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MSNBC Scaraborough Country - Transcript

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MSNBC Scarborough Country - Transcript


SCARBOROUGH: And again, friends, that was before I even knew about or before anybody in America knew about the bank records and the fact that the feds were going after that. So what‘s next? We don‘t know.

And you know what? To my Republican friends, to my Republican friends I sat on the Judiciary Committee with when we were concerned about what Janet Reno and Bill Clinton were doing back in the 1990s, you have got to admit it‘s frightening.

More so to those of us who know how Washington works and know how power can corrupt and know how power can be abused. I believe, friends, we are in danger dangerous times for those of us who believe like Thomas Jefferson that Washington is not to be trusted with unlimited police power.

With me now is Representative Peter King, Republican from New York and chair of the Homeland Security Committee calling for a criminal investigation of the "Times" and Katrina Vanden Heuvel, she is the editor and publisher of the "Nation" magazine. Representative King, you say it was an act of treason for the "Times" to publish this story? Why?

REP. PETER KING, ® NY: This was a very important component in the war against international terrorism. It was being run entirely legally. It was working and saving American lives and would save more American lives in the future and the "New York Times" has compromised that. They knew what they were doing is wrong and they knew all the risks involved but they decided—they put themselves above the law, they decided that it was in the national interest for them to disclose it.

No one elected the "New York Times" to anything. We are in a time of war and to me this clearly violated the Espionage Act. That‘s why today I called upon Attorney General Gonzales to begin a full criminal investigation and prosecution of the "New York Times", the reporters who broke the story, the editors who worked on it and the publisher and of course those in the government who leaked out the information.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, "THE NATION": I would put Representative King‘s and Attorney General Gonzales‘ statement about prosecuting the "New York Times" in the context of an undeclared war on a free press by this administration. It‘s part of a campaign, Joe, by the right wing noise machine and others who don‘t respect democratic values to undermine the ability of a free press to hold the executive power, run amok now, accountable and hold our values up to the highest standards Americans believe in.

SCARBOROUGH: Congressman, a lot to respond to. You are part of the right wing noise machine, you don‘t respect constitutional principles and it‘s an all out attack war on the free press. Respond.

KING: First of all, that‘s just unintelligent paranoia. The fact is even the "New York Times" acknowledged there is absolutely nothing illegal at all about this and it‘s being conducted legally and it‘s entirely keeping with the law and to say that the press has all freedom and no responsibility is absolute insanity.

For instance, if we had learned about the atom bomb prior to May or June of 1945, should they disclose it, they should disclose about the attacks on D-day. And the fact is we did not know.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Of course not, Representative King. There is a balance between liberty and security that must be struck at every time in our history, but an attempt to prosecute a publication like the "New York Times" rolls back 215 years of .

KING: No, it doesn‘t.

VANDEN HEUVEL: . constitutional .

KING: It injects common sense into it.

VANDEN HEUVEL: The press has never been prosecuted in our history and we have faced far worse in our history.

KING: Putting American lives at risk is the worst thing they can do.

VANDEN HEUVEL: How are you putting lives at risk, Representative King? What is putting lives at risk is a reckless, chaotic war in Iraq.

KING: Let me explain to you and if you just slow down you, maybe you will learn something for once in your life.


KING: I don‘t think so. The fact is what has happened here, al Qaeda did not know the extent to which we had penetrated international financial transactions. Yes, the Treasury Department was saying it was doing all it could. They did not know the extent to which we had done it witch was one of the reasons we were able to get Hambali, who was the architect of the Bali massacre. And they were not aware of it.

Now we have made them aware. They know exactly what we can do. They didn‘t know that before. That is what is going to put American lives at risk and make its different than others. That‘s what makes this different from other transgressions by the press. This is American lives at risk over a program which is clearly legal.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Senator Arlen Specter who yesterday was very concerned about Representative King‘s quick move to suggest prosecution of the "New York Times" is now welcoming oversight by Congress of a program that should have been in oversight. But accountability no longer rules in our Congress so the media and the Fourth Estate needs to play a crucial if we are going to have the strong democracy that we claim to be fighting for.

SCARBOROUGH: And congressman, doesn‘t it say something that if a member of your own party that is in charge of the Judiciary Committee on the Senate side is concerned about this program, then it should be valid for the "New York Times" or any other publication to print it.

KING: There is a difference between having a concern and printing it and making it public in time of war. Especially when there is not even a question of it being illegal. This is life and death we‘re talking about here. I lost a lot of constituents on September 11th. I don‘t want the antics and the attitude of the "New York Times" to cause more deaths because they are so irresponsible.

SCARBOROUGH: Do you not trust yourself with this information, do you not trust your peers? You are the head of the Homeland Security Committee, for God‘s sake. I would hope that you - Listen, what if Hillary Clinton is president two years from now, three years from now, and she is conducting these type of programs. Aren‘t you going to demand to have that type of knowledge ahead of time.

KING: Joe, those who should know were told. Members of the Intelligence Committee, the chairman and the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, the minority and majority leaders in both houses, and speaker of the House and those in responsible positions.

No, Joe, you can‘t have 535 people knowing what‘s going on in time of war. And trust me, if Senator Clinton becomes President Clinton, you support commander in chief in time of war especially when they are following the law the way President Bush is clearly following the law in this program.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Joe, he‘s not - listen, we need accountability and we need oversight by Congress to know whether the president is following the law or this administration.

I think this administration has used September 11th, a traumatic and horrifying day in our nation‘s history as a pretext for doing much of what it wanted. And some of what it wanted was to erode and undermine a free and democratic press which would serve in the public interest.

There is too much use - invoking national security when in fact it‘s really covering their backsides too often. This administration has rolled back government data which has nothing to do with national security. We need accountability.

KING: We‘re talking about international financial transactions, nobody is .

VANDEN HEUVEL: The bankers are being subpoenaed, Representative King.

They are following through.

KING: And subpoenas are lawful. These are lawful subpoenas that were handed out.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Is there evidence that this story has turned away bankers from participating in this program, and by the way, Saudi Arabia .

KING: It makes perfect sense .

VANDEN HEUVEL: . is a purveyor of most of the financing, probably, of terrorist groups but this administration is not going to go after Saudi Arabia for all the obvious reasons, you as a congressman and others in Congress know.

SCARBOROUGH: Congressman?

KING: First of all, I don‘t know what she‘s talking about. The fact is that al Qaeda knows what we are doing and that‘s the thing now. Even if businesses continue to cooperate, the fact is al-Qaeda now knows what we can do and they know how to work around it. And that is why the program is compromised and that‘s why American lives can be lost and that‘s why the blood will be on the hands of the "New York Times" and their left wing apologists who will do anything to bring down President Bush, even if involves the loss of American life.

VANDEN HEUVEL: "The New York Times" is a responsible establishment paper. If there is any blood on anyone‘s hands, Representative King .

KING: The "New York Times" .

VANDEN HEUVEL: It‘s those who have recklessly misled the nation into the gravest of all acts with the consequences we are seeing which is a war in Iraq which is undermining what we are seeing. And killing mill—thousands.

KING: A war which was strongly supported by John Kerry and Senator Clinton.

VANDEN HEUVEL: It wasn‘t strongly supported.

KING: It was strong - John Kerry was asking for it back in 1997 - back in 1997.

VANDEN HEUVEL: I don‘t speak for Democrats, I speak for "Nation" magazine, which from the very beginning understood that this war was going to undermine security our security, not make us safer and that there was no link between al-Qaeda and 9/11 and Iraq.

KING: We can debate the war. You were wrong then and wrong now and you‘re totally wrong in de defending the "New York Times".

VANDEN HEUVEL: I believe in Democracy, sir.

SCARBOROUGH: We will have to leave it there.

KING: I‘m a representative of the American people.

SCARBOROUGH: Thank you Representative Peter King.

KING: Thank you, Joe.


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