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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
What Should Happen with Big Three Automakers?; Cheney, Gonzales Indicted for Prisoner Abuse
Aired November 20, 2008 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, America`s economy is on the brink. Is our addiction to debt and spending about to hit bottom? Are corporate CEOs acting like crack addicts with their private jets and billion-dollar bonuses, oblivious to the wreckage around them? Millions of jobs are at stake.
RON GETTLEFINGER, UAW PRESIDENT: Inaction is simply not an option.
VELEZ MITCHELL: You`ve heard the numbers. Three million jobs. It`s time for all of us to look in the mirror. I`ll take your calls to hear what you have to say.
Plus, tragic testimony from the MySpace suicide trail. The mom tells jurors her daughter`s last words before she killed herself. We`ll look at the dangers and consequences of cyber bullying.
And the 8-year-old accused of killing his father and another man gets a Thanksgiving furlough. But no knives or guns are allowed in his home. It`s your chance to weigh in on this tragic case and the fallout from America`s gun culture. Shouldn`t it be against the law for 8-year-olds to handle guns?
Those issues and lots more, tonight.
VELEZ MITCHELL: A teenage girl commits suicide after being harassed by a friend`s mother on MySpace. I`ll have the latest on the trial and the rise of cyber bullying in America.
And an 8-year-old boy accused of shooting to death his father and another man gets to go home for Thanksgiving. When an 8-year-old boy is accused of double homicide with a deadly weapon, is it time to rethink our gun culture? I`ll be taking your calls, to hear what you think about that.
But first, nightmare on Main Street. Economic fears gripping the entire nation coast to coast. The Dow fell more than 400 points again today to a five-year low. Unemployment claims just hit a 16-year high. More than one million jobs have been lost so far this year. Detroit spinning into oblivion, crying for a handout to survive.
Today, the president of the United Autoworkers Union warned of a domino effect if the big three don`t get the $25 billion they demand from taxpayers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GETTLEFINGER: Without immediate assistance, we could see, and I stress could see, a collapse of one or more of the domestic auto companies by the end of this year. The costs that would flow from this are simply too great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ MITCHELL: But critics, like filmmaker Michael Moore, say arrogance of the auto executives is what created this crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Their attitude was "We`ll build it, and you buy it. We`ll tell you what to buy. You just buy it."
And eventually, the consumer got smart and said, "You know what? I`d like a car that gets a little bit of gas mileage. Or I`d like a car that`s safer on the road." And -- and so they started to buy other cars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ MITCHELL: Tonight, Democratic leaders are practicing tough love, telling the big three, no plan, no money.
Here`s my issue tonight. The most important thing that needs to change has not changed. That is the arrogant, elitist mentality of America`s corporate leaders. They are addicted to churning out environmentally insensitive products while lavishing perks and bonuses on themselves. They seem oblivious to global warming and the economic suffering all around them.
A prime example, the big three executives took private jets to Washington to beg for billions. Hello? How arrogant and out of touch to show up in a private jet to ask for financial assistance.
Many of you have called in, fired up to talk about this. We are going to take your calls right now. Please call 1-877-586-7297. That is 1-877- JVM-SAYS with your questions and opinions. We want to hear what you have to say.
But first, let`s bring in Congressman Brad Sherman, a Democrat from California.
Congressman, bravo to you. Yesterday at the bailout hearing, I loved it when you busted the CEOs for flying in on private jets. It also appears none of them are willing to forgo their salaries and work for a dollar until we get this under control, even though they`re all filthy rich. Why are they so clueless?
REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: I don`t know, and it worries me that they are a consumer products company. Their job is to be in touch with the average American and build the kind of car they want. And not only did they come here on corporate jets, but I gave them a chance to sell, "OK, are you going to sell those corporate jets?" And they`re -- they`re going to keep those corporate jets as long as they can.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Now, I understand congressional leaders are saying, "Hey, the big three, you should submit your plans for how you`re going to spend all the taxpayer money you want by early December, and then we`re going to look at that and decide whether to give you the money."
Now, personally, I think we put the cart before the horse. I think Congress should dictate to them what has to be done. And it took me about 45 seconds to come up with a list: forego salaries or bonuses or resign; no golden parachutes, exit contracts; discontinue all SUV production; retool to all hybrid and electric vehicle production; expand the few plants that are already producing any American-made hybrids; and finally, accelerate the timetable for rolling out new American hybrid electric models, like the Chevy Volt, which is currently set to come out in 2010.
What do you make of doing it the other way and giving them the marching orders?
SHERMAN: Well, they are experts in their companies, and they may want to come up with their plan. At the same time, we need to impose conditions. And two important ones are warranties and warrants. That is to say when you buy a GM car, some of that money needs to go into a trust fund so if the company doesn`t make it a couple years from now, there`s at least some money there to fix your engine. Otherwise, who`s going to buy a GM car and pay for a warranty that`s only as good as the prospects of the company?
Secondly, we need warrants. That is to say we need for the taxpayer to have a big, big part of the upside so that, if one of these companies does make it, the -- the increase in value accrues to those of us who are taking the risk, and by that I mean the American taxpayer.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Congressman, I want you to listen to what Michael Moore said on Larry King that I`ve never heard before. It`s a shocker. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOORE: GM is currently building a $300 million factory in Russia right now to build SUVs outside of St. Petersburg. So that`s where your money`s going to go, no matter what they say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ MITCHELL: A foreign factory to build SUVs. Precisely what we don`t need. Congressional leaders said today without a spending plan there will be no money.
But my concern is, is it possible that these crafty executives could promise to use the money one way and do something completely different, like fund a Russian SUV plant? And I think of the stunt the ailing banks recently pulled on us, you know, taking money on the pretext of making loans and then hoarding it or using it to buy other companies.
SHERMAN: Well, if they have a Russian partner who`s putting up most of the money, I could see us selling the Russians SUVs. They may actually have a country where, in places, they need it. Whereas I see, of course, SUVs on all the streets of America.
But we do need to see any bill providing control board so the major decisions made by these companies not only are made by their executives, but have to be approved by the secretary of the treasury, et cetera. And one of the key things, it`s not just where they invest their money but where they close down their plants. They shouldn`t close down plants in America and keep them open in Canada and Mexico.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Yes. And closer than Russia, especially if they`re making SUVs. Thank you so much, Congressman. Keep up the tough love.
Now let`s bring in our panel and get some of your calls. Joining me now, Ali Velshi, CNN senior business correspondent, and Eamon Javers, financial correspondent for Politico.
You know, I want to use the metaphor, Ali, of addiction to describe what I feel is going on in America`s board rooms right now. I believe American executives are kind of like -- no offense, but crack addicts, hitting bottom on a wild, extravagant lifestyle that is destructive to the environment and our economy. Private jets, bonuses, golden parachutes, they`re like addicts to be clinging to their drugs in the face of spiritual and actual financial bankruptcy.
Did Congress give them the intervention they need, or are they still being codependent and people-pleasing with these guys?
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I`m fascinated, the whole jet situation. They`re a little tone deaf. I think they got an earful from Congress. What they didn`t get was a blank check to take this money and do what they will with it. In fact, I think what Congress told them today is go back, do your homework, come back and tell us if there`s a plan that you can actually implement that will change the way you do business. And then we`ll take a look and see if it`s worth giving you money. I actually thought that was a wise move by Congress to tell them, "You have got to change the way you do business."
VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, Eamon Javers, I agree. It`s certainly wise not to just hand them the money. But I have suggested to the congresswoman a moment ago, why are we waiting to hear their plan? I mean, these -- insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and waiting for a difficult result.
Michael Moore just said these are the brilliant minds that decided to build an SUV factory to the tune of $300 million in Russia, and we`re waiting for them to give us a plan for how to get out of this mess?
EAMON JAVERS, FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Well, you`ve got to separate the two issues. Because on the one hand, there`s the environmental issue and whether you agree with these companies producing SUVs or not. But on the other hand, there`s the financial issue. There`s just the raw dollars and cents.
Now, what if producing SUVs in Russia is actually the thing that`s going to bring these companies back to profitability? I don`t know that, but the taxpayers who are going to invest in these companies, if they are, might want to see that happen. Because they might want to see these companies come back and be profitable. So you`ve got to separate the environmental piece from the financial piece here, if you`re looking at taxpayer dollars.
VELEZ MITCHELL: I beg to differ, because I think the reason why we`re in this mess is because they never separated the environmental. They always kept the environmental and the financial separate.
Let`s remember, GM back in the 1990s had the ED-1, which was an electric car, and they killed it. They took it away from people who had leased it. People got arrested hanging onto their cars, and then they crushed all the cars. And the reason, according to the famous documentary, is that the oil companies didn`t want to lose their oil companies didn`t want to lose their oil profits.
And the automakers basically didn`t want to take a loss as this technology became profitable. So they weren`t really concerned about being of service to the environment or anybody else. They were always concerned about money, money, money, money.
JAVERS: Right. The question just is, if you`re Congress and you`re looking at how we`re going to fix these companies, are you going to put in place environmental controls or are you going to put in place financial controls? Because it`s your job to make a decision about how these companies are going to improve going forward. And so you`ve got to just substitute (ph) those two things a little bit.
VELSHI: Let`s talk about this, though. Toyota took a great bet. Toyota and Honda took bets on hybrids, and they did very, very well with those bets. That was good business decision. I don`t know whether they thought it was great for the environment at the time, or they thought, "We`re going to be ahead of this thing," and that`s how our auto companies have to get together.
But honestly, Jane, look at the situation. They have until December 2 to come together and discuss how they`re going to use $25 billion of taxpayer money in order to turn their companies around.
GM CEO Rick Wagoner already said a worst-case scenario is that GM will burn through $5 billion a month. And they`ve got to split 25 between three of those companies, one of them Chrysler.
Eamon, we have no clue what Chrysler`s financial condition is, because it`s a private company. It`s always stood on being private. And Ford is in some better shape. But how are they going to come up with this and then convince us it`s actually going to work?
VELEZ MITCHELL: Actually (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but let me go to the phone lines, because the phone lines are lighting up.
VELEZ MITCHELL: People are furious about this.
Carla in Ohio, your thought or question?
CALLER: Yes. I`m one of the ones that lost my job with GM because they`re taking our jobs overseas. If they continue taking our jobs to different countries and biting the hand that feed them, who in the heck do they expect is going to be able to afford to buy their products? The reason we`re in the shape we`re in now is because they`re taking all of our jobs overseas and taking the jobs out of American hands.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, Eamon Javers, I think this lady is absolutely right. I mean, they came hat in hand, basically using emotional blackmail, saying look at the millions of jobs that are going to be lost in America if you don`t give us the money. Meanwhile, at the very same time, they`re exporting jobs overseas, because they`re building plants in Russia.
JAVERS: Right. And you`ve got to look back at the storied history of Ford Motor Company, for example. I mean, Henry Ford himself recognized that by paying his workers high wages. He`d be creating a group of people who could afford to buy his cars. He did that to begin this company. Now, if we`re losing our way on that, maybe that -- there`s a point where we need to get back to that.
VELSHI: But in the end, they do have to make cars that people buy. Less than 50 percent of the cars sold in America are American-branded. We have sort of lost our sense of we`ve wanted to be an American car, because fundamentally a Nissan, a Toyota, a Honda, they are all American cars going by them now, because they`re based here. I think the day of shipping cars around the world is probably done. We`ve got other people employing Americans. We have to be efficient, and we have to make cars people want to buy. Otherwise, why are we saving the industry?
VELEZ MITCHELL: Absolutely. Ali, Eamon, stay right there. We have lots more on this economic crisis. I`m going to take your calls, 1-877- 586-7297. If you have a question on the big three bailout or a thought on the economy, a strong opinion, call us. We want to hear it: 1-877-JVM- SAYS. Your calls in a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If this plant would have to close, it`s going to devastate this area. It`s going to devastate all the businesses, the school systems, everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ MITCHELL: Car companies on the brink. The economy in crisis. We are taking your calls. If you`ve got a question or opinion on the money meltdown, give us a call at 1-877-JVM-SAYS. I want to hear it from you. That`s 1-877-586-7297.
And back with me now to help answer your calls, Ali Velshi, CNN senior business correspondent; and Eamon Javers, financial correspondent for Politico. We have a call in right now from Jeff in Indiana.
What`s your thought or question?
CALLER: My thought is that the insurance companies were there with their hand out. The auto companies are there with their hand out. And President-elect Obama has to go in after Bush and deal with all this stuff. My personal belief is we are all workers. We have to work together. We need help. They`re taking -- they`re taking our jobs over seas. They have to stay here.
VELEZ MITCHELL: You know, you make, again, this scene that`s coming out is, hey, they`re taking our jobs overseas and also, what is the Obama administration going to do about this, Ali Velshi? There are transition teams watching all this very closely.
VELSHI: Yes. Unfortunately, the days of being able to legislate that are over. We have to be competitive. We`ve got be -- we`ve got to build things that we can build here in the United States or do jobs that we can do here. So we have to figure out what that is. You can`t build the same thing in the United States at a high wage, because we are high wage earners, and we should be, that you can build somewhere else cheaper or less effectively -- or more effectively.
So we`ve got to figure out what cars we build that we specialize in that the world wants to buy and that America wants to buy. So it does mean a retooling. And this may be a golden opportunity for the auto industry to sit there and say, the only way we get a lifeline is to actually decide how we`re going to retool this.
And Congress makes the right moves, they may be able to steer the auto industry in a direction that could lead us to survival. It they don`t, if it just becomes money that they get, we`ll just be back at this discussion in six or eight months.
VELEZ MITCHELL: We`re going to go to our calls in a second, but I want to follow up with a question about today`s markets, because there`s a convergence of bad news here. And Ali, just tell us, what`s going on with that? It`s like there`s no bottom.
VELSHI: We had a big drop in the market today. We went down below 7,600. There`s a few support levels lower than we thought we would be. There`s just a lot of panic. The banks lost a lot of money today. The auto industry, we`re concerned about that. And investors are not sure, with all these people out on the unemployment lines, exactly who it is that`s going to bring our economy bank.
Because fundamentally, more than any other western economy, the United States depends on the spending of its consumers. And guess what, Jane. All of us, no matter where we are in the economic cycle, and where we are in the job cycle, are holding back because we are fearful.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Right. And I think that`s another big aspect of the problem that we face, is that 2/3 of all economic activity is consumer spending. And we all have everything we need, pretty much.
VELEZ MITCHELL: We all have our cars and our roller blades and our bikes, and we`re not using them all. And we have too much food. We have too much everything. Whereas the rest of the world, half of it, doesn`t even have a toothbrush. They`re surviving on less than $2.50 a day.
I mean, there`s a world out of balance here, and I think that`s part of the problem, is that it`s a reckoning. I mean, every culture that has experienced tremendous decadence and excess -- I don`t care whether you`re talking about ancient Greece or the Russian Revolution, the French Revolution, or even the Roaring Twenties, it led to the depression.
VELEZ MITCHELL: It leads to depression or revolution. So I think we`ve got a problem here. We`ve got to look in the mirror.
VELSHI: But we have to change, by doing -- by actually changing. So the auto industry has to change. Our habits have to change. We can`t spend as much on credit as we do. And our governments can`t, and our employers can`t. But we all do. And what -- this is the painful process of changing. Let`s actually hope we do change out of it.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Absolutely. Dejon from Virginia, your question?
CALLER: Yes. We keep talking about bailing out Wall Street and bailout out the auto industry, but what about bailout out the people? Why can`t the government take and give anywhere from, say, 50 to $100,000 to people and let us buy a car or a house and let us contribute to the economy?
VELEZ MITCHELL: Great idea. And that -- we`ll give Eamon Javers the last word.
JAVERS: Yes, well, look. I mean, the Bush administration tried that to some extent earlier this year when they gave the stimulus checks out. And they actually were giving cash to people to try to stimulate the economy. That didn`t seem to have staved off all the problems that we`re seeing so far.
VELEZ MITCHELL: No, it didn`t. We`ve got some problems here. And I think that again, it`s all about intention. What is our intention with business? Is it just to make money or is it to provide a service that people need? And people around the world need so much.
Thank you, gentlemen, Eamon and Ali, for your tremendous insight. Hope you come back real soon.
Vice President Dick Cheney has been indicted by a grand jury in Texas for his alleged involvement with a private prison company, accused of prisoner abuse. Cheney and former attorney general Alberto Gonzales, a wild story. I`ll tell you all about it.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Believe it or not, a judge in Texas has set a Friday arraignment for Vice President Dick Cheney and former U.S. attorney general, Alberto Gonzales. The indictment accused them of prisoner abuse at a privately-owned federal detention center.
Tomorrow`s arraignment comes after the prosecutor didn`t show up to court today. Guess he had other plans. And don`t expect to see Cheney in court either. The judge said he won`t be arrested and he doesn`t need to appear in person at his arraignment.
One indictment charges Cheney and Gonzales with engaging in organized criminal activity and alleges the men neglected federal prisoners and are responsible for ignoring assault in these private facilities.
Here to discuss this bizarre case is David Latt, a writer at the Huffington Post.
David, there are serious issues here underlying this case, and that is privately-owned prisons in America. The claims are that there`s not enough oversight to protect these prisoners from abuse. What do you know?
DAVID LATT, WRITER, HUFFINGTON POST: Well, about the case, we`re just starting to learn in today`s papers, and in the news reports, it`s a big case and a big issue.
The connection to Vice President Cheney does seem a little tenuous. He was just an investor in this corporation. He didn`t have any direct day-to-day responsibility. And yet that`s the accusation, that he was responsible for the mistreatment of prisoners.
What I wonder about is sort of a bigger issue here, which is this may be the first of many, many accusations and indictments that are going to be leveled at members of the Bush administration, including the vice president. And it made me think -- and I did a post on Huffington Post yesterday, asking the question, are presidential pardons going to be coming their way?
It`s in the news now about Ted Stevens. Ted Stevens was asked, "Do you want a pardon?" And several days ago, he said no. That was before he lost the election. Maybe he`s reconsidering that now.
But it`s sort of a bigger question. I mean, all presidents have the right to pardon. It`s in, you know -- it`s their right. The question is, though, if you`ve got an administration, as we`ve had for the last seven, almost eight years, one that`s really cloaked their activities in secrecy, pushed the boundaries of the imperial presidency, as people call it.
You sort of wonder when they`re facing January 19 and they`re about to give up power and hand it off to someone else. And they`re about to become private citizens again. Are they going to want some protection? In their minds, they`ll say, "We don`t want zealous partisans..."
VELEZ MITCHELL: Let me jump in here, because it will be weird discussing the huge numbers of subjects wrapped up into one. And obviously, at the end of every administration, there are pardons. There are controversial pardons. For example, the end of the Clinton administration.
But I want to get back to this whole issue of private prisons, because what I found fascinating when I started looking is we had seen a 140 percent increase in private prison facilities since 1995. More than 250 private prisons in America. Should prisons be a big business? Should prisoners be treated like a commodity?
LATT: No. And I think the example of the Texas situation points to just that as an issue of it`s the public responsibility to deal with people who are incarcerated. And if you turn it into a profit center, what -- what`s your agenda? Your agenda is to make money, not to follow through on this public responsibility.
In theory, it`s not only to keep the prisoners off the streets, but it`s to rehabilitate them so you don`t have this -- so you don`t have this, you know, revolving door of people in and out and in and out. So it does seem to really not address the public issue.
VELEZ MITCHELL: We`ve got to wrap it up. I thank you for broaching so many important issues in a very short period of time. Come back soon.
Stunning testimony from the MySpace suicide trial. Up next, a mother tells her story, and it is tragic.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: An 8-year-old Arizona boy accused of killing his father and another man. The boy was trained by his father to fire a gun. Shouldn`t it be illegal for children to handle guns?
I will be taking your calls on this tragic story in just a bit. Please call me with your opinions on the gun issue. The phone lines are open 1-877-JVMSAYS, that`s 1-877-586-7297.
First though, 13-year-old Megan Meier hanged herself after getting taunting MySpace messages that she thought were from a boy named Josh Evans. It turns out Josh was actually Lori Drew the 49-year-old mother of a girl Megan knew.
Now Drew, on trial in the nation`s first criminal case of cyber bullying. The victim`s mother took the stand yesterday in very emotional testimony. She told jurors about the last conversation she had with her daughter.
Megan had gotten a message from Josh stating quote, "The world would be a better place without you." Megan ran to her mom in tears and after being told she wasn`t supposed to be on the Internet she replied, "You are supposed to be my mom, you are supposed to be on my side."
That mother found her daughter hanging in the closet with the belt around her neck just hours later.
Scott Glover is covering the trial for the Los Angeles Times. He joins me by phone outside the courtroom. Scott, what a sad case. What is the latest on this?
SCOTT GLOVER, LA TIMES STAFF WRITER: Yes it is a sad case. The latest is actually Miss Meier was cross examined this morning by the defense attorney in the case. He tried to obviously put some holes in the government`s case. And understand that Miss Meier acknowledged that Megan had thought about suicide sometime in the past and had maybe scratch marks on her arms which were covered up by a shirt and were discovered by a school counselor.
She talked about the fact or acknowledged that she had been taking some medication that can have a side effect of suicidal tendencies.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, what I don`t understand about this case is that the defendant isn`t the only one who is involved in this MySpace page. According to what I`ve read an 18-year-old assistant as well as the defendant`s daughter were involved but yet the 18-year-old assistant has turned into the prosecution`s star witness.
CLOVER: Yes, that`s exactly right. A woman by the name of Ashley Grill, she spent much of today testifying under a grant of immunity from prosecutors. And she described Miss Drew`s alleged role in this case as well as her own. She says that it was an idea that was hatched in order to try and get to the bottom of some rumors that Megan Meier was allegedly spreading about Miss Drew`s daughter Sarah and that they created this MySpace account under this boy`s name to try and draw her out of some of that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: One last quick question I want to ask you, who wrote the fateful message, "The world would be better off without you?"
CLOVER: Ashley Grill testified that she wrote that message. And that Miss Drew was aware of what it said before it was sent. But according to testimony in the courtroom, so far, there`s no printout of this message or no computer evidence that it was sent. This is Miss Grill`s testimony.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow, well, I thank you for taking the time to give us an update on this case and perhaps come back as the trial progresses. Thank you very much Scott.
CLOVER: Sure thank you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to bring in criminal defense attorney, Drew Findling; former prosecutor, Anita Kay and clinical psychologist, Sharon Buchalter.
Sharon, clearly, the mother of the victim heartbroken over her daughter`s suicide. There are apparently according to this report were some warning signs. What warning signs should parents be looking for when they`re dealing with something like Cyber bullying which they can`t see the way they could see a black-eye?
SHARON BUCHALTER, CLINICAL PYSCHOLOGIST: Well, that question comes up a lot when I`m working with parents because you don`t know if your child is either a victim or possibly a bullier. And some of the signs to look for is that if your child is on the computer if you come over and see alongside what they`re writing or you hear something about your child, don`t close your eyes to it. Look at the fact that your child could be a bullier.
And in that case, you have to have them know what it feels like to be on that side, put yourself in the other person shoe. And also, give them repercussions for their behavior.
On the other hand, if your child is showing signs that they don`t want to go to school --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s a bad one.
BUCHALTER: That`s a bad one, they isolate themselves, they`d be depressed, they tend to not have many friends, they make excuses, they have somatic excuses, stomachaches, headaches, with nothing really going on.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And they`re on the computer all the time --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think that`s a combo that`s very, very scary.
I want to ask Drew Findling about the whole notion of this mother who is accused of just saying hey, I was just trying to protect my child. Something -- she felt something bad was being said about her child and then she decides to jump on the Internet allegedly and create this false persona.
This is really not the role of a parent, is it? I mean, it should be the role of the parent to provide moral leadership. And not be a co- conspirator in some kind of crazy grudge game.
BUCHALTER: Well, absolutely.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, that question is directed to Drew Findling.
DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, absolutely. I agree with that. But see Jane the way I look at it is this is indigenous to this whole problem with MySpace and Facebook. I think it`s ironic that in the indictment actually MySpace is a victim in this case. We saw a generation in the `60s and early `70s fight for privacy.
Now, there is no such thing as privacy. Everybody wants everything about themselves to be out there. And so children are particularly vulnerable because they are throwing everything out there about themselves but to have a parent jump in, is just unconscionable.
And what really bothers me is, here we`ve seen a suicide which is horrible. But how many children are going into fits of depression because of the way they`ve been treated on the Internet that we don`t know about because it`s not a high profile case. There`s no upside to this Facebook and MySpace and all this things, there is only downside. This is horrible, horrible.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, listen, I`m a fan of MySpace and Facebook; for 99.9 percent of the people, it`s a positive force. And actually I think for kids who have trouble socializing now they just don`t sit in their room and rock back and forth like I did when I was a kid. They can actually kind of have more of an interaction on the Internet. But I agree with you that cyber bullying is just shocking.
Anita Kay, criminal defense attorney, I was shocked to read 42 percent -- 42 percent of kids have been bullied while online. One in four have had it happen more than once.
ANITA KAY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Absolutely. I mean, Jane this is -- when we`re getting into a new technology age, and Facebook and MySpace is new, these are the types of things that are going to happen.
And now, what we have to do is react. Because we weren`t proactive in realizing that people could stalk us, cyber stalking, or cyber harassment. After this happened to Megan Meier Missouri tried to prosecute Lori Drew and they couldn`t find anything to prosecute her under. And that`s kind of how this all developed.
Well, my understanding is since then, Missouri has enacted a cyber harassment or cyber bullying law to prevent this in the future. This is actually a ground breaking case, the way in which they`re doing this and they`re prosecuting Lori Drew.
Unfortunately, they can only prosecute her for something that relates to the computer rather than the fact that because of her actions, Megan Meier is dead.
KAY: That`s the reality. That`s what really, really infuriates me is that but for her actions, where would Megan be today?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what`s freaky about this story, Sharon Buchalter, is that it`s an adult doing this. I mean, the stats show that the vast majority of kids have either been cyber bullied or cyber bullied somebody, but this is a mom getting involved in a child`s dispute, a teenage dispute.
We all know what drama queens teenagers can be. What was this mom thinking and moms like her, we see this in Little League, we see it with dads and moms and the Little Miss Sunshine style contest. What`s going on with these parents?
BUCHALTER: Well, we`re talking about a severe case of helicopter parenting. We were hovering over a child and were not letting them defend themselves and teaching them correct ways of dealing with any type of talk about themselves. They`re not learning any skills here.
The mother obviously feels she needs to take over and what kind of role model is she to her child? She`s setting up behavior that`s inappropriate.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What I see, Drew, briefly is that parents are living through the child and the child has become an extension of their egos. So if the child loses in someway it reflects on them.
BUCHALTER: That`s right, and we see that a lot.
FINDLING: Yes, absolutely. And Jane, I want to add when you listen to the statement of the 18-year-old girl that works for Miss Drew that was really weird. I mean she was clearly manipulated by Miss Drew who was her boss. And she just threw this girl in there and listening to her testimony I know that she has received immunity. But her statement was pitiful; the way she was controlled by Miss Drew was really, really pathetic.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is. And I want to thank all of you for weighing in. And parents, keep track of what your kids are doing online because it really can be a matter of life and death.
Drew, Sharon, Anita, come back soon.
An 8-year-old Arizona boy accused of killing his dad and another man. The boy trained to use a rifle by his father.
Call 1-877-5867297, that`s 1-877-JVMSAYS and tell me if you think kids should be allowed to handle guns or should it be illegal. Next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened with your dad?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Com on, tell us the truth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not, I`m not lying.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How about if we have somebody that told us that you might have shot him?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is the shocking police interview of an 8-year- old Arizona boy suspected of shooting and killing his father and his dad`s friend.
Now, stunning new development in Arizona, a judge ruled the boy can leave juvenile jail for 48 hours to spend Thanksgiving with his mom. One of the mandates, no guns or knives in mom`s house while he`s there.
Meantime the stunning tape of his police interview kicking up a fire storm of controversy. During the police interrogation of this boy, there was no lawyer present. No family member present. Nobody read the child his rights.
Legal experts say the interrogation was improper and the confession is inadmissible.
What do you think about this tragic case of gun violence and America`s gun culture? Call 1-877-5867297; that`s 1-877-JVMSAYS with your thoughts and opinions.
With me now, Ashleigh Banfield, anchor of "In Session" and Clay Watson, forensic psychiatrist.
Ashley, the prosecutor fought like heck to keep this kid from spending time with his mom on Thanksgiving. He`s 8 years old. Thankfully, in my opinion anyway, the judge saw the wisdom in letting him be with his mom. What is your take on this attitude toward this child?
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": Well, there`s so many different layers to this, Jane. And a lot of people are very upset that this young boy -- I can`t even say young man, I can`t believe it -- but this young boy will be going home for 48 hours.
There was another caveat to this home visit. He wasn`t allowed to play video games or watch TV. It just seems bizarre that we`re talking about premeditated murder charges here.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s just so shocking and obviously, this has touched a raw nerve with people across the country. Our phone lines jammed on this.
June, from Florida, your thought or question.
JUNE, CALLER FROM FLORIDA: Hi, Jane. Yes. My question is what kind of insane person would buy an 8-year-old child a gun? I don`t care where they live or what they do. He`s a child, an infant.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I cannot -- bravo -- I cannot thank you enough for bringing it up and saving me the trouble of having to bring up this issue.
In Arizona, okay, there is no minimum age at which a child can be prosecuted; that`s one thing. And also, there`s no rules or laws against adults keeping guns away from kids or even installing trigger locks. Clay Watson, they can give a kid a loaded weapon and that`s legal.
CLAY WATSON, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: That`s terrible. That`s a terrible thing to do especially given the age of a young child like this; 8 years old. What we`re talking about is a child who`s going to be impulsive. These children, eight years old, six years old, seven years old, nine, ten -- you`re talking about impulsivity.
The mind of a child, the brain of a child has not yet fully developed to understand the consequences of their behavior, to keep and maintain self-control. And to give them something deadly like a weapon is a terrible thing to do.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The father had reportedly consulted a Roman Catholic priest about whether the boy should have a gun. And the priest reportedly said he wanted to make -- the dad wanted to make sure the kid wasn`t afraid of guns and knew how to handle them. I think that is a huge problem and it`s something we as society have to look at. This is an 8-year-old boy.
Sam, from Montana, what is your question or thought?
SAM, CALLER FROM MONTANA: Hi, Jane. It`s good to talk to you this evening.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hi. Right back at you.
SAM: I`ve raised three boys and we all hunted and I taught them how to use weapons. But my guns were locked in a gun safe, they all had trigger locks. I was the only one who knew how to get to them. They had no clue how to; didn`t have the combo or the key.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think you are a responsible parent. And Ashleigh Banfield, I was shocked to read my notes today to find out that you have been a hunter and you are a member of the National Rifle Association. I`m not.
For full disclosure, I`m a vegan, I`m an animal rights activist. I`m not a hunter by any means. I`m against hunting. But I want to hear your thoughts on this because you`ve actually handled a weapon.
BANFIELD: Yes, in fact, my family has two handguns. We have permits. I go to the range with my husband. And I think we`re very responsible. We also have isometric space in our home that locks these guns away.
As a child, I was brought up in a hunting family, not for sport, but for our freezer. My parents taught us the responsible way of handling weapons; they kept the weapons appropriately, and never, Jane, was any of us in the family given a gun as a kid.
I just think it`s such a no-brainer that we`re even having this conversation. And why Arizona doesn`t have more restrictions on these kind of actions is just foreign to me. And that`s not to say that we shouldn`t teach our children responsible weapons handling. It`s just that you don`t give these things to kids.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I agree with you.
WATSON: And what Ashleigh is clueing you out right there, is that there`s parent responsibility there. She has been around guns as a child, and has a family background but there were measures put in place to protect the whole family.
You put guns plus kids, it`s a bad situation.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you. And Clay, apparently, what blew my mind as we were researching this, there are certainly laws across the country that you have to be a certain age to buy guns, but there seems to be a lack of law saying that a kid can`t be handed a gun.
That`s what`s so shocking to me about this.
BANFIELD: But you know what Jane? Jane, there are certain laws that dictate that you can`t just operate this kind of a household willy-nilly. If your child goes to school and shoots another, you can be held criminally negligent for this as a parent. So there are some restrictions in place for how your child behaves if these guns are available.
But why there aren`t stronger restrictions in terms of the ownership of guns, it defies logic.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, Cindy, Florida, what are your thoughts or questions?
CINDY, CALLER FROM FLORIDA: Well, my concern is that this 8-year-old child does not have the understanding to know why are all these people asking him and why there was not an adult or attorney present with him while they were asking his these questions.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely and I agree with you.
We have one other clip of this boy being interviewed. You`ve got to hear this. The boy`s dad taught his son how to use a rifle to kill prairie dogs. We`ve already talked about that.
Some were speculating trading in hunting created a role in this tragic outcome. Listen to this child.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I shot my dad because he was suffering, I think. I thought he was suffering so I might have shot him. I didn`t want him to suffer.
And then I went outside and I saw -- but at first I saw [ bleep ], and he was sleeping, and I think I went upstairs and I saw my dad, and I think I shot him because he -- he was suffering.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I shot him because he was suffering. Ashleigh, Clay, stay right there, I want to get your response to that shocking statement by the child. I have my theories. 1-877-JVMSAYS; tell us what you think of America`s gun culture as it relates to this 8-year-old child after the break.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Reactions from both members of my panel to the comment that this child made that he shot the father because he was suffering. Let`s start with you Clay.
WATSON: All right. First, let me just say, I have a major problem with this whole interrogation, line of questioning. If you look at this tape from the entirety of the tape from the beginning to the end, you`ll see that in the beginning this child tells a very different story than the story he ended up with. And I`ll tell you what that means to me.
First, children at this age are interested in pleasing and gaining the approval of adults. He`s sitting in a room by himself with two adults -- police officers at that -- and they are talking to him. They don`t buy his story initially. They don`t buy it at first and then he picks up on this and sort of changes it until he gains their approval.
At some point they say oh, yeah, that`s very good, sweetie and a number of these things. I actually have questions about the validity of everything that he said. I don`t know.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I agree with you. Maybe he didn`t shoot them.
Ashleigh Banfield, the suffering comment is fascinating to me.
BANFIELD: It`s fascinating, but you know what, don`t get hung up on it. Anybody who thinks anything because of this confession should know right here and now that out of 200 different case of exoneration of people who didn`t do it, 25 percent of them confessed and you know what else, Jane? In 1958 and 1998, two separate cases, three kids under the age of 8 confessing to murders that science proves they didn`t commit. There`s empirical data here that show that confessions mean nothing when it comes to kids.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You are so right.
Chris from Alabama, we don`t even have time for a question, though, do you have a thought on this whole case?
CHRIS, CALLER FROM ALABAMA: Yes I do. Children don`t get ideas to hurt or kill anyone on their own. I think that they`re desensitized and influenced by the violence in the movies and the TV shows and the games they watch. And I believe that kids can be taught to use guns in a hunting situation.
We did ours. I was raised with guns. None of us killed anyone. I don`t know anyone who had children kill anybody, but they have tried to hurt people after watching violence on television.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what, Chris? I think you make excellent points. I will only say when I heard that suffering line what do you do when you shoot an animal? It doesn`t die, it writhes around and you put it out of its misery. I think that there may even be some connection between the hunting training and what happened in this tragedy.
Ashleigh, Clay, thank you for your incredible insights. Please come back soon.
There are a lot of people talking on TV; too few are saying anything that helps you make sense of the world.
Let`s change that. I`m trying to keep it real. I`m Jane Velez- Mitchell. See you at 7:00 Eastern tomorrow night.