Guest: Harvey Levin, J.D. Heyman
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The Kobe Bryant case may be at an end: Plea bargains and paid off civil suits reportedly on the take.
And the tabloid merry-go-round is set on high: Guess who is out of jail today and guess who‘s just applied for permission to go see her.
The second stream: Buffeted by criticism of the terror alert, the administration says there‘s more to it. Not old raw data from three years ago, but al-Qaeda contact into this country in the last few months; this from a separate stream of intelligence.
What happened to the waters that were to memorialize princess Diana? Not a month after the tribute opened, it‘s closed.
And the confluence of the presidential campaigns in Davenport, Iowa, while they talk and police protect them, three of the city‘s banks are robbed.
And is your boss a workplace bully? The silliest thing I ever heard of.
All that and more now on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Good evening. We have all rightly criticized the world of news on cable for the days when it obsessed about teachers who slept with their students and politicians who slept with their interns. The days of shark attacks and celebrity trials. Oh, for the simple time when tabloid-vision was all we had to worry about.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, with further nuances to the latest terror alert only adding to the sense that we might be terrored out, for 15 minutes we will pretend. Mary Kay Letourneau is out of jail tonight and the kid who put the boy in boyfriend is asking a court to let him see her again.
New evidence against Scott Peterson in a form of porn channels he added to his satellite TV system after his wife vanished.
And first, what might be simultaneously good news and bad news for Kobe Bryant. His rape trial may be on the verge of ending in a plea bargain, but a second woman has reportedly come out to say Bryant groped her.
First the plea. Varied reports now that the accuser, her attorneys, prosecutors, and the defense currently negotiating an end to the criminal proceeding. The accuser, afraid of any further release of her personal information, specifically that which regards her sexual activity. In an exclusive interview with MSNBC‘s Dan Abram, the accuser‘s attorneys confirmed an imminent meeting between their client and prosecutors and the possible end to the criminal case. They also insisted Kobe Bryant would have to admit having assaulted the woman and the decision on filing a civil action against the basketball star would be made in the next few days.
As the police settlement stories swirl around, we turn to the creator and executive producer of the syndicated TV series “Celebrity Justice,” Harvey Levin.
Good evening, old friend.
HARVEY LEVIN, “CELEBRITY JUSTICE”: Hi Keith.
OLBERMANN: Harvey, to the best of your knowledge and your staff‘s knowledge, what is happening with the Bryant case right now and why?
LEVIN: Well, we have learned, from multiple sources, and we‘re talking about people connected with the judge and with lawyers on all sides, that last week, the plea bargaining intensified. And here‘s what we know. We are told that the prosecution and Kobe‘s lawyers were discussing the possibility of Bryant pleading guilty to a nonsexual crime. Something like third degree assault. That is a misdemeanor. He would not have to register as a sex offender. And separately, we are told that there are other negotiations going on for some kind of a financial settlement and they‘ve even been discussing a letter of apology from Kobe Bryant. We are told the letter would essentially say something like this: that Kobe Bryant would say that he did not assault this woman, but if she believed did he, he is sorry for that. We know those negotiations were going on as late as Thursday—last Thursday night. Now, we have to watch what happens because if this woman decides she doesn‘t have a case for the criminal case, maybe Kobe‘s lawyers will sit it out and he‘ll get off scot-free criminally though it seems like there is negotiation going on in term of the civil case.
OLBERMANN: So the civil case would still be up in the air? I mean, our Dan Abrams reported that the further it goes along in the process, obviously, he was reporting that this would continue as opposed to being wrapped up with a cash settlement right away. But Harvey, the point is that the further it goes on, in the civil courts, the alleged victim has really less and less reason to stay in court because the only thing that can happen at some point to her there is that her identity would become public knowledge officially, right?
LEVIN: Yeah, you know Keith, in some ways, the civil case is a lose-lose proposition because all of this dirty laundry is going to come out in the civil case and also, Kobe Bryant has to worry about his image. I am told that one of the motivations of the plea bargain is that this police interview that he did, the taped interview, he sounds very bad in it, and it‘s not so much what he says but his tone, demeanor, and it‘s very damaging to his image. And also, now you have this woman in Florida. So it seems to me there‘s an incentive on both sides to settle this. What I was told was that this was all almost like a package deal that these negotiations were going on simultaneously on separate tracks, both for the criminal case and the possibility of a civil settlement.
OLBERMANN: Is the woman in Florida that you mentioned the wild card here, we haven‘t reported this yet, but the bargaining obviously was done before the report in “Sports Illustrated,” which is out today, that a Florida waitress accused Bryant of groping her at a private party at the home of his now former teammate, Shaquille O‘Neal in 2002, could this other woman impact the case directly? Did the alleged rape victim even know about her this process went along?
LEVIN: Well, this has been out for a while. According to the “Sports Illustrated” report, the article broke just yesterday, but the woman contacted, at least according to the article, the woman contacted prosecutors in Eagle right after Kobe Bryant held a news conference when he was arrested and that‘s, we‘re talking a year ago. So, they‘ve all known about this. And—you know, the problem for Kobe Bryant is if he gets up on the stand and says, look I‘ve never sexually assaulted anybody. It opens the door for this woman to come up as a rebuttal witness and really embarrass him greatly.
OLBERMANN: Harvey Levin, creator and executive producer of TV‘s “Celebrity Justice,” as we apparently come towards wrap-up time in the Bryant. Once again, my friend, many thanks.
LEVIN: Always, Keith.
OLBERMANN: While we‘re down here. It was also old-timers day on the high profile, high gag reflex court case circuit. Mary Kay Letourneau was released from prison this morning and the sixth grader, as she slept her way to the penitentiary, immediately filed for permission to go see her again. He is now 21 years old. Hoards of reporters and gawkers crowded outside the Washington corrections center at Gig Harbo,r this morning. But, Letourneau avoided them. They did catch her this afternoon though, as she registered as a sex offender. She was 34 years old, married, the mother of four with her relationship with the then 12-year-old student Vili Fualaau, sent her to jail for seven years. Under the terms of her arrest, she cannot see Fualaau. His attorney is going to court to get that restriction overturned. He has already talked to the local media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VILI FUALAAU, BANNED FROM SEEKING FMR. Teacher: I‘m kind of nervous. I don‘t know what my feelings are right now, but I know I do love her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The associate editor J.D. Heyman is covering this sorry saga for “People” magazine. He joins us from New York.
Mr. Heyman, good evening.
J.D. HEYMAN, “PEOPLE” MAGAZINE: Hi Keith. How are you?
OLBERMANN: A part of her release from prison, she can‘t see this guy.
OLBERMANN: Formerly kid. Obviously the guy, formerly kid, is trying to change that. Is she trying to change it, too?
HEYMAN: Well, as far as we know, she has every interest and every intention of reuniting with him. She‘s always said that she—he was the love of her life. It was a wild love, her companion for life, so—you know, the expectation is that she will get back together with him and he‘s given every indication, as you know, of trying to get this order overturned. He‘s 21 years old and we expect they‘ll have some kind of reunion.
OLBERMANN: The gist of all this is that her attorney, on the “Today” show this morning, said, and it is splitting hairs from my perspective but, says she is not a child molester, she just happened to fall in love with one child. Now if a court does not buy into that unique argument, what is going to happen here? Are these two going to flee the country and go somewhere where their forbidden love can bear more fruit?
HEYMAN: Well, you know, the thing is he‘s 21 years old now, he can go and have this order overturned himself, which he will do. So—you know, and she‘s done her time, so I think that they‘ll go and pursue this. It‘s hard to see how the courts could stand in the way of that. If he is saying—you know, I don‘t—you know, mind seeing this woman anymore. I mean, certainly we know that she would like to see him.
OLBERMANN: What has become of the four children she had from her marriage and of the two children she‘s had with Fualaau?
HEYMAN: Well, Fualaau has custody with his mother has custody of their two children and they‘ve been raised in Washington state. They‘ve seen Mary Kay regularly while she‘s been in prison. Her four children with her first husband, Steve Letourneau, have been in Alaska, but they‘ve seen their mother regularly. And what we do know is that she has every intention of trying to get custody of the two daughters.
OLBERMANN: Not that I followed this on a daily basis, but what little I know of Mr. Fualaau, he does not seem to have begun his adult life in the most promising of ways. What is his status? What—where is he in life, at this point?
HEYMAN: Well, you know, by his own admission, he‘s had a very troubled adolescence and early adult life. And he‘s had trouble with drinking, he‘s had trouble with depression. He‘s—you know, not graduated from high school. He sued the school district, where this all took place and that lawsuit failed. So I mean, he‘s been something of a lost soul. What he seems certain about is that—you know, he has this love for Mary Kay. So bizarrely enough, that seems to be the one thing in his life that—you know, he‘s very solid about.
OLBERMANN: Well, in that context, we hope it works out for both of them, because if it doesn‘t, that‘s a lot of trouble.
HEYMAN: J.D. Heyman, the associate editor or “People” magazine. Many thanks for your information and your time, sir.
HEYMAN: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Two other updates from the lower regions of the news, there is yet another surveillance videotape of Mark Hacking. This one, perhaps, more disturbing than the one revealed yesterday, even. This was recorded shortly before 9:30 the night before Lori Hacking was reported missing by her husband. The couple, seen here, at the local convenience store buying soft drinks, it‘s believed to be the last time she was seen outside her home, at least alive. Four hours later, nearly 1:00 a.m., Hacking returns to that same store to buy a pack of cigarettes. A store employee noting, and he could have seen it better than we could on the tape, that Hacking had in the interim changed his pants.
And in for the pretext of the old British expression, “In for a penny, in for a pound,” if you think you might be someday accused of murdering your wife, do not in the interim add either the “Playboy” or “10xtc” channels to your satellite TV subscription. A manager of the company servicing the home of Scott Peterson has testified that in January of 2003, about two weeks after he reported his wife was missing, Peterson added the soft porn channel to his lineup, then changed his order again five days later to get x-rated stuff. Today, a county investigator testified that Peterson‘s computer hard drive indicated he had searched sales ads for used boats several weeks before his wife vanished. Already found on that hard drive, evidence that two weeks before the disappearance, Peterson had research water currents in San Francisco Bay and as the defense noted, he‘d also researched fishing prospects in San Francisco Bay.
OK, everybody can shower up now. Up next, Davenport in demand: Both presidential contenders show up for rallies in the same small city, as do several bank robbers. Oops.
And four days into the financial center terror alert, the administration leaks news of a second stream of intelligence, far more topical than just the data found inside that laptop in Pakistan. Stand by for that.
OLBERMANN: Two presidential candidates in one town in Iowa and suddenly three streams of intelligence in the terror alerts in Washington, New York, and New Jersey. Details on both stories, ahead.
OLBERMANN: The First National Bank
The First National Bank of Davenport, Iowa, was robbed this morning, so reportedly were two other banks in that small city of just about 100,000 residents. Not an implausible ratio, but one whose meaning will become apparent when you hear what the local police said when asked about the cluster of bank jobs. They said they couldn‘t say anything because they were too busy helping to direct the motorcades of President Bush and Senator Kerry, both of whom were in Davenport, Iowa this morning for campaign events. Your tax dollars in action.
Our No. 4 story on the COUNTDOWN: Exactly 90 days to the presidential election and the candidates meet, geographically at least, about 350 miles north of the exact population center of the continental U.S. They were at one point about three blocks apart. Senator Kerry started his economic summit at 10:00 a.m. at Davenport‘s River Center. About 40 minutes later, President Bush began a rally as Leclair Park. Neither of them actually made that noise you just heard.
If you want praycease (PH) of part of Mr. Bush‘s campaign, it may have been included his greeting to his crowd. He said he and his opponent, quote, “have a little difference of opinion about the heart and soul. Some of them think you can find it in Hollywood. I think you can find it right here in Davenport, Iowa.” Asked if he might meet Senator Kerry while he was there, Mr. Bush said, “I don‘t know, ask him.” So they did. The senator replied, “I invited him to come over and have a real conversation about the country, but I guess he wanted to leave.”
The campaigns also each had a small “c” controversy with which to play defense. For the challenger was food, for the incumbent it transportation. U.S. Airways confirming that it diverted one of its Boston to Washington shuttles Saturday night last, so it could go pick up the president‘s twin daughters in Albany, New York. Commuters were delayed by two hours by the rerouting, which the airline says was the only way to pick up the women and 22 other passengers who had been stranded by mechanical failure of their plane in Albany. U.S. Airways says it does stuff like this all the time. But, none of the regulars on the shuttles ever remembers going from Boston to D.C. via Albany or for that matter via Altuna or Alaska.
And eats continuing to play a surprisingly large role in this campaign. The controversy in that regard was the ticket eats Wendy‘s thing, a scam. The newspaper, the “Mid Hudson News” reporting that while the Kerry‘s joined the Edwards in their anniversary tradition of chowing down at the fast-food place last Friday at Newburg, New York, there were actually gourmet sandwiches awaiting the Kerry‘s on board their bus. The Kerry campaign telling COUNTDOWN today, that there were such sandwiches, but they were intended for the campaign‘s special guest that day, the actor Ben Affleck.
As to today‘s food, after his campaign stop in Davenport, Mr. Bush patronized a roadside corn stand, bought some, it got shucked without incident and he ate it. The president later, on boarding Air Force One, some of the corn still in his hands. Mr. Bush‘s patronage of the Nothin‘ Fancy Cafe in Roswell, New Mexico in January -- $42 worth of ribs didn‘t leave a tip. Through Mr. Kerry‘s and the Wendy‘s controversy, to today‘s purchase of some of the corn that was as high as a republican elephant‘s eye. This campaign has been a veritable feeding frenzy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President, how are you?
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I‘m hungry! I‘m going to order some ribs.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Want some custard? All right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because you can afford it. Look at you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, let‘s see your ice creams.
KERRY: We‘ll take any (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
KERRY: I had chili and a Frosty.
BUSH: Anybody need a rib?
KERRY: Try the Frosty.
BUSH: You want some ribs?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now behind us, you see Teresa enjoying a cold drink from Wendy‘s.
BUSH: Do you want some ribs?
KERRY: Came in for some chili and a Frosty.
BUSH: I‘m ordering ribs.
KERRY: I want a chocolate Frosty.
BUSH: Would you like some cheese cake? Homemade.
Jeb, you want some?
KERRY: There‘s the almonds, who‘s got a...
BUSH: We‘re here to buy some corn.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That‘s all you want is chili and a Frosty?
BUSH: Give him a rib, will you?
OLBERMANN: Don‘t forget the pretzels. Up next, those stories that defy the constraints of a number, like when a guest from last night‘s show appears in court today looking like this. That‘s my attorney?
Later, I guess it would not really be a memorial to Princess Diana if thing did not go horribly wrong with it. That sad story ahead, stand by.
OLBERMANN: We pause the COUNTDOWN now, and admit that we were only pausing when we stopped those celebrity trial stories. Only here, only now, will you get gavel to gavel coverage of the true trial of the century. Let‘s play “Oddball.”
Ladies and gentlemen, any long trial may cause you jurors to hallucinate or fantasize. You saw Attorney Jeffrey Kaufman on our program last night. That‘s him in the suit with just the tail, there. This just in, the verdict today in the groping trial of the bounciest, pounciest, trounciest friend of all, Tigger. He‘s not guilty! Michael Chartrand was accused of fondling a 13-year-old girl while they posed for a picture at Disney World. He had maintained all along it was just a friendly Tigger hug. Anthony Kaufman, who himself, also portrays Tigger at Disney World demonstrated that the bulky cost costume and thick paws made fondling anything impossible. The foreman read the “not guilty” verdict where upon Winnie the Pooh reportedly fainted, face first, into his pot of honey. And yes, the attorney did say afterwards, “I‘m going to Disney World.”
If he‘d been convicted, Mr. Marchand (SIC) could have spent as many as 15 years in one of these, only a little bigger. That‘s actually a bobcat locked in that little cage. One of three pets let out of a pen by vandals and running wild briefly in a suburban Ohio neighborhood, nobody injured. For your viewing pleasure though, here now is the Lucas County, Ohio version of “Wild Kingdom.” Expert trapping by a neighborhood kid with a measured, rational commentary provided by the bobcat‘s owner Ann Hauden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANN HAUDEN, BOBCAT OWNER: This is a wild animal and no matter how young you got them and how much you‘ve trained them, they will get you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Just like this outfit will get you. The shoes are Manolo Blahnik, the gown is by Toblerone. That‘s right, the world‘s first dress made entirely out of chocolate. Two artists from Albuquerque, New Mexico designed this for an upcoming charity fashion show in New York City. It is wire underneath covered completely in chocolate, and it looks like maybe there‘s some nut in there, too—pardon me miss. It‘ll be shipped to New York in a refrigerated truck. Melts in your mouth, not on my hands.
“Oddball” on the book. Up next, new information on the terrorist chatter that led to the current state of orange alert. New questions on why we would find this stuff out four days after the threat level was raised.
Then later, forget the schoolyard, it turns out the worst bully might be your boss. Surprise! These stories ahead, first here are COUNTDOWN‘s “Top 3 Newsmakers” of this day.
No. 3: An unidentified operator of the Washington subway train, No. 107. She pulled into the Van Ness station at 7:16 p.m. Monday night, got out and caught another train going in the opposite direction. Her train sat idly for 12 minutes, the conductor‘s door open and ready for easy hijacking. Nobody has been disciplined.
No. 2: Wolf Dieter R. That‘s all we know, his first name and his last initial, standard procedure in the German justice system. And why, pray tell, is he in the German justice system? Well, Wolf Dieter has been a Berlin driving instructor for the last eight years. But it turns out, he has never held a driver‘s license.
And No. 1: Mr. and Mrs. Joe Wirbick of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, still waiting for their permanent home to be constructed, they are currently living in a temporary house on the property. A house made out of straw. A big sign out front that reads, “No, huffing and/or puffing.”
OLBERMANN: There is a new element to Sunday‘s zip code-targeted terror alert and at least two ways to view that new element. Either Homeland Security withheld until today the existence of a—quote—“second stream of intelligence,” maybe a third one, that provided the urgency to the original warning, or, in essence, on Sunday, it said, we have terror information, you must trust us, and today, it added, you didn‘t entirely trust us? Well, we have more terror information. Now you really must trust us.
Our third story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, however you take the temperatures of the streams, the gist of the message is, the orange alert was not based solely on data three and four years old found stored in a computer in Pakistan. There were two separate reports today. This morning, “The New York Times,” quoting senior government officials who would say only that there had been a previously undisclosed separate stream of intelligence that reached the White House late last week which pointed to a current threat against financial targets in New York and possibly also Washington.
Late this afternoon, a senior U.S. intelligence official told NBC News that two other streams of intelligence arrived here on Friday night not connected with the materials in the Pakistani laptop, one location-specific, the other time-specific, and that U.S. intelligence was now investigating whether the possessor of that laptop, the computer master, Mohammad Noor Khan, had contacted people in the U.S. in the last few months.
To try to sort this out, I‘m joined now by counterterrorism analyst and former FBI Special Agent Christopher Whitcomb.
Good evening, sir. Thank you for your time.
CHRISTOPHER WHITCOMB, NBC ANALYST: Hi, Keith. Good talking to you.
OLBERMANN: So what is this field of streams stuff seem like to you? Is this information they had and didn‘t want to release, but did, only after the first data read as out of date or obscure or whatever?
WHITCOMB: No, I know it sounds complicated.
Look, the intelligence communicate and law enforcement can‘t wage the war on terror through the media. And I think that‘s what we‘ve seen in the last week. They came out—if you look at the chronology, they came out with the increase in the threat level. We saw a great deal of presence in Newark, in New York and in Washington, D.C.
Shortly after that, “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post” published articles saying that that was based on three, maybe three-year-old information. The Democrats, Howard Dean, the John Kerry campaign went after that, ridiculed the Bush White House. The Bush White House made the extraordinary step, if you ask me, in coming up today with another story giving detailed blow-by-blow accounts of how they arrived at this decision.
I think we‘ve gotten to a point, a very untenable point, where we‘re not waging the war on terror with people behind the scenes, but really in justification. It doesn‘t make a lot of sense to me.
OLBERMANN: Interpret the most detailed of these stories for us. There‘s evidence in Pakistan suggesting that the laptop guy, the al Qaeda computer master, contacted an individual or individuals here in the last few months. Translate it for me and, for extra credit, explain the significance.
WHITCOMB: Well, I think the extra credit right off the bat is, I don‘t know if there is any significance to this.
What they have said in what has been reported is that they are looking into the possibility that there was a contact made, not that they think there was and that they‘re trying to track it down. That is just basic investigation. If you have any information from Pakistan or any other country overseas, you‘re always going to try to find a link in the United States. We‘re trying to protect Americans on American soil here. That‘s a real issue.
So I think that‘s maybe misinterpretation, more than anything else. If they found information in Pakistan, as they seem to have, on these databases, they are certainly going to try to find a connection in the United States. That‘s not to say that one definitely exists.
OLBERMANN: I guess big picture here, you mentioned what Governor Dean said and what some other critics of the way the White House and the way Homeland Security have handled this and the big picture since 9/11 have said.
There was an editorial, I guess, in a thing called “The Investors Business Daily” or something today. Governor Dean was ripped. I got ripped. Anybody who said anything other than, yes, sir, Homeland Security, thank you for the information, we‘ll do what you say, was viewed as unpatriotic and inspiring lack of confidence and aiding the terrorists. Good lord, it was everything but accused us of keeping a phone line open to bin Laden.
As a professional in this field, are you alarmed at the way this is being treated and, secondarily, alarmed at the way the criticism of it is being treated?
WHITCOMB: Yes, I am. We have got to get over that as an American culture. We‘re a free and open society. We benefit because we discuss these issues. We‘re not giving up secrets. We‘re talking about the reality of the situation.
The people keeping us safe in the United States are career professionals who get up, risk their lives, do an extraordinary job. No attacks in three years. And I think we need to don—or take off our hats to them.
But we‘ve got to also look at the fact that we‘re coming up on a presidential campaign. And this is a big issue. And we have got not to politicize this issue.
OLBERMANN: Counterterrorism analyst Christopher Whitcomb, already the author of “Cold Zero” about the FBI hostage rescue team, he has now turned his talents to a novel about the war on terror called “Black.”
Many thanks for your time, sir.
WHITCOMB: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Continuing on this topic, the men and women who protect the District of Colombia operating under not just a terror threat tonight. It turns out they are also threatened by each other.
With the Capitol Police force setting up more than a dozen checkpoints around the Hill, no surprise that there have been complaints. But chief among the complainers is the District of Columbia‘s police chief, Charles Ramsey. His gripe, mainly that he was not consulted, telling “The Washington Post”: “I‘m not pleased at all with it. We weren‘t part of any kind of planning. They just told us what they were going to do.”
With access to the heart of the city now severely compromised, other district leaders offering more substantive complaints. Washington‘s represent to Congress saying: “We are fighting to preserve both security and freedom, not one or the other. We are not going to accept the closing of the city.”
If only bruised egos and civil liberties were the extent of D.C.‘s public safety problem. How about also a terror alert warning system that itself needs a five-hour warning? When Secretary Ridge announced the orange alert at about 2:00 p.m. Sunday, the District of Columbia‘s new high-tech notification system was supposed to send text messages to cell phones, pagers and other devices owned by some 2,200 area residents who had signed up for the warning service.
A superb backup communication plan in the event of, say, power outage, except that the text messages were not sent until about 7:00 p.m. Sunday, nearly five hours later. Those text messages were held up because they were routed through a virus-scanning program and because the person responsible for writing the original message had other jobs to do on Sunday.
Of course, we know that the 9/11 Commission‘s advice will never be ignored in this time. Certainly, it will never be forgotten, warnings to think outside the box, to share intelligence, to vastly improve airport security. Would you be surprised to learn that this country had already ignored a commission‘s report that recommended those things in 1990?
Our correspondent on this is Jonathan Dienst of our station in New York, WNBC.
JONATHAN DIENST, WNBC REPORTER (voice-over): A commission appointed by President Bush calls for improving security at airports and reorganizing the nation‘s intelligence services.
No, it‘s not the 9/11 findings, but a report from 14 years ago under the first President Bush. This national commission was put in place after the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, when 270 people were blown out of the sky over Lockerbie, Scotland. What ever happened to the recommendations from that report?
BERT AMMERMAN, BROTHER OF PAN AM 103 VICTIM: From 1990 until the Twin Towers went down, there was no change.
Bert Ammerman is the former head of Victims of Flight 103.
AMMERMAN: The problem is, the intelligence communities don‘t work together, will not work together and if it stays under the same format, will never work together. So that must change.
JOHN LEHMAN, 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: Amen. I couldn‘t have said it better. This is a longstanding problem of dysfunctional government.
DIENST: In the 9/11 report, there are numerous recommendations on intelligence that seem to mirror the very findings in the Pan Am 103 report. The 9/11 Commission says there was a failure of imagination across the government to recognize the terror threat. The Pan Am 103 report issued a similar warning.
“Officials must think ahead to counter the next generation of terrorist weapons before they are used to kill innocent people.” The 9/11 Commission now calls for better procedures for intelligence-sharing. The same was called for after the Pan Am bombing. Now there are calls for a national counterterrorism center to analyze terrorist threats.
Back then, the Pan Am commission called for a specific unit to focus on terrorism. After 9/11, a call for better human intelligence gathering overseas. The same demand was made 14 years ago; 9/11 Commissioners Lehman and Slade Gorton both voiced some caution in comparing findings in the two reports given the difference in scale between 9/11 Commission and Lockerbie.
As for bombs on planes, the 9/11 Commission itself is now calling for even tougher screening for explosives, from passengers to luggage to cargo. Similar points were in the Pan Am 103 report.
AMMERMAN: You just didn‘t listen to it. So it took the death of 3,000 people for you to even start to consider it. That angered me a great deal.
DIENST: But Lehman says the 9/11 Commission report is more broader, more detailed on many issues, like how to build up human intelligence gathering.
LEHMAN: The recommendations that they made were right on target. But they were exhortations. Do better, better human, better all the right things. But then that was it. We have gone several steps further by saying, better human and here‘s how you have got to fix it.
OLBERMANN: Jonathan Dienst of WNBC in thank rounding out the third story tonight.
Up next, remembering Prescribe Diana with dogs, diapers and blocked drains, how the people have defaced the memorial to the people‘s princess next. Then, later on COUNTDOWN, you know about his appearance on late-night. What you may not know is his appearance at sunset in the middle of Central Park.
OLBERMANN: The troubled water for a late troubled princess, the disastrous memorial results for Diana—next here on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: A month ago this Friday, England unveiled its memorial to the late Princess Diana. The royal family and her family were unified. The queen spoke fondly of her ill-fated former daughter-in-law. The waters flowing down the uniquely styled fountain seemed to have been smoothed after nearly seven years of constant roiling.
Not quite. Our No. 2 story on the COUNTDOWN, as if a parable of her life, her monument has already closed.
Dawna Friesen reports for COUNTDOWN from London.
DAWNA FRIESEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Princess Diana was both much beloved and deeply flawed. And so, it seems, is the memorial to her. It was less than a month ago that the queen officially opened the found an in London‘s Hyde Park.
QUEEN ELIZABETH II, ENGLAND: I believe that you have given the park a highly original memorial which captures something of the essence of a remarkable human being.
FRIESEN: Turbulent and smooth, up and down, its flowing water was meant, we were told, to attract people, especially children, to paddle and play in it. It was to be like the princess herself, accessible, open.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never mind. We‘ll come back next time. It will be working.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We expected to see running water, something that would remind us of Diana. And this is so disappointing.
FRIESEN: It turns out the fountain was a slippery, dirty health hazard. Several people fell, injuring themselves. Leaves and litter clogged the drains, exactly what some critics had predicted.
VIVIENNE PERRY, FRIEND OF PRINCESS DIANA: It will fill up with leaves and really that will be Diana‘s memorial, a sort of a storm drain filled with leaves.
FRIESEN (on camera): So now it‘s closed indefinitely right at the height of summer. And who is being blamed? The public. They were irresponsible and disrespectful, says Britain‘s culture secretary. Even the American who designed the fountain now says she never intended people to walk and play in it.
(voice-over): Stone masons are busy cutting grooves in the surface to make it less slippery. And when it does reopen, there will be strict new rules, no dogs, no diapers, no paddling in certain areas and attendance to ensure no one gets out of line, a controversial solution to a memorial that has turned out to be as complicated as the woman it was built for.
Dawna Friesen, NBC News, London.
OLBERMANN: A sad, if smooth segue from that story to our traditional gallop through the celebrity news.
And even if you‘ve sold 1.5 million copies of your book, that may not seem like enough. Former President Bill Clinton on “The Late Show With David Letterman” last night autographing a copy of “My Life” for his host‘s 9-month-old son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I brought one for your son for his first birthday.
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: That‘s very generous of you.
CLINTON: And here‘s what it says.
“To Harry, happy nine-month birthday. With luck, you will finish this by your 21st birthday.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But there‘s a little more to that story.
Not an hour after concluding the show taping with Letterman, Mr. Clinton was seen, Secret Service retinue and all, in the middle of New York‘s Central Park just sort of standing there talking to a few people. A crowd built slowly and the former chief executive answered questions about the book, Iraq, the Kerry candidacy. When last seen, nearly at sunset, the crowd in the park was up to around 200 people and Mr. Clinton was still bantering away.
Meanwhile, Sharon Stone says it was her intention to have a kissing scene between her and Halle Berry in their current movie, “Catwoman.” There‘s no segue here out of the Clinton story, by the way. Ms. Stone says the scene was nixed because of President Bush—quote—“Halle is so beautiful and I wanted to kiss her. I said, how can you have us in the movie and not have us kiss? That‘s such a waste.”
She said producers passed, in her estimation, because of a puritanical streak in the country inspired by the president. Bush playing a role in a Sharon Stone movie. Wouldn‘t be the first time.
One more break. Then our No. 1 story, the office bully. Do you have one? Do we at COUNTDOWN have one?
OLBERMANN: Finally to the top of the COUNTDOWN.
And the odds are 1-6 that your boss is just nuts—this just in, huh? Yes, it may be old news to you, but it appears to be a startling development to researchers in Michigan, who have concluded that about 17 percent of us have encountered a workplace bully inside the last year. And owing to the laws of office gravity, workplace bullies are almost invariably bosses.
In a moment, COUNTDOWN will look at its own boss—Hi. How are you? -- and how he measures up on the lunatic bully scoreboard.
First, our correspondent Tom Costello on how you can protect yourself from this not-so-hidden menace inside your own office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “NINE TO FIVE”)
DABNEY COLEMAN, ACTOR: Now, let me finish, OK? And don‘t go flying off the handle.
LILY TOMLIN, ACTRESS: You gave the promotion to Bob Enright instead of me?
TOM COSTELLO, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Whether in the workplace or the movies, they are the people who make other people‘s lives miserable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “WORKING GIRL”)
SIGOURNEY WEAVER, ACTRESS: And this woman is my secretary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: The screaming meanie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “WALL STREET”)
CHARLIE SHEEN, ACTOR: But why do you need to wreck this company?
MICHAEL DOUGLAS, ACTOR: Because it‘s wreckable. All right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: The constant critic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “OFFICE SPACE”)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I asked you to go get me a packet of Sweet and Low. You bring me back Equal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: And the gatekeeper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “OFFICE SPACE”)
GARY COLE, ACTOR: Hello, Peter. What‘s happening? I‘m going to need you to go ahead and come in tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Bee Pierson (ph) says she knows the different faces of workplace bullies all too well. A 20-year Navy veteran, last year she was enjoying a civilian job. But, she says, after six months, she made a complaint to her supervisor about certain decisions in the offers. And that‘s when things went terribly wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of hypercriticism, criticism about personal things, about my appearance or about how my voice sounded.
COSTELLO: In just a matter of weeks, she says, the relationship with her boss went from bad to worse.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The more I stood up to her, the more I got the silent treatment. I got frozen out. She would take away duties from me and assign them to people who were very junior to me.
COSTELLO: Eventually, she says, it all took an emotional and physical toll.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, after a while, it was like, I started to feel like, well, maybe I am doing something wrong. I got insomnia. I had trouble sleeping, horrible headaches.
COSTELLO: After just six months, she quit, convinced her supervisor was a bully.
But which employees do workplace bullies target and why?
Doctors Ruth and Gary Navy (ph) know firsthand. After Ruth was bullied at her job, she and her husband started the Workplace Bully and Trauma Institute. They say that, unlike childhood bullies, adult bullies don‘t just pick on the weak.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s actually a person with many strengths, the strength of being well-liked, the strength of being technically superior and the strength of independence. They actually refuse to be subservient.
COSTELLO: Ron Bitt (ph) admits he was a bully until he sought help to change what he calls his rough-around-the-edges management style. He says sometimes companies are to blame for creating an environment in which bullies thrive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that I had been rewarded for results my entire career, and sometimes, you know, you ignore having to pick up the bodies after you have gone through. You can‘t have a career using those methods your entire life. Something is going to break. Either your employees going to break or you are going to break.
COSTELLO (on camera): Because it‘s so hard to define workplace bullying, there are not any laws against it. Hostile verbal or nonverbal behavior doesn‘t neatly fall under existing discrimination or harassment laws. Still, experts say there are effective ways to deal with it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. 1 is, name it. And the reason we care so very much about that is, it stops the self blame. Step two is, you need time off. You need time to gather data about the turnover rate. And you‘re going to make a business case that the absenteeism, the lost productivity, and all those factors played a role in the bully‘s destructive impact on the workplace.
Step three, expose the bully. It sounds risky, but the truth is, you were at risk the moment you were targeted. You—could only better. It will not get worse. You have to trust us on this.
COSTELLO (voice-over): And trust is something many victims say they must relearn.
Tom Costello, NBC News, New York.
OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, earlier, two experts in psychopathic disorders developed something called the B-Scan, a method to tell if your boss is not merely a bully, but the 1 in 100 or so who may be an actual psycho. Look for narcissism, high energy, strong egos, glimpses of insincerity, arrogance, manipulative behavior and, of course, violence.
So we figured, let‘s put all this to the test. Let‘s ask the staff of COUNTDOWN if the boss here—that would be me, by default—is actually crazier than a loon.
ANNOUNCER: Does Keith take over or dominate meetings when he is bored or impatient?
IZZY POVICH, SENIOR PRODUCER: Oh, no, nothing like that. He is usually easy-going. I guess, maybe, sometimes, he gets a little pushy and he starts to get angry and he yells and stuff. But—he is not going to see this, is he? I don‘t want him to beat me again. I don‘t want him to beat me again. No.
ANNOUNCER: Does Keith make commitments to others, but then doesn‘t deliver or follow through?
BRENDAN O‘MELIA, ASSOCIATE PRODUCER/EDITOR: Follow through? That‘s Keith‘s middle name. He has followed through on everything he has done, from working at KTLA, to CNN, ESPN, MSNBC the first time, Fox, Fox Sports, ABC Radio, MSNBC the second time. He said he was going to take me fishing the other week. He never picked me up.
ANNOUNCER: Does Keith turn most conversations around to a discussion of himself?
“STANLEY,” COUNTDOWN STAFFER: Oh, yes. I mean, this is Keith Olbermann we‘re talking about. Hello. The ego has landed. I wouldn‘t say any of this stuff to his face but the man—ah! Turn that off.
ANNOUNCER: Does Keith come across as smooth, polished and charming?
VIRGINIA LEAHY, SEGMENT PRODUCER: Keith is the most charming, most debonair man I really have ever worked with. He is certainly a pleasure to be around. He is generous to a fault. I can‘t say enough good things about him, frankly. He is.
LEAHY: We just love him.
OLBERMANN: So it gets a little tense around here, OK?
Stanley, by the way, the role of Stanley was played by Denis Horgan, formerly senior producer of COUNTDOWN.
That‘s COUNTDOWN. Thanks for being part of it. I‘m Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.
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