updated 5/19/2004 10:44:35 AM ET 2004-05-19T14:44:35

Guests: Eyal Press, Jeffrey Lyons, Penn Jillette, Bianca Jagger, Christopher Hitchens, Rafael Rodriguez, John Rhys-Davies

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline, the elite media has been against the Iraq war from the beginning.  The “Real Deal,” our troops should be focused on fighting the enemy, not forced to battle bad press back home. 

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

You feel like you‘re only hearing bad news out of Iraq?  Well, that‘s because you are.  That‘s all the media‘s telling you.  But tonight, we‘re going to give you the “Real Deal” about what‘s happening on the ground from soldiers who have actually been there. 

Then, Michael Moore‘s in France hyping his latest propaganda piece, this one designed to take down the president.  And you should hear what he‘s saying about Americans.  And “Lord of the Rings” star John Rhys-Davies weighs in, and so does Penn and Teller‘s Penn Jillette. 

Plus, the military and the CIA are taking a lot of heat for their interrogation techniques.  But can torture ever be justified?  We‘re going to be talking about that and much more tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY‘s showdown.  

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 hope you and your family are having a great Tuesday night. 

Now, American G.I.s are fighting a two front war, one against foreign terrorists and the other against America‘s media.  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.” 

Now, I continue to receive a flood of e-mails from soldiers and sailors telling me that the biggest challenge they face doesn‘t come from radical terrorists in Iraq, but from liberal reporters in America.  One e-mail I received today blasted ignorant elitists who attacked our troops actions on the ground from a safety of a Starbucks in New York City.  I wish I could describe that e-mail as atypical, but it‘s not. 

These past few weeks, it‘s become too clear that media outlets are being driven by ideology in their newsrooms than by facts in the war zone.  “The New York Times” editorial page continues its embarrassingly one-sided coverage of the war, penning an editorial today predictably called “More Bad News From Iraq.”

In this past week “The Times” and broadcast news outlets have continued to focus on the worst news coming out of Iraq and the Middle East.  No mention from “The Times” of our remarkable progress in bringing peace to the once volatile Fallujah, or how the Associated Press reported that Iraqi leaders in Saddam‘s former stronghold are now telling their people and the world that it‘s in their best interests to work with George Bush and American troops, and, of course, no mention of how powerful Shiite clerics are launching protests against their fellow radical cleric, al-Sadr, telling him to stop interfering with America‘s efforts to bring democracy to Iraq. 

You know, “The Times” token conservative, David Brooks, did write today about how Americans have always been dreamers and how only America could have been naive enough to think that freedom could be nurtured in the most tyrannical region in the world and how America is also the only nation strong enough to make mistakes and still see that dream through to the end. 

Speaking of dreamers, John Kennedy dreamed of sending a man to the moon.  And less than six years after his tragic death, Neil Armstrong fulfilled the most ambitious dream launched by Camelot.  And Dwight Eisenhower, well, he fulfilled his dream of Americans scaling unclimbable cliffs at Normandy and liberating France and the world from Hitler‘s murderous reign. 

You know, the furor actually mocked America‘s G.I.s as Boy Scouts who weren‘t up for the fight.  But, in a few weeks I‘m going to be walking on the hallowed ground of Normandy, talking to those Boy Scouts who made it up the wall, liberated Europe and won World War II.  All I can say is, it‘s a darned good thing they didn‘t have to fight Hitler and the 24/7 news cycle, because, if they had, Eisenhower probably would have been run out of the Army on a personal scandal, FDR would have faced impeachment hearings, and U.S. troops would have been tried for manhandling S.S. guards or prison guards at Auschwitz. 

What a sad chapter these past few months have been in the history of the war reporting, proving once again just how biased and out of touch our elite media is.  And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.” 

Now, earlier today, I got an e-mail from a friend who is serving in Iraq, and he wrote me this.  He said: “Too many folks in the United States sit back and bad-mouth America while sipping their lattes from the safety of Starbucks.  But the Iraq people get it.  They‘re thankful the United States is here.  Oh, and they love George W. Bush.  It‘s close to idol worship.  He is called—quote—“the liberator of Iraq.”

But you know what?  Apparently Iraqis don‘t care so much for Saddam Hussein.  The dictator that Americans suggested should never have been run out of power.  A new Gallup poll of Iraqis show that 84 percent of that nation say Saddam‘s guilty of murdering their countrymen; 83 percent say he was a torturer, and 61 percent say he deserves the death penalty. 

Here now is “Vanity Fair”‘s Christopher Hitchens, human rights advocate Bianca Jagger, and Sergeant Rafael Rodriguez of the 773rd Transportation Company, who served in Iraq. 

Let me begin with you, Mr. Rodriguez, and ask you to respond to the e-mails that I‘ve gotten today and over the past several months.  Is that generally how service men and women who are serving in Iraq are viewing the war coverage to date? 

SGT. RAFAEL RODRIGUEZ, 773RD TRANSPORTATION COMPANY:  Well, there is.

I heard what you said with the people, what they should do with Saddam.  I personally do agree with that.  I think the man deserves anything that comes to him.  These people were suppressed for years and that kind of dictatorship from what I saw and from—I can tell you, I saw things that you can never imagine.  People were just dying for him to get out of there. 

And I agree with all that they say on that e-mail.  I agree. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What about the coverage?  What are the troops over there saying about the coverage of what‘s happening on the ground?  Do they believe, like these e-mails are saying, that they‘re not getting the type of treatment and not getting the type of coverage that they believe this operation deserves? 

RODRIGUEZ:  They are.  They are getting the treatment there, because when I was there, we were getting all—everything we needed.  We were getting the water.  We were getting food.  We were getting everything up pushed forward. 

When the chain of command got the call and that man needed some water or they were low on fuel, we got it.  We just—we had to put it up the chain of command.  But sometimes, it would be a little delayed, but we got it.  It would come, but it would take a little time. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Christopher Hitchens, since January 1 of this year, “The New York Times” had 36 editorials about the war in Iraq; 28 of them were critical against the war effort.  Only two of the 36 were positive and both of those celebrated the United Nations‘s role.  Six were relatively neutral commentaries, except for one that was partisan to John Kerry‘s call for more U.N. involvement.

Explain to us Americans who don‘t understand how the media works in New York and Los Angeles, why does it seem that many of the elite media are actually rooting against American troops in Iraq? 

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, “VANITY FAIR”:  Well, how would you explain Mark Halperin‘s piece in “The Wall Street Journal” this week?  He was a former speechwriter for Vice President Dole (sic).

And right on military matters, he says it‘s a shambles in Iraq and that the American troops have been betrayed by short supply lines and all kinds of bad postwar planning.  I have been in Iraq myself and I have seen wonderful things happening, including a tremendous welcome given to American forces.

And I must say, I object to the way that “The New York Times” sort of sneers at the idea that there were ever any sweets and flowers offered.  But, you know, yesterday, we lost the temporary president of the country, blown up at the gates of the Coalition Provisional Authority, unable to protect him.  It‘s wrong to expect the press not to focus on things as dramatic and horrible as that. 

I think my quarrel with the media would be different from yours.  I think what isn‘t conveyed enough is the sheer evil and ruthlessness and indeed brilliant organization of the enemy.  The media cliche about the war is that it‘s like Vietnam.  The Vietnamese were a very civilized foe and if they had had weapons of mass destruction, for example, wouldn‘t have used them and didn‘t target civilians, did use women as fighters and organizers, were not torturers and mass murderers and so forth. 

The liberal reluctance I find is the unwillingness to admit how entirely hateful and unnegotiable with our enemy is and how necessary it is to defeat them not just in Iraq, but everywhere else. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Christopher, let me ask you—talk—let‘s talk about what‘s happening, actually, though, in the war and how I believe—and tell me if I‘m wrong—that our troops seem to be winning the war on the ground in some areas. 

In Fallujah, as I talked about, the U.S.-appointed general is preaching cooperation with American troops to leading sheiks.  And listen to tonight‘s news.  Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the supreme religious authority for Shiites appealed for public demonstrations demanding the withdrawal of all armed forces from Najaf, of course, talking about al-Sadr.

You know, there is some great progress taking place. 

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS:  Joe, listen, the other thing that can be objected to in the majority media I think is the use of the word insurgent to describe gangs of thugs and murderers and fascists such as the ones led by Muqtada al-Sadr, because if they can be called insurgents, what are we going to call the Iraqis who fight against them and have in fact shot at them in Najaf, as well as demonstrated against them?  Are they counterinsurgents, these Iraqi Shia civilians who want to be left alone and not tyrannized? 

What are we going to call them if we grant the noble title of insurgent or rebel to a thug like Sadr?  I think the American and British policy in Najaf has been very well conducted.  They gave him enough rope, in a sense, Mr. Sadr, to hang himself.  And they showed they‘re willing to flatten his thugs when they showed their faces. 

I‘m no so happy about Fallujah.  They have tried three or four different tactics in quick succession, none of them very persuasive. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, except this last one. 

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS:  Some of them rather unpleasant and some of them rather feeble.  I don‘t think that was very good generalship.  I think it is the job of the press to point this out. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  Well, no, certainly it is.

But I‘m talking about, though, what‘s happening right now.  If you look at what‘s been happening in Fallujah over the past several weeks, peace has come to that region, and, as the Associated Press is reporting right now, “Let us speak about peace,” the leader of that region said.  Fallujah was an open wound.  Now it‘s healing.  American deaths have obviously dropped, and they‘re talking about cooperating with us there. 

Let me bring in Bianca Jagger and ask you—I just want to ask you a simple question, something that I don‘t hear the left talking about that much.  Tell me, do human rights groups believe that the Iraqi people are better off today or worse off today than they were a year ago, when Saddam Hussein was in power? 

BIANCA JAGGER, HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE:  Unfortunately, the Bush administration made some very serious miscalculations. 

By now, the Iraqi people should have been better off than they were during Saddam Hussein.  But that is not the reality.  If they were so much better, you wouldn‘t have 80 percent of the people who would want the United States forces to leave the country.  I think that one of the major problems that we are facing today here and that President Bush is facing is the fact that the preparation for the postwar was so—there was such a lack of preparedness that it is impossible to conceive how could he have undertaken a war in Iraq without having seen and foreseen the problem that he was going to encounter and that he‘s encountering today. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But the majority of the Iraqis say they‘re glad that Saddam Hussein is gone.  Don‘t you think that‘s a positive development, that we have taken Saddam Hussein out of Iraq? 

JAGGER:  Well, what you see today—of course it is good to have taken Saddam Hussein out of Iraq.  But perhaps what is not good is that, were there any other alternatives?  Were there any other ways in which they could have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein without creating the chaos that we are seeing today in Iraq? 

By the way, and what I would like to say, this is not something that the left or the left press is saying.  You have members of Congress, including Senator McCain, who are questioning how the war in Iraq is developing and who are really concerned about the future and about the role that the United States is playing there. 

HITCHENS:  Well, actually, that‘s a very good question that Bianca asks.  But may I have a try at answering it? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Go ahead.

HITCHENS:  Well, Iraq was not just a rogue state run by a psychopathic sadist, but also a failed state, Bianca. It was falling apart into sectarian warfare.  It was falling into misery and destitution because of the sanctions administered by a corrupt and cynical United Nations.

And these divisions were being played upon in the nastiest possible way by the Baath Party.  And they were neighboring countries interested in making their own interventions, indeed, as some Saudi and Iranian forces are indeed now doing.  All that was going to happen if we let it run.  And it would have been infinitely worse if there wasn‘t a coalition force on hand to prevent it.

What you‘re seeing now is a pale shadow of what would have happened to Iraq if it had been allowed to implode.  And we‘d now be having an inquest into look, who let this happen in Iraq?  Why did we let it go the way of Rwanda and Somalia?

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Christopher, we‘ve got to go to break. 

Appreciate all of you being with us. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael Moore is a rock star over in France and he wants Americans to buy his new movie.  But we got a secret for you.  He thinks you‘re dumb.

We‘ll tell you more about it when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Michael Moore is hoping to create a political firestorm in November with his explosive new movie “Fahrenheit 911.”  It debuted at the Cannes Film Festival this weekend.  And how will it succeed in America? 

With me again is Christopher Hitchens, contributing editor at “Vanity Fair.”  We also have Jeffrey Lyons, film critic, and also have Penn Jillette from the Penn and Teller show on Showtime. 

Who‘s chuckling?  I don‘t know.  All right. 

(CROSSTALK)

PENN JILLETTE, PENN & TELLER:  He‘s making fun of me. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I can tell you‘re a big fan. 

Well, Jeffrey Lyons, what do you make of Michael Moore mania that seems to be sweeping France this week? 

JEFFREY LYONS, FILM CRITIC:  Remember, the people who go to the Cannes Film Festival are not just French men and French women.  They‘re people from all over the world.  I want so see the film and make up my own mind. 

I think the fact that it‘s been dumped by a major studio makes it only more interesting and more appealing.  And then I‘ll make up my mind if the research is right and if the charges he may have put forth in his film are there.  I think everybody has a right to see it, just as they have the right to see any film. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Penn Jillette, what do you make of Michael Moore mania in France? 

JILLETTE:  I don‘t know.  I think I‘m only on this show because I have long hair, I‘m in show business and I don‘t like Michael Moore. 

(LAUGHTER)

JILLETTE:  I guess I‘m a freak in that way, because I‘m not a liberal. 

Michael Moore...

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re actually a freak for a lot of other reasons, too, but go ahead. 

JILLETTE:  That‘s true, but I‘m kind. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You are. 

(LAUGHTER)

JILLETTE:  You know, the problem I have with Michael Moore is the problem I have with a lot of people who are fanatical and push really hard on things, which is not willing to say the other side is wrong.  They have to be evil. 

And what I‘m looking for is him to just say, maybe people are making mistakes.  But it‘s always this conspiracy thing.  There‘s always a conspiracy out to get him and a bunch of people doing things that are evil and psychotic and not simply wrong.  And he‘s so cynical.  He‘s so incredibly cynical.  I don‘t really know what his position was with Disney.  Was he trying to say it was censorship because a multinational evil corporation was not willing to make even more money off him? 

I mean, shouldn‘t he be happy to be on the other side?  Doesn‘t he dislike the Disney people after they paid for the whole movie?  Of course, I haven‘t seen it either.  It may be great, but I sure didn‘t like the other two. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Christopher Hitchens, I want to read you what Michael Moore posted recently on his Web site.  He said this—quote—“I oppose the U.N. or anybody else risking their lives of their citizens to extract us from this debacle.  The majority of Americans supported this war once it began and sadly that majority must now sacrifice their children until enough blood has been let that maybe, just maybe, God and the Iraqi people will forgive us in the end.”

Here‘s a guy, Michael Moore, who is actually saying, let‘s not internationalize this force because it may save American lives.  We need more Americans dying. 

LYONS:  He doesn‘t say that.

SCARBOROUGH:  Respond. 

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS:  With Michael, you never really know.  I actually had an on-stage discussion with him at the Telluride Film Festival when his last movie came out.  Can you hear me? 

(CROSSTALK)

JILLETTE:  Yes, sure, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10.

HITCHENS:  Someone‘s counting over me. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, that‘s Penn.  He‘s learning how to count.  Go ahead. 

HITCHENS:  All right.  Well, that was “The Bowling For Columbine” movie.

Now, if you remember, he sets the scene of the Columbine shooting and says, it occurred on the day that General Clark bombed Kosovo.  And he allows you for a while to think that maybe these two psychopathic kids, as we know planned the thing for a long time, were tipped into violence by American force in the Balkans. 

Then General Clark runs for the presidency.  Michael Moore thinks, why not, endorses him, throws in for good measure the accusation that president is a deserter, was a deserter, gets the Clark campaign to travel.  The Clark campaign flames out.  Michael Moore goes on and does something else, the next thing.

He‘s a completely promiscuous opportunist.  He‘s the sort of perfect symbol of the culture and mentality of MoveOn.org and all the other pseudo-pacifists and cynics.  And as you‘ve just demonstrated, under the pretense of humanitarianism, he‘s an extremely callous person.  Nobody with any decency could have penned and put up on a screen the words you just read. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s remarkable.

I want to also play what Michael Moore described—how he described Americans at a press conference. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER/AUTHOR:  The good thing about Americans is once they‘re given the information, they act accordingly, and they act from a good place.  The hard part is getting through with the information. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, but this is what he told the foreign newspaper when he was selling his book overseas.

Of Americans, he said—quote—“They are possibly the dumbest

people on the planet  We don‘t know about anything that‘s happening outside

our country.  Our stupidity is embarrassing.‘

Jeffrey Lyons, doesn‘t this man appear to be extraordinarily cynical, like Penn said, that he will say whatever he wants to say at the time to sell books, to sell movies, to sell themselves also? 

LYONS:  It‘s like judging a ballplayer on how he is in the locker room, rather than how he plays between the lines.  I want to see his movie and make up my own mind.  Jay Leno does “Jay Walking” and he interviews people and asks them to identify Colin Powell, and they don‘t know who that is, but they know what‘s on “Fear Factor.”

So I know where he‘s coming from.  I wish he would be a little less shrill off camera when he‘s not making movies.  But the issue here is, does his film have a right to be seen?  And I think it does.  I don‘t know whether the research is going to be right. 

(CROSSTALK)

LYONS:  All the things he says about his film and about America are open to debate, and I don‘t believe all the things he says.  But I do know that he‘s a talented filmmaker, has an Oscar to prove it.  And if you see his film and don‘t agree with the research, the conclusions that he makes, that‘s up to you.  I don‘t think it‘s...

HITCHENS:  You‘re pushing at an open door.  Nobody is saying that he

(CROSSTALK)

LYONS:  Well, Disney is saying, no, no.

HITCHENS:  The danger of living in a world where you can‘t hear from Michael Moore is very slim. 

LYONS:  I understand that, but the fact that Disney dumped his film is a little bit disturbing to me. 

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS:  You don‘t have the right to have Disney promote you. 

LYONS:  Well, what were they expecting when they signed him?  They weren‘t going to get a movie with Kate Hudson that‘s going to play on airplanes. 

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS:  It‘s a very crass decision taken by some very inelegant people. 

LYONS:  Absolutely.

HITCHENS:  But speaking here in my capacity as a polished, sophisticated European as well, it seems to me the laugh here is on the polished, sophisticated Europeans.  They think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on.  And they‘ve taken as their own, as their representative American someone who actually embodies all of those qualities. 

LYONS:  From your perspective.  That‘s also—what we‘re talking about is his talent as a filmmaker.  And I‘m eager to see his work.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Penn Jillette, is he a talented filmmaker, judging by “Bowling For Columbine”? 

JILLETTE:  Well, no, I didn‘t think so.

One of the hardest things to do is to be in front of a camera out among people and just be funny.  Letterman is the best there ever was at that.  And Michael Moore I don‘t think is not funny enough or good enough to really compete with Letterman.  So he brings in a lot of other things. 

The point that he should be judged on his movie is insane.  He‘s the one that pulls it out with that whole thing.  He‘s trying to get this movie as much press as possible without it being seen.  And he‘s been very successful at that.  He could have handled the Disney thing differently.  He wasn‘t trying to hush that up.  He is pulling that out into the public arena, and it‘s OK to judge him on that.  It‘s not like a ballplayer being judged in the locker room. 

He‘s doing this really big and he‘s spilling outside of the movie, so it‘s OK for to comment on that, because that‘s part of what he is. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

All right, Christopher Hitchens, Jeffrey Lyons, thanks a lot for being with us. 

Penn Jillette, stick around, because we have much more.

Up next, Michael Moore isn‘t the only one making headlines in France.  Sean Penn is there promoting his latest movie.  But is he also promoting presidential assassination?  We‘ve got actor John Rhys-Davies, star of “Lord of the Rings,” to be here.  He‘s going to be talking with me after the break about Hollywood politics. 

So stick around. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Is Michael Moore advocating the killing of more U.S.  troops?  Is Sean Penn advocating presidential assassination?  We‘ll answer those questions when we return. 

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 back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I guess we Brave fans don‘t have to wait until October for them to lose.  They‘re losing in May.  Oh, well. 

Michael Moore is the toast of the town at the Cannes Film Festival this week.  According to the BBC, Moore‘s anti-war flick may be the odds-on favorite to win the top prize, the first time for a so-called documentary since 1956.  It seems the French have fallen in love with Michael Moore.  But how will American audiences react to this controversial film? 

With me now is John Rhys-Davies.  He‘s, of course, an actor from the blockbuster trilogy “The Lord of the Rings.”  We also have Dana Kennedy.  She‘s MSNBC entertainment editor.  And back with me again is Penn and Teller‘s Penn Jillette. 

Let me start with you, Dana Kennedy. 

I want to read you with “The Hollywood Reporter” in their review of this movie and have you respond.  They said—quote—“The film reduces decades of American foreign-policy failures to a black-and-white cartoon that lays the blame on one family.  He ignores facts.”  And, of course, it goes on attacking the movie. 

But I want you to tell us, “The Hollywood Reporter” is not a conservative public indication, is it? 

DANA KENNEDY, NBC ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR:  Well, it‘s a Hollywood publication.  It has its own agenda. 

“The New York Times,” for instance, really liked this movie.  “The New York Post” didn‘t like the movie.  It got amazingly disparate reviews this morning, because I read an awful lot of them.  I haven‘t seen the movie yet, but I think people—you asked the question, will Americans want to go see it?  I think they definitely will. 

Michael Moore has made himself into such a character.  He‘s almost like a movie star himself.  He‘s sort of half P.T. Barnum, half alleged muckraking journalistic and reporter.  “Bowling For Columbine” made $40 million worldwide.  And he has made such a stink basically with this movie, I think the curiosity value is going to be so high that Americans will go see it, once Miramax finds a distributor, I might add.

SCARBOROUGH:  John Rhys-Davies, what do you think about Michael Moore being praised AT Cannes, AS it appears That they‘re probably going to name him the top filmmaker for this year‘s ceremonies? 

JOHN RHYS-DAVIES, ACTOR:  Well, you see, the French have a lot of problems internally.  And the one unifying factor that they can find in their society is to bash America. 

So don‘t be surprised by anything the French do.  Their society is so troubled and it‘s about 24, 25 years away from major civil war.  So you can discount most of what they do. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, what does it—how does it make you feel as an actor to have this guy coming in—you can‘t even calm it a documentary, if you look at what he did with “Bowling for Columbine”—and actually having them elevate this sort of class clown above all the other producers, all the other actors, all the other screenwriters from all over the world just to make a political statement that bashes America? 

RHYS-DAVIES:  Well, the truth of the matter is there is no—virtue is never rewarded in the world anyway.  You must know that.  So don‘t be naive enough to expect it to be. 

He has made a documentary party political board broadcast for his political viewpoint.  That‘s perfectly fair and perfectly legitimate.  My beef with him would be this, that, when you knock America, you run a real danger that you will change the perception of the world—that the world has of America.  Right at the moment, the Americans are doing something very, very important and I believe very virtuous. 

The notion that we could take Iraq, for instance, which has a strong middle class, and turn it right in the middle of Arabia and turn it into a functioning democratic capitalist society and use that to galvanize the rest of the Arab world out of the 13th century is a virtuous vision.  And you could disagree with the tactics of it or not, but the vision is admirable.  And not to see that is deplorable. 

Moore is making a fortune out of his anti-Americanism.  And I don‘t blame the guy for making a buck, but he‘s not serious. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  He certainly is not serious.  And I want to read you what “The Hollywood Reporter” said. 

They‘re not backing the movie again.  And this is their review—quote—“In ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,‘ Michael Moore drops any pretense that he is a documentarian to pull together from many sources an angry polemic against the president, the Bush family and the administration‘s foreign policy.”

Penn Jillette, is this nothing more than a paid political advertisement for the Democratic Party in America? 

JILLETTE:  Yes, I think that it might be that. 

But I want to go way back.  I‘m carny trash.  My background is carnival.  And when you compare Michael Moore to P.T. Barnum, I get very upset.

(LAUGHTER)

JILLETTE:  Barnum never went into politics.  He did all of his hokum based on just show business. 

You know, I find avoiding conspiracy theory is very, very important, because conspiracies are so comforting.  They kind of answer everything.  And the more I read about Michael Moore, the more I think that maybe Michael Moore is just a tool of Bush, because I did not like the Iraq war.  I did not like Bush very much.  At the Academy Awards, when Michael Moore was speaking, all of a sudden I got this real Republican urge just flowing through me. 

And everything I‘m reading about this movie, and hoping people die over there, Americans die over there to punish us, it starts leaning me way over the other way.  So if I have a conspiracy to go with, I‘m going to go with Michael Moore is just trying to make Bush look really, really good. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, we‘ll have to leave it there. 

Penn Jillette, like to thank you, John Rhys-Davies and Dana Kennedy for being with us. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Is torture a means that justifies a necessary end, or is it unacceptable under any circumstances?  When used, does torture work?  And why is there so much outrage over the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, but not nearly so much over the horrors of Saddam‘s prisons? 

Eyal Press has written about the use of torture for “The Nation.”  And Bo Dietl is a private investigator and a FOI, a friend of Imus. 

Hey, let me begin with you, and ask you, Bo Dietl, what you think about the current controversy that‘s been going on about the prison scandal in Iraq vs. the use—this whole debate over torture.  Should Americans use some form of torture to get information from terrorists in Iraq and across the world? 

BO DIETL, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR:  You know, this makes me laugh a little bit. 

After 9/11, we went out there.  We went to Afghanistan.  We got al Qaeda members.  There are al Qaeda members working in Iraq.  We know about it.  Them six stooges that stand behind that little burger boy where they cut his throat back and forth, these are al Qaeda people.  You‘re dealing with people who are in civilian clothes.  They‘re not in army uniforms.  They‘re firing RPGs at the American soldiers.  We‘re losing American soldiers‘ lives every day.

We have soldiers winning Navy Crosses, Silver Stars over there.  I get e-mails from the Marine Corps every day.  None of these kids are being recognized over there.  They‘re only recognized this little immaturity of a couple of soldiers.  All right, they did it.  We said it already.  Stop apologizing, President Bush. 

I support you.  And, as far as I‘m concerned, this is a war against terrorism.  These people want to see us dead.  They should run the videos of them four special forces guys that charcoal-broiled and hung on the bridge.  Where is the outrage from the Arab people there?  When that Iraqi society takes over, when that new government takes over, we‘ll see what‘s going to happen over there when they become prisoners. 

These people don‘t know what it‘s all about.  They only know one thing.  They know force.  They should have went into Fallujah and they should have emptied Fallujah out and bombed it and leveled it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Bo Dietl, though, let‘s get to the question at hand.  And the question is, should torture be used against terrorists—terrorist suspects to get information? 

DIETL:  My point is this.  I used to be a New York City detective.  When there was a cop killer out there, we used some persuasive means.  My thing is this. 

They‘re killing Americans.  If I know one of those people have information about an explosion that‘s going to go off and kill 25 Americans, I will use whatever I‘ve got to use.  People don‘t like to hear it, but this is a war.  This is a war where they want to see us dead.  Remember 9/11.  We didn‘t start this war.  But we‘ve got to use force and we‘ve got to show them what America is all about.  We can‘t have our kids being killed over there. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Eyal, let me read you what a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals was quoted in “The New York Times” editorial saying about torture.  He said—quote—“If torture is the only means of obtaining the information necessary to prevent the detonation of a nuclear bomb in Times Square, torture should used and will be used to obtain the information.”

Respond to that. 

EYAL PRESS, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, “THE NATION”:  Yes.  That was Richard Posner.

And actually, if you read the original article where he wrote that, he argued against the use of torture, against sanctioning it, because, once you sanction it, it becomes regular.  And that‘s the problem.  Well, there are two problems.

DIETL:  Where have we seen torture?  You had some guy wearing panties on his head.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Bo, Bo, let him respond. 

PRESS:  There are two problems with torture.  One is moral.  We‘re fighting a war for hearts and minds, supposedly for certain values.  And if we believe in certain values, then we have to uphold them in the conduct of the war. 

When we see these photographs, that severely undermines our credibility throughout the world and with our allies.  The second one is practical.  As John McCain, who knows about torture, having suffered torture at the hands of the Vietnamese, has said, when you torture someone, they tell you what you want them to hear.  It‘s useless.  And many interrogators have pointed out that torture is not a very effective means of collecting information. 

Very few countries that have used torture—take a look at France and Algeria.  They used a lot of torture.  They lost the war.  It‘s just—it‘s simply not effective and it undermines our values. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Bo Dietl? 

DIETL:  Joe, I have not seen one piece of evidence of torture.  You have a bunch of guys naked piled up on each other.  It was a bunch of immature soldiers playing little jokes.  She‘s got a thumb up.  They wear panties on their hand.

Where have you seen torture?  You know where I saw torture?  When that Berg guy got his head sawed off, and they should show it to more Americans.  And when them four guys got burned to the crisp and when they hung their head up over the bridge, that‘s torture. 

What we got to face here right now is, we‘re in a war for our democracy.  These people want to change America.  They want to take our freedoms away from us.  We‘ve got to do what we‘ve got to do over there, because, if we don‘t, they‘ll be back here.  And I‘m sorry to say, if this administration doesn‘t stay strong, including my president, we‘re going to lose that battle over there. 

(CROSSTALK)

DIETL:  You have to fight fear with fear.  They only know strength over there.  And they only know what Saddam Hussein did.  That prison over there probably had 5,000 to 10,000 people murdered in there in that same prison only a year ago.  So let‘s be real about this. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Bo Dietl, we‘re going to leave it there.  Thanks for being with us. 

Eyal Press, thanks so much for being with us also.  Sorry you didn‘t get to say more.  We‘ll have you back. 

Now, with the media talking so much about U.S. soldiers‘ alleged violations of the Geneva Convention, we thought that we would do something different here in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY and tell you what the Geneva Convention actually says, not what some reporter says it says. 

The first of the four Geneva Conventions dates back to 1864 and covered the protection of battlefield combatants.  The three that followed broadened those rights.  And the fourth, which was the most recent, was ratified in 1949, following the atrocities of World War II. 

Now, the part that talks about prisoners makes a very important distinction between captured civilians and soldiers.  While they both have to be protected against all acts of violence or reprisal, soldiers are always given more protection than civilians, like those thugs who have been terrorizing Iraq for the past year. 

So what does this mean?  It means that a soldier from a nation state like Iraq gets more protection under the Geneva Convention than those not serving in uniform for a country, i.e., terrorists.  For those who are not soldiers of a state, the convention says the occupying power must use discretion to maintain law and order, but it does not place any specific restrictions on interrogation, other than saying that they be protected—or that protected persons not be subjected to physical or moral coercion. 

But—and this is another very important point—protected persons are defined as—quote—“persons taking no active part in the hostilities.”  That would be the case for Nick Berg, but not for the terrorists who have been causing bloodshed in Iraq for the past year. 

And, oh, by the way, Bo Dietl will like this.  As “The Wall Street Journal” noted yesterday, the fourth Geneva Convention does allow states to execute prisoners after being convicted of certain crimes at trial.  To learn more about the Geneva Convention, go to MSNBC.com. 

And still ahead, a community gathers to pray for soldiers accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners.  We‘re going to tell you why some expressed anger at media coverage. 

We‘ll be right back in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tomorrow night, as the first court-martial from the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal gets under way, we‘re going to go to the heart of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY and get reaction from middle America.

More SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  All seven of the accused soldiers in the prison abuse scandal are from the 372nd Military Police Company base in Cumberland, Maryland.  Tonight, on the eve of the first court martial, the people of Cumberland are holding a vigil in support of the accused soldiers. 

We have HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster with us now live from Cumberland. 

David, what‘s going on there? 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC ELECTION CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Joe, earlier tonight, had about 40 or 50 people who came here and essentially prayed for the entire unit, all 130 members of the 372nd

A lot of people have been pointing out to us repeatedly that in fact most of the members of the unit have served honorably, that it‘s only six or seven who are in some trouble.  But for the entire unit tonight, there were prayers.  There was the Vietnam veterans color guard that was here.  The patriotism runs very deep here in Cumberland.  You‘ve got more than 500 people who served in Vietnam. 

George Washington garrisoned his or here.  Tonight, you had a minister who said that we should not allow the actions of a few in Iraq, or a liberal media, to poison the service of the entire unit.  Another minister said that for those who have chosen abuse, they are still God‘s children.  Clearly, here in Cumberland, they believe that at least that these particular members, regardless of what they may have done, that this was not their fault. 

A number of people have suggested that this was a command problem, that discipline broke down, that there were higher-ups involved.  But everyone seems to want to know, Joe, what the answers will be in these court-martials that start tomorrow. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, David Shuster, thank you so much.  We appreciate it.  And we will find out tomorrow what‘s going on. 

By the way, I agree with those ministers.  I agree with the people that say that there‘s a command problem.  I agree with the good people of Cumberland. 

Now, tomorrow in Baghdad, Specialist Jeremy Sivits of the 372nd will face the first court-martial in the prison abuse scandal. 

NBC‘s Carl Rochelle is in Baghdad with the latest—Carl.

CARL ROCHELLE, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, good morning, Joe, Baghdad time.  Good evening to you, Washington time. 

Well, we‘re all set now for what will be the first of maybe several trials to be held here, court-martials resulting from the abuses in the Abu Ghraib prison.  Going on trial today is Specialist Joseph (sic) Sivits.  Now, Sivits is charged under a special court-martial.  And that means that there are some limits on what can be done here. 

One of them is that the only discharge he would face is a bad conduct discharge, not a dishonorable discharge.  The amount of penalty, the maximum sentence he could get is a year.  He could be reduced in pay by two-thirds and could be busted back to private, the lowest rank, the E1, the lowest rank the Army has.

That is, of course, if he is convicted.  This is a trial.  He has to go down and face it just like any other trial.  There will be witnesses.  The prosecution will present its case, that is, unless he accepts a plea.  Now, there are certain circumstances under which he could make a plea.  But it appears as if it will go forward to trial.  The panel has not been set yet.  It will be set when the trial begins here.

And the evidence will be presented.  He is charged with maltreatment of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison and assault on the prisoners.  He is one who says that he took some of the photographs that you saw in some of the newspaper reports in “The New Yorker” magazine around here.

But today begins the very first day of that trial.  And we‘re all set to go here.  The trial is being held, of course, over at the convention center.  That‘s in the Green Zone at the coalition provision headquarters.  And we have a little bit of sound from General Mark Kimmitt, who is the—

Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt—who is the spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority, who can tell you a little bit about what they hope to accomplish here today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT, U.S. DEPUTY CHIEF OF OPERATIONS:  We would hope that by making it open to the public, by making it open to the press, that the press would take advantage of this situation, not only to see American justice in action, but to record it and tell their readers about their observations.  Our aspiration is not to turn this into a show trial.  Our aspiration is to mete out justice to Mr. Sivits. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROCHELLE:  Three other U.S. soldiers are going to be arraigned this morning.  That means that the charges will be read to them. 

Now, theirs are general court-martials, a bit severe, a bit more severe than the special court-martial today.  They‘ve already gone through an Article 32 hearing, which is equivalent to a grand jury hearing.  And they have been rendered for court-martial here.  They will have the charges read to them this morning.  And they will have a chance to plead guilty or not guilty of those charges—Joe, back to you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks a lot, Carl. 

And, of course, tomorrow, you can tune in to MSNBC all day for live coverage of that first court-martial in Baghdad. 

And tomorrow night, of course, on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, we‘re going to be talking about how middle America is reacting to what‘s going on in Washington, D.C., and Baghdad.  It ain‘t pretty. 

We‘ll see you tomorrow night. 

END   

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