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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Monday, December 7th, 2009

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guests: Richard Wolffe, Ezra Klein, Jonathan Cohn, Scott Horton



KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over):  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

Medicare for everybody—like I said, Medicare for more, anyway.  Democrats ponder lowering Medicare eligibility to age 60 or even 55; or offering the public the same plan the Senate and House get; or a new secret mutation of the public option not being discussed in public, but by 10 Democrats running from Feingold to Landrieu.

“Sarah from Alaska”: The neutral book quoting Sister Sarah‘s father on why she bailed out of Hawaii Pacific University.  There were too many Asians and Pacific Islanders.  Quoting Chuckie, “They were a minority type thing and it wasn‘t glamorous, so she came home.”  Oops!

The mystery suicide at George Bush‘s Gitmo.  Three detainees dead on one night in 2006.  Ruling: They killed themselves by stuffing rags down their own throats then tying their own hands together, then hanging them themselves?

The latest far-right conspiracy theory about the president: He addressed the nation last Tuesday, says the mayor of a suburb of Memphis, so Obama could preempt “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

The crash of Glenn Beck: The movie version of his big hit Christmas book sells 17 tickets in New York City.

And how many women are now on the list of Tiger Woods‘ trysts?  Nine? 

No one is sure, exactly.  Suffice it to say, he‘s well over par.

And three new motion news videos.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He was unconscious and snoring.


OLBERMANN:  Also, if the computer-generated van is a rockin‘ don‘t come a knockin‘.  We see where his squeaky clean reputation comes from and he slices one hard to the right and Tiger has asked out an operator here at “Time” magazine.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘ve received a unanimous phone call.


OLBERMANN:  A unanimous phone call?  From Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?  No!

All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, I will show you some neat tricks.



OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

It‘s not Medicare for everybody, far from it.  But with a real public option all but dead in the Senate, what about Medicare for the 10 percent of the U.S. population likely to need health care most?

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: The new proposal being discussed to expand Medicare by lowering the eligibility age to 55.  If that were to happen, up to 30 million more Americans would suddenly be eligible for that favorite of the town hall set—keep your damned government hands off my government-run Medicare.

Senate Democrats now considering Medicare expansion as one of several public option alternatives on the list of concessions that conservative Democrats would be asked to agree to in exchange for having the universal public option dropped all together.

Senator Kerry confirming tonight that, quote, “It‘s an option, it‘s being discussed, it does have some issues that are being raised, but it remains—it‘s on the table.”

The idea introduced by Senator Rockefeller, adding that it‘s still unclear whether Medicare expansion would be a replacement for the public option.  Quoting him, “I think that‘s one of the reasons it was brought up, but you don‘t do everything in juxtaposition with something else, always.”

As it exists now, Medicare is a single-payer system for Americans age 65 and older.  The new plan would allow people under 65 to buy into Medicare—an idea first floated by Governor Howard Dean during his run for the presidency in 2004.

All of this being hammered out among a group of 10 Senate Democrats picked to negotiate a compromise internally on the public option.  Five progressive Democrats: Schumer of New York, Rockefeller, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin; and five conservatives: Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Tom Carper of Delaware.

Senator Carper, a late substitution for Joe Lieberman of Connecticut who apparently failed to show up for the meetings—twice.

On Friday, the working group having started discussion on a new secret option, that reportedly involves using the Office of Personnel Management to oversee a national network of private insurance plans.  OPM is the same department that runs the health insurance program for federal employees.

Senator Harkin is telling MSNBC tonight that they will have a deal negotiated on something by this time tomorrow.  The senator adding that Ben Nelson‘s Stupak-like anti-abortion amendment introduced today will fail to pass.

Over the weekend, President Obama making a visit to the Capitol to give Senate Democrats, all Senate Democrats, a pep talk; the president deploying his second in command to deal with Republican scare tactics.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We‘re dealing with the same scare tactics and the same malarkey, rationing, threats that seniors won‘t get care, seniors will die sooner.  Come on, enough of the scare tactics.  It‘s time to set the record straight.

Look at me.  We‘re not raiding Medicare.  We‘re not cutting guaranteed benefits.  Health insurance is going to protect Medicare.  Not a dollar from the Medicare trust fund will be used to pay for the plan.


OLBERMANN:  Joining us now: “Washington Post” staff reporter Ezra Klein, who covers economic and domestic policy.

Ezra, good evening.

EZRA KLEIN, WASHINGTON POST:  Thank you for having me.

OLBERMANN:  This idea to expand Medicare, obviously, is one of several ideas that‘s being discussed as alternatives to a true, say, original brand public option.

Why are they being discussed now?

KLEIN:  Because they basically hit a breaking point.  They had—you know, we‘re pretty much near the end of the process here, and sort of under the leadership of Joe Lieberman, oddly enough, the Senate moderates or conservatives had really got in hard on the public option.  They basically said, “We will filibuster if you have anything called or recognizable as a public option.”  But the liberals wouldn‘t give it all up, either.

So, eventually, the leadership and the 10 they appointed began looking outside the public option itself.  And this appears to be one of the things they came up with.  Alongside other things on the table right now is expanding Medicare up to 150 percent or it‘s 133 percent in the Senate bill now.  And also, different types of tighter insurance regulation.

OLBERMANN:  The senator from Michigan, Ms. Stabenow, told reporters today she could support the bill without a public option as long as the bill accomplishes the same things that a public option would—namely, lower costs and increased competition.  Between her statement and the very existence of that working group of 10, is it officially time to write a formal obituary for a true public option?

KLEIN:  Unfortunately, the probably realistic answer is—if you‘re talking about what we‘re talking about at the beginning of this process, maybe, yes.  But it should—actually, the Medicare buy-in would be probably a bigger deal.  The public option that we—is in the House bill is really a lot weaker than Medicare and the folks who we really need to help, folks 55 and up, they‘re actually the ones with the toughest time in the insurance market as it is now.

This would be huge for them.  I mean, it would give them more continuity of insurance.  It would give them premiums that are a lot lower than they would get on the private market.

And it would be an example, I think, of Medicare competing actually with private insurers, right?  Because when you get on Medicare now at 65, it‘s a whole different process.  You know, you pay a different thing.

But here, you would really see how much lower the premiums are, right? 

You would buy in.  You would send a check.

And I think, you know, when 55-year-olds began buying in and seeing that they are saving money, I think that would have a pretty powerful effect on the marketplace over time.

OLBERMANN:  If Howard Dean first suggested this at least in a campaigning sense, five years ago, why is it only being introduced into this discussion right now?

KLEIN:  It actually gets a bit weirder.  This was in the original Max Baucus draft.  If you remember that white paper that got released, I think it was back in June or long before June, it was there.  And then it just dropped off without a trace.  And, you know, now, it‘s coming in, I think, because Jay Rockefeller is a pretty savvy guy.

You know, one of the things that didn‘t happen until now is that a lot of people in the room negotiating this don‘t get health care reform very well.  So, they knew the public option was important, they were fighting for that, but they didn‘t have a sense of how it all sticks together.

I think, Rockefeller, to his credit, he‘s been on this issue a long time and he really does.  So, he understood that if we can‘t get the public option, you get other things that are actually pretty important here, and you can move them back on to the table.

OLBERMANN:  So, if this phrase is killed off but the effect is more or less the same or perhaps better than the latest weakened version of a public option, that by itself makes the Democrats more likely to reach some sort of consensus on compromise?

KLEIN:  I mean, maybe.  What you—what I think you saw by the end of the public option is it was sort of like, you know, the fairest heart.  It all got very hardened.  And nobody could climb down from the ledge.  You know, Lieberman, Nelson, they all had said too much, it became too controversial for them.

And one thing you‘d like to hope, right down in the deep of your heart of hearts is that the moderates, you know, maybe they‘re politically afraid of the public option, maybe they fundamentally disagree with it, but on some level, they want this plan to work, too.  And so, then if you can get away from sort of the controversy and the hardened positions that built up around the public option, that there are other compromises that are legitimately on the table—not just to get 60 votes, but because, you know, people would like to make this plan more affordable and more likely to succeed.

OLBERMANN:  So, when I said to Senator Wyden last week, what you‘re really looking for something the people who support it can call kind of a public option and the people who oppose it can say, “No, no, it‘s not a public option”—that‘s the compromise?

KLEIN:  Somewhat.  Although, you know, if this comes in for a lot of people, they‘re about to get a better public option than anything that‘s really been on the table thus far.

OLBERMANN:  Ezra Klein of “The Washington Post”—great thanks for your insight, again.

KLEIN:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  That‘s the politics.  What about these plans?

Let‘s turn to Jonathan Cohn, author of “Sick: The Untold Story of America‘s Health Care Crisis and the People Who Pay the Price,” also senior editor at “The New Republic.”

Thank you for your time again tonight, sir.

JONATHAN COHN, THE NEW REPUBLIC:  Thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN:  More Medicare, first, of these—of these several options that are apparently now newly on the table.  Ten percent of the U.S.  population between 55 and 64, as Ezra Klein just said, they‘re the ones who have as tough a time as anybody, if not more so, in the insurance market.  Lowering eligibility for Medicare would immediately qualify 30 million additional Americans for some form of government-run health care, some break in the ice for them, at least?

COHN:  Well, if you were going to open this Medicare option to everybody at that age, it would.  But keep in mind most likely, we are going to see a restricted eligibility on this, probably something along the lines we‘ve seen so far for the insurance exchanges.  So, the Medicare buy-in, quite possibly—and to be clear, all of these details are still being worked out.  So we don‘t know for sure what this is.

But I would be willing to bet that at the end of the day, we see a Medicare buy-in that‘s open to people who don‘t have access to group health insurance and aren‘t already eligible for a public insurance.

You know, there was a simulation run a few years ago by the Commonwealth Fund, which ran a plan and had this element in it.  And I think they predicted about 2 million, maybe 3 million people enrolling early in Medicare.

OLBERMANN:  Would 2 million or 3 million people into the Medicare system help in terms of lowering the prices?  Would it provide that piece of wood stuck into the door so that the insurance cartel can‘t do whatever it wants?

COHN:  Well, when you consider that Medicare already has, you know, 40 million, 45 million people in it already, adding 1 million or 2 million obviously isn‘t going to really change its power in the marketplace.  That said, I mean, if you think of this as something that may be at some point might be opened up, you know, you mentioned Senator Wyden before.  If somehow, over the course of time, we open up the Medicare buy-in to more people, well, then maybe it could have a greater effect.

OLBERMANN:  Do you know, are they talking about a delay for it as well?  Or wouldn‘t, in fact, be automatic, and what kind of—what would the psychological impact be on the concept of health care reform if something kicked in next year, rather than in 2014?

COHN:  Well, this has not been determined as far as I know.  And I think the impact of doing this early could be huge.  I mean, one of the big, big worries about health care reform is that we have put off the delay of the implementation so long it will be years before people see relief.

Now, we are talking, as you said, about a group of people who are really the most vulnerable.  They have the hardest time finding health insurance on their own.  And in fact, if you look at the studies, they are more likely to have chronic health problems.  Opening this up, giving these people the option of something affordable early, that can make a world of difference.

So, you know, insofar as that on the table, I know I am hoping that is something that gets a serious look.

OLBERMANN:  This other thing that has been hinted at, which even Senator Schumer when asked said he would not provide details, which is apparently the first time since he‘s learned how to talk that he‘s given an answer like that—the involvement of the Office of Personnel Management being in this.  They, of course, the same people who run the health plan for public employees, specifically what the Senate and the House get in their superb plan.

Is this what it sounds like, that something‘s based on what federal government employees get might be available in some form to the uninsured or the underinsured?

COHN:  Well, based loosely.  I mean, keep in mind that the federal employees plan, most of the health insurance plan, they are relatively generous.  They have pretty high benefits.

And schemes we‘re looking at right now, the standards for affordability, for the level of protection they provide is a bit lower.  So, it‘s not clear to me how these will interface with each other.  In other words, if we start offering the same kinds of plans that are available to the federal employees through the exchanges, will we have to take them down in value, will we subsidize them higher?  So, it‘s not really clear.

But, certainly, in principle, particular in those parts of the country where they‘re not going to right now have a lot of insurance options, this could bring some more insurance options to people and they would be, broadly speaking, similar to the kind that members of Congress get.

OLBERMANN:  So, let me see if I can get you to agree with Ezra Klein, or disagree with him, as you choose—that what is being talked about today, these one and maybe 1A option, certainly, the expansion of Medicare, buy-in at an earlier age, even if it‘s for a limited number of people, would be better than what‘s on the table now in terms of a milk/toast version of the public option?

COHN:  Well, you can certainly make the argument that in terms of an actual public plan for people, that giving people Medicare—I mean, that‘s where this all started, right?  I mean, the impetus for this idea was to give everybody Medicare once upon a time.  And then became give a new public option to some people.

Well, now, you‘re talking about giving some more people actual Medicare.  So, that is, actually, a real public plan.  The scope will be a lot smaller, and I think it will be harder to grow that into something that would be eventually available to all people.  But given the options on the table, given the politics, given that Ben Nelson basically has a gun at the head of the Democratic Caucus saying, “This has to go through me or you‘re in trouble,” that may be the best we can do.

OLBERMANN:  Jonathan Cohn, the author of “Sick” and the senior editor with “The New Republican”—again, great thanks.

COHN:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Something else that always evolves but never changes,

Sister Sarah Palin told a Washington political crowd that she‘s been so

busy lately, what with five kids and a book tour and running a huge state -

does she know she resigned as governor four months ago?  And where‘s the coverage of her father having said she quit a Hawaiian college because, in essence, there were too many Hawaiians there?


And speaking of leaving, reports tonight that Mrs. Tiger Woods has moved out, leaving him alone with his putter.


OLBERMANN:  Funny doggone thing about Sister Sarah Palin and quitting as governor of Alaska.  Night before last, she told a huge political dinner in D.C. that she‘d been so busy lately running a big state.  Oh, and her dad says she blew off a Hawaiian college because there were too many natives there.

Also, Beck‘s movie sells no tickets and his TV audience suddenly has dropped by 30 percent.

The wildest, latest, stupidest Obama conspiracy theory, dumber even than the birthers.

And Mrs. Tiger reportedly moves out after the number of affairs hits nine—oops, 10.


OLBERMANN:  You told Katie Couric, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.  In “Going Rogue,” she credits her part Yupik Eskimo husband for educating her about social diversity.

And in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: The widening credibility gap in Sarah Palin‘s so-called diversity credentials, the reason she left school in Hawaii, her own father says, it‘s a, quote, “minority-type thing.”

Palin‘s academic odyssey brought her to five colleges in five years, two of those in Hawaii.  Palin writes of her college experience with friends in Aloha State as, “A little too perfect.  Perpetual sunshine isn‘t necessarily conducive for serious academics for 18-year-old Alaska girls.  After that first semester, we realized we better transfer back to something closer to reality so we could actually earn our degrees.”

The father tells the same story a little differently.  In the more neutral accounts, “Sarah from Alaska,” the book‘s authors, two journalists who covered the McCain campaign, interviewed Palin‘s father, Chuckie.

According to Chuck, they write, “Sarah‘s decision had to do with being

outside her comfort zone for the first time in her life in an environment

dominated by Asians and Pacific Islanders, quote, ‘It wasn‘t—just wasn‘t

exactly what they suspected,‘ he says.  ‘They were a minority type thing

and it wasn‘t glamorous, so she came home.‘”

Meanwhile, Palin taking time off from the “Going Rogue” flying circus to speak at the Washington Gridiron Dinner, the famed white tie event for the inside the beltway journalists, breaking from tradition this year, allowing reporters to write about the traditionally off-the-record event.  Palin keeping the self-deprecation to a minimum, instead, mocking the elites that were hosting her, but focused mostly on her animosity towards the McCain campaigners, while talking about her book tour.  The view is so much better from inside the bus than under it.

Congressman Barney Frank also cracked wise at the event, which prompting Palin to quip that the Gridiron Club forego Frank and allow the McCain campaign offered a rebuttal instead.  Palin also offered up this bit of irony, “The New York Times” reporting, “When Ms. Palin noted how busy she has been with five kids, a book tour, and running a huge state—Mr.  Frank, looked quizzical, seemingly wondering about her last item since she unexpectedly quit as governor last summer.”  This just in.

Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst, Richard Wolffe, also, senior strategist at Public Strategies and author of “Renegade: The Making of a President.”

Richard, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  Good to see you, sir.

Palin has established—whether or not this is legitimate—but has established this persona as woman of the people.

WOLFFE:  Right.

OLBERMANN: We can now ask after some of these quotes in the “Sarah from Alaska” book, which people are she talking about?

WOLFFE:  Well, as you know, it‘s American archetype, the silent majority that is Yupik loving, God-fearing, moose-hunting wolf shooters.  And to be honest, this Hawaiian incident isn‘t just an insight into her thinking, her world view.  It does speak to this bigger problem the Republican Party has.

If you‘re excluding Latinos, and not just Lou Dobbs, but if you‘re excluding Latinos and you have no in-road with African-Americans, and now, Asian Americans are kind of weigh to it, too, which is a big problem in California if you‘re ever going to make a play there, where do they go?

And let‘s face it, for Republicans now, a candidate who‘s not from the old South is diverse.  So, this kind of diversity doesn‘t take them very far as an electoral map.

OLBERMANN:  Well, but there is always the chance that she might run unopposed sometime or a Republican might get just to scare the Democrat from running.

WOLFFE:  They could—they could clear the field that way, if not by fire power then by intimidation.

OLBERMANN:  That last note from the Gridiron Dinner, that she‘s been so busy running a state.


OLBERMANN:  . I was re-reading Rick Perlstein‘s wonderful “Nixonland” and the woman of the people idea, she charges her people 16 bucks for a photo at the book signing.  Diversity, she‘s either troubled by Hawaiians or doesn‘t—she feels like she‘s a minority among Hawaiians.  Is she—is she channeling Nixon?  I mean, whatever you think your people want you to be, you just simply say, “That‘s what I am,” and then they, who also don‘t actually fulfill those bills, say, “Yes, you‘re that way and so are we, too.”  And that‘s the way you roll this out?

Is she—is she trying that Nixon playbook of, “I‘m a possible populist, I love people, just not individual people”?

WOLFFE:  The ghost of Richard Nixon will be visiting you this Christmas.

There is a cultural game book that the Republicans have been playing for many years, at some point, it reaches breaking point.  You cannot say that you‘re out there opposing the so-called “death tax,” which affects people at the upper end of—the 1 percent of income earners in this country and also be, you know, your Joe the Plumber kind of person.  There is an inherent tension—and Sarah Palin, God bless her, is exposing this kind of stuff, because, in the end, not being a governor, being an extremely now wealthy author, she has got to work pretty hard to say she‘s a woman of the people.

OLBERMANN:  But she‘s still governor, apparently.  She‘s a governor of the mind.

WOLFFE:  In her own mind.  It‘s the thought that counts.

OLBERMANN:  And going to a place where you‘re supposed to take swings almost exclusively at yourself, the Gridiron Dinner, this is the second time that we know of that she‘s sort of played outside the rules.

The “Saturday Night Live” example, which I always use, it‘s just so telling, where the first line they wrote for her to say, in response to the Tina Fey impression was, “You know, I kind of liked her impression,” which would have just blown up the entire cliche.  It wouldn‘t—it might not have changed anything in terms of the election last year.

But when does some supporter or adviser say to her, you cannot keep skipping these opportunities to make fun of yourself before somebody else does?

WOLFFE:  Remember, the whole point about endearing yourself to this crowd, the whole point of the self-deprecation is to show you have a human side.  And actually, there was this guy who came up in 2006 to the Gridiron Dinner who hadn‘t gotten a whole a lot attention, his name was Barack Obama.  And he‘d make a big joke about this, that, you know, he‘d been on the cover of “Newsweek,” he wrote a best-selling book, and maybe, what else is there to do.  He said, “Maybe pass a law or something.”

So, you take a swipe at yourself, because even though you‘re a big deal with a bunch of people dressed up like penguins, you are saying, “Hey, I know this is fake.”  You can and should make jokes about other people, she did that.


WOLFFE:  But you‘re not showing a human side and maybe scientific tests will show the human side.

OLBERMANN:  Richard Wolffe of MSNBC, author of “Renegade” and also with Public Strategies—great thanks, as always.

WOLFFE:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Bad day for rogues of all kind.  Glenn Beck can‘t give his movie away, but his TV audience has fled.

A Tennessee mayor thinks Obama conspired to preempt the broadcast of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

And amid reports the missus has now left, how many wild card women for Tiger Woods?  Well, he‘s brought a new meaning to the golf phrase, the back 9.


OLBERMANN:  “Bests” in a moment.  You know what‘s wrong with this country?  Low-income babies!

And Glenn Beck losing nearly a third of his audience in a month.

First, let‘s play “Oddball.”


We begin in Montgomery County, Maryland, where the local swim club is offering folks a much deeper experience with Chris Kringle.  It‘s Santa in scuba gear.  Terrified children are asked to hold their breath and shut their eyes about telling Santa what they want, albeit doing so telepathically.  All this little girl wants for Christmas is to get the hell out of the pool.

Speaking of not being able to breathe, to Mt. Everest in Nepal, where that country‘s top politicians held a cabinet meeting in the frigid thin air of the world‘s highest mountain, just as they promised they would.  Thus, the gas masks to provide oxygen.

With international climate talks scheduled for this week in Copenhagen, the ministers were trying to highlight global warming and the danger it poses to glaciers.  The cabinet met only briefly for fear of getting altitude sickness.  At 17,000 feet, the government was able to bill the event as the world‘s highest cabinet meeting.


OLBERMANN:  -- and the danger it poses to glaciers.  The cabinet met only briefly, for fear of getting altitude sickness.  At 17,00 feet, the government was able to bill the event as the world‘s highest cabinet meeting.  Yes, I‘m guessing they did not think that phrase through.

As it rushed all possible media witnesses off the island, the Bush administration called the deaths of three detainees at Gitmo three years ago suicides, even though new evidence suggests the victims somehow tied their own hands and feet before hanging themselves. 

These stories ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world. 

Dateline the Senate, number three, best amnesia, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, saying he dreams of having 60 votes in the Senate.  “I think we would finally have the total responsibility to get this country under control, and I believe we would.  There are essentially no checks and balances found in Washington today, just an arrogance of power, with one party ramming through unpopular and devastating proposals, one after the other.”

Obviously, that was a different Orrin Hatch who represented Utah from 2001 to 2006, when the republicans held the Senate and the House and the White House, and had no checks, balances, or Constitution, and ran the country into the ground. 

Dateline London, number two, best historical I threw up a little bit in my mouth; a British tabloid‘s lead story tomorrow, that the so-called dodgy dossier, the fake documents that warned Great Britain that Iraq could launch a nuclear strike against England in 45 minutes, may have been supplied by a cab driver.  Travis Pickel (ph) is back. 

And dateline New York, number one, best taste, the people of the United States of America.  Remember the big Lonesome Roads Beck extravaganza last week, a half live, half movie version simulcast of his book, “The Christmas Sweater,” that rip-off of “The Gift of the Mayji” that was shown in theaters nationwide?  It sold 30 tickets.  In Washington, D.C., 30 people bought tickets to see Beck cry.  In New York and Boston, it was 34, but that was combined. 

Well, of course, you say, New York is all socialist, fashionist, communists.  What about where the real people live, like in Rockwell, Texas?  Ninety tickets in Texas, 94 in a theater holding 193.  On top of which, Beck‘s ratings among younger viewers for the first week of this month down 30 percent from the first week of last month.  Next time he cries, it will be for an entirely different reason.


OLBERMANN:  a sobering, terrifying echo tonight from the cells of

Guantanamo Bay.  Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, three detainees dead by,

quote, “suicide.”  Suicides in which the victims tied their own hands and

feet, and then hang themselves.  From the investigation, quote, “the most

innocent explanation is that this is Gitmo meets “Lord of the Flies.”” 

On June 9th and 10th 2006, during that night, three prisoners died at Gitmo‘s Camp Delta.  The immediate military response was to order all media off the island and to label the deaths suicide, acts of so-called asymmetrical warfare.  Two years later, the NCIS report claimed that all three of these detainees, in separate cells, took their own lives by the following means: braided a noose from sheets or clothing, made mannequins of themselves to appear as if they were still in bed and asleep, hung sheets to block the views into the cells, stuffed rags down their own throats, past the point at which they would have gagged involuntarily, tied their own feet together, tied their own hands together, climbed up onto a sink and put the noose around their neck. 

A 58 page study of that NCIS by Seton Hall University concludes to that the military‘s internal investigation was an obvious cover-up.  Law professor Mark Denbo, the director of the study, saying, quote, “there are two possibilities here; either the investigation is a cover-up of gross dereliction of duty, or it is a cover-up of something far more chilling.  The most innocent explanation I can come up with that comports with all of the fact is that this is Gitmo meets “The Lord of The Flies.”

The study raises numerous questions, such as how the three bodies hung for at least two hours, unnoticed, in cells that were supposedly under constant supervision?  Why NCIS concluded that the suicides were a conspiracy, but failed to present any evidence of such?  Why no Gitmo employees were ever disciplined, despite strong indications by NCIS that it felt it had been misled. 

The contributing editor for “Harpers,” also lawyer and adjunct professor at Columbia Law School who brought this story to the “Huffington Post” is Scott Horton, and he joins us now.  Thanks for your time tonight, sir. 

SCOTT HORTON, COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOL:  Good to be with you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  As you noted, one of the study authors said, quote, “we have three bodies and no explanation.  How is it possible that all three detainees had shoved rags so far down their own throats that medical personnel could not remove them?  One of the dead detainees was scheduled for release from Guantanamo Bay in 19 days.  Instead, he died in custody.”

The report goes an awful long way.  Why doesn‘t it conclude that those were murders? 

HORTON:  Well, the task that the Seton Hall authors took upon themselves was to review the work that was done by the military investigators, not to do their own investigation.  And I think they demonstrate conclusively that the military investigation was profoundly flawed, that it rushed to judgments that really weren‘t supported by the evidence. 

But I think it would have been a mistake for Seton Hall to offer up its own conclusions.  Instead, what it‘s recommending is that we need a new, serious investigation. 

OLBERMANN:  The idea that this might have been an asymmetrical act of warfare, as it was described, requires these people to have known each other or their intents or being able to take cues or have timed it in some way.  Is there any evidence that there could have been a conspiracy from three guys, even if they somehow matched all the physical requirements that were evidenced in their own deaths?  Could they have done the conspiracy? 

HORTON:  Well, there‘s no serious evidence that‘s offered in the military investigation of a conspiracy.  The best they‘ve got to tell us is that the modus operandi, the circumstances in which the bodies were found, were the same in each case.  They deduced from that that they must have conspired.  But, of course, there are other possible answers to that, particularly if you reject the idea of suicide. 

But here the military investigation started with the idea that this was a suicide, backing up the statements that were made by the camp commander immediately after the events were announced, and excluded from consideration any other possible solution.  That really was not a proper—was not a professional way to proceed. 

OLBERMANN:  You asked this of Professor Denbo.  Let me ask it of you.  Since that NCIS report upon which the investigation was based was heavily redacted, is it possible that the full report would answer some of these really large questions? 

HORTON:  Well, that would be the best response the Pentagon could give us right now.  That is, to release the report unredacted.  But I think we do back and we look at the experience of prior investigations in Guantanamo, they‘ve been issued initially with heavy redactions.  When those redactions come away, we see that the text was embarrassing or didn‘t support the conclusions that the military or the Pentagon offered up.  So, of course, it‘s possible that if we saw the unredacted text, it would answer these questions, but I‘d be skeptical of that. 

OLBERMANN:  Seton Hall has been responsible for many investigations, studies of what happened and has happened at Gitmo.  The one that demonstrated the existence of further tapes of prisoner interrogations, even after denials from the Bush administration.  Is this going to produce an actual investigation?  And if so, by whom? 

HORTON:  Well, it really is sort of a David and Goliath story.  That is, these Seton Hall law students and faculty have taken on the Pentagon 11 times now, as I count/  And every single time, the Pentagon has come up on the shirt short side.  They‘ve clearly established that their reports are correct and that‘s something quite extraordinary. 

I‘ve got to think that the silence we‘re seeing from the Pentagon right now—they‘ve not issued a response—suggests that they‘re looking at this report very carefully before they give us a public statement.  So, hopefully, they‘ll do the right thing and they‘ll proceed to a new investigation. 

OLBERMANN:  Has there been enough pressure on the subject of Gitmo since the change in presidential administrations?  Or has that died on the vine because of the change in political winds? 

HORTON:  Well, it‘s relaxed and it‘s moved to other areas.  What we see now is a major political cause is the question of the KSM trial in Manhattan, for instance, rather than questions about the treatment of detainees in these historical issues about things that happened in 2006. 

OLBERMANN:  Scott Horton, national security lawyer, contributor to “Harpers,” who unveiled this story at “Huffington Post.”  Great thanks for that and great thanks for your time tonight, sir. 

HORTON:  Great to be with you.

OLBERMANN:  There is a new Obama conspiracy theory tonight too.  He addressed the nation last Tuesday at the hour at which he chose so he could preempt “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”  If only I were making this up. 

China‘s apple daily continues to make it up while we eat it up.  Three

more computer videos today, and the breaking news of his wife reportedly

making up.  >

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, the latest from inside the health care negotiations; Medicare at 55 or the same insurance as Congress gets?  Senator Ron Wyden is her special guest.


OLBERMANN:  Tiger Woods, new reports of the Mrs. moving out.  New women, new computer generated video, best of all, new Chinese-to-English translations, including, “he received an unanimous phone call.” 

That‘s next, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world. 

The bronze to Alisyn Camerota, news model over there at Fox Noise.  This is what happens when Roger Ailes lets the news models ad lib, rather than making sure they just read the talking points.  “If,” she asks a conservative columnist, “there‘s no federal money used to subsidize abortion for low-income women, doesn‘t that mean there will be more low-income babies?  And do any of these amendments talk about the health care for them then?  Meaning,” she explained to dumb-founded guest conservative Kate Obenshain, “that low income women do rely on subsidies often for abortion?” 

To her credit, Ms. Obenshain said, “no, they don‘t.”  Actually, “no, low-income women pay for their own abortions,” she said, “and that won‘t change.”  Everybody move away from news model Camerota and her conviction that the problem of this country today is all those low-income babies.  Damned slacker infants. 

The silver to Lonesome Roads Beck, clearly more than slightly off the tracks after his recent ratings plummet and that big total of 17 tickets sold to his movie in New York, comparing efforts to control climate change to—well, to everything, as usual.  “What kind of Salem Witch Trials are we in?  McCarthy, you call me McCarthy.  No, no.  Don‘t you remember, McCarthy was part of the government, the all-powerful government.  For the first time in American history that I know of—and I know American history pretty well.  For the first time in American history, we are on the wrong side.  We‘re on the Axis power globally and we are on the wrong side internally.  I never thoughts I‘d see this day come.” 

OK.  I know you think you know American history pretty well, but you don‘t.  This is the guy who thinks a clause in the Constitution that protected slavery was actually a tax on immigrants.  This is a guy who said he thought Thomas Paine was opposed to the redistribution of wealth.  This is a guy who does not realize nearly all of Joe McCarthy‘s victims were in the government.  And this is the guy for whom everything and every day is Armageddon.  It confuses his little mind, he screams.  I think we may need a new nickname for him.  Car alarm, Car Alarm Beck. 

But our winner, Mayor Russell Wiseman of Arlington, Tennessee, a suburb of Memphis.  Apparently it‘s small enough to be suffering from a severe politician shortage.  In a conspiracy theory from which Glenn beck would recoil, Mr. Wiseman has posted on his Facebook page the following:

“This is total crap.  We sit the kids down to watch “The Charlie Brown Christmas Special” and our Muslim president is there.  What a load.  Try to convince me that wasn‘t done on purpose.”

The mayor of a place where they wear shoes and everything.  He thinks the president of the United States sent 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan so he could preempt the telecast of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” last Tuesday, so the mayor and his children couldn‘t watch it.  The mayor also went on, saying the president‘s supporters should move to a Muslim country.  Then he said the US had become a Muslim country, which, if it were true, would certainly help a lot of people who had to move. 

But let‘s get back to the assertion by Mayor Wiseman, whose brother is the chair of the Tennessee Shelby County Republican Party, that the president conspired to keep Russell Wiseman and all the little Wisemans from ever seeing “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” which has now been shown on network television every year since 1965, which you can get on a DVD from Amazon for 9.83, or less if you buy used, which you can get as a download from iTunes for ten bucks.  Seriously.  You‘re a grown up who can brush his own teeth, probably, and you think this was deliberate, mayor?  An Obama plot to keep your kids from seeing “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”  Did anybody tell you ABC‘s running it tomorrow night, and next Tuesday night?  Do they not pay you 9.83, sir?  

Have you seen a psychiatrist lately, mayor?  Have you checked to see if your head is still attached at the shoulders, or if it kind of swings lose when there‘s a strong breeze?  It‘s a plot!  A plot to keep your kids from hearing Linus read the Nativity story from Luke.  Mayor Russell “Maybe the Last Name is Meant Ironically” Wiseman from Arlington, Tennessee, who also may believe in brownies and elves, today‘s worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN:  Depending on whose reporting you trust, the marriage of Tiger Woods is between six and ten women over par.  But his wife has reportedly taken a powder, if not a mulligan, and moved out of their home in Florida.  Our number one story, RadarOnline reporting that Elin Woods is living in another house nearby, but his people are trying to keep it quiet because, quote, “they don‘t want any publicity about what is going on in the marriage.”  Yeah, that‘s working well. 

No publicity, just a team of Taiwanese animators working around the clock in shifts, having pumped out three more of their mini masterpieces.  Using a SIMS-like style of animation, and a liberal interpretation of facts and gossip, AppleDaily last week produced its first video, title translating as “Woods, Broken Windows at Night to Save His Wife Crash, Shady Husband.”

The three new creations include the newspaper‘s own translations from Mandarin to English—well, kind of English.  Here now, a selection from the third animation, “Tiger Woods Lover Number Three Exposed.”  We‘re not saying any of this is exactly true.  We think of it more as art. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Tiger Woods is facing the biggest challenge of his life.  Tabloid has disclosed a third love, Vegas club executive Kalika Moqueen (ph).  She was a very influential person of the city.  The relationship happened when Elin was president.  They met regularly and were seen publicly.  Woods was also seen in a VIP of a bar with girls on either side, and hands up their skirt.

Reports say lover number two, Jaimee Grubbs, not only bragged to friends about a relationship, but also played the voicemail.

TIGER WOODS, PGA GOLFER:  Can you please take your name off your phone?  my wife went through my phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Unanimous phone call? 


OLBERMANN:  Unanimous phone call?  Well, if it‘s ten women, maybe it was a unanimous phone call.  We continue with the animated tail of the prenup. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  According to “US Weekly,” the settlement is over 30 million.  Sources say, Elin asked for a revision, short of a ten year limitation, and Woods had agreed, but has already transferred million of dollars into her account.  The couple has also begun intense marriage counseling at home.


OLBERMANN:  That was intense.  By the way, as you saw, Woods got a free Michael Jordan shoe phone with his subscription to “Sports Illustrated.”  I know what you‘re asking.  What about alleged lover number one? 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Alleged Lover number one, Rachel Uchitel, canceled a scheduled press conference on Thursday.  Sources said Uchitel‘s lawyer was bargaining on the phone with Woods, and finally agreed to a million dollars to keep quiet.


OLBERMANN:  As you saw just there, apparently that was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton brokering the deal.  It was apparently supposed to be attorney Gloria Allred.  Luckily, thanks to AppleDaily, we now know exactly what happened before the crash, allegedly. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Uchitel saved hundreds of voice message of highly sexual nature.  The two were texting before the accident.  Elin questioned Woods and tried to grab the phone.  During the struggle, the phone was broken, and so was the vestibule of the house.  That‘s why Woods refused to let the police in.


OLBERMANN:  I broke my vestibule.  Refused to let them in, like a hockey goalie.  No soup for you, officer.  As for the post-accident blow by blow, AppleDaily has portrayed this before, but not with as much detail and not with the neighbors who sleep in their day clothes. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Reports also that, according to Woods neighbor Adams, about 2:30 am, right after the car crash, his sister heard a commotion and saw the car light shining in.  Adams was awake and went outside, and saw Woods lying next to the car.  Elin was talking to them.  Woods was unconscious and snoring.


OLBERMANN:  Unconscious and snoring.  I would have paid to see that.  And back to that prenup.  In the fourth video from AppleDaily, woods breaks the bank to keep the lovers silent, we learn more about the alleged prenup settlement, and about the mother of Tiger Woods, and what she was doing in all of the sexy time. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Woods agreed to pay Elin five million dollars.  And if she stayed for two more years, she will be paid 55 million more, but must pretend to be still in love and not disclose anything to the public.  If she stayed for seven years, she will be paid 75 million.

Rumors said the rift between Elin and mom is the reason breaking the marriage, because Woods‘ mother demanded to build her a mansion next door.  So Elin insisted to separate the house by water. 

Last month, when Woods met Uchitel secretly in Australian hotel room, Woods mom was standing right downstairs.


OLBERMANN:  Enjoying dinner, mother?  Apparently Mrs. Woods is a witch.  The latest bombshell comes to us via a UK tabloid called “The News of the Word.” A waitress from a Perkins restaurant in Orlando revealed steamy details of her alleged affair with the world‘s number one golfer.  Unfortunately, AppleDaily hasn‘t translate this video yet, but I did my best. 

Long cool woman in a red dress.  Tiger meets Mindy at Perkins, high class style restaurant.  He phones in order, has visions of red mushrooms.  He asks her back to his place, or another restaurant, maybe. 


MINDY LAWTON, ALLEGED MISTRESS OF TIGER WOODS:  He texted me constantly and he would phone me regularly.  Every time he would contact me, obviously, it was for sex.  


OLBERMANN:  Some people look better as animated figures.  I don‘t know what she‘s doing here.  But it looks like she needs a shower.  This they now do.  They have relations all over the place, in his house, but never Tiger‘s bed, which is queen-sized, and located in a large closet. 

First of all, clearly the animation team has never been to a Perkins restaurant.  Second, Mindy Lawton claims she and Woods were romantic all over the house, yes, in the shower, just not in his bed, which is queen-sized and located in a large closet. 

Ms. Lawton‘s story continues.

Mindy says something about Tiger‘s wife, who suddenly gets an “X” over her face, possibly H1N1.  Tiger makes public appearances, adoring crowds, then the spanky spanky.  Tiger has thought bubble about underwear he wants her to wear, or maybe it‘s about Annika Sorenstam.  Text messages in order to restaurant, van starts rocking. 

So she helped him change a tire?  Oh, you mean—oh!  Try to get to sleep with that Tiger Woods slapping image in your head, by the way.  Thanks, AppleDaily.  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 2,412th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann.  Good night and good luck.  And now (inaudible), trying to steer out of my skid, the latest on the health care reform negotiations with Senator Ron Wyden.  Ladies and gentlemen, here‘s Rachel Maddow.



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