MSNBC Scarborough Country - Transcript

By:  Pete King
Date: May 3, 2004
Location: Unknown


SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY For May 3, 2004

BYLINE: Christopher Whitcomb; Jennifer London; Joe Scarborough

GUESTS: Derrick Kitts; Larry Johnson; Mario Giardiello; Jack Burkman; Katty Kay; Marc Garlasco; Peter King; David Hackworth

HIGHLIGHT:
New allegations surface of more Iraqi prisoners mistreated by their American and British captors. On the day of remembrance for the friends and family of fallen soldier Pat Tillman, a political cartoonist uses the American hero to take a shot at the war in Iraq. Were five empty suitcases discovered in New York City a dry run for terrorists practicing for the summer?

May 3, 2004 Monday

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SCARBOROUGH: And, right now, let's bring in our panel. We have Congressman Peter King from New York. He's a Republican. Also, Marc Garlasco. He's a senior military analyst for Human Rights Watch.

Let's begin with you, Congressman Peter King.

What are you and other congressmen going to do? What are you able to do to make sure that this type of abuse that we've been seeing over the past three, four days never happens again in the United States military?

REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK: Well, first of all, it shouldn't have happened in the first place. Unfortunately these things do happen, but it's disgraceful. It's absolutely inexcusable. And the president has made it clear he wants it investigated fully. And anyone at all involved to any extent has to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. There's no doubt about it.

It's just-it's a terrible course of conduct. It's terrible for those who had this punishment inflicted on them. And it also does tremendous damage to the United States. But we have to keep this somewhat in perspective, also, though. Colonel Hackworth compared this to My Lai. Well, it was over 300 people, innocent men and women and children were killed in My Lai. No one as far as we know, except maybe perhaps one person, has been killed. Even one is horrible.

But let's keep it in perspective. With 150,000 troops there, we're talking about a small number. Having said that, it has to be rooted out and stopped. As far as the Congress, we're going to certainly insist that the Defense Department tell us exactly what they're doing to root this out. I'm sure the Armed Services Committee, Joe, that you were a member of, they're going to be certainly looking into it to find out what's been done. If we don't feel we're getting any answers, we'll have to up the ante.

But I'm confident the president has made it clear to the Defense Department he wants this thing examined from the top to bottom and everyone involved in it rooted out, no matter how high the rank goes.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: You make a point, Congressman, that there have been no deaths, reported deaths from this thuggish behavior, whereas, again, Saddam Hussein killed over a million Arabs. But, still, it doesn't excuse us. We're not held to Saddam Hussein's standards. We're held to American standards.

I want to ask you, though, you talked about damage to our reputation. How much damage do you think this has caused America, not only in Iraq, in the Middle East, but across the world?

KING: Well, it's definitely hurt us.

Now, part of it is hypocritical, in all that's gone on and all that is going to come out is not equivalent to what went on in 10 minutes when Saddam Hussein was the leader. And the Arab nations are quiet about that, and Al-Jazeera was quiet about it. But, as you said, we're held to a different standard. We come in there as the liberators. We have to assume and know that our enemies are going to make the most of any sword that we give them. We have given them a sword here and they're going to use it against us.

SCARBOROUGH: You're exactly right.

KING: And we're doing now is really the best thing. We are admitting it. We are acknowledging it. We're rooting it out. We're not covering it up.

SCARBOROUGH: It is self-inflicted.

Now, according to a confidential Army report on the alleged torture, excerpts of which can be read at our home page at Joe.MSNBC.com, there were-quote-"sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses," including pouring cold water on naked detainees, beating detainees with broom handles, threatening male, sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broomstick."

Marc Garlasco, would you support the death penalty or life in prison if these charges proved to be true?

MARC GARLASCO, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Well, absolutely not. At Human Rights Watch, we don't support the death penalty in any case.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: What about life in prison?

GARLASCO: I don't think that this rises to life in prison. But certainly prison sentences seem to be warranted. I don't want to pass judgment on anyone, though, until they've already been tried.

SCARBOROUGH: Right. OK.

And so what type of message does America need to send to the rest of the world by, again, not only holding these people responsible, but holding the military brass above them responsible? What should America do now that they have been humiliated in front of the world because of these thuggish acts?

GARLASCO: Well, you know, Joe, you're absolutely right.

And we have something called the Geneva Conventions, that it's imperative that we in the United States-that the United States military follows and shows the rest of the world. These are apparent war crimes. And that's very serious. Grave breeches of the Geneva Convention are war crimes. And they have to be investigated and there has to be some sanction.

Now, one of the other comments that you were making was talking about what is the effect on the U.S. overseas and our image. And I would posit to that you it's not really Iraq here that is important, but it's the next war, because the Geneva Conventions are important when the United States goes into the next war and how will our soldiers be treated when they are captured by an opponent.

SCARBOROUGH: You know, you're exactly right, Marc. And I'll tell you what. The thing that bothers me is that one of these soldiers at-that committed these alleged crimes, said, well, we weren't trained on the Geneva Convention. Obviously, that's a problem. But, also, what about just doing what's right and what's wrong? I tell you, it's sickening.

We're going to talk about this some more coming up.

Hundreds of photos showing British troops abusing Iraqi captives are also making headlines. But one former commander of the British army says they may be a fake. We're going to be talking about that next.

Plus, they're supposed to be humorous and original, but this cartoon wasn't very funny. Instead, it took a shot at one of our fallen soldiers.

And you're not going to believe how your government is wasting your tax dollars. I'll bring you one of the biggest pork-barrel scams of the year coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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