Nightly News | September 09, 2010
this story. Story really with three prongs: the Florida angle, official Washington and around the world, and lower Manhattan . Let's get to the other two by bringing in first Andrea Mitchell from our Washington bureau. Andrea , there's nothing like this. You've been around Washington a long time. This has now involved a four-star general, the secretary of defense.
ANDREA MITCHELL reporting: That's right .
WILLIAMS: And after all, let's not forget a preacher who, depending on estimates, has a flock in Florida of between 24 and perhaps 50 members, attracting all this attention because tensions being what they are.
MITCHELL: It's just extraordinary. I have never seen anything like this, but they had to take it seriously, Brian , because they had protests around the world. They had US troops on alert. They had a worldwide travel warning today because of the protests in Pakistan , in Afghanistan , in a war zone where we have upwards of 100,000 men and women. So with all of that on the line and with all of the progress that they had hoped to make toward the Muslim world , the initiatives from the president to the State Department to everything that David Petraeus is trying to do in Afghanistan and, before that, in Iraq , they had to take it seriously. And the decision was made very early today, from my conversations with people, that the White House would not reach out, that the State Department would not reach out, that they would have the Pentagon reach out; and it went to Bob Gates , Robert Gates , the secretary of defense, because he could clearly call the imam and put it to him that men and women in uniform were in danger, and that was the key factor.
WILLIAMS: And that decision certainly lent this a kind -- a different kind of weight. Let's go to Mike Taibbi in lower Manhattan . Mike , again, just trying to sort this out. Is it possible -- we had two prongs of this that weren't talking to each other -- is this -- is it possible a deal was cut in Florida involving a promise to move the controversial planned location of that Islamic center that is to contain a mosque without checking or getting the approval of the folks in New York ?
MIKE TAIBBI reporting: Well, Brian , apparently, thinking back to that famous movie line, " What we have here is a failure to communicate ." From the New York end of this, there were no negotiations and there is no deal. That both from the owner of the building and, more importantly, from Imam Rauf , who's the imam behind the planned cultural center and mark -- and mosque. He released a statement, just briefly, a short time ago, saying -- and this is a direct quote -- "I am glad that Pastor Jones has decided not to burn any Qurans ; however, I've not spoken to Pastor Jones or with Imam Musry " -- that's the central Florida imam -- " and I 'm surprised by their statements. We are not going to toy with our religion, nor are we going to barter. We are here to extend our hands and to build peace and harmony." An absolute denial that there've been any conversations at all. But, as Kerry said, it has been pointed out, if the Qurans aren't burned, that's the central point of today's developments.
WILLIAMS: That's right . Well, we'll keep returning on and dwelling on that point, at least, that the Saturday event will not happen, apparently, and as of now. This story will continue on into tomorrow. For tonight, our thanks to our correspondents covering our lead story -- changing story tonight.