Guest: Dean Johnson, Gloria Allred, Candice Delong, Jo Becker, Charles Gasparino, Diane Seltzer
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, testimony about what police found at Scott Peterson‘s home.
ABRAMS (voice-over): A detective says he found chunks of concrete in Scott Peterson‘s truck and a hair in Peterson‘s boat. Are prosecutors finally moving the case forward?
Plus, summer camp in the Gaza Strip caught on tape. Palestinians training the next generation of terrorists, some reportedly as young as 7.
And a woman who said she‘s a victim of sexual discrimination. Now investor powerhouse Morgan Stanley is paying her $12 million to settle, but another woman got the job. Can that be gender discrimination?
The program about justice starts now.
ABRAMS: Hi everyone. First up on the docket tonight, the Scott Peterson case. Prosecutors focusing on the police search of Peterson‘s house in the days after his wife Laci was reported missing. First up on the stand this morning, an evidence technician, Doug Lovell. He examined and photographed Scott Peterson at the police station on January 4, more than a week after Laci went missing. Lovell said he wanted to see whether there was evidence Peterson had been involved in a struggle by checking his body for bruises, but there were no scratches or marks anywhere on his body.
And get this—on cross-examination, Lovell conceded that police lost 93 of the more than 100 digital photos they took of the Peterson home. Then Modesto Police Officer Kim Castro, he was watching the Peterson house on the night of December 26, an effort to show the house was being monitored.
The third witness who is still on the stand, Modesto Police Detective Henry Hendee. Hendee is responsible for searching the nursery and bathroom in the Peterson home and Peterson‘s truck. He testified that he found blood on the inside of the driver‘s side door and other places inside the truck as well. He also found small chunks of cement and receipts for cement products. Remember, prosecutors allege that Scott Peterson made anchors, may have weighed Laci‘s body down with those cement anchors.
And then later today Hendee described they found a hair about six inches long on a pair of pliers in Scott Peterson‘s boat, said that there appeared to be some kind of material substance on the hair. Later it turned out that hair appears to be Laci Peterson‘s and of course prosecutors say she didn‘t even know that he owned the boat.
So the question is, are all of these witnesses helping the defense, though, more than the prosecution? Now let me—legal team first. Let me introduce them—Gloria Allred, attorney for Amber Frey, the girlfriend of Scott Peterson, expected to take the stand later this month, former San Mateo prosecutor, who‘s been inside the courtroom all day, and former FBI profiler Candice Delong.
OK. Dean, you were inside the courtroom. Let me get a sense from you. I mean look, you start hearing that they lost 93 of the 100 photos, you ask yourself why did they take pictures of Scott Peterson on January 4, which is what, almost 10 days after Laci‘s first reported missing. If there were any wounds or anything, they‘d probably be gone anyway. I mean is this more evidence of how much this case has been infected?
DEAN JOHNSON, FMR. SAN MATEO COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Yes, I think so. It seems like—it doesn‘t seem like—it is one thing after another. Yesterday we had a discovery of a document that shows that they missed about half of the people that they were supposed to eliminate as suspects and that new document is out still to be litigated.
Now we have these photographs—oh, we took somewhere between 100 and 200 photographs. Well how many are missing? Oh just 93. The investigation in this case, I say, unfortunately, looks like it‘s inept. It almost seems that it can‘t win for losing. The trace evidence we‘re going to see similar difficulties with that. We‘re going to get into the dispute that I‘m sure everybody has heard about of the hair, the one piece of trace evidence that they found being dropped into a plastic bag and then suddenly showing up at the lab as two hairs. It‘s...
JOHNSON: ... the difficulty of even coming to or proving a fact or laying the foundation for a fact based upon this quality of investigation is very hard.
ABRAMS: You know...
JOHNSON: Even saying that, I don‘t think this stuff is going to help the prosecution that much.
ABRAMS: You know Gloria I hate making comparisons to O.J. Simpson in every case, and I try not to do it when it‘s not particularly relevant, but I‘ve got to tell you, this is really starting to feel like the O.J. Simpson case where every piece of evidence that they try and introduce to anyone involved in law enforcement, the detective—sorry, the defense ends up gaining more points than did the prosecution by calling the witness in the first place.
GLORIA ALLRED, AMBER FREY‘S ATTORNEY: Well I mean, obviously, they‘re
· you know it‘s fair to say that this is not a police evidence collection system that has been perfect. But then again, police never say that they are perfect. And we could emphasize also the positive. For example, that that piece of hair has not been excluded as being inconsistent with Laci‘s, another way of saying it is—that it may very well be Laci‘s. In addition, blood in the truck, which apparently according to testimony, which either has or will be given does belong to Scott and of course there is a lot of circumstantial evidence as well. As to those photographs that are missing, apparently there was a malfunction...
ALLRED: ... in the digital camera. There may very well be other photographs...
ALLRED: ... even though something went wrong with that camera.
ABRAMS: Yes—no, I understand. It just starts to feel like that moment in the O.J. Simpson case where Barry Scheck said, what about that, Mr. Fung. And you know Dennis Fung, this perfectly nice but apparently hapless evidence technician became sort of a central figure in the case. It seems that the defense has been successfully putting the police on trial.
ALLRED: Well that is always the strategy of the defense, is you know to put someone other than your own client, the defendant in the case, on trial. Put the police on trial. Put the prosecution on trial. Put the witnesses on trial. Put Amber Frey on trial, which I‘m sure they will try to do anyone other than your own client...
ALLRED: ... of course there are a lot of problems with him.
ABRAMS: Dean, the problem is I‘m not getting a story from the prosecutors. I‘m not getting...
ABRAMS: ... a sense that the jurors are going to know where are they going with this. And I‘ve got to believe that at a lot of points they‘re going to be saying wait, they‘re going from here, and now wait, what‘s the point of this, and what‘s the point of that?
JOHNSON: Yes, exactly and that‘s the continuing question here. People ask me in the morning before court, well what do we expect to see today, and sometimes I‘m stuck for an answer because I know where the case should go logically, but we veer off in one direction. We‘re at the marina one day. We‘re in the bay the next day. We‘re at the house the next day. And you‘re right, they don‘t connect up the evidence.
Now this hair may—it‘s the only trace evidence they‘ve got. It may connect up to something. The fact that it‘s twisted into a pair of pliers in the bottom of the boat is intriguing, but the prosecution never tells us why it‘s intriguing. You know where does this go? Was it used as a tool to wrap chicken wire around Laci...
JOHNSON: ... and then tie the wire...
ABRAMS: Let me read...
JOHNSON: They don‘t know...
ABRAMS: Let me read from...
JOHNSON: They haven‘t told us and they‘re not telling us the story.
ABRAMS: Let me read from Hendee‘s testimony today.
Hendee: When I picked up the pliers, I was standing in the boat. I picked them up, noticed what looked like a single hair, five to six inches long, dark colored. I said hey look everyone and everyone came and looked.
Prosecutor Distaso: What do you mean there was a hair on it?
Hendee: It looked like a single hair that went through the end of the pliers, the clamping portion. As you move up the hair, there was some sort of material stuck to it.
Candice Delong, I‘ve got to believe that law enforcement hates it when they get this level of scrutiny as to every single thing they did and when they did it and why they did it.
CANDICE DELONG, FMR. FBI PROFILER: True. Absolutely true. You know no police investigation is perfect. No homicide investigation is perfect. No murder is perfect and no prosecution is perfect. And I think that—I agree with Gloria. Regarding the defense, when you don‘t have a defense, go after the investigation, go after the prosecutors, anything to keep the light off your client...
ABRAMS: But there have been—again, but there have been a lot of—
I mean you know I get it, and look in the O.J. Simpson case, they magnified every single little issue and made it seem like these huge errors, but it seems like they succeeded to a certain degree in doing that here as well.
DELONG: Well, there are some things that leave you scratching your head and you know think, you know how could they make such a mistake. For example, not looking at Scott‘s body and photographing him until 10 days after she was missing.
DELONG: Truth of the matter is, police departments as small as Modesto don‘t have homicides...
DELONG: ... happen very often. However, there‘s still overwhelming facts that the defense is going to have to...
ABRAMS: Oh I agree with you...
DELONG: ... get past if they can...
ABRAMS: ... look, but I want to hear them. I mean I know what they are, but I keep saying...
ABRAMS: ... I want to hear this—I want to hear talk again and again about where the body was found...
ABRAMS: ... and I‘m looking forward to hearing the defense‘s explanation for the fact it was found 90 miles away exactly where Peterson says he went fishing. Stick around...
ALLRED: And Dan, I‘ll bet we don‘t hear an explanation...
ALLRED: ... from the defense on that. I‘ll tell you something...
ABRAMS: I‘ve got to take a break Gloria...
ALLRED: ... scratching my head over more of Scott Peterson‘s...
ABRAMS: All right...
ALLRED: ... attempted explanations than I am...
ABRAMS: When we...
ALLRED: ... over police conduct.
ABRAMS: When we come back, we get a live update from the courthouse on what has just been happening even as we‘ve been speaking inside the courtroom.
And later, Palestinian children spending their summer training to be terrorists. Some of them reportedly as young as 7 years old. Are the human rights‘ groups finally outraged?
And one of Osama bin Laden‘s confidants turns himself in to Saudi authorities. Is the Saudi offer of amnesty for terrorists actually working?
Your e-mails email@example.com. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: Coming up, the very latest testimony in the Scott Peterson case. Our reporter just left the courtroom and is ready to go.
ABRAMS: We are back. Prosecutors in the Scott Peterson case focusing on the search of the warehouse where Peterson stored his fishing boat. For the very latest on what has just been happening in the courthouse, we go to MSNBC‘s Jennifer London who is live outside the courthouse in Redwood City.
JENNIFER LONDON, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi Dan. Well it has certainly been a long day for Detective Henry Dodge Hendee. He is till on the stand. And Dan today you—or earlier in the show, I should say, you talked about the hair that he found on the pliers in Scott‘s fishing boat. And Hendee, after the lunch break, talking again about that hair. He said that he and Detective Allen Brocchini wanted to examine the hair and see if it had a root on it.
Hendee saying that they went to the evidence storage facility at the Modesto Police Department and checked out, if you will, the hair from evidence. He said the envelope was still sealed and it appeared to be in the same condition. However, when he opened the envelope, two hairs came out, not one. Hendee saying that this did seem different to him. He recalled that he only saw one hair come out of the pliers.
He said he didn‘t know if the hair broke in two or if there were actually two hairs on the pliers. Now he also said that the material substance that he saw at the warehouse on the pliers was also on the second hair. Now, back to the search of the warehouse, Hendee also saying among the items they collected, he took a pair of black Nike tennis shoes saying they had sort of a white powder residue on them. That‘s the way he described it.
And then he said that from Scott Peterson‘s truck, they collected a hammer, a claw hammer with a red handle that had cement powder on it, is again how he described it. This was in the bed of the truck. And Dan, it is not clear what the defense will do with all of this testimony, in particular the one hair or the two hairs, because they have not had a chance to question him, but that will come next.
ABRAMS: Does he go with the three names. The—we keep talking about him as something, you know Dodge Hendee. Does he like insist on all three names?
LONDON: Well, when he spelled and said his name in court...
LONDON: ... he said Henry Dodge Hendee...
ABRAMS: Henry Dodge Hendee...
LONDON: However, when we‘ve heard detectives mention him, when they‘ve been on the stand, they would say oh well Dodge Hendee was there...
ABRAMS: Right. I just think of serial killers when I think of three names, but anyway—all right, Jennifer—he‘s certainly not of course, but Jennifer London thanks very much.
LONDON: No he‘s not.
ABRAMS: All right. Guests are back with me. Dean Johnson, how big a deal, this hair business. The one hair versus two hairs. Here‘s my take on this. I don‘t think the hair is going to be all that important. I think that because the defense has this witness who says that this person saw Laci Peterson at the warehouse where Scott Peterson stored his boat within a day or two of the time that she went missing, that‘s going to sort of make the hair, her hair, her hair found in his boat in the warehouse, a little bit of a non-issue.
JOHNSON: Right. Well that‘s sort of the key to the defense here. It‘s like a no-lose situation for them. Trace evidence whether it be at the Peterson household or at the warehouse is they‘re going—the defense is going to argue virtually irrelevant. If you find Laci‘s hair, some of Laci‘s blood, bodily fluids, anything like that...
JOHNSON: ... they‘re going to say look, it‘s Laci‘s house or it‘s Laci‘s husband‘s office. It‘s not surprising that you‘d find that there. If you find nothing, then they say gosh you found no trace evidence, so neither one of these can be a crime scene...
JOHNSON: It‘s really a no-lose situation...
ABRAMS: You know Gloria, I think the fact that they found cement in the back of Scott Peterson‘s truck is actually—I think it‘s going to become much more important than the hair. Do you disagree with me on that?
ALLRED: I think the cement is important because of course we‘re talking about the possibility of his having made anchors and anchors that might have been too small to weight down a boat but perhaps the right size to weight down a body, if the body was being you know thrown over or placed into the water in the bay. As to the witness that may or may not testify that she saw Laci at the warehouse or near the warehouse, we don‘t know whether she‘s going to say she saw Laci next door, going to—letting her use the bathroom next door. We don‘t know that she‘s even going to testify that she saw Laci get in the boat.
ALLRED: Did an eight-months pregnant woman get inside that boat and even if she did, how did the hair get in the pliers. That we‘re far...
ABRAMS: I agree with you. Look, I agree with you, but very quickly Candice Delong just weigh in on this because it just seems to me that Gloria‘s explanation for this makes perfect sense. I just still think that you‘ve got the one hair, then you have the two hairs, then you have the Laci sighting at the warehouse. I just think if you‘re the jurors and you‘re going through all the evidence in this case, you‘re going to say neither here nor there.
DELONG: Well what‘s very important about the sighting by the possible witness for the defense, I would want to know when did that information come in? Did it come in shortly after she went missing or did it come in after Scott was arrested and theories were being floated about how the whole thing happened. If she came in after that, I would tend to discount that testimony.
ABRAMS: Very—Dean, do we know when that came in? I‘m just trying to remember.
JOHNSON: Oh, I—there was a report—remember, there‘s a big dispute about this witness who saw Laci at the warehouse. There was a report fairly early on in the investigation...
JOHNSON: ... that this witness had reported you know that she had seen Laci. And there‘s really no—this witness has no bias, no ax to grind in this case. As far as we can tell she‘s an unbiased witness...
ABRAMS: Stick around...
JOHNSON: ... who said she saw Laci Peterson at the...
ABRAMS: ... we got more coming up on the Peterson trial.
Also ahead, it is a free summer camp for Palestinians, but instead of swimming and arts and crafts, they‘re learning how to kill Israeli soldiers and hijack Jewish settlers.
And this woman is getting $12 million to settle a sexual discrimination lawsuit, but another woman got the job she wanted. Can that really be discrimination? We‘ll talk about it.
ABRAMS: All right, we‘re back talking about the Peterson case. Candice Delong, we‘ve been talking about the fact that these detectives are coming forward and saying look they didn‘t in essence find anything super incriminating in Scott Peterson‘s home and the defense keeps sort of making that out to be a big deal. We keep getting e-mailers saying well, there would have been something there. But you know again that seems to me also to be sort of a non-issue. I mean she could have been strangled or suffocated...
ABRAMS: ... and as a result there wouldn‘t be like blood all over the house.
DELONG: Right. I‘ve heard of a number of people say where‘s the blood? We don‘t know how she was murdered, we just know that she was. And very rarely when husbands kill wives is it from multiple stab wounds. It‘s usually blunt force trauma to the head or strangulation. He could have suffocated her. He could have drugged her and she went into a deep coma followed by death. We don‘t know what happened. But there‘s any number of reasons why there would be no blood and the house would be clean and neat.
ABRAMS: And Dean, very quickly, the prosecutors have got to translate that to the jury.
JOHNSON: Yes, exactly. You‘ve got to remember, the bar has been raised very high for jurors. We expect that the trace evidence is going to come in and jurors expect that the CSI, the scientists will come in, solve the mystery for them.
JOHNSON: You have to educate them to the fact that there are many, many ways to kill somebody where there‘s no trace evidence or very little trace evidence...
JOHNSON: ... and you can‘t expect that that piece of evidence alone is going to solve it. All that being said, the prosecutors still need to connect this up...
JOHNSON: ... tell us why, for instance, a hair twined around a pair of pliers is important to their theory...
ABRAMS: Gloria, we asked you this yesterday. You said that no date had yet been set for Amber Frey to testify. Have they set a date?
ALLRED: Not yet Dan, so we‘re still waiting.
ABRAMS: Still waiting for a date and you‘re going to get some sort of notice, I‘d assume, since you‘re her attorney, right?
ALLRED: We‘ll know before anyone else knows when she‘s going to be testifying.
ABRAMS: Right. But so far you don‘t know.
ALLRED: Right now we don‘t have a date.
ABRAMS: Oh, listen to the way she parses those words like a lawyer.
Right now we don‘t have—Gloria Allred...
ALLRED: Total coincidence.
ABRAMS: ... good to see you.
ALLRED: You too.
ABRAMS: Dean Johnson and Candice Delong, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
JOHNSON: Thanks Dan.
ABRAMS: Coming up, they‘re terror-training camps for children.
Palestinian terrorists teaching a new generation how to kill.
And one of Osama bin Laden‘s confidants turns himself in to Saudi authorities.
Later, a major Wall Street investment firm settles a sex discrimination case for millions, but the woman who started it all lost out on a promotion not to a man, but to another woman.
And your e-mails firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from. I will read them at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: Coming up, Palestinians training the next generation of terrorists, some reportedly as young as seven. All caught on tape. First the headlines.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. As Israel explores its options for pulling out of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza are apparently training the next generation of terrorists. In this case, the next generation includes kids as young as 10, maybe even a few years younger than that. And if you think they‘re being trained in some secret location in the middle of the night, try summer camp.
For more here‘s NBC‘s Martin Fletcher in Tel Aviv.
MARTIN FLETCHER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Dan, summer camp to Palestinian children has a completely different meaning. For the vast majority is a totally unobtainable luxury, but for some there is an alternative.
FLETCHER (voice-over): School is out and a lucky few Palestinian kids in Gaza get to go to a free summer camp, but the nearest thing to a campfire is this.
FLETCHER: The closest thing to sports is this. It‘s a theme camp and the theme is how to fight Israeli soldiers, how to kill Israeli settlers. The bullets are real. Kids age 10 to 16...
FLETCHER: It isn‘t all academic, either.
FLETCHER: In the years of fighting Israel, Palestinian children have long been on the front lines and outside observers have often asked how come children aren‘t kept safely at home.
FLETCHER: The answer in camp anyway is that kids are actively encouraged and taught to fight from the earliest age.
FLETCHER: The Palestinian Authority says it disapproves of these camps but doesn‘t stop them.
FLETCHER: This one is run by the popular resistance committee, a loose federation of militant groups that leads the fight against Israel. Organizers say the aim is to identify tough kids, natural leaders to train the next generation of militants who will continue the battle against the Israeli occupation. The summer camps have been running for several years and are becoming more organized. Graduates of this camp receive certificates of merit, but in the eyes of these Palestinian children, their real graduation is still to come, on the front lines against Israel.
FLETCHER: Palestinian parents are often angry when asked why they expose their children to danger. They say they don‘t. That they value life as highly as any other parent. But it shouldn‘t come as a surprise, as they say in the theater, if you see a gun in the first act, it‘ll be fired by the third—Dan.
ABRAMS: Martin Fletcher, Tel Aviv. Thanks.
So it seems despite proclamations from the Palestinian terrorists that they‘re not using children, now they are caught on tape. Doesn‘t that violate human rights of the children? Put aside the Israelis and—or maybe are camps like this part of an overall strategy to demonize Israel by sending grade-school-age kids against tanks.
I‘m joined by MSNBC terrorism analyst Steve Emerson and by Jo Becker, advocacy director for children‘s rights at Human Rights Watch and a founding chairperson of the international coalition to stop the use of child soldiers.
All right, thank you both very much for coming on the programs.
Steve, should we be surprised by this?
STEVE EMERSON, TERRORISM EXPERT: Unfortunately Dan, we shouldn‘t be, but we are. Obviously any time we see video of 8-year-olds and 9-year-olds trying to plot and conspired and training to kill people and civilians, it‘s shocking. The fact of the matter is this is far more routine and has been far more pervasive than anyone has actually given thought to up until now. It has existed for years.
The Palestinian Authority openly pays for such camps even though they claim they disapprove. Al-Aqsa Brigades, as well as (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and Hamas have hundreds of such camps throughout Gaza and the West Bank. Virtually none of it ever gets captured on video. This thankfully did. It shows—and opens a window into the ways these groups are militarizing young generations, Dan, of young Palestinian kids who will turn out, unfortunately, to be killers. They are being manipulated and their lives ruined.
ABRAMS: Jo Becker, I had a long-standing verbal battle with Amnesty International on this issue after a number of children were found to be suicide bombers and they had not openly condemned the use of children by Palestinians until you know we started pushing them and pushing them and finally recently they did something. Has your organization sort of been out on the forefront saying to the Palestinians publicly you can‘t use children. Forget about violating the Israelis‘ rights, but you‘re violating the human rights of these children.
JO BECKER, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Absolutely. In October of 2002 we published an extensive report on the suicide bombings by Palestinian militants in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and we adamantly oppose any use of civilian—sorry, any use of suicide bombers against civilian targets including the use of children.
ABRAMS: But see that‘s the same thing Amnesty said to me at the time and that to me doesn‘t seem to be enough. Because that seems to suggest that you‘re saying suicide bombing is not OK and in particular if you use children. And it seems to me that the focus when it comes to children should be you‘re violating the human rights of the children and that there should be specific reports out there saying you can‘t use children in training, you can‘t use them in suicide bombings, all across the board.
BECKER: You‘re absolutely right. We unequivocally condemn any use of children in military activity and that goes for every individual...
ABRAMS: Have you issued reports to that effect though, specifically on the use of children. I mean that‘s specifically what your specialty is and have you or your organization said, because I know it‘s happened, for example, you know in Sierra Leone and some other countries. There have been specific criticism of the use of child soldiers. Have you done the same thing with regard to the Palestinians?
BECKER: Absolutely. In our report on suicide bombings we had sections that were specifically devoted to the use of children. We had specific recommendations to all of the Palestinian armed groups and to the Palestinian Authority, telling them that they needed to take immediate steps to end all use of children to carry out public education campaigns, to let the entire Palestinian population know that that was not acceptable...
BECKER: ... and that they should criminalize such activity and prosecute the people who are abusing children...
BECKER: ... because it is an abuse of children...
ABRAMS: Go ahead Steve.
EMERSON: If I may add something. I mean Human Rights Watch does—they focus on violations of human rights around the world and they‘ve done some great work and unfortunately, sometimes their priorities are misplaced. They‘ve done a lot of work about prisoner—alleged abuse in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib or in Iraq or even by the Israelis. I‘ve yet to see an equivalent amount of focus and resources specifically targeting the Palestinian authorities and the Palestinian leadership support orchestration and funding of major suicidal training camps.
ABRAMS: But I want...
EMERSON: ... this is really what‘s going on.
ABRAMS: But see, I want to focus on the issue of the children—I‘ll give you the final word Ms. Becker because then I‘ve got to ask Steve a question on a different topic. Go ahead. Do you want to respond?
BECKER: Well in terms of children, we need to put this in context. I mean globally there are about 300,000 children who are currently fighting in more than 20 conflicts worldwide. We‘re certainly concerned about the use of Palestinian children. We know of at least eight instances where children have been used for suicide bombings and dozens of others where children have been carrying out attacks on settlements, attacks on Israeli soldiers. We‘ve seen increasing use of children in throwing moltock (ph) cocktails and armed attacks. But at the same time, the number of Palestinian children that are involved in these activities are a fairly small minority of the Palestinian children that have been affected by the...
ABRAMS: Yes, but that‘s such a cop-out answer, I‘ve got to tell you. I mean to start saying well that‘s only a small portion of the Palestinian children involved in the conflict as a whole, you make it sound like these children are making rational decisions about what they should and shouldn‘t do. It seems to me you should be taking an unequivocal position, which says when it comes to children it‘s different. They don‘t make choices the way adults do and it already—I was about to end the segment, but when you make that final comment, it sounds to me like you are equivocating.
BECKER: No we‘re not. I think you and I absolutely agree on this...
ABRAMS: All right.
BECKER: ... that the use of children in military activity is absolutely unacceptable. We do not think that there‘s any excuse in any situation for children to be picking up arms and participating...
EMERSON: But why not make it a major campaign? Why don‘t you...
ABRAMS: All right...
BECKER: It has been a major campaign. We‘ve been involved since 1998 in the coalition to stop use of child soldiers...
EMERSON: That‘s in general. I‘m talking about the use of Palestinian children that are really indoctrinated and end up becoming suicide bombers or terrorists. That‘s the larger pool that you need to deal with.
BECKER: It‘s not—it‘s certainly an issue of concern. It‘s not the largest pool. We‘re concerned about 70,000 child soldiers in Burma. We‘re concerned about tens of thousands of children who have been abducted in northern Uganda, tens of thousands of children in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We want to campaign against this issue in every corner of the world where it takes place.
ABRAMS: All right. Just make sure you don‘t—you know this is what I get concerned about, is you criticize certain countries and then you leave the Palestinians out because you view it in your framework within your view of the entire conflict and that‘s what I guess I‘m concerned about, but we heard you say you‘re going to stay on them about the use of children here.
Steve Emerson and Jo Becker, thanks so much for coming on the program.
BECKER: You‘re welcome.
ABRAMS: Coming up, she sued Morgan Stanley for sexual discrimination. The company settled with her for $12 million, but can it be sexual discrimination if she was replaced by another woman?
And why it‘s time to end the color-coded terror alert system. It‘s my “Closing Argument” coming up.
ABRAMS: It was a major sex discrimination suit against one of Wall Street‘s biggest firms and it ended not with a trial but a settlement, a very big settlement, try $54 million, small change perhaps for Morgan Stanley, which turned more than $1 billion in profit in the last financial quarter alone, but big bucks for, as many as 340 women, including some who held top jobs at the firm. But told the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that Morgan Stanley discriminated against hundreds of women including pregnant women, made women work longer hours than men and denied women promotions and raises.
There are also lots of complaints about an alleged boys‘ club culture at the firm, said to include subjecting women to groping and buttock slaps, workplace striptease shows, breast-shaped birthday cakes, and men-only golf games and strip club outings with clients. The woman who first filed against Morgan with the EEOC, former bonds saleswoman Allison Schieffelin had this to say after the settlement was announced.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLISON SCHIEFFELIN, SEX DISCRIMINATION PLAINTIFF: All I want to say is that I am so happy that there is a great settlement that‘s good for everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And especially good for her. Allison Schieffelin will receive $12 million as part of the $54 million pot. What‘s surprising about her case is that she was fired from her job not by a man but by another woman. A few years after the suit was filed. She claimed retaliation by a company eager to dump her and that she was passed over for a promotion. Morgan Stanley insisted Schieffelin had verbally abused her boss, who it turns out got the promotion Schieffelin said she had wanted.
Does that say something about discrimination at Morgan Stanley? Well joining me now to discuss this is “Newsweek” senior writer Charles Gasparino, who has covered this case extensively and Diane Seltzer, an employment law attorney and an adjunct professor of employment law at American University.
All right, Charlie, good to see you again. All right, look, so she gets fired and they hire another woman in her place?
CHARLES GASPARINO, “NEWSWEEK” SENIOR WRITER: Yes. I mean listen, I never really thought that the Ali Schieffelin case, her case was very compelling. I mean she was making a lot of money. She was looking for a title. They fired her, someone takes her place that‘s a woman—a woman fires her. But what was compelling about her story was how she disclosed the sort of seedy underbelly of Wall Street, which everyone knows exists. And that‘s sort of a frat house, you know brokers slapping each other on the rear end. The strip club stuff is endemic across Wall Street and that is discriminatory because business deals get done at some of the most exclusive strip clubs in New York. Scores, the Penthouse Club on the west side and this is where business is done and mostly woman are excluded from these places...
ABRAMS: And there are other companies that are—other major firms that are dealing with similar allegations, correct?
GASPARINO: Right. I mean everybody is dealing with these allegations. This is the latest one. There‘ll be more, because I don‘t believe the culture will change.
ABRAMS: You know Diane Seltzer, I covered a case against Goldman Sachs where there was also a claim that another woman was hired over this woman. The lawsuit eventually got thrown out of federal court because it had—the judge ruled no merit. But how do you win a case when they hire another woman in your place and the person who fired you is a woman, then you say, oh well, I was passed over because of my gender?
DIANE SELTZER, EMPLOYMENT LAW ATTORNEY: Well I think it‘s very challenging to do that and to win that kind of case. First of all, the gender of the person who does the hiring or the firing really shouldn‘t matter and doesn‘t always matter. There can be intra-class discrimination. Women can discriminate against other women, and women can help other women.
So that‘s not so convincing to me.
What‘s even harder to understand is when you are replaced by someone who is a member of the same protected class against—as you are. Where‘s the discrimination? And this is something I teach my students. If you want to be a plaintiff‘s lawyer that‘s terrific, but the cases where the person who replaces you are—you know where they‘re a member of the same class you‘re in, those are tough ones to prove.
ABRAMS: So Charlie, how did she get $12 million out of the $54 million pot?
GASPARINO: Yes, that‘s a great question. Well listen, she was the one who brought the case, let‘s face it, so they‘re kind of paying—the EEOC is the entity that‘s directing that payment. Morgan Stanley doesn‘t direct that payment. The EEOC does. But the reason why she won I believe is because she underscored this sort of seedy underbelly of Wall Street and the last thing Morgan Stanley wants—I mean Morgan Stanley is known as a white shoe firm. They want, you know, rich people, upper-crust people to do business with them—the last thing they want people to know is that their people, their top employees are hanging out at strip clubs. That they‘re, you know, they‘re taking their best clients to the seediest places in New York and I think that‘s why she won.
ABRAMS: All right. Let me read from the consent decree that was entered into. Morgan Stanley violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by failing to fairly promote and compensate them, referring to women, and by discriminating against them in terms of conditions and privileges of employment. It goes on to say Morgan Stanley denies any wrongdoing or liability to EEOC or Schieffelin and contends that it has at all times treated its women employees and Schieffelin fairly and equitably in all terms, conditions and privileges of employment.
You know, Diane, we see this in every case. They always say oh we‘re not admitting any—you don‘t pay...
ABRAMS: ... $54 million if there was absolutely no merit to any allegations, right?
SELTZER: I agree with you. You know there are obviously things they were worried about in terms of the merits of the case and perhaps not of the lead plaintiff, but there are 300 and something other women involved and they‘re embarrassed and they‘re worried about their reputation and those are concerns and values that drive cases to settle. To have several dozen women testify publicly about what really goes on there, that‘s going to be—a lot of damage control would be needed to get a grip on that. So there are reasons why you settle, but you‘re right, that is standard boilerplate that comes out of any settlement decree. There‘s rarely admission of wrongdoing, but you do have to wonder why a check so big when I think two million of that—you know settlement funds are going towards diversity training and anti-discrimination programs.
SELTZER: If they did nothing wrong, I don‘t think the check would be so large.
ABRAMS: Charlie, 20 seconds left. Are the other women upset, the 340 other women that this one woman who‘s probably got one of the weaker claims is getting 12 million of 54 million?
GASPARINO: Right. Well, if it wasn‘t for her there wouldn‘t be a claim period. I mean she was the one who brought the case. The EEOC has suggested that there should be only 100 women in the class, so we‘ll see how that turns out. But you know I‘d be upset because Ali Schieffelin didn‘t really have a strong case.
ABRAMS: All right. Diane Seltzer, thanks for coming on the program.
SELTZER: Thank you.
ABRAMS: ... good to see you again.
GASPARINO: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up, if you have trouble knowing what to do with the color-coded terror threat alert system, you‘re not alone. Apparently law enforcement doesn‘t get it either. I say it‘s time to get rid of it. It‘s my “Closing Argument”.
And your e-mails email@example.com. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.
ABRAMS: Coming up, why it‘s time to end the color-coded terror alert system. It‘s my “Closing Argument”.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument”—it‘s time to end the color-coded threat system. Not only does the public have no sense of what to do with the information, but now we learn law enforcement officials have found it confusing and vague as well. A report from the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, found there was widespread concern among federal, state and local officials about the quality and timing of the information they received in connection with the color-coded system.
Now it seemed pretty straightforward. You know green means low threat. Blue means guarded. Yellow, elevated. Orange, high and red, severe. We have been at yellow for about six months. Code orange has been declared five times for a total of about three months since the system went into effect 28 months ago. It was a legitimate effort to provide the public with more information. Rather than simply warning law enforcement and leaving the worst to the public imagination, the administration attempted to provide a guide to the public as well. But it‘s time to accept the fact that it‘s failed.
First of all, I can‘t imagine we‘ll ever be at blue or green in the foreseeable future, so there are really three levels and every time it‘s raised people either ignore it or worry with little sense of what they can do about it. Then there are questions about why it is or isn‘t raised. Last week Secretary Ridge warned that al Qaeda may be planning an attack to disrupt the national elections and yet the threat level was not raised from yellow to orange because they didn‘t have enough specific information.
It just isn‘t helping. It‘s time to adopt a similar system to Israel‘s. For example, when they have specific information they inform the local officials and population at risk. That is useful. Putting the entire nation on alert every time there‘s a threat in Israel would eventually lead people there to ignore it as well. In England when there were constant IRA bombings they would only issue warnings to local officials when they had specific information. It‘s time to raise the level of the information that we‘re getting.
All right, I‘ve had my say. Now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. Last night in my “Closing Argument” I said I can‘t believe President Bush is renewing his call for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. That we should be leaving to the states rather than tinkering with our jealously protected Constitution.
Greg Williams from Mobile, Alabama disagrees. “How can you say that the president is wrong to attempt to amend the Constitution? When you have judges who are blatantly overstepping their boundaries, what is a president supposed to do and what should Americans do in your opinion?”
In my opinion, Greg, first and foremost there‘s no rush. It‘s only one state where the courts have said that gay marriage must be recognized under their state Constitution. If they want to amend their Constitution, let them do it, but there‘s no federal crisis here.
Sharon Purcell in Richland, Washington. “We‘re not forcing our religion or moral ways on these gays and lesbians like they are forcing us to recognize their worldly and immoral ways. They know it is wrong and they just want to find a way for us to approve what they‘re doing and recognition as married would do just that now wouldn‘t it?”
Sharon, the issue of whether to amend the Constitution has nothing to do with whether anyone will be forced to recognize gay marriages. The only question is whether everyone will be prohibited from recognizing it. But in response to your somewhat peripheral point, whether they‘re right or wrong, it‘s the people who fervently oppose gay marriage who are really trying to force religion and morality on gays.
From Henderson, Nevada, Johnny and Kendra Miller. “I believe we do have a right to draw the line on marriage. We ban polygamy, don‘t we? Isn‘t this just a judgment call?”
It‘s not when it comes to amending the Constitution. A judgment call is whether to support laws that define marriage as between a man and a woman. That‘s a judgment call. Amending the Constitution is a radical and unnecessary step to take no matter how you feel about gay marriage.
In New York, Marjorie Caruso. “There are so many other vital matters such as men and women being killed in Iraq, terrorism and the amount of people out of work in this country. He should worry about these things rather than what each state can and should decide for themselves.”
Finally last night we reported that Mary Kay Letourneau, remember her, the former teacher who was sent to prison for having sex with her 12-year-old student Vili Fualaau, due to be released from prison next month after serving six years. She has two children with her former student, but there‘s still a court order in place that says Letourneau can‘t see him even after she gets out and even though he‘s now 21. I said look, whether you like it or not, they are a family—mother, father, two kids. She served her time so the court should stay out of it.
Rick Leers in Niles, Michigan, disagrees. “The only reason they have kids is because the molester failed to use birth control. This woman screwed up this young man‘s life. She is sick, as sick as any man who thinks he should begin a so-called romantic relationship with a child. You Dan are nothing but a sexist pig and an endorser of child sexual abuse.”
All right Rick, what do you want? You want the kids to grow up without their parents together? She molested him. She served her time. I agree with you that this was sick. But now, you know, I want to at least let them try to have as normal a family as possible. You just want to make the situation worse. By the way, I felt the same way about the other case we discussed, a man who served time for having sex with a 15-year-old and then married her after he was released. It doesn‘t justify what the older person is doing. It just means that you‘ve got the situation that you have. The person is serving time as they should. The question is, what do you do after they‘re released, particularly in this case when they‘ve got children together.
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‘re writing from.
Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. Ron Reagan is on the show.
Thanks for watching, see you back here tomorrow.
Remember, this is the place to watch for full coverage of the Scott Peterson case. Every day we‘re going to have quotes, we‘re going to have the witness, we‘re going to have the live reports, and we‘re going to have me, whether you like it or not.
See you tomorrow.
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