updated 8/12/2004 9:36:48 AM ET 2004-08-12T13:36:48

Guest: Heather Mac Donald, Kathleen Walker, Lanny Davis, Tony Blankley

PAT BUCHANAN, GUEST HOST:  Former swift boat officers who served with John Kerry in Vietnam have declared in a new book that he‘s—quote—

“unfit for command.”  Now Democrats are firing back.  Is John Kerry a war hero or did John Kerry lie about his service?  We‘ll try to get closer to an answer tonight. 

And Border Patrol agents will soon be allowed to deport illegal aliens without official review.  Is the Bush administration finally getting tough on the border? 

Then, will the economy cost George W. Bush a second term, just like it did his father?  We‘ll look at the numbers and what they mean for the battle for the White House. 

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

BUCHANAN:  I‘m Pat Buchanan, filling in for Joe Scarborough. 

Last night, my guest was former swift boat commander John O‘Neill, the author of “Unfit For Command.”  The response from my interview with O‘Neill was overwhelming.  Here are a few e-mails we have been receiving. 

Dick in Florida writes: “As a two-tour Vietnam veteran who lost a brother there, I don‘t care if John Kerry won the Silver Star or not.  What I care about is a combat veteran, Kerry, returning to the safety of the United States, appearing before Congress and denigrating those who served with distinction alongside him.”

But Richard counters: “I believe John O‘Neill is lying slime.  Most of what he says is hearsay.  If what he says is true, why did he not come out with his book years ago?”

Democrats sound ready for a bare-knuckle brawl in defense of John Kerry‘s four-month tour of duty as a swift boat commander.  Well, the Democratic Convention portrayed Kerry as a thrice-wounded war hero.  This new book by swift boat veteran John O‘Neill portrays John Kerry as a fraud and a liar whom his comrades were glad to be rid of.

Joining me now, Lawrence O‘Donnell and Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of “The Washington Times.” 

Thanks for being here.

Lawrence O‘Donnell, let me start with you.

And I want to start by talking about one of the issues in contention.  And that is John Kerry‘s repeated claims that, on Christmas Day, 1968, he was in the Cambodia on the border, just about, but slightly inside Cambodia, being fired upon, in one statement he made as a senator, by either Khmer Rouge and North Vietnamese or Viet Cong both. 

And in another statement which was quoted by “The New York Sun” made Kerry made in 1979, let me read it for you, the statement Kerry made and then let‘s hear the response last night of John O‘Neill, who is his adversary. 

Here‘s what Kerry wrote about 1979 -- what he said in 1979: “On more than one occasion, I, like Martin Sheen in ‘Apocalypse Now,‘ took my patrol boat into Cambodia.  In fact, I remember Christmas Eve of 1968, five miles across the Cambodian border, being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies, who were drunk and celebrating Christmas.  The absurdity of almost being killed by our allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real.”

Now, here‘s what John O‘Neill said last night about Kerry‘s claim to have been fighting in Cambodia or to have been in Cambodia on Christmas Eve taking fire. 

Let‘s listen. 


JOHN O‘NEILL, SWIFT BOAT VETERANS FOR TRUTH:  If John Kerry can prove that he was in Cambodia on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of 1968, he should go down and sue me tomorrow morning. 

It‘s a lie he‘s told over and over and over again.  It libels everybody that commanded him.  It‘s the typical prototype sort of war crime charge that John Kerry makes that is a lie. 


BUCHANAN:  Lawrence, O‘Donnell, it seems to me you have here where we can ascertain whether or not John Kerry‘s been telling the truth. 

First, he said, which is clearly wrong, that, in responding to President Nixon—President Nixon wasn‘t even president in 1968.  Second, it‘s hard for me to understand how he knew if it were Khmer Rouge or North Vietnamese shooting at him across the bank.  And, also, O‘Neill says there was a boat up there preventing any American troops from going in.

Do you believe John Kerry went into Cambodia? 

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC SR. POLITICAL ANALYST:  I believe that the United States troops went into Cambodia.  I believe they went in secretly. 

Every history of the Vietnam War shows this, that they were in there secretly.  The question is, where, within about a 50-mile radius, was John Kerry‘s boat?  And what John O‘Neill wants to say is that John Kerry‘s boat was about 50 miles away from where John Kerry remembers his boat was.  And, Pat, the statement that you quoted from John Kerry was years after the war and years after President Nixon had been president. 

It doesn‘t precisely say that in Christmas of 1968, President Nixon sent me up there, because, as we all know, President Nixon was not yet President Nixon.  He was president-elect Nixon at the time.  And so that‘s an elision of the histories in way that makes semantic sense to me, rough semantic sense.


O‘DONNELL:  I get what he‘s talking about.


O‘DONNELL:  I don‘t think you‘re going to find—there are no global positioning records of exactly where each one of these boats were.  I don‘t think you‘re going to be able to find a certainty, a proof, anything that would ever stand up beyond a reasonable doubt as to exactly where the boat was. 

BUCHANAN:  Why, then, would Kerry say four times, comparing himself to Martin Sheen in “Apocalypse Now,” I was in Cambodia?

That is a very serious matter when you consider that Richard Nixon, one of the charges on which he was going to be impeached, was that he had breached this rule and he sent troops into Cambodia.  What Kerry is saying is, I was in Cambodia in ‘68 under Johnson and it was known.  Now, that is a very serious matter.  And it seems to me you would know whether or not you were in Cambodia, would you not? 

O‘DONNELL:  Well, Pat, you and I have never been in jungle warfare in any way at all.  We‘ve never had to read a compass or plot our course, our position on a map in jungle warfare 13,000 miles away from here, with bullets flying.  We have never had to do that. 

So my answer is, I have no idea how to tell whether I was in Cambodia or not at the time.  I‘m sorry.  I don‘t have that authority. 

BUCHANAN:  OK, now, let me ask you that, Tony Blankley.

Lawrence O‘Donnell makes a point.  He says, look, it‘s a long river.  It‘s 55 miles.  The swift boats are going up and down.  Maybe Kerry thought he was in Cambodia and he wasn‘t.  Maybe he was where O‘Neill said he was, and what the devil difference does that make? 


First of all, the Cambodian border was a key location.  It was being guarded with wires by the Cambodians.  It was being monitored by our government.  I‘m going to be running an article on Friday by a retired State Department official who had responsibility for monitoring precisely the question of the Cambodia-Vietnam connection during those years. 

And it‘s very important whether you were across the border or not.  And the fact is that not only was he pretty clear not there.  It seems to me at this point if the Kerry campaign thought they could defend that position, they would have come out and said he was there.  So now they‘re saying, well, maybe he was somewhere in the vicinity of there.  But one side or the other makes a big difference.  Was he firing at people or not? 

Also, one of his shipmates, the one who‘s not supported him, I forget his name.  Is it Gardner or something like that?

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

BLANKLEY:  He says he was on the boat.  He was in on Christmas Eve and he wasn‘t there.  They were at the place that I believe Kerry told Douglas Brinkley in the biography of him that he was in that town 50 miles south. 


BLANKLEY:  So it seems like he shifted the story.  But he didn‘t only say that when he was a younger man.  He said it on the floor of the Senate in 1986.  And he said, remember, it was seared, seared in my memory, where I was, what I was doing. 

Now, and he repeated the word seared twice.  It‘s very hard to finesse that into, he was somewhere in the vague vicinity of Southeast Asia.

BUCHANAN:  All right, now, Lawrence, let me say why I think this is important.  This is a clear question of credibility between John O‘Neill, whom, as you have pointed out, was invited into the White House and was encouraged to stand up to Kerry 35 years ago.  There is a question of credibility here. 

And John O‘Neill is saying:  John Kerry flat-out lied.  He was nowhere near Cambodia.  He was 55 miles away.  He‘s been putting out this bull hockey four and five times since he came out and since he‘s became a senator.  And I‘m saying, he‘s lying about it and he was never there.  And we get the Kerry camp is now mushing around.  It suggests that maybe O‘Neill is the credible man here, does it not? 

O‘DONNELL:  Well, let me ask you, Pat, and the audience to consider this. 

If John Kerry were proven wrong in this memory of his, you then have options.  You have, is it a malicious lie willfully told by Senator Kerry after being in Vietnam?  Or is it an accident of memory?  And then we have the question of, if we have proven John Kerry wrong on this one single point, does that then prove everything he has said about Vietnam to be untrue? 

And the reason I raise that frame is, if all we have to do is prove one thing wrong in John O‘Neill‘s book, will that unravel the entire book?  Because I think that, frankly, is a much easier exercise. 


BUCHANAN:  Fair point. 

Tony Blankley. 

BLANKLEY:  I think Lawrence brings up an important point.  It‘s a question of credibility.  We have got here between these 60 officers who served, who testified in the O‘Neill book that Kerry didn‘t do the things that Kerry claimed he did in Vietnam. 

We have also got the eight men on his boat, who support Kerry in this.  So we‘ve got a conflict between two sets of eyewitnesses, both seemingly credible people.  So we now have to start looking to, how much credibility does each side have?  And I think the fact the Kerry has, if in fact it look like the case, misstated and probably intentionally misstated the Cambodian issue, which is one of the charges in the book, it doesn‘t prove that he lied about everything else.

But it seems to me it establishes a prima facie face that these allegations at least ought to be looked into and not simply accepted as campaign scandal time.  And to me, that raises a question that the broadcast media, “The New York Times,” “The Washington Post” need to start getting into this story, because with one of Kerry‘s assertions now essentially disproven, or close to being disproven, now I think the responsibility of the major nonconservative media is to start analyzing, as they often do very carefully all the other claims that he‘s made, because they‘re claims of a set.

The claims he‘s—about Cambodia is part of the set of his other Vietnam activities.  And they have all been brought into question. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, now, Larry, I think this is a valid point here.  Now, you have come out and defended Kerry and criticized O‘Neill, as has—and Lanny Davis is going to be on later. 


O‘DONNELL:  Pat, I‘m not here to defend Kerry or anyone else.  I‘m here to simply try to analyze what is the evidence that‘s being put in front of us.

BUCHANAN:  All right, now, my point is simply this. 

O‘Neill and his people—O‘Neill is going himself on television and he‘s arguing his points.  And he‘s making his charges.  Why are not the swift boat, the band of brothers for Kerry coming forward and making the case, because they were there, as were these other gentlemen making the charges?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, they have, Pat. 

And, in fact, they‘ve been on television and exposed to television for much more time than John O‘Neill has.  He has now done one 24-hour cycle of it, beginning with you.  And your interview I thought was brilliant and exhaustive on the subject.

But Jim Rassmann has been on television since the Iowa caucuses telling his story.  And he‘s been on television a lot since John O‘Neill reemerged this week on television.  Jim Rassmann—and this is a very important chapter when we‘re looking at “all you have to do is be wrong once” principle on this journalistically. 

Jim Rassmann says:  I was in the water.  Bullets were flying all over the place from both sides of the river.  John Kerry turns his boat around, come back, goes out on the bow, risks his life in the live-fire situation by reaching down and pulling me out. 

Now, John O‘Neill says that there was absolutely no fire going on at all, no bullets fired.  There was no risk, absolutely none.  And then, to bring it to Tony Blankley, who has written a lovely piece in “The Washington Times” today, Tony being the most conscientious journalist in Washington, the type who actually read the book—Tony has read the book.

And Tony takes the position in his article today that one of these people is lying, that either John O‘Neill is lying about no bullets having been fired that day, or Jim Rassmann is lying about bullets being fired. 


O‘DONNELL:  Now, Tony, tell us, is there a way of figuring out which one of them is the liar?

BUCHANAN:  All right, hold it. 

I want a dissent from Brother Blankley when we come back, because I think both men could be telling the truth.  But O‘Neill wasn‘t there.  It was someone else. 

We‘ll deal with it, take this issue up about that incident and the saving of Jim Rassmann when we come back.


BUCHANAN:  Welcome back.  Or, rather, we‘ve got upcoming, folks—stay tuned.  We‘re going to have a discussion of that individual that John Kerry saved, Jim Rassmann.  And we‘re going to talk about how he did it and who disagrees. 


BUCHANAN:  We‘re back with Tony Blankley and Lawrence O‘Donnell. 

And we‘re talking about “Unfit For Command,” that book about John Kerry which claims, which the author John O‘Neill claims Kerry lied about his record and it was fraudulent in Vietnam.

Now, Tony, you wrote in your column today one of these two groups of men is lying.  I don‘t believe that.  I think the people on Kerry‘s swift boat, they‘re enlisted guys and they are now a part of history and a part of mythology.  If Kerry wins, they‘re like the guys on Kennedy‘s PT boat.  Of course they were heroic.  And they‘re going to come to believe that. 

These other fellows are so enraged by what Kerry did when he came home that I think they‘re projecting their own anger and rage and they‘re saying, that guy was never a hero.  It‘s just like baseball teams.  One says, the guy was safe at first.  And the other guys would swear on a Bible, he wasn‘t safe.  And both of them would pass a lie-detector test.  Possible?

BLANKLEY:  Well, that reminds me of the line, the closing line, from “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” when he says, when the legend becomes fact, report the legend. 


BLANKLEY:  The reporter at the end of that movie.

But, look, what I said in my column wasn‘t that every single statement was either a lie from one or the other.  I said that some could be honest differences of perceptions.  And, in fact, the gentleman who fell into the water, he was under water most of the time and in fact he said on a number of occasions, one time he was on Kerry‘s boat and another on another boat. 

So I was a prosecutor for eight years.  I understand that people have misperceptions.  But when you take all of the testimony as a collection and then all of the defenses of him as a collection, clearly, one set of them are consciously not reporting the truth.  Now, if they‘re deluded, I find that a little hard to believe.  I know how you can tell a story many times and begin to sort of half believe it.

But, at this point, I would like to see the eight men who were on

Kerry‘s boat come up and actually deny point by point these


BUCHANAN:  I would as well.

And let me talk about Jim Rassmann, if I could, Larry, and you respond. 

I think Rassmann is telling the truth.  Look, the guy‘s knocked off the boat.  He‘s going in the water.  He‘s diving down so these swift boats don‘t run over him and kill him.  He believes they‘re firing at him.  And he believes that if he makes it to one shore, they‘re going to execute him.  And he comes up out of the water and there‘s John Kerry and pulls him out. 

If it were me, I would want Kerry for the Congressional Medal of Honor. 

It‘s perfectly understandable that he believes John Kerry is a hero.  But that does not conflict what John O‘Neill said, because John O‘Neill is writing about somebody else testified to him who was in a boat a couple of yards away. 

Your response? 


Well, and—again, my position here is, I‘m just trying to get at what is credible on which side of this, which I think is what Tony‘s position is, too.  And, ultimately, I would like to get to some political analysis on this, because that‘s what us three really know. 

But in that story, John O‘Neill has that story as John Kerry lied to get every one of his medals, that John Kerry was the person, the prime mover to get a medal and lied.  Now, Jim Rassmann says that he put Kerry in for the Silver Star for that incident and he was surprised that John Kerry only got a Bronze Star for it.  Jim Rassmann‘s testimony is that, I, Jim Rassmann, put John Kerry in for that award. 

So at every level of this story, at any one of the awards we‘re talking about, the John O‘Neill version is at variance with the public version given by both John Kerry and his crewmates. 


BUCHANAN:  All right, go ahead, quickly, Tony.

BLANKLEY:  Just quickly, you have three Purple Hearts.  You have two Bronze Stars and a Silver Star. 

I believe—and don‘t hold me to this, quite—but I believe that most of them, the reports that Kerry put in were—for himself were the beginning of the process to get the award.  It is correct that, in the one that Rassmann was in, he put in the proposal.  So you‘ve got an awful lot of information that is being contradicted. 


Last night, I read some of John Kerry‘s testimony before Congress when he claimed that U.S. troops raped, tortured and mutilated Vietnamese.  O‘Neill called it lies and said the men he served with were men of honor.

Let‘s listen.


O‘NEILL:  They would have died rather than kill somebody that was innocent.  And they did die, rather than kill—take a chance of wounding innocent people, several of them in sight of me.  And so that is a total premeditated lie.  It isn‘t simply a bit exaggerated or over the top, as Kerry said.

That‘s a deal that struck right at the heart of people living and dead.  It was a malicious and cruel attempt to gain political publicity. 


BUCHANAN:  Let me ask you this, Lawrence O‘Donnell.  Do you believe when John Kerry came back and said these people cut off ears, you know, they tied batteries to genitals, they murdered, maimed, they shot peasants, they did all this, it was like Genghis Khan, do you believe John Kerry was telling the truth about American troops in Vietnam? 

O‘DONNELL:  Absolutely. 

And we have ample, clear history on this subject.  John Kerry‘s not the only one.  John Kerry also said that he served with people who served honorably and that that was the majority of our troops over there. 


O‘DONNELL:  Listen, I had a loved one die in Vietnam.  And I have had friends come back from Vietnam and tell their stories.  They are in perfect sync with John Kerry. 

BUCHANAN:  Tony Blankley, quickly.

BLANKLEY:  Look, in any war, there are going to be acts of atrocities. 

I wasn‘t there.  I don‘t know.  I‘m sure there were acts. 

But what Kerry testified to was that this was in fact the policy of the United States.  And he was blaming the superiors for these actions.  He described this kind of atrocity as part of the policy.  That was not part of the policy.  And that is the scandal that I think he has yet to resolve. 

But one quick other point which is fascinating, is that, so far, no senior Democrats, no elected governors or senators, are coming to Kerry‘s defense.  They‘re sending out the advocates, but not—where‘s Richardson?  Where‘s Biden?  They seem to be keeping their powder dry on this. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, well, we‘re probably going to be hearing from them soon, maybe.

But we‘re going to have an advocate coming up right now. 

But right now, Tony and Larry, thanks very much for being here tonight. 

Upcoming, we‘ll be right back with a Kerry defender who says John O‘Neill is not speaking the truth and he believes he can prove it. 


BUCHANAN:  Bill Clinton‘s toughest defender is here to defend John Kerry against the charge that his medals were phonies and his war record is a fraud.  Lanny Davis joins us for a debate right after this message and right after the headlines from MSNBC‘s News Desk.


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

BUCHANAN:  Joining us now is a man who served as President Clinton‘s spokesman on scandal matters, former special counsel to President Clinton Lanny Davis. 

Lanny, thanks for joining us.


BUCHANAN:  Coming to the defense of John Kerry. 

My first question is this.  If the charges of John O‘Neill stand up to scrutiny about Bill Clinton—excuse me—about John Kerry‘s behavior in Vietnam, would John Kerry be morally qualified to be president of the United States? 

DAVIS:  Well, it‘s a silly predicate, with all due respect, Pat.  You know I respect you, but the fact is it doesn‘t hold up to facts and to truth. 

The definition of a lie is a knowing falsehood.  And this man, O‘Neill, has knowingly lied over and over again in this book.  And I can prove it to you with a few examples.  But if you had enough time here, I could give you 100 examples. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, give me the best shot you‘ve got. 

DAVIS:  Let‘s start with two. 

The first is that his misuse, as Joe McCarthy used to hold up and talk about numbers of communists in the State Department—he talks about 254 swift boat people, 60 Purple Heart winners, 17 of 23 officers, all of whom confirm that John Kerry lied about the basis of the awards.  Fact—sorry, fact, not one of those people, not one, served on the boat or boats that led to those incidents, not one. 

BUCHANAN:  But, Lanny, Lanny, we know that.  We said it last night.  We said not one of them was in the boat with him.  There were folks beside him in the boat.  There were folks that observed his actions there.


DAVIS:  Second fact.  Second fact. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, that one, if that‘s the best you got...

DAVIS:  Well, I‘m talking about the difference in credibility. 

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

DAVIS:  O‘Neill does not tell you that he was never on any of these boats himself, never had any of these other people who he quotes in his book were on the boat. 

So second fact judging credibility, every man on the three boats involved in the three Purple Hearts, every man confirms John Kerry‘s account, without exception.  They talk about an exception.  In fact, that individual, Mr. Gardner, was on a previous boat that had nothing to do with the incidents on the Purple Heart. 

Let me repeat that, Pat.  Every man on the boat directly observing those three incidents confirms what happened.  And all of the numbers and phony bogus numbers O‘Neill uses and he doesn‘t tell you are attempting to contradict direct observations by people who were either far away or who weren‘t even there. 


DAVIS:  A number of people in those numbers weren‘t even there. 

O‘Neill has never met Kerry and wasn‘t even there himself.  He‘s a liar. 

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t think you‘ve demonstrated that. 

I don‘t know any significant lie that John O‘Neill has told in 35 years. 


BUCHANAN:  But let me read you this.  All right, hold it.

Now, if John Kerry lied about being in Cambodia, if he lied about being on a secret mission like Martin Sheen, if he lied about not being in Kansas City when he was there when they all chatted about that crazy assassination idea, if he lied about Americans committing rampant war crimes all over Vietnam which he witnessed and which were authorized by his superior, if he lied about all those things, is it not possible he lied about his medals? 

DAVIS:  If, if, if, could‘a, would‘a, should‘a.  And none of those things are true.

But now let me quote from the book a lie  You want me to give you examples? 


DAVIS:  This is from page 87 of the book: “Neither weapons fire nor a mine explosion occurred near Kerry during the incident involving Mr.  Rassmann.”  Lie, and I‘ll prove it to you. 

But first, let me read a second one.  Page 91 -- quote—“Mr.  Rassmann‘s claim that he was rescued by Mr. Kerry in a hostile fire zone is a lie.”  Those are O‘Neill‘s words.  Now let me read you the actual action report that what was written and filed by the Navy about that incident, heavy A.W. arms and S.A. small arms from both banks.  Rassmann says, “Viet Cong snipers fired at me,” and Rassmann submerged over and over to avoid being hit.

And then Mr.


BUCHANAN:  All right, let me interrupt you there, because I talked to O‘Neill about that last night.  O‘Neill, you‘re right, was not there.  He is relying on the testimony of an individual who was in the swift boat right there beside Kerry, who contends that, when the first swift boat blew up or was hit with the mine, Kerry fled, the other swift boat was engaging and Kerry did pick come back and pick up Rassmann, who was underwater.  That‘s their description. 

Now, Rassmann, I can understand why he considers John Kerry a hero.  Kerry probably saved this man‘s life, who was underwater trying to swim, believing he was being fired at by bullets, certainly in danger from the swift boats.

DAVIS:  Pat, good try.  This isn‘t he says/she says.

The men on the boat confirm and the action report filed with the Navy confirm that the ship was badly damaged, so badly damaged that, as it says in the action report, other mine explosions received battle damage, PCF not capable of executing turn.  That‘s a fact.  Anybody that says, whether they‘re 3 feet away or 10 feet away, are lying when they say that that ship was not damaged.  That‘s a flat-out lie. 


BUCHANAN:  Let me say something.  I have never accused either Rassmann or the fellows that served on the boat with Kerry of lying. 

DAVIS:  Well, O‘Neill is.


BUCHANAN:  Now, wait a minute.

But you are accusing these men who served in Vietnam, who are men of honor, from everything we know, who have got Purple Hearts and decorations, but all these officer who want no part of John Kerry, you are saying all of these people who testified, who gave John O‘Neill this information, they‘re all liars.  How do you prove that? 


DAVIS:  First of all, if you read the book and the phony numbers he uses...

BUCHANAN:  I have read the book.  At least, I‘ve read this segment of it.

DAVIS:  A lot of the individuals that are quoted in the book weren‘t even there at the scene and are characterizing it. 

BUCHANAN:  But they‘re not testifying—if they were not at the scene, they don‘t testify.  A lot of them are enraged with John Kerry, no doubt about it.

DAVIS:  Exactly. 

BUCHANAN:  Because he came home, went to see Madame—look, if he was defending his country, Lanny, let me ask you something.  He went up there at that convention in Boston and said, we‘re not too old to fight for our country, in other words, as we did in Vietnam. 

Now, if Vietnam was a dirty, immoral war, where all these guys were engaged in atrocities and they were all approved by their higher-ups, why is he saying, we were defending our country and that‘s what he was doing. 

DAVIS:  Pat, with all due respect, emotion and anger, as I hear you express—and I know that you‘re sincere about those sentiments—affects perception. 


BUCHANAN:  And as you said in your earlier segment, people might have...

BUCHANAN:  All right.  Might it affect Rassmann‘s perception?  Might it affect Rassmann‘s perception and the men in that boat?

DAVIS:  Every single man involved on that boat, the three incidents that led to a Purple Heart, to a Bronze Star and a Silver Star, every man confirms the account. 

The only people contradicting are people who weren‘t there, like O‘Neill, people he quotes who were not there, or people who were on other boats whose perception after 30 years may be affected by anger and not by facts, which is what I‘m dealing with. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, let‘s listen to John O‘Neill‘s own words.  Here he is talking about Kerry‘s Purple Hearts—his own words.


O‘NEILL:  He got a tiny piece from his own round.  There was no hostile fire.  He went in to see the division commander.  The division commander laughed at him and threw him out and said, you‘re not going to get this. 

Unknown to be anyone, three months later, after everyone who knew about it had left Vietnam, Kerry somehow got a Purple Heart, when the facts were no longer known.  The third Purple Heart is the deal where he threw a grenade into rice.  He caught some rice in his butt. 


DAVIS:  Now, there‘s an example where there‘s no doubt that O‘Neill knows he‘s lying when he says that. 

The first instance that talked about, Grant Hibbard, who actually

commended John Kerry in a fitness report in high, high words, now 35 years

later is saying that he had a phony wound.  And the last thing he said



DAVIS:  Wait a minute.  Wait a minute.


DAVIS:  The shrapnel in the butt, Pat.


DAVIS:  You yourself know that that‘s false, because the third Purple Heart was the one involving Jim Rassmann, which he put in for.  And O‘Neill knows that.  Yet he says on television knowingly that the Purple Heart came from the rice and the shrapnel in the butt, rather than what he did with Jim Rassmann.  That‘s a knowing falsehood. 


BUCHANAN:  Wait a minute.  I don‘t know about that.  Look...

DAVIS:  No, yes, you do. 

BUCHANAN:  Hold it.  Wait a minute.  Let me ask you this.


DAVIS:  You admitted Rassmann is telling the truth. 

BUCHANAN:  Has Rassmann and Kerry come forward and denied they fired the grenades into the rice and it all blew up and it came back on Kerry? 


BUCHANAN:  They haven‘t?

DAVIS:  That happened.  That happened.


BUCHANAN:  Oh, that happened?  So you‘re saying O‘Neill has got the truth there, but he doesn‘t have the truth about how the wound was inflicted? 

DAVIS:  What O‘Neill just said, that was a knowing falsehood.

BUCHANAN:  How do you know that?

DAVIS:  Is that the Purple Heart was a result of getting shrapnel in the in the butt from that rice incident, rather than what he knows is the truth, which is Rassmann had his life saved by John Kerry, who turned into hostile fire, which his book says did not happen—and he knows that‘s a lie—and that the Purple Heart came from that and he was awarded a Bronze Star from that.

And O‘Neill knows that he was not there.

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

DAVIS:  He‘s depending on hearsay testimony.



DAVIS:  And he‘s spurred by venom and by anger and by hatred, starting back in 1971, when he did that testimony for Richard Nixon. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, if he is spurred by anger, would it not be valid that John O‘Neill was angry when he and his friends were fighting and dying in Vietnam?

DAVIS:  Sure.

BUCHANAN:  And their former comrade comes home and says they‘re all engaged in rampant war crimes?

DAVIS:  That is false. 


BUCHANAN:  That is what he accused them of.

DAVIS:  That is not true.


BUCHANAN:  He went over and met with the leader of the Viet Cong in Paris, who was the enemy at that time and the representative of the people who were back there killing his friends.  Do you not that think that was an outrageous act on John Kerry‘s part, justifying anger? 

DAVIS:  I understand your memories of those years—and you worked for President Nixon honorably and defended him honorably.

But there are many who supported John Kerry‘s criminal of the policy that led us to a war that many of us sincerely believed was wrong.  I do honor Mr. O‘Neill‘s service.  I did not serve and I honor his service.  But he doesn‘t have a right to take knowing falsehoods to smear somebody who went into battle, who showed courage, who Admiral Zumwalt gave the Silver Star and described glowingly as a courageous soldier. 

And let me also tell you that this man, O‘Neill, has associated with a co-author who is a bigot, an anti-Catholic bigot, an anti-Jewish bigot.  And when he was asked by another competitor station last night on an interview, why are you associating with this man Corsi, who smeared the pope, who smeared John Kerry because of the associations with Jews? 


DAVIS:  And do you know what his answer was?  He‘s not the co-author. 

He‘s an editor.  This is the man, Jerome Corsi, who‘s on the book as a co-author.  O‘Neill can‘t even tell the truth about who he co-authored the book with.  That‘s how ashamed he is, of course. 


BUCHANAN:  Well, I...


BUCHANAN:  I don‘t think—I think you‘re going a little over the top. 


DAVIS:  The name is on the book.

BUCHANAN:  I know it is.

DAVIS:  It says O‘Neill and Corsi.  He said, oh, he‘s not the co-author.


BUCHANAN:  I‘m well aware of all that.  I‘m well aware.

But the guy didn‘t write it.  It‘s O‘Neill‘s book and the guy did the editing. 


DAVIS:  Are you believing Mr. O‘Neill when he says that, with his credibility? 


BUCHANAN:  We got to get going.  We got to get going, Lanny Davis.


DAVIS:  ... Corsi, he‘s an anti-Catholic bigot.

BUCHANAN:  Upcoming, we have got a debate on whether or not it was wise to give the Border Patrol authority to throw the illegal aliens back across the border without giving them a hearing in a court of law.

ANNOUNCER:  You‘re watching SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Now here‘s some Hotwire travel trivia.  What state is home to the highest point in the U.S.?  Stay tuned for the answer.


ANNOUNCER:  You‘re watching SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  And in today‘s Hotwire travel trivia, we asked you:  What state is home to the highest point in the U.S.  Give up?  The answer is Alaska.  Mount McKinley‘s peak is 20,320 feet above sea level. 

Now back to Pat.

BUCHANAN:  The Department of Homeland Security will now give the Border Patrol the power to deport illegal aliens breaking into the United States, without giving the aliens a chance to go before an immigration judge.  Is America finally getting serious about the invasion of our country? 

With me now, the Manhattan Institute‘s Heather Mac Donald, and Kathleen Walker of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Kathleen, let me begin with you.

Is this not a good idea?  Why should the Border Patrol, if somebody gets past them and gets into San Diego, have to go through this arduous process of going into court and maybe a yearlong effort before they can send them back where they came from? 

KATHLEEN WALKER, AMERICAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ASSOCIATION:  Well, Pat I think the problem is tied to, we don‘t have sufficient resources, first of all, with our immigration courts. 

Perhaps if we manage to sufficiently staff them and take that situation seriously, we wouldn‘t be left with this situation.  But, from another point of view, leaving the Border Patrol with basically a sledgehammer here to act as the investigator, as the judge and the juror is risky business, in my opinion. 

You have U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents that sometimes are picked up.  And they are put into detention facilities, when they have every right to be within the United States legally. 


WALKER:  That‘s a serious risk.

All right, let me talk to—Heather Mac Donald, what do you think of this decision? 

HEATHER MAC DONALD, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE:  Pat, this is a baby step, a long overdue baby step to regaining control of our borders.

And regaining control of our borders is not just a nice thing to do.  It‘s not an optional thing to do in a post-9/11 world.  It‘s essential to national security.  We have to be able to know who‘s coming into the country, why they‘re here.  And those that are not here legally have to be deported.  This is not a question of somebody waiting a year to go before an immigration judge. 

The problem with the status quo ante, Pat, is that people disappeared.  They requested a hearing and nobody showed up and they got a get-out-of-jail card free, because we currently have what‘s known as catch-and-release policy, where an illegal who‘s picked up who has completely circumvented the visa process—this is somebody who refuses to let their identity be known to an consular officer, who snuck across the border, comes in, requests a hearing.

And then they‘re given a request, please show up in three months, and they never show up again.  They‘re inside the border.  And once they‘re inside the border, they are completely unfindable because we have no interior enforcement.  This is a security risk that we cannot live with. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, Kathleen, let me give you some numbers. 

WALKER:  Yes. 

BUCHANAN:  There are 400,000 absconders who have been ordered deported from the country who have disappeared.  Of these, 80,000 have criminal records, like rape and murder and burglary and child molestation. 

Of those 80,000, 6,000 are from countries that are state sponsors of terror.  Don‘t we have to get a lot tougher and we can‘t really give the half-million people who break into the county try each year a court hearing before we send them back?

WALKER:  Well, Pat, here‘s the issue. 

What we‘re trying to do, yes, is to increase border security, but we don‘t want border security to be optical.  I‘ve been here 19 years in El Paso, Texas.  If anybody has seen border security issues, I have.  And what we have in the Border Security Bill and in the Homeland Security Bill are suggestions about trying to deal with security logically for a change. 

And that security goes all the way back to starting at our consular posts, with providing appropriate staffing, giving them intelligence, giving them real-time data to be able to make decisions, going ahead and ending human trafficking by providing appropriate investigation support outside the United States. 


WALKER:  It‘s too late once they‘re here, Pat.  It really is.  In addition to that, I agree.  Our interior enforcement is lacking. 


MAC DONALD:  This is besides the point.

BUCHANAN:  Just a second, Heather. 

We‘re going to take a quick break and we‘ll be right back with our guests. 




BUCHANAN:  Welcome back. 

Heather Mac Donald, I want to read you something you wrote in this summer‘s “City Journal,” which, as a matter of fact I quoted, and ask you to expand on it a little further. 

And, Kathleen, if you will comment.

Here‘s what you wrote, Heather: “Hispanic school dropout rates and teen birthrates are now the highest in the nation.  Gang crime is exploding nationally, rising 50 percent from 1999 to 2002”—that‘s three years—

“driven by the march of Hispanic immigration east and north across the country.  Most worrisome, underclass indicators like crime and single parenthood do not improve over successive generations of Hispanics.  They worsen.”

That is about the gloomiest paragraph I‘ve heard about open borders and the mass immigration. 

MAC DONALD:  Well, but it‘s true, Pat, unfortunately. 

And what I do worry about is that we‘re creating a second underclass.  This is a different issue, of course, than the right to deport people here illegally.  But there‘s no question, when you look at the facts and not just get propaganda, that we are not assimilating the children of and grandchildren of Hispanic immigrants all the way we should.  We‘re not assimilating them upwards.  Many of them are being drawn into gang culture.  And cities are feeling this with the spiraling increase in gang crime. 

But if I can just get back to the border issue, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Very quickly.

MAC DONALD:  The reason people are coming here illegally is because they know don‘t have a right to be here. 

The reason they ask for a deportation hearing is because they know they will be released into the country.  The reason they don‘t show up for the hearing is because they know they will be deported.  And they have no right to be here.  We cannot continue with the status quo. 

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

Kathleen Walker, quickly, last word. 

WALKER:  Quick response.

Senator McCain, I think, made the most apt statement.  We‘re never going to improve our security without immigration reform.  We have to deal with the symptom.  And we deal with the symptom by creating the capability of dealing with legal flows to the United States to fill legitimate labor needs.  And until we reach that conclusion straightforwardly, we‘re never going to resolve this issue. 

We have to combine that with legitimate security-related activities that occur aboard, and go ahead and fund it accordingly.  And we hope to see that happen. 


Heather Mac Donald, Kathleen Walker, thanks for joining us tonight.


BUCHANAN:  Tomorrow night, Iran says it successfully tested a ballistic missile capable of reaching Israel.  Is this only for deterrence, as Iran claims, or is this the next step in the quest for nuclear weapons?  We‘ll be talking about that tomorrow night. 

Good night. 


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