Guest: Daniel Horowitz, Louis Freeh
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, Daniel Horowitz joins me for his first live interview since his wife was murdered.
ABRAMS (voice-over): We‘ll talk about how and when he found Pamela Vitale dead in their home. What did he see at the crime scene? And where does the investigation stand now? And I‘ll ask him the tougher questions many of you want him to answer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was a president who publicly attacked city director of the FBI.
ABRAMS: My sit-down with the nation‘s former top cop, Louis Freeh, President Clinton hired him to run the FBI, but now he has harsh words for his old boss, wants to talk about many of the issues facing the FBI today.
Plus Saddam Hussein says he‘s innocent as his trial gets underway today.
The program about justice starts now.
ABRAMS: Hi everyone. First up on the docket tonight: Daniel Horowitz is with us for his first live television interview since finding his wife, Pamela Vitale murdered in their California home Saturday evening. Daniel is a well-known criminal defense attorney and is a friend of this program.
He‘s appeared many times as a guest commentator. I want to talk to him about a whole range of issues and give him the opportunity to respond to questions some have been asking about him as well.
Daniel Horowitz joins me now. Daniel, thanks a lot for coming on the program. I‘m so sorry it has to be under these circumstances. You and I have spoken a couple of times since this happened and I know how hard this is for you to talk about, so I appreciate it. How are you holding up?
DANIEL HOROWITZ, FOUND WIFE MURDERED: I guess you can see, Dan. It‘s just—I don‘t know how I‘m holding up. I don‘t know—it‘s—I don‘t know how to answer that.
ABRAMS: In the few moments before the show, you know I saw that you were in tears for a moment and it seems from the times I talk to you that it ranges and at times completely break down to other times thinking about moving forward with the investigation and getting this case solved.
HOROWITZ: What you were seeing on the monitor before we went on is that one of Pamela‘s closest dearest friends called me and we were just talking about Pamela and up to that, I was feeling the best I had felt in a while because I had been through our house that we were building.
I felt alive for the first time since Saturday and then when I talked to her friend, I felt like the love that her friend had and it just made me cry and it‘s sort of like you can‘t predict when you‘re in this state that I‘m in, you can‘t predict why you‘re feeling something or what—you can‘t control your emotions. So I don‘t know from second to second, too much when I‘m going to you know be one way or the other.
ABRAMS: You went back to the house today for the first time. How was that?
HOROWITZ: Yes. I—well I went back once with the police just to walk through it to see if I had any insights into what had gone on there that would be known only to me. And that was hard but I had the police officers with me. Today I went back with my family and the police had taken out the most horrific parts of the scene, the parts that really were upsetting, you know, just pure—they took that away.
So it was a beautiful day and I went into our bedroom and you know the bed just has a sense of the person or the people who were there. And for me, it was a nice feeling to be with her. So it‘s like there‘s horror, but I can never escape that and then there‘s the moments where I feel her and then there‘s all these questions and functioning and you got to do arraignments and other people‘s feelings and you just don‘t really know where you‘re at. And I think anybody who‘s been through this can just tell you there‘s no formula for it.
ABRAMS: Daniel, before we talk about the investigation, tell me about your relationship with Pamela.
HOROWITZ: I‘ve said this so many times it just—but it‘s the only way to sum it up. She was the love of my life. I found the person who I loved my whole life and I hoped—and she told me, that I was the love of her life. She said it all the time. And I know I was, but I just always felt she was too good for me. She‘s too beautiful, too wonderful, too kind.
But bottom line is when you really come down to it is we were going to grow old together and be happy and they show all these pictures of that house and the property constantly again and again on TV. We lived in that mobile home, Dan, for 10 years together and I was just as happy then just to be with her as I would have been you know, my whole life if she just would have been with me. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) That‘s it.
ABRAMS: Let me just give you a chance to settle for a moment. Let me ask you a question about the night before all of this happened. What did you guys do on this Friday night before Pamela was murdered?
HOROWITZ: You know, Dan, it‘s—I could logic it out, I can barely remember it. I assume we were doing the Susan Polk trial. All I remember and then I did TV on one or two shows that night, I think. Yes. And then I came home and we were just sitting together, and we got a phone call from one of the hosts and then I guess at some point we want to sleep.
Probably, you know a lot—most of what we would do at home, is we‘d be so tired, we‘d sit and watch your show, we‘d watch whatever shows. You know our friends were hosting or on, and talk about it or talk about her day or my cases because she worked with me, so just nice, just being together evening.
ABRAMS: You were together that night, you went to bed, you woke up in the morning and then what?
HOROWITZ: I looked at her. I woke up earlier. Looked at her, just looked at her. She got—made my breakfast—a little different—I made my coffee and then went to breakfast with Bob Massi, instead of staying around the house because I had a breakfast meeting with him. We had a case together.
And then I had a meeting on Polk with my team. Did that and then shopping, this and that and came home and she really shouldn‘t have even been home. She should have been at the ballet and then she was home.
ABRAMS: If you can, tell me what you can about arriving at the scene that night.
HOROWITZ: OK. I remember that I called her a few times during the day and she hadn‘t responded, which maybe that‘s happened 100 times before. So it‘s doesn‘t mean that you feel good about my, you know your wife not responding. You know how that is. You have funny feelings, but it always turns out OK. So when I arrived though and I came down the hill, and her car was there, that wasn‘t a good feeling.
But I just said OK, well maybe she‘s not going to dinner—sorry, Dan
· she‘s not going to dinner. I‘m losing track. I just saw her car and I‘m just going maybe she wasn‘t going to dinner with her friend for the ballet, so she‘s home still, but it didn‘t feel good. But I just went to the door and I saw a smear on it, which I knew was bad, but I didn‘t know it in my brain.
A lot of what you‘re seeing and what‘s going on is like your body knows first and your brain knows second, and then I found her there and then I—you know. I‘m going to tell you something, Dan. I‘ve relived this every few minutes constantly, just to figure out what happened and also just because it‘s my last moments with her even in the state she was in and then I see the pictures. I don‘t know what to say anymore.
ABRAMS: You—when you arrived there, you told me before that you touched her body. That you felt her pulse, et cetera, and you spoke some words to her.
HOROWITZ: When she was lying there, even though I knew that she was
dead, I touched her on the temple to see if she was alive and you know
called 911 on the phone and then went back to her and then I just told her
· I said a million things. I screamed, I cried, and I told her I loved her, and I‘m trying to avoid just—I don‘t want to cry anymore. I‘ve just cried out to tell you the truth.
But basically, for me lying—when she was lying there, she was still Pamela and I could look at her and I could love her, and I could feel the love in her, and I wasn‘t fooling myself about what was going on, but I was just focused in on her.
HOROWITZ: And sometimes I would just get into pain.
ABRAMS: You had said that it was clear to you that the killer or killers had cleaned up the crime scene. Why do you believe that?
HOROWITZ: Well, Dan, I don‘t want to go into any details of the investigation because what‘s going to happen now is there‘s a mix of what I saw at the time and a mix of what I‘ve learned and my primary focus—I don‘t have too many functions in life right now, is to take care of my family, you know to take care of myself and not to interfere with this investigation by saying things on TV that they don‘t want out.
So all I can tell you is that what I saw was that she fought like hell and really fought like hell and I think she almost won and I know my wife. I know Pamela would never ever you know give up. She would fight to the end, Dan. No one could scare her. She loved life and I think that person almost lost. I mean I‘m assuming it‘s a man. I don‘t know. But I think she almost beat him.
ABRAMS: So you‘re convinced that the killer would have some sort of wounds on him.
HOROWITZ: Well, either wounds or he struck with a weapon repeatedly so that she didn‘t have a chance to wound him, but she didn‘t go down and she didn‘t give up, Dan. I could see that. Look, I know what a crime scene looks like. It‘s what I‘ve done for a living and I‘m telling you that Pamela fought like hell and that person who attacked her, I bet he feared that he was going to lose. She fought like hell.
HOROWITZ: But he had a weapon and I‘m sure she didn‘t.
ABRAMS: And do you say that in part based on defensive wounds, et cetera, that you recognized.
HOROWITZ: Again, I‘ve heard that rumor about defensive wounds, Dan and I don‘t know one way or the other if there were. I didn‘t touch her other than what I just told you. Touched her twice on the neck, so I didn‘t look or move her to find out what was there. I just could tell by how the scene was, based upon my knowledge of what I do and knowing Pamela and how strong she was and how brave she was, I know she might have been scared a little at the beginning but that immediately, that would have turned into a strength and a fury, and she would have been fighting for everything and I know that‘s what happened, Dan.
ABRAMS: And in part, that‘s because the scene, the TV was moved and other items weren‘t in their ordinary place, right?
HOROWITZ: Right. You could just see how the battle went back and forth and what objects were moved. And again, these are some things even that I figured out I don‘t want to say on TV, so that the police don‘t have their hands tipped, but I could see things moved in certain ways that I know how the bodies were when they were fighting. You could see the splatters of blood, but you could just see that she‘s moving around, that she is not giving up.
And of course it doesn‘t make much difference if she lost in the end, but I still know my wife and I know for whatever comfort it brings to the people who love her, you know, she fought like hell. Nobody just you know got away with this without being frightened that she was going to win and if I was there she—I could have taken care of her but she almost took care of herself, Dan.
ABRAMS: Daniel, if you could stay with us. I want to take a break and then I want to give you an opportunity to respond to some questions that have been asked about you and the investigation.
We‘ll be right back with my friend, Daniel Horowitz in a minute.
ABRAMS: We‘re back with Daniel Horowitz who found his wife, Pamela Vitale murdered in their home on Saturday evening. He was immediately put in the back of a police car at the scene and says he was treated like a suspect, but he also says he expected and he‘s been very complimentary of the way the police have handled this. Police have not ruled anyone out as a suspect in this case, including Daniel.
So I want to give him a chance to set the record straight on a number of issues. Dan, I want to go through some of the questions that have been floating around out there. None of them I‘m certain are going to come as a surprise to you. First, let me ask you, when this initially happens, the police do what? They put you in the back of the car and they start questioning you?
HOROWITZ: No, it wasn‘t really like that. It‘s—when I‘m on with the 911 people, I just remember her saying do you hear the police cars and I keep saying they‘re not here. They‘re lost. They‘re lost. And she said well they‘re coming and she says can you just walk over to them. And I said I don‘t want to leave my wife, but eventually I walked over when they pulled up and it‘s like at that point, you just want a hug from a human being.
You just want to cry and sob. And but I—this is my business, Dan. I know what happens. My brain doesn‘t vanish even though my emotions are broken. So the guy says, you know, I got to put you in the police car. And it‘s like he wants to comfort you but he can‘t and I‘m just saying to myself, my needs don‘t matter. I have to just let him take care of his business, which is sort of the whole process of dealing with the police when your wife is killed. You‘re not important. And this whole focus on my needs or how I‘m treated doesn‘t matter. It‘s all (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Excuse the expression, but the only job that I have in life is to take care of the kids and to do what the police need me to do so that they can get their job done.
ABRAMS: And how long did they question you at that time?
HOROWITZ: They didn‘t. I mean I just sat in the police car and they let me listen to the radio traffic and they let me see what went on the screen and when I had any ideas, you know which I don‘t want to talk about on TV, I would just knock on the window and they‘d come and I‘d tell them. So that‘s really all it was. And then I was on my cell phone because as I‘m seeing the Teletype thing, I know that it‘s going to go on TV.
Here‘s—the bad part is Dan, you know me and Pamela struggled, worked very hard so that I could be a TV commentator and build a career and the negative side of it, there really was none, except that all of a sudden, I‘m in that car and I know that my children, her parents, her sister, my parents, my whole family is going to find out about this on TV, you know on the radio, which is—so I‘m desperately trying to reach everybody and at the same time I‘m so freaked out I don‘t know whether I should cry, what to -- I‘m just going through every emotion that I‘m -- that‘s what‘s going on in the back of that police car. They‘re not questioning.
ABRAMS: When you had a chance to sit there for a moment, did you have thoughts about who you thought might be responsible for this?
HOROWITZ: I communicated all that type of information to the police right at the scene.
ABRAMS: Your neighbor, Joe Lynch, has been talked about a lot in the press. You wrote the following about him in an application for a restraining order just a few months ago.
I have phrased this declaration in personal terms, but most important to me is that he stay away from my wife Pamela.
Is Lynch someone you think the police should be looking very closely at?
HOROWITZ: Dan, here‘s what I have to say about that. My job is not to go on television and point the finger at anybody because we have a great police department, the Contra Costa County sheriff. They‘re working so hard on this case. They don‘t need Dan Horowitz to be going on television and making accusations against people.
They‘re going to do the best job they can. I don‘t want them to rule out anyone. I don‘t want them to rule out me or anyone else on this planet until they actually have a person arrested who‘s good for it, so I‘m never going to point the finger at anybody.
ABRAMS: All right. And we should say he‘s not a suspect in this case. They haven‘t named any suspects. And can you tell me what your relationship was with him at the time?
HOROWITZ: Without going over a line that I‘m going to try to draw, he was a person who lived on a property below me that I owned, that I bought from him. He was one of three tenants on the property. At times, I was involved in his legal affairs to some effect and there were social aspects to the relationship as well.
ABRAMS: Did the police examine you for cuts or bruises?
HOROWITZ: See, what you‘re really asking is—let me put it to you this way. No, I was not treated at all like a suspect, Dan. I was not examined, but also understand that they need to get all information, including about me, even if they‘re my brothers, even if they‘re—even if I was the chief of police, the mayor. Anybody. If they‘re not checking out my situation entirely, then they‘re not doing their job...
HOROWITZ: ... defense attorney attacks. So, but if you‘re asking whether they ever treated me in any way that made me feel like a suspect, no. That‘s—they treated me like the grieving husband. But they‘re also a top professional agency and I‘ve given them everything they ever have asked for and always will.
ABRAMS: Dan, a question a lot of my viewers have been asking and I‘ve told you this before, the vast majority of the letters we‘ve been getting are people who are reaching out to you to support you, to say how much they feel for you and how much they have come to care about you. But a number of people have asked whether you were asked to take a polygraph, whether you were polygraphed and whether you‘d be willing to take one.
HOROWITZ: OK. Well Dan, these are legitimate questions because people only know me from television. They don‘t know me personally. I have not been asked to take a polygraph. I would take a polygraph at any time that the police ask me to do it. But beyond that, Dan, I would do anything the police ask me to do. I would answer any question no matter how personal, no matter—anything. There would be nothing on this earth that I wouldn‘t do and there‘s nothing that I‘ve ever refuse them. Anything they‘ve wanted, I‘ve done and I always will.
ABRAMS: And so you would—the answer is you would take—if they asked you to take a polygraph.
HOROWITZ: Polygraph, yes.
HOROWITZ: Anything yes. Everything yes.
ABRAMS: There was a report that you refused—or you didn‘t want an autopsy performed on Pamela. You want to explain that?
HOROWITZ: Yes, that‘s completely untrue. That‘s either a lie or just some idiot repeating something. I did want an autopsy on Pamela because that‘s necessary. The particular doctor that they were going to use was a doctor who was on the other side of the case in the Polk trial that I was doing. I had filed papers that were negative about him in the proceeding. They were public.
I did not want them to catch the perpetrator of this crime, and then go to trial having my work against this doctor used to let the murderer of my wife go free and I expressed that absolutely clearly. I talked to the police investigator today on the case, you know, about that lie that was around and we‘re on the same page. That‘s total garbage. And I heard it and when I—you know, it makes me so mad.
That‘s—this is turning into and it‘s going to be a media event. This is my life and me and Pamela chose to make me a media person, but we didn‘t choose for Pamela to be murdered, and I know I have no control, Dan, over what‘s going to be happening but I can be angry and any time—there‘s a lot of things that make me angry, but mostly not. But I know I‘m not going to like everything, but what I do like is when you did the hour on Pamela and my kids and I watched it and it helped us cry. It helped us feel.
It made us, you know, you—I do not accept that Pamela‘s dead. You know there are times I talk about her like she‘s alive, less and less. But when I see her on your show and you talk about her and a few of my friends out there talking, it‘s like a beautiful remembrance for me. That‘s—I don‘t know where we were going with that...
ABRAMS: That‘s OK. Let‘s do this, Daniel. Let‘s take a break and I should say, Daniel, I talked to him—before we want on the air I told him that you know there were a lot of questions that people are asking and that he too wanted to be able to explain some of them. There were a couple more, but I also want to ask you after the break if it‘s changed your view of being a criminal defense attorney, et cetera.
Let‘s take a quick break here. When we come back—you can see this is—look, it‘s very hard for Daniel. We‘ll do one more block with Daniel and then we‘ll let him go. Coming up, more. You see the pictures there of Daniel and Pamela.
Take a break.
ABRAMS: More of my exclusive interview with Daniel Horowitz coming up after the headlines.
ABRAMS: I‘m back with Daniel Horowitz. I‘ve said it before he‘s a friend of this program. He‘s been on many times as a guest commentator on this program, but now he is on because he found his own beloved wife, Pamela, dead at their home on Saturday evening and the police are investigating the crime. They have announced that it is a homicide.
Daniel, the “San Francisco Chronicle” had a headline which talked about sort of you having no motive or something along those lines for this crime. We talked about it before. You said it‘s something that you actually wanted to talk about. They talked about a neighbor loaning you $300,000, et cetera. What do you make of that?
HOROWITZ: I‘ll tell you, Dan, that‘s the negative part of being in
the media. Me and Pamela chose to put me in the media, but when the press
starts calling my nephews, my family members and then starting to dig
around you know to find something that‘s a story, it‘s—I don‘t like it
but it‘s just going to be the way it is. I would like the media, which are
· many of them are my friends, to stay away from my family and not to come up to my house, which you didn‘t today. I appreciate.
But I‘m in this world. I have no choice. It‘s—people find me and that‘s it. Leave my family alone. That whole $300,000 thing, that‘s my dear friend you know who I hugged and we sobbed in each other‘s arms when - - just yesterday. He loaned me the money. I secured the property with a deed of trust and I paid him a market-rate interest and he was happy to loan me the money and there‘s even a bigger story where basically he was going to make a bad investment with the money and this was an alternative, but that doesn‘t matter. There‘s an answer to all of these stupid idiotic statements, which I know they have to do because it‘s their job, so I don‘t begrudge it. But just put it on me and leave my family out of it...
ABRAMS: So there were no financial problems in the family?
HOROWITZ: It was the opposite of financial problems. Pamela had turned me into a media figure and she‘d helped build my practice to what it was and she was an interregnal part of it. We were about to finish the house and live happily ever after, have our dreams come true and the Polk case, I think I had a good chance of winning even though I had a very good opponent as a prosecutor.
I felt we had a good chance of winning and that would have been great for my client and it would have just skyrocketed my career. We were as happy as can be. But mostly, you go—let‘s go back to financial—I mean the house was our house. It was our house together. It was where we were going to grow old together. It‘s not even about financial. So all these people can like pick around. I don‘t like it when they come up with ignorant conclusions and don‘t check it out. I‘m not saying “The Chronicle” article was. I didn‘t even read it. I don‘t read them, but I just want to make sure that people fact check. That‘s all.
ABRAMS: You made a point that you know you‘re a high-profile attorney now by your own doing. That you have agreed to go on programs for a couple of years now, doing legal analysis on the biggest trials of the day. Did you think about not speaking to the media at all after this? Was there a decision-making process into going out and speaking publicly about this or not speaking publicly about this?
HOROWITZ: Yes, I don‘t know how conscious it was. When I was in the Martinez (ph), you know, with the police, as I‘d be talking to them, the phone would ring. It would be this is so-and-so from whatever, so sorry to hear about your loss. I‘d go can‘t talk. Hang up. And—but these are my friends. I mean I was not the subject of the media, Dan. I was a commentator. I was a member of the media.
ABRAMS: And you were...
ABRAMS: I think to be fair, you were also a friend—I mean let‘s be clear. You were also—as I‘ve said on this program before, you‘ve become a friend to a lot of us in the media, beyond just being on television.
HOROWITZ: Well a friend of yours.
HOROWITZ: I mean a friend of yours, a friend of some people. I mean why am I doing your show? Because if I don‘t do shows, there‘s going to be all these unanswered questions and then there‘s going to be a lack of attention to the investigation. Bottom line is Dan, I have to cooperate 100 percent with the police. And since I‘m a professional, I know what they need and not only do I answer their questions exactly, precisely, without spin on it, without my view, I just give them the answers and when I know they need things, I give it to them.
Like I‘ll give you an example. In my wallet, I knew I had receipts from when I had been at the bank. They didn‘t ask me do you have any proof of where you were. When they were out of the room, I‘d pull out my wallet, pull out the receipts, and when they come in, they‘re on the table. I go take these. I wrote them out a timeline, had to verify it.
All my thoughts on who might have done it, all—I mean anything I could think of. I am in sad mode, I‘m in hurt mode and I‘m in a mode that I am a professional and I am going to do what I think I need to do to catch the person who killed my wife. I‘m going to do the media the way I think and if people don‘t like how I do that or anything else, I don‘t give a damn. You talk to me about it. But when we catch the person who killed my wife, then, you know, that‘s it. But right now, we‘re catching the person who killed my wife and that‘s what this is about.
ABRAMS: Has it changed your view of being a criminal defense attorney? I mean, so many times you‘ve come on the program and talked about how we need to look at this through the defendant‘s eyes and how we need to make sure that the trial is fair, et cetera. Does the anger associated with being a crime victim change your view on the legal system?
HOROWITZ: You know, OK, I‘m going to give you the long answer but it‘s the best. I—right now, I‘m a shock victim. I don‘t really know yet what it‘s like to be a crime victim because I‘m still in the world where I still think I‘m going to walk out of here now and my wife‘s going to be there, you know on some crazy level. So this concept—I almost lost your question.
It‘s like—so you‘re asking me about being a defense attorney? I can‘t even think about that. All I can tell you is that I don‘t want to catch the wrong person. I know that catching the wrong person does no good. It just compounds what has happened here. I know that if we catch the right person, it would be a great sense of relief, but this thing about closure, I don‘t know—if it doesn‘t bring back Pamela, it‘s safety for other people. So now can I be a defense attorney again? Well I think I said some things that are fair towards people accused of a crime, but could I stand next to somebody who I knew committed a murder like this? I don‘t know. It‘s—you know it‘s—right now, it would—I guess I‘d have to say it‘d be a pretty hard thing to do.
ABRAMS: What has been the most -- what has been the part of this
that has kept you going? Has it been family? Has it been friends? What -
· has it been a support system?
HOROWITZ: I would say first and foremost when I‘m really, really just hurting, two things are happening at the same time. I just call on Pamela. I just feel Pamela and at the same time, you know, her children who are my children too now. You know, they‘re one and I feel them and then I have my family and the rest of her family and even her ex-husband are the children‘s natural father, this is my support. But the reality that I have to face, Dan, is that when all of this craziness ends and the person is caught, I‘ve got nothing in my life, you know, at the very core. The very core of my life will never come back no matter what happens. There‘s nothing that‘s going to ever happen that‘s going to make it OK. That‘s, you know that‘s the bottom line, reality.
ABRAMS: What—how are you...
HOROWITZ: I‘m sorry.
ABRAMS: You want to...
ABRAMS: You know why don‘t we call it Daniel?
HOROWITZ: No, go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.
ABRAMS: I‘ll ask you one more question and then let‘s just take a break. I‘ll move on to other topics. I just wanted to ask you about Pamela‘s kids. I think sometimes there‘s a tendency to talk about you, as you pointed out in the context and you kept saying I want Pamela to be remembered. You said how much you appreciated the fact that on one show, we talked so much about Pamela so I want to do that as we end this. How are her kids doing? Let‘s do that. How are her kids doing?
HOROWITZ: Well, Dan, they‘re wonderful kids. When they arrived, they drove up from where they live. They drove up to see me and it‘s like they‘re in such pain and they came to see me. And they‘re hurting so deeply because they‘re beautiful children. If you know Pamela and you know Pamela, but people who knew Pamela, you know what her kids are like. They‘re like Pamela. So that‘s how they‘re doing. They‘re hurting very deeply, but they‘re beautiful in how they hurt.
ABRAMS: Dan, you can probably tell this has not been an easy interview for me to do either, but this is not about me. This is about you and it‘s about Pamela. Thank you very much for taking the time. Good luck and as I say this to you, I say this on behalf of so many of my viewers who have written in to offer support to you and my staff as well, they say that they are wishing you the best. That their thoughts and prayers are with you and we will do what we can to help catch Pamela‘s killer, I promise you that, and we‘ll do the first step right now, which is the tip line, 1-866-846-3592.
If you have any information about what happened, please, please call that number. You know look, I know that‘s a large part of the reason Daniel is here, is he wants that number out there. So anyone can call in with information that may help.
Dan, good luck my friend.
HOROWITZ: Thank you, Dan.
ABRAMS: Take a break.
ABRAMS: Coming up, I sat down with the former top cop from the FBI, Louis Freeh. He does not have such kind words to offer about his former boss, President Clinton, my interview coming up.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. Former FBI Director Louis Freeh has been in the hot seat for the past two weeks in response to his new book, “My FBI:
Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton, and Fighting the War on Terror”.
Freeh details his years of investigating the Clinton White House, a White House he says he cared more—that he says care more about politics than it did about law enforcement and fighting terrorism. I sat down with Louis Freeh earlier today to discuss the fallout from his controversial book whether September 11 could have been prevented. It sure sounded like he didn‘t think anyone would be indicted in the CIA leak investigation.
In the book you pride yourself on never being accused of partisanship. You were director of the FBI, a judge, a former U.S. attorney. Are you concerned that the legacy of this book is going to be political? That people are going to look back on it and say, you know he‘s a Republican and that‘s what the book is about.
LOUIS FREEH, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Well I hope not. I think if you read the whole book, it‘s pretty clear that that‘s not the case. You know in terms of being a Republican, you know, I was independent for all the years I was in public service, 26 years. I have supported Republican candidates since I left the government. I‘ve supported Democratic governors and senators. I‘ve held fundraisers for them. So I think you know in terms of the facts I‘m not concerned about that, but I think there is obviously a lot of attention, a lot of interest in a very small part of the book.
ABRAMS: But there is something particularly sort of vicious about saying for example, I couldn‘t leave. I wouldn‘t leave because I didn‘t want to give President Clinton an opportunity to appoint someone else in my position because I so didn‘t trust him.
FREEH: Well, I wouldn‘t call that vicious. I would call it responsible for the following reason. As the director—and this was not my choice by the way—you know we were investigating a number of matters where the president of the United States was the subject of the investigations. And then, of course, independent counsels and later the Congress itself was investigating the same president.
I think it would have been very irresponsible for me to leave—you know, this was a president who publicly attacked the sitting director of the FBI, which is quite extraordinary and I‘m sort of surprised that nobody has focused on that. He didn‘t understand the process. He didn‘t respect the process.
That‘s what got him into difficulty with Judge Wright down in Arkansas. It wasn‘t the FBI director personally trying to investigate and harm the president. It was the FBI director together with the attorney general by the way, and independent counsels filling their statutory responsibilities.
ABRAMS: John Podesta wrote this and I know you‘ve read what he wrote.
Under Mr. Freeh‘s leadership, the FBI stumbled from one blunder to the next with little or no accountability. Freeh‘s claim, moreover, that no one, including White House counterterrorism official Richard Clarke, told him that radical Islamic terrorism was a major threat is totally disingenuous. There were countless memos circulating in the bureaucracy and numerous meetings that Freeh refused to attend.
You know, they are basically saying—they being many of the Clinton administration officials—that you‘ve been passing the buck, that you‘ve been blaming the Clinton administration and that this is just your effort to try to get back at them.
FREEH: Well, that‘s not true. Look, you know we‘ve heard from this very durable spin machine now for about two weeks. Interestingly enough, we really haven‘t heard from the president. You know, if I did such a bad job as the president‘s spokespersons have said, he should have fired me. You know why did he tolerate me as FBI director?
ABRAMS: One of the things that you describe in your book having to do is go get a DNA sample in the context of the Monica Lewinsky case and you sort of describe how uncomfortable that made you feel.
FREEH: It was horrible. I mean it was embarrassing. It was embarrassing for me. I know it was embarrassing for Ken Starr. I think it was embarrassing for the country. It was embarrassing for those agents who had to go over to the White House and do that and it just you know brought to mind what a ridiculous situation the whole country had been put in by his conduct.
ABRAMS: Without the—this sort of finger pointing that has gone on a lot of levels with regard to 9/11, could 9/11, should 9/11 have been prevented?
FREEH: Well I don‘t think that it could have been prevented. And again, I would rely there on the 9/11 Commission‘s conclusion. No information that was known at the time, which if reasonably acted upon, could have prevented the hijackings on September 11. That‘s what we would call tactical intelligence. In other words, Mohammed Atta is getting on a plane in Boston at 4:00 this afternoon and he‘s going to fly it down to New York City after he hijacks it. We didn‘t have that and I think that‘s the conclusion...
ABRAMS: Were you convinced when you saw the planes hitting the Trade Center that‘s bin Laden?
ABRAMS: Did you say that‘s al Qaeda?
FREEH: Yes, I did. You know, we should not have been surprised about al Qaeda taking the war to the United States.
ABRAMS: What do you make of the CIA leak investigation?
FREEH: Most federal investigations, as you know, don‘t end in indictments. They end in cases being closed for either lack of evidence or witnesses unavailable or there‘s a legal issue that will compromise the case...
ABRAMS: So even after everything that you‘ve read, you wouldn‘t be surprised if there are no indictments?
FREEH: No, I would not be surprised if there were no indictments.
ABRAMS: The attorney general has asked that the FBI create a unit or enhance a unit to focus on adult porn. Does that seem to you like a waste of precious resources right now? We‘re not talking about child porn. We‘re not talking about protecting children. We‘re talking about you know smut.
FREEH: Well I mean every political administration has priorities. You know, when I was FBI director and they passed the statute and they said I had to assign FBI agents to going after dead-beat dads, I maybe didn‘t think that was the best use of our FBI resources. We didn‘t have the kinds of resources that we should have had to be expending people, you know, in the matter that didn‘t have the priority obviously that terrorism and civil rights and public corruption had.
ABRAMS: Louis Freeh, his book “Inside the FBI”.
Coming up, Saddam Hussein in court for the start of his trial.
Shocker. He was defiant. The details coming up.
ABRAMS: When Saddam Hussein was captured nearly two years ago, President Bush said he would face the justice he denied to millions. It started today. Saddam and seven henchmen on trial before five judges in Baghdad for crimes against humanity, including the premeditated murder and torture of 142 people (UNINTELLIGIBLE) attack on Saddam in an Iraqi town in 1982. If convicted, Saddam could face the death penalty. We wanted to spend more time on this, but we‘re out of time.
We‘ll be right back. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
ABRAMS: Finally tonight, as some of you may know, the son of famed attorney Robert Shapiro died last week from a drug overdose in California. I consider Bob a good friend. His son Brent was a graduate of the University of Southern California who spent several semesters on the Dean‘s list. Bob tells us Brent had turned his life around.
He was engaged to be married, he had been sober for a year and a half before he died last week. I wrote Bob telling him how sorry I was about—for his loss. He asked if there was anything that—I asked if there was anything I could do to help. He informed me that his family is starting a foundation to educate children and parents about drug awareness.
Their goal is to change perceptions, get parents talking to kids about it. If you want more information or to contribute to the Brent Shapiro Foundation for drug awareness, you can write to 10250 Constellation Boulevard, Los Angeles, California, 90067. The address will be on our Web site at abramsreport.msnbc.com.
Bob, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
That does it for us tonight. Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.
Have a good night.
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