Law & Order (1990) s14e08 Episode Script


In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups the police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders.
These are their stories.
So, I said, "I'm just here the one night.
" I bet that won their hearts.
It wasn't their hearts that were my concern.
But the blonde, I swear, man, she made my cholesterol shoot up over 270.
And, uh, the other two? Actually, one of them looked a lot like your ex.
For that you are buying the next round.
I think you guys are going to have to find your own entertainment.
He never learns.
Legs like that, I'd stay stupid.
Last chance, babe.
I'm leaving tomorrow.
How many times have I heard that? Yes, but this time I might not be coming back.
Promise? Oh, come on, Gia.
You and me, it wasn't that bad, was it? There was no "you and me.
" There was you, me, your cameraman, your producer, your three cell phones and, uh, last but not least, your wife.
Yeah, I like to fill up my day.
Don't we all? Guess you haven't heard.
I'm engaged.
You should buy your friend a leash.
Most people would prefer a muzzle.
Yeah, that'd do.
I'd think about letting her break up my marriage.
What was that? It came from outside.
! Always a nickel short and a dime late.
What the hell does that mean? What do you want from me? It's 2:00 in the morning.
Hey, is that Frank Elliot? Mm-hmm.
The one and only.
He took one in the back.
Oh, what a shame.
Hey, man, pretend to be concerned, okay? Two bullets.
People say they heard three shots.
One in Never-Neverland, one in the vic, one I hope in here.
You know, my old man actually likes this Frank Elliot.
He made me TiVo that special he did on John Gotti's vacation spots.
Hey, Lennie, he comes out of this club, Lotus.
He makes it around the corner.
Somebody starts shooting.
Anybody see the shooter? Looks like Elliot finally made it to a crime scene before we did.
! We caught one break, at least.
You won't have to wait for the M.
To start ballistics.
Looks like a nine millimeter.
Okay, a shooter nobody saw, a bullet everybody uses, and a guy half the world wants dead.
Says he's probably gonna make it.
Yeah, only the good die young.
Afraid he won't be much help tonight.
He's gonna make it though, right? Well, it perforated his liver.
We managed to seal it off, so as long as it doesn't go septic on us, we should have him stabilized relatively soon.
We talking hours, days? Best guess? Twenty-four to 48 hours.
He's gonna be in a lot of pain though.
I don't know how long it'll be before he feels strong enough to talk.
Well, knowing Frank, it won't be that long.
Okay, that's not funny anymore.
Leave a number.
I'll have somebody call you.
The sooner the better.
Hey, they won't tell us anything.
He should be okay.
What does that mean? Paralyzed, wheelchair, what? Hey, he's gonna hurt.
A bullet in the back will do that.
One bullet? He took a leg full of shrapnel in Kosovo.
Oh, yeah, Frank's got fans all over the world.
Frank Elliot happens to be a great correspondent.
And you are? Coworkers.
Oh, you do the sports, right? Mm-hmm.
Do you mind telling us what went down tonight? Nothing out of the ordinary.
Kick in the butt is, Frank was heading back to the Middle East in the morning.
- I thought after the last thing he couldn't go back.
- You don't say no to Frank.
So the three of you were having a couple of pops? Till Frank left for Gia.
Who? Gia Whitchurch.
She broke up his fifth marriage.
Anyway, she left him alone at the bar.
I know what happened.
I can't believe it, but I don't know what I can do about it.
It turns out that you might have been the last person to speak to him before Hold on.
I thought they said he was gonna make it.
- He is.
I was gonna say before he was shot.
- Sure.
You wanna know what we talked about? Nothing earthshaking.
Just Frank being Frank.
He asked, I answered in the negative.
- And that pissed him off? - Come on.
! Frank's not looking for Ms.
He's looking for Ms.
Right Now.
He gets a "no," he just moves on.
Look, Frank plays around.
Everybody knows it, but nobody takes it seriously.
At least not seriously enough to try to kill him.
So you don't think this had anything to do with "boy meets girl"? I wouldn't count it out, but the truth is, in the minute and a half Frank and I were together, he got threats like every day.
From? Mostly from people whose lives he ruined.
Frank is a good reporter.
He knows where the story is and he's not afraid to be confrontational to get it.
" That's one way to put it.
The truth usually angers people.
Oh, give me a break.
Did it ever anger anybody enough to take a couple shots at him? A couple of months ago, Frank did a story on Ted Lester, C.
For Zyfco.
He caught him dipping into the company till.
Pissed Lester off to no end.
And Lester got canned? Not yet.
So in other words, no harm, no foul.
So far, maybe, but the rumor is, Lester is about to be indicted.
Sorry it has to be like this.
We have to get to Teterboro for a flight in 30 minutes.
You know how traffic can be.
Lester, we need to talk to you about Frank Elliot.
Frank Elliot is a righteous, opportunistic What? Frank Elliot is a righteous, opportunistic bottom-feeder! Be that as it may, when was the last time you saw him? In person? Not since he ambushed me coming out of a fund-raiser.
Look, I heard about the shooting.
It wasn't me, although I would like to express my sincerest kudos to whoever finally decided to do the world a favor.
Okay, just so our report's complete, where were you last night? Flying back from a shareholders' meeting in Aspen.
Got in just after 2:00 a.
- Can anybody confirm that? - Paul! What time were we wheels down yesterday? About 20 after 2:00.
I had to call from the plane to change the car-service pickups.
If you see Frank, send him my best.
There was no one on the street, no one that I saw, anyway.
So you got your wallet, money clip, jewelry.
I've got it all.
Somebody wanted me.
So, uh, can I take it from this that, uh, you're nowhere in the investigation? Some people think we don't move too quick, unless there's a little grease, if you know what I mean.
When are you gonna let that go? I aired that piece on the 12th Precinct almost three years ago.
- Yeah, well, the taste still lingers.
- He was a dirty cop.
He might have been, but we'll never know since his suicide kind of put the kibosh on I.
's investigation.
All right, why don't you all agree to disagree for the time being? Now, did you leave the club with anybody? Nobody.
Ayoung lady at the bar told me there was some gossip about me in page six, so I went out to get a copy of the Post.
Next thing boom I feel something burning a hole in my back.
I think I remember falling, but that's it.
You must have put together a short list of who you think did it.
Maybe you should start with some of your friends at the 12th.
Uh, sorry.
Of course I want to help.
Uh, top of my list would be Barry Boyd.
He's the one dude who's crazy enough to try something like this.
- He's got a grudge? - I exposed him for the slime bucket that he is.
Can you believe this bastard? He convinced welfare moms to let their kids use broken playground equipment just so they would get hurt and he could sue the city.
I do good sometimes.
So, what, he threatened you? No.
He attacked me at Elaine's.
The story was crap.
But I couldn't have bought that kind of publicity.
No such thing as bad press, huh? Not in my business.
Look, Elliot couldn't prove a damn thing.
The piece didn't even lead to a disciplinary sanction.
This business is all about profile, and he raised mine another notch.
I should probably thank him.
Instead, you attack him in a restaurant.
Okay, the truth is I may have screamed at him a little.
Well, he says it was a little more than that.
You look like you've had a couple of drinks now and then.
You know what? I drink, I start spewing a lot of nonsense.
Who knows? I might have said something horrible about his mother, who, for all I know, is a very nice lady.
That's it? The truth is, if I only represented people Frank Elliot did stories on, I could make a very good living.
Odds are there's some kind of a lawsuit just floating around out there waiting for me to pluck it out of thin air.
- Plucked anybody lately? - A gold mine.
The families of Sergeant Dixon Hawes and Captains Thomas McCann and William Short.
We're suing Elliot and his network for wrongful death.
Hawes, McCann and Short.
They were the American kids killed in the ambush near Tikrit last month.
The three soldiers, or peacekeepers, I guess we call them now, were hit by snipers on their way to take out an Iraqi resistance training camp.
And they blame Elliot? Don't you? After the Iraqis saw his report, it was like shooting fish in a barrel.
I can't tell you exactly where we are, but I can say that the 81 st is operating within 100 kilometers of a midsized city.
Just outside this city, there are two training camps for Iraqi resistance fighters.
Within the next 48 hours, I'm told one of these two camps will be hit.
Three of our boys dead and Elliot gets shipped home for a Pentagon debriefing.
Which is probably code for threatening to shove his mike where the sun don't shine.
And the network exec you spoke with forgot to mention they were being sued? She said that they were already negotiating with the families of the boys that were killed that they stand behind Elliot's report.
They would admit no liability, but were acting with what she called an "abundance of caution.
" More like an abundance of guilt.
A billion dollars a week to help people who don't want us there in the first place? They aren't the only ones who should feel guilty.
Sure, why don't we just pull out and give Saddam his old job back? You know what I'm talking about.
All I'm saying is, now that we're in there, we shouldn't be half-assed about it.
Hey, man, just because Washington decides to commit to something doesn't mean we should shut up and salute.
It also doesn't mean we have to help the enemy.
We all know where Elliot's sympathies on the war were.
Maybe him being embedded with the troops, he had a better view than we do? Thanks.
Ballistics I.
'd the gun and ammo.
A modified Beretta M-9 made especially for the military.
Standard issue to every member of the United States Army.
Sounds like somebody in uniform would rather have Elliot entombed than embedded.
No offense, but the list of people who don't care for Elliot extends way past the military.
Oh, I'll second that, but right now one of your guys may be our best bet.
We're gonna need names and addresses of members of the 81 st.
They're in Tikrit right now.
Well, what about guys on leave, retired members, AWOL? In any case, we're not in the habit of giving out this sort of information.
Now that's a shame.
No, we're sorry, because when Elliot gets wind of this, you're gonna be all over the 6:00 news.
Can you spell "cover-up?" Well, there are always a few soldiers who deploy later, come home early for personal reasons.
So, can we have a list of the names and addresses? So, of the three active duty members of the 81 st in the U.
When Elliot was shot, we have one in surgery and one in the stockade.
My math says that's two.
Yeah, and one George Meacham, who was here on emergency leave.
His dad died.
Please tell me he was in the city.
Not only was he here, his mom lives three blocks from where Frank Elliot got himself shot.
George is the fourth generation of Meacham men to serve in the army.
You must be very proud, Mrs.
We just need to ask him a few questions.
Oh, uh, I don't think you can.
Why is that? Because he shipped out for Iraq yesterday.
This is Denise, George's wife.
She's up from Virginia for the funeral.
Detectives Briscoe and Green.
George got emergency leave because his father died, and he had to get back right after.
I'm sorry.
Well, he believes in what he's doing.
George was here two nights ago? Yeah, that was his last night.
We had kind of a party for him his old high school buddies.
And he shipped out at 0600 the next morning.
The party was here? No, it was at a bar around the corner, the Blarney Stone.
We were there till maybe 2:00.
Did George do something wrong? No, it's just that he may have been It's just that he may have witnessed a shooting.
Frank Elliot? Let me tell you.
The man is a rat.
We hold him personally responsible.
George and Dixon were like brothers.
Dixon Hawes, the one who He's dead because of Frank Elliot.
Looks like Denise Meacham cares for Elliotjust about as much as you do.
Well, he did put her husband in harm's way.
What? As if the dude living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue ain't had nothing to do with it.
The same dude that lied to us.
And you know he lied because I don't see any weapons of mass destruction, do you? Hey, they were there, and you know how I know? Because the daddy of the guy at 1600 sold 'em to a certain son of a bitch who used to live in Baghdad.
That's how I know.
You're just saying that 'cause you read some article by some other son of a bitch like Frank Elliot.
Hey, that's exactly why I used to live in places like this.
'Cause the guys in here only lie about how big and how many.
Yeah, they were here.
A send-off for one of them.
I'll tell you what it was a good night.
Lots of toasting, lots of drinking, lots of guys hugging guys not in a weird way.
So the guest of honor, was he here the whole time? - You mean in here? - It's not a trick question, Pat.
The crapper's on the fritz.
There's only one urinal.
When guys take a squirt, they go out back.
So you're not sure if George Meacham was actually inside the place the whole time? There were like five of them, plus the guy's wife.
They came and went.
I wasn't keeping track.
We were kind of busy for a weeknight.
So as far as you know, Meacham could have been gone 15 minutes or a half an hour.
I'm sure he was here when I closed up.
At 3:00 in the a.
, "God Bless America" brings tears to your eyes.
No way.
I was on the door that night.
I would have noticed a guy in uniform.
Hell, I would have bought him a drink myself.
So would I.
Our boys are doing a great job over there.
The way I see it, nuke 'em all.
What about a dude that looks like he was in the military in shape, tattoos, short hair? Crew cut count? Yeah, that's perfect.
Yeah, there was a guy short, black hair, had a tat over here, said something about business.
Uh, "business is good.
" "Business is good"? Maybe he's from the chamber of commerce.
You know, he did ask for that guy, Elliot.
And you let him in? Not a chance.
The guy already had his limit, if you know what I mean.
He was loud, he wasn't making too much sense, he was losing it.
All right, man, if you remember anything else, holler.
I appreciate all the help you've given us so far, Colonel, but it turns out, to do a thorough investigation, my detectives need to talk to George Meacham face-to-face.
It's gonna be difficult, Lieutenant, considering Sergeant Meacham is forward-deployed right now.
What's one soldier? Hell, I bet he'd appreciate a trip home.
By the time we figured out logistics on this thing You know, legally, the D.
Tells me that he can get a judge to issue a writ.
I've already spoken to ourJAG officers who tell me with the evidence you have, a writ is not a sure thing.
He tried to kill one of our citizens, Colonel, right here on the streets of New York.
Now, if you're protecting him Believe it or not, we have enough to do without the N.
, or Frank Elliot, or anyone else getting in the way.
George Meacham is not going on vacation.
He's heading for a place where he'll spend his days dodging bullets.
I'm sure he has nothing to hide.
And if he's lucky enough to make it back alive, you'll have your chance to hear it from him then.
- He's not going on vacation? - Excuse me? That's what you just said.
"He's not going on vacation.
" He's headed somewhere.
Sounds like you're saying he's not actually in Iraq yet.
That's right.
He's at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, awaiting for transport to his unit.
Now that's a good thing Ramstein being an American military installation is considered a part of the U.
For legal purposes.
That gives the civilian court jurisdiction.
I think we could argue that Let me ask you something.
Do you know of any soldiers getting tattoos that say "Business is good"? It's a slogan, the second half of one anyway.
Hard core members of the 81 st put it on their left arm.
And, uh, what do they put on their right arm? "Killing is our business.
" I can't wait till the press gets ahold of this.
Straight ahead, Sergeant.
Hello, Sergeant.
Sorry about the false start and about all the travel.
I was told I'd just be answering a few questions and turning right back around.
Detectives Briscoe and Green, N.
Nice to meet you, Sergeant.
The quicker the better.
The first order of business, Sergeant, is handing over your sidearm.
I'm not sure what's so hard to understand.
I went to a bar, I got drunk, I came home.
How long were you at the bar? Three, four hours.
Did you ever leave? Yeah, to take a leak.
How about to stroll over to Lotus to see your friend, Frank Elliot? Why would I do that? I got enough of him in the desert.
It doesn't sound to me like you liked it? I knew he was gonna be trouble when he showed up dressed like Hemingway going on safari.
The thing is, George, the bouncer at Lotus, saw somebody that looks just like you trying to get into the club that night.
Yeah, so what? So why don't you help yourself and explain to us what the hell happened? Uh, yeah, we were at the bar.
A cabbie came in, said he dropped Elliot off at this club around the corner.
- So I walked over there.
- Why, George? Dixon Hawes was a good soldier.
Okay? I would give my life for him, or for Thomas McCann or William Short.
Yeah, I walked over there, but the ape at the door, he wouldn't let me in.
End of story.
And you just let it go? What was I supposed to do? I mean, guys, we're at war.
Okay, people are dying.
These These reporters, they are more interested in their ratings.
You're talking about embedded journalists.
Journalists, right, yeah, yeah.
Let me ask you a question.
If your life depended on me, would you report anything negative about me? Or that my unit's military actions were unsuccessful? That's crap.
And you think Elliot went a step too far? The man gave away our position and our movements! If I did that, I'd be court-martialed and I'd be hung as a traitor! Am I glad somebody shot at him? Yeah.
Am I upset he's not dead? Yeah.
Did I have something to do with it? Not a chance.
Why? Because I am a citizen, I am a soldier, and I respect the laws of this country.
We've got motive up the ying-yang.
Opportunity And he's got the flag.
What about ballistics? Still working on it.
The problem is, the army has got him heading overseas tomorrow morning.
Arrest him.
I'll call the army to cancel his ticket.
Docket number 026794, People versus George Henry Meacham.
The charge is attempted murder in the second degree, assault in the first degree.
How do you plead, Sergeant Meacham? Not guilty, Your Honor.
Bail? The People request remand, Your Honor.
Sergeant Meacham is on active duty with the army and scheduled for immediate transport overseas.
- R.
, Your Honor.
- Just what I was thinking.
In addition, the defense would ask for an expedited trial calendar, in that Sergeant Meacham would like to get this matter resolved as quickly as possible so that he can ship out.
Is that a problem for the People? No, it's not, Your Honor.
Well, I know this place rarely works with military efficiency, but we'll see what we can do.
You know, the military courts have concurrent jurisdiction.
I could very easily challenge the venue of this proceeding.
The people Sergeant Meacham works for, however, don't want this to look like they whisked him off in the dead of night to be tried by an overly sympathetic jury.
You mean they don't want the press to think that.
It's not our granddaddy's war.
Well, to spare the military any harmful press, I'm willing to drop the attempted murder charge if he pleads to assault one and serves the maximum.
I didn't shoot him.
L All this because George happened to be in the same city as Elliot the night he was shot? He was around the corner from the shooting; he showed up at the bar Elliot was drinking in.
The weapon was military issue.
Yes, it was.
And that's what got me thinking.
In the list of physical evidence sent over by your office, I didn't see a ballistics report indicating that George's sidearm was, in fact, the weapon in question.
I'm sure that was just an oversight.
The testing wasn't completed at the time of the arrest.
Well, then, perhaps we'd better wait before either of us commits to anything.
Come on, George.
And the bullet that came out of Elliot didn't come from the gun you gave us.
That's sort ofbig news.
You didn't think I'd want to hear something like that right away? I thought you'd want to know the whole story.
Evan, what else is there? The gun you gave me didn't belong to George Meacham.
You're kidding.
I'm not that kind of guy.
No, the army is very serious about registration.
The gun you gave me belonged to a Sergeant Dixon Hawes.
Dixon Hawes, as in the deceased Dixon Hawes? Hawes's body was at the Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany waiting to be shipped back home while Meacham was there waiting to be transported back to Iraq.
So Meacham had an opportunity to switch weapons.
Of course, he claims that they were stationed together for so long that the guns were probably just switched accidentally.
Serve the army with an order to produce the gun that was with Hawes's gear.
I did, and they've assured me that they'll send the gun A.
But? They can't find it.
It was never recovered from the battlefield.
You know Elliot's gonna make a meal out of this.
Yes? We're having lunch.
We'll be right there.
That was Arthur's secretary.
This can't be good.
Convenience or conspiracy? You tell me.
The gun used by a sergeant in this man's army to put a bullet into my liver has disappeared.
To what lengths will the Pentagon go to keep this reporter off Iraqi soil? To what length will it go to shut me up forever? This yo-yo's gonna ruin our case.
What can we do? Frank Elliot never met a camera he didn't like.
It's the people who are watching Frank Elliot I'm concerned about.
We have no idea what his rhetoric could do to a jury.
Well, on the other hand, it's the Pentagon that's not held in the highest regard right now.
Says who? Knuckleheads like Elliot? The fact is that a majority of informed Americans believed in this war then and they believe in it now.
- Informed? By whom, Arthur? - Just get a gag order.
Opposing lawyers in agreement? What am I missing? I think both sides are looking for a fair and just conclusion to this case.
That's a crock.
Elliot's a wild card, and neither of you know just what effect his grandstanding's gonna have on the jury pool.
The very notion that it will have any effect whatsoever Yada, yada, yada.
I guess the grandstanding is going around.
- Your Honor - Stop, guys.
You won.
I'm gonna grant the gag order.
But even money says we'll all be back here within 48 hours of you breaking the news to Elliot.
Judge Bright already entered his order.
Which extends to all lawyers and principals.
For a minute I thought I was back in New York.
What a relief to find out that I'm still smack-dab in the middle ofTehran.
If you think about it, this could actually help us.
So would burning Meacham at the stake, but I don't see us doing that.
Let me ask you, Frank.
Are you more interested in justice or headlines? I didn't know the two were mutually exclusive.
No offense, but I'm obligated to do something about this.
For the record, I'm recommending that you retain counsel, Mr.
Your Honor may not be aware, but I am an attorney.
Did you ever practice? Is that relevant? Again, I recommend that you retain You don't need a law degree to see what's going on here.
They couldn't stop me with a bullet, so they're trying to do it with the law.
"They?" Washington, Judge.
The Pentagon.
Clearly Excuse me, sir.
But I was the one who signed the gag order.
Which is a violation of the First Amendment.
And I've got a shelf full of case law that says it's not.
Please approach, all four of you.
And in how many of those cases was the person opposing the gag a member of the press? I just wanted to see if your arguments would be the same out of earshot of your friends from the media.
The order also violates the contract clause by preventing me from pursuing my chosen profession, the court is interfering with my contractual rights.
- Mr.
McCoy? - The contract clause is never applied to an individual's employment contract.
I'm sorry, Mr.
Without overwhelming evidence that a gag order would irreparably damage the public's right to know, the gag stands.
I'm not on anyone's side, Mr.
I'm just trying to preserve some semblance of a fair trial.
How can it be fair without public scrutiny? Doesn't the Sixth Amendment guarantee an open trial? Excuse me.
Frank Elliot? Yes.
I am F.
Special Agent Glover.
I'd like to advise you that you're being placed under federal arrest.
For what? Treason, sir.
You have the right to an attorney.
If you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you by the court.
Well, they finally found a way to shut him up.
Are you kidding? This is exactly the kind of thing Elliot lives for.
It's the next best thing to being shot on the battlefield.
To be honest, I always thought the U.
Attorney's office would keep its politics out of our justice system.
Excuse me.
Didn't Frank Elliot disclose military secrets on the battlefield? If theJustice Department actually considered what he did treason, why did they wait all that time to arrest him? To brace themselves for the political repercussions.
And they're finally braced now right when we're about to go to trial against a soldier.
You know what I'm gonna do? You're gonna give the Assistant U.
Attorney in charge of this Elliot thing a chance to present his case before you fly off into the wild blue yonder.
And what if I don't? His name is Andrew Spivack.
He's not an unreasonable sort.
Honestly, I don't understand your concern.
Frank Elliot is unlikable enough to begin with.
Calling him a traitor gives the jury a reason to acquit.
He did give military secrets to the enemy.
Oh, come on, Andrew.
It's not like he was selling nuclear secrets.
Really? How many people actually died because of the Rosenbergs? My guess, it's three less than died because of Frank Elliot.
Do you want the politically correct response to that? - Shoot.
- You're walking a razor's edge.
It could tear the First Amendment in half.
And the politically incorrect response? You're gonna ruin my case.
I've got a cousin over there and I don't want him coming home in a bag because of some pinhead like Elliot.
You'll never win.
Maybe I just think it's a point worth getting made sooner rather than later.
I can't believe it.
Someone in the Defense Department recommended Meacham get a medal.
Now it's officially become the hero versus the traitor.
Maybe we should reconsider our offer.
Or we can focus on proving that the hero wasn't so heroic.
We can show that Meacham acted out of vengeance and not because he considered Elliot a traitor.
That's a great idea.
Only how can we prove what was in his head? One thing I know about guys in a bar they can't keep a secret.
Talk to the friends who were partying with Meacham before he went to find Elliot.
George enlisted right out of high school.
I thought about it, but what the hell, you know? My old man had the business.
People yell, they don't shoot.
You guys stayed close over the years? Yeah, sure.
I mean, anytime he's in town, you know, go for a beer or two with Willie and Lip.
The four of us were that way since the fifth grade.
What did you think about the tattoo on George's arm? The killing thing.
I mean, it's cool.
I mean, that is what he does for a living.
You don't sound like you like it.
My dad cut 2-by-4s.
George's dad served in the Gulf War.
I'm not disrespecting what he does Anyway, I'm sure as hell not gonna say anything that's gonna hurt him.
I just wanna know what happened.
Did George say anything? He had a couple of beers, okay? The cabbie came into the bar, he was bitching about Elliot, and he dropped him at Lotus.
You know I told the cops all this.
I just wanna fill in the blanks.
Did George tell you what he expected to do if he found Elliot? Yeah, he said he was gonna rip that rat bastard a new one.
He said that Elliot wouldn't open his yap on his next trip to Iraq.
But I swear he said nothing about shooting anyone.
Because he thought he was helping his friend, that's why.
With friends like that I'm sorry.
I don't see where you're going, Jack.
Have some ribs.
Meacham went to Lotus to warn Elliot to keep his yap shut.
If he thought he was legally guilty of treason, he never would have thought he would ever set foot in the Middle East again.
Ergo, Meacham didn't consider him a traitor when he pulled the trigger, and no amount of federal razzle-dazzle is gonna change that in a state attempted murder trial.
Only Meacham can still claim that he didn't do it.
And he'd be laughed out of the courtroom.
Too many coincidences.
The jury would see right through him.
If you don't like ribs, there's cold noodles.
Well, it looks like Meacham's friend went right to Griffin after I spoke with him.
This is Griffin's notice to present an affirmative defense of justification.
He's gone through door number three.
You're kidding.
He's claiming that Meacham shot Elliot to prevent him from disclosing military secrets that would cause the death of any more American G.
Justified? That's a crock.
People in this country shouldn't be gunned down in the street when they're out buying a newspaper, whatever their political beliefs are.
And you think the shooting was politically motivated? What else? It's no secret that I believe this to be a fictitious war waged by a fictitious president as part of some familial vendetta.
When you reported your story about troop movements from Iraq, were you breaking the rules set up for embedded reporters? The military doesn't make the rules.
What is it, 30 years ago, the court in the Pentagon Papers case ruled that current news of vital importance to this country cannot be subject to prior restraint by the government.
- And you consider troop movements vital? - Killing people? Yes, I think that qualifies.
What about the American soldiers killed because of your story? I'm really sorry that they died.
If you know anything about me, you know that I was dead set against this war right from the get-go.
But think about it.
If the Pentagon honestly believed I was responsible, would I have been permitted to go back? You were arrested for treason.
And was immediately released on bail.
They just wanted to hand their boy a get-out-of-jail-free card.
They didn't care whether he was guilty.
Theyjust care about P.
An informed public ruined their party in Vietnam.
They can't let that happen again.
But isn't it true that they use embedded journalists such as yourself to keep the public informed? They embedded us to sell the product, period.
They just care about spin positive spin.
TheJessica Lynches become heroes, and the Frank Elliots become villains.
So you're saying you'd do the same thing on your next visit to Iraq.
Well, it's not only my job, it's my right and duty under the First Amendment of the Constitution.
I'm not here to argue constitutional law with you, Mr.
But since you brought it up, I wonder if you're aware of the Supreme Court's exception to the prior restraint rule when it comes to protecting our soldiers.
A reporter cannot disclose troop locations or objectives.
If you look at my report closely, I didn't.
I disclosed no specifics.
Are you familiar with the legal definition of treason? Objection.
Your Honor, I'm trying to establish that my client was justified in shooting the witness.
Answer the question.
It consists oflevying war against the United States or giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
Well, let's focus on giving aid to the enemy, shall we? The Constitution guarantees the people the right to a free press.
Exercising that right cannot, by definition, be treason.
Even if it means getting our boys killed? It's a war, counselor.
People are dying on a daily basis.
I mean, read the papers.
In fact, look at the headlines in the Post on the day that I was shot.
Six American soldiers were killed by a car bomb in Baghdad.
And you don't see a difference between that and the killing of Dixon Hawes, Thomas McCann and William Short? No, I don't.
They're dead because of some outrageous political agenda.
It had nothing to do with me.
It was just a coincidence that your report the day before they were shot disclosed troop movements.
Possible movements.
Splitting hairs, aren't we? If I don't report what I see, what good am I? If a reporter isn't honest and open, what purpose does the media serve? And you were planning on splitting those same hairs during your next visit to Iraq? - Yes.
- And to hell with the Americans who might die because of it.
I knew 'em all.
They were good soldiers.
Dix and I, uh, we were very close.
That's Dixon Hawes? That's correct.
We trained together.
I've known him since '98.
Please describe what happened on the day he died.
We started moving before dawn.
I'm sorry, but did you know where you were headed? Uh, we're not informed of specific objectives.
Well, that's curious, because people back in Brooklyn and Taos and Tampa Bay knew all about it, thanks to Mr.
I wouldn't know.
We moved maybe three klicks when the shooting started.
The sun wasn't up yet.
And Dix Uh, Sergeant Hawes, was beside me.
He had been shot through the neck.
I carried him over to the medical officer, but it was too late, so When did you learn that Frank Elliot was responsible Objection! Rephrase.
When did you learn about Mr.
Elliot's report? A few days later.
He'd already shipped out.
Okay, now, you testified that a cabbie told you he dropped off Mr.
Elliot at a club called Lotus is that correct? Yes, sir.
Did the cabbie tell you anything else? He said that Elliot told him he would return to Iraq the following day.
Did you want Frank Elliot dead? Yes.
So, you in fact felt an obligation to take matters into your own hands? Yes.
Please tell us why.
To stop him from causing the death of any more American soldiers.
What did Mr.
Elliot say when you asked him not to make similar reports in the future? He didn't say anything.
Why not? I didn't ask him.
Did he say anything when you confronted him in the street? No.
Why do you suppose that is? He didn't see me.
That's right.
You shot him in the back.
Kind of like the sniper who killed Objection.
- Sustained.
- You testified that you left your party at the Blarney Stone in order to shoot Frank Elliot, isn't that true? Actually, I said I wanted him dead.
Actually, I think you said If you could just read that back? "'Did you want Frank Elliot dead? ' Witness: 'Yes.
' "Mr.
Griffin: 'Did you, in fact, "feel an obligation to take matters into your own hands? ' "Witness: 'Yes.
' Mr.
Griffin: 'Please tell us why.
' Witness: 'To stop him from causing the death of any more American soldiers.
"' I guess you were right.
Pardon me.
Did you shoot Frank Elliot? You watch the news, don't you? I shot a traitor.
The army might give me a medal.
Please answer the question.
I'm a good soldier.
Your Honor? The F.
Arrested him for The witness will answer the questions asked.
Sergeant Meacham.
! Did you shoot Frank Elliot? No! 'Cause if I pulled the trigger, he'd be dead now! What the hell is going on? Even I know you're never supposed to ask a question you don't know the answer to.
I wouldn't worry about it.
George Meacham's credibility is shot to hell.
More importantly, to make out a justification defense, he first has to admit that he did it.
As of now he has no defense at all.
Unless the jury actually believes he didn't do it.
And we all know there's just too much circumstantial evidence for that to happen.
So, you're saying this is a good thing? The defendant changing his testimony on the stand can't hurt.
Although, I'd keep my fingers crossed the jury doesn't think too hard about those three shots he fired at you.
I mean, a marksman like Meacham should have done better.
But he said he'd been drinking for hours.
Yeah, that's probably it.
If George Meacham didn't pull the trigger, who could have done it? We all know that you have a lot of enemies, but how many of them carry military weapons and were in this hemisphere on the night that you were shot? And how many people knew you were going to leave the bar at that moment to go out to read some gossip about yourself in the Post? You know what I don't get, Frank, is how you missed the gossip when you read the paper earlier that day.
What are you talking about? You testified about the headlines in the Post on the day that you were shot six people killed by a car bomb.
You never got the paper out of the vending machine, so you must have read it before you went out to the club.
Serena, are you suggesting Mr.
Elliot didn't need to leave the club to buy a paper? I don't know what you guys are talking about.
Come to think of it, Frank.
You were over there.
You could have taken a weapon.
- That's ridiculous.
- No, you know what's ridiculous, Jack, is that the cops never would have heard of George Meacham if that lawyer that Frank slandered what was his name - Barry Boyd.
- Didn't send them in that direction.
Frank, it's a good thing you turned the cops onto Boyd.
If I were George Meacham's lawyer, I might argue that you set the whole thing up.
And you'd be laughed out of the courtroom, Serena.
If Frank shot himself, someone would have found the gun at the scene.
Well, hard as it is to fathom, Frank just might have a friend or two.
You two should go into vaudeville.
What the hell? What do they say? Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
If you're writing fiction.
Oh, grow up.
I'm not the one who staged a shooting for self-promotion.
And if I did, how is that any more fictitious than what they expect the media to do over there? No one is on trial over there.
Well, maybe they should be.
America deserves the truth, and that's what I try to report.
But what happens when I do? They slam the lid down, ship me out and sit me down in front of 12 guys in uniform who tell me that if I open my mouth again I can kiss my career good-bye.
We're entitled to a free press, but the government won't allow it.
That doesn't make what you did any less despicable.
You want despicable? What's really despicable is the Pentagon using some fake patriotism to eviscerate the First Amendment, and then using the media to spread that fake patriotism like manure in a garden.
Look, you can arrest me.
You can charge me with having myself shot.
But we all know you can't prove any of it.
Or we could just go to the press and have you exposed as a self-important fraud.
Sure you could, but without three confirmations, their lawyers won't let them report any of it.
Three cheers for American justice.
This isn't over.
We'll find the gun.
We'll find the friend who shot you.
Call me when you do.
Sergeant Meacham's already on a plane headed back to Baghdad.
And Elliot? On a plane right behind him.
Ready to record for posterity the spread of democracy throughout the world.
God bless America.
Here, here.