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'MSNBC Live' for August 27

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guests: John McArdle, Jonathan Turley, Lawrence Korb, Pete Hegseth, DeMaurice Smith, Asma Hasan, Steve Emerson, Welton Gaddy

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Good evening, Keith.  Coming up, CNN‘s six-hour series “God‘s Warriors.”  They say it was an objective look at the radicals of each religion.  But was it more defense of radical Islam?  Was it really fair to equate Islamists with Evangelical Christians and supporters of Israel?

But first breaking tonight, a Republican senator busted by police investigating lewd conduct death in bathrooms at a Minnesota airport.  We just heard that Idaho Senator Larry Craig pled guilty to a disorderly conduct charge earlier this month.  Tonight, the senator is saying that police misconstrued his actions in that bathroom stall, and he never should have pled guilty.  Hate it when that happens. 

John McArdle broke the story was for “Roll Call” and he joins us now.  John, thanks for coming on the program, appreciate it.  All right, so what do we know about what happened in the stall?

JOHN MCARDLE, ROLL CALL:  It‘s just a bizarre story, Dan.  The senator was arrested in June at a Minnesota airport by a plain-clothed police officer who was investigating citizen complaints about lewd conduct taking place in this particular stall at this Minnesota airport, and it looks like you walk into this sting operation.

ABRAMS:  When you say walked into the sting operation, apparently, he is in the stall next to the undercover officer?

MCARDLE:  Yes, well, at first, he stood outside the police officer‘s stall for a minute or two ago, and he made eye contact through the doorway, got in the stall, and proceeded to, apparently, move his leg back and forth, touch the plain-clothed police officers but with his own foot, which the police officers in their report say these are several examples of how these lewd acts start in these airport bathrooms. 

ABRAMS:  It sounds like his defense is he squats in a particular way and as a result, that‘s why his foot may have come in contact with the undercover officer?

MCARDLE:  He said when he‘s in the stall, he actually says he has a wide stance, I believe is what was in the report.  He says that his actions were misconstrued, that was just another commuter in the airport.  That him reaching down and putting his hand beneath the stall - was reaching for a piece of paper.  The police said there was no piece of paper.  Again, a bizarre story. 

ABRAMS:  “I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions.  I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct.  I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter. I should not have pled guilty.”

It is a little hard to believe that a U.S. senator is, basically, so uninformed that he goes and just pleads guilty to disorderly - to this misdemeanor in a bathroom stall just because he did not talk to a lawyer.

MCARDLE:  Here is the thing, Dan.  The incident happened on June 11th, and he pled guilty on August 8th.  So he had some time to think about this, and he said that he should have had the advice of a lawyer.  But 11 days after this incident occurred on June 11th, on the 22nd, according to the police documents again from the airport, he goes back to the airport, to the police office, and said he needs somebody to contact about the incident so that he can give the contact information to his lawyer.  Now, did not just follow through on that, not contact his lawyer? I am a little bit confused by that myself.

ABRAMS:  Yes, I am guessing that we are going to learn more about this senator and this particular event as the days go on.  John McArdle, thanks a lot, we appreciate it. 

MCARDLE:  Thank you, appreciate it. 

ABRAMS:  After months under fire, it finally happened—Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced today that he will step down in three weeks.  We will take a quick look at the five big reasons he imploded, but first, President Bush says it was just politics. 


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It is sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons.


ABRAMS:  Professor Jonathan Turley, a constitutional professional law scholar at George Washington University.  Good to see you.  All right professor, before we go to through the reasons that Gonzales may have imploded, what do you make of the president saying this is all politics?

JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY:  I think it‘s really bizarre.  It‘s an example of this sort of living in denial.  I mean nobody I know on Capitol Hill, Republican or Democrat, think that he did a good job. 

I mean from the very beginning, he was giving himself the self- inflicted wounds.  Most of what brought him down were his own actions, and today was a very sad day.  But it was a day of his own making, and I don‘t know anyone but the president thinks otherwise. 

ABRAMS:  The five reasons that you laid out for his implosion:

overseeing the firings of the U.S. attorneys, the domestic spying and eavesdropping, lying before Congress allegedly, politicization of the Justice Department, and torture memo—what you think was the most important one of those five that ultimately led to his demise?

TURLEY:  I think ultimately it was his performance before Congress in testifying.

ABRAMS:  I agree. 

TURLEY:  It became to be—when you get into the late-night joke category, where people sort of treat you like a Joe Isuzu commercial, it is a bad thing.

And I think that it got to be intolerable.  What is fascinating, it took so long.  I mean the White House has been taking on water over this for many months, as you know.

And there are many senators who I think wanted the president to find some pressing family matter that he would attend to months ago, but instead, they, as usual, left this thing to fester, and now I think it is too late. 

The investigations are very far along.  Leahy and Conyers have indicated they are not going to pull back, so I think if they had simply done this months ago, they would have been in better shape. 

ABRAMS:  Fifteen years from now, as historians and scholars look back at attorneys general, how will Alberto Gonzales fare?

TURLEY:  I think this is one of the most tragic stories that will be recorded in relation to that office.  I mean, it was so sad, because his sins were primarily sins of omission. 

It was the failure to act like a lawyer, to say no, to tell a president that his power was not absolute.  In fact, it was the things that made a president like him so well is that he an enabler.

He would always say, yes, you have that power.  You can do that - and it proved to be the undoing of Gonzales as attorney general.  I think that years from now, he will look back and wonder, I think, whether if he would have served the country better and the president better and certainly himself better, if he had been more independent and stated a little more fervently what the rule of law demanded and not what the president demanded.

ABRAMS:  Professor Turley, it‘s been too long.  Good to see you again. 

TURLEY:  Thanks, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Now to the success the army is having offering a $20,000 bonus if they are ready to ship out immediately and report to basic training by the end of September.  More than 90 percent of the army‘s new recruits have accepted the offer, which amounts to more than a year‘s pay for most young new recruits.  The question, is the military bribing young people to risk their lives in the wake of falling recruiting numbers?

Here now once again is Pete Hegseth, the executive director of  He served in Iraq in 2005-2006 with the 101st airborne.  And former assistant secretary of defense Lawrence Korb, who is now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.  Gentlemen, thanks for coming on, appreciate it.  Mr. Korb, let me start with you.  Do you think this is bribery?

LAWRENCE KORB, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:  Well, I think it was not the right thing to do.  I mean, the bonuses were $5,000 in March, and then it went up to $15,000 in May, now it is up to $20,000.  And I think it‘s an indication that Americans do not want their sons and daughters to go fight in this new illegal war. 

ABRAMS:  Mr. Hegseth, it sounds like Mr. Korb is not using the word bribery, but essentially saying that they‘re being bribed. 

PETE HEGSETH, VETS FOR FREEDOM.ORG:  Dan, I do not see what the big deal is.  We are compensating our youth to go out and fight for our country.  Some of these young privates get paid about $17,000 a year, and if they can earn a bonus after they have already decided to enlist, I think that‘s a pretty important thing.

To give these guys the stabilities for their families, as they‘re going off and fighting and sometimes dying for their country, so I do not see what the big deal is if we‘re offering bonuses in a job market where the army has to realistically compete with a five percent unemployment.  And it‘s not always easy, so they‘re doing what they have to do to make sure our military is equipped property. 

ABRAMS:  Mr. Korb, it is hard to argue with paying them more, but it sounds like your argument isn‘t that you‘re opposed to paying them more, it‘s opposed to why they‘re doing it. 

KORB:  Well don‘t forget, the army has lowered its standards, both its educational and aptitude standards, and it has granted 10 percent of the recruits coming in moral waivers, including almost a thousand with felony convictions, something we did not even do in World War II.

Even when the economy was doing better in the ‘90s, we did not have to do this.  The only time you use bonuses, for those of us that can see this whole volunteer military, was when you had demand for those skills in the private sector, like pilots. 

We never had to give this to people willing to.

ABRAMS:  . So what does that tell you?

KORB:  What it tells basically is that what we call the influences: mothers, ministers, priests, rabbis, coaches are telling young men and women who might want to go in the army, do not do it.

And what they are doing now is, basically, if you look at what these people say, at the are not talking about going to serve their country or fight and die for this country.  What they are basically saying is, we need the money, and that is terrible for us as a country.  

HEGSETH:  Go into the living rooms of the people that are making these decisions.  They are not making these decisions because they‘re getting $20,000.  They want to serve their country.  And it frankly, it offends me that we would insinuate that these people are out there for the money.   That is absolutely not true.

KORB:  Why is it then that we did not need this in 2003 before you went into Iraq?  Why did we not need it then?

HEGSETH:  We were meeting our recruiting numbers, and the people that are in the field are re-enlisting at record rates.   Absolutely, they are.  

KORB:  Wait a minute.  Not after—not after their first term.  

HEGSETH:  Lawrence, let me finish.

KORB:  West Point graduates are lower than at any time in the last 30 years, retention rate among West Point people.  

ABRAMS:  Respond, Pete.

HEGSETH:  Retention rates within the military, within soldiers that have been to Iraq one, two and three times is as high as it‘s ever been.

Because these soldiers believe they have a purpose.  They believe in their mission and they‘re fighting for it.  It has nothing to do with bonuses.  Bonuses are great, and in fact, our soldiers should be paid more and they should be given bonuses for the risks that they take.   So I don‘t see any problem with this.  I received a bonus as an officer.   It‘s just the way the military does things sometimes and I don‘t see a problem with this.  

ABRAMS:  Larry, final word on this.

KORB:  We are not talking about retention.   We‘re talking about recruiting.   And the fact of the matter is we are taking in felons in order to meet those numbers.

HEGSETH:  This is the smartest, best military our country has ever had, if you ask anybody.

KORB:  No, it‘s not.  It was before you went into Iraq.  It is not know.

ABRAMS:  Pete Hegseth, Lawrence Korb, thanks a lot, appreciate it.

Up next, NFL star Michael Vick speaks out for the first time after officially pleading guilty to dogfighting charges today.  And now the Atlanta Falcons are trying to get back his $22 million signing bonus.


MICHAEL VICK, FOOTBALL PLAYER:  Dogfighting is a terrible thing and I did reject it.


ABRAMS:  And later, CNN‘s “God‘s Warriors” series on religion.  It sure sounded to me like Christiane Amanpour was defending Islamic terrorists by equating them with fundamentalist Christians and Jews.  We debate.


ABRAMS:  Atlanta Falcons star quarterback Michael Vick pleaded guilty to federal dogfighting conspiracy charges today.   He will be sentenced in December.   Today, he finally broke his silence.


VICK:  I take full responsibility for my actions.   Not for one second will I sit right here and point the finger and try to blame anybody else for my actions or what I‘ve done.

I am totally responsible, and those things just did not have to happen.   I feel like we all make mistakes.   I made a mistake in using bad judgment and making bad decisions.   And those things, you know, just cannot happen.  

Dogfighting is a terrible thing and I did reject it.  I am upset with myself and through this situation, I found Jesus and I asked him for forgiveness, and I‘ve turned my life over to God.  

I think that is the right thing to do as of right now.  Like I said for this entire situation—I never pointed the finger at anybody else.   I accept responsibility for my actions and what I did, and now I have to pay the consequences for it.

But in a sense, I think it will help me as a person.  I have a lot to think about in the next year or so.  I offer my deepest apologies for everybody out there in the world who was affected by this whole situation.

And if I‘m more disappointed with myself than anything it‘s because of all of the young people, young kids that I have led down who look to Michael Vick as a role model.  So I have to go through this and I put myself in their situation.  I hope that every young kid out there in the world watching this interview right now who has been following the case, use me as an example to use better judgment and make better decisions.  

Once again, I offer my deepest apologies to everyone, and I will redeem myself.  I have to, so, I have a lot of down time, a lot of time to think about my actions and what I have done and how to make Michael Vick a better person.  Thank you.  


ABRAMS:  Now the Falcons‘ want Vick to return his $22 million signing bonus.  


RICH MCKAY, FALCONS GENERAL MANAGER:  With respect to pursuing his bonus money, we intend to do that.  We sent out this morning a demand letter with respect to that.  We will pursue it aggressively.


ABRAMS:  Joining us now, former federal prosecutor DeMaurice Smith.  DeMaurice, thanks for coming back, appreciate it.  So how hard a time are the Falcons going to have getting back as many millions of dollars from Vick?

DEMAURICE SMITH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  They probably won‘t have too hard a time getting back at least some of it.   This is going to be a question primarily governed by contract law.  

It is a question of breach.  It‘s a question of damages.  And the Falcons will make an argument that the $22 million was for the services of one of the best athletes in the NFL.  They are going to say that they don‘t have that athlete anymore and that they suffered damages in the form of $22 million.  

ABRAMS:  Let‘s go through the wasted fortunes here, all right?  $71 million that Vick is going to lose over the next seven years, $50 million lost in endorsements over the next decade.   The $22 million, which I want to you talk about in a minute, recouped by the Falcons in bonuses, maybe, $250,000 plus paid in legal fees and fines.   Before we go through the details of this bonus, do you think today‘s apology changes any of that?  Because I do not.

SMITH:  No, I do not.   This is going to be a business decision, Dan, and their argument is going to be that we paid $22 million to have the most electrifying athlete on the field.   They are going to say that he is not here now.  

ABRAMS:  All right DeMaurice, you basically made some estimates as to how much you think each year he‘s out, how much of the bonus they‘ll be able to get.  Because now it sounds like - let‘s put that up.  The Falcons are basically suggesting we haven‘t made a decision on cutting him, et cetera.  But that may not be a moral decision.   This may be a financial decision, right?

SMITH:  The NFL is a business, and it may, indeed, be a financial decision.  So there are a number of ways to look at it.  They are going to make an argument that they are entitled to the whole $22 million back.  Vick‘s lawyers, on the other hand, are going to say that for some of the time he played, he was due that $22 million, or a portion of that $22 million.

ABRAMS:  Explain to us this graphic that we built about the $22 million signing bonus.  The first year, $3.14 million, et cetera, $6.28 million—if we can put that one back up.  Explain to us what this means.

SMITH:  Well, this is one way of looking at it.   And we have to caution that NFL contracts are incredibly complex.  The details of Michael Vick‘s contracts are something that certainly we haven‘t seen, but one way of looking at it is to estimate the lost for each year that he is not out there on the field.  So one of the arguments could be to prorate that amount over a few years and then just make an estimation of how much money is due back to the Falcons.

ABRAMS:  Bottom line, is he playing again?

SMITH:  I believe he will play again.  

ABRAMS:  DeMaurice Smith, thanks a lot, appreciate it.

SMITH:  My pleasure.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, outrage over CNN‘s series on religion.  We‘ll debate if “God‘s Warriors” actually serves to defend Islamic terrorists, while taking a swipe at Jews and Christians.

But first, wait until you hear why Disney-owned ABC News did not think it would be a conflict of interest to celebrate the Disney film “High School Musical 2” in it‘s person of the week.  That‘s next in “Beat the Press.”


ABRAMS:  It is time now for tonight‘s “Beat the Press,” our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV.

First up, PBS‘s Bill Moyers and FOX News anchor Chris Wallace going at it after Moyers attacked Wallace over an interview with Karl Rove.  At issue, Moyers suggestion that Rove is an agnostic who manipulated the Christian right for political gain.  Wallace responded on his show.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  If you had talked to Rove, as I did, he would have found out he reads a devotional every day, and the biggest charitable contribution he ever made was to his church.   Of course, you never called Rove.  That‘s reporting 101.


ABRAMS:  That is reporting 101, fair enough.  Reporting 102 though suggests you don‘t necessarily accept everything that Karl Rove or any other political figure tells you at face value.  

Next up, “ABC World News” person of the week profiles individuals who have had an impact on others, like sports heroes and soldiers in Iraq.  But then there is Kenny Ortega, who choreographed Disney‘s “High School Musical 2.”  Disney is also the parent company of ABC, making it seem kind of self-serving to celebrate him.  But Charlie Gibson says they report to a higher authority.  


CHARLIE GIBSON, ABC NEWS ANCHOR:  Full disclosure—when we first started discussing this man, we thought no, no, conflict of interest because there is a connection with our parent company Disney.   But our kids convinced us to ignore that.  


ABRAMS:  Did the kids also know he was profiled on the same night as the show premiered on the Disney channel?

Finally over at FOX, Bill O‘Reilly explained that when a subject refuses an invitation to appear on the show, a vital tool is to go to their homes and ambush them.


BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Now we don‘t want to trespass, we don‘t to do any of that.  But sometimes, it is necessary.  


ABRAMS:  So true.   Another one of the long lists of instances in our nation‘s history where illegal activity, civil disobedience is necessary.   In this case, O‘Reilly‘s producers can have their target tell them to get out of his face.  Necessary, indeed.  

We need your help beating the press.   If you see anything amusing, absurd or just plain right wrong in the press, go to our Web site at, leave us a tip in the tip box.  Pleas include the show and the time you saw the item.

Up next, CNN‘s special “God‘s Warriors” claims to take an objective look at religious fundamentalism.  But is it really objective to equate Islamic terrorists with Evangelical Christians and supporters of Israel?  Certainly not the way they did it.  Up next.



ABRAMS:  For the past week, CNN has been proudly promoting and then celebrating its series called “God‘s Warriors,” presumably a look at radicals of different religions willing to fight for their cause. 

My take:  I think it‘s fair to say it was not what it claimed or promises to be. 


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT:  So we‘re not here lobbying for or advocating for or drawing conclusions, either political, religious or ideological...


ABRAMS:  Oh, yes they did.  CNN should have called it what it was:  a defense of Islamic fundamentalism and the worst type of moral relativism.  For each of three nights, CNN devoted two hours to the, quote, “warriors” of religion, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim.  But rather than distinguish between Islamic terrorists, who utilized fierce violence to achieve warped goals, and the merely fiercely religious or even those who fiercely believe in the state of Israel, Christiane Amanpour avoided getting bogged down in objectivity. 

Christians and Jews, for example, who support Israel‘s strategy for self-defense are just as much God‘s warriors, according to Amanpour, as the Islamic radicals who blow themselves and others up in an effort to destroy the world as we know it.  A handful of the most radical of the Jews and Christians who can almost all be identified by name are highlighted.  The violent Islamic fundamentalists are, quote, “understood,” with no comparable effort to “understand” the evangelical Christians or Israelis. 

Amanpour even offers an explanation for the angry radical Islamists. 

She blames the warrior Jews. 


AMANPOUR:  Muslims, like people everywhere, abhor terrorism.  The small minority who resorts to violence is symptomatic of something many of us have failed to understand.  The impact of God‘s Jewish warriors goes far beyond these rocky hills.  The Jewish settlements have inflamed much of the Muslim world.


ABRAMS:  She takes Jewish and Christian political movements, even Jewish lobbyists in Congress, and lumps them in with “God‘s Warriors,” thereby equating them with the radical Muslim warriors, the, quote, “much feared and little understood.”  Maybe most troubling, much of the warrior Muslim program highlights not the warriors themselves but claims a discrimination against Muslims. 


AMANPOUR:  Geneve Abdo (ph) is the author of “Mecca and Main Street.”  She says that, since 9/11, the majority of American Muslims feel they‘re singled out for suspicion and surveillance by the government and by ordinary people. 

Imam Fawaz Jinad (ph), leader of a mosque in The Hague, believes Muslims are under attack, victims of religious discrimination. 


ABRAMS:  What does that have to do with the warriors?  She portrays Muslims as victims while accusing evangelical Christians of playing the victim.


AMANPOUR:  The religious right would have you believe that there‘s no mention of God anywhere in our public sphere.  It‘s on the currency. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s on the currency.  And they say, because it‘s on the currency, there‘s nothing wrong with it being in the schools, or in the courthouses, or in the capital. 

AMANPOUR:  But they also play the victim somewhat. 


ABRAMS:  This series was well-produced and successful, but also shameful advocacy masked as journalism.  We have opinionated hosts here on MSNBC who offer opinions on a wide range of topics, including me, but I admit it when I‘m advocating.  In the end, this is exactly what she said it wasn‘t:  lobbying, advocacy, and an effort, intentional or not, to have people draw particular conclusions. 

Joining me now, Steve Emerson, terrorism analyst; Asma Hasan, author of the book “Why I am a Muslim”; and Reverend Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, host of the Air America radio show, “State of Belief,” and a Baptist pastor.

Thanks a lot to all of you for coming on the program.  Appreciate it. 

All right.  Before we talk about some of this other stuff, Asma, what do you think of the comments that I just made? 

ASMA HASAN, “WHY I AM A MUSLIM”:  Well, Dan, actually—I mean, obviously I disagree with you.  I don‘t think it was a defense piece on Islam masquerading as something else.  I think it was a fair and objective piece, and I actually, to be honest with you, I Christiane was more than fair to the Christian groups.  There was no discussion of the over 400 militia groups, Christian militia groups, that are responsible for Oklahoma City-type bombings things.  There was really little discussion of the abortion clinic bombings.  There was no mention of, like, white supremacists...


ABRAMS:  Just a little history for you, Asma.

HASAN:  ... the killing of Jewish people in the streets of America, I think she was quite fair to Christian groups. 

ABRAMS:  A little history lesson for you.  I covered the Oklahoma City bombing trial, and you talk to any of the prosecutors who prosecuted the case.  In the end, they don‘t believe that it was part of some militia effort.  So that‘s just fiction.  And that‘s the problem here.  The facts are so important. 

HASAN:  But didn‘t Timothy McVeigh say in writings from prison that he didn‘t like how the government was treating Christians, how they were restricting Christians? 

ABRAMS:  That‘s right.  That‘s right.  That‘s the beauty of this.  And Steve Emerson, the beauty of this is, they highlight, throughout the CNN piece, they highlight identifiable people, Christians and Jews, who‘ve been arrested and convicted of various crimes.  And they lumped it in, and they claim this is all one big religious fundamentalism. 

STEVE EMERSON, TERRORISM EXPERT:  Right, it‘s so contrived.  I thought that I was watching Al Jazeera.  The treatment of radical Islamic fundamentalists were given kid glove treatment.  They explain the Muslim Brotherhood as a peaceful movement.  They explain jihad as a peaceful, internal struggle.  I mean, this was inverting reality on its head. 

When they describe terrorism, they only explained it in terms of Muslims being the victims, not being the perpetrators.  I felt that I was really—I thought that the viewer here was really dishonestly treated here.  And as far as the treatment of Jews and Christians, when Christian lawyers went to law school, there were called—demonized as God‘s warriors.  And when Jewish supporters of Israel lobbied for Israel, they were demonized as somehow causing riots across the Middle East.  This was the most unfair series, and I think the most dishonest series, on television that I‘ve seen in my 20 years of reporting or covering terrorism. 

ABRAMS:  Reverend Gaddy, let me ask you this...


ABRAMS:  You can, in a second. 


ABRAMS:  Reverend Gaddy, let me ask you this.  Let me play this piece of sound for you, where, again, Christiane Amanpour compares some of the fundamentalist Christians to the Taliban, and I want to ask you if you think this is a fair comparison. 


AMANPOUR:  On campus, students must follow a strict set of rules.  When I, you know, read that women have to wear skirts of a certain length, and guys aren‘t allowed to, you know, go on the Internet unsupervised, and I think, you know, totalitarian regimes. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, it‘s about learning to have disciplines that communicate purity, you know?  The skirts‘ lengths are to keep guys from, you know—any man on the planet could be distracted, and we don‘t want to unintentionally great distraction. 

AMANPOUR:  But, Ron, that‘s what the Taliban said.  They kept women in their house because men couldn‘t be trusted around them. 


ABRAMS:  Fair comparison, Reverend Gaddy, between a dress code and the Taliban? 

REV. WELTON GADDY, PRESIDENT, THE INTERFAITH ALLIANCE:  Dan, I don‘t think so.  I saw this whole thing, including the title about “God‘s Warriors,” and it makes me just think that religion has gotten all dirty, because there‘s no distinction made between fundamentalists who are sincere people using religion to try and control government and people‘s lives.  That‘s very different from Islamic fundamentalists who use the words of religion but who have nothing to do with religion in their ideology and in their tactics. 

ABRAMS:  And they back it up—again, we‘re not just talking about individuals who we can name, but there is a large and significant movement of fundamentalist Islam, which I think ends up being minimized by equating this all. 

Asma, I‘m sorry.  I interrupted you before. 

HASAN:  Well, I would just like to point out that, in Christiane‘s piece on the Christian warriors, there was a Christian undergraduate student named Mandy who herself said that she is a warrior for God, that she is God‘s warrior.  It was also another—a Christian pastor who said that this is like the Taliban, the conservative Christian movement.

Now, if you go to the people in Afghanistan, the people in Pakistan—and I should know this, because I am 50 percent Pashtun, which is the tribe that the Taliban is from—I do not grow up with the word “jihad.”  Jihad is not a common word in Pakistan.  Maybe today it is because the CIA put it there because we wanted to fight the Russians.  We wanted—we motivated the Taliban to do that.  Now, granted, I agree with the Reverend...

ABRAMS:  Let‘s get back to the piece.  Let‘s get back to CNN.  Yes, let‘s get back to the CNN piece though.

HASAN:  Well, let me tell you about the CNN piece.  What they were doing is taking three religious groups, the monotheistic faiths, all descendants of Abraham—so it wasn‘t Christiane that connected them.  It was Abraham that connects all of us.


ABRAMS:  Oh, I‘m sorry.  I apologize.  I should apologize.  I blamed Christiane; I should be blaming Abraham instead.  Sorry about that. 

HASAN:  Dan, I‘m not finished with my point.  There were—within these three groups, there are people that say that they speak for God, that God‘s laws they are going to enforce.  The settlements in Israel that Christiane was talking about, whether you agree with Israel or not, those settlements have been found by international law to be illegal. 


ABRAMS:  But that‘s fine.  But that doesn‘t address—look, I‘m not going to have debates about the settlements here.  I‘m debating the bias, the overt bias of this CNN series. 

HASAN:  Well, you‘re talking about objectively, and you‘re saying, “I don‘t want to debate the settlements”?


HASAN:  You‘re saying, “Don‘t confuse me with objective facts.  Let me just”...


ABRAMS:  You want to debate each and every settlement, you want to debate whether the Palestinians were offered 97 percent versus 95 percent, this is not the time for it. 

HASAN:  What Christiane is presenting...

ABRAMS:  And Christiane didn‘t deal with it, either.


ABRAMS:  Steve Emerson, I want to play you this piece of sound.  It‘s a final one.  This is number seven that I‘m going to play.  And this is again suggesting—let‘s listen, and then we‘ll talk about it.  


AMANPOUR:  Across Europe, Islam is the fastest-growing religion, the number of Muslims tripling in the last 30 years.  This increased Muslim presence and violence like the Van Gogh murder play into the hands of right-wing politicians, like Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch parliament. 


ABRAMS:  Steve Emerson, again, play into the hands, the Muslims as the victims again, throughout this whole piece. 

EMERSON:  Exactly.  She didn‘t mention the Madrid bombings.  She didn‘t mention the two London series of bombings.  She didn‘t mention the number of attacks in Europe throughout Europe.  She didn‘t mention the vast amount of Wahhabist radical Islamic influence and supporters in the United States.  She omitted all of that in an attempt to blame the perpetrators, who she claimed were right-wingers or Christians or Jews. 

I thought that, in part, the actual dogma of this series actually focused mainly on Jews and Christians as being the demons.  And in fact, one could accuse her of actually engaging in anti-Christian and anti-Semitic behavior by the selection of facts she chose to choose. 

ABRAMS:  Let me get Reverend Gaddy get the final word.


ABRAMS:  Reverend Gaddy, go ahead.

GADDY:  Let me just say, Dan, that in all three of these religions, there are problems with fundamentalism and extremism.  But in all three of these religions, there are terrific numbers of people who are making tremendous contributions to reconciliation and the good of the world.  And what I would like to see in terms of the balance that you‘re calling for is another three programs released in which all three religions are depicted as working for a world that appreciates religious pluralism. 

ABRAMS:  Well, I can tell you this:  CNN is listening to this segment, so maybe they will hear you loud and clear on that, and make up for what I think was really a well-done but ultimately shoddy journalism.  Steve Emerson, Asma Hasan, and Reverend Welton Gaddy, thanks a lot, appreciate it.

Coming up, a murder case becomes an international incident, as France refuses to turn over an American accused of killing his doctor.  Some big names, including Barack Obama, are getting involved in the case. 

And later, a beauty pageant contestant gets lost in translation, let‘s just say, while trying to map out her answer.  We‘ll try to translate her confusing comments with our in-house translator ahead in “Winners and Losers.”


ABRAMS:  We‘re back. 

France is getting angry letters from Americans again, but this time because of its refusal to turn over a suspect wanting for stabbing to death a Chicago dermatologist in his office.  The Department of Justice getting involved.  Even Barack Obama is weighing in, but the French still resisting.  NBC‘s Lee Cowan has details. 


LEE COWAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  The surveillance video hardly looks like an international incident.  The suspect, a U.S.  citizen named Hans Peterson, was caught on tape fleeing a building in downtown Chicago last year.  Dr. David Cornbleet, an American dermatologist, was later found stabbed to death inside.  It is a U.S.  tragedy by anyone‘s measure, except France, which is now telling U.S.  authorities hands off. 

BERNARD MURRAY, STATE‘S ATTORNEY OFFICE:  Now, we‘re down to nation versus nation, and at that level we‘re asking them to reconsider.

COWAN:  Shortly after the crime, Peterson fled to St. Maarten, a French protectorate in the Caribbean.  He reportedly confessed to killing the doctor, claiming the acne medication the doctor had prescribed made Peterson impotent.  Peterson‘s father, also a doctor, told a French newspaper that the drug had, quote, “more or less ruined my son and caused him to kill.”

But here‘s where the story turns from criminal to political.  Peterson announced that, since his mother was born in France, that makes him a French national, free from U.S. prosecution, and French authorities agree. 

JON CORNBLEET, MURDER VICTIM‘S SON:  Finally, we get the big break in the case.  We nail this guy solid, and he‘s using a manipulation of the system to escape it.  And that‘s just terribly unfair to us. 

COWAN:  But it‘s not just politics.  The family says France should be offended just as a matter of principle.  This isn‘t a French national seeking legitimate government protection, they say.  It‘s nothing more than a dual passport holder who‘s using France as a cop out. 

CORNBLEET:  He‘s making a mockery of both the U.S. judicial system and the French judicial system. 

COWAN:  That‘s what Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and presidential candidate Barack Obama thought, too.  In a letter to the French embassy, they stated that Peterson is only claiming to be French to avoid criminal prosecution in the United States. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They‘re being made a fool of by Mr. Peterson.

COWAN:  Still, France is holding firm, saying it will prosecute the crime in their way, on their turf.  That may mean the difference between a decade in jail there and a possible life sentence here.

Lee Cowan, NBC News, Chicago.


ABRAMS:  Up next, bat boy loses his home, a Little League batter hits a major homerun, and a beauty pageant contestant whose answer about home is, well, a little batty.  Today‘s “Winners and Losers,” up next.


ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 27th day of August, 2007. 


ABRAMS:  Our first winner, billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban.  The always-opinionated owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team is reportedly set to join the cast of “Dancing with the Stars.”  The controversial Cuban was most recently slapped with a fine for screaming about the calls during a game with longtime rival Miami Heat. 

Our first loser, controversial Cuban Fidel Castro.  The determined dictator has endured another week of rumors that he is “Dancing with the Stars,” literally.  Whispers of his death led to dancing the streets by Castro‘s rivals in Miami on Friday.  But it would seem that that, too, was just a bad call.

The second winner, surprise box office hit “Superbad.”  The feel-good comedy about a pair of high school misfits just looking to score pulled in $18 million over the weekend, making it Hollywood‘s number-one hit for the second week in a row, and giving comfort to ostracized outcasts everywhere that, yes, they still have a shot. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What‘s up guys?  I was just walking down the hall, (INAUDIBLE) was right in front of me.  She‘s wearing these tight white pants, this black t-shirt.  And you can see right through the pants.  That is so sweet.  I told her time it was.

Uh, it‘s 10:33. 


ABRAMS:  The second loser, super-bad supermarket tabloid “The Weekly World News.”  The rag that‘s chronicled ostracized outcasts like bat boy and zombie Elvis for 28 years is finally closing up shop.  The final issue hits newsstands today, but fear not, boy wonder:  Its sensational headlines will still be home to your wacky exploits online, if not in print. 

But the big winners of the day?  The Little Leaguers from Warner Robins, Georgia, who won the Little League World Series title yesterday in dramatic fashion. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Deep to right field.  It‘s over.  It‘s out of here!

ABRAMS:  Twelve-year-old Dalton Carriker hit the game-winning homer for Warner-Robins.  They became even bigger winners after the game.  In mid-celebration they stopped to console their preteen Japanese competitors, who broke down in tears after being sent packing. 

TOM HANKS, ACTOR:  There‘s no crying in baseball!

ABRAMS:  The big loser of the day?  Miss Teen South Carolina, Lauren Caitlin Upton, who was in need of some good pageant consoling after breaking down at the little league of beauty pageants Friday night.  The question was simple enough:  Why can‘t one-fifth of Americans locate America on a map?  The answer, a little more complicated. 

LAUREN CAITLIN UPTON, MISS TEEN SOUTH CAROLINA:  I personally believe that, U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don‘t have maps.  And I belief that our education, like such as in South Africa and as Iraq, everywhere like, such as, and I believe that they should—our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S.—or should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future.


ABRAMS:  We really needed to pull in the big guns for this one. 

Joining me now is MSNBC translator Alfred Arian.

All right, Alfred, thanks a lot for joining us.  You usually translate Arabic for us, but you‘ve always been an excellent translator.  How does this compare to translating from Arabic?

ALFRED ARIAN, MSNBC TRANSLATOR:  Oh, there is no comparison, Dan.  If you talk in Arabic, you can translate into English right away simultaneously.  But in this case, you know, lost in translation.  She‘s speaking one word and repeat herself, you know.  And then she some.  It seems to me like “Osama.”  Osama?  What does Osama have to do with this?

ABRAMS:  Alfred, let me play your translation of what we just heard. 



ARIAN:  This is my message to the American people, specifically those who live in the United States.  Maps are important.  But you must have a map before you can read one.  In South Africa and Iraq, people use maps to locate where things are.  You must indicate people where to find places like South Africa and Iraq and Asia on a map, because it‘s very confusing.  People of the United States in America, if the education system does not improve, your children could end up like me. 



ABRAMS:  Alfred, excellent work.  Excellent work.  All right, I‘m out of time, but big bravo to you on that one.  Thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 

Up next, “Predator Raw,” the unseen tapes, inside stories from “Dateline‘s To Catch a Predator” series.  See you tomorrow.



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