Criminal Coverups?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Aug. 1, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal story" segment tonight, as we reported last week, a Connecticut newlywed named George Smith disappeared on his honeymoon. — He was cruising on a Royal Caribbean vessel off the coast of Turkey.

The investigation so far has turned up little. Some people say that's because the cruise ship industry routinely sanitizes all crime scenes because they don't want to be held accountable.

Joining us now from Lubbock, Texas, Charles Harris, former chief security officer for Carnival Cruiselines (search).

All right, Mr. Harris, I guess you're not surprised that in the disappearance of Mr. Smith, by the time the FBI got this case, the crime scene was contaminated and the witnesses are gone. It's almost impossible to solve a mystery that way, is it not?

CHARLES HARRIS, FORMER SECURITY CHIEF FOR CARNIVAL CRUISELINES: It's very impossible. You know, the first 48 hours of any criminal investigation is very important. And when you walk into it that -- the cruiseline hasn't sealed the room, hasn't protected the evidence, and they're -- even their own chief security officers aren't trained the proper techniques in crime scene preservation or even trained law enforcement -- what are you going to get? The FBI walking into a cold case.

O'REILLY: Now, is it your thesis that cruise ships do this intentionally, because they don't want liability when inevitable crime — you know, if you're carrying thousands of people a year, hundreds of thousands on some of these lines, you're going to get crime. And they don't want — they don't want to have any liability so they try to cover up all the crimes. Is that your thesis?

HARRIS: That's what I'm saying about, basically. You know, if you have a crime committed. My logical theory is a police officer or anybody else who's working crime, needs to preserve the evidence.

But they're not going in there. They'll go in there and move stuff around, clean it, sanitize the room. -- And it's possibly because of liability. They don't want the negative publicity.

O'REILLY: Now, did they tell you that, flat out, when you worked for Carnival? Did Carnival flat out tell you that?

HARRIS: Well, it's not to tell us that; that's what they had us do. We would try to preserve a crime scene. We weren't encouraged by the staff captain or captain to do it or even at corporate loss prevention. We were sent there to try to do it. They prevented us from doing our jobs.

O'REILLY: All right. Now you've got to be a little more specific. Give me an example of that.

HARRIS: Well, if there was a sexual assault on the ship, I would be talking to the victim. But also trying to seal the evidence and preserve the scene, and they would already be moving in, the staff captain and hotel manager, and the captain would be having the crews coming in there, cleaning it. I had no authority to override their authority.

O'REILLY: How many times did that happen to you? How many times did they do that?

HARRIS: It's happened two or three times with me. It happened with a sexual assault scene. It also happened with a counterfeit, where I had five counterfeit $100 bills, which they took and would not allow me to turn in to the U.S. Treasury.

O'REILLY: That's interesting. Now, the Carnival Cruiseline...

HARRIS: They're not. They're not wanting this...

O'REILLY: Well, the Carnival Cruiseline people — this comes from Jennifer De La Cruz — deny this. They say they are aggressive in trying to solve crimes. And they say that, you know, you're not telling the truth because you make your living testifying against them in civil cases. You know, that's what they say.

HARRIS: Well, I do testify against them. I — I do do a lot of litigation. But that's not my primary goal, way of making my living. I'm a police officer in Texas.

But when we come in there, if that is so, why did it take a New York Times article to make them publish and list the number of sexual assault victims that they have had on their ship? Why did it take the news media coming out and hammering them about what's happening? Why is there still continuing litigation about sexual assaults and...

O'REILLY: Because like any other business, they don't want bad publicity. I think we all know that.

HARRIS: Oh, yes.

O'REILLY: Let's get back to the Smith guy and just wrap it up here.

I don't think this crime is ever going to be solved. I mean, this guy winds up disappeared. Nobody knows where he is. Turkish authorities are the first ones are in. They don't care. By the time FBI gets there, as we mentioned, it's sanitized.

His wife doesn't — isn't pushing the case, unlike the Aruba situation. His family doesn't seem to want to know or won't come on and demand to know what happened. So the odds are this guy is dead, gone and that's it, right? Somebody will get away with murder.

HARRIS: That's — probably that is very true. Because, you know, even some testimony here, there are people that haven't been interviewed, that heard things and had testimony against that and they have never even been talked to.

O'REILLY: We put it out last week. Well, that's a shame, you know. And I don't want these crimes — I mean, we understand, as I said, you have thousands of people on a boat, you're going to have crimes, but it looks like a lot of people are getting away with a lot of stuff on these cruise ships.

I'll give you the last word.

HARRIS: Yes, it is. And I would hope that the people in the United States and everywhere would try to make a stand and say, "Look, we want you held accountable for it," you know? I hate to see people hurt. I'm in the public service area.

O'REILLY: All right. Mr. Harris, thanks very much.

HARRIS: This is a way we can help them.

O'REILLY: We appreciate it.

HARRIS: Thank you, sir.

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