IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

'Deborah Norville Tonight' for March 17

Read the complete transcript to Wednesday's show

Guests: David Debatto, Thomas Cassidy, Charles Moose, Nancy Young, Charlie

Young, Ashelyn Young



Deadly blasts.  An explosion rocks Baghdad.  Fire, death and mass chaos.  Will Iraq ever be stable enough for the U.S. coalition to give up control?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I knew instantly who I was talking to. 

ANNOUNCER:  A chance encounter and a slice of pizza on the Vegas strip leads to the arrest of one of the nation‘s most notorious fugitives.

Tonight, what‘s it like to finally catch a dangerous suspect?  Former police chief Charles Moose on the hunt and capture of a sniper. 

Beating the odds.  Ejected from her mom‘s car, this child plummeted 45 feet from an interstate overpass, and somehow she survived.  Tonight, her parents with an amazing story of how their daughter beat the odds. 

DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT.  From Studio 3-K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.


DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST:  And good evening.

Devastation, destruction and death tonight again in Iraq as we close in on the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the war. 

A huge car bomb destroyed the five-story Mount Lebanon Hotel in a residential area of central Baghdad, killing at least 27 people and injuring more than 40 others. 

The Pentagon says it‘s too early to tell who‘s responsible.  And military officials say the attack on a residential neighborhood shows that the insurgents are focusing on softer targets, trying to destabilize the transition to Iraqi independence. 

The blast shook the nearby Palestinian hotel where many foreign contractors and journalists are based and it torched nearby homes, offices and shops. 

One U.S. soldier a mile away said the explosion felt like it was next door. 

The White House called it a terrorist attack. 


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN:  Terrorists know the stakes are high but they will not prevail.  We will meet this test with strength and with resolve.  Democracy is taking root in Iraq, and there is no turning back. 


NORVILLE:  NBC‘s Chip Reid was in Baghdad at the time of the explosion.  He joins us from there now. 

Hi, Chip. 


NORVILLE:  Can you tell me just how shaken people in Baghdad are today?  I understand this thing left a 20 feet crater.  The force of this is almost unimaginable.

REID:  Well, I can tell you that at the scene it was utter chaos, just people weeping and crying.  A lot of local homes were either damaged or destroyed by it. 

One family, we were told, lost eight members.  That is yet to be confirmed, but certainly there is no reason for anybody to make up a story like that.  Just an absolute horror.  And that was across the street from the hotel. 

The hotel, we are told, was not as full as it might otherwise have been because they had received threats in the past, so the people who stayed there probably new they were doing it under some risk. 

But out in the streets, it was just unimaginable horror after this bomb. 

NORVILLE:  You know, one of the things about this bomb is this is not a hotel where foreign journalists such as yourself and others are mainly situated. 

And it seems to be a continuation of what we‘re seeing more and more of in Iraq, where the insurgents are going after, not American military installations, but rather against the Iraqi people themselves. 

Can you speak with about that?

REID:  That‘s right.  Well, they‘re really going against two things, it appears.

First of all, you‘re absolutely right, they‘re going after the Iraqi people themselves.  And there was that bombing a couple of weeks ago where they went after Shiite religious sites. 

This one, though, it turns out that this hotel was primarily foreigners from the Middle East. 

So it‘s hard to tell exactly what they‘re going after.  They‘re simply trying to create as much chaos and damage and death and destruction as they possibly can. 

And I think they see value in all the targets.  They want to discourage foreigners from coming in and investing.  They want to convince the local population that as long as the American troops are here there‘s going to be chaos. 

And they also want to hurt the Americans.  They haven‘t stopped attacking the American troops.  They‘re just not focusing exclusively on them, like they had been earlier on. 

It seems like just about any target is open season for them. 

NORVILLE:  This bomb was not quite as strong, but it‘s certainly the biggest blast since the one last August that destroyed the U.N.  headquarters. 

And I‘ve read some news reports that say that the explosive material seems to be some of the same kind of mix that was used.  That one was attributed to al Qaeda.  Is there reason to believe that al Qaeda is behind this blast, as well?

REID:  Well, it certainly is where people are leaning at this point.  This was 1,000 pounds of plastic explosives mixed with artillery shells to try to increase the number of fatalities. 

And that is similar to that previous bombing that you mentioned.  And that one was traced, they believe, to an organization that has connections to al Qaeda.  And that‘s the direction they‘re looking now.  That certainly would seem to be the initial guess. 

But again, early on like this, is really is hard to tell who did it. 

But they do believe it was a fairly sophisticated group. 

Is—Are Saddam loyalists, the old Ba‘ath Party, capable of doing something like this?  They may well be.  So they‘re going to be looking at all possibilities.

NORVILLE:  There was a survey that came out earlier this week where 85 percent of the Iraqis who participated said their prime concern was security.  How unsafe do you personally feel in Baghdad today, Chip?

REID:  Well, I‘ll tell you, all the journalists and all the contractors live in fairly fortified hotels or other housing.  And it‘s something that‘s absolutely necessary. 

And I know even the FBI put out an announcement saying today that they‘re not going to the site, because their agents are under orders not to leave their secure compound after dark. 

So anybody who is here is antsy to say the least right now. 

Out on the streets during the day, there‘s a lot of traffic.  So there are people out there, and I think people feel to some degree they have to go about their lives.  But there is a lot of nervousness here.  There is absolutely no doubt about it. 

NORVILLE:  And understandably so.  Well, Chip Reid, stay safe yourself, and we appreciate you being with us tonight. 

REID:  Thank you very much, Deborah. 

NORVILLE:  And tonight, a senior U.S. counter terrorism official tells NBC News that U.S. intelligence cannot rule out more attacks in Baghdad this week, even continuing through June as the new Iraqi government is formed. 

I‘m joined now by David Debatto.  He is a retired Army counter intelligence special agent.  He recently returned from Iraq, where he was a team leader involved in the hunt for Iraqi suspects.  His team was responsible for locating one top Iraqi who was among the 55 cards of most wanted that was issued by the U.S. military. 

Sir, thank you very much for being with us tonight. 


NORVILLE:  When you see the kind of bomb that went off yet again today in Baghdad, what does that tell you about how the battle against insurgency is faring right now?

DEBATTO:  It tells me this has al Qaeda fingerprints all over it, just like the bombing in Madrid.  And that they‘re going to stop at nothing to drive a wedge between the Iraqi people, the foreigners in Iraq and the coalition forces. 

NORVILLE:  To what end, though?  If you drive a wedge between the Iraqi people as they‘re trying to come to some sort of agreement on how the new government is going to be constituted and put into place, how did it further their aims?

DEBATTO:  Easy.  It makes utter chaos in an already chaotic situation, and it allows some people like the Iranian agents who are in the country and anyone else to fill the vacuum and hopefully to side against the United States. 

NORVILLE:  And is the aim to fill the vacuum against the United States, use Iraq as a base for further terror attacks against Americans its interest?  Or to take over Iraq in the same way we saw the Taliban and al Qaeda do so in Afghanistan?

DEBATTO:  All of the above.  Very good. 

To take over Iraq, use it as a base against not just the United States but the West in general and the coalition countries.  And to maybe, perhaps, be aligned with Iran. 

NORVILLE:  And where is the United Nations in this?  I know just today the Iraqi council, before the bomb blast in Baghdad, issued a plea to the United States saying—to the United Nations, saying, “We do want your assistance in setting up a new government after the transition on June 30.” 

Is this going to encourage the United Nations to take a great role or keep them in a more reticent position?

DEBATTO:  Boy, I‘ll tell you what.  When you‘re trying to predict what the United Nations is going to do, I think you have to be Svengali.  I certainly don‘t know. 

I think probably, though, it‘s going to increase their role, because like it or not, the United States is going to be pulling back a great deal after June 30. 

NORVILE:  It‘s not just the United States that will be pulling back.  Spain has already said it‘s going to be bringing its 1,300 troops, a small number, admittedly of 120,000 who are still there.  But someone has to stay in place to maintain order, too. 

DEBATTO:  Let me put it this way.  America needs to understand, the American public, that the United States is going to be there for a very long time, as are the—a lot of coalition forces. 

We need to be prepared for the American people that we are going to be in Iraq for a very, very long time. 

NORVILLE:  Define very, very long time?

DEBATTO:  I‘m talking about 10 or 20 years. 

NORVILLE:  So this is Vietnam times 2, in your opinion?

DEBATTO:  Well, I don‘t know if I would say Vietnam, but think of it as Germany, Korea or Japan. 

NORVILLE:  And—and you look at the public opinion polls, and many have been done in light of the anniversary of the war beginning on Friday.  Americans are simply not prepared to do that. 

Does this not pose a huge dilemma for the Bush administration to deal with?

DEBATTO:  It‘s a very big dilemma.  The Bush administration has not done well in the P.R. campaign in general, and if he wants to be re-elected, I think he‘s going to have to turn that around. 

The bottom line is, the American people need to know we‘re going to be there for many, many years. 

NORVILLE:  And what is the sentiment of the Iraqi people?  We hear that a majority of them do not want the American troops to be there, although 70 percent say they think their lives are better today than they were a year ago. 

DEBATTO:  Well, I would take exception with that report.  When I was there, which was very recently, the vast majority of the Iraqi people do want us to be there. 

Security is the overwhelming concern.  And although they don‘t want us running their country, they really do want us there for the security. 

NORVILLE:  And when you interacted with Iraqi people, what kinds of comments were you getting from them?

DEBATTO:  Well, when I first got there, it was like we were Martians landing from another planet.  They had never seen Americans before, mostly, Westerners at all. 

As time went on, they really liked us.  They liked what we were doing. 

They appreciated it, and they got to know us. 

And believe it or in the, again, 99 percent of Iraqis want to us stay there.  And I think you‘re going to see a turnaround in the Iraqis‘ opinion in the near future.  The longer they‘re there—the longer we‘re there, the more they‘re going to get along with us. 

NORVILLE:  And I know you want to go back.  You left Iraq because of some injuries you sustained while you were going about your mission there, but your plan is to go back to that country?

DEBATTO:  That‘s correct.  I made what I consider some very good life-long friends there, and I intend on going back later this year. 

NORVILLE:  And where do you think the biggest danger is?  You think that the bombing today was, in your opinion, linked to al Qaeda.  But as Chip Reid said a moment ago, that is not—the al Qaeda sympathizers is not the only group about which there‘s a great deal of concern. 

DEBATTO:  No.  Unfortunately, it‘s not.  You do have the remnants of the Ba‘ath Party still very, very active.  Some of the leadership of the Saddam regime is still very, very active. 

And as I said a little bit earlier, you‘ve got Iranian agents that are pouring over the border, and you do have al Qaeda in Iraq.  You put that together into the very, very bad mix. 

NORVILE:  Well, Dave Debatto, retired Army counter insurgency official, we appreciate you very much for being with us.  Thank you, sir.

DEBATTO:  My pleasure, Deborah. 

ANNOUNCER:  Coming up, unbelievable aerial surveillance videos of what‘s thought to be the world‘s most wanted man, Osama bin Laden.  How did the military get this close to him?  We‘ll show you. 

Plus, a 12-year-old child ejected from her mom‘s car falls 45 feet off an interstate overpass and survives.  We‘ll meet the parents of the girl everyone‘s calling a living miracle when DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT returns. 


NORVILLE:  You‘re about to see an extraordinary secret videotape shot by a secret CIA spy plane in the skies over Afghanistan, obtained exclusively by NBC News. 

It shows what is believed to be Osama bin Laden at one of his training camps in the fall of 2000, one year before 9/11. 

A figure appearing to be bin Laden, is dressed in white, towering above the men surrounding him.  He‘s seen standing in a walled compound that was known to U.S. intelligence as an al Qaeda training camp. 

This video was transmitted live to the CIA, and questions are now being asked why was nothing done at the time to apprehend or even kill bin Laden?  At the time, the United States already held him responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. 

The man believed to be bin Laden was caught on tape and his image transmitted by this unmanned vehicle known as the Predator drone.  It was first used for surveillance missions in Bosnia back in 1995, then later in Afghanistan and now it‘s in use in Iraq.

By February 2001, the Predator was fitted with a Hellfire guided missile and became a deadly weapon when it destroyed a car in Yemen in November of 2002 carrying six members of al Qaeda. 

In just a moment, we‘ll ask the question again, where is Osama bin Laden now?

But first, how was that Predator able to get so close to bin Laden, and how does it work?

Joining me now from San Diego is retired Admiral Thomas Cassidy.  He is the president of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the company which manufactures the drone.  And next to him is an actual Predator drone.

And sir, we thank you very much for being with us this evening. 


NORVILLE:  First of all, tell me with the specs of the drone.  How big is it?  What can it do?  How high can it fly?

CASSIDY:  Well, the Predator‘s about 28 feet long with a 48-foot wingspan, weighs 2,500 pounds on take off and it will fly up above 30,000 feet. 

NORVILLE:  And can go as high as 50,000 feet, I hear?

CASSIDY:  Well, the propjet Predator B, which is the next generation flies about 50,000.  But the Predator as we know it today is a 30,000-foot airplane. 

NORVILLE:  Now, how does this aircraft differ from the old U-2 spy craft or spy satellites that we might be more familiar with?

CASSIDY:  Well, Predator flies with day color television cameras and infrared cameras and then you‘ve got your radar.  And those cameras are pretty common to this type of airplane.  And they‘re very useful up to about 20,000 to 30,000 feet.  And certainly not as high flying an airplane as a U-2 or the satellite systems.

But they can get in, zoom in on a target and get a very good, real time video presentation of what it‘s looking at. 

NORVILLE:  So as that video is being shot, someone at CIA headquarters or wherever the receiving station might be can look at it and make instantaneous  assessments about the video it‘s being given?

CASSIDY:  Yes, the video is processed on the airplane and sent to a satellite and then it‘s downloaded from the satellite.  And it can be sent to almost any place in the world and you view it on a television screen. 

NORVILLE:  One of the things that‘s so incredible is we look at that footage of Osama bin Laden taken from how many thousand feet up would that video camera have been, would you guess?

CASSIDY:  I don‘t know.  I saw that video on TV last night, but we can see up to 30,000 -- from 30,000 feet on down and get very good imagery. 

NORVILLE:  So from 30,000 it is absolutely undetectable to anyone on the ground?

CASSIDY:  From the operating altitudes, anything above 10,000 feet.  The Predator is basically undetectable.  You can‘t hear it, and you can‘t see it. 

NORVILLE:  And how accurate is it?  I know at the time that this video that we‘ve seen of bin Laden in the training camp this was shot, the Predator was not outfitted with weaponry.  That came later on. 

But now that it is outfitted, some of them, with weapons, how accurate is it?

CASSIDY:  Well, the current Predator with the laser gun and Hellfire is extremely accurate.  That‘s about as close as I can get to describing it. 

NORVILLE:  Because you would have to kill me or something if I were to know?

CASSIDY:  No, just classified. 

NORVILLE:  OK.  For an aircraft that is so small, how many different ways can it be used? Besides the obvious of spying on an individual or an operation without being detected, what other potential military uses and civilian uses can this thing have?

CASSIDY:  Well, the military uses are obvious.  It provides a tremendous sense of awareness to battlefield commanders of area airplanes, Special Ops people on the ground. 

We‘re also using the airplane for border surveillance.  You can see illegals coming across the border on the real time video, day or night. 

We‘re also looking at using this type of capability to monitor shipping approaching the United States. 

You can monitor environmental oil spills, forest fires.  Any kind of -

·         any situation where you need an airplane that can stay up for long periods, periods longer than what flight crews normally can tolerate in an airplane. 

NORVILLE:  And what is the outside limit that this thing can stay up in flight?

CASSIDY:  Well, probably between 40 and 50 hours on the Predator.  And the Predator B, the prop jets, we‘re doing a version for the Navy and the Coast Guard right now that can stay up 48 hours. 

NORVILLE:  I know you can‘t talk about specific military operations and I won‘t ask you to. 

But in a hypothetical sense if, at the time the video were shot, if there were a collective governmental will to do so and if the Predator had been armed, would it have been able to eliminate Osama bin Laden at the time of the videotape?

CASSIDY:  I can‘t—I can‘t go there, Deborah.  So we need to move on.

NORVILLE:  All right, well, we‘ll move on beyond that.  I know you said that it‘s an incredibly efficient and precise machine.

Admiral Cassidy, it‘s an amazing device, and we‘re glad it‘s in our arsenal of weaponry.  And we thank you very much, sir, for being on the program tonight to talk about it. 

CASSIDY:  OK.  Thank you. 

NORVILLE:  Thank you, sir.

And so where is Osama bin Laden today?  We know where he was in 2002 when that videotape was shot.  U.S. Special Forces and Pakistani troops have been hunting for him for more that two years.  And there have been some reported close calls.

In Afghanistan today, Secretary of State Colin Powell indicated that the noose may be getting tighter. 


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE:  U.S. forces have been focused on the region down along the Pakistan border.  And we have been doing everything we can to encourage Pakistani leaders, especially President Musharraf, of course, to be more active along the border areas and the tribal areas. 


NORVILLE:  Joining me now is NBC military analyst and professor for national security affairs at the University of Texas, retired General Monty Meigs.

General Meeks, good evening. 


NORVILLE:  Good, thanks.  Thank you so much for being with us. 

We‘ve seen a lot of military activity along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  As you read those military tealeaves, do you have a sense that there is some intelligence that‘s pretty clear on where bin Laden might be?

MEIGS:  I wouldn‘t go quite that far.  I‘d say that it‘s clear that there is unprecedented activity in the tribal areas. 

President Musharraf had the chiefs together a couple of days ago and said, “Look, these people tried to assassinate me.  I need your cooperation.  Here‘s what we‘re going to go do.  More details to follow later on the television.”

That was really new news at that point.  So I think the noose is closing. 

NORVILLE:  How much sway does President Musharraf have, because there have been at least two assassination attempts in recent months against him.  How willing are the tribal leaders to listen to him? 

MEIGS:  Well, I think the tribal leaders will listen to him if they know that the army and the Pakistani intelligence service is behind them.  They do not want to lose control in that tribal area.

Granted, it‘s difficult for the government to get in there.  But they will listen in they understand that their equities are at risk, and I‘m sure Musharraf is making it very clear to them that this kind of a situation isn‘t going to continue in Pakistan. 

He really can‘t afford not to do that at this point. 

NORVILLE:  Because he needs that $1 billion that Colin Powell promised was going to be coming in American aid, among other things. 

MEIGS:  Sure, he needs the aid but he‘s got to make sure that the radicals who are trying to assassinate him are out of the business.  And the only way he can do that is go to the heart of the problem.

NORVILLE:  It‘s easier said than done, unfortunately.  I know just the other day there was a situation where there were—there was the suspicion that there were some al Qaeda sympathizers were being given shelter by some tribal people. 

And the Pakistani military fighters went in there, about 300 of them. 

They were soon out-manned by sympathizers who came and swarmed around them. 

This is a tough job they‘ve got. 

MEIGS:  Well, it‘s terribly tough.  That‘s why for at least the last 150 years, the governments of Pakistan have sort of left the tribal area to itself.  It‘s sort of an autonomous region within Pakistan.  And within Afghanistan, as well.  This whole Baluchistan area it‘s called, the area of the Pashtuns.

So there is no question that this is difficult.  And it may be that the noose may get absolutely tight, and you know, the fish may not be in the net.  But this is the right way to go about it. 

NORVILLE:  And what is the activity of the U.S. Special Forces and other troops in that area, as they are participating along with the Pakistani military?

MEIGS:  Well, it‘s hard to say.  I would assume—not really knowing

·         that they‘re going to be very carefully watching that border between Afghanistan and Pakistan and watching for any exits out. 

And I‘m sure there‘s a fair amount of intelligence cooperation going on. 

But it‘s—you know, it‘s pretty hard to try to figure out whether there would be Americans in Pakistan.  I rather doubt that, given the chances of contact with the tribal elements.  You would get a gunfight, and then how do you get them out? 

NORVILLE:  Yes, but on the other side of the border they‘re certainly present. 

MEIGS:  In Afghanistan, absolutely.  And I think you‘re going to—If you and I went up there and flew around or got down on the ground, we‘d see a very strong, coherent presence all along that border. 

NORVILLE:  What is the most credible evidence you‘ve seen that Osama bin Laden is alive and is in that area?

MEIGS:  I‘d say the indicators are the types of things that we‘ve talked about, the willingness of the Pakistani government to actually start this kind of an operation with all the risks that it entails. 

However, you cannot discount the fact that Osama could have infiltrated out and he‘s in some other location.  Take a big city like Karachi that‘s fairly problematic in terms of finding things there. 

Remember, we found his subordinates in these types of locations.  So chances are, first place you look is in Waziristan and the tribal areas, but you better believe the intelligence community is looking at all these other places, as well. 

NORVILLE:  We know that money is not going to bring him in.  He‘s had an awfully big price tag on his head for over two years.

But if Osama bin Laden is captured, what‘s the net effect going to be? 

Is the war on terror over?  I doubt it. 

MEIGS:  You‘re right.  The war on terror isn‘t over.  You can cut the head off the snake.  This is a very important one.  But you‘ve got the same problem that Hercules had with the hydra. 

Think of al Qaeda as a kind of graduate school.  People come in.  They come through.  They‘re trained.  They develop associations, especially if they fight together in places like Afghanistan or Chechnya or Bosnia. 

Then they go out into the world and start their own little corporations.  And where there‘s merit in that corporation from an al Qaeda perspective.  They sponsor them, provide them information, provide them support. 

If they propose an operation back that looks especially juicy, then the al Qaeda professionals will get involved and bingo, you have a 9/11 on your hands. 

NORVILLE:  And General, would you say that some of these recent bombings, if today‘s bombing in Baghdad, certainly the bombing in Spain the other day, are connected to al Qaeda, that it‘s operating independently in many cases of Osama bin Laden?

MEIGS:  Well, look.  Think of al Qaeda as an association of groupings that sort of form and reform.  Once they arrested the Moroccans, clearly the needle is pointing at al Qaeda in the Spain operation.


MEIGS:  Especially since there‘s been comment from al Qaeda members about splitting Spain off from the United States. 

The one today is a little less clear.  I wouldn‘t say that the proof is that definitive yet, and I‘m waiting for the target.  You know, what—

Somebody‘s got to be looking at who owned the hotel, who was saying there, what the economic interests are. 

It‘s not clear that that particularly was an al Qaeda operation. 

NORVILLE:  Indeed.  All right, General Monty Meigs, we thank you so much for your contribution to the program tonight. 

MEIGS:  Good to be on the show.  Thanks.

NORVILLE:  All right.  Talk to you again.

The nationwide manhunt for the sniper suspect is finally over.  And it‘s over thanks to a slice of pizza.  We‘ll explain that in a moment.

Plus, the man who tracked down the D.C. Snipers, former police chief Charles Moose, joins us next. 


NORVILLE:  Police have caught the suspect—the suspected sniper who kept an entire state terrorized for nearly a year. 

After a nationwide manhunt, Ohio sniper suspect Charles McCoy Jr. was arrested this morning in Las Vegas.  He is believed to be responsible for two dozen shootings along highways around Columbus highway, one of which killed a person.  And all of them put fear into the hearts of thousands.  McCoy was arrested early this morning in a motel just off the Vegas strip.  A suspicious gambler at the Stardust Casino who recognized McCoy from media reports tipped off police after offering the suspect a slice of his pizza. 


CONRAD MALSOM, TIPPED OFF POLICE:  When he turned and accepted the pizza, I knew instantly who I was talking to and given the pizza to because I had looked at the “USA Today” and maybe took a second or third at that picture which they had on the front page.


NORVILLE:  Malsom says McCoy told him that he was staying at a nearby motel and that McCoy left some bizarre writings behind which Malsom eventually faxed to police.

About 12 hours after their first meeting, Malsom wondered what had happened and he went back to the hotel where McCoy was indeed staying.  He spotted his car.  Relatives of McCoy say they are relieved he was caught without incident. 


AMY WALTON, SISTER OF MCCOY:  I as well as the rest of my family are greatly relieved that he has safely been apprehended without incident of anybody getting harmed in any way. 


NORVILLE:  Sixty-two-year-old Gail Knisley was the only person killed in the shootings.  And today, her family expressed relief as well as thanks that a suspect had been caught. 


BRENT KNISLEY, SON OF SNIPER VICTIM:  We‘re glad for today‘s news, but our hearts will never be the same since he took our loved one on November the 25th


NORVILLE:  Now, my next guest knows all about the precarious balancing act that law enforcement deals with during a highly publicized case; 17 months ago, Charles Moose was chief of police in Montgomery County, Maryland, and public face of the D.C. sniper investigation, one of the deadliest and most publicized sniper attacks in the nation‘s history, a shooting rampage staged by John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo that left 10 people dead across Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. 

The killings transformed Chief Moose from a local police chief to an international name.  And he joins me tonight with his take on the Ohio sniper case. 

Good evening, Chief.  Good to see you again.

CHARLES MOOSE, FORMER MARYLAND POLICE CHIEF:  Good evening.  Glad to be here. 

NORVILLE:  As you watched this case unfold, did you have flashbacks of your own series of events with the D.C. sniper? 

MOOSE:  Well, certainly, you could see the fears it spread across the state as people were making decisions about where to travel, where not to travel, and certainly just all the concern because the acts were so random. 

NORVILLE:  One of the things that makes this case so similar to yours is that at the end of the day, despite hours and hours of great police work, it was ultimately a member of public who brought the suspect in. 

MOOSE:  Yes. 

And I think that again we should congratulate ourselves as a nation.  I think the police and the community working together, or the media understanding that—maybe they didn‘t like everything the way the investigation was unfolded.  But when they were asked to display this gentleman‘s face and his car and the license plate, they cooperate, and, again, the power of media, the information, and people were willing to call the police and cooperate.  Outstanding work. 

NORVILLE:  So you would say then that sometimes people bellyache that the media get on a horse and they just beat it until it cries, but that, in some cases, it‘s actually good for the press to stay on top of some of these stories that become the highly publicized story of the day?

MOOSE:  Yes, I think certainly in this case it played itself out. 

And sometimes we have a short attention span.  But I think in this case it was good that the media stayed with it, was always trying to look for ways to talk about the story.  And certainly to find someone in Las Vegas, one of those communities where as a gambler maybe they‘re not paying attention to the news, but there was so much information, so good things came of it. 

NORVILLE:  And yet, despite the fact that media stayed on the story, the Ohio head of the investigation really didn‘t talk very much to the media.  He was not particularly forthcoming in many respects. 

MOOSE:  Yes. 

And, again, it is situational.  That person, that team of individuals was trying to do the best that they could do and didn‘t want to compromise the case.  But it also could be a matter that until certain breaks, certain parts of puzzle came together, maybe they just didn‘t have a lot to share.  And so, again, different strategies, different situations.  But certainly I think everyone in Ohio and throughout the nation are glad that this person has been taken off the street. 

NORVILLE:  Oh, no question about it.

But when you look at the individual who has been apprehended and is the chief suspect in this case, he has been officially charged with the December shooting.  More charges are pending, I‘m sure, after he is extradited back to Ohio.

Can you answer the question why?  The most serious thing he has got on his record are some traffic violations. 

MOOSE:  Well, I think we will all be fascinated with wanting to know the motive, wanting to know why.  I think we‘re certainly pleased that there was no appearance of a larger conspiracy, that it‘s not al Qaeda, that it‘s some kind of organized terrorism. 

But yes, we continue to be baffled as individuals about the criminal mind, the cause and affect.  Hopefully, it‘s something that we understand.  It could be some issue of mental illness, but again we‘ll struggle.  And hopefully with proper interrogation, the task force there will be able to get back to us and tell us the logical reason why. 

NORVILLE:  All of us, these days, we have watched so many of these cop shows.  We all play junior detective when there‘s any of these kinds of stories going on.  You don‘t have to play junior detective.  You know what you‘re doing.

There were some very important aspects of this case that made you believe this was not a sniper in the traditional sense of the word. 

MOOSE:  Yes. 

Well, certainly, the traditional sense of a sniper, they do tend to take great pride in acquiring the target, being very focused on a target, striking the target, watching the target go down.  And in this case, shooting at a speeding car certainly no rhyme or reason and it‘s very difficult to even know if you struck a speeding car. 

I think in many of the situations people talked about the fact that only several days later when they washed the car did they discover that there was a bullet hole.  So very different, but, at the same hand, the fear was very, very similar. 

NORVILLE:  Oh, it almost made it worse, because there was such an inexplicable randomness to it.  You didn‘t know if the road you were on was going to be the road he was on.  And that‘s was a terrifying thought for thousands of people.

MOOSE:  Yes. 

And, again, I hope that in the end, people continue to have trust in their local law enforcement.  And whereas it did take them a while, they were very methodical.  And let‘s hope that they continue with the case, so that all of the evidence and the prosecution stays together until the very end.

NORVILLE:  Finally, Chief, I know, after the whole D.C. sniper case wrapped up, you decided to write a book on your experience.  And there was a great hue and cry over that.  you ultimately decided to resign your position.  What are you doing now and do you miss cop work?

MOOSE:  Well, certainly, it was a real pleasure to write “Three Weeks in October.”  And I have been done quite a bit of promoting of the book, some consulting, talking about issues of racial profiling, talking about transnational crime, as the world seems to get smaller. 

But, again, it is, I think, a good decision.  Life has been good.  And it‘s tough to adjust.  And I do miss the people, miss being in the mix.  But, at the same hand, you know, life has been good and I‘m managing to stay extremely busy.  So...

NORVILLE:  So you don‘t think you will be back in uniform any time? 

MOOSE:  Well, again, one never knows and one never says never. 

NORVILLE:  Well, we‘ll let you go out there and catch Osama bin Laden and then we‘ll talk to you and see how you feel. 

Chief Moose, thank you so much for being with us.  Good to see you again.

MOOSE:  All right, thank you, ma‘am. 

NORVILLE:  When we come back, a 12-year-old girl‘s miraculous story of survivor.  A car hits a family SUV.  She was sent on a 40-foot freefall.  Her mom and dad tell us what happened next right after this.


NORVILLE:  How much would you pay to own the boyhood home of a former United States president?  What if the home was located in Hope, Arkansas?

That‘s next.


NORVILLE:  We just had to ask. 

So you think you have heard everything about all the crazy stuff that they sell on the Internet?  What could possibly be next?  How about the boyhood home of a former president?  The three-bedroom house in Hope, Arkansas, where Bill Clinton lived for three years starting at the age of 5 is now up for sale on eBay. 

In one week, the bidding has gone from $45,000 to $216,000, if that‘s a legitimate bid.  Clinton‘s birthplace has been turned into a museum, but he lived in this house on 13th Street in Hope from 1951 to 1953.  The current owner says the original floor plan of the 950-square-foot house remains intact, but it has got new siding, new carpets and new ceilings.  The auction closes April 7. 

ANNOUNCER:  Up next, a 12-year-old who survived a genetic disease escapes another brush with death, freefalling 45 feet from a freeway overpass. 

We‘ll meet her parents when DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT returns. 


NORVILLE:  Now an incredible story of survival; 12-year-old Amanda Young was riding in the back of her family‘s SUV on a Tampa, Florida, freeway Sunday when a freak automobile accident hurled her out of the car window and off the overpass.  She fell about 45 feet before hitting the ground. 

But what‘s even more amazing about this accident and survival is that Amanda is considered extremely fragile because she suffers from a disorder that weakens her bones.  It‘s called vitamin D resistant rickets, a disease she‘s had since she was 2 years old.  Right now, she is in stable condition at a Florida hospital. 

And for their first prime-time interview, Amanda‘s mother, Nancy, her brother Joel and sister Ashelyn who were in the car with them during the accident join us from Tampa, along with her father, Charlie Young. 

And good evening, everybody.  Thanks for being here. 



NORVILLE:  How is everybody doing? 

First of all, Nancy, let me ask you, how is Amanda doing in the hospital? 

N. YOUNG:  Amanda is doing exceptionally well today.  She is doing very well.  We talk all the—the doctors took all the staples out today, Her I.V.s came out, all but one, today.  And her right femur, her broken bone is good.  She‘s bending her leg and they are actually going to teach her how to use a walker this evening. 

NORVILLE:  Wow.  They get them up and out of bed really fast now. 

N. YOUNG:  I know it.  It‘s amazing. 


NORVILLE:  I‘m sorry. 

Charlie, what are the extent of Amanda‘s injuries, besides the broken leg, obviously? 

CHARLIE YOUNG, FATHER OF AMANDA:  Well, the spleen was removed.  She had a ruptured spleen and she had internal pleading.  And all of that stopped.  Fractures to the face.  That was pretty much the extent of it.  It was a little scary for a while. 

NORVILLE:  I can‘t even imagine. 

Now, let‘s see, Ashelyn, you were in the car when all this happened. 

Do you remember the accident or what do you remember about it? 

ASHELYN YOUNG, SISTER OF AMANDA:  I remember, when we were tipping over, it was so scary.  I couldn‘t even move whenever we were tipping over. 

NORVILLE:  And what happened?  A car bumped into you? 

A. YOUNG:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  And where did your car go? 


A. YOUNG:  It went almost over the bank. 

NORVILLE:  So you guys were kind of hanging on the bridge? 

A. YOUNG:  Mm-hmm. 

NORVILLE:  Whoa.  And did you know that your sister had fallen out of the car?

A. YOUNG:  No. 


A. YOUNG:  We never knew she fell.

NORVILLE:  I‘m sorry.  Go ahead.

Joel, what about you?  When did you realize that Amanda wasn‘t in there? 

JOEL YOUNG, BROTHER OF AMANDA:  I looked everywhere, but I didn‘t see her. 

NORVILLE:  Because she was where before? 

J. YOUNG:  I don‘t know. 

NORVILLE:  Was she sitting in the very back seat of the car? 

J. YOUNG:  No, I was laying down. 

NORVILLE:  You were laying down in the car.  And then the accident happened. 

J. YOUNG:  Yes.  And a white car came out of nowhere. 

NORVILLE:  Came out of nowhere. 

Nancy, did you see the car coming at you? 

N. YOUNG:  Yes, I saw it briefly.  I looked up in the rearview mirror and saw it coming very fast at us.  We were going 65 and it was coming so fast.  And I just remember thinking, why is it going so fast? 


NORVILLE:  And did you have time to scream to the kids or anything? 

N. YOUNG:  Ma‘am?

NORVILLE:  Did you have time to scream to the kids? 

N. YOUNG:  No, we were impacted just about the time I glanced up and saw it.  And I just began to pray very loudly in the name of Jesus and, Father, help us.  And I started telling the children, I love you, I love you.  Mommy is here.  Hold on.  Don‘t be frightened.  Just hold on in Jesus‘ name.  And, Father, just save us from this horrible thing and just shouting over and over again and praying and asking God to help us. 

NORVILLE:  I know you lost feeling for a period of time after the accident.  And some good samaritans came and were trying to help you.  When did you realize that your daughter had flown out of car? 

N. YOUNG:  Well, on the impact, I became, I guess, temporarily paralyzed.  I since have found out that two of my discs had pinched together and had caused the paralysis.  And, of course, I couldn‘t move. 

And then they wouldn‘t allow me to move.  Once I regained the feeling, they wouldn‘t allow me to move.  A couple had come and prayed with me and I actually began to get the feeling back in my body all the way down to my toes.  And then, I said I think I can get out now.  But the paramedic had climbed into the car and asked me not to move, because they informed me not only could I hurt himself because of possible neck injuries, but our car was teetering on the edge of the embankment and we could all fall. 

And they would only allow one paramedic in at a time.  And they began to tie us down.  And they, of course, were questioning me, taking my vitals, trying to be sure of the extent of my injuries or if I needed any immediate care from their van.  And then I began to question them.  Well, I actual I had heard Ashelyn and Joel climb out and speak with someone.  I heard the door open. 

And I couldn‘t really see very far.  But I heard the door open, because I was kind of like at an angle laying backwards.  And then I said, well, how are the children doing?  And assuming that they were fine because I had heard them.  And someone said they were doing just fine.  They are both just fine. 


NORVILLE:  And that‘s when you knew there‘s one missing. 

N. YOUNG:  That‘s right. 


NORVILLE:  And what did Amanda say about flying out? 

N. YOUNG:  Where is the third?  Where is Amanda at?  Where is the third child?  And that‘s when they said, no, there is not a third child, ma‘am.

And I think they kind of almost thought that maybe I was in shock and I didn‘t really realize that there were more than two children.  And I said, there is a third child.  Well, your little girl is right here.  She‘s fine.  I said, well, that‘s Ashelyn, right?  The big one.  And, of course they said, yes, that‘s Ashelyn.  And Joel is fine, too. 

And then I was insisting, you have got to find my child.  They started kind of giving each other looks and looking under the vehicle.  And, of course, they didn‘t want me to panic. 


N. YOUNG:  Because I‘m not supposed to be moving, because the car was

kind of rocking.  And they are looking under the car.  A guy climbed kind

of back and looked under the seats, because maybe he thought one of them

had been killed under the


NORVILLE:  And there she was on the embankment. 

N. YOUNG:  And Joel hollered out, mommy, Amanda is at the bottom of the hill.  Of course, I couldn‘t see.  I didn‘t know what the hill was. 

NORVILLE:  Well, it is a miracle that she survived that fall. 


N. YOUNG:  It is a miracle, absolutely a miracle. 

NORVILLE:  And that your family is there and healthy.

N. YOUNG:  Absolutely.

NORVILLE:  Would you please give Amanda a hug from all of us? 

N. YOUNG:  I sure will. 

Amanda told me today, mommy, I want to be on TV. 


NORVILLE:  Well, you tell her she‘s welcome as soon as she‘s feeling better. 

N. YOUNG:  So I know she‘s feeling better. 

NORVILLE:  That‘s great.

NBC News YOUNG:  Yes.  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  Well, thanks to all of you.  And we wish you well.

We‘ll be back in a moment.


NORVILLE:  Don‘t forget, the e-mail address is

And that‘s our program for this evening.  I‘m Deborah Norville. 

Thanks for watching. 

Tomorrow night, for thousands of American students, Cancun, Mexico, is the only place to be when it comes to spring break, but this party place is encouraging underage drinking, say some.  We‘ll take you there.  Plus, we‘ll speak with one man who has made it his mission to persuade other parents to keep their kids out of Cancun.  Plus, Iraq, one year later.  This time, we‘ll focus on the National Guard.


Copy: Content and programming copyright 2004 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2004 FDCH e-Media, Inc. (f/k/a/ Federal Document Clearing House Inc., eMediaMillWorks, Inc.), ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and FDCH e-Media, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.