Guests: Kristen Breitweiser, Patty Casazza, Mindy Kleinberg, Lorie Van Auken
ANNOUNCER: DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT.
The widows go to Washington. These women lost their husbands on September 11. And they won‘t rest until they find out why.
Tonight, the four 9/11 widows who have campaigned tirelessly for an investigation into the al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington. How the Jersey girls have become the face and the heart of the campaign to get to the bottom of what happened that day and make sure it never happens again.
Runaway juries. This man convicted Martha Stewart for being a liar.
Now her lawyers are turning the tables on him.
From Stewart to Tyco, to Peterson. Can a jury be trusted? Tonight, the jury system on the defense.
Religious conviction. To Muslim girls, the headscarf is a symbol of faith. But to one school district, it‘s a dress code violation. Tonight, a 12-year-old at the center of a legal battle.
From Studio 3-K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.
DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST: And good evening.
They like to call themselves Four Moms from New Jersey, but they have, in two short and very intense years, become Washington power brokers.
On September 11, 2001, these women became widows. And afterward, each decided she had to do something.
So the Jersey girls banded together. They‘ve given themselves a crash course on American government, from the FBI and the CIA to Congress and the workings of the White House.
Some of the people who run Washington think these women are heroes. Others think they‘re a pain in the neck. At least one congressman one time hid behind his office door to avoid having to see them.
But no one can argue that they have not had an impact. The 9/11 commission chairman Thomas Kean says that that commission might not exist without them.
And today, a lot of people are crediting the Jersey girls with a major coup, hammering the White House into allowing Condoleezza Rice to testify before the commission after all.
Tonight, four of the Jersey girls join me. Kristen Breitweiser, Patty Casazza, Mindy Kleinberg and Lorie Van Auken are all with us.
And ladies, thank you very much.
It is really astonishing to see what the four of you together have put together. And I‘m sure it‘s all because on September 12, you were consumed with one question: why.
Patty, what was motivating you then?
PATTY CASAZZA, 9/11 WIDOW: I had to tell myself son, John, who was 11 at the time that there was a very good likelihood that his dad would not make it home. We were still hopeful, but the reality was that he might not.
And he was very concerned about safety. I mean, as you can well imagine. It seemed like the world was coming to an end on that day.
And he said to me, “Mom, who‘s going to stay and protect us?” And...
NORVILLE: If Daddy‘s not here?
CASAZZA: Right. And I was thinking to myself, who is supposed to be protecting us? And from there, the questions just grew.
NORVILLE: And you didn‘t find any ready answers?
CASAZZA: Not at all. Not at all. Two and a half years out, we‘re still waiting for those answers.
NORVILLE: Mindy, what was—what was motivating you in those early days, when you were sitting at home with your own personal grief and coming to grips with what had happened in the loss of your husband.
What was the question that loomed biggest in your own mind?
MINDY KLEINBERG, 9/11 WIDOW: Well, it was how could this have happened?
You know, we were in a support group, and there was a man, Bob Minetti (ph), in the support group that had lost his son in Pan Am 103. And he had been active in trying to make airline aviation changes.
And he said to us, “Listen, if you want an investigation and you want to know why, you‘re going to have to do it.”
And part of this was I felt badly. I felt that, had we all paid attention to what had happened on Pan Am 103, cockpit doors might have been hardened, and we wouldn‘t have had a September 11.
NORVILLE: Yes, but Pan Am 103 didn‘t happen because anybody barged into the cockpit. You can would have, could have, should on that one, but that‘s not something you would have come up with.
KLEINBERG: No, but what I‘m saying is, you know, if we had paid attention to the changes that they were trying to make, which—one of which was hardening the cockpit doors.
You know, if we had supported the families who were lobbying for that change—and when I say we, I mean we as a nation, you know—then that could have thwarted September 11. They would have had to come up with a different plot.
And I thought, you know what? Going forward, I didn‘t want to see anybody else walking in our shoes. And I wanted to make sure that what was going on in America that made us so vulnerable to these terrorists attacks did not continue to go on.
NORVILLE: Lorie, you were also in one of those support groups. What was it about that support group experience that made you think there‘s something more to being with those who had had the same kind of loss that you had had, besides just crying on one another‘s shoulders and turning into an action-oriented activist?
LORIE VAN AUKEN, 9/11 WIDOW: You know, it‘s hard to say what it is in your own personality or your own makeup that makes you react a certain way.
But certainly, being with—I was in the same support group as Mindy, being with the people from Pan Am 103, you did see that people survived, they moved forward. They were breathing. They were eating. They were doing the things that seemed so impossible to me at the beginning.
VAN AUKEN: And I saw them going on with their lives. And you know, and I was asking questions before that time. And here we had some impetus and some push from Bob Minetti (ph), who said if you want to see this investigation get started, you‘re going to have to do something, because there was legislation introduced in December of 2001. It was languishing.
And Bob Minetti (ph) said if you want to see an investigation, you‘re going to have to go down to Washington and have a rally and make it happen.
NORVILLE: But, you know, it‘s one thing to say everybody get together and make your poster boards and go down there and march around the capital. Circle and see if the local cameras come out there.
You guys did something much bigger. And Kristen, one of the things that you said publicly surprised you and spurred you to keep going in your quest for answers after September 11 was how quickly it seemed that the government could point in certain directions.
That they knew, for instance, Mohammed Atta had used a particular ATM machine, and we‘ve all seen that iconic photo of him in front of the machine doing his banking business. You wondered about that.
KRISTEN BREITWEISER, 9/11 WIDOW: Undoubtedly. I think one of the sticking points that we have is the amount of information that the FBI gleaned so quickly. They had the videotape Mohammed Atta at the ATM machine. They descended upon one of the flight schools in Florida hours after the attacks.
The entire nation was brought to its knees. Everyone was in a panic and yet the FBI showed up at Embry-Riddle Flight School hours after the attacks. They were seen by students removing boxes of files from the school.
NORVILLE: And they told you what?
BREITWEISER: Well, what was interesting about it is afterwards, we had a meeting about the FBI. And we asked them, “Why didn‘t you canvass the flight schools when you knew that these Middle Eastern men were training there?”
The FBI had known for a number of years about the interest that Middle Eastern men had in our flight schools, military flight schools that you needed State Department clearance to go to.
And we said, “Why didn‘t you check this out prior to 9/11?” And we
were told that there were too many flight schools to check, there was just
· it was too much an onerous task.
And I said, “Well, how is it that, then, on the morning of 9/11, hours after the attacks, you chose Embry-Riddle and showed up there and that happened to be a flight school that some of the hijackers went to?”
And the FBI agent looked at me and just said, “Well, I guess we got lucky.” And...
NORVILLE: And that just didn‘t wash?
BREITWEISER: It doesn‘t make sense. And I think many of the families feel that the FBI certainly had open files on them. We know from the joint inquiry of Congress‘ report that the hijackers had contacts with 13 individuals that were under investigation by the FBI.
NORVILLE: Even before the joint congressional committee report was issued, and frankly their work was begun, Mindy, you guys did what lots of us watching this program do.
You got on the Internet. You started doing searches around, and you started finding information.
What kinds of information were you able to find that gave you reason to believe that there was a there there, that there was something worth pursuing, that maybe someone knew something or had bits of information that, had they, as we hear now so often, connected the dots might have led somewhere productive?
KLEINBERG: You know, it was a slow process. I mean, we‘d have questions as to—You know, you‘d read a newspaper article, and they would talk about, you know, intercepting flights.
And so you‘d go on the computer and you‘d Google flight interceptions, and you‘d find out the protocols and procedures. And, you know, you would -- you know, they would say that at, you know, if you don‘t hit two marks you send up, you know, a fighter jet.
And we were thinking, “Gee, well, you know what, that‘s weird, because these planes missed their monitor marks, and their transponders had been turned off, you know, much earlier.”
So you just start—You know, it‘s a process. You start asking questions about that. And then you know what? You read an article, you know, in another area that will say, for instance, Donald Rumsfeld was at his desk.
So you start to research the protocols and procedures that are to take place with the secretary of defense.
NORVILLE: So things just didn‘t make sense. The more you ask questions, the more questions you had after that.
NORVILLE: You know, the thing that strikes me about all four of you women is none of you prior to this were overtly political.
Patty, is it really true that you didn‘t know which one was bigger, the House or the Senate?
CASAZZA: No. Actually, it was Lorie who didn‘t one.
NORVILLE: Lorie. I didn‘t mean to do that. Lorie, is that actually true, you didn‘t know that the House had more members than the Senate?
VAN AUKEN: I‘m sorry to admit it, but it‘s true.
NORVILLE: Some people believe you guys were hugely political animals.
They—in your case particularly, they‘d be sadly mistaken.
VAN AUKEN: They would be sadly mistaken. I voted. I registered to vote, and I always voted in all the elections. But honestly, I wasn‘t that interested in civics.
And, you know, when we needed to learn it, we were quick studies, and we picked up what we needed to learn.
NORVILLE: What is incredible about this—and we‘re going to take a break and come back and talk more about this—is the 9/11 commission is meeting right now.
The head of the commission, Thomas Kean, has said publicly it probably wouldn‘t exist without the efforts of this—these women. Is it possible that concerned citizens can move the ship of state? When we come back we‘ll find out more about how these women did it.
More with the Jersey girls, after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF STATE: The sleeper cells that flew the aircraft into the world trade towers and the Pentagon were already in the United States months before the attack.
Indeed, if actionable intelligence had appeared, which it did not, 9/11 would likely still have happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD CLARKE, FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISOR: Your government failed you. Those entrusted with protecting you failed you. And I failed you. And for that failure, I would ask, once all the facts are out, for your understanding and for your forgiveness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: That‘s former counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke, apologizing to the families who lost relatives on 9/11.
I‘m joined again by four women who lost their husbands in the September 11 attacks, four women who have now become soldiers in the war on terror, each in their own way. Patty Casazza, Kristen Breitweiser, Mindy Kleinberg and Lorie Van Auken.
Lorie, what did those words mean to you, when you heard Richard Clarke at the hearings last week?
VAN AUKEN: Those words to me were very meaningful.
We have never looked at September 11 as anything but an enormous failure, an enormous failure with regard to our country‘s intelligence, security and defense.
And we have been noticing that, for all this time, people were talking us into what a great job they have done of. And to us, that never rang true. And finally, somebody was telling us the truth and admitting that this was an enormous failure.
NORVILLE: Patty, what is it that you want to come from this? The apology, I‘m sure, was meaningful and certainly emotional. It doesn‘t bring your husband back.
Do you want heads to roll? Gary Hart was on this program a few weeks ago and said 3,000 people died, not one person got fired. Or do you want changes in policy and procedure so that it can‘t happen again?
CASAZZA: Well, with regard to accountability, I would expect those who failed miserably on that day not be in those positions, whether they are reassigned to lesser positions. Obviously, they froze in a moment of panic under that type of crisis situation, and they shouldn‘t be in those positions any longer.
NORVILLE: Is it possible they were doing their jobs, and they just got outsmarted by the terrorists?
CASAZZA: I don‘t think that‘s likely, given the number of warnings that we had in our intelligence agencies.
In fact, the president, Condoleezza Rice, Ari Fleischer, Karl Rove, all attended a G-8 summit meeting in July of 2001 in which the Italian secret service uncovered a plot to assassinate President Bush using airplanes. They were supposed to dive bomb that summit and kill President Bush, as well as all the other leaders attending.
So for me, that was only two months prior to the attacks. And for our leaders to say that they had a failure of imagination—Condoleezza Rice specifically came out in May of 2002 and said that, you know, she could never have imagined planes being used as missiles. It just rang—rings untrue and disingenuous.
NORVILLE: It was a huge victory, I know, for members of your group, Kristen, to hear that Condoleezza Rice will be testifying openly under oath before the commission.
Discrepancies are one of the huge issues that are in front of the commission. What particular inconsistencies in your own looking at the testimony, both during the commission hearings and in the other investigations leading up to it do you want to have questions raised about?
BREITWEISER: Let me just say at the outset that I don‘t like the word victory, just because that implies that this is a game.
I think for us, for the families that have worked for this, which is 12 family people on the family steering committee, this is not a game. This is about wanting to know that we‘re safer. This is about doing this for our children and to honor our lost loved ones.
With saying that, though, you know, obviously, there are inconsistencies with regard to...
NORVILLE: What are the biggest ones to you?
BREITWEISER: I think obviously for Ms. Rice to say she didn‘t know planes could be used as missile. She‘s the national security advisor to the president. It‘s her job to know something like that. That‘s why she‘s in that position.
Obviously, we need to find out whether al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden were a priority for the Bush administration.
You know, those types of things. Where the intelligence information that was relatively available in the intel community itself—the FBI, the CIA, the DIA—where that information broke down. And if what Condoleezza Rice is saying is true, why it didn‘t get to her or the president.
And I hope that in her testimony, we will find that out.
NORVILLE: Looking at everything that you all have, do you think that it‘s a situation where the information has been there and there‘s just a pathetic way of communicating information from one to the other?
I mean, on September 11 there were something like 60,000 names in the State Department database. The FBI had a dozen names. Let me ask you, Leah. What do you think? Lorie, I‘m sorry.
VAN AUKEN: Yes. Yes, there were 61,000 names tip off list. That was a CIA list, I think. And 12 of those names made it to an FAA no-fly list.
I just wanted to add one thing, also, to what Kristen said before, which was that Condoleezza Rice, that the second part of her statement also said that they had been focusing on hijackings, traditional hijackings.
But honestly on September 11, they didn‘t even do anything that would have thwarted a traditional hijacking. That is to say they didn‘t send up fighter jets to even thwart a traditional hijacking. So that‘s another reason why that doesn‘t ring true.
But back to your other point, with the 61,000 names. That was certainly something that we learned from an open hearing—at the opening hearings of the commission, the 9/11 commission, that it was very useful for us to learn and, I think, for all of America to learn.
Why weren‘t those 61,000 people on an FAA no-fly list? They should have been there. Those people were terrorists. And maybe they, you know, would have changed their mode of transportation and gone to airlines. And we should have known that—you know, we should have had them on an FAA no-fly list.
NORVILLE: Mindy, what about the whole notion of what—what the government was focusing on. That they were looking at, quote unquote, state-sponsored terrorism. Al Qaeda figured into that, but in a much smaller way.
KLEINBERG: Well, I think that‘s, you know, a huge issue that needs to be addressed by this commission.
It seems that during the transition, something was lost. I mean, when the Clinton administration left office, they felt that al Qaeda was the biggest threat to this nation. And somehow or other, that was not communicated well to the Bush administration. And...
NORVILLE: They also had chances to go after him, too. I mean, it‘s not just...
KLEINBERG: No, no, no. They did have. You‘re right. And you know what, militarily, they -- 1998, when they were first getting the training camps going in Afghanistan would have probably been the best place and date to have started to go after them militarily, before they had the system of producing these al Qaeda operatives, you know, down pat.
But, you know, they didn‘t. And we came into January of 2001, and al Qaeda was living here. And this was part of what wasn‘t addressed at this hearing.
At that point, the al Qaeda cells were here in the United States. So even if we had killed Osama bin Laden in the first part of 2001, we probably still would have had a September 11.
What they needed to do is something defensively, you know, at home. And that‘s, you know, one of my biggest questions for this commission, is what did we do in a defensive posture to keep the homeland safe in 2001?
NORVILLE: What you ladies have done is extraordinary. You‘ve taken your own personal grief; you‘ve channeled it in a way to create action, to create real movement and questions being asked and presumably answers being gotten in Washington.
A lot of people upset a lot of things in this country: maybe the federal government, maybe the county commission. What lessons have you all learned that they can take and apply to the issues in their own lives that they‘re upset about? Because many people think “I‘m one person. I don‘t matter.”
The dozen of you coming together and the family support group have clearly proved that a small number of people can make an enormous difference. Kristen, what would you say?
BREITWEISER: I think undoubtedly, if there‘s a lesson to be learned, it‘s that we live in a democracy, which is a nation for the people, by the people. I think that people across the nation need to care about national security. I think that our ability to be safe from terrorism here needs to be...
NORVILLE: What do people do on an individual basis? How did you have the kind of success that you guys have had?
BREITWEISER: Pick up the phone and call your congressman or senator.
Write a letter to the editor of your local paper.
It really makes a difference when you call your local congressman. They need to hear from you. When you have issues, you have to have your voices heard.
Read the newspaper. Pay attention to the news. You know, don‘t skip the sections on the Middle East like I used to do prior to 9/11. You know, stay informed. We have to have an informed nation. That‘s the only way we‘re going to be safer from terrorism. It‘s the only way that we‘re going to have a better quality of life.
NORVILLE: What would you like to see come from the 9/11 commission?
BREITWEISER: I want to know that we‘re safer living here, and I want the nation as a whole to care about this, regardless of political party. This is an issue that everyone needs to worry about, because we are not safer here. George Tenet, director of the CIA, said that at last week‘s hearings. We‘re no safer here.
We need to work together, regardless of our political affiliation to become safer. And the public must care about this. They must be informed.
NORVILLE: Patty, what do you want to see?
CASAZZA: Well, I‘d like to see our leaders also respond to the American public. Apparently, they do polls, and that‘s where they get most of their information. I really think that they have to inform us of the situations that are developing much before they have to take an action.
NORVILLE: You don‘t think that would cause a panic?
CASAZZA: No, I really don‘t. I think that you have to rely on the intelligence of your American public to take responsible actions. And one of those actions is deciding for themselves whether they‘d like to fly or not. The economy shouldn‘t supplant national security.
NORVILLE: And finally last question to the ladies in the other studio, Lorie, Mindy, briefly, there‘s a Bible quote that says the truth will make you free. Whatever truth comes out of this commission, will you feel freer as a result?
KLEINBERG: Absolutely. I think we will. I think, you know what? The truth can‘t hurt us at this point. You know, we‘ve already suffered the loss of a loved one. I think the truth can only help us be safe.
NORVILLE: We‘ll leave it at that. Ladies, thank you very much. We will continue to watch the work of the 9/11 commission, and I suspect that you‘ll be right there, making sure they work hard and do what they need to do. Thank you very much.
BREITWEISER: Thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Coming up, Hollywood‘s animated labor dispute.
DAN CASTELLANETA, AS HOMER SIMPSON: So what‘s the problem, son?
ANNOUNCER: Why are Homer and the gang refusing to speak up?
CASTELLANETA: Never say anything unless you‘re sure everyone feels the exactly same way you do.
ANNOUNCER: They want a raise.
And next, did this juror tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
Did this one try to cheat the system? Cases like Martha Stewart and Tyco are raising new doubts about the reliability of courtroom justice.
DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT is coming right back.
NORVILLE: Tonight, disorder in the court. Will freedom soon be in Martha Stewart‘s future thanks to a juror‘s undisclosed past? Just six weeks before Stewart is supposed to be sentenced for lying to federal investigators, her attorney is asking a judge to grant a new trial, claiming one of the jurors who convicted her didn‘t come clean about his prior arrest record during the jury selection process.
Chappell Hartridge who called Martha Stewart‘s conviction a victory for the little guy failed to disclose that he had been arrested for assault and sued three times. This bombshell coming less than a week after a juror in the Tyco trial of Dennis Kozlowski gave the A-OK sign to his attorneys. Is there a crack in the foundation of America‘s judicial system? And how can we make sure that the men and women of the jury are fit to stand in judgment of someone else.
Joining me this evening to talk about jury behavior and how it can affect verdicts is Judge Lisa Fox. She‘s with the county criminal court in Dallas, Texas. And with us from Miami, veteran criminal defense attorney Jayne Weintraub. Ladies, thank you for being with us. Good evening.
First, let‘s look at what was said by Bob Morvillo when he made the motion for a new trial in the Martha Stewart case. He said Hartride deliberately concealed his prior experiences with the legal system so he could empower the, quote, “little man” and profit from the process. He appears to have committed perjury to gain access to a case in which he would judge whether other defendants made intentional false statements.
When you sign one of those jury disclosure papers, you do so under the threat of perjury, is that correct, Jayne?
JAYNE WEINTRAUB, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, it is. When we‘ve done juror questionnaires, there is a penalty of perjury (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But more than that, the jurors come in and they literally swear in front of the judge to what they‘re saying is true and correct. And what they filled out is true and correct. So they reaffirm what they have already done on paper. But what‘s more interesting to me, that all that happened with Hartridge and aside from the fact that he convicted Martha Stewart for doing just what he did himself, and it‘s not so much whether or not he committed perjury, it‘s that he lied. It‘s not that he failed to disclose it. He lied...
NORVILLE: Made a false statement and he convicted her of doing the same thing.
WEINTRAUB: Well, it‘s the erosion of the whole jury system that we‘re faced with. We need to implement safeguards to protect the sanctity and preserve the sanctity of our great system, otherwise we‘re going to be in a whole heck of a lot of trouble.
NORVILLE: How can you do that, I mean, we really operate on an honor system.
WEINTRAUB: I‘ll tell you how. You know how, number one, we can have “son of Sam” laws that apply to jurors so that they know from the beginning there will be no way to have a financial benefit in this ballgame. You will never be able to sell your story, and we had a juror in one of the other high-profile cases who came out in the Tyco case and disclosed a present juror holdout‘s name and that‘s how the media disclosed her name all over the Internet. How is that person going to get a fair trial now? We have to respect the confidentiality and preserve the sanctity of that juror at least while they‘re deliberating and afterwards, I say we don‘t ever let them benefit.
NORVILLE: I want to follow up on that in a second because I think that the whole financial gain is a potential part of the problem. Judge Fox, would the fact that he had lied on his jury application and then affirmed to the judge before the trial that everything he had said was true, would that necessarily be grounds for a new trial? If this motion were in front of you, how would you rule on it?
JUDGE LISA FOX, COUNTY CRIMINAL COURT, DALLAS, TX: Well, for a motion for a new trial, I‘m not sure that I would actually grant the motion for a new trial. I would probably let it go ahead and be sent up to a higher court for review by an appellate court. There‘s actually no information that his decision or his verdict would have been different.
NORVILLE: And would it have made a difference if he had come clean about the assault and the fact that he had had prior contact with courts in the past, would that have necessarily have disqualified him from jury service?
FOX: No, it would not have disqualified him. He would have—the lawyers at that point in time would have had the opportunity to personally talk to him, question him about his experience, whether he felt like he was treated fairly, find out if he could still be fair and impartial in this type of case...
NORVILLE: If you were picking this jury, would you kept this man on the case with his background?
WEINTRAUB: Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, Deborah, we just a very similar situation, a very high-profile case in Miami and the bottom line was we excused the juror as soon as we found out seven days into the trial testimony and replaced her with an alternate. Because it‘s not the job of the defense lawyers to investigate the jurors. I mean, Bob Morvillo would never have had time to investigate 1,000 prospective jurors.
But the truth of the matter is he would have exercised a challenge that he has the right to exercise and not had her—had this man on the jury. So my thought is I disagree respectfully with the judge and I think that Number one, this juror would not have been on the jury, and that‘s the thrust of Bob Morvillo‘s motion. And number two, I would just question why not grant the motion for a new trial? Because the defendant is entitled constitutionally to the right to a fair and impartial jury. And here we have a juror who lied and would not have been on the jury. I think it‘s clear.
NORVILLE: Judge Fox, when you‘re sitting there watching a jury get impaneled, are there ever times where you‘re sitting on your hands wishing you could raise it and say, wait a minute, I want to exercise a peremptory challenge? This person should not be on the jury?
FOX: Many times. But the point is on this particular juror, probably the state and the defense, had they had that information, would have struck him. I agree that he should have been struck and he would have been struck.
NORVILLE: And what do you think that‘s going to do on appeal? If you were ruling, you wouldn‘t be granting a new trial. Whether it‘s a new trial or an issue on appeal, how germane will it be to the final outcome?
FOX: I think it‘s very important, considering the two issues that
they are addressing, the fact that he has a charge of an assault against a
· I believe, it was about a former girlfriend and then you have the person on trial, a strong female, successful female. Anyone that‘s being charged with domestic violence, I would, number one, that would be a major red flag right there.
NORVILLE: And finally, Jayne Weintraub, if this does go forward, does this mean that there is the potential that in other convictions, attorneys are now going to be going back and reinvestigating the backgrounds of the jurors? How much of a Pandora‘s box might this have opened?
WEINTRAUB: Well, I don‘t think that it will. Number one, I don‘t think that you go back. You go forward. It won‘t be in the legal field, what we would call going back. But what‘s more important, Deborah, is the issue of this is one side where the government, the defense lawyers and the court should all agree. We need to preserve the sanctity of the jury system. And the only way to do that for Martha Stewart tonight would be for this judge, who has demonstrated she is fair and does the right thing, isn‘t looking to be, you know, Ms. Popularity.
She‘s the judge. And in that federal arena, she threw out the securities fraud count, which most judges would not have done either. And if you ask Judge Fox I‘m sure she would say she would have let that go to the jury. But Judge Cederbaum took it by the horn and she did the right thing. And I think she‘s going to do the right thing here too. This juror never would have been on this jury and there never would have been the same verdict.
NORVILLE: And we‘ll let that be the last word. Judge Fox down in Texas, Jayne Weintraub, we appreciate you both for being with us.
When we come back, an 11-year-old girl at the center of a fight over religious rights. Does her Islamic faith trump the school‘s dress code? A little girl and the school‘s attorney will be with us next.
NORVILLE: Tonight, we just had to ask how much is a cartoon voice really worth? The actors who do the voices for the hit TV show “The Simpsons” have stopped working because they want more money. The 6 actors who pay Homer and Marge and Bart and the other characters presently make $125,000 an episode. They‘re asking for $360,000 an episode, which means they would be making close to $8 million a year for 22 episode season.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN CASTELLANETA, VOICE OF HOMER SIMPSON: Oh, that‘s a lot of money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: That‘s not the first time there‘s been a contract conflict on “The Simpsons.” In 1998, the cast threatened to walk out. In fact, it got so serious that the show‘s producer hired casting directors in five cities to try to replace them, but they worked out a deal at the last minute. “Daily Variety” is reporting that “The Simpsons” voice actors worked about 6 or 7 hours an episode.
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CASTELLANETA: Wow. You guys are even lazier than me.
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NORVILLE: And remember, they‘re just actors using their voices. They don‘t even have to put on costumes or makeup or remember lines. They just stand there and read from a script.
Now for those 6 or 7 hours a day, they‘re asking for $360,000 a day:
sweet. Not even television‘s highest paid star, Ray Romano makes that much on a daily basis. “The Simpsons” stars say they‘re just asking for just a little piece of what the show is making all over the world, that‘s more than $1 billion. But maybe they should listen to the advice of Homer Simpson himself who, back in an 1995 episode said, “if you don‘t like your job, you don‘t strike, you just go in everyday and do it really half bleeped. That‘s the American way.”
Somehow, I‘m sure it will all work out. After all, as Marge Simpson would say...
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JULIE KAVNAR, VOICE OF MARGE SIMPSON: Instead of fighting, why don‘t you try a little understanding.
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NORVILLE: And if they get their $8 million a season, I‘ve just got one question. Got a recurring guest role for a news anchor?
ANNOUNCER: Up next, this 12-year-old was suspended for wearing a scarf on her head. Teachers say she violated the dress code. She says they violated her religious freedom. School for thought, when DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT returns.
NORVILLE: In Muskogee, Oklahoma, a 12-year-old Muslim girl has been suspended twice from school for refusing to remove her head scarf or hijab. School officials say her suspensions have nothing to do with religion, they say wearing a hijab violates the dress code which prohibits all head coverings, including hats. Now the girl‘s family is suing the school district, claiming the dress code is discriminatory.
France passed a law banning head scarfs in public schools over major protests. Now, France is primarily a Roman Catholic country, but it‘s also home to 5 million Muslims. The French law forbids religious clothing and symbols that conspicuously show a student‘s religious affiliation, including Islamic head scarves, Jewish skull caps and large Christian crosses. But even supporters of the law there in France say it was aimed at hijabs in particular.
How do Americans feel about Muslim girls wearing the hijab to school. Well, we called lots of school districts and the attitude in places we checked with was pretty much no problem. But not in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
For more on this, I‘m joined now by 12 year-old Nashayala Hearn who‘s also known as Tala and her father Ivin Hearn. And thank you very much both of you for being with us.
Hi Tala. I don‘t know very much about all the specifics of Muslim dress so can you help me understand what the hijab signifies in your faith?
NASHAYALA HEARN, SUSPENDED FROM SCHOOL: It signifies modesty.
NORVILLE: It signifies modesty?
N. HEARN: Yes.
NORVILLE: And when you first wore your hijab to school, did any of the kids say anything to you about it?
N. HEARN: Yes, they said they liked it and it was pretty.
NORVILLE: It was pretty. So they didn‘t really give you any hassle about it?
N. HEARN: No.
NORVILLE: When did the—when did the problem start then? Did one of the teachers or the principal or somebody say something?
N. HEARN: Yes, after September 11, when I was in the breakfast line, my teacher, she was excited it was September 11 and then she told me that after I get done eating, I had to call my parents, because it looked like a bandanna.
So I when I got done eating my breakfast, I went to the office and I called my parents. And then they came down to the school. And then they were like well it does look like a bandanna so I had to change it or I couldn‘t come back to school.
So then my parents went go talk to the superintendent.
NORVILLE: Mr. Hearn, when your little girl called you and said they need you to come down to school and you found out what the issue was, what was your initial reaction?
EYVINE HEARN, DAUGHTER WEARS A HEAD SCARF: Very upset, very, very upset. We were, not understanding what was the major problem.
NORVILLE: They explained to you they had a school policy that apparently was instituted because of some gang issues about any kind of head covering, even if you wore a sweatshirt and pulled the hood up over it, that would be a violation of school policy.
When you explain to them that it was an expression of your religious faith, what was their answer?
E. HEARN: It was the same, it‘s a bandanna, it‘s a bandanna. And the principal of the school kept repeating that. Also they did not make me understand what was in the dress code policy. They didn‘t even pull out the book until my wife insisted it‘s for religious purposes then they got the book. And we couldn‘t find hajab anywhere in there.
NORVILLE: So it was just not something that had, I guess, ever occurred to them.
Are Jewish kids are allowed to wear a skull cap in the school, as far as you know?
E. HEARN: Not as far as I know.
NORVILLE: And you filed a lawsuit against the school.
What do you hope to accomplish by doing this?
E. HEARN: To get them to change the dress code policy to accommodate for people with religious beliefs.
NORVILLE: And you‘ve got some pretty powerful ammunition on your side. the federal government announced it‘s going to join in this lawsuit with you.
How did you feel when you heard that news?
E. HEARN: Just that it was a blessing from god, and it‘s making our case look very good. It‘s going to help a lot.
NORVILLE: Well, we will follow the case to see how it happens. Thank for being with to you, Nashala, and to you as well, Mr. Hearn.
Now we‘re going to get the other side of the story. We‘re joined by John Tucker, he‘s the attorney for the Muskogee, Oklahoma School District. And he joins us from there tonight.
Sir, why not just make an exception?
We live in a country where religious freedom is something that all Americans hold dear.
Why not make an exception on religious grounds?
JOHN TUCKER, ATTORNEY MUSKOGEE SCHOOL DISTRICT: The basis for the rule as we talked about came from safety and protection of the students standpoint. The United States Department of Education issues guidelines to school districts about what they can and cannot with respect to school dress codes. And in 1995, the regulations set out by the Department of Education specifically authorized that you could wear Yamikas and head scarves during the school as part religious practice by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which had just been pass by Congress.
In 1998, as you know, the Supreme Court found that act to be unconstitutional. And after that, the Department of Education then amended its regulations and removed that statement with respect to, particularly attire like the Yamikas and head scarves.
NORVILLE: Well know the Justice Department has jumped in.
NORVILLE: Sorry go ahead.
TUCKER: That‘s perplexing isn‘t it because we have a government making a rule and another part of government saying it‘s the wrong rule.
NORVILLE: Well, you‘ve got the Education Department over here, you‘ve got the Justice Department stepping and they‘re saying quick frankly no kid should have to choose between following her faith and enjoying the benefits of public education.
TUCKER: And that‘s what they say. I might add this young lady is attending every day, she‘s wearing her hajab every day as part of an accommodation with the school board pending a decision by court to as what is the appropriate course of action. The board will be guided by what this federal court says.
NORVILLE: Do you say the pledge to the flag in your schools or sing the National Anthem?
TUCKER: I‘m sorry.
NORVILLE: Do you say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the National Anthem on occasion in your schools?
NORVILLE: And if there is a child who for religious reasons does not wish to salute the flag or sing the national anthem are they permitted to do so?
TUCKER: That is correct.
NORVILLE: Why would that be permissible and a little kid who wants to wear an expression of her religious faith not be allowed to do that?
TUCKER: This is not an issue about religion. This is a dress code that was instituted for the protection of all students and the obligation the district has to provide a safe environment for learning for all the students.
NORVILLE: Has she been at risk since you‘ve allowed the accommodation for here to wear the hajab, has anything happen?
TUCKER: I don‘t think anyone thought she would be a risk to anyone.
The issue is if you have a rule, if for example...
NORVILLE: Not that she‘s a risk, that she would be at risk. That she would be at risk.
TUCKER: I think the—that never has been an issue. I think the risk is that when you have the rule, which is to prevent wearing such things as gang colors as caps, and you make an exception for one person, the law, the circuit court, which Oklahoma is located requires that if you make an exception for a student for religious persons, you must make that same exception for secular reasons.
NORVILLE: All right. we‘re going to leave it there. But we‘re going to let the courts decide and maybe, sir, you‘ll come back and talk about it when they do, OK.
TUCKER: Be glad to.
NORVILLE: John Tucker, thanks to you.
When we come back, we‘re going to get some of your e-mail about the Al Franken radio debut. It‘s got some of you a little bit hot under the collar, we‘ll tell you what you said, next.
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AL FRANKEN, AIR AMERICA: We did some things on the show today I thought were really funny, and if I think they are funny, then I think they are funny. And that‘s all.
NORVILLE: Laugh, and the world laughs with you.
AL FRANKEN: Yes, you have to trust your gut.
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NORVILLE: Now, time to hear from you.
My interviews with Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo from the new liberal radio network, Air America, inspired a lot of you to write in, from both the left and right.
Tony writes, “Last nights program was the greatest. It was refreshing to watch someone from the left and the right treat each other with respect. The norm for other programs usually include all the interrupting and sarcasm.
But Dennis Atkins writes in. He says, “Once is enough for Al Franken.
Someone should send him back to “Saturday Night Live.”
That‘s our program. Send us your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for watching.
Tomorrow night on the program, Jennifer Beals, remember her? She had everybody drooling, at least the guys, anyway, from her sexy role in “Flash Dance.” Now turning heads of men and women, with a racy Showtime drama, “The L Word.” Tomorrow night Jennifer Beal joins me.
That‘s are program for tonight. Up next “JOE SCARBOROUGH.”
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