Answers From Aruba

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The federal courthouse where the CIA leaks grand jury has been sitting is the same one where the Watergate matters in the early 1970s were held. It is also where the grand jury that investigated former President Bill Clinton (search) was. Many famous people have been tried in this courthouse — including John Hinckley (search) for shooting President Reagan in the early 1980s. A tremendous amount of history has been made in this courthouse and it is just a few blocks from our D.C. bureau.

On the top floor of the building sits the United States Court of Appeals — the appeals court where now Chief Justice John Roberts (search) sat as an appeals court judge, as well as Justice Scalia, Justice Thomas, and Justice Ginsburg. The trial courts sit on lower levels of the building. There are many trial courtrooms in the building since it is a very busy courthouse. It has been a number of years since I have tried a case there — or argued an appeal — but I confess I miss it when I walk through the building. The courthouse sits at the bottom of Capitol Hill, between the Capitol (about four blocks away) and the White House (the White House is about 10 blocks from the courthouse.)

Here is a piece of trivia: On Thursday night we had on the show former Independent Counsel Michael Zeldin. Michael is like a brother to me. I have known Michael since August, 1980 when we were both one of five lawyers chosen for an LLM program at Georgetown Law School. This is a program for law school graduates — young lawyers. As part of the program, we taught third year law students trial skills together and tried cases for two years and then went on our different ways, but always staying in touch. I know his wife very well, too. His most memorable client from our two years together was a male client who wore a woman's slip to court (and nothing else). The man was troubled, and in trouble, but we all liked him. In short, we had an unusual group of clients.

On Tuesday night's show we told you that one of our producers sent the chief prosecutor in the Natalee Holloway (search) investigation five questions and the chief prosecutor responded to them. We sent the questions in English and the chief prosecutor responded in Dutch. We had Arlene Ellis Schippers translate the answers for you. On the show we read you four questions and had Arlene translate the answers. We never go to the fifth question, so here it is and the translated answer follows:

Question 5: The American media has struggled to obtain information and interviews from key players of the legal and investigative branches of Aruba. Kindly explain how your country and ours can find a common medium that results in a win-win situation for both sides relating to this.

Answer: The prosecutor's office is not concentrating on a win-win situation. The prosecutor's office concentrates on finding the truth and tracing/solving and prosecuting criminal offenses. Where possible, information is share/provided to the media.

Now for e-mails — many relate to the questions I posed Thursday in the blog about Harriet Miers' withdrawal from consideration for the U.S. Supreme Court:

E-mail No. 1

I have never written to you before but I feel I have the need to. First of all, did the State of Florida not have one week to prepare for Wilma? The coverage was all over the news (you could not get away from it). The governor warned people to evacuate or have enough food and water for 72 hours! Now all the people can do is complain that they have to wait in long lines for food and water. I myself have a hard time feeling sorry for them.
Deana Williams

E-mail No. 2

I can't believe Harriet Miers withdrew her name. I am so disappointed that she did not stay in there and fight. I do not believe she was treated fairly. So many people were discrediting her ability before they even knew her abilities. While a man with the same resume may face criticism, I don't think it would have been this bad. Which makes me wonder, with all the talk of Hillary Clinton maybe running for president in 2008, would this country elect a female president?

ANSWER: Kim, I think she should have stayed and fought, too. I don't know if she would be a good justice or not, don't know if I would have wanted her on the Supreme Court or not, but I would have at least like to hear from her... and give her a chance to be heard.

What troubles me is the amount of criticism leveled at her and I am not confidant that many of the journalists who criticized her truly understand the function of a Supreme Court Justice. A Supreme Court justice does not have to memorize constitutional cases... but rather be prepared to listen to argument, identify issues, research history/law and provide a reasoned opinion based upon the law. There are no time limits, which allow for thoughtful research and writing. A justice also consults with the other eight justices.

Yes, Miers has no long paper trail, so that we can try and perform mental voodoo of what we think she would think in any given case, but at least if we heard from her we would a good idea if she has a strong mind, good purpose and a commitment to the job well. Instead she never really got a chance because people were out gunning for her. Incidentally, if she performed poorly at the hearing — and does not have the strong mind etc., for the job, then she should not be a justice... but we should at least have heard from her.

E-mail No. 3

Yes, I absolutely believe that Harriet Miers was not treated fairly. While I support President Bush, I believe Ms. Miers was not the best choice for the bench, I believe the spectacle of a nomination process was handled poorly and the Republican and Democratic senators of the USA should be embarrassed by their behavior. I don't care if the next nominee is a male or female. All I care about is that the next nominee be a strict constitutionist and reflect the conservative values of the majority party. The media certainly has turned this whole process into a circus instead of the important process that it is.
Cincinnati, OH

E-mail No. 4

Dear Greta,
I commend you on the wonderful job you do. I think you are a sensitive, intelligent lawyer/newswoman, and often, the most "fair and balanced" of your peers. And, while I feel terrible for the plight of the Holloway/Twitty family, I must ask the question: When is Beth going to be held accountable for the funds donated? Is it true, as is widely circulated on Web, that the fund has reached a few million dollars? If so, how is it being allocated — are all the volunteers being reimbursed? Is any money going to Dave? Is there such acrimony between Beth and (the more likeable) Dave that she cannot help defray his expenses? This seems a shame; she should facilitate and encourage his trips — he is far more diplomatic, and may get more results in Aruba. Greta, I hope you ask these questions, but I understand your struggle — you want to remain an unbiased reporter, yet you have developed a personal relationship with Beth and are sensitive to her fragile state. Please don't let this cloud your reportorial judgment.
I hope that when Natalee is found, Beth sets up a charity for other missing people with the remaining proceeds. Until then, I sincerely hope she is grateful, gracious, and giving to those who are helping with her struggle.
New York, NY

ANSWER: Jennifer, I know nothing about funds raised but I do like Beth and believe she is honorable. I also know that she said last night that they are funding four new searches. I don't know the cost or source of the funds to cover the new searches. I also don't know how much has been collected — frankly, I was not even aware money was being collected — and have no idea who is getting it and for what purpose. Be careful about what you read on the Internet, as sometimes wild rumors can fly. I was told that there was a rumor on the Internet that my husband and Beth's husband were in some land deal and the two men have never met or talked. The Internet is a wonderful research tool but can be wildly wrong. As for the relationship between Beth and Dave, I am told that it is a cordial one.

E-mail No. 5

Hi Greta,
Per your questions on Harriet Miers, my thoughts follow: I do not feel that Miers was treated differently than if she was a man. Goodness, just look at the treatment appeals court nominees received. Also, I feel Mrs. Bush got trapped during that interview by the reporter. One other fact, some of Miers most vicious detractors are female, namely Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin. IMOP, the real issue here is all about the "right" to privacy and abortion. The Christian right (as opposed to the just conservative right) wasn't willing to accept a candidate who never publicly stated a position on these issues. "Trust Me" just doesn't work when the issue is so contentious. Was Miers qualified? I believe so, and also feel she was treated quite unfairly by conservatives. Some of the treatment was plain hateful and uncalled for. She could have been not supported but still treated with dignity and respect, which she wasn't. Was Miers the best candidate? Nowhere close. A much better candidate will surface now. Bush really blew it on this nomination. It's a shame, it didn't need to happen. But for sure, Democrats are going to meltdown over the next nominee. Did Bush cause Miers to voluntarily withdraw? Absolutely, he knew he didn't have the votes for confirmation if it did go to the floor.
Jim Juracek Frisco

E-mail No. 6

Hi Greta,
Since you answered the question about Geraldo, maybe you will answer my question about Linda Vester. I have sent several e-mails to a few FOX News people, but with no reply. I really miss her being on "DaySide." I do hope she has not left the network. From appearances at one time, she must have been pregnant. But I do hope the two people on the show now are not permanent. When I can watch FOX News, "DaySide" now is the only program I don’t watch.
Thanks Greta,
Patricia Kalili
Hilo, HI

ANSWER: Linda Vester just had a baby... a week ago! I assume that we will see her back at FOX in the future. I heard through the grapevine that she was going to take a long maternity leave but don't know for sure. Because Linda worked in our New York bureau, and I work in our D.C. bureau we did not have daily contact so I am not sure when she will be back... but I am told she will be.

E-mail No. 7

Hi Greta,
I don’t think the Harriet Miers situation has anything to do with her being a woman. The whole approval process is out of control. We’ll never know if she is qualified and I think a man would have gotten the same treatment. I’m sure the president was advised to let her resign because of all of the negativity surrounding the appointment. Won’t it be interesting to see how much crying there is, and where it comes from, when he announces his "second" choice?
Keep up the good work.
Dave Wood

E-mail No. 8

When you are on firm ground, you stand and fight. Apparently Miers knew that her qualifications did not provide her a sturdy platform from which to wage the battle. In other words, she didn't have what it takes to be on the Supreme Court and she knew it.
Terri Mayo

ANSWER: I don't agree with you, sometimes you just don't want to lower yourself to mud wrestling. When a fight gets personal you sometimes don't want to engage because you think overall it is not good for the country. I think the criticism of Miers was personal since it came before she had a chance to be heard at a hearing. The fair and smart thing would have been to actually hear from the woman before jumping all over her. And note, after the hearing we may have all been convinced she was not right for the Supreme Court... but we would have something to base our decision upon. I don't know the inside scoop on the Miers decision, but I have seen others who just don't care enough to battle and this can be unrelated to qualifications.

E-mail No. 9

Why should the judges be chosen form judges? Why not normal people like Ted Turner or Bill Gates? No she did not get treated fairly. If it were up to a vote, Americans would not ask those unfavorable and silly questions.

ANSWER: I think a non-judge would be a great idea. We already have eight former judges on the Supreme Court so I think a mix would be good.

E-mail No. 10

Did she get treated fairly? Did the president bow to pressure and ask her to withdraw? Is she not qualified? Would a man get treated the same way? (First lady Laura Bush said she thought that Miers was getting a different treatment than men.) Is Miers doing the right thing? Should she have fought?
I don't believe Harriet Meirs decided all by herself to withdraw her nomination. I am guessing it was discussed with her by Bush's people and they urged her (really urged her) to save George and give him another chance at finding someone who was a guarantee to please the far right conservatives.
It is unfortunate she did not stick it out, but the Bush camp might have withdrawn her name themselves and it looks better (again, for Bush) for her to do the dirty job herself.
Greta, I am a to-the-left liberal and I think the Republicans think they are the only Party in America now. It bothers me to hear that Bush needs to please his conservative base. What about the rest of us in the U.S.?
P.S. I don't think anyone will be indicted on Friday. I think Karl Rove is the Rasputin of the Republican Party, and I would love to see George have to stand on his own two feet without Rove dictating Bush's every move. If Rove is indicted, I am sure he will still have contact with Bush to tell Bush how to run the country. Who would know?
Susan Davis
Rogue River, OR

E-mail No. 11

I think she gave up too soon. Now we will never know what made George W. Bush think so highly of her.
Glenda Rector

E-mail No. 12

Dear Greta,
Thank God, President Bush finally came to his senses!
What good would it do to "hear her out" or "get to know her," when the problem is that she is not a highly respected, influential proven conservative who will hopefully write brilliant opinions on the Supreme Court. This is the most important job in our country... we will be stuck with this person for decades. Why select someone who wouldn't even command the respect of the other justices because she is so unqualified? I am sorely disappointed in our first lady for insinuating that gender prejudice had anything to do with the backlash against this major blunder. Bush should pick the best in the country... not use up his nomination to make a diversity statement.
Moreover, we didn't even know for sure her stance on critical conservative issues. Souter comes to mind... we don't want a repeat of that catastrophe.
It is an insult to conservatives to say we should have given her a chance to be heard. If someone is unqualified, what he or she might say is immaterial.
Jackie Tortorella

ANSWER: You are quick to judge and much too certain without information. She may be unqualified, but the decent thing would be to at least get the facts first and not jump at the conclusion based on the banter being circulated.

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