updated 11/17/2004 10:29:19 AM ET 2004-11-17T15:29:19

Guest: Larry Johnson, Stephen Hayes, Brian Bennett, G. Gordon Liddy, John Lewis

PAT BUCHANAN, GUEST HOST:  Was a U.S. Marine out of line when he shot and killed a wounded and presumably unarmed insurgent in Fallujah? 


RET. GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, NBC MILITARY ANALYST:  You know, in close quarters, this is kill or be killed. 


BUCHANAN:  It’s what America is talking about tonight.  Join us for that discussion. 



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The secretary of state is America’s face to the world, and in Dr. Rice the world will see the strength, the grace and the decency of our country. 


BUCHANAN:  Powell is out.  Rice is in.  Bush is cleaning house at the State Department.  Is a war brewing in Washington, and what does that mean for Mr. Bush’s second term? 

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

BUCHANAN:  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  I’m Pat Buchanan, in for Joe tonight. 

As you know, our troops have been engaged in a fierce battle for Fallujah for over a week.  NBC News reported on Saturday that a Marine shot and killed a wounded, apparently unarmed insurgent. 

Let’s look at the portion of the report filed by Kevin Sites.  And please be warned that this video may not be suitable for all viewers. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey!  There Marines in there? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, there on the far right, far right. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Coming around the back. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey, who’s in here?  Coming around.  What the—you doing in here. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You almost got shot by tanks. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  You guy almost got shot up by tanks. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They were telling us to come in here. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The tanks did? 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  They were telling us there are people in here and telling us to come in here. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You, we had two in here. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did you shoot them? 

They have any weapons on them? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Same guys from Yesterday? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They’re the ones from yesterday. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  These are the wounded that they never picked up. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, he’s breathing. 




BUCHANAN:  Was this defensible act? 

I am honored now to be joined by three men who have put their lives on the line for their country, Lieutenant Colonel Jack Jacobs, U.S. army retired and an MSNBC military analyst, Captain John Lewis, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines, with 17 years of service, just back from the fighting in Fallujah, and G. Gordon Liddy, artillery officer and FBI agent and a radio talk show host. 

Lieutenant Colonel Jack Jacobs, should this be investigated as a potential war crime? 

RET. COL. JACK JACOBS, NBC MILITARY ANALYST:  Yes, it should, and, as a matter of fact, it is being investigated.  The command undoubtedly is launching what is called a 15-6 investigation on the provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice to determine whether or not there’s probable cause to bring charges and to investigate it further under an Article 32 investigation, which is the military’s version of a grand jury procedure.  But it definitely needs to be investigated. 

BUCHANAN:  In your judgment, seeing what you saw, if that’s all you knew, do you believe that an atrocity has probably been committed, probably? 

JACOBS:  It’s difficult to tell completely because we don’t have all the facts.  We didn’t see the entire tape.  And we don’t know what the witnesses actually saw, whether or not the man was really even breathing.  We heard that the man who shot him evidently said that he was breathing, but we don’t know that for sure.  If he was breathing, if he was still alive, then it is an atrocity. 

BUCHANAN:  Captain John Lewis, you were in Fallujah.  What is your take on what happened?


BUCHANAN:  Thanks for joining us. 

Give us your take.  Do you believe, first, it should be investigated as a potential war crime, and from what you have seen, is there any justification for what the Marine did? 

LEWIS:  Well, all I have seen is what you have just shown.  And, again, I agree with the colonel.  Obviously, there’s more information that can be garnered than what you just showed. 

When you are interpreting a Marine’s judgment, the rules of engagement, it’s inherently a judgment call for those young men out there. 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

LEWIS:  Determining hostile intent, it’s in the mind of that Marine. 

That cover man that shot that insurgent, that was his judgment call.  Everyone is going to need to be interviewed, absolutely.  We need to know their state of mind when he made that decision.  And that will help make a determination on whether they should be prosecuted or not. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  Let me ask you this.  And I know it calls for a judgment call on your part.  This Marine has been through a lot of stress.  He’s been in battle.  Apparently, he was wounded in the face the day before.  He has had his buddies killed there. 

And they know that a lot of these bodies have been booby-trapped, and there are occasions when these fellows, these insurgents have faked death to kill Marines.  Given all that, and given what you have seen, is it your judgment that that Marine should not have fired that weapon into that man? 

LEWIS:  No.  Based on what I have seen—and like I said, I don’t have all the facts, and there is an investigation under way—but from what I have seen, I think that was a good call.  The insurgents, it’s a standard practice for them. 

BUCHANAN:  It was a good call to shoot him?  It was a good call to pull the trigger?

LEWIS:  Absolutely, based on what I have seen.  Now, there may be other facts that I don’t know.  The investigation process is the proper venue to make a true judgment. 

But that cover man was protecting his point man.  The insurgent was not responding to commands.  And it’s a standard practice.  You can look at the al Qaeda training manual.  They are directed to fake wounds in order to cause more casualties.  You know, that’s a standard procedure for them. 

BUCHANAN:  Gordon Liddy? 

G. GORDON LIDDY, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I agree with the captain. 

Yes, of course, there should be a investigation. 

But you have got a situation here where these people, that’s part of their standard battle technique, is to feign death, feign wounds.  He might have had a suicide belt on.  He might have had a grenade.  You don’t know.  And when you don’t know and there’s a question like that, it’s your life or his life.  I am going to light him up. 

BUCHANAN:  Colonel Jacobs, let me ask you this.  You have a Medal of Honor from Vietnam.  And that’s—I guess that’s courage above and beyond the call of duty. 

Again, you have heard what the captain said and what Gordon Liddy said.  And, again, looking at that, do you think there’s any realistic possibility that that individual lying there was a threat to that soldier that he could not have dealt with in some other way? 

JACOBS:  Well, it’s hard to say, not having been there, but I can tell you this.  He was under our control, and once he is under our control, we have to exercise proper judgment.  It’s difficult to envision a circumstance in which he might have been a threat to either the man who shot him or the other Marines.

Suffice it to say that I have seen about as much combat as most folks, maybe more than most, and I have never been in a circumstance where I had a difficult time distinguishing between the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do.  I think, under the circumstances, given the overwhelming power that was in there in the mosque, that there may have been alternatives to shooting this guy. 

BUCHANAN:  Did you see anything like this done in Vietnam?  I know certainly the Japanese were taught to play dead, to never surrender, and to take out the medic if necessary with you and to kill the Marine that came up to see if you were killed in World War II.  Did you see anything like this, Colonel Jacobs, in Vietnam? 

JACOBS:  Well, I was in Vietnam twice, once, 1967 and 1968, through the Tet Offensive with the 2nd Battalion, 16th Regiment of the 9th Vietnamese Infantry Division, and then again in 1972 and part of ‘73 with the 1st Airborne Battalion of the Vietnamese Airborne Division all the way up north in Quang Tri. 

We went to take back Quang Tri after the Easter offensive.  So I saw plenty of combat, both conventional and unconventional, against both the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army.  We killed and captured lots and lots of enemy.  Occasionally, I would find Vietnamese soldiers abusing the captives, but I never saw any circumstance like this. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, Captain John Lewis, let’s listen to what General McCaffrey, who served in the first Gulf War—he had—this morning on “The Today Show,” the four-star general, he’s an MSNBC military analyst also, spoke about the Fallujah incident and the mind-set of these Marines after 10 days of battle. 


MCCAFFREY:  NBC tape is showing you the ugly face of infantry close combat. 

I have been lieutenant and a captain as an infantry platoon leader, a rifle company commander.  This is tough business.  Those Marines are going into the buildings not to arrest people or detain them, but to kill them.  In his mind, these are hopped-up combat troops blowing their way into buildings, taking casualties.  Remember, this is 400 or 500 casualties now in the last eight days.

So, I think in his mind, he was saying, is this guy faking death and potentially armed?  But there’s no explanation to this kind of thing.  In close quarters, this is kill or be killed.  But I do think, Matt, look, at close range, this is dirty, ugly business.  These are tough young U.S.  Marines and soldiers.  And they are going in there to kill these people, not to take prisoners. 


BUCHANAN:  Captain John Lewis, I want to ask you, did you—Colonel Jacobs said he had not seen anything precisely anything like this in Vietnam.  Have you seen this sort of thing in Fallujah or in combat in Iraq since you have been in there? 

LEWIS:  Well, this is a standard sort of tactic for these guys.  They will use any means they can, trickery, deception.  They do not adhere to the law of armed conflict or the Geneva Convention.  The rules do not apply to them.

So any way they can trick us and cause more casualties, they use it, absolutely. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, if they do not abide by the Geneva Convention, are we mandated to abide by the Geneva Convention? 

LEWIS:  Well, I think absolutely that we have to do our utmost to uphold the principles of humanity, in order to maintain some sort of moral high ground, if you will, and maintain the respect of our fellow nations. 

We have to follow the Geneva Convention as strictly as we can.  But I guess what concerns me is this sort of rush to judgment.  We have young men out there fighting in close combat, the ultimate stressful situation.  And we are going to try to hold them to a standard, a live video feed standard.  That just seems a little bit unreasonable to me. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, let me ask you.  I’ve got to ask you again, Captain, since you were there, who do you think is making a rush to judgment here?  I think we have all looked at the tape.  I think Colonel Jacobs said his views based on what he has seen.  Gordon Liddy has given his views based on his—but why do you think there’s a rush to judgment? 

LEWIS:  Well, I think there’s a lack of context in the tape. 

I think many of you have probably seen exercises in urban combat, and most people, if they haven’t, they can kind of conceptualize that it’s nonlinear.  You can have enemy that you flush out of one building or wound, and you leave them there, and then you continue to press on, like the Marines are doing out there.  Other insurgents or enemies can come around behind, resupply those wounded enemy, or reoccupy a building.

So these Marines that came in the next day, the idea that that building was secure or those wounded insurgents that were left there, it was somehow safe, I think is a little bit—it’s a little bit hard for me to accept. 

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

LEWIS:  Nothing is secure there. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, Gordon Liddy, you say, when in doubt, they should fire. 

LIDDY:  Let me make two points. 

First of all, the Geneva Convention has to do with conflicts with other nations, soldiers of another side who are wearing their uniform and responsive to their central authority and so on.  These guys are bandits, if you will, and they are not following any Geneva Convention at all.  And one of the great generals of history was a man named Shaka of the Zulu Nation. 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

LIDDY:  And he said, never leave an enemy alive on the ground behind you.  He will rise up and strike you in the back. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, gentlemen, stand by.  When we come back, let’s talk about the role of the media in war.  Should U.S. soldiers have to worry about seeing their actions videotaped on the battlefield for instant replay back home? 

All that and more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 


BUCHANAN:  Can TV cameras on the front lines imperil the mission for which our troops are fighting?  Do they belong there? 

More on that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.  Don’t go away.



With the shooting of an Iraqi insurgent caught on tape, what is the role of the media in war and what is the impact?  Let’s look at a 1968 photo of a South Vietnamese police chief executing a Viet Cong guerrilla in Saigon.  It became one of the most chilling images of the Vietnam War, served as fodder for the anti-war movement, and won a Pulitzer Prize. 

The photographer, Eddie Adams, later said the photo did not tell the whole story and the police chief was a hero. 

Still with me, MSNBC military analyst Colonel Jack Jacobs, Captain John Lewis, just back from the fighting in Fallujah, and G. Gordon Liddy.  And joining me now is “TIME” magazine correspondent T. Brian Bennett.

Brian, you were over in Fallujah back in September, correct? 


BUCHANAN:  You observed the fighting there. 

Let me ask you, what is your take on this film, on this footage that you have just seen? 

BENNETT:  I have watched it as you have and I have seen just as much as you have. 

I spent a lot of time with soldiers and Marines in Fallujah.  And I really felt that I saw nothing but decorous behavior when I was there and soldiers operating and Marines operating under very extreme conditions.  In fact, when I was on the streets of Fallujah last fall with the 82nd Airborne, they were under fire.  They shot one of the insurgents who was shooting at them.

And one of the soldiers actually went out into the street to take the injured insurgent who was just shooting at them and pull them under the overhang and out of the line of fire. 

BUCHANAN:  But you know how disastrous, though, that photo was in 1968.  Maybe you are too young to.  Gordon Liddy does.  Colonel Jacobs does.  Everyone else here does, I think.

But let me ask you.  Isn’t there a possibility that a single footage like this, a short piece of footage like this—it’s already doing damage to the United States over there in Iraq and around the Arab world.  Al-Jazeera is going to put it all over the Arab world.  A, should you have embeds with cameras right on Marines in situations like that?  And, frankly, if you get that tape, should you play it? 

BENNETT:  I think you should.  I think it’s very important to have the media there seeing what’s going on on the ground.  I hope that this doesn’t lead the military to reevaluate the access that the media has to their—to the soldiers.

And I think that definitely this Marine will go under an investigative process just like anything would happen, and the military tribunal will look at the facts as he had them at the time. 

BUCHANAN:  Captain John Lewis, let me ask you.

And I believe, looking at you, Captain, that you are back from Fallujah, and you were wounded there, is that correct, by an IED?  Is that the reason for the bruises and the rest of it on your face? 

LEWIS:  That’s right, Pat.  The patrol that I was leading, we got hit by the enemy just south of Fallujah.  And I lost my left eye in that attack. 

BUCHANAN:  And you know the commander, I understand, of the unit, which is now—whose Marine is under investigation.  Can you tell us a little bit about the commander and his unit? 

LEWIS:  Well, I will just say that they got into Fallujah about a month before I left.  And my unit was on the process of leaving.  So it was sort of an in-passing meeting, honorable man, just like all Marine units.

I know 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines trained hard, and they know the

rules of engagement, just like my Marines did.  And it’s clear to them how

to interpret them under different situations.  So I am confident that when

the facts come out, we will get the truth and probably the Marine will be -

·         probably be in the clear, from what I have seen so far. 

BUCHANAN:  OK.  Captain John Lewis, at the same time, this kind of footage clearly could be hurtful to the mission.  It could undermine the cause of winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.  It will be exploited by our enemies. 

Two questions.  Do you think that the embed should have been allowed to take that kind of footage of Marines in that close house-to-house, almost hand-to-hand, combat?  And, secondly, having taken it, would we not be better off if the fellow that took it threw it away? 

LEWIS:  Well, I don’t think so. 

Maybe ironically enough—some people might be surprised to hear me say this, but I think the embed program has really worked out well.  It’s worked out well for the military.  It’s worked out well for the citizens of this country, because, you know, I firmly believe that the truth sets you free.  The grim reality of close combat is, it’s ugly.  It’s uncomfortable.  These things happen. 

But our young men are out there.  They are doing this kind of thing, and I think that their mothers and fathers and their wives and their children should see it, so they know what they are going through firsthand. 


BUCHANAN:  All right. 

LEWIS:  That way...


BUCHANAN:  All right, Jack Jacobs, let me ask you, during Vietnam, there’s no doubt there was a feeling on a part of a number of the military there that at least some media over there were taking—waiting for the pictures of some fellow cutting off the ear of a dead Viet Cong. 

You saw, this picture was exploited.  Other things were exploited.  What is your take on whether you should have cameramen, men with cameras, that close to that house-to-house and that kind of fighting, and do you think it’s a good thing that these pictures are being shown? 

JACOBS:  Well, it’s better than the alternative.  The alternative—there are two other options.  One is to not have any coverage at all.  And the second option is to do what we did in Vietnam, whereby cameramen and reporters could hop on helicopters, go anywhere they wanted to, and eventually returned back to a hot shower, and so on, and file whatever report they wanted to. 

Both of those I think are deleterious to the military and the United States.  Having embedded reporters is probably the best all-around option. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  Do you think, though—I know, during World War II, we had military censorship.  I think it was a year or more into the war before we—let me maybe give this to Gordon Liddy. 

LIDDY:  I remember, because I am 74 years old. 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

LIDDY:  And what we did in World War II was, they took a prominent news man whose name was Elmer Davis, and they established the Office of War Information.  The reporters were put in uniform and they were told, behave or you go back home. 

They would take the film and they would write the stories, and they were all censored.  The whole idea was not to destroy the morale of the home front.  And they kept pretty strict control over them.  And it worked.  It worked very well. 

BUCHANAN:  You know, Brian, I think the embeds were outstanding going to war and things like that.  But when I—I saw this picture.  And, of course, the Marine is in terrible trouble—not in trouble, but he is going to be investigated for this.  and you just say to yourself, look, would we not be better off if we hadn’t seen that? 

BENNETT:  I really think that you have to take the good with the bad.  When you send reporters in, you are going to get great stories of incredible bravery.  And you are also going to see moments where there are ethical dilemmas. 

And I think it’s important for the Americans to understand that this happens in conflict.  And, also, as they will see in the coming months, as this investigation goes forward, they will see that the military has a very thorough process of looking at these incidents and trying to evaluate what were the facts that the soldier had when he pulled the trigger.

BUCHANAN:  All right, Captain John Lewis, do you think there ought to be at least some measure of censorship on the pictures that go out from the battlefield? 

LEWIS:  I think my only concern would be for the identity of the Marines involved. 


BUCHANAN:  It’s been withheld, I understand, which is good.  The name of the Marine has been withheld.


LEWIS:  In the Western media, it has.  But, in the Arab media, it has not. 

And I think that’s obviously bad for the Marine and possibly for his family back in the states. 

BUCHANAN:  Colonel Jacobs, do you think that there should be, if not the same measure of censorship we had in World War II, at least some measure of censorship?  After all, all these folks over there are putting their lives on the line, and victory or defeat is going to rest in large measure on whether you win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, and whether we convince the Arab nations that we are out to help there, and do you think, then, that some censorship might be justified? 

JACOBS:  I am not averse to censorship.  I don’t think that’s entirely a bad thing.  There’s no reason why we can’t censor. 

As a matter of fact, the news media self-censor from time to time.  And a very good example is the censorship of the portion of that tape that we didn’t see.  So I see no reason why we can’t have censorship if there isn’t good self-censorship.  We have to recognize that not having cameras and reporters in the field is not necessarily going to legislate good behavior on the part of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.  Only good training and moral rectitude is going to do that. 

So, in many respects, I find cameras and reporters neutral, and there’s no reason why we can’t censor it if we don’t like what we see. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, let me ask you, Colonel, a follow-up.  If you were that journalist and you saw that and you knew it was very problematic, the picture you had taken, would you have gotten rid of the film or would you have brought it back, and knowing it would be broadcast in the United States and all over the world? 

JACOBS:  I certainly wouldn’t have gotten rid of the film.  I would have had a long, long discussion with my general manager or my senior or executive editor about whether or not it made any sense to show this. 

Don’t forget that this guy—Kevin Sites was a pool reporter.  He was NBC, but he was feeding—he was feeding this story to not just NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC, but also to all other media institutions.  So it would have to be—everybody else would have to be complicitous in this.  It wouldn’t do him any good to throw it away, but I think a serious discussion about whether or not there is any utility in showing this, to have this discussion with the media was in order. 


Gentlemen, we need to think a quick break. 

More of this debate in a minute.


BUCHANAN:  When we come back, I am going to ask Captain John Lewis, Marine veteran of Fallujah and of Iraq who lost an eye there, what is the impact of pictures like the ones we are seeing?  What is the impact on the soldiers and Marines still fighting over there? 

But, first, let’s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC 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.


I am here with my panel, MSNBC military analyst Colonel Jack Jacobs, Captain John Lewis, who was injured in the fight for Fallujah, talk show host Gordon Liddy, and “TIME” magazine correspondent T. Brian Bennett. 

Let me go to you again, Captain Lewis. 

I want to ask you, what is the impact of the Marines over there and the fighting forces when they get pictures back of Abu Ghraib and they get pictures back like the ones we have seen, and they hear this argument and debate over whether our guys are doing the right thing?  Does it have a deleterious impact upon the morale of the fighting men? 

LEWIS:  Well, you know, you can’t speak to the whole force over there in its entirety. 

I think the Marines that are involved, the infantry Marines involved in the close combat, they are not watching TV tonight.  If they have got a break, they are probably asleep right now.  They are so busy.  They are so engaged in operations.  They are not listening to this. 

But for everybody else over there, I think they are watching this.  They are concerned about their fellow Marines and soldiers and how this impacts how the American people perceive the force as a whole and the military as a whole.  I think that is important to them. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, now, what would be your assessment—well, we have heard some of it—of the Marines over there who are rallying to this single Marine, I guess whose name, you are right, is being broadcast around the Arab world?  Would it be pretty much unanimous in rallying around him? 

LEWIS:  Well, I think so. 

And, again, it’s really to the investigators to determine it.  I cannot speak to that.  But, based on what I saw, every Marine over there, every soldier, they have an inherent right to self-defense.  And each one of these Marines that is clearing houses as part of their fire team and their squad, they are making these judgment calls on shoot or don’t shoot many, many times in the day and night.  And that’s hard for a lot of people to understand. 

The Marine that shot that insurgent, he probably made that decision 10 or 20 times in that day before that happened. 

BUCHANAN:  Colonel Jack Jacobs, would that be your assessment as well, that, from your experience in combat, the two tours, that the unit will rally around someone in a situation like this? 

JACOBS:  Well, sure. 

When you fight in combat, you certainly fight to achieve the mission.  There’s no doubt about that.  But, at the end of the day, when things are really, really difficult, what you are thinking about are your comrades.  You fight to accomplish the mission, all right, but you are also fighting to keep your comrades alive, and they are doing the same to you. 

If you can’t rely on one another, well, then, you are not going to be able to accomplish the mission and the entire force won’t be able to accomplish your mission.  So you certainly have, as foremost in your mind, the protection, the safety, the service with comrades who are all around you all the time. 

BUCHANAN:  Brian Bennett, do journalists talk about these things when they are over there sitting in the Green Zone or out with the troops, say, look, we got to watch how our reporting and the rest of it affects the morale and how it affects the home front, because we play a role here in whether or not, frankly, the mission is successful? 

BENNETT:  I don’t think that should be part of the debate in the way a reporter reports a story.  I really think that...

BUCHANAN:  You don’t think he should be concerned about whether or not we win or lose? 

BENNETT:  I think a reporter is out there to report the facts as he or she sees them as best as possible.  And that is the main responsibility of the press. 

BUCHANAN:  And suppose you came across something like this.  Let’s say you didn’t have the video camera, but you saw it.  Would you report the name of the Marine and would you report what he did? 

BENNETT:  Well, I would definitely abide by whatever embargo or rules that I had under my embed agreement.  And if part of that was that I had to withhold the name while he was under investigation, I would do that.  I would—but certainly, I would report out a story that involved ethical dilemmas, that involved something like this, where a Marine was faced with a choice, and he made one choice and not the other. 

BUCHANAN:  What would you do? 

LIDDY:  There are network anchors who won’t wear the American flag because that would indicate which side they are on.  I think that if you are a member of the American press, you ought to be on the American side. 

BUCHANAN:  Brian. 

BENNETT:  I think you have to look at the story and report the facts as you see them. 

BUCHANAN:  Do you have to be on the American side? 

BENNETT:  No, I don’t think you have to be on the American side.  I think you have to be on the side of truth. 

BUCHANAN:  Jack Jacobs, in Vietnam, did you think all the journalists were on the American side? 

JACOBS:  No.  It was clear to me that they were not. 

As a matter of fact, units I belonged to and a lot of units I knew about where friends were members decidedly and pointedly tried to avoid all press people because of the deleterious effect that their editing had on the remarks that they made.  And, as a result, they would try to dodge reporters, which was extremely difficult to do, because reporters had the run of the country.  They could hop helicopters everywhere they went and so on.

And I don’t know a single, solitary individual in combat who ever trusted any reporters.  Now, things are very much different today, thank goodness, but they were awful 40 years ago. 

BUCHANAN:  OK, Colonel Jacobs, G. Gordon Liddy, Brian Bennett, thanks for being here.

Captain Lewis, thank you for your service. 

Coming up, President Bush taps Condoleezza Rice as his next secretary of state, but is she the right woman for the job?  That debate next. 



BUSH:  The secretary of state is America’s face to the world, and in Dr. Rice the world will see the strength, the grace and the decency of our country. 


BUCHANAN:  Welcome back. 

President Bush taps one of his closest advisers to replace Secretary of State Colin Powell. 


BUSH:    When confirmed by the Senate, Condoleezza Rice will take office at a critical time for our country.  We’re a nation at war.  We’re leading a large coalition against a determined enemy. 


BUCHANAN:  In the midst of a war on terror and a war in Iraq, is Condoleezza Rice the wrong woman for the job or the right person to clean house at the Department of State? 

I am joined by Stephen Hayes of “The Weekly Standard” and Larry Johnson, former CIA officer and deputy director of the Office of Counterterrorism at the State Department. 

Larry Johnson, I want to read you something that “New York Times” columnist Maureen Dowd—rather, not read you.  I want you to listen to something that Maureen Dowd had to say this morning on the “Imus” program here on MSNBC. 


BUCHANAN:  Let’s listen. 


MAUREEN DOWD, COLUMNIST, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”:  She, you know, and Hadley, who is going to replace her, have been at the center of everything that went wrong with American policy in Iraq, you know, and the Middle East, and they are going to get promotions.  And Powell, who tried to do the right thing, but actually should have resigned, is getting pushed out, because basically Cheney and Rumsfeld run everything, and they don’t want diplomacy. 


BUCHANAN:  Larry Johnson, what is your take on what Maureen Dowd had to say? 

JOHNSON:  I essentially agree with her. 

Look, by any objective standard, Condoleezza Rice has a miserable failure as the national security director.  Former Secretary Larry Eagleburger, last night, he was asked the same question.  And he says, no, she Islamist wrong person. 

Look, let’s be honest about this, Pat.  If she was a fat white guy like me, she wouldn’t get the job, because if I had the same performance that she did over the last four years, I should have been fired.  You cannot have this level of mismanagement and uncoordination at the National Security Council, the failure to play traffic cop, to sort out the different interagency battles, and the failure to lay out a strategic vision. 

I mean, listen, she is a very nice person. 

BUCHANAN:  You think this is an affirmative action appointment? 

JOHNSON:  I would call it more the friends and family appointment.  I don’t think it has so much to do with affirmative action, as that she is a close Bush friend and...

BUCHANAN:  And you don’t think she is qualified to be secretary of state based on her performance in the first term? 

JOHNSON:  Correct. 

BUCHANAN:  Stephen Hayes, what do you think?

It is—let me just point this out, though.  Whatever you say about Colin Powell and Armitage, they are both very, very big men.  Secondly, they did dissent on the war on Iraq because they both thought, look, we are getting ourselves into a hellish mess here and maybe it’s not a good idea and maybe we ought to look at it a little longer, although they were both good soldiers. 

But it seemed to me, in retrospect, they were right in warning about the war.  And Condi Rice, and the folks at NSC and at Defense did not prepare for the aftermath of this war, and yet they are being rewarded. 

STEPHEN HAYES, “THE WEEKLY STANDARD”:  Well, first of all, first of all, I want to say Larry is not that fat.  He said he was a fat white man.  He is not that fat. 


HAYES:  He has got nothing on me.  He has got nothing on me. 

BUCHANAN:  He’s not very handsome, though, is he?


JOHNSON:  Give me the Abu Ghraib bag treatment. 


HAYES:  Secondly, I don’t think it’s right.

First of all, I don’t think Condoleezza Rice can accurately be placed into the cakewalk crowd.  I think that was a crowd of one, if I am not mistaken.  But I think it’s just flat wrong to say that Condoleezza Rice was an abject failure in her job as national security adviser.  Different presidents have different roles for their national security adviser.

What President Bush did was essentially make Condoleezza Rice the referee.  She was there to manage the process between the Defense Department, the State Department and give airings to those viewpoints. 


BUCHANAN:  All right, let’s take it to—two national security advisers.  Whatever you—whether you agree or disagreed with them,  Brzezinski, Kissinger, NSC advisers.  Kissinger is made secretary of state.

Given the weight of Powell—he’s former—you know, he’s former chief of the Joint—chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  You have a woman here who is very bright, no doubt about it, but she is an academic, and she is a staff person.  I mean, what are her credentials to be secretary of state of the United States?  And if she were not black and a woman, do you think she would have the job? 

HAYES:  I absolutely think she would have the job. 

And I think her credentials are self-evident.  She’s 50 years old. 

She was the provost of Stanford University. 

BUCHANAN:  Provost of Stanford is the...

HAYES:  She’s been the president’s top foreign policy adviser, top national security adviser, for four years.  If that doesn’t qualify someone to be secretary of state, I frankly don’t know what does. 

BUCHANAN:  Go ahead, Larry.  What is your take on that? 

JOHNSON:  Well, look, when you look at the different ways the ball was dropped—let’s start with the debacle before 9/11, the fact that the intelligence community was warning about the possibility of an attack on the continental United States. 

Now, you can’t fault the president for not knowing everything, because it’s the responsibility of the national security adviser to red-flag items that could become a problem.  Then jump ahead to the infamous 16 words.  At the end of the day, you have Condoleezza Rice admitting she didn’t read it. 

BUCHANAN:  This is the Niger yellow cake stuff.

JOHNSON:  Correct.

BUCHANAN:  That was inserted in the president’s State of the Union. 


BUCHANAN:  Yes.  Go ahead.

JOHNSON:  It was inserted after the CIA had briefed the Hill and had warned the White House repeatedly that those claims were erroneous.  So it’s the kind of thing that her antenna on those kinds of issues, particularly when you are talking about nuclear smoking guns, should have been up. 

And she was, like, asleep at the switch is I guess the best defense you could come up with. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, let me—Steve Hayes, I want to mention something else, because you cover a lot of subjects. 

Look, she is being elevated out of the staff, secretary of state.  Hadley is second on the staff.  He gets NSC.  You have got a staff man, Gonzales, is sent over there to be attorney general.  You got a staff person, Ms. Spellings, is going over to replace Rod Paige.  You have people, Paige, Ashcroft, Powell, independent people.  They bring their constituencies, broad-based experience.

And the president is simply sorting out, giving these Cabinet jobs and Cabinet level jobs to staff people.  Now, what does that tell you about the president as really a manager and a leader?  It doesn’t seem he is bringing in a lot of big people from the outside, from the Hill or from business or somewhere else.

HAYES:  Well, I think it’s a little premature to judge this just because of where these people came from. 

But this is one of those discussions, frankly, that I think we would only be having in Washington, D.C.  I suspect that my folks listening in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, are scratching their heads and saying, stop me if I am wrong, but didn’t George W. Bush win the election?  Why is it not his prerogative to put in place the people that he is most comfortable with?


BUCHANAN:  Look, I agree 100 percent.  He can clean house and put his whole staff all through the Cabinet. 

What I am saying is, does this seem wise?  The president is putting in people into these jobs who are not going to come in there and pound on the desk and say, Mr. President, you are wrong on this.  These are folks out of his staff. 

HAYES:  I mean, if that were true, if your statement were true and we were able to know that, I would share your concern. 

I am just not convinced at this point that that’s true.  I certainly hope he is getting a wide variety of views from a wide variety of advisers on a wide variety of subjects.  And I think, frankly, that that was one of the things that he could have used more of his first term. 

BUCHANAN:  Larry, do you think the neoconservatives have won the bureaucratic wars, whether they’re right or wrong on Iraq? 

JOHNSON:  Oh, no, absolutely not. 

I think the Department of Defense is definitely becoming to be the preeminent force in this administration.  But what’s interesting is that the neocon crowd—Richard Perle was pushing to have Paul Wolfowitz or John Bolton from State Department take over Condoleezza Rice’s job.  And, in fact, that didn’t happen. 

So I think, really, what Bush is going to, he is going for the comfort.  It’s like comfort food, chocolate chip cookies.  He’s going for the friends and families, the folks he feels most comfortable with. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, he clearly is doing that.  As Steve says, he has got every right to do that. 

But, Steve, I really question...

JOHNSON:  I don’t dispute that either. 

BUCHANAN:  I really question just the wisdom of doing it.

I remember when Nixon back in 1970 had trouble in the economy, he said, get John Connally.  He was the guy that stole Texas—or got Texas from us.  Put him in the Treasury Department.  He brought in Pat Moynihan.  He gets Kissinger from Rockefeller’s staff.  He gets every big guy he can think of.  He has got all this conflict in his Cabinet because he felt he had to have the strongest, biggest people.  He didn’t take all his—he didn’t take his speechwriters and make us all Cabinet officers. 

HAYES:  No, I agree. 

But if President Bush called all of his frat brothers from Yale and installed them at various Cabinet posts, I would be concerned. 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

HAYES:  But he hasn’t done that.  She was advising him on the campaign.  She has been his closest adviser in the White House for four years.  I think she is clearly qualified to have this job. 

BUCHANAN:  OK.  We need to take a quick break.  Final thoughts in just a minute. 


BUCHANAN:  You’re watching SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY on MSNBC.  We’ve got much more on that shakeup in Bush’s Cabinet and what it means for the second term.  Don’t go away.


BUCHANAN:  OK, we have got about 30 seconds from each of you. 

Larry Johnson, what do you see happening in foreign policy in the next six months, Iraq and the rest? 

JOHNSON:  Listen, I sincerely wish Dr. Rice the best of luck.  And I hope she does a fabulous job. 

But I’m afraid what’s going to happen, we’re see going to drift and chaos, because she’s entering a snake pit like nothing she’s ever seen before.  And based upon her inability to control over at the NSC, she’s going to be overmatched.  The folks over at the State Department are true professionals when it comes to infighting.

BUCHANAN:  You know, Steve, I see that very—we see what’s happening over at the CIA, but these FSOs, if you’re sent—you get word all over town she’s sent over to clean house at the Department of State.  They all got their sources in Washington and she’s going to be trying to manage foreign policy and picking up the paper every morning and getting hammered. 

HAYES:  Yes. 

I think Larry makes a good point, except I would say that her role at State is going to be quite different from her role at NSC.  As I say, I think her role at NSC was to play referee, was to sort of referee these various policy discussions.  At State, she’s got to jump in and say, this is the president’s policy.  You will implement it. 

BUCHANAN:  OK, Larry, Stephen, thank you both for joining us tonight. 

That does it for SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  “HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS” is coming up next. 

We will see you right here tomorrow night.



Copy: Content and programming copyright 2004 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2004 FDCH e-Media, Inc. (f/k/a/ Federal Document Clearing House Inc., eMediaMillWorks, Inc.), ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and FDCH e-Media, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.


Discussion comments