Anti-war sentiments gained steam over the summer with Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan's very public assault on President Bush and the war in Iraq. Also breaking support, the Italian Red Cross reportedly smuggled injured Iraqi insurgents through American checkpoints to get medical care in a deal to free Italians being held hostage by America’s enemies.
Human rights advocate Bianca Jagger joined MSNBC-TV's Tucker Carlson to discuss this anti-war activism, at home and abroad.
TUCKER CARLSON, SITUATION HOST: First up, a genuinely shocking revelation from Iraq. The Italian Red Cross smuggled injured Iraqi insurgents through American checkpoints to get medical care, in a deal to free Italians being held hostage by America’s enemies in that country.
This information comes from the outgoing head of the Italian Red Cross, who says the Italian government had no direct involvement in the plan, but was made aware of it.
Bianca, this is genuinely a big deal. The Italian Red Cross, harboring terrorists. The Red Cross is not supposed to take sides. It seems to me they‘ve become a combatant in this war by taking on terrorists, harboring them, sneaking them through American lines, and treating them in secret.
The next time a Red Cross worker is killed, it will be a tragedy, but it will also be understandable.
BIANCA JAGGER, HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE: But how do you ask yourself, really, what is more important here, is that Silvio Berlusconi‘s government was informed, and he agreed with that. That shows you how the support that Bush has in other countries is really dying down.
And really, I mean, can you imagine the conversation that he will have today with Silvio Berlusconi, when he will call him and say, “Now, Silvio, why did you allow the Red Cross to take care of four insurgents?”
And by the way, I mean, at the same time...
CARLSON: Hold on. Let me say, we don‘t know that the Italian government allowed this. We only know that they had knowledge of it.
But aren‘t you troubled by the fact that a human rights organization — you‘ve worked with a lot of them — is essentially taking sides in this war, and in fact, taking the wrong side? No matter how you feel about the war in Iraq, I think we can all agree the Iraqi insurgents who blow up school children at bus stops are evil. Aren‘t you troubled by the fact that the Italian Red Cross is essentially on their side in this one case?
JAGGER: I want to say the following. We don‘t know the full information about what happened first. There was little today in the website that one could find about what really happened in Iraq when the hostages were freed. The other thing, what became clear, though, is that the Italian government was informed.
Now, it is important to point out, as well, that the Italian Red Cross does not respond to the Red Cross in Geneva, so it is an entirely different thing. We need to investigate and know more about it. We need to know, as well, whether the Italian government was fully informed and they agreed.
CARLSON: I‘ll be interested to see. I think this is a bigger scandal than Abu Ghraib, by far, and I will be interested to see what the International Red Cross does about it.
The Italian Red Cross may not be directly reporting to the International Red Cross, but it does share a name, and most people think they‘re affiliated. I think they are, in fact, affiliated. I‘ll be interested to see if the International Red Cross disassociates itself from the Italian Red Cross if this is in fact true, and I hope they do.
JAGGER: The one thing we didn‘t say was that part of the deal was to bring four children who were suffering from leukemia to Italy to be treated, and I think that there is nothing wrong. Children are children; it doesn‘t matter which side.
CARLSON: That‘s absolutely right, but I am sure the Italian Red Cross would have been happy to bring those children to Italy under any circumstances without harboring terrorists in the process.
But on to the home front and the Iraq war in this country. Developments from Cindy Sheehan‘s anti-war camp in Crawford, Texas.
Reverend Al Sharpton, a frequent guest on this show, announced plans to join Sheehan in Crawford on Sunday for a prayer vigil. Also, Sheehan says she plans to leave Texas at the end of August and make a three-week anti-war bus tour to conclude in Washington on September 24.
Now, Bianca, if you‘re against the war, and I think you are, you ought to oppose Cindy Sheehan. Cindy Sheehan’s rhetoric is completely unhelpful to the anti-war cause because it’s so extreme.
She compares the president of the United States to Adolph Hitler. She calls him a terrorist. She attacks the United States itself. She says America is not worth dying for. These are not the positions of sober, thoughtful anti-war activists, OK? These are the rantings of someone who’s not quite in control of herself. She hurts your cause.
JAGGER: All I can say is that Cindy Sheehan loves her son. That is not something that I have ever experienced, nor have you, nor has President Bush, nor will he ever face a situation like she has.
It is important to understand what we are fighting this war for. There were no weapons of mass destruction. That was a lie. There was no connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaida. In fact, al Qaida is now in Iraq. There was no real imminent threat to the United States. And, you know, what is extraordinary...
CARLSON: Wait, hold on. I agree with you.
JAGGER: ... is that he continue to be deluding himself when he talks about we will win this war, we will not abandon Iraq.
CARLSON: But actually I‘m not even disagreeing with you. I am opposed to this war, from a conservative perspective and for conservative reasons, but most of what you said is true.
But I‘m talking about Cindy Sheehan, in particular. She is the kind of anti-war celebrity of the moment. George Will collected a number of things she said recently in one column.
Let me just read you one sentence: “She called Bush a lying bastard, a filth spewer, an evil maniac, the Fuhrer, the world‘s biggest terrorist, who‘s committing, waging nuclear war in Iraq.”
OK. I will grant you her son died, and she may be having some episode, entirely understandable. However, these are not the statements of a rational person. This is not a suitable standard barrier for your side, for the anti-war side.
JAGGER: Well, I think that Cindy Sheehan is going to do a lot more to gather people together against the war than people and politicians have done until now.
Perhaps she has been irrational in some of her statements. If it is true what you‘re say, which I don‘t know, because I haven‘t read that, perhaps she is. But perhaps if I had a son or a daughter who was killed in the war, perhaps I myself would become irrational. I mean, we are analyzing this from a perspective, from an intellectual perspective, without being really personally being her.
CARLSON: And yet there are 1,800 mothers in this country whose children have died in the Iraq war, and I don‘t notice hundreds or even dozens or really any of them with Cindy Sheehan on her bus tour. And it tells you something, just because you lose a child in war, doesn‘t mean you get to compare the president to Hitler.
JAGGER: Tucker, I think you will find a lot more mothers, a lot more fathers will come out and speak against the war. I think President Bush is having a great problem with the army to convince him that they have to continue this war.
He is irrational when he says that he doesn‘t rule out attacking Iran. I mean, is he out of his mind? Where is he going to get the army to be able to go and attack another country?
CARLSON: All right. That‘s an entirely different topic, which we‘ll no doubt take up soon.