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'The Situation with Tucker Carlson' for Sept. 27th

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Frank Wolf, Robert Kaplan, Joel Osteen, Dave Liebersbach, David Perez

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  I am on Capitol Hill tomorrow night following the hearings, but right now, THE SITUATION with Tucker Carlson begins. 

Tucker, what‘s the situation tonight?

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Thank you, Joe.  Well, if you thought the Bush administration mishandled the hurricane relief effort, and you probably do, you should see what‘s been going on in Iraq these last couple of weeks.  Get you caught up on what might be the president‘s other major debacle.

We‘ll also tell you what Laura Bush is doing on reality television, and how Anna Nicole Smith made it to the highest court in the land. 

But first, President Bush traveled to the gulf region to survey the damage from Hurricane Rita.  After days of telling Americans to curtail, quote, “nonessential travel,” the president left on his seventh trip to the gulf, touring the area in his Marine One helicopter. 

Meanwhile, Bush‘s former FEMA chief, Michael Brown, spent the day defending himself at a congressional hearing on Capitol Hill.  He blamed local officials and even the press for the slow response to Hurricane Katrina.  Much more on that in a moment. 

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, polls show many Americans are having doubts about this administration‘s competence.  So how long before those same doubts begin to color the debate over the war in Iraq? 

Joining me now is Republican congressman, Frank Wolf.  He represents Virginia‘s 10th district, and just returned from his third trip to Iraq. 

Congressman Wolf, thanks a lot for joining me. 

REP. FRANK WOLF ®, VIRGINIA:  I‘m glad to be with you. 

HANNITY:  Now I think a lot of people, me definitely included, want to support the war in Iraq, but have completely lost track of why we‘re there.  And the only things we see are the things that are clearly hurting America, the dead bodies, et cetera, and it seems to be there‘s no end in sight.  Why, to start at the beginning, why are we fighting this war?

WOLF:  There are a lot of reasons, but whether you want to be in Iraq or not, I think you have to deal with it where we are today.  This having been my third trip, each time we have been there, I have seen improvement. 

I went back this summer because all during the summer, there were bad stories coming out of Iraq, so I wanted to go and see.  We spent two days in Iraq, one night, two days in Afghanistan.  In Afghanistan, things went relatively well, fragile but well. 

In Iraq, schools are being rebuilt.  And now open.  We saw a number of school kids going to school.  Hospitals being rebuilt, and now open.  We watched the Iraqi army being trained. 

The only thing that‘s not any better is the issue of security, and security is still very, very bad. 

CARLSON:  But congressman, how can any of the things you mentioned mean anything without security?  I mean, just today or yesterday, Iraq time, you had five teachers murdered in a school, what does it matter if they are open if people are getting killed?

WOLF:  Let me move on and give you the other side of the coin.  Everyone we met with, then—I was by myself with a staffer, and so we were not with a big congressional delegation.  I asked everyone, Iraqi citizens Iraqi leadership, our people, both privates and generals, what are the ramifications of failure?

And I think the failure of the administration to adequately explain what are the ramifications, whether you wanted to be there or not, of failing, destabilization of that region, the Sunni triangle turns into a free for all.  The worries we have heard were Somalia, Black Hawk down, former Yugoslavia, Bolkovar (ph), Moshdar (ph), Sarajevo, things like this.  Overthrow, perhaps, the Jordanian government.  Overthrow the Saudi government.  Overthrow the Egyptian government. 

CARLSON:  Congressman, with all due respect, you haven‘t answered my question.  I understand.  I think most people do.  It would be terrible if Iraq were to get even worse than it is, but again, when people die, what does the president say to them about why they died?  Why are we there?

WOLF:  We are there fighting, whether you wanted to be there or not, we are there fighting terror, and it isn‘t a question of Iraq now.  It‘s a question of the United States and the west. 

If we were to fail in Iraq, the impact for the United States for terrorism would be very, very bad. 

I was the author of the National Commission on Terror in 1998 after getting back from Algeria.  The world neglected whatever was in that report.  On the report of the national commission, there‘s a picture of the world trade center, the World Trade Center on fire, and the report came out in the year 2000.  Jihadists, terrorists would be emboldened by the failure. 

CARLSON:  Wait a second. 

WOLF:  Whether we want to be there or not—whether we want to be there or not, we are there, and failure in Iraq would be cataclysmic. 

CARLSON:  But we are failing right now, it seems pretty clear. 

WOLF:  But you can‘t...

CARLSON:  Actually I can say.  I have been there.

WOLF:  You cannot because you... 

CARLSON:  But answer this one question. 

WOLF:  Where were you?  Were you in Tikrit?

CARLSON:  No, I was in Baghdad in the south, unaccompanied by the U.S. military.  Good for you, by the way, for not going on—with delegation, but let me ask this question. 

WOLF:  Sure.

CARLSON:  The U.S. military, terrific at what it does, has killed huge numbers of insurgents, right, and continues to kill them every day.  And good for them for doing so, but those insurgents are replaced by new insurgents clearly every single day.  So if this war is not a recruiting tool for insurgents, how can you explain the new insurgents joining the fight?

WOLF:  Everyone we spoke to, military people believe things are going relatively well other than security.  Clearly security is a problem. 

But you have jihadists.  You have people coming in, foreign terrorists, who are willing to blow themselves up.  One young Marine lieutenant said what I see on CNN and on cable television network when I watch the television in the mess hall isn‘t anything compared to what I see.  If the war in Iraq is lost, it will not be lost in Iraq.  It will be lost in the United States. 

CARLSON:  I‘m even willing to believe that, but I think most Americans at this point, two and a half years into it, want to know how we‘re going to win. 

WOLF:  Well, if you read the column that I had in the “Washington Post.” 

CARLSON:  I did. 

WOLF:  I talk about the recommendation that we made, fresh eyes on the target.  That the administration send a team to go there for 7 to 10 to 14 days, made up of five or six former generals, maybe some who are opposed to actually going into Iraq.

Perhaps General Zinney, also former Secretary of state Shultz, perhaps even Brent Scowcroft to go, to report back to the American people, what is going on, good, bad?  Is the insurgency growing?

HANNITY:  You‘ve been there three times, Congressman, you‘re quick, I think, to answer this last question.  We keep hearing about how we‘re going to turn over to Iraqis, and new civil society is going to flower etc.  Who is the Thomas Jefferson of Iraq, the one man we can look to to help create this new society?

WOLF:  I don‘t know there are Thomas Jefferson, George Washington wasn‘t there, but we had Ben Franklin..  The had James Massey (ph)


WOLF:  ... push this thing.  In fairness to the cable. 

CARLSON:  We had revolution, 1776.  The constitution was ratified in Philadelphia in 1787. 


CARLSON:  It‘s true.

WOLF:  Tucker, it is not adopted until 1789.  What you said is absolutely false.  We had George Washington in Nasr.  There‘s more electricity in Nasiriyah.  There‘s more electricity in al-Kut.  There‘s more, too...

CARLSON:  Is there more electricity in Baghdad? 

WOLF:  In Baghdad, it‘s about the same because...

CARLSON:  You‘re the only person I‘ve heard who said that.

WOLF:  The reason for that is my goodness gracious.  Think about it.  The reason for that is that Saddam made sure that the electricity went to Baghdad and went.

CARLSON:  Is it a more welcoming environment for women?  Are women able to wonder around without covering, as they could before?

WOLF:  You know, Tucker, God bless you but you‘re being so negative here. 

CARLSON:  It‘s not that I am negative.  It‘s that I think, despite my hopes...

WOLF:  When is the last time you were there?

CARLSON:  A year and a half ago.  And I have many friends who are there.  I had a friend who was killed there.

WOLF: Tucker. 

CARLSON:  And so it‘s not a matter necessarily, in my case, at all, of disinformation from the media.  I‘m a conservative.  I‘m the most conservative person I know, and I think this war is hurting America.  And I want you or anyone else to give me hope for why this is going well, and I just don‘t see it. 

WOLF:  Well, Tucker, then I would ask you to read my entire report.  If you read my entire report, you‘ll get hope.  Everyone we—everyone—I didn‘t come on here to get in an argument with you.  I think you‘re a good guy.  I like your dad and mom.  Perhaps I like them better than I like you.  But the good thing...

CARLSON:  I‘ll take that as a compliment. 

WOLF:  It is a compliment, and you know I meant it that way. 

There are very good things happening, and we cannot be negative.  There are good things happening in Afghanistan. 

Five years ago, they were taking women to the soccer stadium—I led the first delegation to Afghanistan after the war—and they were shooting them in the head.  Now we have 52 percent of the people turn out.  Women are showing up with burka or without.  The schools are opening. 

There are positive things taking place in Iraq, except for, except for security.  And you have foreign terrorists coming across the Syrian border.

CARLSON:  Right.

WOLF:  But I mean, it just—it really does not do service to the American men and women that are serving there.  If the war is lost...

CARLSON:  What doesn‘t do service?

WOLF:  It‘s not going to—the attitude that nothing is going well there. 

CARLSON:  My point is not that nothing is going well.  It‘s just that objectively, things don‘t seem to be going nearly as well as I had hoped.  It seems like it‘s a disaster.  That‘s not an insult to the men and women in uniform.  I feel sorry for them. 

WOLF:  Tucker—Tucker, it‘s... Oh, well.

CARLSON:  Congressman, I‘m afraid we‘re going to have to continue.  I‘ll read your report and I hope—the whole thing, and I hope it does make me more hopeful. 

WOLF:  Please read the whole report. 

CARLSON:  I shall.  Thanks for being on tonight.

WOLF:  Maybe the next trip, you should come with me. 

CARLSON:  I would love to.  I‘ll take you up to it.  Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia, thanks for coming on. 

WOLF:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Still to come, former FEMA director Michael Brown deflects criticism and blames Louisiana officials for the lousy response to Hurricane Katrina.  A heated situation today on Capitol Hill. 


MICHAEL BROWN, FORMER DIRECTOR OF FEMA:  So I guess you want me to be the super hero that is going to step in there and suddenly take everybody out of New Orleans?

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS ®, CONNECTICUT:  No, what I wanted you to do was do your job of coordinating. 


CARLSON:  Plus, Laura Bush on reality television?  That‘s right.  Just one of the extreme measures the White House is now taking to make over its image in the wake of Katrina.  Details when we come back.


CARLSON:  Coming up, a journalist who spent the last three years traveling with the U.S. military tells us what soldiers on the front lines think of their commander-in-chief. 

Plus, parents and psychiatrists pushing video games on kids because it‘s good for them, supposedly.  We‘ll debate it next.


CARLSON:  The finger pointing is far from over in the disaster that followed the disaster of Hurricane Katrina.  Former FEMA director Michael Brown came out swinging on Capitol Hill today, blaming local officials and the media for the deadly disorganization.  But could the Defense Department have done a better job of disaster response?

Our next guest is an expert on the state of America‘s military.  He‘s the author of “Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground.”  He‘s one of the bravest reporters in all of journalism, having been everywhere on this planet.  He is Robert Kaplan of the “Atlantic Monthly.”  Thanks for coming on. 


CARLSON:  What do you think of this idea the president said, using the military for disasters?

ROBERT KAPLAN:  Makes perfect sense, because that‘s what the military has been doing around the world outside of the cameras. 

Look at the Indonesia tsunami.  Marines and the U.S. Navy, the U.S. carrier battle fleet Abraham Lincoln provided 70 percent of the disaster relief aid. 

Combat and disaster relief are the same thing.  It‘s about quick access.  It‘s about insertion.  It‘s about logistics, logistics, logistics, and it‘s about setting up security networks and security patrols the moment you get on-shore. 

It‘s—even in a very civilized, well-run place, the moment you have a flood, a hurricane, an earthquake, security is wiped away along with everything else. 

CARLSON:  Noticed that. 

KAPLAN:  There is a lot less difference than Americans believe between combat and disaster relief. 

CARLSON:  But isn‘t there a difference between doing it in Indonesia and doing it here?  Isn‘t that why DOD was hesitant to get involved?

KAPLAN:  Well, DOD was hesitant for the right reason.  We shouldn‘t just wish away the Constitution like that.  There are constitutional issues.

But talking about it from an operational point of view, a disaster relief operation is a military operation.  Quietly off camera, over the last decade, the U.S. military has become the disaster relief operation of choice around the world. 

It‘s not just in Indonesia, the Mozambique flood, Hurricane Mitch in Central America.  Lots of places around the world.  New Orleans, the National Guard, nothing happens until U.S. troops are on the ground. 

CARLSON:  What do those troops think of their mission in Iraq?

KAPLAN:  In fact, I‘ve just been with U.S. Marines and Army Special Forces who have just come back from Iraq, in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in Yuma, Arizona.  They are more upbeat than ever. 

Fourteen of 18 Iraqi provinces are secured, less combat than ever.  What‘s really happening in Iraq, it‘s less and less of a military problem and more and more of a government‘s challenge. 

CARLSON:  How long do you think they‘ll support the mission in Iraq, the troops?

KAPLAN:  Morale is higher than I‘ve ever seen.  There are only two kinds of Green Berets and Marines that I‘ve met: those who have been to Iraq, and those who are pulling every bureaucratic string to get deployed there. 

They take tremendous pride in their mission.  Less and less of what they‘re doing is actual combat.  As I said, the issue is not can the U.S. military do the job, it‘s can these emerging Iraqi authorities actually govern in these towns and villages.  And can we avoid a civil war and a lot of other things?

CARLSON:  I know it‘s hard to generalize, but you know more about the military than anybody I know.  What do you think the troops think, enlisted troops think of President Bush?

KAPLAN:  Enlisted troops, look, the last general election, which was more—which was more or less a referendum on Iraq, 70 percent to 80 percent of the military voted for Bush.  Among enlisted troops in the combat arms community, the grunts, being with them all over the world, I‘m just going to guesstimate, based on my own anecdotal experience, the figure was about 90 or 95 percent. 


KAPLAN:  And the reason they support Bush is more for cultural, attitudinal reasons, than for actual political reasons. 

CARLSON:  Right.

KAPLAN:  Because many of them can disagree with Bush on massive miscalculations on Iraq, and still—and still feel so much sympathy for the guy, that they voted for him. 

CARLSON:  Your book, “Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground,” has been praised in really profound superlatives by everyone I know who has read it.  Tell me the one place you think we are ignoring as we focus, one place in the world, the hot spot we‘re ignoring as we focus on Iraq. 

KAPLAN:  Got to concentrate more on Colombia.  In Colombia, we have the brightest, most effective, most competent president in that country‘s history in many decades, Alvaro Uribe Velez. 

We have several hundred Green Berets helping him reconsolidate the country against narcoterrorists.  We are not going to have this chance again, because we are not ever again going to get this kind of competent leadership this high up in Colombia.  If we can‘t secure Colombia now, we‘ll never be able to do it. 

CARLSON:  Robert Kaplan, the kind of reporter you read about, kids dream of growing up to be.  Thank you for taking time to join us. 

KAPLAN:  My pleasure. 

CARLSON:  Thank you.

KAPLAN:  thanks.

CARLSON:  Coming up, Ms. Smith goes to Washington, Anna Nicole Smith taking her case all the way to the Supreme Court.  We‘ll debate its merits with “The Outsider,” Max Kellerman. 


CARLSON:  There may be two sides to every story, but that doesn‘t mean both make sense.  Here to take the weaker side, undaunted with characteristic boldness, and flare, the professional devil‘s advocate, from ESPN radio, HBO Boxing, Max Kellerman. 

MAX KELLERMAN, ESPN RADIO:  How do you do, Tucker?

CARLSON:  Great, Max. 


CARLSON:  Ready?


CARLSON:  All right.  Former FEMA head Mike Brown blamed everyone from Louisiana to Secaucus for the federal government‘s Hurricane Katrina response.  The Bush administration‘s most popular member, Laura Bush, of course, made a very public effort to help displaced victims. 

The first lady traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi, today to appear on ABC television‘s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”  Mrs. Bush reportedly sought to participate in the home building show because she shares, quote, “the same principles as producers of this show.” 

OK.  I‘m going to defend this, Max.  Obviously, it‘s indefensible on taste terms.  The first lady shouldn‘t be going on a reality TV show.  Here‘s why I‘m for it.  I like Mrs. Bush for one thing.  I think she‘s charming. 

KELLERMAN:  I do too, by the way. 

CARLSON:  That show is purely an ad for ABC.  At the end, the weeping grateful people come on, “Thank you, ABC.  Thank you, Sears.”  It‘s all about promoting ABC. 


CARLSON:  Of course, that‘s the point.  She can‘t do this show without doing all the other network shows, including MSNBC.  This is going to require her to appear on our show, Olbermann—right—Chris Matthews.  She has to.

KELLERMAN:  Are you arguing in theory that she should or that she now will have to and therefore you might...

CARLSON:  I am saying, she will have to—I‘m saying if it‘s good for ABC, it is good for us. 

KELLERMAN:  It should be.  It should be, but that‘s actually my argument, you‘ve anticipated very cleverly. 


KELLERMAN:  I thought you‘d think that I was going to argue—I thought you would think I was going to argue the taste issue.  I‘m leaving that alone.  It does give an unfair competitive advantage to one for-profit network. 


KELLERMAN:  Not fair. 


KELLERMAN:  But, Sean (ph), are you arguing she necessarily will now come on THE SITUATION with Tucker Carlson?

CARLSON:  I‘m saying she‘s morally bound to do so.  I‘m saying she has no choice but to do so.  I‘m not saying the Constitution demands it.  I‘m saying the Constitution implies it.  I‘m saying she‘s going to have to come on this show. 

KELLERMAN:  Really—really, what ‘ going on here?  Bush looked like he was doing nothing for Katrina. 


KELLERMAN:  And so now he sends the most likable person in the White House, Laura Bush, who I agree—by the way, usually first ladies are lauded way out of proportion.

CARLSON:  I agree.

KELLERMAN:  Barbara Bush, oh, come on, stop.  Nancy Reagan, stop.  Hillary was vilified just because she had political ambitions.  But Laura is a first lady that we can all like.  I agree with you.  Charming, smart, the whole thing. 

And Bush—George Bush is playing damage control now, using her.  It‘s manipulative, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  I totally agree with that, but I think it‘s good for us, so I‘m for it. 

All right.  I‘m not a neurologist or a psychologist yet, but I guess video games hardly contribute to the well being of children.  I might be wrong, of course. 

Kids with attention deficit order receiving now therapy as they, quote, game, another noun that‘s become a verb.  A company in San Diego called Cyber Learning Technology has developed a helmet that kids with ADD strap on to track their brain activity as they play video games.  The better focus, the better they play games.  Supposedly. 

Look, this is a cure that‘s worse than the disease.  OK.  What‘s the problem with ADD?  It makes kids waste time.  It makes them unable to do something useful.  Right?  So what‘s the antidote in this case?  Make them play video games?  Are you kidding?  They should—the cure for ADD ought to be, talk to people, engage, slow down.  Try and think clearly. 

KELLERMAN:  How about a ruler across the knuckles?

CARLSON:  Come on. 

KELLERMAN:  Look, this—let me tell you something why you‘re being very un-Tucker Carlson-like right now. 


KELLERMAN:  And I don‘t know your parents so I like you just fine.  I might like you better than your parents.  I don‘t know.  But the point...

CARLSON:  That was an outrageous thing that he said, actually. 

KELLERMAN:  I don‘t know, I think he was actually trying to compliment your parents. 

CARLSON:  yes.

KELLERMAN:  You‘re not an ideologue.  That‘s what makes you likable, gol‘ darn it.  You‘re not an ideologue, Tucker.  You‘re being—what are you, suddenly you‘re an ideologue?  You‘re just against video games, so the evidence doesn‘t matter?


KELLERMAN:  The evidence suggests it helps the kids. 


KELLERMAN:  So who cares if it‘s video games?

CARLSON:  I bet if you looked more deeply, if our investigative unit took on this cause, they would find that PlayStation is sponsoring this study.  Look, you‘ll never convince me that video games are good for kid.  Why?

KELLERMAN:  Have you played a video game?


KELLERMAN:  Have you played one recently?

CARLSON:  It makes me—I had one on my phone, I had to take it off, because it made me so stupid, I could barely speak.  I couldn‘t answer the phone once I was hosting a show.  They make you dumb.  I know. 

KELLERMAN:  Do you know what they‘ve done now?  They‘ve attached stuff to the kids‘ brains, to the kids‘ heads, so it monitors brain waves, so when the kid—so when the child who is playing some of these video games, truly educational, starts to panic, it becomes more difficult to play the game.  And therefore, it teaches them not to panic, not to think too quickly, to slow down, and concentrate. 

CARLSON:  Sounds like something...

KELLERMAN:  it‘s technology. 

CARLSON:  “A Clockwork Orange,” like peel the kids‘ eyelid open with forks.  Totally...

KELLERMAN:  It works. 

CARLSON:  I think it‘s completely creepy.  Have a conversation, go outside.

KELLERMAN:  It‘s not...

CARLSON:  That‘s my antidote.

Well, today, the generally dignified justices of the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Anna Nicole Smith‘s contested inheritance to oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, to whom she was married at the time of his death in 1995.  She was at the time 27.  He was 90.  By her account, they were deeply in love. 

The court will decide the federal court‘s role in cases that also involve state probate court.  A question that rose earlier, on Anna‘s legal battle to get really, really, really rich. 

You know, the Supreme Court is basically sending the message, we have got to much time on our hands.  We are not serious people, right?  Because you don‘t need to be a Supreme Court justice to rule in this case.  It‘s open and closed. 

She was 26.  He was 89.  He gave her $6 million in gifts.  She claims she‘s entitled to $89 million more.  No.  No.  No. 

KELLERMAN:  Actually, that wasn‘t her claim.  Her claim was she was entitled to something, and the son who claimed he was the sole heir was so—was so...

CARLSON:  Mean to her. 

KELLERMAN:  I guess that‘s basically what it is.  And became so—such a road block in terms of even figuring out what was going on, that a federal judge ruled she was entitled to $88 million.  Out of $1.6 billion, $88 million. 

And then an appeals court overturned the decision, and so now we‘re up to the Supreme Court.  I think it‘s great that they decided to hear this. 

CARLSON:  She was a stripper who attached herself to this guy like a sucker fish solely because he was old, possibly senile, and worth a billion dollars. 


CARLSON:  And humiliated him in waning years. 

KELLERMAN:  How did she humiliate him?

CARLSON:  By being Anna Nicole Smith.  Right?  She‘s 26.  He‘s 89.  She‘s in it purely for the money.  It‘s embarrassing.  I mean, do you know what I mean?

KELLERMAN:  Actually, did you see the first season of Anna Nicole‘s reality show?


KELLERMAN:  I actually watched a few episodes.  And she seemed—she‘s not that good actress—genuinely moved.  He was like a father figure to her.  And the fact that we even say she may have had sexual relations with him, entitles her to at least $100 million. 


KELLERMAN:  Even a “may have.”  He was 90 years old, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  If you could prove that she actually submitted to that, I would say she is due the money, but I know for a fact, in my heart, anyway, that she didn‘t.  No money for you, Anna Nicole. 

Max Kellerman, thank you. 

KELLERMAN:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Stay tuned.  There‘s still plenty more ahead on THE SITUATION.


CARLSON (voice-over):  On the hot seat, FEMA‘s former boss faces a new storm in Washington. 

BROWN:  I know what I‘m doing, and I think I do a pretty darn good job of it. 

CARLSON:  Plus.  What‘s behind rumors of the Donald‘s little apprentice?

DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE MOGUL:  I‘m not sure, but I am going to find out. 

CARLSON:  Ben Affleck preparing to take his act to Capitol Hill?

BEN AFFLECK ACTOR:  This is what I have been longing for. 

CARLSON:  Shaken and stirred.  We take the expression “bottoms up” to a whole new extreme. 

It‘s all ahead on THE SITUATION.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s all made up of hilarity, I assure you.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:   I‘m looking for my brother Freddy Maxwell (ph) and I‘m looking for a few of my cousins.  My youngest cousin I‘m looking for is (INAUDIBLE).  She was—last we heard from her she was with her grandmother.  Her grandmother is real sick and real sick and she‘s only six years old and we can‘t find her nowhere.


CARLSON:  Welcome back.

Help and hope are the stock and trade of Pastor Joel Osteen.  He‘s the senior pastor of the largest congregation in this country.  And, tonight in Houston he led prayers for thousands displaced by the hurricane.  Joe Osteen joins me now, pastor thanks a lot for coming on.

JOEL OSTEEN, PASTOR:  Hey, my pleasure.

CARLSON:  What did you say to survivors tonight in your service?

OSTEEN:  Well, Tucker, we just try to give them hope to let them know that there‘s going to be good days up ahead and that they‘ve, you know, they‘ve been through something tough but they need to not run away from God but turn to God and believe that he will restore what‘s, you know, been taken away.

CARLSON:  I understand that.  I can digest that.  I get the hope part.  The meaning part is what leaves me confused.  When people come up to you and say what does this mean?  Why did all these people die?  What purpose did it serve?  What do you say?

OSTEEN:  You know, I don‘t have any good answer, Tucker.  You know we just—we don‘t understand it, you know, just a natural disaster I guess but I just try to keep them from focusing on too much of why and, you know, try not to let them get bitter about it all because I think that‘s the worst thing that can happen.

But, you know, it‘s hard.  You know human nature is to want to ask why, you know, if you see all the suffering but we just try to turn it around and say, you know what, try not to worry about that.  Let‘s just focus on the fact that God‘s in control.  He can comfort you and there are going to be good days up ahead.

CARLSON: Well, I mean what are the indications that God‘s in control in a situation like this?  I mean, you know, if I‘d lost my family or I‘m living in some shelter in a state that‘s not mine and I have nothing how do I have any idea or sense or evidence that God‘s in control?

OSTEEN:  Well, I think it‘s just part of your faith.  I mean to me part of faith is trusting God when things don‘t make sense, so I don‘t know.  I think they‘ll just have to go back to the core of your being to believe that God is good and that he‘s on your side and that, you know, the scripture says, you know, his ways are not our ways and I can‘t claim to understand it all.  I just try to, you know, and my faith tells me that God is in control and that he knows what he‘s doing and he‘s always going to take care of us.

CARLSON:  What kind of response did you get from the people you preached to tonight when you said that?

OSTEEN:  You know what they‘re so responsive.  They clap.  They‘re looking for hope.  They had so much taken out of them, you know, anything you can pour back into them.  I mean they came down afterwards and people in tears just asking me to pray and things like that.  So, you know, they need to filled back up again and restored.

CARLSON:  Apart from hope and faith what do the people in your town, in Houston, and there are many what do they need?

OSTEEN:  Well, what they need is—the mayor has asked the churches to provide the food for the people at the Astrodome and the other shelters and so we‘re in the process of raising about $5 million with the other churches.  There are so many volunteers and this city has stepped up in a major way.  I know the other day, yesterday when I was at the dome, they were asking people not to bring, you know, food and supplies there, so I think the biggest thing is just money and prayers.

CARLSON:  Five million dollars how many churches are kicking in toward that amount and will you reach that?

OSTEEN:  We will reach it with no problem.  There‘s a bunch.  I would say at least 100 and we won‘t have any problem hitting that and I believe we‘ll need more because I think some of them will be here longer than the 30 days they expect.  But it‘s been good.  It‘s a great effort here.  It‘s a great feeling in our city that we could step up and we think it‘s just a great thing that we could house some of these.

CARLSON:  Now, you‘ve got according to reports a couple hundred thousand refugees from across the gulf in Houston right now.  That‘s hard to believe but apparently it‘s true.  What does that look like, 200,000 newcomers to your city without homes?  Set the scene for us.  What does it look like?

OSTEEN:  Well, it‘s rather interesting.  I mean in one sense, you know, they‘re in certain areas without transportation, so if you don‘t go by the dome in this George Brown Convention Center where we came from you don‘t see a lot of them but when you get close to those areas you see them walking around. 

They‘re going down to the Wal-Marts and the Burger Kings and things like that and it‘s an interesting—it‘s an interesting thing.  I don‘t know.  You know I‘ve been over in the third world countries a lot and it feels a lot like that.  It‘s like, you know what, they don‘t have anywhere to go.  There‘s not a lot of—it‘s just a—it‘s kind of a surreal time.

CARLSON:  How many of them are poor?  You get the sense that people who are capable of leaving shelters would have left by now if they had cars or the means to leave.  Do you think most of the people in the shelters are poor?

OSTEEN:  That‘s my feeling when I‘m down there.  It‘s like you said a lot of them have people coming in to pick them up but these are people that I don‘t think that have the means right now to go anywhere or can‘t find their family members or phone numbers.  So, you know, they are poor and they need our help, so it seems like that to me.

CARLSON:  Well, some of these people probably a lot of these people are going to stay in Houston for good.  They‘re going to become part of your community.  Is Houston ready for them?

OSTEEN:  I think so.  I was just talking with one of our city leaders just not 15 minutes ago about that same thing about what do we do?  Where do we go from here and how do we house them once we get past this time?

And so it‘s an interesting question.  I mean I don‘t know.  We welcome them to our city.  We‘d love to have them.  It‘s just trying to figure out, you know, how it all fits in.  It‘s—I can‘t—I told them I don‘t have a good answer for you right now.

CARLSON:  It‘s an awesome task.  Finally, I mean do you plan to give on Sunday a sermon based on this disaster and the aftermath and what are you going to say?

OSTEEN:  Well, I am going to tie my sermon into it and basically I‘m just going to give them hope and say, you know what, you may not have wanted it but it‘s going to be a new beginning in your life and you got to believe that—let‘s just believe you‘ll come out of this with a better home and a better job. 

And, some of you are going to move to different cities but that‘s the way we got to look at it that you can‘t probably see it right now but let‘s just believe in two or three years you‘re going to look back and say, you know what, I may not have chosen it but I believe it worked out for my good and that their, you know, life is good again.

CARLSON:  You honestly believe in your heart that this disaster for some people anyway could be used for the good and then wind up being a good thing in the end?

OSTEEN:  Well, I believe in a sense.  I know it‘s not good now but what I mean is, you know, probably most of them are not going to go to their same old house.  It‘s going to be a newer house or it‘s going to be—it‘s going to be a new beginning in a sense, so I don‘t know.  It‘s hard to see now but I believe that God can turn it around, bring some kind of good, at least he can bring us out stronger and hopefully with more character and, you know, with a new toughness.

CARLSON:  Boy, I hope you‘re right.  Pastor Joel Osteen joining us tonight from Texas thanks a lot.

OSTEEN:  You bet.

CARLSON:  As the water in New Orleans continues to drop and as houses are being searched across the Gulf Coast, attention turns to the small Louisiana town of St. Gabriel.  That‘s where teams are starting the sad task of gathering and identifying the dead, NBC News‘ Kerry Sanders reports.


KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  St. Gabriel, named for the Archangel the Bible says, will one day trumpet the end of the world.  Now, some in this small town wonder if the end of the world is coming to them.

In truck after truck, Katrina‘s dead are arriving at St. Gabriel, Louisiana, this cavernous warehouse, now a makeshift morgue, where federal teams are already working to identify the dead.  They come from across the country pathologists, coroners, experts in fingerprinting, DNA and dental identification, some with experience from 9/11.

DR. LOUIS CATALDIE:  We have a lot of professional folks here.  Worse comes to worse, you know, they can process about 130 to 140 individuals per 24-hour period.

SANDERS:  In some cases, DNA matches will be impossible because Katrina swept away many victims‘ hairbrushes and toothbrushes, often used to make a DNA match.  Families will not be allowed into the morgue but identification teams say each body will be treated with care.

DR. CORINNE STERN:  These are all individuals.  OK, these are our patients and we treat them all with respect and dignity just like any physician would treat their patients.

SANDERS:  But some who live nearby are not happy St. Gabriel was chosen for this task.

SUE BAKER, ST. GABRIEL RESIDENT:  I don‘t think it‘s right.  It‘s not good for us here.  I don‘t know.  They should have asked—brought the community to, you know, a meeting or something and then, you know, talk it over.

SANDERS:  Others here understand this work has to be done somewhere.

LORRAINE LONGUERRERO, ST. GABRIEL RESIDENT:  I‘m glad our community can come together and help these people, you know.  It‘s the least that we can do.

SANDERS (on camera):  In the early 1900s a leprosy colony was established here and a clinic remains open today.  This is not the first time this town has taken on a role other communities would shy away from.

Kerry Sanders NBC News, St. Gabriel, Louisiana.


CARLSON:  Still ahead on THE SITUATION, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has absorbed the brunt of criticism about the government‘s very lame hurricane response.  Our next guest predicted trouble at FEMA but not for the reasons you might assume, the revealing interview next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Where is they going to go at?  These people here half of them don‘t have no money.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You know we were trapped inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, I wanted to stay to protect my property.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This is an American tragedy.  America needs to stand up and ask New Orleanians to help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We must fix this and this should never, ever, ever happen again in the United States.


CARLSON:  First, we‘ll bring you a breaking update on a story we‘ve been following all day.  The AP has reconfirmed what we reported earlier that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has instructed law enforcement and the U.S. military to forcibly remove residents of New Orleans who have stayed behind whether they want to go or not, at gunpoint if need be.

Apparently police sources told MSNBC earlier in the day that wasn‘t so.  More evidence of the coordination between various branches of that city‘s government need help.

Well, we are joined now by Dave Liebersbach.  He‘s the director of Alaska‘s Homeland Security Division.  He warned some time ago the federal government of the absorption of FEMA into the Homeland Security Department could have disastrous consequences. 

Mr. Liebersbach, thanks a lot for joining us.  For those viewers who aren‘t familiar with Washington speak and the vast federal bureaucracy what exactly does that mean and what were the consequences of it?

DAVE LIEBERSBACH:  Well, Tucker, back when they formed the Department of Homeland Security in about 2003, they subsumed several large agencies into it, one of those being FEMA and others like the Coast Guard, the border security and a number of others.

Bringing FEMA into the Department of Homeland Security was not really I believe the problem.  The problem occurred after they came in and they began to take apart pieces of FEMA. 

FEMA was a very cohesive organization, very similar to the Coast Guard being a very cohesive and well functioning organization before it went into the Department of Homeland Security.

The Coast Guard was left pretty much intact to go do their job and they‘re doing a wonderful job of it4.  FEMA began with the beginning of coming into it there was some minor erosions that caused great concern for emergency managers across the nation, particularly at the state level, my counterparts throughout the nation, the emergency management directors who report and work for their governors that we were seeing some of the—particularly the preparedness connectivity beginning to go away as some of the programs were leaving FEMA and going to other parts of the Department of Homeland Security.


LIEBERSBACH:  And as they went to the other parts were not being taken care of as well.

CARLSON:  Can you give me one specific example of how this bureaucratic reshuffling made the federal government less prepared to respond to tragedies like this one?

LIEBERSBACH:  Well, I believe that it disconnected the state from, if you will, their local region of the federal government and of FEMA by putting all the money at the headquarters in Washington, D.C. and therefore a tremendous amount of our communication went directly to the federal government, I mean to the headquarters site in Washington and not to our regions where we expect the response and the recovery to come from.


LIEBERSBACH:  And who we would be working with in preparing for that.

CARLSON:  It‘s the oldest story in government.  Finally, quickly, Mr. Liebersbach, there was legislation sponsored today on Capitol Hill that would pull FEMA out of the Homeland Security Department but it would also require the director of FEMA to be an emergency management professional and not simply a political appointee from a different walk of life.  What do you think of that?

LIEBERSBACH:  Well, first of all I don‘t know that it‘s necessary to pull FEMA out of the Department of Homeland Security.  There‘s a lot of coordination benefits by having it in there.  I think more importantly is they need to make FEMA whole to do the job that they are mandated to do under the Stafford Act, which is be prepared for, respond to and recover from disasters, whether they‘re manmade or they‘re natural disasters. 

Their job is not to prevent them but to prepare for and respond and recover from them, so I‘m not sure they need to come out of DHS in order to do that.  They just need properly reconstituted under that.


LIEBERSBACH:  In answer to your second question as to the qualifications for the director of FEMA, while it would be good for them to have a background in it, I don‘t think it‘s absolutely necessary.  We‘ve had a number of FEMA directors, successful FEMA directors who didn‘t have that.

CARLSON:  Right.

LIEBERSBACH:  On the other hand, I believe the appointment of that director needs to—they need to pay attention to their ability to deal with disasters, whether they‘ve been in that arena before or not and I have seen a couple directors that weren‘t ready for it.  But on the whole, the people we‘ve gotten in were ready for it.  They‘ve gotten through it pretty well.


LIEBERSBACH:  What‘s most important is that they have the ability to task and to have the right people on the ground for FEMA to work with the states and local government during the response.


LIEBERSBACH:  Therefore, like any large organization or corporation they need to be good managers.

CARLSON:  Right.  That is absolutely right.  Thanks, Dave Liebersbach, director of Alaska‘s Homeland Security Division joining us tonight live.  Thanks very much.

LIEBERSBACH:  You‘re welcome, Tucker.  Have a good evening.

CARLSON:  Thanks, you too.

Coming up on THE SITUATION, over the last week we‘ve witnessed hundreds of scenes of generosity and heroism.  One you didn‘t see was the California businessman personally chartering a 737 to airlift victims out of New Orleans.  He joins us next in person.  Be right back.


CARLSON:  We‘ve spent a lot of time talking about the villains in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina but there are even more heroes.  One of them joins us now on the phone.  His name is David Perez. 


CARLSON:  He‘s a San Diego businessman who airlifted 80 hurricane victims from New Orleans to San Diego all in a 737 he chartered himself.  He took them all shopping at Wal-Mart.  That‘s an amazing story.  We‘re honored to have you here Mr. Perez.  How did they respond when you said “I‘ll fly you to San Diego?”

PEREZ:  I‘m sorry what did you say?  I didn‘t hear what you said.

CARLSON:  I just want to know about the exchange you had with the victims of Hurricane Katrina when you showed up and said “Let me fly you to San Diego in my private plane,” what did they say?

PEREZ:  Oh, they all jumped for joy.  They were shocked and they just wanted to get out of hell.  These people had been living, you know, in water and in sub par conditions.  They‘ve lost all their belongings and some of them were separated from their family.  One lady lost her son.  It was a sad situation. 

They were all happy just to get away and get out, you know.  They were living in a shelter with curfews and, you know, everybody—it was one big dorm.  They just needed to get their lives—get on with their lives.  It was, you know, one week of hell that they went through.

CARLSON:  What moved you to do this?  At what point did you decide you were going to charter a 737 and bring these people to your hometown?

PEREZ:  I woke up Friday morning after a sleepless three and a half nights in a row of watching, you know, this—our government do nothing.  I was tormented and I was in agony and I just didn‘t feel right and I felt helpless and I wanted to figure out how to help these people and give them assistance. 

So, I just did it, you know, woke up, called an executive jet service out of Carlsbad,  California and I said, “Book me a flight.  I want to charter a plane and send it to New Orleans.”  She said, “OK.”


PERZEZ:  She said, “OK” and the next thing you know she called me back.  She says, “I need you to wire some money” and I wired the money.  Now, she knew I was serious and then once I had the jet secured with a receipt and the money wired, I called up the National Guard and I said, “I‘ve got a jet to transport people.  I‘m going to fly it to New Orleans.  What do I got to do?”

They said “We don‘t need your jet.”  I said, “”Well, I‘m loading food and water and, you know, supplies, medical supplies, everything.  I went to Costco‘s, had my people buy the supplies.  We bought food and water at Costco‘s and...

CARLSON:  All right.  I‘m sorry, Mr. Perez we‘re out of time.  I‘m embarrassed to say that because yours is one of the most compelling stories we‘ve heard all week, really remarkable and your initiative and your generosity is stunning and I appreciate your coming on. 

PEREZ:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  You‘re in Baton Rouge but right now obviously you‘re doing more good.  We appreciate your taking time to talk to us.  Thank you.

PEREZ:  My pleasure.

CARLSON:  Still ahead on THE SITUATION, you‘ve heard all about the efforts to reunited hurricane victims with their families but how can people possibly get back together with others they love, their pets?  We‘ll introduce you to a man who has the answer.

Stay with us.


CARLSON:  Welcome back.

If you love dogs or cats and own some you know it‘s not a frivolous concern what happens to them not at all.  Many were stranded in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.  One man is doing something to reunite them with their owners  His name is James Loutit.  He‘ runs, James, thanks lot for joining us tonight.  Unfortunately we‘re very tight on time, so just me quickly how do people get back together with their dogs or cats who have been left behind?

JAMES LOUTIT:  Well, we have a national database online and whether you‘re a finder or an owner you can post your information there and there‘s a matching service.  In order to match in this case pets by either breed or color and category of course.  And, through the database and means of the Internet you know, the ubiquity of it all we were able to bring owners and finders together.

CARLSON:  Have people sent submissions in looking for their animals?

LOUTIT:  Oh, absolutely.  From New Orleans I would say we would expect that more in the future as their Internet access is limited right now.  But, if you go to the site, we have over 100,000 listings of lost and found animals and we encourage actually anybody, not only in New Orleans but anywhere in the United States to go to our site and check it out (INAUDIBLE).

CARLSON:  It‘s one of the great tragedies of this larger tragedy, the people prevented from bringing their dogs out of the city.  How are—are the postings emotional some of them?

LOUTIT:  Oh, absolutely, absolutely.  What‘s really a tragedy I think is I think we‘re going to have a big inventory crisis here because we have the Houston SPCA, which has accepted over 600 animals from New Orleans.  We‘ve had animals off to Baton Rouge before the storm and now the Louisiana SPCA has animals in Baton Rouge, Jackson, Mississippi, Houston.

CARLSON:  It‘s depressing.

LOUTIT:  We encourage these organizations...

CARLSON:  James.

LOUTIT: use to put it all together.

CARLSON:  I hope our viewers do,, James Loutit, you‘re doing great work.  Thank you.

LOUTIT:  Appreciate it, Tucker, thanks.

CARLSON:  That‘s THE SITUATION for tonight.  Thank you for watching.


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