Guest: Denis Halliday, Bob Kohn, Jed Babbin, Leslie Marshall, Jack Burkman, John Fund
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight‘s top headline: President Bush says it‘s time for a housecleaning at the State Department. The “Real Deal?” Word is that Condi Rice is the president‘s woman for the job.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed.
Colin Powell steps down as secretary of state and Condoleezza Rice may be stepping in. How will it impact the president‘s second term and the war in Iraq?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY HOFFMAN, REAR ADMIRAL, DISTINGUISHED SERVICE MEDAL, SILVER STAR:
John Kerry has not been honest.
ADRIAN LONSDALE, COMMANDER, LEGION OF MERIT, BRONZE STAR: And he lacks the capacity to lead.
LARRY THURLOW, LIEUTENANT J.G., BRONZE STAR: When the chips were down, you could not count on John Kerry.
BOB ELDER, LIEUTENANT, BRONZE STAR, SWIFT BOAT VETERANS FOR TRUTH:
Kerry is no war hero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And history may record that these ads in the end sunk John Kerry‘s shot at the White House. The swift vets think so and they got together this weekend for a final debriefing. And, tonight, we‘ve got the inside story from someone who was there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. NORM COLEMAN ®, MINNESOTA: The magnitude of fraud perpetrated by Saddam Hussein in contravention of U.N. sanctions and the oil-for-food program is staggering.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: It turns out that the U.N. food-for-oil scandal is twice as bad as we thought. New evidence shows that Saddam made at least $21 billion in kickbacks, more than double the previous estimates, to our allies? Hold on to your hats, folks, because some of that money is still being used against American troops.
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 to our show.
Well, they met for one last time, a battle-weary group of vets celebrating victory in a battle they‘ve been fighting for 30 years. It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
“The Wall Street Journal” reported this morning that the Swift Vets for Truth met one final time this weekend to proclaim victory over a foe who had haunted them for three decades. The enemy? Certainly not John Kerry by himself, but rather an entire protest movement that always struck them and most of us in the red states as more anti-American than anti-war.
Now, these swift vets, who elitists so randomly passed off as lying right-wing cranks and Texas tools of the Bush attack machine, were themselves bona fide American heroes, guys who left parts of themselves on the battlefield in Vietnam, who were thrown in prison, beaten unmercifully until they passed out and almost died, who were left to die on the battlefield, only to fight their way back and join their band of brothers in a bigger cause.
And that cause, friends, duty, honor and country. But then they returned home, and they got spit on. These great American heroes heard themselves called baby killers and war criminals. Elitists in newspapers like “The New York Times” then, like now, seemed more interested in reporting American foreign policy failures than great deeds done by fellow countrymen.
And the elitist version of Vietnam, personified by the likes of Jane Fonda and voiced, let‘s face it, by the testimony of John Kerry in 1971, became the blue state version of Vietnam. But you know what? I was born and raised in middle America. And I can tell you, that‘s not the way we saw it here. We believed then like we believe now that American foreign policy during the Cold War was not a bright shining lie like Jane Fonda would have us all believe, that it was a bigger cause that led us from Berlin through Korea, Vietnam, Central America, and back to Berlin, where Ronald Reagan told Mr. Gorbachev to tear down that wall.
For those of us in middle America, the Vietnam protests and the college clashes were Jane Fonda vs. John Wayne. And this final pitched battle played out in the saga between the swift vets and John Kerry this year, the winner was John Wayne.
Why do I bring this up? First, because history is going to record that the swift vets were the turning point in this presidential campaign, and, secondly, because the very Democrats who are angered by what I‘m saying tonight need to listen up for their own good.
Now, I warned John Kerry on 12 different occasions throughout this campaign that he needed to apologize for calling Vietnam vets war criminals. He didn‘t listen to me or anybody else. And more than anything else in 2004, his decision to do that led to his defeat, because he ignited his foes who convinced Americans he wasn‘t up to the task of being commander in chief.
You know, Vietnam continues to curse the Democratic Party, and the misreading of the Vietnam legacy continues electing Republicans on the national issue of defense and national security. But you know what? Swift vets getting together this weekend wasn‘t about party politics. It was about a group of old sailors who fought their final battle and are now ready to fade away, knowing that, unlike Vietnam, this time, they ended up on the winning side of history.
And it‘s a history lesson that Democrats had better learn before 2008.
And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Now, we‘re going to be talking more about that fascinating story in a minute, but, first, the breaking news out of Washington, D.C. tonight. Sources in D.C. say that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was selected by President Bush to replace Colin Powell as the next secretary of state. And NBC News is reporting tonight that George W. Bush is calling for Dr. Rice to—quote—“oversee a top-to-bottom cleaning at the State Department.”
For reaction on this breaking news which has rocked Washington, D.C., we go to MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.
Pat, what do you make of the news tonight that not only is Colin Powell gone, but George W. Bush wants Condoleezza Rice to undertake a house cleaning at the State Department?
PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think we‘re in for a great battle here, Joe.
The president is clearly full of himself after his tremendous victory, understandably so. He wants to put his imprint on government and foreign policy. He wants what he thinks is—what goes beyond dissent to end at the Department of State. He‘s sending over Dr. Rice to clean house.
Now, if that is the case, I have got to tell you, though, Dr. Rice is a scholar and Dr. Rice is a staffer. She is going to be sitting on top of a rebellious institution which adores Colin Powell and which is not going to go quietly if she‘s going to start—if there‘s going to be blood all over the floor there.
We‘ve got a battle royal coming here, Joe, inside the government. We already see it broken out over at the Central Intelligence Agency. The president has got every right to do it, but what he is doing is, he‘s making sure all his loyalists are in the positions that he wants them in, people from the White House, which means he alone is going to be held fully accountable and fully responsible.
SCARBOROUGH: Pat Buchanan, this—and you mentioned it. I served with Porter Goss.
SCARBOROUGH: But let‘s face it. There are blood on the tracks at the CIA right now. There‘s an open rebellion. You have got leaders of the CIA resigning left and right. There are a lot of conservative who would say, that‘s not a bad thing.
There are also a lot of conservatives tonight who are excited about the fact that the president is going to send somebody over to the State Department, who, let‘s face it, has been the enemy of the conservative movement, according to some conservatives, for 50, 60 years.
But this is not a humble president, though, is it, Pat Buchanan?
SCARBOROUGH: This is a president who—hold on a second. This is serious.
In all seriousness, this is a president tonight, if he does this, along with the CIA move, this is a president who is declaring war on Washington bureaucracy.
BUCHANAN: He is indeed.
Now, look, I disagree with you to this extent. I think Colin Powell is a patriot. I think he was persuaded to go along with the war in Iraq. I think he‘s a loyal soldier. I think Dick Armitage, who served three tours of duty in Vietnam, who is deputy secretary of state, is the kind of man, even if I disagreed with him, I would want in my government.
I will tell you, if you get rid of those two fellows, you put someone like Bolton in as No. 2, and you start bouncing these people out, Joe, there will be leak after leak after leak. The president will be at war with that department, as well as down the line with the CIA. He‘s decided he‘s going to do it, and we‘ve got a battle royal coming.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, Colin Powell obviously spoke earlier today. But I will tell you who else talked. And that‘s George Tenet.
And he‘s been talking to some book publishers. I want you to—I want to read you about a book proposal that‘s being shopped around by former CIA chief George Tenet that trashes Condoleezza Rice. One publishing insider told “The New York Daily News” this—quote—He claims that Rice was incompetent, that she didn‘t do her job when it came to protecting the country from terrorists.
And, Pat Buchanan, tomorrow morning, this is a name that‘s going to be circulating around Washington, D.C. This is going to be a huge bloody battle on Capitol Hill, isn‘t it?
BUCHANAN: It really is.
Now, Joe, I‘ve got to say this. Look, Condoleezza Rice is an extremely bright young woman. She served ably on the National Security Council staff, but she is fundamentally a staff officer. And someone in this government—and the president should find out who—clearly did not prepare this country for the aftermath of Tommy Franks‘ three-weeks war. That‘s why we‘re in a hellish mess today in Iraq.
And I think part of that responsibility clearly lies with the individual who should have been asking the questions. And she‘s going to be asked those questions up there at the Foreign Relations Committee, and rightly so. And does she have the weight, Joe—I know she‘s got the president‘s absolute loyalty—but the weight, the experience that Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had, to walk into that department and clean house?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Pat, you know what? She should bear responsibility for part of what happened after 9/11 -- not 9/11 -- after the Iraq invasion—because, of course, she was put in charge of that by the president.
Now, Colin Powell told reporters today that he was always planning on serving for one term. Let‘s take a listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: I had always indicated to him that I thought I would serve for one term. As we got closer to the election and the immediate aftermath of the election, it seemed the appropriate time. And we were in mutual agreement that it was the appropriate time for me to move on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Let me bring in “The Wall Street Journal”‘s John Fund.
And I‘m going to have you, as well as Pat Buchanan, respond to that.
John Fund, Colin Powell, not always beloved by conservatives, but are they going to miss him once this war breaks out in Washington?
JOHN FUND, COLUMNIST, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”: Well, I think conservatives have believed that the State Department needed a house cleaning for a long, long time.
They and the CIA have been in charge of more policy reversals and mistakes that the United States has gone through than successes. So I think this is something that‘s been long coming. Ronald Reagan couldn‘t really control the State Department. I think it‘s interesting and I think it‘s desirable that George Bush at least make a run at it.
SCARBOROUGH: But is Condi Rice up to this?
FUND: Condi Rice was the provost at Stanford University, Joe, filled with more left-wing faculty members than you can...
SCARBOROUGH: Wait a second. You‘re a conservative—hold on. You‘re a conservative talking about an elitist from an elite institution running a bureaucracy in Washington, D.C.?
FUND: Joe, I know Condi Rice. She has nerves of steel. She stared down the Stanford faculty on affirmative action. She stared down the Stanford faculty on a lot of left-wing measures. She controlled Stanford more than any other provost ever has.
BUCHANAN: All right, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Pat Buchanan.
BUCHANAN: All right, Joe, let me get into this. Let me tell you something.
Condi Rice is not a conservative. She‘s a neoconservative. And the
neoconservatives have won virtually every battle now. They have all the
seats of power. And they are not loved in this city, Joe. They are not
loved, not simply by the bureaucracy, but by some traditionalist old right
folks, by a lot of journalists and others. And what the president has got
· he‘s basically declared war on this city with a very narrow set of alliances.
He‘s got the same problem we‘ve got in Iraq, not enough allies in there with us. And I think it‘s going to be a battle. And they‘re going to find, quite frankly, that they are at war before the president lifts that hand to take the oath of office for a second time.
FUND: Pat, I would just add one thing. Neoconservatives and traditional conservatives can agree, the State Department is one big problem area.
I think there can be temporary alliances there and I think there can be enduring ones.
BUCHANAN: We don‘t disagree on everything with the neoconservatives.
He‘s right about State.
But I think guys like Armitage—I‘ve always respected the guy. As I say, three tours in Vietnam. He‘s a guy that could bang heads with foreign leaders. And to be moving these guys out of there completely and not even to have their voice, I wouldn‘t do it if I were in Bush‘s chair, but I didn‘t win 51 percent of the vote.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Well, I‘m going to ask both of you to stick around. And we‘re going to bring in a panel, because we‘ve got a lot more.
I‘ll tell you what. We‘re going to be hearing about this Condi Rice battle in the days to come.
But, first, we‘re going to talk about the swift vet battle and the ads, how they were the key to the Bush election that‘s allowing him to do this house cleaning. And we‘re going to be hearing from somebody who was at last weekend‘s swift vet reunion.
That‘s coming up next.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, history is going to record that John Kerry‘s defeat was a swift vet victory. We‘re going to be talking about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome back.
You know, a lot of history was made during this last presidential election, from bloggers, to 527s, and, of course, to all those young voters that were going to come out and change the election. Right.
Well, I‘ll tell you what. Our focus tonight is the swift boat vets and the fact that they actually did secure a second term for George W. Bush.
With me now tonight, of course, we have Pat Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst and author of “Where the Right Went Wrong,” Republican strategist Jack Burkman, radio talk show host Leslie Marshall, and John Fund of “The Wall Street Journal.”
John, I want to begin with you, because you were with some of these swift vets this weekend.
And I want to look at a comment made over the weekend by Vietnam veteran James Warner—quote—“The last mission of Vietnam veterans ended on November 3 at 2:08 p.m. Eastern time, when John Kerry conceded the presidential race to George W. Bush.”
John Fund, strong stuff. These swift boat vets really do believe that their final battle was taking down one of their own.
FUND: Well, actually, they don‘t view John Kerry as one of their own. In fact, that‘s why 60 percent of the people who served on swift boats in Vietnam, Joe, signed up with them, not with John Kerry. They were very angry at what John Kerry said at the Foreign Relations Committee, when he talked about Vietnam‘s veterans committing atrocities on a day-to-day basis in manner reminiscent of Genghis Kahn.
John Kerry had forgotten how angry they were after 30 years. He had a chance on “Meet the Press” when Tim Russert asked him in April to apologize. He only would admit to some ill-chosen words. He time and time again—and you mentioned this earlier—was given a chance to heal the wounds with the swift boat veterans. He chose not to. He paid a very, very, very heavy price, because he underestimated what old soldiers are capable of doing if they‘re fighting in a cause that they believe in.
SCARBOROUGH: And, again, this weekend, those old soldiers and sailors got together to celebrate their victory.
Now, Pat Buchanan, there‘s been a lot of discussion about the influence of the swift boat vets. But let‘s look at the numbers and the impact of tomorrow group. It‘s undeniable. The group claims to have over 140,000 contributors who helped them raise $27 million; $19 million of that was spent on TV ads attacking John Kerry. John O‘Neill‘s book, “Unfit For Command,” sold close to one million copies. And between them, the swift boat vets did over 4,000 television interviews leading up to Election Day.
Now, Pat, you and I have been discussing and reading stories about morality being the top issue. Other people have been talking about the youth vote, which you and I believe also we‘re debunking. But it doesn‘t seem like anybody has really stopped to look back at the pivotal turning point in this campaign, to see how these swift vets sunk John Kerry. Do you agree with me that, when the history books were written, that this may be the deciding factor that sunk John Kerry?
BUCHANAN: I think, Joe, the guns of August from the swift boat vets after John Kerry‘s successful convention, for three weeks those unanswered attack, which began not with millions of dollars, but a couple hundred thousand dollars and with us, you and I and a few others, running these adds on our own show, arguing it, debating it, with Kerry sitting over there refusing to answer, as this thing percolated up from the bottom, all the way up to where the big media had to cover it.
The reason it worked, Joe, let me tell you. These guys are A-authentic, genuine. They‘re not political phonies. They came out, 20 of them, signed sworn affidavits about what Kerry did and did not do. And, dramatically, they proved Kerry did not tell the truth when he said he was in Cambodia. He did not tell the truth when he said he wasn‘t at that Kansas City meeting where assassinations were discussed.
By the time the Republican Convention opened, John Kerry‘s positive rating in one poll was down to 36 percent.
JACK BURKMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: And, Joe, to follow up on Pat‘s point, none of this from Kerry‘s perspective ever had to be.
Remember, at his convention, he opened the door, first by putting national security, international affairs on the stage, and then by basing, I think absurdly so, his entire campaign on his Vietnam service. He opened the door. He deserved this. And, in his arrogance, in his hubris, almost like some kind of Shakespearean tragic hero, he refused to respond.
From his point of view, none of this ever had to be. He created the whole thing. It‘s literally the dumbest move in modern American political history, first to base his almost his entire campaign on service 30 years ago and then to not have the arrogance and the hubris not to respond. It‘s incredible. For me, I thought about what it was. It‘s a kind of blind escapism. He had to find a way to get out of 20 years of being a Massachusetts liberal in the Senate.
And this was the only thing in his life, even four months—that‘s all it was. His Vietnam service, yes, he served, but three Purple Hearts, never served a day in the hospital, only four months in Vietnam. Come on.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me bring in Leslie Marshall for a second here.
Leslie, I want to read you what was in the latest edition of “Newsweek,” which was an absolutely fascinating addition. “Newsweek” said the Kerry campaign ignored the candidate‘s desire to hit back and instead tried to discredit the swifties through the mainstream media.
This is what “Newsweek” said—quote—“The Kerry campaign did work closely with the major dailies, feeding documents to ‘The New York Times,‘ ‘The Washington Post‘ and ‘The Boston Globe‘ to debunk the swift boat vets. But the articles were mostly, though not entirely, supportive of Kerry, but it was too late. The old media may have been more responsible than the new media, but they were also largely irrelevant.”
Do you think in the end John Kerry‘s response, his slow response to these swift vets attacks, is what sunk his presidency?
LESLIE MARSHALL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I‘m glad you came to me. It cracks me up that men always say women do all the talking, but I‘ve been sitting here very silent. And we can‘t really talk about the liberal media anymore, can we?
And to answer your question, yes, I think that Kerry and his camp were negligent. And it certainly hurt him to wait the time he did to respond. And I don‘t really feel that people should make apologies for their actions, because, quite frankly, I think the American people are too smart for that.
But I do want to go and respond to some of the things all of you conservative guys have said on the panel when you get to the little female token Democrat here on the panel.
And, quite frankly, I don‘t think this was the only thing in the election, and the polls support that. John Kerry, in addition to being a very strong liberal from Massachusetts for over two decades, was not the regular good old boy that, quite frankly, most of America, as we saw from the red states, was comfortable with.
And when we look historically at the Democrats that have been president, they have been Midwestern Democrats. They have been Southern Democrats. I‘m from Boston. New Englanders are a very strange breed of people. We‘re not accepted everywhere. We‘re not understood everywhere.
BURKMAN: For all that, the election nonetheless came down to 170,000 votes in Ohio. And given that, I agree with most of what you said. But given that the election came down to one state, it‘s hard to argue that the swift boat thing was not the principal causal variable, because if you go back...
MARSHALL: But I disagree with you. I disagree with you.
MARSHALL: In the state of Ohio, specifically—in the state of Ohio, specifically, Christians, of which I am one, by the way, before people start e-mailing me all this stuff, but Christians came out in record numbers that they hadn‘t before in Ohio.
And, quite frankly, like you said earlier, both Joe and Pat—by the way, hi, Pat.
BUCHANAN: Hi there.
MARSHALL: The youth of America, the 18-to-25-year-olds, those cell phone users, who, quite frankly, the Democrats, myself included, along with the Kerry-Edwards camp, were pouncing on, did not show up.
MARSHALL: I want to say this before you ask me.
MARSHALL: What I think is terrible is the precedent that this has set.
The precedent this has set is almost like Malcolm X said, by whatever means necessary. Are we saying that if you hate somebody enough and you delve into their past enough and you twist one action or word that they said enough with enough money, you can buy an election?
MARSHALL: Is that what...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. One at a time. We‘re going to maintain control here.
John Fund, let‘s go to you. Go.
FUND: One of the things we can agree with is, a challenger has to, in order to defeat an incumbent, get a clear message out.
During August, John Kerry‘s message was completely drowned out by the debate over the swift boat ads. One of the problems that John Kerry had is, he was conflicted, as we heard. He didn‘t quite fully understand that his actions in Vietnam had got caught up with him, his actions post-Vietnam, especially, during that testimony.
He had the opportunity to end all of this because he could have signed a waiver, a form, that would have released the 100 pages of his military record that he had withheld. He claimed that he released all of those records. “The Washington Post” requested 100 pages. They got back six, 94 pages left. He chose not to do it.
One of the reasons he chose not to do it, I think, is, he ultimately could not defend his post-Vietnam record, in which he trashed the American troops and accused them of atrocities.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, I‘m going ask all of you to stay there with us for a minute, because we‘re going to continue this right after the break. We have got a lot more, including the U.N. oil-for-food scandal.
But I‘m going to be going to Pat Buchanan after the break, talking about how this is one more example of the elites in the blue state not getting those of us that live in the red states, in middle America, and what we think about our war heroes.
We‘ll be right back when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns in a second.
SCARBOROUGH: Elitists from blue states keep misreading the lessons of Vietnam and it keeps costing them the White House. We‘re going to be talking about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
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 SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. We‘re back with our panel.
Pat Buchanan, I want to go to you.
Now, when I was in the Congress, I tried to explain to my Democratic friends that they were misreading the lessons of Vietnam. And the media, I‘ve been doing the same thing, trying to explain for the past year and a half, you liberals, you elitists are misreading the lessons of Vietnam. We in middle America don‘t think it‘s a badge of honor that you hung out with Jane Fonda or that you protested on college campuses or in Oxford. We were offended by it.
We believe that the men and women that fought over there were good and honorable people. I think this swift boat vet ad is one more example of that. And I think the Democratic Party is still, when you look at foreign policy, still consumed by all the wrong lessons of Vietnam, and they‘re elitists. And I think that‘s why they keep losing elections. Am I misreading that?
BUCHANAN: You‘re dead right, Joe.
Let me tell you, in 1980, Ronald Reagan got up and he said Vietnam, we might have lost it, but it was a noble cause. And the elite media said, what a gaffe that is. The whole country responded and said, Reagan is exactly right. When he stood up for Vietnam as a noble cause, Reagan was helped enormously.
Let me tell you, these swift boat ads were the most effective attack ads I have ever seen in my life. And one the reasons, Joe, is, they are rooted first in truth and second in the deep convictions of the American people that that was a just cause, that was that it was fought heroically by American troops, and if it was bollixed up, it was done right here in the United States by politicians, when it was undermined by journalists and demonstrators.
And that‘s what they believe. And I‘ll tell you, I think Kerry understood that, for this reason. He didn‘t run on his anti-war record. He tried to run on his Vietnam record, because he knows that‘s where the heart of the country was.
BURKMAN: You know, Joe, I will tell you, this business about the Democratic Party supports our troops, in this war, in this day and age, they mouth the platitudes because they have to.
But I will tell you something. If you lack at the last eight years, not this four, but the previous ‘92 to 2000 with Bill Clinton, he cut military budgets to the bone. He cut money for military housing. He cut money for military supplies. He cut soldiers‘ pension. He cut everything to the bone. He starved our soldiers. That‘s the legacy of what the Democratic Party did to our troops.
Today, they mouth the platitudes. Today, because it‘s chic to do it and there‘s a war going on, they have to. They throw that stuff out there. But I can tell you, having watched eight years of Bill Clinton and Al Gore, they don‘t believe it.
SCARBOROUGH: Leslie Marshall, I don‘t want to talk about Bill Clinton‘s legacy. I want to talk more about what‘s happened since Vietnam.
Do you think—again, you talked about being a Democrat, talked about being reasonable. How do the Democrats turn their back on the legacy, the failed legacy of the past when it comes to national defense and become trusted with the American people on issues of national security, on issues like the war on terror, where there was a 20-point spread between George W. Bush and John Kerry on Election Day?
MARSHALL: Well, first of all, I think it‘s very offensive to the men and women fighting in Iraq, which is really what we‘re involved in now, and not Vietnam, because there are men and women there who are Democrats or who voted for John Kerry, just as there are veterans in this country who fought in either Vietnam, Korea, even World War II, Desert Storm, Persian Gulf I, if you will.
So I find it offensive when we just have a generalization with that broad paint brush that everybody is a Republican who‘s in the military. And that‘s not true. Check the facts.
Secondly, Joe, to answer your question, Vietnam had good and bad, like any war. For example, World War II, we won that, but can we overlook the Holocaust? There were many holocausts in Vietnam. There are veterans that I have interviewed, I have interviewed on national radio, I have sat in person and talked to off the air, that have told me some of the disgusting events that have happened, of villages being burned of innocent men, women and children, of women being raped, of our soldiers even having sex with underage women. We cannot deny the truth.
MARSHALL: That‘s doesn‘t mean everybody is Genghis Kahn who was in Vietnam.
FUND: Leslie, I have no doubt there was misbehavior in Vietnam.
But, remember, the testimony that John Kerry relied upon, the Winter Soldier testimony, was largely discredited. A lot of those people hadn‘t been in Vietnam. Al Hubbard, the head of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, had lied about his military record.
To say that there were atrocities, yes, there were some. We prosecuted people for My Lai, for example. But to call it a mini-holocaust shows you just don‘t get it. To call it a mini-holocaust shows, what our troops did?
MARSHALL: To me, any genocide due to a person...
MARSHALL: Any unnecessary killing on a large scale is a holocaust, yes.
FUND: Do you know the dictionary definition of genocide? You just misstated what it is. You‘ve used the word holocaust and genocide. You‘re repeating the same mistakes John Kerry did.
MARSHALL: Do you know the dictionary definition of holocaust?
FUND: Look it up in the dictionary.
MARSHALL: Do you know the dictionary definition—look up holocaust in the dictionary.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s go to Pat Buchanan.
Pat Buchanan, I‘ll give you a final word. Go, Pat.
BUCHANAN: The holocaust occurred when we lost in Vietnam. It occurred in Cambodia when one in every seven Cambodians was put to death in the first year of peace.
The holocaust was perpetrated by the communists who won the war because of what was done in the United States to lose the war.
SCARBOROUGH: And because the United States left, of course, there was a holocaust in Cambodia. And it‘s interesting, isn‘t it, that you never hear any of the anti-war protesters that were talking about saving so many people over in Southeast Asia. You didn‘t hear them talking about that, did you?
Well, Jack, Leslie, John, thanks a lot for joining us tonight.
Pat, stick around, because, coming up next, breaking news. You‘re not going to believe it. The U.N. oil-for-food scandal is actually twice as bad as you thought. And is Kofi Annan guilty of obstructing justice? A lot of people think so. And we‘re going to debate that in just a second.
So don‘t go away. SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY will be right back.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge: How many U.S. secretaries of state became president? Is it, A, none, B, four, or, C, six? The answer coming up.
ANNOUNCER: In tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we asked, how
many U.S. secretaries of state became president? The answer is C. Six of
our country‘s first 15 presidents served as secretary of state. But since
1857, no secretary has gone on to be president
Now back to Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, on Capitol Hill, they say a billion here, a billion there. Pretty soon, it starts to add up to real money. It can also add up to real scandals.
And congressional investigators announced today, not only is the United Nations blocking an investigation into the oil-for-food program, but Saddam Hussein bilked the program out of more than $21 billion. That‘s right, friends. I just said $21 billion. That‘s more than twice the original estimate. And I will tell you what. This U.N. food-for-oil scandal keeps growing more and more by the minute.
Now, we‘ve got Pat Buchanan with us. We‘re also joined by Jed Babbin. He‘s a former undersecretary of defense for Bush 41 and the author of “Inside the Asylum: Why the United Nations and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think.” We have Denis Halliday here. He‘s a former head of the U.N. oil-for-food program. And we have Bob Kohn. He‘s the author of “Journalistic Fraud.”
Jed Babbin, let me begin with you. Senator Coleman said this to Lou Dobbs—quote—“I‘m angry that we find the U.N. proactively interfering with our investigation by telling certain folks not to cooperate with us. The facts are that the U.N. is proactively—proactively—interfering with our ability to get information we need. That‘s not good for the United Nations. That‘s not good for the global community.”
Jed, those are some strong allegations. Are the U.N. really blocking this investigation, the U.N. leaders?
JED BABBIN, FORMER DEPUTY UNDERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Oh, absolutely.
And they have been from the very beginning.
The whole idea of the U.N. investigation is a means of blocking the earlier investigations that were started by the free Iraqi government. Way back right after the fall of Saddam‘s regime, we had the Iraqi new leadership hiring the Roland Berger firm of London. They came in and did an initial survey of the documents there.
And we have to understand that the Iraqi, the Saddam government was obsessive-compulsive. They kept records worthy of Nazi Germany about all these transactions. So the Iraqis had this going in an investigation. And the first thing the U.N. did was come in and tell everybody who had participated in the program outside of Iraq to not cooperate. The U.N. is not acting like innocent people, because they‘re guilty.
DENIS HALLIDAY, FORMER HEAD OF U.N. OIL-FOR-FOOD PROGRAM: Joe, I think the U.N. is making a mistake. I think we should open the files, open the books, let the staff and the former staff like myself and von Sponeck and all those speak to those in Washington who have concerns, because, frankly, when we get to the bottom of this so-called scandal—and you‘re forgetting, of course, the great success of oil-for-food, in that we fed 20 million people and saved many lives.
But the fact is, when we get to the bottom of this mess we‘ve got now, we‘ll find that fault in the scandal lies with the member states, not with the secretariat or the secretary-general.
SCARBOROUGH: Jed Babbin?
BABBIN: I disagree strongly. I think you‘re going to find that the corruption goes directly into the secretariat.
We have very good evidence, at least enough to justify an investigation of him personally, up Benon Sevan, the man who ran the program, and also of people up to and including Mr. Annan. Mr. Annan is blocking disclosure of an investigation of his son‘s involvement with one of the contractors, Cotecna, that was supposed to be inspecting some of the food and medical supplies going into Iraq purchased with this money.
That food and medical supplies, according to Claude Hankes-Drielsma. The chairman of the Roland Berger told me that most of that stuff wasn‘t fit for pigs. We have to get to the bottom of it. It goes directly into Mr. Annan‘s office and possibly touches him as well. The fact is, he is resisting personally any investigation by the United States.
I think what we ought to be doing is putting pressure on the United Nations, like cut off the $7 billion of dues we pay to them every year, to make sure we get to the bottom of this. We‘ve got to get their attention and they darn well ought to cooperate.
HALLIDAY: Joe, I‘ve got to agree with Mr...
SCARBOROUGH: Let me read—and I‘ll let you agree.
SCARBOROUGH: I want to read you, though, William Safire first.
He wrote this. He said: “Kofi Annan‘s obstruction of outside investigations has strong support within the U.N. members, whose citizens are most likely to be embarrassed by revelations of payoffs. Russia, France and China lead all the rest. Perhaps he thinks that this confluence of national interests in cover-up, along with the unwillingness of most of the media to dig into the complicated story, will let his stonewalling succeed.”
Denis Halliday, do you agree with William Safire also?
HALLIDAY: Yes. I mean, you have confirmed what I said earlier.
The fact is that if we go into the investigation, if the secretary-general opens the books, we will find that the member states were involved in the scandal. They were involved in the kickbacks, including the United States of America, which imported some 40 percent of Iraqi oil during the sanctions period, about 9 percent or 10 percent of consumption in this country. And, indirectly, they paid the kickbacks also to Saddam Hussein. So we‘re all involved. Let‘s no fool ourselves that somehow the U.S. or U.K. are above and beyond this sort of scandal.
Let‘s look at it properly. I think the S.G. should open the books and let‘s get involved and let‘s get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible.
SCARBOROUGH: Pat Buchanan, you know, there‘s been a big buzz in conservative circles. There‘s been a big buzz in—well, you read William Safire‘s columns. You look at what goes on, on Capitol Hill, and the fingers are always pointed at France, at Russia, at China.
But now we‘re hearing that it may be the United States also that‘s been involved with this. What‘s your take on that?
BUCHANAN: Well, I‘ve read that there are some Americans who got some of these particular, whatever they call them, vouchers, to get the oil, one fellow down there in Texas.
But let me tell you. When Norm Coleman, who is a very reasonable senator—this is not a knuckle-dragger, Joe. He called this thing, the U.N., a sinkhole of corruption on this. And I think Congress has got the bit in its teeth. I think Senator Coleman does. And I agree with everything the gentlemen have said here.
Look, let‘s get it all out. Let‘s get it all out on the table. Let‘s find out who looted the place and let‘s put responsibility where it belongs, I‘ll tell you, because I think this thing has really reached a point where it‘s going to take off.
SCARBOROUGH: Why is the press not covering this, Pat?
BUCHANAN: Well, I think—well, Novak had it today. Bill Safire had it today. It‘s a big amorphous thing, frankly, Joe. And we‘re involved in the war and people say, that was under Saddam and he‘s been prosecuted and the rest of it.
And so I don‘t think they think it was sexy enough. But it‘s reaching a point now where more and more people are paying attention to it. More people on television are talking about it. National columnists are writing about it. I think it‘s going to go.
SCARBOROUGH: Bob Kohn, I want to bring you in here.
You obviously have followed media bias for quite some time. I find it hard to believe, if the Republican National Committee had conducted this corruption, not quite on this grand of a scale, or if a conservative institution that “The New York Times”‘ editorial page did not support had this sort of corruption attached to it, the mainstream press would have been all over it.
But it seems to me—and tell me whether you think I‘m wrong—that the United Nations for the most part, up to now, other than William Safire, has gotten a free ride.
BOB KOHN, AUTHOR, “JOURNALISTIC FRAUD”: Oh, absolutely.
You know that the reason why we have to get to the bottom of this is because the United Nations is accountable to the American people, is accountable to the American taxpayer. And if there‘s any area where investigative journalism can do good here for the American people, it‘s in investigating this oil-for-food program.
Now, the coverage has been really a mixed bag. Now, “The Washington Post” has done a decent job. Fox News, Eric Shawn over there has done a December job. But you take a look at “The New York Times.” You mentioned William Safire. He is not an investigative reporter. He‘s a columnist. And he‘s been doing the shoe-leather reporting of “The New York Times.”
Now, “The New York Times” has appointed Judith Miller on this story, but the only story on the U.N. food-for-oil program in the past couple of months that hit the front page of “The Times” is a Judith Miller story about what Pat mentioned. A Texas oil man got some of the money. That makes the front page of “The Times.”
But Kofi Annan and his people are involved in the scandal, that
doesn‘t make the front page. That gets buried. Let‘s see tomorrow‘s
front-page “Times” to see whether there‘s a two-column headline on this $21
SCARBOROUGH: Well, it certainly doesn‘t surprise me that “The New York Times” would put as their front-page story on the U.N. oil story, food-for-oil story, that there was actually an anti-American connection to it.
KOHN: Right. And an oil one.
SCARBOROUGH: Right. And an oil man, of course, Texas oil man. I‘m sure he supported George...
KOHN: Thirty days before the election.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m sure he supported George W. Bush, too.
But, Jed Babbin, is that what you would call burying the lead, for “The New York Times”‘ first story on this issue to be about U.S. involvement in it?
BABBIN: Well, of course.
“The New York Times” is the chief representative of the blame-America-first crowd. And, you know, these guys are what I call the legacy media. If you look at CBS and “The New York Times” and a lot of these other folks who bent their picks to defeat George Bush, this is exactly part of that same deal.
We have the Democratic Party very strongly in favor of the U.N. We have the Republicans very skeptical and somewhat opposed to it. What happens with the legacy media, those who are obsolete, out of date and don‘t represent their audience anymore? They bury the story.
The others, like yourself, bring the story out. Claudia Rosett of “The Wall Street Journal” has been all over this. That‘s the people you can rely on. That‘s where you get your facts anymore.
SCARBOROUGH: Pat Buchanan, Bob Kohn, Jed Babbin, and Denis Halliday, as always, thanks a lot for being here. We greatly appreciate it.
And don‘t go away. We have got a lot more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY straight ahead. So stick around.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, it is interesting that “The New York Times” has done so little on this story regarding the United Nations.
When you look at all the American tax dollars that we send the United Nations, and you look at this corruption, it‘s unprecedented corruption. They have got to have better coverage than they have been giving. And we have been talking about media bias tonight and how the media elite often misses the big story.
Tomorrow night, we‘re going to be talking to an author who wrote a book called “The Record of the Paper: How The New York Times Misreports U.S. Foreign Policy.” I‘ll tell you what. That‘s a story you are not going to want to miss.
And, remember, if you see media bias in the national press or even in your own hometown, we want to hear about it. Shoot me an e-mail at Joe@MSNBC.com.
And, hey, make sure you don‘t miss blues artist Delbert McClinton on “Imus” tomorrow morning.
Now, that‘s it for SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY tonight. We will see you tomorrow night. And we are going to be talking about an awful lot, including, I‘ll you what, that bloodletting that is sure to go on at the State Department and also at the CIA.
Have a great night.
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