updated 6/29/2004 11:02:00 AM ET 2004-06-29T15:02:00

Guests: Jamal Simmons, Jack Burkman, Rick MacArthur, John Loftus, Tom Ortenberg, Ahmad Chalabi

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Good evening. 

Tonight‘s top headline: an early morning surprise from the coalition in Iraq.  The “Real Deal,” free Iraqis now control their destiny, and that‘s nothing but good news, despite what the elite media is telling you. 

Hey, welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  No passport is required and only common sense is allowed. 

You know, history was made while America slept and the world awoke to a free Iraq two days early.  But why is the media still missing the big picture?  We are going to debate it. 

And in my exclusive interview with Ahmad Chalabi, president of the Iraqi Congress, we are going to find out what‘s next for the Iraqis and the coalition, ask a man who is accused of spying why American officials turned on him. 

And “Fahrenheit 9/11” heats up at the box office, as Americans made Michael Moore‘s movie No. 1.  And that‘s good news for Tom Ortenberg, who is the company man who distributed the film when Disney wouldn‘t touch it.  We are going to ask him about “Fahrenheit”‘s success and its controversy. 

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

SCARBOROUGH:  Wow, a truly historic day in the world. 

It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.” 

Now, while America‘s media is obsessing over the movie of a man who told a crowd in England that the United States is known for—quote—

“bringing misery and sadness around the globe,” the Iraqi people are enjoying the first day of freedom in the history of their country.  While terrorists, who Michael Moore has compared to our founding fathers, continue to kill innocent Iraqi women and children, the overwhelming number of Iraqis polled believe that their country‘s greatest days lie ahead. 

They are hopeful, and so am I.  For over a year now, I have continued to believe that the greatness of American soldiers and the goodness of common Iraqi hearts would win out over tyranny, over terrorism, and, yes, even over religious extremism.  Unlike Michael Moore, I believe America is a great land whose most treasured asset is freedom, not material wealth. 

And I still believe, yes, I still believe, after continuous assaults by Michael Moore, “The New York Times” editorial page and Hollywood elites, that where America goes, things get better.  That bears repeating tonight, on a night when the top movie in America is written and produced by a man who told another audience overseas that, when it came to evil—quote—

“It‘s all part of the same ball of wax, right?  The oil companies, Israel, Halliburton.  We, the United States of America, are culpable in committing so many acts of terror and bloodshed that we had better get a clue about the culture of violence in which we have been active participants.  Don‘t be like us”—that, again, said to an overseas audience. 

Other than terrorists, whose day job includes blowing up little children and their innocent parents, most of the world does want to be like the United States of America, free, pluralistic, and, yes, economically secure.  And, tonight, more than ever, I am going to repeat my strong conviction that, where America goes, things get better. 

Multimillionaire populist Michael Moore may not believe that, but, friends, millions of free Iraqis do.  And tonight, for me, that‘s much more important.  And that is tonight‘s “Real Deal.” 

Now, not surprisingly, the elite media seem less interested in this historic day for the people of Iraq than the misdeeds of a handful of soldiers at Abu Ghraib. 

Here‘s our report from SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger. 

SCARBOROUGH (voice-over):  It began over a year ago with George W.  Bush‘s announcement that America had gone to war.  Within a week, “The New York Times” and other media outlets were blasting the president‘s war planning, with “The Times” predicting a quagmire. 

As sandstorms kicked up across Iraq and the Middle East, media elites gleefully mocked White House claims that America would be in Baghdad within a month.  Two weeks later, statues of Saddam Hussein fell, just as the Soviet statues of Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin had fallen 12 years earlier. 

RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  To ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire. 

SCARBOROUGH:  The mainstream media was shocked when Ronald Reagan called communist Russia evil, no matter that that regime had killed 30 million of their own citizens. 

BUSH:  States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil. 

SCARBOROUGH:  George W. Bush‘s claim that Saddam Hussein was a member of the axis of evil drew similar cries of outrage.  But the same elitists practically ignored Saddam Hussein‘s decades of butchery in Iraq, while obsessing over U.S. troops‘ behavior at Abu Ghraib. 

This weekend, Americans streamed into movie theaters to see Michael Moore‘s dark vision of America, where U.S. troops gleefully listened to heavy metal music while gunning down young Iraqi children, who, according to Moore, used to live peacefully and fly kites under Saddam Hussein‘s benevolent rule.  How ironic that Moore‘s movie is tops at the box office on the same day that America transferred power to the Iraqis, just as we promised we would, ironic, because, if Michael Moore had his way, this war would have never been fought and Saddam Hussein would still be in power. 

Today, Iraqis know for themselves what it‘s like to taste freedom.  And whether the elite media likes it or not, Iraqis are grateful to American troops that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power.  And when a democratic Iraq brings freedom to an oppressed people, will the same elite media who fought Ronald Reagan during the Cold War say they were wrong?  Don‘t hold your breath. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  So, are the media completely missing this big story? 

With me tonight, we‘ve got John Loftus.  He‘s a former federal prosecutor now working with intelligence agents to lawfully declassify military secrets.  We also have Rick MacArthur.  He‘s publisher of “Harper‘s” magazine and author of “The Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the 1991 Gulf War.”

Let me begin with you, rMDNM_Rick MacArthur.

Tell me, what your view on what happened today.  Good news for Iraq, good news for America, good news for the world? 

RICK MACARTHUR, PUBLISHER, “HARPER‘S”:  I think it was, you know, it‘s a Potemkin village government that we have created there.  It‘s fake. 

The sovereignty that was transferred was just a piece of paper.  That‘s all it was.  And they did it two days early, because they are so—the situation is so out of control and there is so much violence in the country that I guess they figured that it was better to do it quietly and not invite more bombings and killings on the big day. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  So, Rick, this means nothing to you?  This is just a farce? 

MACARTHUR:  Yes.  Actually, I think it‘s very sad, because what it

suggests is that the Bush administration, at least some elements of the

Bush administration, actually believe that simply handing a piece of paper

to a guy who was on the CIA payroll for 20 or 25 years—that is, Allawi -

·         somehow is going to convince the American people that the insurgency is going to stop, that American soldiers are going to stop dying, that Iraqi civilians are going to stop dying.

And this is a terrible, cruel hoax for the families back home, who want to see their loved ones come home, who want to see the occupation end. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, John Loftus, I have heard that this is actually sad and it‘s cruel hoax.  Respond. 

JOHN LOFTUS, INTELLIGENCE EXPERT:  I must be living on a different planet. 

It seems to me that the Iraqi people are overjoyed and the terrorists are disheartened.  That‘s why the terrorists wanted to have major strikes set up two days from now, because they wanted to do as much as possible to prevent the transformation to democracy.  I think the press is just sulking because they weren‘t given advanced notice of this.

Now, Iyad Allawi, the new prime minister, was formerly an intelligence officer, that‘s true, both in Iraq and working for the CIA.  And he is not a fool.  He knew that what we would have to do is deprive the terrorists of what they want and give the people what they want. 

The movie that people should be talking about isn‘t Michael Moore‘s movie.  It‘s “Independence Day,” because that‘s what it is in Iraq.  And that movie would never have been shown there, because it had a scene in it where Jews and Arabs were working together to fight a common enemy.  Saddam Hussein banned it. 

(CROSSTALK)

MACARTHUR:  Mr. Scarborough, nobody can outcynical me on the media.  And I am sure Mr. Loftus is right that the media is sulking that they weren‘t let in on the big photo-op.  But that doesn‘t change the reality on the ground, which is that, three days ago, we witnessed or read about a coordinated attack that killed more than 100 people in Iraq. 

The Iraqi police if force cannot possibly control the situation without the 140,000 American troops, and the 140,000 American troops have proved pretty ineffective against the Iraqi guerrillas, too.

SCARBOROUGH:  This is what I don‘t get. 

(CROSSTALK)

MACARTHUR:  There is no Iraqi government. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I don‘t get this from not my side.  Why is it that your side.

(CROSSTALK)

MACARTHUR:  It‘s not my side.  It‘s reality. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  No, it‘s not. 

Why is it that your side seems every time a terrorist goes up, like Zarqawi, and he gets a bomb and he blows up innocent children and women, that this is somehow a defeat for George W. Bush, instead of being a defeat for the Iraqi people?  That‘s what has been so sickening by following “New York Times”‘ coverage this year, that all you do—and Zarqawi is sending memos out there, as you know, saying that time is running out on us, they‘re cornering us. 

(CROSSTALK)

MACARTHUR:  You know what I think about “The New York Times”‘ coverage of Iraq, and you have got it wrong. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  What, you think “The New York Times” has been too easy on them, which is just sick.

MACARTHUR:  No, I think the media elite that you keep criticizing has sold out the American people. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You think “The New York Times” has sold out the American people by supporting the war? 

(CROSSTALK)

MACARTHUR:  By supporting the occupation.  This is a liberal, ideological war.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Rick, OK, let‘s talk numbers, Rick.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re going to talk numbers.  Your first fact was wrong.

“The New York Times” has written 47 editorials this year on the editorial page; 45 of those 47 have been negative since January the 1st

MACARTHUR:  Yes.  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  The only two positive editorials had to do with the United Nations.  How can you say that “The New York Times” has rolled over for this administration?  They have been opposing this war since it began. 

(CROSSTALK)

MACARTHUR:  No, they didn‘t.  They got us into the war.  They were the ones who promoted the phony weapons of mass destruction stories.

SCARBOROUGH:  “The New York Times” didn‘t get us into the war.  Howell Raines ran negative articles time and time again. 

(CROSSTALK)

MACARTHUR:  They‘re the ones who promoted the fraudulent pretext for the war. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  This is shocking. 

(CROSSTALK)

MACARTHUR:  And they supported the whole damn thing from the beginning.

(CROSSTALK)

MACARTHUR:  And as far as Zarqawi goes....

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on, Rick. 

(CROSSTALK)

MACARTHUR:  He‘s a terrible person, but, listen, of the 6,000 prisoners now being held by the American Army in jails in Iraq, 127 have foreign passports, 127. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

John Loftus, let me bring you in here.  The thing is, again, there are numbers.  We could bring out stacks of “New York Times” newspapers.  We could show the editorials, overwhelmingly negative, negative before this war again.  Howell Raines seemed to have a religious crusade against this war. 

MACARTHUR:  This is crazy. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I cannot believe what I am hearing from Rick MacArthur tonight.  Are we living on different planets or has “The Times” and other liberal media outlets been fighting this war every single day since it began? 

LOFTUS:  I tend to agree with you, Joe.  What does it take to have the American press support our troops? 

These kids have done an amazing job.  They conquered Baghdad in 19 days, some sort of world record.  And they were facing not only an Iraqi insurrection.  Let‘s face it.  Most of the harm that‘s being done is from foreign terrorists coming in, paid by the Iranians, paid by the Syrians.  We are fighting the first Arabian war.

And we are winning, and we have a democracy set up.  What happened today destroyed all the Al-Jazeera propaganda, that America was causing all this controversy to give us an excuse for staying in Iraq so that we could keep the peace. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, John, I thought we went to Iraq for the oil.  How could we have gone to Iraq for the oil if we have turned over power to the Iraqi people? 

LOFTUS:  You know, the Arabs just don‘t believe yet that we are going to keep our word.  All they have to do is ask the Germans and the Japanese, all right?  We are going to leave the place a democracy, better than it was before.  Life will go on, and life will be better. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Rick MacArthur, I want to follow up on that, OK?  We hear about in the liberal press that Americans are imperialists.  Michael Moore is telling us that we went to Afghanistan to put in a pipeline, that we went to Iraq for oil. 

Bottom line, Americans don‘t want American oil companies in control of oil, because that will jack the prices up five times the amount that it is right now.  But look at our history, Germany, Japan, South Korea.  Do you really think that George W. Bush went to Iraq with evil intentions, imperialist intentions? 

MACARTHUR:  I think his principal reason for going into Iraq was to get reelected president. 

He thought he could look like he was fighting terrorism, even though Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 or had nothing to do with al Qaeda, in fact, was their natural enemy.  But he thought that he could do a quick military strike, that the Iraqis would welcome us.  He believed the nonsense that Paul Wolfowitz was telling him, and that Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress, was telling him. 

He didn‘t understand the basic fact that people don‘t like foreigners coming into their country, whoever their leader is, occupying and pushing people around, which is what we‘re doing now. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Rick, I‘m sorry.  We are out of time.  We‘ve got to go. 

John Loftus, thank you. 

When we come back, Ahmad Chalabi.  See you in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, American journalists may not be excited that the Iraqi people are free, but the Iraqis are.  And we have got one with us, Ahmad Chalabi coming up next in a SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY exclusive. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I still can‘t believe that, “The New York Times,” pro-war.  Better send a memo to its editor. 

Anyway, the United States fulfilled its promise and restored sovereignty to Iraq today. 

Earlier, I spoke with Ahmad Chalabi, the founder of the Iraqi National Congress, who was once called the George Washington of Iraq.  Since then, he has been accused of spying for Iran against the United States.  But he says today that Iraq is much better off now and talked about how he felt on what he called Iraq‘s first independence day. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AHMAD CHALABI, FOUND, IRAQI NATIONAL CONGRESS:  This is a great day.  Iraq is sovereign state once again.  We are happy that the occupation has ended.  The occupation was a mistake.  And this is one year too late, the events of today.  We should have had that one year ago. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, how did you first hear about it?  Obviously, it caught a lot of Americans by surprise who woke up this morning to a press conference being held in Baghdad.  How did you learn that the date had moved up two days? 

CHALABI:  We knew about it—I knew about it yesterday morning.  I knew that sovereignty would take place ahead of time, tomorrow.  And we expected a call to participate in the ceremonies, and the call came in the morning, around 11:00.  We were told that Bremer had left and the ceremony is at 2:30. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mr. Chalabi, when we were watching this morning the press conference, we saw you out in the crowd.  And it certainly was ironic to see you out there instead of being up on the stage.  It was just a year ago that the American Enterprise Institute was calling you the George Washington of Iraq.  You were the favorite of many in the Pentagon. 

And then it seems a month or two ago, the wheels came off of that relationship.  In fact, there were even whispers from the CIA and the State Department that you had actually spied for Iran.  What went wrong with your relationship with United States leaders? 

CHALABI:  What went wrong is that the CIA, George Tenet, have been trying to blacken my name and work against me for many years now.  They won after the Pentagon lost the argument.  They the lost moral authority after Abu Ghraib incidents.  So George Tenet took this opportunity to try to hurt me.  And the CPA complied.  Bremer accepted this, and they attacked my home and my office.

But, of course, this is irrelevant now, because, in Iraq, the situation is very clear now.  The people know that finally, clearly, the I‘m an Iraqi patriot, first and foremost, and my political work has been enhanced considerably as a result of this ill-advised raid on my home and my office. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Were you shocked that the CIA went so far as to actually accuse you of spying against the United States for Iran?  I mean, you have called these charges stupid.  There‘s no reason to ask you to deny them again here.  You already have.  But were you shocked that the CIA went after you that personally and that aggressively? 

CHALABI:  Well, it was an act of—they compromised their working order, their working methods.

It was a stupid move.  And, in fact, I was surprised at the desperation and the fear that they had of me, that they felt they can delay me only by such desperate acts.  They made it very difficult for anybody in the United States to talk to me because then they would be under investigation.  And my friends, I suppose, in the United States are under investigation.  And until this process is finished and cleared—and I think it will be—it‘s difficult for my friends to resume dialogue with me before the process ends. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, you actually had said earlier today that this occupation was a mistake, that what occurred today, the handover, occurred one year too late. 

Let me ask you a general question.  For Americans that don‘t really know what it‘s like on the ground over there.  Do you believe that Iraqis today under this new Baghdad government, are better off than they were under Saddam Hussein? 

CHALABI:  Definitely. 

There is an enormous difference between the current situation and the government, no matter how critical people are of it, and the situation under Saddam.  Iraqi people are infinitely better off.  You hear about every fatality.  There is also violence now.  But you never heard about the details of fatalities under Saddam.  Many, many more Iraqis, many fold more Iraqis died under Saddam secretly if he had not been overthrown that had died in the past year in Iraq as a result of violence. 

Iraqis are hopeful now.  There is hope.  We can all work and we can express our views.  This was impossible under Saddam. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You...

CHALABI:  And, of course, I should tell you that Iraqi people know that this wouldn‘t have happened without the United States and without the United States‘ young men and women who came here to sacrifice their—risk their lives for the cause of freedom of Iraq. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You have been fighting for this since 1992, since you became the head of the Iraqi National Congress.  Today, obviously, had to be an exciting day for you.  But, moving forward, do you expect to play a significant role in the new Iraqi government? 

As we move from this transitional stage to elections, you certainly have a lot of support among Shia in Iraq.  Do you expect to be involved in this new Iraqi government after the elections? 

CHALABI:  My role is now to help the government establish security in the country, to enhance and develop the hold of the government over the Iraqi state, and to exercise sovereignty completely and also to make sure that elections take place on time.  The Iraqi people will not accept a delay in elections.  Elections have to take place on time in January of 2005. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, you obviously had, again, a lot of friends in the Pentagon.  George W. Bush supported you.  Dick Cheney supported you.  Do you still have—now that George Tenet is basically out of a job at the CIA, do you still have the ear of Donald Rumsfeld or George W. Bush or Paul Wolfowitz or any of those that supported you before this war began? 

CHALABI:  You know, with the departure of Tenet from the CIA, the facts are coming out. 

For example, the quality of the intelligence that the INC had obtained and made available to the United States government is becoming clear now.  And many people in the Pentagon have testified in Congress that the INC did -- and information provided by the INC saved American lives, American soldiers‘ lives.  This is excellent that they are saying this now.  We know this to be true also. 

I have seen documents uncover links between bin Laden and Saddam‘s secret service and his intelligence service in the middle ‘90s and the early ‘90s.  These are very significant facts.  And they support the contention of the president that there are links between bin Laden and Saddam.  I believe that these are—the investigation of these links should continue.  And it is very important now that the quality of information that came through the INC is becoming more and more recognized, even by “The New York Times.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  Which is saying an awful lot. 

Ahmad Chalabi, thank you so much for being with us.  We greatly appreciate it. 

CHALABI:  Thank you.  Bye-bye. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  And straight ahead, Michael Moore‘s mockumentary, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” broke records over the weekend, and topped the box office.  But that doesn‘t mean it‘s still a documentary. 

And, later, we are going to bring you the latest on the U.S.  serviceman being held captive in Iraq and the Al-Jazeera report that he may have been executed. 

Stick around.  We will have that story in a little bit.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, we have got the president of Lions Gate Films, who distributed Michael Moore‘s, as they call it, “Fahrenheit 9/11.”  It had a huge weekend.  And we are going to ask him why he thinks it was so successful.  That‘s in a second.

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

(COMMERCIAL 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.

Hey, welcome back. 

Boy, I‘ll tell you what.  Our prayers are with those families in Utah and Ohio who are missing their loved ones over in Iraq right now and waiting for word.  We certainly—again, our prayers are going out to them.  We hope that the word is good. 

Anyway, let‘s talk about Michael Moore‘s film, “Fahrenheit 9/11.”  It took in $24 million during its opening weekend and set a new box office record for a documentary. 

And with me now is the president of “Fahrenheit 9/11”‘s distributor, Lions Gate Films, Tom Ortenberg.

Tom, thanks for being with us tonight. 

TOM ORTENBERG, PRESIDENT, LIONS GATE FILMS:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, you have probably read between the lines and sort of looked at the tea leaves, and you‘ve figured out that I don‘t agree with a lot of things that are in this film, but even I will admit it was a remarkable opening weekend for this type of film.  Why do you think it was so successful? 

ORTENBERG:  Well, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” I think, has become a national phenomenon. 

And people are talking about it around the water coolers, at restaurants, on the street.  And I think people now feel the need to see the film.  Everybody does.  Republicans, Democrats, people from all political persuasions need to see the film and debate the issues that the film raises. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and I have actually told Republicans, some Republicans, they need to go out and see this film.  I am trying to make you and Michael Moore more money, because you probably didn‘t make enough the first weekend.

But I think it‘s important...

ORTENBERG:  We appreciate it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I think it‘s important because I think there‘s so many misleading facts in here. 

Are you able to debate some of the issues, just briefly?  Like for instance, let me tell you, there are couple of conspiracy theories that disturb me.  I am curious your thoughts are. One is that Michael Moore says that United States invaded Afghanistan to build a pipeline, that George W.  Bush let the Taliban and al Qaeda get away in Afghanistan, despite the fact we captured two-thirds of al Qaeda‘s leadership. 

And this one is interesting:  The bin Ladens started George W. Bush‘s business in Texas back in the ‘70s.  I mean, do you stand by those claims by Michael Moore tonight? 

ORTENBERG:  I am not here to play fact-checker on the movie with you. 

I think that it‘s fair to debate interpretation and analysis of the facts. 

But I think that Michael‘s film speaks for itself.  And that‘s why I think people from all political persuasions should see the picture and start debating the public issues that it raises.  And I can‘t think of a better place where that debate should start than in American‘s movie theaters. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Does it matter to you whether Michael Moore got his facts right in this movie or not? 

ORTENBERG:  The film has been really thoroughly fact-checked by leading fact-checkers, including leading a fact-checking counsel for “The New Yorker” and others.  I think the facts as stated in the film are fairly indisputable.  The analysis of that information I think is subject to debate and should be debated. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, one of the facts had to do with the bin Laden family being flown out of America right after 9/11. 

Michael Moore‘s movie claims, your movie claims, that while even Ricky Martin was stranded on the ground in Miami, that the bin Laden family was rushed out because of their relationship with George W. Bush and that somehow this was Bush‘s decision.  I have a copy of “The Hill” newspaper from May 26. 

Richard Clarke, another guy that doesn‘t care a lot for George W.  Bush, said this—quote—“I take responsibility for it.  I don‘t think it was a mistake.  I would do it again.”  When Clarke was asked whether anybody above him at the White House approved those flights, he said: “It didn‘t get any higher than me.  On 9/11, 9/12, 9/13, many things didn‘t get higher than me.  I decided it.”  And finally, at the end, he said of this controversy that this was a—“This is a tempest in a teapot.”

And Richard Clarke had said that and made that known to the 9/11 Commission, and despite that, Michael Moore still left moviegoers with the impression that George Bush had approved these flights.  It doesn‘t sound like he got the facts right there, does it? 

ORTENBERG:  You raise a couple of interesting points. 

One is, the movie doesn‘t say flights occurred before September 13.  But, secondly, you bring up Ricky Martin, which I think is interesting, that the movie is both informative and entertaining, really broadly entertaining.  And I think that‘s one of the reasons the picture is doing so well.  It raises a lot of important issues.  It does so in a very entertaining way that brings mainstream America into the movie, involved with the film.  And that‘s where they can start talking about it. 

So, yes, we have a lot of fun in the movie as well as being informative.  Absolutely. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and, Tom, you bring up an interesting point, because is your claim here tonight that Michael Moore‘s movie did not suggest that the bin Laden family was flown out of the country while Americans were still grounded? 

ORTENBERG:  No, it doesn‘t. 

It doesn‘t say anything that all flights were grounded then.  I think it does raise some questions about some of the circumstances and it raises issues about how they were flown out and whether they were properly interrogated or should have been interrogated before they were flown out.  But the movie does not state that they were flown out while America was grounded.  It doesn‘t. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, that is absolutely remarkable. 

And let me tell you why, because, last week, we had Michael Isikoff, who is “Newsweek”‘s chief investigative reporter, probably one of the best reporters with one of the best reputations in Washington, D.C.  He went to the movie.  That is the conclusion that he drew, that Michael Moore had left him and moviegoers with that impression. 

I heard the debate.  I heard people from Michael Moore‘s side coming on, Chris Lehane, saying, oh, we never said that in the movie.  I went and watched the movie, took copious notes.  I left with the same impression, that Michael Isikoff had had, that, yes, he was claiming that the bin Ladens were ferreted out of the country while Americans remained on the ground. 

I don‘t understand how he can leave all of these impressions and then come back and deny it.  And I think maybe that is why he is so good at what he does, is that he gives false impressions, and then he is always able to come back and say, oh, wait, wait a second, no, you‘ve got me wrong. 

ORTENBERG:  Well, I do think that Michael is a brilliant filmmaker, and I think his voice is resonating throughout America this week.  And I think that it‘s great that people can watch a film and come out of it with difference perspectives and then we can talk about it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks so much, Tom Ortenberg.  Again, I disagree, but congratulations on your great opening weekend. 

We have got Republican strategist Jack Burkman and Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons.  They are both here. 

Let me begin with you.  Let me bring you in, Jack Burkman. 

Jack, tell me, what is your impression of the movie? 

JACK BURKMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, Joe, I think you well know my impression of this.  The things people do to make money. 

I was shocked by your previous guest, just shocked.  The thing I would

have asked him is, do you want to associate yourself and your company with

a film that makes fun of American troops in battle?  The fact-checking, all

of the factual errors, to my mind, that‘s the least of it.  But when you

see this juxtaposition of images, where there are Iraqi children wounded on

the ground, and then you see Americans high-fiving and saying different

images, as though they were looking at those children—and they are not -

·         they are just unrelated video strung together—I would have asked Tom Ortenberg, do you want to associate your company with something that makes fun of American soldiers?  The thing about this film...

SCARBOROUGH:  And Jack, not only that.  Not only does it make fun of American soldiers.

It also suggests that American soldiers are high-fiving, they‘re listening to heavy metal, while they‘re shooting indiscriminately at young Iraqi children.  We are going to talk about that and much more, including this quote from Michael Moore: “Americans are possibly the dumbest people on the planet.  Our stupidity is embarrassing.”  He said that, of course, while he was overseas.  Maybe some people would look at the box office receipts over this weekend and say, you know what, he might have a point. 

We‘ll be right back in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Wilson Phillips on DEBORAH NORVILLE, that is big.  I am going to have to watch that. 

Anyway, we‘re back with Republican strategist Jack Burkman.

I am not kidding.  I‘m a big Wilson Phillips fan. 

And Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons, here talking about the surprise of the pop culture phenomenon “Fahrenheit 9/11.” 

Jamal, you went to see the movie, right?  Are you a supporter of Moore‘s movie? 

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  I did see the movie last night. 

And let me tell you, you misrepresented something from earlier.  When he talked to the American troops, he showed them being in pain about watching people over die in Iraq.  He showed them seeing that and feeling very upset about it.  He also showed what the reality of war is, that people get hyped up to go into battle.  And that is what it‘s about.

But I don‘t think he misrepresented the American troops and their pain over seeing innocent civilians injured.  And I think that‘s unfair.

BURKMAN:  Jamal, that‘s false.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second.

Unfortunately, he showed the Americans high-fiving and talking about listening to heavy metal songs right after he showed pictures of Iraqi children. 

I want to read you what Michael Moore said.  This is what the “New York Times”‘ David Brooks quoted him saying in England about the special U.S.-British relationship: “You‘re stuck with being connected to this country of mine which is known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe.  Of course, he also said, “Americans are possibly the dumbest people on the planet.  Our stupidity is embarrassing.”

Jamal, are you embarrassed for the Democratic Party to be associated with this type of American? 

(CROSSTALK)

SIMMONS:  I disagree with Michael Moore on that.  And I don‘t think you should be criticizing our country when you are abroad.  I think that‘s wrong on his part. 

But let me tell you this.  You want to argue about Michael Moore, when in fact, what we saw was a two-hour movie that portrayed all the different facts about George Bush that are a problem.  We know that James Bath served with George W. Bush in the military.  We know that his name was redacted from the document.  He know that he managed bin Laden money.  We know James Bath invested in George Bush‘s companies.

We know that the bin Ladens were let out of the country without being interrogated, the family.  And we would—and anyone else, we‘d have done that.

(CROSSTALK)

SIMMONS:  And under any other criminal scenario, under any other criminal scenario, you would interrogate the family of a criminal suspect. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  And you just heard me quoting Richard Clarke, a man whose image is shown in the 9/11 Commission, a man who is against George W.

Bush, a man who has said, I am the guy that made that decision.  Now,

Michael Moore knew that

(CROSSTALK)

SIMMONS:  But, Joe, you are being a little disingenuous here. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second.  Michael Moore knew that when he edited this movie down, and yet he decided not to let the American people know who made the decision.  Instead, he showed a Democratic senator who said, we must get to the bottom of this.  We must find out.  Well, we know it was Richard Clarke. 

SIMMONS:  Well, Joe, if you agree with everything Richard Clarke says, then you agree that President Bush was talking about going to Iraq—then you believe that President Bush was talking about going to Iraq days after 9/11, because that‘s what Richard Clarke says.  You can‘t pick and choose from what Richard Clarke says.

(CROSSTALK) 

SCARBOROUGH:  Jamal, that‘s a sophomoric argument, and you know it. 

SIMMONS:  It‘s not a sophomoric argument.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Guys, guys. 

The bottom line is, Jamal, that we have, as a matter of public record, Richard Clarke—and the fact that he is against George W. Bush makes this even more damning for Michael Moore. 

SIMMONS:  Well, if you accept Richard Clarke on this story, then you accept Richard Clarke that George Bush was preoccupied with going after Saddam Hussein, when he should have been going after Osama bin Laden. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Jamal, if you are afraid for the truth to get out, then I guess you are on Michael Moore‘s side, after all. 

The bottom line is—the fact is, this guy has come out.  He has said, I made the decision.  And all you can do is resort to childish arguments. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Jack Burkman, why didn‘t he put that in the movie? 

BURKMAN:  I have no idea.  I couldn‘t even speculate. 

What I would like to bring this back to is, what happened to this argument on the left, you know, we opposed the war, but we support the troops?  Here you have Michael Moore, comes out, making fun of American troops, bashing American troops.  Where is John Kerry?  Where‘s Terry McAuliffe?  I will tell you where Terry McAuliffe is.  He‘s standing with Michael Moore raising his hand at a big ceremony. 

Where all the Democrats?  Where are these people who wanted to support our troops?  That‘s my question.

SCARBOROUGH:  Jack Burkman, let me ask you this question.  Jack Burkman, let me ask you.  Do you think that John Kerry should be asked by reporters if he believes the following, that the United States invaded Afghanistan to put a pipeline there, that the United States, the war he supported, the United States invaded Iraq for oil, which he also supported, that the bin Ladens started George W. Bush‘s first business, as Jamal is suggesting, that the Bushes let bin Laden out of the country because of their business relationship with bin Laden, and also...

(CROSSTALK)

BURKMAN:  He should be asked all of those questions.  He should be asked all of those questions and more.  And he should also be asked one more:  Will you join us in denouncing Michael Moore?  That‘s what he should be asked. 

(CROSSTALK)

SIMMONS:  Well, you asked a question a second ago, Jack.

(CROSSTALK)

BURKMAN:  He has to be held accountable for that. 

SIMMONS:  You asked a question a second ago, Jack.  And that question was.

Where are the Democrats when it comes to the troops? 

And I will tell you where they are.  They are standing with the

troops.  They‘re standing with the veterans.  They‘re trying to get them

the money that they need, unlike this president, who is cutting veterans‘

benefits and who is not standing up for the troops when the troops really

need

(CROSSTALK)  

SCARBOROUGH:  We are going to have to leave it there, unfortunately, guys.

(CROSSTALK)

SIMMONS:  ... the families of people who are dying in Iraq. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We are out of time. 

And I just got to say, it‘s very disturbing to me, personally, very disturbing to me, that we come on here.  We try to debate issues.  We try to get facts out on the table.  And I have yet to find a Democrat that will come on this show and state facts on Richard Clarke.  I want somebody to come, a responsible Democrat to come on, and tell me that Richard Clarke is a liar on this issue.  I haven‘t heard it yet. 

Now, up next, we have got the latest news on the possible murder of serviceman Matt Maupin by his Iraqi captors. 

We‘ll have that in a second. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  With terrorist leaders saying that Iraq is closing in on them, is the last thing they can do is seize Americans and hold them as hostages?  We are going to be talking about that in a second, and then going to check on the fate of two servicemen missing in Iraq. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  At the Pentagon tonight, military officials say that they have seen a videotape that may show the execution of U.S. Army Specialist Matt Maupin.  Maupin identified himself on a tape released by kidnappers shortly after he was captured April when his fuel convoy was attacked outside Baghdad. 

On this latest tape, a voice in Arabic says the execution victim is Maupin.  But military officials who have seen the tape tell NBC News, it is impossible to make a positive identification. 

With me now is MSNBC terror analyst, Steve Emerson. 

Steve, thank you for being with us tonight. 

Do you believe these killings that we are hearing about, the possibility of this American hostage being killed, is in response to sovereignty being turned over to the Iraqi people earlier today? 

STEVE EMERSON, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST:  Joe, I don‘t think there‘s any linear rationale in terms of specific reasons, whether sovereignty is turned over or it‘s U.S. troop deployment.  They would be taking Americans wherever they can find them and killing them no matter what, whether, in fact, there was a transitional plan or not.

So they may use these excuses publicly to try to galvanize support and try to be rational about it.  But they are irrational to begin with and they hate Americans for the fact that we are Americans, period.  And they hate a new regime, because it‘s not an Islamic fundamentalist one. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Steve, you talked about trying to incite support across the Middle East.  Let‘s talk about an interesting change that‘s taking place.

Of course, today, we have Americans turning over control, sovereign authority, over to the Iraqi people.  That would certainly, I would think, make their situation more difficult.  But look at the Middle East.  Originally, we had hurt he was from Pakistan.  Now there are reports that this gentleman, this Marine that‘s been captured, this American Marine is from Lebanon. 

Despite that fact, how does it help these people that are trying to promote Muslim jihad across the Middle East that now their targets are turning away from being Christians and Jews, and now they are actually going after Muslims? 

EMERSON:  Well, you know, in their own perverted logic, they believe in Charlie Manson theory of helter-skelter.  The more havoc and destruction that can be visited upon the local population, their belief is, somehow, the local population will reject the American intervention and—quote—

“the occupation forces.”

On the other hand, Joe, to the extent that Turkish Muslims are executed, as we have seen now that Turkish hostages are held, here is an American soldier who apparently is of Muslim descent.  Perhaps this will instigate a reaction by Muslim clerics. I am hoping it would.  There‘s no telling that it will, because, based on previous reactions, there‘s a very schizophrenic policy of condemning a particular terrorist attack, but still, at the same time, legitimizing jihad. 

We can only hope that there will be some type of reaction by the Muslim elites to say this is unacceptable and we will stop this from occurring and we will provide intelligence to the new transitional government, as well as to the provisional authorities, to make sure that the bad guys are found and caught. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks so much, Steve Emerson.  We greatly appreciate you being here tonight. 

We will see you all tomorrow night. 

END   

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