in

Santa Barbara County authorities yesterday tore into Michael Jackson’s allegations of police brutality by the cops who busted him last month. Michael Jackson told “60 Minutes,” in an interview aired Sunday, that sheriff’s deputies roughed him up and degraded him during his Nov. 20 arrest as well and also degraded him during his arrest on November 20. The Jackson defense has begun. The principal tactic: attack is the best defense.

The self-proclaimed King of Pop and accused child molester told “60 Minutes,” in an interview aired Sunday, that sheriff’s deputies roughed him up and degraded him during his Nov. 20 arrest.

Deputies shot down Jackson’s claims, and said that the singer’s own lawyer and bodyguards thanked them for their professionalism.

“Mr. Jackson was treated with courtesy and professionalism throughout the arrest and booking process,” according to a statement posted yesterday afternoon on Sheriff James Anderson’s official Web site, sbsheriff.org.

“Both his attorney and his personal security thanked the Sheriff’s Department for the level of cooperation and professionalism demonstrated throughout the process.”

Jackson’s defense lawyer Mark Geragos (search) could not be immediately reached for comment yesterday.

Retired Sheriff Jim Thomas – head of the department’s 1993 child molestation probe of Jackson and a confidant of DA Thomas Sneddon (search) — picked apart claims that investigators manhandled the pop icon.

“Where does this come from? It’s ridiculous. None of this was challenged by [’60 Minutes’] and you don’t see Mark Geragos raising hell. That tells you something,” Thomas told the New York Post.

“I think last night, he [Jackson] wanted to be the victim. He wanted to be the victim, not the kid [Jackson’s young accuser].”

Jackson made a series of serious allegations in the Sunday interview, detailing how he was mistreated while in custody:

— Jackson claimed detectives hurt his wrists when they handcuffed him, and now The Gloved One is in so much pain he can’t sleep at night.

But county authorities and Thomas said detectives videotaped Jackson’s by-the-book arrest at the Santa Barbara Airport on Nov. 20.

“He was placed in the back seat of the car and instructed how to sit,” Thomas said. “Handcuffs can be uncomfortable if you lean on them. The detective told him how to sit in the back seat so that the cuffs would not be uncomfortable.”

“He [Jackson] was asked during the 10-minute ride from the airport to the Sheriff’s Department by a senior investigator if the cuffs were too tight. And he [Jackson] said no,” Thomas added.

— In Jackson’s most shocking allegation, he said deputies locked him in a disgusting, feces-stained bathroom for 45 minutes and then cruelly mocked him.

Authorities confirmed that Jackson did use the jail bathroom, but said it wasn’t nearly as dirty as Jackson claims. Thomas and deputies also said their own videos and media footage of that day’s events showed the whole booking process lasted no more than 35 minutes.

The booking was witnessed by about 20 people, including several inmates, Thomas and deputies said.

British MP George Galloway and his opponent the Daily Telegraph will leave no stone unturned to sort out what could be a spectacular libel case.

One of the authors claiming Dan Brown’s bestseller The Da Vinci Code copied his ideas has admitted he exaggerated his case in an interview with a journalist.