Guest: John Harwood, Michael Musto
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Finally, perhaps the day many of us have been waiting for since 9/11, or even earlier. Bad terrorists. Not evil terrorists, bad ones. The gathering evidence still mounting in London as we speak is that today, those who tried to attack that city for the second time in two weeks not only failed, not only left a trail a mile wide, they really screwed it up.
Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Three trains and one bus again, but no fatalities. One reported injury. Bombers still alive. Bombs still intact. Possibly a major victory against terrorism.
Another piece in the CIA leak story. The State Department memo that identified the agent was marked “S” for secret.
Hey, Jude. You burnt Sienna for her?
And, no, officer, I wasn't trying to get high by inhaling gold spray paint. Whatever gave you that idea?
All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.
It appears tonight that at the price of more fear among an already shaken populace, Western counterterrorist officials may have gained what one of them calls a gold mine of evidence, evidence to use against the men who tried again to bomb London today, and failed.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, London police sources and U.S. officials telling NBC News now that two of the bombers are in custody tonight, both men of Pakistani descent. Both had burns from having been so close to the explosives when they went off. And there is little doubt that all four attackers were suicide bombers who got it completely wrong.
From the initial appearances of a true terrorist attack, this instead may become the day the terrorists blew up only their own network.
Four male suspects carrying four backpack bombs tried to repeat the attacks of two weeks ago, July 7, that left 56 dead in London, British police believing they came from the same cell as those bombers, U.S. intelligence officials saying both the backpacks and the explosives were identical to the backpacks and bombs used two weeks ago.
In fact, the explosives might have been slightly more sophisticated than the last set, which could explain why only the detonators went off, sparing dozens of lives, if not more, providing police with volumes of vital forensic evidence.
Witnesses got a good look at the would-be bombers, the first, at Shepherd's Bush Underground station, was literally knocked over, and then knocked out when his device misfired. Witnesses say he awakened disoriented and seemingly was surprised to still be alive.
At a second station, the Oval, another bomber ran away when his plans went awry. Three commuters chased him, wrestled the backpack bomb off of him. He then ran away again, leaving the device as evidence.
The attacks two weeks ago were during the morning rush hour. These were at lunchtime, at 12:25 London time at Shepherd's Bush. Within 20 minutes, reports of explosions at the Oval, then Warren Street Station, and an hour later, the number 26 bus, targeted as it traveled through Hackney in East London.
But this time no, carnage. The detonation on the bus claimed only a few windows. At this hour, still just one injury reported, possibly one of the bombers. A man was reported running into a hospital with wires still sticking out of his clothing.
Hazy details about how many people exactly are in custody. The two bombers, nothing official about them. Another man wearing a backpack arrested, as you see, outside the prime minister's home in Downing Street. Unclear if he is truly a suspect in this.
Another arrest near the scene of one of the subway attacks.
Some of tomorrow's London papers carry headlines like, “City of Fear” and “London Hit Again.” Not “The Times” of London. Its front page reading, “Bombers on the Run After Bungled Attack.”
Our correspondent Ned Colt has been covering this story all day. He joins us live tonight from outside the Shepherd's Bush subway station, the scene of the first of these explosions. Ned, good morning.
NED COLT, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Good morning from here, Keith.
As a matter of fact, in about six hours from now, we're going to see some of the 3 million people who regularly take the Tube, as it's known here, the Underground or subway, to and from work heading off to start the morning rush hour, some 9 million people taking public and private transportation here in London on a daily basis.
At least three stations may well still be closed tomorrow during that rush hour. Four lines, four subway lines, still closed to some extent, though buses have been pressed into service.
Behind me here at Shepherd's Bush, you may be able to make out, we're about 400 yards away from the aboveground station here, but a cordon of white plastic has been set up, and behind that you've got forensics experts, explosive experts who are trying to go over what remains of the—of that apparent backpack bomb that was found on site there. We're told that it may be moved in the next couple of hours.
They've been moving out people who live in this area, moving them to nearby schools and so on, while they remove this potential explosive device, which they're hoping will lead them to more information.
Again, this has been a very fast-moving, many fast-moving developments tonight.
You mentioned as many as four arrests, two who do appear to be, at the very least, related to this, because they do have explosive burns on their bodies, as well as these reports from high-level intelligence officials in the U.S., who are suggesting that the—both the explosives and those backpacks appear to be almost exactly like those used in those much more devastating attacks of two weeks ago, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Ned, measuring the mood of a city is a dicey thing, but all the visual evidence we were watching during the day via satellite, people on the streets tonight, in the shops, in all the areas that would have been two weeks ago shut down and sealed off, they suggest that however scared London's population might have been today, the impact of the events today was nothing like two weeks ago. Does that match what you've seen there?
COLT: I think that's exactly right. Yes, we heard stories of people in pandemonium racing out of subway stations, off trains, and so on. But within a matter of hours, things have—I can't say returned to normal, but people here refusing to leave their homes, their shops, for safety reasons, just saying that they really don't need to.
There's a certain amount of stoicism, I think, on the part of Londoners here now, not just because of what happened two weeks ago and a repeat today, but remember that this is a nation that dealt with the threat of terror not along the lines of what we saw two weeks ago in terms of the number of dead, but during what they call The Troubles here in Northern Ireland, much of the battles there with those seeking independence from Northern Ireland brought that battle in many cases here to London.
So this is a country that is well used to the threat of terror right on its doorstep.
OLBERMANN: An excellent point. Ned Colt, outside Shepherd's Bush Underground station in London in the early hours of England's Friday. Ned, great thanks.
Now I'd like to call in Roger Cressey, MSNBC terror analyst, former counterterrorism coordinator on the National Security Council staff.
Good evening, Roger.
ROGER CRESSEY, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: This picture seems to have been slowly building all day. The terrorist act, was it a failure? And, moreover, is it going to turn out to have been a huge, dare I use the word, victory for counterterrorism?
CRESSEY: Well, it was a huge failure. And the British caught a tremendous break today, because if these bombs had gone off the way they were intended, we would have had a total repeat of 7/7.
We won't know whether or not it's a victory in terms of breaking apart what network was in place that planned 7/7 and today's attack, but when you have this type of treasure trove of evidence, and people in custody, I mean, this is what the intelligence services and the law enforcement agencies are always looking for.
So this is just a great start, and hopefully will lead to an accelerated investigation.
OLBERMANN: Is this the kind of thing that works as a deterrent against more people getting involved in this, the evidence of what happens when you do not succeed blowing yourself up? In other words, that terrorists, are essentially, as the old French phrase went, hoist on their on petard? Is this something that prevents or decreases the likelihood of being able to recruit people?
CRESSEY: No, not at all. I mean, the stupid quotient of these bombers was pretty high today, but there's a deep reservoir to draw from, unfortunately, in Britain right now. If anything, this may motivate others to try and be more successful in the next go-around. So I wish it was the case, but there'll be more where these guys came from.
OLBERMANN: You've heard the forensic stuff that's already come in. The materials are very similar to July 7, the backpacks were said to be identical, the detonators, though detonating at the wrong time, one of them goes off, knocks the bomber out, he's surprised to wake up alive.
The explosives may have actually been more sophisticated than the ones from two weeks ago. Certainly the chemical mix was wrong in at least one of the bombs. Subway passengers were smelling burning plastic, but that's basically all they experienced.
Earlier, Roger, it looked like several people said this might have been unsophisticated copycats and not part of a follow-up to 7/7. I gather nobody now thinks these were copycats.
CRESSEY: No, that was the initial analysis based on the failure of the attacks, because those of us who've seen al Qaeda and al Qaeda-inspired attacks in the past would look at this and say, these guys are the junior varsity. This isn't the A-team.
But now we have enough evidence that points directly to a link, I believe, to the 7/7 bombers as well. So you have to identify any other elements of this mini-network that has been responsible for two attempts, one successful, one failure, in the past two and a half weeks.
OLBERMANN: One assumes, in the way these things work, that that was the A-team that killed themselves two weeks ago, and this was the B-team, which would still be pretty high, presumably, in your—if you forgive the crassness of this, of applying this phrase to terrorism, but the depth chart on this.
Is it conceivable that these were the next four best available guys? And if they were, did they screw up? Did the planning screw up? Did the logistics screw up? What do we know about what, from their perspective, went so wrong with this?
CRESSEY: Here's going to be a key question to ask the people in custody. Who helped you? Did you have responsibility to put these explosive devices together yourself? Was there somebody from the outside who did it and left? Were you expecting somebody to come in who is no longer around?
And if that's the case, and it was up to these guys, and they made the mistakes on their own, that's one thing. If there was a bomber, bombmaker, a master bombmaker involved who made the mistakes and got away, that's something different.
So interrogation of the people in custody is going to be a key part of this investigation.
OLBERMANN: And, obviously, if—besides the people themselves, what else would you look at in this trail a mile wide that they obviously left? What is it that you would go to first for evidence and for preventing future terrorism?
CRESSEY: There's two parts of it. One is the community that they came from. Is it the same community where the 7/7 bombers came from? What community areas were they operating in? Were there any type of coffee shops or youth clubs that they all coalesced at, or mosques?
And the second part of it, Keith, is the Pakistan connection. We're still looking for this individual, Haroon Aswat, who may be the mastermind behind the 7/7 attack. Does he have any role in what happened today as well? So finding him, tracking him down, is going to be a big part of this picture as well.
OLBERMANN: Might want to relax on that term “mastermind” with whoever had work involved in this. This did not go well for them.
Last question here. One of the mysteries in those eerie weeks after 9/11 in New York, for those of us were there, was why terrorists did not strike again, a low-grade explosive at Grand Central Station, just a bomb scare somewhere, while the population was so panicky? Did we get the answer today in London?
Because if the second time you do screw it up, you might actually undermine the impact of your previous attack?
CRESSEY: That was one of the questions we asked ourselves in the situation room in the days after 9/11. I think it has to do with, you know, the al Qaeda organization has set a high standard for itself, and every follow-on attack, can you outdo what we've done before? And for a variety of reasons, al Qaeda, as we knew it, never went the suicide bomber multiple simultaneous.
So what we're seeing now is an evolution of the phenomenon, an evolution of the threat. And the key question still is with these guys, inspired by al Qaeda and its philosophy, or were they dictated and directed to do it?
And the other last point, though, Keith, is, our Muslim community in the United States is far better integrated into American society than it is in Europe. We surely—surely we have pockets of problems, but nothing compared to what Europe has to deal with.
OLBERMANN: Roger Cressey, formerly of the NSC staff, now an MSNBC terrorism analyst. As ever, Roger, great thanks.
CRESSEY: OK, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The big picture may be somewhat positive tonight. You will hear witnesses who may have seen the bombers fleeing from their failed efforts. This was not two weeks ago. But tell that to people in London, and there is at least one of them who was interviewed, who had not been back in the Underground, the subway, since July 7, only today deciding it was safe to try.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was plain enough that everyone was panicking on that train. Everyone was panicking on the train. I could see the fear in everyone's face on that train. Everyone thought they weren't going to leave that train that day, and I'm one of them, definitely. I was scared to get the Tubes all week, and I just took it today. And that's when it happened. But it won't happen again, because I won't go on one again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I saw is people running for their lives. And there was no room for me to get away to the next carriage. There was no way I could get away from it. All I did is say a prayer and wait for it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was on the train, and it was pulling into Warren Street. And then we just saw lots of people running to our carriage. And then we started to smell smoke. And then we just got off the train, and (INAUDIBLE) lots of panic then and confusion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just little smoke, you know, those bomb that just (INAUDIBLE) a lot of smoke (INAUDIBLE), like, burn your eyes, and you can't...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like a tear gas canister or something like that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, these kind of bombs.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
OLBERMANN: Surveillance cameras are a critical part of the terror investigations in London. Here in the U.S., police turning to high-tech methods now more than ever to help them catch criminals.
And the Karl Rove controversy not going away tonight. New details will be revealed on this program about the State Department memo at the center of the Valerie Plame case. Secret, it said? It said much more than that.
You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: Even if today's attacks in London had the practical impact of a heavy truck rumbling past you, days after you survived a massive earthquake, there will be consequences. They have already started here.
Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN in New York, passengers carrying bags onto the city's subways, buses, and ferries will, starting tomorrow morning, be subject to random searches, Washington considering a similar policy for its Metro Rail system.
And then there is the searching you don't know anything about, the constant video surveillance, the kind that captured these images of the London bombers on July 7. And now it's no longer just images.
COUNTDOWN's Monica Novotny joins me now with news of police cameras in Chicago that see and hear. Good evening, Monica.
MONICA NOVOTNY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Keith, good evening.
Chicago police are using surveillance cameras to fight local crime, and now the war on terror. And when it comes to certain crimes, they are not just watching. They're listening.
NOVOTNY: If a gunshot were to go off there, what would happen, and how would you respond?
SGT. TOM HOGAN, CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: The image itself would be highlighted in red, and an audible alarm would sound. And that would give the operator here an indication that a gunshot was detected there, and they can take control of that camera.
NOVOTNY (voice-over): In Chicago, Big Brother has eyes, and now ears. Thanks to the police department's new sound technology, called Gunshot Recognition, acoustic sensors that hear guns firing point rotating surveillance cameras toward the crime scene and call 911.
Officers like the sound of that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're better prepared when we come out. We know what we're coming into rather than just coming around with no facts and asking citizens that might be afraid.
NOVOTNY: The city already outfitted with about 2,000 surveillance cameras zooming in on criminal activity, now adding another tool to their high-tech belt, about 50 cameras with listening devices.
Miles away, trained officers focus in.
(on camera): How often do you see something and say, OK, that's (INAUDIBLE), something's not right there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In these neighborhoods where these cameras are, it's daily. It's...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. You can sit down and you can look through the cameras, and you're going to see something.
NOVOTNY (voice-over): Responding officers also get a glimpse.
AMON JAMES, CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: And we use the toggle switch.
We can move it left and right, goes 360 degrees.
NOVOTNY (on camera): Last year, Chicago's homicide rate dropped to its lowest level since 1965, and police took 10,000 guns off the streets, thanks in large part, they say, to surveillance cameras like this one.
So already there are high hopes for gunshot recognition.
ANDREW VELASQUEZ, CHICAGO OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: We have not
just criminal surveillance technology here. We have infrastructure departments here as well. We have a homeland security component here as well. And you have cameras that are strategically placed in high-crime neighborhoods. And as it relates to critical infrastructure, you have cameras that are focusing in on target areas that we would consider target areas.
NOVOTNY (voice-over): So what began as a local crime-fighting initiative now expanding to include the war on terror, the Department of Homeland Security allocating $34 million to the city, where officials say the battles will be fought together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't have a police officer on every corner, but we can maximize our efforts by using these cameras.
NOVOTNY: The new cameras cost as much as $20,000 each. So far, much of the money to pay for them has come from asset forfeiture accounts. That means the money seized from drug dealers has been used to pay for, yes, their own surveillance.
Now, though, portions of the city's homeland security funds will be allocated to the expansion of this system, Keith.
OLBERMANN: You expand the system, and now you expand the technical capability, obviously you're also going to expand people who criticize this on civil rights and privacy issues. What's the (INAUDIBLE), what, how does that factor in? How does this new element of sound factor into the civil rights issue?
NOVOTNY: Well, they're focused specifically on the gunshot recognition, so it's not like they're actually listening in to people's conversations. And the police are very confident. They say that their cameras are only in public places where an individual can't expect any real measure of privacy.
And their officers at that command post are trained in First and Fourth Amendment rights. So they're really strict about it.
OLBERMANN: Of course, if it can hear the gunshot now, it will be able to hear the voice later. So (INAUDIBLE) get at some point.
COUNTDOWN's Monica Novotny, great thanks.
NOVOTNY: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Ah, but what tipped police off to the idea that this guy was up to no good? Hmm, can you be tonight's amateur detective and solve this crime?
And believe it or not, another Michael Jackson molestation trial, only he and his attorneys apparently forgot about it. We will not forget the opportunity to bring back Michael Jackson Puppet Theater.
OLBERMANN: Sometimes I have to sell the stories that constitute our nightly gasp at life's rich pageant. Seldom is this true during this part of the show. Certainly it is not true for tonight's first item, as you will see when I say...
Let's play Oddball.
The Dumb Criminal Mug Shot Hall of Fame, brought to you via our amigos at the smokinggun.com. And hello, remodeling accident? A little trouble painting your face before attending a game played by the Golden State Warriors?
No, no, this is Patrick Tribbet (ph), arrested in Ohio at the Dollar Store, accused of abusing harmful intoxicants, in other words, trying to get high by inhaling gold spray paint. Gee, how could you tell?
Police say Mr. Tribbet uses gold Rustoleum, in fact. By the way, it has an especially piquant flavor, with just a hint of nut.
Congratulations, Patrick. At least you didn't get any on your shirt.
He now takes his rightful place alongside the half-for. No, it was not really windy that day. Anthony Flynn (ph) was arrested mid-barber appointment in Kentucky for marijuana trafficking. The tongue in the front, finger from the side lady who did not enjoy her trip to the pokey, and then also in the hall of fame, this guy, who, despite what the shirt says, was arrested, in fact, for reckless driving in Florida.
To the United Arab Emirates, where they're so rich they got robots to ride on camels. They had to do something after government banned the use of children to ride the beasts. Damned liberal media. The robo jockeys come complete with funny hats and whips, and they cost about two grand. They're fastened to the camels, then the owners sit in gold-plated SUVs and command them via remote control.
The winning camel number eight, you bet your Aswan Dam, ridden by Humptron 900. Humptron 900 up, paying 108 dirham to win 54 to place, and 17 to show.
Finally to Germany, where you cannot use your hands when you play soccer, but nobody said anything about your trunk. Six elephants have been taught how to kick, pass, and head a soccer ball as an exhibition in anticipation of the World Cup to be played in Germany next year.
These guys will not be competing in the international soccer competition, not because they would trample and maim their human competitors, but rather because last month, they lost their qualifying match against the robot camel team from the United Arab Emirates.
The Valerie Plame probe. New information that anybody in the government who saw the memo about her CIA work should have known it was secret. Why? Because the memo was marked “S,” at least “S,” maybe more. See if you can guess what “S” might have meant.
Speaking of things you should have known, Jude Law, pal, what were you thinking?
Those stories ahead.
Now here are COUNTDOWN's top three newsmakers of this day.
Number three, the folks at Busch Gardens in Tampa, who banned 8-year-old Jessica Rogers from three of their rides. Jessica has no legs. On the other hand, Jessica is also a national junior disability diving and swimming champion, and can complete a 25-meter breast stroke. So keeping her out of the six-inch-deep kiddy water rapids was probably a little extreme.
Number two, an unnamed shoplifting suspect, one of two national champion dumb criminals tonight, he's accused of pocketing baby food while wearing a shirt reading “Fort Worth Police” while unknowingly standing next to the chief of the Fort Worth Police. Oops.
Number one, Jada Coover of Sioux City, Iowa. After a hit and run, he led police on a high-speed chase, then tried to barricade himself inside a courtroom—inside a courtroom, the very one in which he was already scheduled to appear on drug charges. Why do you think they call it dope?
OLBERMANN: Who blew the secret identity of CIA covert operative Valerie Plame to the media is far from being firmly established, but that he or she absolutely should have known they were leaking secret information seems tonight to have become pretty much unshakeable fact.
Our third story in the COUNTDOWN: The State Department memo with her name on it also was marked with a big letter “S.” In one of our government's few instances of clarity and transparency, “S” stands for “Secret.”
There is, in fact, news developing right now that the terminology was even more emphatic and obvious than just the word “secret.” John Harwood of “The Wall Street Journal” will break that part of the story for us in just a moment. “The Journal” first reported the “S is for secret” part on Tuesday. “The Washington Post” expanded the story today, noting that the classified memorandum refers only to the agent with the blown cover as Valerie Wilson. It also added that the attorney for White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove claims Rove had not seen the memo when he discussed Mrs. Wilson's job with reporter Matt Cooper of “Time” magazine, that Rove only saw it when, quoting his lawyer, “people in the special prosecutor's office showed it to him.”
The document was written June 10, 2003, by an analyst in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. It was drafted for Undersecretary of State Mark Grossman, its primary purpose to explain why State did not believe that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium from the African nation of Niger. The memo went to then-secretary of state Colin Powell on July 7, 2003. That same day, Mr. Powell left for Africa aboard Air Force One with the president, and seven days after that, Robert Novak outed Plame as a CIA operative in his column.
As promised, “Wall Street Journal” national political editor John Harwood, who contributed to his publication's “S is for secret” story and now has an even bigger one for tomorrow's “Wall Street Journal.”
John, good evening.
JOHN HARWOOD, “WALL STREET JOURNAL”: Hey, Keith. How are you?
OLBERMANN: Pretty good. The marking was even stronger than “secret” on this memo?
HARWOOD: Keith, my colleague, Anne Marie Squayo (ph), who broke the story two days ago that this memo had been clearly marked that it was sensitive, not to be shared, is reporting tonight for tomorrow's “Wall Street Journal” that the memo was actually classified by the government as top secret, which is a clear indication to anybody at the senior level that it shouldn't be shared. And more specifically, the passage in the memo that refers to Valerie Plame, under her married name of Valerie Wilson, and her role in this whole thing was marked NS- NSF—I'm sorry, “Secret”—
SNF, “Secret no foreign,” meaning it should not be shared even with foreign intelligence agencies that are friendly to the United States.
So that was a special designation on this memo that was another obvious tip-off to people not to circulate this information.
OLBERMANN: So if you've been in the government more than five minutes and you read a document that says, Top secret, do not share with foreigners, in essence, does that necessarily also mean, Do not share with other Americans?
HARWOOD: Well, I think the fact that it was marked—had the “S” for “secret” overall and its classification was “top secret” is a very clear indication. Now, we have to say that that is not the only way that members of the Bush administration or members of the White House staff could have learned about Valerie Plame and her role in this. And in fact, as you mentioned in the set-up piece, Karl Rove, through his lawyer, has said the first time he ever saw this document was when he was showed during the process of this investigation.
OLBERMANN: But anybody who read this memo then saw a big “TS” next to the two sentences that referred to Valerie Plame Wilson's work for the CIA, “TS” for “top secret.” That's not rocket science. But “TS” for “top secret”—does that also legally mean classified? Is leaking something marked “secret” or “top secret” a crime by itself?
HARWOOD: Well, leaking classified information, Keith, is a crime. Unfortunately, it's the kind of thing that happens fairly often in the government, so that's not the crime that Patrick Fitzgerald's investigating. He's investigating a more serious crime, which has to do with the knowing outing of a covert agent, and that's what Valerie Plame—we believed that Valerie Plame had that status with the U.S. government.
So you know, the leaking of classified information is one of those things that happens. It is rarely prosecuted because a lot of technical violations take place. But in terms of outing a covert agent, that is very rare, and that's why we're having this investigation that's been going on two years.
OLBERMANN: So again, if you're in the government and you read a document and it says “TS,” “top secret,” about Valerie Plame, and you tell somebody else in the government who, indeed, has not read the document, Hey, did you know Joe Wilson's wife works for the CIA, and the second person goes and tells a reporter, is the crime—can the crime be passed on? Is there a Typhoid Mary in this, or does it have to be—is that second person not conceivably guilty of any crime?
HARWOOD: Well, we're going to find out. That's one of the things that Patrick Fitzgerald is going to tell us when he finishes his investigation. Arguably, the second person, if he was unaware, A, that she was covert, and B, the classification status of this document, might blamelessly be able to spread that around. But I think one thing we all have to expect of senior government officials is they're going to be discreet with information like this, even if it isn't a crime. So that doesn't necessarily get people off the hook, even though it might get some to avoid prosecution.
OLBERMANN: Put the labeling of the memo and the importance of the memo in context for us. Does it—John, does it change our understanding of the special prosecutor's targets here, either in terms of suspects or of crimes?
HARWOOD: Well, the memo in a couple of ways changes our understanding of the case. One is that what officials said under questioning by investigators about their knowledge of this memo is something that is interesting on substantive grounds, in terms of how the news got out, but also could be relevant if there's a perjury case that's being built here. Did people say one thing—that's why the prosecutor has subpoenaed phone logs, for example, from Air Force One, which would indicate whether officials might have seen the memo and then passed information to others.
So it is an underscoring of the sensitivity of the information, why—that people should not have passed the information, but it isn't the whole answer to the case because there are other ways that people could have learned this information about Valerie Plame, and it could have been circulated. In fact, Karl Rove has said that he—through his lawyer, that he learned some of this information from a reporter.
OLBERMANN: John Harwood, national political editor of “The Wall Street Journal,” tomorrow's editions reporting that the Plame memo was marked not just “secret” but “top secret” and “SNF,” not for any intelligence—foreign intelligence services. Great. Thanks, John. Good night.
HARWOOD: You bet.
OLBERMANN: And though a string of new revelations in the leak investigation has given ample ammunition to the Democrats in recent weeks, one prominent Democrat deciding to hold his fire, the former president, Bill Clinton, this morning on the “Today” show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me say I've been through some of these things. My view is we should wait until all the facts are in and the prosecutor makes whatever report he's going to make and all the people who are involved make available whatever information will be made available. It was wrong to reveal a patriotic CIA agent's identity to punish her husband, a patriotic career diplomat, for telling the truth instead of telling a lie. Now, that was not right. But before we all say what should be done and to whom it should be done, we need to have all the facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: One promotional advisory on this story. Our special guest on tomorrow night's edition of COUNTDOWN, his first reactions to Mr. Bush's statement, the reports that the document was marked “secret,” “top secret,” Ambassador Joseph Wilson, the husband of the outed CIA agent Valerie Plame, 8:00 PM and midnight Eastern, 5:00 and 9:00 PM Pacific, tomorrow here on COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
Tonight, the U.S. demanding an apology after an international incident this morning involving our own Andrea Mitchell. Note to Sudan: Andrea Mitchell can kick your collective ass. And Michael Jackson in more legal trouble, again ignoring a request from the court. It's like deja vu all over again, complete with the premiere of the second season of “Michael Jackson Puppet Theater.” Stand by for popsicle sticks!
OLBERMANN: Increasingly over the years, television news viewers have wanted to know a little bit about the people who actually report the news on the tube. Our number two story on the COUNTDOWN: We can say without fear of contradiction that NBC's Andrea Mitchell is and has long been the pound for pound toughest journalist in the business. In 1994, with President Clinton in Damascus, she tried to ask a question of Syrian President Assad and was promptly manhandled by Syrian thugs, whom she fought off with the help of a White House press aide.
Now it's happened again in Darfur, Sudan. Sudanese thugs roughed up not just Andrea and other reporters traveling with Secretary of State Rice today, but also some of Rice's staff. And as Andrea reports, all this was unfolding as this country tried to reach out to help with the chaos in that region.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The secretary of state at one of the largest refugee camps in the Darfur region of Sudan. As many as 80,000 displaced women and children live in this one camp, survivors of what Rice calls genocide. Over the last two years, as many as 400,000 people have been killed by militias. The U.S. says the militias are supported by Sudan's government, despite repeated promises to control the violence.
(on camera): What good are their promises?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: I said this morning that they have a problem with credibility, that, in fact—and I said it directly to them—that people need to see action, not just hear words.
MITCHELL (voice-over): Women told Rice of being raped both inside and outside the camp, even by government soldiers.
(on camera): The government says it is going to protect you. Do you believe the government?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): No, we don't believe the government.
MITCHELL: U.S. officials and relief workers say there has been less violence in recent months, but they say that's because most of the targeted villages have already been destroyed, their residents either displaced or killed.
(voice-over): When Rice tried to challenge Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, his security men blocked her aides, even slamming one against a wall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a free press, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no! It's not a free press.
MITCHELL: Then the security men tried to stop us from covering a photo opportunity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no.
MITCHELL: And when I asked Sudan's president a question...
(on camera): Can you tell us why the violence is continuing, Mr.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no~!
MITCHELL: Can you tell us why the government is still supporting the militias?
(voice-over): ... they grabbed me from behind and dragged me out.
Rice was outraged, demanding and getting an apology.
One U.S. official said Diplomacy 101 is you don't rough up your
guests. Especially, he might have added, when you're asking them for help
OLBERMANN: Andrea Mitchell. Rule 102 is, Don't rough up Andrea.
We've met the story and it is us. Thanks.
We segue over to our nightly round-up of celebrity and gossip news, “Keeping Tabs,” with an oldie but a goodie. Yes, it is your tax and entertainment dollars in action, day one of the Michael Jackson investigations. Nobody showed up to represent Jackson as a New Orleans court began to hear a civil suit accusing him of having molested an 18-year-old man during the 1984 World's Fair in that city. A Jackson spokesman says it's just a copycat suit but doesn't know why no Jackson attorney made it to the courtroom. The judge is steamed, has scheduled a hearing next month at which the judge must be convinced not to hold Jackson in contempt, nor have a judgment of guilty by default entered against him.
All of which means only one thing. Just when you thought you were out, they pull you back in! Another edition of “Michael Jackson Puppet Theater.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell him to get his woo-hoo-hoo in here August 17, you hear?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Louisiana crickets.
The rest of the “Keeping Tabs” news is pretty slim pickings, although Carrie Underwood, who evidently won “American Idol” this year or last year or whenever, has made a deal to sing commercial jingles for Hershey's chocolates, the “Give Me a Break” song for Kit-Kat bars, and for Almond Joy and Mounds, that American classic, “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.”
Speaking of jingles, sometimes you feel like a nanny, sometimes you don't. Jude Law breaks engagement law with a nanny no-no. Michael Musto provides analysis.
But first, time for COUNTDOWN's list of today's three nominees for the
coveted title of “Worst Person in the World.” We've got James Mazarelli
(ph), who owns a small zoo in Lichfield, Connecticut. He says six
customers tried to leave the place without paying. Police say he responded
by locking them in the zoo with the animals.
Then there's publicist X, the anonymous spokesperson for Fox News, who today continued to issue personal attacks on the reporters and executives of the actual cable news networks. We don't know who X is. However, Fox News's vice president of media relations is named Irena Briganti and X presumably works for her. And Ms. Briganti certainly doesn't want to appear to be covering up for a cowardly, insecure, ashamed, gutless employees, so she should probably fire them posthaste.
But the winner, Liz Beatty (ph), a retired primary school teacher in England, who is leading the teachers union there in its effort to change the education system so that no British student will ever fail again. See, a student would be able to bank the correct parts of a failed test, go back to it later. He would never get an F, he'd get a “deferred success.”
Liz Beatty, today's “Worst Person in the World”!
OLBERMANN: To the top of the COUNTDOWN now, and it's time we faced the awful truth. There is something really dangerous about letting actors near baby-sitters, or especially nannies. Think of the progression of Robin Williams. In the 1982 movie “The World According to Garp,” he played the title character, and tragedy ensued after he seduced the baby-sitter. In 1989, he left his first wife in real life to marry his nanny. the 1992 film, “Mrs. Doubtfire,” he played a nanny.
Our number one story: Take heed, Jude Law, take heed! The British heartthrob, engaged to the young and fetching 23-year-old actress Sienna Miller, was apparently caught in flagrante delicto with the nanny by his own son. Now, we've heard from the nanny, Daisy Wright, and seen her picture for the first time.
Jude's reasoning may be obscure here. That of Ms. Wright, or if you prefer, Ms. Wrong, is not. Of her seduction in New Orleans by Law, Wright tells London's “Sunday Mirror,” “We kissed and kissed for what seemed like ages. I was thinking, I cannot believe this, Jude Law is snogging me.” How romantic! Ms. Wright says they were interrupted by his 3-year-old son, Rudy Indiana Otis Law, who she quotes as saying, “Daddy, Daddy, I'm having a bad dream.” Law could not see into the future, thus he could not reply, as he should have, So am I, son. So am I.
There's only one authority on matters such as this. He joins us now.
Michael Musto, columnist of “The Village Voice.” Good evening, Michael.
MICHAEL MUSTO, “VILLAGE VOICE”: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Why does this story hook us? I mean, in the movies, Jude Law has cheated on everybody from Marisa Tomei to Oscar Wilde. What is the attraction to knowing he's done it for real?
MUSTO: I'm actually not interested. Next question.
MUSTO: Look, we all went to college. I went to an Ivy League college, but that was a long time ago. Also, this is the dead of summer. We need a story like this to pick things up. It's a really boring time.
That's why you booked me.
But in any case—these are all jokes—it's just such a dirty public story. The way it unfolded for all the world to see was irresistible. Like you say, he plays cads. There's no way that he was researching “Alfie 2” because there ain't going to be an “Alfie 2.” He really is a cad, and we just love that.
Look, he not only shagged the nanny, he shagged her on a pool table, thinking no one will notice. That's the first place people look.
OLBERMANN: And they were snogging, too, which you have to have watched 18 episodes of “Monty Python's Flying Circus” to understand what that means. But in any event, do we need, I don't know, laws about this? I mean, nannies and baby-sitters and actors, the Robin Williams tour, which is “seduce a nanny on screen, seduce your real nanny, play a nanny”—I mean, that's mental illness, isn't it?
MUSTO: Absolutely. And by the way, I think Jude Law probably would draw the line at Robin Williams in “Mrs. Doubtfire.” I don't know if he would shag, or even snog, that. But in any case, yes, we need new laws, Keith. We need to stand at the borders. Forget the Patriot Act. The only way we can make America safe is no more nannies allowed in. I think they're the devil. I think they're a menace. Particularly, this young lady, who is Mary Trampins (ph) of—you know, she's a chim-chim-charoot (ph) slag, and she has totally overstepped her boundaries as a surrogate mother and become the wife. And it's dirty. It's wrong. She's the devil.
OLBERMANN: Is there some allure to this idea of the nanny? Is there some childhood throwback psychobabble stuff? Because if you're comparing this gal and Sienna Miller, you would be hard-pressed to explain it on looks, or as the jockeys say, making weight.
MUSTO: Absolutely. But I think in most cases with their celebrities, when they're men, they'll sleep with anyone but the wife or fiancee, no matter what the wife or fiancee looks like. I think Jude Law would sleep with Josephine the plumber. It doesn't even have to be a nanny.
But in this case, OK, Daisy Wright may not be Sienna Miller, whatever her name is, in the looks department, but she's not Margaret Rutherford. You know, these are not your granny's nannies. The new generation of nannies aren't so bad. They trade in on the old-fashioned kind of allure of the sweet lady, but they're in the average looks department, so they're doable to Jude Law.
OLBERMANN: What about Ms. Miller's reaction? I mean, she has not broken off the engagement officially, but she's not wearing the ring. Could we have a case, finally, where the actress is finally going to violate the Liz Hurley rule, which is if your guy is more famous than you are, you are supposed to forgive him?
MUSTO: Exactly. No more “Stand by your man,” like Liz Hurley, Cathie Lee Gifford, Hillary Clinton. Sienna Miller actually has pride. And I don't think she should have worn an engagement ring in that Shakespeare play anyway. That's kind of an anachronism...
MUSTO: ... for Elizabethan times. But good for her for throwing it away. And I think Sienna knows that if she had stood with Jude, he would just say he's never going to cheat again. He'd be lying. He would. And there'd forever be that kind of cumulus cloud of doubt and skank hanging over their boudoir. So I'm very proud of her for dropping a zero and making herself the hero.
OLBERMANN: Is this explicable in 30 seconds by the fact that, for instance, I keep a little sign over a mirror in my home that reads, regarding dating, Actresses act?
MUSTO: I'm not sure what you mean by that. Most actresses don't act, especially Sienna Miller.
OLBERMANN: But just that actors and actresses are people who are paid to make stuff up and perform and be people that they're not.
MUSTO: Absolutely. They have very vivid public lives. But the more important lesson is just no nannies. Actors should act. Nannies should stay on the sidelines. The only couple that's ever lasted in Hollywood is Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. She was actually a baby-sitter, but they break all the rules.
OLBERMANN: That's it, the exception that proves the rule. Michael Musto of “The Village Voice,” as always, more interesting than the story he covers.
MUSTO: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, Michael.
OLBERMANN: That's COUNTDOWN. I'm Keith Olbermann. Keep your knees loose. Good night, and good luck.
Dr. Carlson, what is your “SITUATION” please?
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