The Ed Show for Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011
Read the transcript to the Tuesday show
Guests: Matthew Alexander, Jeremy Scahill, Robert Greenwald, Zahra Billoo, Joe Sestak
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans. And welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight from New York.
Osama bin Laden is still dead and Republicans are freaking out because they are losing the conversation and the political advantage when it comes to national security.
This is THE ED SHOW. Let‘s get to work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK: For those who say that waterboarding doesn‘t work, to say that it should be stopped and never used again, we got vital information which directly led us to bin Laden.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ (voice-over): Republicans just can‘t give the president the credit he deserves for killing bin Laden. Tonight, I‘ll show them the facts.
Osama‘s dead. So, what are we still doing in Afghanistan? I‘ll ask Jeremy Scahill and Robert Greenwald.
And there are plenty fakes circulating out there. But, tonight, the CIA has a big announcement on the pictures of a dead Osama.
SCHULTZ: Great to have you with us tonight here on THE ED SHOW. We got a lot in the show tonight.
And this is the story that has fired up first tonight. Republicans are desperately trying to steal the spotlight from Obama over the termination of Osama bin Laden. Conservatives are actually scrambling to put national security back on the political table. So, they are lining up to credit Bush‘s torture policies for the information that led to the death of bin Laden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: We don‘t find this guy until 2007. We got it through enhanced interrogations or interrogation. And then they found the real identity, then they found the guy, which led to this. So, without strong interrogations, we wouldn‘t be here.
SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Yesterday was a testament to the military‘s dedication and relentlessly hunting down an enemy through many years of war. And we thank our president. We thank President Bush for having made the right calls to set up this victory.
KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH AIDE: The tools President Bush put into place, Gitmo, rendition, enhanced interrogations, the vast effort to collect and collate this information and put it in a usable form obviously served his successor quite well.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
SCHULTZ: I don‘t know, folks, anybody playing a violin? Do you see a pattern here?
Oh, it‘s not going to stop. New York Congressman Peter King took that garbage to another level on O‘Reilly show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You mentioned the fact that we obtained information several years ago, vital information about the courier for Obama. We obtained it through waterboarding. And the—so, for those who say that waterboarding doesn‘t work, to say that it be stopped and never used again, we got vital information which directly led us to bin Laden. So, key information we got on a very, very vital thing.
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEW: That is absolutely fascinating, absolutely fascinating. You are not going to hear that on the other networks, I guarantee you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Absolutely fascinating. Let‘s talk about illegal activities tonight, what do you think, huh? Republicans want to argue about the merits of waterboarding instead of covering one of America‘s military‘s greatest achievements since World War II.
Forget that noise. It‘s time to get facts on the Big Eddie chart tonight.
First of all, let‘s look at this. Waterboarding is illegal. The Geneva Convention says it‘s illegal. The attorney general of the United States says it‘s illegal. The president of the United States says it‘s illegal, and he happens to be a constitutional lawyer.
Waterboarding, fact number one, is illegal. So, I guess across the street, they are promoting illegal activity.
What about the moral high ground we were talking about during the campaign, about how America was going to grab the moral high ground again and we were going to show our enemies that we do not torture?
President Obama doesn‘t use enhanced interrogation. That is also a fact.
And Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed that and says that we will not use torture. He said it today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you say if there‘s been any change in President Obama‘s opposition to so-called enhanced interrogation techniques?
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No change whatsoever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: No change whatsoever. That‘s a fact.
Here‘s another for you, folks—increased drone strikes. You mean to tell me that guy named Barack Obama who on the campaign trail said that he was going to go after the terrorists is ordering more drone strikes in his first year than President Bush did in his entire two terms? Wow. That‘s a heck of a stat, isn‘t it?
And, of course, President Obama kept his promise. President Obama made this promise at the second presidential debate in October of 2008 before the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I‘ve said is, we are going to encourage democracy in Pakistan, expand our non-military aid to Pakistan so they have more of a stake in working with us, but insisting they go after these militants. And if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights, and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think we have to act. And we will take them out.
We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: All right, folks, that‘s the money sound bite there. If they are unable or unwilling, we will do the job, we will take out the terrorist—whether Osama bin Laden or anybody else for that matter. I mean, have you ever heard a candidate talk like that and then act on active intelligence as President Obama did? Just another fact—fact number five—Osama bin Laden is dead.
Now, let‘s just get the record straight here, folks. This is all about 2012. The Republicans are out there creating this narrative, because what we are seeing now is a Democratic president starting to get the upper hand on national security.
He was out on the campaign trail. He said this is the plan that we‘re going to use to take down the terrorists. He‘s increased the drone strikes. He‘s gotten the number one dude, Osama bin Laden, and things are rolling good for America right now.
The Republicans, you know what they love to do? They love to make you think that they are a lot tougher and a lot stronger and have a greater resolve, and they are far more patriotic than the Democrats. Not this time, boys. Ain‘t going to work.
You see? We have the facts on our side this time. And here‘s another fact that‘s absolutely driving these Republicans absolutely crazy. The number is, Pew Research Center/”Washington Post” poll, that, baby, 56 percent of Americans approve of President Obama‘s job approval right now, only 38 percent disapprove. That‘s a nine-point swing from last month in the president‘s highest approval rating since June of 2009.
Now, the moral high ground, it‘s so important. Americans are not having to believe a campaign speech. They are seeing a strategy being played out big time.
So, what are the Republicans doing? Well, they are out in full force. We played the tape for you. The sound machine is out and about—because they want you to think it‘s all about illegal activity. It‘s all about interrogations. It is not.
And this country is not only taking down more terrorists under the Obama administration, this country is gaining the moral high ground. And we are not flippantly going to put out a death picture. We are not going to flippantly throw somebody into the ocean.
No. It‘s been done with respect and with the traditions of the religion.
And does President Obama get any credit for that? No. We‘ve got Senator Graham down in South Carolina, he‘s questioning how this whole thing came down.
Folks, when it comes to national security, this killing of Osama bin Laden is the Republicans Waterloo on national security. They don‘t have the upper hand. Their plan didn‘t work for all those years. They did the illegal activity and it didn‘t work.
And it was President Obama and the Democrats who supported this strategy that was well played out on the campaign trail and now is an act, big time, and we are getting results. And we‘re not doing it through enhanced interrogations. And we are just as safe tonight as we have ever been.
Joining us now is Matthew Alexander, a former military interrogator who tracked down senior al Qaeda leaders in Iraq. He‘s the author of the book, “Kill or Capture.”
I want to play this sound bite, first, because Leon Panetta told “NBC NIGHTLY” anchor Brian Williams some information did come from enhanced interrogation. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEON PANETTA, CIA DIRECTOR: I think some of the detainees, clearly, were - - you know, they used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of these detainees. But I‘m also saying that, you know, the debate about whether we would have gotten the same information through other approaches I think is always going to be an open question.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: So, finer point, one final time, enhanced
interrogation techniques—which has always been a hand of handy euphemism
WILLIAMS: -- in these post-9/11 years—that includes waterboarding?
PANETTA: That‘s correct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Now, there‘s integrity for you. The president‘s administration is not going to lie to the American people about techniques that were used. But, is it the moral high ground and are conservatives right about waterboarding?
Matthew Alexander, that‘s your first question tonight. Thanks for joining us. Are the conservatives correct about waterboarding?
MATTHEW ALEXANDER, FORMER MILITARY INTERROGATOR: No, they are not correct. What a lot of people are forgetting and leaving out of this conversation is what professional interrogators have been saying all along, which is that when you use coercive techniques which includes waterboarding and enhanced interrogation techniques, you get the bare minimum about of information out of a detainee. And that bare minimum amount of information is going to lack the details that you need to execute a mission to take out a target.
The type of information you need to take out a target isn‘t a pseudonym or a nickname of a courier. It‘s who is that courier, how do we find him? And how do we know when he‘s meeting with the target. In this case, bin Laden.
Take this example of what took seven years to go from the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in this name to bin Laden, and compare that to how we Zarqawi. We convinced somebody to cooperate without torture, someone very similar to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was dedicated to al Qaeda, and when he did cooperate, he provided not only the name of person that met with Zarqawi, but exactly how we would know when he would meet with him, and allowed us to go from cooperation, from capturing that person, cooperation, to the death of Zarqawi in about six weeks.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Alexander, tell us about this breaking report in “The New York Times” on Hassan Gul. What do you know about it?
ALEXANDER: We don‘t know much about Hassan Gul and his interrogations. In reports outside “The New York Times” conflict with “The New York Times” report actually. Some people are saying the information came out in 2007. I always take all this information that comes out directly after these types of events with a grain of salt, because usually, about half of what we hear is incorrect. And I think it will take some time to flush out the whole story.
What is clear is that the information came from several sources. It was pieced together by analysts and that the real heroes in this are intelligence collectors, interrogators and human intelligence.
SCHULTZ: But, of course, the conservatives are out there saying that KSM served up the key name and now, “The New York Times” is reporting that is not the case, it came from the courier who is identified as Hassan Gul. So, there‘s a lot of misinformation, a lot of cross information that‘s going on out there. Who do we believe?
ALEXANDER: Ed, if waterboarding that happened seven to eight years ago just now led us to bin Laden and that‘s our measure of success, we‘re in a lot of trouble.
SCHULTZ: Well put.
ALEXANDER: That‘s not an effective technique. Compare it to, you know, my team when we‘re in Iraq, I went out on raids. Our time requirement when we did interrogations in the field was 10 to 15 minutes to get some info.
Back at a prison, you know, our standard was maybe two to three days to get some info to act on. You know, maybe a couple weeks or a few weeks in some other cases. But eight or nine years to get information and consider that valuable, it‘s not.
SCHULTZ: How do you counter this sound bite? This is Congressman Peter King. He says that waterboarding is a moral imperative. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I believe waterboarding is a moral imperative. Waterboarding saved lives. And I use the example, on September 10th, 2001, we captured Mohammed Atta, and we knew that he was going to kill thousands of Americans. We didn‘t know when or where. Are we saying now that you wouldn‘t hold his head under water to save 3,000 lives?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Does that argument hold up?
ALEXANDER: It doesn‘t for me. And it goes directly against my oath of office. You know, my oath of office was to defend the Constitution of the United States, like everybody else in the service. There‘s nothing in there about saving lives. You know, when did America go from being a country that stands for principles like liberty, freedom and justice to being a country that stands for security above all else?
Numerous leaders going back to the Revolutionary War, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, World War II leaders, presidents and generals, all said that we cannot use torture because it violates American principles, regardless of if it would or would not keep us safe.
SCHULTZ: But, Mr. Alexander, and let me ask you to be very clear here, what Congressman Peter King said there, is that fact or his opinion that waterboarding saves lives?
ALEXANDER: Well, it‘s neither fact nor his opinion. It‘s fiction. To say that waterboarding saved lives also excludes any inclusion of a long-term negative effects of using torture and abuse. As I saw in Iraq firsthand, the number one reason they gave for coming to fight was because of our torture and abuse of Muslim prisoners and detainees, which had led them there and those foreign fighters made up the majority of suicide bombers. They killed hundreds, if not thousands of American soldiers.
So, you cannot in any way say waterboarding has kept America safe.
SCHULTZ: So, you saw firsthand the reaction to the waterboarding and torture. It motivated the opposition to the point where it made that fight that much tougher and the task that much harder.
ALEXANDER: And, Ed, that‘s not an opinion.
ALEXANDER: The Department of Defense tracked those statistics. I saw them. That‘s a fact that waterboarding and torture was al Qaeda‘s number one recruiting tool.
SCHULTZ: So, moving forward, are you confident that we are going to be able to take out al Qaeda and use the moral high ground as President Obama has said his administration is going to do? And I think it‘s really profoundly pointed out tonight in the interview with Brian Williams and Leon Panetta, is that they are not lying about it. I mean, they‘re saying that waterboarding was used and some information came from it. But moving forward, they are not going to do it.
But the American people want to know, what‘s the best thing to do?
ALEXANDER: Right. And no interrogator who knows what they are talking about is not going to say that torture never works. I‘m not going to say that.
What I‘m going to say is define works. Consider the long-term negative consequences of using it. How does that help us in the long term and trying to defeat al Qaeda? It doesn‘t. It helps them to recruit new members. And you can‘t say that it works.
What you can say is it violates the principles that this country was founded upon. Our country is now safer than it ever has been because we have started to regain that moral high ground that you talked about.
SCHULTZ: Matthew Alexander, great to have you with us tonight. I appreciate your time.
Get your cell phones out, folks, I want to know what you think. Tonight‘s question: do you want to see the dead Osama bin Laden picture? Text “A” for yes, text “B” for no. This is a big conversation in America as to whether the picture should be released or not. The White House says it will eventually be released. You can text 62239 or you can go to our blog as well at Ed.MSNBC.com.
We‘ll be talking more about this and I‘ll be back with you with results later on in the show.
Big issues coming up on whether we should be giving billions of dollars to Pakistan and whether or not this country should be still in Afghanistan. Robert Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill join me, coming up.
And don‘t let all the Republican tough talk and swagger fool you a bit. The party that gets the job done time and time again, by proof, by numbers, it‘s the Democrats. We‘ll be right back.
SCHULTZ: President Obama was handed one big national security mess when he took over as commander-in-chief. The past 48 hours proof how far he has come in getting us out of that mess. We‘ll look at what‘s next with Jeremy Scahill and Robert Greenwald, the tough questions about the next move in Afghanistan.
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Thanks for staying with us tonight here on THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
You know, the last 48 hours have raised some really important questions across this country, like this one: why are we sending billions of dollars of aid when the Pakistan government had no part in helping us find—killing Osama bin Laden?
Now, the United States has spent $28 billion, sent it over to Pakistan since 2001. And now, Pakistan is complaining. They put out an official statement, “The United States carried out this operation without prior information or authorization from the government of Pakistan. Such an event shall not serve as a future precedent for any state.”
As for Afghanistan, the president—well, he may have the political capital he needs to persuade the American people that his time line for Afghanistan—well, he might need more time. And it might be the correct thing to do in the opinion of the American people because of the successful operation.
President Obama‘s approval rating has spiked in the latest poll, particularly on national defense. Sixty-nine percent approval of his handling of the terror threat, up 13 points from last month, quite a gain. Sixty percent approval of his handling of Afghanistan and that is up 16 points from last month. And the president has proven that he can defend this without keeping us in a constant state of fear, the fear mongering going on.
This is what he said on Sunday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation‘s effort to defeat al Qaeda. His death does not mark the end of our effort. There‘s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: And the debate rages in this country.
Let‘s bring in documentary filmmaker and director of Brave New Film Foundation, Robert Greenwald. And the national security correspondent for “The Nation” magazine, Jeremy Scahill.
Gentlemen, great to have you with us tonight.
Jeremy, we‘ll start with you here. Before we send one more dime to Pakistan, do we need a commitment from them, that we‘re not going to have a problem taking out terrorists in their country?
JEREMY SCAHILL, THE NATION: Well, I don‘t think we‘re going to get that commitment from Pakistan and so, we have to ask, why is it that the U.S. continues to do this kind of business with Pakistan? Not only sending them weapons, we send them fighter bombers, helicopters, we train their military, their elite forces. We have our Special Operations forces embedded with them going into the Frontier Provinces on a regular basis.
But here‘s the catch: if we stop working with Pakistan, that means we have to get out of Afghanistan and we have to get out of Pakistan quick, because the majority of the military supplies that the U.S. has in Afghanistan come in right through Pakistan. They go in to Karachi, over land by train or truck, and then they go into Afghanistan. So, if you shut off that valve, you shut down the war in Afghanistan.
So, we need to rethink the whole policy because, right now, U.S. policy in Afghanistan is dependent upon Pakistan. They had a chess game where Osama bin Laden was one card that they were holding out, one pawn that they were holding and using against us. The other one, though, is that we need them to get supplies through Pakistan.
So, it‘s very high stakes. In the military, it‘s like fifth dimensional chess.
SCHULTZ: Robert Greenwald, you have been advocated for years to get out of Afghanistan. You have documented exactly what we have done in that country and how it costs us billions of dollars. But I‘m curious on your opinion on the most recent dealings of Pakistan and the billions of dollars that we‘re sending there.
Where do you stand on it? Where are we mistaken?
ROBERT GREENWALD, BRAVE NEW FOUNDATION: Well, I think to the extent that we continue support corrupt regimes and send them billions of dollars—regimes that do not have the popular support of the people, regimes that are not committed to any of the values that we Americans believe in. And the only reason we‘ve been doing it is because of a narrow notion started by the Bush administration that everything was about terrorism.
It hurt our values and it actually has hurt our security in deep ways because we‘ve alienated large parts of these countries. We are incredibly unpopular in Afghanistan, and that‘s after spending billions. Why? Because the billions have gone to a corrupt regime, an authoritarian regime and to military solutions to what a profoundly political problem.
SCHULTZ: So, gentlemen, I want to ask both of you, doesn‘t President Obama have more credibility on national security issues in fighting terrorism in the wake of taking down Osama bin Laden? It would seem to me, Robert, that the president, if he had to make the case for more money to both those countries in this effort, that he might get that support. What do you think?
GREENWALD: I do not think—I do think he has more credibility, but I do not think he would get the support if he asked for more money. If you went around the country, I cannot imagine you can find rational human beings who would say, yes, we are spending $2 billion a week in Afghanistan, spend more. That‘s‘ going to make us officer—because it‘s not. And people know it instinctively. People are smart about it. And it‘s a war that‘s never helped our security.
And I don‘t think Obama or any magician or anybody could convince us of that at this point. You‘ve seen the opinion polls in terms of the war. And it‘s a radical continued shift, including independents, including Republicans.
SCAHILL: Well, let me tell you something. It‘s a big myth that President Obama is somehow some kind of a dove. President Obama uses his force, the Joint Special Operations Command. The guys that killed Osama bin Laden, he is using them in Yemen covertly. He‘s using them in Somalia. He‘s hitting a lot harder according to Special Ops guys that I talked to than President Bush ever was.
The problem here, Ed, is that we are using our most elite soldiers to find mid-level Taliban people and farmer in Afghanistan, and in killing them in these night raids and killing innocent civilians. We‘re giving people in Afghanistan an actual reason to want to fight us.
So, we really need to rethink this strategy. But on that issue that you‘re asking about, Ed, Dick Cheney and those guys, they have PhDs in historical revisionism. They‘re the ones that took us into Iraq.
SCAHILL: They‘re the ones that allocated the best forces we have to a war that was based on lies.
SCHULTZ: So, is this most recent big development a step for us to get out of Afghanistan? Is this now a turn—a time for us to pivot as a country strategically?
SCAHILL: We should. It should be a moment where the president can say, I‘ve stated from the beginning that the goal was to dismantle and disrupt the al Qaeda network. We have chopped the head off of that network. In Afghanistan, there are less than 50 al Qaeda operatives there according to U.S. intelligence. It is time to get out of Afghanistan. It‘s hurting our national security and our image in the world to stay there.
SCHULTZ: Robert, your thoughts on that. Is this a time to pivot?
GREENWALD: It‘s exactly a time. We have an extraordinary opportunity in front of us. We‘ve launched a petition to try to reach the administration with that. We‘re doing videos about it. I completely agree with Jeremy on this.
And everybody who cares about war, who cares about ending the wars, who cares about our country, this is a time to really get active, to call, write, visit and tell people, now, now, now, get the troops out.
SCHULTZ: But, gentlemen, how do we know that al Qaeda is not going to reestablish itself?
SCAHILL: Well, let me just say something—you‘re never going to be able to destroy terrorism around the world. And you aren‘t going to be able to destroy every single person that affiliates themselves with al Qaeda. Right now in Yemen, for instance, there are maybe 300 to 600 people that affiliate themselves with al Qaeda and the Arabian Peninsula. The question is strategically, how do you approach this?
If you believe that you can kill your way to peace, you‘re wrong. You‘re going to open the door for massive blow back. We need to totally reengage with the Muslim and Arab world in a way that‘s consistent with the non-violent revolutions that we‘ve seen around the world. We need to stop believing this idea we‘re going to kill all the bad guys. It‘s just not going to happen.
SCHULTZ: And, Robert, do you think President Obama wants to get out of Afghanistan and that he believes that we can successfully get out and not have the threat that we have now?
GREENWALD: Well, I‘m not a mind reader or a psychologist but I want to believe that, Ed. I hope as smart as he is --
SCHULTZ: Because that‘s going to be pivotal, politically, for him, is it not?
GREENWALD: It‘s going to be very important politically. It‘s going to be very important, morally, and it‘s going to be very important in terms of his legacy. So, it‘s hard to imagine that he‘s not thinking how to get out, how to deescalate, and how to come up, Ed, with a sensible policy around security that‘s not about invading occupying.
The single biggest reason for the increase of the Taliban is our occupying that country.
SCHULTZ: OK. Robert Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill, great to have you both with us tonight. Appreciate your insight, your knowledge and your work.
Everybody is talking about whether the death photo of Osama bin Laden should be released. We‘ll tell you what Leon Panetta said to Brian Williams about that.
President Trump? Not a chance. The GOP‘s great hope gets ripped apart at the White House Correspondents dinner. I know it‘s a couple of days late. I love it. I think you will, too. the commander-in-chief did the job Saturday night.
We‘ll be right back.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Thanks for watching tonight. Now that Osama bin Laden has been killed, the big conversation in America and the issue is whether the administration should release the death photo.
Here is what CIA Director Leon Panetta had to say to Brian Williams today about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEON PANETTA, CIA DIRECTOR: The government, obviously, has been talking about how best to do this. But I don‘t think there‘s—there was any question that ultimately a photograph would be presented to the public.
Obviously, I have seen the photographs. We have analyzed them. And there‘s no question that it‘s bin Laden.
I think there‘s no questions that there were concerned and there were questions that had to be debated about just exactly what kind of impact would these photos have.
But the bottom line is we got bin Laden. I think we have to reveal to the rest of the world the fact that we were able to get him and kill him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: He says “I think we have to reveal to the rest of the world the fact that we were able to get him and kill him.”
Well, look, in our culture, here in America, we see worse stuff on TV, don‘t we? We see worse stuff at the movies. Hollywood shows tough pictures all the time.
War, of course, we have had our share of it. We are not going to be exposed to anything that we really haven‘t seen before. But we are in this high stakes game of getting along with everybody across the globe. It could be offensive to other cultures.
That‘s the tight rope that the United States government is walking right now. We can callously say right here, what‘s the big deal. Let‘s just see the photo. We don‘t like the guy anyway. He killed 3,000 people. We would like to see proof of it.
Well, the fact is that in other cultures, it may not be received that way.
And we could be turned off a lot of people as well.
Let‘s bring in the executive director of the San Francisco chapter of CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Zahra Billoo.
Zahra, good to have you with us tonight. I appreciate your time. The Obama administration is concerned about the reaction of the Muslim world if these photo of Osama bin Laden are released. How do you see this? And how do you feel that the Muslim world will respond to this?
ZAHRA BILLOO, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS: Thanks for having me on, Ed. I think It‘s a tight rope. It‘s a very fine line. There are a lot of people in the Arab and Muslim world. We‘ve heard from people in Pakistan who have doubts about whether or not he was really captured and killed, and are afraid that maybe it‘s not true, that maybe he is still sort of amongst them.
So there‘s a very immediate need for proof. At the same time, I think that it needs to be done with a level—with a level of humanity, right? So in the same way that pictures were released of Saddam‘s son several years ago to prove they, too, had been killed—this isn‘t a new question, but it is always a difficult one.
SCHULTZ: Do you think the Muslim world wants to see the picture?
BILLOO: I think that there are people in the Muslim world—clearly I can‘t speak for all of them. But I do think there are people in the Muslim world who want to know whether or not this is real.
There have been several scares or—yeah, there have been several other attempts at telling us Osama bin Laden has passed away. So I think people need to see proof.
Again, the way we do it is what‘s going to be key to ensure that we don‘t, you know, inflame his supporters. One of the things I think has been on everyone‘s mind is the—you know, the test of our humanity is really how we treat the worst of us. I think we would all agree that Osama bin Laden is the worst of us. How do we treat him even post death?
SCHULTZ: But he represented a fraction of those in the culture. He was not the mainstream.
SCHULTZ: He was an extremist. He was a murderer. Is it a bridge too far to say that there might be a lot of Muslims in this country that don‘t—in this world, that do not want conspiracy theories, that want this put it to rest once and for all? This is just part of the process that we have to accept? Your thoughts on that.
BILLOO: Absolutely. I think that most of us, Muslims and those even who aren‘t want to see the conspiracy theories put to rest. We want to see America and sort of the World move on, at least from this one very dark chapter in our history.
At the same time, we have to be cognizant of the fact that there are going to always be people who find a method of putting out conspiracies, particularly in an era when photo shop is so commonly available. I imagine that even if we released the pictures, as important as that is in proving to those who would believe them, that there will still be detractors.
SCHULTZ: And is there a way to do this? A picture is a thousand words. Is there a special manner in which it should be handled within the culture where it would not be offensive? How could a picture of a man who has had half of his head blown off not be offensive to some?
BILLOO: You know, I‘m honestly not sure. I think that it would be worthwhile to look at how the pictures of Saddam‘s sons were released, sort of the reaction to the video of Saddam‘s hanging, and then maybe compare sort of the method that was used at that time, and hopefully keep a fine line of saying we are only doing this to prove the claim that we have captured him.
But we‘re not—this isn‘t something that we are doing to celebrate or to deface the community or the culture. I think people really do want proof, particularly in the village of Abbottabad, but also in sort of that part of the world, to know that they, too, can move on.
SCHULTZ: In the American Islamic community, can you give us a sense of how this has affected the Islamic community in this country? Is this a good thing? Is it something that the Islamic community was looking forward to happening? How would you judge their response?
BILLOO: I think that, you know, sort of the best way to describe it—so there was a very heavy sigh of relief when we heard the news. It indicated hopefully that we were making progress, that these past ten years and everything that we have seen in the past ten years, from the wars abroad to the erosion of civil liberties—but also sort of all of the violent murders that this man was responsible for have now came to an end.
I think that there‘s a lot of work that needs to be done to rebuild over the past ten years, and to ensure that he doesn‘t have predecessors who are following after him and, you know, following in his reign. So I think there‘s a lot of work that remains to be done.
But people are somber, reflective and also grateful.
SCHULTZ: Zahra Billoo from CAIR, thank you so much for joining us tonight, I appreciate it.
In case you missed it, while the president was making decisions behind the scenes, he still had time to rip into the Donald. We‘ve got all the great presidential zingers coming up. You don‘t want to miss them. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Back at it here on THE ED SHOW. The news of bin Laden‘s death Sunday night caught America and the world by surprise. It also cut off the last 15 minutes of “Celebrity Apprentice.” No, the president didn‘t plan that, did he?
I guess it was a win all the way around, wasn‘t it? While president was making tough decisions behind the scenes, he still had time to lay into Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday night.
The Donald was not amused.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: No one is happier—no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. That‘s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like did we fake the moon landing. What really happened in Roswell?
And where are Biggie and Tupak?
Say what you will about Mr. Trump, he certainly would bring some change to the White House. Let‘s see what we got up there.
Obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. For example, seriously, just recently in an episode of “Celebrity Apprentice,” at the steakhouse, the men‘s cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks.
There was a lot of blame to go around. But, you Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was lack of leadership. So ultimately you didn‘t blame Little John or Meatloaf, you fired Gary Busie.
These are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: We did a radio town hall down in Asheville, North Carolina today.
Every time I talk about Donald Trump, it brought the house down. Mr.
Trump, if you do run for president, you are going to win North Carolina. You might want to get down and start smooching those people. Right now, I would say they think you are pretty much a joke.
The president had you right where you belong.
Republicans would like you to believe that they are tough on national security. The facts tell us something different. That is next.
SCHULTZ: Finally tonight, Republicans—they have always loved to run on national security issues. In fact, they think they have a lock on the market when they are out campaigning. They love to paint the Democrat in charge as week. The did it to Jimmy Carter. They did it to Bill Clinton.
Here is the latest GOP strategy: President Obama is, quote, leading from behind. It got the Bill Kristol “Weekly Standard” seal of approval. Just take a look at this week‘s cover.
Bad timing, Billy. No doubt about it. The truth of the matter is the Democrats have been the party of—I guess you could say—get her done.
President Clinton nabbed the first World Trade Center bombers and homegrown terrorist Timothy McVeigh. He ordered bombings of Kosovo and Bosnia to prevent further atrocities there. He sent troops to Haiti.
Meanwhile, his successor, George W. Bush gave up looking for America‘s most wanted terrorist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: You know, again, I don‘t know where he is. I—I—I repeat what I said, I truly am not that concerned about him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: In fact, Bush missed an opportunity to get bin Laden in Tora Bora in December, 2001. He sent Afghan troops instead of American forces to try to get the job done. Needless to say, bin Laden escaped. The Bush administration later dismantled—they dismantled the CIA‘s bin Laden unit.
It was President Obama who made the decision to resurrect it. It was President Obama who directed Leon Panetta, the CIA director, to make the pursuit of American‘s number terrorist the CIA‘s number one mission.
It was President Obama who ordered a precise make or break raid of bin Laden‘s compound. It was President Obama who got the job done.
Joining me now is former Pennsylvania congressman and former vice admiral of the Navy, Joe Sestak. Admiral, good to have you with us tonight. Is this a big step forward? And we‘re talking in the political arena here. Is this a big step forward of erasing this imagery out there that wishy washy liberals just don‘t get the job done on national security?
JOE SESTAK, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Ed, I think it is an important step. I think it‘s an important step for the nation. When I was running for Congress, I used to say all the time that Democrats have a deficit in owning national security credentials since the Vietnam War.
I worked for President Clinton. I sat in that situation room. I watched the briefing as we were about to send an aircraft carrier, a couple of them, Marine men and missions over to defend North Korea, because we had told North Korea them if pulled those plutonium rods out, it would be an act of war.
Then they stopped.
No, I think this is important for our nation. The president, it was a gutsy move. He made it. He did it well. I that cements for him—I understand the politics of it—for the Democrats that no, we care and we‘ll do the right we response for this nation‘s security.
SCHULTZ: I want to take a look at the picture in the situation room in the White House that we showed on the screen there. Admiral, you have been in these situations.
SESTAK: I have.
SCHULTZ: This is as real as it gets, is it not? Look at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. There, of course, President Obama not in an overpowering position there. It‘s like he‘s positioned as hey, I‘m just one of the team here. What is your impression of this picture?
SESTAK: My impression is this is a leader who knew how to pick a very good team. He wasn‘t afraid to have people in there like Mrs. Clinton, who was rivals. This is one that—I think you said earlier in your broadcast a very important word—has a strategy that it tries to consistently execute as a team.
That‘s what you see in the situation room. Do they care? Did they know they absolutely put, you know, in a sense, our men and women out there in something that could go drastically wrong, but that it needed to be done.
Then they knew that, as they watched it, as that helicopter went down, that it could go wrong for our nation. But they knew they had made the right decision and it came through.
That‘s an excellent picture there. Ed, look, I strongly believe that the point you are making is very important. Not for the Democratic party, for the nation.
I have watched both parties. Sometimes individuals, particularly who haven‘t served in the military, tend to think it‘s just about testosterone. It isn‘t.
It‘s about knowing and having a strategy to achieve that goal that you know you have to do. Frankly, this president, as you said earlier in the broadcast, did it with regard to getting bin Laden.
I give the credit also to President Bush for having set up some of the things along the way. But he increased the effort to get this man and got him.
SCHULTZ: Yeah. Admiral, I want to give you just a moment to talk about SEAL Team Six. I‘m from that part of the country. And I can tell you where the SEALS hang out.
They are tough dudes. They are experts in martial arts. They are talented in so many ways. They are sharp shooters. They are bomb experts. I remember when I was a kid growing up, my dad used to took me down to Virginia Beach where the SEALS used to do operations off the beach.
These guys would have to swim five miles in the high seas to shore in their training. It was just amazing to see. They used to have the town come out and watch them train.
They are phenomenal Americans. I mean, so if you could take a moment here tonight. What do you think it was like on that helicopter coming back from that compound after mission accomplished?
SESTAK: Professionalism on the way in without par. On the way back, sense that this was done for America. These are the most patriotic men you can have. More than that, they are people that don‘t—you don‘t apply to get the job. They are chosen for this job.
There‘s not a more elite moment they could have had than when they came back.
SCHULTZ: Joe Sestak, always a pleasure. Great to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much.
Tonight in our survey, I ask, do you want to see the dead Osama bin Laden picture? Sixty seven percent of you said yes; 33 percent of you said no.
That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. .
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