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Political Games; Natalee Holloway's Body Found?; Amazing Animals: Smarter Than You Think

Aired November 18, 2010 - 22:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And thank you for joining us tonight.

Earmarks, pork barrel spending, those pet projects that politicians slip into bills to please voters back home, lawmakers in both parties are now making a big deal out of banning them. But is this political gamesmanship to avoid the tough decisions needed to fix the nation's finances? The hard numbers, the political realities of a big deficit. We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.

Tests are being run on a jawbone found on a beach in Aruba, the island where Natalee Holloway was last seen in 2005. So, is it Natalee? We will put that question to a forensic scientist.

We also have jail video of Natalee's mother face to face with the prime suspect in the case, Joran van der Sloot. That's tonight's "Crime & Punishment."

And in our "Amazing Animals' series: man's best friend, smarter than you think. Our report might make you question who is the master in your relationship with your four-legged friend. Dog behavior expert Cesar Millan joins us.

We begin, though, as we always do, "Keeping Them Honest."

Tonight: promises, grandstanding and a political stunt.

We will start with the promises and the grandstanding. You might have heard the noise out of Washington over the past few months from the GOP calling for a ban on earmarks, you know, those pet projects that your senator or representative can add on to bills.

Listen to this.


MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA SENATOR-ELECT: Today, I want to talk to you about banning earmarks.

RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY SENATOR-ELECT: I am philosophically opposed to earmarks.

SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: One of the first things we will do in the House and the Senate is ban earmarks.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I will join the Republican leadership in the House in support of a moratorium on earmarks.

REP. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: Moratorium on any earmark request.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Earmarks are a gateway to corruption.

PAUL: Earmarks are absolutely a problem, and we must end earmarks.

PENCE: Earmarks have become emblematic of everything that is wrong with spending.

RUBIO: The next senator from Florida will be a yes vote to banning all earmark spending in the United States Congress.


ROBERTS: OK, banning earmarks, now, that sounds perfectly reasonable. The GOP gained seats in this month's midterm elections on the promise of fiscal responsibility. So they come out of the gate swinging, promising to ban these earmarks.

And it's not just the GOP. Democrats are in on it, too. Heck, even the top Democrat, President Obama himself, is all for it. Listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I agree with those Republicans and Democratic members of Congress who have recently said that, in these challenging days, we can't afford what are called earmarks.


ROBERTS: OK. So the president is behind it, and so are several Republicans. In fact, today, House Republicans agreed to continue their ban on earmarks in the upcoming session of Congress.

And, earlier this week, Senate Republicans did the same thing. So you might be thinking, they're on to something here; this will make a difference.

Now, "Keeping Them Honest," for all the talk of taking a stand against earmarks, nearly $16 billion in the 2010 budget is related to earmarks. That is less than 1 percent, 1 percent of the total budget. In the big scheme of things, eliminating earmarks will barely make a dent.

And for all the talk about savings, that money doesn't actually get cut out of the budget if the earmarks go away. You see, getting rid of the earmarks changes how the money gets spent, but, without more action from Congress it won't really change how much gets spent.

But some members do concede that, but they also note that it's a powerful symbol of what some lawmakers call wasteful spending. Well, fair enough. But there's something else: the ban.

And ban is a strong word, isn't it? The ban is nonbinding, for now, at least until the GOP makes it part of the House rules. Anyways, if it's just a tiny fraction of the overall budget, why do it at all?

Why? Because it looks good. Remember when I mentioned political stunts at the top of the show? This is where the stunt part comes in. You see, by taking a stand against earmarks, you don't actually have to stand against any one type of spending, any one program, any one constituency.

Like, if you say you're for cutting Social Security, seniors might not be too inclined to vote for you next time around. It's easy to stand against earmarks that are just a tiny fraction of the budget. It's a lot harder for Republicans to name any big-ticket items that might need to be cut to really shrink the budget.

Watch this.


ROBERTS: Your first priority, Congresswoman, is going to be -- you have said, is going to be deficit reduction, trying to keep the debt under control. What's the first thing that you would cut?

KRISTI NOEM (R), SOUTH DAKOTA CONGRESSWOMAN-ELECT: Well, I think what we need to do is put everything on the table and have discussions about it.

ROBERTS: I understand that, that you that need to look at everything. But is there one particular thing that drives you crazy that you think that, if you had the opportunity, you would cut it tomorrow?

NOEM: Well, I think that we have got a lot of those situations out there. And what we need to do, as a freshmen class and as a leadership team, is to sit down and identify those that we're going after first.



DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Can you be specific? What in the government, what programs, what agencies, are you going to cut to get back to those levels?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Well, it's not rocket science. Let's start with all of the TARP funds. Let's get the TARP money back and use it to pay down our debt. Now, let's bring all the unspent stimulus back.

BASH: I mean, you're talking about unspent money, but there is money that has been spent.



DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Name a painful choice that Republicans are prepared to say we ought to make.

REP. PETE SESSIONS (R), TEXAS: Well, first of all, we need to make sure that, as we look at all that we're spending in Washington, D.C., with not only the -- the entitlement spending, but also the bigger government, we cannot afford anymore. We have to empower the free enterprise system. See, this is where...

GREGORY: Congressman, these are not specifics.

SESSIONS: Oh, they are.

GREGORY: And voters get -- get tired of that.



CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": Why not make a single proposal that cuts Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?

BOEHNER: Chris, this is what happens here in Washington. And when you start down that path, you just invite all kinds of problems.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Republican Paul Ryan has suggested sharp cuts in Medicare and Social Security. Are you willing to make cuts there?

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Well, I think we know that, just within a day or so, the president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day. He's taking 2,000 people with him.

He will be renting out over 870 rooms in India. And these are five-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. This is the kind of over-the-top spending. It's a very small example, Anderson.


ROBERTS: A lot of politicians just can't name their cut.

And, by the way, what Congresswoman Bachmann said there about the president's trip to Asia costing $200 million a day? Well, that was a lie. It didn't cost anywhere near that.

Now, there's another twist to all of this. Not all Republicans are for this earmark ban.

Here's what Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe said this week on the Senate floor.


SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: They said earmarks are a gateway drug that needs to be eliminated in order to demonstrate that we are serious about fiscal restraint.

There's just one problem with that. It's not true. Instead of putting money back into the pockets of the American people by reducing spending or shrinking the deficit, these efforts to eliminate earmarks would have put the money into a hand -- the hand of President Obama by allowing his administration to spend the money as he saw fit.

At the end of the day, none would have saved money. President Obama is the winner. The American people are the loser.


ROBERTS: Ouch. The American people are the losers.

Joining me now, political analysts David Gergen and Roland Martin, along with Tea Party organizer Dana Loesch, who is also editor of and a radio host at KFTK 97.1 FM.

Folks, thanks so much for being with us.

David, let's start off with you.

Is it really such a big idea, this idea of cutting earmarks, particularly when you look at how small a percentage of the total budget they really represent and the fact that this money's probably not going to get saved; it will just get spent elsewhere?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, John, it is a small amount of money, $15 billion, less than 1 percent of the budget, but it's a big deal, because the money has been used essentially as a piggy bank by a lot of members.

They go off and do their favorite projects back in their home districts or their home states, and then they seek voter credit for doing that. And they get into the habit of loose spending, of undisciplined spending.

I think it's very wise, in time, particularly in these -- when we're so tight on the budget, to cut this stuff out. Yes, there are going to be some good things lost in the process, but we have got to get back to essentials. And, listen, if they don't need the $15 billion, cut it out of the budget. We have got to start somewhere.

ROBERTS: Dana, how much of this, do you think, is about members who truly believe that earmarks are a bad idea, and how much is about members who simply want to get on a bandwagon?

DANA LOESCH, ORGANIZER, ST. LOUIS TEA PARTY COALITION: I think that any -- that this whole -- that this whole debate has really fascinated me, simply because I think that those who are arguing in favor of earmarks, I think, it's sort of a smoke-and-mirrors situation, because what they're essentially arguing for, John, is -- is the opaque process that has been going on in Washington, D.C., for so unbelievably long.

Earmarks, as they're being argued for right now, they're talking about tacking on spending requests, unvetted spending requests on to an appropriations bill that bypass the -- the traditional -- the traditional typical two-committee approval process that earmarks are supposed to go through.

And, so, I think that these people who are -- who -- these congressmen who are -- are advocating for this, they're -- they're trying to shore up their political capital. This is how they trade power, is through this process.

ROBERTS: Roland Martin, Mitch McConnell in supporting the ban on earmarks, said, look, I don't really believe in this, because, three weeks ago, he was against it, but gave to Tea Party pressure.


ROBERTS: But he said, I'm -- I'm worried about just giving more budgetary discretion to the White House and putting it in the hands of the president.

Is -- is he right to be concerned about that?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, that's utter nonsense.

I mean, look, first of all, I disagree when we categorize this as, well, it's just less than 1 percent, because, if you ask anybody when it comes to their own personal budget, when you need to make cuts, every little bit helps.

But it is clear that Senator McConnell and Republicans want to -- to the American people, try to make it all about Obama, he's going to somehow spend the money, when you have Republicans and Democrats who want to spend, spend, spend.

But, in your opening, John, you're absolutely right. Where are they going to cut? Are they willing to touch defense? You see right now Senator John McCain in a constant battle with fellow Republican Senator Tom Coburn when it comes to defense spending, when it comes to Rand Paul.

That's going to be the real test of the political will. Will they touch Medicare, Social Security, and defense? That's where most of our budget comes from.

ROBERTS: David...

LOESCH: Well, and can I -- can I add something on to Roland's point, too?

ROBERTS: Go ahead, Dana. LOESCH: The argument that -- that -- that came from Mitch McConnell, who, until very recently, was against earmarks, the idea that, somehow, they are ceding power to the president, that they are letting go of the purse strings is a lie, because when you write appropriations bills, unless they write it specifically say that it is up to the discretion of President Obama to decide how this money is spent, he doesn't get to decide. That is Congress' responsibility.


LOESCH: They're playing up on the ignorance of the American people, and that's not going to fly anymore.

ROBERTS: David, there's -- there's another point that some people make, and that, perhaps in supporting a ban on earmarks, it will obscure the really tough choices that lawmakers will have to make if they want to really take a whack at the -- at the deficit and the overall debt.

They can say, hey, look, we took action on earmarks. How much more do you want us to do?

GERGEN: I think it will go the other way, John. I think this will help to create momentum for more spending cuts.

And one of the reasons, if you couldn't do a deal with earmarks, how in the world are you going to deal with, as Roland says -- and I think he's right -- the really tough issues, like Medicare, Medicare -- Medicaid and defense?

Listen, this money is basically incumbent protection money. It's -- it's -- it's -- you know, it's to help them back home.


GERGEN: And, sometimes, it goes for good causes, but it's often to increase the popularity of the incumbent. We all know that.

And they have got to start somewhere. And I -- you know, I think the argument is a phony one about it's going to give all this stuff to Obama. If they get this 1 percent, OK, let's go for the next 3 percent, let's go for the next 5 percent.

MARTIN: Right. John...

GERGEN: Then they have got to go -- I think Roland is right -- they have got to go after Medicare, Social Security and defense, and put those on the table, and let's thrash it out in a serious national debate.

MARTIN: Here's -- real quick, John, here's the next battle.


MARTIN: You're going to see it. When it comes to Medicare, or Social Security and defense, you're going to hear members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, say, oh, this will cause us to lose jobs.

Losing jobs is always Congress' way of preventing any kinds of cuts from being made. Watch that language. You will hear it from both sides.

LOESCH: Well...

ROBERTS: And there's -- there's one other point I would -- I would like to get Dana to ring in on here.

And that is, Michele Bachmann is hedging her bets a little bit. She's saying, well, maybe what we need to do is, we need to redefine what an earmark is. For example, transportation projects, perhaps they shouldn't be considered to be earmarks, which, I guess if you looked at in the purest sense, would mean, that because it was a transportation project, that bridge to nowhere wasn't an earmark.


ROBERTS: Does she have a fair point?

LOESCH: Yes and no.

I think that there's a million things that we need to do. First of all, let's -- let's have things go through the authorization and appropriation committees, as they're supposed to do, in order to be vetted. Let's bring a competitive grant process in, and let's vet these earmarks before we just tack them on.

The point that I think that she's making is that the way that the earmark process stands right now is that we have a lot of pork going towards things like bike paths. Yay, bicycles are fantastic, but we have bridges across the country that are falling into disrepair.

And so a lot of the super important stuff that needs attention is getting overlooked. And a quick thing about defense. If we want to spend defense money wisely, we could start by reflecting upon the appropriations bill from 2009 that was loaded with earmarks that our president did approve.

ROBERTS: All right, we want to take a pause here, because we have got a lot more to talk about tonight.

So, Roland Martin, Dana Loesch, David Gergen, please stay with us.

And we want to know what you think as well. Join the live chat going under way right now at

Coming up next, more from our panel. We're going to get their take on Congressman Charlie Rangel's possible punishment for breaking House ethics rules. Does the punishment fit? And see how it compares to other members of Congress who have gotten in trouble in the past.

Plus our special series "Amazing Animals: Smarter Than You Think": inside the science of how dogs think. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want to look at cute pet tricks. What we want to know is, what does the dog understand about its world?



ROBERTS: On to "Raw Politics" tonight.

A House ethics panel is recommending censure, what amounts to a public scolding, for New York Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel. That's after the committee found Rangel guilty on 11 counts, including failing to pay taxes for 17 years on a rental home in the Dominican Republic, misuse of a rent-controlled apartment in the Bronx for political purposes, and improper use of government letterhead and government mail.

The 20-year congressman pleaded for mercy today before learning his potential punishment.


REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: There's no excuse for my behavior, and there was no intent for me ever to go beyond what has been given to me as a salary. I never attempted to enrich myself, and that I walk away, no matter what your decision, grateful that I have had this opportunity to serve.


ROBERTS: Twenty-term congressman we should say, 40 years in Congress.

You might recall, on Monday, Rangel walked out of his ethics trial when the committee rejected his request to delay the case so he could hire a new defense team.

His original team, remember, left him in September. This whole case has been full of drama. Tonight, a lot of people are questioning whether the suggested punishment fits.

We want to show you how it stacks up against other politicians who were found guilty of House violations. Only 22 House members have ever been censured. The last two were in July of 1983. Republican Congressman Daniel Crane of Illinois, who broke down crying, he was found guilty of sexual misconduct with a female House page years earlier. Congressman Gerry Studds of Massachusetts was found guilty of sexual misconduct with a male page years earlier.

Another type of punishment is a reprimand. Only eight House members have faced that, most recently Georgia Republican Newt Gingrich in 1997, when he was the speaker of the House. He was slapped with an unprecedented $300,000 fine for allowing a member- affiliated tax-exempt organization to be used for political purposes. He also gave false information to the committee investigating the charges.

Now, the harshest punishment is expulsion. Just five House members have been forced out of office. The most recent, you may recall, is Ohio Democrat James Traficant. He was kicked out of the House in 2002 after he was found guilty in a federal corruption trial of conspiracy to commit bribery and of racketeering, among other things.

Traficant had quite a message for the Ethics Committee back then. Look at this.


REP. JAMES TRAFICANT (D), OHIO: And I want to say to this committee, I love America, but hate the government. I love the elected members. I have met many of you and love you all. And I mean that. That's not patronizing to get your vote. I don't expect your vote.

But we have an aristocracy and a judiciary that is afraid of the FBI and the IRS. They're scared to death of them. And they trampled all over my rights. And I will be damned if they're going to do it to me.

So, I will take an upward departure, and I will die in jail, because I did not commit these crimes.


ROBERTS: Of course, he didn't die in jail. He's out.

Now for more perspective, you might be wondering what happened to Congressman Joe Wilson. He made headlines for this.


OBAMA: The reforms -- the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.



OBAMA: It's not true.



ROBERTS: That was Wilson September in 2009 when President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress on health care reform.

The South Carolina Republican dodged serious punishment. House members issued a resolution expressing disapproval of Wilson's actions.

So, did Rangel get the right punishment?

Back now to our political panel, David Gergen, Roland Martin, and Dana Loesch.

So, David, start us off here. It was 9-1 in favor of censure in the committee, first time, as we have said, since 1983. Is it the right punishment?

GERGEN: I thought it was, John, because censure is usually for people who have done unethical things. Expulsion, the highest punishment, is actually for people who have been found to do unlawful things.

And there's been no finding so far that Congressman Rangel has done unlawful things. And a censure is a pretty powerful tool. It -- we have -- we have reviewed the House history.

You remember one of the most famous instances in the Senate was the censure of Senator Joe McCarthy.

ROBERTS: Mm-hmm.

GERGEN: And it broke him. It broke his power. And I dare say, in this case, Charlie Rangel has basically seen his best days.

ROBERTS: Dana, you disagree with David. You do think that he should be expelled from the House.


ROBERTS: You're in favor of expulsion. What did he do to rise to that level?

LOESCH: I think that the level of hypocrisy with Charlie Rangel is one of legendary proportions.

And I -- I don't think that it -- I don't think that comparing it to Joe Wilson, the censure and that situation -- it's unbelievably different. I mean, this is a guy who was on the committee that helped write our tax code that didn't go by the law himself, but yet he would write it for other people.

This is a guy who, I mean, if they -- if they decide to investigate further, and they think that there's -- it warrants criminal penalties or what have you, then -- I just think that censure seems to be a super light way to go, considering all of the charges that were against him.

ROBERTS: Roland...


MARTIN: You know, John, I think, first of all, that analysis is absolutely nonsense. OK? It is nonsense.

(LAUGHTER) MARTIN: First of all, the lead attorney on this committee stated there wasn't corruption. The lead attorney on this committee said he did not believe there was personal benefit.

I do believe that, first of all, he should have followed the rules.


MARTIN: I do believe there should be some penalty.

But to sit here and suggest remove from Congress, when you just read a list of individuals who committed sexual acts with a House page and received censure, and then you saw what Newt Gingrich did as speaker of the House, utilizing a committee for political purposes, and he didn't get...


LOESCH: What -- what Charlie Rangel...

MARTIN: No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

LOESCH: No, no, no, no.

MARTIN: No, no, excuse me, excuse me, excuse me. I didn't interrupt you.


MARTIN: You did not have censure in that case.

And so, when you judge it based upon the history of the House, I believe it is ridiculous to say expulsion. I do not believe it has risen to the level of censure. I think the same level of rebuke that Gingrich got, Rangel should get as well.

ROBERTS: All right.

LOESCH: I just -- this is Charlie Rangel, the same man who I believe did put pressure upon businesses that had -- or corporations that had business before Congress in order to raise funds for the Charlie Rangel...


MARTIN: Did the committee find corruption? No.


GERGEN: Let's be clear. I'm not sure.

Roland, are you saying in fact that he shouldn't be censured, that he should only be reprimanded?

MARTIN: No, no, no. No, no. What -- first of all, what I'm saying is, based upon what John just laid out, when you compare other members of Congress, in terms of what they did, compared to Rangel, what I'm saying is, if a member of Congress was having sex with a House page, and that person had censure, and then, if you saw what the speaker of the House, Gingrich, what he did using the committee, and he didn't rise -- that did not rise to the level of censure, what I'm saying is, there's a difference there.

LOESCH: Roland, two wrongs don't make a right. Two wrongs don't make a right.

MARTIN: Look, I didn't say -- I didn't say it makes a right. I'm making a comparison.

LOESCH: And I think that Rangel, being on the committee that does the tax code, and -- and then not even follow it himself?

MARTIN: I'm making a comparison.

LOESCH: It's a little big.

ROBERTS: Let me just jump in for a second here, folks.


LOESCH: Well, it's an invalid comparison.

MARTIN: No, it's not.

ROBERTS: Let me just jump in for a second, because, David, I wanted to ask you this.

Charlie Rangel stood before the committee, and he basically begged for mercy. He said: I'm 80 years old. I don't know how much longer I'm going to live. And then he said this. Let's listen.


RANGEL: And I recognize that you cannot deal with issues that's not before this committee, but what the press has done to me and my community and my family is just totally unfair.

Counsel knows it. All of you know it. And it's not your responsibility to correct them. But they will continue to call me a crook and charge me being corrupt.


ROBERTS: David, blaming the press, it's a tried-and-true tradition.


ROBERTS: But is it -- but is it applicable in this case?

GERGEN: Well, the press actually did uncover some of this. Now, let's -- let's be -- let's be clear about this. We didn't know about this housing business and 17 years of unpaid taxes had the press not gotten into it. That's the role of the press, is to play the watchdog.

I don't think he was done in by the press. Charlie Rangel, he can make that argument, and it's fine, but I don't think that's the real issue.

The real issue is, he had the -- he had these violations, and there's -- there's no evidence to controvert it.

MARTIN: That's right.

GERGEN: And it's a clear-cut case. It's a series of violations. I think they did the right thing.

ROBERTS: And we will see where it all goes from here.

GERGEN: We will.

ROBERTS: David Gergen, Roland Martin, Dana Loesch, thanks very much for being with us. Really appreciate it.

MARTIN: Thanks a lot.

LOESCH: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Still ahead: Could there finally be a break in the case of Natalee Holloway? The Alabama teenager disappeared in Aruba five years ago. Forensic tests now being conducted could provide some much-needed answers. We will explain just ahead.

Plus: why Tiger Woods says he is infinitely happier now than before the sex scandal that destroyed his marriage and tarnished his image one year ago.


ROBERTS: We're watching plenty of other stories tonight.

Susan Hendricks is here with a 360 news and business bulletin.

Hi, Susan.


After a weeklong search, the bodies of an Ohio mom, her 10-year- old son and a family friend have been found in a wooded area about 20 miles from the Herrmann home. The boy's 13-year-old sister was found alive on Sunday in the house of 30-year-old Matthew Hoffman. He has been charged with kidnapping. Police say Hoffman told them where the three bodies were hidden.

Colton Harris-Moore, who earned the nickname Barefoot Bandit, remember that guy? Well, he has pleaded not guilty to federal charges in Washington State. Harris-Moore allegedly stole planes, boats and cars, often while shoeless, in a two-year crime spree stretching from British Columbia to the Bahamas.

General Motors went public today, raising more than $20 billion. President Obama said the successful offering proves bailing out the automaker was a good idea. He also claimed U.S. taxpayers could eventually recoup more than the $50 billion GM received.

Tiger Woods says he is infinitely happier than he was a year ago, just before his personal and professional life imploded in scandal, telling ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" his numerous infidelities went against his -- quote -- "core values."

Tiger also said he will tell his kids the truth when they're old enough to understand -- John.

ROBERTS: I'm sure that he'll be happier as his golf game gets better. And we'll see how he does.

HENDRICKS: Good point.

ROBERTS: Susan, thanks so much.

Coming up next on 360, there have been few leads since Natalee Holloway vanished in Aruba more than five years ago, but could there soon be a big break in the case? We'll have the latest for you.

And our series, "Amazing Animals: Smart Than You Think." Tonight, dogs see the world. How they see the world, and why their long and close link to humans shapes how they think.

Stay with us.


ROBERTS: "Crime & Punishment" tonight, we are awaiting the results of forensic testing to see if a jawbone that was found on a beach in Aruba could belong to Natalee Holloway. Initial testing found the bone to be from a young woman, but it was sent to a lab in Holland for further testing. The FBI sent Holloway's dental records to Dutch authorities yesterday.

Natalee Holloway was 18 when she disappeared in Aruba in 2005. The Alabama teenager was celebrating high school graduation with her classmates. Holloway left a nightclub with Joran Van Der Sloot and two other men and was never seen again. Van Der Sloot was questioned but never charged, although he remains the prime suspect.

Right now he's in jail in Peru, accused of murdering a young woman there. Two months ago, Holloway's mother met with Van Der Sloot and pleaded with him to tell her what he knows. Videotape of that conversation was recently released to Nancy Grace on our sister network, HLN.


BETH TWITTY, MOTHER OF NATALEE: You can sit here for the rest of your life. And I can sit here for the rest of my life. It's -- you can make some choices here, Joran, and you can make the right decisions. You have your whole life ahead of you.

And I want to know what happened, and I want to move on, Joran. I want to move on. I want to, you know, move on in my life. And I cannot close the book. And I feel like as if we've lost your father, we've lost another young girl. Joran, you don't need to lose your life here in prison and be sitting here when you're 60 years of age and insisting to me that you don't know what happened.

If it was an accident, tell me. You know, I don't know. I don't know. But I am -- I'm here.

JORAN VAN DER SLOOT, SUSPECTED IN NATALEE'S DISAPPEARANCE: I hope you can understand also it's very hard for me to talk to you. This is really not easy. I'm really doing my best to -- I know you have a very good heart. I know that for a fact, and I don't know if you would mind just giving me some -- I really have been thinking a lot and just giving me some time to think. And I promise you even if you give me your address, I will write you.


ROBERTS: Wow. Almost difficult to watch.

Let's get some perspective of the jawbone and what it could mean if it belongs to Natalee Holloway. Lawrence Kobilinsky is a forensic scientist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice here in New York. And Jean Casarez is in Aruba. She's a correspondent for "In Session" on TruTV.

Hey, Jean, you've traveled long and hard to get there to Aruba. What are you learning tonight about the discovering of this fragment of jawbone?

JEAN CASAREZ, TRUTV'S "IN SESSION": First of all, everybody here on the island knows what's happening. Everybody is really waiting, like the rest of us are, to see what will be happening. There's a couple of thing that give this some credibility.

First of all, the fact that Aruban authorities, forensic authorities do believe that it is a partial jawbone of a young woman, a Caucasian woman, and secondly, Aruban officials got it to the Netherlands very quickly, and they personally transported it from Aruba there for further forensic testing. So that lends to some credibility.

ROBERTS: Lawrence Kobilinsky, if indeed this is Natalee Holloway, this could be a huge break in the case.

LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: Oh, absolutely. I think this is the first piece of real evidence we have. And what it means is that we now have something that says she's deceased, No. 1, and No. 2, we have a crime scene. There may be other valuable information that we could get from the area where that partial jawbone was found.

But the bone itself and the molar that's attached to it could reveal the information that we're looking for, namely whether or not it is Natalee. I mean, we will look at that bone and determine why it fragmented.

It's kind of unusual to have a fragment of a jaw. There may be tool marks on it that might lead to some information about how she died. Certainly, dental records will be examined and, of course, DNA is the ultimate way to determine if it is her.

ROBERTS: If that bone has been in the water for some time, as has been speculated -- it was found on a beach -- would the DNA still be measurable?

KOBILINSKY: Well, the DNA in the molar would probably be very well protected in the pulp cavity in the center of the tooth. So, although that kind of environment, environmental impacts will certainly occur. But the chances are fairly good that the DNA will be intact, certainly sufficiently in good enough shape so that they can get a full genetic profile.

They'll do a paternity-type test. They have the DNA from the biological parents. And they will be able to say with absolute certainty as to whether it's her or not.

ROBERTS: Jean, we saw some of that videotape of Natalee Holloway's mother talking with Joran Van Der Sloot, and it's just -- it's so unusual to watch. We want to play a little bit more of that tape. Let's listen to this, and then we'll get your thoughts on the back side.


VAN DER SLOOT: It's just not something that's easy or something like that, but I really do promise you I will write you. I owe you at least that.

I mean, I've made so many bad decisions and all for the wrong reasons. I hope you know that I'm really a very addicted person, especially to gambling. That's why I've told so many lies, because so I'd have money to go gamble with.


ROBERTS: Jean, he's talking there about his addiction to gambling and how he needed money. Some people might read that as an admission of guilt, either for the murder of Natalee Holloway or at least extortion to try to get money to feed his habit. Is any of this admissible in court?

CASAREZ: It sure is. And that's exactly what I was thinking. It'd be a statement against interest. He definitely appears to admit to the extortion, although I think he already did that in some of the tapes that they made. But I think a lot of this could be admitted in a trial as showing his state of mind against his own interests.

ROBERTS: It's just -- Lawrence, it's so unusual to watch the mother of Natalee Holloway talking with Joran Van Der Sloot that way. KOBILINSKY: It's fascinating.

ROBERTS: This bone again was found on a beach. Any suspicions on how it got there? We had information a while ago of a couple of divers who said that they -- when they were down under the water they saw what looked like a human skeleton and skull. Of course, the authorities went down there and looked. All they found was some coral and rocks. But how would a jawbone, a single piece of a jawbone get on a beach?

KOBILINSKY: That's a very good question. It's possible that something floated ashore. Bones don't float. Perhaps part of a body.

It's also interesting that there was no skull, just a partial jawbone. So we really don't know. Perhaps it was buried there. Perhaps there's other information there at that site. I think at this point, once they know it's her, they're going to go through that site with a fine-toothed comb and dig everything up and se if they can find the rest of the skeleton.

ROBERTS: Raising a lot more intrigue in this ongoing case. Lawrence Kobilinsky, great to talk to you. Jean Casarez, thanks very much. We'll be seeing you in the next few days there from Aruba.

Still ahead, our series on animal intelligence. For many of us, our dogs are family, an intimate part of our lives. But what's really going on inside their furry little heads? What new research tells us about the way dogs think, coming up next.


ROBERTS: Our series "Amazing Animals: Smart Than You Think" continues tonight with man's best friend. It's not a secret that we love dogs here at 360. These are some of the dogs of some of our staff members, but there's also fascinating new research about how dogs think.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): IF you've ever wondered what's really going on behind those puppy dog eyes, this may be the guy to tell you.

Professor Brian Hare of Duke University's Canine Cognition Center is one of only a few people in the country who study how dogs think.

Professor Hare and his team put pups through a series of games, similar to those you might play with young children.

BRIAN HARE, RESEARCHER: We don't want to look at cute pet tricks. What we wants to know if what does the dog understand about its world?

KAYE (on camera): For years, researchers didn't even study dogs. They felt they were too domesticated. Brian says that's exactly why dogs do need to be studied. For 15 years, he's been analyzing how dogs think.

What surprised him most, he says, is that dogs have figured out how to read human behavior better than any other species, even chimpanzees.

HARE: The way they think about their world is that people are super important, and they can solve almost any problem if they rely on people.

KAYE: How do dogs think in terms of children?

HARE: Probably around 12 months, young children start using -- relying on their adult's gestures. And they start making gestures themselves. And that's at about the point where it looks like dogs have sort of a similar level of flexibility.

KAYE (voice-over): Watch this. I'd just met Tassie, Professor Hare's dog, a few minutes before this test. When we both point to a cup, which may hold a treat, will she trust me, a stranger, or her owner?

(on camera) Oh, I'm crushed!

HARE: That's my boy.

KAYE: How could he -- how could he trust you over me?

(voice-over) Over and over, Tassie chooses her owner's gestures.

HARE: She has grown up with me. We, you know, do lots of stuff together. He's never met you before. And so he says, "Look, if they're both telling where they go, I trust the guy that I'm with all the time."

KAYE: Dogs are complex social animals, who understand they have different relationships with different people.

HARE: It really narrow in and pay attention to you. And they want to know what is it about the world that you can help them with?

KAYE: Because let's face it. Dogs can't solve every problem. When a treat is hidden inside an opaque tube, this Gordon setter can't see it but figures out right away she can reach the treat by going around the side.

But watch what happens when the tube is switched and the dog can see the treat. She forgets how easy it was to get just moments before. You might call it a doggie meltdown.

We tried the same test done on Napoleon, a Yorkshire Terrier.

(on camera) OK, let's see how you do. Great. There's your treat. It's in a clear cylinder. OK.

HARE: Wow.

KAYE: You are impressive, my little friend.

HARE: A lot of times, the best solution requires a bit of a detour. And so what this says is that fully able to sort of take a detour, a mental detour, and realize wait a second, even though it looks like that's the short-cut to the answer, that's the wrong thing to do it.

KAYE: Researchers here are studying dogs to better understand their limitations by identifying why they make mistakes. They believe they can make them better at working with people with disabilities or working with the military.

Professor Hare says domestication has made dogs smarter. So smart, in fact, they're even able to understand the principle of connectivity.

HARE: They know that they're connected on a leash, and they now have to listen, because if I don't do what you say, you can stop me. Whereas is I'm not on a leash, well, yes. I know the command, but I don't have to listen to you now.

KAYE: How do you know that? From studying them.

HARE: Yes.

KAYE: Not through these tests.

HARE: It's from owning a dog.

KAYE: Just like children, he says, dogs also understand they can misbehave when you turn your back, even after you've told them not to do something.

HARE: And you're really upset because your dog disobeyed you and you think the dog is not obedient. Well, no, no, no, he was obedient but realized that he could get away with it.

KAYE: Like it or not, researchers have figured out dogs use their skills to manipulate the world and those of us in it. So next time you catch yourself thinking you are the master, look your dog straight in the eye. Chances are he is thinking the same thing.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Durham, North Carolina.


ROBERTS: Cesar Milan is a dog behavior expert. Many people know him as the Dog Whisperer from his series on National Geographic. His latest book is "Cesar's Rules: Your Way to a Trained or Well-Behaved Dog." He joins us from Loa Angeles.

We saw from that, Cesar, that dogs rely on people to get what they want. They also seem to use people to get what they want. Who's the real master here?

CESAR MILAN, DOG WHISPERER: Well, it's funny, but due to dogs controlling the families of humans, that's why I have a TV show.

ROBERTS: So you would say -- you would say that the dog is the true master here?

MILAN: Well, I really have to appreciate that from dogs and thank dogs for that. Yes, they took over America.

ROBERTS: You know, when you take a look at a study that was reported, Animal Planet not too long ago, dogs aren't even in the top ten of intelligent animals. No. 1 on the list is chimpanzees. Pigs are ahead of them, crows, pigeons, even rats. How smart do you think dogs really are?

MILAN: Well, there is no knowledge behind instincts, it's all reaction, so it's about which human is behind that dog. You know? The dog's biggest challenge is a human that is misinformed. And so it has to deal with, you know, who's around him. Who is his family? Are they fulfilling their needs? Exercise, discipline, affection. If he's getting that, he's going to become an amazing member to that family.

ROBERTS: So are you suggesting that dogs are only as smart as their owners?

MILAN: Well, as much as you challenge them. If they don't get challenged, if you just put a dog in the backyard, it's only choice is just to practice frustration. And people call it destructive behavior. He's just frustrated.

So it's like a human being. If you challenge a human being, if you allow him to experiment and to practice his, you know, his creativity, then you get to see what we observe in society.

But if a dog is just put in the backyard, it's never allowed to do anything, he can't do a lot of great things.

ROBERTS: It brings me back to my original question. Because if you leave a chimpanzee in the wild, if you leave a crow in the wild, if you leave a pig in the wild, they will demonstrate intelligent behavior. So does that mean that a dog is further down in the scale that it has to learn this behavior?

MILAN: Well, it serves the purpose of what they can do as a crow, as a chimpanzee. They can only do whatever the species allows them to do. You know?

And so in the dog world -- animals can create harmony, can create balance. They don't need humans. We need -- in my opinion, we need them more than they need us. So they know how to survive. They know how to maintain the social aspects of a relationship. And one thing about a dog is he will never choose an unstable pack leader.

COOPER: Right. Is there any one breed of dog that's smarter than another? National Geographic reported on a border collie who had learned a vocabulary of 359 words.


MILAN: There's a reason why border collies are easy to train, because they're looking into you. Most of the breeds, they're looking away from you. So when you have a dog that is looking into you, it's easier for them to get feedback from us.

COOPER: All right. Cesar Milan for us tonight. Cesar, still getting to get you over here to train my dog. I think one of these days. Thanks so much, really appreciate it. Great to see you.

MILAN: Thank you. Thank you.

COOPER: Still ahead, the latest edition to our RidicuList. Tonight, a man who says we have feminized the Medal of Honor. He made those comments on the same day Army staff sergeant Salvatore Giunta was awarded the highest honor. Did he check his facts first? And what's his point anyway? See what we found out coming up next.


ROBERTS: Now our newest segment of the program, a nightly effort to point out hypocrisy. We call it the RidicuList.

And tonight Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association is on it for claiming America has, quote, "feminized" the Medal of Honor. The medal is the highest award that any American soldier can get for valor in action against an enemy force.

On Tuesday, President Obama awarded the medal to Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta. Under heavy enemy fire in Afghanistan, Sergeant Giunta pulled one soldier to safety. Then after getting shot twice, rescued another being dragged away by two members of the Taliban.

Well, according to Bryan Fischer, soldiers shouldn't just get the Medal of Honor for just saving another soldier's life. And I quote, "We now award it only for preventing casualties, not for inflicting them. When are we going to start awarding the Medal of Honor once again for soldiers who kill people and break things so our family can sleep safely at night?"

He goes after the other seven Medal of Honor recipients who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Every Medal of Honor awarded during these two conflicts," he said, "has been awarded for saving life. Not one has been awarded for inflicting casualties on the enemy. Not one."

Well, Fischer is just being ridiculous. He's also just plain wrong on the facts.

Staff Sergeant Giunta shot and killed a member of the Taliban while rescuing one of his comrades. As for the other recipients, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society says at least three of them were responsible for the deaths of numerous enemy combatants.

Now, let's go back to the way it used to be. Last week in Pensacola, I met a Medal of Honor recipient, 88-year-old Thomas Hudner, who was recognized for heroism during the Korean War back in the "good old days," according to Fischer.

Hudner crashed his aircraft in hostile territory in an attempt to save a squadron mate, the Navy's first African-American aviator, who had been shot down. Hudner didn't kill anyone and couldn't even save Jesse Brown, who perished in the wreck. But he showed extraordinary valor in his attempt to rescue him. And after all, that's what it's all about, isn't it? Extraordinary valor.

Coming up in our next hour, an honest effort to trim the budget or a political stunt? We're talking about earmarks. Political pork. There's a growing chorus in Washington to ban them, but the ban that many are clamoring for would be voluntary. We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.