updated 9/19/2005 11:45:25 AM ET 2005-09-19T15:45:25

Guests: Betsy Saul, Ernie Allen, Jack Burkman, Mary Ann Akers, Marc Siegel, Heath Allen, Bobby Jindal

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline, more FEMA fumbles, an NBC News exclusive.  Ice, so desperately needed by Americans in the Gulf states, sits unused.  We will investigate why.  More than two weeks later, our government is still bungling this relief effort. 

And Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan cries racism, and he actually tells reporters that New Orleans‘ levees were blown up to drown black people.  We are going to be talking to a Nation of Islam leader.  This is a special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, “Katrina: Crisis and Recovery.”

Thanks for being with us tonight.  We are going to talk about latest FEMA outrage in just a minute. 

Also, nearly 200,000 New Orleans residents are supposed to return home as early as tomorrow, but they are still pulling bodies out of the water.  And the sludge, it‘s full of E coli and other diseases.  And, friends, an oil spill there has now contaminated over 1,000 homes.  The big question tonight, is New Orleans safe enough to have all these people flooding back in? 

Then, more than 5,000 pets rescued, amazing stories of people reunited with their best friends as far away as California.  We are going to have amazing reunions you are not going to want to miss. 

But first, friends, to FEMA.  You know, we have heard story after story of the terrible mistakes this federal agency has made since Katrina made landfall, mistakes that cost people their lives.  Now, I have seen it, and you have seen it, not only in New Orleans, but I have seen it on the ground in Mississippi.  And I think, really, the person who best exemplified the frustration across this entire region was Trent Lott, Mississippi senator.

And, I mean, this is where—the guy is from there.  I mean, these are these his people.  He goes out among them, and he hears one story after another.  And what Trent Lott said last week was, all FEMA likes to do is say no, no, no.  They need to learn how to start saying yes.  So, the president comes to New Orleans.  He delivers his speech.  He pledges tens of billions of dollars.  The White House says it will end up costing about $200 billion. 

Mike Brown, as you know, head of FEMA, fired.  A new FEMA chief comes in.  I go to Mississippi just a few days ago, talk to people on the ground who say they still see no FEMA presence in the area hardest hit.  In fact, one man said that the only time he saw FEMA was when they drove in pamphlets early on, saying, here‘s a number you can call.  They call the number, it‘s busy. 

And then, the president gets on the TV and says, you can reach us online.  Well, that‘s great, but nobody can get on the computers, because there‘s scattered power.  Phone lines are down.  Computer lines are down.  There is a complete disconnect.  You have also heard stories here on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

I saw it in Mississippi.  I have seen it in Pensacola, Florida, when we try to reach out with our mission over to New Orleans, Louisiana, tetanus shots blocked, doctors who want to go help—I had one doctor call up, said that he was at a week vacation to Europe.  It was his one week off all year, but he was going to give it up.  He wanted to go over to New Orleans, make a difference.  FEMA wouldn‘t let him go over there. 

I had somebody else call up, practically in tears, saying they wanted to deliver water.  This was early on.  This was the first week.  They wanted to deliver crates of water, pallets of water, to save these people.  This was the same time, remember, friends, that young children were dying of heat exhaustion outside the Convention Center in New Orleans. 

FEMA officials stopped a lot of that water, rerouted it, saying they didn‘t have the right routing documentation.  I‘m telling you, friends, it is a bureaucratic nightmare.  And this is what I don‘t understand.  With FEMA failing so miserably, we now have all of official Washington saying they are going to spend up to $200 billion of your tax dollars, reviving this economy. 

I want the economy revived.  It‘s my backyard.  These are my people.  But if the federal government can‘t handle delivering water and basic medical supplies to this area, why are we going to give them $200 billion to botch it up even more?  Well, I will tell you what.  Tonight, NBC News has learned that FEMA finally did do something right.  They ordered plenty of ice early on. 

The only problem is, they just can‘t seem to get the ice delivered. 

Here‘s NBC News senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA MYERS, NBC CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 

Outside New Orleans, Lori Rosetti (ph) waited an hour to get ice to preserve food and chill her mother‘s insulin. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We just need just to keep coming, to do what we have to do, you know, ration until we can‘t ration no more. 

MYERS:  Today, NBC News located hundreds of trucks full of ice sitting around the country in Maryland, Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana.  Some had been on trips to nowhere for two weeks. 

ELIZABETH PALMER, TRUCK DRIVER:  We really don‘t understand why FEMA is sending us to all of these different locations and just putting this in cold storage. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Ice load going to...

MYERS:  Dan Wessel‘s ice company has worked with FEMA for years.  He says he has never seen anything like it.  Only one-third of his trucks have actually unloaded the ice that FEMA ordered. 

DAN WESSEL, OWNER, COOL EXPRESS:  The left hand doesn‘t know what the right hand is doing.  The right hand is telling us to go to the left hand.  We get to the left hand.  They tell us to go back. 

MYERS:  Example, one truck of ice left Oshkosh, Wisconsin September the 6th, went to Louisiana, then was sent by FEMA to Georgia, but rerouted before it got there to South Carolina, then to Cumberland, Maryland, where it‘s been sitting for three days, added cost to taxpayers so far, $9,000.  Multiplied by hundreds of trucks, it could mean millions wasted. 

WESSEL:  From a trucking aspect, I am happy.  Keep it coming.  From a taxpayer aspect, it‘s sick. 

MYERS (on camera):  A FEMA official says, in the rush to respond to Katrina, the agency ordered too much ice.  Rather than let it melt, they sent it to other parts of the country ready for the next hurricane. 

(voice-over):  But Wessel says FEMA just ordered more ice and rerouted some of his trucks again to Idaho. 

Lisa Myers, NBC News, Washington. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Are you depressed yet?  Are you like me?  That‘s why, when I hear Republicans and Democrats trying to make this a partisan issue, it makes me sick to my stomach. 

You know, my son is a diabetic.  When the electricity goes off when we have hurricanes here, you know what—you know what is one of the most—well, it‘s—really, it‘s the first necessity.  It‘s ice to keep insulin cool.  I mean, this isn‘t just about cool drinks.  This isn‘t just about refrigeration.  This is a matter of life and death, and our government can‘t handle it. 

I just don‘t understand it, for the life of me. 

Let me bring in Louisiana Congressman Bobby Jindal, who joins us now live from Baton Rouge. 

Congressman, I know you have heard this story repeated 1,000 times. 

What is wrong with FEMA?  What is wrong with our government? 

REP. BOBBY JINDAL ®, LOUISIANA:  Joe, I was in the district today.

And, again, from the local officials, everywhere you go, you hear one story after another.  And they just seem to get worse and worse.  There was a story today about a physician that was at the New Orleans Airport, where they were doing triage.  This was a volunteer that came down here just to help.  He went to 9/11.  He went to New York on 9/11 to help.  When they got there, they wouldn‘t let him help, because he didn‘t have the right paperwork. 

They said, we are worried that we might get sued because we don‘t have the right paperwork.  There was only one other doctor on the scene.  He said:  I literally saw people die, and they wouldn‘t let me help because I didn‘t have the paperwork. 

I think what is wrong is, you don‘t have a culture of urgency; you don‘t have a culture of getting things done.  I think you hit it on the head.  Here‘s an agency in our federal government that was designed to respond disasters.  You know, this isn‘t the DMV; this isn‘t some just traditional bureaucracy.  Here is an agency whose only purpose is to help us to respond to massive disasters. 

The one shining example in all the bureaucracy has been the military.  Whatever they have done, they have done well.  We have seen the active Guard, the Reserves, the Coast Guard.  The military has done a phenomenal job down here.  There, you have got an organization with a unified chain of command.  There, you have got an organization that says, this is about results.  It‘s not about process or paperwork. 

My frustration is, the culture is just not there.  We can‘t replicate the same red tape when it comes to rebuilding this region.  What worries me is...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Congressman, Congressman, it is all about a culture.  The lawyers apparently are running FEMA, because, every time I talk to somebody, whether it‘s the first week, where these people are trying to rush water in to save people in your district, to save their lives, they are rerouted, and people are worried, saying, you know what, if you get the water in there, they may be sued. 

We have got 10,000 tetanus shots in Pensacola, Florida.  Doctors want to get them over to your district.  We hear the FEMA lawyers say, no, you can‘t bring them in there, because we are concerned.  That night, we hear on NBC News, what do you need?  Tetanus shots.  I mean, what can Congress do?  I mean, do you have to fire everybody in FEMA‘s chain of command?  What can you guys do to change this bureaucratic nightmare? 

JINDAL:  Well, I will tell you what we have done on the ground, but then I will tell you what we need to do legislatively.

On the ground, we have just gone to the private sector.  We have gone around them.  One of my sheriffs, Sheriff Harry Lee (ph), actually said, you know, if the federal and state bureaucracies had the sense of urgency Wal-Mart did, more people might be alive today.  Wal-Mart literally opened their doors immediately after the hurricane left and said, take what you need.  We are not going to charge you for it. 

I don‘t mean just to pick on Wal-Mart.  Ford, Dodge, Budweiser, many small businesses did exactly the same thing.  We have turned to the private sector to deliver water, food, and medicine to fix this.  For example, with the redevelopment effort, I think we need to have some kind of—somebody with a private sector background, maybe a redevelopment corporation. 

I don‘t think we can trust the same bureaucracies that didn‘t get the rescue efforts right.  I don‘t think we can trust them to get the rebuilding effort right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And that‘s the point, Congressman.  That‘s the—you know what, Congressman?  Everybody I have talked to on the ground—and, remember, I have been over there just about every day since this storm hit, everybody that‘s been affected is saying the same thing that you are saying, the same thing that I am saying.  The government has failed, not only the feds, the state, the locals.  All the government bureaucracies have failed. 

Individuals have worked.  Faith-based groups have worked.  Private industry has worked.  If that‘s the case, then why do we have the president of the United States pushing the biggest federal program—well, really, I was going to say since Lyndon Johnson‘s Great Society.  This may be the biggest reconstruction effort in the history of the world.  Does that make sense? 

JINDAL:  Well, you know, I certainly appreciating his committing—commitment to rebuilding the region.  I am still hopeful there‘s time to shape that commitment in a way that emphasizes creating jobs, cutting taxes. 

I suggest, for example, why don‘t we try something radical?  Why don‘t we get rid of the capital gains tax in this region?  Why don‘t we do something that will create jobs, so people will want to come back, will have something to come back to?  I still think there‘s plenty of time.  Congress controls the purse strings. 

You know, I was glad the president talked about inspector generals yesterday.  The problem with only inspector generals is, they come after the fact.  I don‘t want to have an audit report after billions of dollars are spent.  I want the controls up front.  That‘s why I have been suggesting a Jack Welch, a Colin Powell, somebody from the private sector that will cut through the red tape and understand, this is about getting things done.  It‘s not about wasting tax dollars.

It‘s not about filling out paperwork.  It‘s not about protecting bureaucratic rules. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

JINDAL:  It‘s about helping people recover their lives and get jobs. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You are exactly right, Congressman. 

Congressman Bobby Jindal, as always, thanks so much. 

And I just want to echo what the congressman had to say.  We could do some radical things down here.  We could turn this region into an investment zone to get businesses from all over the country that want to go down there.  But if we create these huge new bureaucracies, well, all they are going to do is make the same mistakes that FEMA has been making over the past three weeks, that all—that these state bureaucracies have been making, that the local bureaucracies have been making.  It just doesn‘t make sense. 

I hope Washington will sit back and wait and pause before they start writing $200 billion of checks of whose tax money?  Their tax money?  No.  It‘s your tax money. 

Now, coming up next, you have seen a lot of devastating video out there, but nothing like this, new pictures that we are seeing for the very first time of the deadly storm surge.  We are going to be talking to somebody who rode this storm out in one of the most dangerous parts of New Orleans.  This is an amazing story coming up, and stunning charges about why the levee in New Orleans really broke, charges of racism in the wake of Katrina. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, amazing new video of the storm surge that drowned the city.  It‘s from a local reporter.  We just got the video in.  We are going to show it to you when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You are looking at images of the storm surge as the levees broke, the storm surge coming in from Lake Pontchartrain.  That‘s—

I believe that is fairly close to St. Bernard‘s Parish, and just frightening, frightening moments in that storm during Katrina.  We are going to be talking to the New Orleans reporter in one moment that got this footage and rode out the storm and hear his incredible story.

But, first, the question right now is whether New Orleans is preparing to reopen.  Is the city safe?  Each day, they find more badly decomposed bodies.  Then, of course, there are the toxins in the water, and now reports that dogs are forming packs and roaming the city and that there are oil spills, that thousands of houses are going to have to be torn down.  It‘s still a mess there.

And for the latest on the conditions in New Orleans, let‘s go live to MSNBC‘s David Shuster.

David, they are bringing in possibly 200,000 people back in the city tomorrow?  You are there on the ground.  Tell me, is New Orleans ready? 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Some parts of New Orleans are ready, Joe, but some parts are certainly not. 

We were just talking with one of our satellite engineers a few minutes ago.  He went into the Ninth Ward, where the water was about to 10 or 11 feet high.  It reached up to the second floor of some buildings there.  It is still totally, totally covered in a muck.  In addition, one of the horrifying things that the crew saw is, they saw dogs rummaging all over the place, some dogs staying by their homes, where I suppose they think that their owners are going to come back, other dogs scavenging for food. 

The smell is horrible.  There are things rotting.  And it‘s just not a place that anyone wants to be.  Other parts of the city, uptown, for example, by Tulane University, not so bad.  But it‘s just a patchwork of where it‘s good and where it‘s awful. 

SCARBOROUGH:  David, stay with us.  You brought up the Ninth Ward. 

I want to bring in Heath Allen.  He‘s a reporter with Channel 6.  And he joins us with an incredible story of survival during Katrina. 

Heath, thanks for being with us. 

You were in the Ninth Ward, weren‘t you, when the levee broke and the storm surge came in? 

HEATH ALLEN, WDSU REPORTER:  Well, actually, we were in Chalmette, Louisiana, when all that occurred.  We took some pictures in the Ninth Ward yesterday, where the levee breached. 

Actually, Chalmette was caught in the crossfire between water coming from the Gulf of Mexico up the Mississippi River gulf outlet, and then also coming the other direction from the levee breach on the Industrial Canal.  So, it was kind of caught in a huge flooding crossfire.  It was pretty spectacular stuff, though. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Heath, what was it—what was it like?  We are showing some of the video that you all took.  What was it like riding out this storm?  Did you have any idea that you were going to be hit by this type of water? 

H. ALLEN:  We had absolutely no idea. 

As a matter of fact, photographer Tom Fitzgerald and I were standing outside taking pictures of a Wal-Mart sign.  We were really waiting for the Wal-Mart sign to blow over.  The wind was good.  The water looked good.  The water looked good.  I mean, it was good pictures.  But I am looking at the ground, going, you know what?  This—it looks like the water is rising. 

And I told, Tom, you know, maybe we ought to go in, because it looks like the water is coming up.  So, we started walking back around the building.  It took us about five minutes to get from where we stood to where we were coming back through the buildings.  And I had looked at my watch.  It was 9:35 in the morning.  When we came back between the buildings, we walked out between the buildings, and our cars were floating away.  The water had already come up in eight or 10 minutes so high that you could actually see our cars picking up and floating away into oblivion. 

Within minutes after that, the water was already up on the walls, on the doors of a building that is fully 18 feet above street level.  Where we were standing was 18 feet above street level.

SCARBOROUGH:  Heath, Heath, if I can stop you for a second...

H. ALLEN:  Sure, go ahead. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Heath, if I can stop you for a second, what—this video that we are watching that you all took, we are watching in real time the city council hall being submerged under water as the storm surge pours in. 

I mean, these waters are—again, they are rising in front of our eyes at a remarkable rate.  Did you—did you think at some point you would not be able to escape it? 

H. ALLEN:  Let me tell you exactly what happened. 

We stood in that city council chamber and watched the windows crash.  And it did, it filled up faster than your bathtub does.  When we went outside to check our live truck, which WE were concerned about, I realized the water was already fully three feet up on the doors getting back into the building, and I couldn‘t open the doors. 

I pushed on the doors.  They wouldn‘t open.  A guy on the inside pushed on the doors.  They wouldn‘t open.  And I stepped back, and I really thought I might be stuck.  And, all of a sudden, the doors caved in.  It was kind of like God said, let me get that door for you.  And the water flowed in, and I kind of the rode the water into the lobby of the governmental building. 

But I‘m telling you, it filled up so fast that, I mean, everybody was scurrying up the stairs.  And we were watching the water chase us up the stairways.  And, sooner or later, I mean, 35 minutes, by my watch, 35 minutes, it went from being 4.5 inches in the street to being 18 feet above street level, and everybody in that building was stuck on the second floor or on the roof of the building. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It had to be a surreal experience for you, didn‘t it? 

H. ALLEN:  You have been down here.  Have you ever seen anything like this in your entire life?  It happened in 35 minutes. 

We really thought we had survived the storm.  The wind was bad, and there was certainly a lot of damage from the wind.  But everybody felt like, hey, if this is it, we are going to be OK.  And then we had the levee breach on the 17th Street Canal in New Orleans, on the Industrial Canal in New Orleans.  And then the Mr. Gulf backed up into our own backyards, and suddenly we have this huge disaster. 

This wasn‘t a wind disaster.  This was certainly a water disaster, and we are all paying for it right now. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Heath, what people don‘t understand about

these storm surges coming in, a lot of people think that you get a 10-foot

in fact I did—that you get this 10-foot or 15-foot wave that crashes all at once. 

Actually, what happens is, the water does rise, and it doesn‘t rise slowly.  It just comes up on you.  I have got a friend that lost his house.  He looked out his window at one point and water was at his front porch.  He looked out there about 10 minutes later, and, all of a sudden, he saw water rising up—this was in the middle of the night—saw water rising up on his glass door.  And it‘s just—it‘s just a horrifying situation.  And it sweeps away everything, doesn‘t it? 

H. ALLEN:  Well, if you look at the pictures—unfortunately, I can‘t see the pictures that you have.  But we had one shot in the video from inside that governmental building.  It looked like we were in a fish tank, because the water was well up on to the windows, and you were looking at the flood.  You were watching it rise before your very eyes over the windows on the building. 

That‘s when everybody really started getting concerned.  That‘s when everybody started shooting up the stairs. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  I think that was the wise...

H. ALLEN:  It does rise so fast. 

Everybody thinks—I think everybody—you are right.  Everybody thinks it‘s a big wave, like on the surf.  But it really isn‘t.  You are looking at it, and it just does this.  It just comes up.  It just—it just comes up right in front of you.  And the next thing you know, you don‘t have a place to go. 

That‘s what happens to a lot of people.  That‘s why a lot of people die.  They think they are going to just get washed away.  And what happens is, they just simply get trapped to a point they can‘t go anywhere.  There‘s no place to go but up.  And if you can‘t go up, you go down and you drown. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You are exactly right, Heath.

Last year, in Hurricane Ivan, we heard stories of so many people that would be calling.  The storm surge would come up, and people would run up the stairs.  They would go into their attic.  And then they would call 911 frantically because the water just kept rising, and it just doesn‘t stop.  And a lot of people that live close to water knew that water was going to come into the attic and they were going to drown. 

I mean, how—how—just—what a nightmare, to drown in your attic.  Well...

(CROSSTALK)

H. ALLEN:  You know, years ago...

SCARBOROUGH:  Go ahead. 

H. ALLEN:  Years ago, we got—see, people kind of laughed at us, because we suggested that maybe you want to take an axe up into your attic. 

Hurricane George came in, big storm out in the Gulf.  Fortunately, it didn‘t do anything to us.  But we suggested, hey, take an axe up into the attic.  You know what?  People lived through this storm this time because they had an axe in the attic and they were able to chop their way through.

We, my photographer and I, rode in a boat.  We were pulling people off their rooftops after that—the day after that storm, because they were smart enough to take an axe and chop their way out of their attic.  That‘s the only way they survived. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, if you don‘t—you are right.  If you don‘t live on the Gulf of Mexico, it seems so foreign.  But, again, everybody that survived Ivan last year that lives in a storm surge area, they have one ready, and they know that, when trouble comes, they have got to run to their attic with an axe. 

Hey, Heath, thanks so much for being with us.  Greatly appreciate it. 

It‘s remarkable video. 

We will be right back in a second with more in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You are looking at the cause of the toxic brew that‘s in New Orleans tonight, chemical pollutants, E coli, decomposing human and animal remains, oil spills, all of it under water in New Orleans tonight.  And, yet, 200,000 people are returning.  Is it safe?  What are the threats? 

We will talk about it in a second. 

But, first, here‘s the latest news you and your family need to know. 

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, more than 2,000 children have been separated from their parents and loved ones.  More than two weeks later, they are still not back with their families.  It‘s a sad story.  We are going to be getting to that. 

Then, thousands of pets pulled out of the Gulf states.  Now there are some happy endings, reunions you are not going to believe. 

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, those stories just minutes away. 

You know, but, first, let‘s talk about people going back to New Orleans.  I understand, the mayor may be in a hurry to reopen the city, but the water in New Orleans is loaded with dangerous levels of lead, hundreds of chemical pollutants, high levels of E coli and bacteria from raw sewage, decomposing human and animal remains still in the water, oil from at least five major spills, and hazardous waste from flooded rail cars and trucks. 

You know, the threat of disease has to be seen as a great threat for everybody that‘s in New Orleans now and possibly the 200,000 people that could be coming into that city tomorrow. 

With me tonight to talk about it is Dr. Marc Siegel.  He‘s from the NYU School of Medicine, and he is author of “False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear.”

DR. MARC SIEGEL, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE:  Good evening, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Dr, thank you for being—good evening.  Thank you for being with us. 

Is this an epidemic of fear, or do people going back into New Orleans have a reason to be concerned about the toxic brew that is still covering parts of their city? 

SIEGEL:  Well, Joe, they definitely have a reason to be concerned. 

And not only that.  I am concerned that, coming back into such a city after losing their homes and their loved ones, they are going to be in a condition of terrible emotions, you know, stress, post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety.  And that interferes with the ability to assess risk properly.  So, you know, the waters are going to be riskier because people aren‘t going to be as calm facing them.

And there‘s a lot of debris that‘s going to start to surface as the waters get drained.  And, in this kind of a situation, injury is a very possible problem.  And then you get wounds that don‘t heal.  And, as you mentioned, the water has a lot of bacteria in it.  If you get it in your mouth, you can get very, very sick.  So, I am not sure how wise it is for the people to be coming back, but, for sure, it‘s not going to work well unless people are calm. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Doctor, we are looking at the water that is just spewing out right now, I mean, in that water, again, chemical pollutants, E coli, decomposing human remains, decomposing animal remains, oil spills.  We had a chemical spill from a train earlier.  I mean, is there anything you can do to clean that water, or do you just have to wait for natural, I guess it‘s attenuation?

SIEGEL:  Well, actually, Joe, as they drain the water, the Environmental Protection Agency and others are going to have to try to consider how much soil to get out of there, because the soil is definitely going to be contaminated, too, by the bacteria and by the oil spills and by the chemical solvents. 

So far, as has been reported, they have seen lead and a lot of bacteria, a trace amount of arsenic and a trace amount of chromium.  Now, this is not at a level where it‘s harmful acutely.  It‘s not going to cause a problem unless you ingested a lot of it.  But, down the line, it could cause a risk, and so they really, really have to get these toxins out of there.  And it‘s going to take a long time. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Doctor, final question.  It‘s the $64,000 question I always ask experts when you are talking about health issues like this.  If a family member of yours called you up tonight and said, should I go back to New Orleans, I want to go back, check out my house, may just end up living there, wait for the electricity to come on, what would you tell them? 

SIEGEL:  Well, Joe, you know what I would tell them.  I would say it was not wise right now.  I would say, you know, time to back off. 

I mean, with decaying bodies in the water, and with all this bacteria and risk of infection and not enough potable water to drink and a lot—still risk of dehydration and getting wounds and having diarrhea, I would say, just wait, and let them clean up the city. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I will tell you what.  It is such a troubling situation. 

I think the mayor is rushing things.

But thank you so much for being with us again, Dr. Marc Siegel.  We greatly appreciate it. 

SIEGEL:  My pleasure, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, as many of you may have heard, a surprise announcement from the White House.  The vice president is going into surgery next weekend.  And Dick Cheney, who got a pacemaker after four heart attacks, will have elective surgery for an aneurysm behind his right knee. 

With me now is Mary Ann Akers from “Roll Call.”  She broke the story. 

Mary Ann, thank you so much for being with us tonight.

I guess the big question is, if this is elective, then why is the vice president having it done now, when all hell is breaking loose, instead of having it done over the summer? 

MARY ANN AKERS, “ROLL CALL”:  Well, you know, they did find this back in July.  He went in for a routine checkup, and apparently they found that he has this aneurysm on the artery behind his right knee. 

This is not something that the White House put out in a statement form.  I found out about this, this morning, put in several inquiries to the vice president‘s office, four e-mails to someone who I know carries a BlackBerry, Steve Schmidt, the vice president‘s spokesman.  And, on my final phone call to him at around 4:30, 4:35 p.m. today, he told me that they would give me 20 minutes, basically, to put the story out, that they were going to release a statement.

And they said that they are calling—this is called elective surgery.  He is going to be put under local anesthesia, so he is not going under full anesthesia, and that they are just going to fix the problem that they found back in July.  Now, you have asked an interesting question, but that‘s, you know, what I am told from the vice president‘s office. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And again—well, first of all, let me ask you, how did you find out about this?  What—who tipped you off to it, or what raised your antenna that the vice president was going to be going in to have yet another bit of surgery? 

AKERS:  Well, a very well-placed source told me that the vice president was going to go in for surgery at a hospital here locally in Washington next weekend.  I heard it‘s going to be next Saturday. 

The vice president‘s office will say only that it‘s next weekend.  And, of course, my newspaper in my article didn‘t want to say at which hospital, for obvious national security reasons.  The vice president is entitled to some privacy, after all. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Right. 

AKERS:  And it‘s going to be next weekend, and that—they have confirmed that.  It will be next weekend.  And it will be local anesthesia and elective surgery. 

SCARBOROUGH:  They—they confirmed it, Mary Ann, but they weren‘t happy you got the story, were they? 

AKERS:  Probably not. 

You know, it‘s funny.  I was on “CHRIS MATTHEWS” earlier tonight.  And Chris kept pressing me to give a number on the scale of one to 10 how unhappy were they.  I...

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  No numbers, no numbers needed here. 

AKERS:  But...

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  But...

AKERS:  Probably not.  No, I think they were a bit taken aback.  I think they were a bit startled.  This is certainly not something they want out. 

I mean, look, as you know, Cheney has had health problems.  He‘s—what is he, 64, I believe, and he has had quadruple bypass surgery.  He has had a stent put in his chest.  He has had four heart attacks, and he has cursed out at least one senator. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  That is—that is a busy four years. 

Hey, Mary Ann from “Roll Call,” thanks so much.  Greatly appreciate you being with us tonight. 

AKERS:  Absolutely. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And thanks—thanks for coming out tonight after breaking this big story. 

Coming up next, you are not going to want to miss that—this next story, because Louis Farrakhan has come out, and he said that racism is playing a part of Katrina.  And he makes this unbelievable charge that white people blew up the levees in New Orleans to drown black people. 

We had somebody from Farrakhan‘s outfit that was going to come on the show.  They have ducked out.  We are still going to debate it. 

Also, coming up, children lost.  The question tonight, how can they be reunited with their parents after three weeks? 

And, also, we have got some amazing pet rescues, on a lighter note. 

Stay with us—that story coming up, too. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You have heard cries of racism in the aftermath of Katrina, but Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan takes it to a new level.  He says the levees in New Orleans were purposely breached, blown up, telling a crowd—quote—“I heard from a very reliable source who saw a 25-foot deep crater under the levee breach it may have been blown up to destroy the black part of town and to keep the white part dry.”

With me now to talk about it is Republican strategist Jack Burkman. 

Jack...    

JACK BURKMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Joe, good to see you, my friend. 

SCARBOROUGH:  A conspiracy of white people to kill black people? 

BURKMAN:  It‘s—I got to tell you, Joe, his comments, coupled with everything else I have seen in conjunction with the racist talk around the New Orleans episode, is the worst use of racism, the worst use of racism I have ever seen in my life. 

Obviously, they are afraid to come on to face us tonight.  They are afraid.  My first question was, what specific evidence do you have?  What sources do you have? 

They have no evidence and no sources.  Anyone with an I.Q. above 50,

if they didn‘t already believe that Farrakhan was a bum and nothing but

racist garbage, now everyone in America knows, and he can—and he can be

Farrakhan can really be dismissed. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Jack, we actually asked representatives of the Nation of Islam to come on.  We actually had Robert Muhammad.  He was going to come on and talk about this issue, but also talk about the broader issue of race. 

There are a lot of people who aren‘t followers of Louis Farrakhan, who despise everything that Louis Farrakhan stands for when it comes to anti-Semitism, who still believe that race did play a big part in this, that George Bush and also other government officials responded more slowly because the faces in the crowd were black.

BURKMAN:  You know, Joe...

SCARBOROUGH:  And I guess my question to you is this.  If those children down there looked more like Natalee Holloway, would the White House have responded more quickly? 

BURKMAN:  I can tell you, I know the president and the vice president both very well.  And there‘s absolutely no truth to this. 

Look, New Orleans is a black city.  It‘s a predominantly black city.  It stands to reason that African-Americans will be largely affected, will be mostly affected in the face of a hurricane.  What you have here is a whole cottage industry of people, from Jesse Jackson to Louis Farrakhan, and, to some extent, the establishment media itself that can‘t survive without racial hatred. 

I mean, I can‘t tell you how many networks I have seen cover—quote, unquote—the racial story, the racial angle.  Well, I say what racial story, what racial angle?  Even to suggest that is to stir this up.  And the worst I have seen, maybe even worse than Farrakhan, is what MoveOn.org did.  The day after the hurricane, two days after the hurricane, they took pictures of black children who were refugees, put them next to John Roberts, and started running that ad all over the country. 

You know what I thought of?  This might...

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what, Jack?

BURKMAN:  This is not hyperbole.  This is—this is reminiscent of the tactics that the Nazis used in the ‘30s.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well...

BURKMAN:  ... where you have this kind of terrible juxtaposition of images. 

SCARBOROUGH:   Jack, it was...

BURKMAN:  It‘s the same thing. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Jack, it was disgusting, absolutely disgusting. 

And I can tell you, as a guy who was on the ground in Mississippi from the very beginning, from the very beginning, there are a lot of white people over there who are also being ignored.  It‘s not black or white, Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative.  The federal government is basically screwing up everybody‘s life. 

Now, one final quote I want to read to you, because a lot of people would say this is going to hurt the president badly in the polls, but there may be a backlash against those who are coming up claiming racism.  Michael Moore, not surprisingly, has jumped into the fray.

In a letter to President Bush on his Web site, he wrote this—quote

“It‘s not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town.  Come on.  They‘re black.  I mean, it‘s not like this happened to Kennebunkport.  Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days?”

BURKMAN:  You know...

SCARBOROUGH:  I guess, Jack, the political question for you, as a Republican consultant, is, doesn‘t this just play into the president‘s hands?  When you have got people like Michael Moore and Louis Farrakhan calling him a racist, it just rallies the troops, doesn‘t it? 

BURKMAN:  Oh, it—it really does, Joe. 

And I think the president turned it around greatly last night with a great speech.  I mean, I don‘t agree with the $200 billion bailout.  I fault the governor for claiming that the federal government should pay 100 percent of the cost.  And I don‘t agree in substance with what Bush said.

But I think he will get at least a five-point bonus.  I think the American people aren‘t stupid.  In fact, I think they are very wise.  And I think they are going to see through this.  And, as you suggest, I think the racist angle will help the president. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  It‘s interesting politics, always fascinating. 

Jack Burkman, thanks so much for being with us. 

BURKMAN:  Thank you, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We greatly appreciate it. 

Now, when we come back, some sad stories of children who have been separated from their parents.  It‘s three weeks now.  A lot of them still don‘t know where they are—people furiously trying to put them together.

And, also, pets saved from Katrina could be coming to a shelter in your town soon. 

That and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s one happy boy who was surprised by his father this morning. 

You know, there‘s still 2,000 kids listed as missing in the aftermath of Katrina by family members.  And, almost three weeks after the storm, dozens of children remain in shelters with no parents or no guardians. 

I mean, it is—God, it is so heartbreaking.  And, unfortunately, I talked to somebody this morning in Mississippi.  They are concerned that some parents, unlike that man, some parents actually used the storm as an excuse to abandon their children.  It‘s heartbreaking. 

And to talk about it, brought in Ernie Allen.  He‘s the president and the CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 

Ernie, so heartbreaking.  What can we do?  What can your organization do?  What can Americans do to help facilitate families, you know, mothers and fathers and their sons and daughters reuniting? 

ERNIE ALLEN, CEO, NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN: 

Well, Joe, what America can do is look at the pictures.  Go to our Web site, missingkids.com.  We have a listing of the names of all these children and the pictures that we have available.  They can call our hot line and provide information.  The good news...

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Ernie, while you are talking, we are going to put those pictures up.  Keep talking. 

E. ALLEN:  Well, the good news is that 760 children have been recovered, have been reunited with their families.  We have great hope for the 2,000 that remain.  We are finding more children every day.  But the public can really help us.  And you have provided a great public service by showing these pictures.  So, America needs to help. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What are the dangers if these children stay in these shelters or—or other homes for too long? 

E. ALLEN:  Well, I mean, clearly, we want to keep hope alive for these children.  And they need their families. 

There are a lot of dangers.  We are concerned about the risk of people who might prey upon them.  Law enforcement and social services in these states have really been vigilant, but it‘s important that we bring these children back to their families now. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And some of these children‘s last names, unknown.  I mean, how do you track them down if they don‘t even know their own last names? 

E. ALLEN:  You take photographs.  We have sent our people, our Team Adam unit on the ground into these shelters.  They have taken photos of the children.  We are posting the photos. 

You and I talked the other night about one little girl who saw her picture and said, Gabby, her name.  And through that—just that one word, we were able to track down and find her mom and find a report of a 2-year-old missing child and reunite her with her family.  So, in many ways, this is old-fashioned investigative work.  It‘s not high-tech, but we are searching every database and using every tool and every clue we can find to locate and reunite these families. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Ernie.

And again, the number, 1-800-THE-LOST. 

And what‘s that Web site, again? 

E. ALLEN:  It‘s missingkids.com. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Missingkids.com, go to it tonight, friends. 

Thanks so much, Ernie Allen.  Great to have you here tonight.  We really appreciate it. 

E. ALLEN:  Thank you, Joe.   

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, coming up in a minute, a bit of a lighter story, but for those that have lost pets in this storm, it‘s also serious.  Talking about saving pets.  We have got a live picture of animals arriving in California. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Pets reunited with their families—that story coming up when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Just a few minutes ago, a chartered flight with 120 dogs and 69 cats left homeless by Katrina landed in San Francisco. 

I‘m joined live now from the staging area at the airport by Bill MacLachlan (ph) -- he‘s a local citizen who organized the pet airlift—and Betsy Saul from Petfinder.com. 

Betsy, give us an update on the whole effort regarding reuniting pets with their families. 

BETSY SAUL, PRESIDENT, PETFINDER.COM:  Well, you know, it‘s great to be back, Joe.  Thank you for having me. 

You know, one of the things that I think we need to make really clear before we talk about this is that the effort is all based on getting people back to their actual families.  And a lot of viewers are really concerned right now that, as we send animals from New Orleans on planes through Operation Pet Lift and others like it, that we are going to adopt these animals out to people in states far, far away.

And that‘s just simply not the case.  Great pains are going to microchip these animals, to identify them, to track them through our database Katrina.Petfinder.com and make sure that we have the ability to later return all of these pets right back to their families when their families have—know where home is again. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Betsy, there‘s a great reunion story on this plane. 

Tell us about it. 

SAUL:  Well, you know, I am not sure actually which plane it is, but we have just heard that a woman that was vacationing in New Orleans at the time of the hurricane actually became separated from her pet. 

She was evacuated to Los Angeles from what I understand.  And her pet was at the Lamar-Dixon shelter, which is a shelter that has hundreds and hundreds of animals a day coming in and about 1,300 animals, some days, even as many as 2,000 animals, in their system at a time. 

We—we believe that—what we have heard is, is one of those animals was lucky enough to be on that flight to Marin County.  And she is flying up.  She saw the pet on Petfinder.  And she is flying there to pick up her dog tomorrow morning. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, wow.

SAUL:  So, I guess it was probably on the plane right before this one. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, that—that is great news, Betsy.  Great.  Thanks for bringing it to us.

And, again, the Web site is Petfinder.com. 

That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Tucker Carlson is next. 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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