Guests: Wendy Cortez
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Who would have thought that six years to the day after 9/11, 789 more Americans would have died in the war in Iraq than New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on that day in September, that bin Laden would still be on the loose making tapes, and that the country would be so divided and frustrated, despite that post-9/11 period of unity? That division crystal clear during today‘s Senate hearings with the top commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker on the hot seat again. Yesterday some said their testimony to the House may have swayed some moderate Republicans. It sure didn‘t look or sound that way today at the Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD LUGAR ®, INDIANA: The greatest risk for the United States policy is not that we are incapable of making progress, but that this progress may be largely beside the point, given the divisions that now afflict Iraqi society. The risk is that our efforts are comparable to a farmer expanding his resources and efforts to plant a crop on a flood plain without factoring in the probability the waters may rise.
SEN. NORM COLEMAN ®, MINNESOTA: Americans want to see light at the end of the tunnel, but I think we need something a little more than, say, Give us more time to come back again in the fall.
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL ®, NEBRASKA: To question strategy is not unpatriotic. Where is this going? Now, let‘s don‘t get down into the underbrush of the 18 benchmarks. And by the way, let‘s clear some of the record on that. Those 18 benchmarks didn‘t come from the Congress of the United States, those benchmarks came from the Iraqi government and this administration. Somehow, it‘s the Congress dictated these benchmarks. Well, we didn‘t.
Let‘s get above the underbrush and look at the strategic context, which essentially, we have never done. That‘s not your fault, General. It‘s not Ambassador Crocker‘s fault. It‘s this administration‘s fault.
SEN. JOHN WARNER ®, VIRGINIA: Are you able to say at this time, if we continue what you have laid before the Congress here as a strategy, do you feel that that is making America safer?
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, CMDR., MULTI-NATIONAL FORCES IRAQ: Sir, I believe that this is, indeed, the best course of action to achieve our objectives in Iraq.
WARNER: Does that make America safer?
PETRAEUS: Sir, I don‘t know, actually.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: General, I hear this statement more than any other statement from troops. The reason I‘m here is I don‘t want my kids to have to come back. Do you hear that?
PETRAEUS: I do, sir. And I have a kid, who, as you heard...
GRAHAM: Who‘s going to go, probably.
PETRAEUS: ... and may well, yes, sir.
GRAHAM: There‘s no “may well,” he‘ll either be in Iraq or Afghanistan. You know that, don‘t you.
PETRAEUS: Sir, I do.
GRAHAM: And the recommendations you‘re making make it more likely that your own son is going to go to war. You know that, don‘t you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Those were all Republicans.
My take. It‘s kind of amazing that you have Democrats in control of Congress and the GOP seemingly abandoning the president on Iraq, and yet somehow, the only change in policy is that the president will likely announce that next year, troop levels may return to where they were earlier this year. But the question, was this a stunning development, with all these Republicans going after Petraeus and Crocker?
Joining me now, Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of Salon.com, and Pat Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst. All right. Joan, were you surprised at how aggressive the Republicans were?
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: I really was, Dan I was because I thought yesterday was sort of a PR win for the White House. And clearly, we all know that some of the moderate Republicans were the audience for General Petraeus. The president really wants to keep them on his side, voting with him. And so when people came out swinging today, I was—I was surprised and I was impressed.
I think it was a devastating day for Petraeus. I think we learned, first of all, as you just showed, that he doesn‘t know if this war is going to make us safer. He doesn‘t know how long it‘s going to have to last, and he doesn‘t know how long the troops will have to be there. So on balance, I think this is a terrible day for the White House and for Petraeus, and now we‘ll see what the Republicans do.
ABRAMS: You know, Pat, I was—I was struck by how aggressive the questioning was. I mean, we did come away from yesterday with the headlines and the impression that Petraeus had at least survived enough such that moderate Republicans wouldn‘t defect. And yet, there you have at the Senate all of these—whether you call them moderate Republicans or you call them Republicans who are questioning this war, going after Petraeus and Crocker.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, Dan, they are frustrated, just like the Democrats are. They are impotent, just like the Democrats are.
BUCHANAN: For the simple reason that what Petraeus said in his formal statement was, To bring the troops home precipitously risks disastrous consequences. I think virtually all those senators suspect that or believe that, and thus they are trapped because they have no alternative to the current course, which is working somewhat militarily because we got a lot of troops in there, and the political situation has not developed. They don‘t have an alternative. They don‘t have the will or the courage to impose a defund the war solution...
ABRAMS: Joan, what about that?
BUCHANAN: ... so they have to continue.
WALSH: Well, you know, Pat keeps setting up this as precipitous withdrawal, and I don‘t think those are the only solutions. I think, in fact, if you‘re concerned about a bloodbath and you‘re concerned about the future of Iraq after we leave—and we will leave, Dan. We are leaving. If you‘re concerned about that, then the sensible thing to do is try to coalesce around some real timelines for withdrawal and deadlines. Yes, deadlines that let the Iraqis know we‘re serious. Pat keeps setting up this false dichotomy between staying indefinitely and precipitously withdrawing. Those are not the only choices.
BUCHANAN: Joan, Pat does not. The Democrats go ahead and set their deadlines. They‘ll get body-slammed again. And then they will vote the funds. The point is, we are coming out. You‘re going to get one brigade out in December and you‘re going to have by April or so next year the same number of troops in Iraq as you had in November of 2006.
WALSH: And many more dead soldiers.
WALSH: I mean, why are soldiers being asked to die if there‘s no end game?
ABRAMS: I want to—we already played all these Republicans, right? I mean, that‘s what we had there. We had Republican after Republican after Republican. You can imagine then how ugly it was when the Democrats were speaking. Here‘s Senator Joe Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Sen. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The surge, for whatever tactical or temporary security gains it might achieve, is at the service of a fundamentally flawed strategy. And that strategy is the administration continues to believe that we can achieve political progress in Iraq by building a strong national unity government in Baghdad that secures the trust of the Iraqi people. In my view, gentlemen, I don‘t think that‘s going to happen in the lifetime of any of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Let me ask you this, Pat. Do you think that it has any practical impact? I mean, this is theater, to some degree. We know that. OK. But do you think that with Petraeus and Crocker sitting there and hearing not just the Democrats but the Republicans going after them, that it actually may impact policy at all?
ABRAMS: No chance?
BUCHANAN: No, I don‘t. Well, I mean, look, let me just say this.
Joe Biden voted for this war. Why didn‘t all these senators ask these questions in October of 2002...
WALSH: I agree with you, Pat.
BUCHANAN: ... before they gave the president a blank check to go to war? And some of us said, Don‘t do it, we‘re headed into a disaster.
WALSH: You and I said that, Pat.
BUCHANAN: And that‘s what came of it.
WALSH: We were right. But now what?
BUCHANAN: Well, now...
WALSH: You and I said that, Pat, and we were right, but...
BUCHANAN: Now we are caught there. And I believe Petraeus is right. If you turn around and come out too fast, you‘ve got a humanitarian and strategic disaster. And he‘s starting out, and we‘re taking risks of that. And it seems to me that both Republicans and Democrats agree that they have no better course and they don‘t have the guts to impose another course.
ABRAMS: Yes. All right. Here‘s Hillary Clinton from today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have been made the de facto spokesman for what many of us believe to be a failed policy. Despite what I view as your rather extraordinary efforts and your testimony both yesterday and today, I think that the reports that you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Joan, there is something to the notion that really all the Democrats are doing, are willing to do is say, Bad, bad, bad, and give a slap on the wrist. And Pat‘s point is, you know, we‘re not seeing any action here. I guess the question is, Can we see any action here? But is this all just theater, in the end?
WALSH: I don‘t know if it‘s theater. I wouldn‘t be that cynical. I‘ve been disappointed in some of the Democrats. But look, Dan, the point is, you showed great clips of Republicans talking tough. But the fact of the matter is that Warner and Lugar have talked tough before and that they don‘t join the Democrats and vote for timelines. So the problem really is that Republicans refuse to join Democrats and put some kind of muscle behind their words. They like to slap the president around. And I believe that they...
ABRAMS: Just a matter of time.
WALSH: ... truly believe...
ABRAMS: Just—I mean, it is just a matter of time.
WALSH: I think that‘s true. I think that‘s absolutely true.
BUCHANAN: Why don‘t they, if they don‘t believe in the war, defund the war?
ABRAMS: Yes, well, look—and Pat, the answer you give every time you‘re on the show, which is because it‘s the political matter, they‘re going to get slaughtered.
BUCHANAN: Well, they‘re scared to death of the consequences.
ABRAMS: Yes. That‘s right.
BUCHANAN: And rightly so.
ABRAMS: It doesn‘t mean the consequences that they‘re afraid of in Iraq. It means the consequences they‘re afraid of at the voting booth.
WALSH: But you know, Pat, you said...
BUCHANAN: If it turned out well in Iraq, they wouldn‘t have negative consequences at the voting booth. They‘re afraid of what happens in Iraq.
ABRAMS: All right. Let me give Pat the final word. Joan Walsh and Pat Buchanan, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
BUCHANAN: Thank you, Dan.
ABRAMS: Up next: Just when you thought the Republicans might get a break from sex scandals, embattled “family values” Senator David Vitter now accused of having a four-month affair with a prostitute, the woman apparently passed a lie-detector test to back up her story. She joins us next.
And later: Major developments in the case of missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann. Prosecutors have now handed over a 1,000-page case file to a judge who will soon decide whether to charge the little girl‘s parents. We‘ll talk to a family friend about the latest in the case. That‘s coming up.
As we go to break, a reminder in lights of what was lost on this day six years ago, blue spires disappearing into the heavens above lower Manhattan, marking the space once taken by a pair of engineering marvels, the Twin Towers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DAVID VITTER ®, LOUISIANA: Unfortunately, my admission has encouraged some long-time political enemies and they‘re hoping to profit from the situation, to spread falsehoods, too, like those New Orleans stories in a recent report. Those stories are not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: After his phone number turned up on the list of the “D.C. madam,” Republican senator David Vitter claimed his affair was geographically limited to Washington, D.C. But late this afternoon, a former New Orleans prostitute held a press conference to announce she‘d passed a lie-detector test in which she having twice-a-week trysts, sometimes three times a week with the “family values” lawmaker at $300 a pop for four months. The polygraph was paid for by “Hustler” magazine publisher Larry Flynt, and he‘s here with us now, along with Wendy Cortez, the former New Orleans escort. Thanks very much for both of you for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
All right. Ms. Cortez, let me start with you. Can you tell—tell me about the state of your relationship with Vitter.
WENDY CORTEZ, ALLEGES AFFAIR WITH SENATOR VITTER: It was purely a sexual relationship.
ABRAMS: And it lasted for four months?
ABRAMS: And how did you come to meet him? Did he come to—what was your—how did you get introduced?
CORTEZ: He came to the escort service which I was working for at the time, and the appointment was set up. And that‘s how we met.
ABRAMS: You‘re sure it was him, right?
CORTEZ: A hundred percent positive.
ABRAMS: You answered two questions on a polygraph—number one and two. Did you have a sexual relationship with David Vitter through New Orleans escort service? The answer, Yes. Did you have a sexual relationship with David Vitter for at least four months through a New Orleans escort service? The answer, Yes. And apparently, according to a well-known polygrapher, he believed that you were telling the truth.
Before I ask Larry Flynt a question, let me play this. This is from Vitter in a radio interview from July 25, 2002, where he was asked about this issue. Let‘s listen. Then I want to talk about it.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be willing to sign under the penalty of perjury an affidavit saying you have never had an extramarital affair and you have never known, met or been in the company of one Wendy Cortez?
VITTER: Thank you for repeating all these vicious rumors that my political enemies are trying to bandy about. And those rumors are absolutely true (SIC), and they really don‘t belong in any political campaign. And I‘ve stated very clearly that they‘re lies, but I‘m not going to start jumping through hoops and taking orders from my political enemies that have absolutely no credibility. So I‘ll speak very clearly about that. I have in the past, and I‘ll continue to do so.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Wasn‘t so clear, based on what he just said.
ABRAMS: But Wendy, let me ask you, you‘re going to be appearing in “Hustler” magazine now?
ABRAMS: And Larry, I assume you‘re paying her to do that, correct?
LARRY FLYNT, “HUSTLER” MAGAZINE PUBLISHER: Got to pay the bills, Dan.
ABRAMS: No, I mean, because you know that‘s going to lead to questions, Larry, about why she‘s coming forward now, about what she‘s saying, about the credibility of it, the fact you‘re paying her to pose in “Hustler.”
FLYNT: But none of those promises were made when we first sought out Wendy. When Vitter came in and gave his mea culpa in the Senate and said it was only one time with the “D.C. madam” and that he had prayed to his God and his wife and had forgiven him and all those rumors out of New Orleans were untrue, well, we knew better than that because we were still working on the case down there. So the guy is just totally absolutely lying.
And it‘s not the question -- (INAUDIBLE) kind of overlook the guy having one mistress, but a guy having a half a dozen, a little bit overboard.
FLYNT: But you know...
ABRAMS: ... here‘s a statement if his spokesperson in “The Times-Picayune.” “Senator Vitter and his wife have addressed all of this very directly. The senator‘s focused on important Louisiana priorities, like the water resources bill and the Iraq debate.”
It seems like in all these interviews, he‘s claiming he‘s speaking about it very directly and clearly, and then I don‘t really hear about it clearly or directly. It does sound like he‘s saying nothing else happened, that it was just the Washington case.
FLYNT: See, Dan, the Republicans welcomed him back with open arms. But then when Larry Craig gets in trouble, they want to refer it to the Ethics Committee immediately. And you know, it doesn‘t take a rocket scientist to figure out what‘s going on. Idaho votes 80 percent Republican.
FLYNT: And they‘ve got a Republican governor now. So he would appoint Craig‘s replacement. So either way, they‘re going to keep that seat. But Vitter is on shaky ground...
FLYNT: ... in Louisiana and they want to give him a pass. And we just have to—we just have to stop these...
ABRAMS: All right...
FLYNT: ... Republicans and Democrats alike.
ABRAMS: Wendy, look, you...
ABRAMS: Larry‘s talking about his reason for doing this. What is your reason for coming forward?
CORTEZ: Because all my life, I‘ve been called a liar. And you know, Vincent Bruno (ph) said that the reason why he gave my name was because his integrity was challenged, and that made me feel like less of a human being because I have integrity and I have dignity and I have self respect today, you know, and I‘m not a liar. And who cares if he did it. Be truthful. Be honest. Tell the truth.
ABRAMS: I would assume, though, you understand—I mean, you didn‘t expect him to come forward and say, yes, Wendy and I were sleeping together three times a week for four months, did you?
CORTEZ: No. No. I didn‘t.
FLYNT: That‘s why we‘re back here again...
ABRAMS: I know.
FLYNT: ... because he‘s a liar, Dan.
ABRAMS: Larry Flynt, Wendy Cortez, thanks very much for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
CORTEZ: Thank you.
FLYNT: OK. Thank you, Dan.
ABRAMS: Coming up: Portuguese prosecutors have now handed over more than 1,000 pages of evidence in the case to a judge, and the parents of missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann could now get charged. I‘m not sure they have the evidence they would need. We‘ll talk to a McCann family friend, coming up.
But first: Geraldo Rivera takes on a group of unruly protesters. His riotous demonstration is next in “Beat the Press.”
ABRAMS: It‘s time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press, our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV. First up: Former NFL star Tiki Barber is a correspondent for NBC News‘s “Today” show. But on an appearance on Fox‘s “O‘Reilly Factor,” you‘ll hardly know it. They referred to him as an NBC News correspondent a couple of times. Then on screen, they mention his NFL career a couple of times. And then the big payoff. They remind us that he used to work for Fox. Over and over and over again, 13 times, former correspondent for “Fox and Friends.” That would be like doing an interview when he‘d been playing for the New York Giants and putting up on the screen again and again, Former University of Virginia running back.
Next up: Over on “Good Morning America,” Diane Sawyer, who I really admire, interviewed presidential candidate Fred Thompson. But rather than ask him a somewhat uncomfortable question directly, she blamed it on someone, then everyone else.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANE SAWYER, “GOOD MORNING AMERICA”: Quick question (INAUDIBLE) I have never seen so much reporting about a candidate‘s wife, your wife, Jeri, as we know, almost 25 years...
FRED THOMPSON (R-TN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So you‘re going to report some more of it?
SAWYER: Well, I‘m going to let you answer everybody out there. What
does it say anything about you that you have a younger wife?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Of course, Thompson‘s right. Diane wanted to ask about his younger wife. She didn‘t ask because (INAUDIBLE) raised it or everybody else out there wanted to know. Just ask the questions you want answered. (INAUDIBLE) fair question.
Finally: One of the things you got to love about my friend, Geraldo Rivera, is that he never shies away from a fight. Here he is on Saturday after a group of 9/11 conspiracy theorists found their way in front of his show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS: Oh, get a life! Get a life! “9/11 was an inside job”—they really are one of the least attractive groups of demonstrators I‘ve ever seen. If violence breaks out, don‘t worry. We can handle it. Our Fox News team can take this bunch of—I don‘t want to use any foul language. As this group of misfits behind me continue their chanting—oh, I wish I could...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: You got to love Geraldo. You got to love those two women that were standing there with him, as well.
We want your help beating the press. If you see anything amusing, absurd, right or wrong, please go to our Web site, Abrams.msnbc.com. Leave us a tip in the box. Please include the show and the time you saw the item.
Up next: The parents of missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann may soon be charged for her death. New reports suggest the girl‘s hair was found in a car rented 25 days after she was last seen. But what does that really prove? Are they suggesting Madeleine was in the car all that time while the world was watching them? We‘ll talk to a close friend of Madeleine‘s family next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEREDITH VIEIRA, HOST, “THE TODAY SHOW”: Given all the pain that you are going through, how do you respond to some of the criticism that has been directed at you?
KATE MCCANN, MOTHER OF MISSING CHILD: I think, at worst, we could possibly call ourselves naive, but, you know, we‘re very responsible parents and we love our children very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: The authorities in Portugal are not so sure. Tonight, 10 boxes of evidence in connection with missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann sit before a Portuguese judge. She‘ll hand down a decision any day now. The police there reportedly want Kate and Gerry McCann charged in connection with their daughter‘s disappearance.
Significant developments today. The “Times of London” reporting that investigators reportedly found what they described as large quantities of Madeleine‘s hair in the back of a car that Gerry and Kate McCann rented 25 days after Madeleine went missing. Plus, detectives told reporters today that bodily fluid with something like an 88 percent match to Madeleine also found inside that same car.
Now on Friday, the police formally named both parents suspects. Prosecutors took the case to the judge, who now has a number of options, including an arrest warrant, wiretap, maybe trying to restrict the McCanns‘ movements.
Now joining us now about these developments, forensic science professor Moses Schanfield, former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt, and MSNBC legal analyst Susan Filan.
All right, Clint, let me first go to you for the overview, in terms of all of this new information. Each day it seems more and more is coming out which seems to implicate the McCanns.
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well, it seems to put pressure on the McCanns. The information that‘s coming out, Dan, is continual leak. It‘s not a leak. It‘s Niagara Falls by the Portuguese police, giving up this information to the media, and the question is, what‘s true? What‘s lie? What‘s innuendo?
You know, I‘ve been in the FBI for 25 years. I know you can feed information and try to drive somebody one way to the other. We don‘t know what‘s real yet in this case. So, you know, my challenge is the police are attempting to indict through the media as through investigation.
ABRAMS: Well, look, this is what I found to be the most interesting, and this is from the “London Times” from today, that two samples were apparently found under upholstery in the car. One they‘re describing is 100 percent DNA match, another 80 percent or so DNA match, one partial DNA match found inside the apartments. Professor Schanfield, how significant?
MOSES SCHANFIELD, FORENSIC SCIENCE PROFESSOR: Well, excuse me. The match inside—excuse me for a moment.
ABRAMS: You know what? I‘ll come right back you to.
Susan Filan, first of all, where do you think the “London Times” is getting this from?
SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Gosh, I‘d love to know. It sounds like police leaks. And it sounds like the police have been subjected to criticism that they‘re kind of Keystone Cops and they‘ve kind of bungled the investigation from the start. They did make a lot of mistakes. And now it looks like they‘re coming back swinging, saying, “You know what? You guys were fooled by these people. These are the greatest Oscar-winning actors ever. They‘re psychopaths and they‘re sociopaths.”
ABRAMS: But, Susan, what‘s with this—this is a car they rented 25 days after her disappearance. I guess the claim is going to be that they hid the body somewhere, and then they went and picked it up, and drove it, even though they‘re being watched by everyone?
FILAN: Yes. It‘s an “a-ha” kind of claim. There‘s no way that clump of hair could be in the car rented 25 days after the disappearance unless you had the body. It‘s one of those kind of “Oh, my gosh, wait, you mean this might not just be a trumped-up ploy to get these poor people to confess to something that they didn‘t do, but the Portuguese police can solve the crime?”
ABRAMS: Go ahead, Clint, and then...
VAN ZANDT: Yes, one other thing, going along with what Susan is saying, we‘re supposed to believe that these two people, medical doctors, would not be smart enough to realize there would be decomposition and put the body in a plastic bag, that they would have it wrapped in paper towels laid in the car so that these fluids would spill all over the car, and they wouldn‘t have the “a-ha” phenomenon to say, “Gee, I wonder if the cops will look in the back of the car.”
FILAN: But how do you get around the smell? I mean, a decaying body is going to stink.
ABRAMS: All right, here‘s what Gerry McCann said when he was interviewed talking about their car being searched.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERRY MCCANN, FATHER OF MISSING CHILD: We expect the same fairness and to be treated the same way as anyone else who has been in and around us. I mean, we wouldn‘t expect it any other way. The same high levels will be applied us to as we apply to anyone else, and that‘s only right and proper.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right, Professor Schanfield, I hope you‘re ready for us. So what do you make of this? I think you noticed something about the fact that the sample was found under upholstery in the car. You thought that was significant?
SCHANFIELD: I do, simply because, if it was simply transferred for clothing, it would be on the surface. I have to agree, a body that‘s been around that long is going to be more soup than body, and it‘s going to be very aromatic. So my concern would be how you‘d transport a body of that level of decay.
But clearly, from a forensic standpoint, the presence of clumps of hair and body fluids are not going to be something that‘s—especially since the girl‘s been gone for a very long period of time—are not readily explainable.
ABRAMS: Well, let me ask you, Professor, you can tell definitively, can‘t you, if a hair came off a body that was alive or not?
SCHANFIELD: If it‘s been some time since the individual has died, the hair will start changing, and that can be determined microscopically.
ABRAMS: Let‘s bring in a McCann family friend and spokesperson, David Hughes. Thanks very much for joining us. Appreciate it.
All right, so it seems that every day there is more information coming out in the last week which points the finger at the McCanns. What are they thinking right now?
DAVID HUGHES, MCCANN FAMILY FRIEND: Well, I think the main worry is that these allegations which are being made against them are actually a distraction from what they would really like to see going on, and that is a more intensive effort to find Madeleine or find out what happened to her. We‘ve got to remember that we have no solid foundation to believe that she‘s anything other than alive. Obviously, Kate and Gerry hope that she is still alive, and they would wish that the Portuguese police were putting their effort behind that search.
ABRAMS: Are they getting nervous? I mean, the Portuguese authorities now bringing 10 boxes of information to a judge, and it seems pretty clear that at least the police there want the parents charged.
HUGHES: Well, one thing I have to say is that, under Portuguese law, neither the McCanns themselves or people speaking on their behalf are actually allowed to talk about the content and detail of the investigation and the legal proceedings. But it‘s certainly the case that they‘re not so much worried, but they are horrified and angry at this turn of events. And, as I say, it‘s a big distraction from the task of finding Madeleine.
ABRAMS: Without talking specifically about the evidence, have they been surprised at this turn of events?
HUGHES: Yes, I think they were. I think a few weeks ago, they could tell that there was a certain turn in the attitude within the Portuguese media. We had some evidence, some suggestion that this was partly based on leaks coming from the police. But certainly, they think the allegations are unfounded. They‘ve got complete confidence in the innocence of both of them. And, you know, the big question they‘re saying is, whilst all this is going on, who‘s out there looking for their daughter?
ABRAMS: Susan Filan, if you‘re an attorney—and I know you‘ve been looking up Portuguese law in connection with this—how do you advice them in a way that may help prevent them from get charged?
FILAN: Well, this is a tricky one, Dan, because you really do have worldwide media attention. The standard legal advice, “Don‘t cooperate, don‘t talk, don‘t help the police,” probably would backfire on them in this case at this point in time.
If they are so convinced that they‘re innocent, they‘re able to convince their attorney that there‘s absolutely no risk in cooperating, I say, “Go full-court press. Do everything you can to show just how cooperative you are.” And the spokesperson that‘s speaking is right. Keep telling the world, “Look, you guys are focusing on us. We want you to find Maddy.”
ABRAMS: And, David Hughes, one more question for you. How are the parents holding up? They‘re now in a position I don‘t think that they have been in this entire period, which is they‘ve had the grief. We‘ve seen that publicly. But now there‘s got to be the fear that they may be charged at any day. How are they holding up?
HUGHES: It‘s not so much a fear, but in terms of how they‘re holding up, I think they‘ve got quite mixed feelings now they‘ve returned to the U.K. On the one hand, they‘re back in their home village amidst family and friends. They‘ve got their two other children, the twins, back in the U.K., getting adjusted to the environment in which they‘re used to living. But on the other hand, the sad fact from their point of view is they left the U.K. to go on holiday as a family of five. They‘ve had to return as a family of four.
ABRAMS: Real quick, David, are they working as doctors again?
HUGHES: Not as yet. I mean, this is only the second day they‘ve been back in the U.K. And they‘ve been spending time consulting with U.K. lawyers, getting reacclimatized, and, obviously, dealing with media and...
HUGHES: ... question of what they‘ll be doing work wise is for the future.
ABRAMS: Understood. David Hughes, thanks very much for taking the time. Appreciate it. Moses Schanfield, thank you.
Clint and Susan are going to stay with us, because coming up we‘re going to hear from the McCanns. And a British police officer tells us why he thinks the Portuguese authorities may be on the right track here, coming up next. As we head to break, sights and sounds from the 9/11 ceremonies held today.
ABRAMS: We‘re back with more on the case of missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann. A Portuguese judge now weighing the evidence against her parents and could charge Kate and Gerry McCann in connection with her disappearance. Last month, before they were named suspects in their daughter‘s disappearance, the McCanns spoke out publicly.
K. MCCANN: We‘ve got an excellent relationship with the Portuguese police and we meet frequently. And the flow of information has been great, actually. It‘s been very reassuring.
G. MCCANN: They very much know that, you know, we like frank information. And it‘s much easier for us to deal when we do that. You know, we were well-aware that these developments were going to happen. We were informed in advance. So, naturally, you know, this length of time, we are desperate to find Madeleine. That‘s the key thing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you, for example, know then this discovery of what‘s thought to be blood in the apartment, were you told of that?
G. MCCANN: I can‘t comment on any specifics in forensics, and we wouldn‘t do that. We would never, ever, ever jeopardize the investigation. And I think it‘s critical for people to realize that, that we do know some information, but, one, we‘re not allowed to tell, and, two, we would never, ever put anything into the public domain that might put the investigation on Madeleine at risk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what about some of the broader points, then, in this investigation that are being released to the media, or certainly being reported by the media, the idea that part of this inquiry is now shifting from a possible abduction to an investigation that might involve death or murder? How has that been for you? Were you aware of those sorts of shifts?
G. MCCANN: We‘re not naive. But on numerous occasions, the Portuguese police have assured us that they were looking for Madeleine alive and not, you know, Madeleine being murdered. And I don‘t know of any information that‘s changed that.
Of course, the information and the way the investigation is going is about thoroughness and making sure that everyone is as confident as possible that that is the case. And Kate and I strongly believe that Madeleine was alive when she was taken from the apartment. Obviously, what we don‘t know is what happened to her afterwards, who‘s taken her, and what are more to this, and we‘re desperate to find out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, the nature of these searches have actually involved yourself. Your car, I believe, is actually still being looked at by detectives. How has that been?
G. MCCANN: Well, of course, it‘s difficult. But we expect the same thoroughness and to be treated the same way as anyone else who has been in and around us. I mean, we wouldn‘t expect it any other way. The same high levels will be applied to us as would be applied to anyone else, and that‘s only right and proper.
And, of course, we are more than happy to cooperate with the police, and we have done every opportunity, from the minute we discovered Madeleine missing, and the police were called very early on. We alerted them almost immediately. And we will work with them and continue to work with them to try and get the breakthrough which we hope and pray for every single day, that today will be the day that Madeleine will be found.
ABRAMS: Former Surrey, England, police detective Mark Williams-Thomas has been following the case closely and joins us live on the phone from London.
Thank you very much, sir, for joining us. We appreciate it. All right, what do you make of all of this, these new reports, in particular from the “London Times” and elsewhere, about the evidence that was found in this car that the family apparently rented 25 days after Madeleine went missing?
MARK WILLIAMS-THOMAS, FORMER SURREY, ENGLAND, POLICE DEPARTMENT: I
think it‘s quite right—and I‘ve said from the very beginning—quite right that Gerry and Kate fall under the scrutiny of the law enforcement over in Portugal and that they are considered as suspects, and quite rightly that all of their friends are.
The difficult thing is—and one of your speakers spoke about it—is this aspect that a car rented 25 days later would require Gerry and Kate to have kept Madeleine somewhere in a country that‘s very hot, where her body would have started to decompose, and kept her body out of sight while still under the scrutiny of the British—not only the British and world media, but also the Portuguese police, as well as family from England. So very strange.
And whilst I can accept that they are right that they are being considered suspects, I really can‘t believe the theory that the Portuguese police are coming up with at the moment.
ABRAMS: All right. So then what—so it sounds like what you‘re saying is that this evidence that they claim that they have found just can‘t really be connected to the case?
WILLIAMS-THOMAS: Well, what‘s important, of course, is for the Portuguese police to eliminate all the aspects around that. So my understanding is that it‘s bodily fluids that were found in the rear of the car. And, again, we aren‘t party to the entire facts. A lot of the information that we‘re getting is either through leaks that are coming from the Portuguese media or from some of the family who, in the early days, certainly last week, were providing the media with a lot of information.
And so a reliance on the information that‘s come to us is not entirely factual. But in relation to the DNA from the bodily fluids in the back of the car, what we need to be clear about is, firstly, the controlled sample, and by that I mean the sample that the forensic experts are working from, is an exact match with Madeleine. And, of course, that‘s very difficult to establish, because you can‘t check it against Madeleine.
There are also other issues such as IBF. We know that Madeleine was as a result of IBF, so the fertility aspect needs to be considered. And we also need to consider secondary transport, in other words, where contact has been made with somebody else, and then that contact had got back in the car.
Now, once all of those issues are discarded, considered and discarded, we then also need to make sure—and this will be a completely and utterly fluke, but it may well happen—that somebody else has hired that vehicle, not Gerry and Kate, but somebody else, and they are the people who are responsible.
ABRAMS: Oh, boy, that would be one heck of a coincidence, if the family had rented the same car that the killer had supposedly rented. Mark Williams Thomas, thanks very much for coming on program. Appreciate it.
WILLIAMS-THOMAS: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Up next, today‘s “Winners and Losers.” Will today‘s big loser be Mary Kate Olsen, who is taking on a high-profile role on “Weeds,” scuba divers trying to lead the high life underwater, or an airline trying to stop customers from flying high based on how they‘re dressed? We‘ll talk to another very attractive female passenger asked to cover up on a flight, next in “Winners and Losers.”
ABRAMS: Time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 11th day of September, 2007.
ABRAMS (voice-over): Our first loser, former child star Mary Kate Olsen. The one-time “Full House” sweetheart is trying hard—maybe too hard—to change her image. First, it was a deep on-screen kiss with 63-year-old “Gandhi” star Ben Kingsley. Now another effort to run away from that good girl image by getting high on camera in the Showtime hit “Weeds.”
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is natural, the thought process made by God himself. So it‘s spiritual. It elevates you, blows your mind.
ABRAMS: Presumably an effort to sew up a different kind of fan base.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We be from Jamaica, man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lord have mercy.
ABRAMS: Our first winner, Jamaican runner Asafa Powell who weeded out the competition and broke the world record for the 100-meter dash -- 9.74 seconds—helping his country change its sometimes humorous image in the world of sports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Key elements for a successful team are a steady driver and three strong runners to push off down the ice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ice? Ice?
ABRAMS: The second winner, Paris Hilton. She could have a winning lawsuit against Hallmark over a set of cards they‘ve created featuring her image and her now infamous catchphrase.
PARIS HILTON, HOTEL HEIRESS: That‘s hot.
ABRAMS: Paris is seeking at least a half-million dollars in damages over the cards, which she says violates her trademark expression.
HILTON: That‘s hot.
ABRAMS: Hallmark says it‘s just satire, meaning they‘re laughing at her, not with her.
HILTON: That‘s hot.
ABRAMS: The second loser, the White House, whose greetings to Jews have also become something of a laughing matter. The president‘s team sent out Jewish New Year‘s wishes a week early. They posted it on their Web site on September 5th. The actual holiday isn‘t observed until sundown tomorrow.
But the big winners of the day, six Italian scuba divers taking the plunge, living 50 feet underwater for two weeks. It‘s part of an experiment in underwater living. The divers will prepare their own food and pass time by playing cards and listening to music. The oxygen-deprived adventurers volunteered for the breath-taking mission.
The big loser of the day? Southwest Airlines apparently on a mission to root out breath-taking passengers. Last week, a 23-year-old said she was told her outfit was too hot to fly. And tonight, 21-year-old Setara Qassim says she, too, was almost booted from a flight because of her outfit. She says flight attendants forced her to cover up, so she sat wrapped in a blanket for the one-hour flight.
ABRAMS: Joining me on the phone is Setara Qassim. Thanks for joining us. Appreciate it. Is it really that green dress is what you were wearing that they were so offended by?
SETARA QASSIM, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES PASSENGER: Yes.
ABRAMS: It‘s hard to believe, isn‘t it? I mean, come on.
QASSIM: I know, it was really hot that day, too.
ABRAMS: And so they had to wrap the blanket around you, and the flight attendant literally said you have to wrap the blanket around you?
QASSIM: Yes, I sat bundled up in a blanket for the entire flight.
ABRAMS: I bet there were probably some guys sitting next to you saying, “Oh, you know what, I‘ll take care of that, I‘ll wrap her.” So you‘re going to go to law school, right, trying to go to law school?
QASSIM: Yes, I am, I‘m trying to get an LSAT at the end of this month.
ABRAMS: Now, I assume that it‘s not as a result of this, thinking, “I need to be able to sue people over things”?
QASSIM: No, I‘ve always wanted to be a lawyer.
ABRAMS: And were you thinking when this happened, “lawsuit”?
QASSIM: What I was thinking, yes, and as soon—I think that week I spoke to about four attorneys about it, but they advised against filing any claims.
ABRAMS: I think it‘s probably best.
ABRAMS: And one of the things—as a lawyer to a future lawyer, we don‘t need to clog the system with lawsuits.
QASSIM: Exactly what they said, too.
ABRAMS: All right.
QASSIM: I‘m not going to pursue anything further.
ABRAMS: Good. Well, it seems like you‘re doing well. Thanks a lot for coming on the program. Sorry you had to go through that.
QASSIM: It‘s OK, you‘re welcome.
ABRAMS: That‘s all the time we have for tonight. Thanks for joining us. Coming up next, an MSNBC living history event, “9/11 As It Happened.”
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