By Lester Holt, NBC News anchor
In an era where video cameras seem to be rolling wherever people are gathered, I've been waiting for a piece of video tape to emerge from the Benazir Bhutto assassination that might shed useful light on the question of whether she was shot to death, or, as the Pakistani government contends, she died from striking her head on the roof of the vehicle she was in.
The wait may be over. We received some video today that shows the gunman taking aim and Mrs. Bhutto standing in the vehicle's sunroof. The shots are heard and we see Bhutto either fall or dive forward. We also see the explosion that follows. I've now watched the tape at least six times, paying sharp attention to the movement of her hair, her veil, and her torso as the shots are heard. I can tell you the video is not conclusive either way, but it may be the closet thing to a "Zapruder film" that we've seen from the Bhutto murder. My guess is the tape will do little to change the opinions of those who believe the Pakistani government is being untruthful.
Jonathan Rugman, a correspondent from our British partner ITN has put together a terrific analysis of the tape along with some other interesting pieces of evidence, and we will air that report on Nightly News tonight.
A new MSNBC-McClatchy poll of likely Iowa caucus voters is out, and it shows Mitt Romney has managed to overcome the Mike Huckabee surge. The other headline is some late momentum in the John Edwards camp making for a three-way dead heat among Democratic frontrunners. We'll show you the key numbers tonight.
Erin Burnett from CNBC will come on with me tonight to talk about the 2007 housing slump and whether there are signs of a turnaround in 2008.
Also tonight, it was 35 years ago this weekend that an Eastern Airlines L-1011 slammed into the Florida Everglades, killing 101 people. Seventy-five others survived, in large part due to one man and his airboat, which pulled many of them to safety before other rescuers arrived. Recently the survivors were reunited with their "angel of mercy" at the site of the crash. NBC's Kristen Dahlgren will bring us that story.
On a personal note, as an aviation "buff" and someone who studies aircraft accident reports, the crash of that Eastern Airlines jet is one that has always stood out in my mind because of the odd circumstances of how it happened. It started with a landing gear warning light as the plane was on approach to Miami. As the three-man crew circled in a holding pattern trying to troubleshoot the warning light, one of them accidentally bumped the control column, causing the autopilot to switch off. That produced a warning bell that none of them heard. As a result the plane began a slow, shallow descent to the ground. The crew was too preoccupied to notice until it was too late to pull up. The giant L-1011 simply "flew" into the everglades. The passengers didn't have a hint their plane was about to crash until moments before the impact. As you might expect, that accident led to big changes in the way flight crews are trained. The biggest lesson, still taught today is: no matter what may be going wrong, fly the plane first!
Thanks for checking in. I hope you can join me tonight for NBC Nightly News.