Guests: Douglas Kmiec, Joe Tacopina, Dean Johnson, Barry McCaffrey, Kenneth Jackson
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, former president Ronald Reagan‘s legal legacy.
Thousands of mourners pay final respects to a president who left a permanent mark, including on the American legal system, from a more conservative Supreme Court to tougher sentences for drug dealers.
Plus, on the 60th anniversary of D-Day, we look at the deception and intelligence used by the allies, including dummy tanks and a fake invasion. And to crack German military codes, the world‘s first computer.
The program about justice starts now.
Hi, everyone. Tonight, as the nation remembers Ronald Reagan, we are going to look at how his policies and decisions changed the legal landscape in this country.
Also later in the program, we‘re going to touch on the Laci Peterson case, which is in progress as we speak.
But first, it was a day of remembrance in California. You are looking at a live picture of President Reagan‘s casket, lying in repose at his presidential library in Simi Valley, California, where earlier today, an intimate family service was held.
NBC‘s James Hattori joins us now from the Reagan Library. Hi, James.
JAMES HATTORI, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Dan.
Tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people are expected to be here at the Reagan Library between now and 6:00 p.m. tomorrow to pay their respects to the former president. As you mentioned, he is lying in repose in the foyer of the library as we speak, and people are lined up, we are told, 2,000 an hour, perhaps, to pay their respects. They only get a brief time there. You can see them walking through the space, a brief quiet moment in front of the casket. Navy honor guard there posted as well.
Earlier today, as the funeral procession got underway at the mortuary in Santa Monica about half an hour, 40 minutes‘ drive from here, Nancy Reagan and her family stopped briefly outside to take a look at the flowers and the cards and the outpouring of sentiment and remembrances that were accumulated outside there.
Meantime, the motorcade made its way along a route that included the Ronald Reagan Freeway leading into Simi Valley, for a brief private ceremony here at the library prior to the public viewing, which was presided over by a reverend of the family church.
It was a poignant moment afterward when Nancy Reagan paused over the casket and briefly put her head right on top of it, and it was a very touching moment for all who were watching, symbolic of the loving relationship that the Reagans indeed had and was in evidence, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in fact, endeared what so many people to them, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and first lady Maria Shriver of the state of California, who are also there to pay their respects.
Arnold Schwarzenegger felt that the president, the former president was an inspiration politically for him, and perhaps that‘s also why so many people feel so compelled to come here and pay their respects, that he was such a towering political figure, and not only in California, but in the U.S. and across the world.
Dan, back to you.
ABRAMS: James Hattori, thanks very much.
Now to President Reagan‘s impact on the nation‘s legal system, something that still reverberates in courtrooms across the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, April 16, 1986)
RONALD WILSON REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We live in a land of liberty, safeguarded by our constitutional rights, and protected by the rule of law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS (voice-over): In his eight years as president, Ronald Reagan left a legal legacy as permanent and significant as any president in modern history, from the U.S. Supreme Court, to taxes, to criminal sentences, to terrorism.
In his first year in office, Reagan appointed the first woman to the U.S. Supreme Court, Sandra Day O‘Connor, at the time viewed as a judicial conservative.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDRA DAY O‘CONNOR, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I will do my best to serve the court and this nation in a manner that will bring credit to the president...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: O‘Connor has become known as the swing vote on some of the most important issues of the day, ranging from affirmative action to abortion.
In 1986, after Chief Justice Warren Burger stepped down, Reagan appointed one of the court‘s most conservative members, Antonin Scalia, while also promoting another conservative justice, William Rehnquist, to chief justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, June 17, 1986)
REAGAN: In choosing Justice Rehnquist and Judge Scalia, I have not only selected judges who are sensitive to these matters, but through their distinguished background and achievements, reflect my desire to appoint the most qualified individuals to serve in our courts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And before he left office, Reagan lost a bitter battle to appoint controversial jurist Robert Bork to the court. He eventually appointed Anthony Kennedy instead.
And while his legal legacy is most often defined by his impact on the court, Reagan‘s influence was more sweeping than that. And after just six months in office, President Reagan proposed the biggest tax cut in U.S. history and eventually signed into law a major revision of the tax code, that, among other things, reduced taxes for businesses and higher-income individuals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, August 13, 1981)
REAGAN: But I think it mark an end to the excessive growth of government bureaucracy and government spending, government taxing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And in 1984, he signed into a law an effort to make federal sentences more consistent, often meaning tougher punishments for drug offenders and less discretion for judges.
Reagan also spearheaded various measures to strengthen antiterrorism laws, including one that banned arms sales to nations that support terror. Only months later, it was discovered some of his senior aides authorized the sale of arms to the fundamentalist Islamic government of Iran in an effort to free American hostages, and then diverted the profits to Nicaraguan contras. An independent investigation found that Reagan himself did not violate the law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, November 13, 1986)
REAGAN: I didn‘t know about any diversion of funds to the contras, but as president, I cannot escape responsibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: On the whole, his legal legacy is one of a classic conservative, one who supported a more limited role for judges, lower taxes, and tougher criminal punishments.
ABRAMS: For more on President Reagan‘s legal impact, joining us now is Douglas Kmiec, former assistant attorney general in President Reagan‘s second term in office. Professor Kmiec actually helped scrutinize potential Supreme Court candidates for the president. He‘s now a law professor at Pepperdine.
Good to see you again, professor.
DOUGLAS KMIEC, LAW PROFESSOR, PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY: Nice to see you, Dan.
ABRAMS: All right. So give us a sense, I mean, were you involved in actual conversations with President Reagan about potential Supreme Court nominees?
KMIEC: Well, for the most part, we would work with the White House counsel and the attorney general. But on occasion the president would ask us for information, and he would convey what he would convey publicly, and that is that he wanted judges who were honest, who were learned in the law, and who would have respect for the text and structure of the Constitution.
He had established that legacy as governor of California, of appointing that type of man and woman to the court, and that‘s what he wanted to continue in Washington.
ABRAMS: How upset was he after the Robert Bork nomination fell through?
KMIEC: Well, you have to remember that the Bork nomination occurred at a very difficult time the president. Mrs. Reagan had just been diagnosed with cancer. He was obviously very much in love with his wife and very much concerned about her medical condition.
But just notwithstanding all of that, he was very much involved with the Bork nomination. Robert Bork had been on his radar screen from the very beginning. And while the nomination was delayed because the president felt it was important to break the gender barrier and, as you set up in your beginning piece, appoint Justice O‘Connor, and to appoint Justice Scalia, Robert Bork was always right there near the top of the list.
So to lose that nominee was very troubling to the president, especially because he felt it was lost on a type of media caricature which did not fully represent the qualities of the man.
ABRAMS: Do you think that he would be satisfied, in retrospect, with the way Justices O‘Connor, Justice Kennedy, and Justice Scalia have performed on the court?
KMIEC: Dan, I think he would be very satisfied. And in many ways, while there‘s always intramural conservative theorizing about individual opinions, I think the president would think these are individuals who have comported themselves with integrity, who honestly and authentically decide opinions, and, quite frankly, represent different aspects of the president‘s personality.
Sandra O‘Connor from the West, from those rough and ready ranchlands, represents a reorientation of the federal-state balance, Antonin Scalia, the intellectual side of Reagan‘s conservatism, and Anthony Kennedy, the one who looks at cases individually, disposes of them fairly and quietly, and is a strong defender of freedom, especially freedom of speech and religion.
I think all of those things would make his appointments very, very strong, and of course, very satisfied with the chief justice as well and his administration of the court.
ABRAMS: Very quickly, his legal legacy is often defined by his Supreme Court choices, but as I laid out in the piece, you know, there have been other issues upon which President Reagan has had an enormous impact in the legal world. What do you think is the most underappreciated impact that President Reagan has had on the world of law?
KMIEC: Well, you know, it‘s often said that the president has made us feel better about ourselves. That‘s not just a question of pop psychology. We feel better about ourselves because we‘re more rooted in our fundamental principles. Reagan said presidents come and go, history comes and goes, but principle endures forever. And the principle for him was the three first words of the Constitution, “We, the people.” I think he reestablished the fact that this is a government of laws, but we are governing ourselves.
ABRAMS: Professor Doug Kmiec, good to see you again. Thanks for coming back on the program.
KMIEC: Great to see you, Dan.
ABRAMS: You can log on to reagan.msnbc.com for a special interactive look at the plans for former president Reagan‘s funeral.
Coming up next, Laci Peterson‘s mother takes the stand in Scott Peterson‘s murder trial.
And later, the former “Playboy” model who lost custody of her twin daughters to the married man with whom she‘d had an affair, her case is back in court.
Your e-mails, firstname.lastname@example.org. I‘ll respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: Coming up, day four in the Scott Peterson murder trial. Both Laci Peterson‘s half-sister and her mother on the stand, talking about what Laci did on the day before she went missing, and about her relationship with her mother.
ABRAMS: We‘re back.
Day four in the Scott Peterson trial. Today, Laci‘s half-sister Amy Rocha and her mother, Sharon Rocha, on the stand. Under cross-examination by defense attorney Mark Geragos, Amy admitted that Laci was active, taking walks up until a week before she went missing. This is important, because prosecutors say Laci stopped walking her dog weeks before her disappearance after suffering from dizzy spells.
Now, remember, the defense is arguing that Laci was seen in the neighborhood walking her dog after Scott left to go fishing. Prosecutors have been trying to prove she was already dead.
Also, this afternoon, Laci‘s mom, Sharon, recounted her relationship with her daughter.
MSNBC‘s Jennifer London joins us now from outside the courthouse.
Now, Jennifer, I remember how difficult it was for Sharon Rocha to testify in the preliminary hearing. How about today?
JENNIFER LONDON, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dan, Sharon was for the most part composed. She never completely broke down on the stand, although it was a difficult day at times, Sharon having to take long pauses in between her answers. She took deep breaths to keep her composure. And she did on some occasions have a slight shake in her voice.
The hardest part, I would say, for Sharon today was recalling the time in the park when the search for Laci began on Christmas Eve, Sharon describing a scene that was almost frantic, saying she herself was running around the park screaming Laci‘s name, looking everywhere for her, even looking in some trash cans.
Now, Sharon is telling the jury that Scott during this time was there, but he was sort of off to the side, and he appeared almost not really engaged in the search, almost distant. Now, Sharon also talking about a candlelight vigil that was held for Laci on December 31, Sharon telling the court that there were 1,300 to 1,500 community members from Modesto at this vigil, including all of Laci‘s immediate family and Scott‘s parents. However, Sharon saying she never saw Scott that night.
Now this may be important because, Dan, remember, the prosecution says the reason Scott was not at that vigil is because he was on the phone with Amber Frey.
Now, before cross-examination by Mark Geragos began, when Sharon was still on the stand, the prosecution played a taped phone conversation between Sharon and Dan from February 13, Sharon saying the purpose of that conversation was to speak to Scott alone and find out what he knew about 12/23 and 12/24, the day Laci went missing, Sharon almost sounding frustrated, if you will, that she had not had an opportunity, as she described it, to talk to Scott alone about those events.
She wanted to know what was Laci doing, what did she say she would be doing the night, the day, excuse me, she disappeared.
And Dan, she is still under cross-examination right now.
ABRAMS: Did Scott say anything in that phone call which was incriminating?
LONDON: No, Dan, not that I heard. But to be totally honest with you, the audio was quite poor. And at the end of playing the conversation, the prosecution sort of had Sharon recap the purpose, I think, to make up for some of the audio quality.
ABRAMS: Very quickly, Jennifer, how aggressive was the cross-examination by Mark Geragos of both Amy Rocha, the half-sister, and Sharon Rocha, the mother?
LONDON: Well, I would say for Amy‘s testimony, Mark Geragos was not ginger, but he was not aggressive at all. His line of questioning was pretty much in the same tone as when he questioned some other witnesses, the people at her, that worked in her hair salon. And the questioning that I heard Geragos asking Sharon Rocha also pretty much the same tone, Dan.
ABRAMS: All right. Jennifer London if you can stick around, because we may have some fact questions.
With Laci‘s family taking the stand, the question, how hard should the defense team be going after them?
Let‘s bring in our legal team, criminal defense attorney Joe Tacopina, and from Redwood City, former San Mateo prosecutor Dean Johnson.
All right, Joe, so Mark Geragos has to walk a very fine line here, because particularly Amy Rocha, the half-sister, is offering some testimony which is substantively very important, clothing that Laci was wearing, how Laci was behaving, was she walking around, was she mobile, all those sorts of issues. He‘s got to be cross-examining her, and, yes, he‘s also got to not be seen by jurors as being too harsh.
JOE TACOPINA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. I mean, you‘re right, Dan, and you can‘t lose credibility with this jury this early on in such a long trial. And one way to lose credibility is to attack this family, even to suggest that they‘re lying to try and convict Scott Peterson, even if he thinks that they‘re slanting their testimony, to go about accusing them of that or being harsh with them in questioning is going to turn this jury off very quickly to them.
There‘s a way to cross-examine without, you know, the dramatics and flair of pounding your fists on the podium and saying, Isn‘t it true that, you know -- You don‘t need to do that.
There‘s a saying in, you know, in the criminal defense bar, and the lawyers that apply, you know, restraint in cross-examine know it, it‘s you don‘t need to shoot a mouse in the butt with a cannon, and that saying applies here. This is not a sort of a cross that you need your hammers on, but you need to get the facts out, which he did.
As far as the sister Amy was concerned, he got out the fact, Dan, that, you know, it was up until a week before her disappearance, Laci was known to take walks and walk her dog and do things that, even though the doctors weren‘t suggesting she should be doing, she did it. So...
ABRAMS: And they got another point out as well, Dean Johnson. Let me read, this is from the cross-examination of Amy Rocha. Geragos says, “In fact, the entire time you‘ve known them,” referring to Scott and Laci, “they appeared to get along very well, right?” She says, “Yes.” Geragos, “As far as you knew, this was a marriage that was working and working very well, right?” Rocha says, “Yes.”
Now, keep in mind, Dean, I mean, this is a mother who went on television after Laci went missing, saying there was no way that Scott was responsible. How much does all of that matter for the defense.
DEAN JOHNSON, FORMER SAN MATEO COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Well, it matters a great deal. Joe is correct that you don‘t want to rip into the mother of a victim on the cross—on cross-examination, because you‘ll alienate the jury. And whatever you say, Sharon Rocha is certainly the mother of the victim.
But beyond that, there is a very powerful defense attorney technique that some people call positive cross-examination. Take the prosecution witness, turn them around, and bring out facts that are useful to you, that Scott was a good husband, that Scott was a—appeared to be a dutiful father, that Laci was active, and so on. And I think Geragos is doing that. He sounds like he‘s doing a very good job of it.
ABRAMS: Yes, Joe, how important is that? I mean, the fact that everyone in the family thought that Laci and Scott had a great relationship, does that really matter a lot?
TACOPINA: No, not really, Dan, I mean, honestly. It would be important if the family had always suspected that Scott was a batterer or there were things out there and they had sought intervention and so on and so forth. I mean, that would sort of be indicia of problem marriage. But the fact that they had problems, or he had his own—I mean, look, they didn‘t know he had a mistress either, neither did Laci Peterson. So that necessarily...
ABRAMS: Well, that‘s unclear, yes.
TACOPINA: It doesn‘t look that way. But that, that, I mean, that, you know, is something that is hitting, the fact that the family didn‘t know there was trouble in what they deemed paradise, I mean, that is not a powerful fact that‘s going to get Scott Peterson out that courtroom door, you know, and acquitted, not at all.
ABRAMS: Jennifer, very quickly, Amy Rocha testified that she was invited to dinner with Scott Peterson and Laci the night before Laci goes missing?
LONDON: Dan, this is a good point, I‘m glad you brought it up, Amy testifying today under cross-examination that the night that she was cutting Scott‘s hair, this is the night before Laci disappeared, that Laci went up to get—to make a phone call at the salon, and when Geragos said, Who did Laci call? Amy said, Well, she went to call to order pizza.
And then Amy said while she was cutting Scott‘s hair, Scott said, Do you want to come over tonight and have some pizza? Amy saying she declined because she was going to be having dinner with an out-of-town friend.
Now, this could be important, because, remember, the prosecution is saying Scott planned this murder, and he killed Laci at their home and then got rid of her body the next day. So if that is true, why would he invite Laci‘s half-sister Amy over for pizza that night?
ABRAMS: Yes, all right. Jennifer London, thanks very much. We‘re going to continue to check in with you. Joe Tacopina, thanks for dressing up. And Dean Johnson, appreciate it.
You can find an interactive timeline of the events in the Scott Peterson case on our Web site, email@example.com.
Coming up next, she lost custody of her twin daughters because of what she allegedly told them to say about their adulterous father. Today, the former “Playboy” model was back if court.
ABRAMS: We‘re back.
Last week we told you about a bitter custody battle between a former “Playboy” model and the adulterous father of her 4-year-old twins.
A Manhattan family court judge ordered Bridget Marks (ph), the mother of the twins, to turn the children over to their father, casino magnate John Aylesworth (ph). He had an affair with Marks while he was married. The ruling said Marks‘s anger towards Aylesworth, including false accusations that he molested the girls, made Mom an unfit parent.
It was a tearful scene last Tuesday after she was ordered to turn the twins over to their father. She was able to call them this weekend while a court officer monitored the conversation.
Marks and her attorney were in court this morning. They asked a federal judge to intervene to put on hold the state judge‘s order and return the children to Marks‘s custody.
For now, the federal judge refused, saying he‘ll revisit the issue after July 5. And we‘ll talk to Bridget Marks‘s attorney Tom Shanahan on the program tomorrow night.
Coming up on this 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, the deception tactics the Allies used to pull off D-Day, rubber tanks and planes created before they invaded Normandy. The allies even managed to convince the Nazis they were going to come ashore somewhere else.
Your e-mails, firstname.lastname@example.org. I will get to them at the end of the show.
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, the deception and intelligence behind D-Day. Fake tanks, fake invasions and the world‘s first computer built so the allies could crack secret German war codes, but first a look at the headlines.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. The 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion was this weekend. Our special program planned for Saturday preempted to cover the breaking news about the death of former President Reagan. So now, we have a chance to talk about some of what we were going to do: the intelligence, technology, deception, leading up to the allies‘ invasion that helped make the mission a success. We begin with a carefully calculated strategy of deception, crafted and executed months before the invasion.
ABRAMS (voice-over): It was called Operation Bodyguard, an elaborate scheme giving the illusion of five separate offenses. The allies hoped it would distract and divert German forces away from the real invasion at Normandy. The plans included phony invasions in the Western Mediterranean, the Balkans, Norway, and two along the coast of France. The most important being in Porte de Calais, called Operation Fortitude. It was designed to deceive the enemy about when and where the D-Day invasion would actually occur. The plans had two points; Fortitude north planned a phony invasion of Norway through Scotland. The allies even rigged this Swedish stock market to make it look like Norway would soon be liberated and sent radio chatter signaling soldiers were obtaining winter gears and supplies. It worked. The plan kept 200,000 German troops on full alert on the Norwegian coast and away from the beaches of Normandy.
The plan‘s counterpart—Fortitude South, a fake invasion of France from Dover, England, to Calais. The Germans long believed the invasion would begin there because it is the shortest distance across the English Channel and the shortest route to the heart of Germany.
The sophisticated plan tricked German aerial reconnaissance. The allies set up dummy tanks, oil storage depots, even airplanes on the ground in England across from Calais. Spies and double agents helped convince German intelligence an invasion was coming there. But if German forces thought an invasion of Calais was imminent, they would want to confirm a true buildup and the allies gave them what they wanted. The first U.S. Army group or Fusag (ph), an entirely made-up Army of U.S. and British forces. It was intentionally leaked that well-known general, George Patton Jr. was supposedly heading up this unit. The soldiers reported to have been recruited from all over the U.S. Manufacturers even designed patches for the ghost troops. Every day thousands of signaled communications were sent about Fusag‘s (ph) supposed operations, signals the allies knew German intelligence would intercept and analyze.
ABRAMS: So if Calais was the most obvious point of attack, then how and why did the Germans remain so convinced that the allies would go there? Joining us tonight is retired four-star Army general and MSNBC news analyst, Barry McCaffrey and Columbia University history professor, Kenneth Jackson.
All right, General, let‘s take that question first. I mean if it was so obvious and the Germans were so convinced it was going to there and this was the shortest place right between England and France, why didn‘t the Germans at some point say this is too obvious?
GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, we probably have to remind ourselves that almost every big operation has a deception plan. What do you do? First of all, decide what you‘re going to do. You write a concept of operations. You start assembling your resources to carry out that plan energetically. Then you have a separate group come in and say given what‘s actually going to take place, what can we conceal about our actual movements, what can we falsely portray to have them believe something else. And in this case it was perfect because Eisenhower was attacking in a very difficult place, bad coastline, you know, a very tough tricky amphibious operation to assemble that many forces at that distance. And yet on the other hand the deception plan was going—was playing right into Hitler‘s own predispositions. He had actually planned the invasion of Great Britain to do precisely what the deception plan wanted to portray. So it all fit neatly together. We fed signals that reinforced their own thinking.
ABRAMS: And Professor, you know, these dummy tanks—we see the video of these blow blowups, and yet apparently from the air they look like the real thing.
KENNETH T. JACKSON, PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, it‘s amazing; I think the failure of German intelligence at such a critical moment in history. Here‘s a highly sophisticated nation with a German general staff widely regarded among the finest military operations in the whole world and yet here it‘s completely fooled by, you know, you say rubber tanks and rubber duckies almost.
First of all, the Germans did not have a good aerial reconnaissance. They did have aerial reconnaissance. Secondly, they thought that General Patton was going to lead the operation. The Germans had great respect for General Patton and could not imagine that the Americans would not use him in a more direct way, so that made perfect sense. And then thirdly, the Americans released a German general, a guy named Hans Kramer, who was the last commander of the Africa Corps, who had become very ill while in prison in England, and were going to repatriate him and swap him for another American officer. But they purposely drove him around in a part of England he didn‘t understand, because a part—in World War II, they removed all the names of towns and road signs and everything else in England, so that he would believe there was this huge force. And so, when he came back to Germany, he was debriefed and he reported on exactly what the allied forces wanted him to report on, which was the existence of enormous allied Army that no one knew about.
ABRAMS: So everything was reinforcing this same belief that the allies were going to invade in exactly the spot that Hitler expected. And so General, we have to ask, would something like this be possible today? I mean, for example, in the first Iraq war, which you were involved in, did we see the sort of seeds of D-Day come to fruition to a certain degree in that war?
MCCAFFREY: Well, it‘s certainly tougher nowadays. If you‘re operating against a sophisticated enemy, it‘s very difficult to do. Remember, the Germans had very limited radar, which Army Air Corps fighter bombers went in and nailed early on in this effort. So their electronic collection capability was minuscule compared to what a modern nation can do, even buying commercial satellite photography.
Having said that, General Schwarzkopf pulled off an absolutely marvelous deception plan, put a very large force of U.S. Marines out in the Persian Gulf, 13,000 plus, and accurately portrayed the intention to come in a right hook behind Iraqi lines. And he successfully pinned down five Iraqi divisions, first line troops. In the meantime, he concealed the movement of the better part of a quarter of a million U.S. forces out to the west. We got away with that because we have the most powerful Air Force on the face of the earth. So again, as the professor notes, there was no Iraqi air reconnaissance successfully done against us.
AMBRAMS: It‘s just a—it really is—it‘s an amazing story, both from World War II and I think, an amazing lesson that is learned. Stay with us both of you if you would please.
Up next, the Nazis thought the war code was unbreakable. They were wrong. How the allies code breaking helped invent the first computer. Your emails, email@example.com. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from. We read them at the end of the show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It weighs 26 pounds; battery included, and goes anywhere. The Enigma machine. The Germans have thousands of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What‘s it do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It turns plain text messages into gobbledygook; the gobbledygook is transmitted in Morse. On the receiving end, there‘s another Enigma machine to turn it back into the original message. Press the same key any number of times, it will always come out different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: The 2002 movie, “Enigma, “about the allied forces‘ effort to break the German‘s coded messages during World War II. The Germans believed their so-called Enigma machine contained codes that could never be broken. They were wrong. Many believe that if not for that achievement of breaking the code, the outcome of the Normandy invasion might have been different. So how did they do it and where?
Well, right here, about 50 miles outside of the heart of London, a Victorian mansion called Bletchley Park. From the fa‡ade, it looks like a traditional English estate, but it‘s where thousands of American and British military personnel and civilians worked day and night to decipher the complicated German codes.
The Germans used this Enigma machine. They calculate it had would take a team of a thousand mathematicians 900 years to unscramble the codes. But in 1941, the British Royal Navy boarded a sinking u-boat, capturing its Enigma machine and the code books. Soon after, the allies were beginning to crack the codes.
British and American radio operators intercepted German messages and passed them on to Bletchley where code breakers used pencil and paper to try to decipher them. Operation Ultra was underway.
Then in January 1944, Bletchley Park created the Colossus, the world‘s first computer. And just a few days before the D-Day invasion, Colossus II was introduced, five times faster, allowing allied generals to read German messages almost in real time during the Normandy invasion.
The deception worked but the team at Bletchley Park couldn‘t take the credit, not for nearly a half century. By the war‘s end, 10 Colossus II computers were broken up, their technical drawings and diagrams destroyed in order to maintain secrecy. Their work remained top secret until 1987. The British government finally had acknowledged the complex existed.
Today, Bletchley is open to visitors as a museum.
Let‘s bring back our experts, retried Army General, NBC news analyst Barry McCaffrey and military historian, Kenneth Jackson.
All right, Professor, the Germans must have suspected that some enigma machines and code books would be captured. So what is it that made them so confident that if the allies found them that they still wouldn‘t be able to break the codes?
JACKSON: Well, it was supposedly 150 million possibilities on the original Enigma machine. And by the way, we should give Polish military analysts credit. They were the ones who originally first cracked the Enigma code and kind of created a machine. But I think one of the ways we have done it is not to release the information early. For example, early in the war, in the fall of 1940, Winston Churchill was hold that through the Enigma machines and British intelligence, they knew the Germans were going to bomb the city of Coventry. And Prime Minister Churchill had the horrible task of deciding whether or not to warn the people of Coventry so that they might have evacuate the center of the city. He decided not to, because the Germans might later wonder, how did they know that the city of Coventry was the target.
So I think it was hard decisions like that, and also when they used it effectively, the allies, for example, the St. German transports resupplying the Africa Corps across the Mediterranean Sea, they always tried to have an allied plane fly over so that the Germans could think at least that there was another reason why we knew that that ship was there and that accounted for it being sung.
ABRAMS: General, if the allies are reading in nearly real time the Germans‘ messages, that has got to be just an absolutely crucial factor when you‘re evaluating what happened on D-Day and why.
MCCAFFREY: Well, exactly. You know, there‘s—one of the most exciting books about World War II, “Bodyguard of Lives”, and you know, we did manage to conceal this for years after the war through a parallel system that existed to this day in which these signals intercept materials are kept completely separate from any other intelligence information and it goes only to the most senior need-to-know operational commanders. But you‘re right, you know, at the end of the day, Bradley, Montgomery, Eisenhower, Mark Clark down in the Italian theater of operations were actually listening to the strategic communications between the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) high command and their field leaders—casualties, logistics, the next move. In addition, they were listening to what do the Germans know about us so that the effectiveness of this deception plan was enhanced enormously because of our insight into their higher level command.
ABRAMS: General McCaffrey and Professor Jackson, thank you for the lesson. I—this stuff is absolutely fascinating and so important. Thank you both very much. Appreciate it.
MCCAFFREY: Good to be with you, Dan.
JACKSON: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Log on to dday.msnbc.com for a special interactive look at the Normandy invasion.
Up next, my closing argument, on a weekend spent remembering American success stories.
ABRAMS: Coming up, your emails on my interview with Nicole Brown Simpson‘s sister. She reacted to O.J. Simpson‘s interview with NBC.
ABRAMS: My closing argument: why it was heartening to spend a patriotic weekend looking back at two American success stories, first, the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the day that changed the tide of the Second World War and helped elevate the U.S. to superpower status, a day and a time where the country was unified behind its men in uniform. Their cause was the cause. The nation spoke with one voice and prayed as one parishioner. This as we also look back at the life of another American success story, Ronald Reagan. Whatever one thinks of his politics, the man lived the American dream and helped lift the spirits of this nation. In this unsettling time of national disunity, it was refreshing even cathartic to spend a couple of days dosing up on some proud American memories.
All right, I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for your rebuttal. O.J. Simpson speaking out about the 10-year anniversary of the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman. It had a lot of you fuming. I was on “The Today Show” this morning discussing the anniversary with Katie Couric.
Joylyn Rheingruber in Windermere, Florida didn‘t think I was very fair. “Why do you, Katie Couric and I guess most of the rest of the world find it so incredible, amazing, unlikely that O.J. Simpson said he and his children, by Nicole Brown Simpson, have never discussed the murder of their mother? Come on, Dan, enough of the spinning. Tell it like it is.”
Let me get this straight, Joylyn, I‘m spinning because I find it surprising that a man who claims to have had nothing to do with his ex-wife‘s murder would never have spoken to their teenage children about her death?
On Friday, Nicole‘s sister, Denise Brown was on the program reacting to Simpson‘s statements about her and about Nicole. She made it clear that she has no doubt Simpson is guilty.
Derek Beckles from New York: “Your show is one of the few cable new shows I watch regularly because I find you to be a fair and unbiased host. I admire the way you keep your guest in line. Then there was Denise Brown. You did nothing to stop her from slamming Mr. Simpson. The man was acquitted. The civil suit was a sham. No way that jury was impartial. Why didn‘t you stop her from making such vicious statements?”
Well, Derek, first of all, I appreciate you watching the show. But you want everyone to accept the criminal jury because they were fair, and to ignore the civil jury, because that was—quote—“a sham”? And you think I should have beaten up on the victim‘s sister? Come on.
And Lewistown, Idaho, J.M.T. Eiland: “Denise needs to get a grip and move on. She said—quote -- ‘Then why did he rid of her?‘”—referring to Simpson. “Sorry Denise, you weren‘t on the jury, you weren‘t the judge, and like me, you weren‘t there.”
Well, yes, J.M.T, but unlike you, she sat inside the courtroom. And I hate to tell you this, but you don‘t have to have actually been there to have a real good sense of what happened.
Also on Friday, another ABRAMS REPORT exclusive in the Scott Peterson case. We found investigators‘ reports that indicate that early on some of the detectives and investigators thought Scott Peterson‘s girlfriend, Amber Frey, was lying, and may have even been involved in Laci Peterson‘s murder. We discussed whether the defense could use that to try to discredit Frey.
Maureen Montoro from Michigan, Virginia—“I think everyone is missing the point on Amber once being a suspect. Isn‘t part of Scott Peterson‘s defense that the police concentrated only on Scott from the start? I think it only helps the prosecution‘s case. It shows they investigated Amber as a suspect, but came to the conclusion that she had nothing to do with the murder.”
Finally last week, after a two-month investigation, Michael Jackson will not be charged with molesting a man in the 1980‘s, stemming from an accusation made by an 18-year-old boy with supposedly repressed memories.
Barbara Berger in Glenview, Illinois—“I watch your program every day and know that you cover the Michael Jackson story closely. Why no mention of the fact that after a two month investigation, the Los Angeles Police Department found no wrongdoing on the recent child abuse allegations against Mr. Jackson? Is only negativity on Michael Jackson news worthy?”
You know, Barbara, a number of Jackson supporters wrote in similar notes, complaints, but I have to tell you, I think all of you, by writing these notes, are doing your cause a disservice. Considering that we did not cover these accusations in the first place because they didn‘t seem credible enough, doesn‘t it seem unfair to Jackson to bring up additional allegations against him and say oh, he was cleared of them?
Your e-mails, abramsreport, one word, @msnbc.com. We go through them at the end of the show. Please include your name and where you are writing from.
Coming up next, “HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS.” Chris talks with former President Reagan‘s transportation secretary and now senator, Elizabeth Dole.
You are looking at a live picture of the president‘s body in repose.
We‘re going to give you a few moments to watch that as we go to break.
Thanks for watching. See you tomorrow.
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