Friday, June 23, 2006

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for June 23

Guest: Evan Kohlmann, Jonathan Turley, Al Gore

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

Follow the money. First, the Bush administration took your international calls, then your domestic calls, then your e-mails, now it's your international banking records. They are bank-tapping.


ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The convergence of globalization and technology has created a new brand of terrorism.


OLBERMANN: No, the attorney general is not making an admission about bank-tapping, he's talking about breaking up the purported terrorist ring outside Miami, the one that tried to hook up with an al Qaeda operative who appears to actually have been a U.S. government agent.

How amazing that that story broke just after the government failed to strong-arm news organizations into not running the bank-tapping story.

End of story on global warming, so says the chairman of the House Science Committee, a Republican chairman. The country's foremost scientific body submits its evidence there is global warming, and we have to do something about it pronto. We will revisit our interview with Al Gore.

The first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club.

Who needs to, when you can watch it on the Internet?

And what if you could replace those high-calorie fun foods with low-calorie fun flavor sprays?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can already smell that. That's bacon.


OLBERMANN: And you can now spray your bacon on your salad. Or your ice cream. Or your loved ones.

All that and more, now on Countdown.

Good evening.

Oh, here we go.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, another terror timeline that either validates the idea that an endless series of convenient coincidences is just an endless series of convenient coincidences, or that validates the idea that somebody has memorized Orwell's "1984."

Damaging news coming out about more invasions of privacy in the name of counterterrorism? Not if there's chilling news coming out about a homegrown plot bigger than 9/11.

Early Thursday morning, Treasury Department officials spent 90 minutes in the Washington offices of "The Los Angeles Times," urging that paper not to run its story about the latest bending of the laws, government access to your financial records, bank-tapping. By early Thursday evening, sources had told a hatful of news organizations about how the FBI had broken up a plan to destroy the Sears Tower and arrested the suspects because it had been able to exploit secret intelligence to plant an informant inside the ring.

They have the timing of Michael Jordan, don't they?

Bank-tapping in a moment.

First, the alleged plot. The FBI arrested seven men near Miami on Thursday, charged them with conspiring to help al Qaeda, conspiring to blow up buildings, and conspiring to wage war against the United States. Their plans were interrupted after an FBI operative posing as an al Qaeda rep infiltrated the group. According to court papers, all seven swore allegiance to al Qaeda in order to get money from the terror organization to carry out their own plans, which allegedly included a desire to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and the FBI office in Miami.

But while they may have had the motive, it seems pretty obvious they did not have the means, not even close.


GONZALES: These individuals wished to wage a, quote, "full ground war" against the United States. That quote is from the investigation of these individuals, who also allegedly stated the desire to, quote, "kill all the devils we can." They hoped for their attacks to be, quote, "just as good or greater than 9/11."

There is no immediate threat. We've already publicly announced that there's no immediate threat to facilities in Miami, no immediate threat to the Sears Tower. Obviously, part of the reason for that is because they didn't have the materials they requested. They didn't receive the weapons, at least, we don't know of.

JOHN PISTOLE, DEPUTY FBI DIRECTOR: One of the individuals was familiar with the Sears Tower, had worked in Chicago and had been there, so he was familiar with the tower. But it - in terms of the plans, it was more aspirational than operational.


OLBERMANN: Details in the indictment support that notion. On December 16, the alleged ringleader, Narseale Batiste, asked for boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios, and vehicles to wage jihad. After he got the boots on December 29, he added binoculars, bullet-proof vests, firearms, and $50,000 to his wish list. He asked for a video camera on February 19, a rental van on March 23. He did film various locations in Miami, but by May 24, he had told the FBI operative posing as the al Qaeda rep that he was experiencing delays because of various problems within his organization. A month later, his organization was arrested.

More in a moment on just how big a threat these guys might have been with terror expert Evan Kohlmann.

Now the question, was the real threat here media coverage of the banking records story, "The New York Times" and "The LA Times" reporting, against government wishes, a secret administration program allowing counterterrorism officials to access the banking records of thousands of Americans, the program limited to people suspected of ties to al Qaeda, but according to the "The LA Times," "Current and former U.S. officials said the effort has been only marginally successful against al Qaeda, which long ago began transferring money through other means, including the highly informal banking system common in Islamic countries."

Yet, according to the White House, it has been successful elsewhere.


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It helped capture Hambali. He was responsible for the Bali bombing, which killed more than 2,000 people. It's provided information on domestic terror cells. That's a good thing. It helped identify a Brooklyn man convicted on terrorism-related charges last year.


OLBERMANN: As promised, I'm now joined by MSNBC terrorism analyst, founder of, Evan Kohlmann.

Evan, as always, thanks for joining us.


OLBERMANN: We'll get to the terror arrests in just a second. First, this banking program. Who's right here? The White House says it does help catch terrorists. You heard Tony Snow's list. The officials cited in "The L.A. Times" say al Qaeda doesn't really use international banking techniques. Fact-check this for us.

KOHLMANN: Well, it's actually true that al Qaeda and other designated foreign terrorist organizations do continue to use the international banking network, at least to some extent.

And we know that not through rumor or not through unsubstantiated fact, but through what the terrorists tell us themselves, a designated foreign terrorist organization, Lashkari Tyva (ph), a group that has provided key assistance to al Qaeda as of one month ago, was advertising on its Web site that you could donate to it through the Bank of New York, Wall Street branch, which is, of course, only steps away from the site of the World Trade Center.

So, yes, no, these groups are definitely still using international banks, including U.S. banks, to launder money, to raise money, to transfer money.

That being said, terrorist financing is much more complex now than it was before 9/11. And one of the biggest problems we're having today is identity theft and credit card fraud. And these are two areas that the Treasury Department and that the U.S. government need to be much more focused on as a key element of future terrorist financing investigations.

OLBERMANN: All right, let's look at the Miami group. Even the law enforcement people say they didn't have the weapons. The only thing they'd really gotten from the guy they thought was al Qaeda was some boots and a video camera, maybe the rental van. Is this far enough over the line of trash-talking and wannabe-ism and even entrapment to merit all this attention and the comparisons to the 9/11 planning?

KOHLMANN: Well, I think you're right. I mean, this was not the A team, and this was not the B team. These guys were really a bunch of yahoos. But if you think about it, Terry Nichols and Tim McVeigh were also a bunch of yahoos, a bunch of yahoos who managed to get their hands on a whole lot of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil.

The only thing that really made the difference between these two groups is that the group down in Miami simply was less capable, but just as dangerous. You know, it's a good thing that it was a federal agent that broke up this cell, and they didn't actually make contact with an al Qaeda operative, or somebody else simply willing to provide them with the means to blow up a building, because I believe that these people had the intent. And I think the intent is more important here than the actual capability.

There are very few people out there who are willing to blow themselves up in the name of some kind of bizarre political cause here inside the United States. There are plenty of people that can build a bomb. So I think the fact that you had people here that were willing to carry out a (INAUDIBLE) - potentially a suicide attack, that's really something unusual, and it's something that needs to be taken very seriously.

OLBERMANN: Presuming that that proves true, obviously.

KOHLMANN: Presuming - yes, presuming it proves true.

OLBERMANN: But now make - give me your reed on the timing of this roundup. The last recorded contact listed on the indictment was in May. The alleged leader said he had to put his plans on hold because his group was having problems. Obviously, they do not seem to have been, as you said, they probably would be characterized as yahoos. And certainly whatever plans they might have had were not on a front burner, even for them.

Why go and arrest them now? Why not wait till the plans were at least close to be operational, or a little bit less than amorphous? Wouldn't that be a stronger case later?

KOHLMANN: Well, you're right. I mean, technically, it would be a stronger case. But it's very difficult to second-guess the judgment of law enforcement in this matter, mainly because of the fact that there's a delicate balance involved in here. These guys might seem like a bunch of lunatics, but that also makes them unpredictable and potentially capable of acts that we can't foresee.

So rather than leave these guys to be a danger publicly, if - I think if law enforcement and if U.S. attorneys perceive that their investigation has reached the point where they don't believe that they will gather any further evidence of wrongdoing or not significant pieces of evidence, then it's time to move in and remove the public danger from the community.

These folks don't appear to have had any weapons, they don't appear to have had any explosives. This plot, it seems, had reached the end of its fruition, and it was time to move. So I, yes, I think they probably did the right thing here.

OLBERMANN: Last question, about this new tape from the number two to bin Laden, Zawahiri, about - released on Al Jazeera, mourning the death of Zarqawi. There, there - this isn't a cave. This is a set. This has an over-the-shoulder graphic. What, what, this is like that last bin Laden tape before the election in 2004. What does the, what does this tell you?

KOHLMANN: What you essentially have is, you have cameramen who are called up by al Qaeda from inside (INAUDIBLE) Afghanistan, and they're told, Come over the border, we want to film a new video. They come, they record the video. They bring the video back over the border into Pakistan.

Inside Pakistan, you have a branch of al Qaeda called the Akahab (ph)

Foundation, which is its, like, media wing, which builds these videos. They take the raw footage and then they add all these special effects, these titling, these English translations. And the funny part is, guess where they get these English translations from? American al Qaeda operative Adam Gadhan, who plays a key role in this.

So, you see, it's very complex. This is not a simple mechanism. And it's why al Qaeda continues to be able to release these videos on a regular basis.

OLBERMANN: Extraordinary. MSNBC's counterterrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann, as always, sir, thanks for your time.

KOHLMANN: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Back to the latest secret program, perhaps mugging your privacy, the government's bank-tapping scheme. Is this legal? Jonathan Turley joins us.

And the heated debate over global warming gets a pail of cold water thrown on it, a Republican on Capitol Hill agreeing with the latest evidence from the world of science. We will hear again from former vice president Al Gore.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: All it took was a secret administrative subpoena, one that did not have to be reviewed by a judge nor a grand jury, and poof, the U.S. government gained access to millions of bank records, including transactions made by thousands of people in this country. Then the CIA, overseen by the Treasury Department, used the information to hunt down financial information on possible terrorists.

Our fourth story on the Countdown, the supersecret program may or may not have been effective, but could it be legal? Democratic Representative Ed Markey, the co-chairman of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, says it skates over the law. Quote, "Like the domestic surveillance program exposed last December, the Bush administration's efforts to tap into the financial records of thousands of Americans appear to rely on justifications concocted without regard to current law."

The Treasury secretary, on the other hand, says it's completely legit.


JOHN SNOW, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: It's based on appropriate legal authorities. It has built-in safeguards and controls. It's responsible government. It's what the American people expect us to do. It would be irresponsible not to use these legal authorities to follow the flows and go after the terrorists. We do it because it's the right thing to do.


OLBERMANN: Joining me now to assess just how much of a legal thing it is to do, constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University.

And we meet again on this subject.


OLBERMANN: E-mails, international phone calls, domestic phone calls, databanks of phone records, now bank records. Do you buy the legality of this newest one?

TURLEY: Well, it's comforting to know that somewhere in government, each of our lives is organized in a file, from your banking records to your e-mails. I can only hope you get a copy at some point.

But, you know, this raises the same type of questions. Most importantly, the absence of congressional authorization. You know, the president is allowed to enforce the laws, he's not allowed to make them. He requires authorization from Congress. This is a constant theme.

And when Secretary Snow says the American people expect us to do things like that, unfortunately, it's true that every single week we have a new massive databank or a new, you know, surveillance program being revealed that has not been approved by Congress.

OLBERMANN: Yes, he may have said something, he may have said more than he knew in using that phrase, they - people expect us to do this.

But there's one difference with this one, Jon. Some of the banks didn't know this was happening. The government's not just messing with its own citizens here, it's messing with business. And if anybody in this country believes in privacy, and I think they call it proprietary information, it's businessmen. Are they going to fight the government in a way that ordinary citizens could not?

TURLEY: You know, Keith, they might, because if you remember, if we go back a couple weeks to an earlier disclosed program, the telecom scandal, that we found out that various telephone companies were giving information, telephone numbers, by American citizens to the United States government. And the response was a considerable backlash. Many customers were not happy, particularly when they found out that one company said, No, said, This is not something you can do under the law, and told the administration, Show me your authority. And the administration simply refused to do so.

Now, you may see a similar backlash from these banks, and saying, you know, We have a business to do here, we have a system of laws. If you're going to have some type of massive program like this, then go to Congress, and let's talk about it. You can do it in a classified setting.

But in this case, all we know is that some members of the intelligence committees were informed. Under this law they're citing, AIEPA (ph), he was only supposed to use this authority for a brief time, in an emergency. He was then supposed to go back to Congress to get real authority. Instead, he just kept on mentioning it to the same oversight members, who did nothing about some of these other programs.

OLBERMANN: Tell me, lastly, here about the term with which we started this segment, the secret administrative subpoena, not even reviewed by a judge nor a grand jury. What's the secret administrative subpoena business?

TURLEY: Well, I think they're talking about national security letters, which is basically what it sounds like, a letter claiming national security. But the thing I love is that Secretary Snow and his associates have said, Look, we did have oversight. It wasn't Congress, it wasn't the court. We went out and hired a private company, and they did the oversight, they protected your civil liberties.

This is (INAUDIBLE) outsourcing the Constitution. We - it's something that is almost laughable that they believe oversight is that they looked at themselves and felt good about it, and then they hired a private company, and they pretty good too.

OLBERMANN: Well, if you have a low threshold for feeling good about yourself, I guess you can do that, you can get that from a company or from your own picture of yourself, no matter how distorted it might be in the mirror.

George Washington University law professor, constitutional law expert, Jonathan Turley, great thanks for joining us. And I'm certain we're going to be talking about something like this again soon.

TURLEY: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Thank you, sir.

This will no doubt all fall into the lap now of Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. He's already announced plans to grill the attorney general on those presidential signing statements and other legal prestidigitation at a Judiciary Committee hearing next week.

He may have gotten, or we may have gotten a preview from him when a subcommittee heard about the proposed merger between AT&T and BellSouth. Senator Specter asked the AT&T chairman and CEO, Edward Whitacre, whether his company has given information to law enforcement, that's a reference to the reports that AT&T had furnished the NSA with its phone records. After Mr. Whitacre answered six times that AT&T does what is legal, without actually answering the question, Chairman Specter clearly began to lose his patience.


SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), CHAIR: Does your company provide information to the federal government or any law enforcement information about customers?

EDWARD WHITACRE, JR., CHAIRMAN AND CEO, AT&T: If it's legal and we're requested to do so, of course we do.

SPECTER: Have you?

WHITACRE: Senator, all I'm going to say is, we follow the law.

SPECTER: That's not an answer. That's not an answer. It's an evasion.

WHITACRE: It's an answer.

SPECTER: If you're under instructions by the federal government...

WHITACRE: We follow the law, Senator.

SPECTER: You said that. I don't care to hear it again.

WHITACRE: I don't care to repeat it again either, but we do.

SPECTER: Well, then don't. Then don't. If you're under instructions by the federal government, as a matter of state secrecy, not to talk, say so.

WHITACRE: Senator, we follow the law.

SPECTER: Well, I think that answer is contemptuous of this committee.


OLBERMANN: That faceoff did not end this way, although perhaps we would hope it might, somebody's head going through a stack of bricks.

Adults will do anything to get attention. And apparently kids will too. Fight Club hits the Internet. It's all the rage. It's all kids. And it's getting millions of hits of the Web kind.

These stories and more ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: June 23, 1963, Jimmy Piersall, the veteran outfielder and high-value target of psychologists and psychoanalysts everywhere, slapped the 100th home run of his major league baseball career. To celebrate the milestone, he ran around the bases backwards. A month later, the New York Mets fired him, manager Casey Stengel explaining, There's only room on this team for one clown - me.

Dedicated to Jimmy Piersall running his 100th home run backwards, let's play Oddball.

Is that good enough for you, Dad? Is that good enough for you?

We begin in Stockton, California, where a ragtag group of strongmen are on a mission to keep kids off drugs by jumping around and breaking stuff with their heads. They are Delta Force - no, Chuck Norris and Lee Marvin are not involved, just a bunch of guys with really strong elbows, who really care about the kids. The group plans to travel around the country, smashing stuff and spreading the message, that a second-degree brain concussion is the natural high.

Jimmy Piersall did that too.

To India now, the worldwide leader in outsourced odd news. And it's been so long since the village of Musun Sunhadra (ph) has seen rain, that the elders in Sunhadra decided it was time to take matters into their own hands. So they painted up a bunch of toads and themselves a mass frog wedding. The village elders hoped the ceremony would appease the rain gods. But no one had asked the frogs how they felt about the whole arranged marriage thing. Hey, I appreciate the manicure, but I don't even know this girl.

But it's not all frog weddings and drought in India. There's a booming entertainment industry as well, and this week, the entire country celebrating India's first-ever superhero movie, "Krish (ph)." This $10 million film is expected to be so popular that no other movies are opening in India for the first two weeks after the release of "Krish." No doubt about it, "Krish" it is the new biggest, baddest supercool superhero around.

Here's a clip.

Oh, he just sort of bores his opponents to death. And they were worried about the new "Superman," huh?

You want to see "Krish," or shall we go see "An Inconvenient Truth"? Unexpected support for Al Gore's contention that the scientific debate on global warming is over, the chief Republican congressman for science says it is all too true. We'll hear from Gore.

And Barbie, not warming globally, but heading towards a sales ice age.

Those stories ahead.

Now here are Countdown's top three newsmakers of this day.

Number three, Lorraine Barton of Tobin (ph), Illinois. The 72-year-old grandmother engaged police there in a low-speed chase. They were in cop cars, she was on her golf cart. She claimed the mayor had authorized her to drive it to and from the post office. The mayor said he'd neither authorized that, nor had he authorized her colliding the golf cart into one of the squad cars.

Number two, an unnamed suitor in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He and the girlfriend were discussing the prospect of marriage late Tuesday night. She told him she was not sure she was ready. He told her, You have to take risks in this life, my dear. To prove his point, he jumped out the first-floor window in a nude state, ran across the street naked, whereupon a passerby assumed he was some sort of pervert and took a shot at him. No word on how this impacted that engagement idea.

And in a partially related story, number one, Dr. Kunio Kitamura, director of the Japan Family Planning Association, has just completed a study on the declining birth rate in Japan with a startling conclusion as to its cause. Quoting Dr. Kitamura, "Japanese people simply aren't having sex." Thanks, doc. Thanks. Nobody thought of that. Thanks for stopping by. Next time, get a roll of stamps and mail it in.


OLBERMANN: When I spoke with former Vice President Al Gore earlier this week he said that the scientific debate on global warming was over. That's the kind of statement deranges his critics especially know. Since it has now achieved the authority of republican stamped truth.

Our No. 3 story in the Countdown, the nation's preeminent scientific body has told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that years and years of data on global warming is reliable and accurate. The National Research Council finding that the earth's temperature has risen a degree over the past century. Might not sound like much, but it is unprecedented for the last 400 years at least and potentially for the last several millennia. As illustrated by the so-called hockey stick graph, a dramatic representation of the earth's temperature spiking in the last century. This graph often attacked by skeptics, but the scientific panel said numerous studies confirmed it. Even the Bush administration's Climate Change Science Program found that there is evidence of human influence on the earth's climate. And the House Science Committee chairman, republican Congressman Sherwood Boehlert agrees, quoting him, "There is nothing in this report that should raise any doubts about the broad scientific consensus on global climate change.or any doubts about whether any paper on the temperature records was legitimate scientific work."

This will, of course, come as no surprise to Mr. Gore. While he continuing to be assailed after every public pronouncement of his warnings about warming, subjected to not argument, but attack, the way people who think the moon landing was a fake attacked NASA, the way the Wright Brothers were attack before people stopped thinking their stories of flight were fraudulent. While it goes on, the published version of his film, "An Inconvenient Truth," has moved up to No. 2 on the "New York Times" best-seller list. And the movie continues to produce astounding attendance for a documentary. Former vice president visited with me in New York.


OLBERMANN: If it is as dire as you suggest in the book and in movie, why do you remain optimistic that we have time to do something about it?

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because I know something about the political system that sometimes is easy to forget, if you haven't been in it a long time. It can seem as if it moves like at a snail's pace, but then it can cross a tipping point, and then suddenly move at lightning speed. And that's what happened in - with World War II, it's what happened several times, many times in our history. And I just believe that when enough people see clearly the truth of our situation, that they're going to demand that political leaders in both parties act.

OLBERMANN: People who don't believe in global warming have said

everything to you and about you and about the science in this, except to

say: Global? There is no globe, the earth is flat, we all know that.

GORE: Well, they're in the - the people who still say that global

warming isn't real are actually in the same boat with the flat earth society. They get together and party on Saturday nights with the folks that believe the moon landing was in a movie lot in Arizona.

OLBERMANN: But how do you overcome them or how do you overcome people who say, well look, the truly religious people who say, or strictly religious bible says the Bible says the earth's only 10,000 years anyway, how could any of this be chronologically true?

GORE: Well, actually there's a much stronger religious tradition in the Judeo-Christian tradition, in the Muslim tradition, Hindu - all of them - that say in the words of my tradition, the earth is the lord's and the fullness thereof. And if you have a duty to glorify the creator, you can't heap contempt and destruction on the creation.

You know recently, a few months ago, 85 conservative Evangelical ministers publicly, as a group, broke with the Bush-Cheney administration with this issue and called on their congregations to start fighting against the climate crisis. There is a grassroots movement among religious leaders and people of faith, and I think that may be the single strongest element of change.

OLBERMANN: Two quotes that I pulled, let me see if we have time to do both of them. These are from Canadian scientists, so they're not some removed, but not total removed from the political element at least in this country. The first is from a paleoclimatologist from Carlton University who testified to a Canadian parliament. He said, "There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and the earth's temperature over this geologic timeframe. In fact when CO2 levels were over 10 times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in a half billion years. On the basis of this evidence, how could anyone still believe that the recent relatively small increase in CO2 levels would be the major cause of the past century's modest warming?"

How could they? And if they can't, what's wrong with that logic?

GORE: Well you know, there are a few of these outliers that are given a megaphone by the groups that are put out as front groups and many of them get lots of money from the small group of polluters that want to confuse people.

But if you look at the peer reviewed, scientific literature, the debate is over. This really is not any longer in serious disagreement. When there's more CO2, the temperature goes up. And what we're doing, by filling up the thin shell of atmosphere around the planet with 70 million tons today, of CO2, a little bit more than that tomorrow. And we're filling it up so much that it's trapping much more of the sun's heat inside the atmosphere of the planet and it's cooking, wilting, drying out, parching the most vulnerable parts of the earth's ecological system and threatening to disrupt the climate pattern that's the only one we've known for the whole history of civilization.

OLBERMANN: The second quote pertains to the something that is probably the most dramatic scenes in the movie, the huge pieces of the glaciers at the poles collapsing into the water and it is an attempt to refute that. Let me give you an attempt to refute that refutation. Dr. Boris Winterhalter, former Marine researcher at the Geologic Survey of Finland, professor in Marine geology, University of Helsinki.

His quote was, "The breaking glacier wall is a normally-occurring phenomenon, which is due to the normal advance of the glacier. In Antarctica, the temperature is low enough to prohibit melting of the ice front. So, if the ice is grounded, it has to break off in beautiful ice cascades. If the water is deep enough, icebergs were form.

Apart from the fact that he through in the beautiful adjective in there, is he right?

GORE: No, he's wrong. And again, if they look hard enough they'll find some outlier who again might say that up is down and down is up. But the peer reviewed scientific consensus just simply disagrees with that. There was - he talked about Antarctica. There was a very large study just completed three months ago showing fairly precisely how much ice has been lost in west Antarctica as predicted, and in east Antarctica that surprised some people. And in Greenland, the second largest mass of ice on the planet, the melting rate has speeded up dramatically. They're now having these huge ice quakes comparable to earth quakes that is, many scientists fear, is a sign of real serious destabilization of that ice mass.

It may be inconvenient for all of us to think about changing long-established patterns. But the truth is that we have to change and we have to do so fairly rapidly in order to meet our moral obligation to our children and grandchildren - really to ourselves because the consequences of this are beginning to be felt now.

Hurricane Katrina was a wake-up call for millions of people who had heard the predictions from the scientists that storms were going to get a lot stronger coming off the warmer ocean. And when we had a whole bunch of them in the category 4 and 5 realm, people said wait a minute, this is what they told us was going to happen. And there are many other consequences like that. We just have to find a way to get over the inertia and come together to solve this crisis.


OLBERMANN: A portion of my interview with Al Gore, you can watch the whole thing on our website,

Also available on the internet, kids fighting. The worldwide web transforming the schoolyard fight of yesteryear and drawing more attention than even Connie Chung's singing.

And now we understand why Angelina Jolie went to Africa to give birth. Not back two weeks, a member of the paparazzi already thrown behind the bars for stalking one of her kids. And late breaking details in the news of the Anna Nicole Smith Saga. Details ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: "Fight Club" hits the schoolyard, hits the internet, growing phenomenon putting kids at risk. And makeover time for your burger. Hold the bacon but if you can give me three big spritzes of the bacon flavor, please. Mmmm, invisible bacon! Aaahh! Ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: We've already used the line from the Brad Pitt movie, "Fight Club," "The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club." We're going to violate it now because in our No. 2 story in the Countdown, the concept has taken on a disturbing new twist. The fighting featured on the internet, the fighting itself features kids. Our correspondent in Chicago is Kevin Tibbles.


KEVIN TIBBLES, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There was a time when kids would gather around to watch a schoolyard brawl. These days, with the internet, the whole world is watching.

BLAKE CATER, POSTS FIGHTS ON INTERNET: I'm pretty sure there's some people out there that get excited off of watching that, they sit down and they actually go and search through and look for the best fights.

TIBBLES: For brothers, Blake and Boone Cater, childhood roughhousing grew into organized fights that they taped and posted on the web for their friends to watch.

BOONE CATER, POSTS FIGHTS ON THE INTERNET: You go out there to have friend and get the adrenaline rush going.

TIBBLES: That rush may explain the popularity of similar web casts. And explosion of armature fistfights at your fingertips. This video called "White Trash Chick Fight" has been viewed nearly three million times.

(on camera): But some psychologists worry that now the fighting has essentially left the rules of the ring behind, it becomes even more extreme and the violence even more accessible to millions of video vowers.

LEONARD JASON, PH.D., DEPAUL UNIVERSITY: In the past we were viewing it, now we're participating in it and that makes it much more serious for our young people's safety.

BRAD PITT, ACTOR: Welcome to fight club.

TIBBLES (voice-over): The cult popularity of films like "Fight Club" has now morphed into homemade fight sites.

BOONE CATER: Nothing's happening in any of the fights to me, bumps, bruises, you know, just hurting in the morning, that's about it.

BLAKE CATER: I think that people might look at it and think it's cool and then they go out there and try to imitate it and get hurt.

TIBBLES: And that's the concern, copycats might get hurt.

JASON: When we as this society, are encouraging our most vulnerable citizens to become more at risk for behaviors that can jeopardize their life.

TIBBLES: As for Blake and Boone, of the hundreds who have seen the punches land on their website, there are at least two who won't watch it.

BOONE CATER: The only person that really, like, who despises it is our parents.

TIBBLES: Kevin Tibbles, NBC News, Chicago.


OLBERMANN: And without segue we move to celebrity and entertainment stories of "Keeping Tabs." And breaking news from that arena as we receive word of the death of E. Pierce Marshall, son of the late J. Howard Marshall, the one-time husband of Anna Nicole Smith. The family announcing Marshall had died this past Tuesday of a "brief and extremely aggressive infection." He was 67 years old. The younger Marshall had been the nemesis of Ms. Smith, spending the last years of his life in a near constant court battle with the former stripper for his father's half billion dollar oil fortune. Last month, the Supreme Court revived Smith's case, ruling that technically her case, if not she, deserves another hearing in court. So the battle will continue on without one of its chief protagonists.

In other celebrity parents and kids news, a creepy paparazzo caught hiding in the bushes trying to photograph the son of Angelina Jolie. The scene, a church-based daycare center in Malibu California, 25-year-old Clint Brewer spotted behind the bushes there as he photographed the establishment, apparently trying to get a shot of 4-year-old Maddox, one of Jolie's adopted children. The daycare center security detained Mr. Brewer and the owner of the property then made a citizens arrest. The Malibu sheriff took it from there. Mr. Brewer charged with trespassing, later released on $1,000 bail. Ms. Jolie and Mr. Pitt returned to Malibu only two weeks ago.

And the latest details about the imminent marriage of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban have to do with its end, should that ever occur. Reports of a prenup and a relatively chinsy (ph) one at that. Mr. Urban would get about $600,000 for each year the couple had been married, in the event of divorce. This, according to various reports from Australia and England, but if the country singer, who is a former cocaine addict, uses narcotics or drinks alcohol to excess, he will get nothing.

Meanwhile, the priest who will officiate the Roman-Catholic ceremony, Reverend Paul Coleman, says he gave the couple advice to "Use little strategies. Strategies like surprises, keeping some form of romance in the relationship." Always reassuring when you get romantic advice from a priest.

Who knows if he had spoken up, she might still be with Tom Cruise. Uh-huh. In the interim, he's got that Katie gal and he's trying to shut down central Tokyo for a week, you know, like Godzilla. Cruise has a keen idea for an amazing action sequence for an upcoming movie, hinted to be "Mission: Impossible 4," provided that the 12.4 million residents of downtown Tokyo don't mind the place coming to a standstill for seven days. In an understatement, Cruise said, "People might not be happy with the traffic, but if they will please be patient, we will have a sequence that will be forever remembered." Unconfirmed reports are that Cruise once told Oprah Winfrey exactly the same thing, turned out to be tragic comically correct.

Mr. Cruise also responsible for the apparent shutdown in Barbie sales. The former icon of girlhood dropping off the radar. How you might drop some pounds thanks to invisible food. That's next. But first, time for Countdown's list of nominees for "Worst Person in the World."

The bronze goes to rapidly deteriorating John Gibson of FOX News. This past Wednesday night, after the atrocities in Iraq, Gibson lambasted Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for not condemning the torturing and murder of Privates Thomas Tucker and Kristian Menchaca. Except, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had issued exactly the kind of condemnations on Wednesday morning, that John then called for Wednesday night.

The runner up is colleague, Geraldo Rivera, blasting John Kerry, for talking about withdrawal from Iraq, saying Kerry was aiding and abetting the enemy. In the last 35 years, Geraldo barked, I've seen a hell of a lot more combat than John Kerry. Mr. Rivera, let's leave your personal and work relationships out of this.

But the winner, and it was close, Saddam Hussein. Remember that hunger strike he and seven co-defendants went on, the one to protest the killing of one of his lawyers. He and the other seven refused lunch last Thursday, but they ate dinner and every meal since. That's a hunger strike that lasted a lunchtime. Weasel!

Saddam Hussein, today's "Worst Person in the World."


OLBERMANN: We may be seeing the end of two great, although not necessarily healthy traditions if American youth. Barbie dolls and childhood obesity. Our No. 1 story on the Countdown, for entirely different reasons, hard times for both Barbie and barbecue. In a moment, the culinary makeover in a spray on form that can retain the flavor of all those foods you crave without the fat. But first, the great Barbie crisis of '06. Little girls just are not purchasing the plastic princess at the same clip they have in years past. How come, you ask? The hell if I know. Carl Quintanilla of our sister network, CNBC had the presence of mind, though, to asked some little girls.


CARL QUINTANILLA, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's 47 years old, still looks 25, she's had 90 careers: Astronaut, pilot, she's run for president, played pro basketball won "American Idol." So, why is Barbie falling out of favor with America's youth?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The worst thing about Barbie is she can talk.


QUESTION: Do you play Barbie?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't. I gave it up a few years ago.

SEAN MCGOWAN, TOY INDUSTRY ANALYST: Barbie's had a real rough spell, it's been down sharply over the last five years.

QUINTANILLA: No wonder Mattel, the company that created Barbie in 1959 and named her for the founder's daughter, Barbara, is now giving her a makeover. More bells and whistles, Babies that dance, live in fancier dream houses, even have changing facial expressions. Neil Friedman is president of Mattel Brands.

NEIL FRIEDMAN, PRESIDENT, MATTEL BRANDS: We need to do more to make her do as many things and be as much to every girl so instead of her - them buying six or seven dolls they buy now on average, get back to the 11 or 12 they've always had in the past.

QUINTANILLA: Part of Barbie's problem is more competition from edgier toys like the Bratz dolls. And as girls trade dolls for video games at an earlier age these days, the window for potential Barbie sales is shrinking.

JIM SILVER, "TOY WISHES" MAGAZINE: Right now in terms of dolls demographics, it's really age ages 3-7.

QUINTANILLA (on camera): Of course, Barbie is still the No. 1 toy brand in America, a two billion dollar business marketing everything from clothes to books to the internet.

(voice-over): Which means Mattel wants to hear every young girl's opinion about Barbie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's too skinny and her upper body is a bit too large.

QUINTANILLA: Well, almost.

Carl Quintanilla, NBC News, New York.


OLBERMANN: Ah, if only we were all a little skinnier. Maybe we would not need the new invention, kind of mustard gas of food toppings. Attention Rick Santorum, Bacon in a can, shellfish shellac, aerosol angel's food, call it what you will. Your favorite food flavors in spray form. What's that enticing scent you're wearing? Pizza with anchovies. Details from Michael Okwu in Los Angeles.


MICHAEL OKWU, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You've seen it in the stores, the spray on version of I Can't Believe it's Not Butter. Well, believe this, spray on salad dressings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want a spritz every leaf.

OKWU: Want a taste of teriyaki? How about honeysuckle? A range of flavors making dieters downright misty-eyed.

ANDREA GIANCOLI, DIETITIAN: Instead of having salad dressings and you're pouring that over you salad, at least with these flavor sprays that gives you more control.

OKWU: Manufacturers are paint painting the market. More than 150 spray on foods in the last two years, dozens more in the works. The idea, allow dieters to skip high fat toppings and gravies for low calorie spritzs of the same flavors.

OKU (on camera): I can already smell that. That's bacon.

(voice-over): David Burke's New York restaurant is spray on heaven. Burke bottles and sells 45 flavors from root beer to Memphis barbecue and marshmallow to mochachino.

DAVID BURKE, MAKES SPRAY ON FLAVORS: A year a go, when we first stated, it was very bizarre. People think, you know, maybe it - everyone's a critic to a certain degree until you try it.

OKWU: The illusive holy grail of flavors, greasy french fries.

BURKE: It's going to take us a while, it'll take us a while, but I think you will be able to get it.

UKO: Burke's motto, lose the waist, not the taste.

ARMAND HAMMER, SPAY CANDY FLAVOR MAKER: Let's add glitter to the whole thing.

OKWU: Armand Hammer might be, if you spray it, they will eat. Hammers' Atlanta-based company is coming out with candy flavored sprays for kids, say peppermint on broccoli? Yeah.

HAMMER: We can have kids begging for their vegetables, which is just totally unheard of.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is a kid going to do go around his entire life or her entire life with a bottle of, you know bubble gum flavored spray and put it on every vegetable they consume?

OKWU: Dig in. Let the debate begin.

Michael Okwu, NBC News, Los Angeles.


OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for the 1,149th day since the declaration of "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq.

This reminder, join us at midnight Eastern Time, 11:00 p.m. Central, 9:00 Pacific for the late edition of Countdown. Until then, a special presentation of "Lockup: Inside Anamosa." Not Omarosa, Anamosa. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.