Guest: Douglas Brinkley, Henry Rodriguez, Mary Alice Carr, Tony Perkins, Michael Cutler, Lawrence Otis Graham, Al Sharpton, David Kirby
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: And right now on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, the Katrina tapes. Are they a smoking gun aimed at President George Bush? Six months later, secret recordings of President Bush planning for Katrina as the killer storm races towards the shore. Forget what the usual suspects are telling you. Tonight, I'm going to tell you what's really going on with these tapes and why the head of Homeland Security should be fired.
Then, is abortion about to be banned? Big news about a Supreme Court case that could change America.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. No passport required. Only common sense allowed.
Thanks for being with us tonight. We're going to have those stories in just a minute. Plus, autism, it's striking millions of children. But after all that's been said, is our government even now doing enough to really attack the causes of the epidemic? It's an important story and we'll get at it soon.
And a special investigation. Are terrorists taking advantage of our marriage laws to hide out in America? Well, the answer is yes. It's a shocking report. And we're going to bring it to you.
But first, Bush-bashing bloggers and their allies in the press, they're already hyperventilating over the Katrina tapes. Or as one on this network breathlessly called them, “the Bush tapes.” The Bush tapes! Just released today, takes us all inside the president's meetings with his top aides the day before Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do want to thank the good folks in the offices of Louisiana and Alabama and Mississippi for listening to these warnings and preparing your citizens for this huge storm.
I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the storm to help you deal with the loss of property and we pray for no loss of life, of course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Now though I've spent the past six months kicking the president squarely in the pants for his terrible reaction to Katrina, I suggest to my peers in the press breathe into a paper bag and take notes from one who was in the hurricane zone the day it hit and who sat through too many FEMA briefings the day before hurricanes were about to slam into my hometown.
And as one who's been there and done that, two things are painfully clear from these tapes. First, Homeland Security director Chertoff was out to lunch, literally. And two, former FEMA Director and current goat Michael Brown was deadly accurate in his predictions.
So these Bush tapes won't hurt Bush so much as they will prove that Brownie did a “heck of a job,” at least in predicting the aftermath of Katrina. So my question tonight, why wasn't Washington listening to Brownie? And why are we just now hearing tapes they told us no longer existed?
Well, to bring in a New Orleans resident and historian, Doug Brinkley, also Henry Rodriguez, the president of hard-hit New Orleans St. Bernard Parish.
Doug, I have been kicking the hell out of Michael Brown for six months, as have a lot of people in the press and a lot of people along the Gulf Coast where I live. But you look at these tapes, this guy was providing a blueprint for what was going to happen in Mississippi, in New Orleans, in the Superdome, with the levees. Why weren't people listening to him?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT & HISTORIAN: Well, I think that Wednesday—remember, Katrina hit on the 29th, that's on a Monday. Two days later, the worm started turning on Brown. The Brownie remark was on a Friday of President Bush saying that week to him—sorry, on that Thursday.
But I think the—he became the pinata, the scapegoat for everything. But it wasn't just the Democrats going after Brown. They were looking at him as a trophy. It was also, I believe, Homeland Security itself. Everybody wanted to find somebody to blame.
What people don't realize is Brown got grounded in Baton Rouge. So he was stuck there at the emergency headquarters, wasn't allowed to travel. And the White House was saying they didn't want to have a blame game, but it was becoming very convenient for Homeland Security to blame Brown and the Democrats joined the chorus, so he became the all-purpose scapegoat.
SCARBOROUGH: So, Doug, they were keeping hit out of New Orleans where he wanted to be. He was up in Baton Rouge away from the action. He had made all of these predictions. And, again, remember, Doug, this is the same guy who led us in Florida through four killer storms the year before and did a pretty damn good job of it.
SCARBOROUGH: So what's the difference? The difference is Homeland Security and Michael Chertoff. Right?
BRINKLEY: Couldn't agree with you more. I'm working on this nonstop trying to do book. And Homeland Security is where the real story is. Brown got scapegoated. Brown never got along with Chertoff. And I agree with you that I think that the real focus has to be on the breakdown of Homeland Security.
Brown became the patsy, the fall guy for everything. But couple of weeks ago he came back with a vengeance, Brown, and did a lot of interviews. Remember, the TIME magazine story hurt Brown a lot when they talked about him padding his resume and it's unclear on some of those points that TIME brought out, and the pile-on continued. The old Japanese adage the nail that stands the tallest gets hammered down, well, Brown stood tall.
When Bush said, Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job, that's when the trouble started. That's was what Brown calls the tipping point because everybody started looking at Brown at that point and started saying, who is this guy? Who is Brownie? And at that point, destroying Brown was the way to hurt President Bush.
Now Brown has refashioned himself. And he's becoming kind of the guy who seemed to be more on the ball at least than the people in Homeland Security were.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Let me bring in right now Henry Rodriguez.
Henry, during this same briefing, Max Mayfield of the National Hurricane Center issued a dire warning about the levees in New Orleans. We'll hear what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAX MAYFIELD, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: So if the really strong winds clip Lake Pontchartrain, that's going to pile some of that water from Lake Pontchartrain over on the south side of the lake. I don't think anyone can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not, but that's obviously a very, very big concern.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And on the day before the storm hit, August 28th, President Bush begged the residents of the area to get out of Dodge. He said, we cannot stress enough this danger, this hurricane poses to Gulf Coast communities. I urge all citizens to put their own safety and safety of their families first by moving to safe ground. Please listen carefully to instructions provided by state and local officials.
It looked like everybody was being warned. What went so terribly wrong?
HENRY RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, ST. BERNARD PARISH: I'll tell you what went wrong. It started at the top. It's the federal government from the top to the bottom. I've never seen an administration like this in all my life. The things that came out today, you don't know what to believe. There's nobody tells the truth. Every single one of them is telling damn lies.
And all of these lies have cost people their lives. Number one, the government levees failed. The federal government, the ones the Corps of Engineers built and didn't properly maintain and today are putting back. And if anybody goes and checks what they're putting back by the Ninth Ward and the industrial canal, it is originally what it was before. And it's four feet lower in elevation than what it should be.
But this whole situation...
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Henry, though, you talk about how it goes from top to bottom. But the bottom line is—and again, I've been blaming everybody here, but the bottom line is you've got the president of the United States coming on begging everybody to leave.
You've got federal officials begging the governor to declare a disaster area, begging the mayor of New Orleans to evacuate everybody. They didn't listen to him. You can't say it's top to bottom. It's bottom to top, it's top to bottom. It was everybody's fault. It was local officials, it was state officials, federal officials, wasn't it?
RODRIGUEZ: No, I disagree with you on local and state official, because local and state officials did the best they could. I know, I was there. And we had our National Guard people and National Guard troops...
SCARBOROUGH: Why didn't they evacuate? Why did she (ph) refuse to evacuate?
RODRIGUEZ: How we they—because I was president of St. Bernard Parish, it was my duty to stay there with my people.
SCARBOROUGH: No, no, I'm not talking about you.
RODRIGUEZ: And we also had the National Guard...
SCARBOROUGH: I'm talking about the governor. Why didn't the governor evacuate? Why didn't Nagin use all those buses that were basically, you know, put underwater after Katrina hit?
RODRIGUEZ: Well, that's easy for you all to not understand about the buses. The buses were placed in a position where that area had never flooded before, and neither did areas of St. Bernard Parish. We did the same thing, the National Guard did the same thing. So the thing about it was...
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, but you use the buses before the floodwaters come. You use the buses to get people out of there so they don't die. And when the president is trying to nationalize the National Guard, you get the governor of the State of Louisiana to do that.
Again, I'm not saying the president didn't screw up. I've been saying for six month he did. I'm just not going to let you come on my show and say that state and local officials did a good job, because they did a lousy job.
RODRIGUEZ: They did as good a job—it's easy for you people to say that they didn't do a good job. The president knew how...
SCARBOROUGH: What do you mean, “you people.” Hey, hey, look on your map. I live in Pensacola, Florida, I've been through more hurricanes than you've ever been through in your life. So don't tell me you people don't understand hurricanes. I understand it a lot better than you do.
RODRIGUEZ: I don't think you have been through a damn thing that I haven't been through in my life, because I've been through a hell of a lot of Hurricanes.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, have you really?
RODRIGUEZ: But I'll tell you this, if they knew...
SCARBOROUGH: How many hurricanes you been through, buddy? Let's have a contest.
RODRIGUEZ: It started with...
SCARBOROUGH: You've been through two hurricanes. You've been through Betsy and you've been through Katrina.
RODRIGUEZ: No, no, you don't know...
SCARBOROUGH: So don't tell me I don't understand hurricanes.
RODRIGUEZ: That's the problem, you don't—you're just like everybody else. You don't know what you're talking about. You don't know what I've been through.
SCARBOROUGH: Actually, you know what separates me from everybody else? I've actually ridden through hurricanes. I know what it's like to believe that your house is going blow apart at 3:00 in the morning when you're looking up. And I've seen officials, and I saw it during Ivan, I've seen local and state officials actually do their job. They actually nationalized the National Guard when it was time to nationalize it.
You all didn't. You want to blame the president. The president...
RODRIGUEZ: We had...
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, hold on a second. The president and Republicans want to blame you. Why don't you just step up and say, we screwed up. Everybody screwed up.
RODRIGUEZ: I'm not going to say we screwed up. If you would shut your mouth long enough, I'll tell you my position. If they knew, the federal government knew that we were going to get flooded, which we all figured that we were, hoping that we wouldn't, why in the hell didn't they have buses down there to help us? Because they had to know that ours was underwater.
Why in the hell did FEMA turn down the request for 300 boats prior to that by the state? That's a lot of things that they didn't do at the federal—where were the helicopters? I spent two nights on a roof, my friend. I slept on a goddamn roof. I guess you were sleeping in some hotel. But don't tell me what I've been through...
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, you know where I was? I was over in Mississippi. So don't tell me what I know...
RODRIGUEZ: Don't tell me what the hell the state didn't do because I've seen the state working and I've seen local.
SCARBOROUGH: And I would also ask you not to swear on my show. There are kids who are still watching.
Doug Brinkley, I want to bring you back in...
RODRIGUEZ: Good, let the kids watch.
SCARBOROUGH: ... here for one point. The point is we've got local officials still blaming the president, still blaming the feds. You've got the feds blaming the local officials. Why can't these people just come forward and admit, everybody screwed up on all levels, right?
SCARBOROUGH: Absolutely, everybody screwed up.
RODRIGUEZ: I will tell you what...
BRINKLEY: And the...
RODRIGUEZ: ... I think everybody made a few mistakes and all that. But I tell you one thing now...
BRINKLEY: I think the question of...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. I'm sorry, we've got a...
SCARBOROUGH: Doug, go ahead, your turn.
RODRIGUEZ: The federal government ain't going to help you.
BRINKLEY: The people who did a good job in the federal government were the U.S. Coast Guard. They had moved their assets up to Alexandria, Louisiana. So unlike the National Guard that was trapped in Jackson Barracks or the City of New Orleans that had buses that got flooded, the Coast Guard under Captain Paskewich had moved to Alexandria.
So to every single Coast Guard, they didn't lose a helicopter. They worked around the clock. It was a model operation, the Coast Guard. So while we're all talking about who screwed up, we should also remember what a great job the Coast Guard did. And they did so because they learned from Ivan, they brought their assets out of the bowl of New Orleans, put them in Alexandria, created a center to do search and rescue.
And they didn't have one—many of the guys in the Coast Guard lost all their homes. Many of them lived in New Orleans East. They got wiped out. They didn't have one person in the Coast Guard who didn't show up for duty. Compare that to something like the New Orleans Police Department. So the Coast Guard is a great success story.
SCARBOROUGH: There are some great success stories and a lot of people put their lives on the line and we thank them for it. And I thank you Doug Brinkley and Henry Rodriguez.
And, friends, let me tell you something, the reason why you watch this show is because I don't apologize for Republicans, I don't apologize for Democrats, I don't apologize for people on the federal level, and I don't apologize for governors or local official who screw up. Everybody is pointing fingers.
But again, friends, remember, the important thing about these tapes, it's the second rewrite of history. Six months to the day after Katrina hit, what does it show us? That Michael Brown may have been a scapegoat. This may have been the guy who was issuing all the right warnings, but he wasn't listening because the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., and Baton Rouge and New Orleans wouldn't listen to him.
Coming up next. The coming war over abortion. Roe v. Wade may be on the fast track to being overturned. Big news.
And fake marriages for money. Tonight, new concerns that terrorists could be saying “I do” to sneak into the country. It's a disturbing investigate and I'll tell you my own inside story on what an undercover FBI agent told me. That's coming up.
SCARBOROUGH: Will Roe v. Wade be banned? Mississippi lawmakers are close to banning abortion, South Dakota's house has already done so. And the Supreme Court is going to soon ban a partial birth abortion, the first time an abortion procedure will be outlawed since Roe passed in 1973.
Abortion rights activists fear the worst, while Republican strategists fear an overturned Roe could cause their party control of Congress. With me now to talk about it, Mary Alice Carr from NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
Mary Alice, I hope you didn't flinch when I said that partial birth abortion was going to be banned but I'm pretty sure Kennedy is going to provide the fifth and deciding vote. So regardless of how that case turns out, though, it does look like abortion rights and their supporters are on the run. Would you agree with that?
MARY ALICE CARR, NARAL PRO-CHOICE AMERICA: Having us on the ropes is probably what you would say right now. I mean it looks like really what we're having happen right now is sort of a perfect storm.
I mean, you have a White House that's hostile to women's access to reproductive rights. You have both a House and a Senate that are. And it's really almost impossible to throw anything in front of the oncoming train. And women's access to deciding when to have a child is seriously going to be curtailed.
And it's really happening. We've been talking about this for a long time and we're starting to see the wolf at the door.
SCARBOROUGH: Do you really think, though, this South Dakota law, if it's signed by the governor, or the Mississippi law, if it's signed by its governor, do you really think the United States Supreme Court are going to take these cases up, knowing that they're not going to have the five votes needed to overturn Roe?
CARR: Well, I think they're actually looking further down the line. I mean, what people are hoping for right now is George W. Bush has had two appointments to the Supreme Court. He put both of them in the mold of Thomas and Scalia, as he told us that he would. Both candidates, Roberts and Alito, who are hostile to Roe versus Wade, they're hoping for a third.
And they're hoping if they get that third that they'll have a Supreme Court that will be favorable to overturning Roe. That's what they're looking for. So they're thinking out, you know, right now, we'll do this now and we'll let it work its way through the courts.
You know, I really have to say that I hope they don't because we know if you want to reduce abortion in the United States, you don't ban it, you actually make it less necessary. You make contraception more available.
SCARBOROUGH: Tony Perkins, it certainly does look like partial birth abortion is going to be banned. It will be the first time the United States Supreme Court has banned a procedure, or any state court was able to ban any abortion procedure since Roe v. Wade passed in 1973.
These are pretty heady times for the pro-life groups, aren't they?
TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Well, Joe, this has been years in the making, 33 years of pro-life activity, women's crisis pregnancy centers, education of the public. I mean, we've seen the public turn in their opinion where a majority of Americans classify themselves as pro-life.
And this is not just about a president and a conservative Congress. Most of this activity is taking place at the state level. I think the bigger picture here, the bigger story is that legislators are now stepping up and taking on the responsibility that's rightfully theirs to create policy. They're—maybe the day has come when they're going to stop looking in that judicial crystal ball, thinking about what a judge is going to rule somewhere and go ahead and enact policies that reflect their constituents.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what, though, Tony, I mean, obviously in South Dakota and Mississippi it's very safe to pass abortion bans, but there are a lot of Republicans in Washington, D.C., scared out of their minds that Roe v. Wade may be overturned.
And if, in fact, that happens—let's say after Stevens retires, if that happens then it's going to cause actually a political bloodbath for the Republican Party. Don't you see some real political dangers in Roe being overturned?
PERKINS: Well, I think there are some Republicans that are duplicitous on this issue. They see it as a political issue. This is an issue of how we treat life in this country. And if the Republicans—I know they—some have said they've drug their feet because they know it's a valuable political tool.
I think that you're seeing the American public turn in favor of legislation that limits abortion to some degree. And so I think the culture is changing. I don't know that it will be that big of an issue for the Republican Party. There's other issues that the court has taken on, like marriage and other things that the Republican Party will continue to be able to champion on these social issues.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Mary Alice, it seems to me, if I'm on your side, I want this South Dakota case to go to the United States Supreme Court, because I'll win 5-4. It will be one more precedent and make it harder when Stevens leaves and you get that fifth vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Do you agree that the best thing that could happen to you would be the South Dakota or Mississippi law to go up to the United States Supreme Court and be struck down quickly?
CARR: No, the best thing that could happen for women in this country is if we make contraception nor accessible and they could actually prevent pregnancy and not even have to worry about abortion.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, but we're talking about political realities.
CARR: The political reality on this is Roe v. Wade has been affirmed over 30 times in the courts. We don't need it to be reaffirmed one more time with this. We have affirmed time and time again. And it's interesting that Mr. Perkins even says the American public is for limiting abortion to some degree.
This is not about limiting abortion to some degree. This is about banning abortion in all cases unless the woman is absolutely about to die. You know...
SCARBOROUGH: I've got to ask both of you one more question here. First of all, I'll go to you, Mary Alice. What do you think about Justice Alito? And I like the guy. I like his judicial philosophy, I think. But I can't believe that he wrote a thank you letter to James Dobson, a guy I also like. It seems highly inappropriate. Mary Alice, what's your take?
CARR: You know, it's politics as usual. I mean, obviously everyone who put Alito up knew exactly where he stood. He wouldn't answer questions in hearings for the American public, but we absolutely know the people behind the scenes know where he stands and we know that where that stands is to overturn Roe.
SCARBOROUGH: Tony, you know that I absolutely love James Dobson. But if Ruth Bader Ginsburg had written a thank you letter to the ACLU or Americans for Separation of Church and State after being on the Supreme Court, both you and I would be very disappointed, wouldn't we?
PERKINS: In his letter, I read the contents of the letter, it was no different than what he said when I was in the White House for his swearing-in ceremony. He thanked people for their prayers and for their support. He made no indication of any issue or how he would rule on anything.
SCARBOROUGH: But didn't he say thank you for the support, I'll remember it when I'm...
CARR: And it is ironic...
SCARBOROUGH: As long as I'm on the court.
PERKINS: No, he said that I will remember the faith and trust than has been placed in me by the people. That's what he said. And there was nothing inappropriate about what he said in his letter. And he made the same statement of thanking people for their prayers and for their support as he went through a very difficult process as Ted Kennedy and Charles Schumer and others tried to attack him and run down his character.
It's a very tough position for a family to be in and that's all he was thanking people, was remembering that I'm a human. There's nothing wrong with that.
SCARBOROUGH: OK. All right. Thank you so much. Tony Perkins and Mary Alice Carr. Thank you for being with us.
Friends, we've got so many momentous cases coming before the Supreme Court over the next several weeks, months, and next couple of years. We're going to be talking about it a lot more, and I certainly hope these two guests will come back. They are very articulate spokespeople for their positions. Again, on a case, these Roe v. Wade cases, it's going to keep coming up until it's eventually overturned after Justice Stevens retires.
Coming up next, I do for dollars. Are terrorists using fake marriages to get into our country? The answer, yes. The disturbing results of an investigation that we will bring you on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY when we come back.
SCARBOROUGH: Is al Qaeda going to come in through our ports? Or are they going to come in through the Mexican border? No, they're going to come in by walking down the aisle with insecure, weak women, that from the FBI. We'll tell you all about it coming up.
But first here's the latest news you and your family need to know.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back. A stunning new report from our NBC affiliate in New York City. Are Americans actually helping terrorists by marrying them for money?
According to the 9/11 Commission, several of the terrorists involved in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center were in this country because they had legal status for marrying an American. Investigative reporter Pei-Sze Cheng from WNBC has the details on how this happens—Pei-Sze.
PEI-SZE CHENG, WNBC INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Joe, some Americans are getting paid to marry foreigners so they can get their green cards. It's happening across several immigrant communities and some say it's incredibly easy to get away with, which is troubling to government agencies that are trying to fight a war against terror.
CHENG (voice-over): For $65,000, this man who doesn't want to be identified took a plunge into the underground world of fraudulent marriage. He says he traveled to his native China to marry a woman who wanted a green card. With his marriage certificate in hand, he returned to New York. Three years later, she was granted a visa to America.
(on camera): Were you ever interviewed by immigration?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Never. I just came back, dropped the paperwork off at my lawyer and I was gone.
CHENG (voice-over): Although they are still legally married, she lives in Brooklyn with her real husband and son. And he lives in the Bronx with his girlfriend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who's to say it's not for real, it's not a real marriage. As long as you have got the proper paperwork, all the paperworks, they have to let you come.
CHENG: It's a shocking arrangement that he says happens frequently in Chinatown where opportunities abound. But even on the popular Web site craigslist, we found several ads like this one: “Marry Me for Convenience, I'll Pay Whatever!”
MARTIN FICKE, AGENT-IN-CHARGE, ICE-NY: I think it's inevitable that some people will get through and some people and some we will probably never find out were involved in a fraudulent marriage.
CHENG: Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Martin Ficke acknowledges that fake marriages are a problem, not just within the Asian communities, but also among the South American, Eastern European, and Middle Eastern communities. He says immigration agents are faced with thousands of applications a year in New York alone. But they are paying attention.
FICKE: Each one is scrutinized. Each one has a procedure that includes at a minimum one interview. It could be more than one interview. And the people that are doing it are very experienced.
CHENG: Ficke says the Department of Homeland Security is currently investigating eight significant organizations that are involved with marriage fraud. He says by focusing on larger rings they are able to weed out more offenders, often thousands at a time.
FICKE: We're getting beat less than we were in the past. We're learning more from our investigations.
MICHAEL CUTLER, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: The problem is that Immigration is spread far too thin. They have too great an area of responsibility.
CHENG: Former INS agent Michael Cutler says the agency lacks the resources to scrutinize fake marriage like they used to. But his larger concern is how fake marriage affects our national security. The 9/11 Commission discovered that some terrorists involved in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center stayed in this country by marrying Americans. Cutler fears terrorists are embedding themselves into American society right now under the nose of the government.
CUTLER: It really contradicts what we're claiming we're trying to do. On the one hand we're being told that we're securing America against terrorists. And on the other hand we've left the door wide open. How does that help to secure us?
CHENG: Still, those who will try desperate means to find opportunities in this country view fake marriage as a safe and sure way to becoming a citizen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back then you pay $65,000, take a three-month cruise around the world, you come here, you're still illegal. Now you're legal. It's much safer.
CHENG: While Homeland Security is focused on putting leaders of these fake marriage organizations behind bar, that doesn't mean those who benefit from them are off the hook. Authorities say if they find you, they'll take away your green card and deport you—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank you so much, Pei-Sze, greatly appreciate it. Again, from our NBC station in New York.
Let's bring in now NBC terror analyst Evan Kohlmann and also from the Center for Immigration Studies, Michael Cutler, a 30-year veteran with the INS.
Michael, how dangerous of a problem is this for us?
CUTLER: It's a very big problem. You know, there has been so much emphasis on securing our border, but this is kind of like putting secure locks on your house and then handing keys out to people that enable them to open the door.
When give somebody a green card and ultimately United States citizenship, it not only gives them free access to our borders, it gives them access to borders of so many other countries of the world.
And we know from the results of the information developed by the 9/11 Commission that prior to the attacks, the terrorists needed to travel often and extensively, and we're making it so much easier for them because there's just not enough resources to uncover immigration fraud, whether it's marriage fraud or labor fraud, document fraud, major problem and very little attention being paid to it in terms of resources and manpower.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Evan, I don't want to offend anybody here, but I've just got to tell you a story. An undercover FBI agent was sitting around having drinks, telling me that the greatest risk to America's safety was fat women. I said, fat women, what are you talking about? Thinking he was joking.
He said, a lot of these terrorists team up with insecure women. They get married to them, and then their entire family comes in and we can't do a damn thing about it. Does he have a point?
EVAN KOHLMANN, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I think it's more money than anything else. Money is the real motivator here. You're talking about folks that are pretty desperate. Some of these guys that are coming in, these terrorists that are seeking fraudulent marriages, they don't come across as the most normal or as the most trustworthy kind of guys.
But if you have a group of women that are really desperate for money, this is a very easy way of making it. Now, I think really the focus here, though, needs to be on oversight. It's not so much regulation. We need more inspectors. We need to have them more carefully examining some of these marriages because it is a real problem.
I mean, the imam of James Ujaama up in the State of Washington, that being the plot involving al Qaeda's effort to set up an al Qaeda training camp here in the U.S., that imam had gotten citizenship through a fraudulent marriage.
You even had someone affiliated with the 9/11 hijackers out in San Diego, Mohdar Abdullah, a Yemeni national who on September 10th eloped with a 16-year-old girl and September 12th, one day after 9/11, attempted to marry her. Now, do you think that was a romantic situation or do you think that was a marriage of convenience?
SCARBOROUGH: So, Evan, what does our government do? I mean, obviously we can't go through all these marriage certificates and look for Arab-sounding names and then question them. How do we enforce this?
KOHLMANN: I think we're getting better at it. And one of the reasons we're getting better at it is because we're getting better at really figuring out who's a terrorist and who's not. I think when you look at someone, you start looking at their background and you find out they've been involved in Social Security fraud, you find out that they have a funny situation going on with their marriage to an individual they have no previous contact with.
These are warning signs. And eventually they add to a profile of a terrorist, a real profile. Not a racial profile or a religious, but the profile of someone who is really involved in this, because let's face it, a lot of the people that are involved in marriage fraud are also involved in other kinds of basic identity theft: Social Security fraud, credit card fraud.
These are the kind of activities where if we have investigators who are familiar with the phenomenon, who understand these kinds of trends when they see them, they should be able to pick these examples up. And we're going to have to have enough folks on the job, number one, and they're gong to have to be properly trained to look for these kind of warning signs.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Evan Kohlmann and Michael Cutler, thank you so much for being with us, greatly appreciate it.
And coming up next, a new show where contestants swap races? Will it help us all get along in America? We'll tell you the upcoming “Black White” series when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Nick (ph) and I'm 16 and I'm going to be transformed into a white dude.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Renee (ph) and by changing the color of my skin, I will be able to see what it's like to be white.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never experienced what it's like to be treated black. I don't know what that means or entails.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Those are clips from the new FX reality show “Black White,” the show that puts a black family and a white family in a Southern California house and swaps their races so they can experience life in a different skin color. With us now to talk about that, the Reverend Al Sharpton and Lawrence Otis Graham, he wrote the book “A Member of the Club” where he experienced racial discrimination up close at an all-white country club.
And gentlemen, let's start. I want to show you this old clip from comedian Eddie Murphy. He did a skit called “White Like Eddie” on SNL back in the 1980's. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing?
EDDIE MURPHY, COMEDIAN: I'm buying this newspaper.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all right. There's nobody around. Go ahead, take it. Take it. Go ahead, take it. Yes, take it.
MURPHY: Slowly I began to realize that when white people are alone, they give things to each other for free.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Lawrence, that didn't happen to you, I'm sure. But I'm sure you did find some very surprising things out while you were writing your book. Tell us about the most shocking thing.
LAWRENCE OTIS GRAHAM, AUTHOR, “A MEMBER OF THE CLUB”: Absolutely, Joe. Well, when I had gone undercover as a busboy at Greenwich Country Club in Greenwich, Connecticut, I found out that it really didn't matter how well educated a black person was, how much money they had, how well they dressed, they are still bigots in this country today that just simply only care about the color of one's skin.
The same thing is true when I did undercover pieces going to the best restaurants in New York City. There still were restaurant clients, there were also restaurant owners that simply did not want blacks in their restaurants. So they would sit them in places that would discourage them from coming back.
So unfortunately even today, and while it's valuable for us to be talking about the whole issue of race, on one level it's extremely insulting to be turning it into a reality show because it's just going to be something that people are going to goof on.
SCARBOROUGH: Reverend Sharpton, you have spent your whole life talking about the black experience, do you think this show is a positive or a negative?
REV. AL SHARPTON, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I kind of agree with Lawrence. I would hope that people do not see this as a way of making comedy or light of the fact that this is no spoof. People in reality every day, not reality shows, but in life have to deal with the subtleties of exclusion, of institutional racism, all the way down to just subtleties in terms of just shopping and people following you around the store and all.
At one level, I hope people see this show and can understand what it is like to be a member of a race that still is subjected to a different standard. But at another level, I worry that people will trivialize it and see this as just some reality show experience and they'll realize this is a reality that many of us still have to live with every day.
I mean, Lawrence Otis Graham is as educated and refined and polished as any American can get, and he was subjected to it. So a lot of people that think we are just crying wolf need to talk to some of those that have really had this experience. And believe me, it's not just something you would do for a reality show.
SCARBOROUGH: And let me say—I want to show another clip from Eddie Murphy, his satire back in 1980 that struck a chord with a lot of people. Look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MURPHY: There was only one other black man on the bus. He got off on 45th Street.
(MUSIC PLAYS, PARTY BEGINS)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Lawrence, obviously a joke. But it really is a parody of the underlying feeling that a lot of African-Americans believe that they are treated radically differently than whites, right?
GRAHAM: That's absolutely true. And the thing about it, Joe, is Michael Jackson notwithstanding, there's not a black person on this planet that believes that if they put white makeup on that they're suddenly going to be given free newspapers and have parties on buses.
But one thing we do recognize is that we'll find it easier to buy a house in a nice neighborhood. We'll find it easier to get a great job with mediocre credentials. And we'll also find it easier to be treated well in environments like restaurants or stores as the reverend was pointing out.
The degree to which we are followed, I mean, when I walk into a store, people aren't saying, oh he has got a Harvard Law degree, they are saying, there's a black man in the store, watch him, he looks suspicious. And that's the problem.
SCARBOROUGH: So, Reverend Sharpton, obviously a lot of people out there, white people would say, well, we made great strides over the past 30 years. Do you think that's Pollyannish do you believe that we're halfway there?
SHARPTON: I think we've made great strides. But when you look at the statistics, let's get even beyond the comedy of Eddie Murphy or the reality show, when you look at the medium income level of a family of four, black to white, today, when you look at the bank loan rate of black to white with the same credit, same income, and you look at the incarceration rate, the gap is still there.
So we have made progress, largely because some people pay the price, black and white, for that progress, not because society says they'll do something about it. I mean, Malcolm X said it best when he said, if a man has a knife in your back six inches, if he takes it out four inches, that's progress, but you still have two inches of knife in your back. You still can't breathe easily.
GRAHAM: And another point to add to that is you look at what happened down in New Orleans. People want to make the argument that people were mistreated after Katrina because of class and culture differences. It was all about race. The black people were left there and people might say, well, because they lived in the lower-lying areas, it was—these were poor black people that were there.
They saw the white people being rescued from Tulane and the other affluent white areas. But the blacks were left there. Race still matters in this country.
SCARBOROUGH: Race does still matter. Thank you so much Reverend Sharpton and Lawrence Otis Graham. Greatly appreciate it. A fascinating subject. And I will tell you what, going to be a fascinating show.
Coming up next, what's causing autism in America? Stay with us, we'll talk about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Now to the crisis of children and autism. Many government agencies continue to dismiss the idea that mercury in vaccines causes or contributes to autism. So what is happening to our kids? Well, and specifically to one of mine. I asked David Kirby, the author of “Evidence of Harm.”
DAVID KIRBY, AUTHOR, “EVIDENCE OF HARM”: We need to find out. Something is happening to our children and I believe and a lot of people believe that there's some type of environmental tipping point that has happened. We have this cross-section of a genetic predisposition with something that happened to our kids, it seems like, in the 1990s.
I think top of the list, one of the biggest culprits or suspects, is mercury, both mercury in vaccines that was given to our children and mercury in the environment, mercury from fish and coal-fired power plants.
SCARBOROUGH: We're pumping our babies full of mercury in these vaccines.
KIRBY: We are. At the same time that we're telling pregnant women to avoid eating seafood when they're pregnant, or the American Academy of Pediatrics has joined lawsuits against the coal industry, against the EPA to try to reduce the amount of mercury coming out of coal-fired power plants because it's dangerous to pregnant women and small children, and yet the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC is fighting state bills to ban mercury in vaccines.
The flu shot contains mercury. We give that to pregnant women. We give that to young kids as young as six months of age. So even though we've moved to eliminate mercury from vaccines, it's actually coming back in. And this has led to a lot of conflict and a lot of political contention right down in Washington between the drug companies and the public health establishment which basically refuses to believe that there's a connection between mercury and autism, and some people who even refuse to admit that there is an increase in the rate of autism in this country.
And again, I think for public health people to be investing so much time and energy to disprove that there's an increase in autism, they're abdicating their responsibility as public health officials and leaders of our country.
SCARBOROUGH: David, why are they doing that? And why are they beating up people like yourself that are actually trying to get the facts out on the table?
KIRBY: A lot of them are very, very concerned about the vaccine program itself. And they're worried that talk about dangerous vaccines or vaccines with mercury, or vaccines that may have caused harm to children, that's going to drive parents away from the vaccination program.
And then the rate of infectious diseases among children might go up. Nobody wants that to happen. We all want to prevent infectious diseases. But a lot of people in public health seem to be incredibly invested in the vaccine program and have a very hard time accepting that they may have made a mistake. And as we know, Joe, government agencies and government bureaucracies sometimes make bad decisions.
SCARBOROUGH: The book is “Evidence of Harm.” Thank you so much, David Kirby. And Americans need to go to their bookstores, buy this book and open it up. Read it, then you write. David, thanks so much for being with us.
SCARBOROUGH: And the American Academy of Pediatrics has this to say about autism and vaccines, quote: “Extensive reports from both the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine, and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention conclude there is no proven association between measles, mumps, rubella vaccine, and autism.”
Well, maybe not, but something is happening out there. And some people who are trying to make a difference are Bob Wright. He's the vice chairman of GE and the chairman and CEO of NBC Universal. He and his wife, Suzanne, have started a foundation dedicated to curing autism. If you want to learn more, visit www.autismspeaks.org.
We will be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: I want to thank all of you for being with us tonight. A great show, and again, that autism information, go to my Web site, we will have a link to the right site. Together we really can make a difference in this fight to end autism.
That's all the time we have for tonight. Thanks for being with us. “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Content and programming copyright 2006 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.'s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.