Guests: Dave Holloway, Del Harvey, Donna Rice Hughes, John Burnett, Jack Hickey, Dan McCarthy, Melanie Metz
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, a state of emergency in middle America. A killer late-night—late-season twister rips through Indiana, the worst in three decades, destroying homes and taking lives. We are going to investigate. Why didn‘t residents hear the warning sirens?
Then, pirates with assault weapons fire grenades and attack a luxury cruise ship with 150 passengers. We are going to be hearing from those who survived the ordeal and from an expert that tells us what happened.
Plus, our campaign against runaway gas prices—all this week, we are going to be asking, is big oil giving middle America a raw deal?
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required, only common sense allowed.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, thanks a lot for being with us tonight. Greatly appreciate it.
We are going have those stories in just a minute—plus, an unbelievable hidden camera investigation where “Dateline NBC” goes undercover. And they do it to catch suspected predators who troll the Internet for your children. You are going to be shocked at the people who got caught in their sting. We will show you that in a little bit.
But, first, the deadliest tornado in Indiana since 1974. At least 23 people are dead, more than 100 injured. Eighteen died in just one mobile home park in the town of Evansville.
NBC‘s Michelle Hofland filed this report for us. And she gives us the very latest.
MICHELLE HOFLAND, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Joe, right now, officials are draining a pond which is on the south side of the trailer park. You see the orange backhoe over there. It‘s just on the other side of that. Initially, authorities didn‘t believe they would found anyone inside that pond. But, sadly, earlier today, the coroner did confirm that they found a body of a white male between the ages of 25 and 30 years old laying face down in the water there.
The sheriff just told me that, also, as the water is draining, it appears that part or all of a mobile home, an entire home is flipped up side down, the wheels up. And, as the water trains down, then they will be able to go inside and see if anybody—any bodies are inside that trailer.
If you look over here, this is what‘s left of this trailer park in Evansville, Indiana, 350 trailers, about one-half of them destroyed, obliterated, or in serious damage. But right now they don‘t think that they are going to find any other survivors around here.
But the last time, they did. You see this deep ditch here? A little further down, the sheriff‘s deputies yesterday lifted up some debris. And beneath the debris, they found an 8-year-old boy alive. Now, they were ecstatic to find him, however, later discovered that that boy‘s 6-year-old sister and father had been killed in this tornado.
The death toll here at this trailer park alone now stands—Joe, it now stands at 18 -- back to you.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thanks, Michelle. Such a tragedy.
Here to look at the path of this deadly tornado is Sean McLaughlin.
Sean, it looks like this was a perfect storm that hit Middle America last night. Tell us what happened. And why did it happen so late in this tornado season?
SEAN MCLAUGHLIN, NBC METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Joe.
Usually, in November, we are talking about the Gulf Coast states is where the tornadoes usually will form. But with the exception of the dead of winter, tornadoes can really form anywhere at any time throughout the United States, with the exception of the Rocky Mountains, due to the topography.
I want to show you what‘s going on the Doppler radar scopes of the Evansville, Indiana, National Weather Service meteorologists. This is what they were looking at early Sunday morning. It was not good. Right here, in the spotlight, is what‘s called a signature of a tornado, called a hook echo. And it shows the counterclockwise rotations of the wind.
Another way to look at this, this is their wind profile scope. What‘s jumping out at you? The difference in colors, the white vs. the green. This is the inbound and outbound winds counterclockwise circulation of a tornado. It just all spelled bad news for the folks here in Kentucky and Indiana.
And let me talk to you about this cold front that swept through. Out ahead of it, it was moist, unstable air, behind it, cool, dry area, the perfect ingredients that you need for severe thunderstorm development, as well as tornadic activity.
And there‘s the path from Kentucky, jumping right over in through the Ohio River Valley—or the Ohio River, I should say—right in through Indiana, moving from the southwest to the northeast, Joe, a classic example of a devastating tornado.
SCARBOROUGH: It certainly was. Thanks so much, Sean. Greatly appreciate it.
You know, friends, what‘s so difficult—and I know, over the past
six months, you have been watching seeing—been watching Sean and I and
others as we talk about these hurricanes that come on shore. It‘s really -
it just—they move slowly enough that you really can plan ahead.
And if you live across the Gulf Coast, like I have for so many years, you can get in your car and go. What‘s so frightening about these storms, about these tornadoes is that, sometimes, they come out of nowhere.
And you‘re talking to a guy that lived in Alabama, central Alabama, that lived in Mississippi, that lived in Georgia. And I can tell you, in all those areas, you can be in your house and then, all of a sudden, get a last-second alert that a tornado is coming your way.
And, when it comes, there‘s very little you can do.
So, what is it like, though, if you are unfortunate enough to have to ride through a tornado and survive it? Here are some of the survivors from last night in their own words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Woke up about 2:00. My son called and said, get to the basement. I grabbed the kids and we hit the basement just in time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The glass started flying and it was a matter of second . There was no time to think, no warnings, no nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: There never is.
I‘ll tell you what. Right now, I‘m joined by someone who tracks and chases these deadly tornadoes, tornado chaser Melanie Metz. She calls herself a twister sister.
Talk about these storms and talk how quickly they can come up on you and how they can really, really launch with very little warning at all.
MELANIE METZ, TORNADO CHASER: Well, these storms, the tornadic storms that occurred in Indiana, were actually very fast moving. And they occurred in the middle of the night, which was a very dangerous situation.
So, those storms in the middle of the night especially come with little warning, because most people are asleep at that time. Tornadic thunderstorms do develop quite rapidly and can produce a tornado within an hour of forming. And, a lot of times, it just happens on a—what seems to be a really nice blue sky, sunny day. So, they are very challenging to predict. And it‘s really impossible to know exactly where a tornado is going to happen.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Melanie, that‘s the question. Is there anything authorities could have done that they did not do? You had people that were sleeping last night. These warnings came in very late, the people obviously not awakened at 1:00 a.m.
And the next thing you know, there are dozens of people that are killed by the storm. What can be done to improve this system and protect people in the heartland of America?
METZ: Well, currently, there are many people in the field of meteorology doing research to help improve warning systems.
And part of what chasers do, such as myself, when we are out chasing, is, we actually call in reports to the National Weather Service, because they can‘t tell exactly what is going on just by looking at their radar. But people in the field who are seeing funnels develop and things such as that can help with calling in those reports, so the National Weather Service can issue warnings further ahead of time.
And, like I said, currently, there‘s a lot of research being done to try to improve these warnings, to try to be better able to forecast tornadoes. And we‘re pretty good at being able to forecast when there will be severe thunderstorms, but tornadoes are still quite a mystery. So, we‘re constantly working on improving that.
And tornado warning times have actually improved from the past. In fact, they did have about a 12-minute warning. But what was so dangerous about this storm was, it was in the middle of the night, when everyone was sleeping.
And the one thing that I really would stress is, it‘s important to have a NOAA weather radio, because, if you have a weather radio, there are certain weather radios the—where the alarm will go when there‘s a warning for your area.
SCARBOROUGH: And that‘s a great point, Melanie. I want to actually bring in right now Dan McCarthy. He is the warning coordinator for the National Severe Storms Laboratory.
Thank you so much for being with us.
Let‘s talk about last night. It seems like, unfortunately, a perfect storm. It‘s late in the season. Nobody is expecting a tornado to come through—to come across Indiana the way it did. These people are asleep at 1:00 a.m. And the consequences are just tragic. So many sad personal stories coming out of there right now.
What could these people have done, what could authorities have done to prevent all those deaths and injuries?
DAN MCCARTHY, NATIONAL SEVERE STORMS LABORATORY: I think the one thing you need to stress—and Melanie really said it very well—is have a NOAA weather radio nearby.
That‘s just like having a smoke detector in your house. And a NOAA weather radio is about as close as you are going to come to having somebody come to your door, knock on your door and tell you that a tornado is coming and that you need to seek shelter.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, how does it work? Obviously, these people are not going to be listening to a weather radio at 1:00 a.m. at night. Is there some sort of an alarm system or warning saying on there?
When a tornado warning is issued by the local weather forecast office, in this case, the Paducah office, an alarm would go off and let you know right away. And these are shrilly type of alarms. Living in Oklahoma, we get them a lot. They will wake you right from a sleep and let you know exactly what‘s happening in a minute‘s time.
SCARBOROUGH: How unusual is it for a killer storm like to hit Middle America at this time of the year?
MCCARTHY: It is unusual, but it‘s not unprecedented.
In fact, three of the last four years, we have had tornadoes in Indiana and Ohio in November, the one last being November 10, 2002. But the big difference was that Van Wert was hit in the early to mid afternoon. This happening at 2:00 in the morning, when everybody is asleep, really made it the most dangerous.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Dan—and, again, we are going to be hearing more and more stories coming out of this tornado in the coming days.
The tragedies—there is, of course, a story of just unspeakable tragedy, of the woman who was eight months pregnant who died tragically last night, along with her son and husband. But let‘s say they had this warning system and they are living in a trailer. What do you do?
MCCARTHY: Well, the best thing you can do, weather you‘re in a trailer park or in a well-framed home, if you are hit dead on by a tornado, it‘s just as dangerous whether in a mobile home or well-framed home.
The best thing you could do is to get into the center of the home, cover yourself up with as many things, and get as many walls between you and the tornado as possible. Granted, a mobile home is just that. It‘s mobile. And it can be a very destructive type of situation. But people have survived tornadoes.
A good example is May 3, 1999, when Oklahoma City was hit, and 8,000 structures were totally destroyed. You can protect yourself from a tornado if you have enough lead time. In this case, you had 12 or 13 minutes. If you had a shelter nearby, you had time to get to it. What really made it hard is, you were dead asleep. You were sound asleep. And you had to wake up and react very quickly, which is very hard to do.
SCARBOROUGH: Really just terrible, terrible timing, which of course contributed to this tragedy. Thank you so much for being with us, Dan.
Thank you, Melanie. Really appreciate your insights.
Coming up next, a luxury cruise liner comes under attack—not making this up—by pirates. Up next, how the captain fought back.
Plus, reports coming out of the U.N. that the waters are getting more dangerous by the day. We will give you that story and more coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you explain yourself?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don‘t you go ahead and cover up?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: A hidden camera sting. Suspected online predators get the shock of their lives—how a vigilante group is fighting back and how you can help protect your children. That is from a “Dateline” special we will be showing you.
Plus, a lot more as SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY continues.
SCARBOROUGH: Sky-high prices, record profits. All this week, I‘m calling on Washington and big oil to give us a break or at least some answers.
Our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY campaign when we return.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, when you think of pirates, images like these may come to mind. But it was all too real when the cruise ship Seabourn Spirit was attacked by pirates using rocket-propelled grenades off the coast of Somalia on Saturday. The captain changed directions and sped away as passengers literally dodged bullets and more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEAN NOLL, PASSENGER: Well, we had a wonderful captain and he knew exactly what to do. And he got us out of harm‘s way.
CHARLES FORSDICK, PASSENGER: The rocket grenade went right through and blew the whole cabin up.
NOLL: When he said, this is not a drill, I thought, oh, boy. We are going to have to abandon ship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: They didn‘t have to do that.
But 151 passengers, 48 of them American, were not hurt. And only one crew member suffered injuries.
But with me now to talk about it is Jack Hickey. He‘s a maritime attorney. And on the phone from Switzerland is John Burnett. He‘s the author of “Dangerous Waters: Modern Piracy and the Terror on the High Seas.”
General, let me—I will throw it to you first, John.
The United Nations reporting that some of their relief shipments going to Africa are in danger because of the constant attacks from pirates. How widespread is this problem? And why aren‘t we hearing more about it?
JOHN BURNETT, AUTHOR, “DANGEROUS WATERS”: Well, we have always thought, as you said, that piracy is a matter of Hollywood legend and Captain Kidd and Blackbeard. But it‘s certainly something else in the 21st century.
And it‘s a crime that is virtually out of control and certainly out of control off the coast of Somalia, where, since the middle March, 28 now, 28 ships have been attacked violently and many of them hijacked. In fact, it‘s probably not reported but—yet—but two ships, two large cargo ships were attacked immediately after the Seabourn Spirit was attacked in the same area, probably by the same pirates.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. John, John, if that‘s the case, then why was this cruise ship going so close to shore? It seems to me that that—they were just asking for trouble.
BURNETT: Well, that‘s the million-dollar question.
It‘s unfathomable to anyone—I have made the passage several times -
to anyone that a large ship, the most luxurious cruise ship in the world, carrying well-heeled American and European passengers, would tempt fate by going within 100 miles of the Somali coast.
The International Maritime Bureau and the Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington all—both say to keep within—to stay away by 200 miles, 200 nautical miles. So, why this master of this vessel kept within 100 miles is unclear to everybody.
SCARBOROUGH: Jack, how lucky were they to get away? Does this happen often?
JACK HICKEY, MARITIME ATTORNEY: Well, Joe, this is—they are incredibly lucky to get away.
My take on this is that the captain did an excellent job once he—once the event occurred. But why was he there? And, as your other guest said, why were they 100 miles offshore, not 150 or 200 miles, is really the big question here. Somalia has not had an effective government since 1991.
Since March of this year, there have been 25 -- your guest says 28 -- pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia. Even the prime minister of Somalia has requested other countries to provide naval support for its own country. So, I think the captain did a good job once the event occurred, but the big question is, hey, why was he there?
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, Jack, you know the industry very well. Could they have been trying to save fuel? Could have been trying to save time? Do you think they may have cut it short and risked these people‘s lives for an economic reason?
BURNETT: Well, Joe, I think you may have hit the hammer right on the head—hit the nail right on the head. Excuse me.
But I think that‘s a big question to ask, is, why—why did they do that? Was it to save fuel? Cut short the itinerary? We have seen that with cruise ships before getting their passengers in trouble just to change an itinerary for one reason or another.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thanks so much, Jack Hickey.
Thank you, John Burnett, for joining us. Greatly appreciate it.
SCARBOROUGH: Oil is pumping right now. And prices have finally started to come down, but CEOs of the nation‘s three largest oil companies are going to be facing a grilling in Congress this Wednesday after record-high profits and accusations of price gouging.
I‘m joined right now by CNBC‘s Melissa Francis.
Melissa, thank you so much for being with us.
MELISSA FRANCIS, CNBC ENERGY CORRESPONDENT: It‘s my pleasure.
SCARBOROUGH: Does big oil think they are going to get set up, just like big tobacco was set up in the late 1990s?
FRANCIS: I don‘t know how far this can really get.
I mean, there have been investigations into price gouging. It‘s been found at local levels at local gas stations, but that has nothing to do with the bit oil companies. So it‘s just unclear what is going to come out of this, this week.
SCARBOROUGH: OK. I am liberal arts kind of guy. I worked very hard to stay out of business school and anything to do with numbers. So maybe you can explain this to me, since you are the expert there on Wall Street.
Why is it that, when oil prices go up and gas prices go up, oil company profits also go up? When I talk to friends in the oil industry, they always talk about, oh, well, it‘s refinery costs, but it seems to me it shouldn‘t cost more to refine a barrel of oil at $70 a gallon than at $30 a barrel.
FRANCIS: Well, the oil companies own the refineries. They are the ones that are selling the finished product out of the refineries.
And they‘re buying the crude at these higher prices. It‘s valued at a higher price if they sold it elsewhere, rather than refining by themselves. And the real reason why prices are so high is because we are so limited on refining capacity here in the U.S. We had 10 percent of capacity go out during the hurricanes. Now 5 percent is out. And that is really what is driving prices.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Exxon right now I understand has $34 billion in cash. Obviously, everybody is making record profits.
We have been hearing for years that refineries, building new refineries just doesn‘t make economic sense. But the bottom line is, they have absolutely no plans to build new refineries, despite the fact again that they are enjoying record profits. Why is that?
FRANCIS: Well, they say it‘s very hard to get permits, which is true.
Nobody wants a refinery in their backyard.
But the other truth of the matter is that refining has just been a terrible business for decades and there weren‘t great returns for a long time. Right now, there are good returns. But they don‘t necessarily trust that there they‘re to stay, so they are not that eager really to reinvest right now.
But when it comes to the windfall profits, you have to ask these senators, do any of their constituents own these companies in their 401(k)s? And if the companies are forced to give back these dollars, do they have any incentive to go ahead and drill another well down the road? I don‘t know.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Melissa, that‘s—I just don‘t see that ever happening, passing Congress.
SCARBOROUGH: And, certainly, the president—the president will never sign a windfall profits tax.
But there are lot of people—you obviously understand—a lot of people in Middle America very angry they‘re paying more at the pump than ever before, and we are having record profits across the board for these oil companies.
Do they have a reason to believe that prices at the pump will be going down in the coming weeks and months?
FRANCIS: Absolutely. Yes.
In fact, they have come down about 50 cents in the past month, just 23 cents in the past week. And experts say they will go down another dime or so in the next few weeks. But you have to watch out for those winter heating costs. That is what is coming next. The Department of Energy said if you use natural gas, you can look forward to bills that are 61 percent higher for winter, heating oil 30 percent hire for winter.
So, it is going to be an expensive winter. As you get a benefit at the pumps, you are going to pay to heat your home.
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it. CNBC‘s Melissa Francis, thank you so much. We really appreciate you being with us tonight.
FRANCIS: Thanks for having me.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, and that is a problem.
The problem right now, especially for people in the Northeast and across the northern parts of this country, it‘s going to be—you know, if it‘s a cold winter. Heating prices are going to go be going up. The people that can afford it the least are the ones that are going to be shouldering the biggest burden.
But, friends, I will tell you what. I need an answer. I really—and e-mail me. You can e-mail me. We are going to be putting up my Web site throughout the show. I want to know, why do oil profits go up when the price of oil goes up? It seems to me they should all be going up the same. The only thing I hear from the oil industry—and I have been saying this time and time again—oh, it‘s refinery costs.
That‘s a bunch of garbage. They are telling you and me to believe that it costs them more money to refine again oil that is $70 a barrel than oil that‘s $30 a barrel. It‘s a lie. It‘s just not true. I can sniff this stuff out. You can sniff it out.
And that‘s why, all week, we are going to follow this story. And I‘m going to be calling on Washington and big oil to give us some answers.
And, listen, guys, women, know this. You know, when I was in Congress, I voted time and time again for free market. I voted for free enterprise. I don‘t want the federal government on the backs of our corporations. And, if they make a big profit, I think that‘s great. But they shouldn‘t be making profits because they are price gouging or because they‘re doing it on the backs of Americans, again, who can afford it the least.
Now, e-mail me. If you have got an answer, explain it to me. As Denzel Washington said in “Philadelphia,” explain it to me like I‘m a fifth grader. I really want to know. E-mail me at Joe@MSNBC.com and tell me. Give me a good excuse why oil profits are exploding when you and I are paying more at the pump than ever before.
Coming up next, fighting back against sex predators who are targeting your kids online. Next, you‘re going to see the undercover NBC report that gave suspected predators the surprise of their lives. Plus, find out what you can do to protect your own children.
And SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY has obtained a letter from Aruban authorities that will shake up the Natalee Holloway investigation—exclusive details when we return.
SCARBOROUGH: An exclusive NBC investigation sent this guy running for the hills. You don‘t want to miss this, not only for yourself, but also for the sake of your children. That‘s coming up straight ahead.
But, first, here‘s the latest news you and your family need to know.
SCARBOROUGH: A new development in the Natalee Holloway case.
Natalee Holloway‘s mom demands new investigators on that case. And, today, we have a short, nasty response from Aruba. And the—going to tell you about the implications of that coming up.
Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. We are going to be talking about that story and a lot more in minutes.
But, first, dangerous sex predators target your children online. And experts are saying that one out of five children on the Internet has been sexually solicited, and that number is growing at any given moment. Fifty thousand sex predators are online right now.
And to show you what‘s going on in these chat rooms that, friends, your children come across, “Dateline NBC” enlisted the help of a vigilante group called Perverted Justice that aggressively tracks alleged predators. Well, they wired up a house in a suburban Washington neighborhood with nine hidden cameras. And, soon, a long line of visitors who thought they were chatting with a young teen came by.
But what they found wasn‘t a young teen, but “Dateline”‘s Chris Hansen.
CHRIS HANSEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Most of the online conversations were so explicit, we can‘t even begin to show you.
DEL HARVEY, PERVERTED JUSTICE: Yes. Come on in. Sit at the counter.
I have got some water and some chips there for you, if you want them.
HANSEN: Like many other men you will meet, he‘s in for a big surprise when I walk out. Some think I‘m the child‘s father. Others apparently believe I‘m with law enforcement. One thing‘s certain. None of them knows our hidden cameras are recording their every move and they‘ll be appearing on “Dateline.”
How‘s it going?
HANSEN (on camera): Why don‘t you have a seat?
ALADDIN: Thank you, sir. Nice seeing you.
HANSEN: What are you doing here?
(voice-over): His name is Aladdin. He lied online about his age, saying he was 35. He‘s really 46, and instead of admitting he came here for a date with a 12-year-old girl, he says he‘s here to look at real estate. Later, he decides to come clean.
HANSEN (on camera): Why did you really come here?
ALADDIN: To see what‘s-her-name, Sarah.
HANSEN: So, all of that other stuff in the house and all that, that was all a big, fat lie?
HANSEN: OK. Do you know how old Sarah is?
HANSEN (voice-over): He tries to convince me that the girl, Sarah, is 18, even though his own words tell a different story.
(on camera): You say you‘re 35, male, and you say where you are from.
She says she‘s 12. You say: “Oh, you real young. You like older men?”
You ask her about her former boyfriends, did she ever give them oral sex. She says yes. She tells you here that she‘s 12 years old. What is that number right there? What does that say?
HANSEN: Twelve, yes. So, that 18 thing was a lie as well?
ALADDIN: I guess.
HANSEN (voice-over): Then Aladdin apparently begins to feel faint...
(on camera): What are you doing?
(voice-over): ... and lies down on the kitchen floor.
(on camera): Are you OK?
ALADDIN: Yes, yes. Just a minute.
HANSEN: Do you want your water?
ALADDIN: A little. No, I‘m fine.
HANSEN: Why is it appropriate to come to a home where a 12-year-old-girl...
ALADDIN: She‘s the one who—she said, we can meet to—we can—you can come over to my place. You can—can spend time together some time.
HANSEN: But that—does that make it right for you to do it?
ALADDIN: No. I feel guilty. Oh, I feel bad about this.
HANSEN (voice-over): But this man, once he sees me and not a teen, realizes he‘s made a big mistakes and runs for the door.
HANSEN: Hey, how are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ah.
HANSEN: Hey, whoa, whoa, whoa. Hey, you‘re not going to want to do that, I don‘t think.
(voice-over): Here‘s another guy who doesn‘t stay long.
(on camera): Hey, how are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good. How about yourself?
HANSEN: Good. Why don‘t you have a seat right over here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, thank you.
HANSEN: I‘d like to ask you some questions.
(voice-over): He makes a beeline out the garage, barely touches the stairs, and, with his arms flailing, runs down the driveway and down the street. Clearly, this man knows he‘s done something wrong.
Perhaps more shocking than the number of men is who they are. Our background checks uncover men leading double lives that you would never suspect involved in this potentially illegal activity. This man, letting himself into our house, makes his living working with children. He‘s a special education teacher. Del is now posing as a boy the man‘s expecting to meet.
DEL: Just sit at the kitchen counter for a minute.
STEVEN BENNOF, TEACHER: Where are you? Oh, OK?
DEL: I need—I just—I need to get my new shorts on.
HANSEN (voice-over): The teacher, Steven Bennof, believes he‘s been chatting on line about sex with a boy named Brandon , who says he‘s 13. And how old do you think the teacher is? He‘s 54 and married. When I confront him, at first, he says he thought Brandon was an adult.
BENNOF: Well, he said he was 23. What‘s the problem?
HANSEN (on camera): I have the transcript. That‘s what the problem is. Brandon said he was 13.
(voice-over): And the teacher knows this because Brandon told him online he was 13.
(on camera): You talk about oral sex, anal sex and all the different things that you‘d like to do with him. What are you doing here?
BENNOF: I thought I would come see him. But...
HANSEN: Come see him for what?
BENNOF: I wanted meet him.
HANSEN (voice-over): While online, our 13-year-old decoy asked the teacher to bring condoms. Did he?
HANSEN (on camera): You did? You have them in the pocket?
HANSEN: What does that say about your intent?
BENNOF: Well, I always have them with me, but...
HANSEN: What is a 54-year-old man doing coming to this home to see a 13-year-old boy?
BENNOF: I obviously made a big mistake.
HANSEN (voice-over): What about this guy? A man in his position is just about the last person you‘d expect to be showing up at our house.
It‘s 4:00 in the morning in an AOL chat room. This 54-year-old man screen-named REDBD messages a 13-year-old boy named Conrad, saying, “I‘m prowling for young men.” What he goes on to say and the pictures he sends are so graphic, we had to carefully edit them before putting them on television.
HANSEN: While the two are chatting online, we conduct a background check, and are absolutely shocked by what this man does for a living, and now he‘s in our kitchen after making a date for sex with a boy he thinks is 13.
RABBI DAVID KAYE: Hi.
DEL: Hey, hold one second. I got to change my shirt, OK?
RABBI KAYE: OK.
DEL: I spilled Diet Coke on it. I got to ask you, so are you going to be up for tonight?
RABBI KAYE: We‘ll see.
HANSEN (on camera): So, how can I help you?
What are you doing here?
RABBI KAYE: Not something good. This isn‘t good.
HANSEN: Not good? That‘s kind of an understatement, isn‘t it? What do you do for a living?
RABBI KAYE: I‘m a rabbi.
HANSEN (voice-over): That‘s right, a rabbi. The man who sent naked pictures of himself is a man of God. He‘s a staff member at a Jewish youth educational organization.
(on camera): Now, presumably, you counsel families and children in your position as a rabbi.
RABBI KAYE: Sure.
HANSEN: What are you doing as a man of God, as a rabbi in this house trying to meet a 13-year-old boy?
HANSEN (voice-over): Instead of answering, the rabbi asks to know who I am. But, before I tell him, I want to ask him about those pictures he sent.
(on camera): You sent pornographic pictures. That‘s a federal offense right there.
RABBI KAYE: OK, look, you know I‘m in trouble and I know I‘m in trouble. I am not interested in getting any further in trouble.
HANSEN (voice-over): Then we heard that familiar excuse.
RABBI KAYE: This is not something that I have done, ever.
HANSEN (on camera): You‘ve never done this before?
SCARBOROUGH: All three men told “Dateline” they did not come looking for sex.
The rabbi claims he did nothing wrong, but he recently resigned from his position as a Jewish youth education organization counselor. Police notified school officials about the teacher, who was later fired.
And I‘ll tell you what. If you are a patient and you saw that package and are you not scared to death right now about all the people that hang around our children day in and day out as teachers, as counselors, as spiritual advisers, using their positions to exploit our children, that doesn‘t scare you, then nothing will.
When we come back, we are going to take you to the front lines in the war against these predators and tell you how ordinary citizens can fight back, setting a trap for people who are setting a trap for our children.
And exclusive: We have obtained a letter that could change the investigation into Natalee Holloway‘s case. We are going to have the family reaction to that letter when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: I don‘t know about you, but I have got to say, that package, what “Dateline” did and these people that helped in the investigation, that is about as important of a piece of investigative journalism in the area of these sexual predators who prey on your kids every day I think I have ever seen.
You see these rabbis coming in, a rabbi, a teacher, an E.R. doctoring coming in. They claim they are not there for sex, but you look at the pictures. You look at the transcripts. Just shocking.
Now, the question is, could these online sex predators be targeting your children? And if so, what can you do to fight back?
With me now to talk about is Donna Rice Hughes. She‘s the volunteer president of Enough is Enough, a group that works to make the Internet safer for children and families, and also Del Harvey, a member of the group Perverted Justice, who took part in the “Dateline” investigation.
Del, I have got to start with you.
We have been talking about this for some time now. But seeing is really believing. It is so dangerous out there. I was shocked by what I saw. But, sadly, I would guess you were not.
HARVEY: In a lot of ways, I wasn‘t, but that‘s partly perverted-justice.com, the Web site, has been out there doing this since 2002. And we have just seen it time and time and time again in chat rooms, where these guys show up.
SCARBOROUGH: But these are like rabbis. They‘re teachers. They‘re volunteers that work for children. They use their positions to be around children, so they can basically rape them.
HARVEY: There has been police officers. There has been firefighters.
We have gotten somebody from every single walk of life.
It‘s gotten to the point where you can‘t just say, gee, this person seems like he is a good person. He works a good job. You can‘t trust in that anymore.
Donna, I would also guess that you have been talking about this nonstop, despite the fact too many Americans have not been listening to groups like yours.
DONNA RICE HUGHES, VOLUNTEER PRESIDENT, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: Right.
SCARBOROUGH: That, when you saw that, you also were not surprised at these supposedly normal people coming in, again, 55-year-old teachers coming in to have sex with 13-year-old boys or girls.
HUGHES: Right. That‘s absolutely correct, some of the people that you would least expect.
And, again, what makes it—makes it so much more difficult online is that the kids are interacting with strangers that they don‘t know are strangers. These people pretend to be someone that they are not. And parents, most parents, don‘t even know that their kids are talking to strangers online.
SCARBOROUGH: And this is—the sad thing is, this is going on every day.
And I have heard you say it. I have heard other people, experts, that have come one when we are talking about how parents can protect their children. The fact is, they say, you know what? It‘s going on every day. In fact, it‘s going on right now. It‘s just—take a look. I want you to take a look at one alleged Internet sex predator running away.
Now, we got this guy. “Dateline” got this guy on camera. But the sad fact is that usually there‘s nobody to corner him. And there he goes, running off. But the only reason he is running is, obviously, a camera was there. The bottom line is, it‘s happening today. They are not running away. They‘re getting together with young children. So, what do we do?
HUGHES: Well, parents have to understand that they are the first line of defense. Enough is Enough has launched a program called Rules and Tools.
Most of these Internet dangers can be prevented if parents would just implement some very simple safety rules and software tools. Over half of the parents aren‘t even using any type of filter or monitor. And most of these parental controls will actually allow a parent to block all chat rooms, which is what they have to do, and to limit instant-messaging, because 90 percent of all the sexual solicitations take place in chat rooms and instant messaging. And chat rooms are not safe under any circumstances, even if they‘re monitored.
SCARBOROUGH: Del, how do you trap these predators?
HARVEY: Essentially, what we do is, we go into one of the chat rooms, whether it be AOL or Yahoo! or another chat service, with a profile that is clearly underage. It will have an underage picture. It will have the age clearly listed on the profile.
It will be written in teen-speak or whatever we have chosen to do that particular profile in. We vary them tremendously. And we go into and a chat room and we sit there. We don‘t necessarily say anything. We aren‘t going in to any chat rooms that say, you know, young girls looking for older men. We are going to into your regional chat rooms.
SCARBOROUGH: You are going to the chat rooms that children in Middle America are going into not to look for a sex partner, but to talk about their favorite song or what movie they saw over the weekend or a new pair of shoes that‘s hot, right, that sort of thing?
HARVEY: And then we just sit there.
HUGHES: There are a couple of sites out there—for instance, myspace.com, which is very, very popular among the young girls right now.
And they actually encourage young people to put up online profiles. And one of the things we have been saying for 12 years is do not under any circumstances let your child have an online profile, because they are predator magnets. And what this group has shown is exactly my point, that the predators are looking for young people.
And then they attempt to make contact with them. And if this had not been a sting operation, if any of those people had been real children, they would have already been molested or possibly worse.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, it‘s absolutely terrible.
Donna, thank you so much for being with us. We have got to have you come back and follow up on this.
Del Harvey, also, thank you for being with us. More importantly, thank you for what you have shown us today. It‘s ugly, but it‘s necessary for parents to confront this. And if you don‘t step forward and take responsibility for what your children are seeing on the Internet at night and throughout the day, then you are being too reckless with really your most valuable possession.
Coming up next, new developments in the Natalee Holloway case—a letter from Aruban authorities to the governor of Alabama. Will it make it harder for everybody to get justice for Natalee?
That when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Another strange twist in the Natalee Holloway story tonight. Aruban authorities have sent a letter to Alabama Governor Bob Riley that may make a new investigation even harder to move forward with.
The letter says, in part—quote—“The chief prosecutor leading the investigation and the general prosecutor are appointed by the kingdom government in The Hague. Because of separation of powers, the Aruban government has no authority to intervene in the investigation.”
With us tonight to talk about the latest developments is Natalee‘s father, Dave Holloway, who joins SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY by phone.
Dave, thank you so much for being with us.
And now, after all these months that you have been suffering and your family has been suffering, now you find out that the Aruban authorities claim they have absolutely no say in this investigation? I mean, where do you go from here?
DAVE HOLLOWAY, FATHER OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY: Well, that‘s really unbelievable, that they take that wash-your-hands approach.
We‘re going to proceed on with The Hague, I guess. And also our letter, our six-page letter we were asked to provide to the attorney general, and we provided a carbon copy to the prime minister and Condoleezza Rice, and we have not heard a response from that letter yet.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Dave, I have been asking the question for months of people down on the ground in Aruba. Who has the power to run this investigation; who has the power to hire; who has the power to fire? Who has the power to subpoena? And nobody seems to know.
I mean, this really does look like a banana republic down there. And any time somebody gets cornered, they just point the finger across the Atlantic.
HOLLOWAY: Well, that seems to be the case.
We have been running around in circles for five months now. And then, when we reduce it down to writing, they put it back in writing. And it‘s obvious that they‘re pointing the finger somewhere else now.
SCARBOROUGH: So, are you—so, you are, I guess, at the end of the line as far as dealing with the Aruban authorities. Now you just have to take it up with the Dutch government?
HOLLOWAY: That‘s what it appears to be, with the Dutch government and the attorney general.
Mind you, the minister of justice had mentioned, oh, about a month ago that he felt this would just—just leave it alone and it will go away. So, we know what his approach is now.
SCARBOROUGH: The new investigator, the new chief investigator, somebody that you all looked forward to having on, but now Dompig is actually—he seems to be as much of an obstacle as anything. And he‘s actually come out and attacked you all, hasn‘t he?
HOLLOWAY: Well, he has attacked Beth in some sense by putting out on the island that she may be involved in—somehow in Natalee‘s disappearance and making money off of it. So, it looks like to me that he‘s trying to incite anti-Beth sentiment across the country of Aruba.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Dave, we are so frustrated. I know that you all are—just have to be just beyond yourselves right now.
The question that a lot of people are asking is, what can we do? Is this the time that we go to Governor Riley and other people and talk about a possible boycott of Aruba? Is it that time yet? Or are you all going to play this out a little bit longer?
HOLLOWAY: Well, the—the people of Aruba have elected their officials. And their officials have spoken. And we have elected officials. And we will let the elected officials speak.
SCARBOROUGH: So, what will you—but will you make any requests of the elected officials to possibly move forward with a boycott of Aruba?
HOLLOWAY: Well, again, Joe, we elect our officials and they decide whatever is necessary for the people. And whatever the government decides, that‘s what we will do.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Dave Holloway, thank you so much.
As always, know that our thoughts and our prayers will be with you and your entire family.
And, friends, I‘ll tell you what. It sounds like a showdown is coming. I mean, can you believe after five months of this, this family going through this private hell, this personal hell, and, after all this time, it just keeps getting pushed around. They are getting no answers.
And they get to the point where there‘s a new investigator. They believe that they are going to get answers on how their daughter disappeared and most likely died. And right as they push him right to the wall, then, all of the sudden, the Aruban authorities say, oh, wait a second, we have got no authority.
Well, I will tell you what. I‘m not waiting for the government. We are going to look into a boycott sometime soon.
We will be right back with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in a minute.
SCARBOROUGH: Outrageous prices, record profits. All this week, I am calling on Washington and big oil to give us a break, or at least some answers. Our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY campaign needs your help. You can help us by e-mailing us at Joe@MSNBC.com.
We will be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, thanks for being with us this afternoon. That‘s all the time we have. But we are going to see you again tonight at 10:00 p.m.
“HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS” starts right now.
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