Guest: Chris Whitcomb, Charles Shoebridge, Steve Emerson, Chuck Reynolds,
Vernell Crittendon, Dana Cole, F.X. Feeney
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, London police make two arrests and shoot a man to death in connection with the attacks there.
ABRAMS (voice-over): They've got picture, and they're asking for help tracking down four men they say planted the bombs on subways and a bus. One of them wearing a “New York” sweatshirt.
Plus, new details in the search for Natalee Holloway in Aruba.
Investigators there apparently recovered more than one piece of duct tape.
This as lawmakers from Natalee's home state ask people to boycott Aruba.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No one will remember you, no one will pray for you and no one will care when you die.
ABRAMS: A mother lashes out at her daughter's killer as he's sentenced to death for abducting and murdering 5-year-old Samantha Runnion.
The program about justice starts now.
ABRAMS: Hi everyone. We've got breaking news in Aruba. A letter from the prime minister of that country, which I have just received, has invited the FBI to the country, giving them full access to transcripts, audiotapes, interrogations, anything else involved in the Natalee Holloway investigation. The prime minister in a three-paragraph letter is announcing to the FBI that they are welcome there, and that if there is any legal impediment to their involvement, they would like to try and essentially figure out a way to let the FBI get involved.
Joining me now former FBI agent Chris Whitcomb. Chris, look, you know this sounds great and the FBI has helped up to this point, but I've got to wonder how much they're actually going to be able to do.
CHRIS WHITCOMB, FORMER FBI AGENT: Dan, almost nothing. I mean look, it's been seven weeks now, right, since the body—or since she disappeared. They have not recovered a body. You have some evidence recovered apparently. The FBI could have brought grand resources to this earlier in the investigation.
They were there almost from the outset and prohibited almost across the board from really doing much. So for now to go back seven weeks later and try to reconstruct this crime and do something with the interviews, with the forensics, I just don't see it.
ABRAMS: This involvement is to be all levels, which means the FBI must have complete access to the dossier, including transcripts, audiotapes or video registration of interrogations, plus all materials that are connected to this case in as much as our judicial system allows. And that even sounds to me like they're basically saying you'll have a lot of it, but not all of it.
WHITCOMB: Right and look, let's reconstruct this, Dan. First of all, the FBI works overseas now through the legal attach’ program. They sent investigators out to Aruba to try and help out. They were limited because it's not in the United States jurisdiction, obviously. But let's look at what they could do.
First of all, help with evidence recovery, the evidence response teams. If they gather something, they can use the FBI laboratory much more advanced than anything Aruba has to try and come up with information. They could have helped with the search for the body, which almost certainly has gone now.
It's a very hot climate down there. Seven weeks is not going to be a whole lot left to find. And they could have done an awful lot with the interview and interrogation process as well. To give them...
WHITCOMB: ... the transcripts after all this time is not going to do much good.
ABRAMS: Yes. Real quick, Chris, you know Alabama, they passed something in the House there, boycotting Aruba in the hope that that's going to get the Aruban authorities going. How's that going to actually get them to get going? I mean it seems it will just sort of anger them more.
WHITCOMB: It will, Dan. Look, this is politicians getting involved in something.
WHITCOMB: Everyone wants to have their say. It does nothing...
WHITCOMB: It's unproductive and it's nuts. I agree.
ABRAMS: All right. We're going to have a full update on Aruba. There's other news to come out of Aruba. We're going to have that later in the show about some more evidence that's been found. Michelle Kosinski will join us from Aruba with that.
Now to the latest out of London. A man police say is—quote—“directly linked to yesterday's bombings”, shot dead in a subway car in front of stunned commuters. Two other arrests made in London just hours after Scotland Yard pleaded for the public's help and released pictures of the would-be bombers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OF ANDY HAYMAN, SCOTLAND YARD SPECIALIST OPERATIONS: The image we're now showing shows a man running away from the northern line at the Oval underground station at approximately 12:34 hours yesterday. He was wearing a dark top with the words “New York” written in white across the front. This top was later found in Caleroad (ph), Brixton. A device was left at the rear of the top deck of the route 26 bus.
The image that's now showing is of a man at the rear of the top deck on that bus at about 12:53 hours. He was wearing a gray t-shirt and what appears to have been a palm tree design on the front and a dark jacket with a white baseball cap. The image that's now showing of the third person we want to identify shows a man leaving Warren Street underground at approximately 12:39 hours. He was wearing dark clothing.
This final image that's showing is of a man at Westbourne Park underground station at approximately 12:21 p.m. He was wearing a dark shirt and trousers and was later reportedly wearing a white vest. It's time for the public to do what they're very good at, which is support investigations.
Do you recognize any of these men? Did you see them at the three underground stations or on the bus? Did you see them at a different location? Did you see these men together before or after the incident? Did you see them with anyone else?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: It's unclear at this point if any of the four would-be bombers are two of the people under arrest at this point. Joining me now NBC terrorism analyst Charles Shoebridge, terrorism analyst Steve Emerson, and once again former FBI agent Chris Whitcomb.
All right, Charles, what do you know about this shooting? Do you know anything? I mean I'm already seeing certain Muslim groups that are complaining about this. I'll talk about that in a moment. But do you know anything more about this person who was shot?
CHARLES SHOEBRIDGE, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: No, we don't. You're right, that we've been told there's a direct link but we don't know the nature of that link and it could turn up, but the link is actually quite weak. For example, it would appear from what we were told during a police briefing, albeit very little, but especially what witnesses at the scene have quite publicly stated that this appears to be some sort of—or a combination of some sort of proactive plain clothes operation, perhaps a surveillance operation on this person, which has culminated in him being shot. And I should say, of course, that in this country, this is a very rare occurrence indeed and...
ABRAMS: Yes. I mean you've got your police officers walking around with nightsticks.
SHOEBRIDGE: Well, exactly. They're a bit more sophisticated than that these days, it's true, but still only about 10 percent of London's officers are armed. Clearly these officers were armed (UNINTELLIGIBLE) plain clothes. They by all accounts took a decision that this man was a very great threat and indeed the rules of engagement are quite clear in this country that if they really think that he's out to detonate, for example, a bomb they will open fire on him and open fire to kill.
ABRAMS: Well let's hear what Ian Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner, said about the confrontation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIR IAN BLAIR, METROPOLITAN POLICE COMMISSIONER: It's part of the operations linked to yesterday's incident, the Metropolitan police officers shot a man inside Stockwell underground station. That happened at approximately 10:00 this morning and the man was pronounced dead at the scene. The information I have available is that this shooting is directly linked to the ongoing and expanding anti-terrorist operation. I need to make clear that any death is deeply regrettable. But on—as I understand the situation, the man was challenged and refused to obey police instructions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Steve Emerson, I've got to tell you, I think it's a really bad move as a matter of P.R. for the Muslim Council of Britain spokesperson to say the following:
There may well be reasons why the police felt it necessary to unload five shots into the man and shoot him dead, but they need to make those reasons clear. They went on to say they're getting phone calls, concerned people about a shoot-to-kill policy.
I mean, you would think that in the day after the second bombing in two weeks, the first reaction would be wow, maybe they got someone relevant. And then if it turns out that they were wrong, look at that later.
STEVE EMERSON, TERRORISM ANALYST: I think Dan , you're 100 percent right. The Muslim Council of Britain, unfortunately, is associated at least philosophically with the Muslim Brotherhood and their message to their constituents has consistently been that there's a war against Islam and that there's racism conducted by the British government or by the United States government and hence therefore these types of pre-emptive acts or these types of defensive actions are really part of a nasty campaign to basically carry out racist motivations against the Muslim population.
Nothing could be further from the truth. And consistently, their message that they convey to their own followers undermines the war on terrorism because it basically confuses their followers with the belief that somehow this is really not a war on terrorism, it's a war against Islam. That's the same message that...
EMERSON: ... bin Laden tries to convey to his followers...
EMERSON: ... as well.
ABRAMS: Hey Chris, you got to give these guys credit. They are moving with some real speed here. I mean this happened yesterday. Already we've got pictures being made public. We've got arrests being made. It seems that this is really an investigation that is moving at lightning speed.
WHITCOMB: Give the Brits credit for the history. The last 30 years they've dealt with terrorism through the IRA, much more than any other country in the world probably than Israel. And they have a long established history through new Scotland Yard, through MI5, and MI6 in dealing with terrorism.
They have got tremendous infrastructure within the government but they've also got the benefit of the previous bombings and now the devices themselves, and people. I mean...
WHITCOMB: ... it's a grand, grand trove of evidence that they have to work from, so it makes sense to me that they're moving quickly.
ABRAMS: And Charles, they've got pictures, pictures of all of them.
SHOEBRIDGE: Yes, this isn't surprising. London is covered by CCTV probably more than any other major city in the world. And it was quite clear that these people would be covered by—or captured on CCTV, reasonably good quality images, and remember, the police will have many, many more images and proper video than what we've actually seen. The police aren't just interested in identifying them, of course, but also anybody they've had contact with over the last few days, the last few weeks and months. The aim, of course, to link the men to some sort of higher conspiracy...
ABRAMS: Well and that's the question, Steve. How big a deal is this going to be? I mean these guys are going to get caught, at least some of them, I'm confident. How big a deal will that capture be?
EMERSON: I think it will be a big deal because I think it will help unravel this cell for sure and perhaps the masterminds of the seven of the attacks two weeks ago. So therefore, I think taking them off the street, one, guarantees that they're not going to carry out a third strike. Two, make sure that they don't become suicide bombers as a decision to basically become, you know, martyrs.
And three, it helps them unravel the larger network on British soil. So I think it's going to be a pretty big hit once they pick them up. And I'm phenomenally impressed by the fact that they were able to I.D. them. Remember, none of those picture, I believe, except for one, is there a picture of anyone with a knapsack or a bag.
EMERSON: Therefore, they actually had some other intelligence indicating who they were.
ABRAMS: Yes. All right. Charles Shoebridge, Steve Emerson, Chris Whitcomb, thanks a lot.
As we go to break—before we go to break, the mother of one of the men accused of being a suicide bomber in the attacks in London that killed 56 more than two weeks ago has spoken out, reminding us that these terrorists are also shaming their families.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARYAM MCLEOD, MOTHER OF SUSPECTED LONDON BOMBER: I don't even know if this is my son. His wife hasn't identified him. I haven't identified him. I've just been told that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you see on the television. Those are stolen pictures. I haven't seen the picture to clarify that's my son. I respected him. I admired him so very much. I last saw him on my visit to England in 2004. He was so mature and he was so sincere and so loving.
He was a loving brother to his two sisters. The most loving father to Abdullah and a husband who loved his wife Samantha dearly. I have so many questions. And I do not know if I'll ever receive the answers. I am still in shock and know not how to grieve for my son.
Therefore, I grieve first for the victims, ones who are dead, and ones who are alive. I grieve for the mothers and fathers, for the individuals who are now possibly traumatized by the visions of death and horror. May Allah forgive our living and our dead and have mercy upon us all. Amen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Well—coming up, a manhunt for a convicted sex offender. He served time for raping his teenage sister-in-law—nice smile, dude. Now police say he tried to kill his own daughter, stabbing her and leaving her in a ditch to die. Now they need your help to find him.
New details in the search for Natalee Holloway. Turns out more than just one piece of duct tape was discovered. We've got this new video as well.
Plus director Roman Polanski wins $80-plus thousand against “Vanity Fair”, the same guy who's a wanted fugitive in the U.S. for having sex with a 13-year-old.
ABRAMS: Another manhunt is on in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. First we had the disappearance of 9-year-old Dylan Groene, his sister, 8-year-old Shasta after the gruesome murders of their 13-year-old brother, their mother, and her boyfriend. Shasta was the only one who survived. And today it's the discovery of a 12-year-old girl found stabbed, bound and bleeding on the side of a mountain road found by campers, rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. Turns out the alleged assailant is her father, a convicted sex offender.
Joining me now is Shoshone County Idaho sheriff, Chuck Reynolds. Sheriff Reynolds, thanks very much for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
All right, so what did this young woman tell you?
SHERIFF CHUCK REYNOLDS, SHOSHONE COUNTY, IDAHO (via phone): Well basically that her father who had just been released from the penitentiary had came back to visit and had taken her camping, had taken her up into a remote area of our county, had stabbed her and left her for dead.
ABRAMS: And what kind of condition is she in? How's she doing?
REYNOLDS: She's in serious condition. We were able to interview her yesterday to provide some more facts on the case. She is expected to be in the hospital another three to four weeks. She's a pretty sick young lady.
ABRAMS: Now let's be clear. This is a guy who has been serving time and had almost no relationship with his children, correct?
REYNOLDS: That's our information, yes.
ABRAMS: And so he calls and he says hey, you know what, I want to what? I want to visit?
REYNOLDS: Apparently called his wife or ex-wife. We're unsure. We really haven't had a chance to talk to the wife that much to—wants to come and see—spend some quality time with his children.
ABRAMS: Quality time with his children, then he takes the girl, according to the girl, out and then just starts stabbing her...
REYNOLDS: Apparently so. He had tied her up, had stabbed her and left her alongside the road.
ABRAMS: And it seems left her to die?
REYNOLDS: That's my opinion.
ABRAMS: Wow. So she's discovered by campers who just happen to be in the area?
REYNOLDS: A family pulled into the campsite looking for a campsite. They got out to walk around. The father heard someone yelling for help. She had crawled into the brush about 40 yards and was laying there bleeding. And they picked her up and put her in their camper, took her down to a local eating establishment, called law enforcement, which we dispatched our medical helicopter to the location.
ABRAMS: Any sense of how long she had been there?
REYNOLDS: About five hours.
ABRAMS: Wow. All right. And so this guy is now on the run?
REYNOLDS: This guy is on the run, and we have a national tip to locate on his vehicle, which is a red, 1989 Ford Escort, passenger car, and the—and with Colorado license plates and...
ABRAMS: 329-JXG is...
ABRAMS: ... the license plate.
REYNOLDS: Right, Colorado plates. We have a tip line set up here in our sheriff's office. It's 208-556-1983 or else anyone that's outside this area can call their local law enforcement.
ABRAMS: What an awful—you know, I mean all these crimes are awful, but when you hear something like a father taking a young girl, to pick her up, to spend quality time with his daughter and then this happens. I don't know. There's something about it emotionally that makes it that much...
REYNOLDS: I don't understand it sir.
ABRAMS: All right, Sheriff, thanks a lot. We'll keep doing what we can...
REYNOLDS: Absolutely. We're going to start sending out some updated press releases. I just want to be—very quickly—I know you're running out of time. The FBI is involved in this and we have a joint task force now...
REYNOLDS: ... they've brought a lot of resources in.
ABRAMS: Well good. Well, you know, look, we got the number up and that's what he looks like. It's a good clean picture of him, so people should keep in mind people can shave, et cetera, but that's who it is. All right, Sheriff, thanks a lot for coming on the program.
REYNOLDS: You bet you. Bye.
ABRAMS: All right. Now back to breaking news in the Natalee Holloway case. We're seeing her here for the first time ever on video—home videos. And as we reported, the prime minister of Aruba is now asking the authorities to give the FBI complete access to all evidence collected in Natalee's investigation. Natalee's family and others still waiting for results from the DNA test done on a piece of duct tape with hairs found on it. But we're now learning that might not be the only piece of duct tape that was found in the area.
Joining me now once again for all the developments, NBC's Michelle Kosinski. So Michelle, they found other pieces of tape?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Right. The FBI tells me today that we knew of that other piece of duct tape but that the FBI wasn't analyzing that. Now they say that there were multiple pieces of tape found in that exact same area all within several yards of each other, but that those were set on the ground immediately to have no evidentiary value.
Well of course why is that? The FBI says that might be because of the condition of the tape as it was found. But the bigger question, of course, is what does that now say about the possible significance of the tape that was found with a hair on it. It was found in the very same place. Well the FBI tells me they just want to wait and see. They want those results to come back. And we're expecting those in the middle of next week.
ABRAMS: All right, Michelle, let me ask you about this boycott as we're continuing to look at this new video of Natalee Holloway. This boycott, all right so the House in Alabama passes a resolution essentially asking people not to go to Aruba. And they think that's going to get the authorities in Aruba acting more quickly. They say they failed to crack down on the parties involved in the case.
They'll not tolerate a lack of justice for an American citizen. They urge all Alabamians to boycott travel to Aruba. Look, you know, I'm all—if people want to be angry at the Arubans about this, fine, be angry at them. Don't go if you don't want to go. But I can't see this helping the situation. I mean I can't imagine that the Aruban authorities aren't going to at best be insulted.
KOSINSKI: Yes, Dan. It's clearly one of those things that they wanted to send a message. They wanted to get their anger across. Will it do any good? Possibly not. I talked to some travel authorities here on the island today. They all said you know they want to back off. They want to read this resolution completely. They want to say see what it has to say first before they comment.
But they do tell me that travel on the island through this year up to today has been very healthy and what that will be next year at this time we don't know. But as for the aggressiveness of the investigation at this point, we know today that there is a new lead investigator on the case. The prior one just retired yesterday. So the question here has been will this investigation take a different tack.
KOSINSKI: Well I talked to police today and they say they plan to get a new statement out of Joran Van Der Sloot tomorrow in jail. The last one they did was a couple of days ago. And furthermore, police tell me today that they are doing all they can to put the Kalpoe brothers back in jail. The appeals court, of course, said there's no reason right now to hold them in custody. But police say they want them back behind bars and they plan to try to re-interview them as well within the next couple of days.
So, are things heating up here? We're just going to have to wait on those test results and on what police might be able to obtain out of both Joran and the Kalpoe brothers.
ABRAMS: Yes. I'm all for getting the—let the FBI get access. They might be—I don't know if it's going to do much, but it certainly can't hurt. But this idea of the politicians jumping on the bandwagon, you know, there's something about that that just rubs me the wrong way. People want to make their own decision not tot go to Aruba because of this more power to them. But anyway, all right, Michelle Kosinski, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
Coming up, Samantha Runnion, the 5-year-old girl abducted from her front yard, molested and murdered. Today, her killer sentenced to death, but not before Samantha's mother got a chance to talk directly to her daughter's killer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't deserve a place in my family's history and so I want you to live. I want you to disappear into the abyss of a lifetime in prison.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Plus a British jury awards big bucks to Roman Polanski, the moviemaker who's wanted in the United States for having sex with a 13-year-old girl, $80-plus thousand because a magazine hurt his reputation. What reputation?
Your e-mails email@example.com. Please include your name and where you're writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: Coming up, Samantha Runnion, the little 5-year-old girl kidnapped from her front yard, molested, murder. Today, her killer was sentenced to death. He's headed to San Quentin with other notorious killers, Scott Peterson for one. Her mother had a few choice words for him before he heads out. First the headlines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN RUNNION, SAMANTHA RUNNION'S MOTHER: I know she looked at you with those amazing brown eyes and you still wanted to kill her and I don't understand it and I never will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: The mother of Samantha Runnion, 5-year-old girl, kidnapped, molested, murdered three years ago after being snatched from her front yard. Erin Runnion got her first chance to speak directly to Samantha's killer, Alejandro Avila, before he was sentenced to death. He'll be shacking up with the likes of Richard Allen Davis, who murdered little Polly Klaas, and Scott Peterson, convicted of murdering his wife Laci and unborn child.
We'll check in at San Quentin in a moment, but first, Samantha's mother's words to her daughter's killer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUNNION: I have written and rewritten what I would say to the man who killed Samantha, and you better pay attention because I never want to address you again. You don't deserve a place in my family's history and so I want you to live. I want you to disappear into the abyss of a lifetime in prison where no one will remember you, no one will pray for you, and no one will care when you die.
You killed a child with a loving and passionate heart. Samantha was outrageously bright and funny. She wasn't demanding. She didn't ask for everything under the sun. Just to play and have fun as much as humanly possible. Why would you want to take that away? I have researched and really thought about pedophiles and your psychology and blah, blah, blah. You're a human being. You know pain and you know fear.
How dare you pretend she wasn't real. In choosing to destroy Samantha's life, you chose this. You chose to waste your life to satisfy a selfish and sick desire. You knew it was wrong and you chose not to think about it. Well, now you have a lot of time to think about it. Don't waste it.
Write it down so that the rest of us can figure out how to stop you people!
You're a disgrace to the human race.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Joining me now on the phone is a spokesperson for San Quentin prison, Vernell Crittendon joins us once again. All right, so Vernell, look, this guy is not just a murderer, but he is also a man who molested a child before he murdered her. Does he get treated any different in terms of where he goes, et cetera, at San Quentin?
VERNELL CRITTENDON, SAN QUENTIN PRISON SPOKESPERSON (via phone): Well first of all, good afternoon, Dan. It's good to speak with you again. And you know it's going to be a difficult case for us to place due to the nature of his offense. Often we have experienced that even those men on death row rarely accept people that commit these types of heinous acts.
ABRAMS: Didn't Richard Allen Davis get attacked while on death row there?
CRITTENDON: Shortly after we had assigned him to what we believed to be a compatible group of death row inmates, exercise group, as soon as he went out in that yard, yes, he was involved in a fistfight attack by one of the other death row inmates.
ABRAMS: What's the latest with Scott Peterson? I'm hearing reports that some of his family members are saying that he's having a rough time.
CRITTENDON: Well, Scott is having—he has adjusted well to prison, but he's somewhat disappointed in the fact that he is still in the adjustment center. He was anticipating being moved over to the east block where we have the lion's share of the death row inmates. And being assigned to a compatible group of death row inmates that he would be able to go out and exercise with. But at this point, we—the administration has elected to keep him in the adjustment center while we are evaluating if it would be appropriate at this time to place him over at east block.
ABRAMS: Why? What's the delay? Is there something that he's done? Or is it just an evaluation process?
CRITTENDON: Well, in part the evaluation process. Secondarily, the administration learned from that lesson that you had indicated about Richard Allen Davis. And we thought we don't want to repeat that. And there still is a great deal of media coverage surrounding Scott Peterson. So with that, they're being very cautious and conservative in their timing.
ABRAMS: It's to protect him, though, is what you're saying. It's not because he's been misbehaving.
CRITTENDON: No, this is something that is done by the administration decisions, not anything that's directly related to Scott Peterson.
ABRAMS: Any chance he'll end up near this guy, Avila, who killed Samantha Runnion?
CRITTENDON: There is a very strong possibility that they will be probably on the same floor. There is a group of cells, 17 cells, and it's very possible they'll be within a few cells of one another.
ABRAMS: And that's because they're both notorious?
CRITTENDON: That's because they will be assigned to the adjustment center, and right now we still have Scott Peterson down on the first floor of the adjustment center. And that's where he will probably be coming, the murderer of little Runnion.
ABRAMS: All right, Vernell, we always appreciate you taking the time out to come on the program. Thanks a lot.
CRITTENDON: Hey, I appreciate you.
ABRAMS: Coming up, an Oscar-winning filmmaker wanted in the United States for having sex with a 13-year-old girl, $80-plus thousand richer today. Roman Polanski wins a libel suit because he says his reputation was harmed.
And your e-mails on the Natalee Holloway investigation. Many of you mad at me for wondering why the lead prosecutor in the case is taking some R&R back in Holland now.
Your e-mails firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and where you're writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: Coming up, a London jury awards filmmaker Roman Polanski 80-plus thousand for harming his reputation. His reputation—he's wanted in this country for having sex with a 13-year-old girl and he's worried about his reputation. Details after the break.
ABRAMS: We've got some breaking news we want to share for you out of Egypt. “Reuters” reporting that an explosion has shaken the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Saturday, starting a fire, cloud of smoke. The explosion could be heard more than half a mile away. This is right near where there was a series of explosions that killed 34, almost all Israeli tourists in this Egyptian resort.
There is another report coming from A.P. that a resident is saying two more explosions have been heard in another Egyptian resort. That's all we know. We don't know anything more about this except that this is an area that is popular with tourists. It is an area that is particularly popular with Israeli tourists. And we are going to follow this story and bring you anything more that we learn about it as the night goes on.
All right. He's a wanted man in the United States. He pled guilty to—quote—“unlawful sex with a minor”, known these days as statutory rape. He was about to be sentenced when he decided to flee. Now director Roman Polanski is using the law to his advantage. He won an $87,000 judgment today, plus hundreds of thousands in attorney's fees from “Vanity Fair” magazine after suing them in a British court.
Based on a 2002 story reporting that Polanski had propositioned a model in this New York restaurant while on his way to his wife's funeral in '69. Polanski's late wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by followers of Charles Manson. He won the case while hiding out as a fugitive in France. He's been there since 1978 and for some reason this judge allowed Polanski to testify via videophone.
If he had flown to England to testify, he could have been extradited to the United States. Here's “Vanity Fair” editor, Graydon Carter, none too pleased.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAYDON CARTER, “VANITY FAIR”: As the father of four children, one of whom is a 12-year-old daughter, I find it equally outrageous that this judgment is considered defamatory, given the fact that Mr. Polanski can't be here because he slept with a 13-year-old girl a quarter of a century ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Good that Spiderman is in the back there. “My Take”—he's
right. What reputation? How do you do $87,000 of damage to the reputation
of a wanted fugitive? This judge really blew the case too. He told jurors
· quote—“we are not a court of morals. We are not here to judge Mr.
Polanski's personal lifestyle.”
Come on, when you're talking about his reputation you can't judge his personal lifestyle? I guess the fact that he's a fugitive didn't matter either? And the judge let him testify via videophone from France so he wouldn't be extradited.
Joining me now is F.X. Feeney, who is releasing a biography of Roman Polanski this fall, and Los Angeles defense attorney Dana Cole.
All right, so Dana, his reputation has been damaged. Does that mean that not enough news operations are staying on top of Roman Polanski, reminding people that he's a fugitive from the law?
DANA COLE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Dan, are you going to ever give this guy a break...
ABRAMS: No. Not until he returns to face American justice.
COLE: Well, it's interesting. I had a client about 15 years ago come to me who had been in the wind for 25 years. And I went to a senior district attorney at the time named Lance Ito, who later became the famous Judge Ito, and Lance took a look at this guy's life, what he did over the next 25 years, and he decided he would cut him a break...
ABRAMS: Fine, let the D.A.s cut him a break. He doesn't get to choose when he's going to flee and when he's not and as a result avoid American justice. And the fact that you don't think it's crazy, Dana, that this judge let him testify via videophone because if he went to England he would actually have to face American justice?
COLE: Well, but I think the judge felt there was no relationship between his libel case in England and what has occurred—what occurred here in California 25 years ago.
ABRAMS: He may be right, but think of the accommodations that he's making, to allow this guy to testify from France.
COLE: Well, you know, it's interesting California did a similar accommodation for him when he was sued by the victim in the statutory rape case here. And he was allowed to appear by his lawyers and never had to come to California to fight that case. So, you know, it's not...
ABRAMS: Yes. There's a difference between being sued by the victim and suing “Vanity Fair” for libel.
COLE: True. That's true. I agree.
ABRAMS: Mr. Feeney, let me ask you. I mean bring me into his mind, right, I mean he feels that he has been completely wronged and he feels that he was justified in fleeing American justice, correct?
F.X. FEENEY, POLANSKI BIOGRAPHER: Well, I don't—I believe he does in relation to Judge Rittenban (ph), but this is two different issues. You have what he felt when Sharon Tate was murdered. In 1969, he came back to the United States to her funeral and found that she was being blamed for her own murder in the press. And since then, he developed an extraordinary, and I think justified animus toward the American news media...
ABRAMS: I don't care about his animus towards the news media. I'm talking about...
FEENEY: But that's what the lawsuit is about, Dan.
ABRAMS: I understand, but...
FEENEY: It's not about the 1977 case.
ABRAMS: Well I know he'd like...
ABRAMS: I know he'd like to not make it about the 1977 case. But the reality is the reason he testified via videophone is because of the 1977 case.
FEENEY: “Vanity Fair” has taken a number of shots at him about the 1977 case and he's never raised a lawsuit over that matter...
ABRAMS: Because I'm sure they're justified. I mean to suggest that it's not...
ABRAMS: ... justified to go after him for fleeing to France when he's about to be sentenced. We wouldn't accept this from someone who's not a celebrity. We just wouldn't.
FEENEY: But if he wasn't a celebrity, Judge Rittenban (ph) wouldn't have been destabilize in the sentencing phase of the case because Polanski did prison time. He stood ready to pay the penalty, but the judge wanted to send him back into more prison, so...
FEENEY: ... and that was all because of the firestorm of publicity.
ABRAMS: Well, what happened is he got released early and the judge then got upset about the fact that he was released early from psychological evaluation and he said he's going to have to go back and serve the rest of the time.
FEENEY: He was served—he was actually released because the psychological evaluation showed that he was neither a pedophile nor a pathological sex offender. That he was a normal adult male who'd made an appalling choice in the situation as he clearly did.
ABRAMS: And so he gets to choose...
ABRAMS: He gets...
FEENEY: On the average...
ABRAMS: Go ahead.
FEENEY: ... the average psychological evaluation was 47 days in those days. So it was disingenuous of the judge to be outraged that they let him out after 42 days...
ABRAMS: So would you encourage people, Polanski, whoever it is, to make their own decisions about whether a judge is making the right decision if they think the judge is making the wrong decision, they should avoid justice?
FEENEY: No. I think that if you feel that the judge is acting in bad faith, and if you've been a fugitive before, as Polanski was at age 8, and if you feel that you're not going to get a fair shake because you've seen the firestorm of the media against your wife when she was murdered, you know, a lot of psychological conditions impinge. I don't judge Polanski for what he did. I think he's paid an enormous price because he was one of the top American film directors when he fled...
ABRAMS: And he's now one of the...
ABRAMS: ... he's now one of the top French film directors. I mean you know please. I mean it's not as if his career...
FEENEY: One film every five years, you know, instead of a film a year...
ABRAMS: Oh, too bad.
FEENEY: ... you know—yes, well.
ABRAMS: I've got no sympathy for him. I really—I don't. I just—I view this as abhorrent that he gets...
FEENEY: The news media never apologized to him for the way they treated and tried Sharon Tate for her own death...
ABRAMS: ... 1969, I was 3 years old, so I wasn't part of the media at that time. But you know the bottom line is that that is an irrelevant point...
FEENEY: That's why he sued them.
ABRAMS: That's why he sued them today...
ABRAMS: ... because of 1969? He sued them because of something they said in 2002 where...
FEENEY: ... 1969...
FEENEY: ... on the way to his wife's funeral, he was having affairs.
ABRAMS: Look, whether he wants to sue or not...
ABRAMS: ... the bottom line is...
ABRAMS: ... whether he wants to sue or not to me is irrelevant. I mean the point is that he's making money as a fugitive from justice because he gets to testify via videophone from France. F.X. Feeney...
FEENEY: ... thousand sounds like a token amount to me...
FEENEY: You know they paid the court costs because...
ABRAMS: Why do I get the feeling he's going to like your biography about him? Thanks a lot for taking the time. I appreciate it. Dana Cole...
FEENEY: Thank you Dan.
ABRAMS: ... appreciate it as well.
COLE: Have a good weekend.
ABRAMS: Coming up, a true American hero. Soldiers serving in Iraq, shot by a sniper, fires back. What does he do next? Amazing. He goes and he provides medical care to the terrorist who just tried to kill him. It's on tape. Tonight, “Closing Argument”...
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument”—another salute—it would be hard to find a better story of selfless heroism than this one. Private Steven Chitterer (ph), a 20-year-old Army medic from upstate New York, a member of the 265th Brigade Combat Team on patrol in Baghdad on July 2, apparently being videotaped by insurgent snipers waiting to attack from a van parked across an intersection. Within seconds of walking away from his Humvee, he's shot in the chest (UNINTELLIGIBLE) just above the heart.
He goes down, but immediately pops back up, fires back, runs behind the Humvee. Then signals to his unit where the snipers are shooting from. The other soldiers disable the snipers and two of the insurgents, including the sniper who attempted to flee from the location on foot. Following a blood trail, the soldiers located the wounded sniper and took him into custody. An amazing story on it's own.
But then, after being shot by the sniper, Private Chitterer (ph) acted like a true American, providing the enemy with medical treatment. The same guy who just tried to kill him. Making sure that guy survived. After the incident, he wrote in an e-mail to his mom back at home, treating the man who shot me didn't really sink in until after. At the time I just did my job and didn't think about it too much. Another example of a story the media needs to keep talking about, the heroism of American service men and women. By the way, the story ends happily. He's expected to make a full recovery. Thanks to the body armor he was wearing, he suffered only serious bruising. His mom and girlfriend are waiting to have him back at home.
Coming up, your e-mails on the Natalee Holloway case.
ABRAMS: We're back. I've had my say, now it's time for “Your Rebuttal”. Last night I was wondering whether this is the best time for the lead prosecutor in charge of the Natalee Holloway investigation to take a vacation.
Dee Bryan in Neillsville, Wisconsin, “At what point would you think the lead prosecutor could take a vacation? This search has dragged on for almost two months. This is a world of cell phones, fax machines, high-speed jets, and sophisticated equipment. The prosecutor could undoubtedly do her job from anywhere in the world.”
M. Peay in Chesapeake, Virginia asks, “I wonder how she would feel if it were her daughter that was missing and the prosecutor left for vacation.”
From Staten Island, New York, Jack Niesi, “When New York D.A. Robert Morganthau is away, there are still hundreds of ADAs in the office who do the leg work. I have to assume similar circumstances in Aruba. Besides, as you know, thousands of people go missing each year and many, if not most, go unsolved.”
Well, Jack, first of all, she is the D.A. in Aruba presiding over the highest profile case that Aruba has seen in almost its history. Thousands of people don't go missing every year there. She doesn't have a huge staff of lawyers either, the way they do in New York.
And Jay Kasofsky in Woodridge, New York, “She could use a vacation from you and the other media hounds and family of that poor girl who are dogging her every move.”
I know, it's horrible the family of the victim is hounding the D.A.
And after the—that's the address for where you write the letters to, email@example.com. Please include your name and where you're writing from.
I want to bring you this—an update on the breaking news we told you about out of Egypt. A large explosion has shaken the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Two other explosions heard later, apparently from the nearby resort of Naama Bay. A resident said one man—this is according to “Reuters”—quoting bystanders—said there may have been four cars exploded in a park—in a car park area of an up-market hotel.
But keep in mind the initial reports about these sorts of explosions are very often wrong. So we should probably just stick with the fact that a large explosion has shaken Sharm el-Sheikh and that there were two other explosions heard later. Stay tuned to MSNBC. Keep you up-to-date on that.
Thanks for watching. Have a great weekend.
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