updated 9/12/2006 12:00:35 PM ET 2006-09-12T16:00:35

Guests: Roger Cressey, Katrina Szish, Lawrence O‘Donnell

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY:  Good evening from New York.  I‘m Joe Scarborough live from Ground Zero.  In a few moments, the president of the United States will be addressing the country to commemorate the lives of those lost here and at the Pentagon and in the fields of Pennsylvania five years ago.  The events of those—of that day, that terrible day, set in chain a series of things that occurred that at firs6t united this country in a way that it‘s not been united since the end of the Second World War, but has also come to divide this land.  The president obviously will use this time to tell Americans that we need to reunite in our war on terror against those that struck here and in other places across the country.

I‘m joined tonight by Chris Matthews.  He is, of course, the host of MSNBC‘s “Hardball.”  And Chris, like any speech that a president gives, there are political overtones, and this one—what do you think the White House wants the president to accomplish tonight?

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, “HARDBALL”:  Oh, I think, you know, the White House has been somewhat successful in recent months in conflating the national unity behind the war against terrorism with the president‘s decision, which he very clearly made, to invade Iraq.  And I think that‘s still a question mark, whether those are the same causes.  I think a lot of Americans—in fact, now a majority—according to all the polling, disagree with the president and say that invading Iraq was a national mistake, and that‘s something he has to deal with.

I now have the honor to introduce the president of the United States.  He‘s going to address the American people on this fifth-year observance of the tragedy of 9/11.


Five years ago, this date—September the 11th—was seared into America‘s memory.  Nineteen men attacked us with a barbarity unequaled in our history.  They murdered people of all colors, creeds and nationalities, and made war upon the entire free world.        Since that day, America and her allies have taken the offensive in a war unlike any we have fought before. 

Today we are safer, but we are not yet safe. 

On this solemn night, I have asked for some of your time to discuss the nature of the threat still before us, what we are doing to protect our nation, and the building of a more hopeful Middle East that holds the key to peace for America and the world.

On 9/11, our nation saw the face of evil. 

Yet, on that awful day, we also witnessed something distinctly American:  ordinary citizens rising to the occasion and responding with extraordinary acts of courage. 

We saw courage in office workers who were trapped on the high floors of burning skyscrapers, and called home so that their last words to their families would be of comfort and love.  

We saw courage in passengers aboard Flight 93, who recited the 23rd Psalm and then charged the cockpit.  And we saw courage in the Pentagon staff who made it out of the flames and smoke and ran back in to answer cries for help. 

On this day, we remember the innocent who‘ve lost their lives, and we pay tribute to those who gave their lives so that others might live.

For many of our citizens, the wounds of that morning are still fresh. 

I have met firefighters and police officers who choke up at the memory of fallen comrades. 

I have stood with families gathered on a grassy field in Pennsylvania, who take bittersweet pride in loved ones who refused to be victims and gave America our first victory in the war on terror. 

I‘ve sat beside young mothers with children who are now 5 years old and still long for the daddies who will never cradle them in their arms.

Out of this suffering, we resolve to honor every man and woman lost. 

And we seek their lasting memorial in a safer and more hopeful world.  

Since the horror of 9/11, we‘ve learned a great deal about the enemy.  We have learned that they are evil and kill without mercy, but not without purpose. 

We have learned that they form a global network of extremists who are driven by a perverted vision of Islam:  a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance and despises all dissent. 

And we have learned that their goal is to build a radical Islamic empire where women are prisoners in their homes, men are beaten for missing prayer meetings, and terrorists have a safe haven to plan and launch attacks on America and other civilized nations. 

The war against this enemy is more than a military conflict.  It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century and the calling of our generation. 

Our nation is being tested in a way that we have not been since the start of the Cold War. 

We saw what a handful of our enemies can do with box-cutters and plane tickets.  We hear their threats to launch even more terrible attacks on our people.  

And we know that, if they were able to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction, they would use them against us. 

We face an enemy determined to bring death and suffering into our homes. 

America did not ask for this war, and every American wishes it were over.  So do I. 

But the war is not over, and it will not be over until either we or the extremists emerge victorious. 

If we do not defeat these enemies now, we will leave our children to face a Middle East overrun by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons.  We are in a war that will set the course for this new century and determine the destiny of millions across the world. 

For America, 9/11 was more than a tragedy; it changed the way we look at the world.  

On September the 11th, we resolved that we would go on the offense against our enemies and we would not distinguish between the terrorists and those who harbor or support them. 

So we helped drive the Taliban from power in Afghanistan.  We put Al Qaida on the run and killed or captured most of those who planned the 9/11 attacks, including the man believed to be the mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. 

He and other suspected terrorists have been questioned by the Central Intelligence Agency, and they have provided valuable information that has helped stop attacks in America and across the world. 

Now these men have been transferred to Guantanamo Bay, so they can be held to account for their actions.

Osama bin Laden and other terrorists are still in hiding.  Our message to them is clear:  No matter how long it takes, America will find you, and we will bring you to justice.

On September the 11th, we learned that America must confront threats before they reach our shores; whether those threats come from terrorist networks or terrorist states. 

I am often asked why we‘re in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks.  The answer is that the regime of Saddam Hussein was a clear threat. 

My administration, the Congress and the United Nations saw the threat. 

And, after 9/11, Saddam‘s regime posed a risk that the world could not afford to take. 

The world is safer because Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. 

And now the challenge is to help the Iraqi people build a democracy that fulfills the dreams of the nearly 12 million Iraqis who came out to vote in free elections last December.

Al Qaida and other extremists from across the world have come to Iraq to stop the rise of a free society in the heart of the Middle East.  They have joined the remnants of Saddam‘s regime and other armed groups to foment sectarian violence and drive us out. 

Our enemies in Iraq are tough and they are committed, but so are Iraqi and coalition forces.  We are adapting to stay ahead of the enemy, and we are carrying out a clear plan to ensure that a democratic Iraq succeeds. 

We are training Iraqi troops so they can defend their nation.  We are helping Iraq‘s unity government grow in strength and serve its people.  We will not leave until this work is done. 

Whatever mistakes have been made in Iraq, the worst mistake would be to think that if we pulled out, the terrorists would leave us alone. 

They will not leave us alone.  They will follow us. 

The safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad. 

Osama bin Laden calls this fight “The Third World War,” and he says that victory for the terrorists in Iraq will mean America‘s defeat and disgrace forever.

If we yield Iraq to men like bin Laden, our enemies will be emboldened.  They will gain a new safe haven.  They will use Iraq‘s resources to fuel their extremist movement.  

We will not allow this to happen. 

America will stay in the fight.  Iraq will be a free nation and a strong ally in the war on terror. 

We can be confident that our coalition will succeed because the Iraqi people have been steadfast in the face of unspeakable violence. And we can be confident in victory because of the skill and resolve of America‘s armed forces. 

Every one of our troops is a volunteer.  And since the attacks of September the 11th, more than 1.6 million Americans have stepped forward to put on our nation‘s uniform. 

In Iraq, Afghanistan and other fronts in the war on terror, the men and women of our military are making great sacrifices to keep us safe.  Some have suffered terrible injuries, and nearly 3,000 have given their lives. 

America cherishes their memory.  We pray for their families.  And we will never back down from the work they have begun.

We also honor those who toil day and night to keep our homeland safe, and we are giving them the tools they need to protect our people. 

We have created the Department of Homeland Security; we have torn down the wall that kept law enforcement and intelligence from sharing information; we have tightened security at our airports and seaports and borders; and we‘ve created new programs to monitor enemy bank records and phone calls.  

Thanks to the hard work of our law enforcement and intelligence professionals, we have broken up terrorist cells in our midst and saved American lives.

Five years after 9/11, our enemies have not succeeded in launching another attack on our soil, but they have not been idle. 

Al Qaida, and those inspired by its hateful ideology, have carried out terrorist attacks in more than two dozen nations.  And, just last month, they were foiled in a plot to blow up passenger planes headed for the United States. 

They remain determined to attack America and kill our citizens, and we are determined to stop them. 

We will continue to give the men and women who protect us every resource and legal authority they need to do their jobs. 

In the first days after the 9/11 attacks, I promised to use every element of national power to fight the terrorists wherever we find them.  One of the strongest weapons in our arsenal is the power of freedom. 

The terrorists fear freedom as much as they do our firepower. 

They are thrown into panic at the sight of an old man pulling the election lever, girls enrolling in schools, or families worshiping God in their own traditions. 

They know that, given a choice, people will choose freedom over their extremist ideology.  So their answer is to deny people this choice by raging against the forces of freedom and moderation. 

This struggle has been called a clash of civilizations.  In truth, it is a struggle for civilization. 

We are fighting to maintain the way of life enjoyed by free nations.  And we‘re fighting for the possibility that good and decent people across the Middle East can raise up societies based on freedom and tolerance and personal dignity.

We are now in the early hours of this struggle between tyranny and freedom.  Amid the violence, some question whether the people of the Middle East want their freedom and whether the forces of moderation can prevail. 

For 60 years, these doubts guided our policies in the Middle East.  And then, on a bright September morning, it became clear that the calm we saw in the Middle East was only a mirage.  Years of pursuing stability to promote peace had left us with neither. 

So we changed our policies, and committed America‘s influence in the world to advancing freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism. 

With our help, the people of the Middle East are now stepping forward to claim their freedom.  From Kabul to Baghdad to Beirut, there are brave men and women risking their lives each day for the same freedoms that we enjoy. 

And they have one question for us:  Do we have the confidence to do in the Middle East what our fathers and grandfathers accomplished in Europe and Asia? 

By standing with democratic leaders and reformers, by giving voice to the hopes of decent men and women, we are offering a path away from radicalism.  And we are enlisting the most powerful force for peace and moderation in the Middle East:  the desire of millions to be free. 

Across the broader Middle East, the extremists are fighting to prevent such a future.  Yet America has confronted evil before, and we have defeated it; sometimes at the cost of thousands of good men in a single battle. 

When Franklin Roosevelt vowed to defeat two enemies across two oceans, he could not have foreseen D-Day and Iwo Jima, but he would not have been surprised at the outcome. 

When Harry Truman promised American support for free peoples resisting Soviet aggression, he could not have foreseen the rise of the Berlin Wall, but he would not have been surprised to see it brought down.  

Throughout our history, America has seen liberty challenged.  And, every time, we have seen liberty triumph with sacrifice and determination.

At the start of this young century, America looks to the day when the people of the Middle East leave the desert of despotism for the fertile gardens of liberty and resume their rightful place in a world of peace and prosperity. 

We look to the day when the nations of that region recognize their greatest resource is not the oil in the ground, but the talent and creativity of their people.  We look to the day when moms and dads throughout the Middle East see a future of hope and opportunity for their children. 

And when that good day comes, the clouds of war will part, the appeal of radicalism will decline, and we will leave our children with a better and safer world. 

On this solemn anniversary, we re-dedicate ourselves to this cause.  

Our nation has endured trials, and we face a difficult road ahead. 

Winning this war will require the determined efforts of a unified country. 

And we must put aside our differences and work together to meet the test that history has given us. 

We will defeat our enemies, we will protect our people, and we will lead the 21st century into a shining age of human liberty.

Earlier this year, I traveled to the United States Military Academy.  I was there to deliver the commencement address to the first class to arrive at West Point after the attacks of September the 11th.

That day, I met a proud mom named RoseEllen Dowdell.  She was there to watch her son, Patrick, accept his commission in the finest army the world has ever known.  A few weeks earlier, RoseEllen had watched her other son, James, graduate from the Fire Academy in New York City. 

On both these days, her thoughts turned to someone who was not there to share the moment:  her husband, Kevin Dowdell.  Kevin was one of the 343 firefighters who rushed to the burning towers of the World Trade Center on September the 11th and never came home. 

His sons lost their father that day, but not the passion for service he instilled in them. 

Here‘s what RoseEllen says about her boys:  “As a mother, I cross my fingers and pray all the time for their safety.  But, as worried as I am, I am also proud.  And I know their dad would be too.” 

Our nation is blessed to have young Americans like these, and we will need them.  Dangerous enemies have declared their intention to destroy our way of life. 

They‘re not the first to try, and their fate will be the same as those who tried before. 

9/11 showed us why.  The attacks were meant to bring us to our knees, and they did; but not in the way the terrorists intended. Americans united in prayer, came to the aid of neighbors in need, and resolved that our enemies would not have the last word. 

The spirit of our people is the source of America‘s strength. And we go forward with trust in that spirit, confidence in our purpose, and faith in a loving God who made us to be free.

Thank you, and may God bless you. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s President Bush from the Oval Office.  So much of this president‘s presidency has resolved around what we‘re looking at in the background here.  His wonderful performance here in the days after 9/11, when he rallied the country and much of the world to the war against terrorism, will never be forgotten.  His decision to go to Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban regime was universally supported in this country.  And then, of course, came his very controversial decision—in hindsight, it is very controversial—to extend the war he was fighting against terrorism to the war to create democracy in the Middle East and to overthrow the tyrant Saddam Hussein.  That last part of the mission has, of course, been the issue of great dispute in this country as we approach this mid-term election.

Let me go to my colleague, Joe Scarborough, for a thought.  Joe, any thoughts about something new here, perhaps, in this campaign effort here?

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, it is a campaign effort, obviously, Chris.  And the president‘s problem is that there remains linkage between his war on terror and the war in Iraq, something the administration desperately wanted a few years back.  But the lines that stick out here are the lines when the president says America didn‘t ask for this war, and Saddam Hussein posed a great threat.  As you know, Chris, moral ambiguity and warfare didn‘t mix for Truman, didn‘t mix for LBJ in Vietnam and it‘s not mixing for this president now.  And unless he can make that sell, that this was not a war of choice, then the president‘s words tonight, like so many other nights, will fall on deaf ears with Americans.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Joe.  Let me go right now to Tom Brokaw, the former managing editor of “The Nightly News” here at NBC.  Thank you, Tom, for coming here tonight, sticking around.  What did you hear in that speech tonight?

TOM BROKAW, FORMER ANCHOR, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS”:  I was surprised that there was not more poetry in it, A, and B, that he didn‘t take us to a different place in terms of where he wants to go next.  This is the kind of speech that he could have given three years ago, not five years after 9/11.

The American public now has been through a lot in five years, Chris, and with all due respect to the president, they‘ll be measuring his rhetoric versus the reality that they see almost every day in their newspapers and on television.  When he talks about all the people who have voted in Iraq, for example, he‘s absolutely correct on that, but that‘s touched off this terribly violent struggle over there for power between the Shiites and the Sunni.

In Afghanistan, where they‘ve had elections, as well—and I‘ve spent a lot of time in that country—if you get just outside of Kabul, you‘ll find that women are living a very traditional Islamic life.  They‘re not able to go to a clinic where there are male doctors, for example.  That has not changed.

Doesn‘t mean that this is not a noble effort, but in fact, the policies versus the reality, I think, is what a lot of people are going to be looking at.  And whether or not we have to find other ways than just militarily going in to deal with these issues is the question on the minds of a lot of people.

MATTHEWS:  You‘ve spent a lot of your life and career involved in the dialogue between the media and political power.  It seems to me, if you watched the last couple weeks, there‘s been a dialogue back and forth, almost a deposition between the media, especially the White House press corps, and this president, getting him to the point where he admitted there was no connection between what happened here and the war in Iraq, the vice president, because of Tim Russert this weekend, agreeing to that, even though he had been the hardest man to convince on that point.

And now here he is, the president, in a formal speech saying even though there‘s no confection directly between 9/11 -- it seems to me that is how democracy works, a dialectic, an argument back and forth, where one side finally says, I don‘t have the evidence to keep making my case, therefore, I‘m going to ask you to accept my leadership that it is a threat to our country, even if they weren‘t involved in 9/11.

BROKAW:  People have been saying all day long, Is this a political speech, are these political appearances?  But of course, they are.  We live in a political system.  This is how we work all that out.  When he said tonight, for example, that Saddam Hussein was a clear threat to this country, if you watched Tim Russert yesterday, he had the vice president on, saying that, in fact, there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and Iraq (SIC) and we have had Saddam in a box, which a lot of people believed at that time.

The question is, Do we advance the goals of trying to suffocate this Islamic rage, which is real—we are so under threat from a lot of jihadists around the world—by fighting the war the way we are in Iraq and doing what we have been doing in Afghanistan, or is there another way worth examining?  It‘s not just choice between cutting and running, as the administration likes to put it, and what a lot of Democrats would like to do, which is to just get out of there.  There are other positions there, as well.  This is a very complex war in which we‘re involved, and it requires, it seems to me, more complex analysis than we‘re able to get in the current political debate.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you a final Shakespearean question, which is, in every great tragedy—and we‘re sitting in front of one—there needs to be a villain.  There needs to be a final scene, something to end the story.  Is it the capture of bin Laden?  Is it the transformation of Iraq?  Is it some period of peace after this in terms of the war on terror?  What will end this cycle in history?

BROKAW:  I don‘t think that you can settle it with the capture of one man.  We have, really, here, I think the president has accurately described it, a clash of some civilizations.  The Western ideal of modernity and law and plurality and tolerance, the idea of equality of genders—that is not taught in any of the madrassahs and by the mullahs that I have been witness to in that part of the world.  They believe that they have a spiritual quest under way here to bring down all that we hold very dear.

Now, the issue is, how do we resolve that?  And you don‘t do it by just containing one country or capturing one man.  If you can get stability in Iraq by whatever means, I think that that would help us, but it wouldn‘t end this war between what we believe and what the radical Islamic people believe.

Now, there are a lot of Muslims out there who are—abhor what is being done to their faith by these people.  But there are more and more of them coming on line every day who are under the influence and under the sway not just of the mullahs but what they see on Al Jazeera and read in their publications.  It‘s a growing threat around the world.  I don‘t think there‘s any dispute about that.

MATTHEWS:  You know, when you come to New York, you hear a consistent line among all the leaders here.  They are all Republicans, but you do hear a consistent line from people like Mayor Giuliani and George Pataki and the president, the vice president, that we were attacked here on 9/11, five years ago, because of our freedom, because of the way we live, a secular society, a society of great religious and cultural diversity, where women do have the right to wear what they want in public.

Is that the reason we were attacked?  Or were we attacked because we kept 10,000 troops in the holy land of Saudi Arabia and so offended, so contaminated the thinking of people like bin Laden and the people he recruited that that was our sin in their eyes, not what we do here?

BROKAW:  I don‘t—I think it was a combination of all those things.  And you know, and I think it was a combination of rage against their own regimes, for example.  The president talked tonight about, one day, we hope that the Middle East will be able not to just depend on oil but to have a more pluralistic society.  Well, we‘re the ones who can make that happen if we develop alternative sources of energy.  I was surprised tonight that he didn‘t talk, for example, about the need for us to find ways that we can wean ourselves off all that oil that‘s on the ground over there.  That‘s a huge part of the reason that we‘re there.

But if you go to that part of the world, it‘s not just about the freedom that we have.  They believe that with our relationship with Israel, which we‘ve not talked about here, that we are hell-bent on destroying Islam, that it is a new crusade, that Israel—it‘s is hard to describe to people who have not been in the Gulf states or in Saudi Arabia or in any of the other Arab states, about just how radioactive and cancerous Israel is in the eyes of anyone that you meet, however sophisticated or however ordinary they may be in the street.  That, too, is a big piece of all this.

MATTHEWS:  Tom Brokaw, thank you for joining us tonight.

BROKAW:  OK, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  And a lot of questions and a lot of answers still to come.  Thank you, Joe Scarborough, for having us on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY since 9:00 o‘clock tonight.  Thank you, Joe.

GRACE:  Thank you, Chris.  Thank you, Tom.  Greatly appreciate it.

And when we return with this special edition, former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik takes us on a Ground Zero tour with memories of that day and his thoughts on whether we really are winning the war on terror.

Plus: Where is Osama bin Laden?  We have exclusive details in the hunt for the world‘s most wanted man.

And later, a powerful firsthand look at the debris from Ground Zero, from burned-out cars to small pieces of the tower.  For the first time, see where it all went.


SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back to this special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, live from ground zero in New York City.

You‘re looking live at the twin beams of light that are being projected into the night sky from downtown Manhattan, where, of course, the World Trade Center once stood.  Five years and two wars after September 11th, Osama bin Laden is still a man on the run.  So where is the most wanted man in the world?  And is it true that his trail has turned cold?

With us on more of that part of the story, here‘s NBC senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers.


LISA MYERS, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  This modest building in Islamabad was for a time the target of a secret CIA operation to capture Osama bin Laden.  It‘s the local office of al Jazeera TV.  Couriers dropped off two tapes from bin Laden here, offering one of the few clues for where he might be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The only connection that bin Laden has that we know with the outside world is through video and audio tapes.

MYERS:  So U.S. counter-terror sources tell NBC News that the CIA mounted an elaborate covert operation to track back those tapes through multiple handoffs by couriers to bin Laden.

Sources say the CIA traced this 2004 bin Laden tape back to a village in Pakistan, where they captured a mid level al Qaeda figure, but no bin Laden.  At the National Counterterrorism Center, bin laden remains the number one target of the war on terror.

(on camera):  Every morning top counterterror officials meet to review the latest intelligence, including any new information on bin Laden.  Senior officials acknowledge that the last time they knew where he was with certainty where bin Laden was in real time was before 9/11.

(voice-over):  Specifically, the fall of 2000, when a CIA Predator drone beamed this footage back live from Afghanistan.  The tall man in white robes is believed to be bin Laden.  Recently the search has centered on Pakistan‘s Chitral Valley, home to madrassas that foment radicalism.

Is the trail to bin Laden?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I would have to say that it probably is.

MYERS:  This top counterterror official says the emphasis on finding bin Laden overlooks important successes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Our intelligence has gotten better.  Our operations have gotten better.  So al Qaeda - we‘ve basically set them back on their heel.

MYERS:  He argues that despite five years of frustration, bin Laden‘s ability to mount attacks has been substantially diminished.  Lisa Myers, NBC News, Washington.


SCARBOROUGH:  With me now to talk about the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the war on terror in general, is NBC terror analyst Roger Cressey.  Roger, thank you so much for being with us tonight.

ROGER CRESSEY, NBC TERROR ANALYST:  Good to be with, you, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  First question, tell us your best guess, where is Osama bin Laden?

CRESSEY:  Probably somewhere on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in those federally administrated tribal areas, where there is no central Pakistani government control.  He probably moves back and forth when he sees a potential threat.  And he‘s in an area where geography and population are at his advantage and our disadvantage.

SCARBOROUGH:  We often hear this guy is a 6‘4”, 6‘5” Arab man, and therefore he shouldn‘t be that difficult to catch or kill.  What‘s your take on that?

CRESSEY:  Well, having spent time at White House trying to find him, I understand the frustration.  When he does move, he‘s going to move in a way that ensures his operational security and he‘s not going to move that often, Joe.  I think he‘s stationary as much as he can.

I think bin Laden learned a lesson from the near death of Ayman al Zawahiri, his number two, by Predator missile and he realized the more Zawahiri moved around, the more potential there was for him to be detected and ultimately eliminated.  So bin Laden is smarter or as smart and he‘s not going to make that mistake.

SCARBOROUGH:  Roger, a lot George Bush‘s harshest critics suggest that because the president invaded Iraq we have not caught Osama bin Laden.  Let‘s assume 140,000 left Iraq let‘s say next year.  Would that in and of itself ensure Osama bin Laden‘s capture or would it increase the likelihood that we could track him down?

CRESSEY:  Well if you take those troops and invade Pakistan, those chances are high that you are going to capture or kill bin Laden.  We‘ll have to talk about the collateral damage associated with that type of move.

SCARBOROUGH:  Obviously we can‘t invade Pakistan, a nuclear power that‘s on the brink as it is.  Since we can‘t invade Afghanistan, can we move 140,000 troops into Afghanistan and track this man down?

CRESSEY:  Well, even if you had those troops in Afghanistan, Joe, the best you could do would be harden your position on the border, have more assets available to look, listen, and ultimately act.

But just pulling in that many troops is not enough, quite frankly.  You just need to have good intelligence.  And what we‘ve learned over the past five years is that it all comes down to human intelligence.  And that‘s the one great disadvantage we‘re operating from when it comes to bin Laden.

Because as I said the population is completely behind him in the area he‘s now hiding.  They‘re not going to turn him in.  So we need to figure out how to get around that.  One key element to this is the government of Pakistan and what they can and cannot do.

SCARBOROUGH:  Five years ago obviously this was the most dangerous man in the world, at least to Americans.  But now with Osama bin Laden living like a hermit, living on the run, what are likely his operational abilities tonight?

CRESSEY:  A great question, Joe.  I think the intelligence community believes he‘s no longer operationally relevant.  He doesn‘t exert control over al Qaeda cells.

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you buy that?

CRESSEY:  I believe he‘s in communication.  I believe he still issues strategic guidance.  You know, the military‘s version commanders intent.  I believe potential plots are brought to him through a network of couriers and he either blesses them or provides comment on it.

So if that‘s the case, I believe he‘s still relevant.  He may not be directing, but that doesn‘t mean he‘s been sidelined as an ideologue alone.

SCARBOROUGH:  Tonight George Bush said that America is safer and the world is safer with Saddam Hussein behind bars.  Would America be safer, and it sounds like an obvious question, but again, if his operational abilities have been stripped over the past five years, I guess the proper way to ask this question is how much safer would America and the world be if Osama bin Laden were behind bars?

CRESSEY:  Well, Joe, we lost a real opportunity in December of 2001 when he was at Tora Bora, and I think history is not going to judge General Tommy Franks, the commander of Central Command at the time quite favorably, because he made some serious tactical and strategic and allowed bin Laden to get away.

If he was captured or preferably dead right now, it would bring closure to one key element of 9/11.  It would remove a key symbol of a global network, the global jihadist network.

Would it eliminate terrorism, the threat posed by the al Qaeda movement?  No.  But what‘s important to understand in the five years since 9/11, a series of unintended consequences have happened, and as a result of that this global movement led by bin Laden and inspired by him has grown.

So if we had captured or killed him early on, I think we would be in a much better position.  If we capture or kill him now, we still have this global movement we‘re going to have to deal with.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Roger Cressey, as always, thanks so much for being with us.

CRESSEY:  Thanks, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  From the caves of Afghanistan to the streets of Gotham, New York City police commissioner on 9/11 Bernard Kerik was one of the first city officials on the scene five years ago.  Kerik and I took a walk down the street where he first witnessed the horrendous events of that day.


BERNARD KERIK, FORMER NYC POLICE COMMISSIONER:  There were people jumping out of tower one.

SCARBOROUGH:  You saw people jumping out of Tower One.

KERIK:  Yes, some one two at a time.  I turned around and said something to my chief of staff.  There was an enormous explosion, we looked up, and Tower Two was being hit.

SCARBOROUGH:  And you‘re looking this way.

KERIK:  Basically at that point I‘m looking straight up in the air.

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re looking straight up.  Tower two had been hit.  And then you came and ducked behind Tower Seven, which used to come out to here, you say?

KERIK:  When two exploded, I didn‘t know it was a plane.  I didn‘t see the second plane.  I just saw the eruption, but I could here the NYPD aviation pilots yelling it was a second airliner that had just hit Tower Two.  The debris of the building and the plane started coming down on top of us, and we ran behind Seven and waited for everything to sort of settle and fall.  And it was at that point that I realized then we were under attack.

SCARBOROUGH:  You knew we were under attack at that point.  You were hiding behind here.  When did Rudy come down?  How soon after that did you see the mayor?

KERIK:  The mayor got here about no more than two or three minutes after Two was hit.  Rudy says to me, “This is uncharted territory for us.”  And we‘ve never been attacked on U.S. soil.  And that‘s what this was. 

This was an attack on this country, on our own territory.

SCARBOROUGH:  What happened when those towers came crashing down? 

What were you thinking inside this building?

KERIK:  The mayor called the White House.  He was physically on the phone with the White House, waiting for what he thought would be the president.  And then they told him that the vice president would come to the phone.

He was sitting there, waiting to talk to the vice president, and then he hung up the phone and looked at me and said, “This isn‘t good.”  He said they‘re evacuating the White House and we think the Pentagon has been hit.

And for that minute I was—I‘m sitting there and thinking what is—what is going on?  And then all of a sudden the door—somebody kicked the door open in the office, the building started to shake.  It almost felt like a freight train was coming through the side of the building.  And then everything just shook, you know, really, really hard.  The windows started blowing out, and everything got dark.

SCARBOROUGH:  And that‘s when the first tower fell.

KERIK:  That‘s when Tower Two collapsed.

We were gone about 10 minutes when that portion of the building fell. 

I had a number of people there.  We haven‘t found them yet.

When we got through the door, the most distinctive thing I remember is that there was no sound.  There was absolutely no sound.  There were no more fire engines, there were no people talking, no birds.  All the things that you hear around us right now, it was deathly silent.  And somebody running up the street, covered in soot and this white ash said that Tower Two had collapsed.

RUDY GIULIANI, NEW YORK MAYOR:  We‘re going to continue doing what we‘re doing in the rescue effort and just hope for the best.

SCARBOROUGH:  We obviously you‘re staring now at ground zero.  Five years later, what are your thoughts?

KERIK:  There‘s a lot of difficult feelings, you know, about the towers, about the families, about what should go up and what shouldn‘t go up.  I had—for me, personally, I had one issue, and the issue is nobody would ever allow us to build a building and put it on top of Gettysburg or future on top of the burial ground or a cemetery.  We just wouldn‘t do it.

Then you can‘t put buildings on the footprints of the towers, because at the end of the day, and this is what a lot of people just don‘t understand, we lost more than 2,700 people in those towers.  Many of them were not recovered.  They basically vaporized, they disintegrated.  They‘re still there, on the dirt, they‘re on these buildings in that ground.  And people have to realize you can‘t build on top of the burial ground.  On actual the footprints, I was adamantly against building.

SCARBOROUGH:  What about that day do you remember most now and what haunts you now the most, five years later?

KERIK:  I think the things that I remember the most, the explosion of

when the second plane hit.  The people jumping and falling from the building.  The building collapsing.  The thing that was I think most difficult or probably one of the most difficult events of that day for me was going back in to the NYPD headquarters, to talk and speak to the families of the people that at that point we knew were missing.

We do know there are people in the building that are alive and we‘re making every effort to get to them.

It‘s those things that I think about most.


SCABROROUGH:  No doubt about it.  Still ahead, on this special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, a look at the terrorist attacks through Hollywood‘s often controversial lenses including the debate over ABC‘s “Path to 9/11” and later, the devastation of that day carefully preserved.  Tonight, for the first time, items from Ground Zero never seen by the public, until now.


SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back.  In the aftermath of 9/11 artists and musicians collaborated to raise money for victims‘ families.  Late-night talk show hosts grappled with when they could talk about the attacks, and television producers questioned how to speak about the unspeakable.  But with release of “United 93” and Oliver Stone‘s “World Trade Center” and even ABC‘s miniseries, “Path to 9/11” Hollywood has begun to break down the barriers that blocked projects on 9/11.  With me now to talk about Hollywood‘s changing response to the events of that tragic day, Katrina Szish, she‘s editor at large for “US Weekly” and also Lawrence O‘Donnell, former executive producer of the “The West Wing.”

Katrina, let‘s start with you.  It looks like Hollywood has crossed that barrier.  They‘re not so reluctant to talk about the events of that tragic day, are they?

KATRINA SZISH, “US WEEKLY”:  It seems five years has been the magic number Hollywood believes is when people are ready to start seeing recreations, to start hearing stories about what really happened that day or what we think may have happened that day.

SCARBOROUGH:  Flight 93 and “World Trade Center”, and also the “The Path to 9/11.”

Let‘s show a clip from that very controversial made-for-TV movie now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This is the nature of intelligence.  We rarely get the information.  We do the best we can with what we know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What do we know?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We know enough to try.  Now excuse me, sir, you are the national security adviser.  Can‘t you give the order?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Look, George, do you feel confident you can present it to the president yourself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So if it goes bad, it comes down on my head like Janet Reno in Waco.  The buck stops down the hall.


SCARBOROUGH:  Laurence O‘Donnell, we know, especially Republicans that Hollywood movies make hellacious history books, yet this made-for-TV movie touched a raw nerve, why?

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, FORMER EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, “WEST WING”:  Well, Democrats are sensitive about the portrayal of the approach to 9/1 under the Clinton administration.  I‘m much more relaxed about it for two reasons, one is I think the Clinton administration did a provably terrible job of protecting us from al Qaeda and I think the Bush administration did a provably terrible job of protecting us from al Qaeda and the proof is right behind you tonight, Joe.

So the details of exactly which meeting went which way are not terribly important to me.  But obviously people in Democratic Clinton administration are sensitive about a scene like that that you just showed, where they‘re trying to say were it not for Sandy Berger, Osama bin Laden would have been killed.  That‘s not exactly a very accurate scene.  And it‘s also not necessarily true it would have worked.  They try to glorify in that same little moment, George Tenet as if he was somehow a stronger character.

And it seems not a coincidence that George Tenet is also someone who participated in the bush administration.  So there seems to be a little bit of bias in the production, but I think overall it‘s a very good production.

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s talk about “The West Wing.”  Obviously a show you were involved with.  It aired an episode that addressed the topic of terrorism.  Let‘s watch a clip.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why are we targets of war?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Because we‘re Americans.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It‘s our freedom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No other reasons?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Freedom and democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘ll tell you, right or wrong—and I think they‘re wrong—it‘s probably a good idea to acknowledge they do have specific complaints.  I hear them every day.  People we support, troops in Saudi Arabia, sanctions against Iraq, support for Egypt.  It‘s not just that they don‘t like Irving Berlin.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I don‘t know about Irving Berlin but your ridiculous search for rational reasons why somebody straps a bomb to their chest is ridiculous.


SCARBOROUGH:  Lawrence.  Fascinating that a TV show can conduct a debate in that sort of way, right?

O‘DONNELL:  This was one artist‘s response.  This was Aaron Sorkin, who was running the show at the time who simply couldn‘t conceive of having the “West Wing” come back on the air after 9/11 without addressing this.

And they had to stop production of other episodes and rush this thing into production to it could get on the air.  Most others did not feel compelled to deal with it in any particular way and were not capable of dealing with it.  I don‘t think “The West Wing” ever settled in to a comfortable relationship with those events, because we were running a parallel fictional presidency in which in fact the attack on the World Trade center never occurred.  So we never figured out exactly out how to manage the relationship to those events.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Katrina, Hollywood is still trying to grapple with that aren‘t they?

SZISH:  They sure are.  And I think especially audiences are still trying to grapple with this.  A lot of people think it‘s not time for these movies to be made and a lot of people don‘t want to see them.  So we still have a long way to go.

SCARBOROUGH:  We certainly do.  I‘m a perfect example of somebody who loves these type of historical movies, but I just can‘t bring myself .

SZISH:  I haven‘t seen them, either.  I‘m with you.

SCARBOROUGH:  . to buy a ticket and .

SZISH:  I‘m right with you.

SCARBOROUGH:  Despite the fact that I hear Flight 93 and “World Trade Center” were excellent films.

SZISH:  Great reviews.

SCARBOROUGH:  And thank you so much, Lawrence, thank you Katrina. 

Greatly appreciate it.

Next on this special edition of SCABROROUGH COUNTRY, Brian Williams on what happened to the pieces of history from Ground Zero.


SCARBOROUGH:  NBC NIGHTLY NEWS anchor and managing editor Brian Williams got an unprecedented look at a place where time has stood still since that fateful day five years ago.  Take a look.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR (voice-over):  It‘s as if that day five years ago is now contained in this room.  The violence is over and the heat has cooled but it‘s all here.  You can feel it, you can smell it, it‘s enough to make anyone angry and sad and spiritual all over again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s an airline hanger as a church.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There is no question that this is sacred ground

here as it is down at Ground Zero

WILLIAMS:  In many ways the symbols of Ground Zero have moved here and that makes Charles Gargano of the Port Authority responsible for these sacred contents.  In the first big room, the once mighty, once shiny outer ribs of the building, now broken, burned and rusted and lying on their sides.

How do they have the presence of mind to mark some of them save?

CHARLES GARGANO, PORT AUTHORITIY:  When we could gain access to Ground Zero we sent in engineers to look for pieces we should save.

WILLIAMS:  In his own climate controlled room is the last column removed from Ground zero.  New Yorkers remembered the day it had been escorted out.  It had been signed by the rescuers, the cops and firefighters and the iron workers who need a way to say goodbye.

ALICE GREENWALD, PORT AUTHORITY:  It was treated as a living thing when it was removed from the site.

WILLIAMS:  Alice Greenwald was responsible for compiling all of this. 

Curator Jan Ramirez is responsible for preserving what is here.

The trains, the turnstiles, everything as it was right before life changed forever.  We next enter a room containing a form that‘s difficult to describe.  In any other museum it could be passed as a meteorite and woo while this was born of intense heat this is altogether different.

This formation is really four separate stories of the World Trade Center compressed, compacted, incinerated, exposed to temperatures as hot as the inner earth.

I never knew this existed.

On it you can see the typeface from printer paper which was exposed to so much heat it carbonized.

(on camera):  Is this your tomb of the unknowns?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  In some respect it is.

WILLIAMS:  This rooms conjures up the great violence and the great sadness afterwards.  Sadness for the men and woman who built these once gleaming machines.  Sadness for the men and woman who were so proud to serve onboard these rigs.  In some cases the men and woman who died in them as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This ambulance apparently was incinerated.

Apart from the horrifying condition it‘s in, it speaks historically to the lost of the seniority in the Fire Department that day.

WILLIAMS (voice-over):  In another room a cylinder as big as an Apollo spacecraft.  That is the base of the broadcasting tower that stood at the top of the World Trade Center, now here on its side.

This is the base of the antenna?

GARGANO:  This is the base.  Yes.

WILLIAMS:  Just past the crosses and the stars of David that the iron workers carved from the girders is the old wooden observation deck.

. we will never forget.

Inscribed with the good buys of the families who lost loved ones.

(on camera):  Everything you have lovingly brought to this building is part of a grave site.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You approach the work you‘re doing with an attitude of reverence.


SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks so much for being with us tonight on a special edition SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We‘ll see you tomorrow.





Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.


Watch Scarborough Country each weeknight at 9 p.m. ET


Discussion comments