Guests: Bruce Fein
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The nexus of politics and terror new development number one, the Bush administration blows the cover of the private intelligence firm that found the last Osama bin Laden tape. Renegs promise to keep it quiet.
Throws away another counter terror asset. Let‘s al Qaeda know the Intel‘s firms methods so it could get itself a public relations coup.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We did not ask have that information solely reviewed at the White House. We immediately turned it over to the National Center for Counterterrorism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The nexus of politics and terror new development number two, the Bush administration claims al Qaeda is trying to sneak an agent into this country, just as Democrats decide whether or not to vote for handing over more of the Constitution in the upcoming FISA vote. Kind of like telling them, in August, the capitol was an eminent target, just before they voted on the last FISA bill.
Rudy Giuliani, booed at Yankee Stadium during “God Bless America”. He and the other Republicans debate in Michigan.
And there has been a Fred Thompson sighting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED THOMPSON, ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have enjoyed watching these fellows. I have got to admit it was getting a little boring without me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The endless Diana inquest takes another field trip, possibly searching for any trace of all the other Diana inquests.
And Senator Larry Craig of the Idaho Hall of Fame and of a different kind of fame at a satirical web site.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SINGER: He only tapped his toe. I am not gay. Tell that to Idaho.
I am not gay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: All that and more, on “Countdown.”
(on camera): Good evening. If you had any remaining doubt that the Bush administration is more interested in issuing press releases boasting of defeating or thwarting terrorism than it is in actually defeating or thwarting terrorism, you can stop wondering.
Our fifth story on the “Countdown,” the administration compromised a back-door channel into Islamic web sites so it could look like a bunch of big men on FOX News channel. It reviewed a route to an unreleased Osama bin Laden video. Of course, not long after FOX News found out, so did al Qaeda. Add the name SITE intelligence group, S-I-T-E, to the long list of counterterror assets sacrificed to Bush P.R. efforts. It‘s the Valerie Plame Wilson list, if you will.
The founder of the small privately run intelligence firm telling the “Washington Post” it gave two senior White House officials an advanced copy of the last, the latest, Osama bin Laden tape on the condition the administration would keep it secret until al Qaeda released the tape itself. The logic there impeccable not to give al Qaeda a hint that any terror group had a pipeline into one of its web homes.
But within hours, someone in the government had leaked the video and the transcript to FOX News. Apparently, even telling FOX about the SITE Intelligence Group‘s name. The sensitive data was leaked to other news organizations. And that, says the SITE group, tipped off al Qaeda to the security breach that allowed SITE to get the advanced copy of the tape in the first place. Thanks to that, the company adds, quote, “techniques that took years to develop are now ineffective and worthless.”
At the White House this afternoon, Press Secretary Dana Perino confirmed identity of the two senior officials to whom the SITE intelligence group gave the bin Laden tape, and said they immediately shared it with others in a good way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERINO: We did not ask to have that information just solely reviewed at the White House. We immediately turned it over to the National Center for Counterterrorism. That‘s what Fred Fielding and Joel Bagnell did, the two people who were aware of the link.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: So if only Mr. Fielding, the White House council, and Mr. Bagnell, the deputy assistant to the president for Homeland Security, knew about the bin Laden tape, can Ms. Perino be certain that neither was the source of the leak. Well, why, yes, she can.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: My question is, Fielding and Bagnell knew about the information. You are positive they didn‘t leak it?
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Or take further than the DNI‘s office?
PERINO: We ask that the company contact NTCT directly and get that information to them directly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Didn‘t Ms. Perino start out by saying that Fielding and Bagnell contacted the National Counterterrorism Center about the tape themselves and, if not the NTCT, did they happen to speak to anybody else?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERINO: I know they asked for the company that called to contact NTCT directly. I don‘t know who else they might have called within our government, possibly the DNI‘s counsel‘s office. But I‘m not positive. I can check.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: You are saying they contacted these other places. The company asked them not to. So how do you know that...
PERINO: No, no. We asked...
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Fielding?
PERINO: Because I have talked to Fred.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: OK. That‘s my question.
PERINO: I talked to Fred. What we do is we ask—the call comes in from the company. And then Fred said we would like for the federal government to be able to look at this, thank you. But don‘t send it to me. Send it directly to the NTCT, the National Center for Counterterrorism, which is—which was what was taking place here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: To recap, in the space of two minutes, Ms. Perino‘s story, the White House not asking to have the bin Laden tape solely reviewed by the White House, and claims that the White House did in fact review it. Ms. Perino further saying Fred Fielding and Joel Bagnell turned the tape over to the National Counterterrorism Center themselves. That story morphing into Mr. Fielding asked the SITE Institute to contact the NCTC directly. That second version of the story morphing into I‘m going to have to get into the specifics of who Mr. Fielding spoke with or didn‘t.
Time for to us speak with our own Dana Milbank, national political reporter of the “Washington Post.”
Dana, good evening.
DANA MILBANK, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORT, “WASHINGTON POST”: Sorry about those Yankees, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That‘s all right. Thank you. Let me ask. This gets leaked first to FOX and then to others on September 7th. Anything around that date that might pass for a public relations motive to leak this?
MILBANK: Well, I think it‘s pretty obvious. You beat O‘Reilly in the ratings the night before.
They need to give FOX a boost. Well, look, we all know that Petraeus was making his big presentation to Congress the following Monday. This would give him a little boost.
On the other hand, this was news that was going to come out anyway.
There is no sign of malice in the way there was in the Wilson-Plame affair. This seems to be more a case of ineptitude. That‘s not terribly reassuring, if the government is behaving in a reckless way with Intelligence while, at the same time, scolding everybody else who is leaking it.
OLBERMANN: Let‘s do something that helps al Qaeda, courtesy of the government. At least in terms of what happened today, at least Dana Perino cleared all this up. Did anybody throw her a rope there? I mean, you could see it flash across the eyes, I don‘t know what I‘m talking about. Is she still treading water at this hour?
MILBANK: She is in a dangerous position. You could play certain tapes of Scott McClellan using almost the same words to exonerate Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. Perino was careful to say she knows they weren‘t involved or weren‘t responsible because she had talked to them. So, at least she is letting it hang on their own honesty here. She has left herself in a pretty dangerous position and clearly has not answered all the questions.
OLBERMANN: At the White House this morning, Francis Townsend, who is assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and appears on camera frequently everywhere, said the White House has not conducted the an investigation of this information exchange. Let‘s call it that. But she expected that the director of National Intelligence, Admiral McConnell, would do so and, quote, “it would be a typical leak investigation.”
First off, that‘s funny by itself. Do you think she meant the president‘s no-on-except-Karl-Rove-who-is-involved-in-this-leak-can-stay-in-my-administration version of typical or let‘s-appoint-a-special-prosecutor-and-get-to-the-bottom-of-this typical?
MILBANK: No one is talking, I believe, even on the Democratic side about a special prosecutor just yet in this. But what‘s interesting is it would not be typical for the DNI, for intelligence community to do this investigation. Typically what‘s happened is they make a report to the justice department which does this sort of investigation. So, we should be watching to see if that is, indeed, the process it takes here.
OLBERMANN: It‘s interesting that this is going then to McConnell at the DNI because he said today, and there was the implication that someone at the DNI‘s office may have—the attorney‘s office for the DNI, might have been the leaker. McConnell said in response, to make the accessed that the Intelligence office leaked this to the media is totally false.
It wouldn‘t be the first time though that the White House has tried to pin something bad on the Intelligence community. Does it put to rest the idea that they learned from the mistakes of WMD in Iraq and other stories?
MILBANK: Yes. They have got yellow cake uranium all over their face in that one there is truth to that. In the previous case, George Tenet took the fall for the administration and didn‘t come out well in the process. You see them fighting back now and that‘s very different.
OLBERMANN: Dana Milbank of the “Washington Post.” Thanks, Dana.
MILBANK: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: For more on the impact of the counterterrorism community, of the administration‘s leak, of the means by which this side had a head start on Osama bin Laden‘s latest tape, let‘s turn to MSNBC terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann, the founder of globalterroralert.com.
Evan, thanks for your time tonight.
EVAN KOHLMANN, FOUNDER, GLOBALTERRORALERT.COM: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: Let‘s start with this breach here. Did someone just give away the kind of advantage, whether it‘s huge or little, the kind of advantage that the rest of the counterterrorism world spends 18 hours a day trying to gain?
KOHLMANN: It was a very unusual edge what they had gotten. About over the last approximate year, there have been a number of us that have managed to snake various loopholes into al Qaeda‘s distribution system. We have been able to get advanced copies of al Qaeda videos before they are coming out.
Now, it happens to different degrees and some people use different loopholes. It happened that the SITE Institute had it secured for itself was remark capably ingenious and quite unusual. And I would be shocked to hear that anyone in the U.S. government has an equivalent on their own without the assistance of SITE.
Now, that being said, I want to caution people we are not talking about, you know, the next 9/11 happening tomorrow because of this intelligence leak. What we have is a more complicated situation. And that is that you have the U.S. government, which relies on private contractors, like the SITE Institute, like myself, to do this kind of work for them. They rely on us to provide this kind of information. And then they go ahead and somebody in the U.S. government obviously burned the SITE Institute.
Now, what is the ultimate impact? Well, if the SITE Institute finds the bin Laden video tomorrow, ahead of the U.S. government, you better bet they are not going to turn to the U.S. government or certainly not going to turn to the White House.
As far as what the White House did in this case, I have got to tell you, I was getting request from this video from U.S. law enforcement on that day. So, apparently, whoever was at the White House or whoever was at the DNI who was supposed to be in charge of getting this video out, was not doing a very good job because it didn‘t get out to U.S. Law enforcement immediately?
So, I mean, this is just the reality of things is that FOX News had this transcript and had this video, in some cases, before FBI agents did.
OLBERMANN: And the response, of course, as we suggested, it gets out, guess, what even terrorist organizations can figure out that their security or something has gone wrong in terms of this. And they shut down many of these prominent Islamic web sites, shut down on the afternoon of September 7th.
Is that cause and effect? Did we just lose some sort of, you know, head start? Again, as you said, it‘s not life and death tomorrow, but this is all, as in the old spy days, this is 365 days of work a year and you just lost, I don‘t know, 10, 20, 30 days, whatever it means, right?
KOHLMANN: These loopholes are incredibly difficult to secure. When they disappear it really is a sad thing to see them go. I don‘t know that permanent damage was done but any damage really is regrettable because these kind of opportunities are few and far between. It really, it takes ingenuity to find these loopholes. It‘s not so easy. So to squander them for any reason, except for life or death, is something that should not be done. It‘s irrelevant whether the intelligence was collected by SITE or U.S. Intelligence agency, you don‘t squander intelligence needlessly.
Here you put their intelligence-gathering methods—and I should say that intelligence gathering methods of many private intelligence research institutions, at risk by doing this and, thus, consequently, U.S. government intelligence.
I mean, again, there is a reason why the SITE Institute exists. There is a reason why people like me are out there. It‘s because the U.S. government has to hire people to do this. They can‘t do it on their own.
OLBERMANN: This is, by the way, a mirror image of every argument they have ever made for classifying anything as it relates to Gitmo, black site, as it relates to web, as it relates to telecommunications which is a mirror image of this. Which leads to my question, when something like this happens, and it‘s not the first time, do you sit there in your office and say I‘m not sure this administration wants to actually do that grind-it-out work of counterterrorism. It just wants to see nice headlines about what a great job they are doing?
KOHLMANN: There does seem to be unfortunate tendency that when there are victories in the war on terrorism or a speech by Osama bin Laden or something really, you know, that generates fear, there seems to be a tendency to focus on that, rather than focusing on the kind of more nuanced here is al Qaeda, here is what they are planning, here is what they have said.
We don‘t want to resort to hysteria. And the last thing we want to do is spread al Qaeda‘s message the way that they want us to which is spreading a transcript to the American people. There was nothing in this bin Laden video that had any value that Americans needed to read it then and there. So, to help distribute it to Americans, you are just helping al Qaeda in their mission.
OLBERMANN: Evan Kohlmann, MSNBC terror analyst and proprietor of his own great firm.
Great thanks, Evan.
KOHLMANN: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: The Republican debate. Rudy Giuliani claims we‘ve broken up 23 terrorist plots since 9/11. The White House doesn‘t even claim that. Maybe Mr. Giuliani was thrown, after all, he was booed at Yankee Stadium last night.
Speaking of being thrown, is the White House trying to throw a scare into the Democrats by claiming there is an imminent threat just before everybody votes on another FISA spy bill?
You are watching “Countdown” on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: It was not a debate. It was not a poll. It was not empirically measurable, but it may have been a milestone in the 2008 presidential campaign nonetheless. Rudy Giuliani not just in New York City but in Yankee Stadium in New York City roundly booed. Not just roundly booed, but roundly booed during the singing of “God Bless America”.
Our fourth story on the “Countdown,” Fred Thompson‘s first debate as seen by co-host Chris Matthews in a moment.
First, they were not shouting Rudy. They were booing. It happened twice last night late during the New York Yankees‘ final playoff game of the 2007 season. Giuliani, you will remember as these photos indicate, spent more time traveling to or watching Yankee games in the two months after 9/11 than he spent at Ground Zero two months after 9/11, was in attendance last night. At mid game his image was plastered on to the video scream and usual applause and cheering was mixed with heavy booing. I thought it was 50-50. Others at the ballpark were not so charitable.
During the 7th inning stretch, as the tenor Ronan Tynan sang “God Bless America” was sang he was shown on the video screen and there was no mistaking what happened next. He was briefly but lustily booed. No cheers or applause at all. Kind of uncouth, during “God Bless America,” but perhaps very telling.
As certainly was former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson‘s first dip into the debate pool. The luxury of getting a free hour of softball questions on FOX Noise right after his rivals had to compete with each other is now history, as Thompson joined in at the business-related debate in Dearborn, Michigan, co-moderated by our Chris Matthews and CNBC Maria Bartiromo.
MITT ROMNEY, ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mayor Giuliani took the line-item veto that the president had all the way to the Supreme Court and took it away from the president of the United States. I think that was a mistake.
RUDY GIULIANI, ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The line-item veto was unconstitutional. I took Bill Clinton to the Supreme Court and beat Bill Clinton. It‘s unconstitutional. What the heck you can do about that, if you are a strict constructionist? I controlled taxes.
I brought taxes down by 17 percent. Under him taxes, went up 11 percent per capita. I led, he lagged.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST, “HARDBALL” & DEBATE MODERATOR: Sur-rebuttal here? Final rebuttal?
ROMNEY: Nice line, but baloney. Mayor, check your facts. No taxes -
I did not increase taxes in Massachusetts.
GIULIANI: You have to be honest with people. You can‘t fool all of the people all of the time. So I took President Clinton to court and I beat him. And I don‘t think it‘s a bad idea to have a Republican presidential candidate who actually has beat President Clinton at something.
OLBERMANN: So, while they were doing that, Mr. Thompson in his debut, did this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMPSON: I don‘t think anybody believes anything coming out of Washington anymore. I think we need to tell them the truth that our security is on the line, that our economy is on the line, that our prosperity is on the line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: This was right after Mr. Thompson had just said everything was going well with the economy. So, security, economy, prosperity, anything else on the line?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMPSON: We are not going to have Social Security and Medicare as we know it into the future. Our children and our grandchildren certainly are not. We are eating our seed corn.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Lighter moment finally seeping in the very last few minutes of the debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMPSON: I got to admit it was getting a little boring without me.
But I‘m glad to be here now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Joining us now from Dearborn, one of the co-moderators of that event, our own Chris Matthews.
Chris, good evening.
MATTHEWS: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: First off, the rookie Fred Thompson kind of froze during his first answer. It was a bad day for him outside of the arena. Those old Nixon White House tapes were played in which Nixon called him Thompson dumb as hell and betrayed him as a loyal toadie.
MATTHEWS: He didn‘t think he was useful to the Watergate defense.
OLBERMANN: Did he do anything in the debate to overtaxing himself.
MATTHEWS: He was a little more lively then Darren Hammond was playing him Saturday night. But I think Darren got up to a six on the Richter scale of interest out of a possible 10.
I thought he got funny. I thought he had good short answers. He is iconic, sort of a Gary Cooper type. It depends whether less is more. Will the voters say he doesn‘t look like he is trying? Therefore, I trust him? The guys that try too hard look like they are lying. I mean, I can see that.
By the way, you have got to be careful about Rudy. You know, Richard Nixon was at the opening of Candlestick in 1961 in San Francisco. He watched this horrible booing of the governor, Pat Brown. People destroyed him that night. Nixon said, God, I beat that guy and he ran against him and got killed. I don‘t know. You can‘t always—booing means—sometimes booing is I hate the guy. Sometimes booing is I‘m giving him a hard time. I‘m not sure. You, as a New Yorker, know they really don‘t like him or make his moment miserable. I can‘t tell.
OLBERMANN: It varied from night to night. Sunday, it was nothing like that. And that‘s what was so startling on it. And I wanted to press you on this and let‘s do that now before...
MATTHEWS: I think...
OLBERMANN: Is it possible this...
MATTHEWS: I don‘t think can you use it as an applause meter. I don‘t think it works that way.
OLBERMANN: But is it possible that there are New Yorkers, even the ones who support him, who are just saying, you know, we know what you are doing with 9/11 and we find it a little obscene that you are riding an entire campaign based on this?
MATTHEWS: You mean New Yorkers not liking somebody overdoing something?
MATTHEWS: Ha, New Yorkers all overdo everything, loud, obvious, un-ironic. What‘s wrong with that? You know, I think that‘s what New York is, isn‘t it? Isn‘t it a loud city? And a bragging city?
MATTHEWS: Isn‘t it.
OLBERMANN: But you get thicker windows. Here is a quote from this debate today from Giuliani. Do you know about what this meant, “We have had 23 plots since September 11 where Islamist terrorists...
MATTHEWS: I know.
OLBERMANN: ... were planning to kill Americans that we had to stop.
The White House does not claim 23.
MATTHEWS: I know they are getting this stuff.
OLBERMANN: The number of times he cut taxes in New York was 23. That‘s an interesting coincidence. Did he just get the number wrong or what?
MATTHEWS: Maybe it‘s one of those Biblical numbers like the Minister Farrakhan, the number 9. I thought it was a little interesting. I know we are looking for tea leafs, but these guys do have access to power. Did you hear McCain say something‘s up in Iran? Did you hear that? About a half hour in, somebody asked him, me or whatever, Maria, maybe, something may be up. Like does he know that the balloon is up? I mean, I thought that was a little cause for concern for those of us who wonder whether we should be attacking Iran or not. Didn‘t you hear it?
OLBERMANN: Yeah. But we have heard Senator McCain drop things in like that before in previous times and nothing has happened.
OLBERMANN: Is it more than a tea leaf than Giuliani getting booed at Yankee Stadium? That‘s the question.
MATTHEWS: No. I think he likes to show that he knows what‘s going on that he is in the loop, and he could well be in the loop. He‘s on the Armed Services committee. If there is something up, he might know it. I don‘t know why he would drop that sugar plumb on us tonight, that there is something going up in Iran when he must figure a lot of people watching are very much against that idea. But I don‘t know if he is in touch with us.
OLBERMANN: Or perhaps many of the people who are watching were not against the idea and he just wanted to say hello to them.
Chris Matthews, great thanks for your time.
OLBERMANN: The entire Republican debate airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern time. 6:00 central right here on MSNBC.
Reporting tonight, a close call for the wife of a Democratic candidate in Iowa. A van driven by one of the Senator Barack Obama‘s campaign aides carrying Michelle Obama collided with a motorcycle on a country road. The van was totaled but no one in Obama‘s vehicle was hurt. The biker, a 40-year-old local named Tim Emerson, crashed into the side of the Obama van and ended up in an embankment. He was conscious when the ambulance arrived. Is in the hospital, at last word tonight. Ms. Obama canceled the rest of her campaign stops for the rest of the night but, again, is reported to have been uninjured after an accident on the roads in Iowa.
There were no questions at today‘s debate about Larry Craig, unless we didn‘t correctly translate some foot tapping. Satire in claymation tonight. And I went to a kangaroo race and NASCAR broke out. That‘s next. This is “Countdown.”
OLBERMANN: Roughly 18 years ago today Jim Lampley (ph), then news anchor at KCBS Television in Los Angeles related to me how earlier in his career on a night before he was to cover the Indianapolis 500 auto race for ABC Sports he had contracted severe laryngitis. Lamps explained how he had been taken to see one of the race team doctors who gave him steroids, not the kind usually used on a bad throat.
He said he woke up the morning of the race to discover not only was his laryngitis gone but that he was absolutely convinced he had the strength to win the Indy 500 by outrunning the cars. The relevance of this story you will discover right after I say, let‘s play “Oddball.”
Because this little fellow had the same doctor as Jim Lampley. The Australian team did not get the mommy mow. At the Bathurst 1,000 qualifying race in Bathurst Australia, if you ever wondered what would happen if you crossed “Kangaroo Jack” with “Talladega Nights,” wonder no more. The roo, uninjured, bounced onto the track, cars whizzed by him at more than 100 miles an hour. Luckily, everybody swerved to miss him.
No accidents, nobody got hurt. The kangaroo pulled an exit stage right. And went home to change his pouch. Or her pouch, probably.
To Huntington, England and some fake animal racing it‘s the Mascot Grand National. The deep field this year could be any plushy‘s race unless you ask Wacky Mackey Bear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What‘s your name?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wacky Mackey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What makes you think you are up to winning, or you‘re not in it for that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have seen some of the other people getting changed in the dressing the room. I figure I have a good chance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: See if he can back it up. And it‘s Bumblebee Boy out first, Captain Blade has some kind of head start. Clearly some sort of pirate malfeasance going on. Oh, he is he turning on the other mascots. It‘s an ambush. If Captain Blade can‘t win, no one will. Wait, what‘s this? Wacky Mackey Bear is pulling away from the field. Wacky Mackey is ahead and down the stretch they come. Wacky Macky takes it. The beaver badger kind of thing is in second place. Hedgehog, porcupine, something third. Whacky Mackey paying 490, 320, 260. Time of the race, 1 minute, 29 seconds. And now over the Epson for the 315.
It was Congresswoman Harman of California who said somebody leaked a rumor about a phony terrorist plot against the capital to get Congress to approve an extension of the FISA spy lies in August.
Now a story that al Qaeda is trying to sneak operative in the U.S. just before Congress votes on another extension of FISA spying.
And enough already. Another field trip into another inquest into the death of Princess Diana.
Those stories ahead but first time for goofballs and good guys.
Here are COUNTDOWN‘S top three best persons in the world. Number three, best rationalization, Fred Barnes of Fixed News claiming Senator Obama‘s position on Iraq is not as strong as Obama thinks it is that his 2002 speech came, quote, “in a time when the entire world believed Saddam Hussein in Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and, yet, Barack Obama was against the war at that point, I don‘t think that shows that he is very strong on national security which, he needs to be,” unquote.
So, he is not strong on national security because he was right and you, Fred Barnes, were totally damned wrong.
Number two best save, the cashier at the Giant Eagle store in Pittsburgh, the guy walks in and asks if they will make change for a large bill, hands over a million. The cashier recognizes the picture on it as President Grover Cleveland and remembers that Cleveland was on the thousand dollar bill and the thousand dollar bill went out of circulation nearly 40 years ago and there is no million dollar bill. They got the guy arrested.
Number one best sales call, Jamie Howard trying to sell Kirby vacuum cleaners door to door in Twin Falls, Idaho. They really still do this. Goes to the home of Paul Suture (ph) but the family says we can‘t afford a new vacuum cleaner, we have to save money for an operation. What for? Mr. Howard asks. He needs a kidney transplant. We can‘t find a donor, they say.
I have got two good kidneys, Mr. Howard observes, I‘ll bet I‘m a match. Where can I get tested? He was right. He matched. The surgery was two months ago yesterday. Both men are fine. When the two families met to discuss what was going to happen, Mr. Howard‘s aunt fell in love with Mr. Suture‘s second cousin now they have gotten married. Wow!
OLBERMANN: Two months ago as the Democratic controlled Congress considered changing the law on where the government could spy on Americans and others the nation learned of apparent new threats to our security. Republican Senator Trent Lott told his colleagues that a threat to the capital meant literally quote, “the disaster could be on our doorstep.”
The Democrats were, apparently, personally scared, legislation passed easily. The threat turned out to be crap, and President Bush wound up with virtual carte blanche to spy on Americans. Democrats promised to fix the law even before we learned those terror threats were bogus.
Our third story tonight should come as no surprise. The White House released today‘s report ratcheting up fear again on the very same day that Democratic fix was introduced in Congress to protect Americans against governor spying.
Congressmen John Conyers and Silvestre Reyes now trying to drum up support for their bill, the RESTORE Act in the shadow of the latest fear promulgated by the White House, al Qaeda trying to get operative into this country. Wow, you mean they haven‘t been trying to do that? Although intelligence director Mike McConnell has already signed off on many of their proposed changes, the president‘s big sticking point is he wants the law to prevent Americans from suing telecommunication companies for helping spy on Americans.
Let‘s turn now to constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein, former associate deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration, now chairman of the American Freedom Agenda. Bruce, thanks again for your time tonight.
BRUCE FEIN, AMERICAN FREEDOM AGENDA: Thanks for inviting me.
OLBERMANN: Of that which needs to be done, how much would this Responsible Surveillance which is Overseen Review Effective Act or less painfully, RESTORE Act how much fixing would this bill actually accomplish?
FEIN: The main untold story is that the president continues to claim he has an inherent constitutional power to flout any law that Congress enacts even one that he proposes. That means he‘s claiming the power not only to intercept our e-mails and conversations but to break and enter homes, open mail, even commit torture in the name of gathering foreign intelligence.
And this is a claim that Congress has declined to repudiate, not only in the old statute but in the new statute that‘s proposed. So it really does nothing with regard to trying to restrain the president‘s unfettered exercise of authority to gather foreign intelligence.
Moreover, it doesn‘t seek to confine the new statute to to gathering intelligence related to fighting international terrorism which was its initial justification.
Foreign intelligence under the law includes everything from discovering what the negotiating position of the French are in having movies enter the French domestic market to rainforests in Brazil to the incidence of AIDS in South Africa. This bill has not confined the new powers to gathering intelligence against international terrorism.
Lastly, the bill represents an entire capitulation to the administration‘s claim that no longer does the Fourth Amendment requirement that you have an individualized suspicion that an American is engaged in some kind of terrorism or acting as a foreign agent before a warrant is issued in order to obtain foreign intelligence that there is sort of a blanket warrant, exactly the kind of warrants that King George III used against American colonists and provoked the Declaration of Independence.
OLBERMANN: Which brings this interesting quote out of a “New York Times” story about this from Justice Department spokesman that his agency would review any bills that are introduced, quote, “to make sure they don‘t have any consequences that hamper our abilities to protect the country.” Maybe he didn‘t mean to say any consequences. But was not as you suggest here the country founded on the notion that some things should in fact hamper the government‘s ability even when the government is claiming its only motive is to protect us?
FEIN: That is the entire meaning of the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment, to check what government can do and that statement from the Justice Department really echoes a former statement by the director of national intelligence to the effect that if he had to choose between so-called saving the country and saving the Constitution, he‘d save the country, sort of implicitly suggesting there‘s a conflict between the Constitution and the country and the Constitution has to bow instead of understanding that the Constitution is the country, the Constitution is our birth certificate. The Constitution, which gives us our freedoms, our checks and balances that make certain that we survive and flourish as a nation, yet retain our liberties rather than giving them up in a quest to defeat any kind of terrorism that is alleged by the president.
And one other thing that you pointed out, I think, is that the administration continues to claim absolutely secrecy over all these threats that allegedly require this statute and Congress now for over six years has permitted the president simply to state as a fact any description he has of the danger.
It‘s not Ronald Reagan‘s “Trust, but verify,” it‘s just, “If you say it, Mr. President, we‘ll believe it.”
And Congress has certainly strong authority to obtain that information if it would simply stop being invertebrate and stand up and discharge its constitutional responsibilities of oversight.
OLBERMANN: It still has the Constitution, while it‘s still within grasp, while it has not been tattered yet.
Bruce Fein of the American Freedom Agenda, former associate deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration. As always, sir, great thanks.
FEIN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Remember “The Simpsons” spoof of the soap opera, “Days of Our Lives.” They called it “It Never Ends.” It aptly describes the endless rehashing of the death of Princess Diana, still.
And to the disasters befalling Tom Cruise‘s assassinate Hitler movie, the phrase works here, too. Another disaster? Next on COUNDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Yesterday it was a tour through a grimy traffic tunnel, today a posh hotel the setting for our number two story, the continuing inquest into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Maybe they found some indication of what happened to some of the earlier inquests. The second day of the fact finding investigation in Paris today as 11 jurors toured the Hotel Ritz. Final destination for the princess and her companion Dodi Fayed a decade ago. The jury also toured the bar where security chief and driver Henri Paul drank before being asked to drive her Mercedes reportedly and imperial suite where the couple spent its final hours. Conspiracy theorists exercised by security tape taken near the back door of the hotel of Mr. Paul sending an unexplained signal to someone just as the couple were about to leave. Tomorrow the jury returns to London to hear evidence from the first French witnesses in the case.
Continuing with less tragic news from the world of celebrity and entertainment. Tonight‘s “Keeping Tabs” segment beginning with the latest snafu surrounding “Valkyrie,” the new Tom Cruise movie being shot in Germany.
When last we saw Mr. Cruise he was fuming about a cast member who accidentally or otherwise broke wind during a moment of silence at the Bendlerblock, the World War II historic site in Berlin where German officers who tried to assassinate Hitler were executed.
Now “People” magazine reporting the scenes filmed at the Bender Bloch were ruined in developing, have to be re-filmed. It‘s just another obstacle Cruise has encountered in filming the story. One more incident and “Valkyrie” officially qualifies as a cursed production.
For some the lasting image of actor Nick Nolte will always be that wonderful mug shot captured him hung over in Hawaiian shirt. Tonight there is different news about Mr. Nolte. He is a daddy again at age 66.
He and his companion Cloite Lane (ph) are the proud parents of a baby girl born last week in L.A. still unnamed according to E.T. online. The baby is Cloite‘s first. But Nolte has a son from previous marriage. Though we don‘t know how long she was in labor. Perhaps Nolte hung around there for the entire birth experience and you know how grueling that can be for the dad.
And two for tonight. An Internet spoof of Senator Larry Craig now of the Idaho hall of fame which doubles as a reminder what the song YMCA is actually about. That‘s next. But first time for COUNTDOWN‘s worst person in the world.
The bronze to Robert Novak now insisting that Ambassador Joseph Wilson did not forcibly object to the outing of his wife‘s CIA identity when Novak called him to get a quote for the column in 2003.
“He was not terribly exercised about it.” Ambassador Wilson confirms the phone call happened and says the only reference to his wife was when he told Novak to stop telling people in Washington that she worked at the agency, that it compromised their safety and it was treasonous. I hope is he going to confession, Wilson says of Novak because, if not, he is surely going to hell for his lies.
Ambassador, I‘m guessing that ship has sailed.
Speaking of which our runner up, comedian Rush Limbaugh. Well, he went after Michael J. Fox, why not a 12-year-old kid. Claims that the lunatic fringe Web site freerepublic.com has confirmed that Graham Frost, saved by SCHIP public health care after brain health injuries in a car accident is actually a fat cat recipient of government aid because he and his sister attend private schools. In fact, they attend private schools because they‘re on scholarship.
And Free Republican is the group of sociopath who just posted the Frost family home address presumably in hope that some psychotic will go there and attack them.
Limbaugh adds, quote, “They send the kid out to lie. They fill this kid‘s head with lies just as they have about some of these soldiers about me.” Skip the subject of what your head is filled with.
But the unanimous winner tonight, Bill O‘Reilly. Today comes the revelation from a hearing in a Missouri courtroom at which Michael Devlin, the fiend who kidnapped Sean Hornbeck admitted days after kidnapping the then 11-year-old boy he decided it was time to kill him, he took him to a rural area and began to strangle Sean Hornbeck but the boy talked him out of it and spent the next four years as Devlin‘s sex slave. Bill O‘Reilly, January 15th, 2007, about Sean Hornbeck. “This situation here for this kid to me looks to be a lot more fun than what he had under his old parents. He didn‘t have to go to school. He could run around and do whatever he wanted. And I think when it all comes down, what‘s going to happen is there was an element here that this kid here liked about his circumstances.”
To this day, when it has clearly all come down, Bill O‘Reilly has never apologized for those comments nor the sickness inside him they represent nor the pain they caused because he is not only not enough of a man to do so, but not enough of a human being.
Bill O‘Reilly today‘s worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: Unless Senator Larry Craig changes his mind yet again and decides to run for reelection he may be looking for things to do when his Senate term ends in 15 months. But perhaps he can spend some time waxing nostalgic as opposed to waxing anything else about that day he was inducted into Idaho hall of fame or in our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, the day he was immortalized in the splendor or Internet claymation. The latter has already happened. We‘ll show you presently.
The former will happen, believe it or not, this Saturday, the nonprofit Idaho Hall of Fame Association picked Senator Craig in March. It was obviously months before the public airing of bathroom exploits at the Minneapolis Airport. The hall of fame‘s chairman, Harry Magnuson cited Mr. Craig‘s quote, great contribution to Idaho over the period of 20-some years. At the time it was considered,” he said, “this other matter had not come up.”
But some local Republicans are not, shall we say, enthusiastic about the induction going forward. One precinct committeeman, Phil Thompson saying, quote, “Maybe in 10 or 15 years we can think of this hall of fame stuff. Now is not the time. It is a sad day to be a Republican.”
Other inductees include Governor Butch Odder and the football coach at Boise State University and as well as the director of the state‘s research center for nuclear energy.
The truly nuclear component, of course, assured by Senator Craig‘s inclusion and there is another hall of fame to which Senator Craig has now been inducted, it‘s the unofficial one that arises when your exploits engender a cottage industry of jokes.
The latest, another wonder of Internet in a moment. First to reprise briefly our own COUNTDOWN hall of fame admission guaranteed when we all realize that the undercover police officer‘s report read like a “Dragnet” script.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so it touchdown my foot which was in my stall area. I pointed towards the exit. Craig responded no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Noooo!
OLBERMANN: I then pointed toward the exit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let‘s go.
OLBERMANN: Craig exited the stall without flushing the toilet.
Craig handed me a business card that identified himself as a United States senator as he stated what do you think about that? I responded by setting his business card down on the table and, again, asking him for his driver‘s license.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me your driver‘s license.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Full version of that can be found easily on the old YouTube. As for the latest inspiration from Senator Craig‘s recreation, let‘s just say the Village People now hail a new best bud courtesy nationalbanana.com.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(MUSIC, “YMCA PARODY)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Who has time to do claymation? That‘s COUNTDOWN for this, the 1,623rd day since the declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq.
Up next on MSNBC, today‘s Republican NBC presidential candidate from Dearborn Michigan. Chris Matthews and Maria Bartiromo of CNBC your co-moderators. The debut of Fred Thompson on the Republican debate stage. I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
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