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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
How is Bailout Money Being Used?
Aired November 25, 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, big issues. Bailout outrage. "The New York Post" screams Citigroup is a city of fools. Bozo bank bosses turn one of the world`s leading businesses into a mortuary for bad debt. Now your tax dollars will clean up their mess. But hard-pressed Americans are demanding justice.
These infamous executives are still in prison because of the last big corporate scandal. Shouldn`t somebody go to jail this time?
Plus, Joran Van Der Sloot, the prime suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, says he sold Natalee to a mystery man who, quote, "wanted a blonde." But now he says he made that story up. What`s his deal? Pathological liar or clever legal scheme?
And the Web of death. How two recent online suicides highlight the dangers of online networking sites. The troubling trend of using the Internet as a means to the darkest end there is.
These issues, and lots more, tonight.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Joran Van Der Sloot confesses to selling Natalee Holloway in his latest chat with the media. Then he says he made up the whole story. How is it possible that this dirt bag is still a free man?
And the jury has the case in the MySpace suicide trial. I will tell you what punishment 49-year-old Lori Drew might face for allegedly driving a teenager to suicide. And we will look at how the Internet`s sometimes violent culture is affecting our kids.
But first, $7.7 trillion, and that`s with a "T." That is the mind boggling total cost of the federal bailout. Yes, somebody actually added it all up. With the Treasury Department`s announcement today of an additional $800 billion, that grand total of $7.7 trillion breaks down to $24,000 for every man, woman and child in America.
Here`s my issue. These executives don`t care about you. The big three flew in to beg for cash on private jets. And now smack in the middle of getting a colossal handout, the arrogant, tone-deaf management team at Citigroup is unapologetically moving forward with their plan to pay the New York Mets baseball team $400 million to name their new stadium Citi Field.
They`ve implied it`s an important branding move. I think these actions border on criminal behavior. I don`t know if any crimes actually have been committed, but it`s up to law enforcement to investigate all -- all -- of these bailed-out firms for possible criminal wrongdoing. Americans deserve justice.
While the fat cats are living large, thousands of people are forced to accept the generosity of others. Take this food give-away at an Arkansas church over the weekend. It`s a wild scene. Look at this: families are frantic.
Executives need to be held accountable, when their mistakes put millions of Americans out of jobs, and rob us of billions of dollars of our hard-earned savings.
I want to hear what you at home have to say about all of this, so please call me at 1-877-586-7297. That`s 1-877-JVM-SAYS with your questions and opinions on this burning issue.
Bur first, let me bring in my fantastic panel: Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman of California; Gerri Willis, CNN`s personal finance editor and host of "Open House"; and Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. Like that name.
Steve, taxpayers are bailing out Citigroup. So isn`t their plan to spend $400 million naming a new stadium after themselves really a plan to spend our tax dollars to boost their egos and prestige?
STEVE ELLIS, VICE PRESIDENT, TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE: Certainly in a sense, yes. I mean, this is an Oedipus complex by the CEOs at -- at Citigroup, where they`re really looking more to have their name out there and branded than they are worried about the 52,000 employees they`re about to lay off early next year.
VELEZ MITCHELL: I want to show you guys this video, which is extraordinary. It`s out of Texas. And it is an "End the Fed" rally that spontaneously erupted.
People in Texas, masses of ordinary Americans, joining together to say get rid of the Federal Reserve Bank. They`re in a rage over this bailout.
We are talking $7.7 trillion. I actually had to look it up. I believe that trillion is a thousand billion, $7.7 trillion, 24 grand for every man, woman and child in America.
Gerri Willis, please put this figure, which is so mind boggling, into perspective for us, because I don`t think average folks have a grasp on it. I certainly can`t put my mind around that kind of number.
GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Well, it`s a whole lot of zeros, that`s for sure. You know what? It`s half of what the economy produced last year. So it`s half of GDP. It is a huge, huge number. And there`s more money being spent every day: $800 billion announced today to stand behind consumer loans, both mortgage and auto, credit card, you name it.
And of course, the money isn`t going directly to consumers. It`s actually going to lenders, Wall Street firms, other institutions to take this debt, mix it all up, and then sell it to investors all over the planet.
VELEZ MITCHELL: You know what I heard? It`s nine times the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I mean, it`s a mind boggling figure.
And Representative Brad Sherman, Democrat from California, I want to ask you a tough question. And first we`ve got to do a little review, because past is prologue, as they say. I want to show you three gentlemen -- I don`t know if you can call them gentlemen -- who are imprisoned right now. These are CEOs who got caught up in the last big corporate malfeasance scandal.
We`re talking about the infamous Jeffrey Skilling, former Enron CEO. He is serving 24 years, convicted of conspiracy, insider trading and securities fraud. Dennis Kozlowski, former Tyco CEO, he got 25 years. He`s in jail right now, grand larceny fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy. And Bernard Ebbers, former WorldCom chairman, 25 years, accounting and fraud and conspiracy. They`re in jail right now.
I think Americans are looking at that and saying, "Wait, the amount that they lost is paltry compared to the amounts that are being lost today by these new firms that are getting bailouts. When are we going to have an investigation into possible criminal wrongdoing by these firms today?
REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I think we will have an investigation. But I don`t think we should draw the line at the criminal law. Too many of these executives will come forward and say, "I didn`t commit any crime. Therefore, I should continue to make $2 million or $3 million a month. And you should bail out my company."
The fact is that being greedy and stupid is not a crime. But being greedy and stupid is not a reason to be in control of entities that need big taxpayer bailouts.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, I just want to look, for example, Steve Ellis, at the whole Citigroup problem. They`ve been in problems before: in the `80s, in the `90s, in 2005.
And now "The New York Times" is saying that the senior risk manager, one of them anyway, was buddies with one of the executives who was in charge of this massive buildup in mortgage-related securities called CDOs, collateralized debt obligations.
And one executive who didn`t want to be quoted said anonymously risk management has to be independent. It wasn`t independent at Citigroup. Does that rise to the level of criminality or not?
ELLIS: Well, certainly, it deserves to be investigated. I mean, this is something where you have to look very closely at it. I mean, this is supposed to be protecting shareholders and protecting the company from overextending themselves. And if they`re essentially in bed with each other, well, then there could be some collusion there. It could be some criminality. You have to look very closely at it.
VELEZ MITCHELL: I`m just trying to get a handle on when -- who, what, when, how, why, how -- when it comes to investigating these institutions and these individuals inside these institutions who are essentially responsible for these losses.
Stay right there. Fabulous panel. I`ve got to take a quick break. I`m going to take your calls at home when we come back in 30 seconds.
VELEZ MITCHELL: We`re back, talking about America`s financial meltdown and how the fat-cat executives just don`t care about you and me.
I want you at home to join in this discussion right now. Call 1-877- 586-7297 right now. That`s 1-877-JVM-SAYS with your questions for my fantastic panel. And that panel is back with me, Gerri, Steve and Congressman Brad Sherman.
And we have a phone call from Chris in Florida. Your question, sir?
CALLER: Well, before they get to really bailing out the rich, because you`re just giving more money to the rich, they need to bail out the U.S. citizen. And they should give the money to the people and let us pay back the banks. I mean, I think that would be a stimulus package or a boost that the economy could like -- you know, would love to see.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, Congressman Sherman, do you want to tackle that one? Because I think a lot of people are saying, "Hey, if we had just given all this $7.7 trillion" -- you could buy half the mortgages in America with that money and pay them off.
SHERMAN: Well, we haven`t actually spent $7.7 trillion. I don`t know where that number comes from. But the numbers we`re talking about are amounts that are being put at risk. And hopefully, we will lose only a portion of that money.
I supported the rebate checks that went out earlier last year -- or this year, and I hope that we look for stimulus to that again.
One of the criticisms of the rebate checks was, well, people just used it to pay off their debt. I think that`s actually very helpful to the economy. So many people are carrying those credit-card balances. And letting the average American family pay down that debt is a great way to stimulate the economy.
So I hope as we look towards stimulus, we look at things that are immediate and temporary. And one of the ways to do that is to send out checks to taxpayers, as we did earlier this year. Perhaps much bigger than what we did earlier this year.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Gerri Willis, you`re a personal finance editor. Please weigh in on this, because I don`t understand one thing. We`re stimulating people to spend more, but we`ve got a very paltry savings rate that just went from negative territory to less than 3 percent.
So if we encourage people to spend and people actually, basically, in America have most of what they need already, aren`t we just sort of continuing the problem that got us here in the first place? Over consumption, overspending, over debt?
WILLIS: You can look at it that way, but you can also say (ph) this. Look, Jane, I mean, the reality is, the economy is on life support. It is a sick patient. It is ailing. What do you do when you see a sick patient? Somebody on life support, what do you do? Do you give them a better diet or do you apply much more immediate processes? That`s what you do. You have to go in with cash, really go after them.
And that`s what this stimulus package, the new one that Obama`s talking about now, would do. They`re hoping that consumers take that money and immediately put it into the economy.
Now, I have to tell you, there were a lot of consumers last time around who didn`t go out and spend it right away. They actually saved it. That`s what I was suggesting: pay down debt, save your money. That`s the best thing to do.
But from an economist`s point of view, they want those people to spend, get the economy back on track. After all, consumers represent 3/4 of the economy. We are the ones who make the economy go. It`s our spending that makes America work.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, we want to hear from more Americans. Phyllis in Virginia, what`s your thought or question, ma`am?
CALLER: My comment is in regards to the $24,000 for every man, woman and child. I think that would have been a far better solution. These families that are losing their homes, they could have used that money to pay down these mortgages, and then they would have had money to spend. And it would have recovered a whole lot faster.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, Steve Ellis, you were the vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. Take that one on.
ELLIS: Well, I think that, you know, you have to look at, as Congressman Sherman was indicating, you know, we haven`t spent all this money. A lot of it is that we`re -- we`re on the hook for potentially spending it. And so we do have to be responsible with these -- these packages. I mean, we can`t just simply...
VELEZ MITCHELL: Are you mad? Are you angry, Steve Ellis? I mean, you`re Taxpayers for Common Sense.
ELLIS: We`re working for a balanced budget. We`re going to have a $1 trillion deficit this next year, and it`s going to be going up. We have a $10 trillion debt.
So I mean, we`re talking about, we`ve got to be very, very focused on whatever we`re going to do on any kind of stimulus, or what we`re doing in this bailout. And really to date, there`s been very little accountability of how we`re spending our money or where the money is going. We`ve been trying to track it as best as we can to make it available to the public on our Web site.
VELEZ MITCHELL: It`s an impossible task.
Steve, Gerri and Congressman, please stay right there.
I`m going to take more of your calls on the bailout. Call 1-877-JVM- SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297. And later, Joran Van Der Sloot has yet another story about what happened to Natalee Holloway in Aruba. You won`t believe what he said. It`s a shocker, and it`s disgusting.
Back in a minute.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Joran Van Der Sloot has another story about the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba. I will tell you if he`s lying again or if this twist will actually shed light on Holloway`s tragic disappearance.
But first, the government is handing out another $800 billion, bringing the bailout grand total to a whopping $7.7 trillion, with a "T." So when and where does it end? And is anybody looking out for you?
I`m taking your calls. Our panel is standing by. Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, and we also have Gerri Willis, CNN personal finance editor and host of "Open House," and Democratic congressman, Brad Sherman of California.
The phone lines lighting up. So many people really upset about this.
David in South Carolina, your question or thought, sir?
CALLER: Yes. I think that it`s ridiculous that they`re spending $7 trillion to bail out these companies. And they`re not giving anything back to us. And I didn`t sign off on this. And other taxpayers, we`re just going to increase the national deficit. I think that that`s ridiculous.
VELEZ MITCHELL: All right. I guess you`re a lady, not a man. And thank you for your thoughts.
You know, Gerri, weigh in on this, because a lot of people are confused, as I am. How much of this money has to be approved by Congress? How much can be unilaterally allocated by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? Where are the controls?
SHERMAN: I`ve got an answer for you.
WILLIS: I`m going to tell you that I think the Federal Reserve needs to be involved here. Everybody`s talking about balancing the budget. For goodness sakes, the financial system in this country is ready to come apart. Something has to be done.
The risk here, the risk here isn`t that the banks are going to have a hard time. The risk is that you go to the bank, you put your ATM card in, and nothing comes out. You can`t get your paycheck.
So I`m not overstating this here. This is actually the risk that people were facing in the system. So the fact that we spent money on this, of course it is taxpayer money, but the financial system has to work in this country for individuals, for Main Street, not just Wall Street.
VELEZ MITCHELL: And Representative Sherman, you wanted to weigh in on the controls and the approvals?
SHERMAN: Well, Congress only approved the $700 billion. Of course, I voted against it after I voted against it. I voted against it twice.
The -- as for controls, we don`t really have any controls over what the Fed or Paulson is doing. What we need to see is -- is demanding a much tighter, tougher deal.
For example, Citibank, we`re taking a quarter trillion dollars of risk. And for that, we get a $7 billion fee. That is way too much risk for way too little return to the taxpayer.
What that does is it means that our children are going to be in a worse position. They`re going to have a higher federal debt to pay off, because we`re not going to benefit the way we should on those deals that do pan out.
And second, there`s going to be a huge line for bailouts, because when we dish out the ice cream, we don`t charge for the ice cream.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Yes.
SHERMAN: We just dish it out. So there`s a long line for it.
VELEZ MITCHELL: You`re absolutely right. Banks are already complaining: "Hey, what about me? They got a bailout, so they`re more competitive than we are. And we did it the right way, and we don`t get a bailout."
Jimmy in South Carolina, your question or your thought?
CALLER: Yes. Everybody appreciates the stimulus checks. You know, we got $600 per person. A family got $1,200. But look, we`ve let them spend the money. Give us the $24,000. A family of six: four kids, two adults, that`s $150,000. Let us spend the money and then it will make the companies liquid.
VELEZ MITCHELL: I think that`s absolutely fantastic. And you`re the second person who said that. I think probably most Americans feel that way at this point.
You know, I have to go back to you, Congressman Sherman, for one important question: who does the investigation into possible criminality? With the old scandals, there were whistle blowers. There were internal audits that led to SEC investigations. What`s the process? Who`s looking at whether they broke the law?
SHERMAN: Well, the Justice Department can investigate. But I think most of the losses came from people being greedy and stupid but not necessarily criminal.
WILLIS: Come on. Jane, no. I mean, for the love of God...
SHERMAN: You can lose billions of dollars by being greedy and stupid.
WILLIS: You know, I have been in the kitchens and the living rooms of people who got these toxic mortgages that drove them -- made them broke. And these folks didn`t know what they were getting. It was the industry that sold them this stuff. They didn`t know what -- they thought their banker would give them a loan that they could afford. They relied on their banker to tell them not to spend too much. They thought that`s the way it works.
Well, guess what? It`s not the way it works anymore. Lenders would take on -- would give out as much debt as they possibly could. I`ve got to say, I can`t -- I don`t blame consumers here.
VELEZ MITCHELL: I`m going to jump in, because I want to continue this debate. Obviously, strong feelings across America. Please stay right there. Fabulous panel.
Back with more of your calls on the bailout right after the break.
Plus, the jury deliberating in the case of a mom who allegedly drove a teen to suicide, using MySpace. I`ll have all the details in just a bit.
VELEZ MITCHELL: We are taking your calls with our fantastic panel, as we take a look at this wild rally in Texas. People just gathering spontaneously, grabbing a bull horn, making some signs. They`re angry about this bailout. They`re like, "Enough. We have no control. We`re helpless. We`re being forced out of our homes. And the fat cats are getting all this money."
We have been debating this issue of whether there might be any criminal wrongdoing. Now, back when Enron -- and we all remember Enron -- had its scandal, they lost approximately $60 billion. If you look at one bank, Citigroup, taxpayers are on the hook for $321 billion, far more than Enron.
So Congressman, how can you say so easily that, "Oh, there`s no criminal wrongdoing. It`s stupidity"? First of all, these are supposed to be the smartest people in the world, the masters of the universe.
SHERMAN: Greed is more powerful than intellect. I don`t know whether there`s any criminality. But just the fact that they lost a lot of money does not prove that there`s criminality involved.
The -- hopefully, we will not be losing the $300 billion that you referred to. But we are taking a significant risk. And we`re not being adequately compensated for that risk. The amount of preferred stock and warrants given to the taxpayers is far less than it should have been. Citibank, I think, needed to be kept in business. But these terms are bad for the taxpayer.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, Gerri, I think you agree with me, that we have to investigate this, at least, to find out what was going on. Because Citigroup has a history of problems.
VELEZ MITCHELL: You know, they failed to adhere to regulatory standards, allegedly, in 2005, and the feds temporarily suspended their ability to make acquisitions.
WILLIS: Well, I think there are big problems there. And there are investigations that are going on everywhere and at every level. Not just in big corporate offices but also in smaller offices: mortgage broker offices, small banks across the country. There`s culpability sort of everywhere.
And in fact, I think you should look at Washington, D.C. Where were the regulators? It seems that on Capitol Hill, our legislators used this as a political football for 18 months.
I covered the hearings. I covered, you know, the press conference after press conference, saying something must be done. What did Congress do? Well, it took them forever. Finally, last summer they come through with a bill, and it hardly helps people at all. Apparently, the help for homeowners program they put out there, only 100 people applied for that.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Whoa! That`s a shocker.
WILLIS: So big disappointment, not only in corporate America, but also our regulators, our legislators. They have not been there for us.
VELEZ MITCHELL: All right. Let`s get Dorothy from Pennsylvania. Very patient, ma`am. What`s your thought?
CALLER: Well, I think that the CEOs in these big companies have robbed (ph) this country and the American people. And if they need help, why can`t they put up a substantial amount of money and the government match it if they want to save their companies?
VELEZ MITCHELL: Steve Ellis, we`re going to give you the last word on all of this.
ELLIS: Well, I mean, certainly I think that they have to have some skin in the game. And certainly, they need to be paying some -- taking a share of the pain.
And then even beyond that, the kind of go to the comments that have been talking about the oversight and accountability, even now Congress isn`t -- isn`t doing their job completely. They haven`t appointed the I.G. yet, the inspector general to oversee this program. Congress just last week got around to doing their oversight board. So even today we`re tripping over ourselves in trying to get this oversight done.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, you know what? I thank you all three for engaging in this vigorous debate. Excellent insight. We need all these execs to do -- at the very last take $1 salary for a year.
Joran Van Der Sloot won`t go away. His latest interview, disgusting new twist. Got to see it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: New developments in the MySpace suicide trial. Find out if the jury will hold 49-year-old mom Lori Drew responsible for driving a teenager to suicide. I`ll have the latest update on this case.
And I will examine how the Internet culture is hurting our kids. I want to hear from you, parents. Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS; that`s 1-877-586-7297 if you have thoughts on this issue of cyber bullying.
First, though, Natalee Holloway suspect Joran Van Der Sloot just can`t seem to keep himself out of the news. Not so long ago he confessed in front of a hidden camera that Natalee died in his arms and he disposed of her body. Then he gets caught allegedly sex trafficking in Thailand.
Now in an interview with Fox News he has a new explanation about what happened to Natalee Holloway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS ANCHOR "ON THE RECORD": You met a guy in February of -- three years ago, who said he was interested in something. What was he interested in?
JORAN VAN DER SLOOT, MURDER SUSPECT: He said he wanted to see a blonde girl.
VAN SUSTEREN: What did you take that to mean?
VAN DER SLOOT: I did not even -- I wasn`t even thinking about it, like I don`t know what he wanted at all with it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Anything offered in exchange for it?
VAN DER SLOOT: Yes, he offered me money.
VAN SUSTEREN: And what did he say?
VAN DER SLOOT: I said ok, sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What a creep. That`s right, Van Der Sloot claims he sold Natalee to this mystery older man from Venezuela, changing his story again of what happened to her. Changing it again, obviously that`s a bizarre story.
But believe it or not it gets even weirder. After doing that interview, he calls up Fox News and tells them that he lied about the entire thing. What would motivate him to do that? Is this the pathological liar defense?
Joining me, Jeff Brown, criminal defense attorney, and Jane Weintraub, also a criminal defense attorney. Both of you have been following this case since the beginning.
Jeff, what`s your take on this very strange new development? Why is Joran doing and saying all of this?
JEFF BROWN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, he might be really, really smart and bright. If you think about it, he`s given so many statements now, he`s given statements to law enforcement, he has said he`s denied it, he said was involved, limited involvement. He said all kinds of stories.
That now, you really can`t believe anything he says, whether it`s on a hidden camera or not. He`s given so many stories that he has no credibility. And there`s no way a prosecutor will be able to pick out one of these statements and use them.
So really, what he`s done is he is just discredited himself. And so anything that he says just won`t be believed. So now we`re back to where we started from. You`re going to need physical evidence. You`re going to need either a body or physical evidence to solve this case and witnesses to testimony. And his testimony is just not going to do it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, isn`t this -- I hate to use the word, but overkill? I mean, Jane Weintraub, he was already discredited. In fact the Aruban authorities refused to prosecute him after he confessed in that van where there were cameras where hidden and saying Natalee died in my arms. She had some kind of seizure and then he and somebody else helped dispose of the body. They didn`t charge him after that because they said he`s a liar --
JANE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Some kind of a banana boat. But they did charge him twice, Jane. Let`s remember, he has been --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: They arrested him twice.
WEINTRAUB: They arrested him twice, and they didn`t have enough evidence, sufficient evidence to sustain a conviction. There is no prosecutable case. You know when we talk about he`s discredited himself.
Jeff I agree with you, of course he has discredited himself, but to what is, I mean there`s no crime. There`s no body. There`s no evidence. There`s no witness. There`s no forensics. There`s no crime.
Now, if it were here in the United States, which, remember, it isn`t, if we were in the United States, he might be arrested for all these inconsistent statements for obstructing justice or lying to a police officer during an official proceeding, or an investigation.
But remember, there`s no jurisdiction here in the United States. So they`re under the Dutch law, number one. Was a crime committed in Aruba under Aruban law?
WEINTRAUB: Two, can they prove it? And three, is there any corruption there?
Listen to this, Joran -- you`ve got to hear this for a second. Joran supplied some very colorful details in his recent claim that he sold Natalee. You won`t believe your ears.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: You met a guy in February of -- three years ago, who said he was interested in something. What was he interested in?
VAN DER SLOOT: He said he wanted to see a blonde girl.
VAN SUSTEREN: What did you take that to mean?
VAN DER SLOOT: I didn`t know. I wasn`t even thinking about it. I didn`t know what he wanted at all with it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Anything offered in exchange for it?
VAN DER SLOOT: Yes, he offered me money.
VAN SUSTEREN: And what did he say?
VAN DER SLOOT: I said ok. Sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: In fact, he says he got about $10,000. Of course, he later retracted the whole story.
The tragic thing about this whole thing, Jeff, is that after his secretly recorded confession that Natalee died in his arms, Natalee`s mom and dad might have had some little measure of closure, at least the feeling I knew what happened to their beloved daughter.
Doesn`t this new story, this twisted story rob them of that tiny little peace of mind?
BROWN: Oh, yes, they`ve been tortured throughout this case. Because, one, they`ve seen Aruba just absolutely botch this case from the beginning. And then they`ve had to endure the multiple stories, and every time this story gets dragged back in the media, they`re listening to these stories again.
So they`ve been tortured from the beginning and unfortunately for them, and this is the real tragic in this besides her death, that family doesn`t look like they`ll ever have any closure.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, what`s fascinating is there is a commonality between this latest version of what happened to Natalee, which involved allegedly selling her to a mystery man, and Joran`s troubles, new troubles with the law, the alleged selling of Thai women into prostitution in Holland.
Here`s a look at Joran caught on that tape in that alleged sex sting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAN DER SLOOT: From 5 in the afternoon to 5 in the morning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. That is a lot.
VAN DER SLOOT: Yes that`s a lot I know but it`s not dance the whole time you take a break you talk to the guys, you know make them feel good, give them drink.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jane, it`s weird how -- there is the theme, you`ve handled a lot of criminals. Is there usually some kind of theme to their criminality where they repeat certain patterns over and over again?
WEINTRAUB: Yes, until they`re caught. I mean, that part of the problem of lots of our clients, I`m sure Jeff would agree. Of course, my sympathies go to the Holloway`s.
A really good message here is, when kids go down there, 18 years old, I`m about to have a son graduate high school, and it`s scary. 18 years old, they`re drinking, they`re drugging. That`s the message. You can`t drink and drug. You`ve got to stay close.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what`s really scary about this though? I just want to get to the last point, Jeff. Human trafficking is a real problem. Tens of thousands are victimized by this, so what`s really scary is that his story is actually realistic.
BROWN: Yes. But the story they`re going to have a tough time with this story as well because he talks about dancing. And I know we`re saying it`s code for prostitution, but really if you listen what the tape is, he`s talking about that dancing and bringing them back to Holland for dancing.
So even on this case he`s got this escape clause just like he has on everything else where he can say, wait a second, I never said prostitution. We were really talking about dancing. So once again he seems to be real cagey and he seems to be able to get out of a lot of these situations.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we didn`t even get to the best part is that he basically betrays his dad by basically giving them licensing them a chip --
BROWN: Throw him under the bus.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And it has allegedly his dad saying all sorts of incriminating things. So he doesn`t care about anybody, his family Natalee Holloway; this guy is a mess.
BROWN: He`ll be back.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, he will be back and we`ll have more on him and we`ll stay on top of this story.
Jeff, Jane, thank you so much.
Tomorrow on this program, we will have an "ISSUES - Special Investigation, Murder in America."
I will show you how our gun culture and the slow, slow, slow wheels of justice are leading to mounting violence in our nation. "Murder in America;" right here tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. You do not want to miss it.
Up next, the MySpace suicide trial moves ahead. The jury debates whether an adult woman should be punished for allegedly cyber bullying a teenager who ended up killing herself.
After the break, call 1-877-JVM-SAYS; that is 1-877-586-7297 and tell me what you think of this tragic case and the consequences of our often nasty Internet culture.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The fate of Lori Drew, the 49-year-old mother, who allegedly taunted a 13-year-old girl on MySpace to the point of a suicide, is now in the hands of the jury. It`s the nation`s first case of cyber bullying. Lori Drew, with the help of her daughter and her assistant allegedly pretended to be a teenage boy on MySpace.
13-year-old Megan Meier who became infatuated with that fictitious boy, got a message stating, "the world would be better place without you." Megan then took her own life and her mother found her hanging in her closet.
Lori Drew is charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to inflict emotional distress. Each count against this web-surfing mom would carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison if she is convicted.
We`re going to take your calls on this in just a moment. That number, once again, 1-877-JVM-SAYS; that is 1-877-586-7297.
But first, I want to talk with Mike Fleeman, he is the west coast editor for People.com. Glad to see you, Mike. Any word on when the jury might reach a verdict?
MIKE FLEEMAN, WEST COAST EDITOR, PEOPLE.COM: Well, they`ve been deliberating all day. It was only a five-day trial. No word at all. Nobody seems to know how long it`s going to take. It`s a very novel case, as you mentioned. It`s a complicated case. A lot of law they have to consider. So it could be some time.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, I understand that in closing arguments, some new information came out about why these two families had been fighting. And there is an allegation -- certainly this young lady who committed suicide is not here to defend herself -- that she had made a remark about the daughter of the woman who`s now charged being a lesbian.
FLEEMAN: It was somewhat shocking allegation in court. And beating up on the victim is always a risky thing. But you know, the defense said that the Megan Meier was able to dish it out just as well as she could take it. And that this feud was very much -- she was very much a part of this feud as the defendant was.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And, you know, in his closing arguments, the prosecutor said essentially that if the defendant was so upset, that this young lady had called her daughter a lesbian, she could have simply gone to the mother to complain about it, and we wouldn`t be here right now.
Essentially he`s saying if these girls could have been allowed to work out their problems, because 13-year-olds call each other names all the time, we wouldn`t be here.
FLEEMAN: That`s the heart of this case. It isn`t just a feud between two girls. It`s this 40-something mother who was involved in all this. And that is what has torn apart the community and that is what has really made this case as incendiary as it is that an adult would engage in something like this.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is really, really shocking. Thank you, Mike, for staying on top of this case and giving us some good information there. I appreciate it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: This case is part of a very disturbing pattern of Internet related violence.
Just last week, a young man videotaped himself via web cam while he committed suicide. People watched this live feed on the Internet and many of them did absolutely nothing. What the heck is going on with the Internet? Unlike getting beaten up in the schoolyard when a child is taunted online, there are no black eyes. So please call in with your thoughts.
First, I would like to introduce my panel. Linda Young, a psychologist and spokesperson for Qwest Online`s safety program. And Nicole Deborde, criminal defense attorney.
Linda, do parents, most of them, really have any idea of what their kids are doing online and how their online relationships can really negatively impact their life?
LINDA YOUNG, SPOKESPERSON QWEST ONLINE: I think they don`t have enough of an idea of what`s going onion line. They underestimate the power of emotional harm that can be done to kids. They understand that they`ve been bullied in schools but the emotional harm that`s being done through the Internet, through the cell phone, is exponentially wider and more long- lasting for some of these kids because it can spread so far and so fast. And you can`t revoke it. It`s irretrievable.
And I think parents are just beginning to get on board. But A lot of parents don`t even know how to get to MySpace and look at what`s going on, or look at Facebook or understand how you set up a profile, how you set it up to private. They have to talk to their own kids about how to do that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think parents have to learn. It`s not easy for any of us to master this new technology, but it can be learned. My mom`s 93 and she does e-mail.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m proud of her for doing that. But it`s not easy. But she does it.
The phone lines are lighting up here on this issue. Another hot- button issue.
Tina from Ohio, what are your thoughts?
TINA, CALLER FROM OHIO: yes. I think the judicial system in America in general should send a message out and let adults know that these children are vulnerable. Remember what it was like when we were 14 years old. Fighting a grown woman like that.
I think it should stop. I think they should give her some kind of punishment behind this because there is no excuse for her bullying that little 14-year-old to suicide. And that`s just my thought because these teenagers are in trouble. The girls aren`t living to see 20 years old. And the boys are scared they`re not going to live to see 25.
I think it needs to stop. And adults need to stop bullying and taking their frustrations out on kids, or anybody that is less fortunate.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well said, Tina from Ohio. And I appreciate it. And I agree entirely.
Nicole Deborde, criminal defense attorney. There is a problem with this case, however. She wasn`t the only one, this defendant. She had an assistant, her daughter, there were other people who had access codes. She didn`t even send the final e-mail that apparently provoked this child into hanging herself. A lot of problems.
NICOLE DEBORDE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: There are a lot of problems. And certainly when you have a criminal case, which is what this is, then you have the issue of whether or not you can prove direct intent. I think a great point to take away from this is you wouldn`t walk up to a kid on a playground as a 49-year-old woman and start bullying them and threatening them and trying to fight with them.
But people think they can get away with this stuff anonymously on the web which is obviously not true. Now she`s being taken to court and possibly could be held criminally responsible. So I think that`s the big message here.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think you`re absolutely right. It`s the anonymity that`s the problem. It`s like what they call the nameless, faceless people on the other end of the phone that you`re more likely to lose your temper with, than someone you have to face again. We have to realize we can`t treat people like that, just because we don`t think we`re going to ever see them or have a repercussion because sometimes the repercussions are huge.
Karen from California, what are your thoughts?
KAREN, CALLER FROM CALIFORNIA: I feel that parents are supposed to protect kids. And this woman totally misrepresented herself to one of our, like most vulnerable population; and those are teenagers. And, you know, they go from children to young adults, puberty, and I feel like she should totally be punished for this, because she took advantage of a young, impressionable -- I`m just appalled. What`s going on with her that she`s 40-some odd years old that she would get on the Internet and do that?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Excellent question. Dr. Linda Young, what is going on with this woman?
YOUNG: That`s the shame of it. Part of how bullying gets started among young kids is they have observed it modeled in their own homes, from the adults that feel entitled to treat someone else poorly in order to feel a greater sense of power for themselves. That`s where some of the other kids are learning how to mistreat the kids.
I think it was the girls actually -- the young ones -- who said I think it`s illegal to set up a MySpace profile and pretend you`re someone else. It was the mother, according to what I`ve read, who said, "It`s going to be all right; it will be fine."
The whole idea of feeling like you can get away with something because you`re entitled to under the guise of protecting your child from another child is part of where some of these kids are learning it in their own neighborhood, in sports, cheerleading, in schools.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s not family values; that`s not what they mean by family values, people.
Pamela from North Carolina, what are your thoughts?
PAMELA, CALLER FROM NORTH CAROLINA: My thoughts are that I think that this Drew lady and her co-conspirators, you know, she is a mom. She`s supposed to be setting an example. This is comparable to the -- it reminds a lot of the story about the two cheerleaders in Texas, when the mom got involved, because of the other one being jealous, and there was a murder plot, and all this sort of thing going on.
I mean, who is to say what would have -- you know, happened or is going to happen if this thing continues the way it is. And she should be held accountable.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. You know, I agree with you -- all of our callers are making a lot of sense.
We`re going to ask Nicole and Linda to stick around. We`re taking more of your calls at 1-877-JVM-SAYS.
This is a really important issue because it affects virtually all of us. So many of us have Internet access; our children, we don`t know what they`re doing. It can be a life or death matter.
If you want to sound off on the deadly side of America`s Internet culture, 1-877-586-7297. Back with more calls in a second.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The Internet culture often nasty. Happy slapping is a extreme form of cyber bullying, when a person is videotaped being beaten and then that videotape is shared on the web or cell phone to cell phone. That happened right there, you`re looking at a Florida girl back in April, terrible case that got a lot of press at the time.
You know, this kind of reminds me of "Lord of the Flies." Kids out of control, no parental supervision, and they are getting nasty and mean. The phone lines lighting up.
Norma in California, your thoughts?
NORMA, CALLER FROM CALIFORNIA: Yes, I hope that mother is found guilty, because she set a bad example for all the mothers.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely she did.
You know, Nicole Deborde, criminal defense attorney, is it like the Wild West on the Internet where people just feel they have no repercussions legally and sometimes they do have?
DEBORDE: Well, exactly. Nothing that you do on the computer is anonymous, people. I`ve said it before and I`ll say it again. People believe they`re doing things secretly in private. And believe me there is a record. It`s not anonymous.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: How many criminals have been caught, and all we do is look at their history and find out what they were -- anyway.
Michelle, Ohio; your thoughts?
MICHELLE, CALLER FROM OHIO: I was calling, because wouldn`t this mother be charged with malice if she set this account up with the intent to hurt this little girl?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Nicole, take it away.
DEBORDE: It depends on the statute. Some statutes require that you prove some sort of pre-planned malice and some statutes don`t. In this particular incident, it`s just evidence to show that she did what she did on purpose. And that`s all they have to show.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Dr. Linda Young, we give you the last word. There are so many phrases that I just learned today. Cyber-bullycide - when cyber bullying results in suicide; bash boards - where you can say nasty things online.
Parents don`t even understand the lingo.
YOUNG: Right. So what is really important is that the parents educate themselves and is one of the best ways they can do it is ask their own kids what is going on online. They don`t have to ask the kids directly, but what have you seen your friends doing, let me look at some of the places where you`ve been, what would you say if someone said to you. What does this mean?
Find resources on the web, incredibleInternet.com, where you can download a free guide for parents on how to talk with your kids, how to find things out on the Internet and lots of other places to go where parents can get informed.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have to go. We thank you both for your incredible insights.
Take that advice, parents and we`ll see you soon, panel.
Don`t forget, Nancy Grace is on right after this at 8:00 p.m. Don`t miss this Thursday. She`s going to go inside the first 24 hours of the Caylee Anthony mystery in a special investigation.
You know, there are lots of people talking on TV; too few of them are saying anything that helps you make sense of the world. I`m trying to change that by keeping it real.
I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, and I`ll see you here tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. Eastern with some more real "ISSUES."
Have a great night.