Guest: Janette Truesdale, Sheila DeLeon, Andy Kahn, Marc Klaas, Princeton Lyman, John Prendergast, Jim VandeHei
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight‘s top headline: President Bush heads to Europe. But will his drive for democracy overseas clash with Russia?
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required and only common sense allowed.
President Bush visits Europe to spread democracy, but will a nasty fight over World War II undermine our relationship with the former Soviet Union?
And SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY goes global to show you the crisis in Sudan and why it matters to you and why the world is ignoring it.
Plus, an update on our campaign to protect children from sexual predators. We‘re going to talk to Marc Klaas about the latest developments of trying to track these criminals for life and ask him if that‘s even enough.
And I have got a tough “Media Watch” segment tonight, and the focus is on me.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
President George Bush began his trip to Europe to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. Arriving in the Baltic nation of Latvia earlier today, the president found himself right in the middle of a controversy that has Russian leaders fuming.
NBC‘s White House correspondent David Gregory is with the president in Latvia.
David, what is the latest?
DAVID GREGORY, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Joe, the president arrived in Latvia tonight against a backdrop of still raw emotion over Soviet aggression following World War II and his very travel itinerary has created a new level tension in the already strained U.S.-Russian relationship.
(voice-over): Mr. Bush emerged from Air Force One tonight to begin one of the trickiest diplomatic journeys of his presidency. He came here to Latvia to applaud this former Soviet Republic‘s commitment to democracy, just days before he travels to Moscow to take part in an elaborate ceremony marking the Allied victory over Nazi Germany. The end of the war, however, marked the start of Soviet repression in the Baltic states, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I understand there are a lot of people in the Baltics who are—you know, don‘t view the celebration in Russia as a day of liberation.
GREGORY: In fact, Mr. Bush‘s visit to Latvia and his scheduled stop in Georgia, another former Soviet republic next Tuesday, is meant to underscore that.
Moscow, however, has objected. Russia‘s foreign minister took the unusual step of protesting the president‘s travel plans in a letter to Secretary of State Rice. Aboard Air Force One today, White House spokesman Scott McClellan replied, saying—quote—“I think the president‘s response is that he looks forward to the trip.”
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.
GREGORY: The tension follows fresh concerns at the White House about President Putin‘s retreat from democratic reform in Russia. Most recently, two weeks ago, during his annual state of the nation address, Putin described the collapse of the Soviet Union as the—quote—“greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.”
(on camera): In a speech here tomorrow, the president will directly challenge that sentiment by praising Latvia‘s hard-won freedom from Soviet rule and by trying to remind the Russians that freedom is the most important legacy of World War II—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks a lot, NBC‘s David Gregory, of course, traveling with President Bush in Latvia.
We‘re joined now by an all-star panel to talk about the president‘s trip abroad. With me tonight, Larry Kudlow. He, of course, is host of “Kudlow & Company” on CNBC. We‘ve got MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan and also have “The Washington Post”‘s Jim VandeHei.
Pat, let‘s start with you.
The president is going to Russia. He‘s trying to make nice with Russia and some other leaders. But, at the same time, he appears to be attacking Vladimir Putin on democracy. Is that a very smart thing to do? It sounds awfully like Jimmy Carter in like 1977 and 1978.
PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, Joe, I think there‘s a lot to that.
Quite frankly, I think the president of the United States has been too much in Putin‘s face. It is good thing that the Baltic republics are free of the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union let them go, and they are free of Russia. But for him to go to Georgia and to Latvia, which are two areas of the near abroad of Russia, where they have real problems, at the same time the Russians are celebrating this great anniversary, their 60th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, it seems to me is an in-your-face act to Vladimir Putin, who leads one of the greatest countries on Earth, whose relationship with the United States is one of the most vital on Earth to us.
I think there‘s a certain element of amateur-hour diplomacy here and in-your-face democratism, which the president of United States ought not to be engaging in.
SCARBOROUGH: Larry Kudlow, this morning, I heard on NPR a Russian official saying, if you‘re a friend and your friend is fat, you go up and whisper to your friend, hey, you‘re fat. If you‘re not a friend, then you stand on the corner and point at your so-called friend and yell, he‘s fat. He‘s fat. Look at the fatso on the corner.
Why is George Bush, again, on the eve of a celebration of Victory in Europe Day, which, of course, as you and I both know, the Russians paid for with more blood than anybody, why is the president appearing to show them up on the eve of this important day?
LAWRENCE KUDLOW, CO-HOST, “KUDLOW & CRAMER”: Well, look, I think the president has a clear foreign policy of spreading freedom and democracy around the world.
And although he can operate privately with Putin, as they always have
· they have a pretty good relationship—in public, Bush has got to stick to his guns. I think he‘s dead right. For example, Georgia is a place where there‘s a fledgling democracy. And in no small part, they‘re taking the U.S. president at his word. He has encouraged such democratization. That includes the Ukraine.
The fact is, Mr. Putin is playing a dangerous game. He‘s trying to be a nationalist. He‘s trying to be very autocratic at home, and yet he‘s trying to say to the rest of the world, we really have a functioning democracy. Well, the reality is, Putin has retreated on democratization with respect to human rights, with respect to the media, with respect to his economy.
He‘s nationalized great oil firms. He threw the head of Yukos in jail. He said the other day in his state of the union speech that the most catastrophic historical event in the 20th century was the downfall of the Soviet empire. Bush is impelled. He must say something to make sure the rest of the world knows he‘s not backing off his democratization vision.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, he claims that he‘s more democratic and that Russia is more democratic than the United States. He‘s, of course, going to be on “60 Minutes” this weekend.
And I want to read you what harsh words he had for President Bush and American democracy on, again, this Sunday‘s “60 Minutes.” According to excerpts released by the show, Putin says this -- -- quote—“In the United States, you first elect the electors and then you vote for the presidential candidates. In Russia, the president is elected through the direct vote of the whole population. That might be even more democratic.”
And then he goes on to say: “And you have other problems in your elections. Four years ago, your presidential election was decided by the court. The judicial system was brought into it. But we are not going to poke our noses in your democratic system, because that is up to the American people.”
Jim VandeHei, with the president‘s poll numbers low, with tiffs overseas, even when he‘s going over for something that should be a slam-dunk, what‘s at stake for this president?
JIM VANDEHEI, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Well, I think there‘s a lot at stake, because democracy is so much the core of his foreign policy.
And this relationship with Vladimir Putin has been very, very complicated from the beginning, because the president is under a lot of pressure from some folks here and inside his administration to take a tougher line with him, because they feel like he‘s cracking down on democracy. He‘s stifling democracy. They no longer have the direct election of governors. They feel like they‘re cracking down on a free media.
So, I think the president is going over there and he‘s trying to strike a balance by, A, appearing with Vladimir Putin and being there for a very important event for their country, but then also talking to the people of Georgia and also focusing on Ukraine and places where there are these fledgling democratic movements.
SCARBOROUGH: Do you think it‘s a smart move?
SCARBOROUGH: Jim—I wanted Jim.
Do you think it‘s a smart move for the president of the United States to go over on the 60th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day and go first to these Balkan states and say, you know what? We understand this meant the liberation of your countries from Nazism, but it led to the enslavement by the Soviet Union?
VANDEHEI: It‘s not my job to say whether it‘s a smart move or not, but I do think that he feels very strongly that he has to send a signal to these countries that are trying to start on the path to democracy, and that if he just goes and continues to do what he‘s done with Vladimir Putin from the beginning, which is basically say, look, I looked into this man‘s soul and I saw a good man—and he‘s not really pressured him at all in public on the democracy front.
So, I think this is his way of going out a little bit and sort of I think maybe taking a more muscular approach towards Vladimir Putin.
KUDLOW: And, look, it‘s very important to remember that Bush is moving—the Middle East is turning towards pro-democracy reform. We got Syria out of Lebanon. We‘re getting their intelligence people out of Lebanon. We‘re neutralizing Hezbollah in Lebanon.
There are elections scheduled for the—in the next couple of weeks in Lebanon. It would be absolutely wrong-headed for the president to go soft on Putin or any of the former Soviet republics at the same time he‘s trying to provide leadership by example to the pro-democracy movements in the Middle East, which, by the way, could include Syria. We are reading about tremendous homegrown democratization there, and Egypt, and, who knows, maybe Saudi Arabia, following the tremendous victory in Iraq. Bush must stick to his guns.
BUCHANAN: Joe, Joe, look...
SCARBOROUGH: Pat Buchanan, as you know, Pat, I am a Francophile, Pat.
And I know French history.
I am reminded of an incident. Napoleon III knew that Bismarck was going to invade from Germany soon and he had a meeting with a Russian leader, a Russian czar. And instead of talking about Bismarck, he offended him by talking about Poland. This was back in the 19th century. Bismarck invades. The czar sits on his hands. Paris could have been destroyed. France was almost destroyed.
I bring that up to say that sometimes you pick fights. Sometimes, you quietly counsel.
SCARBOROUGH: Really, I‘m afraid this president, when we‘re talking about Iran, when we‘re talking about North Korea, this president is going to need Vladimir Putin. Is he going to be there for him?
BUCHANAN: You know, look, this is so foolish of him to do this. There is more freedom of speech, there‘s more democratic freedom in Russia than there certainly is in communist China, to whom we give $160 billion trade surplus every year.
This man was with the president of the United States in Afghanistan. He let us use bases. He helped us out in that war. Sure, he‘s got a flawed country and a flawed system. But, for heaven‘s sake, you act like a friend. This is a great nation. In the conflict with China...
SCARBOROUGH: Why is he doing it, Pat?
BUCHANAN: Because he has got a lot of people that, with do respect, like my friend Kudlow, who are in-your-face meddlers, who have got to get in and say, look, you‘re not living up to our standards.
This is—you know, Edmund Burke said it once. He said great empires and tiny minds go ill together. We see that in the Bush handling of the policy with Russia. To go over to a 60th anniversary thing and come away from there with them antagonized and alienated, when it‘s the one great thing they believe they‘ve done in the last century, it seems to me, is absolute folly.
KUDLOW: I guarantee you that this is the last...
SCARBOROUGH: And, you know, Larry Kudlow—Larry Kudlow, hold on.
I‘ll let you respond later.
But that‘s—I guess that‘s my biggest problem with this. Obviously, I‘m a champion of democracy, like you and so many others, Larry. But here you have the Soviet Union, now Russia. But, really, we knew this last year on the 60th anniversary of D-Day, that our American boys would never have scaled the cliffs of Normandy if it weren‘t for the Russian boys being slaughtered on the Eastern front, millions and millions of them.
It just doesn‘t seem, Larry, like now is the time to antagonize.
KUDLOW: I don‘t know that I would have drawn the link you just drew.
But putting all that aside—we don‘t have to refight World War II this evening—I guarantee you that, having made the statements he made for public, worldwide, global consumption, Bush will now move to a more cordial relationship. This is what Bush did when he was in Europe and Russia and the Eastern states a few months ago with Condoleezza Rice.
It‘s a two-track policy. It‘s a nuanced diplomacy. The reality is, Pat Buchanan never has been in favor of Bush‘s democratization. So, naturally, Pat wants to go back to a sort of realist, Nixonian, cynical thing. That is not Bush‘s style. And I think Bush has the upper whip hand, because of what is going on in the Middle East today is exactly—the dominoes of democracy are falling everywhere.
BUCHANAN: Ronald Reagan didn‘t liberate the Soviet empire by going over there—I was at summits with him—and yelling in their face.
KUDLOW: Ronald Reagan stood at the...
BUCHANAN: He went behind closed doors. He stood at the wall and...
BUCHANAN: Tear down the wall.
KUDLOW: He went to the Berlin wall.
Look, Ronald Reagan went to the Berlin Wall and said, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall. He went against the advice of his whole government. And it proved that Reagan was right. And Bush is showing the same kind of strength.
BUCHANAN: Reagan made a friend of Russia and now they‘re making an enemy of them.
SCARBOROUGH: You look at that split shot of Kudlow and Buchanan.
And, you know, what scares me, friends?
SCARBOROUGH: They used to work in the same administration.
Everybody in the panel, stick around. We‘re going to be right back in a second and talk about all the president‘s domestic problems. That‘s when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Coming up next, “Media Watch,” the focus, me. I‘ll tell you how I botched a report on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. That‘s next.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s time to bring back in our all-star panel. We‘ve got CNBC‘s Larry Kudlow, MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan, and “The Washington Post”‘s Jim VandeHei.
Jim, just how difficult are the president‘s problems at home, especially with Social Security?
VANDEHEI: I think they‘re quite difficult.
I mean, the president took his prime-time news conference and focused almost exclusively on a new component of that Social Security plan. And you don‘t really see any movement in Congress. And I think that‘s the measurement at this point. Do we see any Democrats that are willing to even talk about a compromise on Social Security? In the Senate, we see none. In the House, we see one. And there‘s over 200 Democrats on that side of the aisle.
So, the president—and he also has problems in his own party. He has got a lot of Republicans, moderate Republicans, who just don‘t want to touch the issue for political reasons. So, I don‘t see a lot of movement at this point, but the president is showing no signs of giving up.
SCARBOROUGH: Larry Kudlow, the latest AP poll asked Americans if they approve of the president‘s handling of Social Security. Only 38 percent approved, while 60 percent did not approve.
Now, Larry, you and I have talked about Social Security on the eve of the president‘s inauguration. I said it was dead on arrival. I still believe it‘s dead on arrival. I have got to believe Karl Rove and George Bush are smart enough to know it‘s not happening. Why does the president keep fighting for a program he knows will never get support of his own party?
KUDLOW: Well, I don‘t know. I mean, I admit it‘s a tough slog. I agree with what Jim VandeHei just said.
One thing, though, after Bush‘s news conference last week. He has got Bill Thomas much more revved up more than before. I just interviewed Thomas, the head of the House Ways and Means Committee. He is the most important guy when it comes to this legislation. There is a deal possibly about progressive indexation and private savings account. But it‘s a tough slog.
Look, the best news Bush got was today, a fabulous jobs report, 274,000 new jobs. The last two months were revised up by 100,000. And yesterday, they were able to cut the budget deficit by $55 billion because tax payments for the April tax date are coming in spectacularly. Lower tax rates are expanding the economy, throwing off tax collection, so that‘s a plus. And oil prices have come down. So, gasoline prices this summer are going to be a lot lower. And that‘s been a big problem for Bush. So not all has gone wrong.
SCARBOROUGH: Pat Buchanan, progressive indexation, sounds like tax cuts for the rich to me. I know that a lot—it sounds great for a lot of Democrats. Republicans aren‘t going to touch that.
Pat, I want you, if you will—I have got my theory. I want to hear your theory first. Why is the president and Karl Rove, why are they pushing this rock up the hill, when they know it will never pass Congress? They know that, Pat, don‘t they?
BUCHANAN: I think they know the political—the political downside of this and the political risks.
And that‘s why, in this one, I admire the president, because I think he is paying a political price and his party is going to pay it. And I do believe he thinks this is a genuine great idea, these personal accounts. And if he can get young people there, they will demand each year like IRAs, if we expand them, expand them. You‘ll have a brand new system.
And, secondly, I think the president is prepared to bite the bullet and do what needs to be done in order to correct the problem in Social Security. And that means one thing is, you have got to restrain the growth in benefits. You can‘t have them indexed to wages. You have got to index them to inflation.
So, I admire—I must say, I have praised the president on this—
I‘ve disagreed with him on a lot of things—because I think he‘s biting the bullet, Joe. He‘s doing something he believes is right for his country. And I look at the Democrats. And all they‘re doing, utter, total politics and obstruction, nothing to offer. And so, on this one, even though the president may lose, I‘ll be with him when he goes down the tubes.
KUDLOW: He may, actually.
SCARBOROUGH: But he‘s going down the tubes, though, isn‘t he, Jim VandeHei?
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m sorry, Larry. Whoever.
Larry, go ahead.
KUDLOW: I just want to just say, some pollsters, including John Zogby, have noted that, even if Bush loses this round, he ultimately is going to win politically, because the country knows something has to change. And the young people want the private savings accounts.
See, on this one, I completely agree with Pat Buchanan. It is a tough slog. It may not work for him this year, although the jury is still out on that. But, over the long term, the Democrats‘ Dr. No obstructionism is not going to help them.
SCARBOROUGH: Jim VandeHei, my theory is this. And I know you‘re a straight reporter, not an opinion guy, like me, so you don‘t have to respond.
I personally think, though, George Bush and Karl Rove are doing one thing and one thing alone. And we‘ve seen them do it education. We saw them do it in Medicare. They‘re setting up the Democrats in ‘06. George Bush can support senators, Republican senators saying, you know what? At least we‘re trying to do something to save Social Security. The Democrats are doing nothing. They‘re the party of obstruction.
And they‘re going to run against the do-nothing Congress. Do you think—have you heard any Democrats on the Hill talking about, hey, you know what, we may better get a plan before ‘06 or we‘re going to be in trouble?
VANDEHEI: Absolutely. I think that‘s a quandary that Democrats face right now.
They‘re winning the short-term war, in that they‘re basically being defiant and saying, you‘re not going to get a plan. But they‘re worried, because they know that the public, those same polls are showing that they know that there‘s a problem and they want some solution at some point. And Democrats haven‘t offered one.
I think sometime in the next couple of months, Democrats are going to listen to people like James Carville and they‘re going to come up with their own plan. The problem is, is that every time the president has thrown something out there, they have said no. So, they‘ve basically boxed themselves in and really limited themselves to what they can actually advocate.
BUCHANAN: I think—Joe, look, I think if the Democrats kill this and the president goes and says, we all know it‘s in trouble and I tried to do something and they killed it, he will be helped.
But the big thing coming up, Joe—and you and I have talked about it
· nuclear option, Supreme Court justices. That is the war that the president wants to fight. He has got to go all out for that. And that is a winner politically and for the country.
KUDLOW: And that‘s also—I agree with Pat.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ll give you the last word, Larry.
But I think that they—I think, also, the president knows and also Karl Rove knows this sets Democrats up for that fight, also. All the Democrats want to do is obstruct. All they want to do is say no. Is that the strategy, Larry Kudlow?
KUDLOW: Yes. I think that‘s exactly right. The Dems are Dr. No.
It‘s not going to work. I think Pat Buchanan is right. I think the filibuster is a big winner for Bush, because judges—these nominations should have their own vote. They‘re not talking about other legislative items, just these nominations. He‘s going to be right on that. I think Bush is going to get an energy bill through. He‘s looking good on that. He‘s already got part of his tort reform through. He‘s already got the bankruptcy bill through.
I don‘t think Social Security is completely dead, Joe. I know you do. But it‘s still a tough slog. But let me tell you the economy is actually picking up steam. Jobs are being created. And if gasoline prices come down a bit this summer, instead of up, Mr. Bush‘s poll standings are going to really improve.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Larry Kudlow, I know you‘ve talked to them. But I‘ve talked to a lot of Republicans in the House and Senate one-on-one, quietly. They tell me they ain‘t voting for it. They said, we get him elected in ‘04. We‘re going to get ourselves elected in ‘06.
Larry Kudlow, Pat Buchanan, Jim VandeHei, thanks a lot for being with us. We greatly appreciate it.
Now it‘s time for tonight‘s “Media Watch” segment. As you know, we regularly report on the fairness and accuracy of national media outlets like “The New York Times” and CBS News. Well, tonight we bring you a “Media Watch” segment criticizing me.
Last Monday, in our “Joe‘s Got Issues” segment, I made light of comments reportedly made by Republican California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here‘s a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Finally, Arnold Schwarzenegger. You know, this guy has been in so much trouble. He‘s got sagging poll numbers. He‘s got political groups criticizing his every move.
And now the governator is making all his enemies‘ job easier. According to “The London Evening Standard,” Arnold recently went on Howard Stern‘s radio show and offered his theory on how to end premenstrual syndrome, saying—quote—“If we get rid of the moon, women, whose menstrual cycles are governed by the moon, will not get PMS. They will stop bitching and whining.”
Hey, Governor, way to make 50 percent of California‘s voting population turn frigid towards you. I don‘t know how it works in Austria, but let me tell you something, friend. Jokes about such matters, not laughing subjects to women in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Nice punchline, right? Wrong. The governor never made the statement.
We based our issue on an article that ran on the Web site of “The London Evening Standard” newspaper. The London newspaper apparently had been taken in by a hoax on a radio show. By quoting erroneous information from that article, without checking it out ourselves, we, too, got pulled into that hoax.
You know, when I was in Congress, I had a lot of false statements made or written about myself. And I learned that, even after a newspaper or television show offered an apology, there were way too many people out there who wanted to believe the worst about public officials. So, they remember the story, but they overlook the correction.
That‘s why I learned to take matters like this seriously when I was in public office and why I take them even more seriously now that I‘m reporting on public officials.
We, of course, shouldn‘t have run that item.
And, Governor Schwarzenegger, I apologize to you for my terrible mistake.
And I offer that same apology to you, my viewers out there, who come here to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY night after night.
You know, I believe this show serves a critical role by holding members of the media, an invaluable profession, accountable. And, friends, you know what? That includes me.
You can rest assured that all of us in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY are going to double our efforts to meet MSNBC‘s high standards.
And that‘s tonight‘s “Media Watch.”
Stay with us, because, coming up next, we‘re going to have an update on the horrific humanitarian crisis in Sudan.
SCARBOROUGH: The suffering is unimaginable in Sudan and, yet, most Americans don‘t know or care what is going on over there. Why? And what can we do about it? That‘s next.
But, first, here‘s the latest news you and your family need to know.
SCARBOROUGH: Now to an issue we just don‘t see or hear enough about in the news.
You know, over the last two long and deadly years, the war between the Arab-led government of Sudan and the non-Arab rebels have left a region of Sudan ravaged and dangerous. The United Nations estimates that almost 200,000 people have been killed and over two million have been displaced and are now refugees.
And upon returning from a trip to the region, Congressman Jim McDermott of Washington state said—quote—“The Sudanese government is committing genocide and they won‘t stop unless there is a global effort to stop them.”
It‘s something you just don‘t hear about in the United States. But, when you see the pictures, well, it‘s enough to break anybody‘s heart.
Tonight, we ask the question, why is the world standing by and doing nothing while Sudan is being burned to the ground one village at a time?
With me now to talk about it is Ambassador Princeton Lyman of the Council on Foreign Relations and John Prendergast, the adviser to the International Crisis group.
John, I understand you just came back from Sudan. Talk about what you saw over there.
JOHN PRENDERGAST, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: Well, this is one of the worst humanitarian and human rights crises that the African continent has seen in the last 50 years.
The government of Sudan has learned during the 16 or 17 years it‘s been in power how to destroy villages as efficiently as any government that‘s ever existed on the face of the Earth. And they have conducted a counterinsurgency campaign that continues to this day that prioritizes killing of young men and raping of women and destroying of villages and clearing people out into these displaced camps.
So, you have now 2.5 million people who have been displaced and maybe 200,000 to 300,000 people killed. It‘s a remarkable tragedy. And it‘s very, very little response internationally.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, John, what I don‘t understand is, back in 1997, I believe it was, I put a bill on the floor condemning the Sudanese government, because we heard back then that two million people had been killed. The president gets elected, says that he‘s going to focus on Sudan. The situation just keeps getting worse. Why can‘t we fix what is so terribly broken in Sudan?
PRENDERGAST: Well, you‘re absolutely right. The central broken element of the Sudanese complex is the government.
This is a minority military faction that has very little public support throughout the country that rules by terror. And until we confront it directly and address that fundamental problem of governance, I think all these symptoms, which are genocide in Darfur and terrible conflict in southern Sudan and the central part of the country and a lack of democracy, are just going to keep continuing.
SCARBOROUGH: Ambassador Princeton Lyman, you certainly know so much about this country, about this region. Tell us, why the continuing suffering in Sudan and why does the international community seem to turn a blind eye to this almost unprecedented human tragedy?
AMBASSADOR PRINCETON LYMAN, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I think the problem is that it is one that‘s hard to understand in some of its complexities. And the international community has some attention to it and then the attention goes away.
We‘ve been distracted here in the United States by our own election, by other issues. There‘s also some conflicting objectives by the United States in this situation. On the one hand, we‘re getting cooperation from this Sudanese government, which John has described, on terrorism. We‘ve also got them to the point of signing a peace agreement with the south. And, at the same time, these are people responsible for some of these horrendous war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
And I think our own policy has been somewhat conflicted in how we approach this. I think John is quite correct. This government only responds when there is a real threat of sanctions or some real cost to what they‘re doing. And that cost has not been out there.
SCARBOROUGH: Why don‘t we do more ourself? Ambassador, why can‘t we make this costly for the Sudanese?
LYMAN: Well, we could. The United Nations is blocked on this because of China and Russia, which both have interests in Sudan.
I think we and the Europeans should have been tougher a lot sooner, putting on our own sanctions and putting on a lot more pressure on the Sudanese government. It‘s been hard to get the Europeans along on this, but we haven‘t been willing to do very much unilaterally in this regard either.
SCARBOROUGH: John, you went over there. You saw with your own eyes the most unprecedented suffering. You know how long this has been going on. Tell Americans tonight that are watching, Americans who actually do care about this terrible situation, what can they do?
PRENDERGAST: Well, I think, right now, it‘s a race against time. We have 10,000 to 15,000 people dying every month in Darfur, and as many letters as can be generated as possible to the Bush administration saying, take some leadership on this issue.
It‘s simply inadequate to wait and allow the existing forces on the ground of African Union troops to do the job of protecting civilians. We need to get NATO ramped up and supporting directly an operation in Darfur that protects people. We need to get accountability, as Princeton was saying, accountability for these war crimes that have been committed, so that people pay a price for authorizing and orchestrating some of the worst crimes against humanity we‘ve seen perpetuated in the last decade.
So, I think we need leadership from the Bush administration on this issue, not just rhetoric.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, thank you, John Prendergast.
Thank you, Ambassador. Greatly appreciate it.
I have got to tell you, personally, what I believe is this. If you‘d had the type of suffering in Europe that we‘ve seen in Africa, in Sudan, over the past 10 years, we would have started a World War to end it. You look at the way we treat different regions and you can only say that it‘s because of race. It‘s because these people don‘t look like us. It‘s because they don‘t talk like us. It‘s because we don‘t have relatives, enough relatives over there, that we‘re standing by while genocide continues to take place.
It‘s a disgrace. And we‘ve got to stop it.
We‘ll be right back in a second.
SCARBOROUGH: This week, Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed the Lunsford law, named after Jessica Lunsford, the 9-year-old who was kidnapped and murdered by a registered sex offender.
The law calls for a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years for those who molest children under the age of 12. Some cases could result in life in prison—I think all cases—offenders wearing GPS tracking devices for life, also. But, just this week, Patrick Wayne Bell, a convicted sex offender who got out last month, removed his tracking device and disappeared. He was finally apprehended today across the street from a bus station.
But here‘s the big question tonight. Are these tracking bracelets enough? What has to be done to keep our children safe?
With us again is Marc Klaas. He‘s the father of Polly Klaas. And also Andy Kahn. He‘s the director of Houston‘s Crime Victims Assistance Program.
Let‘s start with you, Marc.
Are these tracking devices enough? Are they foolproof?
MARC KLAAS, KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION: Well, of course they‘re not foolproof. I mean, this guy got it off.
And the reality is, is that, however good we make them, the offenders are going to find better ways to override their effectiveness. So we can never stand on our laurels. What we ultimately have to do—and I‘m sure a lot of people will agree and will disagree—is, we‘re going to have to find technologies beyond GPS that are implantable, so that these devices cannot be toyed with, cannot be played with, and we can follow these guys in and around and be able to monitor them much more effectively.
But, however, Joe, this is certainly a step in the right direction.
There‘s no question about that at all.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Marc, you talk about implanting devices. That sounds like “Brave New World.” But, in fact...
SCARBOROUGH: ... with the technology we have out there, it‘s easily done, isn‘t it?
KLAAS: Well, the technologies do exist. The applications have not been created yet.
However, I think there‘s enough public outcry so that we‘re not that far away from having this actually happen. Again, these guys are going to find ways to override and disable the GPS devices. You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it, because they always do. So, we have to stay one step ahead. We have to continue to research.
We‘ve put our foot down and said, we‘re going to find better ways to manage these offenders when they‘re on the streets. And, certainly, this is a big step in the right direction.
Andy Kahn, what do you say about these GPS tracking devices? Are they enough in and of themselves? Or what else do we need to do?
ANDY KAHN, HOUSTON CRIME VICTIM ASSISTANCE PROGRAM: No. And Marc is absolutely correct. They‘re as good as the person that wants to honor it. If they don‘t want to honor it, they usually take it off.
But I‘ll tell you what. In this particular case, what Florida did with Bell—and this is the first time that I‘ve seen that—is that they actually publicized some offender who had violated their rules and conditions. And that‘s probably the only reason he got caught. My hat‘s off to what Florida has done. It‘s about time that we flush these offenders out and we start treating sex offenders, sexual predators who have violated their rules and conditions, have failed to live up to their registry requirements, and we treat this as a national health hazard.
We have an Ebola virus in this country.
SCARBOROUGH: Andy, let me ask you something. Can we make these things, Andy, in such a way that, the second they‘re cut off, an alarm goes off and law enforcement officers are able to track them down?
KAHN: I don‘t see why we can‘t.
You‘re watching these guys 24 hours a day. If they‘re not abiding by their conditions, an alarm should go off. A red flag should go off. An alert should go out. And we need to scoop them up before they snatch another innocent child. We have to treat this as a national health hazard.
And, Joe, you and I have talked recently. You‘ve got 131,000 sex offenders in this country currently out of compliance that are in violation of state law registry requirements. Can you imagine if you had even half that amount that broke out of prison? You know, everybody would be going crazy. So, my hat‘s off. And I think we‘re finally starting to get the message that we need to be as cunning and as devious and as diabolical as the offenders are.
SCARBOROUGH: Marc, I‘m glad he said that, because, you know, every time you come on, I see you wear a picture of your daughter. And God bless you for that, keeping her memory alive.
But it reminds me, back in 1994, when I was talking about what happened to your daughter, when I was first running for Congress, we were talking about three strikes, you‘re out. So many people were angry . It seems like America was motivated, I think, by that tragedy. But here we are, 11 years later. The tragedies keep coming and coming and coming.
My question Marc is, have we finally learned the lesson that you learned so many years ago?
KLAAS: Well, you know, Joe, I have an article from 1946, “Coronet” magazine, of a father who is making exactly the same arguments I am.
And it‘s only when you get to the end of the article and you find out that they‘re promoting lobotomies as a way to solve this problem that you realize that this is something we‘ve been fighting for about 70 years in this country now, and only now do we seem willing to take the steps necessary to provide the public with the protections they need to be able to live in a safe society.
I think, with these GPS devices, Joe, we need to go one step farther, too. They need to have memory chips, so that, if there is an event, we can find out where these guys have been for the last 24 hours. That, too, will help us track down cases. Another problem, though, is that, when these registration laws were first written in 1994, a lot of them had a 10-year limit on them. A lot of these sex offenders are going to immediately drop off the registries within the next couple of years and we‘re going to be starting all over again.
I think everybody should look at what Florida has done and follow suit, and do it very quickly.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s a step in the right direction, Marc.
SCARBOROUGH: It certainly is.
I want to thank you, Marc, for being with us tonight.
And, Andy, also, thank you.
We‘re going to keep fighting this campaign. We‘re going to keep doing whatever we can to put pressure on our lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to nationalize this issue, as you all have been fighting for us to do.
Also, listen. Go to our Web site, if you will. It‘s Joe.MSNBC.com. And you can see our point-by-point description of this SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY campaign and how we will finally put an end to this terrible, terrible scourge. It really is. It is a public health crisis that we‘ve got to cure.
We‘ll be right back with this week‘s SCARBOROUGH‘s champions.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s time now for our SCARBOROUGH champion.
You know, Mother‘s Day is this Sunday, so we thought you‘d like to meet two very special moms. We have Janette Truesdale and Sheila DeLeon, both from Brooklyn, New York.
And, well, on Tuesday morning, a massive truck started to roll and was just seconds away from crushing a 2-year-old boy, Dontae Ramsey. But when these two hero moms raced in to save him, well, they changed everything. The boy escaped. He had some cuts and bruises on him, but he‘s alive and well tonight.
Those two supermoms, those two great heroic ladies, are with us now.
And I want to talk to them about what they did.
Sheila, I want to ask you, what was going through your mind when this happened?
SHEILA DELEON, SAVED 2-YEAR-OLD BOY: Well, I‘m a mother. And, as a mother instinct, I just ran under the truck and tried to save the little boy, as just a mother.
SCARBOROUGH: Janette, you were there. Talk about it, Janette. You were there.
JANETTE TRUESDALE, SAVED 2-YEAR-OLD BOY: Yes, well, we was having a conversation.
And, at some point, we see Monica crossing the street. When she got behind the back—behind the truck, the truck started to reverse. And the only thing we heard was her screaming for help. So, of course, we was there. We was close enough to get to her. At some point, we lost sight of the baby, so that‘s when we decided to roll under the truck.
SCARBOROUGH: So, you rolled under the truck.
Janette, when you all rolled under the truck, what happened next?
TRUESDALE: Actually, the truck was still moving. It was still on reverse.
It was—this gentleman, his name is Ed Tyre. He was the one who banged on the truck to help, to tell the man to stop, because we was beneath the truck still.
SCARBOROUGH: Sheila, you acted very quickly. If you hadn‘t have moved that quickly, the young boy would have been dead, wouldn‘t he?
DELEON: Yes. He wouldn‘t have been alive. I think all of us wouldn‘t have been alive, because the truck was reading a...
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m sorry. Go ahead.
DELEON: The truck driver was reading a map and he was not alert that people was under the truck.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, it‘s got to be very special for you. You‘re a mom. And this—I would guess this Mother‘s Day is going to be very special for both of you all because of what happened this week.
DELEON: Beautiful Mother‘s Day, yes.
TRUESDALE: Yes, it is. Yes, it is.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
TRUESDALE: We‘re grateful that everything happened and worked out perfectly.
DELEON: God is good.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, he is.
Well, thanks to our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY champions. And thank you for watching tonight.
That‘s all the time we have. We‘ll see you Monday.
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