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PoliticsNation, Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Read the transcript from the Wednesday show

Guests: Barney Frank, Celeste Katz, Richard Wolffe, Bob Shrum, Mark McKinnon, Ali Soufan

REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST: Tar Heel throwdown.


economy that lasts, and Raleigh, that starts now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you, Barack!

OBAMA: I love you back!



SHARPTON: In front of a raucous crowd in North Carolina, President
Obama demands action on jobs, while congressional Democrats stand behind
him. But Republicans are still playing games with the facts and the fate
of 14 million unemployed.

Plus, the Trump primary. Rick Perry comes to New York to get "The
Donald`s" blessings. You think they`ll be eating pizza with a knife and
fork? No, that was the Palin deal.

And the man the CIA doesn`t want you to hear from, an insider`s
account of what was really happening during the war on terror.

Hey, Dick Cheney, are you watching?

Welcome to POLITICS NATION. I`m Al Sharpton.

Tonight`s lead, Democrats understand that this economy is on the edge.
Republicans, well, not so much.

Today, House Democrats took to the steps of the Capitol with one thing
in mind: get Americans back to work.


REP. JOHN LARSON (D), CONNECTICUT: Fourteen million people do not
have 14 months to wait. We don`t need to be standing here, we need to be
back in there voting the president`s bill on this floor and putting America
back to work!


SHARPTON: There was the same sense of urgency during the president`s
visit to North Carolina today, a state riddled with 10.1 percent
unemployment. He came bearing a plan that would bring more than 19,000
construction jobs to the state, and he called on all Americans to join in
the fight.


OBAMA: North Carolina, this comes down to what our priorities are.

We need to build an economy that lasts, and Raleigh, that starts now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you, Barack!

OBAMA: I love you back!


OBAMA: But if you love me -- if you love me, you`ve got to help me
pass this bill.


SHARPTON: President Obama may be hoping for unity, but that doesn`t
mean the GOP will quit playing political games.

Today, Senator Jim DeMint accused the president of using a payroll tax
cut "to buy votes."


SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If we vote for this plan, we`ll
own the economy with the president. And he desperately needs someone else
to blame it on.

He knows it`s not going to pass the way he`s set it up. He`s hoping
he can buy votes with his payroll tax deductions.


SHARPTON: You think that`s bad? That`s not the most outlandish thing
we`ve heard from Republicans this week. That honor goes to Senator Rand


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: The rich are getting richer, but the
poor are getting richer even faster. If poverty is a death sentence, it is
a big government that has acted as the judge and jury, conscripting poor
Americans to a lifetime of dependency on a broken and ineffective federal


SHARPTON: Really? Didn`t the Census Bureau say yesterday that more
than 46 million are living in poverty, the highest number in 52 years?
Meanwhile, the top one percent earns nearly 25 percent of the total income
in the country.

You can have your own opinion, just not your own facts.

Joining me now is Congressman Barney Franks, Democrat from
Massachusetts. He`s the top Democrat on the House Financial Services

Mr. Chairman, first of all, thank you for joining me this evening.


SHARPTON: As we hear Mr. Paul talk about the poor are getting richer,
I mean, with this kind of, in my opinion, bizarre attitude toward the
unemployed, toward the poor, how are we going to get a jobs bill passed in
this Congress?

FRANK: Well, it`s going to be hard. Obviously, that statement the
poor are getting richer is just a flat-out lie. I think he knows better.

What he really meant to say is he doesn`t really much care whether the
poor get poorer or not. And by the way, that`s part of the problem.

We don`t have a disagreement, unfortunately, with the bulk of the
Republicans about how best to stimulate the economy. I think we have a
disagreement about whether or not it`s a good idea.

Your quote from Senator DeMint was clearly there. They don`t want
Obama to succeed. And because they don`t want Obama to succeed, they`re
really not that interested in helping the economy succeed.

So we do have this problem. The only way it`s going to happen, Al, is
if the voters let them know about this.

Now, you did get a certain nervousness on the part of some of the
Republicans, and what the president is doing is exactly right. He`s making
-- here`s the deal.

Right now, the average Republican in Congress is catering to a fairly
small number of people, the people who vote in the primaries. The Tea
Party people, the very conservative Republicans, they dominate Republican

What we have to persuade them is, that if they continue to cater to
that small minority, they`re going to be in trouble in November. So the
answer in practical terms, it`s when the general public speaks out and
makes it clear, again --


SHARPTON: I want to show you, Mr. Chairman, how right you are. You
can`t win a general election without Independents.

Independents that were polled, look at the figures. Seventy percent
of them say provide money to states to hire teachers and first responders.
Payroll tax cuts, 65 percent support. Infrastructure investment, 63. A
CNN/ORC International poll.

I mean, clearly, Independents are there. And even if the Republicans
go through, as you say, this hyper kind of right primary season, they
cannot appeal to the broad voting public in November and win, advocating
things against the interest that the overwhelming majority of American
voters support.

FRANK: And if people want to see that, they can look at the
Republican presidential primary, which is a race to go to the race. And
yes, I think that they will be courting disaster in November. But as the
president said, I don`t want them to do things that are going to make it
better for my candidacy a year from November, I want them to try and help
the economy now.

We really do have -- these are minor issue s. These are human lives
at stake, the value of human beings.

Let me throw in one other thing, Al. When the Republicans talk about
spending being too much, et cetera, they have a very odd view.

If we spend money to build a bridge that`s falling down, or if we
spend money to hire a police officer or a teacher, if we spend money to
improve rail transit, that`s terribly wasteful. But if we spend hundreds
of billions of dollars in a war in Iraq that never should have happened in
the first place, I don`t know whether they think that`s not spending or
where it comes from.

But these are the same people who are critical of the president for
not spending enough on the military. These are the people who attacked the
president when he withdrew 10,000 troops from Afghanistan. I thought and I
know you thought that wasn`t enough. But he`s getting attacked by the
Republican leadership because he`s not spending more and more.

So let`s not concede to them, the anti-spending people. They don`t
mind spending money as long as it consists of military spending everywhere
else in the world.

SHARPTON: Yes, they`re anti-spending on Americans that are
unemployed, that are middle class, some chronically unemployed, and on poor

But let me ask you, Mr. Chairman, you`re saying right here, right now
that there`s some Republicans that care more about defeating this president
than they are concerned about giving jobs back to American people.

FRANK: Mitch McConnell is the Republican Leader in the Senate, and he
said his number one goal is defeating Barack Obama. Yes, I am quoting
them. They really want to prove a point.

They make this ridiculous argument that the government can`t help
unemployment. You know, Al, there are 700,000 fewer state and local
employees working today than there were a couple of years ago. And what`s
happened is, that these budget cuts have forced us to lose people who
shovel the snow and people who take care of the parks, and police and fire.

And then they blame us for the fact that the jobs aren`t there
according (ph) to their budget policy. But, yes, I believe that they are
so ideological, so committed, first of all, to defeating Obama, and
secondly to showing that government can`t work, that they don`t want it to
work. And again, let me just quote Mitch McConnell, who said his number
one goal is not stimulating the economy, putting people back to work,
increasing manufacturing in America, it`s defeating Barack Obama.

SHARPTON: OK. Having said that, I want you to stay right on that
point. I read in "Politico" today where they`re saying that some in the
White House are betting that Speaker Boehner is really, at the end, more
interested in making a deal than one would think, because he needs to win
just as badly. And the White House strategy, according to "Politico" --
I`m reading this -- "rests on the risky assumption that Obama can sell
Boehner on a new political reality. With voters desperate for jobs,
neither leader can afford to do nothing."

Now, if we are to believe that Boehner can be persuaded, that`s light
at the end of the tunnel. I just hope it`s not the train light coming to
run us over.

FRANK: Well, here`s the problem. It`s one thing to convince Boehner.
And if you look at Boehner`s history, he was the author of No Child Left
Behind, which I thought went too far in some ways.

He is unfortunately -- I really mean this -- not the key person
deciding this. He`s the prisoner of his caucus. And we`ve seen time and
again, when it came to passing trade bills, and we said don`t pass the
trade bill until you put in place a continuation of the policies that help
those workers who lost their jobs because of trade, and Boehner said yes,
and his caucus rebelled on him.

And time and again, this Tea Party right-wing group that dominates the
Republican Party makes him back down. And look, I`ve said this before,
that we have -- Tip O`Neill was a great man, and had a great theme song,
which was, "I`ll be with you in apple blossom time."

John Boehner is the second Speaker to have a theme song. His is,
"It`s my Party and I`ll cry if I want to," because they wouldn`t let him
make that deal if he wanted to.


SHARPTON: I like that.

Let me ask you something. Talking about leading Republicans, the
leading Republican candidate for president, Rick Perry, had this to say
about the Federal Reserve. I want your reaction. Look at this.


the Federal Reserve to be used for political purposes, that it would be
almost treasonous. I am not a fan of the current chairman allowing that
Federal Reserve to be used to cover up bad fiscal policy by this

be shrunk back down to such a tight leash that they`re going to squeak.


SHARPTON: Mr. Chairman, what do you say about their war on the
Federal Reserve?

FRANK: Well, first of all, we are talking about, by the way, a
chairman who was appointed by George W. Bush, Ben Bernanke, and was a
leading Republican.

Secondly, you hear in Rick Perry`s statement an echo of what you heard
from DeMint, which is, what do they say is political? Trying to stimulate
the economy.

DeMint said you`re trying to buy votes. How is he trying to buy
votes, the president? By making the economy work, by putting people back
to work.

Rick Perry says it`s treasonous because, what are they doing? They`re
trying to make the economy work.

It is just confirmation in my view that these people don`t want to see
the economy functioning. This notion that the Federal Reserve is doing
something illegitimate, it`s their mandate.

The Federal Reserve has a statutory mandate to do two things:
constrain inflation and promote employment. When the head of the Federal
Reserve and others try to promote employment through the various monetary
policies -- and there are limits to how they can do it -- but when they try
to do it, Perry says it`s treason, it`s in their statutory mandate.

They are under -- it`s something you will remember, Gus Hawkins,
Hubert Humphrey. The Humphrey-Hawkins bill says the Federal Reserve is
under mandate of Congress to be concerned about increasing employment and
constraining inflation. So when Perry talks about the Federal Reserve, he
makes himself sound bright on the subject of science.

SHARPTON: Well, increasing employment and controlling inflation, you
just don`t understand, Mr. Chairman. In order to do that, you need
corporate loopholes and corporate jets. They need to fly around so they
can take care of all those jobs we`ve been waiting for.

Chairman, thank you for joining me tonight.

FRANK: Thank you, Al.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Republicans say President Obama is in trouble
over GOP wins in two special elections, but the truth is a lot more
complicated than that.

Plus, Rick Perry has a date with Donald Trump tonight. Think he`ll
settle for a pizza dinner like Sarah Palin? Think again.

And the CIA`s fight to silence an insider`s account of the war on
terror. We`ll talk to a former FBI agent who was on the front lines of the
war on terror, and what he says may shock you.

Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Republicans are making this huge deal out of today`s
headlines, claiming that wins in two special elections are a sign voters
have turned on President Obama.

Pete Sessions, the head of the GOP Campaign Committee in the House
says, "This clear rebuke of President Obama`s policies delivers a blow to
Democrats` goal of making Nancy Pelosi the Speaker again. An unpopular
President Obama is now a liability for Democrats nationwide in the 2012
election that is a referendum on his economic policies."

Then RNC chair Reince Priebus says, "Not only are the president`s
policies not working, but his nonstop campaigning is no longer winning over

Even GOP front-runner Rick Perry is jumping in.


PERRY: This is an administration and, frankly, a political party
that`s on the ropes, and the American people understand that.


SHARPTON: "The New York Post" hammered the president on the loss of
New York`s traditionally Democratic 9th District. "Take that! GOP Wins
Weiner Seat in Prez Slap."

Sure sounds horrible. But do these two special elections really mean
the president`s in big trouble?

Joining me now, Celeste Katz, political correspondent for "The New
York Daily News," and MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe.

I thank both of you for joining me.

Celeste, was this really -- you cover New York and you have been
around the beat a few times here -- was this really a referendum on
President Obama?

is definitely evidence that this election shows a lot of people are very
angry with President Obama. They`re angry about the economy. They`re
angry about being able to get jobs, send their kids to good schools, and
have a decent life, all those things.

But I do think that in this particular case of New York 9, there`s a
lot more going on. This is a very small portion of the electorate. It`s
one district. It`s a special election with not a huge turnout. And there
are a lot of other things at play here.

I mean, what they`re really going up against is sort of the Democrats`
ability to keep the seat via the traditional methods of union, get out the
vote activities, and a very motivated, angry Republican base.

SHARPTON: Special election, I know the district. People around the
country just hear traditional Democratic district, but the fact is that
President Obama didn`t win it by a huge margin when he won as a landslide
nationwide last time.

Is that not correct?

KATZ: Right. He did win by somewhat over 50 percent, but it was not
a landslide. I mean, neighboring districts elected President Obama by as
much as 90 percent. This district does have a certain sector that is more
conservative-minded, and that is something that the Turner campaign was
able to capitalize on.

SHARPTON: Now, your column today, which I`m sure did not ingratiate
you with some on the right wing, is that you said also you have to factor
in that the former Democratic mayor Ed Koch campaigned for the Republican
and raised questions of Israel, and that the Democratic candidate, let`s
say, you did not feel was as charismatic as Al Sharpton.

You didn`t say that, I did. But you didn`t say he was charismatic.

KATZ: Well, I mean, and again, as I said in the column, this is a guy
who, in his first campaign commercial when he ran for city comptroller in
2009, said, "They say I`m not so exciting." So it`s not like he didn`t
warn us.

SHARPTON: That`s how he opened up his own.

KATZ: Yes, that was his own commercial, "They say I`m not so

SHARPTON: Richard, when we look at this nationally -- and of course
the Republicans are going to take their victory lap.


SHARPTON: But let`s look at the fact that polls nationally are
starting to say something different. Let me show you a poll that just came
out where the president actually seems to be going up nationally. We see
from 45 percent in August, Reuters now has him up to 47 percent.

WOLFFE: Right. Well, look, his numbers have bounced around in this
zone for a long time. You can look at these special races.

Look, if you were in the RNC, you`d be doing the same thing. This was
a bad result for the White House and for Democrats. No point in
sugarcoating it. But to extrapolate from that, to jump from New York to a
national race, is really perilous. You cannot even go from House races to
statewide races, otherwise we`d have Senator Sharron Angle, Senator
Christine O`Donnell.


WOLFFE: The truth is that these protest votes are not the same as a
vote for president, not the same as a vote for senator. Voters have been
very careful about saying, I`m willing to take on new faces, these Tea
Party folks at the House district level, register my protest, slap
Democrats and maybe the president in the face here. But when it comes to
statewide and, therefore, national elections, it`s a very different
picture, a very different assessment. And those polls seem to underscore
that, too.

So it`s not a great day for Democrats, but to jump in and say that
means Republicans are a shoo-in next year is delusional as well.

SHARPTON: Well, Celeste, I remember when the upstate congressional
race happened and a Democrat won on the Social Security issue. Republicans
said it doesn`t mean nothing, one special election, one congressional.
Now, all of a sudden, this is turning of the age of Obama. So, I mean, I
guess both sides play that.

But let me raise another question to Richard.

Richard, when you look at the polling of the president and the GOP, I
think this gives us more of a forecast of where we`re going nationally.
Those polled, approval ratings in February, had President Obama, 51; GOP
leaders, 36. August, 43 percent favorable rating for Mr. Obama --
President Obama, only 22 percent for GOP leaders.

Wouldn`t that concern you if you were a GOP leader?

WOLFFE: Well, it should. But, you know, they think they`re doing
fine in the congressional leadership by just doing down the president.

I`d be more concerned if I was Rick Perry, where a month ago, I was in
a two, three-point race against the president. And the more they have seen
Perry on the road, the bigger the gap is for the president over Rick Perry.

I`d be worried if you put up the economic policies side by side, not
do you disapprove or approve of the president`s economic policy, but CNN`s
poll today, who do you trust more to handle the economy, and the president
still has an eight, 10-point lead on that question. If the story line of
the RNC and, frankly, the media, too, was correct, if the idea was that
this president is getting punished because of the economy, then the
Republican plan would be much further ahead than the president and
Democrats in general. But trust on the economy still rests with the
president and with Democrats.

SHARPTON: You know what, Richard? I was going to talk about sports
next, but I think I`ll talk about those polls and the things you just
talked about. You just changed the program.

Celeste, Richard, thank you both for your time this evening.

WOLFFE: You bet.

SHARPTON: Rick Perry`s campaign, in full mode today, meeting with
Evangelicals, then rich GOP donors, and Donald Trump.

Folks, that`s today`s Republican Party.

Also, Dick Cheney is suddenly worried about Washington spending.
Where was this when he was launching wars and pushing tax cuts for the
rich? We`ll call him out on this next.


SHARPTON: Dick Cheney, the man who never met a war he wouldn`t pay
for, suddenly thinks the United States spending is out of control. The
former vice president is still making rounds on his book tour, and recently
chatted with Rush Limbaugh.

He told Rush, "I was embarrassed when they lowered our credit rating
from AAA to AA. I literally felt embarrassed for my country."

But Cheney wasn`t embarrassed by the Republican gridlock that led to
the downgrade. Instead, he says the debt crisis shows Washington needs to
make painful spending cuts. But as The Washington Monthly`s Steve Benen
points out, Cheney`s penny-pinching is a new development. Back when Cheney
was in the White House he said, quote, "Deficits don`t matter." That was
his defense of policies the country couldn`t afford.

The deficits don`t matter attitude is how the Bush administration
turned Clinton`s $236 billion surplus into a $1.2 trillion deficit. And
the argument that the Obama White House caused the debt crisis is
laughable. Between the wars and the tax cuts, Bush`s policies cost way
more than Obama`s policies. So racking up huge bills was fine when Cheney
was in the White House, but he`s all about cutting back now that a democrat
is in charge. Nice try, Mr. Cheney but we got you.


SHARPTON: Today Rick Perry hit the tri-fecta of republican politics.
He spoke to evangelicals at a Christian university, he raised money from
big GOP donors, and he flew here to New York to sit at the knee of Donald
Trump. The two men are meeting at the Trump tower here in midtown
Manhattan. Earlier, Perry talked about what he expected from the chat.


GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: We`re just going to be talking about, you
know, how to create jobs in America. Donald Trump is pretty good about
creating jobs. I`ve got to think Donald has got some advice for me.


SHARPTON: Recently Trump has been full of praise for Perry.


DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN: I think he`s a very impressive guy. I`ve
spoken to him a number of times. I think he`s a very impressive guy with a
very good record. So, it will be interesting to see how he does under the
spotlight. It`s a big spotlight, but Texas is a big spotlight also.


SHARPTON: Now, back in May, Trump and Sarah Palin had a highly
publicized pizza summit at a downscale New York pizza Joint, notoriously
eating slices with a knife and fork along with members of their entourages,
they shared three pizzas for a total of just about 50 bucks. But Trump is
taking Perry on a much pricier date. The two are reportedly going to the
trendy Jean Georges Restaurant, where the tasty menu for both would run to
about $300.

Joining me now is Bob Shrum, former senior adviser to the John Kerry
campaign, now a professor at NYU. And Mark McKinnon, No Labels co-founder
and former media adviser to George W. Bush and John McCain. Let me ask
you, Bob, liberty, Christian University, donors, Donald Trump, is this the
Republican Party now?

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Maybe mark could give us a better
idea there but I think it`s a dominant strain inside the Republican Party.
I think establishment Republicans are in an almost unquiet panic about
this. They`re rallying to Romney. But, you know, Romney in this Reuters
poll only runs two points better than Perry does against the president,
they both loss to him right now. And two points is not going to make an
electability argument. I do love the fact that the cowboy and the comb-
over are going to meet at this pricey French restaurant. You know, there`s
a couple of Mexican places downtown, there`s a place called East Sudi (ph),
that`s a terrific Italian place. Maybe Perry ought to take Trump down
there. Although I`m not sure Rick Perry would feel very comfortable in
Greenwich Village.

SHARPTON: No, let me -- I wonder if he`s going to wear his cowboy
boots tonight, Mark. But aside from that, let`s go to Bob`s point about
the republican establishment. They seemingly are not, if we are to believe
reports, that enthused about Perry, yet the electability question is
problematic if you look at the polls. President Obama, look at these
polls, President Obama beats Perry 50-42. He beats Romney 49-43. So,
Perry can make an argument two points, I want you to respond to, he can
make the argument that according to polls, I`m as electable or unelectable
as Romney is and, according to these polls, the president is ahead.

guarantee you that once there`s a nomination who steps up on the stage next
September, I bet that reverses, particularly if the economy is anywhere
near the shape it is today. So, the interesting thing about electability,
though, is the elites in the Republican Party believe that Mitt Romney is
more electable, but by a fairly strong plurality grassroots voters and
Republican Party think Rick Perry is more electable. So, it`s very
interesting. There`s a real dynamic going on in the party between the
establishment candidate, Mitt Romney, and the anti-establishment candidate,
Rick Perry. And there`s a lot of people sitting on the fence trying to
figure out which way this thing is going to go.

SHARPTON: So to split, Bob, between the rank and file or grass root
republican voters and the establishment is the fight we`re looking at right
now. Can the Democrats gain from that and how do they use that? I mean,
if you see an opening, you try to drive a mack truck through it.

SHRUM: Well, it depends. I mean, as this thing rolls on, you know,
there`s a theory out there now that a long primary process would benefit
the republican nominee because Barack Obama became stronger as he ran
longer and longer against Hillary Clinton. We always have this notion that
history is going to repeat itself. History often inverts itself. I think
this could be a very long, very bitter fight. The Republican Party no
longer nominates by winner take all, they use proportional representation,
which means this could go all the way to the convention. And I think that
in the course of this, we`re already seeing a level of bitterness in some
of these debates that I haven`t seen, I don`t know if Mark recalls it, I
don`t recall it in the republican process in 2000 or the democratic process
in 2004.

SHARPTON: Well, let me give you that, Mike. Talking about
bitterness. Look at the whole controversy the other night in the debate
around the HPV vaccine. I mean, let me show you these sound bites from the
debate. This is getting problematic for Perry and a little, little ugly in
terms of charges, counter charges that Bachmann and others heap upon him.
Look at this.


PERRY: At the end of the day, this was about trying to stop a cancer.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: To have innocent little 12-
year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an
executive order is just flat-out wrong.

PERRY: That this issue about Gardasil and making it available was
about saving people`s lives.

BACHMANN: I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa,
Florida, after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that
vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: She might have jumped the shark
today. There`s no evidence that the vaccine causes mental retardation.

BACHMANN: I am not a doctor, I`m not a scientist, I`m not a
physician. All I was doing is reporting what this woman told me last night
at the debate.

PERRY: That was a statement there was no truth and no basis in fact.


SHARPTON: Now, it is something when Rush says you went too far. You
know, you`ve got to be concerned, Michele, but aside from that, look at
where the "Washington Post" said that Rick Perry mocked Rick Perry`s Social
Security stand. According to the "Washington Post," stop the expected wave
of endorsements from conservative members of Congress. So is it a danger,
as Bob Shrum said, as this plays out if you start getting charges, counter
charges, Perry`s fed-up book and stuff he says in there which frankly
causes a lot of concern. Don`t you have the problem of this getting to be
harmful to the republican candidates?

MCKINNON: Well, I think they dumped the whole book -- on Rick Perry
at the last debate. If you want to know who the front runner is, just look
at the guy who was attacked all night long. The HPV issue I think is a
bogus issue. First of all, Bachmann didn`t have her facts straight. And
second of all, she`s a complete hypocrite on this issue because there`s a
Hepa-B vaccination in her home state. She didn`t fight to repeal that.
There was no prior concern on that vaccine. It`s very similar to an HPV
vaccine transmitted the same way. So, she didn`t do anything in her home

So, completely hypocritical on that. The issue where I think there is
some vulnerability, unfortunately, is on the immigration issue that was
raised because Rick Perry in my view rightfully passed legislation in Texas
that provides in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants, which
I think is a terrific policy. But unfortunately in the republican primary,
that could be a vulnerability and I expect a lot of attacks in the future
on that issue.

SHARPTON: Yes, well, Bob, you know, I`m hurt. He said Michele
Bachmann had her facts wrong. Next he`ll be telling me there`s no Santa
Claus. I mean, is it possible Michele had her facts wrong? Let me ask you
this, Mark, though. You know George Bush well. And aside from the fact I
disagreed with everything George Bush did just about, including the
election of 2000, the fact is that he did have some talent. He got where
he did get. Does this guy, Rick Perry, have it? I mean George Bush had a
way of dealing with the base and the elite at the same time. I just can`t
imagine George Bush sitting up at Jean Georges tonight with Donald trump at
this stage in the campaign.

MCKINNON: No, he would have been in a bowling alley eating hamburgers
for sure. And you know, the great thing about -- one of the great things I
thought about George W. Bush is that he talked about compassionate
conservatism. Rick Perry is talking about conservatism without a lot
compassion and I think that that`s potentially problematic. I think the
Republican Party has moved since President Bush in a way that makes it
potentially more difficult to win a general election. But Rick Perry is --
he has the energy where the Republican Party is right now and that`s why
he`s a real threat to Mitt Romney. Because they see him as a real echo
chamber for the kind of anti-Washington sentiment that so many people out
in America feel right now.

SHARPTON: Bob, how do we go from compassionate conservatism to
crowds sitting on television nationwide as Republicans cheering a man in a
comma uninsured can die and people shouting let him die and no one really
chastising the crowd.

SHRUM: Look, like you, I was opposed to Bush obviously and then
opposed to a lot of stuff he did. He looks like a moderate, he might be
offended by that, compared to these folks when they debate. I think it`s
partly the economic circumstances, that people feel very, very frustrated.
I think there is an element of racial resentment in it. And when you watch
this unfold, I think Mark is exactly right. This may put them in a
position where despite all of the economic difficulties, despite the fact
that they are pursuing policies in Congress that make it very difficult to
solve the economic problems. I think the president has a very good chance
and I think he will win this election actually.

And Rick Perry is fascinating to me. Because he`s sort of edges away
a little bit from some of this positions but he doesn`t wholesale renounce
them the way Mitt Romney does. So on immigration as Mark said, he didn`t
do that. Social Security he hasn`t done that. And notice that he defended
this vaccine. He`s right on the merits, by the way. Just said he did it
the wrong way, there should have been an opt-in, not an opt-out. Michele
Bachmann was wrong at every level. It`s not just a fantasy, it`s a
tragedy, because lots and lots of women die of cervical cancer every year.
And if people don`t take that vaccine because they believe what she said,
it would be really bad.

SHARPTON: Well, we`ll see what happens and we`ll try to find out what
Rick Perry ordered for dinner tonight. We`ll see if he`s a real Texas
cowboy, because if he can say filet mignon right, then I know he`s not
really a Texas cowboy. Bob Shrum, Mark McKinnon, thanks so much.

Coming up, Dick Cheney has been selling his version of the war on
terror. But I`ll get the real story from a former FBI agent who knows what
was actually happening in those interrogation rooms.

Plus, poverty levels are at high records, but the right wing still
thinks government aid is no good. I have a few things to say about that.


SHARPTON: Remember last month when you couldn`t watch your TV without
seeing Vice President Dick Cheney selling his book? He was on his heads
exploding tour, to promote his memoir, "In My Time." And the take-home
message for viewers was, he wasn`t sorry for anything. But he was
especially not sorry for using torture.


DICK CHENEY, AUTHOR, "IN MY TIME": It`s important for us not to get
caught up in the notion that you can only have popular methods of
interrogation if you want to run an effective counterterrorism program.
The fact is it worked. We learned valuable, valuable information from that
process and kept the country safer over seven years.


SHARPTON: Torture works. Really? Well, now there`s a new book
that`s the antidote to Cheney`s hysterical fiction. It`s called "Black
Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda," and it was
written by Ali Soufan, a former FBI agent who helped identify the
terrorists behind numerous attacks, including the USS Cole bombing and
9/11. He interrogated some of al-Qaeda`s key operatives and he got them to
reveal things the Bush administration claimed is only possible through

Joining me now is that former FBI counterterrorism agent, Ali Soufa.
And welcome, Ali.

ALI SOUFAN, AUTHOR, "BLACK BANNERS": Thank you, Reverend. Thank you
for having me.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you, you interrogated the first high-valued
detainee terrorists and it led to identifying the mastermind that people
say behind 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. How were you able to do that?
How were you able to get this information?

SOUFAN: Well, actually we developed a rapport almost immediately
after we arrested him, after he was picked up. And it was a way to
identify Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to me and my FBI partner, when he was
correcting us about another terrorist and he said, no, no, no, no. This is
the wrong guy. This is Muktar (ph), this is the person who masterminded

SHARPTON: While he was correcting you, what techniques of
interrogation were you using?

SOUFAN: We were just talking to him like you`re talking to me now.
He was in a hospital bed, that`s the only difference.

SHARPTON: He was in a hospital bed. You all were having a
conversation like we`re having.

SOUFAN: Yes. Exactly.

SHARPTON: Why did the CIA come in and interrupt your interrogation.

SOUFAN: Well, this is something that we still don`t have an answer
for. You know, we have a team of the NICAIC (ph) team who would working
together and the professionals in the field was doing the job that we are
trained to do. And we would able to get some actionable intelligence
immediately after the arrest of Abu Zubaydah to include the identification
of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as a mastermind. And then we have a team coming
out from Washington with an outside contractor and then they took over.
And these techniques started being applied.

SHARPTON: These techniques meaning torture?

SOUFAN: These techniques at the time it was before enhanced
interrogation techniques. But they start doing, using some of the
techniques that were part of enhanced interrogation techniques used later
on. Some of the people actually on the ground, to include one CIA officer,
actually left the location before me. So it`s not FBI versus CIA like some
people try to make it look like. It`s professional in the field,
professionals in the field from the CIA, from the FBI, versus politicians
and bureaucrats in Washington who thought they knew better.

SHARPTON: Now, I`m looking at your book, "Black Banners" and in your
report on a lot of the interrogation and techniques and all, I see all of
these deductions by the CIA. Now, your report was approved by the FBI, I


SHARPTON: Why would the CIA deduct pages and pages of FBI-approved

SOUFAN: Well, the interesting about this is the book went through an
FBI pre-publication review and stayed there for about three months. And
the whole book was approved. Unfortunately, I think, there was some people
in the agency, and the agency, the CIA is an agency that I respect, I
respect the different institutions I worked with when I was in the
government, and I know there`s a lot of people from all the institutions
trying to do their best to keep us safe. However, there`s some people over
there that are still trying to protect the narrative of the mistakes that
were made, not only with enhanced interrogation techniques but also 9/11.

SHARPTON: If Vice President Cheney was looking at you right now and
he said publicly as I play that torture works.

SOUFAN: Right.

SHARPTON: What would you say to him?

SOUFAN: Well, they gave us reasons and they gave us sort of examples
how torture worked. They told us it`s the identity of Khalid Sheikh
Mohammed that was only revealed because of waterboarding. It is Jose
Padilla that was only revealed because of waterboarding. Well, Reverend,
waterboarding was not applied until August of 2002. Padilla was in custody
in May of 2002, so unless you have a time machine, you have a problem with
the timeline. All the issues is that they mentioned publicly that was
revealed because of waterboarding, from Abu Zubaydah, I don`t know about
the other people. From Abu Zabaydah, the very first case, with all due
respect to the former Vice President, I was there. Waterboarding was not
applied at the time.

SHARPTON: In other words, you`re wrong again, Mr. Vice President.
Ali Soufan, author of the "Black Banners," thank you for your time this
evening. We`ll be right back.


SHARPTON: The United States might be the richest country in the
world, but the poverty in this nation is staggering. New census figures
show that 46.2 million people are below the poverty line. That`s nearly
one in six Americans. But what do Republicans say when faced with these
numbers? They say you`re out of luck.


SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: At the end of the day, there`s no
free lunch and a government spending expansion here is actually going to do
more harm than good.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: If poverty is a death sentence, it is a
big government that has acted as the judge and jury conscripting poor
Americans to a lifetime of dependency on a broken and ineffective federal


SHARPTON: You see, poor people, working class people, they`re not
looking for a handout, they`re looking for a way out. They want a job.
They`re the ones that have worked and built this country. They are the
ones that have made the country work, not the ones born on third base and
think they hit a triple, not the ones that were born with a silver spoon in
their mouth, those that were born with a shovel in their hand. They want
to dig in, they want to work. Give them the jobs and quit trying to rub
their face in the mud because their face, it may not be important to you,
but it`s the face of America and it made America what it is. And if we are
to continue to be great, we`re going to have to be America for those
Americans again.

Thank you for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right


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