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The Ed Show for Monday, May 9th, 2011

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guests: Matthew Alexander, Jack Rice, Cliff May, Laura Flanders, Masudur Rahman

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans.  And welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight from New York.

Breaking news off the top tonight: “The New York Times” is reporting new details on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.  Senior administration officials saying, military officials, about 10 days before the raid, President Obama scaled up the forces in case they had to fight the Pakistani army on the way out.  They also report tonight that Pakistan will allow the American government access to Osama bin Laden‘s three wives.  No word if Dick Cheney wants to waterboard them.

And tonight, a defining moment for Jon Stewart.

This is THE ED SHOW.  Let‘s get to work.




RICHARD CHENEY, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT:  I still am concerned about the fact that I think a lot of the techniques that we had used to keep the country safe for more than seven years are no longer available.


SCHULTZ (voice-over):  Dick Cheney wants the president to reinstate torture, a top interrogator says even talk of reinstating torture puts our troops in danger.  The president has his say on the killing of Osama bin Laden.  We‘ll play the tape of one of the most remarkable interviews you‘ll ever see.

And even with Osama bin Laden dead, Islamophobia rages on.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The pilot said, no, no, no.  I am going, I am not taking them.


SCHULTZ:  A cleric going to a conference about prejudice against Muslims gets kicked off his flight because the pilot refused to take off.  Tonight, that cleric responds exclusively on THE ED SHOW.


SCHULTZ:  And good evening.

This is the story that has me fired up first tonight: one week after the greatest national security victory America has had in years, the authors of the largest national security failures filled the airwaves on the Sunday morning talking head shows—Rumsfeld trotted out his old line of garbage over on CBS.  And the biggest national security loser was the star guest on FOX News on Sunday.  Dick Cheney is doing everything he can to preserve his legacy.

You see?  It‘s just killing these former Bushies that President Obama smoked out bin Laden when they couldn‘t get the job done and deliver the mail.  Cheney gives President Obama credit for making the decision but he still is concerned that the president has taken enhanced interrogation off the table.


CHENEY:  You‘ve got to give him a lot of credit for making the decision to have SEAL Team Six conduct the raid that got bin Laden.  There is no doubt it was his responsibility and I think he handled it well.  I give him high marks for making that decision.

I still am concerned about the fact that I think a lot of the techniques that we had used to keep the country safe for more than seven years are no longer available, that they‘ve been sort of taken off the table, if you will.


SCHULTZ:  Well, the former vice president just can‘t bring himself to admit his policies failed and President Obama‘s have worked.  Cheney wants America to believe that waterboarding KSM in 2003 was the key to SEAL Team Six shooting bin Laden in the head eight years later.


CHENEY:  As best I can tell from the people I talk with and worked with, that—when we talk about Jose Rodriguez, who ran the counter—the insurgency—

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS:  Counterterrorism.

CHENEY:  -- counterterrorism program, Michael Mukasey, who was the attorney general, Leon Panetta, all have said one way or another that the enhanced interrogation program played a role.  That is to say that some of the early leads came out of that program.


SCHULTZ:  Early leads.  If Cheney and Bush had early leads, they should have been able to figure out that bin Laden was living in $1 million home watching cable TV for the last five years.

President Obama was completely successful on this mission closing the book on Osama bin Laden and the operation.  But Cheney wants to go back to torture.


WALLACE:  Should the president reinstate enhanced interrogation, including waterboarding?

CHENEY:  Well, I certainly would advocate it.  I‘d be a strong supporter of it.  We went to a lot of trouble to find out what we could do, how far we could go, what was legal and so forth.  And out of that emerged what we call enhanced interrogation.  And it worked.


SCHULTZ:  Cheney, grasping at straws, is he not?  He has no definitive proof that any of the torture that he advocated actually worked.  We all remember Dick Cheney‘s procedures and techniques for intel operations.  If you don‘t agree with the boss, you got outed.  I think there was a movie about that.

Dick Cheney has been the biggest attack dog against President Obama and we have the tape to prove it.


CHENEY:  I wasn‘t a fan of his when he got elected and my views haven‘t changed any.  I have serious doubts about his policies, serious doubts especially about the extent to which he understands and is prepared to do what needs to be done to defend the nation.

President Obama campaigned against it all across the country, and now, he‘s making some choices that in my mind will in fact raise the risk to the American people of another attack.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS:  Do you conclude they‘re naive, that maybe they don‘t understand the nature of the war on terror?

CHENEY:  Yes, basically.


SCHULTZ:  He‘s naive.  The president of the United States is naive.  He doesn‘t understand that probably it would be a good thing to put a bullet in the head of the world‘s most wanted terrorist.

You know, this has been a running narrative for Dick Cheney for a long time.  I‘m sorry he‘s got a bad heart but he decides to get into the arena, so we‘re going to go after it tonight.

The bottom line is this.  He has gone after President Obama saying that he doesn‘t have us on a war footing, that he doesn‘t understand the war on terror, doesn‘t realize that we‘re at war, doesn‘t use the proper language, doesn‘t believe in his policies—tell me something, and think about it tonight: has Dick Cheney been correct on anything when it comes to foreign policy?  Has Dick Cheney been absolutely spot on the way President Obama has been spot on when it comes to dealing with terrorism?  Why is it that the Bush administration didn‘t have as many drone attacks as the Obama administration has called for?

And why is it that the Bush administration couldn‘t piece it all together?  The fact of the matter is: they are jealous they weren‘t in the room when that tough call was made by the commander-in-chief.

You know, what is the media fascination to interview the has-beens from the Bush administration on what President Obama has accomplished?  What do they know?  And the answer is nothing.  They produced certainly not a dead body.  It didn‘t happen on their watch.  They didn‘t make the call and they weren‘t in the room and it just eats away at them.

Yet, it‘s one arm chair quarterback after another trying to divert attention from a great military victory that was, of course, engineered and signed off on by a Democratic president.  A Democrat in the White House did what these clowns couldn‘t do, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Andy Card, Condi, a lot (ph), the word “former” is what they have in common right now.

The fact of the matter is they have been chipping away at President Obama for a long time and there are new details, again even tonight.  “The New York times” is reporting in revealing additional details about planning for the mission, senior officials also said that two teams of specialists were on stand by, one to bury bin Laden if he were killed and a second composed of lawyers, interrogators, and translators in case he was captured alive.

They go on to report tonight Mr. Obama‘s decision to increase the size of the force, sent into Pakistan, shows that he was willing to risk a military confrontation with a close ally in order to capture or kill the leader of al Qaeda.

Now, Mr. Cheney, I have to ask you tonight, based on what “The New York Times” is reporting is that a policy that you could support maybe on “FOX News Sunday” next Sunday?  All of the missteps of the Bush administration had, all of the mistakes that Mr. Cheney has made and as wrong as he‘s ever been, the weekend after the killing of Osama bin Laden, “FOX News Sunday” trots out the guy who‘s been wrong on everything and doesn‘t give credit to the president who has hit it right on the mark.

Ten days before the raid, President Obama, according to “The New York Times” tonight, brought in his commanders and he said, “Do you have enough fire power?  Do you have enough resource in case the Pakistani military turns on us and we have to shoot our way out?”  Now, is that knowing what the hell you‘re doing?  I think it is.  And I think President Obama—it‘s a great moment, Jon Stewart—maybe a defining moment that we are seeing a president on the verge of greatness.

I had Jim Clyburn today on the radio tell me that you could compare this to the big decisions that were made at the Bay of Pigs, that this is an historic moment as to what our military has done and how the commander-in-chief acted.

Get your cell phones out.  I want to know what you think.  Tonight‘s question: will Republicans succeed in rewriting history?  Text “A” for yes, text “B” for no to 622639 and, of course, you can always go to our new blog at  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show.

Joining us now is Matthew Alexander, a former military interrogator who tracked down senior al Qaeda leaders in Iraq.  He‘s also the author of the book “Kill or Capture.”

Great to have you with us tonight, Matthew.

Does Dick Cheney know what the hell he is talking about?  Because I remember Senator Biden during a foreign services committee hearing saying, don‘t pay attention to Cheney because he doesn‘t know what the hell he is talking about.  What side of the ledger do you fall on with this story?

MATTHEW ALEXANDER, FORMER MILITARY INTERROGATOR:  Well, Ed, I‘m going to say the same thing that I‘ve been saying all along, which is that these people who supported torture and put in place the policy will not talk about the long term cost of that policy.  You‘ll never hear former Vice President Dick Cheney talk about the fact that it was al Qaeda‘s number one recruiting tool in Iraq and that it brought in droves of foreign fighters who killed American soldiers, hundreds if not thousands of American soldiers.

And today, there‘s press reporting, again, of another senior interrogator like myself—this one currently serving in Afghanistan—who said just the mere fact that these former administration officials are on TV talking about how they would still torture is helping the Taliban and al Qaeda to continue to recruit new fighters.  So, this is going to continue to have a cost in American lives.

SCHULTZ:  So, you‘re saying in a roundabout way tonight that the former Bushies who are out on the talking heads right now are actually hurting the troops?

ALEXANDER:  I‘m not saying it in a roundabout way, Ed.  I‘m saying this is fact.  Department of Defense tracked these statistics in Iraq.  It was a fact that the majority of foreign fighters who came there were recruited because of our policy of torture and abuse.  And it‘s indisputable that they made up 90 percent of the suicide bombers and that that cost us many American lives.

But this isn‘t some grand revelation to us.  I mean, look at the experience of our own prisoners of war in Vietnam when they were tortured and the way that our own country reacted to that, how we increased our bombing campaign, how we fought harder when we found out that our troops were being tortured.

So, this isn‘t some type of new information.  What‘s disappointing to me is that time and time again, these officials go on TV and say they support torture.  That‘s a slap in the face to every professional interrogator who knows they can do their job without torture.

SCHULTZ:  You are exactly right.  This is not new information.  But the fact is, is that the Bushies continued to go out on the talking heads and say this stuff to lead the American people against President Obama.  I mean, what else could it be?

This is Donald Rumsfeld on CBS “Face the Nation.”  Here it is.


BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS:  Do you think, Mr. Rumsfeld, that this does justify the use of enhanced interrogation that was such a controversial thing during your administration?


George Tenet, Porter Goss, and General Hayden—have all said that the take from those three people that were waterboarded constituted a major fraction of all our knowledge about al Qaeda.  The fourth CIA director, Panetta, Leon Panetta, has said very recently on television that some of that information was part of a patchwork or mosaic that led to the attack on Osama bin Laden.  So, I think that it‘s clear that those techniques that the CIA used worked.


SCHULTZ:  What‘s your response to that, Mr. Alexander?

ALEXANDER:  Well, the right quote there that he did say is that it‘s a major fraction, because it‘s a fraction of what we could have gotten had we not tortured people, not just from the people we tortured, but from other detainees who refused to cooperate with us because they saw us as torturers.  We experienced that in Iraq where detainees would walk into the booth and say, why would I work with you?  I‘ve seen the pictures from Abu Ghraib.  I‘ve seen what you do to people at Guantanamo Bay.  I know you waterboard prisoners.

So, they don‘t talk about these long-term costs, how it‘s cost us intelligence opportunities, and that cost of information is measured in American lives.

SCHULTZ:  How should we go about the report tonight is that the Pakistani government is going to allow the United States access to three of Osama bin Laden‘s wives?  How should we handle that?

ALEXANDER:  Well, this is actually good news for America.  In Iraq, we occasionally questioned the wives of detainees in the field.  I questioned quite a few wives in the field.  They often provide quite a bit of information.  What you come to find out is some of them are actually captives in their own homes, some of them don‘t sympathize with their husbands‘ activities and so become very willing participants.

You know, I talk about in “Kill or Capture” how we actually had one wife aid us in an interrogation and convince a detainee to talk.  So, this is good news, as long as those interrogations again are conducted humanely with respect for culture and in a proper manner.

SCHULTZ:  And so, you think that this is a rich environment right now for the United States intel community that they would have access to the three wives.

Put a percentage on it.  What do you -- 50 percent, we‘re going to get some good intel out of them?  What do you think?

ALEXANDER:  Oh, greater than 50 percent.  I mean, my experience in Iraq is that wives were usually more than willing to talk.


ALEXANDER:  And usually, they can provide a lot of significant details about things that might not necessarily be intelligence but—as one of my friends liked to say—they might tell you what question you should be asking.

SCHULTZ:  Matthew Alexander, great to have you with us tonight.  I appreciate your time.  Thanks so much for joining us on THE ED SHOW.

And, tonight, there is more breaking news out of Libya.  According to “Reuters,” five blasts were heard from an apparent NATO missile strike targeting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi‘s compound in Tripoli on Tuesday.  A “Reuters” witness reported, you are looking at the pictures of the Gadhafi compound.  The Republicans are wondering what the end game is in Libya?  Who knows?  You could be looking at it.

Although yesterday, on the talking heads it was Dick Cheney talking about Libya.  He said, quote, “It‘s not clear to me this administration is up to the task.”  It never stops, does it?

Coming up: the torture debate.  Conservative Cliff May and former CIA officer/case worker Jack Rice will join me.

And later, two Muslim religious leaders kicked off a plane even after they cleared security three times?  You won‘t want to miss my exclusive interview with them tonight.

You‘re watching THE ED SHOW here on MSNBC.  We‘ll be right back.


SCHULTZ:  President Obama was in command in his first interview since the death of Osama bin Laden.  I think he knocked it out of the park.  I think most Americans think the same thing.  I‘ll show you the highlights.  I loved the interview.

You saw Dick Cheney, let‘s see what he had to say about President Obama and the use of torture and, of course, Liz Cheney has now gotten into the act.  But she‘s been wrong before and she‘s wrong again.  More commentary on that.

Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Thanks for watching tonight here on MSNBC, THE ED SHOW.

A debate about whether torture had anything to do with getting Osama bin Laden in a moment.  But first, I just want to remind you what Liz Cheney‘s group, Keep America Safe, what they were saying about President Obama nearly two years ago in this ad.


NARRATOR:  Not enough time for a decision but plenty of time for Letterman, golf, a beer summit, more golf, vacation, and a visit to Copenhagen.  If you think America‘s president must act to defend America instead of just talking about it -- 


SCHULTZ:  Well, here‘s the reality, Ms. Cheney.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  After you made the decision to go ahead, you had like this incredible weekend.  You surveyed the tornado damage in Alabama.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You took your family to the shuttle launch.  And this was all going on.  But you knew what was going to happen.

OBAMA:  Yes, yes.  I made the decision Thursday night, informed my team Friday morning, and then we flew off to look at the tornado damage to go to Cape Canaveral.


To make a speech, a commencement speech, and then we had the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday night.

The presidency requires you to do more than one thing at a time.


SCHULTZ:  And now, just like her father, Liz Cheney, is questioning why President Obama won‘t use waterboarding.  When she was asked a question about so-called enhance the interrogation, she said this.


LIZ CHENEY, DICK CHENEY‘S DAUGHTER:  These are not torture.  These are techniques that we know work.  That debate is over.  It worked.  It got the intelligence.  It wasn‘t torture.  It was legal.


SCHULTZ:  All false.

Let‘s bring in the president of the Foundation for Democracy—

Defense of Democracy‘s Cliff May, and also, former CIA officer Jack Rice.

Gentlemen, good to have you with us tonight.

Jack, Ms. Cheney is obviously referring to waterboarding there.  She says it worked.  It wasn‘t torture.  It was legal.  What about that?

JACK RICE, FORMER CIA OFFICER:  Well, Ed, thanks for having me on the program.

First of all, it was torture.  And guess what?  The reason the Bush administration determined that it was legal was it handpicked the lawyers who would say that it was legal and then asked them if it was.  So, it‘s not exactly shocking.

But if you ask whether it had an impact, it did.  It had a negative impact.  I‘m quite confident like your prior guest, Matthew Alexander, that it made this much more difficult, it took much longer, and I think Osama bin Laden would have been found earlier, but for the fact that torture was involved, and what it did throughout the Middle East.

SCHULTZ:  Cliff, would you defend waterboarding on all the points that Liz Cheney made?

CLIFF MAY, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES:  I‘m going to defend my own position if you don‘t mind, Ed, and start with this.

SCHULTZ:  Sure, sure.

MAY:  And that is to say, look, in this particular instance, we do know that the seed of intelligence that grew the vine that led us to find Osama bin Laden came about through coercive techniques of interrogation.  In one instance, waterboarding, the other two instances sleep deprivation and probably psychological humiliation.

A second I think it‘s important to have a little context here and that is thousands of combatants have been taken into custody.  About 100 have ended up in the CIA program.  About 30 of those have suffered any coercive, enhanced interrogation techniques.  Only three individuals have been waterboarded.

I also think it‘s important to note that General Hayden, who was the head of the CIA, said more than half of the intelligence that we‘ve gained about al Qaeda and its structures and processes came from these enhanced interrogation methods.

And one more thing I think should be talked about because it‘s an outrage and I think both of you will agree, right now, the interrogators, the CIA interrogators, who carried out this work and did so in the belief that what they were doing was lawful, it was authorized by the Justice Department, they face the threat of prosecution.

That threat should be removed.  They contributed to the outcome we saw.  They contributed to President Obama‘s greatest victory.  They should not be prosecuted for that.

SCHULTZ:  How do you feel about that, Jack?  Jack, how do you feel about that?

RICE:  More importantly, I would go after the people at the top of the proverbial heap who did this.  I would talk about the lawyers who actually said this was OK.  I would talk about anybody up into the White House that who actually said that torture was legal.  It was not and is not.

MAY:  Jack, how about answering the question?  How about answering the question about these interrogators?

RICE:  Which question is that?

MAY:  Should the interrogators be prosecuted?  They face the threat of prosecution from Eric Holder right now.  It seems to me they relied on the memos produced by the Justice Department, happy to discuss those memos with you if you like because I disagree with you on that too.


RICE:  I tell you what.  Let‘s go through it right now.  No, no, I want to go through it right now.

MAY:  Should the interrogators be prosecuted.  Answer that question first.


RICE:  You want an answer?  Here‘s your answer.  The answer is yes and the reason it‘s yes is this—as a former prosecutor myself, as a criminal defense attorney, you prosecute them in the first place and what you can do is you can give them essentially a minimal slap on the wrist so long as you work your way up the chain and you go after the people who were responsible for this outrage in the first place.

This is not just about what happened to these three people who were interrogated, it‘s about the danger that it was caused the Americans who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan because of these ridiculous policies, and frankly, the fact that it took as long as it did to get Osama bin Laden and the dangers that are still in place because of the foolish policies of the administration.

SCHULTZ:  OK.  A top U.S. interrogator spoke with “Forbes” magazine recently and for security reasons he couldn‘t give his name.  He has interrogated high value targets at Gitmo, in Iraq, and in Afghanistan where he is stationed right now.  He said this, “Waterboarding and/or other coercive techniques did nothing to contribute to our attempts to track down Osama bin Laden.  What did succeed was weeks and months and years of diligent, laborious and also dedicated work, all within the bounds of legal and ethical boundaries.”

Cliff, what‘s your response to that?

MAY:  Well, at least three names, who I can name, directors of the CIA, would say that‘s wrong.  Let‘s understand how we found bin Laden.  Maybe, it is worth 10 seconds to go over it.  There were three people.  Khalid Sheikh Mohamed—this is the start—and he was one of the three who have been waterboarded and at a certain point, he became not just cooperative but rather talkative.

And during the talks he mentioned a courier that bin Laden trusted.  And a very smart CIA analyst said, you know what, if we have the nickname, maybe we can find the real name.  If we have the real name, maybe we can find him and maybe he‘ll lead us to bin Laden.  That‘s what happened.

SCHULTZ:  OK.  I think Americans followed that story.  But why didn‘t the Bush administration work on it when they got that?  And why did they disband the bin Laden team?

MAY:  Well, the bin Laden team didn‘t accomplish a whole lot, but it‘s been worked on for years.  Bin Laden has been living in Pakistan for about six years now actually, which is really kind of shocking and it took pretty much this long, at least until I guess last fall, to actually know where he was living and say, OK, he‘s in that house, let‘s put a SEAL team together and have them go to that house and lethally—and go on a mission that turned out to be lethal.

And I agree with you and I‘m glad you agree with me, not everybody on the left does, that killing bin Laden was justifiable.

SCHULTZ:  It‘s certainly was the right thing to do.  There‘s no question about it.  He killed Americans.  He admitted to doing it.  Obviously, it was the right thing to do.

MAY:  A lot of people on the left -- 

SCHULTZ:  No, not a lot of people on the left.  Wait a minute.  Whoa, whoa.


MAY:  I‘ll mention them by name.

SCHULTZ:  You got Rosie O‘Donnell and you got Michael Moore, two visible lefties.  That‘s not a whole lot of people on the left.  So, I‘m not going to let you broad brush that.

I do talk radio.  I know what liberals are saying in this country.

Now, I want to ask you this, Cliff.


SCHULTZ:  Let me ask you this.  Should we—should waterboard—that‘s not a lot of people.  Don‘t broad brush it.

MAY:  I can go on if you want me to.

SCHULTZ:  No, you can‘t.  Should we waterboard bin Laden‘s wives?

MAY:  No, I don‘t think we should

SCHULTZ:  Why not?

MAY:  I don‘t think we should—because here is the view on that.  I think most CIA interrogators would hold.  You never use coercive methods if you don‘t need to.  You only do when it‘s a matter of life and death or in the case of bin Laden when you really want to get somebody who you know is planning to kill Americans.  You always use other methods.


MAY:  But at some point, do you ever use coercive methods ever, ever sleep deprivation?  Humiliation, loud music, lights on, sensory deprivation, bad food, any of that stuff?  Or can you never use any of those methods?

SCHULTZ:  Is that the moral high ground for America, Jack Rice?

RICE:  Let‘s face it.  Bad food is not torture.

MAY:  Well, it is right now.  You know, right now that would be—such methods are considered to be -- 


RICE:  Let me finish the point.

MAY:  It is but you‘re not telling the truth.

RICE:  Is that what we have to address is that this was boring, slow, prodding work.  You‘ve got to realize, it wasn‘t the torture that actually resulted in the capture or in this case death of Osama bin Laden.  In fact, what it was a reorganization of the CIA Counterterrorism Center, the fact that we put a ton of people on the ground in Pakistan.  We did the work that was necessary.

This is not one quick fix, one all of a sudden magic bullet.  Rather it‘s a slow process and it‘s exactly what we should have been doing all along and should have been doing from 9/11 onward.  Instead, we decided something else was appropriate.  Thankfully, we have changed our mind and we‘re looking at these professionally—which is what we should be doing.

SCHULTZ:  And one final point I want to bring up to both of you.  This question for both of you: is—are the former Bush administration officials out there just to save face right now, or do they really believe this is what we should be doing?

What do you think, Jack?

RICE:  Oh, I think they‘re doing anything to try to justify the time they spent at the White House.  It‘s all they can do.  I mean, let‘s face it.  They‘ve been wrong so many times sadly in the past that if this is their opportunity to say, see, I told you so, even if it‘s not true.

SCHULTZ:  Cliff—what do you think, Cliff?

MAY:  This always disturbs me.  You see conservatives think liberals have bad ideas.  Liberals think conservatives are bad people.  Of course, President Bush, of course, Vice President Cheney, of course, John Yoo, one of the attorneys who wrote the memos that said what you could and couldn‘t do, what was torture and what was not—these are serious people who tried to protect America.  I think it‘s terrible that you have to attack them on a personal basis like this.

SCHULTZ:  Nobody is attacking them.  They didn‘t read the presidential daily briefing on August 6th and they put Richard Clarke out to lunch.  So, they didn‘t do everything they could have done.

Cliff May, Jack Rice, great to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much.

The defining moment for Jon Stewart is coming up.  And President Obama reveals his number one concern about the mission to take out Osama bin Laden.  That‘s next.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Thanks for watching tonight. 

President Obama continues to prove his superiority over President Bush.  Last week, he took out the bad guy that Bush couldn‘t get.  Now he‘s talking about the mission to get bin Laden in a far more in depth interview than Bush ever gave. 

On “60 Minutes” last night, President Obama went into detail about the atmosphere in the situation room during the operation. 


OBAMA:  It was the longest 40 minutes of my life, with the possible exception of when Sasha got meningitis when she was three months old and I was waiting for the doctor to tell me that she was all right.  It was a very tense situation. 

STEVE KROFT, “60 MINUTES”:  Were you nervous? 

OBAMA:  Yes. 


SCHULTZ:  Well, the president had good reason to be nervous.  If this thing had gone wrong, gone south, the consequences would have been huge, because you‘d have to think about what the Republicans would be saying about President Obama.  We could do a full show on that.  It could have really damaged his presidency. 

It was a defining moment, a turning point.  And ensuring the safe return of the navy SEALS was President Obama‘s top priority. 


OBAMA:  My biggest concern was if I‘m sending those guys in, and Murphy‘s Law applies, and something happens, can we still get our guys out?  So that‘s point number one.  These guys are going in, you know, in the darkest of night, and they don‘t know what they‘re going to find there. 

So huge risks these guys are taking.  And so my number one concern was if I send them in, can I get them out? 


SCHULTZ:  But in spite of the risk, President Obama maintained an unwavering confidence in the purpose of this mission. 


SCHULTZ:  As nervous as I was about this whole process, the one thing I didn‘t lose sleep over was the possibility of taking bin Laden out.  Justice was done.  And I think that anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn‘t deserve what he got needs to have their head examined. 


SCHULTZ:  Head examination, I totally agree.  Let me bring in Laura Flanders, host of “Grit TV” and “Free Speech TV.”  What was that comment?  Was that a shot to those who were saying oh, gosh we might have fallen off the moral high ground here?  How did you take that? 

LAURA FLANDERS, “GRIT TV”:  Ed, I hate to break your rhythm here but this is one of those heads the president thinks needs examining. 

SCHULTZ:  Good, tell me why. 

FLANDERS:  I‘m one of those who says, you can say a lot of things about what happened Sunday night.  You can say it was justified.  But justice is not the word.  It wasn‘t what we stand up for around the world and call justice. 

SCHULTZ:  Osama bin Laden wasn‘t guilty?

FLANDERS:  Courts, convictions, charges, that‘s justice.  You can say it was justified.  It was justified to go into a sovereign nation and take out your man.  Justice, it‘s not—it‘s maybe semantics, but I think it‘s more than that. 

I think we have been since 9/11 talking about distinguishing ourselves from other types of--  rules of law.

SCHULTZ:  This was a military action.  We‘re at war.  This is a military action.  They‘re going into a combat zone.  This is a declared war by al Qaeda against the United States.  Clearly he was guilty.  There were arms on site.  It‘s decision that was made. 

FLANDERS:  As I said, you can call it justified. 

SCHULTZ:  There is no room for Miranda rights.  Is that what you want them to do? 

FLANDERS:  I want to have us stand up for the rule of law, Ed.  And I think that you do too.  And I think what we were looking at here is a situation where, according to the reports coming out today from “the Times” today, there was even a plan in place for standing up to Pakistani military, our allies, if they intervened. 

Now I think, you know, the president was—it was a very good performance on “60 Minutes” in many ways admitting he was nervous, the talk about the stress, the humanity, the concern about the families.  All of that was important but I think we‘re looking at geopolitics here. 

You‘ve already got people in Pakistan today talking about the resignation of the prime minister.  You‘ve got protests in the streets.  We‘ve got a serious geopolitical situation with respect to our relations with Pakistan.  Our policies up until now, the policies that have worked have been collaboration, intelligence gathering, cooperation with the Pakistani officials. 

The policies that are not working, I don‘t think, are the drone attacks causing more civilian deaths, are alienating people, and have people in the streets thinking, where is our sovereignty?  Where are our national boundaries? 

SCHULTZ:  No one is trying to hit civilians.  No one is trying to hit civilians.  In fact, it is very clear this administration did this raid knowing that they could have bombed the place out. 


SCHULTZ:  But they didn‘t do that, because it was a consideration of civilians.  So they chose this riskier method to do that.  And it is true that the “New York Times” reporting tonight the fact that President Obama challenged his commanders, ten days before the raid, saying if they get in a shootout, do you have enough to get them out; they can fight their way out. 

But the president has been very clear saying, look, this clearly was a guilty man.  He is a criminal.  He killed Americans.  This is justice. 

FLANDERS:  Let‘s move to what I would have loved to have heard. 

SCHULTZ:  Not what you would have loved to heard, but what action would you have wanted?  Would you have wanted the SEALS to put the cuffs on this guy and bring him back?

FLANDERS:  I wanted to see that guy brought into court.  I wanted to see him brought up on charges.  I wanted to see him charged, convicted, put away.  I want us to stand up for the rule of law.  And I would have loved last night on “60 Minutes” for the president to say—claim victory if you like, go for it.  But say now is the time to reorient.  Now is the time to redirect. 

We‘re going to bring troops out.  We‘re going to commit to an international tribunal court. 

SCHULTZ:  He is trying to get troops out of Afghanistan.  He‘s trying to get troops out of the region.  And he‘s trying to defeat al Qaeda.  There‘s no question they‘re still a big threat and there is a very rich environment grabbing all of these computers and also hard drives. 

What does—does capturing bin Laden cement President Obama‘s legacy? 

I mean, I think he is on the footstep of greatness. 

FLANDERS:  I think he has made a huge step forward.  And I think that with these documents that came out of the compound, you see a big concern about threats to our bridges and our roads and our trains.  I think, great.  Let‘s talk about the threats to our bridges and our roads and our trains, of infrastructure, failure to invest. 

What we need to be doing here—We can‘t just send SEALS in to bust up the budget fight.  We have to actually now refocus here and talk about where our security sits at home.  I know you agree with me. 

SCHULTZ:  I do agree with you on that.  I also agree that President Obama could not have done a better job on any of this across the board.  Where are the mistakes? 

FLANDERS:  I want to see the commitment to withdrawing the troops.  I want to see—

SCHULTZ:  But on this operation, where are the mistakes?  There aren‘t any.  There has not been one mistake by this president on this operation. 

FLANDERS:  I would say that the communications foul ups immediately following the operation were a problem, that so much of the original story turned out not to be exactly true. 

SCHULTZ:  That is the fog of war. 

FLANDERS:  -- that needs to be a whole lot better before it goes into this next election. 

SCHULTZ:  You‘re talking about communication. 


SCHULTZ:  You‘re not talking about the operation.  But in the operation—and this man campaigned on the fact that if the Pakistani government was unable or unwilling, this was before the election, that he would go in and take out Osama bin Laden.  There hasn‘t been a more accurate campaign promise to the American people in the history of the country. 

FLANDERS:  John Kerry said we would stand for bringing people to justice and taking a criminal justice approach to terrorism, as opposed to declaring war on the world.  That was the Democratic party position going into the last election.

So, you know, we can say the end result is what the country wanted in lots of ways.  Was it possible to do things differently?  I think so.  And I wish we could have stood up. 

SCHULTZ:  You‘re wrong, respectfully.  Laura Flanders, good to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much. 

Two Muslim religious leaders are kicked off a flight after clearing three security checks?  I‘ll talk with the two imams coming up.   Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Passengers aboard a Delta connection flight 5452 arrived at their destination nearly two and a half hours late on Friday.  The reason wasn‘t weather, nor was it airport congestion.  You see flight 5452 was late because two Muslim men were onboard. 

Their names?  Masudur Rahman and also Mohamed Zagul (ph).  They are religious leaders, both respected in their community.  They were flying from Memphis to Charlotte, North Carolina, to attend a conference on anti-Muslim prejudice. 

Here‘s what they say happened.  Before boarding, the two men went through typical security screenings just like anybody else at the airport.  The TSA cleared them.  Of course that wasn‘t enough. 

The men dressed in traditional Muslim garb were screened again at the gate and boarded the plane.  The plane left the gate, but soon turned back.  The men were then asked to get off the plane and go through yet a third security check. 

You got that, folks?  The plane left, came back, took these guys off the plane, security check number three.  Once more, again, they were cleared.  But that still wasn‘t enough. 

The men were told by the airline that they could not reboard to take this flight because the pilot would not allow them back on.  Flight 5452 left without them.  The two men were booked on a later flight.  A spokesman for Atlantic Southeast Airlines says the incident is under investigation adding, quote, “we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused.” 

Let me say here tonight if this is the way it is at airports across America, hell, let‘s just fire all the TSA people and have at it.  Maybe we can just have our own security.  This is the most outrageous story I think I‘ve heard in a long time. 

Three security checks—is that the kind of confidence we have in the people who are government employees, TSA people?  Is this our checks and balances at work? 

Joining me now for an exclusive interview is one of the imams who was kicked off the Delta connection flight even after clearing security, Mr.  Rahman. 

Thank you for joining us tonight.  I appreciate your time.  How did you feel?  How would you characterize what happened to you? 

MASUDUR RAHMAN, IMAM KICKED OFF PLANE:  Thank you very much for having me. 

SCHULTZ:  Go right ahead. 

RAHMAN:  I am feeling humiliated, singled out, (INAUDIBLE). 

SCHULTZ:  What did they say to you, Mr. Rahman? 

RAHMAN:  Excuse me?

SCHULTZ:  What did they say to you?

RAHMAN:  They said, you know, the pilot is not allowing you to go into the airplane.  I said what is the reason?  The pilot didn‘t give us any reason.  The supervisor went again and didn‘t give any reason.  The supervisor called the manager.  And while the manager was coming, he left the gate.  The manager called him back. 

He came to the gate again and the manager went to him.  And he was talking with him half an hour.  And after half an hour, the manager came to us.  His face was red.  And he apologized to us because of the conduct of the pilot. 

And he said, you know, I cannot do anything because the pilot is not allowing you to go. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Rahman did you see or talk to the pilot at all? 

RAHMAN:  No, I couldn‘t see him.  I couldn‘t talk to him. 

SCHULTZ:  So you had no contact whatsoever with the pilot, but you were given the reason why you couldn‘t fly is the pilot didn‘t want you on the plane, correct? 

RAHMAN:  Yeah.  I couldn‘t get any reason until now.

SCHULTZ:  Were they embarrassed by what they were telling you at all? 

RAHMAN:  No.  Nobody was embarrassed by us in the plane, because we received an e-mail by a passenger that we are OK.  The passenger said—there was nothing with the passengers.  And it is a statement over there.  Actually, one of this plane‘s passengers.

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Rahman, are you telling us that the passengers were complaining about you? 

RAHMAN:  No, no passengers complained about us. 


RAHMAN:  Because we got an e-mail from a passenger.  There was nothing from the side of the passengers. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Are you going to follow legal action, follow up with legal action on this?  Were you clearly discriminated against? 

RAHMAN:  All of the doors are open.  Until now, we are working with care and we are working with (INAUDIBLE).  And we will see the next step to be done. 

SCHULTZ:  You have compared what happened to you to that of what happened to Rosa Parks. 

RAHMAN:  Exactly.  I felt singled out.  This is the plane I booked my flight and I have to go with this plane.  So what is the reason?  Because of that I cannot go.  But they couldn‘t give me any reason.  That‘s why I felt that kind of emotional distress. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Rahman, I appreciate your time tonight.  Thank you for joining us.  It is an absolute outrage that this kind of stuff is going on. 

I‘ve been promising you the definitive defining moment for Jon Stewart and that is next.  Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Well, I guess we must be doing some things right.  We have finally gotten on the radar screen of the great Jon Stewart.  He made me part of his copy at one time last week during his show last week.  Take a look.


JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  Of course, look, any one of you with a television show and team of writers, researchers and I think what is the largest selection of illegal underage Mongolian interns—any one of those could build a montage of different people in the media all suggesting different moments or defining ones in Obama‘s presidency. 

The real test would be to locate pundit zero, one newscaster bold enough to only use this phrase to describe anything.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Definer. 

SCHULTZ:  Just voted today to deny unemployment benefits.  I mean, isn‘t this somewhat of a defining moment for the White House? 

Why is Social Security even on the table?  This is another one of those defining moments. 

This could be the defining moment of his presidency. 

I think this is a defining moment for the president. 

Folks, we are at a defining moment in this health care debate. 

I view this as a real defining moment. 

Is this a defining moment for progressives? 

Unlimited corporate campaign contributions.  I believe this is a defining moment. 

This is going to be a defining moment in mining history in this country. 

President Obama gives a speech tomorrow that may be—I don‘t know—is it the defining moment in his first term as president?  I think it is. 


SCHULTZ:  Now, Jon, come on, I‘ve lost a few pounds.  That caricature was just a little bit too fat.  It is a defining moment.  And if you have all of these defining moments, you define greatness.  And that‘s what President Obama is. 



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