Well, the—in the House, Rahm Emanuel, who headed up the Congressional Campaign Committee in the last cycle, is now the House caucus chairman. He said they‘re going to have three days of debate on it next week.
Now, the House doesn‘t work like the Senate. The House has majority rule. So the reality is, is that even if they have just one more vote, and they have plenty more votes, they can pass something like this with all this—out all this back and forth.
But it still doesn‘t change the formula in the Senate, which is that they simply can‘t—Democrats need to convince 11 Republican senators to cross over and say, Yes, we should have a vote and a debate on this. It‘s just not happened yet, though I do think it is going to happen.
OLBERMANN: What happened to Senator Warner, that he ended up opposing discussion of the bill he co-sponsored?
CILLIZZA: Sure, I mean, this is the sort of—I voted for it before I voted against it John Kerry thing when it comes down to the arcane rules of the Senate. John Warner‘s bill, or resolution, he wants it to be heard, but he also wants two other resolutions, including Judd Gregg‘s resolution, to be heard.
So in essence, Democrats said, Well, we don‘t want Judd Gregg‘s resolution to be heard, because everyone is going to vote for it. But we want to express in some way our dissatisfaction with this president and with this proposal.
So John Warner said, Well, even though I‘m sponsoring one of these bills, I will not go forward, allow this debate to go forward, unless all of the proposals, all the resolutions are heard.
It‘s really a parliamentary game at this point, and frankly, I think the American people are looking to the Senate to do something. It‘s funny to say that passing a nonbinding resolution would have—would mean doing something. But in the situation we‘re in, it would.
OLBERMANN: Swing and a miss so far on that point. But suggested—you suggested here that it will be resolved. How does this end up, in your opinion, Chris? Is it going to be something even more watered down that passes, or do we spend two years watching the Senate lock horns and actually not do anything at all, even symbolic?
CILLIZZA: I think the former. And I‘ll tell you why. I think it does wind up being a somewhat watered-down version of what many critics of the Iraq war and the Bush administration would want. But the reality of the situation is, there are many Republicans, people in Minnesota, in New Hampshire, in Maine, in Oregon, who are up for reelection in 2008. They want to show that they do not agree with the president and his policy.
And I think they‘re going to put enough pressure on their leadership to have a vote that we‘re going to get something. Now, whether that language is what anyone really wants is up for debate. But I do think we‘ll wind up with a vote on some kind of resolution, because the Senate knows that they have to act.
OLBERMANN: The WashingtonPost.com‘s political reporter, Chris Cillizza. As always, Chris, our great thanks for your time tonight.
CILLIZZA: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And a reality of war that no Senate resolution could possibly impact. For nearly four years, the family has been told it didn‘t exist. Tonight, they‘ve seen it with their own eyes, and so everyone else can now see it, U.S. pilots killing a British soldier in friendly fire, all of it recorded by cockpit video, including the American servicemen‘s immediate horror and regret.
A British newspaper, “The Sun,” obtaining the video showing what happened over Basra in March 2003, when two American A-10 gunships spotted vehicles carrying Lance Corporal Marty Hull (ph), along with his fellow British soldiers, their convoy distinguished by the orange markings that officially designate coalition troops.
Here are portions of that video, with the conversation between the pilots and air controllers on the ground.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), looks like they got orange panels (INAUDIBLE). Do they have any friendlies in this area?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) friendlies this far north on the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, (INAUDIBLE) three four, (INAUDIBLE), you‘ve got—looks like we may have a blue-on-blue situation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We‘re getting an initial brief that there was one killed and one wounded. Over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m going to be sick.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ah, (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this sucks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), damn it. We‘ll be dead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They did say there were no friendlies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that would be (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The incident was investigated by the U.S. military at the time. It did not result in a court-martial, the footage only coming to light after a British coroner demanded it. The British government is denying that it misled the family of the late Corporal Hull about the evidence surrounding his death. It says the U.S. military had classified that tape.
Also tonight, others misled about the war inside the Scooter Libby trial. More of the grand jury tapes today. Libby told by Cheney about Valerie Plame, Libby forgets. Libby says he learns it from Tim Russert. Will the jury forget the requisite mental gymnastics?
And now we know that police believe that Shaun Hornbeck was sexually abused repeatedly by his captor. Can we expect an apology from Bill O‘Reilly after he said the child was having more fun with his captors than he did with his family? And how could O‘Reilly still not have been removed as the keynote speaker at a high-priced fundraiser for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children?
You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: A milestone day at the trial of Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former right-hand man to Vice President Cheney. The tapes of his grand jury testimony will not be released publicly till tomorrow.
But in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, almost all of them have now been played in open court, and the heart of the prosecution‘s case is now a matter of public record, as is a disturbing glimpse of how President Bush himself handled classified information and secret leaks to the media, even as he publicly criticized others for leaking.
The jury has now heard Libby in his own voice say over and over about witness after witness that he did not recall having conversations with them in which he displayed knowledge that the wife of Joe Wilson, who‘d just gone public criticizing the president‘s war rationale, was herself a CIA operative.
The jury has now heard Libby not recall telling Ari Fleischer about Valerie Wilson on July 7, 2003, and then claim that he forgot about her so thoroughly that he was surprised to learn about her three days later from NBC‘s Tim Russert, which, P.S., Tim Russert is expected to testify tomorrow and did not happen anyway.
Hearing Libby‘s testimony for himself today, MSNBC‘s David Shuster, who has covered all this from the start so many years ago.
David, good evening.
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We will all hear the tapes of Mr. Libby‘s words for ourselves tomorrow, but give us a preview, if you can, of the highlights, based on what you heard today.
SHUSTER: Well, the highlights (INAUDIBLE) Scooter Libby, in a very sort of soft and hesitant voice, kept denying that he talked about Valerie Wilson with government officials, and then kept repeating Tim Russert‘s name over and over, as if Russert were Libby‘s holy grail.
Quote, “All I recall that week is that Tim Russert conversation.”
Another quote, “My first recollection is Tim Russert telling me that.” Another quote, “I don‘t recall any other conversations earlier in the week about it.”
So Libby was asked, What did Tim Russert say? Quote, “He said, Did you know that Ambassador Wilson‘s wife works at the CIA? And I was a little taken aback by that, because at that point in time, I did not recall that I‘d ever known, and I thought this is something he was telling me that I was first learning, and I said, No, I didn‘t know about Wilson‘s wife. And then he said, Yes, yes, all the reporters know it.”
Libby acknowledged on the tape that Vice President Cheney, in fact, had told Libby a month earlier about Valerie Wilson. So how could Libby forget that and think he was learning about Valerie Wilson for the first time a few weeks later? Libby said, in a soft voice, that he had just forgotten, even though Libby acknowledged taking notes and writing down what Cheney had told him.
There were other highlights. Libby testified that he had been careful in telling “TIME” magazine reporter Matt Cooper that Libby only knew about Valerie Wilson because of information from reporters. Matt Cooper, of course, testified that Libby never said any such thing to him, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Well, of course, to be fair, “MEET THE PRESS” is the leader among Sunday news shows. We need to remember that.
But now, speaking of hearing things, why are we likely or less likely tonight to have heard from Vice President Cheney at this trial than we were, say, this morning?
SHUSTER: It was interesting, Keith. During opening arguments, the defense all but promised that Vice President Cheney would testify for the defense. And now, in court documents, the defense is suggesting they may not call Vice President Cheney at all.
There are two possibilities. The first may be that the defense was simply giving prosecutors a head fake by originally saying Cheney would testify, simply to try and keep Patrick Fitzgerald off balance about the Libby defense strategy. The second possibility is that the defense may feel Cheney‘s testimony would hurt Libby.
There‘s already been evidence that Cheney told Libby about Valerie Wilson a month before Wilson was outed, as we said, and there‘s been testimony about Libby talking to reporters on Cheney‘s behalf. So Cheney now appears to help the prosecution chain of events, unless Cheney were to say, no, he doesn‘t remember much either.
But that would open the door for prosecutors to introduce evidence showing that Libby and Cheney were obsessed with trying to undercut Joe Wilson.
Furthermore, Keith, a former independent counsel told me that the White House is very lucky that the cautious and conservative prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, who‘s running this investigation, this former independent counsel told me that if he had the same evidence and testimony that Fitzgerald does, this independent counsel would have charged a criminal conspiracy, and would have named Vice President Cheney an unindicted co-conspirator.
As it stands, the vice president is not accused of any wrongdoing. But you can understand the potential pitfalls for Cheney if, in fact, he were to go under oath and testify, something he has not yet done, at least under oath, in this case.
OLBERMANN: And lastly, obviously, speaking of Mr. Cheney, it was not entirely new, but these tapes today to some degree offered a glimpse into how he and the president handled some of the most sensitive bits of U.S. intelligence. What did they do? Why was it so unusual?
SHUSTER: Right. According to “New York Times” reporter Judy Miller, she testified that a week before Valerie Wilson was outed, Scooter Libby wanted her, Miller, to have some information, classified information, that was in the National Intelligence Estimate, because Libby thought it would undermine Joe Wilson‘s credibility to reporters like Judy Miller.
Now, on tape of the grand jury, Libby testified that President Bush, via Vice President Cheney, did declassify this National Intelligence Estimate in early July 2003, and instructed Libby to leak this information to Miller. Libby acknowledged, under a series of rapid-fire questions from prosecutors, that nobody else in the Bush administration knew that NIE had been declassified and then leaked.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice didn‘t know. Deputy Stephen Hadley didn‘t know. The CIA director, George Tenet, didn‘t know. The secretary of state didn‘t know. And all this, Keith, of course, paints a picture for the jury that perhaps the office of the vice president was very independent and essentially ran things on their own as far as how they wanted to handle matters of national security, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Just another day inside the courtroom with David Shuster.
Great thanks, David.
SHUSTER: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: This is the anniversary of the day Alan Shepherd hit a golf ball on the moon. That had been maybe the weirdest thing NASA had ever experience, until today‘s arrest of an astronaut on a charge of attempted murder while wearing diapers.
And crime we‘re more familiar with of the stupid criminal variety.
Just use any door there, pal.
All ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: If you heard Senator Mikulski use the phrase “We was robbed” earlier in this newshour, perhaps you‘re wondering why she chose to use something that was not grammatical. For your records, it‘s from 1932, a boxing manager, after a dubious decision, said those immoral words, “We was robbed,” when the fight was given to his opponent.
So now that that‘s cleared up, let‘s play Oddball.
Max Schmeling was the fighter. He was from Germany. We begin at the Hare and Hound Fair in Dortmund in Germany, home of the Ninth Annual Championship of Deer Collars. That‘s crazy talk. Deers don‘t wear no collars. Well, there was that one with the garbage can lid stuck on his head. But we‘re talking about -- Oh, callers, C-A-L-L-E-R-S.
And here come the deer. I don‘t know what the hell is wrong with the deer in Germany, but it sounds like Con Island (ph) in that joint. Polish competitor Josef Vandaskowski (ph) was the big winner, a man so deerlike, he was actually hit by a car as he crossed the road after the competition.
No, I made that last part up.
To Limerick, Pennsylvania, where we find the early frontrunner for dumbest criminal of 2007, the exit strategy of the smash-and-grab job that will win him the award, along with a future full of stiff necks and migraine headaches. He smashed the door on the left to get in, and tried to go out on the right. Like a confused bird, only much, much stupider. Wait for it. Oh! The burglar got away with his booty. The pizza shop tip jar had about $15 in it. The door cost $800 to replace. (INAUDIBLE), he should have just stolen the door and saved himself a lifetime of talking funny too.
Also tonight, first he claimed the teenage victim enjoyed part of his captivity. Then police made it specific, that boy had been sexually abused by his captor. Not only is Bill O‘Reilly refusing to apologize for defending the kidnapper and molester, but he‘s still the keynote speaker at a fundraiser for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Why?
And either it‘s a miracle or a con job. The antigay pastor Ted Haggard, the one who had an affair with a male prostitute, claims he‘s now completely straight, again. I can see! I have legs!
But first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.
Number three, another minister in trouble, the Reverend Phili Andrukaitis of the First Baptist Church of South Portland, Maine. He took out an ad in a local newspaper to promote his Sunday sermon. It was about anti-Semitism and how Christians should support Jews and how they should support the state of Israel. But he didn‘t really think through the title, which was designed to get attention. Quote, “The Only Way to Destroy the Jewish Race,” unquote. Oops.
Number two, unnamed suspect in Gunmaten (ph), Japan, just north of Tokyo, this is. He was walking home when he saw a police car idling outside a post office. So he stole the car. Why? I got tired walking, he said, so I thought I would drive the police car home. Well, that‘s all right, then.
And number one, Wayne E. Kingwell of Fort Erie, Ontario, recovering from hypothermia, rescued after five hours floating on a rubber raft on the Niagara River as temperatures hovered near zero along the Canadian-America border. What on earth was he doing out there? Paying off his credit card bill. Mr. Kingwell told authorities that he‘s charged extra if he mails his payment from Canada to the U.S., so he likes to bring it to the place in person. So frequently he comes down the river in his dingy, or in an aluminum boat, to save $85.
OLBERMANN: It does not take a great deal of common sense to realize that when a teenage boy has been abducted and held captive for four years, nothing about that experience could have been anything close to fun. And to suggest that the victim voluntarily participated in his own detention, a child under the influence of a predatory adult, is unforgivable.
But in our number three story on the COUNTDOWN, refusing to call it that has put a local chapter of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in an untenable situation. It has scheduled the man who blamed the abducted Missouri teen, Shawn Hornbeck, for the nightmare that enveloped his young life. They‘ve chosen him to be the keynote speaker at the fund raiser for missing and exploited children on the 9th of next months. The speaker, of course, would be Bill O‘Reilly.
Michael Devlin, a Missouri pizzeria manager, already charged with abducting Shawn Hornbeck, now charged with 69 additional counts of forcible sodomy. Shawn Hornbeck was abducted in 2002 at the age of 11. Prosecutors say Mr. Devlin raped the boy repeatedly for the first month of his captivity, and at least once a month thereafter.
Thirteen year old Ben Ownby was abducted January 9th of this year, also allegedly sodomized. Police found both boys at Devlin‘s apartment on the 12th of last month. Mr. O‘Reilly made his comments about Shawn Hornbeck on January 15th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: The situation here, for this kid, looks to me to be a lot more fun than what he had under his old parents. He didn‘t have to go to school. He could run around and do whatever he wanted.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Some kids like school.
SUSTEREN: Some kids like school.
O‘REILLY: Well, I don‘t believe this kid did. And I think, when it all comes down, what‘s going to happen is there was an element here that this kid liked about his circumstance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Well, it has all come down. The invitation by the local chapter of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children came before those remarks or before his comments last night that we all knew this was coming. It‘s terrible to hear it, those poor boys subjected to this monster. But the local chapter stands by its decision to have Mr. O‘Reilly deliver the keynote address at a March 9th fund raising gala at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Florida.
Joining us now attorney and Court TV anchor, Catherine Crier.
Catherine, good evening. Thanks for your time.
CATHERINE CRIER, COURT TV ANCHOR: Hey Keith.
OLBERMANN: Let me take some of the heat out of this. For the purposes of this discussion it‘s John Doe. He‘s not a commentator. He‘s a former athlete. If he repeatedly blames the victim in the highest profile child molestation case of the year, should he be the one speaking at a 500 dollar a ticket fund raiser for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children?
CRIER: Naive ignorance on the part of someone making statements like that is one thing, malicious ignorance is another. I‘m afraid if I was the chapter, I would say thank you very much, but no thanks.
OLBERMANN: Bill O‘Reilly, in that same January 15th broadcast, also asked why Shawn Hornbeck did not escape when he could have. He said he didn‘t buy the whole Stockholm Syndrome thing. Now authorities said that this fellow, Devlin, used a gun to threaten Hornbeck when he was abducted, repeated threats throughout his capture and his abduction. But you don‘t need to have known that either, do you, to comprehend the concept of a kidnapper‘s power and control over an abductee who‘s 11 years old, 12 years old, 13 years old, do you?
CRIER: Not at all. We‘ve seen these stories with adults and we know how quickly adults can succumb to psychological manipulation. When you talk about an 11 year old boy who was repeatedly sodomized, and even before those charges came out, we all knew what the circumstances were there. We‘ve read things like 45 minutes of sleep and then awakened time and time again during that first 30 days. The shame, the humiliation, the feelings of rejection and alienation from the entire world that he knew and grew up in would overwhelm a child like that.
Of course, he is going to identify, to an extent, if you will, with the abductor, because that is his only place to go psychologically, given the circumstances around him. It‘s an absolutely horrific nightmare, and for anyone, that athlete you mentioned, to suggest that he could somehow divine that this child wanted to be there is ludicrous.
OLBERMANN: Of course, with the man we‘re talking about, this stuff doesn‘t stop. He asked a guest last night, “What do you expect from the defense attorneys here? Because the defense attorneys, the only way, the only way they could possibly introduce any kind of reasonable doubt in this case would be to say the boys went along willingly.”
Apart from the peek into his own soul that that quote provides, Catherine, is that legally even true? I mean, you‘re talking boys that are 11, 12, 13. Does the word willingly even exist in that situation?
CRIER: No it doesn‘t exist, and the law provides for that. These children were underage. There was no way to consent. Even had they said yes, which we know is certainly not the case, and I don‘t think any defense attorney worth his or her salt would make that approach in front of a judge or jury. The only thing going for this guy, and, of course, we don‘t have all the facts—he is presumed innocent—is how do I mitigate possible punishment in a case like this. And you‘re talking about the second phase of the trial, not the first.
OLBERMANN: And he is presumed fully innocent, but one of the victims is not presumed fully innocent on national television, which is the crux of this.
CRIER: I find it quite extraordinary. It‘s absolutely horrific. And I understand that that athlete you mentioned might have the best intentions to help missing and exploited children, but with this kind of approach to a case like this, I just don‘t know that I‘d want to hear any further comments he‘s got on the subject.
OLBERMANN: So what was that chapter of this group doing? I mean, they‘ve got the speaker scheduled for the big fund raiser, a month from Friday. He‘s dismissed Stockholm Syndrome out right. He says that doesn‘t exist, although he has no expertise in the area. He‘s blamed the victim. He believes defense attorneys for child molesters can create reasonable doubt by saying the boys went along willingly. What do they do about having this speaker scheduled for March 9th?
CRIER: I think they ask that speaker to come forward with a major apology, to educate himself on the subject and maybe he could bring that to the table. Otherwise, he, as we would say in the courtroom, recuses himself from the situation.
OLBERMANN: Well, it could happen, I suppose.
CRIER: Yes, right.
OLBERMANN: Maybe with the athlete. I don‘t think with the gentleman we‘re talking about.
CRIER: I don‘t think so.
OLBERMANN: Catherine Crier of Court TV, as always Catherine, great thanks for your time tonight.
CRIER: You bet, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Also tonight, three weeks of therapy has Pastor Ted Haggard proclaiming he is 100 percent heterosexual. A male prostitute Mr. Haggard hired is slightly dubious.
And O.J. Simpson continues to parse his great unpublished legacy, “If I Did it,” with the comforting conclusion, I got paid just the same. The fun continues ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: The Reverend Ted Haggard, last seen admitting, OK, some of a former gay prostitute‘s story was true, has now had a revelation. That revelation, our number two story tonight. Three months after Pastor Haggard stepped down as the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, after accusations of drug use and having employed the services of a male prostitute, we‘re learning from the Reverend Tim Ralph, one the men counseling Mr. Haggard, that Haggard is today sure of one thing, quote, he is completely heterosexual. That is something he discovered.
Discovered during three weeks of what the “Denver Post” describes as intensive counseling. Intensive indeed, in the sweltering heat of a secluded spot of the Arizona desert, where Haggard submitted to four clergymen, who came together to share the strict discipline of a loving hand. This is the straight part? Tim Ralph, Focus On The Family‘s H.B. London, and mega-church pastors Tommy Barnet (ph) and Jack Haford (ph) bound together to save Haggard from a scandal that did not kill him, but darn near wrecked him—wrecked them.
Meanwhile, the former prostitute, who exposed Haggard, reacted to today‘s news earlier on MSNBC. He‘s dubious. Nice to meet you, Mr. Dubious.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He says he went in for three weeks of intense counseling and now he‘s completely heterosexual. Do you buy that?
MIKE JONES, FORMER MALE PROSTITUTE: Well, that‘s the quickest therapy I‘ve ever heard of. You know, it‘s hard for me to imagine someone who is performing oral sex and saying that he‘s straight. That just doesn‘t jibe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Check, please! On to our nightly round up of celebrity and entertainment news, Keeping Tabs. And O.J. Simpson says there were inaccuracies in his unpublished book, “If I Did It,” about how I would have done things. How would he have know that if he didn‘t do those things? Simpson telling the “Palm Beach Post” that the book, quote, made it look too much like an admission of guilt. I wasn‘t happy with the hypothetical paragraphs. A ghostwriter wrote the whole thing and I OKed it, but there were a lot of inaccuracies about the case, and about how I would have done things. But I figure I‘d let it go since I didn‘t kill anyone.”
So he didn‘t do it, yet he saw inaccuracies about how he would have done it. Then, when asked about the public outrage about the book, he said, quote, I don‘t care. I got paid just the same.
News close to home, so to speak. Jeff Zucker is the new president and CEO of NBC Universal, confirmed today by General Electric, the parent company of NBC Universal, of which MSNBC is a part. He succeeds Bob Wright, who served 21 years in the position and will now remain as vice chairman of G.E. Mr. Zucker has spent his entire career here, moving from sports researcher to executive producer of the “Today Show,” president of NBC entertainment, and in 2005 CEO of the NBC Universal Television Group. He will now lead a media and entertainment company with annual revenues of more than 16 billion dollars, more than 750 dollars of which is generated by COUNTDOWN. Good luck, Jeff.
Also tonight, Houston, we have a problem, and she‘s got pepper spray and she‘s wearing adult diapers. A woman astronaut out on bail, charged with the attempted murder of a NASA engineer, allegedly all over the affections of another astronaut. And she was cleared psychologically to fly on the shuttle last summer? That‘s ahead.
But first time for COUNTDOWN‘s latest list of nominees for Worst Person in the World. The bronze tonight to now presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. Fox noise has denied this unofficially, but the website FishBowlNY.com says Mr. Giuliani cut a special deal to appear on the Hannity & Colmes show last night, namely that he would only be interviewed by the more Giuliani friendly Sean Hannity. No Colmes? And how could you tell?
Runner-up, Bill O‘Reilly, not much of an effort out of the old man last night, turning part of a column defending criticism of the conduct of the war, written on the “Washington Post” website, into a paranoid rant against, quote, NBC News, General Electric and the “Washington Post,” who, he said, will be forever tainted by this situation. They can run, but they can‘t hide. This from a guy who defended the Nazis who slaughtered innocent American soldiers at Malmady during World War II. Bill-O is about this far away from driving 900 miles while wearing an adult diaper to attack somebody. Probably me.
But the winner, Cliff Kinkaid of Accuracy in Media, who in a piece posted today, this afternoon, writes, the coverage of presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden‘s racist remarks about Senator Barack Obama demonstrates a blatant media double standard. If a Republican had condescendingly referred to a black person as clean, bright and articulate, he or she would have been branded as a racist and banished from public life.
Same day as Biden‘s comments came out, President Bush about Senator Obama, “He‘s an attractive guy. He‘s articulate.” So Mr. Kinkaid, you‘re saying the president should be branded as a racist and banished from public life? Yikes! Cliff Kinkaid of Accuracy in Media, it‘s a brand name, not a description, today‘s Worst Person in the World.
OLBERMANN: With time, especially before space exploration became reasonably routine, it was almost a sub-genre of modern film. People go into space, people go crazy, claustrophobia, weightlessness, even alien cock roaches getting into your ears and making you the slave of Ricardo (INAUDIBLE). Number one story on the COUNTDOWN, it‘s a literally deadly serious story, and just five years ago NASA commissioned a report indicating that the physical and psychological impacts of space travel were woefully under-reported and inherently hazardous to human health.
But the saga of Astronaut Lisa Marie Nowak, now charged with attempted murder, is so bizarre as to transcend the soap opera specifics of her alleged plan. We‘ll discuss the bigger picture in a moment. First, the details from Tom Costello of a woman who went from wearing a space suit to wearing an adult diaper, to wearing a global positioning satellite device.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And liftoff of the Space Shuttle Discovery.
TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was July 4th. The Shuttle Discovery roared back to space for a rendezvous with the space station. On board, Astronaut Lisa Nowak, a Navy captain, who told me before liftoff she hoped it wouldn‘t be her last mission.
LISA NOWAK, ASTRONAUT CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED MURDER: I would look forward to another flight, if that comes up, but there are a lot of other astronauts that are ready to fly the Space Shuttle.
COSTELLO: But now Nowak is charged with attacking a female engineer over another astronaut, Navy Commander Bill Oefelein. Police say Nowak drove 900 miles, from Houston to Orlando, wearing diapers so she wouldn‘t have to stop along the way, to confront Engineer Colleen Shipman. Once in Orlando, she went to the airport, allegedly donning a wig and trench coat and waited for Shipman to arrive on a flight after midnight.
According to a police report, Nowak followed Shipman into a parking garage, then tried to get into Shipman‘s car, spraying pepper spray through a lowered car window.
BARBARA JONES, ORLANDO POLICE DEPT.: In the course of slapping on the window of the victim‘s car, the victim cracked the window enough where pepper spray, mace, whatever you want to call it was, dispensed inside the interior of the car.
COSTELLO: Police say when they arrived, they saw Nowak throwing away a bag containing a wig, a BB gun, a steel mallet, a four inch folding knife, rubber tubing, 600 dollars and garbage bags. In here car, parked at a nearby hotel, pepper spray, an unused BB gun cartridge, latex gloves and e-mails between engineer Shipman and astronaut Oefelein.
JONES: We believe she was going to kidnap the victim.
COSTELLO: Nowak is married and the mother of three. Colleagues at NASA say Nowak never appeared unstable, despite rigorous mental evaluations. But three of her astronaut classmates died on board Columbia four years ago. A NASA press officer tells NBC News, quote, our concern is for Lisa, as it is for any employee. We want to do what we can to ensure her health and well-being.
But it now seems highly unlikely that Lisa Nowak will get her wish to fly in space again.
(on camera): Nowak told police that she had a relationship with Astronaut Oefelein, that it was not romantic. And she said, despite the disguise and despite the weapons, she only wanted to talk to engineer Shipman. And now she has bonded 25,500 dollars, and as a condition of the bond, she is required to wear a GPS tracking bracelet, an ankle bracelet. She can return to Texas, but if she comes back and gets anywhere near the Kennedy Space Center, east of Orlando, she will be in violation of the judge‘s order, and subject to arrest.
Keith, back to you.
OLBERMANN: Tom Costello, great thanks. NASA has put her on 30 days leave. The family of the astronaut Lisa Nowak declining interview requests. They said Nowak did separate from her husband of 19 years just a few weeks ago and added in a statement released tonight, quote, “considering both her personal and professional life, these alleged events are completely out of character and have come as a tremendous shock to our family. We are anxious to allow the facts to develop, so that we can better understand what happened, and why.”
Let‘s turn to John Kelly, space editor of the newspaper “Florida Today.” Mr. Kelly, thanks for your time.
JOHN KELLY, SPACE EDITOR, “FLORIDA TODAY”: Thank you Keith.
OLBERMANN: Even assuming the best on all this, that there was a 900-mile drive and a love triangle and it got out of hand and it was about a conversation, should we be doubting the psychological screening at NASA? I mean, this woman was in space seven months ago.
KELLY: Well, you know, it would have been about a decade ago that she came into the astronaut corps and underwent all this really rigorous testing, psychological, physical, interviews, all of the kinds of things that you‘re talking about. And in addition to that, people like this, that are in the Astronaut Corps, are what I would call super-achievers. Not only did she go through that rigorous process, she probably went through several others in her life, in academia and in her Navy career and things like that.
So you would think that over the course of time maybe somebody would have spotted a problem, and a lot of people have asked that question today. But really, as we‘ve talked to some experts in this field, who have studied NASA‘s processes and the military‘s processes for weeding out people that might have problems, the one common thing you keep coming back to is that there‘s just no way, a decade out, that you could predict the kind of things that we‘ve seen today, if true, if they‘re true, from Mrs. Nowak.
OLBERMANN: This triangle, whatever its exact nature, and she said it was more of a professional relationship with Commander Oefelein, and not a romantic one, but has NASA ever anticipated this kind of thing happening among the flight crews?
KELLY: Well, NASA doesn‘t have the kind of rigorous rules that you have in, say, the military, that really set a lot of guidelines for the way officers interact with one another, for lack of a better term. In the Astronaut Corps, over the years, we‘ve seen astronauts who have come into the corps, met the love of their lives and gotten married. And NASA‘s sort of taken a hands-off approach to this.
Would they change that as they go forward? I don‘t know. I don‘t think so. But anything‘s possible at this point. And they‘re going to probably, at the very least, go back and go through all their guidelines and do what NASA does best, which is to study the lessons they‘ve learned from this and try to see if there‘s anything they can do to maybe prevent this kind of thing in the future.
OLBERMANN: John, they‘ve said they put her on 30 days leave, they said all the requisite things about concern for her, but is she done in the space program, regardless of how this turns out?
KELLY: There‘s almost zero chance she would ever fly again. With so few flights of the space shuttle left and so few seats to space, and so many astronauts waiting in the wings to fly, that‘s just one factor. But NASA has a pretty long reputation of using character as one of its judgments, in choosing flight assignments and putting people on the stage they put them on, when they put them on a space shuttle, and I just don‘t see it. I can‘t imagine that she would ever fly again, even if most of this turned out to somehow not be true.
OLBERMANN: And lastly here, not to make light of the violent aspects of this, but I‘d be remiss if I didn‘t ask you about the business about the diapers. I mean, it takes it to a different level. What do we know about this? I mean, What‘s the reasoning? If you‘re driving 900 miles, you have to stop for gas once or twice, don‘t you?
KELLY: Well, that was the question a lot of people asked today, is, you know, if you have to stop for gas, you know, maybe this was a planning thing. Maybe you needed to work out some details a little bit better. But the diaper thing seemed just a little bit unnecessary on a trip that long. But, you know, you never know how people are thinking, and obviously, this was a person who‘s had some hurts in her life recently and is very distraught.
And, you know, you can‘t know what a person‘s thinking. And we‘ve asked a few questions today about this—about this issue, but really, the police are really treating it as immaterial to the case.
OLBERMANN: Well, private or NASA issued, do we know that one at least?
KELLY: No, we‘ve even poked around on that a little bit. And certainly the NASA people have their own specially-made, government-issued astronaut gear for this purpose. But we don‘t know whether that was what they used for this, or whether it was just over the counter, typical gear you could get at, say, Target.
OLBERMANN: And I know we both feel greasy talking about this, but everybody is. So, thanks for bearing with us. John Kelly, space editor for “Florida Today.” Great thanks for joining us.
KELLY: Thank you Keith.
OLBERMANN: That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1,395th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. Our MSNBC coverage continues next with “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.” I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
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