Guest: Coleen Rowley, Steve Emerson; Daniel Pipes, Jennifer Dobner, Dean Johnson, Joe Tacopina, Jill Druschke
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, the 9/11 Commission report is out. They say no one was really focusing on the danger of al Qaeda enough. We talk to the people who were.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS KEAN ® 9/11 COMMISSION CHAIRMAN: On September 11, 2001, 19 men armed with knives, box cutters, mace and pepper spray penetrated the defenses of the most powerful nation in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: We‘ve got an exclusive interview with Coleen Rowley, the FBI whistle-blower who accused the bureau of ignoring warnings. What does she think about the report?
Plus, new questions about the husband of a missing pregnant woman in Salt Lake City. It turns out he lied to her and her family.
And the key piece of physical evidence in the Scott Peterson trial front and center. Laci Peterson‘s hair found in her husband‘s boat. The program about justice starts now.
Hi, everyone. First up on the docket tonight, the 9/11 Commission releases its final report on, among other things, the government‘s failures before and during September 11 and its recommendations for waging a war on Islamic terror that could last for decades. Other programs tonight will talk to the commissioners about the details of their report. They say that no one took the threat seriously enough. On this program, we are going to talk to some of the people who warned, in vain about the threat of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda in the months and years before 9/11. But first, what some of the commissioners had to say when they released the report in their own words.
THOMAS KEAN ® 9/11 COMMISSION CHAIRMAN: On that September day, we were unprepared. We did not grasp the magnitude of a threat that had been gathering over a considerable period of time.
LEE HAMILTON (D) 9/11 COMMISSION VICE-CHAIR: Who is in charge? Who ensures that agencies pool resources, avoid duplication and plan jointly? Who oversees the massive integration and unity of effort necessary to keep America safe? Too often, the answer is no one.
JAMES THOMPSON ® 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: If I were the president of the United States, I would want sitting next to me in a cabinet meeting a national director of intelligence so that I could fix responsibility on one person for issues of this sort.
TIMOTHY ROEMER (D) 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: The people in Congress that are so instrumental for us to tackle this problem have to do their oversight better, more appropriately and more diligently.
HAMILTON: We need reform in the FBI We need a stronger national
security work force within the FBI
KEAN: We found no relationship whatever between Iraq and the attack on 9/11. That just doesn‘t exist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have found no evidence of the involvement of the Saudi government in the plot. We have found evidence of individual Saudis and Saudi charities.
KEAN: This was a failure of policy, management, capability and above all, a failure of imagination.
ABRAMS: Beyond those overall failures, some of the specific failures described in the commission‘s report, the failure to put two future American Airlines Flight 77 hijackers on a terror watch list after they attended an al Qaeda meeting in Malaysia, the failure to share information linking suspects in the bombing of the USS Cole to one of the flight 77 hijackers, the failure to find those future flight 77 hijackers once they‘d entered the U.S., the failure to link the August 2001 arrest of would be pilot Zacarias Moussaoui to the threat of an upcoming attack, the failure to discover false statements on some of the hijackers‘ visa applications, the failure to recognize that some of the hijackers‘ passports were fraudulent, the failure to add names from the intelligence agency‘s terror watch list to airlines no-fly lists, the failure to search airline passengers identified by the computer-based airline screening system and the failure to harden cockpit doors or take other preparations to stop potential suicide hijackers.
And then there is this, the failure of security personnel at Washington‘s Dulles airport to keep five al Qaeda hijackers off of flight 77 after three of them set off alarms. My take? Kudos to the commission for coming up with a unanimous report. If there had been any dissent on any issue, partisans would have jumped on those to try to minimize the significance of this important document. I know both the Republican and Democratic commissioners had to make compromises. Neither side feels like the history section tells the whole story but they should be proud of what they have done and I think we all owe them a debt of gratitude.
Now before I ask my guests about their warnings, discussions about al Qaeda before 9/11, I want them to talk about that litany of failures and the rest of the commission‘s report. Coleen Rowley is the FBI special agent from the Minneapolis office who blew the whistle on the agency‘s failed Moussaoui investigation in a letter to director Robert Mueller. She joins us from Minneapolis for her first interview on the commission.
Steve Emerson is a terrorism expert, MSNBC analyst, the author of “American Jihad” and Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum, author of four books on militant Islam. Both Daniel Pipes and Steve Emerson wrote articles before 9/11 about the dangers to come.
Coleen Rowley, let me start with you. First, your initial reaction to this description of all of the failures before 9/11. Based on what you know of the report, does it seem that their focus was in the right place?
COLEEN ROWLEY, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Yeah, I think that from what I know, the mistakes and issues that went into 9/11 were many and were quite intertwined so to unravel all of that, I think took a lot of diligence on the part of the 9/11 Commission.
ABRAMS: Let me read to you with regard to the FBI what they wrote specifically. They say the most serious weakness among Federal agencies were in the domestic arena. The FBI and I‘m quoting, did not have the capability to link the collective knowledge of agents in the field to national priorities. Other domestic agencies deferred to the FBI Do you agree?
ROWLEY: Before 9/11, the FBI was more in a criminal investigative mode with regard to terrorism than it was in intelligence gathering mode. So that part is accurate.
ABRAMS: And as you see this and as you see the amount of work that they have done here to sort of figure out what went wrong, et cetera, is it a relief to you, frustrating to you? What is your reaction on the whole to seeing this document finally released?
ROWLEY: Well, actually, I think kudos to the families that got the 9/11 Commission off the ground. But even prior to the 9/11 Commission, the joint intelligence committee and Eleanor Hill‘s staff had done quite a remarkable job of unraveling the various mistakes and issues that had gone into 9/11. And again, I think it‘s necessary to do this but we are almost three years since it happened and we perhaps need to now focus on the future.
ABRAMS: What do you think about their recommendations for the future?
ROWLEY: Well, I think that again, a lot of time has passed and when we talk about things that occurred in the summer of 2001 or shortly after 9/11, we have to keep that in perspective, that this length of time, almost three years has passed. Many changes have already been made and so we have to keep in mind that again, these things that we‘re talking about were quite some time ago.
ABRAMS: When you say many changes have been made, I mean look, you are one of the people who was I think very honest and direct with in particular your boss about the problems that you saw in the FBI and what you saw as sort of a miss characterization of some of the problems in the FBI. Have those problems been resolved?
ROWLEY: Well, we certainly can always do more in terms of streamlining bureaucracy, eliminating unnecessary paperwork and that type of thing. However, the major change here has been to put the FBI on the forefront of both gathering and disseminating intelligence. And that change has just been remarkable in the last couple of years.
ABRAMS: Steve Emerson, your reaction.
STEVE EMERSON, TERRORISM EXPERT: First of all, the whole paradigm of the report, this incredible document is really the type of response we need in terms of assessing and keeping the national security apparatus on a uniform anti-terrorism platform at all times. In other words, we need a national commission on terrorism 24 hours a day, seven days a week every year because they have the ability to look at all the agencies and analytically put all the product together.
Now of course, they‘re doing historical stuff, but really, what they are doing is essentially putting all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together. It‘s a phenomenal document. Having said that, what they have discovered are this major analytical deficiencies in the FBI, the C.I.A. and also within the structures themselves.
There‘s a disconnect. Every single time I come on the air and talk about the FBI‘s deficiencies, I feel guilty because I know FBI agents in the field, hundreds of them. They‘re wonderful agents. Some of them actually refer to headquarters as OT, occupied territory because headquarters is much more focused on basically making sure they don‘t commit any mistakes, whereas outside in the field they know what the problems are. I remember speaking to agents Dan in ‘94, in ‘93, they knew exactly what the problems were. They talked about bin Laden. They said we are going to get hit again and the only problem they said actually was that the ‘93 World Trade Center bombing quote, didn‘t kill enough people because that meant...
ABRAMS: We‘re going to get to that in a minute. Very quickly, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), have to take a break. Your reaction to what they describe as the problems, their recommendations for the future.
DANIEL PIPES, DIRECTOR, MIDDLE EAST FORUM: I agree with Steve and Coleen that it‘s a good report but I‘ve got two other issues on my mind, not so much the technicalities of it but two other things. One is the fact that in the political environment, we see that there is a real move now to go back to the way things were pre-9/11. The Democratic Party in general is against fighting a war and instead of looking at this as a police action.
ABRAMS: But I don‘t want to get into the politics of this. I only just focus on the 9 -- let me take a quick break here. I‘m going to ask you all to stick around. The reason I chose these three people is for a reason and that‘s because when we come back, I‘m going to talk to them about what it was like at times for all of them, to be ignored before 9/11, when each one of them in their own way were warning about the danger of al Qaeda.
And later, the husband of that missing pregnant Utah woman admits he lied to her and her family. What does that mean in the context of the search? And it‘s the prosecution‘s key piece of physical evidence against Scott Peterson, a piece of his wife Laci‘s hair found in his boat. The expert who examined it is on the stand. Your e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.
NEIL LIVINGSTON, TERRORISM EXPERT: We have to be very worried about threats to the United States. Bin Laden is out there. He is wounded. He is angry.
STEFAN LEADER, EAGLE RESEARCH GROUP: We are in effect at war with the bin Laden terrorist network.
STAN BEDDLINGTON, FMR. CIA INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: There is always a possibility that Osama bin Laden may attempt a terrorist attack inside the United States. We do know because we have arrested some of his agents inside this country.
ABRAMS: We saw the dates there, three warnings, none of them later than August 199 that Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda might hit targets in the U.S. But as the commission said in its report, even C.I.A. Director George Tenet December 4, 1998, directed, stating we are at war, had little overall impact on mobilizing the intelligence community. And there were plenty more warnings, including some from our guests. Sorry, Daniel Pipes, I apologize for interrupting you. I‘m going to read a section of the article that you and Steve Emerson wrote together in May of 2001. This is a few months before the attacks and I read, quote: “In conceptualizing the al Qaeda problem only in terms of law enforcement, the U.S. government misses the larger point. Yes, the operatives engage in crimes, but they‘re better thought of as soldiers, not criminals. To fight Qaeda and other terrorist groups requires an understanding that they have silently declared war on the U.S. In turn, we must fight them as we would in a war.”
Is it frustrating to you now, looking back, that people weren‘t listening to you enough?
PIPES: Yes, Dan, it was frustrating. But I‘ve got to say it is frustrating again because as I started to say before, I see the direction of the U.S. mood going back to that police approach rather than the war approach. There is a great deal of reluctance to see us at war. So, for a while after 9/11 there was a sense of we‘re all together in this and we‘re fighting a war but I for one feel that less and less and worry that we will need another calamity like 9/11 to get back on track.
ABRAMS: Steve, you have put together all of these jihad tapes. You‘ve been doing it for many years where you‘ve been gathering radical statements made by various Islamists and you have been saying, pay attention to this. This is serious. They are coming. They are going to attack. Again, as you read this report and they chronicle all the mistakes and talk about the fact that no one is really listening, do you almost want to say, I was one of them? I was out there, I was yelling, no one was listening to me.
EMERSON: Listen, Dan, the system wasn‘t built, unfortunately and it was stacked against anybody who basically stuck their neck out. I remember, you pointed out, I did the film, “Jihad in America” in 1994. I must tell you, it wasn‘t a brilliant film. I was taking material that I collected from videos from the Islamic groups themselves off the web, stuff that was openly available if anybody wanted to get. I‘m looking at documents here from 1995 from San Diego saying they are going to attack the United States because of the imprisonment of bid Laden—of Sheik Omar (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
So the bottom line was the material was there, no one wanted to see it. And as Daniel pointed out, it was the absence of casualties. Democracies act when there is blood in the streets. Yes, you‘d like not to have this occur, but maybe it took 9/11 to wake us up and I fear maybe Daniel‘s warning is correct, that we‘re getting back into this old mentality.
ABRAMS: Coleen Rowley wrote this memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller in 2002. The truth is, as with most predictions into the future, no one will ever know what impact if any, the FBI‘s following up on certain requests would have had. Although I agree it‘s very doubtful that the full scope of the tragedy could have prevented, it‘s at least possible we could have gotten lucky and uncovered one or two more of the terrorists in flight training prior to September 11, just as Zacarias Moussaoui was discovered after making contact with his flight instructors.
Bring us back to that time if you can in August of 2001. What was your thinking about the Zacarias Moussaoui and al Qaeda in your offices?
ROWLEY: Well, we‘re of course under a court gag order not to talk about the Moussaoui case for court reasons.
ABRAMS: Understood, understood. Just generally then, then stay away from the specifics if you can. Can you talk generally about the mentality?
ROWLEY: Well, I will talk about the prevention aspect which you just alluded to in that quote. I think there is a misconception about preventing acts of terrorism. And of course if you look at history, the interdiction of - say I‘m trying to come down to bomb the Los Angeles airport, that was effectively done by someone at the field level, very low level and it does require a certain amount of luck even in addition to the proper mindset. I do disagree with your other two commentators there that things have not changed and are going back to the mindset before 9/11. I really totally disagree with that assessment.
ABRAMS: Tell me why. Tell me why.
ROWLEY: Well, I have seen the way things functioned in the FBI prior to 9/11 and I have seen how they function after. I have seen many effective investigations of could-be, would-be terrorists in this country and the dichotomy between before 9/11 and now is stark. Things are being handled quite efficiently. We‘re using all of the tools that the FBI is allowed to, sometimes intrusive tools under the foreign intelligence surveillance act, physical surveillance, all of these things and I don‘t think we have gone back to the earlier mentality of only seeking to use criminal means.
ABRAMS: Daniel Pipes, is that reassuring to you?
PIPES: It is reassuring and I agree in the specifics but I think the larger picture remains a more problematic one, problematic one in that for example, the FBI is deeply reluctant to name the enemy. The FBI will only talk about terrorists. The FBI will not note that there is an ideology behind those terrorists, a motive, an identity. The FBI is still not really facing the facts of who the enemy is and how to deal with it.
ABRAMS: Is that true, Ms. Rowley, that they won‘t sort of say it‘s Islamists? It‘s Islamic terror that‘s the real danger here.
ROWLEY: Well, I think we have to be extremely careful. I really kind of disagree with that assessment as well. We have to be very careful that when we are confronting and attempting to engage in a really long—I agree with that part that it‘s going to be a long, sustained effort for maybe decades into the future. And when we do that, we have to do things that make sense that do not allow the terrorists to win without even scoring a terrorist attack. And I talk a lot about criminal investigation and in balancing civil liberties with the need for effective investigation. And I think we are proceeding in a careful way but I think we are also able to do it very effectively.
ABRAMS: Steve Emerson, final, I‘ve got 30 seconds left, but the bottom line is, what you and Daniel Pipes were asking for back in May of 2001, seems to me that‘s got to be mentality, which is we can‘t treat all these cases like criminal cases.
EMERSON: Absolutely, it‘s a much larger issue and I think Daniel is right, however, it‘s radical Islamic fundamentalism. It doesn‘t represent all Muslims but that has to be named as the larger ideological enemy from which terrorism is spawned and that‘s really the issue that confronts us in the future and to the extent we ignore it or pretend it doesn‘t exist as a phenomenon, we‘re pretending that the terrorism isn‘t going to haunt us again. That‘s the real issue.
ABRAMS: Well, I‘m going to quote again from the 9/11 Commission report. The biggest failure was one of imagination. We do not believe that U.S. leadership understood the gravity of the threat.
The reason I asked all three of you on the program is because I think in your own ways each one of you deserve a lot of credit for what you did leading up to 9/11 and you know, in the wake of this report wanted to talk to all of you. So thank you all so much for coming on the program. Coleen Rowley, Steve Emerson and Daniel Pipes. Appreciate it.
Coming up, the search for that missing pregnant woman in Utah. Her husband admitting he lied to his wife and her family. He told them he was going to medical school, turns out he didn‘t even graduate from college. What does that mean? Later, how trying to return a coat cost a woman her high-paying job and a lot more. Stay with us.
ABRAMS: Coming up, new questions about the husband of a missing pregnant woman in Salt Lake City. It turns out that he lied to her and her family. But what does that mean? Details are up next.
First, the headlines.
ABRAMS: We‘re back.
Now to some strange developments in the search for a missing pregnant Utah woman. According to Lori Hacking‘s family, her husband lied about the couple moving cross-country so he could attend medical school. It turns out, he didn‘t apply.
That‘s not all. In a press conference yesterday, police said Mark Hacking never even graduated from college. He was registered as a student at the University of Utah from 1999 to 2002, but never got a diploma. Today, Lori‘s mother reacted to the news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THELMA SOARES, MOTHER OF LORI HACKING: I still love Mark as if he were my own son. I was profoundly stunned with the news the police gave us yesterday just before the press conference. And it shocked all of us. As bad as we feel about this, we cannot divert our attention from trying to find Lori, because she still missing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Twenty-seen-year-old Lori Hacking was reported missing by her husband on Monday, saying she never returned home from a morning jog. Police found her car parked outside the Memory Grove Park in City Creek Canyon. Over 1,000 volunteers have joined in the search effort, intensively search both the park and the canyon.
Police also have seized items from the couple‘s Salt Lake City apartment, won‘t comment on exactly what was taken. And just a few moments ago, Mark Hacking‘s brother held a news conference just coming from the hospital, where Mark is being treated for stress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LANCE HACKING, BROTHER OF MARK HACKING: He obviously realizes there is a credibility issue. And I think that hurts him more than anything, to think that he might have at least slightly hindered the search for Lori because of this other that thing that started way far back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right, so it seems that he was saying he was going to medical school in North Carolina. He even wasn‘t graduating from college, yet they were going to be moving to North Carolina. What does all this tell us?
I‘m joined now by Jennifer Dobner, the police reporter for Salt Lake City‘s Deseret Morning News.”
Thanks very much for coming on the program. We appreciate it.
JENNIFER DOBNER, “DESERET MORNING NEWS”: My pleasure.
ABRAMS: All right, so, give us a sense of how this fits into the case. How big a lie is this, first of all? How significant is this to the family?
DOBNER: Well, I think that might be a little bit unclear at this point.
Mark‘s father said this morning that, in meeting with him last night, Mark detailed about two years worth of fabricated stories. He didn‘t go into much detail about what all those stories were, but what we know primarily has to do with him graduating from the University of Utah this past spring and enrolling in medical school.
He had said University of Vermont in Burlington, George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, none of which have any record of him ever applying.
ABRAMS: But is it true that they were planning on moving to North Carolina in the very near future?
DOBNER: Well, it is. Family and friends from their church have said the house was packed, they were ready to go, that a moving truck was to pick their things up actually today.
But at some point between Sunday night, when Lori and Mark were last seen by Lori‘s—Mark‘s sister, rather, who lives in the same apartment building, on Monday morning, all of that I guess began to unravel.
ABRAMS: What do you get a sense of in terms of the resolve and I should say I guess the level of hope amongst the people there in terms of finding Lori alive and well?
DOBNER: Well, we have a little experience with that here in Salt Lake City after the Elizabeth Smart case. So I think probably the level of hope is pretty high.
But they have searched City Creek Canyon and some of the surrounding neighborhoods and there seems to be no trace of her, which maybe to some suggests there isn‘t any hope. The numbers of volunteer searchers has dropped off considerably in the last couple of days. There were 1,200 on Tuesday, about 500 yesterday. And this morning, before lunchtime, only about 100 people had showed up to help in the search.
ABRAMS: And that‘s because, is it not, the police have said, look, we‘re convinced that she is not in this area. I mean, we have had people go through it and we are pretty convinced we have searched it thoroughly.
DOBNER: I think they do feel that they have searched it thoroughly and that they are looking in other areas of the city and maybe a little farther out from that immediate canyon.
ABRAMS: Anywhere where she could have been on a jog still realistically in terms of distance?
DOBNER: You mean still jogging
ABRAMS: No, no, no, no. I meant beyond the area of the canyon where they have searched successfully, do they still have other areas to search where logistically she could have jogged to and be in that area, for example?
DOBNER: Yes, absolutely.
There is an extensive trail system up above the city that runs along this portion of the Wasatch Front. So there‘s lot of places where she could go. And, in fact, there are a number of transient camps up there. And that‘s one of the areas where the Elizabeth Smart‘s original hiding place was found. So it‘s a huge web of places to hide or to be up there.
ABRAMS: If they hadn‘t found Elizabeth Smart alive and well, having been abducted by effectively a transient, I would be mocking the sort of transient investigations all the time. But, you know, Elizabeth Smart I think changed the rules for everybody in terms of keeping hope alive.
Jennifer Dobner, thanks so much for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
DOBNER: Thanks a lot.
ABRAMS: Remember, if you have any information about Lori Hacking, police are asking you to call the tip line, 801-799-3000 or 801-799-4636. You can also get more information about Lori Hacking on the Web site www.findlori.com.
Now to the Scott Peterson case, day 28, testimony focusing on the most important and controversial piece of physical evidence, the hair or hairs found in a pair of Peterson‘s pliers. Remember, detectives found the pliers during a search of Peterson‘s boat. The detective who discovered it testified last week that he believed there was only one hair. But when he reopened the envelop containing the evidence at a later date, there were two.
MSNBC‘s Jennifer London is at the courthouse with more.
So, Jennifer, what is the explanation for one becoming two, that it broke?
JENNIFER LONDON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dan, if you ask the hair expert who testified today, Rodney Oswalt, he will tell you, no, the hair did not break into two. Rather, he believes it was originally two separate hairs.
And the distinction here may be important, because, Dan, as you mentioned, Detective Dodge Hendee testifying that he was pretty confident. When he found the hair in the pliers in Scott Peterson‘s boat and put it into the evidence envelope, he thought he saw one hair. And, yes, Dan, as you mentioned, two hairs came out of the envelope at a later date.
And here is what is sort of interesting. Judge Delucchi was actually the first person inside the courtroom today to bring up the one hair or two hairs, the judge asking the witness, Mr. Oswalt, based on the exam, did you form an opinion as to whether or not this was originally one hair or two? Oswalt replying, my opinion is that they came from two separate hairs.
Now, Oswalt did stop short of saying that this is without a doubt Laci Peterson‘s hair. He did say that hair was consistent with hair taken from a hair brush taken from the Peterson home.
Now, Mark Geragos, Dan, was getting a little huffy about the hair testimony, saying at one point he didn‘t even think it should be admissible because he feels that the prosecution has changed their position on whether this was one hair, two hairs, broke in half, what have you.
ABRAMS: All right, Jennifer London, continue the great work out there. Thanks a lot.
All right, my take, this piece of evidence is being overstated. Yes, it‘s the most important piece of physical evidence, but it‘s just not that important. There are other explanations for how her hair might have ended up in his boat and prosecutors should try not to rest the case on this issue. They have got better evidence than that.
Let‘s ask our friend, former San Mateo County prosecutor Dean Johnson.
Dean, do you agree with me?
DEAN JOHNSON, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Oh, I think so.
I think this hair issue is going to be a non-issue. I don‘t think it‘s a significant piece of evidence at all. You can sit here all day and spin explanations for why Laci‘s hair would be in Scott Peterson‘s boat, even why it would be clasped in a pair of rusty old pliers. And it just—it goes nowhere. If there is Laci‘s hair in Scott Peterson‘s boat, it could be from Laci. It could be a secondly transfer, a tertiary transfer, could be anything.
And this debate over one hair or two hairs, they have apparently established a sufficient chain of custody to get the evidence in. I don‘t think the evidence goes much of anywhere.
ABRAMS: But, Dean, we have been very critical of the prosecutors, both of us, as time passes. You would agree with me that it‘s still a legitimate piece of evidence for them to introduce. It just isn‘t what they should be hanging their hats on.
JOHNSON: Yes, it‘s a legitimate thing to introduce.
But I think the telling part today was the exchange between Geragos and the prosecutors, where Geragos said, wait a minute, wait a minute. They said that originally it was one piece of hair and it broke off. Now their expert is saying it‘s two pieces of hair. What is their theory? And the prosecutors say, well, we haven‘t told you what our theory is. And that‘s kind of the catch phrase for the whole week, is that we have seen lots of minute pieces of evidence that maybe could be tied together into something.
But the prosecution, neither in opening statement or anywhere else has, has told us what their theory is.
ABRAMS: And, Dean, we‘re on this sort of vacation schedule at that courthouse, right? We‘re taking a bunch of more days off again in the future and coming up.
Yes, next week, we‘re only going have two days of testimony. Mark Geragos has a court appearance on Wednesday somewhere else. And then Thursday, we have what could be an interesting and significant legal argument, a motion by the media, first of all, to open up the hearings on substantive motions and then of course the motion for mistrial and dismissal.
I had a French teacher, Dean, in college, who used to—we had a 50-minute class, all right? And he would call us in and he would then divide the class into two. And then he would give us an extra five minutes to catch the bus, so we had 20 minutes of class three days a week. And I‘m starting to feel like my French teacher may have told this judge how to set a schedule for the trial.
All right, I‘m glad that I‘m—I told that story?
ABRAMS: My producer just said I told that story already. On the air?
I don‘t think so.
ABRAMS: All right, Dean Johnson, thanks. Appreciate it.
JOHNSON: Thanks a lot, Dan.
ABRAMS: A good story.
Coming up, she was a young successful banker who just wanted to return a coat. Now she has lost everything after she was mistaken for a thief. Plus, my closing argument, why the 9/11 Commission should have resolved once and for all that non-issue about the relationship between al Qaeda and Iraq.
ABRAMS: Jill Druschke, thought she was just running an errand on her lunch break from her high-paying banking job last November.
She walked into a Banana Republic store in Midtown Manhattan to return a jacket. Before she knew it, she says she was led out of the store in cuffs, taken to the police station. She says the store told her the ink on her receipt did not match the store‘s ink and they accused her of being part of a forgery scam. She says, after her arrest, she was put on paid leave from her job as a stockbroker at AXA Financial. And after that, she was fired.
And according to Jill, returning a coat like this one cost her not only her $85,000-a-year job, but also a bonus and a big sponsorship from the firm to attend business school. The DA dropped the charges against her, but Jill says she can‘t get another job in the financial history because of her history of arrest. She is now suing Banana Republic.
Jill Druschke and her attorney, Joe Tacopina, join me now.
Thanks for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
JOE TACOPINA, ATTORNEY FOR JILL DRUSCHKE: Hey, Dan.
JILL DRUSCHKE, SUING BANANA REPUBLIC: Thank you.
ABRAMS: All right, so, Jill, lay out the story for us. You walk into the Banana Republic. You don‘t like the buttons on coat. You bring it back and what happens?
DRUSCHKE: I had returned it to a different store than I bought it at. The receipt disappeared while I was at the counter. I had asked for the jacket back to take it back to the original store. And the next thing I knew, I was being led downstairs and asked questions about where the receipt had come from, whether I had forged it.
I‘m being accused of stealing the jacket, despite buying it with a credit card and being the front for a theft ring, and without the store calling to check with the other store about the transaction or calling for the credit card receipt, they called NYPD and had me arrested.
ABRAMS: And you were then put in a holding cell?
DRUSCHKE: I was taken out of Rockefeller Center in cuffs, yes, put in a holding cell in a precinct for about four hours.
ABRAMS: How was that?
DRUSCHKE: And then I was held overnight downtown in 100 Center Street in a communal cell for about 16 hours.
ABRAMS: How was that?
DRUSCHKE: Not very exciting, a lousy way to spend a night in a skirt and heels.
ABRAMS: All right, Joe, legal question. Banana Republic—let me read a statement from Banana Republic, first of all.
“When Ms. Druschke attempted to return a jacket in November, information on the receipt did not match the merchandise. An in-store investigation concerning the veracity of the sales receipt prompted us to contact local police, who decided to make an arrest. Through her attorney, Ms. Druschke contacted our company in April about the incident. Further investigation was launched immediately. We‘ve asked Ms. Druschke for more information to better understand her allegations. To date, Banana Republic is still waiting for all of the information requested. The investigation is still open.”
Well, I‘m sure they are going to get that information when the lawsuit is filed because it will all be laid out in the case.
ABRAMS: But Joe, why suing Banana Republic? I mean, it was the authorities who decided to rest her, not Banana Republic.
TACOPINA: First of all, let me just—I‘ll answer that, Dan. You know I will. But let me just say this.
They have the information. They have had it for the three months. The reason there is a lawsuit being filed today is because they have not acted on their information they had. It‘s funny. You know, let them tell that to a jury. Let them explain to the jury how they say they didn‘t have the information when the district attorney, the prosecutor had all the information, obviously spoke with their complaining witness, Banana Republic, and showed them proof.
Jill has bank records showing the transaction. She paid, fortunately for her, with a debt card and it was on the debit card. So it‘s very simple. This is not rocket science.
ABRAMS: Sounds like you are holding Banana Republic responsible for everything everyone did.
TACOPINA: They are responsible.
ABRAMS: Meaning, the police arrest her.
ABRAMS: Her company decides, you know, we don‘t want her because she was arrested. And, again, Banana Republic isn‘t the one doing the arresting.
TACOPINA: No, no, but, Dan, listen, it‘s not like NYPD came and did an investigation and arrested her. NYPD came, some police officers in blue uniforms. Not robbery detectives or financial crimes unit detectives, came over and did an investigation.
Some cops came over and Banana Republic said to them, this is a forged receipt and they were a complaining witness. The cops were duty-bound to make an arrest. They couldn‘t walk away from it.
ABRAMS: What do you mean they‘re duty-bound to make an arrest, Joe? You spend a lot of time with police officers. I think they deserve more credit than that.
TACOPINA: Oh, absolutely, Dan. If a complaining witness, i.e. a store or a corporation, says this woman presented a forged instrument and try an attempted larceny by getting money back for a forged item, it clearly is up to Banana Republic to press charges or not. The cops can‘t make a sua sponte arrest.
ABRAMS: And, again, and why are they responsible for the job, her job?
TACOPINA: All they needed to do was have this manager, this so-called store manager at Banana Republic, instead of putting her in jail for two years, ruining her career, destroying her reputation, making it impossible for her to earn a living today, instead of doing that, all they had to do was call the store on the receipt and verify that transaction. That was only two days before, Dan. It would have been a very simple thing to do. And, instead, they went forward.
ABRAMS: Jill, tell me about how this has impacted your life, your job search, etcetera.
Well, it has been really humiliating, being walked out through a public plaza in handcuffs, having your bag tossed into the trunk of a car, having people be able to say anything they want to you. You know, known criminals were being brought in who are saying things to you while you‘re in a cell. It‘s very humiliating, not to mention the rumors that have gone on about me at my company, which are far worse than what actually happened in reality, and just the humiliation.
ABRAMS: And you can‘t get a job now?
DRUSCHKE: I am having a great difficulty getting a job.
I couldn‘t apply for a job until after the charges were cleared in March. So I started looking in New York. Prospects were very dim. I moved to Chicago, where—closer to my family, where I had a place to stay and I have been looking there. But I do have to disclose this. And there are plenty of people in the financial industry who haven‘t been accused of fraud.
ABRAMS: Well, you have got a attorney there in Joe Tacopina. I‘ve got to wrap it up.
TACOPINA: You‘ve got to wrap it up? All right. We‘ll talk later.
We‘ll talk when the verdict comes in, Dan.
ABRAMS: All right. All right.
Thanks a lot, Joe.
And, Jill, thanks a lot for coming on the program.
ABRAMS: Coming up, why hopefully this 9/11 report can serve as the ultimate account of how and why 9/11 occurred and can finally help resolve some longstanding uncertainties. It‘s my closing argument.
ABRAMS: Coming up, remember, I said it‘s un-American for some members of Congress to call on the U.N. to monitor U.S. presidential elections? Well, a lot of you are giving me a hard time.
That‘s coming up.
ABRAMS: My closing argument, why hopefully this 9/11 report can serve as the ultimate account of how and why 9/11 occurred and can help resolve some of the longstanding uncertainty.
The one I‘ve talked about is the nonsense about—quote—“long-established ties between al Qaeda and Iraq” and I think misleading statements from the vice president, who continues to perpetuate a myth about some longstanding relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda that helped somehow justify the war. As I have said before, there were other good-faith reasons to believe Iraq was a real threat, but this supposed relationship with al Qaeda, never one of them.
The commission found, while there were some—quote—“friendly contacts” between Iraq and al Qaeda, none of them ever—quote—
“developed into a collaborative relationship.” And so the issue should now become moot, but, of course, it will not, because a few hard-core partisans will continue to ignore the evidence. Some have already chimed in, offering Clintonesque legalistic defenses.
For Cheney, the issue is not, were there any contacts between the two? It is, was their relationship significant enough that one justification for war against Iraq is the extent of that relationship? Of course not. Bottom line, the U.S. had—quote—“friendly contacts” with Iraq before the 1991 war. In fact, you could easily argue we had a collaborative relationship.
It is not a justification for anything. Hopefully, this report will focus everyone back on the real issues, how to make things better now rather than trying to justifying old mistakes. The fact that five distinguished Democrats, five distinguished Republicans were able to unanimously agree on everything in this report means that we should listen, we should act, we should regain focus on al Qaeda and the immediate danger we face.
It‘s OK for leaders from both the Clinton and Bush administrations to admit some mistakes. According to the commission, both bear some degree of responsibility. When it comes to al Qaeda, one of the mistakes was suggesting that an attack on Iraq was justified in part based on that relationship. If we justify a war even in part based on ties as tenuous as those, war is going to become all too common.
All right, I‘ve had my say. rMDNM_Now it is time for your rebuttal. Last night in my closing argument, I said the request from 13 members of Democratic Congress who asked the U.N. to monitor the U.S. elections in November is insulting and I said un-American and that these Congress people should be ashamed for even making the request.
A surprising number of you don‘t agree, including Ron Arrowsmith, Denver, Colorado: “We should be embarrassed that outside observers are necessary to ensure a fair and open election process here in the United States, but those are the facts. Millions of other patriotic Americans would welcome the U.N.‘s observers to help ensure that the leader of the biggest democracy in the world comes to power democratically.”
A man who claims he is Quincy Jones: “It‘s un-American to steal an election. It‘s un-American to lie and to deceive the American people. Bring in the U.N., whatever it takes to get a fair shake.”
From Portland, Oregon, Jerry Weller: “When you act like a Third World dictatorship, expect to be treated as one. The U.S. needs U.N. monitors.”
And from Boston, Tim Macchio: “What is really un-American about asking for monitors? You can disagree on the need. What is un-American is to throw around the word un-American any time somebody says or does something with which you disagree.”
Well, I use the word very sparingly, I should say. But if you all do not think the Democrats can monitor this election a whole lot better than the U.N., you‘re crazy. And what happens if the U.N. says there were certain problems. The U.N. is going to trump U.S. law? Come on.
Some of you e-mail on occasion about the people who work here on show.
Mary Ann Hemmingson in Tempe, Arizona: “I love THE ABRAMS REPORT. I just wonder, who is the guy in the peanut gallery who cackles out loud when e-mails are read?”
There they are. Hi, guys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s us.
ABRAMS: Joe and Mike, the cacklers.
That‘s it? All right. I thought you guys wanted to say more. All right.
Rick Volpe in Oxnard, California: “Each night as your show ends, you wave, the camera pulls back and you see a young woman sitting in front of a computer, who sometimes waves, too. Who is she and why does she appear to be surfing the Web?”
She is my producer, Fogany (ph), who is also an attorney, I should point out.
Fogany, are you always looking at the Web at the end of the show?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No. I‘m reading everybody‘s e-mail.
ABRAMS: She‘s reading the e-mail, she says.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Megan (ph) makes me wave, our executive producer.
ABRAMS: She is not just surfing the Web.
All right, your e-mails, ABRAMSREPORT@MSNBC.com. We go through them at the end of the show. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.
Coming up next, “HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS.” He‘s got some of the 9/11 commissioners.
Thanks for watching. See you tomorrow.
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