Guests: Ian Drew, James Walker, Pam Bondi, Charles “Choc” Harris, William Donahue, Jennifer Giroux, Kennedy, Oliver Thomas, Christopher Shays
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight‘s top headline: New Orleans keeps inviting residents back home, but now say they don‘t even have enough cash to meet payroll. Does chaos reign in the Crescent City?
Then, the Reverend Franklin Graham says Katrina could have been part of God‘s plan to clean up the sin city known as New Orleans. We will debate it.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required, only common sense allowed.
Hey, thanks for being with me tonight. I really do appreciate it. We are going to have those stories in just a minute.
And, later, almost three months to the day since honeymooner George Smith IV disappeared, now a promise of a congressional investigation into the cruise industry. We have been asking for it for months now. The question is, will the Smith family finally get the satisfaction it deserves? And what about your family? Should you feel safe if anybody that you love goes on a cruise?
Well, we are going to be talking to the man leading the congressional investigations very soon, but, first, more trouble in New Orleans today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAY NAGIN (D), MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: The city of New Orleans today announces it has been forced to lay off up to 3,000 classified and unclassified city workers as a result of the financial constraints in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has blamed everybody from the president to the governor to local bus drivers for mistakes made after Katrina. And, today, he acted again, announcing that, on behalf of New Orleans city employees, that half of them would be laid off.
So, let‘s go live to NBC‘s Donna Gregory, who is down there with all the very latest.
Donna, talk about the chaos that continues in the Crescent City tonight.
DONNA GREGORY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Joe, yet another body blow for the folks who live here.
Half of the city work force, as you mentioned, are told they are going to get some pink slips, and they‘re actually going to get them through e-mail. It‘s a mass e-mail they are going to send out to tell these people don‘t bother coming back, and, in fact, turn in your city-issued cell phone and your personal—or your city-issued property, such as your cars. They want that stuff back as soon as possible.
The mayor says these are what he calls pretty permanent layoffs, meaning these people will not have jobs with the city to come back to. Now, he is talking about nonessential people. You mentioned bus drivers. There‘s also trolley car operators, jobs sort of along those lines. They are not going to do anything to touch the police department, the fire department, any kind of first-responders, such as ambulance services.
They also need all the city health inspectors, because they are trying their hardest to get the restaurants and hotels back and open for business. But one thing you might want to consider, Joe, there are a lot of private corporations who have signed this statement that they want to keep their businesses located here in Louisiana. There‘s 100 of these companies, some of them major companies. And they are literally begging for employees, some of them hundreds of employees.
So, some of these city workers, think about it, could actually come back to this area to a better job than the one they have just been booted out of—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: But talk about the situation in New Orleans right now. It seems it is a tale of two cities. There are parts—if you go to Bourbon Street, and also the original part of the city, which was the crescent along the Mississippi, seems to be fine, but other parts of the city, still largely uninhabitable, is it not?
GREGORY: Right. It‘s a tale of several cities.
There are schools open in this area. It‘s not, obviously, in Orleans Parish, but in several of the surrounding parishes. They opened up school yesterday. And it looks almost, as someone described it, Joe, going from a color picture to a black-and-white picture. And the black-and-white picture are the bleak areas, Lower Ninth Ward, St. Bernard Parish, areas where they are still not allowing people in. But I have to tell you, Joe, we talked to the sheriff of St. Bernard Parish, who says they are investigating possible looting in that parish, and people aren‘t even allowed back in there.
SCARBOROUGH: Unbelievable. Thank you so much, NBC‘s Donna Gregory.
Appreciate the report from New Orleans.
Now, just a few minutes ago, I talked with Connecticut Congressman Christopher Shays. He is on the committee that is investigating the government‘s response to Katrina. And I asked him if it was time, after all the chaos in the Crescent City, for a federal recovery czar.
REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS ®, CONNECTICUT: Well, let me just first say, we have been really tough on Michael Brown in our select committee, but 95 percent of the first-responders are local and state.
And for the mayor of New Orleans to say, what has he learned, and his response is, I would just have shouted louder, is just unbelievable. It‘s just pathetic, that we would have had a mayor or a governor that would have sent people to a Superdome that didn‘t have adequate power, no air conditioning, no food, no medicine, not adequate police protection, and incarcerated them there for so long.
So, we have got a serious problem there. I have no faith, candidly, in the ability of New Orleans to spend money wisely. And, frankly, I have some concerns about how the state and federal government is going to spend this money. We think—a number of us think we need a hurricane CEO, someone who is going to be really tough, who is going to question every expenditure and is going to be answerable to Congress.
SCARBOROUGH: Do you have any ideas on who would make a good CEO?
SHAYS: It‘s got to be someone tough and someone that people respect.
It can‘t be a bureaucrat.
SCARBOROUGH: I will tell you, unfortunately, right now in America, there is such a vacuum of leadership. There‘s a vacuum of leadership on the federal level, the state level, the local level. It‘s hard to find that person the congressman is talking about. Who would be a leader that could step in, be a tough CEO, and make sure the recovery of New Orleans, make sure the recovery of Biloxi, the forgotten Mississippi and Alabama Gulf Coast, make sure that the recovery goes smoothly and that the people who are the truly disadvantaged are helped.
Well, I will tell you what. The mayor‘s decision to get rid of 3,000 employees really is raising a question, again, whether New Orleans is up to the task of managing that troubled city right now and whether residents should be allowed to go back in.
Let‘s go to somebody who should know this better than anybody else.
Oliver Thomas. He is the president of the New Orleans City Council.
Thanks so much for being with us tonight, sir. We appreciate it.
You heard Congressman Shays talk about the fact that he doesn‘t have confidence in New Orleans to handle this money and this recovery. What is your response to, let‘s face it, that sort of attitude that is prevalent in Washington, D.C.?
OLIVER THOMAS, PRESIDENT, NEW ORLEANS CITY COUNCIL: Well, let me say it‘s good to be in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY..
SCARBOROUGH: I appreciate you being here.
Let‘s say we did everything wrong. Let‘s say more could have been done. I mean, we may be shaped like a boot, but does the federal government kick us like they are a boot? Let‘s say nothing went right. We still have American citizens that are here that is dependent upon their Congress to bail us out. How many foreign countries, foreign governments have we bailed out over the last 15 or 20 years?
We are not talking about foreign governments. We are talking about Plaquemines and St. Bernard and Orleans and Jefferson and Lake Charles. We are talking about American citizens. When is somebody from Congress going to stand up, like McCain, like Simpson used to do, like Graham used to do, like Breaux used to do, and challenge their party about recovery for Americans? We are not sitting over in Iran or Iraq or Somalia or some European—or Slavonia or whatever or Transylvania.
You know, we are right here in America, waiting for our Congress to say, as Americans, let‘s take our government out of the way. Let‘s say we did everything wrong. We don‘t need to continue to be kicked around. We need some help.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, a lot of people are saying—and I have been hearing it out of Louisiana all day today, the people I have been talking to. They are saying the same thing you are saying. Hey, wait a second, we pay more in foreign aid every month than what New Orleans needs, what Louisiana needs, what Mississippi, Biloxi—if you go to parts of Alabama, on the western part of Alabama, what all of you all need to recover from this storm, foreign aid—I mean, we spend more in foreign aid every single month. My question to you is this.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, go ahead.
THOMAS: No, say it ain‘t so, Joe.
You know, let‘s say we have a czar, just a CEO of this recovery for this region. Let him come with some money. We have had a lot of czars coming out here, but they come in here with checkbooks where we can‘t cash any of the checks, $62 billion in foreign—I mean, well, if it was foreign aid, we would have had it -- $62 billion in recovery aid, we haven‘t gotten it yet.
Look, and if they want to appoint somebody, I think former Speaker Gingrich has probably been the most supportive of this city and this region. Colin Powell would be good. But don‘t give us someone who is coming here with a political agenda, who doesn‘t have any authority to give some money to this region.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, that‘s the bottom line, and I have heard it again in New Orleans. I have heard it in Mississippi. You all don‘t want federal officials to come down there if they are just a mouthpiece, if they are just posing for cameras.
I have seen it with people that we are working with out in Jackson, Mississippi. Politicians love to get pictures of them as they are distributing goods to southern Mississippi and Louisiana.
SCARBOROUGH: But they never have any authority to help out. I want to ask you a question about New Orleans, though. If the mayor of New Orleans is inviting people...
THOMAS: Go ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: ... people to come back to your city—and I love New Orleans. My family loves New Orleans.
SCARBOROUGH: As you know, I am only two-and-a-half hours away, from Pensacola.
But, at the same time, if you can‘t afford to pay city employees yet until the feds start writing those checks, shouldn‘t you discourage people from coming back until the federal government steps forward and does start helping you out a little more actively?
THOMAS: Well, it‘s something to think about.
If we don‘t have a government system in place to support the people who come back with basic services, yes, it‘s something to think about. But guess what? The chickens have come home to roost in terms of paying bills, paying our expenses and paying employees. And we have to keep—and, look, I believe all employees are essential. There‘s no such thing as essential personnel.
It‘s essential that they get paid on time, so they can take care of their families. But we have police, fire, EMS, road services. You know, it‘s six one way, half-a-dozen the other. But we still need some Democrats and some Republicans to stand up in the halls of Congress and shout, help these people. We need help now. We don‘t need a czar without any money. We don‘t need a commission without any authority.
SCARBOROUGH: Mr. President, I want to ask you a quick final question.
SCARBOROUGH: Franklin Graham—we are going to be talking about this in the next spot—Franklin Graham has suggested that Hurricane Katrina was sent to New Orleans because New Orleans is a sinful place, the wages of sin is death, and, because of Hurricane Katrina, maybe Bourbon Street will have a religious revival.
What is your response to that?
THOMAS: Then there‘s going to be a major earthquake in Las Vegas tomorrow.
THOMAS: Then there‘s going to be a major...
THOMAS: I mean, that‘s the only thing, I guess, you can say.
THOMAS: You know, if New Orleans is sin city, the title of Vegas is sin city, so they pronounce it and announce it every day.
Look, everyone wants to be a more wholesome place for families. New Orleans has its issues with some of the things that happen with Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street. But let me tell you, God has shined his light us for a long time. I don‘t believe God sent the devil or the devil came to wash us out.
What we need is Congress to wash us back in with some money, with some aid. And let me say this to you, Joe. If—this blame game, you know, there‘s a lot of names. People are blaming the state. They have an Office of Emergency Preparation. People are blaming the city. They have the Office of Emergency Preparation. The federal government has the Federal Emergency Management administration. Whose authority was it to manage? Case closed.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. We will leave it there.
Thank you so much, Oliver Thomas. Appreciate you being with us. And we will be—obviously, throughout the night, be checking the seismic activity in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Now, when we come back, the death and destruction from Katrina, was it all part of God‘s plan to cleanse New Orleans? That‘s what some are saying the Reverend Franklin Graham is suggesting tonight. And that‘s tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown.
Then the case of missing honeymooner George Smith IV, it‘s showing the ugly side of the cruise ship industry. Will a congressional investigation that we have been calling for, for months finally bring answers to this tragic case and also make cruise lines safe for you and your family?
Don‘t go anywhere. SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY is just getting started.
SCARBOROUGH: A congressional investigation launched into the disappearance of George Smith IV. Well, yes, and also looking at the cruise industry and how you can get away with murder on the high seas—that and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, the human suffering from Hurricane Katrina, some are saying it could have been part of God‘s plan. And some are saying that, tonight, even that New Orleans may have been targeted because of the city‘s sinful reputation. So, is the revival part of God‘s plan also?
This is what the Reverend Franklin Graham said last night in Virginia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKLIN GRAHAM, SAMARITAN‘S PURSE: This is one wicked city, OK? It‘s known for Mardi Gras, for Satan worship. It‘s known for sex perversion. It‘s known for every type of drugs and alcohol and the orgies and all of these things that go on down there in New Orleans. And there‘s been a black spiritual cloud over New Orleans for years. They believe God is going to use that storm to bring revival.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: So, the question tonight is, was God behind the destruction?
With me now to debate it, Jennifer Giroux. She‘s president of Women Influencing the Nation, Kennedy, political commentator and host of FOX Reality Channel‘s new show, “Reality Remix,” and William Donahue, president of the Catholic League.
Let me start with you, Jennifer.
Do you agree with Reverend Graham, that this was part of God‘s plan?
JENNIFER GIROUX, DIRECTOR, WOMEN INFLUENCING THE NATION: Joe, I don‘t have any problem with what the Reverend Graham said.
I believe that, when he talks about New Orleans and a cloud of darkness hanging over an immoral city, he could be referring to any city in the United States. I believe that God will not be mocked. We talked about this just eight-and-a-half months ago with the tsunami. It‘s a very delicate theological issue, as we talked about then.
You know, all of us have a sinful nature. And many innocent people suffer, along with those that perhaps were engaged in sinful activity. But let‘s look at the state at which our country is in, abortion, contraception, homosexuality, cloning, I mean, it all really comes together in one big picture.
Why do you think those like myself and those in my organization that voted for President Bush are outraged that he is saying he doesn‘t have a litmus test? Abortion is an abomination, an offense and mocks God.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Jennifer, let me ask you this about Franklin Graham‘s statement last night, just a simple question. Do you associate yourself with those comments that there‘s a black spiritual cloud hanging over New Orleans, and that‘s why Katrina was sent there, to create a revival, or would you like to disassociate yourself with those comments?
GIROUX: What I will associate myself with, Joe, are the comments that Archbishop Hannan of New Orleans, the archbishop, if you remember, that did the eulogy at JFK‘s funeral, which just tonight an interview came out from him who said it was a chastisement of New Orleans and a chastisement of this country.
He is a 92-year-old archbishop of New Orleans, a very respected archbishop, who said that we as a nation have got to be accountable for our moral acts as a nation and as individuals.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Kennedy, let me bring you in. What do you think about the archbishop‘s comments and Franklin Graham‘s comments that this terrible tragedy was the cause of God‘s wrath?
KENNEDY, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Franklin Graham has always appeared to be a pretty reasonable guy. I have great respect for his father.
But after hearing what he had to say, I think that he is insane. I think that he now feels that he is the personal spokesperson for God. And, you know, like I have said in the past, as an Orthodox Christian, I find people who speak on behalf of God, as opposed to those who interpret what they believe to be God‘s message, I find people who speak on behalf of God to be insane and offensive.
GIROUX: And how does a sane person claim to be associated with MTV and call themselves an Orthodox Christian? I don‘t understand that one.
KENNEDY: Oh, you know what, sweetheart? You have—you have an agenda here. And you are trying to steer a conversation about New Orleans and the sin that may happen within the city walls into an abortion discussion. You know...
SCARBOROUGH: Bill Donahue, let me...
KENNEDY: That‘s my problem with the far right. It‘s illogical, madam.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me ask you, Bill Donahue. We hear the archbishop of New Orleans coming out and associating himself with the remarks of Franklin Graham, saying the city is chastised. Do you agree with that? Do you agree with Franklin Graham?
WILLIAM DONAHUE, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC LEAGUE: No, I don‘t. I know lots of people have gone to Mardi Gras, and they have loved it and had a good time. And they didn‘t act in excess.
The idea—well, you know what bothers me is the certitude that is involved here and the explicitness that we know God that ordained this, that God is vengeful, that this is an act of retribution to—it‘s payback time to get a certain group of people. Why did God choose mostly blacks? Why did God choose New Orleans, as opposed to New York City or someplace else?
No, look, if one—one could say this much. Remember, Abraham Lincoln, back in 1861, at the time of the Civil War, instituted a day of prayer and fasting. And he did it again in 1863, two years later, in the middle of the Civil War. He said, we have forgotten about God. We have been caught up in our successes, and we need a kind of a wakeup call. I am paraphrasing here.
And I think he understood that we had this terrible tragedy called the Civil War and perhaps that we should think more about the eternal and the transcendental and about salvation. I have no problem with that, that Lincolnesque-type statement.
But when people get specific and they know exactly that this is what God had meant, to get a certain class of people, because some of them are in excess, and, therefore, the entire city is going to suffer as a result of a natural disaster, this is not the lexicon of Catholicism.
SCARBOROUGH: Jennifer, that‘s the question I have.
GIROUX: I agree with that, Bill.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, Jennifer, the question I have is this. I—I think the part of this New Orleans story that bothered me the most was the fact that you had young, 12-, 13-, 14-month-old babies dying of dehydration on city sidewalks in New Orleans.
I don‘t know about you. I mean, the God that I worship is not a Santa Claus, but the God that I worship does not kill 14-month-old babies in such a heinous way to punish Florida residents that go over and have too much fun on Bourbon Street.
GIROUX: Bill, I agreed with everything—Joe, I agreed with everything...
GIROUX: Excuse me, Kennedy.
Joe, I agreed with everything my friend Bill Donahue said here.
GIROUX: And I—Bill, I agree with you.
And I want to clarify my position. I do not think God targeted New Orleans alone. And I think the archbishop, who has, by the way, in this interview, been going around to the victims in New Orleans and been getting standing ovations. As a matter of fact, the sheriff asked him to speak to his police officers and explain the association of immoral behavior and what‘s happening down there. And he has been getting standing ovations.
I don‘t believe God is targeting the city of New Orleans. I believe that this is a wakeup call for all of us individually and as a nation to look inward and think, would I be ready to meet God? How is my individual behavior in God‘s eyes? How do we as a country have to turn back to God? I do not believe God is after innocent children and babies at all, Joe.
GIROUX: I agree with you. I believe that the innocent, historically and biblically—and I believe Bill Donahue would agree with this—the good have always suffered with the bad. And that is not for us to understand.
I believe God has historically allowed disasters and punishments to happen as a form of chastisement. We can go back as far as when God liberated the Jews and allowed Passover to happen and innocent first-born Egyptian babies to die...
GIROUX: ... to allow the Jews out of exile.
SCARBOROUGH: Kennedy, let me bring you in here and let you—I will give—I will give you the final word here. You said Franklin Graham—you thought Franklin Graham was insane. How do you think that plays in...
KENNEDY: Anyone who personally speaks on behalf of God is insane.
SCARBOROUGH: On behalf of God.
Yes, how do you think that plays—because we always on this show try
to speak to the Middle America that I grew up in. How do you think that
plays in Middle America? How do you think that plays among a lot of people
in church? Do you think a lot of people in churches may have been offended
by those words also?
KENNEDY: I think people are offended by that, because what happens is, when people like Franklin Graham are put under the microscope and, you know, a majority of people think that this is how most Christians feel, it makes Christians seem insane.
It makes Christians seem like they are an uneasy people, when, really, I believe that most Christians feel that, you know, God does have a plan. It is mysterious. It isn‘t something that we can express in words or express personally. And when someone tries to do that, it actually—it removes people from the core of what their faith might be.
And, you know, Franklin, you are not speaking for my God. And, as a Christian, I am surprised that you are invoking stories of the Old Testament, when the God of the New Testament clearly is not the wrathful, vengeful God that is throwing hurricanes and floods and locusts around like pies in a pie-throwing contest.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thank you, Kennedy. I appreciate it.
Jennifer, Bill Donahue, as always, appreciate it.
And I have got to associate myself with all the remarks of just about everybody here.
You know, I know Franklin Graham, and I like him very much. I was
very honored to be able to talk with him when his father spoke in New York
City this past summer. I look forward to talking to him, because this is -
it is—it‘s an ongoing debate. Again, I don‘t look at God as a God that is some sort of Santa Claus, but, at the same time, I just need help -
again, thinking about those young children. And maybe it‘s because I see my children and can‘t imagine a God killing my children because, again, some tourists go to Bourbon Street and behave in a sinful manner.
That‘s why I would love to get Franklin Graham on and explain his comments, because, again, I know the guy. I like him. I have got great respect for him and his entire family and look forward to talking to him.
Now, earlier tonight, we got some very strong comments from Representative Christopher shays when I asked him about the indictment of Tom DeLay.
I want you—I want you to—well, actually, are we going to play that now, or should we play it after the break?
OK, why don‘t we go ahead and play this now, because I‘ll tell you what. This is going to make news. This is the first guy that‘s really stepped out and said that Tom DeLay will not be welcomed back, at least by him—and he is a powerful guy on the Hill—even if he beats the rap in Austin, Texas.
Take a listen to what Congressman Shays had to say.
SHAYS: Well, I regret to say, but it‘s, I think, the absolutely truth.
And you know what? We learned in school that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. You know, the bottom line is that unethical conduct, illegal activity, just totally confronts a reform agenda. And if we want to get our reform agenda back and mean something to the American people, we better get our moral compass back.
SCARBOROUGH: And he went on to say that he would not support Tom DeLay as majority leader in the future.
We will be right back with Christopher Shays talking about his investigation into the cruise industry.
That‘s when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Coming up next, a congressional investigation is being launched, and, in part, because of the pressure that you have put on the cruise industry in the George Smith case. We are going to be talking about that and much more.
But, first, here‘s the latest news you and your family need to know.
SCARBOROUGH: Donald Sutherland, he is starring in a new show, “Commander in Chief,” but you are not going to believe what he has to say about the real commander in chief. We are going to bring you his verbal assault on the president and ask a Hollywood insider what Sutherland‘s comments are going to mean, not only for his show, but also for ABC.
SCARBOROUGH: But, first, three months since honeymooner George Smith IV disappeared from Royal Caribbean‘s Brilliance of the Seas cruise in the Mediterranean, our investigation into Smith‘s disappearance has uncovered evidence, witnesses. It‘s helped established, more importantly, a timeline of events of what happened in the early morning hours of July the 5th, but it‘s also, unfortunately, raised a lot of questions about the cruise line.
Why did the crew clean up the blood before the FBI could even board the ship? Why did they leave the port before Turkish authorities could complete their investigation? There are a lot of other questions, too. And we have been inviting Royal Caribbean on our show for months. But they have declined.
However, Congressman Christopher Shays of Connecticut is here. And he represents the missing man‘s district. And he is now calling for a congressional investigation into the industry.
Congressman, thanks so much for being with here. Great to see you again.
What is going on with this cruise line and other cruise lines? It seems like you can get away with murder if you are on the high seas on one of these ships.
SHAYS: Well, it does seem that way.
And one of the remarkable things to me is that you really have no rights when you are on board a cruise ship. You are in a floating country. I would love to know what kind of vetting they do for the folks that work on these cruise ships. There are big dollars on board, with the gambling that takes place. What rights does a family have that has lost a loved one? Had there been no blood, would they have just said, he, you know, fell overboard?
What amazes me is how callously they have treated this family, dropping Mrs. Smith off in Turkey, basically letting the ship leave with the killers on board, or killer. What about the other passengers on board? So, you know, either in my Subcommittee on Government Reform, my National Security Subcommittee, that has the State Department international issues report to us, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, or the other Subcommittee on Government Reform that oversees the Judiciary, we might do a combined hearing, or the full committee may have hearings. But we are going to have hearings.
SCARBOROUGH: Christopher, you know, so many people are outraged by what‘s been going on in this case, but you bring up a great point about how shabbily the young woman was treated. Again, she is pushed off aboard there, and she—she has lost her husband, and she has to stand on shore in Turkey, like you said, as she knows the cruise ship sails away with murderers on board.
Forget about the callousness. Like you said, what about the other people on the ship? I mean, and when I talk to cruise line attorneys, it seems like they all say the same thing. Cruise line people are interested in covering their backsides more than anything else.
SHAYS: Well, I mean, we are going to have the cruise line come in and answer questions. We want to know, how often is someone missing? What kind of records are kept? We would like to know, what is the normal procedure for dealing with an issue of a missing person? Do they just assume that they just jumped overboard or fell overboard, or do they think that maybe a crime may have been committed and, therefore, investigate as if it were a crime?
Do they protect the crime scene? How do they treat the families? And, you know, there are just lots of questions to ask. What I found was that in—doing our research, there really hasn‘t been any real look at the cruise industry in years. The looks that we have made have been environmental issues about the dumping or how can fires take place on a cruise ship? We are concerned about what terrorists can do on a cruise ship, but we sure as heck want to make sure this isn‘t the place to commit the perfect crime and get away with it.
SCARBOROUGH: And, you know, Congressman, what we have seen is, in our investigation over the past several months, is, they don‘t protect the crime scene. They don‘t get the witnesses in, in a timely manner. They don‘t conduct thorough investigations.
Again, everything that‘s done seems to be a CYA operation. Why do you think it‘s taken this tragic case to draw Americans‘ attention to this problem, because, again, everybody we have on that knows the cruise industry talks about how there are rapes, sexual assaults, murders that go unsolved.
I mean, most of the things that happen on cruise lines go unsolved. What was it about this case? And do you think you can make progress in bringing basically these cruise line industries to some sort of responsibility for these acts?
Well, let me first say that, think of it. George Smith is marrying Jennifer Smith. This is the happiest moment of their lives. They then go on their honeymoon, which is a time to celebrate that. Their families celebrate it. In the midst of her honeymoon, her husband is killed. Her family is notified in a fairly callous way. Some families simply back off.
Now, this family isn‘t speaking to the press because they don‘t want to interfere with the investigation. But I think they are absolutely determined that George Smith‘s death will not have occurred in vain and that other people will have benefited from the pressure they are going to be putting on the cruise industry and I think on their elected officials like me and others to do our job.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Congressman, you know, that‘s obviously got to mean an awful lot to them, that their representative in Washington, D.C., is fighting, again, to make sure that George didn‘t die in vain. I know it‘s got to be just a tragic time for the family. Please let them know that so many people that watch this show flood us with e-mails every night offering their prayers and their support.
SHAYS: Well, they are a beautiful family, and they are absolutely devastated by what‘s happened.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Congressman, thanks so much for being with us.
SHAYS: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: We greatly appreciate it.
SCARBOROUGH: And now let‘s bring in our panel of experts.
We have got Pam Bondi—she‘s a Florida prosecutor—James Walker, a maritime attorney, and, by phone, Choc Harris, a former security manager for Carnival Cruise Lines.
Let‘s begin with you, Mr. Walker.
Why does it seem—and I know I am going to upset a lot of people by asking the question this way, but it‘s what we have seen over the past four or five months—why does it seem that it‘s easier to get away with murder on a cruise line?
JAMES WALKER, MARITIME ATTORNEY: Well, the cruise lines really have a terrible record of covering up crimes.
You know, it‘s their history and really their corporate culture. Throughout the 1970s and ‘80s and ‘90s, when they had a problem with oily discharge or the byproducts products of cleaning solvents or photography fluids, they would just dump it overboard. And that‘s what they did for three decades until Janet Reno ended up investigating them and fining them 29 -- $27 million, and Royal Caribbean pled guilty to 23 felony counts of giving false statements to the Department of Justice.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, but let‘s talk about murders here. Forget about the environmental part.
What about the fact that I can send my loved one to a cruise, they could get killed, thrown overboard, and, because of lax security on board these cruise ships, I would never get justice? Why is that? Why aren‘t they held accountable?
WALKER: Well, they are based in foreign countries. They have foreign-flag ships.
WALKER: They have a—a tradition.
SCARBOROUGH: Why does our Congress—hold on. Why does our Congress allow that to happen, when I see these things parked off the ports of Florida‘s cities? They make most of their money from U.S. residents going on their cruise ships, whether it‘s across the Mediterranean or also in the Caribbean. Why do we allow them to get away with that?
WALKER: Well, it‘s just the way things have gone, Joe, for the past 30 or 35 years. And this is really encouraging that you have Mr. Shays up there, who is going to be looking into this.
And, finally, what do we have? We have the Hagel family, the Smith family, the FBI, the Department of Justice, and hopefully Congress all on the same page. And, hopefully, something can finally change.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I will tell you what. It sounds like there may be some accountability, finally.
Pam Bondi, I heard the congressman say that a cruise line was a place to commit a perfect crime. You are a prosecutor in Florida. You got to know that‘s the truth, don‘t you?
PAM BONDI, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Well, and, Joe, we have seen it in this case.
I mean, look what happened. We have this young couple on their honeymoon. And, you know, most American citizens, when they get on a cruise ship, feel that they are going to be afforded the same rights that they would be in this country. But we know that‘s not the case. Evidence wasn‘t preserved. Witnesses weren‘t interviewed. People were allowed to leave the ship, you know, who were from all over the country, without being interviewed.
And now the FBI has had to come in and clean this up. And I commend Congressman Shays for doing everything he can to change this law and to give our citizens and other citizens on cruise ships more rights.
SCARBOROUGH: Choc Harris, right now, there‘s no way I would allow any of my family members to go on a cruise—cruise line right now, because I just don‘t feel like they would be safe. Am I overreacting to this situation? Or would you also have a problem with your families going on there without new security measures going online, because, after all, you worked for Carnival?
CHARLES “CHOC” HARRIS, FORMER CHIEF SECURITY OFFICER, CARNIVAL CRUISE
LINES: Well, I am going to tell you something. Truthfully and honestly, I am concerned about anybody who travels on there that doesn‘t keep their eyes open and start looking at what is going on.
It‘s true. Crimes do happen. I applaud the congressman in his effort. But I honor him and tell him, stick to your guns. Talk to the federal grand juries that have met in Florida, in the other states. Get the people who are out there to testify before Congress about what‘s happening on these cruise lines.
The victims—this family is a victim. They need to be represented, and their rights need to be protected. We need to have the cruise lines accountable for anything in crimes that happened on those ships. I am scared that, if we don‘t start now, we will have more and more crimes.
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it., as the congressman said, the place to commit a perfect crime.
Thanks a lot, as always, Pam Bondi, Jim Walker and Choc Harris.
Really appreciate it.
And, tomorrow night, we are going to be revealing the results of our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY investigation. We have traveled halfway around the world for it. You are not going to want to miss it.
And, when we come back, in a new TV show, actor Donald Sutherland plays a powerful Republican politician, but wait until you hear what he has to say about President Bush. Is he just saying what the rest of Hollywood thinks? Or is he out there on his own? Stay with that. We are going to be talking about that.
An, also, I‘m going to be talking about my trip back home to the University of Alabama.
That‘s when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Earlier this evening, we had Christopher Shays on. I asked him about Tom DeLay and whether Tom DeLay should step down. This is what he had to say.
SHAYS: Even if he is not guilty of criminal activity, he has been admonished three times ethically. And it just seems to me, it‘s a good thing that he is not our leader.
SCARBOROUGH: And—so, you would be uncomfortable—even if he got acquitted, you would be uncomfortable with him becoming majority leader or speaker in the future?
SHAYS: Well, I had said in March that I thought he needed to step down. I—I really believe that you can‘t lead a legislative body like this without being above reproach.
SCARBOROUGH: I will tell you what. That‘s a surprise to a lot of Republicans on Capitol Hill tonight.
I spoke with people, the Republican leadership, who said they did not expect Christopher Shays or other people to step out against Tom DeLay. He has. And now we are just going to sit back and wait and see if others are going to follow.
Let‘s move on now to actor Donald Sutherland. He is busy. Not only is he playing the Republican villain—and of course the Republican is a villain—on the ABC show “Commander in Chief.” He‘s also spending his free time lashing out at the Bush administration. During a recent appearance on the BBC, Sutherland called the current president vile, inadequate, a liar. But that‘s not all.
He went on to say this—quote—“They only care about profit. They will destroy our lives. And so it‘s something you have to care about if you‘re passionate about the lives of our children, because we have stolen their future.” And then, feeling emotional, Sutherland broke down in tears. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “HARDTALK EXTRA”)
DONALD SUTHERLAND, ACTOR: We have children. How dare we take their legacy from them? How dare we? It‘s shameful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: With me now to talk about the impact of this interview is Ian Drew.
Ian, thank you so much for being with us, of “Us Weekly.”
IAN DREW, “US WEEKLY”: Hello.
SCARBOROUGH: Ian, you think ABC is concerned about Donald Sutherland‘s comments, pretty tough comments toward President Bush?
DREW: Of course they are. I mean, I am sure the publicists inside CBS are sort of rattling in their boots right now.
This is not an atmosphere in American history where it‘s OK to express your opinion. We have seen it time and time again, with stars like the Dixie Chicks and Sheryl Crow and a laundry list of celebrities, who, every time they speak out, are...
SCARBOROUGH: And, Ian, the Dixie—the Dixie Chicks‘ career actually has—has bottomed out, hasn‘t it?
DREW: Yes, a lot of—a lot of them have, actually, from this kind of thing. We have seen people like Susan Sarandon, even, who has never been anything but vocal politically, still affected. People still don‘t go to her movies because of things that she said during the last election and before the last election.
SCARBOROUGH: Ian, let me ask you about—obviously, a lot of people watching are saying, gee, the guy is sitting there crying about the president of the United States. Why do you think so many Hollywood stars have a—it‘s a visceral hatred of this president. Why do you think that is?
DREW: I don‘t think it is. I just think that they have the platform to do it, A.
And, B, we have to remember that these people are artists. They are actors. They are singers. They are emotional by nature. So, they are going to express themselves a lot more freely because they have the opportunity to and the capacity to, both by nature of being in the media and by having the emotional connectedness to things going on around them. They are just more sensitive than other people a lot of the time. And people forget that. It‘s their job to be sensitive and emotional.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you so much, Ian Drew, from “Us Weekly.” Greatly appreciate it.
DREW: You‘re welcome.
SCARBOROUGH: He certainly is—certainly is being very sensitive here.
I am joined now by Tucker Carlson. He is host of “THE SITUATION WITH
Tucker, Donald Sutherland breaks down crying.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, I—I have always been accused of being a very sensitive guy.
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION”: Uh-huh. Me, too.
SCARBOROUGH: I always cry at the end of “It‘s a Wonderful Life.” But I didn‘t cry when Bill Clinton was president.
CARLSON: He is just on the edge emotionally. He needs to take a deep breath. You know, there are pills that can solve that.
SCARBOROUGH: In “Jerry Maguire,” you know the line where Cuba Gooding Jr. said, man, you are hanging by a thin thread.
CARLSON: He certainly is.
SCARBOROUGH: It looks like that‘s Sutherland, huh?
CARLSON: Not to laugh. I mean, I don‘t think he can come to a good end if he is that tightly wound, the poor guy.
But he‘s not the only person who is ticked at the president these days. Conservatives are, too. And I‘m not saying the Bush White House watches this show every night, though I did they do TiVo it, but the president did have a press conference this morning to respond to serious concerns by the right that he sold them down the river with this new nominee to the Supreme Court.
We are going to analyze whether it worked or not. And is this White House actually conservative? That‘s the question for tonight and every night until we get an answer.
SCARBOROUGH: A great question, Tucker. Thanks a lot.
CARLSON: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Appreciate it.
And make sure you tune into “THE SITUATION.” It‘s just minutes away at 11:00. I don‘t TiVo it. I run home and watch it.
Now, coming up next, home, sweet home, Alabama. I return home, and I will tell you all about it.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, they say you can‘t go home, and maybe that‘s true, if you didn‘t go to the University of Alabama.
I went home to my old school this weekend for the first time in nearly 10 years, and I found my return to be about as moving an experience as I could imagine. You know, Northerners and Neil Young have never really gotten Alabama‘s greatness. I have. I am going to tell you more about it tomorrow night, but, more importantly, the lessons I learned when I went home to sweet home Alabama.
That‘s all the time we have for tonight.
Stay tuned. We will be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: Want to thank you for being with me tonight. Really do appreciate it.
That‘s all the time we have for tonight, but we will see you tomorrow in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
“THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” starts right now.
Tucker, what‘s the situation tonight?
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION”: Oh, they are multifaceted, the situations tonight.
Thank you, Joe.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.