MSNBC "Tucker"-Transcript

Interview

By:  Pete King
Date: July 24, 2007
Location: Unknown


MSNBC "Tucker"-Transcript

MR. CARLSON: Will suspicious activity ever be reported if the tipsters aren't protected from legal action? Republican Congressman from New York Pete King is the author of that legislation and he joins us now.

Congressman, thanks for coming on.

REP. KING: Tucker, great to be with you.

MR. CARLSON: So tell me where we stand now. If I see something I think is suspicious and I report it, I can be hauled into court?

REP. KING: Right now you could be, and that's what's happening to the people who were on the flight in Minnesota from last November who saw very suspicious activity by six imams that were on the plane. They reported that activity based on that. The imams were removed from the plane. And now those people are being sued by CAIR and the imams themselves. CAIR, of course, is the radical Islamic organization.

So, yeah, right now any civilian, any public-spirited citizen who does what we ask him to do, and that's to report suspicious terrorist activity, can be subject to a lawsuit. They could lose their home, lose their life savings. It's absolutely disgraceful, and it goes against what we've started telling everybody since September 11th, 2001, "If you see something, say something," because we realize that you can have all the FBI agents, all the police, and you couldn't have enough people to really keep an eye on what's happening. We need the eyes and ears of tens and tens of millions of good Americans who would report suspicious activity.

MR. CARLSON: Yeah. I mean, this falls under the no-brainer heading, I would say. I mean, I don't really understand the argument against your idea. What is the argument? Why are Democrats opposed to giving protection to people who witness suspicious activity?

REP. KING: Well, let me just say that not all Democrats are. Thank God, Joe Lieberman is doing a phenomenal job. He's part of the conference with me, and Joe Lieberman is standing very strong.

There are certain elements of the Democratic Party -- I would say they're in the extreme liberal wing, the MoveOn.org crowd, the CAIR types, the very liberal wing of that party. The liberal base is driving this. But I'll tell you, even just as of about half an hour ago, I think the negotiations are going our way because there's been such a public outcry about what they were trying to do.

MR. CARLSON: But if you'll pardon me --

REP. KING: And basically it was behind closed doors.

MR. CARLSON: -- Congressman, I just want to -- I want to be fair and I want to understand, or at least I want to understand what the arguments are. I mean, what is their argument? In as plain language as you can and as impartially as you can, tell us what their argument against this idea is.

REP. KING: They believe -- they say they believe that this would lead to racial profiling, that this would allow someone who's on a plane who doesn't like a person of a particular religion or ethnic group or race to target them and have them thrown off the plane.

Now, nothing in the amendment would allow that. It specifically says you have to truthfully report it. It has to be done in good faith, which obviously would prevent this. But they either are saying they believe it or they genuinely believe it.

They have such a distrust, I guess, of the American effort against terrorism that they somehow see this as a plot or an attempt or an unknowing attempt to allow racial profiling, to go after people because of their race or religion, which is total nonsense, totally false, but that's the argument they make.

MR. CARLSON: Is there a lobby pushing against this? Is there a suspicious characters lobby that is giving money to these Democrats? And who exactly are they? Can you tell us the names of Democrats who have opposed this amendment?

REP. KING: Well, I know that in the conference -- it's a conference committee -- I know that Chairman Conyers, who's chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has had real concerns about it; Chairman Bennie Thompson of the Homeland Security Committee. But in saying that -- oh, and also Pat Leahy in the Senate has been very opposed to it. So they've been the main three.

But as of just about a half-hour ago, it seems like the negotiations are going the right way, and I'm hoping that this can be resolved in the next few hours. But as of last Wednesday, we were dead in the water. We got resurrected on Thursday through some very strong efforts by Joe Lieberman. And we've kept it going over the weekend to a large extent by going on television, radio and print media and just bringing this out to the American people, because I would think over 90 percent of the American people would support this amendment.

And that's why the Democrats who are opposed to it -- and again, I think it's the real left wing of the party or the real liberal wing of the party. And Tucker, it's also certain people in this wing who think that if you're doing something strong against Islamic terrorism, that somehow that's pro-George Bush or that's pro-Republican, and their instinct is to be against it. But I think this has really backfired on them, and that's why they are, again, negotiating. And it's going right now, I think, clearly in the right direction. And I'm hopeful by tonight or tomorrow morning that this will be over and done with and the amendment will be in the bill.

MR. CARLSON: Boy, I hope so. There aren't too many clear-cut issues that come before Congress --

REP. KING: Right.

MR. CARLSON: -- but this is one of the rare few, and I hope you succeed. Thanks a lot, Congressman. I appreciate it.

REP. KING: Tucker, thank you. Thanks for all your help. Thank you.