updated 9/12/2006 11:57:41 AM ET 2006-09-12T15:57:41

Guests: Bernard Kerik, Peter King, G. Gordon Liddy, Peter Beinart, Walid Phares, J. Kelly McCann


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Susan Gail Santo (ph). 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Christopher Santora (ph).

ANNOUNCER:  A nation remembers and mourns. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I mean, I still got all his clothes in the closet, still got his clothes in the drawer.  And I just go in and I touch them.

ANNOUNCER:  Five years after 9/11, Americans across the country pause to honor the innocent victims and the fallen heroes. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How far would I travel to be where you are?  How far is the journey from here to a star?

ANNOUNCER:  And today, more than ever, we wonder, are we safer now than we were back then?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It just reminded me that there‘s still an enemy out there that would like to inflict the same kind of damage again. 


ANNOUNCER:  Now from Los Angeles, Tucker Carlson. 

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the show. 

Most of us remember exactly where we were when we heard the almost unbelievable news: hijacked passenger planes had slammed into the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan and the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C.  Later, another plane crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

A total of 2,973 people killed in the attacks in one day five years ago. 

Well, today, on the anniversary of 9/11, Americans gathered at all three sites to remember the dead. 

In New York, families of the World Trade Center victims read their names in a roll call that lasted nearly four hours.

In Pennsylvania, President Bush laid a wreath in the field where United Flight 93 went down. 

And at the Pentagon, Vice President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld spoke at a memorial this morning. 

The World Trade Center where the twin towers collapsed is still a cavernous pit five years later. 

NBC News‘ Rehema Ellis is on the scene live on the 10th floor of building one of the world financial center. 

Rehema, welcome.  Set the scene for us today. 

REHEMA ELLIS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  This was a powerfully emotional day, Tucker.  As you can imagine, this has happened before.  That is, the reading of the names.  But every time it happens on the anniversary, and this being a very particular one, the fifth anniversary, there were—there were tears everywhere. 

It wasn‘t just those who were gathered at the site behind me, which is the footprint of where the World Trade Center towers stood, but even those who were outside on the perimeter.  People had come down here today just so they could be close to what was going on.  And then there were also people in this area who work here. 

This is a Monday and it is a work day.  But at the time of the national anthem, people stopped.  They stood, they bowed their heads.  I was standing on ground level with many of them, and people just cried. 

This was a moment that there was a collective and shared sense of emotion and grief inside, as you know, as they read each of the 2,749 names of the victims.  It was—it was very difficult for the families. 

Some of them carried photos of their loved ones, clutching them in their hands.  Others had posters that they carried that said in many ways—one said in particular, “We will never forget you.  You will always be with us,” as these names were read. 

And from children, to adults, to teenagers, to older people, everybody shared this feeling together.  It‘s—it‘s something that we do as a nation.  And I guess the place where people really come together and perhaps the largest ceremony of remembrance indeed is here in New York City because the largest number of the victims were here—Tucker. 

CARLSON:  That‘s moving.

Rehema Ellis at the scene.

Thank you. 

Rehema, was the administration out in force today?  Did you see representatives from the White House, and was there any kind of political undertone to the ceremonies today? 

ELLIS:  Well, maybe from some people who were around the area.  But this really wasn‘t a day about politics for those who came here, Tucker. 

Families and some of the 911 responders who came, they weren‘t here talking politics.  They were here talking about their memories.

President Bush was here this morning, and he had breakfast with New York City firefighters.  Governor Pataki was here, of course.  Former mayor Rudy Giuliani was here, and he spoke to those who were gathered across the street at the site of the memorial.  Of course the current mayor, Mike Bloomberg, was here as well. 

Everybody was here.  And this was a place where people wanted to be.  They wanted to be gathered with those who decided that this was the moment of remembrance for them. 

For some people, it has been too difficult for some families to come back to this site, Tucker, as I know you‘re well aware of.  It‘s been something where people have wanted to remember their loved ones in their homes and the communities from which they came, and so they have established memorials for them here—there.  But so many people came here today, and they remembered as a group all of those who died. 

CARLSON:  I believe it.  I‘ll be—I‘ll be honest with you, Rehema.  I did not want to go there today.  I didn‘t want to deal with the emotion of it. 

And good for you for going.  Thank you for bringing us the story.

ELLIS:  It‘s tough.

CARLSON:  I appreciate it.

Well, five years ago today, Bernard Kerik was the police commissioner of New York City.  He was on the scene with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani when the World Trade Center towers collapsed, sending both men running for their lives. 


CARLSON:  Joining us now, Bernard Kerik.

Bernard Kerik, thanks a lot for coming on today. 


CARLSON:  Tell us where you were and what your first reaction was when you heard the news about the plane hitting the World Trade Center. 

KERIK:  When the first plane hit the towers, I was physically in my office, which is about seven or eight blocks from Tower 1.  My chief of staff came in and told me that a plane had hit the tower, and I told everybody not to get excited.

I anticipated at the time it was a twin engine or a Cessna that, you know, fly up and down the Hudson River.  But I went into my conference room, and I looked out the conference room, and I could see the damage to the building.  And I asked them at that point, “Are we sure it was a plane?”  And my guys told me that that‘s what was being reported by the media. 

And I went to my phone, I called Mayor Giuliani.  I told him I would meet him at the emergency command center, which was directly across the street from Tower 1.  It was in 7 World Trade Center.  And got in the car and took off, and I was down there within three or four minutes. 

CARLSON:  You said that you and your aides were looking to the press for accounts of what happened.  Do officials in a situation like this have an independent means of verifying what happened, or are they reliant on the media to find out? 

KERIK:  Now, we have a number of independent means to—to find out—you know, to look at any situation.  But this was probably within the first 60 to 90 seconds after the plane had been hit when the media cameras had focused on the towers.  You know, so it was—it was, you know, within just a minute or so after—after the building had been hit. 

CARLSON:  What was your gut reaction?  What did you think your role was going to be at that point? 

KERIK:  Well, listen, you know, New York City is an enormous city.  We have -- you know, at the time I had 55,000 people working for me, 41,000 uniformed staff members.  New York City Fire Department has 13,000 or 14,000 firemen. 

We are prepared normally for just about any crisis of any magnitude.  And I thought on this day it was an accident, it was something we would have to deal with in a different level because it was so high on the tower.  But, you know, it was like any other day. 

It would be bad, it would be tragic.  Somebody would have perished in the process.  But—but it was nothing that I didn‘t think at the time that we could not handle. 

CARLSON:  You wound up pretty close to the—to Ground Zero, to the site, the physical site of the atrocity then under way.  Did you mean to do that?  Did you feel a need to be physically close to what was going on? 

KERIK:  Well, what happened, Tucker, is I responded to the emergency command center, which was right across the street from Tower 1.  And when we drove—when we tried to get next to our command center, I realized that there was debris that was falling from the building. 

Unfortunately, when I got out of the vehicle to look, I realized that a lot of what I thought was debris wasn‘t actually debris, and it was—it was people that were jumping from the towers.  And they were landing between Vessie (ph) -- on Vessie (ph), between 7 World Trade and 1 -- building 1. 

And I was there for maybe two or three minutes.  I turned around to one of my—in fact, my chief of staff, to tell him to get me a temporary command post to put on the corner of Barkley (ph) and West Broadway, when there was this enormous explosion above me, and that was the second aircraft hitting Tower 2.

I didn‘t see the plane.  The plane came from the southern end of Manhattan.  But when you see that enormous fireball blow out of 2, at that point I am basically standing under it with my staff members. 

CARLSON:  That is just awful.  How long did it take you to realize this was terrorism? 

KERIK:  Well, I guess for the first five or 10 seconds, you know, I‘m looking at the explosion and I‘m trying to figure out what just happened.  My security detail ran me behind the post office until a lot of the debris fell.  One of my—one of my bodyguards was hit in the back of the leg with the shaft of the plane as the debris came down.

And as I looked up again from behind the federal building, I could hear the aviation pilots, the NYPD‘s helicopter pilots yelling that it was a second aircraft that had just hit Tower 2.  And it was at that point, at that moment precisely that I realized that we in America was under attack.

CARLSON:  And you were right there.  I mean, you were right there.  Are you glad five years later that you were right there?  I mean, if it had to happen, are you glad you saw it?  Or do you wish you hadn‘t seen it?

KERIK:  Honestly, it didn‘t make any difference to me.  I was going to be there anyway, whether at the command center, or Ground Zero, or whatever the case may be.  It was my job to—to sort of command and control the NYPD, and I would have been there.

CARLSON:  There‘s been a lot written in the years since about the problems that various city workers had communicating with each other and with their supervisors that day, radios not matching up, radios not being able to penetrate the walls of the towers.  Do you think that the city was negligent in its communications plans before 9/11? 

KERIK:  No.  Personally, me, I do not.  You know, and I have listened to some of the criticism, and it‘s nice to criticize in what we should have, would have, could have done under the circumstances.

The fact is, I was there, and when people say that the fire department and the police department were not communicating, well, Tom Venis (ph) and the fire commissioner were standing side by side with me the majority of the time with the mayor stuck in between us.  So there was constant communication between him and I, and that communication flow went down to the field, from the chief of the department, to the first deputy commissioner, on down.

The problem with the radios is a problem that existed then.  But ironically, if you talk to the experts they will tell you today it still exists today. 

There is no communications.  There are no communications mechanisms or radios or portables or whatever you want to call them that will go through four to six to eight feet of concrete...

CARLSON:  Right.

KERIK:  ... the steel that were in those buildings.  It just doesn‘t happen. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I believe that. 

And finally, you spent—you spent the day as you had spent the preceding years and spent the following months with Mayor Giuliani right at the center of this crisis.  He‘s now running for president, I think.  Many people believe he is.

What do you think of that?  Did you—since you learned (ph) to know him much more intimately than you had after this day, do you think he would be a good present? 

KERIK:  Absolutely.  You know, it‘s his decision if he chooses to run.  His leadership ability not only under crises—you have to, you know, go back before September 11th and look at New York City, what it was like in 1994, when it was on the front page of, I think, “TIME” magazine and they said it was a rotting apple, the highest crime rates in the history of the city. 

Real estate market was at ground levels.  There was no tourism.  Tourism was at an all-time low. 

Just everything and anything that came under the purview of the mayor‘s oversight after he became mayor flourished right up until September 11th.  On September 11th, our real estate levels were the highest in the city‘s history, tourism was the highest, crime was the lowest.  He had dropped crime by 63 percent -- 70 percent homicide drop rate.


KERIK:  These are all things that he did as a leader of the city.  The economic development.  And then comes September 11th.  And what happened on that day, I think there is no question in anybody‘s mind in this country, in the world—you can‘t question his leadership ability. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  Bernard Kerik, thank you very much. 

KERIK:  Tucker, thank you. 

CARLSON:  Still to come, the world is remembering almost 3,000 victims of the 9/11 attacks.  But five years later, are we safer?  One person who thinks so, Dick Cheney.  He says the White House is doing “a hell of a job” protecting this country from terrorists. 

Is he right?  That story when we return. 


CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

Do you feel safer today than you did on September 11, 2001?  Forty-two percent of Americans surveyed in a new NBC poll say yes, they do.  But is our government doing enough to protect us? 

Here to answer that question, Congressman Peter King.  He‘s the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and a member of the International Relations Committee.  Chairman King joins us from West Babylon Long Island, New York. 

Mr. Chairman, welcome.

Are we safer? 

REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK:  Yes, we are, Tucker.  We‘re much safer.  But we still have a good ways to go.  But, I mean, at every level—I think the main reason we are safer, though, is because of the consolidation of the intelligence apparatus in Washington, the breaking down of the wall between the FBI and the CIA, and the extremely close collaboration and cooperation we have with overseas intelligence agencies. 

Even with countries like France and Germany, who many not have been supportive of all our policies—for instance, in Iraq—are extremely close to us when it comes to fighting Islamic terrorism.  So we‘re much safe for that reason, and then the other reasons.

The airlines, the airports are much safer.  There is much more cooperation with the local police.  Intelligence is (INAUDIBLE).

Also, the private sector has gotten involved dramatically.  You know, there‘s more security in private buildings today.  People are more aware.  So—the ports are again much more secure. 

Now, in each of these areas more has to be done, but we are considerably safer than we were.  And also, we‘ve thrown them off stride.  They don‘t have the sanctuary in Afghanistan, we‘re locking them up overseas, we‘re breaking up plots and threats.  You know, the most recent plot being stopped in London, that wouldn‘t have been stopped probably five years ago, but it was stopped this time.

CARLSON:  I‘m really—I mean, I‘m glad to hear that, because a lot of the security measures the ordinary person runs into in the course of living life in this country seem so reactionary and dumb.  For instance, the new TSA regulation that prevents people from bringing tooth paste on airplanes.  You know, a bunch of lunatics in Europe have a plot that includes liquids, all of a sudden you can‘t bring moisturizer on a U.S. airplane.

I don‘t think that makes the average person feel safer.  Maybe I‘m wrong. 

It doesn‘t make me feel safer, though.

Does it you?

KING:  Well, yes, it‘s better to be safe than sorry.  And again, that‘s just one layer of defense...

CARLSON:  Right.

KING:  ... that‘s—you know, that‘s thrown up.  And I tell you, I thinks it‘s inconvenience worth facing, at least for at a few months, until we find out exactly what type of liquid explosives could be used, how they can be camouflaged.  And so, to me, if you can‘t bring toothpaste on the plane and it ends up possibly saving someone‘s life, or thousands of lives, then to me it‘s worth doing. 

CARLSON:  Well, but wait.  Isn‘t—but isn‘t that the point of terror?  I mean, isn‘t the whole idea of terrorism to leverage people‘s emotions in order to get them to do what you want them to do?  So these people make threats, and we immediately respond like marionettes.  We just jump and react in a way that makes us all maybe marginally safer, but definitely much more afraid and much more inconvenienced, and costs a lot of money. 

I mean, we are in the process of going bankrupt fighting this war, as you know, on terror.  Aren‘t they winning when we do that? 

KING:  Not really, Tucker.  I mean, the main purpose of terror is to kill us and to terrorize us. 

CARLSON:  Right.

KING:  And if we have to make a sacrifice, temporary, not bringing toothpaste or some type of gels on planes, to me that‘s worth doing.

I think, you know, one thing we learned from September 11th—for instance, we had said that we shouldn‘t allow people to be taking flying lessons.  You know, we were overreacting back on September 8, 2001.  We saw later on what that meant.  So I think at least for short periods of time there is no harm in stopping and assessing and just seeing how dangerous the threat is, and then trying to get on with our lives as normally as possible.

CARLSON:  I hate to ask you to answer this in such a short period of time, but in under a minute, tell us the thing that you‘re worried about.  Where are we still vulnerable, do you think? 

KING:  Oh, I would probably say on mass transit or in our tunnels.  Because at that stage, you know, you can‘t be stopping every SUV or every car or every truck going into a tunnel, and you can‘t—there is no way you can be frisking or stopping everyone going onto a subway station or a commuter train.  And there are millions and millions of people on those trains every day. 


KING:  There‘s hundreds of thousands of people going through tunnels.  That is probably the main area.  That‘s why we have to stop them overseas before they get here, and also continue to use surveillance to undercut the plots that are happening in this country.

CARLSON:  I hope we are doing that.

Congressman Peter King, Republican of New York.

Mr. Chairman, thank you. 

KING:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Still to come, the reporters who brought you the ultimate breaking news story.  Today, rather than “Beat the Press,” for once we will praise the press.  That‘s all when we come back in just a moment. 


CARLSON:  Time now for “Beat the Press.” 

Today, on the anniversary of 9/11, we are doing something different, giving the press its due.  Thankfully, most of us did not find ourselves at the scene of the attacks that day five years ago, but a number of our colleagues in the news business did.  And some of them took real risks to bring us the story of a generation. 

Take a look at a few examples. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They advised us to leave because...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Oh, my god.  Look behind us.  Please pan in this way. 

Please—be careful of your baby.

This is it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s the building coming down. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Oh, my god.  Oh, my god.  Oh, my god.

No.  We‘re—listen, we‘ll be all right.  We‘ll be all right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think we‘re OK.  I think we‘re OK.  Ashleigh (ph), I think we‘re OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  All right.  We‘re going to have to move this way.  We‘re going to have to move.  We‘re going to have to move.  That cloud is coming this way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just a moment ago the entire top of the building collapsed.  You can see a massive plume of smoke.  People are running away from the area.

There are firefighters and there are police trying to evacuate the area as quickly as possible.  People who are near the area are in an absolute frenzied situation. 

The entire top of the building just collapsed.  You can see the plume of smoke is coming in our direction. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That is the cloud that we were in just about 45 minutes ago or so.  At the time we were there when the first trade tower came down, my producer and I were overcome by the cloud of debris and smoke that came at us so rapidly.  We had to break down a window to an—to an apartment building.  We had to break the window and go into the second door inside just to breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  As we were going across the street, we were not terribly far from the World Trade Center building, the south tower.  As we were cutting across in a—in a quarantine zone, actually, the building began to disintegrate.  And we heard it and looked up and started to see elements of the building come down, and we ran. 

And honestly, it was like a scene out of “Independence Day.”  Everything began to rain down.  It was pitch black around us as the winds were whipping through the corridors in lower Manhattan.  I ducked around a corner, got into a car which was open, and it was—it was night time for several minutes before things cleared up. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It took probably about I would say no more than 50 or 60 seconds for that dust cloud, dust and smoke, to literally make it the five or six blocks up here and begin to envelop us, at which point we started to move out of the way.  There were literally dozens and dozens of firemen who were trying to run past us. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Into that plume of smoke, that was where those world trade centers once stood.  And you can see people milling all about.  Emergency vehicles are trying to get through this area.  Police are trying to wrangle people to clear the way so that they can get through. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When I asked one of them why he was going back in as he suited up since he could barely breathe, he said, “It‘s my job, and there may be some of my brother officers in there.  There may be other people in there.”

Certainly in more than 20 years of covering horrific events, this is something that I have never seen before. 


CARLSON:  Pretty cool under pressure some of those correspondents.  Pretty impressive.

Still to come, where is Osama bin Laden, the man who caused what you just saw?  The president promised to capture him “dead or alive,” yet his trail apparently has gone cold.  Does he even matter any more and are we trying to catch him? 

And a senator says the world would be better off with Saddam Hussein in power in Iraq.  Is he right?

That story when we come back. 


CARLSON:  Still to come, five years after 9/11 we appear to be no closer to catching Osama bin Laden than we have ever been.  But does the terror mastermind still run al Qaeda?  Does he even matter any more?  And the continuing uproar over ABC Television‘s 9/11 movie.  Much ado about nothing?  We‘ll get to all that in a minute but right now here is a look at your headlines today.

REBECCA JARVIS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Rebecca Jarvis with your CNBC market wrap.  The New York Stock Exchange marked the fifth anniversary of 9/11 with a moment of silence today, stock spending much of the day in the red before turning up slightly.  The Dow closing up more than four, and the S&P up fractionally and the NASDAQ up more than seven.

Five years after 9/11 prompted the U.S. led invasion of Afghanistan, some investors are back in business there.  Despite increasing violence, Coca-Cola officially opened a new bottling plan in Kabul yesterday.  The $25 million plant will employ about 350 people.

In other news, gas prices down again nearly 22 cents a gallon to a nationally average of $2.65 for regular.  Crude also down 64 cents to $65.61 a barrel in New York on word OPEC ministries will maintain current production levels.  Now back to Tucker.

CARLSON:  Time now for “3 on 3” where we welcome two of the sharpest people we know to discuss three of today‘s most interesting stories.

Joining us from Washington, the author of “Fight Back!  Tackling Terrorism Liddy Style.”  He is G. Gordon Liddy.  The host of the “G. Gordon Liddy Show.”

Also in Washington, the author of “The Good Fight, Why Liberals and Only Liberals Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again.”  Peter Beinart, the editor-at-large of the “New Republic.”

Welcome both.

First up, on this, the fifth anniversary of 9/11, a question that goes against every bit of conventional wisdom we have heard so far.  Has the threat from terrorists been exaggerated, exaggerated by journalists, politicians and bureaucrats, the so-called terrorism industry?

A recent “New York Times” column John Tierney quotes an Ohio State political scientist called John Mueller (ph) who takes a controversial stand on it.  He puts it, quote, “Outside of Afghanistan and Iraq, the number of people killed around the world since 9/11 by groups in sympathy with al Qaeda is not that high.  These are horrible and disgusting guess but they‘re not a sign of a diabolically effective organization.  The total is less than the number of Americans who drowned in bath tubs during this period.”

Now, Gordon Liddy, I know that saying that out loud is certain to offend the hell out of a lot of people, but is it true?

G. GORDON LIDDY, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  No, it is not true.  The organizations are dispersed.  That‘s true.  They‘re not centrally commanded anymore.  But you have to remember that while every Muslim was not involved in the conspiracy of September 11, everyone who was involved was a Muslim, and there were millions of them cheering, and they are sympathizers and enablers.  That is a very dangerous situation.

CARLSON:  And yet the Tierney column makes the following point, Peter, which I think is fascinating.  He says why have they not, they being al Qaeda, been sniping people at shopping malls, collapsing tunnels, poisoning the food supply, cutting electrical lines derailing trains, blowing up oil pipelines, causing massive traffic jams, exploiting the countless other vulnerabilities that according to security experts could so easily be exploited?

It‘s a creepy thing to say out loud but it‘s actually a pretty good question.  Why aren‘t they don‘t those things?

PETER BEINART, “NEW REPUBLIC”:  Well, I think it is very hard to get into the United States these days if you are from that part of the world and have any kind of bad associations at all.  And thank goodness the American Muslim population has proved very moderate and very loyal.

CARLSON:  No, it is not.  If you want to hire a housekeeper, you could find a housekeeper who snuck into this country .

BEINART:  Yeah.  It is one thing to sneak in from Guatemala or Mexico.  It is much different than if you trying to come in from Saudi Arabia or Yemen or Iran.  It‘s become much, much more difficult and that is why you are seeing these terrorist attacks in Europe and other places, because it is easier to get into those places.

CARLSON:  OK.  So you are saying we have actually succeeded in keeping these people out even though we have no idea who is coming up from our southern border.  I mean .

BEINART:  But these people are not coming up through the southern border.  The statistics have shown there are virtually nobody, no terrorists have been discovered through the southern border.  The greater danger is actually the northern border, through Canada, ironically enough.  But the truth is we have probably kept a lot of very decent, hardworking, decent Muslims out of the country but we‘ve also probably kept a few terrorists out of the country.

CARLSON:  I‘m sure that‘s right, but Gordon Liddy, I think we can all agree that if you really wanted to get into the country, if you were an al Qaeda operative intent on sneaking in, you could buy false documents and you could come in.  You could come in through Mexico without any documents at all and you could shoot up a shopping mall or cut the electrical lines or do something else diabolical.  Why hasn‘t that been done yet?

LIDDY:  OK.  We don‘t know that they haven‘t come in, because the operative word is “discovered” coming in.  All they have to do is change their name from Yousef to Pedro and don the appropriate clothing and in they come.

So then they wait and strike at their convenience so I don‘t think that is a very strong argument.

Now as to why they don‘t do the kinds of things you have just been talking about, they go for the spectacular.  Yes, you could cause a lot of trouble, traffic jams and things of that sort.  Those are annoyances.  They want things that are spectacular, appeal to the imagination of their base and which will damage us severely economically.

The attacks on September 11 fit that pattern exactly.  These are very patient people.  I think we can assume that they are planning an attack that will fit in that category as we speak.

CARLSON:  I just know that when the two snipers drove around Washington for a couple of weeks a few years ago, my kids couldn‘t go out to play at school.  It had a huge—it paralyzed the entire nation‘s capital around Washington, just two freelance lunatics riding around and shooting people at gas stations was enough to have a tremendous effect.

Peter, listen - I know you have seen this before but this was the vice president said yesterday, this is his explanation for why we haven‘t been attacked in the last five years.  Here is Dick Cheney.


RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT:  I think we have done a pretty good job of securing the nation against terrorists.  We are here on the fifth anniversary, and there has not been another attack on the United States.  And that is not an accident.  Because we have done a hell of a job here at home in terms of homeland security.


CARLSON:  Peter, you can hate the war in Iraq.  I do, and I suspect do you as well.  But it is kind of hard to argue with the point.  We haven‘t had an attack.  Doesn‘t Cheney and the president he works for, don‘t they deserve some credit?

BEINART:  Yes, they do.  Look, terrorism was not a priority before 9/11.  Now we are spending unbelievable amounts of money and deploying vast numbers of people to try to stop it.  And of course we‘re going to be doing a better job.

I think the irony of the post 9/11 world is we are safer at home because we spent so much money on trying to secure the United States.  But America is weaker around the world because there is so much more hostility to the United States.  So it is harder to be America‘s ally.  That is the paradox of the post 9/11 world for me.

BEINART:  That is a pretty charitable assessment.  Not everyone is willing to be that charitable.  For instance, Jay Rockefeller from West Virginia, senator, said the other day, he is of course the lead Democrat in the Senate Intelligence Committee.  He said we would be better off if the U.S, had never invaded Iraq, even if Saddam were still in power there.  He said Saddam would, quote, “have been in control of that country but we wouldn‘t have depleted our resources, preventing us from prosecuting a war on terror, which is what this is all about.”

Gordon Liddy, I can‘t imagine you are impressed by this sentiment.  But analyze it as coolly and critically as you can.  If Saddam were in power, that would be bad.  He is an evil man.  On the other hand, we would at least understand our enemy and we would have some better sense of what he might do.  We could anticipate his future actions because there would not be chaos.  Would that be better or worse?

LIDDY:  Here is the problem with that argument.  The reason the vice president is correct is because we took the battle from our shores overseas into the Middle East where the bad guys are.  Now, every culture has a saying similar to ours that the best defense is a good offense.  In German it‘s (German).  “The great blow carries with it its own defense.”

And we know that Saddam was up to no good.  He intended to acquire—reacquire weapons of mass destruction.  He had them at one time.  He used them against the Kurds, and he was scheming to do that.

That situation was very, very dangerous.  We went into Afghanistan.  We destroyed the base of al Qaeda.  We went into Iraq and took out—I am sure there are people who probably think, gee, Germany would be a lot more stable if Adolph Hitler was still around too.  But I don‘t believe that.

CARLSON:  Now, look, this is a repugnant moral argument, and I think Senator Rockefeller is going to get thumped and maybe he deserves it for suggesting having Saddam in power is in anyway a good thing.  Obviously Saddam is evil and that would be bad.  However would it be worse than the prospect than the civil war we are watching unfold in Iraq?  Peter?

BEINART:  I supported the war in Iraq, as you know, Tucker.


BEINART:  Because I thought—and do believe that Saddam is an evil man and I didn‘t trust him.  The problem is when the inspectors went back in in early 2003, what they found was that Saddam Hussein‘s ability to develop a nuclear weapon.  And that is really the scary part.

The biological and chemical weapons weren‘t really a threat.  His capacity to develop a nuclear weapon was far, far less than we thought.

Given that, we are now more unsafe because of the war in Iraq because there were virtually no terrorists in Iraq who Saddam had any connection to.  Now it has become the biggest breeding ground for people who want to kill Americans around the world.  Saddam was a horrible, horrible guy but he had never actually attacked the United States.  The people who are now running around there do want to do that.

LIDDY:  He had not attacked the United States, but it is not correct to say there was no connection with terrorism.  My son with the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, who was in the war, discovered at they marched up to Baghdad, a training camp with facilities for 600 terrorists.  It was a very elaborate thing.  As a matter of fact, he brought back some of the training manuals.  They are in Arabic, of course, but we have got them and there was that going on.

BEINART:  If I could respond .

CARLSON:  Very quickly, Peter, we‘re almost out of time.

BEINART:  The CIA and the 9/11 commission have both basically said there was really no important connection between Saddam and al Qaeda.  There were conversations sometimes, but they never did anything together.  Much stronger connections between Saudi Arabia and al Qaeda, Pakistan and al Qaeda.

CARLSON:  Peter Beinart, G. Gordon Liddy.  Thank you.  Very quickly, Peter - Gordon—Before we go .

LIDDY:  You and I are going head to head tomorrow night.

CARLSON:  That‘s my question.  You are on “Celebrity Fear Factor” on NBC tonight.

LIDDY:  That‘s right, and you are on “Dancing with the Stars.”

CARLSON:  Yes, I am, wearing very tight polyester outfits but not eating pig rectums.  Is there any things you won‘t eat, is my question?

LIDDY:  Anything I won‘t eat?


LIDDY:  Yes, there are quite a few things I won‘t eat, but they don‘t have them on “Fear Factor.”

CARLSON:  I have the feeling you‘re going to win.  I don‘t think I‘m going out on a limb.  Gordon Liddy; If you don‘t win “Fear Factor,” I am going to be shocked.  Truly.  I am on your side.  Thank you.  Thanks, Peter.

Coming up, al Qaeda‘s number two leader warns it will attack, al Qaeda that is, will attack Israel and the United States and the Gulf States.  But where is Osama bin Laden?  Is he still the terrorist in chief, still the mastermind in charge?  We‘ll tell you.  That story when we come back.


CARLSON:  Time for a look at today‘s stories I just don‘t get.  We begin with a case of much ado about nothing over at ABC.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well what are your intentions once you seize the target?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, we get bin Laden in handcuffs, get him into a Land Rover and get him out of there.


CARLSON:  Despite a tsunami of whining from former members of the Clinton administration, part one of the minute series “The Path to 9/11” aired as scheduled last night.  Although ABC did agree to a few editing changes.  Critics including the former president think the five-hour movie cheaply blames him for ignoring the growing terrorist threat.

The network notes, however, “The Path to 9/11” is not a documentary.  Duh, to use a word popular with people under six.  Duh.  Of course it is not a documentary.  More over, the Clinton administration, and there is no argument about this, this is not a partisan political point, that at least five separate times blew and turned down opportunities to apprehend Osama bin Laden.  So nobody is casting fingers when they say, quite correctly, yeah, it is partly their fault.  Sorry they don‘t like it.  By the way, very few people watched that documentary in the end anyway - or that docudrama, so maybe they should have stopped whining in the first place.  They just called attention to it.

Well, next some political news I really don‘t get.


AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT:  In 2000 when you overwhelmingly made the decision to elect me as your 43rd president I knew the road ahead would be difficult.


CARLSON:  Bit of wishful thinking there on the part of Al Gore but the former vice president turned “Saturday Night Live” player may not have entirely given up his dream of one day moving back into the White House.

Facing reporters in Australia last night, gore says he does not expect to run for president again two years from now.  But, he adds, he has not completely ruled out that possibility.

Here‘s what I don‘t get.  Do all the people you‘re hearing in the last six months or so, saying you know, Al Gore was right?  He would have made a great president?  Do they really mean it?  And if Al Gore decided to run again, would they support him?

No, of course they wouldn‘t.  They would be terrified, nobody, especially his friends wants to see Al Gore run for president.  Let‘s just stop pretending.

And finally, on this fifth anniversary of 9/11, the futile search for Osama bin Laden deserves an explanation.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT:  We are working to connect the dots to stop the terrorists from hurting America again.


CARLSON:  Maybe so, but so far none of the dots has led to the most wanted man on Earth.  In the weeks following 9/11 it was believed bin Laden was hiding somewhere in Afghanistan.  Yet despite a massive U.S. military operation in that country for the past five years, he remains at large, but not completely out of site.

Videos like this one remind us that he remains an influential figure within elements of the extreme Muslim world.  The question is, where is he five years later?  Why can‘t we find him and is finding him even a priority anymore?

Let‘s ask Walid Phares, he is an MSNBC terrorism analyst and the author of “Future Jihad, Terrorist Strategies Against America.”

He joins us from New York.  Walid, welcome.


CARLSON:  Is it worth spending a lot of time and money to catch Osama bin Laden?

PHARES:  No, because Osama bin Laden now is not the chief executive of al Qaeda.  He is the highly symbolical leader but decisions are made basically by the council below him led by Ayman al Zawahiri.  It would be, of course, important and good if he is caught.  But Osama bin Laden had made the decision of freezing.  When he left, Tora Bora he got into some position and is not moving for the past five years.

CARLSON:  Wouldn‘t it—Isn‘t a symbolic victory an important victory?  After World War II when Japan surrendered the very first thing the United States does, pretty much the first, was require the Japanese emperor to admit he was not God.  So all of his people would know that he was defeated, that he had laid down his sword and that was considered really important.

Isn‘t Osama bin Laden a similar type figurehead?

PHARES:  After Japan was occupied and after Germany was occupied, how can you compare this with al Qaeda?  Meaning, after al Qaeda is dismantled, definitely any leader of al Qaeda at the time would have to be shown to the world as responsible and he should admit for what they have done.

The problem is that al Qaeda is now dispatched all over the world.  It is going to be very difficult to end al Qaeda and then return to the leader.

CARLSON:  We keep reading reports that we haven‘t apprehended Osama bin Laden partly because elements of the government of Pakistan, particularly in ISI, the intelligence service, are sympathetic to him.  Do you think that is true?  Is Pakistan keeping us from catching bin Laden?

PHARES:  It is not all of Pakistan, Tucker.  It is a group of sympathizers, Wahabi, Salafi, jihadist, whatever you want to call them, within the intelligence service of Pakistan, that basically doesn‘t do their job in going after this core group of al Qaeda within the Waziristan area where we believe mostly it could be.

So it is an action by negative.  Pakistan is not launching that offensive because of course they are afraid of a civil war, which gives Osama bin Laden and his colleagues a lot of space to hide.

CARLSON:  And finally, Walid, when Osama bin Laden releases a videotape, usually through al Jazeera as he has pretty regularly over the last five years do people pay attention?  Do these tapes matter?

PHARES:  Yes, they do in the Arab and Muslim worlds, at least among his supporters.  The jihadists, not just al Qaeda but others.  This is a message for them that the struggle is still alive.  But basically note that Osama bin Laden himself has not produced any video about himself or giving interviews to others, because he doesn‘t want to risk what Zarqawi has risked after his last video and he was killed.

CARLSON:  Yes, he sure was and we can only pray for something like that for Osama bin Laden.  Walid Phares, thank you.

PHARES:  Sure.

CARLSON:  Still to come, five years after 9/11 we are still paying a terrible price on the war on terror.  But is it making us safer?  That story when we come back.



MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  So where are we?  If 9/11 here is the starting point, where are we now?

BUSH:  We‘re safer where we are but we‘re not yet safe.


CARLSON:  That was President Bush speaking to Matt Lauer of the TODAY SHOW this morning.  The president says we‘re not yet safe but will we ever be safe.  My guest says probably not he guarantees another major attack on U.S. soil before it is all over.  Kelly McCann is a former marine officer and currently the president of the Kroll Security Group.  He‘s also one of the world‘s foremost experiments on counterterrorism and my friend.  He joins us today from Stafford, Virginia.

Kelly, welcome.  You are saying unequivocally there be another attack, why do you say that?

J. KELLY MCCANN, KROLL SECURITY GROUP:  Because I don‘t know that you can ever win a war on terrorism.  I think you can endure a war on terrorism.  Once the idea that someone could injure the United States like they did on 9/11 is out you kind of can‘t take that back.  So when can you say we‘ve beaten the terrorists?  I think the idea is out, Pandora‘s Box open and attacks will be either less or more injurious to us but I think it is inevitable.

CARLSON:  Yes.  You are one of the people that will give me a nonpolitical answer to this question, I think it‘s an essential question.  We haven‘t been attacked in five years.  Is that because of things we‘ve done or things al Qaeda has not done?

MCCANN:  Both.  There is no easy answer.  Obviously we can‘t know the metric that they‘re applying towards deciding whether they should or should not commit some kind of attack.  Today has been a difficult day to watching television because everything from outlawing ammonium nitrate to people saying we should fly basically without any fluids.  All of that is out there.

The thing people have to understand, Tucker, is that as dynamic as this threat is, so our countermeasures, so every time we come up with a countermeasure, they devise a new threat, we then develop a new countermeasure and it‘s a cyclical thing.  So why haven‘t they attacked, perhaps the time is not right.  We do know, however, that these people are abnormally patient and that they will wait for the right time to attack, Tucker.

CARLSON:  What are the smart things that we‘ve done in this country to protect ourselves?

MCCANN:  Intelligence.  We‘ve really streamlined some of the intelligence measures.  The problem right now though is the bouncing up against civil liberties that we‘re seeing the intelligence sharing cooperatives trying to breach.  In other words, can a local community share information, crime information with the CIA, which was never meant to be a domestic inward looking agency.  Those are very difficult civil liberty questions that have yet to be answered will have a direct impact on our security.

CARLSON:  Yeah.  There has been a lot of emphasis on airplanes and in some ways it‘s understandable.  Nine-Eleven of course was an attack that used airplanes.  But do you think too much emphasis on airplanes?

MCCANN:  Yes, but Tucker, if for nothing else than a more combative passenger group.  The same kind of attack that happened on 9/11 I would doubt would happen again.  Because if there is any abnormal at all activity on a plane everyone notices and everyone would both report it or even intervene.

So I don‘t see that kind of attack.  But potentially a different kind of attack.  The constant theme from al Qaeda at least was that planes will fall from the sky.  So I think it‘s wise to look at that but again they‘re not stupid.  They‘re look at other ways they could use our vulnerability against us, that  could be mass transport, it could be a lot of different things, Tucker.

CARLSON:  You spent a lot of time working with the federal government on these kinds of questions.  Can you tell us how afraid government officials are by the possibility of terrorists using surface to air missiles to bring down commercial airliners?

MCCANN:  Not very because of the signature.  Obviously the container thing is the big problem, what they can bring in and all the containers that go unchecked.  But the actual threat of a surface to air missile is in question primarily because it‘s never been proven it would be ineffective against a passenger airliner.  It could certainly hurt it and might actually create enough destruction that it could crash, but it‘s not been proven and that it would simply pass through a wing and that‘s still a question that‘s not been fully tested.  There are other things we should be more concerned with, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Give me just a quick list of things we really ought to be worried about.

MCCANN:  The chemical biological thing, because of asymmetrical nature of those attacks, a very small amount of substances released into a passenger group or a public place, that‘s important.

There are other kind of attacks in public places that could be very easily conducted and still meet the timeline that al Qaeda uses of simultaneous attacks that we should be concerned with.  I mean intelligence is really the answer here, Tucker.

CARLSON:  It seems like that‘s probably the only answer.  Kelly McCann, a man of great knowledge and wisdom,  Thanks Kelly.

MCCANN:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  That‘s our show on this, the fifth anniversary of the attacks of 9/11.  Thank you for watching.  Our coverage continues today with Chris Matthews and HARDBALL.  Thanks for watching.  We‘ll see you tomorrow.



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