Guest: Debbie Schlussel, J.T. “The Brick,” Penny Nance, Christopher Hitchens, Julia Reed, Peter Shankman, Tracy Connor, Kamal Nawash, Mahdi Bray, Ashraf Nubani
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Home-grown terrorism, a young American charged with a plot to kill President Bush, and also charged with being an al Qaeda sympathizer. Are terrorists being recruited in our own backyard?
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required and only common sense allowed.
This 23-year-old former high school valedictorian from Virginia charged with conspiring to kill the president. Tonight, I‘m going to be asking the tough questions of his attorney.
And there‘s a new threat to your kids, prepaid Internet porn cards sold openly on the streets of America. Why is it so easy for children to get the cards, and what can be done to stop it? I am going to be talking with a representative of the company that makes the cards.
And is former President Bill Clinton using your tax dollars to hawk his book overseas?
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome to the show.
Is terrorism taking root on the streets of America? A 23-year-old U.S. citizen, a former high school valedictorian from Virginia, has been charged with being an al Qaeda sympathizer and plotting to assassinate George Bush. He was detained for 20 months in a Saudi jail, where his attorney and parents claim he was tortured and detained without cause by the United States government.
Earlier, I spoke with his attorney, Ashraf Nubani, and I asked him about the charges that his client faces.
ASHRAF NUBANI, ATTORNEY FOR ABU ALI: The only evidence that they have are what seem to be the alleged statements of co-conspirators, and we don‘t know whether those co-conspirators themselves have been tortured. We haven‘t seen the statements of those co-conspirators. But there‘s nothing substantive in the indictment that suggests that he purchased a cell phone, purchased a laptop, purchased books.
He‘s a student at the Islamic University in Medina. So, we haven‘t seen any evidence of the allegations to make any—you know, to make any rational comments about them at this point.
SCARBOROUGH: Obviously, he was arrested by the Saudi police, and they were—in the beginning, they picked him up because they believed he was involved in the bombing in Medina. But now, again, after searching his home, after U.S. authorities searched his home in Virginia, they found documents and tapes that they believe prove that he, in fact, was interested in becoming an al Qaeda operative in America.
How do you respond to that charge?
NUBANI: In terms of the alleged documents and information found in his home, there‘s just no truth to—there‘s no truth to that. And we will have an opportunity. I have looked at the indictment which suggested that they found incriminating evidence in his home.
We have a very plausible explanation for what was there. And you have to remember, Ahmed Abu Ali was living with his family at the time. And so, not everything in the house belonged to Ahmed Abu Ali. But certainly tapes, and no matter what those tapes show, I think would be protected under the—freedom of speech and the other safeguards under our Constitution.
So, I don‘t think there‘s anything there that would incriminate him in terms of pursuing a career with al Qaeda or any other organization.
SCARBOROUGH: And just so our audience knows what you are talking
about, the—U.S. authorities claim that they picked up documents praising
· in his home that actually praised the 9/11 hijackers, and also tapes that praised the killing of Jews and other infidels.
Are you suggesting this evening that those were not his documents and those were not his tapes?
NUBANI: The issue is, can you believe in something and whether you have broken the law. Ahmed Abu Ali hasn‘t broken no law, and he hasn‘t done anything that I think is even questionable in the sense of what he is perceived to believe in or not to believe in.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Mr. Nubani, thanks a lot for your time. We greatly appreciate it.
NUBANI: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: With me now is MSNBC terrorist analyst Steve Emerson. We also have Mahdi Bray. He‘s the executive director of Muslim American Freedom Foundation. And we have Kamal Nawash. He is the president of Free Muslims Against Terrorism.
Let me begin with you, Steve Emerson.
When I spoke with this gentleman‘s attorney—you just heard part of the interview—but he also said that this case was going to end up like every other case against young Muslims in America, big charges, big threats, but, in the end, when the light—when faced with the facts in the light of day, the case was going to unravel. What do you know about the case?
STEVE EMERSON, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, first of all, he is wrong about the judgment, because almost all of the cases have resulted in convictions since 9/11. So, in fact, the evidence has been proven to be true.
As far as this case, look, we can‘t prejudge the outcome, Joe, but the facts will speak for themselves. A jury is not going to allow a confession under torture to be admitted. There‘s other evidence that the government has.
SCARBOROUGH: What evidence?
EMERSON: It would not have brought—the evidence from the co-conspirators and from what the Saudis collected. Remember the chronology here.
Here‘s a guy that the Saudis suspected initially of being—participating in a terrorist plot. He is then picked up in Saudi Arabia. The United States investigates then what he has in the United States. He then is interrogated. There‘s no doubt about that. The question is whether it‘s under duress and the other evidence Saudis collected. But there‘s no doubt a grand jury is not going to return an indictment if they knew that the evidence was either fabricated or under duress.
And he will have an opportunity to prove that. Look, the fact of the matter is, Nubani himself is a guy that has said that Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the guy behind the first World Trade Center bombing, was framed. He believes that Hamas is a wonderful group, as does Mr. Mahdi Bray, who is going to speak in a moment.
So, the fact of the matter is, these defenders don‘t have a good track record in terms of protecting their clients.
SCARBOROUGH: Mr. Bray, I will let you respond to that. And, again, this gentleman that has been arrested has three co-conspirators that claim that he was trying to be al Qaeda operative and also that he wanted to assassinate the president. What do you say?
MAHDI BRAY, MUSLIM AMERICAN FREEDOM FOUNDATION: Well, let me first of all, say, hello, Steve, and thank you for giving my opinion, but let me give my opinion.
First of all, I think that this is a case that will certainly have to be dealt with in the court of law. The presumption of innocent until proven guilty is certainly something that has to be dealt with in our judiciary system.
I think Steve—I have to agree with Steve. I think Steve is absolutely right. I think much of this case rests upon evidence that was collected. And I think it‘s very important to be able to examine how this evidence was collected. I find it rather strange that Steve, who has made a strong career on talking about the atrocities of Saudi Arabia and certainly knows through the State Department and other places the habits of Saudi Arabia in terms of torture and something like that, would find that all of a sudden now the Saudis are just so credible in terms of their investigation and their interrogation into this matter.
I think that this is at the crux of matter, whether or not Abu Ali certainly was tortured and whether his—the people who are indicated as co-indicted defendants are also—were forced and coerced by torture to give evidence. That‘s not the way we do it—that‘s not the way we do it in America.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, that brings up a good question, Mr. Nawash.
If this information came by torture, then can it be perceived as credible evidence, or is this just one more example of Muslims being persecuted in the United States?
KAMAL NAWASH, FREE MUSLIMS AGAINST TERRORISM: Well, first of all, if the information was received by torture, it simply wouldn‘t be admissible in a court of law.
First of all, information that supposedly came from Saudi Arabia would be hearsay evidence. And even a mediocre attorney can keep the information out. The problem that I have with, for example, what Mr. Nubani said and, to a lesser degree with what Mr. Bray said, is that there‘s an assumption out there that there‘s some kind of conspiracy against Muslims, which I think is absolutely ludicrous and is counterproductive.
The fact is, we have—in my own community, we have a problem out there with extremism. And to sit there—and we should be the first ones that are coming out there to say, look, we have this problem and we should be dealing with it. And to sit there and assume that there‘s some conspiracy out there, that the government is trying to arrest Muslims for no reason is absolutely ludicrous. Why would the government do that?
SCARBOROUGH: So you think these charges—you think these charges are actually accurate? You think they are on firm ground?
NAWASH: I don‘t know that. And neither does Mr. Emerson, nor does Mr. Bray, nor does Mr. Nubani.
The fact is, no one knows, and I am not willing to assume that the government is making this up. We know—I am a lawyer, and I know they cannot—they cannot enter information that they got from torture. And I am sure that the government must have—the government would need, would certainly need some kind of corroborated, independent evidence to be able to get this information in.
SCARBOROUGH: And you claim that Mr. Nubani, if he is a good attorney, will be able to keep it out.
NAWASH: Any attorney would....
SCARBOROUGH: Steve Emerson, tell me about Mr. Nubani. You had suggested that he had some background on him, some baggage. What are you talking about?
EMERSON: Well, look, any lawyer will defend his client. But Mr. Nubani has gone beyond from defending clients to actually espousing their causes. At various conferences, he has made statements that are virulently anti-Semitic, accusing the U.S. of being part of a Zionist conspiracy.
He expresses his support for Hamas. As I said before, he expressed his belief that Omar Abdel Rahman was framed—quote—“a pious scholar” and was framed. The fact of the matter, he believes any prosecution of a Muslim terrorist is a war against Islam.
And I must say Mr. Bray, who may come across and moderate and very judicious, has made outrageous statements in the past, in which there is a track record of supporting Hamas and claiming the U.S. government is engaged in a war against Islam when it prosecutes Islamic terrorists. And I know one piece of video that is of Mr. Bray standing alongside Mr. Alamoudi in September of 2000. When Mr. Alamoudi yells in support of Hamas and Hezbollah, Mr. Bray is alongside raising his clenched fists in support of those comments.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Mr. Bray, I have got to give you the last word. Fifteen seconds. Go ahead.
BRAY: Fifteen seconds.
Let me say once again, this is not about standing in front of Alamoudi. This is about Abu Ali. It‘s about whether or not the government really has acted in a proper way, whether or not they were involved and complicit in torture rendition, and whether or not the information they bring is factual. That is going to have to be dealt with in a court of law.
But we do know one thing for sure, that Abu Ali, based on the information we have received and based on the information that we‘ve gotten from his attorney, has been tortured by Saudi Arabia. And we also know that an affidavit has been submitted. And that are facts. And the those are facts.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. We will have to leave it there.
Thank you, Mr. Bray.
BRAY: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank you, Mr. Nawash.
And thank you, Steve Emerson.
We greatly appreciate all of you being with us tonight.
Now, coming up next, a new easy way for kids to look at pornography on Internet sites right under your nose, prepaid porn cards that are being sold openly on the street and that your kids are getting their hands on and how we can stop it.
And former President Bill Clinton bringing help to the tsunami-ravaged nations in Asia. So, why is he also over there hawking his book? We will tell you that story coming up next.
Read my book.
SCARBOROUGH: A shocking new way for kids to look at porn on the Internet and how they can do it under your nose. It‘s actually—this is a story about prepaid porn Internet cards. We‘ll give you the inside story on it and how to stop it when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome back.
I want you to take a close look at the front page of today‘s “New York Daily News.” It shows two underage boys who were able to buy prepaid porn cards on the streets of New York City, some of them at newsstands out in the open. That‘s right, a prepaid card that gives you access to the most explicit porn sites on the Internet. And they are right there in front of your kids, and they can get in your kids‘ hands.
Now, in a moment, we are going to debate whether this should be allowed and whether, in fact, the person that is putting the cards on the street may end up in shackles himself.
But right now, let me bring in Tracy Connor. She is the “Daily News” reporter who broke the story.
Tracy, this looks like something entirely new on the porn frontier.
How did you find out about it and break the story?
TRACY CONNOR, “NEW YORK DAILY NEWS”: Well, they are being sold at about 20 newsstands and grocery stores across the city, and we heard they were being sold. And then we were tipped off to the fact that they might be sold to children, underage teenagers.
SCARBOROUGH: And so how—you sort of conducted your own sting operation here. What did you do to set it up?
CONNOR: We got two teenagers. One was 16. One was 15. They looked a little younger than that. And we took them around to six stores. We picked them at random and sent them inside to ask for the card and just see if they would be sold them.
SCARBOROUGH: Any problems getting the cards for these kids?
CONNOR: At three places, there were. They wouldn‘t sell them. They said, let‘s see I.D. How old are you? But at three other places, the kids handed over the money, and they handed over the card.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, is this a phenomenon just in New York City or are these cards actually being spread all across middle America?
CONNOR: Right now, they are in New York City, but the owner of the company told me that there are plans to expand them, I believe in March, to Miami, Atlanta and New Jersey.
SCARBOROUGH: How do the cards work?
CONNOR: They are kind of like prepaid phone cards. They have a little scratch-off number on the back. You log onto a Web site. And then you put in the number that is underneath the scratch-off, and it gives you access to this pornographic Web site, with video and photos and chat and things like that.
SCARBOROUGH: And why would somebody go out and buy these porn cards?
What is the attraction of them?
CONNOR: Well, normally, you have got to give your credit card information to get on to an Internet pornography site. But, in this case, it‘s completely anonymous. So, you don‘t have to give your credit card.
No one knows your identity. There‘s no worries about fraud. There‘s no worries about your husband or wife finding out. You can do it anonymously.
SCARBOROUGH: How much do the cards cost?
CONNOR: They range from $5 to $50.
SCARBOROUGH: OK. Thanks a lot, Tracy Connor. We greatly appreciate you being with us.
CONNOR: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: And now, in an exclusive interview, we have Peter Shankman. He‘s a spokesman for the prepaid porn company. And also with me, we‘ve got with Penny Nance of Kids First Coalition.
Let me go to you first, Peter.
Talk about these cards. What was the idea behind them? And when do you plan to expand across America with this new enterprise?
PETER SHANKMAN, MEDIA SPOKESMAN, NEW FRONTIER: Well, a couple of points I would like to clarify, first off.
The cards are not being sold to kids. Let‘s establish that first. They are not being sold to kids the same way cigarettes and adult magazines and adult content on pay-per-view are not being sold to children. There are always going to be children who are able to skirt the rules. However, on the card itself, it says, do not sell to those under 18.
So, the investigation here, though, in “The Daily News,” I am sure you have read it, where they talk about how these kids were able to go to newsstands, able to go to convenience stores and pick up these cards. Obviously, they are being sold to kids. Don‘t you think this makes it more dangerous, putting pornography into the hands of children? And, again, these are some fairly explicit sites, are they not?
SHANKMAN: Well, have you ever gone to Google and typed in “Sex” under their images?
It‘s an anonymous way for consenting adults of age to enjoy what is a constitutionally protected right. It‘s not being targeted to children. Children—as a matter of fact, with the possible exception of the tobacco industry, there‘s no industry that is more aware and more safeguarding of children. You go on pay-per-view, you can‘t even access adult content without being the owner of the cable box.
SCARBOROUGH: Penny Nance, there are Supreme Court decisions that would suggest that nudity and some people would say things that border on pornography are constitutionally protected. So, what‘s the big point here?
PENNY NANCE, PRESIDENT, KIDS FIRST COALITION: Well, clearly, according to the news article—and I haven‘t seen the sites that they were sending these kids to, but it sounds as though that it was illegal and probably obscene.
And, if it‘s obscene, then this is prosecutable under two laws, both COPA, the Child Online Protection Act, and also regular federal obscenity laws, not to mention the fact that, in the city of New York and the state of New York, there‘s misdemeanors, a year in prison that these little bodega owners could spend for giving these kids access to pornography.
It‘s very serious. It‘s very hurtful, and it‘s damaging to kids. And if this is being sold and created in a way that makes it more anonymous, it also makes it easier for kids to get ahold of it. And it‘s disreputable, and it‘s sad. And you‘re making a buck off of hurting kids.
SCARBOROUGH: Penny, did you call—is it true that you called these people in the pre-interview scum-sucking bottom-feeders?
NANCE: Hey, I might have said that, but I meant it in the nicest way possible.
SCARBOROUGH: OK. SHANKMAN: Can I give you a subscription?
SCARBOROUGH: Peter, Peter, yes, you have been called a scum-sucking bottom-feeder. Respond.
SHANKMAN: Yes, I am going to ignore that and say, however, that the adult industry is basically something that drives the national economy.
NANCE: Oh, please.
SHANKMAN: I have yet to see—I have yet to—I‘m sorry. I didn‘t interrupt while you were calling me a scum-sucking bottom-feeder.
SHANKMAN: I have yet to see any law that prevents people of legal age from purchasing and enjoying...
SHANKMAN: Excuse me. I didn‘t interrupt you, again, and nor did I call you a scum-sucking bottom-feeder.
SCARBOROUGH: Peter, but doesn‘t it make it—do you see how some parents would be concerned that kids are getting their hands on...
SHANKMAN: You know what? Parents should be concerned. Parents should be concerned.
SCARBOROUGH: That kids are getting control of these cards.
SCARBOROUGH: And you go on the Internet and...
SHANKMAN: Not only should parents be concerned, but parents should be talking with their children about what their children should and should not view online.
This company that I represent supports every possible government legislation to provide access to parents on how to talk to their children, to provide access to prevent children from getting this content. The fact of the matter is, is that every vendor who uses this—who sells this card has to sign an agreement that says they will not sell it to children.
They are—the same sort of laws that protect children from purchasing tobacco should be—should be enacted to protect—protect children from purchasing adult content on the Internet. We strongly support that.
SCARBOROUGH: Penny, respond to that. If they have on the cards that it‘s for consenting adults. If they make people sign...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second.
NANCE: Go ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: If they make people sign something that say you are not going to sell this to kids, and then they go ahead and sell it to kids, we should really be going off the vendors, right?
NANCE: Well, absolutely. The vendors should be charged. Also, any company that sends illegal material to children should be charged.
But if what is described in the news report is accurate, it was obscenity. And that is prosecutorial—prosecutable under federal law. And so the company that is making and selling these as well—and I have already talked to DOJ before I came on and made sure that it was brought to their attention, this news story.
SHANKMAN: Have you ever gone online?
NANCE: So, hopefully, it will be further, further investigated.
Look, point the finger as much as you want at somebody else. It still makes you guilty, buddy. So, look, you are hurting kids. And I‘m sorry. I feel sorry for you. But you need to stop. And pornography damages children. And it is the vilest form of abuse. Predators use it to lure children. Pedophiles use it to hurt children. And it‘s rampant in our society.
Yes, it‘s on the Internet. It‘s on peer-to-peer sites. We have predators in chat rooms. But this is just one more avenue that we are bringing kids in earlier and earlier.
NANCE: And I hope that DOJ—and I believe under our new attorney general, Gonzales, that this kind of pornography is going to be...
SCARBOROUGH: Let me let Peter respond.
NANCE: ... is quickly—is going to be—is going to be prosecuted.
SCARBOROUGH: Go ahead, Peter.
I just would like to say, insofar as this pornography being prosecuted, I am sure you are a very strong organization. But I have yet to see you rewrite the Constitution. And until such time where this is not protected by the U.S. Constitution, I‘m sorry, but you can yell and scream and call me whatever names you would like. The fact of the matter is, is that adults, consenting adults in the United States have the right, despite what you might think or feel, to look at and view specific content, if they so choose.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
SHANKMAN: And, quite frankly...
SCARBOROUGH: Thank you, Peter Shankman. I appreciate it.
Penny Nance, greatly appreciate both of you being here. We are going to continue with this story, so we will invite you back.
Now, coming up next, we‘ve got former President Clinton doing double duty in Asia, offering assistance to tsunami victims and hawking his book. I have got issues with that.
And Jose Canseco speaks again. This time, he says all the allegations that he set has forth in his book will be proven in a month. Can we believe anything this guy says?
SCARBOROUGH: Up next, President Bush‘s charm offensive in Europe. Are the wounds with our so-called allies ready to be healed? We‘re going to be debating that straight ahead.
But, first, here‘s the latest news that your family needs to know.
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.
Now, President Bush is in Europe to try to mend fences with our so-called allies. He thanked NATO for helping train Iraq‘s security forces and he denied any plans to launch a military strike against Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. Having said that, all options are on the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: I love that guy. It‘s ridiculous. That being said, if they tick us off, we are going there and Syria.
Time for our nightly political panel. We‘ve got “Vanity Fair” columnist Christopher Hitchens. He‘s also the author of a great book, “Love, Poverty and War.” Also with us, “Vogue” magazine‘s Julia Reed. She‘s the author—and I am telling you, I have actually read my these books. Actually, my wife reads this book to me. It‘s “Queen of the Turtle Derby and Other Southern Phenomena.” And MSNBC analyst Flavia Colgan, who I am sure is going to write a book which I will say is also great.
SCARBOROUGH: I want to start with you, Christopher Hitchens.
The president is on this great charm offensive in Europe. My question is, are the likes of Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder worth charming?
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, “VANITY FAIR”: Charm is wasted on them to a certain extent, I must admit. But diplomacy is not.
And what they have to figure out—and they are taking an awful long time doing it—is the question a lot of Americans ask themselves. Is President Bush a very, very conservative man or a very, very radical one? And I think that‘s the way to look at it.
SCARBOROUGH: What is the answer to that?
HITCHENS: Well, the answer is that what he is proposing is on the face of it perfectly obvious and consistent with the status quo.
Nobody, except Mr. Chirac probably, is actually sorry that Iraq is in a post-Saddam, post-Baathist epoch. Nobody doesn‘t take seriously the fact that Iran has been caught flagrantly cheating the international inspectors, which is the method the Europeans prefer, the method of giving inspectors more time. They were given all this time and they were appallingly cheated.
Nobody thinks Syria has any right to continue its occupation of Lebanon. And here, Mr. Chirac has taken more forward position than most people. So, all that has to be admitted now is that none of these questions would have come up at all in their present form if it wasn‘t for President Bush. And that‘s plain fact.
SCARBOROUGH: Julia, Julia, speaking of charm offensive—offenses—or offensives—some would say offenses.
HITCHENS: Offensive charm.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, and I am going to show you, actually, Julia, an example of this. This is the president caught on tape yesterday flirting with a journalist from Belgium. Let‘s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Thank you so much, Mr. President, for these kind words.
BUSH: Good luck to you. Thank you very much. My honor.
BUSH: You got great eyes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: “You got great eyes.”
What, is that a Southern thing, Julia?
JULIA REED, “VOGUE”: Hey, he told me I had great legs once.
REED: And everybody wants to hear it. What the heck. If he can‘t charm Chirac, he might as well go to work on a European journalist.
But he‘s not charming the people much. I saw your poll, the AP poll, saying that most Europeans still think that democracy is a bad thing to spread around, that they think that it means that Bush wants to spread war, which just cracks me up. I mean, I wouldn‘t even—I think that Bush is sort of—I mean, he is walking the walk and he‘s trying to talk the talk, but he is faced with a populace who says, we don‘t think this is a good thing. We hate—you are not the right—the U.S. should not be in charge of spreading democracy.
On the other hand, this is a whole continent that sat around while
Yugoslavia was being torn apart. It took us to take—to stop that. They
· it was an American president who told Mr. Gorbachev to tear down the wall. I just find all of this—I find the Europeans‘ behavior offensive and very elitist. They think they know where democracy should be spread and where it shouldn‘t.
SCARBOROUGH: Julia, isn‘t there a cultural divide? I know there was with Reagan. They would call him the fascist gun in the West, again, a lot of cowboy jokes.
REED: Yes. I think they think he is the jerky cowboy Bush. I think this is...
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, same thing with Bush, his faith, his walk, his swagger. I mean, it‘s a Texas thing.
REED: He doesn‘t drink. He doesn‘t drink wine. He doesn‘t drink anything. So it makes them all nervous. It is a cultural divide.
He is not what they think of as a sophisticated diplomat. Thomas Jefferson, he ain‘t.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
HITCHENS: Well, weren‘t you surprised to find this morning—I was -
· that Mr. Chirac actually is a cow farmer?
SCARBOROUGH: That is comforting to know.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, Flavia, let‘s take a look at the poll that Julia just mentioned. Here‘s the breakdown; 84 percent of the French say the U.S. should not export democracy, while 80 percent of Germans agree. And even our closest ally right now, Britain, has concerns about the U.S. exporting democracy; 66 percent of Britons say it‘s not the job of the U.S. And here in America, 53 percent say the United States shouldn‘t spread democracy.
You know, it seemed like all the rage back in the 1980s, when we were taking on the Soviet Union. Why is it so offensive for us to spread democracy to the great unwashed in Arab states? It‘s almost as if there‘s this elitist belief that Arabs are too stupid to have the same rights that we have.
HITCHENS: Well, it‘s question of...
SCARBOROUGH: Flavia—go ahead, Flavia.
HITCHENS: .. not of exporting it, but of importing surely.
FLAVIA COLGAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the problem for Bush and what you—what you see in those polls, what you see in those polls is that Europeans still care about substance, rather than just style.
Although Condi is well liked over there, Bush certainly has inoculated himself against even more legitimate criticism because he is charming. But, again, they don‘t agree with a lot of Bush‘s policies. And, last week was Kyoto. The United States is the biggest polluter in the world, and besides Australia, we‘re the only ones not to come to the table.
REED: But we are not talking about Kyoto. We‘re talking about something pretty fundamental, which is the spread of democracy. And these people enjoy freedom and they think they know where the best place for it to go next is.
COLGAN: You know what? I am so tired about George Bush just talking about the spread of freedom and democracy all around the world.
SCARBOROUGH: Why does that tire you?
COLGAN: If he really cared about that—a third—a third of our trade deficit, we have a gun to our head by a country called China. And I don‘t exactly think that they are the biggest beacon of democracy and liberty around the world.
And I was happy, by the way, for him to start saying something about Russia, his soul mate, Vladimir Putin, who has turned that country more towards a dictatorship. But, you know, look, if we are going after countries and invade countries because they have dictatorships, we have a very long list.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Julia...
COLGAN: We can look at Saudi Arabia and a lot of other countries.
And I think it‘s hypocritical.
SCARBOROUGH: Julia, what...
HITCHENS: But it didn‘t tire you to hear him say what he said about Vladimir Putin. That didn‘t exhaust you.
HITCHENS: And are you just—do you feel all faint about...
HITCHENS: ... of an election in Iraq?
COLGAN: He looked into Vladimir Putin‘s eyes and saw his soul.
COLGAN: He was his soul mate.
REED: All right, let‘s drop that. That was four years ago.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Julia. Go ahead.
REED: No, I mean, I just—I do think that what the word that we both used is correct. It‘s elitist to say that I think—that they think that they know where best to spread democracy.
These people enjoy freedom. So, I think it‘s ridiculous for them to say, well, you know, I don‘t think that anybody should spread it. Well, they are certainly not going to spread it. The only person that ever has spread democracy in the world is us. And that‘s been the take on their own soil.
COLGAN: It‘s elitist to say—excuse me.
COLGAN: Hold on one second.
COLGAN: It‘s elitist to say...
HITCHENS: The question was to me, actually.
The word is not elitist. The word is reactionary. The corollary of saying that democracy shouldn‘t be exported is that it shouldn‘t be imported or shouldn‘t be allowed or isn‘t latent already. Now, there has been a rather successful election in Iraq. There was a very good election in Iran not long ago. It‘s just that the winning candidates weren‘t allowed to take their seats or form a government by the reserve strength of the mullahs.
And there‘s about to be a very dramatic and interesting and I think very heartening election in Lebanon. Now, the United States‘ position on all of this is, that‘s a good thing. The European position, like yours, which is presumably not European, is just a reactionary one, grudging, resentful and, as you say, tired, bored. Well, what could be more conservative than that?
COLGAN: I think that—I think that it‘s elitist to say that we have to bring democracy to people. In 1991...
SCARBOROUGH: Who else is going to?
REED: We‘re the only ones out there doing it.
COLGAN: What about—excuse me.
REED: What about the people themselves? When we asked Sunnis to rise up, they did. And what did we do? We turned our back on them. That‘s what the mass graves are over there, because we left them.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, Flavia, this is what I don‘t understand. Hold on a second. Hold on.
Flavia, what I don‘t understand is this.
HITCHENS: She has got the wrong Iraq...
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Actually, whenever we talk about what is going on...
HITCHENS: She doesn‘t know...
SCARBOROUGH: ... well in Iraq right now, people either talk about how we abandoned the Shia in the early 1990s or how we stood by while the Kurds were gassed in 1998. Should we continue to pile mistake on mistake or should we not celebrate the good things that we have done over there?
COLGAN: Of course we should.
It would be churlish for me to sit here and say that I wasn‘t completely inspired to see the people going out on Election Day. And they risked their lives. And it would be churlish for me to say that I wasn‘t enormously proud, not only of our men and women in uniform, but also of the Iraqi police force that did an exceptional job.
But I think we are kidding ourselves to say the people that were elected over there is going to be some sort of beacon of democracy. Look at the people who are elected. It looks more like a Shia theocracy that is going to have very close ties with Iran. I‘m sorry.
SCARBOROUGH: Go, Julia.
REED: It‘s ridiculous to say, well, we had this great election, but, of course, it‘s a joke; it‘s not beacon of democracy overnight.
Well, of course not, but what would you—just like Joe said, would you rather just keep the status quo? Let‘s just don‘t do anything, like the Europeans.
SCARBOROUGH: Christopher, go ahead.
HITCHENS: Well, in Iran, the vote went against the Shia theocracy massively, but the theocracy was strong enough to veto the election results.
In Lebanon, it‘s somewhat different. Quite a lot of parties, secular and religious, have joined to oppose on a national basis a foreign occupation. And we are going to see very dramatic and I think very heartening process in Lebanon.
The point is that the president says not that he is imposing this on these people or exporting it to them, but they are as entitled as we are to determine their affairs. Now, why should there be any shuffling of feet about that in Europe or among American liberals?
SCARBOROUGH: Christopher Hitchens, Julia Reed, Flavia Colgan, thanks a lot.
And I will tell you what, Christopher. You are exactly right. The Shia only got 50 percent of the vote. They are going to have to deal with the secular elements. Democracy is going to work in Iraq. Mark my words.
Now, coming up, Bill Clinton on a government-funded trip to tsunami-ravaged Asia, but was he always using your tax dollars to go on a book tour?
And now here‘s something you are not going to want to try to copy, a man climbing up a building with his bare hands. We‘ll tell you about that and why it‘s especially shocking when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: I have never had a book signing in Asia, and I‘ve got issues.
First of all, I‘ve got issues with Bill Clinton. Now, the former president spent the past three days on a government-funded tour of tsunami-ravaged Asia with former President George Bush Sr. And he did it in order to bring attention to the region‘s problems and to keep donations rolling in.
But Bill Clinton also used the trip for something even more important to him, making a little bit of money. According to today‘s “Washington Times,” Bill Clinton had a book signing today in Hong Kong at the Kelly and Walsh (ph) bookstore, with tickets going for as much as $280.
And before heading back to the United States, after his government-funded trip, Mr. Clinton has also planned some additional book signings in Seoul and Tokyo. Ah, your tax dollars at work.
And next item, Bill Keller, the executive editor of “The New York Times.” Well, Bill has issues with bloggers. Speaking at Columbia University last Friday, Keller suggested that Internet blogs were inherently biased, saying—quote—“A blog is still a view of the world through a pinhole.” Keller added that blogs sometimes fall as low as—quote—“one man‘s circle jerk.”
“The New York Times” editor also—I don‘t know how that works—but, anyway, “The New York Times” editor also said that with the state of news the way it is, this is no time for newspaper editors to give up drinking. Same goes with talk show hosts.
And, finally, I have got issues with the Miss America Pageant. After ABC dropped it due to low ratings, Miss America Pageant plans to relaunch itself as a multi-episode reality show. Viewers would get a chance to see all the backstage drama, the wax, the tape, the bleach, and maybe even some of the costume sabotage. We will all be there for the cameras to capture it and if beauty queens don‘t have their makeup on.
And if that‘s not a big enough sign of the coming apocalypse, how about the last altar of Brad and Jen worship being dismantled? It seems Madame Tussaud‘s wax museum has separated the formerly conjoined likenesses of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. The two now stand several feet apart, backs to each other. Is nothing sacred anymore?
And shock jock or truth teller? Former baseball slugger and league MVP Jose Canseco has just released tell-all book called “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big.” In it, he admits that steroids were the key to his success. But he also fingers other baseball heavyweights, including slugger Mark McGwire and current Yankee Jason Giambi. They have all come out against Canseco, of course, and his claims.
But here was Canseco on “The Today Show” this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TODAY SHOW”)
JOSE CANSECO, FORMER MLB PLAYER: It‘s extremely hard to believe what‘s been going on in Major League Baseball for the last 10, 15 years, but something will occur in the next month or so that will prove my book 100 percent accurate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Is he really trying to expose the truth or is he trying to make quick bucks? And if it is true, when will baseball wake up?
With me now, we‘ve got radio talk show host J.T. “The Brick.” And we also have sports attorney Debbie Schlussel.
Let‘s begin with you, J.T.
What is going on with Canseco? Do you buy his story?
J.T. “THE BRICK,” RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I buy part of his story.
He doesn‘t have a lot of credibility, Joe. He has had problems in the past off the field and on the field. But this guy is an expert. He doesn‘t talk about Middle East peace or Social Security reform. He talks about rampant steroid abuse, where the cradle of that took place in Oakland, California, where he played with Mark McGwire, who assaulted Roger Maris‘ home run record, and Jason Giambi, who won an MVP and is now with the Yankees.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, now you got Barry Bonds—J.T., you got Barry Bonds coming up on Hank Aaron‘s sacred record of most home runs in baseball history.
Why wouldn‘t baseball step in, and not put asterisk by it, but just strip Bonds of the home runs where he admitted using steroids?
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL, ATTORNEY: But why should they step in?
Actually, there are a lot of baseball players that do a lot of things differently today than they did in the days of Mickey Mantle and Ralph Kiner and Eddie Mathews. They have the fences moved closer in. They all use other kind of chemicals, like caffeine and vitamins. And they all...
SCARBOROUGH: Are you saying steroids should be legal?
SCHLUSSEL: Yes, I—listen, I don‘t have a problem with it, and I don‘t think the public does either, as evidenced by more and more people going to baseball games to see these home run races. They like that.
SCARBOROUGH: J.T., what is the big deal with steroids?
J.T.: Joe, that is ridiculous. Caffeine and vitamins?
We are talking about kids who are in high school, 17 and 18.
SCHLUSSEL: No, we are not.
J.T.: That look up to some players as role models. Yes, we are.
SCHLUSSEL: We are talking about Major League Baseball. And we are talking about major league sports, where people like this kind of thing.
J.T.: Joe, the problem...
SCARBOROUGH: Go ahead, J.T.
J.T.: Joe, the problem is, the problem is, your guest has no clue, the fact that these records, these great legacy records of Willie Mays, the great Henry Aaron. We look at Babe Ruth. They have combined for 2,129 home runs. Who is supposed to, Joe, protect the legacy of those great players, who no longer can fight for those records?
SCHLUSSEL: Whoa. Spare me about the legacy. Spare me about the legacy.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second, Debbie. Debbie, hold on a second, Debbie.
Now, listen, I grew up following Hank Aaron. Hank Aaron was my hero as a kid. Year after year after year, I watched him chase Babe Ruth. And when he hit the 715th home run, I remember it to this day. Why should Hank Aaron do it the fair way, the clean way?
SCARBOROUGH: And you have got this guy, Barry Bonds, that, according to reports, you know, is juiced up on steroids?
SCHLUSSEL: Well, but how is it fair that they have better bat technology, the balls are lighter, they have the fences closer in? Those things alone should be a reason, then, for an asterisk. The game is completely different. And it‘s different in every sport today than it was yesterday.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, come on. Listen, you know steroid use is cheating.
It allows somebody to recover...
SCHLUSSEL: You know what?
SCARBOROUGH: ... from injuries in a 162-game—come on.
SCHLUSSEL: Trainers and multiple vitamins and moving the fence in closer and the technology, those are cheating, too.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, come on. Come on. Oh, come on. It‘s not even close.
SCHLUSSEL: Those are cheating, too. It‘s completely close.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Debbie, thanks a lot for being with us.
J.T.: Hey, Joe, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: J.T., I‘m sorry. We got to go, I will have you back.
But come on. It‘s cheating. It‘s obvious. Everybody knows it.
Now, with me next, we are going to be talking about a courageous Frenchman? That‘s right. And he‘s climbing a 25-story building with his bare hands. Did he make it without begging for help?
Stick around. We‘ll give you that story in a second.
SCARBOROUGH: Coming up next, how does he do it? The amazing real-life Frenchman Spider-Man climbing 25 stories with his bare hands. You‘re not going to want to miss this one.
SCARBOROUGH: (SPEAKING FRENCH) You like that? I speak French actually very well.
And I did it just for this story, because a Frenchman dubbed the Spider-Man scaled outside of a 490-foot building in Abu Dhabi over the weekend using only his bare hands and a chocolate croissant, with no ropes and no safety net.
As 80,000 people watched below, Alain Robert climbed the 25-story exterior and even stopped near the top to wave to the incredulous fans below. The 43-year-old Robert has previously scaled the Sears Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Eiffel Tower.
And, of course, when I turn 43, I plan to do the same.
Now, that‘s all the time we have tonight. I‘m sorry. No, I‘m sorry, kids. We just can‘t stay any longer. It‘s time to go. But you can get more Joe by going to my Web site and reading my latest blog at Joe.MSNBC.com. Whew. That was close.
And make sure to catch Imus tomorrow morning. He‘s got some great guests, including James Bradley, who wrote “Flags of Our Fathers.” What an incredible book that is.
Stick around, because “HARDBALL” is coming up next. See you tomorrow.
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