updated 3/7/2006 11:28:49 AM ET 2006-03-07T16:28:49

Guests: John Coifman, James Hirsen, Robin Bronk, Kent Greenfield, William Eskridge, Flag Youngblood, Michael Brown, Diane Dimond, Michelle Caruso

CROSBY:  That does it for us outside here live outside the Falls.  We will continue to follow this case.  That does it for me.   I‘m “LIVE AND DIRECT.”  Let‘s now go to Joe Scarborough and SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY—Joe. 

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Thanks so much, Rita. 

And right now, on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, Hollywood values on display.  George Clooney preaches on the Hollywood‘s moral superiority, while his anti-American movie nabs an Oscar.  Are movies like “Syriana” making our soldiers‘ jobs more dangerous?

Then, he was the most maligned man in America.  Tonight, we ask if the Katrina tapes vindicate him and prove that someone else should have been fired.  Former FEMA director, Michael Brown, live on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY tonight. 

Plus, the battle between the U.S. military and the Taliban.  See why some are saying that one elite college shows the Taliban and what it means for you as an American taxpayer. 

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  No passport required and 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:  Welcome to tonight‘s show.  Great to have you here.

First up, the Oscar ratings.  They‘re in, and they Crashed, down almost 10 percent since last year.  Now, maybe that‘s because many Americans like me tuned in to the Oscars when former TV star George Clooney was on the air and he got up there, and he decided that he was going to preach on the moral superiority of Hollywood over the rest of us. 

Take a look at what George Clooney had to say at the top of the Oscars show.


GEORGE CLOONEY, BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR WINNER:  Well, we are a little bit out of touch in Hollywood, every once in awhile, I think.  It‘s probably a good thing.  We‘re the ones who talked about AIDS when it was just being whispered.  And we talked about civil rights when it wasn‘t really popular.  And we, you know, we bring up subjects.  We‘re the ones, this academy, this group of people gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters. 


SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s George Clooney again.  This guy again, just—I cannot believe how arrogant he is.  And thankfully, though, George Clooney decided that he was going, you know—George Clooney decided that he was going to sit there and talk about how great “Syriana” was, when in fact, Syriana, as we know, as many people know, was a movie that praised suicide bombers and not only praised suicide bombers by making them look like they were the purest of all.

But also, of course, it made Americans the bad guys.  I mean, clearly seemed to make Americans out to be the bad guys. 

Let me bring in, though, right now, some people that—that are connected with Hollywood and may understand a little bit better what was going on here.  We have Robin Bronk from the Creative Coalition.  And we also have John Coifman from the Natural Resource Defense Council, which helped the producers of “Syriana” with the movie. 

John, I want to start with you, because I‘ve got friends in your organization and I think you guys do a lot of great things.  And a lot of Americans, including myself, were very offended by premise of “Syriana”.  Were you proud of backing “Syriana”?  Do you think I‘ve got it wrong?

JOHN COIFMAN, NATURAL RESOURCE DEFENSE COUNCIL:  Well, I‘ll tell you, I think there are any number of ways that you can say that Hollywood parts company with middle America today.  You‘re not going to get any disagreement about that. 

But I have to tell you, Joe, of all of the films this year, “Syriana” really does one of the best jobs of bridging a gap between issues that we‘re seeing and hearing across this country when we travel around and talk to folks, whether they‘re Republicans or Democrats.  Even President Bush stood up in the State of the Union address this year and said that America is addicted to oil. 

Now, when NRDC is talking about these issues, we‘re finding ourselves today standing shoulder to shoulder with Christian conservatives like Gary Bauer. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know what?  You‘re standing shoulder to shoulder with me, John.  I agree with you that America is addicted to oil.  I think that our energy policy is disastrous. 

COIFMAN:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  That does not mean, though, that I want to go see movies that claim that the CIA is in bed with fat, ugly Texas oilmen.  And if foreign leaders cross fat, ugly Texas oilmen, then they will tell the CIA to kill them, to kill their beautiful wife, to kill their beautiful children.  That sends a horrible message across the world, does it not?

COIFMAN:  I‘m not sure that there‘s not a little more to that story as it appears in the film, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What do you mean?

COIFMAN: Well, these are certainly elements of the story of “Syriana.”  It‘s also a story about an Arab prince who is trying to bring democracy to his country, bring economic development to his country.  Some of the kind of very issues you see today in places throughout the Middle East and where the Bush administration is working.... 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, wait a minute.  Again, for people that didn‘t see this movie, thought, “Syriana,” the movie that your organization helped back, “Syriana,” this movie had the CIA at Langley launching a missile to kill a prince, his wife, and his children. 

Are we in the business of—of ordering hits on families because they aren‘t in bed with big oil?

COIFMAN:  Joe, I think you have to make a distinction between a complex action movie and what the film is actually endorsing, versus what it‘s depicting.  I‘m not sure that this endorses CIA hits or terrorism anymore than “King Kong” endorses lovelorn monkeys running through the streets of New York. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No, no, this movie sends a message out that our government leaders will kill you if you do not support fat, ugly Texas oilmen who give this speech, this Gordon Gekko speech that says, “Corruption is good.  Corruption is our friend.  Corruption is how we stay in power.” 

That seems to be a very dangerous message to send in a time of war. 

And again, let us remember, John, I agree with you.  I think our dependence on foreign oil is dangerous.  I think we consume too much.  I think we‘re too materialistic.  You and I probably agree on just about everything, including global warming. 

COIFMAN:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  I think, though, this is a despicable anti-American message to send out there.  Why am I wrong?

COIFMAN:  Well, I‘ll tell you, I came away with a different take from the film.  I‘ve seen it several times.  And I looked at this as a depiction of the kind of compromises that we make in moral standing.  And our ability to, politically going forth in the world and stand tall as a nation, because we are tied to petroleum from places in the world that are unfriendly, unstable and dangerous to be doing business. 

SCARBOROUGH:  John, I want to get back—I want to get back to you.  I‘ve got two other guests I want to get to.  But before I do that, I‘ve just to ask you one more question. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Do you believe that the CIA is in the pocket of Texas oil?  Do you believe that the CIA will kill foreign leaders if they are not friendly to oil companies like Exxon?

COIFMAN:  I believe the foreign policy of this country, in the world, is compromised and limited and constrained and, in too many cases, governed by our dependence on foreign oil, whether you‘re talking about... 


SCARBOROUGH:  So, does that answer that our leaders would conduct hits on families and princes if they don‘t agree with what Exxon or Mobil want them to agree with or B.P.?

COIFMAN:  Well, you know, I just didn‘t take that away from the film, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, that‘s in the film, though. 

Let me bring in James Hirsen. 

James, again, I agree with John politically.  A lot of my conservative friends are probably angry because I believe in a lot of things he believes in, and what Laurie David believes in. 

But listen, I guess, let‘s talk about Charles Krauthammer, former Pulitzer Prize winner.  Krauthammer wrote in a column last week that Osama bin Laden could not have written a better script for terrorists recruiting.  What do you think about “Syriana”?  And am I just weigh off on this?

JAMES HIRSEN, AUTHOR, “HOLLYWOOD NATION”:  You‘re not way off, and neither is Charles Krauthammer.  As I expect that there are caves in Pakistan now that have posters of George Clooney next to Michael Moore. 

I mean, this film, it‘s a mediocre piece of cinema, but it‘s a disgrace at a time like this to make out a conspiratorial, paranoid worldview where Texas oil people, they run the government, they run the CIA, they run the freaking world according to this movie. 

And as you said, it sanctions or it sets forth as fact these kind of assassinations and hits.  And in the context, it shows suicide bombers as noble, people of faith, who reluctantly enter this because they have to, because they‘re oppressed by the evil oil companies. 

That film did not deserve any attention whatsoever.  And when you look at Paul Giamatti‘s job in “Cinderella Man”‘ Matt Dillon‘s job in “Crash”, the only reason he got the award was because it was a politically motivated award. 

And I give him credit because he planned it out very well.  He moved it from being a romantic lead in playing films that made him successful to gaining weight and doing this sort of Charlize Theron formula, and he won an Oscar.  So, I hope he‘s very happy. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, James, for the million of people that didn‘t see “Syriana”, here‘s the plot. 

It centers around Americans, who of course, are fat, ugly, Texas oil people.  They‘re shown to be greedy and corrupt, Texas oilmen.  You‘ve got the CIA, as I said, that assassinate, blow up a Mideast prince, his beautiful wife and beautiful children just to make sure that oil remains in friendly hands. 

You‘ve got a Pakistani father and son that get laid off from their jobs in the oil fields.  So, the Pakistani son uses a boat loaded with explosives to crash into the oil tanker.

And Robin, let me bring you in here.  You wouldn‘t know it by listening to me tonight, but I‘m a big fan of George Clooney.  A lot of movies he‘s made, I‘ve liked, but this movie was—seemed to be so anti-American.  And it just seems to send a terrible message across the world. 


SCARBOROUGH:  So doesn‘t this highlight a bigger problem with Hollywood?

BRONK:  Which would be that people shouldn‘t have the choice of where to go to see movies?  What are you saying?

SCARBOROUGH:  Which would be—which would be the academy shouldn‘t embrace a movie that says that the CIA is owned by big oil and if you cross them, then they will launch missiles from Langley and blow up little children and mothers and kind—kindly princes, if you screw with them.  That‘s what I‘m saying.

BRONK:  Which is precisely why I‘m going to get on my soap box now and talk about the Creative Coalition‘s new issue...

SCARBOROUGH:  No, I‘m talking about...

BRONK:  ... which is media literacy, which is why Americans and, especially children, should understand fact from fantasy.  This is fantasy.  “Independence Day” is fantasy.  Is “Alice in Wonderland” too political?  Or it fantasy?

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second.  This is fantasy?  George Clooney was talking about how he was proud to be out of touch, that “Syriana” follows in a long, proud line of calling out AIDS with “Philadelphia” and in 1939, you know, basically telling the segregationists to back down.  I mean, Clooney—Clooney gave that speech last night about Hollywood‘s moral superiority.  So don‘t come to me now and say, “Oh, it‘s fiction,” because this thing ain‘t painted as fiction. 

BRONK:  It is viewpoint.  It is viewpoint.  I don‘t—you know, I don‘t think it was in the documentary category, as far as I know.  But on the bigger picture...

SCARBOROUGH:  It was based on a book by a former CIA agent.  And this thing was pushed.  It‘s why this organization of John‘s endorsed it, because it‘s trying to make a political statement. 

BRONK:  Let‘s...

SCARBOROUGH:  John belongs to a political organization.  They‘re trying to make a political statement.  Americans will kill you if you get in the way of their oil. 

BRONK:  But let‘s talk about the bigger picture, what you said at the top of the hour.  When you said, “Oh, you know, George Clooney made all these remarks about Hollywood taking the high road on issues.”  But isn‘t that the crux of art form?  Art imitates life?  Art depicts life?  Art gives us a viewpoint?  Art reflects life?  That is art, Joe.  That is art. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I would say for a lot of Americans, a lot of people in middle America, they‘re probably more concerned about the hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers and Marines that are putting their lives on the line than some transgender issue. 

And yet, I didn‘t see a single Hollywood star last night even thank the troops for the freedom of speech that they‘ve been afforded because of what our troops do day in and day out. 

BRONK:  But Joe, are you saying that it should be political or it shouldn‘t?

HIRSEN:  Joe, we‘re not supposed to thank the troops.  We‘re supposed to get on our knees and be thankful that we have our freedoms because of filmmakers in Hollywood.  That‘s the way George Clooney‘s acceptance speech was.  It was that we‘re supposed to be thankful for our freedoms not from troops but because of the amazing work of filmmakers.  It wasn‘t Doctor Martin Luther Ling.  It wasn‘t the people that fought for civil rights.  It was filmmakers. 

BRONK:  So James, are you saying that—that films should only be—

I don‘t know.  That they should be very vanilla and whitewashed?  What are you saying?

HIRSEN:  Look, I believe in freedom of expression, and I applaud artists, artists who express the truth.  But we have every right, don‘t you think, Robin, that if a freedom of expression mode is distorted and presents something in a factual framework and it turns out to be false and dangerous at a time of war, we have a right to comment on it. 

COIFMAN:  Well, I got to tell you, James...


BRONK:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  You got that right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re going to have to leave it there.  I want to thank our panel.  I wish—John, I wish we could have gotten back to you.  I‘ll get you back here once again when we‘re agreeing on things. 

Again, I think it‘s a false choice to say, “Oh, we can either have vanilla movies or movies that promote terrorism.” 

I tell you what, we‘ll be right back with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 


SCARBOROUGH:  My son would love to go to Yale.  But my son wasn‘t a member of the Taliban.  So, his chances probably weren‘t as good.  We‘re going to try to figure out what‘s going on with elite colleges, why they embrace members of the Taliban but not U.S. army recruiters.  That and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.


SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back. 

There were big developments today in the fight to allow military recruiters access to college campuses. 

The Supreme Court decided that schools taking federal money had to allow military recruiters on campus.  This decision is a major defeat for schools Yale, where there‘s 44 law professors who filed lawsuit to keep recruiters off campus.  It‘s, of course, the same campus that‘s opened its arms to a former spokesman for the Taliban. 

With me to talk about today‘s developments and also the Yale issue, we‘ve got Kent Greenfield.  He‘s a law professor at Boston College, and he‘s the president of the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights.  We also have Yale law professor William Eskridge.  And we also have Flag Youngblood.  He‘s from Young Americas Foundation. 

Kid, I want to start with you.  Professor, I want to start with you. 

Tell us about the Supreme Court‘s decision to allow the military on campus.  Obviously, a lot of us in middle America don‘t understand that.  We think you all should embrace the U.S. military.  But explain to me what issues you had in mind when you filed this lawsuit?


Right.  Well, what we were doing is fighting for the rights of all of our students to serve the military, serve their country, regardless of their sexual orientation. 

Obviously, we lost today, but this was just a skirmish in a larger civil rights battle that I think we will win.  Because I think more and more people are understanding that it is important that the military, in order to be strong, include as many people as we can.  And in this time when we are fighting terrorism around the world, and here at home, that we need as many qualified people in the military as we can get. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  So, Kent, you‘re saying this goes back to the 1993, don‘t ask, don‘t tell issue... 

GREENFIELD:  Absolutely. 

SCARBOROUGH:  ... which obviously was a big dust up early in the Clinton administration?  But, I thought that Ivy League schools and elite institutions like the one that you belong to have—have a lot students have been fighting to keep ROTC and military people off since the Vietnam era?

GREENFIELD:  Well, that‘s not what this case is about at all.  This case is about a fight against discrimination.  And law schools have said we do not want to help the military discriminate against our own students.  That‘s what this is about.  And if don‘t ask, don‘t tell went away, our protest would go away. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, Kent, though, it seems like to me like you all have reached a dead end.  If you‘ve got the Solomon amendment, which Congress passed it and you have the United States Supreme Court saying the Solomon act is constitutional.  Where do you go from here?

GREENFIELD:  Well, I think we move our focus to the underlying core of the problem, and that‘s don‘t ask, don‘t tell, that discrimination against gays and lesbians in the military. 

And there‘s a bill in the House with over a hundred cosponsors right now, that is trying to end don‘t ask, don‘t tell.  And I think that our attention will probably now focus toward the congressional efforts. 

SCARBOROUGH:  On the congressional side, legislative side, Professor Eskridge, let me bring you in here.  Obviously, been talking about Yale.  “New York Times” ran a big article on this Taliban spokesman that was admitted into your college. 

And lots of Americans tonight are asking, how could 2/3 of the law professors at Yale oppose U.S. military recruiters on campus, and yet this is the same institution that embraces a guy who was a spokesman for the Taliban.  Can you explain that to us?

ESKRIDGE:  Well, Joe, it‘s not quite right to say that Yale law school doesn‘t allow the military on campus.  In fact, I was part of a group that invited the military on campus.  Faculty members can do that.  And the law school will give them rooms and will accommodate them.             

The military showed up and they defended their policy in response to questions from the students.  About a year after that, we had a colloquium, where one of the architects of the 1993 policy explained the policy and explained the criticisms of the policy. 

So, the military is on the Yale campus and indeed, there are military students on Yale campus and veterans on the Yale campus. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  And wait a minute.  Professor, let‘s narrow down the issue for a minute.  Are you suggesting that the issue also is about the don‘t ask, don‘t tell issue?  And not just about the military recruiting soldiers on Yale‘s campus?

ESKRIDGE:  It‘s about the right of universities and professors to dissent from a policy which is essentially indefensible.  Even the architects of the 1993 policy find it hard to defend today.  It‘s expensive; it‘s not supported by most military personnel.  It‘s not supported by most of the American people. 

It‘s been breached in the current Iraq war, where openly gay and lesbian soldiers are sent into combat by the current administration. 

It‘s a very hard to defend policy.  And the law schools since the 1980s and the 1990s have been persistent critics of the policy. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Wait a minute.  But professor, let me ask you this.  I hate to cut you of here but we‘ve got a limited amount of time. 

It seems to me, though, whether you‘re talking about Yale, or Harvard, Princeton, or a lot of the elite institutions, Berkley, Stanford, a lot of the elite institutions have been trying to keep military recruiters and ROTC off campuses since ‘67, ‘68, ‘69. 

It was a response to Vietnam.  It wasn‘t a response to what happened in 1993.  Isn‘t that correct?  Isn‘t there a consistency of opposition to U.S. recruiters on these elite campuses going back 20, 30 years. 

ESKRIDGE:  That‘s not the case of the law school.  The law school‘s problem with the military originated in the 1980s when the law school enforced its nondiscrimination policy to decline the use of our career services office to the military recruiters. 

The military recruiters still had student names.  They could come on campus.  They were welcomed on campus by student groups on occasion.  And so, the 1980s is really the genesis of this dispute; 1993 was the statutory codification of a policy that existed before then, in the Carter and Reagan administrations. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  And let me bring in Flag Youngblood.  Frank, you‘re a Yale alum.   


SCARBOROUGH:  Seems to me that your institution and Harvard, I just have to keep saying this over and over again, because for me, this issue isn‘t really about don‘t ask, don‘t tell.  This issue again goes back to the protests in ‘67, ‘68, especially early 1970s after the Cambodia bombing when so many institutions said, “We don‘t want military recruiters.  We don‘t even want the ROTC on our campuses.” 

Is that the history of your institution?

YOUNGBLOOD:  That‘s exactly what‘s been going on in the Ivy League and a lot of schools across the nation.  They‘ve pushed away student‘s rights for the interests of professors‘ rights and institutional rights.  And as a result, this 35-plus-year campaign against the military because of dislike for the military has pushed on. 

I mean, that‘s why Yale has kept ROTC off campus, 70 miles away at the University of Connecticut.  And that‘s why the law school conveniently has used the don‘t ask, don‘t tell as just another phase or chapter in trying to keep the military as far as away from campus as possible. 

Now, fortunately, the Supreme Court, with its unanimous ruling today, has scored a big victory for students to be able to access easily participation in the military on their campuses, which has been a major hurdle.  There‘s been an undue burden place odd students who wished to serve in the military up to this point. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Flag, I don‘t want to over simplify this.  Our banner says “Taliban yes, military no.”  But for a lot of Americans, that‘s what they‘re looking at when they read “The New York Times” and see that a spokesman for the Taliban is admitted into Yale. 

Not only that, we find out that actually the Yale admissions office was excited that he was a member of the Taliban.  It said they wanted to hurry up and accept him before Harvard got their hands on him.  Now...

YOUNGBLOOD:  Exactly. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Please explain the disconnect between these institutions, again, where my son would love to go, and middle America?

YOUNGBLOOD:  Well, the disconnect is pretty simple.  There‘s a huge bias, in my opinion, in Yale‘s part and other institutions like Yale.  They would sooner embrace our enemies than embrace those that defend our freedoms. 

I mean, I‘d like to remind America, that it‘s soldiers and not professors that grant us freedom of speech by standing on the front lines of freedom.  And when Yale or a school like Yale tries to recruit somebody who fought against free speech and fought against women‘s rights and advocated destroying historical records, it‘s appalling, especially when I‘ve worn the nation‘s uniform and have stood up and said, you know, “I‘m here to defend these things.” 

So, again, there‘s a major disconnect.  And it just underscores the bias that institutions like Yale have against the military and against this nation. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  I want to thank our panel form being with us.  I just want to say, Professor Greenfield and Professor Eskridge, thank you all for being with us, also. 

For me, and I think for a lot of Americans observing this, it doesn‘t seem to be about gays in the military.  I suspect that that issue will be resolved some day fairly soon.  And when it is resolved I believe, like Flag believes, that maybe not these two same professors.  Maybe this is the issue that matters to them the most. 

But other professors will step forward and find another reason to push the ROTC off campus, another reason to stop U.S. military recruiters from going onto campuses. 

And I think, especially in the case of Yale, where you‘ve got a member of the Taliban, one of the most bloodthirsty regimes in the recent history.  You have a spokesman for that institution, for that form of government admitted into Yale. 

And yet, you‘ve members of the U.S. military who are not allowed to recruit on campus.  You‘ve got young men and women that want to be in the military, that want to be in the ROTC not allowed to be on campus.  It‘s just wrong.  And there‘s a lot of us in middle America that don‘t understand it and don‘t want our tax dollars to go subsidizing these institutions, be they public or private.  And yes, the private university of Yale received over $400 million of your tax dollars last year. 

Coming up next, he was a fall guy for America‘s response for Hurricane Katrina.  Tonight, former FEMA chief Michael Brown is live on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to tell his side of the story and clear things up. 

Later, a stunning book proposal from Jermaine Jackson.  Did details that set off Michael, what could it mean for America?  And what does it mean for Michael Jackson hanging out with little kids?  We‘ll tell you all about it when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 


SCARBOROUGH:  He was vilified by the media, by the White House, by the world.  But the new Katrina tapes that have come out may vindicate him.  We‘re going to be talking to Michael Brown, former FEMA director, when we return.  But first, here‘s the latest news you and your family need to know. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Did Michael Jackson‘s brother shop a book around with stunning details about the King of Pop?  We‘re going to have that. 

And people lining up for hours to get a new doll inspired by the runaway bride.  We‘ll show you where you can get it. 

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  You‘re going to have those stories in just minutes.  But first, when Hurricane Katrina ripped across the Gulf Coast, leaving thousands dead, millions homeless and the city of New Orleans underwater, it was former FEMA director Michael Brown who was everybody‘s scapegoat, especially after President Bush made these now infamous comments.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Brownie, you‘re doing a heck of a job. 


SCARBOROUGH:  But newly obtained video shows that Mike Brown was doing a heck of a job.  I want to show you as Brown issues very serious warnings the day before Katrina made landfall. 


MICHAEL BROWN, FORMER FEMA DIRECTOR:  They‘re not taking patients out of hospitals, not getting prisoners out of prisons and they‘re leaving hotels open in downtown New Orleans.  So I‘m very concerned about that. 

The Superdome, that‘s 12 feet below sea level.  So I don‘t know what the heck they‘re doing putting people there.  I also heard about that roof.  I don‘t know if that roof is designed to withstand a Cat. 5 hurricane. 

I‘m concerned about in MDMS and medical and more assets concerning all of that and responding to a catastrophe within a catastrophe. 


SCARBOROUGH:  So, what should the federal, state, and local government have done?  And who‘s really to blame for the mess after Hurricane Katrina?  With me now, former FEMA director, Mike Brown. 

You know, Mike, I think the last time I saw you was Hurricane Ivan.  You came to Pensacola, sat and had a good talk.  I told you—I didn‘t call you Brownie, but I said you were doing a heck of a job. 

And this was the thing that kept coming back to me through the entire Katrina mess.  I said, this is a guy that ran four great operations in my home state the year before.  What the hell happened with Katrina?  What did happen?

BROWN:  Well, unfortunately, we had a perfect storm, Joe.  You know, if you really look closely at what occurred in Florida, I‘m the first one to admit that FEMA was pretty much stretched to its limit in Florida.  We pushed really hard. 

But the overall decline of FEMA that we‘ve seen, since it moved into the Department of Homeland Security came to a head in Katrina.  That‘s what caused us just to fall on our face. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So do you think you were made the scapegoat during this whole crisis?  And do you think these tapes vindicate you?

BROWN:  Well, I certainly feel vindicated.  I hope the tapes show that, one, I knew what I was doing.  I was sounding the alarm bells.  I was trying to move troops and materials and supplies in to help the state and local government there. 

And I hope the tapes also show what I‘ve been saying internally for the past three years; and that is, FEMA has been marginalized and, if this country expects us to have a strong disaster response system, we‘ve got to do something to fix FEMA, and we can‘t wait any longer. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And you know, the biggest problem is you‘re talking about marginalization.  When I was flying around.  When I was in Congress, I was flying around all the time.  It seems like we got hit by hurricanes every two weeks. 

BROWN:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  And James Lee Witt was the FEMA director.  That guy, a former Arkansas judge, had Bill Clinton‘s ear.  He was—whatever he needed, he got. 

You were put into a situation where you had to go through whoever the director of homeland security was.  And it seemed to be OK when you had Ridge.  But with Chertoff, things seem to just, unfortunately, go downhill.  What did he get (ph)?

BROWN:  Well, bingo, and I‘m glad that someone is recognizing that.  In 2004, I mean, Tom Ridge and I had our differences about policy, but Tom knew that when it came to responding to disasters, the smartest thing he could do was stay out of my way. 

And as you saw me in Florida, you saw Joe Allbaugh on 9/11 and you saw James Lee Witt in Florida, whenever they were disasters, we were out in the field making things happen. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You guys were always there.  You were always on the ground. 

BROWN:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I remember again, whether it was you, and I talked to all of Florida‘s leaders, the year that we chased around those four hurricanes.  They all said the same thing. 

I remember when I was in South Florida, everybody said—Mark Foley, who represents Palm Beach County, said—I remember, I forget the storm that was coming, Hurricane Jeanne.  He said, “Brown is doing an incredible job, Joe.  I‘ve been around this for a long time.”

And again, so there was a huge disconnect.  So, if it ain‘t your fault, it‘s somebody else‘s fault.  And it seems to me it just may be Chertoff‘s fault, the guy that ran off to Atlanta for a convention while a lot of people were suffering.  Do you think he should be fired?

BROWN:  Well, so far, I think he has proven to not quite get it.  I mean, I think, when you get, I mean, here I am in the middle of the largest natural disaster to hit this continent, and I‘m told to go to Baton Rouge and sit behind a desk.  That‘s not how you can run a disaster. 

As I told someone else, Chertoff can‘t move one liter of water, he can‘t move one MRE.  And that‘s what I needed to do, was get into New Orleans and find out where‘s the red tape, what‘s the bureaucracy, what is keeping these convoys from coming in?  I needed to go everywhere I could, just like I did in Florida. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike, you‘ve got to explain that to me.  Why did he—you‘ve got to explain that to me.  Because again, when the hurricanes hit in Florida the year before, you were there on the ground.  You were there when the hurricane rolled through.  Why did he push you off and force you to go to Baton Rouge and get you out of the area most affected by this storm?

BROWN:  I don‘t know.  I guess someone should ask him that question.  All I know is it really tied my hands.  Because it was just as important for me to make certain that what was going on in Mississippi was being taken care of as it was in Louisiana.  I wasn‘t going to play one state against the other.  I wanted to take care of a 90,000-square-foot area where this disaster hit. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, we invited Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to appear on our show.  I response, his department issued the following statement, quote, “We don‘t have time to waste on responding to Mike‘s latest contradictions.  We‘re focused on preparing FEMA for the next storm season, strengthening preparedness at the state and local levels, and fully integrating FEMA‘s operations”—it‘s hard for me to read this without laughing—“operations with the homeland security operations center.” 

Hey, you know what, Mike?  I‘ve talked to leaders in Florida.  I‘ve talked to leaders in Alabama.  I‘ve talked to leaders in Mississippi.  I‘ve talked to leaders in Louisiana.  They say FEMA is just as clueless today as they were before, under Chertoff‘s leadership.  Doesn‘t this in the end either come down to President Bush or Michael Chertoff?

BROWN:  Well, clearly, if we don‘t do something, I mean, you know, I hate to say this, Joe, but I believe that FEMA is in worse shape today than it was even immediately following Katrina. 

One of the things I kept saying was we needed to have more personnel.  We needed more money.  We suffered through so many budget cuts that went to the heart of what we‘re doing. 

And then to hear, after Katrina, Chertoff say, “Well, we have to have more money.  We have to have more personnel in FEMA.”  I just found it astounding.  I guess I just couldn‘t get his attention while he was there. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me ask you the part.  And I think this was the moment that you lost quite a few people during the storm, in the aftermath of Katrina.  I want you to explain what was going on.  I think what offended me and offended a lot of Americans seeing those terrible scenes, not only outside the Superdome but outside the convention center.  You all couldn‘t get water in there. 

Somebody asked you what was going on.  You said you just found out about it, when the press trucks had been rolling up for several days.  What happened there?

BROWN:  Well, I was in a series of interviews, and I misspoke in every single one of them.  And I walked out afterwards and asked my staff, “Why do they keep asking me the same question and are so astonished with the answer?”

And they said, “Because you kept saying we just learned about it,” which was true.  But we had been up for 24 hours.  And we had learned about it Wednesday evening, when indeed they had kicked the people out of the hotels and started moving them into the convention center.  So to me, it was all one day. 

And when Koppel and you and others asked me, when did you learn about this, I said well, we‘ll just now learn about it.  To them, they thought I was saying, just as we were talking that night.  And of course, if I had heard that, too, I would have said, “My gosh, this guy is clueless.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  So again, because you had been up nonstop, it was like you said, everything seemed to blur together. 

Speaking of blurring together, Kathleen Blanco, the governor of Louisiana, seemed to be blanked out through the entire crisis.  She guaranteed you all at one point that the levees were OK, they had not been breached. 

And yet we find out now by looking at some of these tapes that have been released from Blanco, that actually she gave those assurances to you three or four hours after the National Weather Service had already warned people that there was flooding because the levees had been overrun. 

Was Blanco clueless throughout this entire process?

BROWN:  Well, bless her heart, you know, she‘s a really nice woman.  But I think there was so much confusion, she had such a horrible decision-making process around her. 

But I think it‘s important for Americans to understand this timeline.  At 1:49 p.m., one of my staffers handed me her BlackBerry and I read on that BlackBerry from my person on the ground that the 17th Street canal levee had broken.  And I turned to her and I said immediately, “I‘m calling the White House.” 

And her testimony before Congress is, that I immediately gave her her BlackBerry back and went back and called the White House.  So, sometime between 1:49 and whenever I got that first call through, between 1 and 2, we all knew that the 17th street canal levee had broken and that my worst fears were true. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And again, the fears that you had talked about the day before the storm hit, just like you predicted the medical crisis.  Just like you predicted the crisis at the Superdome.  Just like you predicted the weak roof at the Superdome. 

I tell you what, Mike, a lot of things coming out now, six months later, that Americans should have known six days after this storm hit.  I want to thank you for coming on tonight.  And I just—I want to give you the final word.  Go ahead. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Joe, I want to tell you, it‘s been a long six months.  And I‘ve read what you have said and others.  I want to tell you that I appreciate those of you who have been willing to look at the tapes and say, maybe we did have it wrong.  And maybe Mike was doing what he was supposed to do.  Joe, I appreciate the interview. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s exactly what you were doing.  And I‘ll tell you what, based on the information I had, I had said things that in retrospect were just dead wrong.  And thank God these tapes came out because, you know, the first brush of history obviously painted you in a very, very bad light. 

But again, the more information that comes out, the more your position is vindicated.  And again, the important thing is, Director Brown, that we don‘t make the same mistakes again. 

BROWN:  And that‘s what the country has to demand, is that we fix these things right now. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  Thank you, director Brown. 

And I‘ll tell you what, friends.  The only way we do that is we fire the director of homeland security, Michael Chertoff.  The president needs to do that. 

As I said before, I went through four hurricanes in Florida the year before.  There‘s Michael Brown on the ground all the time.  I met Tom Ridge on the ground, too, during both of those storms.  Both of them on top of the situation.  I‘ll guaran—damn—tee you, they weren‘t flying off to conferences in polo shirts in Atlanta, Georgia, while people were dying in the heart of a storm. 

We‘ll be right back with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in a minute. 


SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s Michael Jackson‘s and his big brother, Jermaine, during Michael‘s child molestation industrial trial. 

But according to public reports, Jermaine was shopping a splashy tell-all book in which he reveals the family‘s concern over Michael‘s affection for little boys, his drug and alcohol abuse and even the idea that Jacko may have been abused by his father. 

Here to talk about it is Michelle Caruso, who‘s written extensively on the Jacksons for the “New York Daily News.”

Also, Diane Dimond, author of “Be Careful Who You Love.  Diane, pretty amazing.  Tell us about it. 

DIANE DIMOND, AUTHOR, “BE CAREFUL WHO YOU LOVE”:  It all began back in 2003, when Jermaine Jackson is said to have sort of gathered forces with a writer named Stacy Brown, a longtime friend of the Jackson family.  And they came up with this nine-page proposal.  I‘ve had it for quite awhile.  Kudos to Michelle for getting it out in the newspapers. 

It is really dramatic, Joe, I‘ll tell you.  It not only talks about the possibility that the family thought that Michael Jackson might be guilty, very well might have been guilty of the child molestation charges but that they worried about the safety of his own nephews that they him interacting with in a strange way. 

His drug abuse.  There‘s a part telling us why Michael Jackson hates Jews so much.  Talking about his drug abuse and what not. 

This was the line that jumped out at me the most.  I‘ll just read it quick.  “The Demeral, Vicodin, Percoset, the codeine, the cocaine, the Jack Daniels, the wine, does he really know what he does with these kids?  I don‘t want to tell you my brother is innocent.  I‘m not certain he is.” 

Now, this is the man...

SCARBOROUGH:  Tell us about the document that you‘re reading from right there.

DIMOND:  Yes, this is the nine-page proposal that Michelle reported on over the weekend, stunning most of America.  It really—it‘s an amazing document coming from the brother who was so out front during and before and after the trial, saying my brother was the victim.  My brother was innocent.  Now, on these pages, he doesn‘t say that doesn‘t look that way.  OK.  Michelle talking about the impact on the Jackson family and how did Michael Jackson kill the book deal?

MICHELLE CARUSO, “NEW YORK DAILY NEWS”:  Well, Joe, I think that the Jackson family, at the time they first found out about this book proposal back in 2003, when Michael was facing the child molestation charges, the family was devastated.  They had frantic meetings.  Michael went ballistic, and Jermaine backed down.  I think this book proposal threw the family into turmoil but no one more so than Michael. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And Diane Dimond is talking about how they were afraid that he was acting inappropriately toward some nephews.  Are you telling me that some of Michael Jackson‘s own brothers were—didn‘t like the way that he interacted with their children?

CARUSO:  In the book proposal, Jermaine talks about having observed Michael Jackson hugging his nephews, the sons of Tito Jackson, after the death of the boy‘s mother, which I believe was in 1995.  And that he felt uncomfortable watching Michael sit on the bed and hug these boys. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Diane, what‘s so sickening to me is the fact that Jermaine came on during the trial, as you said, was beating his chest self righteously, saying how could you all accuse my brother of molesting any little children.  Or acting inappropriately.  Think, maybe he even played the race card.  I guess this sort of paints Jermaine as a hypocrite, right?

DIMOND:  Let‘s see.  A member of the Jackson family acting in a dysfunctional manner.  I‘m shocked! 

Yes.  No, you hit the nail on the head.  He was all over the airwaves talking about—what did he say, this was a modern day lynching of his brother.  In the meantime he had already been working on this proposal with Stacy Brown, who has written other books in the past, saying in effect to publishers, “Hey, by this book from me and I‘ll tell you all about it.  I‘ll tell you what the real—what the family really thinks about Michael. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Unbelievable.  Diane Dimond and Michelle Caruso.  Thanks so much.  We‘re going to have you back, because this story is going to be developing.  Greatly appreciate you being here tonight. 

We‘ll be right back with more. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Friends, that‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Tucker Carlson is on vacation this week.  Stay tuned for a special edition of “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Chris starts right now. 


TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION”:  If you‘ve tuned in for THE SITUATION tonight, we‘ve got sad news.  We‘ve off for the week.  We‘ll be back—have no fear—Monday, March 13.  In the meantime, stay tuned for “HARDBALL.”  It‘s worth it.




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