Guest: Steve Adubato, Michael Levine, Chrissy Gephardt, Bill Ney, Billie Jo Rodriguez, Annie Jacobson, Steve Emerson, Bill West
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC ANCHOR, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY: Yesterday came the Trenton bombshell that New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey is gay, has committed adultery with another man and is resigning effective November 15. Today, New Jersey Republicans call for McGreevey to step down now. We‘ll ask Gay Activity Chrissy Gephardt if he should.
Then, new disturbing details from the latest flight 327 passenger, to come forward.
And we all know Hurricane Charley is ripping through Central Florida.
Well talk to someone who actually knows why: Bill Nye, The Science Guy.
I‘m Pat Buchanan sitting in for Joe. After his stunning admission Thursday that he had a homosexual affair, and is resigning his office, New Jersey Governor James McGreevey is being called on to resign immediately so voters can elect a new governor in November.
I‘m joined now by Public Relations Expert Michael Levine, and Steve Adubato, author of “Speak From the Heart”. He is also a columnist for the “Star-Ledger” in New Jersey, and has followed McGreevey‘s entire career.
Steve, let me start with you again, if I could tonight. Here is a statement today, if you will listen, by Republican State Senator Leonard Lance, calling for McGreevey‘s resignation earlier than November 15.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ST. SENATOR LEONARD LANCE, ® SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I call upon Governor McGreevey with my colleagues to resign in time to permit an election this November. It is nonsense to think that there needs to be a three-month transition period between governor McGreevey and Senate President Codey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: Steve, let me can ask you this. Look, the gentleman seems to me to have a point. McGreevey has admittedly disgraced himself, and he is involved deeply in a scandal. He has resigned his office. He has indicated he is exposed to blackmail, and he indicates he can‘t handle his office.
Would it not be better than that he step down now, and let the voters decide who should replace him in November, than to have him hold on three more months to an office he has disgraced, and then have his buddy, his friend, the state senator take over the office for next year?
STEVE ADUBATO, AUTHOR, “SPEAK FROM THE HEART: Pat, I‘m not sure, but I think there is a statement in that question, but I‘ll try to answer it. Here is the thing.
Before I answer that question, I will say, this is not just a failure of Jim McGreevey. It is a failure of the Democratic Party. It is the failure of the Republican Party and yes, it is the failure of those of us in the media, and I will include myself specifically.
I interviewed Jim McGreevey a dozen times over the last several years. Never once did I ever ask him why he was appointing Golan Cipel, totally unqualified to head Homeland Security.
The reason I say that Pat, is because all of us who contributed to this, who had a sense that something was wrong, stuck our heads in the sand, and we should take responsibility.
Now to answer your question, it isn‘t just the Republicans. It is all right thinking people in my mind, who come to the conclusion, inevitably, that Jim McGreevey must resign. That it is an opportunity for the governor to do the right thing. To finally show that New Jersey can lead the nation, and show how the electoral process can should function.
He should step down now. There should be an election to have someone serve for one year as governor, and then another election after that in 2005, for a four-year term.
BUCHANAN: All right.
ADUBATO: If McGreevey does it to help the Democrats, it is the wrong thing to do, and it will not help his legacy, and I hope he understands that.
BUCHANAN: OK. Michael Levine, it seems to me, even from the standpoint of the Democratic Party, that the governor should step down now, and in effect say look, I have had a very rough time. I have indicated I can‘t handle this job any more because the scandal for which I have apologized.
And now you the voters of New Jersey are going to have a chance to pass judgment, for all I have done, good and bad, and decide whether to keep my administration, and my people in, or whether to place them. And we‘re going to decide this in a free and fair election November 2nd. Is that not only the right thing to do, but the politically right thing to do?
MICHAEL LEVINE, P.R. EXPERT: Well, Pat, I‘m not a political expert, I‘m a media expert. And I can tell you, one of the secrets of politics, I think you know this. That there this is a constituency for candor. And people—voters—both parties like people who speak plain and speak clear. I think that most people would agree that there is no necessity for a three-month transition.
That it‘s a political move more than a tactical necessity. So I think that it would probably serve all people, including the governor‘s legacy to act more quickly. On the other hand, I think that we have to recognize that this is a massive enterprise, right? The state of New Jersey is not a small enterprise. And there is some necessity for some transition.
BUCHANAN: Right. All right. But let me get a quick yes or no from both of you, Michael and Steve. Would it be your expectation, giving what you see happening in politics, and in the media now, that the governor will follow that counsel and step down, say by September 1?
ADUBATO: Pat, here is what I see. The fact that you and I are having this conversation for two nights in a row, and you can multiply that with all the other cable systems across this nation, the network news coverage, the local news coverage, the print coverage. It is going to be so intense, that no matter how much Jim McGreevey would like to stay, and like to make this transition play out the way he wants to in November.
It is not going to be tenable. It is not possible. It is not smart. And I believe, I truly believe, because I like and respect Jim McGreevey, and feel for him at this period of time, I believe he is going to do the right thing. And I believe he is going to step down before September 3.
BUCHANAN: Michael Levine, you say the same thing?
LEVINE: I differ. No. I don‘t think he will step down sooner, though I imagine the pressure will be significant. I also do think that there is some sense of sympathy toward him, and his situation. So I don‘t think he will. But prophecies do be his business.
BUCHANAN: All right. I do want to get into that simply. But first, I want go back to Steve Adubato. Steve, I read your op-ed piece a couple of times, and I want to read for the folks what you said. You said McGreevey convinced himself—and this is when he was running—that the only way to be elected governor was to present an attractive family portrait to the world of a wife and child. We saw it in all those commercials walking on the Jersey shore.
You seem to be suggesting that the governor used his wife as a prop, and basically a cover for his homosexuality.
ADUBATO: No, I didn‘t, Pat. What I am saying is this, and I will clarify it. And maybe it goes to my column not being as clear as it should be. It disappoints me that—I am sure the governor has a relationship, and cares very much for his wife, and she cares for him, and they have a beautiful little girl.
My concern is this, and it is bigger than Jim McGreevey, that even if he had conflicted feelings, in the end, I would have wanted him—and maybe it‘s too big to expect, and I don‘t know if I would have the guts to do it, to say look, I‘m a gay man. I‘m talking about back in 2000, before he ran in 2001.
I am a gay man, but this is what I believe on taxes. This is what I believe in the environment. This is what I believe on healthcare, and property taxes. He opted to go the other way. That doesn‘t mean it was a sham. It means that there was another side of him that he was working so hard to hide, and I can‘t get inside his head and his heart, but it bothers me that he believed that. But you know Pat, he might have been right Pat. He might have been right to do it.
BUCHANAN: I think he was right. Let me just say this. If you are talking about crass (ph), cold politics, look, you come out of the closet, and announce you are a gay man running for governor. And this is what enormous slice of electorate is going to focus on. Whether you are a Democrat, or a Republican. A lot of those conservative Democrats, they are not going to care about his policy on auto insurance, Steve? He would not have got elected.
ADUBATO: How about this Pat, how about if a guy like McGreevey—I mean Barney Frank is different because...
BUCHANAN: He‘s has already been elected. He is in office, sure.
ADUBATO: But how about this, how about if McGreevey had gained a degree of popularity because he had solved some problems. He had lowered auto insurance. He had dealt with property taxes. And then said listen, folks, I need to tell you about this part of my life. Do you believe he could have survived?
BUCHANAN: I think look, if—let me say this. If you don‘t have the scandals surrounding him, and it were learned, or he came out, and he was divorcing his wife, and he said as an incumbent governor with a good record and no scandals, I have to say folks, that I am a gay man, I think a possibility of reelection, yes. But if you are telling me somebody coming out of nowhere to get elected governor, I mean out of a mayor of Woodbridge, ain‘t going to do it, I don‘t think. Even in the state of New Jersey.
ADUBATO: Pat, he had run in 1997, ran a very close race. And he did that.
And finally I want to say this. The other part that complicates the whole question and makes it more of an academic issue that really isn‘t going to be resolved is this, it is not as if Jim McGreevey was just saying he was gay.
It‘s that he has to ultimately explain putting this gentleman, Golan Cipel, who was totally unqualified to be any meaningful public office, as the head of Homeland Security. Then in another job as a council, at the same $110,000 salary, that‘s the part that he can‘t explain away, and that‘s why we will never know whether he could have got elected as gay man, frankly it sounds corny, playing it straight.
BUCHANAN: OK. Fine. Steve, you stay right there. Michael Levine stay there. When we come back I‘m going to ask both of you the question. Given what the governor said, his conduct, was it impeachable, and was it criminal? And may he be facing criminal liability? Those questions when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN LOWY, ATTORNEY FOR GOLAN CIPEL: I was the victim whose oppressor was one of the most powerful politician who made sure to let me know that my future was in his hands. When I finally dared to reject Governor McGreevey‘s advances, the retaliatory actions taken by him, and members of his administration ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: That was Golan Cipel‘s attorney today reading a statement from his client. We‘re back with Michael Levine and Steve Adubato. Michael Levine, let me go to you. This Cipel gentleman is the alleged lover of McGreevey. The alleged blackmailer of McGreevey, and the individual who McGreevey gave any number of jobs, $110,000. Made him head of Homeland Security.
If it in fact it were true, and it appears to be true, that McGreevey in effect was having the taxpayers of New Jersey subsidize his sexual affairs, would that not be an impeachable offence, and frankly would it not be a criminal offense?
LEVINE: Pat, I‘m not an attorney, but I would sure think so. It would be an offense of the most egregious kind of stupidity imaginable. And it just shows you how love and passion can incapacitate reason.
LEVINE: Profoundly stupid.
BUCHANAN: That is exactly my—look, let‘s just talk as I‘m sure regular people are sitting around a bar, and they‘re saying, look here is a bright guy, got the governorship, works hard, and like Steve says, the guy is a workaholic. He wanted this job. He loved it. He is looking at the presidency maybe down the road. And here he is risking it all, risking disgrace, ruin, humiliation, embarrassment. Is there something wrong with this guy, basically?
ADUBATO: Well Pat, now you are asking a question about someone‘s psychological makeup and not only am I not a constitutional lawyer, I mean I ducked law school and got a doctorate.
BUCHANAN: You are sitting at the end of a bar, not under oath.
ADUBATO: Listen; here is the problem with that, is we really can‘t get inside his head. I‘ll tell you this, even though I can‘t say, and won‘t say whether it‘s impeachable, or whether it‘s a criminal offense because I‘m not qualified. I will say it‘s one of the dumbest things I‘ve ever seen anyone would do. And I would also say this, and this is not a legal issue.
From an ethical, and dare I say, and it‘s not a word I like to use a lot Pat, and I know you do, moral point of view, as a government official, I am appalled at what the governor did in terms of putting this guy, not in the secretarial pool, which would have been bad enough, but as the head of Homeland Security right after September 11. I cannot in any way—and I like him, respect McGreevey...
BUCHANAN: I know you do. You normally—but quickly, why did he do it?
ADUBATO: He made a terrible mistake. Something is terribly wrong here.
BUCHANAN: This is what I am trying to get at. Something is terribly belong with the governor, right?
ADUBATO: Clearly, but I don‘t know exactly what it is, because I‘m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist.
BUCHANAN: Neither do I.
Michael Levine. You are an expert on media. Here is a fellow that has got to know if something—he is engaged in self indulgent and reckless behavior, and if it comes out, he has destroyed everything the guy has worked 25 years to build.
LEVINE: The truth is that the capacity of the human being to self-destruct is unlimited. And this is an example—an egregious example. By the way, he agrees it‘s egregious. He said in his own statement he thought it was inexcusable and outrageous, to his credit, by the way. Not many people take that kind of—I don‘t see many other politicians taking that level of responsibility. I think he was very sincere in noting the egregious level of his...
BUCHANAN: I think he must be going through hell.
ADUBATO: Pat, I know we have to get out of here. I just have to say this.
BUCHANAN: Is it criminal?
ADUBATO: No. I‘m not going to say that. I‘ll tell you this, we are all capable in one degree or another of doing the most incredibly stupid and egregious, dumb things. The problem is, because I am saying I wouldn‘t have done that with Cipel, I bet there are some other incredibly dumb things I would do. So I am not going to stomp on McGreevey‘s political grave if you will. Because I think we are all capable of doing incredibly dumb and stupid things.
BUCHANAN: OK. Michael and Steve, thank you both for being here.
Earlier today, was joined by Chrissy Gephardt who is a gay activist with a Stonewall of Democrats. And she is the daughter of former presidential candidate Dick Gephardt. I asked her if there was any defense for governor McGreevey‘s behavior.
CHRISSY GEPHARDT, STONEWALL DEMOCRATS: I think that, first of all, this is all speculation at this point. We don‘t know exactly what is going on. We do know that there is a sexual harassment case that is being filed by this individual. But, we don‘t know all the details yet. All of this is unfolding.
But I do have to say that if it is true, then it‘s wrong. I mean, you are absolutely right. I think his family is in a very precarious position at this point. And I feel for his wife. And it‘s unfortunate that he had to come out under these circumstances. It really just puts a black cloud over the whole thing.
While it‘s a great thing that he was able to come out and announce that here is who I am, it‘s unfortunate, because it is getting down played by everything else that is going on.
BUCHANAN (on-camera): But what does gay have to do with it? This is man who has taken vows of matrimony, he is married, and he is having an illicit affair outside with an individual who he himself says has exposed him to blackmail, I mean, what does being gay have to do with that? Whether he is gay or straight, it seems to me this is indefensible conduct, and I‘m surprised that gay folks would defend him in any way.
GEPHARDT: Well, it‘s not that I‘m defending him, I think that we first of all need to find out what all the facts are. I mean, I don‘t think that we‘re really up on everything that we know. I mean, I think a lot of this is speculation.
BUCHANAN: Let me interrupt you there to say look, he has admitted he had a sexual affair with this man, and it‘s a matter of public record that the man was hired as an advisor for Homeland Security even though he is an Israeli, and has no competence in the area, and is making $110,000 on the payroll of the people of New Jersey.
GEPHARDT: Right, right.
BUCHANAN: And it would seem to me that gay people should come out and say why is he making himself out to be a victim when he is not? This behavior, whether it is Bill Clinton with Monica Lewinski, or governor McGreevey with Golan Cipel, is un justifiable, and is clearly impeachable, or if not impeachable, outrageous behavior.
GEPHARDT: Yes. Well, I think first of all, if he did have this affair which he says he did, it‘s just wrong. And unfortunately, I think that because he coupled the announcement of coming out, with this admission of an affair, it just makes the whole situation bad. And believe me, I think that for gay and lesbian groups across the country, this does not look good. I mean, if indeed these allegations are true. And if what he is saying is true.
And it is very unfortunate. I just—the problem here is not that he came out and said he was gay. As you said before, if he were gay, or if he were straight, or it doesn‘t matter what it is. If he had an affair, and if there is misconduct, and if there have been special privileges given to this individual, that‘s just wrong.
BUCHANAN: All right, let me ask you something about homosexuality then, and his has to do basically with male homosexuals. I know your father served in the Congress. And I had a good friend in the Congress who is up and coming a conservative, had a lovely family. And they found him downtown in Washington, chasing after a 16-year-old boy and propositions him, and it utterly destroyed his career.
Now we have Governor McGreevey who is at the top of his profession. A great honor, he is governor of New Jersey. He has a lovely wife, and a lovely new daughter with his second wife. And here he is chasing around this man, this sailor, and risking it all, risking humiliation of his wife, disgracing himself, ruining his career, humiliating his family, his whole family.
Is there not something wrong, or is there something wrong inside a male homosexual who would be so compelled to engage in this kind of utterly reckless and destructive behavior, and risk everything for what seems to a lot of people like absolutely nothing?
GEPHARDT: I think that it is a sad commentary on our society today and homosexuality because unfortunately the stigma of coming out is so great, and specially for somebody who is serving in public office, that people end up doing very reckless, dangerous things like Governor McGreevey has.
And obviously, as he said, he has been struggling with his identity. And you are absolutely right. He unfortunately resorted to making bad decisions. And he hurt his family. And he has lost the trust of the people of New Jersey.
BUCHANAN: OK, Chrissy Gephardt, thanks very much for coming in.
GEPHARDT: Thank you.
BUCHANAN: And say hello to your dad who is retiring I guess, from public life for a while. Unless Mr. Kerry wins, I‘m sure.
GEPHARDT: That‘s right. Thank you.
BUCHANAN: Up next, Bill Nye, The Science Guy is going to compare hurricane Charley crossing Florida with a monster hurricane Andrew, which he personally witnessed. That‘s coming up when we come back.
BUCHANAN: Bill Nye, The Science Guy joins us next to talk about hurricane Charley. But first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC news desk.
BUCHANAN: As you just heard, Hurricane Charley is storming across Central Florida. With us now to describe exactly what Charley is doing to the sunshine state, is Bill Nye, The Science Guy.
Bill, thanks for joining us.
Can you compare this Charley to Andrew, which I believe came in around the Fort Lauderdale area, and the Miami area, and the air base down there. How much just relative destruction are these two hurricanes doing?
BILL NYE, THE SCIENCE GUY: It‘s a charming thing of these categories. Charley now is category four, and that means, that is described as very—let‘s see, very strong. But Andrew in 1992, 12 years ago was category five which is called devastating. But the difference I think is pretty subtle.
Just you get such high winds as they go over buildings, they suck the roofs off, and you see that, that‘s the post office, that‘s a federal building, built with our tax dollars being torn apart by the weather.
BUCHANAN: All right, but let me ask you this, Bill, I just saw it‘s tragic. It said two people have died in a traffic accident, and there are no more reports yet, I believe, of deaths in Florida. But you go back to the big hurricane, was it Key Largo, the Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson hurricane. Lots of people died in them. Are we much better prepared, and much more knowledgeable now in the ability to handle these things and to protect ourselves?
NYE: Well, if you are asking me, and I got the impression you were. The answer is sort of. There is still tremendous very large areas in Florida where the construction is just not adequate. As I say that was a post office. That was not a person who could not afford it, getting by as best he or she could.
This is our tax dollars, which are not up to snuff in protecting us from these storms. And what I am going to say, not to shock anybody, but this pattern is probably going to get worse. That is to say there are probably more hurricanes in the coming decades than we have had in say the last century.
NYE: As more energy gets in the atmosphere. Well, for whatever reason, the world is getting warmer, and that means there is more heat energy in the atmosphere, and one of the places that heat energy dissipates, or one of the things that happens, manifests itself as a result, are these cyclonic storms. And so they are probably going to get worse. So we‘re going to spend—I mean, it‘s very, very bad for people living in Florida, right there.
We‘re going to spend $15 billion to fix it. You might think when we go to repair these things; we could do a better job.
BUCHANAN: So you think they are doing lousy construction in the private area, as well as the public area?
NYE: Lousy is a little extreme. How about, we could do better. I think we could do better and save money in the long run. That‘s the irony. It would actually be cheaper for taxpayers and voters to do a better job of construction in the future. Evacuation is one thing, but that‘s not what people really want to do.
BUCHANAN: Are you saying that the storms are going to get more frequent, or are they going to get more severe?
NYE: Probably both.
BUCHANAN: To the extent of category five like Andrew‘s?
NYE: Yes, I would say this is not a radical, this is not a crazy prediction. But we‘re talking about not next week. We‘re talking about over the next couple decades, the next 30, or 40 years.
BUCHANAN: Is global warming responsible for this?
NYE: Well, it‘s very hard to make that claim, but as a scientist, we all suspect it. It‘s just that the world is getting warmer, there is no arguing with that. And what is going to happen in the atmosphere as a result is not clear, because the atmosphere is such a complex thing. But hurricanes are so—such big phenomenon that to me it‘s very reasonable that they are going to keep happening, and they are going to get stronger, and bigger, and more frequent.
The thing is that a civil works project, like say a post office, or a causeway, or a sewer system, or water management system,these are things that take decades to build. Like the big dig in Boston. It takes many many years to construct these things. So while you are at it, as the contractor would say to you, when repairing your house, while you are at it, Mr. Buchanan, why don‘t you put in some more adequate drainage? Why don‘t you provide some more pumping assistance?
BUCHANAN: I bet a lot of those folks going down there to Florida, it‘s a lot cheaper down there, and they are saying why put all that stuff in there? Maybe if we get a hurricane, most likely we don‘t get one. One hadn‘t been through here for 15 years.
NYE: Fifteen years in geological or atmospheric terms is a blink. So I would like—just while we are talking about this, it‘s a very serious problem. It‘s going to be another serious problem for a couple of months to get your life squared away down there. But we could do, I think as a society, as voters and taxpayers, we do could do a better job.
BUCHANAN: OK. Bill Nye, thanks very much for being here. Up next folks, the latest passenger from flight 327 to step forward, tells us the disturbing details of that flight. Don‘t go away.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight‘s “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY Challenge”, What was the first Atlantic hurricane to be given a male name? Was A) Hurricane Bob, B) Hurricane Gilbert, or C) Hurricane Mitch? The answer coming up.
ANNOUNCER: And tonight‘s “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY Challenge” we asked, What was the first Atlantic hurricane to be given a male name? The answer is A. Until 1978, hurricanes were only given female names. Hurricane Bob in 1979 was the first hurricane in the Atlantic to be given a male name. Now back to Pat.
BUCHANAN: Northwest flight 327, the behavior ever 14 Syrian men made passengers suddenly fear for the worse. SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY has been tracking down passengers from that flight. Earlier today, we spoke to Billie Jo Rodriguez. She was on the flight. And described the behavior of a man sitting right behind her.
BILLIE JOHNSON RODRIGUEZ, PASSENGER ON NORTHWEST FLIGHT 327: There was a man behind me that was in a jogging suit and a baseball cap. And he got up and went up to the first class bathroom. And he was gone quite a long time. The article I read said someone had thought about 10 minutes he was up there. It seemed like longer to me.
But when he came back, as he was passing my seat, there was a strong scent of the chemicals that are in the toilet, the blue chemicals in the toilet bowl in the airplane? And enough so that I put my hand over my nose, and I thought what, did he take a bath in this stuff? It was really odd. And he sat down behind me, so I sort of just felt a little nervous about that.
And I first thought maybe I should say something to a stewardess, and I thought no, no. Don‘t be silly. Then, passed don‘t be silly, frankly I was afraid to get out of my seat. I had been through turbulence before, bad weather before. You hope that the pilot had a good night sleep. Those are the types of things I would worry about. This, I have to tell you, I was scared to death. I really thought this is it. I wonder if this is what the passengers on 9/11 went through. It was scary. It was very scary.
As we were landing and the stewardesses are strapped in, I hear one of the stewardess over the loud speaker, Sirs, please get in your seats. Sirs, I said get your seats. That scared me when I heard that, because then my mind starts thinking now this is it. This is where it is going to happen. So I closed my eyes and I started praying. That‘s the last I saw.
Then when we touched down and landed, the last thing I did hear her say was finally, and not a plural one, but Sir, in your seat. We landed. And I about wanted to kiss the ground when I got off that plane.
BUCHANAN: Earlier today, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY called the air marshal service, the FBI, and immigration and customs. They reassured us that there was no threat to the passengers on flight 327. And they determined the men were in the country legally.
Joining us now Annie Jacobson, the woman who broke the story of flight 327. Steve Emerson, MSNBC terror analyst. And Bill West, a Former Special Agent with Immigration Services.
Annie, let me ask you, it appears that everyone who has looked in this from an official capacity agrees there was a lot of stupid and erratic behavior going on, but basically that these young men were, you know, an American soccer team or something like that, or coming home a high school baseball team, nobody would have paid any exaggerated attention. Do you agree with that?
ANNIE JACOBSON, PASSENGER ON FLIGHT 327: Absolutely not. There were 14 Middle Eastern men up there behaving really suspiciously in an orchestrated manner. We have got nine passengers corroborating this now. As far as the FBI is concerned, don‘t forget, these are the guys who their idea of an investigation was simply matching them up against a terror watch list.
BUCHANAN: Let me interrupt you there. You said nine Middle Eastern men. My point is if these were white kids from Princeton, or white young men from graduate school, that you saw behaving in this fashion, and they said you know, we‘re in a semipro soccer club, and they looked very American, would you have been as concerned?
JACOBSON: Well, they weren‘t Pat, and I mean, I went to Princeton, and I am familiar with Princeton soccer players. And A) I don‘t think they act like this at 30,000 feet. Second of all, the fact remains, these guys were acting really suspiciously. And they were also Middle Eastern, that is also a fact.
BUCHANAN: Steve Emerson, let me -- there is no doubt about it, if you are going to look for guys, and we‘re fighting Islamic terrorist, you go to the masque, you don‘t go to St. Mary‘s Church. People are going to be more upset if these fellows are Muslim. They look like Arabs and Middle Eastern Iranians.
STEVE EMERSON, MSNBC TERROR ANALYST: That is true. But the fact is that most of the terrorists that have afflicted us in the last few years, particularly 9/11, have come from the Middle East. So you are right that if 15 white guys got up on a plane and started behaving erratically, they wouldn‘t be as suspicious as if they were from the Middle East.
But the reality is that when we arrested those people in the last few weeks, who have been doing videotaping, and doing surveillance, or potentially doing it, they are from the Middle East. We‘re not arresting people from Norway doing videotaping in tourist sites.
The reality is this is who constitutes the potential threat to the
United States. The fact that Annie noticed this and has taken flack over
this, I think indicates there is a disconnect. The government says to you, and to me as the public, get involved, be aware, be concerned about your whereabouts. And suddenly Annie, a passenger in a plane says I‘m aware, I‘m concerned about somebody behaving suspiciously, and then she gets flack for it.
BUCHANAN: Michelle Malcom (ph) says it is not racial profiling, it
is threat profiling. In other words, where and who is the threat coming
from predominantly, and that‘s who you check out.
EMERSON: I don‘t disagree. I agree 100% with that.
BUCHANAN: Bill West, let me ask you though about America‘s borders. I want to read you something first. It‘s a 9/11 Commission report. It concluded the following that border security was not a priority before September 11th, however, the immigration system as a whole was widely viewed as increasingly dysfunctional and badly in need of reform. In national security circles, however, only smuggling of weapons of mass destruction carried weight, not the entry of terrorists who might use such weapons or the presence of associated foreign-born terrorists.
Is that pretty much the situation pre-9/11, and has it improved?
BILL WEST, FORMER IMMIGRATION OFFICIAL: Well, Pat, the 9/11 Commission was right on the money with that assessment. Pre-9/11, even the INS itself. The high command of the INS viewed national security as something that the immigration service had very little to do with. So that was an accurate assessment right across the board.
We have gotten better post-9/11. The break up, or the abolishment of the INS, and the merger into Homeland Security was a correct move. There probably needs to be fine tuning in that, but the federal law enforcement community has now recognized that immigration law enforcement is a key factor in national security and counterterrorism efforts.
We have gotten better. We do need to go some steps further, but we are improving in that regard. But pre- 9/11, it was really almost a disaster in that regard. And the 9/11 Commission was correct.
BUCHANAN: All right. Annie Jacobson, do you think you are going to get any more satisfaction than you have gotten to date, which I gather you don‘t believe is very much from the federal government on what happened on that flight?
JACOBSON: Well I think there is definitely some more digging to be done. And I really look forward to other passengers coming forward. I think it‘s also interesting that Billie JOHNSON: Rodriguez took that unsettling information to the Department of Homeland Security. She e-mailed them twice, and heard nothing back.
BUCHANAN: Why do you think all the officials are saying basically look, cool it. These guys behaved erratically, but we have checked it out every which way, and there is no threat. There was though threat, and maybe you all overreacted a little bit. And maybe they shouldn‘t have acted that way. But we weren‘t dealing with anything serious here?
JACOBSON: I don‘t think they did a proper investigation. And I think they are in a little bit of cover your posterior mode.
EMERSON: I think the first reaction was that Annie was hallucinating. And that there was nothing suspicious going on. I spoke people on the airline industry, and they said there was nothing going on on board that would have merited any type of suspicion.
BUCHANAN: You got an air marshal there, and sure he has a gun, and he sees these characters. And he looks at them. And nobody is making a move for the cockpit. They are up getting around, they are behaving like gosh, we had too much to drink might be behaving.
And he is saying in effect I will keep and eye on these guys, and
because they are Middle Eastern, we‘ll get the pilot, he calls to the
ground, check them out when they get down there. They check them all out.
What else should he have done?
EMERSON: I‘m not so sure they checked them out as entirely as they could have. Because when they got to the ground, I‘m not so clear at this point that they knew at that time that they were in status. Now we know as far as they claim, that they were in status. But they could have been out of status at that point.
They were not arrested. They were not finger printed. These guys were coming from a country that supports terrorism, Syria. They were led by a bandleader apparently that sings Oh (ph) it‘s (ph) the (ph) suicide bombers. I don‘t understand why they were even allowed in the country to begin with. But the reality is, I think Annie did the right thing. Maybe you can say in retrospect, yes there was a little bit of an overreaction. But she did the write thing because that‘s what you want the public to do.
BUCHANAN: Exactly. That‘s why you get these alerts. You may overreact, in a number of overreactions, one of them may turn out to be the right thing. Bill West, what is your take on how this thing has been handled, this whole 327 incident?
WEST: Well, Pat, one thing this incident shows is a disconnect, a continuing systemic disconnect in the immigration record processing system. And Steve alluded to it. We have a problem still with the adjudication of benefits for immigration. The extension of stay for these guys that subsequently came out.
And getting that information to the immigration cops. And that information was not known to the enforcement folks until days, at least days after the event. And that was something that the old INS was notorious for, and here we are three years after 9/11, and a year-and-a-half after Homeland Security was created and we still have this type of a problem, and that needs to get fixed.
BUCHANAN: Let me talk to you Steve about a problem that I think the
“Washington Times” has done a great job on. Jerry Seper. There are
400,000 absconders in this country, people ordered deported but
disappeared. And 80,000 are convicted felons, criminally who have done
rapes, robberies, murders, all sorts of things, child molestation. And 6,000 of them are from countries that are state sponsors of terrorism, and we only have 2,000 people looking for the 80,000. Does that make sense?
EMERSON: Doesn‘t make sense, but when you start rounding people up
and basically arresting them, and trying to deport them on the base of
the fact that they are violating their own status, they are here
illegally, they are all of a sudden (UNINELLIGIBLE) cry from the editorials in the “New York Times”, or from the ACLU saying this is an outrageous civil liberties abuse.
It‘s not. The fact is these people are here illegally. They are a threat to the United States. And they should be arrested and deported.
BUCHANAN: Has George Bush done a good job defending the borders? Or is he doing a better job than he was doing before 9/11?
EMERSON: Doing a much better job. There still is a lot more to do. Border patrol needs in Texas and Arizona, they need a lot more resources, but they are doing a better job than they were before 9/11.
BUCHANAN: OK. Annie Jacobson, Steve Emerson and Bill West. Thanks for joining us. More SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY ahead. Don‘t go away.
BUCHANAN: Welcome back, folks. We‘ve enjoyed being here with you.
And I think a couple of those stories we did this week, especially that
swift boat commanders‘ battle between the pro-Kerry forces and those
who say he didn‘t deserve those medals is going to be a hot, blazing
Governor McGreevey, the thing to watch next week, and the week after, is will public pressure force that governor to resign? You have a battle royal in November for the governorship of New Jersey.
If you‘re like me, you‘ll be watching the Olympics all weekend long.
But make sure to tune in Sunday night for a special SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Joe is back, and he has an Olympic-size panel for you. That‘s 8:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Don‘t miss a minute of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY‘S lineup next week. On Monday, Alan Keyes talks about his run for an Illinois senate seat.Tuesday, Joe‘s got Former Vice Presidential Candidate, Jack Kemp. Wednesday, it‘s Former Vice President Dan Quayle. Can you stand it? Thanks for watching. Good night.
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