Guest: Richard Wolffe, Andrew Sullivan, Michael Moore, Ricardo Sanchez
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Domestic terrorism: Dr. George Tiller—women‘s health physician, performer of legal abortions—is assassinated in his church.
And in the very same sentence, anti-choice zealots wash their hands of his murder and say he had it coming.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANDALL TERRY, FOUNDER, OPERATION RESCUE: Pro-life leaders and the pro-life movement are not responsible for George Tiller‘s death. George Tiller was a mass-murderer and, horrifically, he reaped what he sowed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: What he sowed or what right-wing extremists sowed?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: Dr. Tiller has blood on his hands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The politics with Richard Wolffe; the advent of that which the Homeland Security Department warned, right-wing domestic terrorism, with Andrew Sullivan.
General Motors, generally bankrupt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: We are acting as reluctant shareholders, because that is the only way to help G.M. succeed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Plan nine to save Detroit. Our special guest, Michael Moore, who says to G.M.: “Don‘t let the windshield wipers hit you in the backside on the way out.”
A truth commission for torture and abuse in Iraq—called for by the former head of all coalition troops there. Our special guest: Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez.
Worsts: Rush Limbaugh has somehow managed to offend former Ku Klux Klanner David Duke.
And when hate speech turns into murder, when phrases like “Dr. Tiller the baby killer” become network slogans. When there is a straight line between what was said on that network and what happened in that Kansas church.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O‘REILLY: In the state of Kansas, there is a doctor, George Tiller, who will execute babies for $5,000.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The time has come to quarantine FOX News.
All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
O‘REILLY: I wouldn‘t want to be these people if there is a Judgment Day.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
A religious jihad by fundamentalist crusaders who believe that murder is justified, their acts of violence having the intended effect of changing behavior.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Not the Taliban, not Hamas, not al Qaeda. If the brutal murder of Dr. George Tiller—the Wichita OB/GYN who, among many other things, provided abortions—does not qualify as an act domestic terrorism, what does?
Dr. Tiller having been gunned down in the vestibule of his church where he had been serving as an usher. His medical practice having been targeted many times before. In 1996, a bomb exploded on the roof of his clinic. He reopened. In 1993, Dr. Tiller shot in both arms by an anti-abortion activist. He returned to work.
Two months ago, Dr. Tiller acquitted on charges that he had performed 19 illegal late-term abortions in 2003. Kansas law permitting late-term abortions when two independent doctors agree a pregnant woman would be irreparably harmed by giving birth. Abortion, in this country, is legal for the past 36 years. This man accused of inciting which laws apply and which do not.
Police are arresting Scott Roeder, in connection with Dr. Tiller‘s murder. NBC News having learned that Mr. Roeder is a member of the Freeman militia, with a previous 1996 conviction for possession of materials to make a bomb, who reportedly posted on the blog of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. Police finding the phone number for the senior policy adviser for Operation Rescue, herself convicted 20 years ago of conspiracy to bomb a clinic, in Roeder‘s car.
Attorney General Eric Holder directing the U.S. Marshal Service to increase security at Planned Parenthood and other facilities around the country to prevent related acts of violence.
In Aril, an assessment from the Department of Homeland Security having warned of the threat from right-wing extremists, including, quote, “lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.” One passage is warning that right-wing extremists, quote, “may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”
The outcry from Republicans so vehement at that point that Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano apologized for the report.
Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin, among those who believe the report was referencing her, complaining that being targeted by a, quote, “DHS hit job.”
In March, Ms. Malkin having linked, quite literally, Democrat Kathleen Sebelius to Dr. Tiller. After the governor of Kansas had been nominated by President Obama to be health and human services, Malkin is citing, quote, “her abortion extremism and ties to late-term abortionist George Tiller.” When Mrs. Sebelius was confirmed, Malkin having alleged that the HHS secretary had, quote, “lowballed the amount of campaign cash she received from infamous abortion doctor George Tiller.”
Today, Ms. Malkin decried, quote, “the thoroughly evil, cold-blooded act of domestic terrorism, yes, terrorism, not extremism,” that killed Dr. Tiller, making no reference to the previous links she had made on her blog.
Anti-abortion groups calling Dr. Tiller, quote, “Tiller the killer,” still are calling him, in fact, that—blaming the doctor for his own murder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRY: We don‘t have the ability like God himself to control people as if they were robots. But the point that must be emphasized over and over and over again: pro-life leaders and the pro-life movement are not responsible for George Tiller‘s death. George Tiller was a mass-murderer and, horrifically, he reaped what he sowed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: You heard Randall Terry—those who believe in God are robots.
Time now to call in our own analyst, Richard Wolffe. The author of “Renegade: The Making of a President.”
Richard, good evening.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We were to, tonight, discuss your book. Events obviously have overtaking those plans. We‘ll do so on other night this week.
WOLFFE: Yes. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The homeland security secretary, Ms. Napolitano, bowed to Republican outrage in April, apologizing for that DHS assessment that warned of violent acts by right-wing extremists - are the Republicans in Congress still of the belief that the threat of right-wing extremist violence is some sort of fantasy out of the Obama administration?
WOLFFE: Well, Republicans in Congress want to have it both ways. They want to endorse the goals and aims of that movement and not be seen to endorse the results of that movement. And it strikes me as very curious that people who‘s claim to have a zero tolerance for those who incite Muslim terrorism, who incite that kind of hatred towards America, find it very easy to turn a blind eye to people who incite hatred and violence towards Americans who are going about their legal work in America today.
And there is a direct link. And just to cite someone who maybe has some experience of violence in America, John Lewis—remember, when he said in the campaign, when those people at the McCain rallies who are saying “kill him” about the now-president of the United States, John Lewis said there is a direct link here between those who fan this kind of mob sentiment and the violence this country has seen.
You know, they need to look closely in the mirror today and say, “Have I played a part—no matter how smart—have I played a part in what has ended up as a very sad event for one man and his family?”
OLBERMANN: We saw—Dr. Tiller, obviously, come up in the nomination process for Sebelius. The GOP‘s not going to bring this up in connection with abortion and Roe v. Wade and Sotomayor. Is it—I mean, this is now third rail stuff, is it not?
WOLFFE: Well, the name is, but I don‘t think the fortunes of the Republican Party are nearly strong enough to say to this hardcore piece of the base—and I‘m not talking about those who would embrace violence, but those who embrace the goals of that movement—it‘s not strong enough to say, “You know what, we condemn this.” And that‘s why our ears are ringing with the violence of the condemnation here.
Yes, people lament the violence and the death, but they actually try and justify these acts by saying that the man was evil or committing horrendous acts. Again, he was within the law. And if you want to change the law, then you should debate the law, not go out and incite hatred. And if you incite hatred, it leads to violence.
OLBERMANN: Is the ember of common ground that the president seem to have reached at Notre Dame, trying to lower the number of women who could possibly want or need abortions—is that ember cold now? Or is there still some hope for some middle ground?
WOLFFE: Well, I think this debate is really playing out not at the
extreme here, but in the middle. And there is common ground there because
actually, if you dig underneath the labels, whether people say they‘re pro-life or pro choice, people don‘t like abortions. And there are medical professionals who are engaged in this kind of health care who don‘t like abortions.
So, there is—there is middle ground. But you have to strip out this emotion. If there is any good out of this, it would be that people could separate that emotion from the actual people involved here—something tells me that‘s just not going to happen, that this will only increase the emotions involved.
OLBERMANN: And, obviously, as you pointed out, this starts in Kansas with one man and his family and those who believed in him. But in the bigger context, as an event in the landscape of politics, did this change the picture? Did this hurt one side? Did it hurt both? What it did do?
WOLFFE: Well, I would like to think that it hurts the extremists in all of this. It makes them seem less part of the mainstream and, frankly, what we‘ve seen is an effort by conservative commentator and some Republican officials to make it seem like mainstream opinion supports this kind of thing.
It doesn‘t. It needs to be separated from the mainstream. But most importantly, these extremists need to be caught and stopped and those who incite hatred need to stop that, too.
OLBERMANN: MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe, whose book “Renegade” will be in bookstores tomorrow—as always, Richard, many thanks. Best of luck with it.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: For more on the response to the assassination of Dr. Tiller, how to define it, let‘s turn to Andrew Sullivan, senior editor of “The Atlantic” magazine, author of its blog, “The Daily Dish.”
ANDREW SULLIVAN, THE ATLANTIC: Thank you for having me.
OLBERMANN: This is terrorism, isn‘t it? Why people seem reluctant to use the term?
SULLIVAN: I think because we don‘t like to think of terrorists as
people like us. And I think the psyche wants to separate that act from us
just as we want to separate the act of torture from us.
But the act of murder is an act of murder. An act of torture is an act of torture. And when we do it, it‘s as bad as if anybody else does it.
And, frankly speaking, as a believing Christian, I find the idea of murdering someone in a church—remember, this is a man who was going to church. He was an usher in this church and killed in a sanctuary—which Christians believe, real Christians believe .
SULLIVAN: . is a safe, always a safe place.
This murderer attacked Christianity. These people and the way they demonize private people—these aren‘t public officials who can take a little bit of rough-tough out there in the dialogue, these are private people acting within the law, being basically—I mean, not just this murder. He was targeted for months, for years. He was hit before.
And if our society can‘t protect these people doing what is legal—even if we disagree with it—then we‘re lost. We‘re finished.
OLBERMANN: We‘ve seen this whenever a woman‘s health care provider—or as they‘re phrased derogatorily in the worst tone to the word—abortion provider, abortionist, late-term abortionist—whenever one is attacked or a clinic is attacked, or there‘s been a bombing in the last 20 or 30 years in this country, we‘ve seen the following responses. There has been a pullback. The number of services provided to women has been reduced. There has been an increase of security in these places. It becomes more difficult.
And anytime you go to one of these centers, there now becomes—at least for a time—the question: is somebody in this crowd a potential assassin? This is not only terrorism, but this is terrorism that works in this country. Is that fair to say?
SULLIVAN: It is. And terrorism, unfortunately, often works. That‘s why it‘s used.
I do think that—I mean, I‘m personally opposed to what he does. I actually don‘t believe in late-term abortions.
But I have to say—on my blog today, a lot of women wrote in and told me their own stories of this. And I was kind of shaken by the fact that most—most women—almost all women that go to these places, are in desperate straits. The children are very, very deformed or ill or will not survive birth or the mother‘s health is directly threatened. These are very grave and difficult circumstances.
I think that Dr. Tiller—even though I disagree with him—was acting according to his conscience, within the law. And I think, our role, those of us who want to end abortion, is to act within our conscience, and persuade and testify and peacefully protest, but not engage in this kind of stuff.
You know, the conservative commentariats, they do bear some of this, not responsibility for the killing, the responsibility for the climate, and the climate when they call people murderers. When this man, obviously, I think they might obviously believed that this is a taking of a human life, but to call someone murderer is to gather the motives, to demonize him in a way they demonize him in a way that was really—I mean, if you look at the Web site, TillerKiller.com .
SULLIVAN: . this stuff is just evil.
OLBERMANN: The distance between or the attempt to put distance between some of the genuine anti-abortion organizations and what happened to Dr. Tiller, given that there is—there was a posting—and these are tenuous connections, given there was a posting at Operation Rescue and the woman‘s phone number from operation rescue was found in the man‘s car—are these—it‘s difficult to read in the immediate shock of this.
Are these attempts to separate the organizations from what happened here? Are they disingenuous? Should they be taken on face value sincerely? How should we read them?
SULLIVAN: I don‘t think Operation Rescue, from what I can tell, should be separated from this event at all. This man was absolutely saturated in that organization. Very close to its leaders.
I do think, however—and I think it‘s important to say, there are many, many—the vast majority of people who are pro-life in this country do not believe in this kind of thing, do not believe in targeting or demonizing people and try to bear witness to what they believe is true. I think the president has actually done a good task in trying to find some common ground with people who want to end abortion.
I think everybody wants to end abortion, right? I mean, the question is: How do we best do that? And I think unless you are promoting contraception, unless you are promoting adoption, unless you are promoting all the things that can minimize abortion, then I think turning around and calling people murderers is really not part of the solution. It‘s part of the problem.
OLBERMANN: Is there any way to read the impact of this on the general, broad-based, reasonable anti-abortion or pro-choice or pro-life—as they want to call themselves—community? Will they recoil from this? Are they—are they sobered by this? Is there somebody out there who‘s been using this rhetoric who will be circumspect from here on in after seeing what happened?
SULLIVAN: I think—think that the vast majority of people who are pro-life—not necessarily activists, but pro-life—will have recoiled instinctively. I think that some of the more hardcore ones are allegedly devout Christians. And I think—if they pray and look at what was done and they can then realize that this thing has gotten out of control. And for the sake of the pro-life movement, it has to scale this stuff back and discipline some of these people. And state very clearly that this stuff is evil and it is murder.
And some of them, to their credit, have done so. And not Operation Rescue .
SULLIVAN: . because I think Randall Terry is the exception, and deranged and I think unpleasant exception to this particular—but a lot of others, I think of Robbie George, who‘s the leading intellectual, really, pro-life intellectual, who made a very clear statement attacking the stuff. I think—I think the pro-life movement will reject this overwhelmingly and I hope they do.
OLBERMANN: Amen. Andrew Sullivan, senior editor of “The Atlantic”—great thanks for coming in. A pleasure, sir.
SULLIVAN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The number of times the name and distorted view of the work of Dr. George Tiller has been mentioned on one cable network was at least 28 in just four years. This, while the only thing not asked of the audience that heard the repetitive and cowardly and dangerous incitements against him was—who will rid me of this meddlesome doctor? The assassination of Dr. Tiller, and the responsibility and irresponsibility of the FOX News Channel.
And as General Motors goes bankrupt, Michael Moore joins us to explain why he is going all happy.
OLBERMANN: G.M. goes bankrupt. You and I now own majority interest. Michael Moore writes, “The only way to save G.M. is to kill G.M.” He‘ll explain that—next.
The man who led American forces in Iraq endorses a truth commission for torture and other abuses in Iraq. General Ricardo Sanchez joins us.
And culpability: A man demonized by a television network is murdered, the television network says, “We didn‘t do it. Television can‘t influence what people do.” Well—and why the next thing you see will be a commercial trying to influence you to buy something?
OLBERMANN: As bleak as it may sound, it could have been far worse. In our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: General Motors files for bankruptcy, and the federal government and by extension—you and me, the taxpayers—we will own 60 percent of the new G.M.
Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore joins us presently.
An already failing company made worse by the severe recession, today became the largest industrial bankruptcy in U.S. history: 2,600 dealers, 11 plants and 21,000 more jobs go. But all of G.M.‘s 88,000 workers would have lost their jobs if the carmaker had been forced to collapse into liquidation. The company‘s union workforce will have to make further concessions.
G.M.‘s stronger brands—like Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, GMC—live on, as does pressure from the federal government for G.M. to build new fuel-efficient models.
The president‘s auto task force, you will recall, ousted G.M.‘s former CEO, Rick Wagoner, two months ago. And today, the president made clear that the federal government was becoming a reluctant shareholder of G.M., in lieu of giving the company another loan. We get 60 percent in exchange for $30 billion more in aid.
The president today also delineated when the shareholder would intervene and when we would not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The federal government will refrain from exercising its rights as a shareholder in all but the most fundamental corporate decisions. When a difficult decision has to be made on matters like where to open a new plant or what type of new car to make, the new G.M., not the United States government, will make that decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Joining us now from Flint, Michigan, where G.M. was born a century ago, Academy Award-winning documentary producer, Michael Moore.
Michael, thanks for taking time to be with us tonight.
MICHAEL MOORE, ACADEMY AWARD WINNER: Thanks for having me on, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So, you‘re not in mourning?
MOORE: Well, I obviously feel really bad about all the tens of thousands of people who have lost their jobs over the past few years and who will continue to lose their jobs now. But, frankly, I think the upside of this today is that we own a car company—you know, in addition to the insurance company we own and the banks that we own. We‘re—you and I are doing pretty good. I never thought I‘d have any of these in my portfolio.
So—but the—I mean, seriously, I think the fact that we, the people—that would be the government, that‘s what we are. We‘re still a democracy. We, actually, are going to be able to control what this company is going to do.
And I know President Obama says that he‘s going to have a hands-off approach to how they‘re going to run the company from day to day, but he hasn‘t really impressed me as a hands-off kind of guy, which is a good thing. I—this is a guy who fired .
MOORE: . the chairman of General Motors a number of months ago. So, he‘s not exactly—I think that—I mean, in his hands and under his guidance, I think we have a good shot at something happening here. What I would want to encourage him to do is to not reform a smaller version of the old bad thing that we‘ve had.
A smaller G.M. just means that instead of laying off hundreds of thousands, they‘ll just lay off tens of thousands. We need to have—we need to protect our industrial infrastructure—as I‘ve said many times before—so that we are using these factories to build the things that we need: Bullet trains, light rail, alternative energy, cleaner buses, things that are—you know, society needs in the 21st century.
If we go back to building 20th century cars with the internal combustion engine or electric cars that they say they‘re going to charge $40,000 for, which—you know, I don‘t know how that‘s going to happen, how people are going to afford that these days. G.M. has got to—as I said—today, I wrote this thing on my blog and I just said that we have to kill G.M. in order to save it.
This is a company that invented the concept of planned obsolescence back in the ‘50s. They decided, “Hey, a great way to make money is start building cars that fall apart in three years so they‘ll have to buy another car. Then they‘ll keep buying these cars.” And they thought that‘s how they‘d make a lot of money.
Now, they‘ve created their—they‘ve planned their own obsolescence by—you know, helping to destroy the middle-class, which was buying those cars. You lay those people off, they don‘t have the money to buy the cars, who do you think is going to buy the cars—and here we are tonight.
OLBERMANN: But what happens to the obsolescence of those people who get laid off in the short term? As we said, the cost on this move right now is 11 plants, 2,600 dealers and 21,000 more jobs. What do we do about those people right now?
MOORE: My point is, why not spend the money—I mean, this is our taxpayer dollars. The first priority I would want done with my tax dollars is to preserve those jobs—because if you throw them out of work, we end up paying for that anyways, whether it‘s unemployment or welfare or all the social problems that will occur when people become poor. That will be a cost down the road.
So, why not just spend that $30 billion right now? Keep those people employed. And then do like Franklin Roosevelt and say, “You know, next month, I want you to stop building cars and I want you to start building this.” And that‘s what happened here in Flint at the beginning of World War II.
MOORE: Literally, Keith, within week, they went from building cars to building airplanes, airplane engine, machine gun, tanks. They just converted these assembly lines and they did that with 1940s technology. We have the ability to really do something great here, something that will benefit our society in the 21st century.
If we just—if we just do what we did with the bank bailout where we just throw money down the rat hole and say, “Well, we‘ll see you later, we don‘t really want to—don‘t tell us what we‘re doing, we don‘t want to be involved in it, just, here‘s the money,” then we‘re going to have another situation like we have with the banks with General Motors. And that‘s not going to benefit anybody.
OLBERMANN: So, you know, my great-grandfather turned down $500 -- no excuse, $1,000 worth of stock in General Motors in like 1909 or 1910 so he could buy Polish government war bonds instead. It sounds like a joke, but it‘s absolutely true. Now, it turns out he made the right choice.
Michael Moore, who‘s with us tonight from Flint, Michigan—it‘s always a pleasure. Thank you, Michael.
MOORE: Thank you very much, Keith. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Without propaganda that rationalizes it, terrorism is impotent. Unfortunately, we have just the sort of propaganda without conscience—the responsibilities of the extreme far-right in the assassination of Dr. George Tiller.
And when the scum of the earth call also you out, you are out. How David Duke has responded to Boss Limbaugh—ahead in Worst Persons.
OLBERMANN: On this date in 1980, 14 months before I went to work for them and three months after I assured a friend that they would never get on the air on time, cable news network premiered on time. However, on the first live report from New York, bureau chief and vice president Mary Alice Williams was misidentified. The graphic did not read her name. Instead, it said “victim‘s mother.” Let‘s play oddball.
We begin on the mean streets of Indianola, Iowa, where a renegade deer is sticking its hoof in the eye of the law. Hello. This is dash cam video from inside Officer Dan Depenboff‘s (ph) Crown Victoria squad car. That‘s a fleet-footed fawn frolicking over the moving car‘s hood. Just the one time. We‘re replaying it. Luckily, nobody was hurt. The animal scampered into some woods nearby.
As for why the deer singled out his cruiser, Officer Depenboff has a theory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For some reason, instead of going straight across
maybe it doesn‘t like cops—but it decided to go for the patrol vehicle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: More news of ornaments. This is video taken this morning at Andrews Air Force Base in California, where we see the Space Shuttle Atlantis spooning with a Boeing 747. Atlantis landed seven days ago after its journey to outer space, where it fixed the Hubbell Telescope. Actually, the astronauts did that. The shuttle did not do it by itself. It is now in transit, getting a piggy back ride home to Florida. The aircraft carrying the spacecraft will pit stop in Texas overnight. Then it‘s on to New York for dinner and a play, before returning to Kennedy Space Center sometime tomorrow night. May have been a typo in there.
Finally, to Taiwan, where nobody had the heart to tell these men taking their fish for a walk might have been a bad idea. It is a 15-foot Orr Fish and it is asleep. Locals call this over sized herring an earthquake fish, because it lives at the bottom of the ocean and it‘s believed to only come to the surface in advance of an upcoming earthquake. Seismologists, on the other hand, do not agree that the fish is an earthquake predictor. They do, however, agree that with let some lemon and butter, it is delicious.
The man who led all coalition forces in Iraq now says if we do not find out what happened, then we are doomed to repeat it. He calls for a truth commission on abuses in Iraq. General Sanchez will join us.
And words can kill; after domestic terror claims Dr. Tiller, what the right wing extremists of Fox have to answer for tonight, and what we can do peacefully to quiet them. You‘re watching COUNTDOWN, on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: Listen to the generals, the right wing ordered, over and over, exasperated by the contrary naivete or, worse, the lack of patriotism of anyone who dissented from that mantra. Listen to the generals. Our third story tonight, listen to this general. Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez commanded the multinational forces in Iraq after the invasion, including the period during which criminal human rights abuses took place at Abu Ghraib Prison, a crime for which seven low-ranking US soldiers were punished, including Lynndie England, later released from prison, and Charles Graner, who is still serving a ten year stretch.
The military civilian leadership remained untouched by the various investigations until the Senate Armed Services Committee report found that torture techniques authorized for use on US detainees at Guantanamo had trickled down to US detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Army cleared Sanchez of any wrongdoing. But several reports blamed the abuses on failures at all levels, a finding shared by the former general himself.
Last night, General Sanchez went further than he has before, further than many or any of the U.S. commanders in Iraq have gone. He said, and I quote, “for those who claim that they listen to the generals, I support the formation of a truth commission for the American people to really know what happened. If we do not find out what happened, then we are doomed to repeat it.”
The general joins us now this evening. Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, retired from the U.S. Army, former commander of the multinational force in Iraq. Thank you for your time.
LT. GEN. RICARDO SANCHEZ (RET), FMR. COMMANDER MNF-IRAQ: Absolutely, Keith. Glad to be with you.
OLBERMANN: You said last night we have to find out what happened. Your position in Iraq as the most powerful military man there after the invasion; what is it that you do not know that you think the American people, that all of us must know now?
SANCHEZ: Well, I think, first of all, Keith, we must understand as Americans that this problem of interrogation goes much broader than just Iraq. This is a very complex strategic failure for America that stretches from the executive and legislative branches, and their faltering in the development and oversight of the policy, to the inter-agency, which failed in the execution detailed for that policy, and then it stretches down to individual levels within the theaters, where the abuse actually occurs.
OLBERMANN: Your point to “Huffington Post,” “if we do not find out what happened, then we are doomed to repeat it,” seems to be an elemental one that has been missed by a lot of people who have analyzed the situation and said, let‘s just move on. But there‘s a second part to that, almost a corollary. If we find out what happened, and nobody‘s held accountable, does that not also probably guarantee that we‘re going to repeat it? In other words, can a truth commission alone prevent this from happening again?
SANCHEZ: Well, Keith, I think a key point for me to make is that the problem with this debate is we have narrowed the definition of accountability to such an extent that it seems in most of this back and forth that the only possible solution is prosecution. I think we have seen conventional wisdom actually try and convict some of the players in the press based on very sensationalistic arguments.
If we do not get at the truth, which the truth commission will address, in a very broad, objective and unbiased manner, then we will never learn its lessons.
But the key point here is that in the aftermath of the truth commission, we must have all options open, from commendation to prosecution. Otherwise, America cannot move forward and regain moral high ground that we have lost.
OLBERMANN: There was a criticism made of you as the commander on whose watch the abuses at Abu Ghraib occurred, that you were seeking to burnish your own legacy. Is there an effect that truth commission would have on that legacy? Meaning specifically, would something emerge that would serve in your favor? Is there a reason that you would have in seeing it happen this way?
SANCHEZ: Keith, I can‘t control the critic. I don‘t try to control the critics. What I have to do is I to live with the fact that it occurred under my watch. I will forever be linked with Abu Ghraib. But I also live with the understanding and clarity that I have never compromised my honor and my integrity throughout this entire ordeal. And the reason that I continue to speak about this is that I must ensure that the future leaders of America clearly understand the failures that occurred so that our soldiers are never abandoned on the battlefield again, like mine were.
OLBERMANN: Tomorrow, Lieutenant General McChrystal goes to the Armed Services Committee. He‘s the president‘s pick to head the campaign in Afghanistan. What should we know? What should the committee know about General McChrystal‘s joint special ops teams in Iraq, which were accused of abusing detainees there?
SANCHEZ: First of all, I have tremendous faith and confidence in Stan McChrystal. He‘s a tremendous warrior, clearly, in my opinion, the right choice to lead our campaign in Afghanistan.
I was not in the chain of command of the special operations teams in Iraq. Allegations did come forward. They were provided to the Special Operations Command, investigated and completed. I have faith that the decision-makers, both political and military, have insights into the results of all of these investigations, and that they have made the right recommendation.
If we should find that in fact there are problems that surface in those investigations that are being overlooked, then we have a much broader problem in the integrity and the moral courage of our senior leadership, which I do not believe is the case.
OLBERMANN: The retired Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, provoking
recommending a truth commission, with all options open thereafter. He‘s also, of course, the author of “Wiser in Battle, A Soldier‘s Story.” General, great thanks for your service and great thanks for your time tonight.
SANCHEZ: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Call a man a baby killer, a Nazi, like al Qaeda, like Stalin, like Hitler, do it for fear years, then the last part of the ingredient, act surprised when somebody shoots the man.
Bomb Iraq, he said. Bomb Iran, he said. Guess what his ideas for North Korea? Worst persons ahead.
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, her special guest, former Senator Bob Graham. Their topic, Dick Cheney today blaming Richard Clarke for 9/11 and blaming George Tenet for the implication that there was some sort of connection between Iraq and al Qaeda.
OLBERMANN: When the incitement to assassinate comes across national television on 28 separate occasions; what to do when a man‘s words help to kill. A suggestion next. But first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world.
The bronze to William Kristol of the “Weekly Standard” and Fixed News. Back with another great idea after his push for the invasion of Iraq and the bombing of Iran. “You know,” he says, “it might be worth doing some targeted air strikes to show the North Koreans—instead of always talking about, gee, there could be consequences—to show that they can‘t simply keep going down this path.”
And then what happens? You thought about that, right? When Kim Jong-il says, thank you very much, stupid American, and sends 400,000 troops over the boarder into South Korea?
Our runner up, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. After the wave of bizarre racism charges and hints against Judge Sotomayor last week by the likes of Senator Inhofe and Congressman Smith and former Speaker Gingrich and Limbaugh, the ones denounced by even Senate Cornyn, Senator McConnell was asked if people were making it a lot harder by using language like that. His reply, “look, I‘ve got a big job to do dealing with 40 Senate Republican and trying to advance a nation‘s agenda. I‘ve got better things to do than to be the speech police over people who are going to have their views about a very important appointment.”
No, you don‘t. Plus, thanks for acknowledging that there are only 40 Senate Republicans, not 41, that Norm Coleman is now in the alumni association.
But our winner, Boss Limbaugh. Last week, he compared Judge Sotomayor to ex-clansman David Duke. He‘s now been paddled by David Duke. “Limbaugh,” he writes, “a recent addict to illegal drugs, has no business making personal attacks against me for my past.” Duke‘s website also says he criticized Judge Sotomayor as an activist in the primarily Mexican organization La Raza, which literally means the race.
About that, it actually means race or family or branch of a family or clan or lineage or generation or quality of cloth or ray of light or a cleft in the foot of a horse. By the way, while we‘re here, please, mano a mano does not mean man or man, or even one to one, even though it sounds like that. It means hand to hand, or literally hand in hand.
Anyway, Duke‘s website also explains Sotomayor‘s appointment was part of the vast Jewish conspiracy. And even that nutbag trashed Boss Limbaugh, today‘s worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: Finally tonight, our number one story, and the very serious, very unsettling part the Fox News Channel played in the assassination of Dr. George Tiller. The horrifying realization that a television figure can be a facilitator for domestic terrorism. This was under-scored, proved even today, when a man named Frank Schaeffer wrote for the “Huffington Post” that as a former member of the anti-abortion activist far right, he believes he, quote, “shares the blame for the murder of Dr. Tiller.” As we believe here does Fox News Channel.
Schaeffer followed his father, Francis, an Evangelist into the field, each writing books. His father‘s was called “A Christian Manifesto.” “In certain passages, he advocated force if all other methods for rolling back the abortion ruling of Roe v. Wade failed. He compared America and its legalized abortion to Hitler‘s Germany and said that whatever tactics would have been morally justified in removing Hitler would be justified in trying to stop abortion. Like many writers of moral, political and religious theories, my father and I would have been shocked that someone took us at our word, walked into a Lutheran church and pulled the trigger on an abortionist. But even if the murderer never read dad‘s or my words, we helped create the climate that made this murder likely to happen.”
Of course, in this case, the murderer clearly heard the words from Fox News Channel, or in the most benign of constructions, read the words of those who had heard the words from Fox News Channel. There‘s a comment thread from the Operation Rescue website from April and May 2007. I‘m not implying these other posters had a hand in this. These are merely comments from readers about an anti-Tiller prayer event in Wichita.
It begins with a post from April 6, asking, “has Bill O‘Reilly been invited to any of the Tiller events? If so, what has been his reply? Has Fox News covered any of the events?”
There are two subsequent answers echoing the invitation. Then there is the ninth post from May 19, 2007, which reads “bleass,” misspelled, “everyone for attending and praying in May to bring justice to Tiller and the closing of his death camp.” That was posted by Scott Roeder. Scott Roeder is the name of the suspected terrorist arrested yesterday for assassinating Dr. George Tiller.
What were the kinds of things he and those around him heard about Dr.
Tiller from Fox News?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Killing babies in America, that‘s the evening of this evening‘s Talking Points Memo. For 5,000 dollars, Tiller, the baby killer, as some call him, will perform a late-term abortion for just about any reason.
You‘re OK with some woman being depressed, executing her child, hours before it‘s born?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There‘s a lot of evidence there he was performing late term abortions and covering up instances of child rape.
O‘REILLY: You should be very disturbed by what continues to happen in Kansas. This man, Dr. George Tiller, known as Tiller the baby killer, is performing late term abortions without defining the specific medical reasons why.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. George Tiller, who is one of the few doctors in the United States who performs the Hitlarian procedure known as partial birth abortion.
O‘REILLY: Tiller has killed thousands—thousands of late term fetuses without explanation. No question Dr. Tiller has blood on his hands.
Tiller the baby killer out in Kansas, acquitted. Acquitted today of murdering babies. There‘s got to be a special place in hell for this guy.
This guy will kill your baby for 5,000 dollars, any reason. Any reason. You go in, you go, the Glenn Beck program upset me today, I can‘t have the baby. Bang, you got five grand, he‘s taking them out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: For four years, on at least 28 occasions, that‘s what was said on Fox News Channel. Nazism, al Qaeda, Hitler, Mao Zedong, Stalin, baby killing pedophilia, Tiller the baby killer, again and again and again. And tonight, confronted with the inevitable result of the instigation, the principal perpetrator at Fox News Channel made no acknowledgement of culpability, nor even regret.
He said, “no back pedaling here. I report honesty. Everything we said about Tiller was true and my analysis was based on those facts. It is clear that the far left is exploiting the death of the doctor. Those vicious individuals want to stifle any criticism of people like Tiller. That and hating Fox News is the real agenda here. If these people were so compassionate, so very compassionate, so concerned for the rights and welfare of others, maybe they might have written something on things about the 60,000 fetuses who will never become American citizens.”
It is useless to urge restraint on men who believe self-editing of freedom of speech should apply only to others, that they are flawless and blameless and righteous. It is useless to make Frank Schaeffer‘s argument to them, even though they have made parallel ones about how liberal television degrades children, about how liberal television hypnotizes voters, about liberal entertainment destroys American values.
When they reply not in this case, bad apple, TV can‘t make that happen, it is useless to say, if TV can‘t make something happen, why do people advertise on it with the same commercial again and again and again, in hopes of making buzzwords sink in? Like Geico Gecko, Viva Viagra, FreeCreditReport.com, Tiller the Baby Killer.
Don‘t tell them. They will not listen. We know this because of the case earlier this year of a Fox News commentator named Bernard Goldberg. In February, it was revealed that last July, before he walked into a Unitarian church in Tennessee and opened fire during a children‘s play, Jim David Atkinson had written a note of explanation. “This was a symbolic killing,” he said. “Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate and the House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg‘s book.”
That 2005 book was called “The 100 People Who are Screwing up America.” On the list was everybody from Al Gore to Anna Nicole Smith.
Mr. Goldberg did not even offer as much as his regrets, never mind offer his resignation. His employer, Fox News, responded to reporting that placed the books of several of its hosts in Atkinson‘s home by sending one of the same producers who stalked the late Dr. Tiller to stalk the reporter who had had the nerve to link that network to the two people killed by Atkinson in Tennessee.
So what to do? Viewer boycotts mean little. You are already here. You are not watching Fox News Channel. Advertiser boycotts are also of limited value. Most make barely a dent in a company. Besides which, in this economy, an advertiser that found its sales boosted by association with malaria would start breeding mosquitoes.
If there is a solution, it is perhaps an indirect boycott. It is probably your experience, as it has been mine, that stores, bars, restaurants, waiting rooms often show Fox News on their televisions. Don‘t write a letter, don‘t make a threat, just get up and explain, if they will not change the channel, leave the place and say calmly why it is you are taking your business elsewhere. If you know a viewer of that channel, show them this tape, or just the tape of the attacks on Dr. Tiller that set the stage for his assassination.
Fox News Channel will never restrain itself from incitement to murder and terrorism, not until its profits begin to decline, when its growth stops. So not so much a boycott here as a quarantine, because this has got to stop.
That I have a commercial conflict of interest here is obvious. So I‘ll make the first symbolic contribution to this quarantine. One of my pleasures, obviously, is constantly criticizing him in that Ted Baxter voice. It is the idea of laughter as a social sanction against inflexible behavior.
But this is no time for laughter. This is serious. Serious as death. As serious as George Tiller‘s death. So as of this show‘s end, I will retire the name, the photograph, and the caricature. The words may still be quoted in the future as developments dictate. The goal here is to get this blindly irresponsible man and his ilk off the air.
We‘re only in the television news business, a profession that is at times about two inches up from carnival barking. We must again separate it, television from terrorism. And we must again make the world safe for people condemned by the Fox News Channel.
That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 2,223rd day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research.
User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s
personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed,
nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion
that may infringe upon MSNBC and CQ Transcriptions, LLC‘s copyright or
other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal
transcript for purposes of litigation.>