IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Read the transcript from the Tuesday 6 p.m. hour

Guests: Mark Udall, Roger Cressey, Frank Lautenberg, Joan Walsh, Dahlia

Lithwick, Dana Milbank

CENK UYGUR, HOST:  Good evening.  I‘m Cenk Uygur, live from Los Angeles. 

We‘re learning incredible new details about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.  The White House confirmed today that bin Laden was not armed when he was shot, though he did resist.  Not exactly sure what that means, but we will talk about that in a second. 

Officials have also not yet decided whether to release photos of bin Laden‘s body. 

And the White House is pushing back on claims that waterboarding provided the intelligence that led to the raid.  They are doing that because waterboarding did not lead to that intelligence. 

A team of investigators is poring over what CIA Director Leon Panetta calls an impressive amount of computer hard drives and other information taken from the House.  Panetta says the Pakistanis were intentionally left in the dark about the raid because of concerns that they would alert the targets. 

We will get into all that in this hour as we explore the death of bin Laden as a pivot point in American history. 

We now have a tremendous opportunity to change course on everything from Pakistan to Afghanistan to our domestic priorities here at home.  This is a great moment for President Obama to finally close the books on the Bush version of the so-called “war on terror.”  We will talk throughout tonight‘s show on exactly how he can do that. 

First, let me bring in Senator Mark Udall, Democrat from Colorado.  He was just in a special briefing given by the CIA director.  He serves on the Intelligence Committee. 

Senator, good evening.  Great to have you here. 

SEN. MARK UDALL (D), COLORADO:  Cenk, thanks for having me on. 

UYGUR:  All right. 

How much can you tell us about that CIA briefing that you just had? 

UDALL:  I sit on the Intelligence Committee, and I have to—as well as the Armed Services Committee, and I have to be careful about what I say.  But I would tell you that we are hearing more of the details, but the general theme and narrative that the general public now has is holding fast.  I anticipate that there will be more of this information released. 

The American public and the world can better understand the courage and the bravery of the men and women who conducted this mission.  I think you will also get greater appreciation for the courage that the president showed in assuming that this was the right kind of mission and going ahead of approving this kind of an assault rather than bombing the compound or using missiles, which would have left us with very little information and very little clarity about whether bin Laden was actually in this compound in Pakistan. 

UYGUR:  Well, actually, we are just learning from NBC News that we have got 10 hard drives, five computers, 100 storage devices like disks and thumb drives, which is a little surprising, that they had that much communication there, meaning that they perhaps were very active in planning operations.  We‘ll obviously find a lot more about that as we go through that material.  But as you say, that seems to be an excellent reason to have not bombed but gone in with these Special Forces instead. 

Does the intelligence community and the administration feel vindicated

by that? 

UDALL:  Yes, and this was a high-risk operation.  It would have been much easier to lob a few big bombs in there.  There would have been collateral damage, to use the euphemistic term that you‘re well aware of, which would have meant a lot of women, children and men.  And women who were in the neighborhood would have been killed, and we wouldn‘t have been able to confirm that bin Laden was actually on the site. 

We had a lot of circumstantial evidence, but until that force went in there, we weren‘t actually able to identify the individual as bin Laden.  So, this was a very, very important way in which to undertake this operation. 

UYGUR:  Yes.  You know, from what I‘ve read, they are saying—I think Panetta was saying that we had about 60 to 80 percent certainty that bin Laden was in the compound.  That means that there was some degree of lack of certainty that it was not him.  So, of course, that means the Navy team going in there is—would appear to be the better way to go.

But, you know, you also mentioned the intelligence, Senator, and I want to talk to you about that.  The Associated Press has this quote that I want to share with you and then ask you about it, since you know more. 

They said, “In a secret CIA prison in Eastern Europe years ago, al Qaeda‘s number three leader, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, gave authorities the nicknames of several bin Laden couriers, four former U.S. intelligence officials said”—that is a lot of intelligence officials to agree on that -- :Mohammed did not reveal the names while being subjected to a simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding.”

So, is that right?  This had nothing to do with waterboarding?  Did he actually give the information in a totally separate interrogation? 

UDALL:  I don‘t want to disappoint you, but as a member of the Intelligence Committee, I have to be very careful what I can say in this matter.  I would tell you though more broadly, that I have learned, you have learned, the public has learned that we have generated almost all the information that‘s been actionable and useful through what would be called civilized interrogation techniques by befriending the individual, by treating the individual respectfully, versus using torture techniques such as waterboarding. 

History shows us that we not only can keep faith with our values and our Constitution, but we can also generate the best kind of intelligence by treating people in a way that comports with the Geneva Convention, not violates the Geneva Convention. 

UYGUR:  And I think the second point is really important there.  We actually want to get better information.  This is how you get better information.  We have proven that over and over in our history. 

Senator Udall, if you‘ll stand by for just one moment, I also want to bring in NBC terrorism analyst Roger Cressey, who joins us by phone. 

Roger, I want to play a clip from Jay Carney this afternoon talking about whether Obama resisted or did not resist, and then get your thoughts on it.  Let‘s watch first. 


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  Bin Laden‘s wife rushed the U.S. assaulter and was shot in the leg, but not killed.  Bin Laden was then shot and killed.  He was not armed. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If he didn‘t have his hand on a gun, how was he resisting? 

CARNEY:  Yes.  The information I have to you—first of all, I think resistance does not require a firearm. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did he have any weapon? 

CARNEY:  He was not armed, is what I understand to be true. 


UYGUR:  All right. 

Roger, any clarity on that?  What does it mean that bin Laden resisted if he didn‘t have a firearm? 

ROGER CRESSEY, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST:  Well, I think what it means, Cenk, is that he didn‘t just lie down and surrender, he didn‘t go prostrate on the ground.  And in the heat of the moment, as the SEAL team is assessing a hostile situation, they‘ve got to make a very quick judgment.

So, you know, the may be more detail.  As the debriefs continue with the SEAL team and others involved in the operation, we are going to hear more details emerging.  But the bottom line is are the men in that position felt it was the right course of action, and we really can‘t be in a position to disagree with it. 

UYGUR:  All right.  We are just getting from NBC News that the photo of bin Laden apparently will be released.  We are not sure when. 

What was the decision-making behind that, Roger? 

CRESSEY:  Well, I talked to members of the administration very—most recently, and they said it was still being hashed out on the pros and cons.  I mean, the pros are pretty obvious.

It is proof of death.  It‘s demonstrating to the world that bin Laden

there‘s visual evidence of bin Laden‘s demise. 

The con, of course is that those in the radical community will use that to perpetuate the martyr myth, will use it as a cause celebre.  So, obviously, the White House decided the pros outweigh the cons, and creating that proof of death visual was the right thing to do. 

UYGUR:  Yes.  I think at some point, they had to release it.  There is no other way.  Otherwise, the conspiracy theorists would go nuts. 

CRESSEY:  That‘s exactly right. 

UYGUR:  Yes, absolutely. 

Now, Senator Udall, I want to talk about the implications of all this.  And now we have this information, now that we have take than action, let‘s talk about implications for Gitmo, Afghanistan, Pakistan. 

First, let start with Pakistan. 

UDALL:  Yes. 

UYGUR:  It appears that, boy, either they knew or should have known that bin Laden was right underneath their nose. 

UDALL:  Yes.  Let me put it this way—they are either incompetent or they are in cahoots.  And Pakistan is an important country in an important part of the world, 180 Muslims.  They have nuclear weapons.  But we need to reset our relationship with Pakistan. 

They need to be forthcoming.  There needs to be transparency.  We are investing $3 billion a year in Pakistan.  And at this point in our relationship, if we can‘t be honest with each other, if we can‘t share information in a frank and transparent way, we are headed for some more trouble here. 

I am optimistic in this regard—I think that there is an opening in Afghanistan now.  But I want to make it clear that there‘s still a lot of work to be done. 

We did cut off the head of the snake.  There is enormous symbolic value in what happened.  But there may also be operational ramifications because of what you pointed out earlier, with all the computers and all the information, all the connections that seemingly were at this compound, there may be utility there as well. 

But let me just say again on Pakistan, there has to be a series of very frank discussions.  I‘m going to be asking tough questions both in the public view in the Armed Services Committee, and in the secured and confidential hearings that we will have in the Intelligence Committee about Pakistan‘s behavior. 

UYGUR:  Senator, how about the idea of saying, hey, you know what?  We went into Afghanistan to get bin Laden and al Qaeda.  Panetta has said before that there is hardly any al Qaeda left, now there is no bin Laden left.

Is it time to transition out of Afghanistan?  Is it time to transition to out of Gitmo? 

UDALL:  I support the president‘s overall strategy in Afghanistan.  As you know, we‘re reaching a crossroads this summer when we‘re going to begin to draw down our troops.

I think the timing is important here.  We did go into Afghanistan and get this individual.  He had particular ties to the Taliban and Mullah Omar.  The credo, the culture of Pashtunwali, where a visitor is your friend and you defend that person to the end of your life as well, played a role here.

But there is an opening to look again at the our relationship in Afghanistan and begin to hand off responsibility there.  In the end, the exit ramp in Afghanistan is tied to a political settlement where the Taliban and their supporters come into the government with the Karzai supporters, the Tajiks in the north, the other peoples that make up the country of Pakistan—of Afghanistan. 

UYGUR:  All right.

Colorado Senator Mark Udall and NBC terror analyst Roger Cressey. 

Thank you both so much for your time tonight. 

UDALL:  Cenk, thanks for having me on. 

UYGUR:  All right. 

And now, when we go forward, we have got a year after 9/11, George W.  Bush said he is truly not that concerned about bin Laden.  Did you know that?  We have got the tape for you. 

So why are Republicans come out of the woodwork to praise him for bin Laden‘s killing?  I‘m going to put an end to that nonsense. 

And the United States has given $20 billion to Pakistan since 9/11, yet the world‘s biggest terrorist was living there for years.  Isn‘t it time to reassess that policy, as Senator Udall just said? 

Well, Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey says yes as well, and he‘s coming up next. 


UYGUR:  After finding Osama bin Laden hiding virtually in plain sight, new questions have been raised about our relationship with Pakistan.  In talking about the mission to take out to bin Laden, CIA chief Leon Panetta said, “It was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission.  They might alert the targets.”

And those misgivings about our relationship were not helped by Pakistan‘s official statement, which called the raid “unauthorized unilateral action.”

Oh, I‘m sorry that we didn‘t get your authorization so you could move bin Laden again.  Our bad. 

The Pakistani government went on to say that such actions sometimes constitute “threat to international peace and security.”

No.  What presented a threat to international security was bin Laden. 

But luckily, he no longer does. 

Meanwhile, in Pakistan‘s largest city, protesters took to the streets, chanting, “Down with America!”  This, from a country that receives $1.3 billion in American aid every single year.  We have given them $20 billion since 9/11. 

So, how about what goes down is our funding for your country? 

But is that the right move?  Well, let‘s discuss that now. 

Joining me now is New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg—


UYGUR:  -- who has been asking a lot of questions how bin Laden was able to live in Abbottabad undetected for so long. 

Senator, great to have you here. 

LAUTENBERG:  It‘s good to be here. 

UYGUR:  All right.  First, let‘s discuss the funding.  Is it in serious jeopardy, this $1.3 billion we give to Pakistan? 

LAUTENBERG:  Well, we‘re going to make sure that if it does go, that it‘s justified based on cooperation from the Pakistanis.  It wasn‘t a very comfortable thing to bypass them, but you heard that it was a matter of great concern that going to them might interfere with the operation. 

And they could not help but notice that this house, this installation was there.  It was almost palatial, on a relative basis, and it was there for years, since 2005, as you mentioned.  And the only thing that was missing, I said, was a neon sign saying, “Here we are, bin Laden‘s rest.”

UYGUR:  Yes, it‘s unbelievable.  Any claim that they didn‘t know is—well, then it‘s even more embarrassing, because he was right underneath your nose.  How incompetent are you?  Apparently our money and our aid has not helped your competence at all. 

LAUTENBERG:  That‘s right. 

UYGUR:  But, on the other hand, we should distinguish—and this is very important—between what it means to give money to Pakistan.  Is it their military?  Is it their intelligence?  Is it their civilian leadership?  Those are all different things.

How do we make that distinction, Senator? 

LAUTENBERG:  Well, it‘s been a mix, some going to—primarily to the military, but others to social programs to try and help them.  And it‘s been as much as $4 billion a year. 

So we‘re talking about big money, and I‘m not sure that we are getting the kind of result that we would like to have had.  If we had their assistance with this operation, then it was really meaningful.  But what I want to find out is, why didn‘t we have it, if we didn‘t have?  And if we did, tell us you did to help us along. 

That‘s the relationship as it should exist. 

UYGUR:  Senator, is there any way of saying, hey, listen, OK, we want to work with you guys, we want to have a good relationship, that relationship is important, but obviously your intelligence community is not on our side?  Is there anything you can do about it?  I mean, can we make demands in that specific area, which seems to be the main problem in Pakistan? 

LAUTENBERG:  Well, we‘re going to try, and that‘s why I want to investigate this.  I want to hold the funding. 

I want to have a hearing on it.  There‘ll be a secret hearing.  But the fact is we want to learn what their intention is, what kind of commitments they are going to make, because at this point in time, it‘s been very disappointing. 

We have enough to fight terrorism on several fronts, and the last thing we need is to have someone who pretends to be our friend and really isn‘t doing much to help us. 

UYGUR:  All right. 

Senator Frank Lautenberg, very clear on this.

Thank you for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

Now, next, the Republican spin machine is praising George W. Bush for his role in killing bin Laden.  This is a “Con Job” of epic proportions.  I will show you why W. deserves no credit whatsoever. 

And Cheney and his crew are using bin Laden‘s killing to push the idea that waterboarding works.  The only problem with that is that they are totally wrong. 

I will show you the facts when we come back.



SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE:  When you look at $10 billion to $12 billion monthly payment by American taxpayers, much of which is being wasted, and sadly, portions of which are being diverted to fund our enemy, you have to ask yourselves, how long can we sustain this? 


UYGUR:  That was Senator Dick Durbin today questioning how long we are going to spend resources fighting in Afghanistan, which is a very good question. 

With the death of bin Laden, we find ourselves in another pivot point. 

This time, involving Afghanistan. 

Since 9/11, we have spent $1.25 trillion fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Soon, that will be $1.5 trillion.  Afghanistan has cost us more than $444 billion to date, and it‘s costing us an estimated $2 billion a week to operate. 

Now, let me put that in terms of the budget battle.  OK? 

For weeks, Republicans and Democrats were arguing over cutting $38 billion from the federal budget.  Well, that amount is equal to what we spend in Afghanistan in 19 weeks. 

Now, think about that.  All those painful cuts we made to important programs, we could have them all back if we just stay in Afghanistan 19 weeks less. 

We already got bin Laden.  There‘s almost no al Qaeda left in Afghanistan, according to our own intelligence. 

Now, what would you rather have, all those domestic programs, or 19 more weeks in Kandahar?  OK. 

So you want to know some of those things that we cut in that spending bill to help make up your mind?  Well, the Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services Departments face $19.8 billion in cuts.  We could have recouped that in a little under 10 weeks in Afghanistan. 

The EPA alone face cuts of $1.6 billion.  That could have been made back in a little over five days and 14 hours. 

We cut contributions to U.N. and international organizations by $377 million.  That is just a day and eight hours. 

So when people say we‘re broke, it‘s not really true.  We always find money for war.  We can simply reallocate some of that money to create jobs here at home, for example. 

This is all about making choices.  We could have more pollution in the air that our kids breathe because we couldn‘t properly fund the EPA, or we could have six more days in Afghanistan.  Who thinks that‘s even a hard choice? 

This is a pivot point in our war on terror.  It‘s a terrific opportunity to bring our troops, our money, our energy and our resources back home.  Let‘s address our issues here instead of trying to rebuild nations abroad that we bombed in the first place.  Hopefully, the president makes the right choice going forward. 

Now, next, the GOP is praising George W. Bush for his role in bin Laden‘s death. 


UYGUR:  I literally laugh out loud at that.  That is an LOL.  I‘ll explain why. 

And remember Donald Trump, the man who made all those birther claims? 

Oops.  I wonder how he feels now.  We‘ll check in. 


UYGUR:  In the wake of Osama bin Laden‘s death, the Republican spin machine is already in hyper-drive, of course, claiming credit should really go to President Bush.  What a joke. 

So let‘s straighten out the record once and for all. 

Here‘s what House Majority Leader Eric cantor said: “I commend President Obama, who has followed the vigilance of President Bush in bringing bin Laden to justice.”

Or taken a listen to Karl Rove. 


KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  The tools that President Bush put into place—Gitmo, rendition, enhanced interrogations, the vast effort to collect and collate this information, put it in a usable form—obviously served his successor quite well. 


UYGUR:  See?  It‘s all thanks to Bush. 

Former Bush White House chief of staff Andrew Card is making the same claim. 


ANDREW CARD, FMR. CHIEF OF STAFF TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH:  He made sure that everything was in place so that President Obama could have an opportunity to get Osama bin Laden. 


UYGUR:  And that‘s just a few of the Republicans pushing the same idea.  But here‘s the reality. 

George Bush deserves zero credit for killing bin Laden.  First of all, as crazy as it sounds, Bush, himself, said he wasn‘t focused on Osama bin Laden at all. 

Here‘s what he said in 2002. 


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I don‘t know where he is, nor do—you know, I just don‘t spend that much time on him, to really be honest with you. 


UYGUR:  That‘s unbelievable, right?  How could the president say that about a man who killed nearly 3,000 Americans?  It must have been a slip-up, right?  Apparently not, because listen to him say the same thing again in a different way. 


BUSH:  And you know, again, I don‘t know where he is.   I—I—I repeat what I said.  I truly am not that concerned about him. 


UYGUR:  This is the guy the Republicans are now saying should get credit for capturing Bin Laden?  The guy who said he wasn‘t concerned at all?  Come on.  And if you don‘t want to take Bush just at his word, then take a look at his record.  First, he had eight years to get Bin Laden and I got news for you, he didn‘t do it.  To make excuses afterwards is just sad.  But the details are even more damning.  Remember, in December 2001, they had Bin Laden cornered.  Here‘s what a commando from Delta Force said about why Bin Laden escaped from Tora Bora. 


UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  The original plan that we sent up to our headquarters, Delta Force wants to come in over the mountain with oxygen, coming from the Pakistan side, over the mountains and come in and get a drop on Bin Laden from behind. 

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  Why didn‘t you do that?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  Disapproved at some level above us.  Whether that was central command all the way up to the president of the United States, I‘m not sure. 


UYGUR:  And sure enough, a 2009 Senate investigation pinned the blame on top level Bush officials.   Quote, “The decision not to deploy American forces to go after Bin Laden or block his escape was made by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his top commander, General Tommy Franks.”  They literally refused to send in troops to get Bin Laden even when they knew he was cornered.   And now they want the credit?  Are you kidding me?  Then in 2006, just in case anyone still thought Bush cared about Bin Laden, he took decisive action.  Bush allowed the CIA to shutdown a unit that had been hunting Bin Laden for a decade.  

The reason, according to the “New York Times,” official had decided Bin Laden wasn‘t the threat he once was.  So much for wanted dead or alive.  That same year, Bush hammered home the point, explaining that a massive hunt for Bin Laden didn‘t square with his military strategy.  Quote, “This thing about let‘s put  100,000 of our Special Forces stomping through Pakistan in order to find Bin Laden is just simply not the strategy that will work.”  Wrong again.  Special Forces did kill Bin Laden in Pakistan, except it was under a competent president, a president who cared to actually get the job done.  Bush‘s effort, or lack of effort to get Bin Laden, was pathetic and a complete failure.  The only thing sadder is Republicans now trying to take credit for it. 

With me now is Joan Walsh, editor at large of Salon.  Joan, the nerve of them to try to take credit for this when the guy was laying down on the job. 


UYGUR:  Am I getting any part of this wrong?

WALSH:  No as far as I can tell, you got it all right, Cenk.  They don‘t like it but you got it all right.  I mean, first of all, just the nerve of them both to say—to have all this record where they said, we don‘t care about him, we are not going to find him, we are going to shutdown the unit, he is not important.  But now they are claiming credit as though it obviously was important.  I mean, that‘s ridiculous enough.  You know, you had Dick Cheney from day one of the Obama administration saying this man is going to make us less safe and he has got terrible policies on terror and he is going to give up the fight when he has been in so many ways, so much more effective than they have, they caught a lot of people on his watch. 

So, you know, the lies—the lies don‘t end.  And Karl Rove is very proud of enhanced interrogation, but you know, today, even Donald Rumsfeld came out and said, that had nothing to do with the information that they got.  So you know, when you have got Rumsfeld admitting that, it is a pretty dark day for Republicans. 

UYGUR:  You know, we are going to talk about that a little later in the program, too, but they are stretching, because what do they have?  I mean, look, I don‘t present just my opinions on the show, we just showed you all the facts.

WALSH:  Right.

UYGUR:  We just showed Bush himself saying I don‘t care.  I don‘t want to get, you know, he didn‘t say I don‘t want to get Bin Laden, but you heard the tape, he said I am unconcerned, right?

WALSH:  Right.

UYGUR:  So my question is. 

WALSH:  He doesn‘t matter anymore. 

UYGUR:  So, Joan, why was that?  Why did he say over and over again, I‘m not concerned about getting Bin Laden, that seems like a crazy thing to say, even if you thought it. 

WALSH:  You know it is not that crazy to me if you think about the sort of psychology of George W. Bush.  He is a guy who, if he can‘t do it, if he can‘t get it right, he will act like it is not worth doing.  We saw that over and over.  And so I think, you know, maybe he felt bad, maybe he didn‘t, but they were failing so miserably, it was easy for him to just kind of shrug it off.  Well, you know, we are not doing it, I don‘t care about it.  Remember when he couldn‘t think of one mistake he‘d made, you know, at a Press Conference midway through his presidency.  It‘s like he had this amazing capacity of denial, basically.  So I think that—I don‘t know if he was telling the truth, but I think that this was common psychological trait that he had to just shrug off things that he wasn‘t doing well and say they didn‘t matter. 

UYGUR:  Yes.  Reminds me of a kid who doesn‘t do his Math homework because he is too lazy, I don‘t really care about Math.  Anyway, who cares about Math?

WALSH:  Yes.  It doesn‘t matter. 

UYGUR:  It doesn‘t matter.  Yes, I know. 

WALSH:  Exactly. 

UYGUR:  So, the thing is though, Joan, if you let them get away with it, they wind up just repeating this over and over and over again, which they will, you will see.  I mean, they will go on the warpath saying it was Bush, it was Bush, it was Bush, until unfortunately, some of the media start saying, well, it wasn‘t Bush, I don‘t know.  I guess they should both get—and of course, one of the things they will do is they will say, Joan, you shouldn‘t politicize this. 

WALSH:  Right.  Right.  We are the ones politicizing it when they are the ones saying this.  You know, and I don‘t mean to politicize it anymore.  But I also think it needs to be said that part of our problems in 2001 and 2002, and you alluded to it, is that they—the Bush administration just did not take seriously that Osama Bin Laden was a threat.  They really were not focused on Al-Qaeda and it was specifically because they decided to make a clean break with the Clinton administration.  Nothing Clinton was doing could have mattered, could have been important, it is that same kind of denial, right?  If Clinton is doing it doesn‘t matter.  

They demoted, they ignored Richard Clarke.  You know, we know what happened.  And so, I‘m not going to say that 9/11 could have been prevented.  No one can say that.  But it is sort of incontrovertible to me that if they had maintained that same focus, that Clinton acquired, sadly, through tragedy, the first bombing and the Cole bombing, et cetera.  If they had kept his focus, things might have turned out very differently, we might not have had to have two unnecessary wars.  

UYGUR:  Right.

WALSH:  So, you know, I think we have to look back. 

UYGUR:  And let me add one last thing here, when they gave him the warning that Al-Qaeda was going  to attack, he said, OK, you‘ve covered your ass, now go home, that guy wants credit?

WALSH:  Right.  And then he went on vacation.  

UYGUR:  Swatted flies.  And he went on vacation.  

WALSH:  Yes.  I remember that, yes.  

UYGUR:  All right.  Joan Walsh, thank you so much for joining us.  

WALSH:  Thanks for having me. 

UYGUR:  Now, we have been talking throughout the show about the pivot points we have reached as a result of Bin Laden‘s death.  One of the biggest questions is whether torture did or did not work in this situation and what that means going forward.  Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee says, options got the necessary leads to find Bin Laden without resorting to torture. 


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA:  To the best of our knowledge, based on a look, none of it came as a result of harsh interrogation practices.  


UYGUR:  None of it.  And Donald Rumsfeld, of all people, also says that waterboarding didn‘t lead to the capture of Bin Laden. 


DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:  It is true, as I understand it that some information that came from normal interrogation approaches in Guantanamo, did lead to information that was beneficial in this instance, but it was not harsh treatments and it was not waterboarding.  


UYGUR:  There is not one person in the world who would be more motivated to say intelligence came from enhanced interrogations, but even he says it didn‘t.  That‘s got to be clear enough, right?  Nope.  Of course not.  Still, despite all this, right-wingers are claiming Bush‘s policies on waterboarding did play a role. 


REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK:  So for those who say that waterboarding doesn‘t work to say that it should be stop and never used again, we got vital information which directly led us to Bin Laden, was during the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed through water boarding that this information was  derived.  


UYGUR:  Wrong again, as usual with Peter King.  When does he ever get it right?  Of course, the GOP has the advantage of being the party that is indifferent to facts.  You can make any argument you like, as long as you don‘t have to back it up with any evidence.  Just listen to the waterboarding king himself. 


FMR. VICE PRES. DICK CHENEY, UNITED STATES:  All I know is what I‘ve seen in the newspaper at this point, but it wouldn‘t be surprising if, in fact, that program produced results that ultimately contributed to the success of this venture. 


UYGUR:  Of course, again, completely not true.  To the rest of us this is abundantly clear, it was not waterboarding or torture that got us this information.  So, is it possible that this is a good time to reconsider the whole concept of torture and whether America should stoop to such despicable tactics?  We certainly think it is.

Let‘s bring in Dahlia Lithwick, she is a senior editor at Slate and she actually wrote an article that urges Obama to close Guantanamo Bay and it call off harsh interrogation methods of terror suspects.  Dahlia, great to have you here. 

DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR, SLATE:  Thank you for having me.  

UYGUR:  All right.  Let‘s talk about what you think of the right moves right now and why you think this is a good time to make those moves, what do you think the president should do?

LITHWICK:  Well, I think the president should do what he campaigned to do all along, which is close Guantanamo, do away with secret trials, do away with military commissions in lieu of Article III trials.  In other words, restore us to the state of the rule of law pre 9/11.  So, if you agree that 9/11 was not, in fact, an existential of threat that meant that we hid all to our legal systems away and created new ones, now it‘s a good time to reinstate the legal regimes we had hid away and say, OK, this is symbolic and to a ten-year period of temporary legal insanity and let‘s go back to the way things were and pretend it never happened at all. 

UYGUR:  Well, that would be going back to how we had America, which is America.  It was constitutional.  We didn‘t do torture.  We were light on to the world and we were proud and that was part of what made us great.  Now, unfortunately, the country has changed so much since then, but the president couldn‘t even close Guantanamo.  And it seems, Dahlia that they are impervious to facts.  Intelligence says, no we didn‘t get it from water boarding.  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed apparently gave up the information under normal, standard practices but you just can‘t get it through the knuckleheads in Congress.  I mean, the president did try to close Guantanamo and they didn‘t let him.  So, how do we proceed going forward?

LITHWICK:  Well, I think, you know, I think we need to be very, very careful about who the source is of this new torture hysteria, it is not an accident that the calls to reclaim the beauty of waterboarding and to fall in love yet again with the idea of torture are all coming from the people whose names were on those torture memos who were in the room when they were debating this, with the exception of Donald Rumsfeld.  It is not an accident that it was John you coming forward and saying, hey, look, torture really works, you know.  Imagine if we‘d mirandized these guys.  It‘s not an accident that its Dick Cheney saying, hey, you know, maybe some of the vital information did come from them. 

So, I think we really want a cabin those people and say, look, they have a dog in this fight, they need to prove that what they did saved the country.  But let‘s call that a kind of lunatic fringe and move on.  And I think with the exception of a handful of torture apologists who do have a dog in this fight, who do have some stake in the idea that America is a country that abandoned the Geneva Conventions and tortures at random, most right-thinking Americans to the extent that they think about it at all, think that that was an error.  So, I think we really want to just isolate the folks who are turning this into a referendum on torture and say, it is not a referendum on torture, we know, as a factual matter that torture didn‘t lead to this information, as you pointed out.  But as a completely normative matter, we also know we shouldn‘t torture.  It doesn‘t work, it leads to bad information, it leads us to chase false leads.  So, bracket the handful of people who have a stake in trying to prove otherwise, the rest of us need to move on.

UYGUR:  Right.  And by the way, what does it say about us, when we say, yes, yes, yes, we would like to be like Saudi Arabia and Syria and all these other countries that do torture.  That is isn‘t what America is supposed to be.  So, this is a great opportunity.  And look, I have given the president a world of credit on getting Bin Laden.  I‘m going to do it again a little later in the show.  But as far as pivoting here, do you really think he is going to take the opportunity to do that pivoting, give us the change that he promised during the campaign?

LITHWICK:  Well, I think we want to be really careful on the issue of torture.  It‘s true he failed to live up to his promise on Guantanamo.  He has failed to keep his promise about trying to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other architects of 9/11 in New York in a trial, in a domestic trial.  He hasn‘t felt this, un-torture, it‘s really important to be clear that he has gone back to the guidelines in the army field manual.  We don‘t torture.   He says we don‘t have black sites.  So, let‘s give him credit for the things that he has done right.  And I agree with you, this is a moment to say push harder, push harder on the things he hasn‘t been able to fulfill.  One of them is Guantanamo, one of them is secret trials, one of them is military commissions in lieu of real trials, those are the places we have to push hard.  And I agree with you, this is the moment to pivot.  This is the moment to say, as a symbolic matter, the war on terror ended this weekend, let‘s go back to America the way America was.  Let‘s go become to the America that the rest of the world looked to as a beacon of the rule of law. 

UYGUR:  Dahlia, you are absolutely right.  Give him credit on stopping torture, et cetera.  But add to your list, indefinite detentions, warrantless wire tapping, we‘ve got to turn all that around, it‘s a big slate of to-do list but this is the perfect time to do them.  So, Dahlia Lithwick of Slate.  Thank you for joining us tonight.  I really appreciate it. 

LITHWICK:  Thank you very much for having me. 

UYGUR:  Remember that whole birth certificate thing?  Well, an epic mission to take out Bin Laden makes Trump, Palin and the rest of them look absolutely silly.  We will talk about whether the circus is leaving town. 

And President Obama deserves enormous credit for pulling this mission off.  My thoughts on the most impressive part coming up. 


UYGUR:  Let me get a little nostalgic with you guys.  Remember the days of long-form birth certificates?  Seems like a long time ago, don‘t they?  Well, it looks like silly season is over.  Well, the GOP actually be embarrassed about their antics now?  We will talk about that, next.              



PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES:  Just recently in an episode of “Celebrity Apprentice,” at the steak house, the men‘s cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha steaks.  You, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership.  And so, ultimately, you didn‘t blame little John or Meatloaf.  You fired Gary Busey.  


And these are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at the night. 


UYGUR:  Oh, damn!  That joke was made so much more harsh by what happened next.  Just hours after mocking Donald Trump at the White House correspondents‘ dinner, President Obama made a decision that actually did keep him up at night, going forward with the operation to take out Bin Laden.  Even the timing of the president‘s announcement ended up showcasing the difference between what Trump does and what a commander in chief is expected to do. 


DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR:  Let me ask you this question.  Who, going forward, do you want on your team, because you‘re facing a very tough men‘s team plus La Toya. 


ANNOUNCER:  This is an NBC News Special Report. 

DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  Good evening from Washington, I‘m David Gregory.  We will hear from the president of the United States, he will address the country in mere moments now to announce a major development, we are told by senior government officials concerning the most wanted terrorist in the world, Osama Bin Laden. 


UYGUR:  But what happened with La Toya, with that, it became infinitely more embarrassing to be a birther.  I mean, just remember about what went on a little last month or so while Donald Trump was supposedly spending time and money chasing conspiracy theories, backed up by friends like Sarah Palin,  President Obama spending his time figuring out how to kill Osama Bin Laden and getting the job done.  At the end, it looks like it‘s game over, fold up the circus tent and go home. 

Joining me now is Dana Milbank, national political correspondent and columnist for the “Washington Post.”  Though Dana, they should go home.  My sense is that they will not.  But how does the public react to this?  Does it make Trump and Palin seem so much smaller in comparison?

DANA MILBANK, COLUMNIST, “WASHINGTON POST”:  Well, one of the leading Tea Party leaders actually came out and said that there was something of a conspiracy there, an attempt by Obama, by breaking in at that point to bust up “The Apprentice” and Donald Trump‘s show on TV.  I think you‘re right that the whole definition of this circus is, it‘s not there to win elections.  It‘s there to entertain or to, for self-aggrandizement.  So, I think we are going to have Donald Trump around, and maybe not Sarah Palin, but we‘ll have Trump around for a little while.  I suspect Trump‘s run ended basically went the long-form birth certificate came out.  And now, it is just piling on and on.  But for those of us who appreciate irony in politics, he can‘t stay in this race long enough. 

UYGUR:  Look, there‘s end to the conspiracy theories.  Really, we would make a decision based on what we do with Bin Laden and time it to Trump‘s show?  They are unreal.  But look, Sarah Palin, as you said, is already in a disastrous shape in the polls.  But last we checked in, Trump was still near the top.  Do you think the next poll we see, he will be near the bottom?

MILBANK:  Well, it is hard to say, because you are dealing with a fairly narrow slice of the electorate, so, you can‘t predict for sure.  But what you see happening here is in our “Washington Post” poll today, Obama got a nine-point jump overnight from this in his favorable ratings and even some of the hard core conservative opposition to him here has lessened here.  Now, that won‘t last necessarily for a very long time but you should see a corresponding dip in some of the alternatives to him. 

UYGUR:  Right.

MILBANK:  So, I have a feeling, it is inevitable at some point, that Trump face.  Now, Mitch Daniels is coming to town tomorrow, I suspect these guys are going to try to, you know, take him hostage until he agrees to run for president. 

UYGUR:  Well, let‘s talk about that.  Because you are right, of course, historically we‘ve seen when the president does something like this in foreign policy gives him a big bump.  But then, it recedes over time.  George H. W. Bush probably the best example that after the Persian Gulf War.  But how about the contenders, the whole birther thing, et cetera.  The circus of the GOP did that taint any of the other candidates that are in the race right now?

MILBANK:  Well, the way it helps Obama in the long term is not with this nine-point bump he has gotten here.  But people had begun—the republican critique had begun to sink in that he is a weak leader, that he is not a strong leader, his numbers were way down lower than in other attributes.  What this will most likely do is strengthen him in that area.  People are not going to say that he is not tough on terrorism now.  He is going to get much stronger marks in foreign policy.  So, it takes away potentially at least that key republican argument against him.  So, that‘s where it weakens the entire field when you see these guys kind of, at this point, you know, running away, let‘s talk about Medicare, which isn‘t the safest thing for them to be doing at the moment either.  And to the extent that it hurts the overall republican field, obviously, the flimsier candidates are going to appear even more flimsy at a time when National Security is in the fore. 

UYGUR:  Look to your point on leadership, you know, sometimes I criticize the president‘s leadership on some of the domestic issues.  And somebody tweeted that to me, they‘re like, you still want to play poker with him?  All right.  Fair enough.  At least in foreign policy.  So, I think that goes toward your point on leadership.  Dana Milbank of the “Washington Post,” thank you so much for joining us tonight. 

MILBANK:  Thanks, Cenk.

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, look, when it comes to foreign policy, the president didn‘t have three choices on how to go after Bin Laden.  When we come back, I will tell you what they were and why he made the right one.    


UYGUR:  A lot has been made of President Obama‘s decision on how to pursue Osama Bin Laden.   Apparently three choices, according to CIA Chief Leon Panetta.  The first choice was to work with Pakistan, but we had substantial evidence that sometimes working with them did not help our operations.  Second option was to bomb the compound from a distance, either using a B-2 bomber or cruise missiles.  This had had the downside of leaving uncertainty as to whether we got Bin Laden.  The possibility that we killed the wrong people and the huge likelihood of collateral damage.  They were at the very least, some women and children also in that compound. 

For the president, I suppose there was a degree of courage in ordering the more effective but riskier approach.  But mainly, I want to give him credit for making the smart decision.  This it turns out, is why you need a president that does nuance.  President Bush said back when he was in office that putting, quote, “100,000 of our Special Forces stomping through Pakistan in order to find Bin Laden is just simply not the strategy that will work.”  Yes, we don‘t live in a black—but we don‘t live in a black and white world where you either put 100,000 troops into a country or do nothing at all.  We live in a world where we need a leader to who can sift through those options and find the best one. 

And for my part, what I‘m most proud of is that he cared that we got the right guy and that we did as little damage as possible.  I told you last night that I wanted to chant “USA, USA” after I found out that we got Bin Laden.  But that doesn‘t mean bombing a bunker that we thought had about a 70 percent chance of holding him, and it turns out that the right move was to land our bad-ass navy SEAL six team, determine what the reality was and they had orders to leave if they determined the target was not Bin Laden and then execute the strategy. 

Sure, it was bold and strong, he made the right decision, and it was a courageous decision.  And, of course, a lot of credit goes to our troops who actually took their lives in their own hand to do that.  But most importantly, the decision was smart.  And I‘m thrilled that we now have a president who isn‘t afraid to use his brain as well as his arms.  

All right.  I‘m Cenk Uygur.  I want to thank you for watching.  You can always follow me, of course, on where I will be later tonight.  Up next, “HARDBALL.”

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.                                                                            


Transcription Copyright 2011 ASC LLC 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 ASC LLC‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or

interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of