Guest: Con Coughlin, Azzam Tamimi
ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of THE SITUATION: “Attacks in London.”
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Believe this has all the hallmarks of al Qaeda.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're British. And we just know what we need to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody pulls together and it brings the best out of everybody.
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We'll hold true to the British way of life.
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from London, Tucker Carlson.
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Welcome to a special edition of THE SITUATION.
I'm Tucker Carlson.
A day after the deadliest bomb attacks since the Blitz, authorities here are still searching for the most basic answers to the most basic questions. Who did it? How did they pull it off, and, even at this late hour, how many people were killed in the attacks yesterday?
As we speak, searchers are far beneath the city of London, probably 100 feet or more, crawling through tunnels, looking for bodies and also looking for answers.
Joining us here to sort out what it meant, recognized widely as a turning point in the war on terror, Azzam Tamimi. He's the member of the Muslim Association of Britain. And Con Coughlin, a writer at large from “The Sunday Telegraph” of London.
Thank you both very much for joining us.
Dr. Tamimi, I have heard today some debate about whether or not the people who—who committed the terrorist attacks of yesterday were locals from living in Great Britain or foreigners. Do you have a sense of who they were?
AZZAM TAMIMI, MUSLIM ASSOCIATION OF BRITAIN: Well, we don't have any leads, really. Everything that's been said is mere speculation.
But I myself yesterday made an analysis based on what we had experienced in the past. It's highly unlikely that these are people who are—who've grown up here in this country. You wouldn't do this to your own city, to your own country, to your own people. It could have been my wife, myself, my children, my neighbors, my loved ones on that train, on that bus.
TAMIMI: Secondly, and more importantly, most of the groups that are usually recognized as extremists or radicals are under constant surveillance by the intelligence services, if not infiltrated.
CARLSON: And, yet, less than two months ago, in late May, there was a demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy here in London, where about 300 people chanted slogans such as, nuke Washington, nuke the Pentagon, death to George W. Bush, death to Tony Blair. Presumably, they are people who live here.
It seems like there's a pool of people living in London, or Great Britain, anyway, capable of doing something like this.
TAMIMI: Well, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are the ones who planned the assault.
CARLSON: Of course. But it suggests there are people here who could do it.
TAMIMI: We don't know.
We—all possibilities are—are there. We don't have any leads. Everything so far has been speculation. And as soon as we have some leads, definitely, we will be able to analyze what has been going on.
Con Coughlin, is it your sense that these could be homegrown terrorists?
CON COUGHLIN, “THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH”: Well, I think it's—I accept what Dr. Tamimi says about being it unlikely that people who have grown up in this country would seek to destroy it.
But it is a well established fact that al Qaeda has had bases in the U.K., in London, that Islamic extremists, either from Algeria or elsewhere, have used London as a base since the mid-1990s, taking advantage of lax immigration laws in this country.
We know that some of the 9/11 hijackers passed through London, had contacts with people in London. Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, basically was British and converted to Islam in Brixton in south London here. So, there are definitely people with links to al Qaeda in the U.K.
CARLSON: But we've known that for—for so long. Has there been political pressure to, say, tighten up the asylum laws here?
COUGHLIN: There's been enormous political debates prior to these attacks to tighten up the powers of the authorities to detain suspects indefinitely.
It's been a very big political issue. Civil rights campaigners have been very active in opposing this. And it has been a very big issue here. But I would also point out that there have been two—at least two previous attempts to attack the United Kingdom by al Qaeda, one ricin attack, another to blow up the Heathrow Express.
So, al Qaeda has been targeting the U.K. for some time. And I think most Londoners expecting something like this to happen.
CARLSON: Well, and there's been this debate going on in the papers today. I read, Dr. Tamimi, about backlash against Muslims who live in London. I wonder, has there been a backlash within the Muslim community against extremist elements?
TAMIMI: Well, for the past four years, most Muslim organizations have been working with authorities, coordinating with the various institutions in order to confront radical elements. And I can tell you that my sense is that extremism, radicalism in Britain is on the decline.
CARLSON: But wait. I mean, there was, as I said a minute ago, less than two months ago, this—looked like a spontaneous demonstration in front of the U.S. Embassy denouncing and threatening to kill the president of the United States and the prime minister of Great Britain.
Why wasn't there some sort of spontaneous demonstration today by Muslims in London against the presumably Islamic terrorists who did this? Does that tell you—what does that say? I mean, that suggests to me that there's not that much outrage.
TAMIMI: That's not true. There's a lot of outrage.
Almost every single Muslim organization in the country has denounced the attacks yesterday. And there are preparations for a vigil tomorrow. There were discussions today of a demonstration next week. The Muslims have been attacked equally as everybody else. This attack is not only on the non-Muslims in London. It's an attack on everybody that lives in London, including myself, my family, my loved ones. So, to say—to think of the Muslims as if they're sitting on the edge is unfair.
CARLSON: Well, that's exactly—that's exactly my point. It's an attack especially on Muslims, because it makes the position of Muslims in this country and in the West in general more precarious.
TAMIMI: Well, remember...
CARLSON: So, why isn't there...
TAMIMI: We don't know yet it was perpetrated by Muslims. We don't.
CARLSON: We absolutely don't.
TAMIMI: So, let's not jump to conclusions.
CARLSON: That's entirely right.
TAMIMI: If it were Muslims...
CARLSON: Though there is, it seems to me, a consensus among everybody, Muslims included, that it is likely to have been Muslims.
TAMIMI: It is likely, of course. It is likely. We know it is likely. It is likely simply because of this war in Iraq. This damn war in Iraq is the cause of all this trouble.
CARLSON: The war in Iraq is the cause of the bombings yesterday?
TAMIMI: Is the cause of this tension, the cause of the polarization, the cause of the radicalization that is causing us all a lot of trouble.
CARLSON: Do you buy that, Con? I mean, there was—of course, the 9/11 attacks took place long before the current conflict in Iraq.
COUGHLIN: I think these tensions have been there long before Iraq. And I think Iraq is an excuse being used by the—by extreme people within the Muslim community to make their cause.
But looking back to the—to build-up to the Iraq war, when I looked at some of the groups that were demonstrating against the war in Iraq, they had very, very radical agendas, indeed, and were almost in line with al Qaeda, with some of the sentiments they're expressing.
I mean, they were dressing up as suicide bombers, death to Israel, all this kind of thing. This is long before Iraq came along.
CARLSON: Dr. Tamimi, do you think this will make Tony Blair's position more precarious? Do you think voters in England will look at these attacks and blame the prime minister for bringing his country into that war?
TAMIMI: Well, Mr. Tony Blair has already been weakened. He lost 100 seats in the recent elections. And there was already talk about the likelihood of him setting down—stepping down.
CARLSON: Right, but...
TAMIMI: But this will, will, in my opinion, further weaken him, because, in a few days' time—people are already talking about this. “The Guardian” today had articles about this.
People are commenting on TV, saying this, that had Britain not go to war, most probably, the attacks wouldn't have happened. Now, regarding the 11 September, 11 September is not the beginning of history. For 10 years before the 9/11 attacks, the United States of America was starving the Iraqi people, was bombing nations in Afghanistan, in Sudan, in Iraq. See, the tension has already been there.
CARLSON: What—what—what are you suggesting? That the United States brought about those attacks by its own behavior?
TAMIMI: What I'm suggesting is that, look for the real cause of this tension. The real cause of the tension isn't ideological. It's political.
Ideology is necessary, but ideology is used to justify the tactics.
CARLSON: There's nothing political about killing, indiscriminately killing civilians.
TAMIMI: I agree. But why are the Americans doing it in Iraq or doing it in...
CARLSON: There is no—there is—I mean, to even compare the two is ludicrous.
TAMIMI: Why not? What's—what's the difference between...
CARLSON: Because one is the intentional killing of civilians. And the other is a war, in which civilians regrettably die.
It's not a justification for their deaths. It's not an excuse for them. But they are—the intent is utterly different.
TAMIMI: You see, when you go and bomb other people's countries and you live in a house of glass, don't feel safe. That's the problem. We here in Britain, we in Europe, you in America, live in houses of glass. Don't throw stones at others.
CARLSON: You're coming dangerously close to justifying what happened yesterday.
TAMIMI: No, just—not justifying, explaining it.
You see, we have a problem. All of us have a problem. We're under threat. Every one of us is under threat. We want to prevent this threat. I want to prevent it as much as everybody else. I'm telling you that we have to look at the reasons behind this, the root of the problem. There are crises in the Middle East that needs to be addressed. There are crises at the international level that needs to be addressed.
CARLSON: But isn't—isn't this, Con Coughlin, I mean, in some ways, an event that bolsters the prime minister's contention that the war in Iraq is a war against terror?
There were suggestions today, even, that this attack—we don't know if it's true—but was planned in Iraq. And, I mean, clearly, if it was inspired by Iraq, doesn't it again make the point the war in Iraq is a war against terror?
CARLSON: That was something that was suggested today apparently in Washington. Again, we don't know it's true. But the point is—the point you were just making was, if this attack was inspired by the war in Iraq, Tony Blair is saying much the same thing, that the war in Iraq.
TAMIMI: There was no terror before the war in Iraq. There was no terror.
CARLSON: Well, there was in the United States.
But, Mr. Coughlin.
COUGHLIN: Well, I think Dr. Tamimi misunderstands the resolve of the British people.
An attack like this on London is not going to turn the British people against their prime minister. At a time of national crisis, it is going to strengthen the resolve of the people to support the prime minister. Now, Tony Blair has taken a lot of criticism over his decision to back the war in Iraq. He's been very honest about that during the election campaign.
And since the election campaign, his popularity has actually improved. And I don't see that Tony Blair is going to find himself pushed into a corner over these rather gruesome bombings in London.
CARLSON: All right, we're going to continue this conversation in just a minute. We're going to take a break right now.
Coming up, is the U.S. occupation in Iraq one of the reasons London was terrorized yesterday? You just heard that suggested on our air. One writer also thinks so. Find out who that is when we come back.
Plus, the mystery surrounding the Supreme Court justice William Rehnquist. Is he set to retire? And, if so, who is the front-runner to replace him as chief justice?
We'll break it down with Pat Buchanan when THE SITUATION returns.
And a quick note. We'll return again tomorrow night from London at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Join us then.
CARLSON: Find out which country published an editorial today blaming the U.S. for the terror attacks in London yesterday. We'll have that in “Op Ed Op Ed” when we return in just a minute.
CARLSON: Welcome back to THE SITUATION live from London. It's time for “Op Ed Op Ed,” where we have scoured the editorial pages of papers across the world to find the three that were most interesting, to which we'll all offer our 20-second retorts.
I'm joined by Con Coughlin of “The London Sunday Telegraph,” Azzam Tamimi of the Muslim Association of Great Britain.
First up, “The Daily Telegraph” writes today—quote—“Nine-eleven hit out of the blue, literally and politically; 7/7 came four years after her majesty's government prioritizing terrorism and security above all else. And the failure rate was still 100 percent,” which is an excellent point, I think, to make.
And the point is this. You can never secure sites in a democratic civilization, a democratic society sufficient. I mean, Israel, toughest security in the world, still gets attacked. The only way to ever stop terrorist attacks is to remove incentive for terrorism in the first place and to control your borders, something both the U.S. and Great Britain have trouble doing.
TAMIMI: That's not right.
CARLSON: Well, sure it is.
TAMIMI: The best way to secure yourself—the best way to secure yourself is to have a just policy, not to perpetrate aggression against other people.
CARLSON: You're suggesting that the people of London deserved the terrorist attacks yesterday.
TAMIMI: No. You referred to Israel. What's happening in Palestine is that because the Palestinians have been displaced from their land, because their land is taken by somebody else, because they're being persecuted. They've been persecuted for more than 60 years now.
CARLSON: Mr. Coughlin?
COUGHLIN: Well, of course, I'm commenting on my sister newspaper.
COUGHLIN: And I have to be careful here.
I think Mark Steyn is being—who is the author of this piece—is being a bit tough. I think the British security services have actually been very good up until now. As I said, two previous attacks have been thwarted. And, actually, compared with what al Qaeda would like to do to the U.K., we've not had airplanes flying into our buildings and things like this.
This was a primitive kind of attack. You know, our security services are doing a pretty good job.
CARLSON: That sounds right.
Next, “The New York Times” wrote today a fascinating piece—quote—
“When Salman Rushdie wrote a controversial novel involving the prophet Muhammad, he was sentenced to death by the leader of Iran. To this day—to this day—no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden.”
It's a devastating point. I believe it's true. You can imagine what would happen in other faiths. If the Lubavitchers started bombing things, you see members of the Reform Judaism go crazy, denouncing it. If the Methodists all of a sudden went bananas and started launching terrorist attacks, you'd see the Episcopalians, you know, set off and march against them.
I think it points up the cowardice of a lot of mainstream Muslim organizations, that they haven't denounced Osama bin Laden from the rooftops day after day.
TAMIMI: That statement is totally wrong. The scholars in Saudi Arabia have openly denounced Osama bin Laden and considered him a heretic.
CARLSON: That's because he hates them, because he advocates the overthrow of...
TAMIMI: Well, then that proves the statement to be wrong.
CARLSON: No, no, but that is because he advocates the overthrow of Saudi Arabia. But where are the marches in this country and in Germany and in the United States from mainstream Muslim groups against Osama bin Laden? Where are they?
TAMIMI: Why should the Muslims demonstrate against Osama bin Laden?
CARLSON: Because he's taking their faith in vain. He is using their faith as a justification for murder.
TAMIMI: There are many crazy people around the world of all religions.
CARLSON: He leads a movement of thousands of people.
TAMIMI: If somebody is insane, I shouldn't be taking the blame for his insanity.
CARLSON: Well, it might help to distance yourself from him.
TAMIMI: But Muslims shouldn't—Muslims shouldn't be blackmailed to apologize for everything every other Muslim does.
CARLSON: It's not a matter of apologizing. It's a matter of denouncing, in my view.
What's your view, Mr. Coughlin?
COUGHLIN: I think that there's a—if you go to the East End of London, where there's a very large Muslim community, and you talk to the kids there, I think a lot of them have a grudging admiration for bin Laden, because he's basically standing up for Muslims and giving the West the bloody nose. And it's something they relate to.
CARLSON: Well, your—in fact, your sister newspaper did a poll three years ago of Muslims in London. And, fully, 50 percent were unwilling to denounce Osama bin Laden. And a large percentage felt his attacks were justified.
All right, next op-ed, Lebanon's “As-Safir” newspaper condemned the terrorists who struck at the heart of London and added—quote—“But this doesn't cancel the fact that occupation is terrorism against people, whether American, as in Iraq, or Israeli, as in Palestine.”
I just think this is, again, apples and oranges. I—you know, I'm not defending either the occupation of Palestine and I'm not defending, for that matter, the war in Iraq. But there's a qualitative and moral difference between what is happening in Israel and happening in Iraq and what happened yesterday in London.
TAMIMI: Yes. If you're dealing with white European people, then they're a super-class, superhumans. Where you're dealing with people from Asia or Africa, they're subhuman.
CARLSON: That's such a stupid point. That doesn't address at all what I just said. There's no racial angle in it. It's a question of intentionally targeting civilians.
TAMIMI: The Americans intentionally targeted civilians in Iraq. Do you deny that? They targeted—they intentionally targeted civilians in Afghanistan.
CARLSON: Do I deny that? I say as someone...
TAMIMI: The Israelis target civilians in Gaza and the West Bank.
CARLSON: First of all, I don't speak for the Israelis.
But I am an American. And I can tell you that Americans have never intentionally targeted civilians in Iraq. I don't support the war in Iraq. And I'm still happy to refute what you just said, because what you said is totally untrue.
TAMIMI: What's untrue?
CARLSON: That the American military has ever intentionally targeted civilians in Iraq.
TAMIMI: When you drop a bomb over a district in Baghdad or Basra or elsewhere or in Mosul, do you really pick and choose?
CARLSON: Yes. Actually, I have been...
CARLSON: Actually, you know what? I've been to Baghdad. And I've seen the effect of precision bombing. And, you know, the truth is, it was very precise. It eliminated buildings and left the buildings around it standing. I've seen it with my own eyes.
TAMIMI: No. That's ridiculous.
CARLSON: It's not ridiculous. I've seen it.
TAMIMI: That's ridiculous.
CARLSON: Mr. Coughlin.
COUGHLIN: Well, I—I know that the British government's view—and I've been following, you know, the Middle East for 20-odd years.
And during—before the Iraq war, before 9/11, when British fighters were working with the Americans to patrol the no-fly zones in Iraq, they were attacking military installations in Iraq. They were not attacking schools or hospitals or civilian establishments. Now, of course, Saddam's propaganda machine, every time, we bombed one of his air defense systems, said that lots of innocent civilians had been killed. But that's Saddam's propaganda.
CARLSON: All right.
We'll continue this conversation in just a moment.
But, next, al Qaeda, a new generation prepares to be one. Is it more dangerous than the last? We'll bat that around next on THE SITUATION.
CARLSON: Welcome back to THE SITUATION from London.
The attacks here yesterday are still reverberating around the world.
But what about the Arab world? How are they being seen there?
To answer that question, joining us now from New York City, Raghida Dergham. She is the senior diplomatic correspondent for “Al-Hayat” newspaper.
Thanks a lot for joining us.
RAGHIDA DERGHAM, NBC FOREIGN AFFAIRS ANALYST: Hello. Thank you.
CARLSON: Summarize for me quickly what—what the response in the Arabic-language press has been to the attacks yesterday?
DERGHAM: Well, of course, the London press has taken the issue as an issue of its own city.
Yesterday, for example, one of the papers had a one-page story and one story only on that first page, which was the bombings and the attacks on London. Now, the commentaries have been very much calling for mobilization against terrorism, against Arab or Islamic terrorism. And, of course, you would have a debate as well, just like you had heard right now. There are people who have a different point of view and they are talking over each other's heads, just you and Tamimi just happened.
You thought he was—his argument was—was disgraceful. And he thought your argument was racist. And so, you have that sort of debate going on also within the Arab community. And it is—it is aiming at finding out, where do we go from here?
CARLSON: Well, I mean, are there large mosques anywhere in the Islamic world that you're aware of that have mobilized against al Qaeda? Are there mosques, for instance, that are offering a bounty for Osama bin Laden, that have issued fatwas, Muslim leaders who have issued fatwas against him?
Is there—is there a grassroots movement against Osama bin Laden?
DERGHAM: Well, I don't know if there's bounties against him. I don't think that's the sort of thing that you would hear coming out from the mosques.
But, yes, of course, there has been many clerics, very prominent Muslim clerics, taking a very strong, clear position against al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and his likes. And, so you cannot—it's wrong to say, like “The New York Times” said, that there was never an outrage expressed by Muslim clerics against Osama bin Laden. That's absolutely not true.
As to the mobilization on the public level, I think that we'll need necessarily and definitely the empowerment of that public with politics and policies, so that they can defeat the extremists, like Osama bin Laden and like Zarqawi in Iraq. So, I think the politics will have to come in here...
CARLSON: Well, what does—I'm sorry, what does that...
DERGHAM: Go ahead.
CARLSON: What does that—I'm sorry. If you could just explain a little more, what does that mean, the empowerment of the public, so they can defeat bin Laden and Zarqawi? How would we empower the public to do that?
DERGHAM: Well, take a look, for example, at the argument that you just had with Tamimi over Israel.
The Arabs feel that a lot of wrong has been done to the Palestinians. They just feel that it's quite unfair to somehow let Israel get away with everything it wants against the Palestinians and their occupation. They feel the call for freedom should be also a freedom from occupation. From their point of view, this hasn't been done, that the United States has been partial against Arab causes, if you will. So if we...
CARLSON: They're absolutely right. Wait. Hold on. But they're absolutely right.
DERGHAM: Why? Who is right?
CARLSON: OK. But the two are separate issues.
CARLSON: I believe that what has been done to the Palestinians is unfair and the U.S. is taking, of course, the Israeli side against the Palestinians.
But that still doesn't answer the question. Why aren't people standing in large groups outside chanting, death to Osama? They can do both simultaneously, can't they?
DERGHAM: Well, I wish you were right. I think—I wish this was doable. But I think it's not doable, at least not so far.
Some people are calling for it. I want—I, for one, has been calling in my column that there needs to be a mobilization out loud, clear, against terrorism, against impacting civilians for any—for whatever pretext it may be.
But I don't think it's been a successful call, because the answer back to me is: Wait a moment. Why do you care so much only about what is happening to the civilians in the Western world? What about what is happening to Palestinian civilians and to the civilians in Iraq? It's exactly what you heard.
CARLSON: Because it—because it hurts Islam. Because it hurts Islam. It's a perversion of your faith.
DERGHAM: I agree. I agree.
CARLSON: And it also is, incidentally, a terrible public relations disaster.
DERGHAM: Absolutely. You see, but, see...
CARLSON: For Muslims everywhere.
DERGHAM: Absolutely. You and I agree on this.
The trouble is, how do we mobilize the public? And that's the most important thing that needs to be done.
DERGHAM: I think also the American public opinion needs to be
mobilized in order to understand how our foreign policy impacts the whole -
· our existence. I think we need to mobilize the Arab and Muslim public by saying, “Look, we are partners in this. We are together in this war, and we need to win it rightly.”
CARLSON: I'm sorry to cut you off. We are out of time. Raghida Dergham, thanks very much, “Al-Hayat” newspaper. We appreciate it.
DERGHAM: You're welcome.
CARLSON: Next, Italy announces—prime minister of Italy announces a pullout of troops from Iraq, less than one day after the bombings here in London. Are the two events connected? Italy says no. But not everyone believes them.
Plus, details about the bombing. More to come on THE SITUATION.
We'll be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back to THE SITUATION. We're in London, in the shadow of the bridge, as you can see, still joined by Azzam Tamimi of the Muslim Association of Britain and Con Coughlin, writer-at-large, London's “Sunday Telegraph.”
I though that was a very interesting conversation that I just had with Raghida. She made the same point that I almost always here. “Yes, but what about the Palestinians?”
And it does seem, when you have these conversations, people make that same point over again as if one can't be sympathetic to the Palestinians and violently against Osama bin Laden at the same time. And you can be. I am.
TAMIMI: Of course you can.
CARLSON: Well, then why is the Palestinian crisis situation always brought up as an excuse for terrorism?
TAMIMI: Because it is brought up, usually, by different parties. For instance, when you talk about terrorism—when people who talk about terrorism, especially the Israelis, they bring up the issue of Palestine and equate it with Osama bin Laden and other terrorist issues. And that has confused the picture.
CARLSON: But that's something that the Israeli army does, or that's something Israel does. But when we were talking about the bombings yesterday here in London, you immediately brought up the situation in Palestine. I just don't see the connection. One does not justify the other.
TAMIMI: No. No. In trying to explain what goes on, we say that there is a lot of tension, a huge crisis in the Middle East. And that crisis is because of several reasons. One of them is the Palestinian issue. One of them is Iraq. One of them is Afghanistan.
But there are also other reasons: despotism, dictatorship, the lack of democracy, the lack of respect for human rights, corruption, which is rampant all over the region. So we need to address all of these issues together. There's also the question of education, the question of enlightening people. We must not absolve ourselves of the blame.
CARLSON: What do you think of that? I mean, should we absolve ourselves—I mean, should we address all these issues, or should we just kill as many terrorists as we can?
COUGHLIN: Well, I think the irony that strikes me is that Tony Blair, since September the 11th, has been campaigning for a better deal for the Palestinians. He's been pushing the White House, taking a lot of criticism from people in Washington around George W. Bush...
CARLSON: Yes, he has.
COUGHLIN: ...for pushing his neck out, for getting a road map established. Yet, there's no world leader, other than Tony Blair, who is really committed to try to get a deal for the Palestinians. And what happens? London gets blown up. I don't see the logic.
CARLSON: That's right. And not only does London get blown up, Berlusconi of Italy announced today that he will most likely be withdrawing some Italian troops from Iraq in September.
I wonder if this—now, he claims this has nothing to do with the bombings yesterday. But I wonder if this doesn't send an obvious and pretty unsettling message to would-be terrorists everywhere, terrorism works.
COUGHLIN: Well, I think, first of all, a lot of people will be surprised that Italians are actually there on the ground in Iraq in the first place. I mean, Berlusconi himself has been a great supporter of the war on terror.
But when it actually comes to making a practical commitment, the Italians have been rather shy about coming forward. And I think they've got 3,000 troops there. They're talking about pulling out 300. Would anybody notice?
CARLSON: I mean, do you think that sends a message that the bombing yesterday was effective?
TAMIMI: Well, I think it's not just the bombing. I think the majority of the Italian people, just as much as the majority of the British people, were opposed to participating in the war.
COUGHLIN: No, that's not true. The majority of British people were not opposed to...
TAMIMI: According to the polls, the majority of the British people were opposed to the war.
COUGHLIN: When the war started, the majority of British people supported the war in Iraq. That is a fact.
TAMIMI: That is not a fact. According to the polls...
COUGHLIN: It's a simple fact.
CARLSON: I want to get back to Italy. Berlusconi is under a great deal of pressure to withdraw troops from Iraq, but do you think today was the best day to announce it, a day after a group took credit for the bombings yesterday, accurately or not, saying that they were undertaken an effort to get the west out of Iraq?
TAMIMI: Well, it's probably something he had for breakfast. I don't know.
CARLSON: All right. Seems like a bad idea to me.
Now, there's been talk today that the bombing yesterday was inspired by—at least inspired by, maybe carried out by, members of Al Qaeda. Do you think there's a new generation of Al Qaeda? Has being a member of Al Qaeda changed in its definition? What does it mean to be a member of Al Qaeda?
COUGHLIN: Well, look, the war on terror, the war against Al Qaeda, has been a success. Al Qaeda has been severely disrupted. A lot of key people have been detained. The architects of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, has been detained.
So the war on terror is working. And the problem for Al Qaeda is that they're very dispersed and they have to use very primitive methods to carry out these attacks. You know, they would love to hijack a plane and crash it into our bridge here or something like that, a really spectacular thing.
And so we are seeing perhaps a new generation. What I'm picking up from my intelligence sources is that they're basically—they are on the run, and they just have to resort to whatever they can to carry out these attacks.
CARLSON: Do you think that's right, Dr. Tamimi?
TAMIMI: I think Al Qaeda has—Al Qaeda today is no more than a trademark. It's a phenomenon, not a proper organization that is widespread all over the world.
People who want to orchestrate on attacks on world might just claim it or—assume that it is Al Qaeda or claim it to be Al Qaeda.
CARLSON: But do you think...
TAMIMI: I don't think yesterday's bombings—I don't think yesterday's bombings in London, even if they were perpetrated by Muslims—and this is not true yet—I don't think it was Al Qaeda. I don't think even it was something associated with Al Qaeda.
CARLSON: But do you think that the war on terror, the last three, almost four years, do you think that Al Qaeda or people who sympathize with the ideals of Al Qaeda, such as they are, have been hurt by that war? I mean, do you think it's been effective in reducing the number of terrorists?
TAMIMI: Well, do you think that the world is any safer?
CARLSON: No, the world is more dangerous. But that's not exactly the question. I mean, that doesn't mean that we're not winning.
TAMIMI: Well, we might have—the western powers might have been able to destroy a certain network. Al Qaeda is interested in 9/11. But what happened afterwards? What happened afterwards is that you have mushrooming groups all over the place who are angry, who are frustrated...
CARLSON: Do you think the bombing yesterday will be a recruiting tool for extremists?
TAMIMI: I think yesterday's bombing would look very bad in the eyes of the majority of the Muslims around the world.
CARLSON: But do you think, among the sort of people who might be inspired to join an extremist group, an Islamist group, yesterday will be an effective recruiting tool?
COUGHLIN: It's very difficult to read the minds of these people. I mean, as Dr. Tamimi says, there is a constituency of people who believe themselves to be disenfranchised within the Muslim community, who don't feel that their voice is being heard, that feel very aggrieved by what they regard as western arrogance in the pursuit of their policies.
And, yes, I think—but I'd be surprised if the specific bombings on London will actually be a recruiting tool. I think the continuing trouble in the Middle East is the more likely cause.
CARLSON: All right. Con Coughlin, Azzam Tamimi, thank you both very much. Thanks for having us in your country, by the way.
And we'll be here tomorrow. So stay tuned, THE SITUATION live from London, Saturday night, live, 9:00 Eastern time. Hope you'll join us. We'll be right back.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Hi there, everyone. I'm Milissa Rehberger with your headlines.
Hurricane Dennis is now located about 130 miles south of Key West, Florida, moving northeast at about 15 miles-per-hour. The maximum sustained winds are at 125 miles-an-hour, meaning Dennis has weakened to a category-3 hurricane. Further weakening is expected as Dennis continues to move over Cuba.
There, the hurricane's already claimed at least 10 lives, though most of the victims died when homes collapsed in the Granma province. Dennis is expected to dump up to 15 inches of rain on the island.
Here in the U.S., roads were clogged in southern Florida after authorities issued mandatory evacuations for the Keys and low-lying areas in the coast and the panhandle. Thousands along the Alabama and Louisiana coast have also been told to leave. The Florida Keys are already starting to feel the effects of Dennis and forecasters stay could make landfall along the Gulf Coast by Monday hitting anywhere from the Florida panhandle to southeastern Louisiana.
Now back to Tucker Carlson.
CARLSON: Welcome back to THE SITUATION, live from London. The two big news stories today, of course, the bombing yesterday here in London and its implications for Great Britain and the possible retirement of Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
There's only one person we can think of who knew a lot about both of those subjects, and that is MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan. He joins us now.
Pat, thanks a lot for joining us.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure, how are you, Tucker?
CARLSON: You've written a great—I'm doing great. I'm cold.
You've written a lot about England during the war and about leadership in Great Britain. What do you expect Tony Blair's next move is going to be?
BUCHANAN: I think Tony Blair is a—he's a good leader for Britain right now. And I think he's going to stand strong. And my guess is the British people, at this point, will, in the near future, rally around him, as I think they should. This was an act of barbarism and mass murder.
I think it was political terror, but that doesn't make any difference.
It was mass murder of innocent people.
CARLSON: What do you—I mean, what effect do you think this will have on his Iraq policy? I know you've criticized the war, in what I think is a very smart way, but do you think this, that the bombings yesterday, undermined Blair's case for the occupation of Iraq or strengthen it?
BUCHANAN: I don't think they do either. I think Mr. Blair—there's 8,500 Brits, I believe, in Iraq. Most of them are in the south around Basra. And about 1,000 are in Afghanistan. And my understanding, Tucker, is the prime minister planned to draw down his forces in Iraq over the next year to something, maybe perhaps two-thirds, draw them down by two-thirds, and to put some more into Afghanistan.
I don't think he should change his policy if he believes it was the right one. And I don't think he will. I think Tony Blair is a—I think he's someone who is not easily frightened. He's a principled man. I don't agree with him on a lot of things, but I think he'll stand by his convictions.
CARLSON: All right.
And now to the other story, the potential, possible, potentially imminent, looming retirement of the chief justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist. Do you think it's going to happen? And if so, who do you think might replace him?
BUCHANAN: Tucker, I believe it's going to happen. I've not spoken to the chief justice. I would consider him a friend. I'm down at the same gym with him. And he's going through a rough, rough bit. So I would expect it may probably happen.
There's a lot of chatter in town. And there's also talk, Tucker, about a possible third justice standing down, John Paul Stevens, later in the summer. I think what you've got here—the president's got an opportunity unseen since FDR and Truman, retired the so-called nine old men and created the Warren court, which has opposed the social revolution on America. I think the president may well have an historic opportunity here.
CARLSON: Now, conservatives in Washington, as you know—and you're likely one of them—concerned about the possibility that he would nominate his friend, the attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, to fill one of those empty seats. Do you think that the president could lose the support of conservatives or a chunk of conservatives if he were to do that?
BUCHANAN: I think it would deflate his constituency. He'd demoralize it. And instead of going into a great battle on principle and philosophy of justices against Kennedy, and Clinton, and Schumer, he would really be at war with his own base. I think it would be a political mistake.
But more important on that, the Supreme Court has become such a powerful political institution. It's been politicized. The president's got a chance to return it to constitutionalism, to make it a court again rather than a super-legislature.
Alberto Gonzales I'm sure is going to be a fine attorney general. But we are talking here about looking for appellate court judges with tremendous records, with scholarship, who can pass a real tough test in the Senate. I think the president would make a mistake by picking a friend, and it would be said simply because he was Hispanic.
CARLSON: Well, what about the flip side of that, Pat? I mean, if the president were to nominate two conservatives, or as you suggested three, or even if Ruth Bader Ginsburg decided to retire, and there has been talk of that also, four.
BUCHANAN: Oh, happy day.
CARLSON: I mean, could he get—Oh, happy day.
CARLSON: But could he get a couple of conservatives through the Senate? Is that politically possible?
BUCHANAN: It is indeed possible. He has a conservative Senate, a Republican Senate. There are some moderate Democrats in conservative states. You only need 50 votes with the nuclear option, Tucker.
Given an opportunity to do this, why would you not do it? Why would you settle, “Well, we'll take half a loaf”? We're talking about the last citadel of power in American liberalism, the last way they can impose their agenda on America because they don't have Congress. They don't have the presidency. They have lost it all.
But the court, you take—if the court wanted, for example, to say gay marriage is mandatory in the United States, all they need is two justices, O'Connor and Kennedy, to do it, and they could impose it on us, despite the fact we've all voted against it.
So I think the president has this historic opportunity. I really believe—and I may be wrong—I think he's going to do the right thing. And you will find outstanding judges nominated who have impeccable credentials and real brilliance. And I hope so.
CARLSON: I wish I were as hopeful as you, Pat Buchanan. I hope you're absolutely right. Thanks for coming on. It was great to see you.
CARLSON: Next, the resilience of the British. They don't need to prove it, but they are. They're getting back on the bus and sending a message to the people who committed those atrocities yesterday. We'll have more on that when THE SITUATION returns in just a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN LIVINGSTONE, MAYOR OF LONDON: I say to those who planned this dreadful attack, whether they're still here in hiding or somewhere abroad, watch next week as we bury our dead and mourn them. But see also, in those same days, new people coming to this city to make it their home, to call themselves Londoners, and doing it because of that freedom to be themselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: That was London Mayor Ken Livingstone with a direct message to the people who committed those atrocities yesterday here in London. One of the most graphic images of those attacks was that of a city bus shattered on the street in central London. Well, today, resilient Londoners got right back on the bus.
NBC News' John Seigenthaler has that story.
JOHN SEIGENTHALER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hundreds ride it every day. As expected this morning, the day after, there were some jitters.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's been very nervy. And they're saying—getting on the bus just feels really spooky.
SEIGENTHALER: Last night, Tuch Tockum (ph) got called to fill in today for the driver who was injured when his number 30 bus exploded Thursday. He was trying not to think about what happened yesterday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I suppose after you do a trip, you just forget about what happened yesterday. You just want to get on with the job and get on with life.
SEIGENTHALER: The number 30 route winds its way from the west end of London through Marble Arts, Marylebone, toward King's Cross. But yesterday was rerouted at the last minute because of the explosions underground. Then the bus came to a sudden and deadly stop.
Authorities now believe the bomb was on the upper deck of bus number 30. It went off at 9:47 in the morning, blew off the roof, leaving 13 people dead and many others injured, some amazingly still standing after the blast. This amateur video shows the horrific scene as rescuers tried to save lives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a very surreal experience.
SEIGENTHALER: Raj Matto (ph) was riding the subway to work Thursday morning. He got off the train because of the underground bombing. He still had to get to work so he took another bus. Within minutes, just 200 feet away, he watched bus number 30 explode.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people in my bus, some were just dumbfounded, some were crying, others were just frozen.
SEIGENTHALER: Despite what he saw, Raj (ph) was back on the bus today like so many others who refused to let these acts of terror defeat them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to let people beat you just by doing what they do. No. The people in London aren't like that. You know, they'll just keep going.
SEIGENTHALER: Just blocks away from the number 30 bus bombing site sits the Charles Dickens museum where so many great words were produced, now bears the scars of the greatest terror attack in London.
John Seigenthaler, NBC News, London.
CARLSON: Londoners, a tough group. We've only been here a couple of hours, but you can already feel it. The city seems calmer than you'd think a city would after an attack like that of yesterday.
You probably noticed from our conservations tonight the sore point, the most tender point, coming out of this whole experience is the question of Islam, its role in the attacks, and the role of Muslims in British society. It's a raw issue.
And we're going to spend almost all of tomorrow going through London talking to people about that very topic. We're going to talk to Muslims. We're going to visit a mosque. We're going to talk to local imams. And we're going to find out how exactly London's Muslim community is responding in the wake of yesterday's terror attacks.
I hope you'll join us tomorrow night, 9:00 Eastern, for a special edition of THE SITUATION. Thanks for watching tonight. See you then.
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