updated 4/30/2004 11:23:04 AM ET 2004-04-30T15:23:04

Guest: Tamar Jacoby, Mark Krikorian, Dan Patrick, Steve Walters, Amy Walters, Fred Dicker, Kirsten Powers, Tom Squitieri, John Fund

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline, the secretary of defense says he was never consulted on whether to go to war in Iraq.  The “Real Deal”:  I think that‘s why you have a Cabinet. 

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required, only common sense allowed. 

Donald Rumsfeld tells our own Chris Matthews that he found it interesting that President Bush never asked him his advice on going into Iraq.  Isn‘t that exactly why you have a secretary of defense? 

And a new poll shows support for the war is at an all-time low.  So why can‘t John Kerry gain ground on the president? 

Then, Hillary Clinton tells an international reporter that Iraq is a quagmire and that the Bush administration is danger to the Mideast.  Her comments are picked up throughout the Arab press, but America‘s media ignores it.  Why? 

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, welcome to our show.  I‘m Joe Scarborough. 

Well, Rummy talks and logic walks.  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.” 

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told “HARDBALL”‘s Chris Matthews tonight that he wasn‘t asked whether America should go to war with Iraq.  Rumsfeld‘s comments confirm what Bob Woodward had written in his latest book.  And as we learned last week, Secretary of State Powell‘s advice was also not sought by the commander of chief on the eve of war. 

Now, as you know, I support this war.  I support the president.  I support the premise that the only way we can stop terrorism is by promoting democracy and free markets in the Middle East.  And that‘s how we are going to ultimately win the war on terror.  But I wonder, why have a secretary of defense if you are not going to even ask him whether America should launch the biggest military operation in 30 years? 

Why have a decorated general who was a chairman of the joint chiefs as secretary of state if you aren‘t going to ask for his input on whether war with Iraq is a wise decision?  And why have a Cabinet at all if, as Paul O‘Neill has suggested, these members are nothing more than window dressing to provide cover to the president‘s designs?

Listen, this isn‘t about a particular policy.  I still think the president was right to take out Saddam Hussein.  Instead, Rummy‘s remarks paint a more general, a more disturbing portrait of a president who is isolated in the Oval Office, keeping counsel with few outside of Dick Cheney and God. 

Now, though I count myself a big fan of the vice president and God, I am still concerned by just how few people this president seems to have consulted before launching such an extraordinarily important operation.  In Congress, I didn‘t launch wars, but I was faced with tough choices, and I was always smart enough to know that I wasn‘t smart enough to go it alone.  Whenever I saw a leader in Congress who thought he was, I was very troubled.

And if it‘s troubling for a congressman to go it alone, imagine how troubling it is when we have a president who seems to be doing the same thing.  And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.” 

Now, as I said before, MSNBC‘s Chris Matthews had Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on his program earlier tonight.  And he grilled the secretary on the run-up to the Iraq war. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “HARDBALL”)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Mr. Secretary, let me ask you about the war in Iraq and the boldest question I could put to you here in the Pentagon.  Did you ever advise the president to go to war?

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:  Well, now, Chris, I saw some clipping of your interviews on this subject when you asked that question of Woodward, and Woodward said that the president said he had not asked me.  Now, so why would you ask me?  You have it from the horse‘s mouth.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s right, in that circumstance, in that room.  But all those months in the run-up to war, I would imagine that at some point, sitting in the interstices of the West Wing, he would say, “Hey, Don, you think we ought to go?”

I mean is there any—weren‘t you ever asked your advice?

RUMSFELD:  I don‘t know who he might have asked their advice.

MATTHEWS:  Well, apparently he asked the vice president.

RUMSFELD:  Possibly.  I just don‘t know.  I haven‘t read all these books...

MATTHEWS:  He didn‘t ask his father.  We know that.

RUMSFELD:  Is that right?

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s all I go by, these books, as you put it, these bibles we‘re reading, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

RUMSFELD:  You ought to get a life.  You could do something besides read those books.

MATTHEWS:  This is my life.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about something a little more...

RUMSFELD:  Let me answer your question.

MATTHEWS:  Did you advise the president to go to war?

RUMSFELD:  Yes, he did not ask me, is the question.  And to my knowledge, there are any number of people he did not ask.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Does that surprise you, as secretary of defense?

RUMSFELD:  Well, I thought it was interesting.   

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Those are pretty candid remarks, by Secretary Rumsfeld‘s standard. 

After the interview, I asked Chris Matthews if he was surprised by Don Rumsfeld‘s answer.  And this is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think he may have been surprised by the question, because I said at the time it was a rather bold question.  I‘m asking the president‘s defense chief whether he was ever asked by the president whether he should go to war with Iraq?

I asked him, did you ever advise the president we should go to war with Iraq?  And he got around to answer the question rather candidly.  He said:  The president never asked me.  I found that very interesting. 

I think it‘s one of those moments that hadn‘t come until the interview today.  That‘s one advantage of a long interview with someone, is you get around to pushing it and doing follow-up answers until you get a very clear answer.  And I think the secretary himself may have been surprised that he told me so bluntly that president of the United States never asked him whether we should go to war, and he never actually understood, he never understood why he was never asked. 

He said he found it interesting, which I thought was a very discrete answer. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Boy, I‘ll tell you what, we all found it interesting. 

We‘ve got “USA Today”‘s national correspondent Tom Squitieri, here, also is OpinionJournal.com‘s John Fund.

Tom, I got to tell you, you heard me at the top.  I support the president.  I support the war.  I am absolutely astounded that this president launched this war, this remarkably important operation, without talking to his secretary of defense or his secretary of state. 

TOM SQUITIERI, “USA TODAY”:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What are the ramifications of that? 

SQUITIERI:  When I heard that earlier today, I was pretty surprised, first of all, that Secretary Rumsfeld admitted that.  And I think Chris was exactly right.  You do get stuff out of the secretary when you have the opportunity to continue to question him and narrow down the focus. 

But, I mean, Rumsfeld has been secretary of defense twice now, and Powell was the joint chiefs, as you point out.  Cheney was a secretary of defense.  So you have three people who you should be able to talk to about going to war, three.  He did talk to the vice president. 

The secretary of defense not asked about his thoughts about any war, any conflict, is just astounding. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and, Tom, you know, with Colin Powell, it‘s not like Colin Powell led a war going into Costa Rica. 

SQUITIERI:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  This guy actually went into the same country. 

SQUITIERI:  Exactly. 

SCARBOROUGH:  In 1991, understood the region as well as anybody, and you don‘t bring him into the Oval Office and say, hey, you have been through this before, buddy; help me out?

Is this White House arrogance?  What‘s the deal? 

(CROSSTALK)

SQUITIERI:  And, also, Joe, as you recall, Secretary Rumsfeld, before he was secretary of defense this time, went on a mission to talk to Saddam Hussein, so he had at least an understanding of how the guy thinks as well, which would be valuable input from a nonmilitary point of view. 

I am really stunned at this, this revelation by the secretary in the interview with Chris Matthews.  I mean, it just—and he is not known to be a shrinking, either, Secretary Rumsfeld.  We all know that.  And many people admire that in him.  The fact that he didn‘t come in and had the opportunity to have a candid talk with the president about the ramifications, both militarily in Iraq and the region and the world based on demands on U.S. troops is very interesting, to say the least. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, we have—we actually have a banner up that says, “Rumsfeld not told about the war.”  I don‘t know if that‘s actually the case. 

I think it‘s more like he wasn‘t asked his opinion specifically on the war. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I want to go, though—I know right now I am upsetting John Fund.

John, I have supported this president. I have supported this war.  But as you have known since I have been in Congress, I am blunt, I tell it like it is.  And I‘ve got to tell you, it really concerns me that the president of the United States, the commander in chief, did not ask his secretary of defense or his secretary of state, should we launch this operation against Iraq?

JOHN FUND, COLUMNIST, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”:  Joe, I am blunt, too.  And this president and this administration has made a lot of mistakes in the aftermath of war, but let‘s not get this all hyped up. 

First of all, we should at least be thankful that Colin Powell was not the only person being excluded from being asked about whether or not we should go to war.  Don Rumsfeld, the defense secretary, also was excluded.  But let‘s be clear.  If you read Bob Woodward‘s book carefully, all 600 pages—and I‘ve read large chunks of it—what you find is, the president already knew what they thought. 

(CROSSTALK)

FUND:  There has been memos in the Cabinet things with both Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld.  They had made their views perfectly clear. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I am going to ask you a follow-up question, but let me stop you here.  I am glad you said that, because that‘s what troubles me the most. 

When I was sitting in Congress, when I had a tough vote to make, again, much smaller than launching a war, but I had to vote on issues of war and peace, the first people I brought into my office were people I knew would disagree with me.  The first people I would ask were people who I already had the answer for.  I wanted them to come in and talk me out of my vote.  Don‘t you think this just feeds into the perception that this president is not intellectually curious? 

FUND:  Joe, there were Cabinet meetings in which the views of Don Rumsfeld and Colin Powell, and there were also one-on-one meetings between the principals.  Their views were made clear. 

Remember, this was the longest run-up to a war we‘ve had in American history.  It was nine months to a year.  There were discussions all over town.  Everybody analyzed the discussions from every level, except, of course, exactly what the postwar planning of Iraq should be.  And that clearly was deficient. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Tom, I think our responsibility here is to be cynical and to be cynical towards all parties.  So let‘s turn our cynicism towards Donald Rumsfeld. 

Do you think, possibly, quite possibly, that Donald Rumsfeld used this interview with Chris Matthews to distance himself from a war that‘s not going very well right now?  Of course, the poll numbers, as you know, are going down for support of the war.  And we woke up this morning to news that yet 10 more Americans died in Iraq.  Could he just be using this opportunity to distance himself from the war and point at the president? 

SQUITIERI:  It is certainly a possibility, Joe. 

You may recall last year, last fall, when he had those little public statements about Condoleezza Rice when there was talk that she would be put in charge of sort of the entire operation of postwar planning or so forth, and he sort of let something out in an interview with foreign reporters that was quickly picked up that was not necessarily flattering comments about Condoleezza Rice. 

My experience in covering the Pentagon—it‘s been about a year and a half now—it‘s a great beat.  And Rumsfeld is a very challenging and intelligent fellow to cover and makes us all better reporters.  My experience has shown he doesn‘t do anything by accident.  So anything he says, I think he has thought it out pretty well. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I have made no secret of the fact that I am a huge Donald Rumsfeld fan because he is so blunt.

But I want you, John Fund, to respond to some bad news that the secretary had to face this morning, as well as the president of the United States.  As you know, a new poll, a “New York Times”/CBS poll, asked the United States people if we did the right thing going to war in Iraq.  Only 47 percent said yes, while 46 percent said we should have stayed out.  And, in December, after we got Saddam, 63 percent said, yes, we did the right thing, against 31 percent who said no. 

Meanwhile, the president‘s job approval has dropped to 46 percent.  It‘s his lowest ever and down from 71 percent this time last year.  And one more.  I got to show you this one last poll, John, because despite George Bush‘s job approval slip in the Iraq war, look what it has done with John Kerry, in relationship to John Kerry, if we can put that up, and if you can roll the prompter, John Kerry still only up 46-44, still a statistical dead heat, and in those battleground states, George Bush still doing well. 

What does all this mean for the president of the United States? 

FUND:  It means the war has been awfully bad news for about two months now.  The president has six months to make things better.  The economy is also coming back, and I think that‘s ultimately going to loom much larger in people‘s consciousness. 

The bottom line is, the president now has got a wakeup call in the polls.  But, Joe, I am really glad we didn‘t have these kinds of polls during World War II or the Korean War, because we would have been constantly second-guessing the administration on every step of the way.  This is a very bad patch.  It doesn‘t mean things are going to be as bad six months from now, and I frankly don‘t think they will be. 

(CROSSTALK)

SQUITIERI:  I actually think that those polls are good for President Bush.  And here‘s why, that despite the beating he has taken because of the way the war and the aftermath is going, he is still, as you pointed out, neck-and-neck with Kerry.  You would think that Kerry would have a much, much bigger lead over him. 

We had a similar poll in our paper today showing the disapproval of the way the war has been handled—down—with President Bush actually up, I think, by a couple of points.  So, to me, it shows a trend that I think I have seen since the late 1990s here—and John could maybe help me with this a little bit—that the sort of traditional way you think things should go, oh, the war is going bad, therefore, the incumbent is going to really go bad and the challenger will be up high, it‘s all changed. 

The way people look at each elections have changed now.  The leadership issue, security in post-9/11, our polling has shown is a primary issue, still concerns Americans.  And they still think, on one on one, that President Bush is more capable of handling that than Senator Kerry. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Tom, you are exactly right.  I appreciate you being here and giving your insights.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

SQUITIERI:  Because I agree with you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No, no, no.

I appreciate you being here, John Fund, also.  Thanks a lot.

And I got to tell you, I agree.  I think it‘s bad news for John Kerry because we have had a horrendous stretch over the past month in Iraq, and yet John Kerry is still not cutting into the president‘s poll numbers.  Bad news.  It‘s kind of like your basketball team, when they miss 10 or 20 shots in the first half and they are still only down by one or two.  That‘s good news when the second half comes around.  Anyway, if you followed that, you are smarter than most. 

Stick around, because there‘s much more in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY straight ahead.  We are going to talk about Senator Clinton‘s scathing anti-war remarks that spread throughout the Arab press.  But I think we are only the ones talking about it here in America.  The rest of the media has ignored her statements.  We will try to figure out why when we return.

And then police in Texas apprehended this dangerous criminal, slapped her in handcuffs and took her down to the station, where she was booked and fingerprinted.  What was this 97-year-old grandma‘s crime?  We will tell you about it in just a little bit—when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Senator Hillary Clinton tells an international reporter that the administration is creating instability in the Mideast.  Does she know we are at war?  And why is SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY the only one asking that question? 

We will talk about that right after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton called the Bush administration stubborn and arrogant to a reporter who syndicated the column to the Arab press.  There was a time when politics ended at our nation‘s shores.  Not anymore. 

Now, do these attacks give comfort to America‘s enemies? 

Democratic strategist Kirsten Powers is here.  She says Hillary Clinton is doing her duty by criticizing the president.  Well, “The New York Post”‘s Fred Dicker also joins us to comment on why America‘s elite media isn‘t picking up this story. 

Fred, let me begin with you. 

What did you make of Hillary Clinton‘s comment to an internationally syndicated newspaper attacking our president, calling him arrogant, and basically saying the war in Iraq was a quagmire? 

FRED DICKER, “THE NEW YORK POST”:  Well, it sounded pretty much to me, Joe, like what she said many times before.  I didn‘t think it was that big of a deal, and I think because she was speaking to Daffney Barak (ph), I guess her name is, a I guess reasonably well-known freelancer, meaning she didn‘t have a job at the time, she trying to sell the interview, most people in the media didn‘t think it was that big of a deal. 

And, in fact, I think it‘s fair to say that this is consistent with what Mrs. Clinton and other Democrats have been saying for some time. 

SCARBOROUGH:  When has Hillary Clinton come out and call the president‘s policy stubborn, called him arrogant, said it a quagmire, said that actually his position on Iraq was destabilizing the Middle East? 

DICKER:  Well, I don‘t hear that as being especially outside the bounds of political conduct these days.  Have you heard Ted Kennedy recently or Robert Byrd?  Things have gotten pretty ugly around.  These are ad hominem attacks.

But Mrs. Clinton, to her credit, I would say, in the view of a great many people, has also been very strongly supportive of defense spending and of the troops.  She got a flattering piece in “The New York Times” a few days ago about how she is really much more moderate than a lot of people would think.  So I think her record is kind of mixed.  Anything a New York or American politician says critical of the president is sure to get picked up in the Arab press and thrown in America‘s face.  That‘s the nature of democracy.  It‘s going to happen because we have free speech in this country. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We certainly do have free speech, and that‘s great. 

You know, when Ted Kennedy exercises his free speech and attacks the president of the United States, it‘s picked up by the American press.  When Bob Byrd does the same thing, it‘s picked up by the American press.  What I don‘t understand is, you talked about “The New York Times,” why didn‘t “The New York Times” pick up this quote?  Why didn‘t other newspapers pick up this quote?

DICKER:  This is a freelancer in what arguably was a fawning, if not a suck-up interview.  I don‘t think it had that much credibility.  At one point in the interview, the interviewer is actually even quoting Jane Fonda to Mrs. Clinton as expert on women.  I would suspect Mrs. Clinton probably had to gulp at that one. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I want to read what Hillary Clinton actually told the internationally syndicated newspaper columnist. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  She said—quote—“The Bush administration‘s stubbornness and arrogance is breathtaking.  And, as a result, we are going to continue to go down a path that I think is fraught with horrible dangers for the young men and young women serving in Iraq.”

Kirsten Powers, let me bring you in here. 

Do you really think that‘s the type of statement that needs to be said to the international press while our men and women are fighting a very, very hot battle in Fallujah and across Iraq? 

KIRSTEN POWERS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  I agree with Fred.  This is America.  We have freedom of speech, and what Hillary Clinton said actually is the truth. 

And I think it‘s interesting that you are picking up on this arrogance word when I just heard you ask on national television that theoretically anybody could see whether the president was being arrogant in not checking with his secretary of defense when he went to war.  So I am not really sure why it‘s wrong for Hillary Clinton to say the exact same thing, that he behaved arrogantly. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So you think that senators—don‘t you think it‘s a little different...

POWERS:  She has a duty.  This is her job.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... if you are a United States senator?  People know that I don‘t impact policy over in Iraq, over in the Middle East.  Don‘t you think Senator Clinton has a responsibility to measure her words a bit more?  When I ask questions, I‘m trying to draw the truth out of people.

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS:  I think that Hillary Clinton has a responsibility and that‘s exactly why she is doing what she is doing.  She is a senator who has constituents who have died in Iraq, who are serving in Iraq.  The president has misled us.  He has no plan.  And this is really what she has been talking about.

And what she talked about in this interview is the fact the president has no plan and that she is very concerned about that.  And she came back from her visit to Iraq and talked about how we need more troops and how we should support the troops.  And that‘s her responsibility.  That‘s her duty as a senator, to be doing that, to be questioning the president.

And I am just at a complete loss for why you think that she is not supposed to question the president, when all sorts of people are questioning the president, Republicans and Democrats?

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know what?

POWERS:  And, by the way, Colin Powell is on foreign soil today talking about how the war is not going that well.  So why is that OK, but Hillary Clinton can‘t question it? 

DICKER:  She probably should have chosen better who she was speaking to.  Apparently, Mrs. Clinton didn‘t realize—her staff messed up here—that she was speaking to someone who was winding up being paid by an Arab syndicated publication.

POWERS:  No.  Listen, let‘s just put some facts out there. 

DICKER:  Sure.  I thought I just did. 

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS:  No, because what you‘re doing—I think you are talking about, when you opened up the segment, why is nobody else covering the story?  I will tell you why.  Because there‘s no story.  Hillary never spoke to Arab newspaper. 

And for two nights—now, tonight, you are backing away from it a little bit.  But for two nights, you were insisting that she spoke to an Arab newspaper.  What Senator Clinton did was, she did an interview in the U.S.  And she talked about an important issue. 

(CROSSTALK)            

SCARBOROUGH:  One at a time.  One at a time. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Kirsten, your time is up.  Your time is up, OK?  Because you have said so many things that are so inaccurate.  You said the president misled us.  I think you are wrong there.  You said he had no plan.  I think you are wrong there.  You said that we have been saying for two nights that she spoke to the Arab press.  We haven‘t been saying that for two nights.

Last night, we explained that she spoke to the international press.  I

still think you are insulting my intelligence and you‘re speaking down to

the viewers in America when you say that

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS:  That‘s ridiculous.  That is not true.  You have your opinions and then other people have their opinions. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Wait a second.  Are you afraid to let me finish what I am going to say? 

POWERS:  Yes, I am scared. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  Well, then, how about letting me finish? 

(LAUGHTER)

POWERS:  OK.

SCARBOROUGH:  When you come on TV, just like Wolfson came on last night, and said Hillary Clinton had no idea where this interview was going to go, please.  This lady—and, Fred, I will ask you this question.

Does Hillary Clinton not have one of the most brilliant, one of the most organized, one of the most brutally efficient press operations in all of Washington?  They don‘t just throw her out to be interviewed by anybody.  They know who is interviewing her.  And I am pretty damn sure they are going to know where that interview is going to end up. 

DICKER:  Well, I wouldn‘t accept the word brilliant, but I would accept the rest of what you said, Joe, no question about it.  They are very, very controlling. 

They were telling me tonight that they just didn‘t know that Daffney Barak (ph) was going to be giving this story to the Arab press.  I find that hard to believe.  One of the first questions you asked when you are being interviewed is, hey, who do you represent?  And if she knew it was the Arab press, then I think she could be faulted for using words that would more appropriately used to a democratic American press here at home.

SCARBOROUGH:  And I want to give you my experience when I was in Congress.  Again, much smaller in the House side than the Senate side.  Any senator will tell you that.

But any time I had an interview, any time in the House, I never conducted that interview without knowing exactly where it was going to end up.  That‘s the first question, who is doing it, where is it going to end up, because if I had made interview with a freelancer during Bosnia or Kosovo‘s war and it ended up in Milosevic‘s hometown newspaper, that would have been a huge political scandal.  But for some reason, this isn‘t written about anywhere in America. 

Kirsten, you don‘t find that troubling? 

POWERS:  What I find troubling is this obsession with something that simply did not occur.  The way you are talking is if Hillary Clinton like secretly planned to feed information to an Arab newspaper, which, by the way—and Howard talked about this last night.  We live in the 21st century.  People have access to information. 

If you think that the only way they are getting information is when Hillary Clinton does an interview, you are just wrong.  That‘s just not the way it works. 

(CROSSTALK)

DICKER:  This smacks of the old style—this smacks of the Cold War style of the Soviet Union, where they used to seek out Western journalists, usually third-rate ones, pay them a little money, get them to do an interview for them.  And then they would splash it over the communist press around the world. 

(CROSSTALK)

DICKER:  Because Mrs. Clinton here should have been careful who was interviewing her and how it was going to be used. 

POWERS:  There is nothing that she said that is even remotely controversial.  I mean, that‘s the other thing.

(CROSSTALK)

DICKER:  Well, but in the Arab world, it is.  This is Mrs. Hillary Clinton, the former first lady, attacking the president of the United States.  Arguably, it should done here in our own papers.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Listen, I want to thank both of you.  Unfortunately, we are out of time.  I want to thank both of you for being here.

But before I leave—well, actually, they are telling me we‘re going to be right back.  I‘ll see you in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Did “The Houston Chronicle” use a Marine‘s death to editorialize on the Iraq war?  We are going to be talking to that fallen Marine‘s sister in just a minute. 

But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk. 

(NEWS BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  Talk about seeing it all.  I have been in the Oval Office with the president of the United States, where he was with the 9/11 Commission today.  You talk about a home court advantage, I will tell you what. 

Now, I wanted to go back to you, Kirsten.  And I‘ve got to touch on a couple of quick things before we go.  First of all, you say there was nothing controversial about her remarks.  You need to see those remarks again, very controversial, especially since they were broadcast across the Arab world. 

But I want to read you why I worry about the senator‘s criticism to a

foreign audience.  A Marine back from Iraq e-mailed this and said—quote

·         “Our enemy has learned that the key to defeating the mighty American military is by swaying public opinion at home and abroad.  We love to criticize ourselves almost to an endless degree.  Our enemies see this as a weakness and are trying to exploit it.”

Certainly, you have to admit, I mean, Americans understand that when we criticize our own, criticize our war efforts, that provides comfort to our enemies.  You understand that, don‘t you? 

POWERS:  I think that to suggest that the only way that they are hearing that there are Americans, whether it‘s members of Congress or the average Americans that don‘t support how the president is handling this war, is ridiculous. 

This is widely known.  Senator Clinton is not the only person speaking out against the war.  And many Americans have lost—aren‘t supporting the war either.  The polls are plummeting.  So I don‘t understand why you think that this is the only way that people would have concerns about the war. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Well, and I don‘t understand why you think that Senator Clinton should be exempted, when everybody else that speaks against this war, that attacks the president of the United States and has their comments broadcast across the Arab world, gets those reported in America.

But, again, I guess Hillary Clinton gets a free pass. 

Well, I appreciate you being with us tonight.  I also, Fred Dicker, appreciate you being with us.  Well, I am sure we are going to have you back to talk more about this story coming up. 

But right now, moving on, in an article about a fallen America soldier from their area, “The Houston Chronicle” reported—quote—“The soldier‘s family did not want to discuss their sentiments about the war or the political debate surrounding President Bush‘s failure to find weapons of mass destruction, one of the prime reasons cited for invading Iraq last year.”

The fallen soldier was killed in Fallujah in March on the 26th, and his family outraged by the newspaper‘s editorializing.  The paper declined to come on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to discuss the story, but they‘ve since apologized to the family of the fallen soldier. 

With me now is the fallen soldier‘s sister, Amy Walters, and their father, Steve Walters.

Amy, thank you for being with us. 

I want to ask you why your family was so upset about what “The Houston Chronicle” did and how they used your brother‘s death to advance their political agenda. 

AMY WALTERS, BROTHER KILLED IN IRAQ:  I was upset because that‘s not true.  We support the president 100 percent.  We support the war.  And my brother joined the Marines after the war started, so he supported it, and he knew.  He knows why he joined.  He joined for a reason, and he joined for the cause of freedom, and they just took advantage of that.  They shouldn‘t have done that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, even after this great tragedy was visited on your family, do you all still support what the president is doing?  Do you still support the war effort? 

A. WALTERS:  Yes, I do.  I think he is doing a good thing.  He is trying to give freedom to people in Iraq, and he is trying to protect the American people, which is a good thing. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, I understand that your father had said that he never even brought up the issue of weapons of mass destruction with the reporter.  The reporter never brought it up either while he was talking to the father.  Are you all saying that they just made that up whole-cloth? 

STEVE WALTERS, SON KILLED IN IRAQ:  I think they just wanted to have their say.  We thought the story was going to be about Leroy.  And that‘s strictly what we wanted to do, was honor Leroy. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So what did you say?  Did you call them up after you saw this article and saw that they had actually editorialized when writing what you thought was going to be a tribute to your son? 

S. WALTERS:  Well, of course, we were going through a funeral and all the proceedings that go with that at the time.

But Amy kept reminding me the whole week that this was wrong, this was not the right thing to say about Leroy.  And I said, we will take care of it after the funeral proceedings.  And Amy still kept reminding me about this. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Amy, I understand “The Houston Chronicle” actually did finally apologize to your family, is that correct? 

A. WALTERS:  Yes.

But if they are truly sorry, they won‘t just say they are sorry.  They could put another story in the newspaper or instead of just having liberals writing the paper, they could have Republicans and Democrats and conservatives, so the paper will be fair.  If they are truly sorry that‘s what they would do to make the paper fair. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

A. WALTERS:  Yes, and they are putting down the whole military when they say that—like, if they don‘t support the war, the troops are over there, and the people don‘t support them.  And that‘s wrong.  How would you feel if you volunteer to help out your country?  Everybody in the military gives their life just for us, and some people take advantage of that.  And they shouldn‘t take advantage of their freedoms that way. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, right now, I want to bring in KSEV radio host Dan Patrick.  He actually started a boycott against “The Houston Chronicle” when he heard about this story. 

Dan, tell me, why did you start this boycott against “The Houston Chronicle,” and how effective has it been? 

DAN PATRICK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Good evening, Joe. 

Well, what happened was, the family contacted me because they wanted Houston to know that they were not against this president or this war.  And they really took that article as an insult, as you have heard, in memory of their son.  And so they were on the show, my talk show.  And one of the senior editors from “The Chronicle” called into the show while they were on.

And, quite frankly, Steve Jatan (ph), the editor‘s behavior, was so cold and callous toward this family that it angered my audience and angered me. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What did he say? 

PATRICK:  Well, first of all, he didn‘t even know the facts.  He called in and he said, well, Amy, was that your brother who was killed?  Well, I‘m sorry if you were offended. 

And then I made the statement, well, don‘t you think you owe this family an apology and don‘t you think you should do rewrite of the story?  They even insinuated early in the article, Joe, that the only reason Leroy Sandoval Jr. joined the Marines was because he had nothing better to do.  That is an insult.  Even as a writer, if you thought that, why would you write that about a Marine who had just been a hero in combat and lost his life? 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what?  Again, serving in Congress, representing a lot of people that have fought before for this country, it is so depressing when you get cynics in the press that try to tear them down, that try to take away from their sacrifice. 

What kind of response have you had to this call for a boycott of “The Houston Chronicle”? 

PATRICK:  Well, let me tell you what‘s happened, Joe. 

We don‘t know exactly how many people have canceled their subscriptions.  We believe 10,000 or more.  Our mantra is, if Leroy Sandoval Jr. can sacrifice his life and this family can sacrifice their son and their brother for the country, you can sacrifice your morning newspaper. 

The publisher, Jack Sweeney, not only called the family to apologize, but he hasn‘t taken action against the writer.  He hasn‘t written apology article or asked anyone to write a new article about Amy‘s point of view of the president.  He called our listeners.  Our listeners have been getting phone calls from the publisher, and he‘s asking them to continue to keep their subscriptions with the paper. 

They are offering free offers to listeners, giving free papers for six months at a time, offering gift certificates if you will renew. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But, Dan, they aren‘t doing what you know they need to do and what our viewers know they need to do.  They need to call this family and apologize.  The publisher needs to apologize and clean this mess up. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I want to thank all of you for being with us tonight. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We got to go. 

PATRICK:  They need to write

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Amy, Steve Walters, and Dan Patrick, they do need to write a correcting story.  And we are going to keep on this case, keep on “The Chronicle,” and make sure they do. 

And coming up, it looks like the president‘s work visa program has caused illegal immigration to skyrocket, but experts say securing the border isn‘t practical.  So what‘s the solution? 

We‘ll talk about that next.

ANNOUNCER:  Tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge:  Which decade featured the biggest immigration wave in U.S. history?  Was it, A, the 1890s, B, the 1920s, or, C, the 1990s? 

The answer coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  In tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we asked: 

Which decade featured the biggest immigration wave in U.S. history?  The answer is C.  From 1991 to 2000, a record of more than nine million illegal immigrants arrived in the U.S.

Now back to Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s what I guessed. 

Illegal Immigration from Mexico spiked higher in the past six months, 25 percent higher.  The reason?  Well, a new guest program starts in June.  The program is going to give legal status to half a million illegals. 

Tamar Jacoby is a senior fellow from the Manhattan Institute.  She‘s here.  And she‘s the author of “Reinventing the Melting Pot” and says the president‘s guest worker program is going to work, and that if immigrants can‘t find jobs here, they will go home.  Mark Krikorian is the executive director of the Center For Immigration Studies, who says the worker program encourages illegals. 

Now, I asked them if the Bush plan encourages more illegal immigration. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARK KRIKORIAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES:  

Whenever the government has sent messages about immigration to illegal immigrants here or potential illegal immigrants overseas, they react to those messages. 

For instance, when the government got tough on Middle Eastern illegal aliens in the United States after 9/11, the biggest Middle Eastern illegal alien group, Pakistanis, got the messages and they streamed out of the country by the thousands, because they understood that the law was being enforced, at least with regard to them. 

When the government sends the opposite message, as the president has with this guest worker program, which is still just a proposal, Joe, it sends the message to people overseas that they ought to be—they ought to try to get in while the getting is good, because they are going to get a reward. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Tamar Jacoby, we can look back through our history.  We can look at Ronald Reagan and what he did in the ‘80s, when he had amnesty program that let millions of illegals into this country.  And, of course, it didn‘t solve the illegal immigration problem.  It actually made it worse. 

And you know what?  The U.S. Border Patrol now is saying in the last six months that detentions have jumped 25 percent to 535,000 compared to a year ago.  It‘s the first spike in four years.  Isn‘t George Bush‘s program encouraging illegal immigrants to come to America? 

TAMAR JACOBY, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE:  Well, first of all, there is no program yet.  All the president did was talk about some principles for a program that may happen several years down the road. 

But the commissioner for Customs and Border Protection, Robert Bonner, says that the spike is because the Border Patrol agents are doing a better job on the border.  That‘s why there are more detentions, apprehensions now, because the Border Patrol is doing its job better.  Apprehensions are all up in the sector in Arizona, where they have just put 300 new border agents. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But Mark makes a very good point, I believe.  He says that when we send the message out to illegals that we are going to open the floodgates, that we are going to let them come in, that we are going to, in fact, say, you come to our country, you get a job, we are going to make it much easier for you to become a citizen, we are actually sending a message out, we don‘t enforce our laws.  Come to America illegally. 

JACOBY:  No, Joe, we don‘t decide the number of immigrants that come.  The market decides the number of immigrants that come.  If the jobs are here, people will come to do the jobs. 

SCARBOROUGH:  The law doesn‘t have anything to do with this? 

(CROSSTALK)

JACOBY:  If the jobs aren‘t here, they don‘t come. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tamar, the jobs are always here. 

JACOBY:  No.  That‘s not true.  That‘s not true.

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s the thing.  They are always here, compared to Mexico. 

JACOBY:  That‘s not true. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You are not saying, are you tonight, that if we have a more permissive law regarding illegal immigrants, that that won‘t encourage illegal immigrants to come to America? 

JACOBY:  And if they don‘t find work here, they will go home.  No one would rather be unemployed in America than home in Mexico.  It‘s warm in Mexico.  It‘s cheap.  You have your family there.  You can‘t get unemployment benefits in New York.

It‘s economic forces that drive the migrant flow, not what the president says.  There may be a little blip. 

(CROSSTALK)

KRIKORIAN:  This is ridiculous.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, hey, Mark, first of all, I just want to say this.  Critics are saying—and I say this—that the president‘s guest worker program is encouraging Mexicans to cross the border now, instead of waiting until they have a job offer, like the program specifies.

I want to read you what one migrant worker said to the “USA Today.”  He said: “I want to try to make it to the United States to find out more about the permits, because I‘ve heard that, with a job, a visa will be easier to get.”

Again, Mark, that‘s a migrant worker talking to the “USA Today.”  How many times do you think that story is being repeated across the U.S.-Mexico border? 

KRIKORIAN:  The Border Patrol has said that it‘s happened quite a bit.  In fact, when this spike started, they actually conducted a survey of the illegals that they caught.  And they said, you know, what is it, anything in particular that caused you to come across?  And a big percentage of them said about this amnesty that they had heard about.

And the fact is, some illegals, when they are caught by the Border Patrol, they say, oh, thank God you found me.  Now, where do I sign up for my amnesty or my guest worker visa? 

(CROSSTALK)

KRIKORIAN:  The fact is that economics doesn‘t have that much to do with the illegal alien flow.  During the big recession 10 years ago in California, the deepest recession since the Great Depression, really, that they had faced, illegal immigration continued without interruption.  It has nothing to do with the market anymore.

JACOBY:  That‘s not true. 

KRIKORIAN:  Because it‘s so much better living here, even in poverty, than it is in Mexico or Central America. 

JACOBY:  That‘s just not true. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Isn‘t that the case, Tamara, that it doesn‘t matter how bad the economy gets in the United States? 

JACOBY:  That‘s not true. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on.  Let me finish my question. 

No matter how bad the economy gets in the United States, it‘s always going to be much, much better than the economic conditions that these Mexican illegals are living under in their home country? 

JACOBY:  Not if you don‘t have a job here.  It‘s miserable to be here with no family and no money and no benefits and no job.

But the point is, in the long run, even if there is a blip now, when the president‘s proposal becomes law, that will be so much better for the country, when we bring whole industries like agriculture and hotels and restaurants back into the normal legal world and away from the black market, when we bring 10 million workers out of the shadows and back into the legal world of work and restore the rule of law in their communities.  All that will be so much of an improvement. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, Tamar.

JACOBY:  A few people who came over now and then went home when they couldn‘t get jobs, that will just be a blip that won‘t even matter. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Tamar, I have got to stop you there.  You have just said something that could allow us to go on another 30 minutes. 

You talking about the rule of law when it comes to illegal immigration.  But, unfortunately, we are all out of time. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  So thanks for being with us, Tamar Jacoby.

And, also, Mark, we appreciate you being here, as always.  And we will have both of you back again to talk about this very important subject.  Thanks a lot. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  And coming up next, how are police in Texas trying to cut down on crime?  By arresting this 97-year-old grandma.  We will tell you why they had to get this dangerous outlaw off the streets next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Police near Dallas, Texas, may have gone a bit too far when they handcuffed and hauled off a 97-year-old woman to the station for an expired car registration.  Cops say, under their policy, everybody gets treated the same. 

We will see you tomorrow night. 

END   

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