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'The Abrams Report' for November 9

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guest: Jane Arraf, Russell Yates, Troy McKinney, Tony Messenger, Brian Ballou, Savannah Guthrie, Joe Episcopo, Pam Bondi

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, suicide bombers attack the Grand Hyatt, Radisson and Days Inn hotels in Jordan, killing at least 57 and wounding dozens. 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  The attack looked like the work of al Qaeda. 

The targets could include Americans and Europeans staying there.

And Andrea Yates, the Texas mom who drowned her five children, is getting a new trial.  We talk exclusively with Andrea‘s ex-husband, Rusty Yates. 

Plus, the brother of the man authorities say is on this tape, abducting 11-year-old Carlie Brucia tells jurors how his brother admitted raping and killing her. 

The program about justice starts now. 


ABRAMS:  Hi, everyone.  Breaking news to report.  Three western hotels attacked by suspected suicide bombers tonight in Amman, Jordan.  The death toll at this point at 57 with possibly hundreds more injured.  The hotels, the Radisson SAS, the Grand Hyatt and the Days Inn are all frequented by American and European business travelers, as well as Israeli tourists and others.

The bomb detonated at the Radisson, went off in a wedding hall where at least 300 guests were celebrating.  State Department officials telling NBC News it has—quote—“no information on who‘s responsible.  Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice said this just over an hour ago. 


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE:  Clearly, this is a great tragedy and again it shows that people will take innocent life without any remorse and it just shows the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we‘re fighting and Jordan of course has been a tremendous fighter in this ally war on terrorism, so I‘m not (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but it looks like a very bad situation. 


ABRAMS:  This attack in Amman, coming exactly two years to the day after an attack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where a car bomb killed 17, wounded more than 100, most of whom were Arab nationals. 

Joining us now on the phone from Amman, Jordan is NBC News producer Moufaq Khatib.  Thanks for taking the time.  All right, so what is the latest there Moufaq?

MOUFAQ KHATIB, NBC NEWS PRODUCER, AMMAN, JORDAN (via phone):  Dan, three to five bombings has been taking place here in Jordan in the three different hotels.  In Grand—in Radisson SAS hotels, one of the suicide bombers has blown himself up with the party and the other two hotels, the Grand Hyatt and Days Inn Hotel, the suicide bombings; they blew up themselves in the lobby. 

According to the Jordanian official, the deputy prime minister (UNINTELLIGIBLE), he said the toll of this is 67 people and there are several hundred injured.  Among the injured there is a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) tourists here in Amman, Jordan.  Now the Jordanian deputy prime minister announced that they sealed off all the borders with the—all the countries surrounding Jordan, which they defined that—the suicide bombing, they might be—came out of Baghdad or Syria and they might be associated with al-Zarqawi (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Moufaq, what is the significance of these three hotels?  I mean this is not just three random hotels in Jordan, is it? 

KHATIB:  It‘s not random hotel actually.  It is—these three hotels is full of tourists all the time, all the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) they used to stay in those three hotels.

ABRAMS:  And what does it tell you—you say that they‘ve sealed the borders—they sealed all of the borders from Jordan to all of the neighboring countries? 

KHATIB:  Yes, that‘s what the deputy Jordanian prime minister said.  They sealed off all the borders with all the countries for the time being.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Moufaq thanks very much.  Appreciate it.  Let us know if anything—if you get any new information, we‘ll put you right back on the air, so let us know if you get anything new, all right?

KHATIB:  OK.  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Joining us now, MSNBC terrorism analyst Steve Emerson and former “Reuters” Amman bureau chief, Jane Arraf, now a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.  Thanks to both of you. 

All right, Steve these hotels not a big surprise.  In fact, we heard about the targeting of hotels like this.  In fact, I think one of these hotels in Amman, Jordan back in the late ‘90‘s didn‘t we?

STEVE EMERSON, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well in fact the millennium plot specifically targeted the Radisson Hotel and since that time, there at least have been a dozen other plots against western hotels where they know Americans are staying or Israelis.  Look, in the end, this was one quintessential soft target.  Number two, it deprives ultimately Jordan of going to be a lot of revenue from tourists because the revenue from tourists will dry up.  Number three, it strikes at the heart of the ability of Jordan to project itself as a very stable power.  So this was a shot (UNINTELLIGIBLE) by either Zarqawi, al Qaeda or a combination thereof.

ABRAMS:  Jane, what people forget sometimes is how good the Jordanians are and have been at stopping terror attacks.

JANE ARRAF, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS:  That‘s absolutely true.  If you go to Jordan, Jordan has been one of the most peaceful of places and it‘s remarkably different, coming from places like Baghdad or a lot other places.  It seems very calm, very placid.  That doesn‘t mean there haven‘t been things going on underneath the surface, as you point out.  Jordan authorities have kept a very tight grips so far and have foiled some attacks as you say.

ABRAMS:  Steve, but really, I mean, in terms of the Arab countries in that area, is it fair to say that Jordan has the best intelligence about potential terrorists?  Put aside Israel for a moment.  But amongst the Arab countries there, the Jordanians are the best when it comes to intelligence? 

EMERSON:  Without doubt, Dan, they are definitely the best and they have the closest relationship—working relationship with the United States.  Very close relationship on lots of cases, obviously because of the Zarqawi network and neighboring Iraq, but also because of other terrorist groups.  The Jordanians have been very cooperative.  There‘s always exchanged programs.  Their legates, legal attache, so the Jordanians have a very good handle on what‘s going on.  This is surprising, obviously.  First time ever a suicide bombing has occurred in Jordan, so it obviously shocked them. 

ABRAMS:  And Steve, what do you make of the fact that they‘ve sealed the borders?  How significant?

EMERSON:  I think it‘s significant because they believe obviously that some of the either—there might be culprits who try to escape or there might be other follow-up attacks.  And I know there are other American frequented hotels who are subject to evacuations tonight apparently, so there is a few that there could be some other follow-up attacks.

ABRAMS:  Jane, do you see any significance to the wedding?  I mean it seems that in Israel, very often, the attacks occur at weddings.  Here, we‘re talking about someone literally walking into the middle of a wedding and detonating a bomb.  Do you think there‘s any significance? 

ARRAF:  Well you know it would be hard to walk into a hotel in the Arab world and the region in general and not hit a wedding.  People get married all the time and they get married in hotels.  Now obviously what this has done apart from the obvious impact is it‘s particularly horrific and particularly headline grabbing that during a wedding, this attack happened.  So it was obviously designed for maximum impact, but weddings go on all the time and they go on in hotels like that, which is very much frequented by Jordanians, as well as foreigners. 

ABRAMS:  Steve, does this tell us anything about a possible future attacks on the U.S. or is that—is there really just nothing just to read from this about any future potential attacks? 

EMERSON:  Well, I think it shows that the al Qaeda network or Zarqawi network is essentially being resurrected to a certain extent in certain parts of the world.  We don‘t know obviously whether this is linked to either the Australia arrests or other types of potential attacks worldwide.  We‘ll know in the next few days with the claim of responsibility with likely video being released by the suicide bombers, you know the last will and testament that they release before carrying out such attacks.  That will give us indication whether in fact who did it and whether in fact there‘s going to be another follow-up series of attacks.

ABRAMS:  And we should point out that as of right now, there is no evidence that any Americans have been killed or injured in this attack.  But again, they are still sorting much of this out.  All right let‘s do this.  Let‘s take a break here.  Jane and Steve, thanks very much.  Appreciate it. 

All right.  What we‘re going to do is we‘re going to keep following this throughout the hour.  We‘re going to keep our eye on the tape that‘s coming in.  As I told our producer out there in Amman, if he gets anything new, we‘re going to put him right back on the air to let you know what‘s going on there. 

Coming up, Texas mom Andrea Yates, convicted for drowning her five children will get a new trial.  Her conviction overturned.  Coming up, the father of those five children, Andrea‘s ex-husband Rusty Yates is with us once again.

And new details in the case of that radio talk show host accused of slowly murdering his wife by spiking her Gatorade with a toxic chemical found in antifreeze. 

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


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  Andrea Yates, the Texas mom who drowned her five children will get a new trial an appeals court ruled today.  Yates confessed to drowning her children in the bathtub in 2001, telling police she thought she was saving them from the devil.  She was diagnosed with severe postpartum depression.  Jurors rejected an insanity defense and sentenced her to a life in prison. 

The conviction overturned, based on a mistake made by a key prosecution witness.  Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal says she will be retried.  Quote—“She killed a bunch of kids and you don‘t do that in Harris County.”

Joining me now exclusively is Andrea Yates‘ ex-husband Rusty.  Rusty, thanks for coming back on the program.  Good to see you. 


ABRAMS:  All right.  So first of all, your reaction to the ruling today. 

YATES:  Well, I‘m very happy.  It was a pleasant surprise.  You know we hadn‘t heard anything in a long time and starting to wonder what the status was and all of a sudden you know here it is.  So very good for everybody. 

ABRAMS:  Do you think Andrea would be able to make it through another trial? 

YATES:  That‘s a really good question.  You know, we—she has—she‘s pretty anxious about that.  She and I have talked about that pretty much every time we visit and you know I just try to reassure her that you know it‘s—you know the results are not going to be any worse than what she has now and you know she has a really good, you know, possibility if it does go back to trial, of being found not guilty by reason of insanity. 

So you know I try to give her some hope along those lines, but it‘s extremely difficult, especially the way the state approaches the case.  You know the way they, you know shock the jury by you know showing all the crime scene photos and autopsy photos.  I mean you know it‘s very, very difficult. 

ABRAMS:  You are Andrea—you are now Andrea‘s ex-husband, but you are still visiting her on a regular basis, right?  I mean you saw her this weekend.

YATES:  That‘s right.  I see her once a month. 

ABRAMS:  And tell me about your most recent meeting.  I mean what she

how‘s she doing, has she changed a lot since people saw her at the—in some of the tapes at the trial...

YATES:  Oh, tremendously.  Yes, she‘s changed a lot.  You know she—there was a long stretch of time while she was in prison where I didn‘t know who I was going to see.  You know when I‘d go up to visit her.  I mean her mood, her mental state changed rapidly over the course of you know three years, really and she relapsed fully three times. 

The past year, she‘s actually been pretty stable.  They brought her out of her last psychotic state with Haldol and then they put her on Zyprexa and she‘s been stable since then.  She hasn‘t relapsed.  Her mood‘s good or at least appropriate, you know...

ABRAMS:  When you say stable, I mean do you recognize her as the woman you fell in love with and had children with?

YATES:  Very much so.  Very much the same person... 

ABRAMS:  So she must—so now, I mean, again, according to the defense‘s theory in this case is she effectively didn‘t know what she was doing, this must all be kicking in now what happened. 

YATES:  Well you know she—it‘s slowly kind of sunk in.  I mean she remembers it and she‘s received some counseling in the psychiatric prison, which has been good for her.  I think she‘s done remarkably well.  You know she‘s still, you know, obviously has a very severe underlying illness and you know, and struggles with what she‘s done daily.  But when I say stable, I mean her mood has been appropriate and her thoughts have been relatively clear and you know, she hasn‘t relapsed and that‘s what we‘re all thankful for. 

ABRAMS:  This is a piece of sound from a jailhouse interview that Andrea did on July 14, 2001 and I think this is the image that many people have and I want Rusty to talk about how different she is from this.  Let‘s listen. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you had not taken their lives, what do you think would happen to them? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They would have continued stumbling. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And where would they end up?




ABRAMS:  All right, so you‘re saying—I mean you know this tape very well, Rusty.  I mean she is a very different person today is what you‘re telling us.

YATES:  Yes.  You know at that time, I think she was starting to come out of her psychosis and trying to make sense of all of what she‘d done.  You know it‘s really—you can‘t make rational sentence of actions people take when they‘re psychotic.  So you know I think she still struggles a bit with you know trying to make sense of what she did at that time. 

But her affect has much improved and her thoughts are much clearer at this point.  She‘s really—if you wanted to see more of what she‘s like today, you go back and look at some of the home videos I have posted on the Web site.  I mean it‘s more like what she is today.  She‘s not as happy only you know because of her situation where she is and what—you know what she has to deal with.  But she‘s—her mood is appropriate you know for where she‘s at now, so...

ABRAMS:  Will you go to the trial every day if there is another trial? 

YATES:  I really hope there‘s not another trial.  I mean if there is one, last time I wasn‘t allowed to sit in because I was a witness and I was called as a witness so they don‘t let the witnesses sit through the trial.  So I was at the courthouse ready, you know, to testify when they needed me, but I didn‘t sit through it all. 


YATES:  I never want to see the video or the house or the crime scene or any of those photos.  I‘ve never seen those and I never want to. 

ABRAMS:  Are you able to look at pictures of your children? 

YATES:  Oh, pictures from when they were living and when we you know had a nice family at home, sure.  But not—I don‘t ever want to see the you know crime scene photos or autopsy photos or anything like that.  I have seen the autopsy photos you know from the Medical Examiner‘s Office, but I haven‘t seen any of the crime scene photos and I hope I never do. 

ABRAMS:  Have you been able to start moving on with your life? 

YATES:  Our relationship is really pretty good right now.  You know I was a little bit concerned about that because of all, you know, the circumstances of everything and going through a divorce is never easy, but Andrea and I have always had a very strong, trusting relationship and I‘m really happy that that‘s continued through the divorce and I continue to see her and support her and you know, we‘ll talk about what‘s going on and reminisce about you know our family and I think it‘s really been good for both of us to continue that relationship in that way. 

ABRAMS:  And she‘s comfortable with you moving on, meaning moving on with your life possibly, having another family, et cetera? 

YATES:  She‘s been very supportive of that.  And that was another concern of mine.  You know I mean I‘m sure it hurts her at some level because of what she‘s lost and because of what we‘ve lost and at the same time she‘s very supportive of me and wants me to be happy, too.  So that‘s really I couldn‘t wish for any better than what we have now. 

ABRAMS:  Rusty Yates, as always thank you for taking the time to come on the program.  Appreciate it.

YATES:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Joining me now Andrea Yates‘ appellate attorney, Troy McKinney.  Thanks very much for coming on.  All right.  So you expect there‘s going to be a trial? 

TROY MCKINNEY, ANDREA YATES‘ ATTORNEY:  I expect there will be a trial unless the state wants to agree to have her found not guilty by reason of insanity. 

ABRAMS:  You know that the standard in Texas is a very tough one and it seemed that the jurors, based on their verdict of guilty and then yet quickly not giving her the death penalty seem to effectively believe that she did have problems, but it didn‘t rise to the level of not understanding right from wrong under Texas law.  You think you‘ll be able to win an acquittal of not guilty by reason of insanity under that standard? 

MCKINNEY:  Oh absolutely.  The only evidence—the only doctor the state had that believed she was sane was Park Dietz, the man who told the whopper of a lie during the course of the trial about having the “Law & Order” special.

ABRAMS:  But sane is different from understanding right from wrong.  I mean understanding right from wrong is the legal standard in Texas and what people pointed to and what the prosecutors pointed to during the trial is the fact that she called the police and thereby knew that what she had done was wrong. 

MCKINNEY:  You know that‘s nothing but posturing on their part.  If she hadn‘t called the police, they would have said she knew right from wrong because she was trying to cover it up by not calling the police.  But you can‘t make sense and logic out of a psychosis and not everything that somebody does when they‘re in a psychotic state is illogical.  There are parts of their behavior that make sense and seem to be very normal, but they‘re not driven by the same kinds of motivations, the same understandings that someone who doesn‘t suffer from that mental illness would be in the position of having. 

ABRAMS:  But shouldn‘t you be trying to cut a deal?  I mean bottom line is it seems again it‘s because the legal standard is so tough.  I‘m not even talking about—I mean look, it seems clear that Andrea Yates, I don‘t think the prosecutors disputed during the trial that Andrea Yates suffered from some postpartum depression or psychosis.  The issue is, did it rise to the legal standard.  Shouldn‘t you be looking for a deal?

MCKINNEY:  I mean what possible deal could there be?  You know they might offer her 30, 40, 50, 60 years in prison.  And as a functional matter, that‘s the rest of her life anyway, so I don‘t know why she would seriously consider accepting some kind of deal like that.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) if they would offer her something that let her out of prison tomorrow so she could go to a mental hospital and receive treatment, then that certainly might be something that would be considered, but I don‘t foresee them offering that.

ABRAMS:  Yes, I don‘t foresee them offering that either.  Have you been talking to Andrea? 

MCKINNEY:  I have not spoken with Andrea.

ABRAMS:  All right.

MCKINNEY:  It‘s been a very busy day. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  Troy McKinney thanks a lot. 

MCKINNEY:  You bet.

ABRAMS:  Appreciate it. 

Coming up, new information on the radio talk show host accused of slowly killing his wife by spiking her Gatorade with a chemical found in antifreeze.  We talk to one of his colleagues who once called the man his mentor.

And the brother of the man authorities say is on this tape abducting 11-year-old Carlie Brucia tells jurors his brother confessed that he brutally raped and killed her. 

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike again.  Today, we resume in Florida. 

The state is looking for Randy Deese, 53, 6‘4”, 280, convicted of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under the age of 12.  He‘s not registered with the authorities.

If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 888-357-7332.

Be right back.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, the brother of a man accused of abducting and killing an 11-year-old girl says the defendant confessed.  We‘ve got the tape coming up after the headlines.


ABRAMS:  New details to report on the story we brought you on Monday.  The radio talk show host accused of slowly murdering his wife by spiking her Gatorade with a toxic ingredient found in antifreeze over a period of months.

James Keown is expected to be charged with first-degree murder tomorrow but now even some of his closest colleagues are beginning to question whether he is the man that they thought they knew.  We‘ll talk to one of them in a moment. 

But first, details coming out seem to paint a very different picture of James Keown, even the one that his wife seemed to know.  Keown allegedly told his wife, Julie, that they were moving to Boston from Missouri so he could attend Harvard Business School.  Prosecutors say he only took one class with Harvard‘s extension school and failed.

And as the “Columbia Daily Tribune” reports, Julie Keown told her family she and her husband had been saving $1,500 a month since they moved to Massachusetts, but at the time of the death, the couple‘s bank account had a negative balance.  Prosecutors say Keown spent the couple‘s money freely without his wife knowing about it and that James Keown stood to gain $250,000 from his wife‘s life insurance policy. 

Joining me now is columnist for the “Columbia Daily Tribune” in Missouri, Tony Messenger.  He knows James Keown well, considered him a mentor.  Tony has been filling in for James on the radio since he was arrested.  He even took a call on the program yesterday from James Keown‘s mother. 

Also joining me is Brian Ballou, a reporter for “The Boston Herald”, who‘s covering this story.  All right, gentlemen, thanks very much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

All right.  Tony, let me start with you.  You‘re now filling in on the radio for him.  As you‘re hearing more details about this story come out, what are you making of it? 

TONY MESSENGER, CONSIDERED JAMES KEOWN HIS MENTOR:  Actually, Dan, I filled in one day for him, the day after he was arrested I did his show.  I‘ve got another show that I do for a sister station. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  So what do you make of the details that are coming out?

MESSENGER:  They‘re shocking.  For somebody who‘s been a friend of James for the last several months, all of us—all the colleagues that I know, all of his friends, we were all just dumbfounded when we found out the news that he was arrested and charged with murder.  Most of us knew that his wife was dead but had no idea what any of the details were. 

ABRAMS:  What did his mom have to say when calling into the show? 

MESSENGER:  His mom called yesterday and defended her son, but one of the things that I found most interesting, and I wrote about in my column today in “The Tribune” is that I asked her whether or not she had ever asked James whether he was involved in his wife‘s death and she told me that indeed, she did ask him that about a month after Julie died.  She noticed that all of the police were questioning James.  They were questioning neighbors.  They were questioning Julie‘s family and she wondered why she wasn‘t being asked any questions and she told me that she asked James whether or not he was involved in Julie‘s death and he cried and said, how could you think that and no, I loved her and he denied having anything to do with her death. 

ABRAMS:  Let me play a piece of sound from Martha Coakley, the Massachusetts‘ prosecutor who‘s responsible for prosecuting this case on this program on Monday.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What the investigation focused on of course, was it accidental, could it have been self-induced?  Trying to determine if she had been poisoned, was it by someone else and if so, by whom.  But it was pretty clear by the time that unfortunately she died that she had been poisoned and then looking backwards, seeing her symptoms earlier that had begun since May, doctors and the medical examiner began to put together that this had been a slow poisoning.


ABRAMS:  And Brian, it seems that they‘re developing a motive now as well, right?

BRIAN BALLOU, “BOSTON HERALD” REPORTER:  Yes, the motive would be the $250,000-life insurance policy.  Allegedly, he brought his wife up to Waltham to separate her from her family and to carry out this plot.  I talked with his lawyer yesterday, James‘ lawyer yesterday, and he said that although the family had some financial problems, that he wasn‘t what he would term, you know, it wasn‘t a budget crisis.  They didn‘t have a crisis.  That he did have some assets that he could have you know sold or you know, done whatever to—go ahead.

ABRAMS:  Brian, do you know anything about this $1,500 that—a month that his wife had apparently said they were putting away and saving and that the report is that he may have been spending it? 

BALLOU:  Yes.  Evidently, that was another fabrication of his.  He told her that he had put away—he was putting away $1,500 a month and I guess that she really didn‘t delve into their financial situation and it turned out to be a total fabrication, just as you know him going to college, attending Harvard Business School where he actually flunked out of a continuing education course. 

ABRAMS:  Tony look, we‘re showing these a little bit bizarre pictures

of him.  They‘re the only ones we have.  You know they‘re sort of the radio

one of them seems to be like the kind of radio talk show host—not that one—but one of the others you know that seems kind of the standard picture you see, like that one.  What kind of show did he do?  Was he a bizarre guy? 

MESSENGER:  He wasn‘t a bizarre guy at all.  His show was actually a political show mostly.  He grew up in the Jefferson City Capitol.  His dad worked there in the Capitol and he knew all the politicians.  He knew the history of the place and he did a very well followed political news show and not outrageous at all.  He was a gregarious personality personally, but on the air, he was very professional.  He was very well-respected as a reporter. 

ABRAMS:  And what do you make of this motive—this money motive? 

MESSENGER:  I don‘t know.  You know, James was a guy that he never seems to have financial problems.  He traveled a fair amount in the time that I‘ve known him.  He was proud of the connection that he had to Harvard.  He wore a Harvard sweatshirt frequently in the times that I was with him and you know he bought drinks for his pals when we were out having beer, whatever, never seemed to have any sort of a financial difficulty as far as I was aware. 

ABRAMS:  Brian, finally, it doesn‘t seem that there‘s any question at this point about the cause of death, right?  I mean I—is the defense do you think going to challenge the notion that she was poisoned?  I‘d assume they‘re just going to say it was someone else. 

BALLOU:  Well I talked with one of the leading forensic pathologists in the country, Dr. Werner Spitz...


BALLOU:  ... in Michigan and he said that it would probably be hard to prove, given that there‘s no—if there‘s no eyewitness.  We don‘t know that yet. 


BALLOU:  We don‘t know what kind of evidence they have yet, but he said it would be pretty hard to prove.

ABRAMS:  Well...


ABRAMS:  I don‘t know.  He was on this show Monday.  He seemed to be...


ABRAMS:  ... singing a little bit of a different tune on that issue.  He said that he thought you would be able to determine whether pretty clearly whether there was poisoning, but you know we‘ll get him back on.  We‘ll talk to him about it.

All right.  Tony and Brian, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

BALLOU:  Thank you.

MESSENGER:  Thanks for having us.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the brother of a man accused of abducting and killing an 11-year-old girl says not only is there the videotape, the defendant confessed.  His testimony next. 

And the governor of Alabama calling for a boycott of Aruba because of the Natalee Holloway case.  You are all writing in about this one.  We‘ve got your e-mails, coming up.  Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.  I respond at the end of the show.


ABRAMS:  We want to bring you up-to-date on those suicide bombings in Amman, Jordan at three western hotels, the Radisson, the Hyatt and the Days Inn hotels.  We have confirmation from the authorities there that 57 have been killed, although other news reports indicating that that number may be higher.  Hundreds injured at these three hotels.  So far, a State Department official saying that all the Americans at the U.S. Embassy are present and accounted for.  There is no indication of American casualties, but here‘s an interesting detail and we‘ve got Steve Emerson on the line to talk about this detail.

Just coming up from Haaretz, online Haaretz, one of the largest newspapers in Israel, saying a number of Israelis staying on Wednesday at the Radisson Hotel were evacuated before the bombing by Jordanian security forces apparently due to a specific security alert.  They were escorted back to Israel by security personnel.  The Foreign Ministry stating Wednesday that no Israeli tourists are known to have been injured in the blasts.  There are often a number of Israeli businessmen and tourists in Amman including in the hotels hit on Wednesday.

Steve, what do you make of this? 

EMERSON (via phone):  Well if the report is true, it‘s consistent with other information that I learned earlier about a specific threat that was faxed in to a senior Jordanian government office warning of an impending attack in the imminent future and we know that in the last few weeks, there have been more alerts issued because of threats issued against Israelis and Americans in Jordan, so there may be, obviously, something to this report.  I have no reason to believe it‘s not true.  The only question would be why Americans were not informed...

ABRAMS:  And Steve, the important thing here is that according to the report, they were evacuated by Jordanian security forces.  I mean that to me seems to be the crucial detail, which seems to suggest that at least the Jordanians knew that the Israelis were nervous. 

EMERSON:  Well or that the Jordanians received the information and were told and intuited that Israelis were being targeted.  The threat itself may have come in directed against Israelis, in which case this would have been the appropriate thing by the Jordanian security officials. 

I—my suspicion is that if it came into the Israelis, they would have left on their own accord.  The fact that the Jordanians escorted them out that means that I think the Jordanians received the intelligence.  Now, there‘s also reports, Dan, that the first casualties are being identified and primarily involving Jordanians, of course, but including Egyptians, Bahrainians, Koreans, other Asians and also sadly enough a very prominent Egyptian film producer who‘s actually known to be anti-fundamentalist was killed along with his daughter.

ABRAMS:  All right.  All right, Steve Emerson, we just wanted to make sure we got the right perspective on this.  That‘s why you‘re our guy.  Thanks, Steve.

EMERSON:  Sure. 

ABRAMS:  Now to the Carlie Brucia trial in Florida. 


ED DINYES, JOSEPH SMITH‘S COWORKER:  And when I watched him reach out for the, you know, reach for the girl, it was like he was picking up—you know the way he reached for it was—I‘ve seen him pick up tools like that. 


ABRAMS:  That man is describing a child abduction caught on tape.  The man accused of—quote—“picking up an 11-year-old” last February is Joseph Smith.  He‘s on trial for kidnapping, raping and killing Carlie Brucia, snatched from outside a Florida car wash in February of 2004.  Now a number of people identified the man on this tape as the defendant, Joseph Smith, including Smith‘s own brother, who testified today, telling the jury his brother confessed to taking Carlie and having—quote—“rough sex with her and then strangling her.”


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Did the defendant indicate that he was sorry? 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Did he also tell you where Carlie was? 

SMITH:  Yes. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. Smith, did your brother describe having sex with this child? 

SMITH:  Yes. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How did he characterize it?  What did he call it?  What type of sex? 

SMITH:  It was just oral sex. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Did he mention to you that he had had rough sex with her. 

SMITH:  Yes. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Did he say anything about how it ended? 

SMITH:  I asked—he wasn‘t sure. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What do you mean?  What did you ask?  And try to speak up again.  Remember we‘ve...

SMITH:  I asked if she was dead. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And what did he say? 

SMITH:  He said I don‘t know.  She could be. 


ABRAMS:  Joining me now is Court TV News correspondent Savannah Guthrie, who was in court today, criminal defense attorney Joe Episcopo and Florida prosecutor Pam Bondi.

All right.  Savannah, this witness becomes crucial here.  I mean in addition to having the videotape and people identifying him on the videotape—in addition to possible DNA evidence and fiber evidence, it seems to me that this is the toughest witness for the defense to rebut because he‘s the one who actually helped them find the body. 

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, COURT TV NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Exactly.  He‘s really the heart of the prosecution case and not only did he provide all of this damning evidence against Joseph Smith.  It was so clear in that courtroom, he did not want to be there.  He was a reluctant witness and I think in some ways that made it harder for the prosecutors, but at the end of the day, that probably added to his credibility. 

ABRAMS:  Here‘s Deputy Michael Davino who says he heard part of the phone conversation between Joseph Smith and his brother when they were—right before they led—before the brother led them to the body. 


DEPUTY MICHAEL DAVINO, SARASOTA COUNTY SHERIFF‘S DEPT.:  He then said, she‘s between two trees, not too far back.  He then said maybe it‘s along the tree line and then he said John—and at this point, he was very emotional.  His eyes were watering, he was choked up and he said, John, tell mom I‘m sorry, I was not thinking right.  Please tell mom I‘m sorry. 


ABRAMS:  Joe, so how do you attack that? 

JOE EPISCOPO, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well it‘s not easy to attack it.  I think he has to continue.  The defense goal here is to only have six votes for death because six and six is a recommendation for mercy.  That‘s the only thing you can do in a case like this.  You‘re working against the death penalty and you‘re trying to put some slight doubt in the mind of the jurors so that maybe somebody will hold back and not vote for that death penalty.  That‘s what this is all about. 

ABRAMS:  And it‘s not just the brother.  Again, we‘ve got the testimony of people who are identifying Joseph Smith on the videotape. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I recognized Joe as a person that was leading another party away at—in the video. 

LYNN DINYES, HUSBAND WORKED WITH JOSEPH SMITH:  And I said Ed, get up.  You‘ve got to see this.  There‘s a video on the news and it looks like Joe Smith on there.  You‘ve got to get up. 

ED DINYES, JOSPEH SMITH‘S COWORKER:  Then I just said to her it is Joe.  What the “f” is he doing?



EPISCOPO:  These indications are beyond a reasonable doubt, obviously. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  But Pam Bondi, the one small problem and I say small because this is such a strong case is that you know there is another person who the defense seems to be pointing at who looks kind of like the person on the tape.

PAM BONDI, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR:  Kind of like, sure, but you know, Dan,

in the last two murder cases I tried, the defense was, it was somebody

else.  It wasn‘t me.  And I don‘t think that they have a whole a lot to

work with.  But I don‘t think that‘s going to get them very far and if they

I think if they push that too much, they are going to lose a lot of credibility with the jury. 

You know, something Savannah said earlier, the fact that he‘s a reluctant witness, I think that really helps the prosecution.  Because if you recall, the defense in their opening statement said well the brother wanted to get the reward money and he was out to get his brother, when in fact, watching him testify, that doesn‘t appear to be the case at all.  I mean he sincerely appears to be not wanting to testify against his brother and have him receive the death penalty. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  I‘ve got to cut this short a little bit because of that breaking news.  I apologize.  Savannah, Joe, and Pam Bondi, thanks a lot.  We‘ll stay on top of this story. 

Coming up, it‘s good to see that really, really dirty politics doesn‘t pay.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.

And later, the governor of Alabama calling for a boycott of Aruba based on the Natalee Holloway case.  A lot of e-mails tonight from you. 

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike.  We continue today with our search in Florida. 

Authorities looking for Christopher Honeycutt, 24, 6‘1”, 235, convicted of lewd and lascivious acts on a minor under 16 and sexual battery of a child under 12.  Honeycutt hasn‘t properly registered with the state.

If you‘ve got any information, 888-357-7332.

Be right back.


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—I can‘t tell you how relieved I am that turbo (ph) sleaze didn‘t pay in New Jersey that a candidate for governor used his opponent‘s ex-wife‘s comments in an attack ad didn‘t win.  Look, I don‘t much care about New Jersey state politics.  I wasn‘t rooting for one candidate or another.  That‘s why I waited until after the electric to say this.  I live in New York. 

I don‘t have an angry ex-wife to worry about either.  I get why negative ads work.  And both candidates are guilty of that in this campaign, but I don‘t want to hear from disgruntled wives, family members, or even friends during campaigns.  If this had worked, that‘s exactly what we would see.  A new chapter in the how-to book of rough and tumble politics.

A week ago, Republican candidate Doug Forrester released an ad using a  quote from Jon Corzine‘s ex-wife, Joanne in “The New York Times” saying that Corzine had—quote—“let his family down and he‘ll probably let New Jersey down too.”  When asked why Corzine‘s problems with his ex-wife were appropriate to include in a campaign ad, Forrester responded, the reason why this is not a private life issue is because she‘s talking about an abandonment of ideals and somebody who observed this information very closely.  I think it‘s directly relevant to matters of governance. 

Oh come on.  Corzine and his wife divorced in 2003 after 33 years of marriage.  He claims his political ambition and extra-marital affair ruined their marriage.  OK,  maybe so, but is it really unusual to meet an ex-wife or ex-husband who thinks the ole spouse let him or her down?   That alone rarely tells the whole story.  And how is that relevant to whether he‘d make a good governor?

Look, it isn‘t the first time an ousted spouse has been used as a political capital by an opponent.  But for Forrester to use that scorn in a campaign ad just, I don‘t know, feels like it crosses the line.  A step beyond your garden variety sleazy campaign attack.  After the ad was released, the polls indicated Corzine‘s significant lead over Forrester had narrowed to just a few points. 

It seems as if Forrester‘s strategy had worked.  With almost all of the votes counted today, Corzine won by a comfortable 10-point margin.  Look, all is fair in love and politics.  But it‘s nice to see that attacking someone for falling out of love may not be fair even in politics. 

Coming up, the governor of Alabama calls for a boycott of Aruba as a result of the Natalee Holloway case.  A lot of you writing in about this one.  E-mails are next.


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Last night Alabama‘s governor joined Natalee Holloway‘s name calling for a boycott of Aruba until authority—until officials in Aruba do more to help find missing teen Natalee Holloway.  I said I wasn‘t sure if the boycott was actually going to work.  Many, many e-mails on this. 

Jacki Gansch in Columbus, Ohio, “I predict the Aruban government will become even more obstinate, thus stalling the search for answers.”

I hope not.

Sandi Counceller in Arizona, “I think the boycott will work if only to punish the Aruban government and others who depend on our tourism to think twice before they let a U.S. citizen be harmed in their country and then do very little about it.”

From Pompano Beach, Florida, Penny Kalikow, “Boycott Aruba?  Can anyone tell me how many American teens have been murdered or are missing in Mexico after having gone there on Spring Break?  When do we begin to boycott Mexico and how about the fact that Mexico refuses to extradite murderers to the USA?”

Leila Ludy in Sherman Oaks, California, “I don‘t need to be asked to boycott Aruba.  I won‘t ever visit because of the cavalier way they treat Natalee Holloway‘s family and this investigation.”

From Leeds, Alabama, Don Clowers, “The Alabama Bureau of Investigation Center for Missing and Exploited Children lists 50-plus missing adults and 14-plus missing children, some missing for years, not in Aruba, but in Alabama.  Maybe the next move our lustrous governor and legislature should suggest is a boycotting Alabama.”

Rockie Egner in Filer, Idaho, “I‘m beginning to think that Beth Twitty in her terrible pain wants vengeance.  Why in the world would she want to have all of the good people in Aruba suffer economically when her problem is with a few?”

From Goldsboro, North Carolina, Eddie Harris, “Ms. Twitty has been incredibly patient with Aruban officials in this case.  She‘s been so despite the obvious appearance of a cover-up by these people.  I hope they bankrupt the Aruban economy.”

Kathy Dixon in Sanger, California, “Let‘s boycott Santa Barbara because I think Michael Jackson was guilty.  And also let‘s boycott Los Angeles.  I‘m going to plan a visit to Aruba with my family just because of the boycott.”

From Little Rock, Arkansas, Jackie Robertson, “The Alabama boycott of Aruba is not because of a blown investigation.  It‘s because of a corrupt government refusing to properly investigate the case.  The parents of Natalee have been responsible for most of the legwork and searches for their daughter.”

Katie Tunis in Fort Wayne, Indiana, “I believe that the governor‘s boycott is misplaced.  Isn‘t it time for all of us to say that we will not send our children to island resorts with little or no adult supervision to drink and party with abandon?”

I don‘t know about that.

All right.  Your e-mails abramsreport—one word -- 

Chris Matthews, “HARDBALL” is up next.  See you.