Guests: Robert Murray
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, Utah mine owner Bob Murray joins us live to answer some of the tough questions. The families of those six missing miners are asking now if the rescue effort has been called off. A lot of them are blaming him. We‘ll ask him about reports also that he‘ll reopen parts of the mine. We‘re expecting him any moment.
But first, President Bush causing major controversy today, telling a veterans group that America‘s experience in Vietnam helps explain why we should stay in Iraq. This is an administration that has taken great pains to not make the Iraq-Vietnam comparison, for obvious reasons. So why would he do it now? We‘ll ask a Vietnam vet and Medal of Honor recipient if he‘s offended by the comparison in a moment. But first, MSNBC‘s David Shuster has the story.
DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thirty-five years after America was torn apart by the 58,000 U.S. troops killed in the Vietnam war, today President Bush reopened the wounds. He argued to veterans in Kansas City that the United States got out of Vietnam too soon.
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America‘s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens.
SHUSTER: The president‘s speech, designed to bolster his argument for staying in Iraq, was remarkable politically and because of president‘s the take on history.
BUSH: And many argued that if we pulled out, there would be no consequences for the Vietnamese people.
SHUSTER: And just a few sentences later...
BUSH: In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge began a murderous rule in which hundreds of thousands of Cambodians died by starvation and torture and execution.
SHUSTER: But it‘s a fact that the murderous rule in Cambodia began well before the U.S. withdrew from Southeast Asia, and many historians argue that the United States made the violence worse by going into Cambodia and Vietnam in the first place.
BUSH: There‘s another price to our withdrawal from Vietnam...
SHUSTER: The president then said the pullout from Southeast Asia emboldened America‘s enemies, but he wasn‘t talking about out enemies at the time, including communists and the Soviet Union during the cold war. Instead, President Bush spoke of Osama bin Laden, who mentioned Vietnam a few years ago while declaring America would be weak in fighting al Qaeda.
BUSH: Some can argue our withdrawal from Vietnam carried no price for American credibility, but the terrorists see it differently.
SHUSTER: Bin Laden, however, is running al Qaeda from somewhere along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, not from inside Iraq. Furthermore, the president‘s argument today is at odds with his view of the Iraq war a few years ago. A year into the war, the insurgency was growing and the U.S. death toll was rising.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you answer the Vietnam comparison?
BUSH: I think the analogy is false. I also happen to think that analogy is—sends the wrong message to troops and sends the wrong message to the enemy.
SHUSTER: In just four weeks, President Bush will deliver his report to Congress on the progress the administration sees in Iraq, and with Iraq making no political progress, the Bush and administration is increasingly touting security efforts. But President Bush is on the defensive and under enormous pressure, and today, while trying to show support for embattled Iraqi leader Nouri al Maliki, the president delivered a mixed message in the same sentence.
BUSH: Prime Minister Maliki‘s a good guy, a good man, with a difficult job, and I support him. And it‘s not up to the politicians in Washington, D.C., to say whether he will remain in his position.
SHUSTER: However, Democrats were most concerned and angry today about the president‘s invocation of Vietnam. Senator John Kerry called it, quote, “as irresponsible as it is ignorant of the realities of both wars. Half the soldiers whose names are on the Vietnam Memorial wall died after the politicians knew our strategy would not work. The lesson is to change the strategy, not just change the rhetoric.”
(on camera): White House officials expected the criticism today and were so convinced that invoking Vietnam would help make their case about Iraq that they mailed out excerpts of the president‘s speech last night. Still, the mere mention of Vietnam in arguing for more sacrifice in Iraq is fraught with potential political peril. After all, President Bush didn‘t serve in Vietnam, and Vice President Cheney received multiple deferments, telling reporters a few years ago that in the 1960s, he had other priorities than military service.
ABRAMS: My next guest did, MSNBC military analyst and Vietnam vet, as well as Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, Colonel Jack Jacobs. Thanks a lot for coming on the program. Appreciate it. Are you offended by the comparison?
COL. JACK JACOBS, U.S. ARMY (RET.), MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I‘m offended by how ignorant the president is with history. I never thought that I‘d agree with John Kerry about anything, but he certainly got it right when he was talking about the fact that the president—and in this case, his speech writer, as well—is ignorant of history.
It‘s certainly true that a precipitous withdrawal is a very bad idea and the most difficult military maneuver of any kind is a withdrawal, even under the best of circumstances. But we didn‘t precipitously withdraw from Vietnam. When I got there for my second tour, you know, on the 4th of July of 1972, most American combat forces had already been withdrawn and had been withdrawn over the past 18 months to two years. And when I left six months later, there were no—zero American combat forces left in Vietnam. And yet the bad guys didn‘t win until 1975, two years later.
ABRAMS: Why do you think—I mean, you heard the president there in that package talking about his resistance, his reluctance to make this comparison back in 2004. Why do it now?
JACOBS: I think he‘s got a new speech writer, and the president never checks his work. And the speech writer never checks his work. I agreed with the point—with the position before that there was—that there was no comparison. It was all contrast between Vietnam and Iraq. The two things are wildly dissimilar. I just cannot understand why he would renege on that view, which I thought was right before, and now it‘s so completely and totally wrong.
ABRAMS: The bottom line is what actually happened in history sometimes doesn‘t matter. I mean, a good number of Americans still believe that there were Iraqis and Saddam Hussein behind 9/11.
JACOBS: Well, they were wrong. And I think history has already proved that they were wrong. At the end of the day, the strategy—the only comparison you can make is that the strategy in Iraq was wrong and the strategy in Vietnam was wrong. Too few troops used in Vietnam, too few troops used in Iraq. At the end of the day, that‘s the only way that they are similar. Otherwise, they‘re totally different.
ABRAMS: Colonel Jacobs, thanks for coming in. Appreciate it.
JACOBS: Good to be with you, Dan.
ABRAMS: Tonight, coal mine boss Robert Murray is under fire from families and mine industry critics who say hasn‘t not done enough to rescue the six trapped miners, and there are some who are making other allegations about the safety of mines. He is now saying they will start digging a sixth hole tomorrow in a bid to reach those miners.
Mine owner and CEO of Murray Energy company Robert Murray joins us tonight to respond to some of those accusations. Thank you very much for coming on the program. We appreciate it.
ROBERT MURRAY, MURRAY ENERGY CORP. OWNER: Thank you, Mr. Abrams.
ABRAMS: Let me start by playing for you a quick piece of sound from some of the family members. I want to give you an opportunity to respond. I know this has been the big question of the day for you, and I want to give you an opportunity to speak to them, respond to them. Here they are, talking about their frustration at the fact that the rescue efforts have been suspended.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CODY ALLRED, SON OF TRAPPED MINER: First, we were given a promise, dead or alive, those men will be with their families. And now it‘s, We can‘t..
CAESAR SANCHEZ, BROTHER OF TRAPPED MINER: Well, I just want, you know, them to think positive, just like we do, think positive that them mens are still alive and that we need to get down there and rescue them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: What‘s your response to them?
MURRAY: Mr. Abrams, the rescue effort has never been suspended. We have the fifth hole here to analyze. It‘s very likely from what we already know there can be no signs of life there or any survival. We‘re going to drill the sixth hole. We‘re continuing the rescue effort.
I can tell you that Mr. Richard Stickler of the Mine Safety and Health Administration has said that the companies, Murray Energy and Utah American, MSHA, have worked as a team from day one. We have done that. I‘ve been on this mountain for 18 days, Mr. Abrams, and I‘ve never left it. We have done everything that technology and the best experts that we‘ve brought in from all over the company can tell us to do to try to rescue these miners. So we are continuing at that.
However, sir, I have said since I arrived here a few hours after the first seismic activity, that we can only recover them from underground. These experts ruled four or five days ago that we cannot proceed underground to rescue those miners and risk any more lives.
You know, Mr. Abrams, we had three deaths and six serious accidents last Thursday night. I went in immediately (INAUDIBLE) seismic quake, and my hands were on those men, both dead and alive. We‘re talking about these families of these six trapped miners, and I have every bit of empathy and sympathy for their very, very desperate situation and the hurt that they feel.
Let‘s not forget, Mr. Abrams, that I pulled out nine good men, and helped do that, three of which died, six of which were seriously injured. And we‘re not going to risk any more lives, sir, for dead bodies.
ABRAMS: I have to tell you that I made a point on this program that I agree with that decision. I made that point last night that I think that to suggest that we should risk more lives at this point is not a smart policy.
But let me play you—I want to play you a piece of sound from a comment that you made on the 14th of August, and this is before those...
ABRAMS: ... those rescue workers were injured. And then I want you to explain because there is some question about the safety in the mine at the time that the rescue workers were in there. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: There were 12 miners that were concerned. They never said it was not safe. That‘s not correct. What they said was that they were a little bit worried about the conditions, and could they be reassigned. So we just reassigned them to other parts of the mine. But nobody‘s ever said it wasn‘t safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: The question is that you had people who were back on the 14th of August saying that they didn‘t feel comfortable with the conditions in the mine at the time. And many people now asking, not just you, but also the mine safety—MSHA, as well, asking was it safe to have those rescue workers in there at that time?
MURRAY: Mr. Abrams, as I‘ve corrected before, those 12 men, none of them said that felt unsafe or that the conditions—some of them had family in there, trapped, and they asked to be relocated for number of reasons.
I can tell you that the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration and our companies have worked as a team, as Mr. Stickler said, brought in from all over the country the best expertise, and we thought that it was perfectly safe to put those miners in there.
And sir, you know, I put them in there. I‘m the CEO. I‘m responsible for all of it. And I‘m not going to delegate this interview to someone else. But I can tell you, sir, that everybody in the government, in the universities thought we were doing the right thing. Obviously, we were very, very wrong, and I am so sorry for that.
ABRAMS: There‘s been a lot of controversy today over comments that you say you didn‘t make, and I heard in a press conference recently you tried to clarify them. The comment that you made was when you were asked if they were going to continue mining in this mine. You had said that the mine is unstable in the area where the activity occurred, but you pointed out the reserves are in an entirely different direction. That sure made it sound like you were going to continue mining, and I think that had a lot of people disturbed.
MURRAY: Let me put an end to that misconception or—it was actually contrived by outside parties that have nothing to do with this rescue effort and don‘t know what we‘ve been doing. The morning after I helped retrieve those heroes on August 16, the morning of August 17, I told Mr. Richard Stickler I‘m sending MSHA the papers to permanently close and seal this mine. It is an evil mountain that is alive, and we are not going back.
And I would like to put an end to any of the other speculation. My spokesman, Mr. Moore (ph), was asked some time ago, Do you have other reserves, and he answered yes. He said, Would you ever go back, and he answered, Possibly, we would. But that would only be after many, many studies in different areas, not in this coal mine, not in this same coal mine. We have reserves miles away, and that‘s where we would go, not in this coal mine. On August 7, I advised MSHA to please give me the permits so I could recover the equipment that I can recover safely so I can seal and permanently close the coal mine forever.
ABRAMS: Mr. Murray, if I could ask you to just stand by for a moment? I do want to ask you—I want you to be able to explain. I know this is an issue that you have talked about again and again, this issue of the earthquake. Was it caused by—was it natural or was it caused by the mine? I know you want to talk about—clarify that. Let me take a quick break here. I‘m going to ask you about that on the other side of this. We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: ... that this was caused by an earthquake, not something that Murray Energy or Utah American did or our employees did or our management did or that the Mine Safety and Health Administration did. It was a natural disaster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: That was from August 7. We‘re joined live by Bob Murray, the owner of the mine, who has been defending himself against some criticism by some of the family members of the six miners who are still missing, as well as some others.
Mr. Murray, let me ask you about this issue about the earthquake. And I know you‘ve dealt with this question again and again. I‘m going to read you—this is from an assistant director of Utah‘s seismographic stations, who said, “What was mistaken for a 3.9 magnitude quake appears to have been the mine caving in on itself, not a natural shift in the earth.”
You‘ve said again and again, you said it in your most recent press conference, that this was an earthquake, and yet the seismographs don‘t indicate that.
MURRAY: When I arrived at the mine within hours of the seismic activity, the sheriff of Emery County had been told by the University of Utah it was an earthquake. I was told it was an earthquake. When we have mine bumps, Mr. Abrams, they‘re instantaneous and they‘re over. This seismic activity was 4.0 on the Richter scale. It lasted 4.6 minutes. Mine bumps don‘t do that. And it was followed by an afterquake, which you never have with a mine bump.
ABRAMS: So they‘re wrong at these organizations?
MURRAY: Two-and-a-half hours...
ABRAMS: So these officials are wrong?
MURRAY: And two-and-a-half hours later—sir, it was a seismic event. It makes no difference to our company or anyone else whether you call it an earthquake or a seismic event or what you call it. We‘ve never experienced it before...
ABRAMS: But doesn‘t it make a difference...
MURRAY: ... in the mines.
ABRAMS: Doesn‘t it make a difference whether it‘s a naturally caused earthquake or a seismic event that was the result of mining?
MURRAY: No, I don‘t think so. I don‘t know whether you‘ve heard, but now they‘re investigating a dam, where they have divers down today, that was ruptured at the same time. Serious damage. It doesn‘t make any difference to the company at all, sir. I was going on what I was told and the fact that my miners, who have hundreds of years of experience, had said they had never seen anything like this and that it could not be a mine bump. That‘s what I was going on.
Eighteen days later, I don‘t think it makes any difference what it was. It certainly was a seismic event that we never encountered before. And I hope and pray we never do again.
ABRAMS: All right. Let me ask you this. Again—and you‘ve become sort of the face of this story, in many ways. And early on in the story, when people were waiting for some updates—and I think this is—this may stem from some of the—this may have led to some of the frustration on the part of the families—that‘s just my theory—that when there were—some of the press conferences to announce any updates, any developments—I want to play you a quick piece of sound from—this is how you started a press conference on August the 7th, when people were waiting an update on any progress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: Every one of these global warming bills that has been introduced in Congress today eliminates the coal industry and will increase your electric rates four to five-fold. So we are an essential industry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Do you think that you undermined your credibility by starting a press conference about the status of the miners by really making a speech about the coal industry?
MURRAY: Absolutely, Mr. Abrams. I‘ve now had hundreds of interviews over the last 18 days. I had one bad press conference. I‘m a coal miner. I‘m a CEO. I‘m not a polished public relations man. And I made a mistake. But don‘t, please, conclude from that that I haven‘t had the greatest passion and empathy for these trapped miners and the nine heroes that were killed or maimed on August 16. They‘re my employees. They‘re my responsibility, and I take them to bed every night. Yes, sir, I made a mistake, but I only had one of those press conferences like that.
ABRAMS: All right. Fair enough. And I want to finally give you an opportunity to respond to this from “The Salt Lake Tribune.” It refers to violations, Murray mine violations. “Murray‘s Galatia mine in southern Illinois racked up at least 2,787 violations and more than $2.4 million in proposed fines from the Mine Safety and Health Administration over a two-year span, according to government records.”
Now, I know that many of those are going to be on appeal and some of them are going to be minor, but according to the article, some of them were major.
MURRAY: It‘s very hard, Mr. Abrams, for a layman to take the violations from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, some of them for having a dirty toilet on a section or no toilet paper, and conclude from those numbers whether a mine is safe or not. You want to measure that by how many accidents they‘ve had. In the last year, the Crandall Canyon mine had two sprained backs and one cut hand. That‘s all the accidents we‘ve had in 39 violations, which even our detractors have said is quite low.
ABRAMS: Robert Murray, thank you very much. I know it‘s been a long day for you, and there will continue to be long days ahead. I appreciate you taking the time.
MURRAY: I will stay on this mountain, Mr. Abrams, until this tragic event for these families is brought to a resolution, sir. Thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up: A quick-thinking woman calls 911 while being carjacked.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to rape me? Are you going to kill me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I‘m not a rapist. I robbed somebody.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ABRAMS: She joins us live to talk about the frightening ordeal.
But first, this guy tells us how to drive away a reporter knocking at your door. I‘ll bet you can guess what he did next. It‘s coming up in “Beat the Press.”
ABRAMS: Time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press, our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV. First up: Over at CNN‘s Headline News, Nancy Grace talked about how she could hardly even stand to look at the video her show was running about abuse at a nursing home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to say this is just absolutely horrible!
NANCY GRACE, HOST, “NANCY GRACE”: Steve, I can hardly even stand to look at it!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: So hard to look at that they decided to run it again and again and again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: You are seeing secret surveillance video of an attack on patients in a health care facility in Anaheim.
You are seeing secretly obtained cell phone video out of a nursing facility in Anaheim.
You are seeing secretly recorded cell phone video out of a nursing facility in Anaheim.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: I know. It‘s so hard to look at that we have to put it up again and again and again.
Next up: A reporter at our Philadelphia station, WCAU, did what many reporters do. She went to the home of a man she wanted to interview. He appeared at the front door and then did what many Americans would like to do when confronted with a reporter on their doorstep.
Oh! Not! Thank you for putting up that square. I actually would prefer if it went up a lot higher.
We want your help beating the press. If you see anything amusing, absurd, just right or wrong in the press, go to our Web site at Abrams.msnbc.com. Leave us a tip in the box. Please include the show and the time you saw (INAUDIBLE)
Up next: Palm Springs police are investigating a case which appears to be inspired by Charles Mason, with satanic symbols and messages left in a home. We‘ll talk to the police about a possible Manson connection and look back at the case for possible clues.
Plus: A New Jersey mayor refusing to report illegal immigrants to the federal authorities even after they‘ve been charged with crimes. It‘s hard to believe after an illegal was accused of executing three students in his city. Coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES MANSON, MURDERER: Did you ever take it back before yourself to say that you‘re responsible for “Helter-Skelter”? Did Jerry Rubin, and Abbie Hoffman, and Dr. Timothy Leary take any responsibility for the children that they said that I influenced? You know, you want to drop the blame on Charlie and say it‘s all Charlie‘s fault.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Creepy comments of mass murder Charles Manson. Nearly four decades ago, he and his followers brutally killed seven people, stabbing the victims multiple times, using their blood to write “Death to Pigs” and “Helter-Skelter” on the walls.
Now in Palm Springs, California, an eerie scene. Officers report a forced entry at a home where the intruders left markings on the wall saying, “Pigs, blood, and helter-skelter.” We‘re going to talk to a member of the Palm Springs police department in just a moment.
But first, NBC‘s Lester Holt takes us back to the chilling crime of Charles Manson.
LESTER HOLT, NBC ANCHOR (voice-over): Saturday, August 9, 1969. Night falls on the Hollywood hills. Armed with three buck knives and a gun, followers of Charles Manson make their way toward Benedict Canyon with murder in mind. Pregnant actress Sharon Tate, the wife of famed director Roman Polanski, and Jay Sebring, a celebrated hairstylist of the stars, are among five who will be sadistically slain by evening‘s end.
DANIEL GALINDO, LAPD: I ain‘t never seen anything like it, anything of that magnitude. So much hate, so much blood, and such a terrible waste of life.
LEO WOLINSKY, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, “L.A. TIMES”: There was extreme paranoia about it right off the bat. The first reports were that this was a drug-related thing, about famous people who had purchased drugs and then were murdered by the people who sold it to them.
HOLT: But 24 hours later, when grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, are found slain in the same ritualistic and gruesome way, Los Angeles fears the worst.
VINCENT BUGLIOSI, AUTHOR, “HELTER SKELTER”: People literally were dropped from guest lists, parties were cancelled because people were wondering, are the killers among us?
HOLT: The gruesome death of rising film star Sharon Tate helps fuel one of the most intensive and perplexing police investigations in U.S. history.
BUGLIOSI: The police typically were going to their police books and they were looking for conventional motives. Roman Polanski immediately suspected something different, because there were words printed in blood on the wall, so he suspected that it was going to be very, very bizarre.
HOLT: Polanski‘s suspicions are confirmed when, four months later, those responsible are caught and the face of evil is redefined.
GALINDO: Once Charlie was arrested, you really got the impression that, OK, this guy was a hippie. This was a guy who represented the free love movement, the experimentation that we saw everywhere, but instead it was the dark side. And it really began to feel like the end of the ‘60s.
HOLT: When the Beatles released the “White Album” in 1968, Manson believed the song “Helter-Skelter,” a cut on that album, is a call to arms.
BUGLIOSI: So they came out with an album called “The White Album.” Manson got a hold of the album, and he came racing back to the ranch. He was all excited, and he said, “The Beatles are telling it like it is.”
HOLT: And telling it to him.
BUGLIOSI: Manson thought that the Beatles were prophets and that they were speaking to him and other tuned in people beneath the lyrics of their songs. So he told the members of this family the Beatles want a violent revolution.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That‘s what he said, that next summer there would be this big revolution and that the chosen people would live in a hole in the middle of the desert.
ABRAMS: And now we‘re talking about a case in Palm Springs, California. We‘re joined now by Mitch Spike from the Palm Springs Police Department who joins us on the phone.
Thanks very much. So, look, the comparison is a bit tenuous here, but there were some markings, some language that was left in this Palm Springs home which has led some to make the connection, right?
SGT. MITCH SPIKE, PALM SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Yes, it was probably a slight connection. It‘s certainly not anywhere near that magnitude. I was kind of surprised that it got all the attention that it did.
ABRAMS: The markings on the walls that were left, helter-skelter, pigs in blood?
ABRAMS: And what had happened at that home? I mean, had they just broken in and left those markings there?
SPIKE: Well, we still haven‘t figured out exactly what they had in mind when they went in there, but they did pry open the sliding glass door, really kind of tore the place up. Not terribly destructive, not anything that is beyond repair, but there‘s a lot of things were strewn about. A lot of the drawers were open. Things were ransacked. And they used—actually took some time to use some bamboo sticks from a plant in there to make a very large pentagram symbol on the living room floor.
ABRAMS: Pretty close to the time of the Manson slaying anniversary, right?
SPIKE: Yes, and I don‘t know if it‘s an odd coincidence. It‘s certainly not a significant anniversary. I think it was 38 years or something like that. But it did kind of raise some suspicions.
ABRAMS: Sergeant Spike, thanks a lot for taking the time. Appreciate it.
SPIKE: Yes, sure.
ABRAMS: When 21-year-old Cidney Smith was carjacked in Indianapolis, it seemed she did everything right. She secretly called 911 from her purse and put the purse on the floor, kept repeating the information so the dispatcher could hear exactly what was happening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CIDNEY SMITH, CARJACKING VICTIM: You‘re going to keep my red Volkswagen and we‘re—are we taking 86th Street, where are we going? Are you going to rape me? Are you going to kill me?
CARJACKER: No, I‘m not a rapist. I robbed somebody. Do you understand what I am saying to you?
SMITH: Yes, yes, yes, yes.
CARJACKER: Damn. Stay down.
SMITH: So you‘re taking me where?
CARJACKER: Stay down. Stay down. Stay down.
SMITH: I‘m hot though.
CARJACKER: I‘m going to do the air conditioning.
SMITH: The air conditioning doesn‘t work.
CARJACKER: Oh, my God.
SMITH: OK, you have a knife. I understand that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Cidney eventually jumped out of the moving car, rolling onto a grassy area near the highway. Cidney Smith joins us now.
Thanks for coming on the show. We appreciate it. How you doing?
SMITH: I‘m good. How are you? Thank you for having me.
ABRAMS: I‘m good. I‘m glad to hear that you‘re doing well. I‘ve got to tell you, was this a strategy going in? I mean, it seemed that you did everything right. You kept talking. You let the police know where you were based on the 911 call, and it seemed like you kind of freaked him out.
SMITH: I think I did a little bit. I don‘t know. I just did what my gut was telling me to do. I knew I needed to somehow get out of that car, and my first instinct was to call 911.
ABRAMS: And I understand they arrested this guy yesterday in connection with something else and you went running down to identify him?
SMITH: Yes, I got a call from my mom. A co-worker‘s husband actually heard on a scanner that there was a car accident with a Volkswagen bug, and it was stolen. Well, there‘s not many Volkswagen bugs that are stolen in the area, so I immediately jumped in my car with my roommates, went down to the area. And there I saw my car totaled on the tow truck, and then I looked to my side, and there‘s the man that carjacked me and held a knife to my throat.
ABRAMS: Wow. All right, here‘s a little bit more from the 911 call.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARJACKER: I‘m not a murderer.
SMITH: OK, just take my car, take me and drop me off, I won‘t look at you.
CARJACKER: You already did, you already saw me.
SMITH: I barely don‘t remember. I‘m so scared right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: So he says, “You already saw me.” Was he threatening you? I mean, it seems that at some points that he‘s more afraid than you are.
SMITH: Yes, he was definitely very nervous during this whole process. But like I say, I was just trying to stay down, and he kept telling me not to look at him. And he kept having me pushing my neck down. And he didn‘t want me to see him. And I did get a glance at him at one point. I told him that, and then he got freaked out by that.
ABRAMS: I‘ll bet. Here‘s another piece of the 911 call.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARJACKER: I‘m telling you, I promise you I will not hurt you today if you tell the truth.
SMITH: I‘m not going to do anything stupid. I‘m going to try and do what you say, but I really want to get out of this car. I just don‘t want you to murder me.
911: Ah, (bleep) she hung up the phone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Is that when you jumped out of the car?
SMITH: It is a few minutes after that. He had taken my phone and shut it and put it in his lap, and at that point I figured out, “I don‘t hear sirens. Nobody knows I‘m in this car. Police are not anywhere near me.” So we were making the corner or making the turn, a wide turn, and that‘s when I unlocked the door, opened it, kicked it open, and as I was turning the corner, actually my legs were flying out and he kind of had me in a headlock. And I was actually making eye contact with people as I was making this turn, and then somehow I think God just told me to roll out of that car, and I did.
ABRAMS: Real quick, how did you go about dialing that phone number from in your purse?
SMITH: Well, my purse just was kind of open on the seat, and he wasn‘t paying attention to me because I had stick shift. So I think that‘s one thing that did help me throughout this whole thing, because there was no way he could drive and have the knife on me the whole time. So I just dialed 911 and kept staying down. And it‘s remarkable that it‘s so clear, because there were bags and things on top of my purse the whole time.
ABRAMS: Well, this is a model for what people should do, if they can, in this kind of situations. It‘s great to see that you‘re doing well. And, you know, it seems like, you know, you beat this guy at his own game.
SMITH: I believe so, yes.
ABRAMS: Thanks a lot for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
SMITH: Thank you so much for having me.
ABRAMS: Up next, the mayor of Newark is still saying he does not want local officials notifying the feds when an illegal immigrant is charged with a crime. This even after an illegal is repeatedly charged with child rape before he allegedly murdered three students in that city. What is the big deal with saying there should be a one-strike policy for illegal immigrants? We debate it.
ABRAMS: It seemed like a pretty simple proposition: Any time an illegal immigrant is charged with a crime, the immigration authorities should be notified. For some reason, it‘s just not as simple as it sounds.
A 15-year-old girl brutally murdered in Oregon could have been prevented if local officials had notified the immigration authorities. The suspect was twice convicted of DUI. And new outrage tonight in the triple murder of three promising students in Newark, New Jersey, as that city‘s mayor says he will not change his position on informing immigration authorities about illegals charged with crimes, even though an illegal immigrant and accused child rapist was allowed back on the street to allegedly execute the students by forcing them to kneel at a wall before shooting them in the head.
Mayor Booker said, quote, “Local law enforcement officials should not be going out, asking, inquiring, and investigating as to whether people are documented or undocumented immigrants. That‘s going to create a chill in which often the most marginalized and most vulnerable citizens in my city do not feel comfortable engaging with police.”
Today, the state attorney general ordered all New Jersey law enforcement authorities to notify the immigration officials whenever an illegal immigrant is arrested. My take. I said it last night, I‘ll say it again. Why isn‘t there a “one strike and you‘re out” rule when you‘re an illegal immigrant and you break the law? If there‘s a crime committed or even charged and the suspect is an illegal immigrant, why shouldn‘t immigration know? Is that really that much to ask?
Here now, Florida prosecutor Pam Bondi and former New York prosecutor David Schwartz.
David, is it that much to ask?
DAVID SCHWARTZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It is a lot to ask, Dan, and I‘ll tell you why, because it does create a chilling effect. In these neighborhoods, in Newark and neighborhoods in Brooklyn where I practice law, there is a distrust of the police. And you want illegal immigrants—sometimes they‘re on the front lines—to come forward and cooperate with the police on criminal investigations involving dangerous gangs and whatnot. So there is a chilling effect, I agree with the mayor.
ABRAMS: Well, Pam, I would assume that another way to make them feel more comfortable coming to the police would just to make all illegal immigrants legal. I mean, there‘s a lot of things we could do to coddle people.
PAM BONDI, PROSECUTOR: And, Dan, let me tell you, we do. When you have victims and witnesses of crimes, they basically get a free visa. We make it clear to our migrant community that—because they‘re easily victimized, because people know they‘re illegal immigrants. Those people are not deported; it‘s the criminals. Our country is a privilege to live in our country, and I‘m with you. If you commit a crime, you should be deported. That‘s it. That‘s the law.
ABRAMS: And I‘ve got to tell you, I don‘t care what the crime is. I mean, again, in this Oregon case, with this beautiful 15-year-old killed, and these three promising students in Newark, New Jersey, also, you know, beautiful, great students in New Jersey, and in both these cases all they had to do was just say, hey, immigration service, we‘ve got an illegal who‘s been convicted or charged with a serious crime.
SCHWARTZ: Dan, it works that way in a perfect world. It doesn‘t work that way in the real world. In the real world, under this system, if you had to tell immigration about every single little arrest that occurs in this country, you would flood that system so badly.
ABRAMS: In the Newark case, is it a little arrest to talk about the guy being charged repeatedly with child rape?
SCHWARTZ: You know what? In Newark case, the criminal justice system failed. A child rapist should not have been let out on bail the way it was. If you saw that case go down, that arraignment, that judge was sleeping. That prosecutor was sleeping. That was a local criminal justice system. It had nothing to do with immigration.
ABRAMS: Pam, you get the final word on this.
BONDI: Well, Dan, I mean, this other guy had a second DUI. A DUI, we all know, is one element away from DUI manslaughter, and those are very serious crimes. So I agree with you. I think if you commit a crime in our country, you should be deported. You serve your time, and then you‘re deported.
ABRAMS: Yes, it doesn‘t matter to me what type of crime. I mean, the notion that we have to protect illegal immigrants so that they can do anything, X, Y, and Z, just seems to me to be ridiculous when you‘re talking about someone charged with a crime. Yes, that‘s the specific point.
All right, Pam Bondi, Dave Schwartz, I apologize for cutting this one short. We went long in an interview earlier. Thanks for coming on the program.
BONDI: Thank you.
SCHWARTZ: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up, dog owners try to put a new spin on the Michael Vick case. Bill Murray takes a dangerous spin in a golf cart. And a bathroom so awesome it will make your head spin. Tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” are next.
ABRAMS: Time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 22nd day of August, 2007.
Our first winner, 34-year-old Siba Mallick, who pulled two boys on their motorcycle using his two-foot-long handlebar moustache as handlebars. The Indian joyride lasted for more than a mile. For his next stunt, Siba says he wants to pull something a little bigger, like a four-wheel vehicle. These stories just don‘t get lost in translation.
Our first loser, “Lost in Translation” star Bill Murray, who‘s drunken joy ride in a four-wheel vehicle could land him behind bars. Murray was busted Monday in Sweden driving a golf course through downtown Stockholm allegedly intoxicated. Murray will likely just face a few fines...
BILL MURRAY, ACTOR: So at least he‘s got that going for him, which is nice.
For relaxing times, make in Suntory time.
ABRAMS: Our second winners? Three off-duty cops in Argentina. They saved an 8-year-old boy who fell hundreds of feet under an iced river. The boy was walking on the frozen water when it caved. The fearless rescuers eventually fetched the boy out, performed CPR, and sent him to a local hospital where he remains in stable condition.
Our second loser, a clearly unstable Kansas City woman who put her life on the line for a pack of smokes. She walked into an armed robbery in progress, a situation that would make most people freeze. Not her. She ordered the shotgun-wielding burglar to fetch her a pack of cigarettes. Oh, and some cigars for her boyfriend, too. The robbers and their new accomplices are yet to be found.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, is your mommy a doctor? Well, she doesn‘t exactly sound like a credible expert, now, does she?
ABRAMS: But the big loser of the day? Michael Vick. Again. Now because his once best-selling jersey is being used to keep dog cages spic and clean. The Atlanta Humane Society has been flooded with Vick‘s number seven uniform for use as rags and blankets, anything from cleaning up after the dogs to keeping them warn and comfy while they await adoption.
But the big winner of the day, Jungle Jim‘s International Market in Fairfield, Ohio, for its never flooded and always spic and span bathrooms. Yes, in an online poll, it was rated America‘s number-one place for Number One and Number Two. Visitors enter what looks like a Port-O-Potty, but quickly find one of the cleanest, most comfortable johns in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: We here at MSNBC are disappointed that our bathroom did not win that contest, but we are gracious winners. We are gracious losers. Joining me now on the phone is Jim Bonaminio, the owner of Jungle Jim‘s International Market, proud home of America‘s best bathroom.
Jim, thanks for coming on the program.
JIM BONAMINIO, OWNER, JUNGLE JIM‘S INTERNATIONAL MARKET: All right, thank you.
ABRAMS: Did you have any idea that you were going to win the national contest for best public bathroom?
BONAMINIO: Wait a minute, before I even start here, I want to thank all of my customers and all the people across America that voted for me.
ABRAMS: Tell me, how did you do it?
BONAMINIO: How did I do what?
ABRAMS: How did you win? What did you do to make your bathrooms so clean?
BONAMINIO: Well, I mean, what I did was, I mean, I can‘t—did you ever play sports?
ABRAMS: I did.
BONAMINIO: Well, a contest to me is like sports. I want to win. This deal was a plaque, but it was a game. So we did bag stuffers in the store. We did big TV spots. At the end, about a week and a half before, I did 10-second spots on all the TV networks. I mean, you think I was going to the moon.
ABRAMS: Was the toilet tissue like extra soft or something? We heard about a gold toilet in China.
BONAMINIO: Oh, my god. You know what? When Mandolin Bay—I found out through the grapevine that they were giving $5 vouchers to gamble if you would vote for them. When I found that out, I said they were going to take me, no chance. But, hey, I gave it all I got, and at the end we won.
ABRAMS: I‘ve got to wrap it up, Jim. Those sound effects are unintentional, of course. We don‘t monitor the toilet feed. Thanks for watching. We‘ll see you here tomorrow. Doc Block is next.
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