Guest: John Abindar; T.J. Crowley
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Hey, Joe, thanks, great show, by the way. I watched the whole thing.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, good, thank you.
Thanks to you, too, for tuning in. We appreciate it.
You're looking now at pictures from Iraq, where polling centers have just opened and high voter turnout is expected in that country's first free parliamentary elections. Sunni insurgents have promised to keep things peaceful. We'll be keeping a close eye on the proceedings for you throughout the hour.
Also, is Karl Rove on the brink of indictment for his role in the CIA leak case? We'll get a live report from Washington. We'll get you some answers on that.
Plus, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to deny Tookie Williams clemency just hours before his scheduled execution. How will the governor handle the controversial case of Clarence Ray Allen, who's a severely ill blind man who's scheduled to die in January? He's 75 years old.
We'll have all of those stories in just a few minutes, but we begin tonight, as promised, with two separate stories that could have long-term effects on President Bush's legacy.
Columnist Bob Novak, who first published the identity of CIA officer
Valerie Plame two years ago, back in 2003, said yesterday he is confident
President Bush knows who leaked Plame's name and should settle the mystery
by revealing it to the rest of us.
New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, sent a letter to the president today, urging him to identify Novak's source.
It also looks like an indictment decision on advisor Karl Rove could come at any moment. People in Washington talking, really, about nothing else.
All of this, obviously, potentially bad news for the president, who spoke about the progress being made in Iraq for the fourth time this morning. This time, President Bush accepted blame for the faulty intelligence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As president, I'm responsible for the decision to go into Iraq. Given Saddam's history, and the lessons of September 11, my decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Here with the latest from Washington, MSNBC political correspondent, David Shuster. He joinings us live from the capital city—
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Tucker, good to be with you.
CARLSON: Thanks a lot for coming on.
Maybe it's just me, but I think Bush seems a lot better, a lot more human, maybe even a better communicator since he's been down in the polls. And given these last four speeches on Iraq, has it helped him at all with the public?
SHUSTER: I think it's helped a little bit. I mean, a poll suggests that it's marginally helped him. And I think having the president out there talking about it convinces the public that the president is just as determined as ever, which is his strong suit.
However, and I also think that it's probably helpful to a certain extent to acknowledge that the intelligence turned out to be wrong, but I don't think the public would really care about wrong intelligence if the war was going well.
I mean, if the war had been managed competently, as opposed to the incompetence that so many people have pointed out, then I think the president wouldn't have sort of the problems that he's having now.
So he addressed part of the issue today, but I think there's this other part. There's a sense that was it really worth 2,200 American soldiers and $500 billion -- $500 billion just to get rid of Saddam? And I think that's what the public is struggling with.
SHUSTER: And until there is some progress, I think the struggle is going to continue for the president on that count.
CARLSON: The disaster for Bush would be defection by large numbers of Republicans on the Hill. There's already a lot of friction between Congress and the White House. Do you think that's going to happen? Is the White House they worried that they're going to suddenly start—
Republicans are going to start calling for an early withdrawal?
SHUSTER: Well, Tucker, we're hearing that some Republicans are already suggesting to the White House, in sort of background briefings, that those defections are going to come, if you're looking at next spring and summer, when you're looking at the congressional elections.
The White House is terrified about a large number of defections as those congressional elections get closer, if—and this is a big if—if the situation in Iraq doesn't improve. If the situation improves, then the White House may be fine, but if the situation stays the same, if it's the status quo as it is now, that's where I think the White House has reason to fear large number of defections, especially as those congressional elections start to get closer.
CARLSON: I agree with that. I must have gotten four phone calls today from friends in Washington informing me that Karl Rove is about to be indicted. That is, as you know well, the rumor in Washington. Is there any truth to it?
SHUSTER: Yes, I do believe he's going to get indicted. I'm not sure whether it's going to happen soon or whether it's going to happen in January, but a couple of things to look at with this, Tucker.
That is, as you know, seven weeks ago, Karl Rove was about to get indicted when his lawyer provided some last-minute information that gave prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald some pause. It turns out the information wasn't quite the way Karl Rove's lawyer had suggested, and there's every indication that prosecutors are now back to the same theory about Karl Rove that they were almost two months ago.
The theory that Karl Rove only told the truth about disclosing information to reporter Matt Cooper when it was clear that Matt Cooper was going to be forced to testify.
And there are two clues that perhaps Fitzgerald is actually moving to an indictment.
First of all, it was a week ago today when he impaneled a new grand jury, presented new information, and again, prosecutors don't use new grand juries unless they want the panel to consider possible charges.
And the other thing that was so intriguing is that Vivica Novak, and it's a complicated story about why her name comes up. But when she first talked to prosecutor Fitzgerald, at the urging of Bob Luskin, Karl's lawyer, she talked to Fitzgerald on an informal basis. Vivica Novak, the “TIME” magazine reporter, talked to Fitzgerald on an informal basis.
After that point, at a certain point later, the prosecutor said, “You know what? I want your testimony on the record, under oath.” And you don't put somebody's testimony under oath unless you expect...
CARLSON: That's right.
SHUSTER: ... that they may be used in a criminal trial in the future. And again, just because Karl Rove may not be able to stop an indictment as far as his argument that, look, I had a faulty memory, that may not fly for stopping indictment. But prosecutor Fitzgerald is also looking at a possible trial.
And if Karl Rove were to raise that issue, that, “Oh, this is just an issue of faulty memory, and I'll have Vivica Novak prove it,” better to lock in Vivica Novak's testimony now. And I think that's why—I think all signs point to a Rove indictment.
CARLSON: I absolutely agree with you.
Now Bob Novak, in another development, an amazing development in this case, Bob Novak of CNN, whom I worked with for a long time and never heard once talk about the leak case, even in private, apparently decided to talk about it at a speech the other day in North Carolina. And he said, as we reported a second ago, that he believes the president knows the source of the original leak. The leak to him, apparently.
There's this pressure from Congress, Senator—Senator Schumer asking the president, reveal who this person is. Is the White House taking this seriously? What's the response?
SHUSTER: Well, I was a little puzzled about that. And again, reporting sometimes is difficult to keep track of, but Karl Rove, according to various reports, from several months ago, Karl Rove said that he talked to Bob Novak. And we know that Bob Novak said he got it from two administration officials, so one presumably is Rove. The other, Novak has described as “no partisan gun slinger.”
Well, it was hard to tell today when Novak was talking about: “Well, the president knows who my source was.” I was a little confused. Was Novak talking about Karl Rove, in which case, of course the president would know Karl Rove, or was he talking about somebody else?
But again, it's this sort of eternal mystery. Who were these two sources that Bob Novak talked to that prompted him to put the classified information in a column that started all of this to begin with?
CARLSON: All right. I can't wait for the book to unravel all of this. David Shuster in Washington. Meanwhile, before the book is published, you are the best source. And I appreciate your coming on. Thanks, David.
We have breaking news to report now. The Associated Press is
reporting seven minutes into the voting polling—places have just opened
seven minutes ago in Iraq—a large explosion has been reported in the
city of Baghdad. We have no more details, but of course, when we get them
· we expect to in this hour—we'll report them to you.
In the meantime, I am joined by Air America host, Rachel Maddow, one of our favorites. Rachel, thanks.
RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO HOST: Hi, Tucker.
CARLSON: I think, as I just said to David, I think that Bush actually is doing himself and the country a favor, in giving these speeches, most of which I don't agree with in their specifics and their details, but the guy is finally explaining himself to some extent. If he had done this before the war started, we'd all be in better shape.
But here's what I'm interested in. Why have we heard almost nothing from anybody, left or right, about these elections that started seven minutes ago in Iraq? If you want to pull the troops out, and everybody does, sooner rather than later, a stable democratic government in Iraq is going to make it possible. Why aren't people invested in making this election process work?
MADDOW: Well, I don't think the people are the opposite of invested in it. I don't think anybody is deriding the elections. I think that—when I've been talking about it on my radio show, on Air America, I've been saying, you know, I question whether this is a huge milestone. I question whether this is a huge benchmark.
The Bush administration wants us to think that all of these—these benchmarks and milestones, as they're calling them, all of these things that happen in the democratic process in Iraq, are one step closer to ending our involvement there. They show progress. They show that we're heading toward our plan for victory and everything, and I just don't see it that way.
I'm not sure that anybody has made a convincing case to me whatever happens in the elections today is going to make Iraq a less violent place. And that's what has to happen for us to leave.
CARLSON: I completely agree with part of what you said. The security situation is the bottom line.
CARLSON: And without security, democracy means nothing. However, this is the first time Iraqis are going to get to elect their own representative government. It's kind of a big deal. And if you—at this point, you know, Bush is the president. He's calling the shots, essentially, as the executive.
CARLSON: He says the plan here is to create a democracy so that we can leave. This is the first step in creating that democracy. And it seems to me that the rest of the world ought to be rooting for its success, and they're not.
Condi Rice yesterday in a speech made a very good point. She said where are international institutions? Where's the U.N.? Why is the U.N. not providing security, moral support? U.N. support, you know, was there helping with the election in Venezuela, for God's sakes, along with Jimmy Carter. Why—why aren't they in Iraq?
MADDOW: Well, the U.N. headquarters was bombed to rubble, not that long ago. So that's part of the answer.
CARLSON: So they're afraid of getting hurt? I mean, I thought they were...
MADDOW: Well, listen, Condoleezza Rice also made the point, she said, “Why is the international community not taking part in the trial of Saddam Hussein?”
Well, the international community isn't taking part in that trial, because we took our ball and went home. We said, “We don't want this to be part of the international criminal court. We don't want this to be the international standards, because we as Americans don't believe in the international criminal court.”
MADDOW: “So we're going to invent our own kangaroo court to try Saddam and then blame the other countries in the world for not being here.” That was the most disingenuous blame diversion I've seen in a very long time.
CARLSON: I don't think it's at all fair to call it a kangaroo court.
MADDOW: It's a court that will martyr him more than it will convict him.
CARLSON: That may be true, but that doesn't mean it's an unjust court, and I don't think there's any evidence the international standards are higher than those of the United States, or that other countries have higher standards of justice than we do. I don't think they do.
MADDOW: I think that the—if the court that was trying Saddam Hussein was up to international standards, was the kind of court that could be looked at, that had transparency, and that met standards that were unimpeachable, then we would be looking at trying Saddam and actually moving on from there. Instead, we're trying Saddam in what I think is a kangaroo court. And it's making Saddam a hero in Iraq again. It's ridiculous.
CARLSON: We're allowing him to bark from the witness stand, which is making him a hero.
CARLSON: Speaking of crime and punishment and justice, Clarence Ray Hamilton (sic) on Death Row in California, he's 75. Incidentally, his accomplice, Billy Ray Hamilton. In fact, his name is Clarence Ray Allen. Bill Ray Hamilton is the accomplice.
CARLSON: Both of them have the middle name Ray, as do a lot of people on Death Row, which I think is interesting.
MADDOW: And everybody who's a famous person there, we know their middle name, which makes you feel like three named people are more dangerous.
CARLSON: Right. It's either Ray or Lee in every case.
But here, this guy is diabetic. He's elderly. He's been on Death Row 25 years. Here is the argument from his lawyers why he should not be executed. Allen's lawyers are trying to halt his execution on the grounds that his failing health has been exacerbated by substandard medical care at San Quentin. In other words, he's to sick to die.
It seems to me we should end the death penalty just to end insane, ludicrous, offensive to common sense appeals like this. Right? I mean, this guy has been there 25 years. Justice is in no way served. This is not a valid reason not to execute. Maybe you shouldn't for other reasons, but why not make the case against the death penalty if you're against the death penalty?
MADDOW: What are cases—what are the possible reasons you could argue for executing this guy? Deterrence? I don't really think so in this case. It's going to make us safer to get rid of him? I don't really think so.
CARLSON: Why not deterrence? That's an interesting point.
MADDOW: People are going to think, I'm not going to kill somebody now, because in 26 years, I'm blind and have diabetes, and I have a heart attack, and I'm in a wheelchair, they're going to kill me then? I think I'm not sure...
CARLSON: Actually—actually, I think he's making—look, I think the death penalty is wrong, whether it deters crime or not, because I don't think the state should kill people, OK, except in self-defense. But I think there is a deterrent value in the death penalty, and I think there's research that shows that.
MADDOW: No, there's research that shows the exact opposite.
CARLSON: There is; there's research on both sides. I've written a lot about this. But look, the point is, criminals fear it to the point where they spend 25 years fighting it. It is not something the average Death Row inmate wants to face, that is, the execution chamber. People don't want to be executed. That itself cannot but have a deterrent effect.
MADDOW: The fact that people try not to die doesn't mean that having the death penalty keeps people from committing crimes. People try not to die because we're human beings. We want to stay alive.
The situation that we've got in California, though, is there is a guy who turns 76. The next day they want to kill him. He's in a wheelchair. He's blind. He has diabetes. He's had a heart attack. If you want to say that the death penalty makes us safer, that's what people who are for the death penalty argue, this guy, lays clear what the...
CARLSON: I'm not for the death penalty. I'm for telling the truth in this and every other case. And the fact that he's old is irrelevant. It's totally relevant to nothing. Is that somehow more tragic than executing a 25-year-old man? No, actually it's much less tragic. This guy is at the end of his life anyway. I just don't think it makes sense, and it's insulting to the rest of us to have to hear these arguments from these sleazy defense lawyers.
MADDOW: If this guy has—takes medication for diabetes and hypertension, and he is in prison, and they stop giving him those medication and he gets way wicked sick, that's actually our responsibility, whether or not we're going to kill him or not. It actually is. When you put people in jail, you have to provide for their health care, because they can't go...
CARLSON: Of course, the sick irony is if we withhold his diabetes medication, that's against the law, but if we kill him, it's entirely legal.
MADDOW: Yes. Crime and punishment in America.
CARLSON: Bizarro. Well, actually it's a lot worse than the rest of the world, if I could just point out. We may have flaws in this country, but we are better than everyone else.
MADDOW: And the patriotic thing to do is to point out the flaws in their own country.
CARLSON: Yes. And—but to keep them in perspective and point out your flaws, relative to the flaws of the rest of the world, which is still the greatest country by a factor of million. Take that.
MADDOW: That was a back flip like I've never seen it.
CARLSON: I mean it. I totally mean it. Rachel, thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Still to come, controversy over the Pentagon's new $300 million psychological warfare campaign. It intends to counter terrorist propaganda with a pro-American message throughout the world. How can this be bad? You may ask that question. We plan to ask the very same question to our next guest.
Plus, Arab American groups are outraged over a new anti-terrorism billboard that features an Arab man holding a grenade and a driver's license in his hands. Is it a racist P.R. campaign or frighteningly realistic? Debate ensues when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Still to come on THE SITUATION, should kids who play soccer be forced to wear helmets on the field? Plus, an anti-terrorism billboard infuriates Arab Americans. Stick around for all the details.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Welcome back. Within minutes of the polls opening for Iraq's parliamentary elections, a large blast ripped through the capital city. Baghdad police said a mortar exploded near the Green Zone, where the Iraqi government and U.S. Embassy are located.
There are no immediate reports of casualties. We will, of course, keep you posted on any developments as we get them, and we probably will.
The Pentagon is hopeful a successful election in Iraq today will convince the Muslim world that democracy is better than tyranny. They're not taking chances. The Defense Department has launched a $300 million psychological warfare campaign aimed as placing pro-American messages on everything from foreign newspaper and television, to T-shirts and bumper stickers.
Here with his thoughts on the plan, T.J. Crowley, former deputy Pentagon spokesman, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington. He joins us live tonight from there.
T.J., thanks a lot for coming on.
T.J. CROWLEY, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Hey, Tucker, pleasure.
CARLSON: So what could be wrong with this? Aren't we supposed to be winning the hearts and minds of the Islamic world, and isn't this an attempt to do it?
CROWLEY: It is a way to do it, and certainly propaganda done right has an appropriate role within warfare.
But this particular plan, in my mind, is self-defeating, you know. First of all, we are kind of subverting what we're trying to accomplish in Iraq. We're there to spread democracy and build the institutions of government and democracy, of which a free and vibrant and independent media is one of them.
So when you end up buying off Iraqi journalists and paying a defense contractor to plant good news, I think it subverts what we're trying to accomplish.
And secondly, whenever these things come out, they inevitably do, it erodes the credibility of the Pentagon and by extension, the Bush administration.
Right now, the president, as he did today, is struggling to convince the American people that this struggle is right. You know, they feel misled, you know over intelligence and other issues. And then the international community, as you were saying a minute ago, is sitting on the sidelines, because they don't see that this is legitimate.
CARLSON: They hate us. Right. Well, I agree with the second point that if you're going to do things like this by stealth, don't get caught. That's kind of rule No. 1, but I disagree with the first point or maybe don't understand it. What is anti-democratic about telling the truth? No one has alleged that any of this propaganda, so called, any of this information placed in Iraqi news outlets is false. It's true. What's wrong with that?
CROWLEY: Well, I mean, in this country, we didn't like it when the administration bought Armstrong Williams to promote their education plan. Why should we think this is any better?
CARLSON: Hold on. Armstrong Williams convinced precisely no one, of anything, ever.
CROWLEY: Of course. And that's one of the other points here, which is there's no indication that this is successful. I know the Pentagon is frustrated that they perceive that the media is not reporting the good news, you know, coming out of Iraq.
But yet, you know, they're unable to deal with the level of violence here. The Iraqi people, they like the invasion because it knocked off Saddam. They don't like the occupation because we've never met their expectations in terms of improving their daily lives.
CARLSON: Right. But OK, I think the comparison you're making between the American media and the Iraqi media kind of falls down because the Iraqi media isn't free and vibrant and has no tradition of being free and vibrant. It's actually incredibly political. The papers are filled with totally unreliable rumors.
I would venture to guess that the stories planted by the Pentagon in Iraqi papers are probably the most accurate thing in there that day.
CROWLEY: And the only thing that they need to do differently, is if they buy space in the paper, if they plant a story, mark it as such.
CROWLEY: It is the lack of attribution here, the covert nature of this, that they're paying journalists to produce good news, without letting people know, and they're buying stories in papers without saying, “This was brought to you by the Lincoln Group or the United States government.”
CARLSON: OK. Finally, quickly, you spent a long time in the military, a career in the military. Do you think the Pentagon will ever be deft enough? Can a large bureaucracy like the Pentagon ever be deft enough to pull off propaganda or information campaigns like this effectively?
CROWLEY: Well, and certainly, I think that information warfare, psychological operations, it's a vitally important, you know, part of warfare today.
You know, but the key is, the Pentagon has to keep its hands off of the, you know, the interaction between journalists, independent journalists, and governments. Because, you know, let's face it: information knows no boundaries, and even though we might think we're inserting a story over there, ultimately it could come boomeranging back here and interfere with the relationship between the American people and United States government. And whenever that happens, we're in real trouble.
CARLSON: All right. T.J. Crowley from Washington, thanks for joining us.
CROWLEY: Tucker, a pleasure.
CARLSON: Still to come, R.J. Reynolds learns a lesson about mixing drinks and cigarettes. Would you anti-smokers just lighten up for once? You decided, when THE SITUATION returns.
CARLSON: Welcome back.
A case of road rage is brewing in North Carolina. Arab groups are upset over a billboard that urges lawmakers to make it tougher for terrorists to get drivers' licenses.
The sign shows a man wearing a traditional Arab head scarf, holding a grenade as well as a driver's license. Some say the image is racist.
Here to talk about it, John Abinader, the cofounder of the Arab America Institute. He joins us live from Washington, D.C.
Mr. Abinader, thanks a lot for coming on.
JOHN ABINADER, COFOUNDER, ARAB AMERICAN INSTITUTE: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: I don't really understand the complaint against this billboard. The billboard doesn't claim that all Muslims are terrorists. It implies that most terrorists are Muslims, and that's true.
ABINADER: Well, the web site of the people who support this say the same thing. But the reality is, what you're doing is you are taking an image and confusing it with an issue.
You can talk about terrorism. You can talk about national security. You can talk about immigration without targeting a specific group. It's very hard for people who have been since 9/11 impacted month after month, week after week, with stories about Arabs and Muslims to separate that out from terrorism, when it becomes reinforced with things like this billboard campaign.
CARLSON: Right, but we are—we are targeting a specific group. If we're a fearful of Islamic extremism, and we are, then we're targeting Islamic extremists.
ABINADER: That's not what this is about.
ABINADER: This campaign is about safe drivers' lincenses.
ABINADER: And tightening up the needs for driver's licenses. When we talk about drug use, drunk driving, if you are flashing Hispanic pictures or Irish or African-Americans, people would say, that's inappropriate. We are not talking about political correctness. We are talking about dealing with the issue, not trying to create images that make people in our culture, American culture scapegoats because they happen to be unfortunately related to people who created what happened in 9/11.
CARLSON: Right, but I think the specific issue we are talking about pertains directly to Islamic extremism. We are afraid that Islamic extremists, terrorists, will end up misusing drivers' licenses in order to commit acts of terror, as happened on 9/11 when the hijackers had something like 60 fake drivers' licenses, that they used to get entry onto those airplanes.
ABINADER: But the issue is, how are we going to make drivers' licenses more fool-proof? That's the issue. Whether it's terrorists using it, whether it's college kids buying liquor, who are—who are involved in drunk driving situations. There are lots of other reasons.
I'm saying, the issue of a safe I.D. is different from the issue of terrorism. Yes, they're related because of 9/11, but that doesn't mean that someone in their own mind is going to be able to make the distinction between the picture of this terrorist on the billboard and the guy down the street who runs the grocery store or the guy who—or the woman who teaches their kids in school.
ABINADER: Who happen to be Arabs or Muslims. That's the problem here.
CARLSON: We also should point out the people who made this billboard say that they took this image of the man in the kifaya with the hand grenade directly from a terrorist web site, a web site that was supportive of Hamas and Hezbollah. So it's not like they cooked it up, right? It actually came from a real website.
ABINADER: We're not saying that, again—we're saying that, if the issue is misuse of drivers' licenses, you can talk about it without putting images on the screen, which can mislead people into thinking, I've got to watch Arabs and Muslims in my own country.
CARLSON: But wait a second. I mean, people feel that way for a reason, and I understand why you're upset about it. I would be upset about it, too, if I were Arab or Muslim. I mean, I get that completely.
But there's a reason that people might suspect they have something to fear from foreign-born Muslims, fair or not. There is a reason, right, and the reason is, 100 percent of Islamic terrorists are Islamic, right, are Muslims?
ABINADER: But don't forget...
CARLSON: So isn't—shouldn't you be pointing your finger at those people?
ABINADER: The issue, people that are a problem are not Arabs. You have Richard Reid, Jose Padilla.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
ABINADER: What we're saying is deal with the issue. Death with it in a very you have other people who are white, blue eyed, green eyed, Latinos, who are also Muslim, and some of them happen to be Islamic extremists. Stereotypes just don't help. We are saying deal with the issue in a straightforward way.
Give the American people good information without having to raise fright tactics...
ABINADER: ... which, in fact, rather than help the situation, create an aura of suspicion and pick on people unnecessarily.
CARLSON: I still think your outrage should be directed at the people who confirm those stereotypes, rather than the ones who perpetuate them.
ABINADER: Believe me, we are, daily we do battle with those folks.
CARLSON: Good I'm glad. Jean Abinader, thanks a lot for coming on.
ABINADER: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Up next, suiting up for a soccer game may soon involve—brace yourself—putting on a helmet. Should the people who proposed this idea have their heads examined? Of course they should. We'll debate that next with Max Kellerman.
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