IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

'The Abrams Report' for July 11

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guest: Arlene Ellis Schipper, Joe Huston, Allison Outen, Paul Pfingst,

Michael Cherkasky, Charles Schoebridge, Hoa Nguyen

DAN ABRAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Coming up, the only suspect behind bars in the search for Natalee Holloway in Aruba could be released tomorrow. 

Dutch teen Joran van der Sloot's attorney is expected to argue there's not enough evidence to keep him behind bars while prosecutors try to get these two brothers rearrested.  This as more divers come up empty in the search for Natalee. 

And the FBI confirms human remains found at a camp sight are those of nine-year-old Dylan Groene.  And for the first time we hear what Dylan's sister, Shasta, says happened to them. 

Plus, London on alert tonight at its highest terror level since 9/11.  Still no arrests in connection with last week's bombings and they fear the attackers could strike again.  The program about justice starts now.

Hi.  Well, first on the docket, the lead suspect in the disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway could walk free tomorrow.  And one of the search teams scouring the island for Natalee is close to giving up.  Tomorrow morning, Joran van der Sloot's attorney will be in court challenging his client's detainment.  Joran has been in custody since June 9th when he was arrested on suspicion of murder and kidnapping, along with brothers Satish and Deepak Kalpoe. 

Now the Kalpoe's were released a week ago but their release is also going to be appealed tomorrow with the prosecution arguing that they be rearrested.  And after more than two weeks of combing the island, Equusearch, the Texas-based team of volunteer searchers, plan to head home on Wednesday unless new clues turn up tomorrow. 

Joining me now from Aruba is Teto Laplay (ph), investigative reporter with the islands “Aruba Today” newspaper and Arlene Ellis Schipper, an attorney in Aruba.

Thank you both very much for joins us.  We appreciate it.

Arlene, let me start with you, as to the law.  So the attorney for Joran van der Sloot is going to get up and tell a judge, my client ought to be released.  What is he going to have to show to get him released?

ARLENE ELLIS SCHIPPER, ARUBAN ATTORNEY:  Well, basically, what he has to convince the appeal court of is that there's just simply not enough grounds and not enough strong objections to release of his client.  What the court assesses is actually a complete reassessment of the case where they are weighing the grounds for the detention.  And basically he has to just go over all grounds and prove or actually show the court that it's not enough. 

ABRAMS:  So this is an appeal.  Meaning - did the same judge issue the ruling that said that the Kalpoe brothers should be released as made the decision that Joran van der Sloot should be held?

SCHIPPER:  Yeah, that was the same judge. 

ABRAMS:  And so this . . .

SCHIPPER:  So basically you could - yeah.  You could consider that the judge found that there was more grounds to keep Joran van der Sloot in pretrial detention than the Kalpoe brothers. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Teto, what is the sense you're getting as to the strength of the prosecution's case?  When they're going to stand up and they're going to say, our only suspect ought to stay behind bars and the judge did the right thing.  How strong is their argument there?

TETO LAPLAY, “ARUBA TODAY” NEWSPAPER:  Well, their argument, as they say, pretty strong.  Actually, they have more evidence they say on the other two, meaning the brothers Kalpoe.  And they're saying that today they have release that information to the lawyers that are handling those brothers.  They have not released to us yet what that new information is but they're certain that they will be able to succeed - they succeed in any case to re-detain those two brothers.  And as far as Joran van der Sloot is concerned, they have enough evidence, they say, to keep him in jail. 

ABRAMS:  Is it unusual, Arlene, for an appeals court to step in and say - because in this country, if someone is released, in most cases, there are instances when prosecutors can appeal.  But in most cases, the prosecution can't appeal.  They can appeal certain legal rulings, et cetera.  But is it unusual for an appeals court to step in and say, even though the judge released those two, we think that there's enough evidence.  Get them back into prison.

SCHIPPER:  Well, it's not usual but it's not unusual either.  It doesn't happen that often, so the prosecution office really has to show something that is enough grounds where there are such strong objections against the release that they come back and actually re-detain.  For instance, like Tito says, if there is new evidence such if that is the case, an appeal court will lead to a re-detention. 

ABRAMS:  Tito, what's the sense on the island there about this case?  I mean, I know that there are a lot of people here who are getting frustrated with the investigation, et cetera.  I'm sure a lot of people on the island would love for this to go away, et cetera.  But what do most people on the street essentially saying about the Kalpoe brothers and about Joran van der Sloot, et cetera. 

LAPLAY:  As far as the Kalpoe brothers are concerned, they're just following the news as you are reporting it and we are reporting it.  And they're just talking our word for it.  They just want this thing to be over with so that Arubans can get back to their normal life.  They have feelings for the family, for the Holloways.  But, of course, they want things to get back to normal.  They just follow us and they hope for the best for each side.  It could go either way as far as they're concerned. 

ABRAMS:  And Arlene, finally, what do you think the chances are that Joran van der Sloot is going to walk out of jail a free man tomorrow?

SCHIPPER:  Actually, I'm very curious as well.  It's very interesting.  I still see this case as a very thin case.  So I would think if there's not knew evidence, the chances are pretty big.  However, if indeed there is new evidence like they say there is and they feel pretty strong about their case apparently because they're challenging the release of the Kalpoe brothers as well, then the chances are big that he stays, yes. 

ABRAMS:  But put the Kalpoe brothers aside for a minute.  Just on van der Sloot, Tito, are you - let me ask Tito one more - Tito, are you saying of they have new evidence against Joran van der Sloot as well or just against the Kalpoe brothers?

LAPLAY:  They say - my sources tell me they have new evidence on the brothers strong enough to re-detain them.  As far as what that is, we'll find out hopefully in the next 12 hours who has specifically on . . .

ABRAMS:  I'm sorry, you were going to say specifically you have what?

LAPLAY:  Specifically on the Kalpoe brothers.  My sources did not reveal anything new on Joran van der Sloot but enough to re-detain those two brother.

ABRAMS:  All right.  But, Arlene, what you're saying is, without anything new on Joran van der Sloot, you think that he really could walk out tomorrow. 

SCHIPPER:  Well, I think the chances would be big.  Of course, I don't know what they have in file exactly.  But from the information that is feeded to us as the public, as just analyzers.

ABRAMS:  Right.

SCHIPPER:  It is my personal opinion that it's rather thin. 

ABRAMS:  Wow.  All right.  We shall see.  A big day tomorrow there in Aruba. 

Arlene and Tito, thanks a lot.

The Aruban police, Dutch marines, the FBI, American volunteers, scoured the island looking for Natalee.  So far they really haven't found any clues.  Overtime the weekend, a team of forensic divers from Florida, invited to the island by Aruban authorities, they searched the waters off the southern side of the island using cameras, sonar equipment.  Still, nothing.  A group of volunteers of the Texas-based Equusearch recovery team, been in Aruba for over two weeks using specially trained dogs, sonar equipment, skilled divers, they plan on leaving the island Wednesday if nothing turns up by tomorrow.

Joining me now once again, Joe Huston, a diver with the Equusearch team. 

Thanks for coming back on the program.  We appreciate it. 

So what is . . .

JOE HUSTON, EQUUSEARCH DIVER:  I will (ph), thank you.

ABRAMS:  What's the reasoning for pulling out on Wednesday?

HUSTON:  Right now we've already had two previous pull-out dates and last Wednesday we set this coming Wednesday as the date to leave.  Tim Miller (ph), who's the director, and I will sit down tomorrow afternoon, evaluate our situation, evaluate any areas we feel like need to be covered to make a decision to leave on Wednesday at that time. 

ABRAMS:  Is it fair to say that it's not just that you haven't found Natalee, it's that you haven't even found any clues?

HUSTON:  That would be correct.  The areas we have searched, we have turned up nothing that's - what we have seen the material in this investigation. 

ABRAMS:  Does that - what does that tell you?  I mean is there anything to conclude from that?

HUSTON:  I could pretty much tell you that I know where Natalee is not from our searches.  Now, it doesn't mean that she wasn't there before.  We know that she's not there now. 

ABRAMS:  Where would that be?

HUSTON:  The areas we've searched, we've done an extensive land search on the north side of the island, several miles inland along the entire north coast.  We've searched several different caves, both on the north side and the west side, offshore.  The areas that are not dived very much. We've searched from basically several of the wrecks, up to the light house on the western tip.  From the western tip, probably two to three miles along the northern shore line, up to about a hundred feet of water.  We've searched that area very throughly over the last week or so.  We (INAUDIBLE) sonar and divers.  We've dived on multiple objects and we have not found anything that would indicate that Natalee's in that area. 

ABRAMS:  So it's fair to say that you have searched in all the areas where Natalee was known to have been the night that she went missing, correct?

HUSTON:  That would be correct, yes. 

ABRAMS:  Is it frustrating for you?

HUSTON:  It's a little disappointing.  We know that we've done all we can do.  And we're still here.  We're still going to look tomorrow.  And we're going to try to cover as many areas as we can.  And whenever you do a search, the ultimate object is to find the - or ultimate idea is to find the individual alive and, secondarily, is to find the individuals to return them to their families so there can be closure, not only for the Holloway family, but in this case for the Aruban people and their government. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  What has the family been saying to you in the last few days? 

HUSTON:  I talked to Beth a couple nights ago and she expressed for - she called me for about five minutes and we talked about five minutes and she expressed her sincere pleasure with what we had done and the areas that we had covered.  She was surprised that so many people that didn't know Natalee would put themselves in such danger, like the cave we dove two days ago, to try to find her.  And I assured her that as the search director for this organization, that I would not put anybody's life in danger to try to find somebody else.  And after our divers from Florida state got here, they planned out the dives and they executed them came back without a scratch on them.  So we brought in enough personnel, enough experts in the areas to be able to get the areas covered that we feel are very, very difficult to get in and out of, but would have been a good area to try to hide something. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Joe, keep up the good work.  I think everyone appreciates the fact that you all are volunteering your time to do this and good luck to you. 

HUSTON:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Thanks for coming back on the program.

HUSTON:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, a young American disappears on his honeymoon, last seen on board a cruise ship in the Mediterranean.  We'll get the latest on the search.

An FBI lab confirms that remains found at a Montana camp site are those of Dylan Groene.  For the first time - that's not Dylan Groene - we're going to hear exactly what his sister said to the police.  We've got the tape. 

Plus, London police searching for the man that we just saw a minute ago.  Allegedly helped plan the Madrid train bombings.  They want to know if he did the same in London.  Still haven't arrested anyone.  They are worried the terrorists could strike again. 

Your e-mails,  Please include your name, where you're writing from.  I respond at the end of the show.


COLETTE CASSIDY:  MSNBC keeps you up to the minute every 15 minutes. 

Hi, everybody.  I'm Colette Cassidy.

President Bush says America will not retreat on the war on terror in the wake of the London bombings.  The president poke at the FBI training academy in Quantico, Virginia.  More on the bombing investigation coming up on THE ABRAMS REPORT.

And the White House has long insisted that top presidential advisor Karl Rove had nothing to do with the leak of a CIA officer's identity.  But the president's spokesman would not give that same assurance today.  This after a lawyer for Rove said Rove spoke with at least one reporter about the officer. 

And cleanup continues in the Florida Panhandle and Alabama's Gulf Coast from Hurricane Dennis which is now blamed for two deaths in the United States.  That's the news right now.  Now back to THE ABRAMS REPORT.

ABRAMS:  The remains of nine-year-old Dylan Groene were identified by the FBI over the weekend, found in a remote Montana camping ground where Dylan and his younger sister, Shasta, were allegedly taken by convicted sex offender Joseph Duncan back in May.  Authorities think Duncan kidnaped Dylan and Shasta after killing their mother, the mother's boyfriend and their 13-year-old brother with a hammer.  All plot of a plot to abduct the young children for sex.   It was eight-year-old Shasta, the only survivor of Duncan's alleged plot, who lead authorities to the Montana campground where they found Dylan.  Telling an Idaho detective here on tape that Duncan took her and her brother there and molested them. 


DETECTIVE:  “Shasta described being taken to a remote campsite in the mountains above St.  Regis, Montana.  During their approximate six week stay in the mountains, they visited at least two different campsites.  Shasta described during her stay at the campsites, her and her brother both repeatedly being sexually molested during their stay with Mr.  Duncan at the campsite.


ABRAMS:  Reporter Allison Outen, from NBC affiliate KTVB is following the story out of Boise, Idaho. 

Thanks a lot for coming on.  We appreciate it.

Let me ask you about this hearing where these tapes were made.  This is a private hearing, right? What was the purpose of it?

ALLISON OUTEN, KTVB-TV, BOISE, ID:  A closed hearing.  These were probable cause hearings in which the judge is trying to determine, do we have probable cause to keep this person behind bars.  Going into this, investigators felt very confidence that even with forensic evidence alone they would have a case.  Add this testimony from an eight-year-old child and they really had no contest - or Duncan had no contest.  That was a win for the prosecution. 

ABRAMS:  And the tapes were made public, right?  I mean this wasn't a secret recording?

OUTEN:  Fist, the transcripts - truncated versions of the transcripts were made public.  And then a few days later, we were allowed to hear the audio tape which, first of all, had more information, and secondly, just hearing somebody say the words out loud somehow made it worse. 

ABRAMS:  And let me play a little bit more of that.  This is the judge asking questions of the detective. 


JUDGE WAYMAN:  In terms of whether Dylan was sexually abused by Joseph Duncan, did Shasta say that she saw Mr.  Duncan sexually abusing Dylan?

DETECTIVE:  Yes, Shasta described personally witnessing Mr.  Duncan committing acts of sexual abuse upon Dylan Groene.


ABRAMS:  So this is the detective who actually spoke with Shasta about this?

OUTEN:  This is a sergeant in charge.  He did not do the interview.  I suspect they had somebody highly trained in dealing with children who have been through traumatic events do the actual recording.  But that was videotaped.  And then this sergeant in charge watched the videotape and it was his job to relay that information to the judge. 

ABRAMS:  Let me play one more piece of sound.  This is from the detective talking about the actual abduction.


DETECTIVE:  Shasta described sleeping in her bedroom.  She shares the same bedroom in the back of the residence with her older brother Dylan.  She recalled being awoken from sleep by her mother, Brenda, who asked her to come into the front of the home, in the living room area.  This man forced her, her brother, and the rest of her family into ligatures where they were secured.  Shasta described subsequently thereafter being carried from the home by Mr. Duncan, as well as her brother.


ABRAMS:  Allison, any question that he's now going to be charged with murder?

OUTEN:  Oh, I don't think there's any question in my mind, nor the investigator's mind.  They said early on - early last week, he's our man.  When this crime was first committed, or a series of crimes, almost everyone involved thought this has to be several criminals because so much happened.  So much violence and terror in that home and then two children missing.  How could one man do that. 

Early this week, or last week, we found out that detectives think it is just this one man and now he probably will have four first-degree murder charges on him. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Allison Outen, thanks very much.  Appreciate it. 

All right.  So the question is, how are they going to put this guy away.  All right.  One of the weapons prosecutors hope to use in their case against Duncan internet blog.  He began back in January of 2004.  He called it the Fifth Nail.  He talked about his rage against the public for stigmatizing him as a sex offender and includes what seems to be admissions to crimes he's committed.  “I was in prison for over 18 years since the age of 17.  As an adult, all I knew was the oppression of incarceration.  All those years I dreamed of getting out and getting even.  Instead I got out and I got even but did not get caught.  So I got even again, and again, and did not get caught.  So I figured, well, I got even twice, actually more, but that's neither here nor there.  Even if I'm the only one who knows, so now what?”

All right.  Joining me now is Paul Pfingst, MSNBC legal analyst and former San Diego D.A.

All right.  Paul, so this is - this all - I mean this sounds like this is a confession from this guy.  Is this all coming in?

PAUL PFINGST, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Actually, if they can prove that that blog was written by him, yeah, it will come in.  And probably, Dan, it will probably come in on the death phase of a capital case because this is just the type of thing that would show why this man should be executed for what we call evidence in aggravation.  Aggravating evidence.  And this is the type of thing out of his own mouth that would put him in the gas chamber. 

ABRAMS:  Why not include it, though, in the penalty phase?  I mean can they use it to show a pattern in practice or something like that?

PFINGST:  A judge may rule it's not specific enough as to a particular event, so that the defendant can come back and disprove that event in the guilt phase.

ABRAMS:  Really?

PFINGST:  That's always a possibility when you have an unspecified event that is not carefully or particularly described in the blog.  So if you look at this and say, I did something and I did it and I paid somebody back but it doesn't say what.  And under those circumstances, a judge in a death penalty case may not let it in on a guilt phase but he could let it in on a penalty phase. 

ABRAMS:  This is from April 24, 2005.  Think about how recent that is, all right.  Here's the blog.  “These demons are stronger than even I gave them credit for and now they're taking my best blows and not even staggering.  I'm afraid, very afraid.  If they win, then a lot of people will be badly hurt.  And they've had their way before, so I know what they can do.  I've been praying a lot and asking God for help.  I've asked him to step in and intercede directly because I see no other way at this point that I can win.  If you're reading this and you believe in God, please pray for God to help me defeat my demons.”

I mean, you know, some of this stuff, I'll bet he's going to try and use to his own advantage, right?

PFINGST:  You're absolutely right.  That is the makings of a mental defense.  An insanity, schizophrenia, some other type of defense.  And you can pretty much guarantee, after listening to that, that those blogs are going to go to a psychiatrist.  And a psychiatrist is going to be the only hope, it would appear, that this guy has from staying out of an execution. 

The facts of this case are compelling.  If the facts are proven, as we believe them to be today, it's unlikely that any jury, any place would find any sympathy for this man in the absence of some compelling psychiatric evidence.  So this may be all he has, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Paul, you've faced cases like this where you've got a lot of evidence, right?


ABRAMS:  And you may have a lawyer who comes to you and says, let's cut a deal.  He'll plead guilty.  He'll take life in prison.  You cut that - you don't cut that kind of deal in this kind of case, do you?

PFINGST:  Not a chance in God's green earth.  Not in this type of case under these facts, under these circumstances.  The only time a prosecutor would cut a deal to avoid death in a case like this is if the prosecutor felt that the case could be lost.  If this case is a conviction for murder in the first degree and special circumstances, it is almost, based upon history, a legal certainty that this man will face the death penalty unless a jury finds something in a psychiatric defense that causes them to go in another direction.  But that's the only way.  That's the only way.

ABRAMS:  Yeah, let me keep reading.  “So I've been accused of molesting a little boy.”   This is in April 15, 2005.  Remember, this is before this happened.  “Those close to me know I didn't do it, of course.  How could.  I'm not even a pedophile.  Well, I'm not a psychopath either.  I feel the full force and pain of everyone I've hurt but that doesn't stop me from doing what I need to do.”

You know, again, it sounds like he's using these kind of vague, denials and then making it clear that he's a bad guy. 

PFINGST:  Well, let's face it.  These are the signs of somebody who's not all there.  This guy does have significant, psychological problems.  You read this stuff and you go, this is a sick guy.  But he is certainly, on the basis of what we've read so far on the blogs, not insane.  He does know right from wrong. 

ABRAMS:  I've got to ask - let me read you one more and I want to ask you whether the authorities think they're going to be able to crack this?  “I wish I could be more honest about my feelings, but those demons made sure I'd never be able to do that.  I'm working on an encrypted journal that is hundreds of times more frank than this blog could ever be, that's why I kept it encrypted.  I figure in 30 years or more we'll have the technology to easily crack the encryption and the world will know who I really was and what I really did and what I really thought.  Also maybe then they'll understand that despite my actions I'm not a bad person, I just have a disease contracted from society and it hurts a lot.?

Well, I don't know about that last part that that's ever going to happen but let's talk about the encryption part.  Do you think that they'll be able to crack the encryption?

PFINGST:  It will probably take them close to a half hour.  I mean this guy doesn't have the resources to be able to encrypt something that people can't get into who are really motivated to do it.  And this is - there are a lot of people who are motivated to do it. 


PFINGST:  So, yes, they'll break it.  And if it's on his hard drive in his computer, the police will get it off that hard drive in time for his trial.  He is unable to encrypt anything that tightly so that law enforcement can't get to it, especially in a case like this where every resource in the FBI, every resource in the state, every resource in the nation would be will be to brake that open, and for a couple of reasons.  Not only for this case to prove he did it . . .

ABRAMS:  But for other cases, yes.

PFINGST:  But also for other cases so that the people who study this type of (INAUDIBLE) profilers can read it and try to understand and hopefully prevent other similar crimes. 

ABRAMS:  And, yes, I mean, look, and it sounds like he might actually have overt confessions in some of these other - in some of this encrypted stuff. 

PFINGST:  We may solve some other cases. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, exactly. 

All right, Paul Pfingst, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 

PFINGST:  Sure, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, London on its highest state of alert since 9/11.  Police are worried that those same terrorists could strike again before they find them.  And they're searching for this man to see if he had something to do with it. 

And a mystery at sea.  Authorities searching for a Connecticut man last seen on board a major cruise ship on his honeymoon.  The ship's back in port today.  He's nowhere to be found.


ABRAMS:  A Connecticut man on his honeymoon, cruising the Mediterranean, disappears.  The latest on the search coming up but first the headlines. 

CASSIDY:  MSNBC keeps you up to the minute ever 15 minutes.  Hi, everybody.  I'm Colette Cassidy.  Here's the latest. 

A prosecutor says the man accused of plotting to kidnap David Letterman's young son could spend about 15 years behind bars as a result of a plea bargain.  Authorities agreed to drop the kidnapping charge against Kelly Frank in exchange for a guilty plea on theft and other charges.

And a judge has given preliminary approval to a deal between former WorldCom Chief Bernie Ebbers and investigators who lost billions when the company collapsed.  Ebbers has agreed to forfeit nearly all his cash and personal assets, as much as $45 million, to settle the civil suit.  Ebbers was also convicted on criminal charges in the case and faces sentencing later this week.

NASA officials say the countdown to Wednesday's shuttle Discovery launch is going well.  It would be the first shuttle mission since the Columbia tragedy two and a half years ago.  Blast off is scheduled for 3:51 p.m.  Eastern Time on Wednesday. 

Those are your headlines.  Now, back to Dan Abrams. 


TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER:  We will pursue those responsible, not just the perpetrators, but the planners of this out rage, wherever they are and we will not rest until they are identified and, as far as humanly possible, brought to justice. 


ABRAMS:  British Prime Minister Tony Blair addressing the House of Parliament on last week's terror bombings in London.  British police, security force now in a race to catch the killers before they can actually strike again.  The confirmed death toll is up to 52 and certain to rise again.  Forensic experts are raking the explosion sites for clues, putting together - put together all the sites.  It's Britain's largest crime scene ever.  London police chief Sir Ian Blair. 


SIR IAN BLAIR, LONDON POLICE CHIEF:  We've already collected two and a half thousand CCTV tapes.  We have 2,000 calls to the anti terrorist hot line.  We've had 115,000 calls to the casualty bureau.  Yet we will do it all and we will do it right and we will do it meticulously. 


ABRAMS:  The question is, will the terrorists strike again before they can be tracked down. 

James Hart, in charge of security at London's financial centers says, “we can't possibly assume that what happened on Thursday was the last of these events.  There's absolutely no doubt that there are people out there who wish us harm and we have to be vigilant.”

And this was the scene in the city of Birmingham Saturday night.  A “specific threat” saw police clear 20,000 people from the city center.  Police say, “people were in danger that night.”  The heart of the case, possibly this man, known as Abu Musab al-Siri (ph).  The U.S. has a $5 million bounty on his head.  He was allegedly involved in the 2004 Madrid train bombings and may have ties to the London attacks as well. 

Charles Schoebridge is an NBC News terrorism analyst and a security specialist and Michael Cherkasky, the CEO and president of Marsh & McLennan, and was the chief of investigations for the New York District Attorney's office who lead the investigation to the 1993 World Trade Center bombings. 

Gentlemen, thanks very much.  We appreciate it.

Mike, let me start with you.  Look, the 1993 World Trade Center bombings, it was this massive investigation.  I think people look at these bombings and they say, oh, how are they possibly going to crack the case.  But most of the time, it happens, right?

MICHAEL CHERKASKY, CEO, MARSH & MCLENNAN:  Yep, it does.  What you have is you, obviously, what the police are doing in London is they're doing the very fine sifting through all of the data, all of the information, witnesses, tapes, also the forensic data, the data they're going to pull out of those tunnels will be critical in the future and it can be - really give you a track about who, what, when, the people who did this and hopefully, if there's a break like there was in Madrid, we can be lucky and find them quicker. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, and how long would you think that this type of investigation takes?  I mean I guess it depends on how many “mistakes” the terrorists made, right?

CHERKASKY:  Yes, it does.  And in New York in 1993, they made a lot.  In Madrid, they obviously had a bomb that didn't go off with a cell phone that helped us track back.  We haven't gotten that apparent break so far from London.  But you do need breaks.  You do need some help.  But it'll happen.  The question is when.  And will it happen before they strike again.  That's obviously a critical issue. 

ABRAMS:  Charles Schoebridge, knowing the way these terrorists work, these things are generally planned in advanced.  It would seem then hard to believe that these very same terrorists could pull something off in the very near future, doesn't it?

CHARLES SCHOEBRIDGE, NBC NEWS TERRORISM ANALYST:  No, I don't think it does.  The fact that here we've had no arrests in the immediate aftermath of this atrocity suggests very strongly what I think the police have - they're actually admitting now, and that is that they had no - or that they had virtually no, if any, intelligence leads as to the identity of these bombers from the very outset.  And that means that if they are not known to police or to the security services, they haven't come to attention before. 

If that is the case, those bombers have now blown their cover, to some degree, in providing the kinds of clues your other contributing source was just mentioning.  They will know, they will be aware that in all probability they have a very limited life span left in terms of being able to avoid capture, or possibly death, or even if they commit suicide. They will want to carry out, in my belief, in exactly the same way as the Madrid bombers planned to do after the initial Madrid train bombings, carry out further attacks before what they would see their inevitable arrest or killing occurs. 

ABRAMS:  And I have to say, the former London police commissioner, Lord Stevens, made a comment that's just frightening.  “We believe that up to 3,000 British-born or British-based people have passed through Osama bin Laden's training caps over the years.  I warned some moths ago that there were up to 200 home-grown terrorists willing and able to slaughter innocents for their perverted view of Islam.”

Those numbers sound right?

SCHOEBRIDGE:  I think the 3,000 is a little bit at the top of the range to say the least.  Lord Stevens himself, in the past mind standing has used a fickle charge he used in the past which is, they (INAUDIBLE) of between probably 100 and 1,000 people - British people, who have passed through these camps in the past and received some form of military training.  Certainly I would imagine sufficient to carry out these kind of attacks, at least the construction and placing of these bombs is not a particularly sophisticated operation. 

Certainly Lord Stevens is right when he mentions that, in his view, I believe he's right when he mentions in his view that these bombers will prove to be British-born, is his view.  I would go a little bit wider than that and say that they're probably British-based.  Either British-born Muslims who have adopted an extremist viewpoint.  Perhaps a Pakistani origin.  That's been the case in the past.  Or, I think slightly more likely, people based in Britain as refugees under our political asylum system, perhaps been here a number of years but probably of North African origin.  Again, past experience and from what we know of the (INAUDIBLE) this attack would tend to suggest that. 

ABRAMS:  And, Mike, as this investigation continues, there are literally going to be looking at what, every piece of debris from the bomb, in the hope of, what, linking it back to where it might have been made, et cetera?

CHERKASKY:  They're going to look at every piece of debris from the bomb.  They're going to look at every tape and every clue.  I think that as the commentary was made before, this is one where the resources are not going to be the issue.  There's going to be enormous resources here.  And the simple fact is, it does look this was crudely done.  So the odds - in fact, at some point there was a mistake made, you just have to find it. 

And I think that that's going to be the focus.  Careful sifting.  You just hope and pray that you find it before they attack again.  And I agree, that there is a likelihood that this is a group that understands that it has a short time and that, in fact, may turn suicidal.  We now are racing against the time to make sure that we do everything we can to try to ascertain where they're going to go next before they do. 

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you, in the pre-9/11 world, in the '93 bombing at the World Trade Center, was there that same sense of urgency?

CHERKASKY:  Not before 1993.  I think that there was a nieveta (ph) about what was going on.  Certainly in the United States, it was the perception that we were across the river, across the pond, and that we didn't have those kinds of issues.  I think '93 started to wake us up, but it clearly didn't wake us up sufficiently.  It didn't wake us up so that we weren't shocked by 2001.  I think now we're starting to see the repetition, which is - really has to, in fact, have the whole world coming together and wake us up. 

ABRAMS:  Mike, great to see you again.  Thanks for coming on the program.

CHERKASKY:  Good to see you.

ABRAMS:  And Charles Schoebridge, thank you very much.  We really appreciate you taking the time. 

SCHOEBRIDGE:  You're very welcome.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, a mystery at sea.  A Connecticut man disappears on his honeymoon.  Cruise in the Mediterranean.  His new wife, one of the last to see him alive.  The details after the break. 

And later, I say why it's time for Florida Governor Jeb Bush should apologize to that man, Michael Schiavo, in connection with the Terri Schiavo case.  It's my closing argument. 

Your e-mails,  Please include your name, where you're writing from.  I'll respond at the end of the show. 


ABRAMS:  Coming up, a missing newlywed vanishes at sea.  His new wife, one of the last to see him.  We don't know what happened.  Coming up after the break. 


CASSIDY:  MSNBC keeps you up to the minute, every 15 minutes.  Hi, everybody.  I'm Colette Cassidy.

Four suspected Arab terrorist have broken out of a U.S. military jail in Afghanistan.  The escape from the heavily guarded lockup in the main U.S. base Bagram prompted a major man hunt.

And heavy losses are reported on both sides in Iraq tonight.  The U.S.  military says 14 insurgents were killed in two days of fighting in the northern city of Talifar.  Meanwhile, 10 Iraqi soldiers were killed in attacks in central Iraq. 

And the British government says it has made no decision on withdrawing troops from Iraq, but confirms contingency planning is underway.  A leaked memo revealed the British government is thinking of reducing troop strength from 8,500 to 3,000 a year from now. 

That's the news right now.  Now back to THE ABRAMS REPORT.

ABRAMS:  We're back.

It was supposed to be a romantic honeymoon in the Mediterranean for 26-year old George Smith IV and his new wife.  The Connecticut couple was supposed to get off the boat in Barcelona, Spain, today after spending 12 days on a Royal Caribbean cruise.  But the ship returned today without George Smith and nobody really knows what happened. 

Smith disappeared last Tuesday when the cruise docked in Kusadasi, Turkey.  His wife noticed he was gone when she woke up alone in their cabin.  Another passenger claims to have noticed “something unusual” on top of a life boat and officers said it might be blood and conducted a full search on the ship for Smith.  Never turned up.  The Greek and Turkish coast guard searched the water, believing Smith could have possibly fallen over.  They called off the search on Saturday but still no sign of the man. 

Hoa Nguyen is a staff writer for the “Greenwich Times” and joins us now.  That George Smith's home town newspaper.  She's been covering this story.

Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it. 


ABRAMS:  So is the belief at this point among most that he actually fell off the boat?

NGUYEN:  I think people don't want to jump to any conclusions at this point.  I think that might have been the initial - what they initially thought.  But at this point, because they are investigating still, people want to hold off before speculating too much about what happened.  But that certainly could be one of the causes.

ABRAMS:  The boat docked at one point, right?  I mean, so the boat docks and at what point is it that his wife says he's missing.  Isn't it possible he got of the boat?

NGUYEN:  Well, the boat docked in Kusadasi Island on July 5th.  And early in that morning a passenger was actually standing on a balcony and this person looked down from the balcony and saw a white metal awning that kind of covers a life boat, saw what looked like blood.  And the ship officials searched all the cabins near where the passenger and near where the area was and everyone was accounted for except for the Smiths.  And they searched the ship further, they found Mrs. Smith but they did not find Mr. Smith.  And that's how they discovered that he was not on the ship. 

ABRAMS:  But again, but it is possible, correct, that . . .

NGUYEN:  Oh, yes.  It's possible.  Sure.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  OK.  Let me read a statement from Royal Caribbean.  “A guest onboard Royal Caribbean International's Brilliance of the Seas remains unaccounted for.  Extensive shipboard, air and sea searches for the guest have been unsuccessful and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance remain unclear.  Investigations into the disappearance are now being conducted by the FBI, as well as the Turkish and Greek law enforcement authorities.  The cruise line is fully cooperating with these authorities in their ongoing investigations.  Incidents of this nature are extremely rare.  More than 3.5 million guests sale with Royal Caribbean each year.”

You know, a statement I read from a few days ago from Royal Caribbean seemed to indicate, according to them, that there were some evidence that someone had fallen overboard. 

NGUYEN:  Yes, that was the same statement that I read.  And certainly it's one of the causes out there that's being investigated.  So I just think that, you know, people don't want to jump to any conclusions as to what happened. 

ABRAMS:  The blood.  I mean, you said someone saw - thought they saw blood.  They should be able to confirm pretty quickly whether that's blood or not.  Have they not done that test yet? 

NGUYEN:  No, you're right, they should be able to confirm it.  Right now, Royal Caribbean and the FBI are not saying.  I don't think Royal Caribbean actually knows and the FBI is pretty much saying it's part of the investigation.  You know, they'll let us know but they're not saying at this point. 

ABRAMS:  And the family's not talking, right?

NGUYEN:  They - yeah.  I think the wishes of the Smith family is, the Smith parents is to not say anything right now.  So I can't speak for them but, no, they don't want to talk. 

ABRAMS:  Sounds like maybe there's some off-the-record conversations going on but no - they're certainly not making any public statements about - who is this guy.  I mean, tell us a little bit more about George Smith.  I mean his family owns a big liquor store, right, in Greenwich?

NGUYEN:  Yes.  Yes.  His family owns a liquor store in Coscob (ph). 

From everything I know, he's a very well-liked individual.  He's tall.  He's good looking.  He's just a really nice guy.  Somebody I talked to today said he was the nicest guy - he was the nicest person he'd ever met in his life.  He just had a real way with himself.  This is what people that I know have told me about him. 

And, you know, and this is just people that kind of know him.  This is not evening his family.  I'm sure, you know, they must be feeling so much.  But, yes, all indications is - you know, he played football at Greenwich High School.  He was a really good athlete.  He was on the baseball team as well.  You know, he had a - really a - he was just - he seemed like just a really well-mannered, likeable, popular individual.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Hoa Nguyen, keep us updated.  Thanks a lot.

NGUYEN:  Your welcome. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, why I say it's time for Florida Governor Jeb Bush to apologize to Terri Schiavo's husband Michael.  It's my closing argument.


ABRAMS:  My closing argument.  Florida Governor Jeb Bush is continuing inability to come clean and admit he mishandled the Terri Schiavo case.  For years, the governor and his supporters did everything they could to blame Terri's husband Michael for Terri's condition.  Michael's defense, testifying that Terri never would have wanted to live in a persistent vegetative state.

Now while the governor has remain determined and steadfast, he has always had one big thing working against him, the evidence.  Terri died on March 31st.  An autopsy of her remain backed up her husband's claim that therapy would have done nothing to improve her condition, and ruled out the theory that Terri was beaten as some in Florida had suggested.

Well rather than concede defeat, Governor Bush attempted to change the subject by calling for an investigation into what initially caused Terri to fall into a coma in 1990, suggesting that Michael Schiavo waited before calling 911.  Again, the evidence, well, there wasn't any apart from the fact that Michael's rough estimates of the time of her collapse varied slightly over the years.  Last week, State Attorney Bernie McCabe (ph) found that Michael Schiavo consistently maintained that he called 911 immediately and there was no evidence a crime had been committed. 

Nothing new.  We didn't need a prosecutor to restate what's been in the public record for years.  The medical examiner has said that no one will ever know for sure what happened to Terri, yet Governor Bush decided it was worth spending tax dollars on another investigation.  Clearly just an effort to distract attention from the autopsy findings. 

And now that once again he was proven wrong, he only says he will follow the recommendation of the prosecutor and “close the inquiry.”  Well, it's time for Governor Bush to do more than that.  It's time for him to apologize.  People can fairly debate whether it's “barbaric” to allow anyone to remove a feeding tube from a loved one, but that's a debate over the thousands of cases that occur every year.  Not just this one. 

As for Terri's case, specifically at every turn, the medical evidence supported Terri's husband.  A man who gave up much of his life in the years after she fell into a coma to care for her.  Michael Schiavo deserves to hear the governor express some remorse for helping to make his personal ordeal that much more difficult.  And the people of Florida deserve an explanation as to why their money wasn't used for something more important. 

We'll be right back. 


ABRAMS:  Oh, pleas!  One man in Waltham, Massachusetts, is living the Beastie Boys words, that you've got to fight for your right to party.  Twenty-five-year-old Eric Laberiar (ph) attended a New Years Eve party at his friend's house.  Guess apparently really partied hearty.  So much so the police even had to break up the celebration.  Well according to the police, the intoxicated Laberiar expressed displeasure in being sent home and was sent to the big house under protective custody instead for nine hours to sober up.  That's a lot of renditions of 99 bottles of beer on the wall. 

Last week, Laberiar filed a lawsuit against the Waltham Police Department claiming he has a constitutional right to get drunk on private property.  Talk about constitutionally - I blew it.  All right, try it again.  Talk about constitutional rights, not specifically enumerated by the framers.

That's it for us.  Good night.  See you tomorrow.



Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.'s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.