Guests: Tony Perkins, Delacey Davis, Michael Rubin, Mario Cuomo, James Rocchi, David Bossie
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight‘s top headline: The government may shut down Michael Moore‘s ads. The “Real Deal”? His commercials may not be political ads, but “Fahrenheit 9/11” is no documentary either.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed.
Do ads for “Fahrenheit 9/11” violate campaign finance laws? We‘re going to be talking to one man who thinks so, and he‘s filed a complaint to the Federal Election Commission to stop Moore and his movie. Plus, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo fought to get “Fahrenheit 9/11”‘s R rating lowered. We‘re going to ask him why he took up that fight and why he lost.
And then the LAPD caught on tape again beating a suspect, bringing back bad memories of the Rodney King case. Was it reasonable force or police brutality?
And speaking of disturbing images, for the past month, you couldn‘t turn on your TV without seeing pictures of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. But, tonight, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, images that the elite media hasn‘t been showing is going to show you gruesome torture at the hands of Saddam and his henchmen.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Good evening.
Michael Moore stoops to new lows. It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
You know, I went to “Fahrenheit 9/11” today expecting to be entertained despite political objections, but I was wrong. To say Moore took liberty with the truth would be like saying that Ken Lay took liberties with Enron‘s accounting practices. “Fahrenheit 9/11,” like Enron‘s accountants, obviously figured that when it came to making money, the end justified the means.
Now, in both cases the scale of deceit and deception is breathtaking. Though I‘d need four hours to read you the list of all the falsehoods from Moore‘s two-hour movie, let me give you a few glimpses into his twisted logic. Moore‘s movie begins by pitching his conspiracy theory about the 2000 election. We‘re all told in the audience by all recounting methods Al Gore won Florida. That drew a big gasp from the crowd.
But, shockingly, this first fact cited by Moore‘s movie is a life. Didn‘t anybody associated with Miramax or Michael Moore‘s movie read newspapers after the election, when some of America‘s most liberal papers published results from their independent review of Florida‘s ballots, concluding it was George W. Bush who won by all recounting methods?
And what of the second conspiracy theory, suggesting that George W. Bush kept Americans grounded after 9/11 but let the bin Laden family escape American airspace scot-free. You know, an FBI agent suggested Mr. Bush‘s action was an insult to 3,000 dead Americans, while Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan dramatically demands on tape, we must have an investigation to find out who approved this.
But Michael and the senator both know who approved the bin Laden transfer. It was none other than that Bush-bashing hero of the left, Richard Clarke. He admitted it in the 9/11 Commission. Now, it‘s funny how Michael Moore used Clarke‘s 9/11 testimony to bash Bush in other parts of the movie, but decided to edit out that part that lays waste to bin Ladens and the Bush conspiracy theory.
These two gross distortions are in the first five minutes of the film. I don‘t have enough time to go through all of the other distortions that are promoted in Moore‘s two-hour political commercial. But I can tell you that this film can only add to coarsening of America‘s democracy.
Moore seems to promote the following slanderous conspiracy theories in his movie. One, the Bushes and the bin Ladens were so close that Bush let their family skip out of town while Americans were grounded. Again, false. Two, the bin Laden family somehow helped George W. Bush start his first oil company. Three, George W. Bush cares more about Saudi Arabia than America because the Saudis funneled $1.4 billion to Bush family interests.
Four, America didn‘t invade Afghanistan to kick out the Taliban. America attacked Afghanistan so we could put an oil pipeline in Afghanistan. That‘s why George Bush didn‘t care if the Taliban got away. Oh, really? I don‘t think they got away. Five, the White House purposely tried to scare Americans into believing there was a terror threat after 9/11 so they could pass the Patriot Act, which they had already dreamed up before these 9/11 attacks even occurred.
Six, we invaded Iraq for no other reason than their oil, allowing young American kids to die just so oil companies could make more money. Now, there are hundreds of conspiracy theories that are simply unsupported by the facts. But Moore goes on to show pictures of dead Iraqi babies, followed immediately by American soldiers talking about the rush they got listening to rock C.D.s while they shot at anything they moved in Iraq.
Why didn‘t Moore just write baby killers on the screen and point to U.S. troops? You know, I guess I shouldn‘t be surprised that Michael Moore would make this kind of movie, but I got to tell you, I am stunned that movie critics, Hollywood moguls and liberal movie viewers across America really think so little of America, its soldiers and its leaders.
Friends, it‘s a dark, grim and distorted perspective of our great nation. And I think it‘s just wrong. And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Now, Michael Moore met with the Congressional Black Caucus and, surprise, surprise, he took a shot at the president. Let‘s take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER/AUTHOR: In my movie, I show you the raw footage. I show you the raw footage of George W. Bush in action. And it ain‘t a pretty picture. He ends up with the funniest lines in the film, but you‘re only laughing because you want to cry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Here now is David Bossie. He‘s the president of Citizens United, who says Moore‘s movie ads are partisan political attacks and break federal election laws. And also with me, Netflix film critic James Rocchi.
David Bossie, let me begin with you.
Your group, Citizens United, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission claiming that this movie is an anti-Bush campaign ad. And let me quote it. It said: “Paid broadcasts advertisements for the film, which include visual images and sound clips for President Bush, are subject to the restrictions and regulatory requirements of federal campaign law.”
And here‘s Michael Moore responding to your claim. OK, actually, they do not have that right now.
David Bossie, let me—I want to tell you, you obviously heard, I don‘t think much of this film at all, to say the least. At the same time, I can‘t believe that you actually want to ban commercials for this film. Isn‘t that a violation of the First Amendment?
DAVID BOSSIE, AUTHOR, “INTELLIGENCE FAILURE”: Joe, it‘s actually the rules that McCain-Feingold set up.
McCain-Feingold was passed by the Congress. The Supreme Court upheld it, and that‘s the law of the land. The law of the land says, Joe, that you can‘t—it doesn‘t matter what your reasoning is or what your reason for showing ads are. You can‘t show the image, likeness or photograph of the president of the United States 30 days before the Republican Convention or 60 days before the general election.
The only exemption is the media. This is clearly not the media. He is no more the media than I am. And I went to the Supreme Court and argued that very case, that there was a press exemption. We fought for his right to do this. I defend his right to do it. Unfortunately, it‘s not the law of the land. We lost.
SCARBOROUGH: So you really believe that the Federal Election Commission is going to come out and ban advertisements for this movie? Does that include advertisements not only on TV, but also in newspapers?
BOSSIE: No, McCain-Feingold does not cover print medium. It only covers broadcast and radio.
So what we are saying is, within 30 days of the Republican Convention, and 60 days of the general election, he cannot show his advertisements on television or radio. And, clearly, these are being paid for with corporate funds. As a matter of fact, Lions Gate is a Canadian company, so they‘re actually using foreign funds to broadcast campaign ads, considered electioneering communications by the FEC.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, David Bossie, we now have Michael Moore‘s reaction to what you‘ve started. Let‘s take a listen to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOORE: So for them to try and remove my ads from the television because I want people to come see my movie, it‘s a blatant attempt on the part of a right-wing Republican-sponsored group to stop people from seeing my movie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: James Rocchi, you saw this movie and you gave it five stars, said it was—really said it was his best film yet and said it‘s a must-see. You obviously heard my statement at the top of the show. What did I get wrong?
JAMES ROCCHI, FILM CRITIC, NETFLIX: I don‘t think you got anything wrong, per se, Joe. I don‘t think anyone watching this film can have a personal reaction that‘s in any way wrong.
What I will say about this film is that I‘m not a fan of Michael Moore‘s work. Early on in his career, it got very tiresome watching him bully low-paid security guards and secretaries in his quest for truth. At the same time, this film is the strongest film because we see so little of him.
And, Joe, I know you dislike the sequences where you saw American soldiers talking about what a rush they got from being in operations. At the same time, the last portion of a film, Joe, devoted to the story of Lila Lipscomb, a woman from Flint whose son joined the military, who died in Iraq, who goes looking for closure, that‘s not an anti-American piece of filmmaking. That‘s a human story.
And it‘s a very human story about one woman who has given everything because of what she believes in, which is America.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, James, it was a very heartbreaking part of the movie. The only thing is, though, the reason why we saw her was because at the end she was angry with George Bush.
And it seemed to me that every time we saw a positive portrayal of an American soldier, that soldier either died or ended up disillusioned. Of course, I think of the picture of that guy without the hair sitting in the tank. And the lighting was even nice. And I said, gee, they‘re making an American soldier look human. What does he say three seconds later? I‘m disillusioned. I‘m disillusioned with my country. I‘m disillusioned with this war.
I guess, here‘s my problem with it. There was some amazing footage in this movie. And I think Americans should see what war is all about. You know, I come from an area where there are a lot of military men and women who go off. I understand. Some of them don‘t come back. It‘s awful. But, at the same time, this seems so ham-fisted. Every time they showed the president, it was grainy film. It was slow motion.
ROCCHI: They had the wacky banjo music playing often.
ROCCHI: Agree, Joe. It‘s incredibly tiresome.
But the thing about the film is that it‘s not so much—people call this film incendiary. And it‘s not. There is no burning bush of absolute truth here. You have one person‘s opinion presented in an incredibly subjective manner. This shouldn‘t be confused with journalism. It‘s a filmed equivalent of an op-ed piece.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Michael Moore did say one thing that I will agree with. The funniest parts of this movie, the funniest parts of this movie—I‘m going to upset my mom—she‘s a big Republican, as I am—
I‘m a Republican—were the words of George Bush.
I mean, when Wolfowitz is licking—I mean, he‘s licking his comb and going through it, these guys didn‘t help their own cause at the same time, but...
ROCCHI: Again, that‘s a great example of the kind of weaknesses Michael Moore brings to a film.
If you go back to Michael Moore‘s back catalog, if you browse it at Netflix, you‘ll see films where he shows people in negative lights very, very swiftly. And you‘re in the television business, Joe. You know how bad you look when you‘re getting ready for a shot.
SCARBOROUGH: I look bad all the time.
ROCCHI: You‘re fussing with your hair. You‘re licking your lips. The same has happened to me doing television. I think showing raw feed satellite footage of Dick Cheney looking nervy before he goes on air, your grandmother would look nervy before she went on air in a satellite interview. I didn‘t find that fair at all.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, you‘re exactly right.
David Bossie, let me bring you in here.
Now, David, you haven‘t seen the movie yet, have you?
BOSSIE: No, I have not, but I am going to go see it.
SCARBOROUGH: You ought to go see it, because I thought, again, if Michael Moore had just run this film straight, if he didn‘t have the commentary over it and all these cute little tricks, there was some very, very moving footage in here that I think Americans should see.
But, again, it seems like it‘s one cheap shot after another.
BOSSIE: He‘s a propagandist, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I want to ask you, David Bossie, though, again, aren‘t you a little concerned by the fact that your group and others are actually out there trying to stop a filmmaker from promoting his film, regardless of how awful it may be to you?
BOSSIE: Joe, it has nothing to do with his film. His film is inconsequential to me. His film is unimportant. His film will go nowhere. The French loved it at Cannes. Whoopee. Who cares.
The American people are not going to be driven to the polls because of this movie. The left is going to love it. Conservatives are going to get ginned up. It will energize both bases. This movie is inconsequential. What I‘m saying is, Michael Moore is not above the law. And the FEC is the law of the land when it comes to electioneering communications.
And all I‘m saying, I fought for his right, for my right to do this.
I fought against McCain-Feingold. I fought at the Supreme Court. I lost. The law of the land is the law of the land. Nobody‘s above it, certainly not a propagandist like Michael Moore. So I don‘t want you to think that I disagree with him showing this movie. I don‘t care about his movie. I want to be able to do ads. I can‘t.
SCARBOROUGH: David Bossie, we got to go. Thanks for being with us. James Rocchi, thank you being with us. We want to invite you back to talk about this some more, again, a very disturbing movie. The guy is very talented. I just wish he wouldn‘t use it this way.
Coming up, my interview with former Governor Mario Cuomo. We‘re going to ask him why he thinks “Fahrenheit 9/11” should not have received an R rating.
Plus, the LAPD is rocked by another police brutality scandal. Were they acting in self-defense or abusing another poor suspect? Stick around for that.
And then we go inside Saddam Hussein‘s torture camp, something you certainly never saw in Michael‘s movie, to show you what really happened there. It‘s footage the elite media and Michael Moore won‘t show you.
And that‘s coming up later, so don‘t go away.
SCARBOROUGH: Boy, I‘ll tell you what. “Fahrenheit 9/11” has a lot of blood and guts and gore that I wouldn‘t want my 13-year-old boy to see, but Mario Cuomo says he should be able to if he wants to; it shouldn‘t have an R rating.
I‘m going to take him on when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, the author of “Why Lincoln Matters Today More Than Ever,” was hired as a legal adviser by Lions Gate Film to fight for a PG-13 rating for Michael Moore‘s “Fahrenheit 9/11.” The Motion Picture Association of America rejected his appeal to reduce the R rating.
And when I spoke to Governor Cuomo earlier, I asked him why he had been hired to work on behalf of Moore‘s film. This is what he said.
MARIO CUOMO (D), FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: To do a couple of things.
One is—the basic point was to see if I couldn‘t help anticipate legal objections that would be thrown at this picture, because they knew that a lot of people would try to stop Americans from seeing this picture. And the ratings was part of that. They got an R rating, which constricts. I tried to get a PG-13, negotiated a deal with which our people said no to, because they didn‘t want to give up too much of the truth, as they saw it, in the film, and then was barred, believe it or not, from arguing the appeal.
But the larger point that we were trying to make with my representation is that we anticipate that the other side, whoever they are, are going to try to stop people from seeing this movie. And that‘s what‘s happened, unsuccessfully. I mean, a movement started calling the movie theaters to say, don‘t accept this film. My own view of it, Joe, is having seen the film three times before I agreed to represent them, I think it raises a lot of issues.
It‘s absolutely a polemic. There‘s no doubt about that. It‘s an unabashed attempt to make certain points. But it does it with pictures. It does it with facts. And I think it ought to be disputed that way.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s talk about the pictures that are shown, because obviously you believe that this film should not be rated R. You were not allowed by the Motion Picture Association of America to make the argument there.
SCARBOROUGH: Give us a brief summation. What‘s your argument? Why do you believe this movie should be rated PG-13?
CUOMO: Well, there‘s no sex problem. There‘s no nudity problem.
There‘s no theme problem.
The problem was in harsh language. I don‘t particularly care for harsh language, especially where children are involved, the mother expletive a couple of times, which could have been gotten rid of. And the other is graphic pictures of bodies, etcetera, in war. They last for less than two minutes in this film. Now, children are allowed, through PG-13, to see all kinds of fantastic fictional violence.
You can, in “Lord of the Rings,” can chew up bodies, extraterrestrial and real for two hours and get a PG-13. And so, unless some psychiatrist knows something I don‘t know, there is no real difference it, seems to me, because that fictional violence on a child and this real-live violence, especially, Joe, since you‘re talking about 16-, 15- and 14-year-old children who in a few years are going to be asked to be in our armed forces.
Why shouldn‘t they be able to see the truth of a war? And that‘s what this picture showed. But that‘s the rating issue. That‘s not the big issue about the film anymore, because it‘s gone. Now the question is, should this film be seen by America and disputed and be the basis for a debate? And I hope it will be.
SCARBOROUGH: And I want to go through and show some of the things—tell you about some of the things I saw that I wouldn‘t want my 13- or 14-year-old child to see.
There, of course, are the scenes from Fallujah where the charred American bodies are being dragged through the street. You have got actually the people hanging dismembered from the bridge, graphic photos of mangled children‘s corpses that are being thrown on to the back of trucks. Of course, you have the scenes where there‘s the scorched flesh of the Iraqi victims of our firebombing, young boy that was in the hospital bed, remember, with his arm literally ripped—almost ripped off. And you could actually see deep into that arm, a bloody, dying soldier screaming in anguish, which is really one of the more disturbing scenes, while their clothes were ripped from their legs.
Again, the scorched flesh, the amputees—there was that horrible shot of the amputee and the stub that used to be his leg was twitching. Of course, you had the child who had those stitches across his face and the screaming and the wailing. And I want to make one thing really clear, not only to you, but to my audience. I think, as somebody who supported this war, that Americans need to see that.
Americans need to understand that, when we go to war, whether it‘s against Japan in World War II or Germany, you‘re going to have the Hiroshimas. You are going to have the Dresden firebombings. If you go to war in Iraq, you‘re going to have these type of graphic images.
But I just can‘t see allowing my 13- or 14-year-old, who couldn‘t sleep after I let him see “Signs,” see this type of movie. Would you feel comfortable with your 13- or 14-year-old grandchildren seeing pictures of burned flesh and those people being drug through the streets of Fallujah?
CUOMO: Well, first of all, it took you almost as long to describe it as it shows on the screen. It‘s only up this for a flash, Joe. And this is a long documentary.
And 16-, 15-, and 14-year-old children, once again, who in two years will be in our armed forces and asked to fight this war and maybe the next war, yes, I think with my guidance I would take the grandchildren and say, look, you‘re going to see something very unpleasant here. It‘s called war. And the next time they tell you this is a good thing, we‘re going to fight for this and that, they‘re going to make war sound very good to you. They did it here in Iraq, the war against terrorism.
Is it really a war against terrorism? Not traditionally. It‘s not a nation. It‘s not a group. It‘s not a place. It‘s like the war against crime. But then why do they call it a war? Because that rouses your feelings. And before they do it to you, understand something. You see these pictures? We see them on the newsreels. We see them in the newspapers. Everything you describe has been shown already.
And just remember this, kids, that‘s what war is. It‘s not nice. It‘s not all joyous. It‘s not the triumphant or the virtuous. This is real war. Yes, I would show them, absolutely.
SCARBOROUGH: But sometimes, though, that is necessary, is it not?
CUOMO: Oh, sure it‘s necessary.
SCARBOROUGH: Obviously, you know, we‘re also talking about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My gosh, what we did to German civilians also, the firebombing of Dresden, as you know, where we killed hundreds of thousands of Germans.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me ask you a bigger question. Do you think it would have been good for Americans in January, February of 1945 to see pictures of charred babies, German babies before Hitler basically killed himself and the Germans lost in April of 1945? Do you understand the question?
CUOMO: In 1945, the war is already now coming to an end.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s coming to an end.
I‘m just saying, though, a lot of people—you just basically said it‘s good for people to see these images.
And I‘m saying, do you think that would have been a good thing to show Americans those images of burned and charred Germans and Japanese while the war was still going on in World War II? Does that help the war effort?
CUOMO: The war was virtually over.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s say 1944.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m asking a more general question.
CUOMO: Let‘s make it the question. Let‘s make the question precise.
Would you want people to see this film, “Fahrenheit,” in connection with the war on Iraq? And I would say absolutely. Why? Because I believe it would suggest to a lot of people this was a mistake, this war, because there is not a rationale for it. We still don‘t understand why we‘re fighting in Iraq. We‘re now being told it was to beat Saddam Hussein, but that‘s not the way it started.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, but that‘s not the precise question. I appreciate you restating it.
CUOMO: It‘s the precise question that I
SCARBOROUGH: You actually—yes, you precisely stated, which, by the way, I‘ve got to tell you, the first time I decided I really liked this guy is when somebody asked you a question and you said, that‘s a stupid question. And the reporter said, why do you think that‘s a stupid question? Goes, because I think it‘s a stupid question. They said, well, how should I have asked that question? You said, let me tell you how you should have asked that question. And then you restated it for the poor guy, just like you precisely restated this question. But the question is a bigger question.
CUOMO: You know what matters to me now, Joe? Nobody knows what the question was.
The question was, is it a good thing in wartime to be showing pictures of dead Iraqi children and dead U.S. soldiers, graphic photos in movies, any more than it would have been in 1944, 1945 in World War II, in a war that was considered the good war?
CUOMO: I don‘t think that showing the pictures is going to prevent us from fighting furiously a just war. I think it is good that people understand what war is.
SCARBOROUGH: And still to come, the elite media seems obsessed with the Iraqi prisoner scandal abuse, but hardly mentioned gruesome torture acts by Saddam‘s henchmen. We‘re going to be talking to a man who has seen that shocking video and show you some of it next.
Plus, more trouble for the LAPD as they‘re caught on tape subduing a suspect with a flashlight. Was it a case of police brutality or self-defense? That debate‘s coming up, so don‘t go away.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, it seems that Michael Moore and the mainstream media love to show graphic pictures of Americans committing bad acts in Iraq. So why are they censoring the bad pictures of what Saddam Hussein did? We‘ve got some shocking, graphic torture videos from Saddam Hussein‘s days in Iraq. That‘s coming up next.
But first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome back to our show.
Now, you‘re going to want to make sure that, if you have any kids in the room, you get them out of there, because, in this segment, we‘re going to be showing graphic video.
We‘ve discussed how Michael Moore is selling his so-called documentary as the film President Bush doesn‘t want you to see. But now we have the footage that Saddam Hussein and the terrorists in Iraq really didn‘t want you to see and apparently that America‘s media doesn‘t want you to see, gruesome video from Saddam‘s torture camps that the elite media is hiding, while they pile on the Abu Ghraib scandal.
With me now is Michael Rubin. He was an adviser inside Iraq and is now with the American Enterprise Institute. They‘ve been trying to help to make sure the public sees these disturbing images.
Let‘s take a look at some of this footage.
Obviously, we have cut out the worst parts. There‘s some stuff that you just can‘t see. Obviously, there‘s a lot of rape, a lot of torturing. We have obviously cut off the shots where they were taking off people‘s hands that had dared to stand up to Saddam Hussein. Some of these people obviously had their arms cut off and other parts of their bodies cut off, not because they committed any crime, but just because they dared to speak out against this regime. It‘s very, very disturbing.
And, Michael Rubin, you‘re actually trying to get Americans—get this footage out in front of Americans. Why is that important to you?
MICHAEL RUBIN, FORMER PENTAGON ADVISER: Well, more than 800 Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq. I lived in Iraq outside the green zone, outside the security zone, and interacted with ordinary Iraqis, Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, every single day.
And while they might have some complaints about the way the occupation has gone, 99 percent of them are thrilled that, for the first time in their lives, there‘s light at the end of the tunnel and that we put an end to this regime. Don‘t forget that, under Saddam Hussein, one in six Iraqis fled the country and 600,000 Iraqis ended up in mass graves.
SCARBOROUGH: And, obviously, the man was responsible for more deaths in the Middle East than any other Arab leader in history.
Now, as Deborah Orin wrote in today‘s “New York Post,” newspapers are screaming about America‘s failures in Iraq and are burying the story very deep about how evil Saddam‘s regime was. What did you find out about Saddam‘s torture camps from your experience in Iraq and about—obviously also about those mass graves you just talked about?
RUBIN: Well, it‘s common knowledge in Iraq. Every family has someone in their family or knows someone well that disappeared and died because of Saddam Hussein. These tapes are no secret. They are available on the streets of Baghdad.
People buy DVDs hoping to find for 25 cents or so, hoping to...
SCARBOROUGH: Wait. Wait a second. You‘re telling me that they sell torture videos from Saddam Hussein‘s regime on the streets of Baghdad?
RUBIN: That‘s absolutely what I‘m telling you, and not just Baghdad.
SCARBOROUGH: And American reporters are not picking those up and not reporting it to American citizens?
RUBIN: American reporters are picking it up. They‘re not reporting it to American citizens, though.
RUBIN: You have got to ask the media. Some people could say it could desensitize us to violence.
But this is the irony. I won‘t make any excuses for our own Abu Ghraib scandal. But one of the ironies is that the Iraqis have a much broader perspective of American troops than do Americans, because they‘ve seen the good and the bad. And, at the same time, they juxtapose the transparency with which democracies deal with this with their own experience and the silence of the United Nations and the world and the human rights organizations, when what you‘re seeing on screen was going on every single day.
SCARBOROUGH: Every single day of this regime for decades.
Now, Deborah Orin today wrote about an e-mail sent to “The New York Times”‘ public editor asking whether he thought “The Times” should give more coverage to the videos of—Saddam‘s torture video. And this is the editor‘s reply: “I don‘t think ‘The Times‘ needs to cover the video, but I do think it should make periodic mention of Saddam‘s torture, which in fact I believe it has and does.”
Now, Michael, my friends give me grief every day because I read “The New York Times” religiously. It is my paper of record, even though I disagree with so much they write. But did I miss their banner headline on this type of coverage? Have they been covering it?
RUBIN: No, they haven‘t. And when they have, it‘s been buried.
The sad fact of the matter is, you can‘t understand, sitting in Washington, sitting in New York, sitting in the ivory tower, you can‘t understand what the Iraqis have been going through every day. And if we‘re going to have proper policy and if we‘re going to understand what‘s going on, then we need to understand what Iraqis see.
For example, we have this whole debate about the trial of Saddam Hussein. A lot of people say perhaps it should go to the United Nations to do a tribunal. But Iraqis are dead set against that, not just because of the oil-for-food corruption, but because the United Nations bans the death penalty in such cases. And when the Iraqis have experienced what they‘ve experienced, that‘s simply unacceptable to them.
RUBIN: At the same time, when we talk about cutting and running, or so the Iraqis interpret, that creates the worst fear inside them, a sense that we are going to repeat the abandonment in 1991 and leave them to these same tortures.
SCARBOROUGH: I was just going to say, Michael, we told the Shia in 1991 to go out, stand out against Saddam. And then, when they did that, we left them, and so many of them were tortured and killed.
Now, we did do a little research into “The Times”‘ coverage. Over the past three months, they ran 140 articles, letters, editorials and columns related to the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. At the same time frame, there were only nine mentions, some of them just a single mention, about Saddam‘s torture camps.
And it adds so much perspective to this story, doesn‘t it? Again, I saw “Fahrenheit 9/11” today, and everybody in the theater was left with this impression that there was no reason to go in and go after Saddam Hussein, that, why, the Iraqis were good people that had never done anything to us. Americans aren‘t getting the story, are they?
RUBIN: No, not at all.
And the Iraqis—I‘ve spent 16 months of my life, both before the war and after the war, inside Iraq. The Iraqis are amazingly resilient, much more so than we give them credit for. But it‘s amazing. They have the sense of historical exceptionalism. And the thing which annoys Iraqis most is when they hear self-described human rights experts or commentators on the BBC or CNN or “The New York Times” not tell the full story, because the Iraqis, for example with Abu Ghraib, juxtapose the vocal criticism about the abuse that the 800th Military Police Brigade from West Virginia inflicted in Abu Ghraib and the silence before.
And I‘ll tell you what. The best comparison, Michael Rubin, is, as we go to break, is, looking at “The New York Times” and all these other newspapers and magazines that are so shocked that they made people take off their clothes in these prisons, and yet Saddam Hussein actually would film rape rooms that they had, and he would watch. When they brought in women who were married to men, it‘s just unbelievable. They‘d bring them in, and then they would rape them, and then have the tape and then send it to the husbands. But you don‘t ever hear about that. It‘s unbelievable.
Michael Rubin, thanks so much for being with us in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY this evening.
RUBIN: Thanks for having me.
SCARBOROUGH: And keep up the great work.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, straight ahead, video of a suspected car thief being physically subdued by the LAPD, in hot water. But were these police officers just protecting themselves? We‘ll debate it.
And then, if you have an AOL account, you are going to have some issues with a guy who sold your screen name for $52,000. We‘ll tell you how he should be prosecuted next.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
The Los Angeles Police Department is back in the news, after the televised beating of suspected car thief by some of its police officers. The mayor and police chief announced an investigation.
Here‘s L.A. Mayor James Hahn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES HAHN, MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: We will not tolerate unlawful, excessive force by any member of the police department. We won‘t tolerate any unlawful activity on the part of anybody who wears the badge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: You know, the stakes are high in L.A., where the police beating of Rodney King led to disastrous race riots more than 10 years ago, exposing the city‘s racial fault line.
East Orange Police Officer Delacey Davis is here. He‘s a member of Black Cops Against Police Brutality. And we‘re joined on the phone by Tony Perkins. He‘s a former police officer and the president of Family Research Council.
Let me begin with you, Officer.
Tell me, you‘ve seen the tape. What do you think?
DELACEY DAVIS, EAST ORANGE POLICE DEPARTMENT: It‘s excessive force.
It‘s unnecessary. You‘re supposed to use the necessary force to effect a lawful arrest. The gentleman stopped. He went down to the ground. He put his hands out. There was no need to beat him with the flashlights.
Now, and, again, what is the key here? We are seeing the police take him down. His hand—his right hand, at least, appears above his head. Is the key that you move your hands away from your body so you can‘t reach for any weapon?
DAVIS: Generally, you want to see hands away from the body, but you also want to follow the commands at the officer. The officer at the top that began to beat him was simply beating him with a flashlight. And the question I would ask is, where did he get trained to use a flashlight as an offensive weapon?
SCARBOROUGH: And you are not supposed to use a flashlight, are you, as a police officer?
DAVIS: You‘re supposed to use a flashlight for light.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, but not for beating.
DAVIS: Absolutely not.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Tony Perkins, you‘ve seen the video. In fact, we‘ve slowed this tape down. And when you look at the police involvement you can actually see other officers kicking the suspect, as well as the use of that flashlight to strike the suspect 11 times.
Tony Perkins, you know, I am certainly a big defender of the police.
This doesn‘t look good for them, though, does it?
TONY PERKINS, FORMER POLICE OFFICER: It is disturbing, and I would agree, a flashlight is not to be used as a weapon.
However, you cannot see everything in the video. You don‘t know what‘s going on behind the other officers that you can‘t see. And, plus, we‘re getting a clip. And I‘ve been in a number of high-speed pursuits, and there is—tunnel vision sets in. There‘s all types of physical reactions that take place.
We don‘t know what happened up to this point, what took place in the chase. You can‘t defend excessive force, the use of excessive force. But you‘ve got to give the police the benefit of the doubt. There will be an investigation. The mayor has said there will be an investigation. But you can‘t taint the entire police department because one officer uses too much force.
SCARBOROUGH: Delacey, you‘re laughing. Why?
DAVIS: Of course, that‘s a joke. That‘s what everyone says. You didn‘t see what happened before we got to this part of the videotape. Who cares what happened? He could have killed everybody.
The reality is that, when we saw him on the tape, he was not combative. He was not fighting with the police. And there were six police officers there, and they should be fired, period.
SCARBOROUGH: We‘re actually going up, and, again, we‘re showing it again. His right arm appears to be out. We can‘t see his left arm. This police officer appears, our best guess, to be actually aiming—it looks like he‘s aiming at his arm, but we really can‘t tell, though, can we, Delacey?
DAVIS: No, we can‘t tell what he‘s aiming for, but what we do know is that there‘s more than enough officers who are, if they‘re trained properly, should be taught to take him down, to control him and to cuff him. That‘s the reality.
PERKINS: Well, do you know, was this suspect on any kind of drugs? Oftentimes, when they‘re on drugs, you cannot contain them. You can‘t get their arms in place. And who knows if he was reaching for a weapon. And we don‘t know that.
DAVIS: Once again, sir, the social reality, what we‘re looking at in this tape is that you don‘t see a weapon go off, and you don‘t use a flashlight as an offensive weapon.
That‘s what‘s at stake here. They‘re using a flashlight. If they were using mace or they were using physical force, that‘s different. They‘re using a flashlight.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, the L.A. police chief says a thorough investigation is under way. And he gave his personal reaction to this attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BRATTON, LOS ANGELES POLICE CHIEF: As chief of police, I was very disturbed by certain things that I saw in that tape.
And I think all of you know what I‘m referring to, the repeated strikes using what we now know to be a flashlight by one of our officers. But my responsibility now is to conduct an investigation that allows us to determine all aspects of that incident.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Tony, respond to that.
PERKINS: Well, I would say the chief is taking the right approach, to investigate it. I would agree, as I said before, a flashlight is not the appropriate weapon. We don‘t know all the circumstances. An investigation will bring it out. But it shouldn‘t taint the entire LAPD police force, nor should it taint all police officers across the country.
SCARBOROUGH: Delacey, I‘m going to make you angry, because I remember back when I was a lawyer, we had somebody come in, an expert come in, and they actually did slow-mo of Rodney King. And every time those police officers beat him, you could see an arm going down into this area.
I actually find this more disturbing than the Rodney King video, because you see, at the beginning of this video, this guy holding his arms up. Well, we can‘t it there. We already passed it. But, at the very beginning, he‘s holding his arms up.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Here we go. See, look at that, look at that, arms up, goes, lies down. If that is not submitting, I don‘t know what is.
DAVIS: And in addition to that, trained police officers in the 21st century know to take him through the do-it-now routine. That officer didn‘t have to jump on him. He simply needed to give him commands and keep a distance.
Well, I agree with Tony also. Let‘s have the investigation. Let‘s take it all the way through. Let‘s give these guys due process. But certainly if they‘re found to be guilty...
DAVIS: Punish them appropriately.
PERKINS: Absolutely. And I would agree.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, thanks a lot, Delacey.
DAVIS: Thank you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Tony, I know you do. Thanks a lot for being with us.
We appreciate it.
And up next, what happens when an employee for a company like AOL sells customer information for commercial use? What you need to know and how it affects your privacy, that‘s next on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Speaking of abusive conduct, U.N. bureaucrats pocketed billions of dollars that was supposed to go to feed Iraqi children. Senator John Ensign is going to be with us tomorrow night to tell us what he‘s doing to make sure the U.N. doesn‘t get away with it.
So don‘t go away. There‘s more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY straight ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, if you think spam is just canned meat, listen up.
In modern talk, it describes a criminal act. And AOL may be in hot water because of it. Tonight, in “Here‘s the Deal,” we give you SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY residents the lowdown on the new spam laws. This story begins with a story of Jason Smathers, the 24-year-old AOL employee who was arrested for stealing and selling 92 million AOL screen names. I think I own half of them.
Last December, President Bush signed a bill called the Controlling the Assault of Nonsolicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003. Spam is all that unsolicited e-mail that you get from companies offering you miracle ways to lose weight and to grow more hair. Lots of spam contains links to pornographic content.
Besides requiring senders to label sexually explicit content in the subject line, the new law also requires all spammers to include a valid U.S. postal address, as well as a way for recipients to refuse future mailings from the sender. That‘s the provision of the law violated by Smathers and the person he sold the e-mail addresses to, too. Now, federal prosecutors say Smathers will be the first person prosecuted under the Canned Spam Act.
For more information about the spammers and if they‘ll be doing hard time, you can log on to MSNBC.com.
Hey, we appreciate you visiting SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY tonight.
Of course, tomorrow, Michael Moore‘s movie opens all over America. You know what? Whether you‘re a Republican or a Democrat, I say, go out and see it, talk about it, and give us an e-mail at Joe@MSNBC.com and let us know what you think.
We‘ll see you tomorrow night.
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