Guests: Natasha Tynes, Roy Hallums, Richard Miniter, William Blum, James Woolsey, Kellyanne Conway
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: And right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, Osama speaks. The tyrant talks to America, threatening to launch another 9/11 and offering a long-lasting truce. How nice of him. Is it the work of a weakened warlord? We will debate it.
Plus, the Osama book of the month club. The terror king picks this month‘s favorite. And we have got the author who wrote bin Laden‘s favorite book. And we are going to ask him why bin Laden hates America so much.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required, only common sense allowed.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome to this special edition of SCARBOROUGH
Tonight, we go inside the new Osama bin Laden tape, tear it apart. And we are going to ask our experts what does it mean to America and whether you should expect an even deadlier attack on American soil in the coming weeks and months.
But, first, Osama bin Laden breaks his silence and releases a new audiotape. Does his address to the American people prove that bin Laden is weakened or that he‘s getting stronger and more confident by the minute?
Now, we are going to dig into it and find out what it means for security here in America with an all-star panel of terror experts. Going to get to that in just a minute.
But let‘s go right now to MSNBC‘s senior correspondent, Norah O‘Donnell, with the very latest on how this tape is playing in Washington, D.C.—Norah, what you got?
NORAH O‘DONNELL, NBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Joe.
Tonight, U.S. counterterrorism officials tell NBC News they have seen no specific or credible intelligence to indicate an upcoming al Qaeda attack on this country, despite this new Osama bin Laden tape. Now, it is the first tape to surface in more than a year, but officials say, at this point, there are no plans to raise the national threat level, but the FBI has spoken with local law enforcement and is urging vigilance.
Now, Joe, this new Osama bin Laden tape is significant, perhaps his most explicit warning of impending tacks, saying—quote—“The operations are under way.” And he‘s also threatening again to—quote—
“take revenge on America,” as he did on 9/11.
Now, bin Laden‘s tough talk on this tape was also followed by a proposal for truce. Well, today, the White House scoffed at any notion of negotiating with terrorists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Clearly, the al Qaeda leaders and other terrorists are on the run. They‘re under a lot of pressure. We do not negotiate with terrorists. We put them out of business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Al-Jazeera, which released the tape today, said they believe it is from December 2005, just one month ago. This is the first time we have heard from bin Laden since last year. We have mostly been hearing from bin Laden‘s number two, Ayman Al-Zawahri. In fact, he‘s released some seven tapes in the last year.
So, many intelligence experts are asking why is bin Laden rearing his ugly head again now? Well, these experts believe it‘s in part to counteract last week‘s attacks in Pakistan, in which al-Zawahri, bin Laden‘s number two, was targeted. And officials tonight say they believe that bin Laden is hiding somewhere in the rugged Pakistan-Afghan border, out of sight. He has managed to elude capture for years. But U.S. military and intelligence officials believe they are closing in—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, thanks a lot, Norah.
Now, on the audiotape, bin Laden once again threatens to attack the United States. Take a listen to what he said.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
OSAMA BIN LADEN, AL QAEDA LEADER (through translator): Reality testifies that the war against America and its allies has not remained confined to Iraq, as he claims.
In fact, Iraq has become a point of attraction and recruitment of qualified resources.
On the other hand, the Mujahedeen, praise be to God, have managed to breach all the security measures adopted by the unjust nations of the coalition time and again.
The evidence of this is the bombings you have seen in the capitals of the most important European countries of this aggressive coalition.
As for the delay in carrying out similar operations in America, this was not due to failure to breach your security measures.
Operations are under preparation, and you will see them on your own ground once they are finished, God willing.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: With me now to dissect the tape is NBC terror analyst Steve Emerson.
Steve, here you have Osama bin Laden coming out of his cave, once again threatening America. I guess the important question tonight for Americans, wondering whether another attack on this country is imminent, is, does this prove that the man is weakened because he‘s trying to prove that he‘s still relevant? Or does it mean that he‘s stronger now, more confident than ever, and sending a signal out to terror cells across America, time to attack again?
STEVE EMERSON, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, Joe, it‘s reading the tea leaves.
I think that the fact is that, in the last 13 months, we haven‘t heard from him, in part because he felt probably insecure, so much so that he didn‘t want to reveal his whereabouts and feared that releasing a tape would have given out his electronic signature.
Now he feels secure enough that he can release a tape. The audible quality was so poor that it probably was transmitted on the Internet or through some type of very poor transmission on a telephone line. So, he‘s probably feeling secure enough now that he wants to issue a threat.
And the bottom line is four years, four months after 9/11 I think we have some things to worry about, insofar as he‘s now reconstituting the network of al Qaeda operatives that was decimated largely after 9/11, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: But, Steve, you and I both know if bin Laden could detonate a dirty bomb in the middle of Manhattan or in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Detroit, any other major city in America, he would do it tonight, wouldn‘t he?
EMERSON: He would definitely do it.
And the fact is, the fact that he is now threatening to doing it, as opposed to doing it, shows that he‘s still operating from a position of weakness. The fact that he‘s offering a truce, as opposed to just merely issuing a threat, means that he‘s still operating from a position of weakness. He‘s still playing to the divisions in the United States, the divisions in Europe. He‘s still sowing the position, the victories that he feels that he won from overthrowing—that he feels the regime in Spain, when the regime was overthrown because of the Spanish attacks that occurred last—two years ago.
So, he feels that by offering this truce, by playing to the politics of the left that he can basically win in the battlefield—win in the battle—the political field that he did not win in the battlefield.
SCARBOROUGH: It reminds me of Vietnam. People are always comparing Iraq to Vietnam, of course, and people that didn‘t understand either wars, but he believes, like the North Vietnamese generals, obviously, who said after the war, they knew they couldn‘t win on the battlefield, so they would have to win in the streets of America.
And bin Laden actually talks about American politics, American polls, the president misreading the polls. I think this is one of the most pathetic portions of this tape and shows just how weak—and, in my opinion, he is.
This is where he says that George Bush just isn‘t reading the polls right. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BIN LADEN (through translator): What prompted me to address you is the repeated mistakes of your President Bush in his comment on the outcome about the polls that indicated that the vast majority wish to withdraw the forces from Iraq. But he rejected this wish and said that this will send the wrong message to the enemy, and it‘s better to fight them on their land, rather than facing them here on our land.
In response to these mistakes, I would like to say that the war in Iraq is fierce and the operations in Afghanistan are on a constant rise to our benefit, and the numbers in the Pentagon indicate the rising numbers of casualties, both dead and wounded, in addition to material.”
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: So, Steve, he‘s talking about—bin Laden‘s talking about the president‘s—quote—“repeated mistakes and his comments about the polls.”
And it sounds like he‘s really trying to convince Americans that they need to step up political pressure on the president and get him out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Again, I think this is extraordinary. It‘s just like the bin Laden, who two days before last year‘s presidential election, came out and basically said vote for John Kerry, in so many words.
Is he really so naive to believe that there are people in America who are going to follow his wishes?
EMERSON: I don‘t know what planet he‘s on.
My colleague, Dan Pipes, pointed out that he actually endorsed a book by an obscure left-wing ideologue in today‘s tape that was released, as if Americans are going to flock to his now social literary review of this book. The fact is, Americans aren‘t going to suddenly embrace his social, political views against George Bush because he‘s now endorsed them as a means of sowing dissent.
So I don‘t know why he suddenly believes that his analysis is suddenly going to be embraced. The reality is that Americans are going to recoil from his views. They‘re not going to accept his orientation about a truce. The truce basically says, I will accept your laying down the arms and withdrawal from Iraq, withdrawal from Afghanistan, and I will stop my assault, only if you basically surrender.
That‘s not a truce. That‘s a total acquiescence to his jihad.
SCARBOROUGH: But, Steve, he hasn‘t—Steve, he hasn‘t attacked us since September 11, and even bin Laden has to understand that was a disastrous mistake. Sure, he took down two buildings, but we basically, the Army and the Marines, have taken over two countries in his backyard.
Do you really think he‘s delusional enough to believe that if he attacks America again, we will do anything other than even turn up the heat even more?
EMERSON: Joe, I think he takes the long-term frame. I think he still thinks 9/11 may have been a short-term disaster, maybe, for the Muslim world, but for the long term he wants to invite retaliation; he wants there to be attacks against the Muslim world. He wants there to be attacks, that he can then invite to—to launch—avenge responses against the United States.
He looks at this as a type of crusades against and then jihads against the United States that he can launch again for years and years to come. So, I don‘t think he looks upon it in the calculated, cold self-interest that he should be looking at in protection of the Muslim self-interest that you and I would be looking at it.
No, I think that he‘s looking at it in the way that, unfortunately, is a jihadist point of view. He wants to see attacks against the United States. And you‘re right, though; he doesn‘t have the capability right now, but it doesn‘t mean that he won‘t have the capability in another year from now. And it‘s not a matter of if; it‘s a matter of when, unfortunately, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, for more on what this tape means for President Bush and the Democrats, let‘s bring in Kellyanne Conway. She‘s a Republican Party strategist and the president of the Polling Company.
Kellyanne, what‘s the political fallout of another Osama bin Laden tape?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: In some ways, I think his message was not really to Americans. It was basically a pep talk for his own folks, who may feel demoralized, overstretched.
They hadn‘t seen, they hadn‘t heard from him publicly for a while. And, of course, we know airstrikes, the capturing and killing of some of his major operatives and many of his adherents, Joe, have cost them literally on the battlefield recently. I think that was his real audience.
It‘s very unfortunate that he is, even if we‘re not his audience, he‘s using as ammunition against our president, regardless of the president‘s partisanship—he‘s using against our president some comments and some polling figures that people who don‘t support the president in this war effort have concocted and released.
SCARBOROUGH: I thought, Kellyanne, that was one of more interesting things.
SCARBOROUGH: If you look at a lot of the things that Osama bin Laden said, it sounds like an awful lot like what we hear from a lot of the president‘s political enemies domestically.
CONWAY: Well, indeed.
Joe, if you held a piece of tissue paper between some of the comments that bin Laden said today and some of the comments that the president‘s detractors say, it would be very difficult to stick more than a piece of tissue paper between them. There‘s not much of a difference.
And I‘m not going to name names, but we should be very cautious that, just as some of these people would like to say, I‘m not in bed with Osama bin Laden, he‘s a mass murder, look what he did to Americans on 9/11, they should be careful that they really don‘t sound that much differently from him today in the context of those poll numbers.
Look, add bin Laden to the parade of people who stand in front of the camera and know nothing about polls and talk about polls. But I thought it was very unfortunate that he‘s using some of these numbers that are hammered again and again and again against our commander in chief to say that he‘s a thug, he‘s—to say that the president‘s a thug, he‘s an idiot, he‘s a cowboy, he brought us all to war.
Now is the time, I think, for everybody to reassess the—really, the unintended consequences of some of those comments domestically.
SCARBOROUGH: Of some of those comments, and saying that the president lied to get us in the war, lied to get us in there because of oil. Again, it sounds too much not only like what a lot of Democratic senators have been saying, but also what one or two movie-makers have been saying over the past several years.
Kellyanne, thanks for being with us. We greatly appreciate it.
And still to come, tracking Osama bin Laden. Why haven‘t Americans caught him yet? We‘re going to be talking live to the man who used to run the CIA to talk about it.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is no accident that we haven‘t been hit in more than four years. We have been protected by sensible policy decisions, by decisive action at home and abroad, and by round-the-clock efforts on the part of people in the armed services, law enforcement, intelligence, and homeland security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Osama bin Laden offers a truce to America. Should we take it? I‘m going to be speaking to the author who wrote a book that bin Laden recommended Americans read if they wanted to understand how he felt about American foreign policy, that and the former director of the CIA—coming up straight ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: U.S. and coalition forces have been hunting Osama bin Laden now for four long years. And every time he releases a new tape, many Americans ask, where is he hiding and why can‘t we catch him?
For more on that part of the story, here‘s NBC‘s Pentagon correspondent, Jim Miklaszewski.
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI, NBC PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the past six years, the U.S. twice had Osama bin Laden in its sights, one in 2000, when caught on tape in Afghanistan by a CIA Predator drone. But the Clinton administration failed to pull the trigger.
Then three months after 9/11, bin Laden was reportedly wounded in the battle of Tora Bora, but still managed to escape. And the U.S. hasn‘t come that close since.
MICHAEL O‘HANLON, THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: The fact that he‘s managed to elude capture for four years bodes fairly very for his long-term ability to stay at large.
MIKLASZEWSKI: But how has a 6‘5“ man of bin Laden‘s notoriety managed to avoid capture all this time? U.S. military and intelligence officials believe bin Laden remains in hiding somewhere on either side of the rugged Pakistan-Afghanistan border. His whereabouts closely guarded by local tribesmen. It‘s believed he rarely travels, and when he does, it‘s alone, no large entourage, a potential dead giveaway, and probably on motorbike.
He makes no phone calls that could be traced and when he does communicate, it‘s most likely by courier.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire.
MIKLASZEWSKI: But U.S. officials believe they are closing in. The officials claim a more aggressive Pakistani military and vastly improved intelligence have led to the killing or capture of several high-ranking al Qaeda operatives in the past year, but still no bin Laden. Some experts believe this latest tape suggests bin Laden feels under no immediate threat.
EMERSON: Bin Laden himself feels more secure in coming out of his cave and asserting to the world that he‘s alive and still relevant.
MIKLASZEWSKI (on camera): Publicly, U.S. officials say bin Laden is so deep in hiding, he can no longer operate, so killing or capturing him is less important. Privately, they want him badly.
Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News, the Pentagon.
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks, Jim.
And with me now is former CIA Director James Woolsey.
Mr. Director, what do you make of Osama bin Laden‘s statement today?
JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I think he may have been done President Bush a great service.
It becomes a lot harder to argue, as some people have, that we should not be frying Predator drones and shooting at al Qaeda, when bin Laden says that he‘s got operations under way, and when he‘s asked, as he has recently, and received a fatwa from a Saudi imam urging that he use a nuclear weapon against the United States.
It also becomes I think a bit harder to argue that we should not be—let NSA be checking out communications between al Qaeda operatives and people affiliated with al Qaeda and cell phones, say, in the United States. So, I think in terms of the some of the tactics that are now at issue politically, he‘s done the president a rather substantial service.
SCARBOROUGH: And not only the president a substantial service. Also, obviously, you know there‘s a lot of agency infighting at the CIA. This certainly helps all those that want to be aggressive proponents of wiretapping and some other—using some other means that, quite frankly, Democrats and some Republicans have had concerns with up until now.
WOOLSEY: These are serious issues, with privacy on one side and security on the other.
But historically in the United States, the president kind of gets the nod in wartime and on issues of this sort, where he has independent authority under the—as commander in chief. And I think this today makes it come home to Americans a lot more than was the case, say, two days ago, that we really are, in fact, at war.
There‘s one bizarre aspect of this tape, which is his assertion that he‘s not permitted religiously to lie to us. I mean, hello?
SCARBOROUGH: He can kill us. He just can‘t lie to us.
WOOLSEY: Well, no. It‘s a hudna. It would be a cease-fire or truce, in which he‘s not only permitted, under his view of religion, certainly not all Muslims feel this way, but under his view, he‘s not only permitted to lie to us. It‘s really kind of a preferred tactic. That‘s really absolutely bizarre, that he would claim that.
SCARBOROUGH: What does it mean, Director Woolsey, that this guy‘s come out now when he has? Do you think it shows that he‘s weakened, that he thinks that Zarqawi in Iraq may be overshadowing, getting more publicity, that he‘s trying to prove that he‘s not running from cave to cave every night, or is he cocky and getting confident and trying to send a message out, we are about to come after you?
WOOLSEY: There may be a bit of both.
He may be feeling a bit weak, and so this is a good time to take steps that he believes are going to enhance his ability to persuade the American people to—first to back off in Iraq and Afghanistan. But it‘s also possible that he really does have an operation under way, in spite of the fact that intelligence, apparently, from the backgrounders, has not picked anything up.
I have thought for years that it‘s important that he has had each operation over the four or five that he‘s undertaken, beginning in the fall in ‘95, with the attack in Saudi Arabia, again, that killed some Americans, each al Qaeda operation has been bigger, in a sense, than the one before. And these people are religious fanatics. They‘re in no great rush. If he can detonate a nuclear weapon in the United States some day, as the Saudi imam has given him a fatwa to do, he doesn‘t care that much whether it‘s in 2006 or 2007.
He wants to do something bigger than 9/11. And I hope he‘s lying that he has something well under way, but it‘s at least possible that what he wants to do is sort of get credit for that when it occurs by letting people know that he‘s got preparations.
SCARBOROUGH: Director Woolsey, where is Osama bin Laden and why can‘t we track him down?
WOOLSEY: My guess is many of the reasons that Jim Miklaszewski said create the problem, that he‘s probably on the Pakistani side of the Afghan-Pakistani border.
There‘s still a chance he has been at some time on the Iranian side of the Iranian-Afghan border. But I think probably Pakistan is more likely. It seems to be suggested by Director Goss‘ statement that there was a problem of sovereignty essentially in going after him, and that would seem to be more likely to be Pakistan than anywhere else.
That whole area up there, Waziristan, those Northwest Territories, those tribal territories, it‘s some of the ruggedest terrain in the world. Some of the most fanatical and independent-minded supporters of Islamist ideology are up there, very clannish, very tribal. And people will hide him. And I think that‘s probably what‘s happening.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you so much, Director James Woolsey.
We greatly appreciate you coming on our show and offering that insight.
WOOLSEY: Good to be with you.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s bring back in—all right, thanks.
Let‘s bring back in NBC terror analyst Steve Emerson.
Steve, I want to touch on this truce offer. Again, go back to September 11, 2001. Osama bin Laden attacked the United States, said basically he was going to destroy the United States because we had a couple thousand troops in Saudi Arabia back in 1991. Fast-forward four years later. We have taken over two countries in his backyard, but yet he‘s offering us a truce.
Do you think that shows that he‘s weakened, that his expectations have been lessened a great deal by the past four years?
EMERSON: But, Joe, his conditions for the truce are the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq. It‘s not an unconditional truce.
So, let‘s understand that the conditions are basically U.S. surrender. And it‘s a little bit deceiving. As Director Woolsey pointed out, the hudna, or the truce, as it‘s called in Arabic, under his conditions, is basically a surrender for the United States.
He doesn‘t fill in the blanks, the minor details that should be filled in, and for someone to really consider this to be operational. The reality is, it‘s not a real truce. It‘s really an acquiescence to a full-term surrender by the United States. And he just wants to play upon words in Arabic or in English, as it‘s translated. So, it‘s a real deception here for someone to consider this to be a truce.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thanks so much, Steve Emerson. Greatly appreciate you being with us.
And, when we come back, Osama bin Laden offers his reading recommendations in today‘s audiotape. With us, we have got the author of the book that Osama bin Laden recommended. And we‘re going to ask him why Osama dislikes American foreign policy so much.
And, later, as the deadline approaches for an American journalist, Jill Carroll, her family and friends are pleading directly to her kidnappers. We are going to talk to one of Jill‘s good friends—coming up.
SCARBOROUGH: Coming up, we are going to be talking to the author of “Rogue State,” the book that Osama bin Laden said Americans needed to read. We will find out why he said that in just a minute.
But, first, here‘s the latest news you and your family need to know.
SCARBOROUGH: Tonight, prayers and hope for the American journalist held hostage in Iraq. We are going to get the very latest from someone who knows her best.
And, later, another scandal rocking “American Idol,” one contestant in jail, another on the lam, and we will have the details. Uh-oh.
Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY—those stories in just minutes.
But, first, the bin Laden tapes. At one point in the tape, Osama bin Laden tells Americans what they need to read—quote—“It is useful for you to read the book of ‘The Rogue State,‘ the introduction of which reads:
quote -- ‘If I were a president, I would halt the operations against the United States. First, I will extend my apologies to the widows, orphans, and the persons who were tortured. Afterwards, I will announce that the U.S. interference in the world‘s countries has ended for ever.‘”
Let‘s bring in the man who wrote that book, William Blum. He‘s the author of “Rogue State.”
Mr. Blum, were surprised that Osama bin Laden mentioned your book by name today?
WILLIAM BLUM, AUTHOR, “ROGUE STATE”: Well, of course I was. It hasn‘t happened before and it will never happen again, I‘m sure.
SCARBOROUGH: Why do you think he—he brought up “Rogue State”?
BLUM: I think it‘s because the book explains to a large extent why people like bin Laden and his followers carry out their terrorist attacks against the U.S.
BLUM: The book is actually—that book is a mini-encyclopedia of many of the very harmful actions of U.S. foreign policy in the past 60 years, many of which were aimed at the Middle East.
And so it‘s a good starting point to understand why we‘re so hated by those people and many other people as well.
SCARBOROUGH: Was Osama bin Laden justified in launching the September 11 attacks, according to—well, do you believe they were, from the research that you went through when writing this book?
BLUM: The word justified is not the word I would use.
But my book explains why it was done. The attack on 9/11 was a retaliation. It was an act of revenge. And if you want to know about it‘s taking a revenge, the—the book explains that. It‘s a—it has chapters on U.S. overthrow of governments, invasions, torture, the use of chemical weapons and so on.
It‘s a whole catalog of all these less-than-nice things done by our government against the world, and including the Middle East. So, that explains 9/11. It doesn‘t justify it.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me read a quote from your book. It says: “Most terrorists are people deeply concerned by what they see as social, political or religious injustice and hypocrisy.”
And others reading your book might believe that you are suggesting there‘s a moral relativity between the United States‘ foreign policy and the actions of Osama bin Laden. Would that be a fair characterization of your view?
BLUM: I don‘t think we have any moral advantage.
U.S. foreign policy has been as immoral, or at least amoral, as can be. So, I would not say that bin Laden has been any less moral than Washington has been.
SCARBOROUGH: Does Washington purposefully target civilians?
BLUM: Of course they do.
You can‘t go day after day and drop powerful bombs on residential areas and then say, we‘re not targeting civilians. If you do this day after day after day, and each day there‘s a report about the death of dozens or many more civilians, you cannot say we‘re not aiming at them. You have lost that right.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I can say that we aren‘t aiming at them, because...
BLUM: Well, you could say it, but who—I don‘t believe that.
SCARBOROUGH: So, you believe that American military pilots purposefully target civilians and try to kill women and children and innocents, the same way that Osama bin Laden‘s pilot drove their planes into civilian buildings?
BLUM: My book “Rogue State” was written—was first published in 2000, following the American bombing of Yugoslavia, which we were told was an act of humanitarianism.
And I wrote this book to show that so much of our foreign policy has not been acts of humanitarianism, but quite the opposite, very un-humanitarian. And so if you want the answer to your question, you can read the book. It‘s chapter after chapter listing all the terrible things we have done to the whole world, which many Americans should know, but don‘t. But many do know.
It‘s—the consciousness is increasing all the time.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you so much, Richard (sic).
I appreciate you being with us. I personally think that it‘s probably a good thing that we got rid of Milosevic and the other war criminals that were running Yugoslavia at the time, but I guess there‘s a difference of opinion.
Let me bring in Richard Miniter. He‘s the author of “Losing bin Laden.”
Richard, you have studied this terrorist for quite some time. Why did Osama bin Laden come out today and offer a truce to the United States?
RICHARD MINITER, AUTHOR, “LOSING BIN LADEN”: Because he‘s in a weak position, as many people have said.
But what is interesting is this. I think this shows his discipline has been breaking down. He‘s been very disciplined so far about not using his cell phone, not appearing on video or audiotapes. He‘s left it up to his number two, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahri. But all of these rumors that showed up in the Pakistani press, that he died in the earthquake, or that he was otherwise sick and dying in some cave, forced him to show his hand.
He‘s weakening his discipline over his own actions, let alone over his organization is weakening. The second fact is, it took them five weeks to move this audiotape from bin Laden‘s lips to Al-Jazeera‘s airwaves. Five weeks is a very long time.
Bin Laden used to have a media tape that could move a tape in hours to Al-Jazeera. So, the fact that it has to go through so many couriers, with dead drops, where they—people leave a tape in a public location for another person, unknown to them, to pick it up and carry it to yet another location, suggests that they‘re very fearful and apprehensive.
SCARBOROUGH: Richard, this guy, from—the report from Jim Miklaszewski, NBC‘s Pentagon correspondent, is, this guy‘s living alone in caves, for the most part. He can‘t use cell phones anymore. He‘s got to travel alone, on a motorcycle, and that the only way to communicate is by courier, because he believes any other way will get him killed.
This guy cannot be effective as a leader of any terrorist organization under those circumstances, can he?
MINITER: No, he can‘t.
And this ham-handed attempt to influence American opinion probably won‘t be effective either. I think the political party that is really hurt by this is not the party of George Bush, because he is—I mean, the arguments, the polls he‘s citing, the blame-America-first approach, is not coming from that party. It‘s coming from the opposition.
And because their words are so close, it is going to be very damning. It‘s going to be a lot harder to sustain arguments against the NSA wiretaps, for example, and some of the elements of the Patriot Act. I think this is an advantage for Bush.
SCARBOROUGH: I think so, too, Richard. Thank you so much for being with us. I greatly appreciate it.
MINITER: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: I want to bring in Tucker Carlson right now.
You know, Tucker, it struck me, listening to the words of Osama bin Laden today, that they were awfully close to some of the president‘s detractors.
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON”: Yes.
SCARBOROUGH: I want you to listen first to some of the statements made by Osama bin Laden.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BIN LADEN (through translator): The U.S. Army and its agents take to the point where there is no significant difference between these crimes and those of Saddam. These crimes include the raping of women and taking them hostage, instead of their husbands. The wise ones know that Bush has no plan to achieve his alleged victory in Iraq.
Bush and his administration do not have neither the desire, nor the will, to withdraw from Iraq for their own dubious reasons.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And, of course, he went on to talk about, Bush lied to get into the war because of oil.
Now I want you to listen to some leaders on Capitol Hill and their words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FACE THE NATION”)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: And there‘s no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Our military‘s done everything that has been asked of it. The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It‘s time to bring the troops home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN: The idea that we‘re going to win this war is an idea that, unfortunately, is just plain wrong.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “MEET THE PRESS”)
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This administration had made its mind up with regards to Iraq long—in the early part of its administration. It was a part of their ideology and a part of their politics. That is the...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Now, of course, Tucker, I‘m not comparing these Democrats to Osama bin Laden, but look.
First thing, Osama talks about how our troops are terrorizing women and children in Iraq. John Kerry said the same thing in front of Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation.”
Osama‘s saying that George Bush knows he can‘t win this war, something that Howard Dean said, and, also, that this was launched for political reasons, which of course Ted Kennedy said last year, that this was all dreamed up in Texas for political benefit.
CARLSON: By the merchants of war who financed Bush‘s presidential campaign, in the words of Osama bin Laden and many on the left. In other words, Halliburton is responsible for this war, every single talking point.
I hate to think of Osama bin Laden reclining in his cave in Waziristan, reading the op-ed page of “The New York Times.”
CARLSON: But, clearly, he is. He‘s got every talking point. It‘s uncanny.
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, seriously, and, of course, a lot of Democrats are going to be enraged that I would compare the words of Osama bin Laden to these Democrats.
And you always have—you had this battle in Vietnam. You have had it in Iraq, where a lot conservatives will say, well, gee, when you attack the president this way, you‘re offering aid and comfort to the enemy. But, my gosh, it certainly looked like Osama bin Laden picked up all the talking point from these Democratic leaders and Michael Moore.
CARLSON: I don‘t think the implication is that Howard Dean is evil, like Osama bin Laden.
SCARBOROUGH: No, absolutely not.
CARLSON: Of not. Howard Dean is not evil. He is just wrong.
Osama bin Laden is, of course, evil. But it is exactly the same rhetoric. And I‘m amazed by what an astute student of that rhetoric Osama bin Laden has proved himself to be, I mean, every single line. There‘s none of this sort of crackpot, “We will fulfill the prophecy of Allah” stuff that his previous communiques have been stuffed with.
This is not an Islamic tape. It‘s a propaganda tape parroting the DNC. It‘s bizarre. And I wonder what the Democrats think tonight.
SCARBOROUGH: It is bizarre. What‘s the political fallout?
CARLSON: I‘m not sure there is any. I think Republicans would be wise not to press too hard.
I mean, I find it incredibly amusing. I‘m not exactly sure what conclusions to draw from it. I don‘t think you are going to see the RNC out there tomorrow saying Osama and the Democrats singing off the same hymnal. That probably wouldn‘t be a wise idea, but it‘s got to be kind of embarrassing.
I mean, people should read this, if they haven‘t read it. If you‘re used to reading boring Osama communiques, this one is just riveting. Every single line, you will recognize all of it. He even attacks Bush for his aircraft press conference, the “Mission Accomplished” one.
CARLSON: I mean, really, you couldn‘t make this up.
CARLSON: Is this really from Osama? I guess it is.
But if the CIA hadn‘t verified it, if NBC News hadn‘t verified it, I wouldn‘t believe it.
I wouldn‘t either, Tucker. And when I read it, I started laughing and I was thinking the same thing. And, of course, the RNC shouldn‘t come within 100 miles of this.
CARLSON: I agree.
SCARBOROUGH: But, at the same time, the parallels are really surprising.
CARLSON: No blood for oil!
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s right, war for oil.
Anyway, Tucker, thanks for being with us.
CARLSON: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And make sure you tune into “THE SITUATION,” coming up next, at 11:00.
And next here, we are going to have the latest on the kidnapped journalist, Jill Carroll—plus, one man who knows what she‘s going through tonight, because he was kidnapped and held in Iraq for 10 months.
And closer to home, an “American Idol” contestant not able to watch his performance Tuesday night. Why? He‘s in jail. More trouble for “Idol”—coming up.
SCARBOROUGH: Tonight, calls are coming from all over the globe for the release of American Jill Carroll. She‘s of course the 28-year-old reporter who was abducted in Baghdad on January the 7th.
Now, on Tuesday, her captors released this tape of Jill and set a 72-hour deadline for the release of all Iraqi female Iraqi prisoners. If that doesn‘t happen, they say they will kill Jill.
With me now, we have got Natasha Tynes. She‘s a Jordanian friend and a former colleague of Jill Carroll. And also with us, Roy Hallums, who was abducted by armed gunmen in Iraq and held hostage for 10 months.
Roy, let me start with you. You have been there. What‘s Jill going through tonight?
ROY HALLUMS, FORMER HOSTAGE IN IRAQ: Well, I mean, she‘s concerned for her life, of course. I mean, when you‘re in that situation, you don‘t know what each sound means or what‘s going on. You‘re constantly wondering what will happen and will you be OK the next day after that.
SCARBOROUGH: Tell me what the most difficult part of it was for you. Was there a single moment or a time when you were at your lowest, when somebody like Jill is facing her greatest emotional challenge?
HALLUMS: Yes. I think it‘s at the very beginning.
Like, in my case, the first few weeks, you don‘t know what‘s going to happen. Then, like, again, in my case, after a few months, it became clear to me that the people who had me were after money, and that there was a possibility they would keep me alive so they could get their money.
So, I‘m sure she has those same concerns right now.
SCARBOROUGH: How was the interaction? We have got a picture of you with this gun up to your head. After the camera is turned off and the gun is taken down, do they beat you up, throw you around, or is it just matter-of-fact business?
HALLUMS: No. It was just business. They—there was a cameraman and a guy with the script. And I was told to read the script. And there was a lighting guy, a sound guy. So...
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re kidding me.
HALLUMS: And it was all business.
And, as a matter of fact, on a personal note, my sister told me to be sure and thank you, because you supported me in the comments I made in that video about the president, and that those weren‘t my feelings. But when you have a gun to your head and somebody says read this, you read it.
Roy, I was forced to say some things in Washington, D.C., that I didn‘t agree with, but never under the same pressure of you there. But, yes, people were—I couldn‘t believe people were being critical of you for the things you were saying, when they could see a gun pointed at your temple.
But, anyway, it‘s fascinating, Roy, what you went through.
Natasha, let me bring you in here.
You know Jill. She‘s a friend of yours. You worked with her. Tell me about her and just how strong of a woman she is.
NATASHA TYNES, FRIEND OF JILL CARROLL: I met Jill in 2003.
She came to Jordan to work for “The Jordan Times.” Jill was a very well motivated journalist. She always worked hard to convey the truth. She believed in the power of journalism. And being a foreign correspondent was always her dream.
And to pursue her dream, she came to the Middle East, and she made sure to understand Arabic and learn the language. And she‘s somebody who believed in the cause of journalism, that journalists can actually go and expose the truth. And the only way to do this is actually to go to the war zone and speak with the people and convey their sufferings and tell their tales.
SCARBOROUGH: And that‘s exactly what she‘s done. And, boy, I‘ll tell you what. All our thoughts and prayers are with her tonight.
Thank you, Natasha, for being with us.
And, Roy, God bless you.
Thank you for being with us tonight. We appreciate it.
And we will be right back in a minute.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m time for another flyover of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
And, first, let‘s go to Memphis, Tennessee, where a pair of 28-year-old twins known for their “American Idol” performance are now singing like a pair of jailbirds.
Terrell Brittenum didn‘t even get to watch his taped audition on Tuesday‘s show, because he‘s in jail, charged with theft and forgery. His brother, Derrell, is still on the lam, but a wanted man as well. The brothers are scheduled to join live—the live show in Hollywood in a few weeks. The show isn‘t commenting on the men‘s status, but a performance of “Jailhouse Rock” may be in order.
And our final stop, New York City, which really isn‘t flyover space, but I think the producers just wanted us to tell you that the runways went international for the Supermodel of the World Contest. All 38 contestants, including a winner, Belarusian beauty Katsia Damenkova—now, there‘s a Kansas name—a relatively unknown.
The contest is considered an important step for young models. The winner gets—why are we reading this? This has nothing to do with SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
Friends, I am going to be talking to my producers later on.
Please stick around. We will be right back with more SCARBOROUGH
Plus, “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” still minutes away. He‘s probably looking over his script for aspiring young—I won‘t say male models—models. “Brokeback” Tucker in minutes.
We will be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, thanks so much for being with us tonight. That is all the time we have.
“THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” starts right now.
Hey, Tucker, what is the situation, buddy?
CARLSON: Many situations tonight, Joe. Thank you.
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