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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES; MONICA CROWLEY, SYNDICATED RADIO COMMENTATOR TAPED: FRIDAY, JUNE 12, 2009 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JUNE 13-14, 2009

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DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: The Desecration.

BILL PARSONS (Chief of staff, Holocaust Memorial Museum): (From videotape.) Our hearts really go out to the family right now and to the guard who was shot. And we appreciate all the support we're getting.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The shooting in Washington on Wednesday was a graphic example of the evil racism of the U.S. white supremacy movement and its ideology. It is also a manifestation, in this instance, of its poisonous anti-Semitism.

It was not a black church with a white cross on its lawn that was bombed and incinerated. It was the Holocaust Memorial Museum that was attacked, whose contents are a wrenching reminder of the ghastly abominations of Auschwitz, Dachau, and the other 22 concentration camps.

A gunman entered the building and opened fire. The gunman was later identified as James von Brunn. He shot and killed 39-year-old museum guard Stephen Tyrone Johns. Von Brunn himself was then shot by two other security guards.

Von Brunn is 88 years old and has been a long-time white supremacist, anti-Semite, and Holocaust denier. He has been tracked for years by civil rights organizations. His website, now expunged, was filled with anti-Semitic diatribes charging that Jews had seized government and industry and exploited both.

In 1981, von Brunn was arrested and sentenced to 11 years in jail for threatening to take hostage members of the U.S. Federal Reserve's Board of Governors. He served six years.

Question: Does this attack on the Holocaust Museum point to a new outcropping of anti-Semitism in the U.S. and perhaps beyond? Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I doubt that, but somebody once said that all "isms" are now "wasms." That is not the case when it comes to anti-Americanism or anti-Zionism or anti-Semitism. It may be the case for fascism and communism, but not to anti-Semitism. And it shows up in many different ways.

Anti-Semitism used to be focused on the individual. If there is an anti-Semitism today, it is on the collective Jew rather than the individual Jew, and that is Israel. There's a great deal of prejudice against Israel, and it is not allowed to behave in the way that other people are or other nations are. It's a double standard, as it used to be applied to Jews.

So I don't think that's true in the United States. Of all countries, this is a country where, because we are such an open society, with so many people from so many different countries, where people are able to make their own way, it's extraordinary.

What is amazing about anti-Semitism, and it's implicit in this story, is the sense that somehow the Jews are all-powerful. They can run everything, whether it's this country or what-have-you

I remember once debating with a man from Hamas in Egypt and he said, "The Jews created the Soviet Union. They ruled the Soviet Union. They destroyed the Soviet Union. And the Jews, especially the Jewish press, control America." So I said to him, "If the Jews controlled both the Soviet Union and America, how come we had the Cold War for 65 years?" He looked at me and he said, "They have their reasons." It's an unreasoning kind of prejudice is all I can say. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Anti-Defamation League does support your view that the United States anti-Semitism level has dropped.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, the Southern Anti-Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups and hate crimes, says that the number of hate groups has increased by 50 percent since the year 2000. And in April of this year, the Department of Homeland Security declassified a memo which basically predicted an upsurge in anti-government, anti-Semitic activity because of what they describe as almost a perfect storm -- the first African-American president, severe economic downturn, and I think you could probably throw in the number of immigrants we have in the country and a lot of the attention that's been given to the illegal immigrants.

And, you know, people, a certain segment of the population, a very small minority, you know, feels threatened and feels somehow that the rightness of their cause enables them to take justice into their own hands. And the killing at the Holocaust Museum does follow, by just a few weeks, the murder of the doctor who did do late-term abortions, which are legal in this country.

So I hope there's not an upturn in all of this --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well --

MS. CLIFT: -- but I think, you know, it bears watching.

MR. CORN: But the point is whether there's a rise, not necessarily in anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism, but in just right-wing extremism, which is often localized and not sort of a big collected, organized force. And so amongst right-wing extremists, their culture is the power of the deed; that is, one person can take action, and others will pick up their guns and do the same thing.

(Cross-talk.)

MR. CORN: So my question is whether the killing of Dr. George Tiller in any way -- the guy who killed him used to be part of the white supremacist movement before he became an anti-abortion extremist -- whether that at all motivated James von Brunn to take action himself.

MS. CROWLEY: Wait a minute. We're not talking about a wave of right-wing violence or extremism. Remember, the last two weeks we have the shooting death of Private William Long, a United States military man, who was standing outside a military recruitment center in Little Rock, Arkansas, by a Muslim in this country. Now, that was an act of terrorism. In fact, it was an act of war. And yet I didn't hear anybody in the press refer to his radical Islamic background in the way that you guys are saying, "Well, we might have a wave of right-wing violence." MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't think --

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't think it is limited to right wing or left wing.

MS. CLIFT: Domestic terror -- I'm going to keep talking.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I noticed that.

MS. CLIFT: Domestic terrorism is at least as great a threat to this country as --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?

MS. CLIFT: Domestic terrorism is at least as great a threat to this country as Islamic terrorism.

MS. CROWLEY: Oh, that is absurd, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Remember the Oklahoma bombing -- homegrown terrorism.

MS. CROWLEY: That is absurd. That is insane.

MS. CLIFT: "Absurd" and "insane" does not qualify as analysis.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay --

MS. CROWLEY: That is a crazy point. These were two -- Tiller and the Holocaust (Museum shooting) were two homicides.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Please relinquish. Please relinquish.

Okay. The U.S.-Israeli relationship. The shooting at the Holocaust Memorial Museum comes less than a week after Obama's Cairo speech. President Obama laid out in Cairo a new partnership between the United States and the Muslim world. In the same speech, Mr. Obama reaffirmed the U.S.-Israeli alliance.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) America's strong bonds with Israel are well-known. This bond is unbreakable.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: But more than a few of President Obama's Cairo emphases appear to have jarred the Israelis' sensibilities: First, Mr. Obama's definitive statement on the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Note the word "only."

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met, through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: More jarring to many Israelis was President Obama's declaration of how U.S. policy frowns on continued and expanding Israeli settlements on territory Palestinians see as theirs.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Some Israelis feel a sense of betrayal from these Obama emphases.

ALIZA HERBST (West Bank Settlers' Movement Council): (From videotape.) Yeah, there's a feeling of betrayal. We've had six decades of American presidents whose orientation was in our direction, and now I think that we're having to wake up.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What is the impact of that, quote- unquote, "betrayal"? I ask you, Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: What Obama is doing is resetting American relations vis-a-vis Israel, and it's having a dramatic effect. It's a cascading effect all across the Middle East, and frankly the rest of the world.

What he's doing -- my perception of what he is doing is it seems that Obama only has carrots for our enemies and sticks for our allies. If you look at the whole host of allies -- Great Britain, France, Germany, Israel; Japan and South Korea with regard to North Korea -- it does seem as if he is really putting our allies in a box, and with particular regard to Israel, because the Iranians now are working so hard and so fast to get a nuclear weapon, the Israelis feel betrayed.

MS. CLIFT: The Iranians are in the middle of a dramatic election. We don't know the results as we're taping this show. But it's a very different Iran from the one caricature that some people are painting. And secondly, the settlements have been illegal in the eyes of U.S. policy for decades. This is not new policy. And polls show that the majority of Israelis support the president on this issue because they do see stopping settlement activity as the only way to create a peaceful pathway.

MR. CORN: Most of the allies that you just mentioned have been long harder on settlements than we have. So the United States, if anything, is catching up with this. And it's a point in which he isn't on the side with the Israeli public, and --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But there is a real problem in what he has said, and basically what he has said is somehow or other both parties are responsible for where they are now. But the Israelis and the United Nations and the Peel Commission have offered the Palestinians a state for decades, from 1936, 1948, 1960, 1980. And the reason for the Palestinian condition is primarily because their leadership does not recognize the opportunities that they've had, including the recent one with Olmert.

MR. CORN: That doesn't give the Israelis the justification to keep building settlements, which only cause more of a problem.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Please relinquish. Does this Obama Cairo statement on Iran have an impact on Israel?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) Any nation, including Iran, should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Does the statement put Obama at odds with Netanyahu? Now, Netanyahu was visiting Obama and he said -- he put the word "military" in, nuclear military development. But it seemed odd that he did that. And I wonder whether Obama extracted that from Netanyahu on his visit, perhaps telling him, "Look, we're not going to outlaw civilian nuclear electricity."

Now, you know that it has been the unstated position of Israel -- correct me if I'm wrong -- that Iran should not be allowed to develop any kind of nuclear energy.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's not the case. I mean, the Israelis, of course, feel you cannot separate the ability to develop peaceful nuclear capabilities in Iran from military nuclear capabilities. Anybody who's followed what Iran has been doing knows that this is just a cover for what they really intend. So that's the difference.

MS. CLIFT: Well, I think --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That is the difference.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what is the bottom line as far as --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The United States policy has always been they are entitled to have peaceful nuclear capabilities if we can make sure that they are controlled. Nobody believes they can be controlled.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Iran also signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Israel did not.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's correct.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: India gets help from us on its nuclear power. India did not sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, but we do not worry that India is going to launch nuclear attacks on their allies or on our allies, frankly.

(Cross-talk.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: My point is, do you think that Israel is going to take an action if there is any kind of a nuclear plant over there?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I think --

MR. CORN: Listen, this is all going to change a lot, you know, depending --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is going to change? MR. CORN: This could all change a lot, depending on what happens after the elections in Iran. And, you know, there could be --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Why do you say that? That's not the case.

MS. CROWLEY: That's not true.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The foreign policy of that country is determined by --

MR. CORN: There are millions of Iranians who obviously -- regardless of who wins, there are millions of Iranians we've seen who want a different relationship with the West. That is undeniable now. We talk about Iran as if it's just a cartoon state --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: They're also broke. They're also broke. They have inflation.

They want to sell their oil and they want to generate electricity through nuclear power -- the rank and file.

MR. CORN: Which gives a lot of leverage to the West that they play a part.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: If the Arab-Israeli issue is settled -- Arab-Israeli issue -- will that settlement diminish anti- Semitism around the world?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: For sure.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, but I want to add that the mistrust of Iran by Israel would make it very unlikely that they would support even peaceful nuclear energy. But I agree with David that what we have seen in this election process in Iran signals greater engagement with the West on their part and greater engagement in return by the Obama administration. It's a new day. It may not be a perfect --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: It should be made clear that as we go to press with this show, it's very tight for Ahmadinejad.

MS. CLIFT: There's likely to be a runoff, I think. Even if Ahmadinejad wins, he will have gotten a severe challenge here.

MS. CROWLEY: Let's deal in reality --

(Sound of phone ringing.)

MS. CLIFT: He's calling right now.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ahmadinejad calling.

MS. CROWLEY: -- for a second here.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Please --

MS. CROWLEY: Tehran calling.

MR. CORN: John -- DR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out. We've got to get out.

MS. CROWLEY: I'm trying to make my point. Let's deal in reality on Iran, okay? The four presidential candidates were hand-selected by the mullahs' guardian council. They are all hardline conservatives. They all want nuclear weapons. There's no such thing as moderation. And the mullahs and the ayatollah control the foreign policy. There will be no change.

MR. CORN: Listen, Monica, you're talented, but you're not a mind reader and you can't tell what is going to happen if there's a new government there. And, you know, do you want to make the case --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's not a new government.

MR. CORN: Do you want to make the case that Israel is entitled to nuclear weapons and other states in the region are not?

MS. CROWLEY: Yes.

MR. CORN: (Inaudible) -- doesn't have to declare.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mousavi is running against --

(Cross-talk.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Ahmadinejad.

MS. CLIFT: That's not a logic that the rest of the world will accept.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know anything about Mousavi that suggests that he's anti-nuclear power?

MR. CORN: None of them are anti-nuclear power.

MS. CLIFT: They all have nuclear power.

MR. CORN: Nuclear power is supported by 70 percent --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you trust Mousavi in Iran --

MR. CORN: No, no, no --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- but you don't trust Ahmadinejad.

MR. CORN: Well, no one trusts Ahmadinejad.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I don't know about that.

Issue Two: Soto-Mayor or Soto-Supreme? Sonia Sotomayor is a judge on the federal court of appeals in New York. President Obama nominated her late last month to the Supreme Court. Eight years ago, she gave a long lecture at Berkeley Law School in California and said this. Quote: "I would hope that a wise Latino woman, with the richness of her experiences, would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life," unquote.

This week, new video surfaced in which Sotomayor describes her experience with affirmative action.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR (Supreme Court nominee): (From videotape.) I am a product of affirmative action. I am the perfect affirmative action baby. I am a Puerto Rican, born and raised in the South Bronx. My test scores were not comparable to that of my colleagues at Princeton or Yale.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Does Judge Sotomayor have a problem, especially in view of the polling that says a majority of Americans, 55 percent, want affirmative action abolished? Monica Crowley.

MS. CROWLEY: I think she does have a problem. I mean, look, she's going to get through. The Democrats have the votes. She's going to be seated as a Supreme Court justice. The problem here is that part of Obama's appeal, when he was running for president, was that he was going to usher in a new era of post-racial, post-gender, post-all of these identity political issues. And now we've got somebody up for the Supreme Court who is a racialist in the sense that she sees life, she sees the judiciary, she sees politics, through the lens of her own race.

(Cross-talk.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is the American way? The American way is to judge these situations on the merits of the candidate -- the merits.

MS. CROWLEY: On the merits of the case, right. And also, this is --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: We have a meritocracy here.

MS. CROWLEY: -- not the first time --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's judging on the basis of race? Is that what you're saying?

MS. CROWLEY: Yes. And this is not --

MR. CORN: No.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: A Latina woman. MS. CROWLEY: Based on these statements -- listen, there is a reason why judges wear black robes, because they're supposed to erase their identities and their backgrounds and their biases.

(Cross-talk.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish. Will you let her finish?

MS. CLIFT: She's gone on. She's had enough time.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, you're next, and then Eleanor.

MR. CORN: Two words: Clarence Thomas. Did his race have anything to do with his appointment?

MS. CROWLEY: Does his race factor into his judgment? That is the question.

MR. CORN: Wait a second. Answer that question first.

MS. CROWLEY: We're talking about Sonia Sotomayor.

We're not talking about the decision-making that went into choosing her.

MR. CORN: You have -- Justice O'Connor and Justice Ginsburg have both said, with their backgrounds -- you have Justice Alito saying that he, being the son of an immigrant --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, let's here --

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute, Eleanor. I'm going to go right to you. I want to hear President Obama's own stated baseline for his own ideal Supreme Court nominee.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) We need somebody who's got the heart to -- the empathy to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom, the empathy to understand what it's like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Obama is getting exactly what he wants. That's his candidate, Sotomayor, according to his own definition.

MS. CLIFT: She's --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's the perfect fulfillment of his expectation, correct?

MS. CLIFT: She has the best credentials of anybody on the court. She's served longer in various --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forget that. She does --

MS. CLIFT: And there is at least one and maybe two people on this panel who are --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me, I get to finish -- who are here because of affirmative action. It gives you a chance to get in the door, and then you prove yourself. She's more than proven herself. MR. ZUCKERMAN: Excuse me --

MS. CLIFT: And women don't have to apologize for wanting a seat at the table when they're more than half the population.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: She has --

MS. CLIFT: And Hispanics don't have to apologize.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: She happens to be --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Mort in. Eleanor, let Mort in.

MS. CLIFT: She is a fine appointment.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: She happens to be an outstanding appointment, I think, and I have no problem with the standards with which Obama --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You would vote for her if you were in the Senate.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I absolutely would vote for her. She was a summa cum laude graduate of Princeton. She was on the Law Review at Yale. She was an excellent judge. You know, yes, she's going to have some prejudices -- or not prejudices; some thinking or some perspective on the basis of her life. Every single one of the members of the court does.

MS. CLIFT: Everybody does.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Nobody is immune to that, although I have to say she's not the most qualified on the bench, since I think Stephen Breyer, who is a very good personal friend of mine, is.

MR. CORN: Do you think you could --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. I want to ask this question.

MS. CLIFT: She has more experience than he does as being a judge.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can any of you defend that statement, that statement alone, on which she said a Latina would be better than a white male if you consider the composition of this court, which is eight to one female --

MR. CORN: Eight to one male.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?

MR. CORN: Eight to one male. MR. ZUCKERMAN: Eight to one male.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me -- eight to one male, and therefore, another person with a different affect towards life would, in fact, be better just to make us feel that there is some rounded-out court? I ask you.

MR. CORN: Well, she's not going to defend it.

MS. CROWLEY: The court is not --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her in.

MS. CROWLEY: The court is not a Petri dish for this kind of social engineering. I lack empathy when it comes to empathy on the court. That's not what the court is made for. It's made for impartial judgments.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She says --

MS. CROWLEY: And those comments --

(Cross-talk.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's saying, "I'm traveling on two rails, not one rail. One rail is gender. The other rail is my experience."

MS. CROWLEY: The law should have -- has no accommodation for that.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you vote for her? Would you vote for her? You would vote for her. You would vote for her.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I would vote for her.

(Cross-talk.)

MS. CLIFT: I would like to quote --

MR. CORN: Listen, every --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. I would like to --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Eleanor in.

MS. CLIFT: I would quote Justice Alito, who, in his confirmation hearing, said that as the son of Italian immigrants, when he gets an immigration case, he can't help but think of his immigrant grandparents. That's all --

MS. CROWLEY: That is a completely different statement. (Cross-talk.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: She said something different. She is saying --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does she (convict ?) herself by her own --

(Cross-talk.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out.

MR. CORN: Yes, I would. The reason --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, that's all I want to know.

Issue Three: The Guantanamo Redemption.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) Instead of serving as a tool to counter terrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.

I hereby order, and we then provide the process whereby Guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Guantanamo prison facility is located in the southeastern tip of Cuba, at the U.S.'s 16-square-mile Guantanamo Bay naval base, the area of which is under perpetual lease from Cuba. Since the 9/11 attacks, 775 prisoners have been detained in Gitmo. Four hundred and twenty have been released without charge. Seventy- four have returned or are suspected to return to terrorism against the U.S. Two hundred and forty detainees remain.

Closing the facility means that Guantanamo detainees will be housed in federal prisons and tried in federal courts and military tribunals, all located on American soil. The first Gitmo detainee is being tried now in New York. Closing of Guantanamo is not popular with a majority of Republicans and Democrats in both the Senate and the House. They said no to giving the president the $60 (million) to $80 million he wants to close Guantanamo.

SENATOR BEN NELSON (D-NE): (From videotape.) I think the tribunals can occur anywhere, and I would prefer not to see them occur in America, within the continental United States.

SENATOR JON KYL (R-AZ): (From videotape.) The reality is that there's no point in having some kind of facility in the United States where these people are kept if it can be done in Guantanamo. And it can be done there perfectly safely.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: As for Americans at large, 65 percent oppose closing Guantanamo and oppose trials in the United States and oppose any Gitmo detainees in the United States. Thirty-two percent approve. So a consensus of Americans, if you believe the polls, say forget about closing Guantanamo.

Question: Is it perilous for Obama to disregard public opinion in this regard? I ask you, Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Yes, it is. Look at those poll numbers. The American people are absolutely adamant about not closing Guantanamo Bay. I was there three years ago. It is the ideal place to keep these terrorism suspects.

Look, Obama announced the closure without having a plan in place, which, by the way, was the left's attack on President Bush in the waning years of Iraq, that he didn't have an exit strategy. There is no exit strategy in place here for the world's most hardened jihadists.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it hygienic?

MS. CROWLEY: It is -- DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about food?

MS. CROWLEY: It is a state-of-the-art facility. These terrorists are treated extremely well with health care and medical services and food.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about climate?

MR. CORN: The climate is -- (inaudible).

MS. CROWLEY: It's the Caribbean.

MR. CORN: To begin with, they're suspected terrorists. I know you don't like to use that term. It makes people sound soft. But listen --

MS. CROWLEY: They're there because they're Boy Scouts, right?

MR. CORN: Listen --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the point? What's the point?

MR. CORN: We have Uighurs who have been there for seven years who have done nothing wrong, and we can't even take them back in this country?

MS. CROWLEY: Wait a minute. They were picked up on the battlefield in Afghanistan --

MR. CORN: No, they were declared non-enemy combatants.

MS. CROWLEY: -- because they were plotting to overthrow the Chinese government.

MR. CORN: We have nothing against them.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort. Hold on Eleanor. Mort, what do you think?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, you know, it has become a symbol, and a bad symbol, for America, without question. On the other hand, there are practical problems here that you are now encountering. I don't think we're going to be able to overcome the commitment of closing it. We're going to have a very difficult time dealing with these prisoners. We have to be very careful in dealing with them, because we cannot disclose sources and methods that --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's get a couple of things --

MR. CORN: (Inaudible.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Hold on. MR. CORN: (Inaudible.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Contain yourself. I want to know this. Is it the current thinking of Obama that he doesn't want these prisoners back here? Will he take them in prison, or the ones who are --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He's got a real problem in that some of these prisoners, if they come back here, will not be able to be tried. We do not know how to do that.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will any other country accept them if we reject them?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: So far, virtually nobody is willing to accept them.

MS. CLIFT: Guantanamo will be closed. The secretary of Defense supports it. He says it's --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Supports what, the closing?

MS. CLIFT: He supports the closing. He says it's an advertisement for jihadists.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will the Republicans put up a real fight against Sotomayor, yes or not?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Not if they have minimal intelligence.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MS. CLIFT: I agree.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: "I agree" what?

MS. CROWLEY: Yes, they will.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: With Mort? No?

MS. CROWLEY: Yes, they will.

MR. CORN: No, they're going to fold.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Answer is they will fold.

Don't forget to follow the McLaughlin Group on Twitter.



END.

for a second here.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Please --

MS. CROWLEY: Tehran calling.

MR. CORN: John -- DR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out. We've got to get out.

MS. CROWLEY: I'm trying to make my point. Let's deal in reality on Iran, okay? The four presidential candidates were hand-selected by the mullahs' guardian council. They are all hardline conservatives. They all want nuclear weapons. There's no such thing as moderation. And the mullahs and the ayatollah control the foreign policy. There will be no change.

MR. CORN: Listen, Monica, you're talented, but you're not a mind reader and you can't tell what is going to happen if there's a new government there. And, you know, do you want to make the case --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's not a new government.

MR. CORN: Do you want to make the case that Israel is entitled to nuclear weapons and other states in the region are not?

MS. CROWLEY: Yes.

MR. CORN: (Inaudible) -- doesn't have to declare.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mousavi is running against --

(Cross-talk.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Ahmadinejad.

MS. CLIFT: That's not a logic that the rest of the world will accept.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know anything about Mousavi that suggests that he's anti-nuclear power?

MR. CORN: None of them are anti-nuclear power.

MS. CLIFT: They all have nuclear power.

MR. CORN: Nuclear power is supported by 70 percent --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you trust Mousavi in Iran --

MR. CORN: No, no, no --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- but you don't trust Ahmadinejad.

MR. CORN: Well, no one trusts Ahmadinejad.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I don't know about that.

Issue Two: Soto-Mayor or Soto-Supreme? Sonia Sotomayor is a judge on the federal court of appeals in New York. President Obama nominated her late last month to the Supreme Court. Eight years ago, she gave a long lecture at Berkeley Law School in California and said this. Quote: "I would hope that a wise Latino woman, with the richness of her experiences, would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life," unquote.

This week, new video surfaced in which Sotomayor describes her experience with affirmative action.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR (Supreme Court nominee): (From videotape.) I am a product of affirmative action. I am the perfect affirmative action baby. I am a Puerto Rican, born and raised in the South Bronx. My test scores were not comparable to that of my colleagues at Princeton or Yale.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Does Judge Sotomayor have a problem, especially in view of the polling that says a majority of Americans, 55 percent, want affirmative action abolished? Monica Crowley.

MS. CROWLEY: I think she does have a problem. I mean, look, she's going to get through. The Democrats have the votes. She's going to be seated as a Supreme Court justice. The problem here is that part of Obama's appeal, when he was running for president, was that he was going to usher in a new era of post-racial, post-gender, post-all of these identity political issues. And now we've got somebody up for the Supreme Court who is a racialist in the sense that she sees life, she sees the judiciary, she sees politics, through the lens of her own race.

(Cross-talk.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is the American way? The American way is to judge these situations on the merits of the candidate -- the merits.

MS. CROWLEY: On the merits of the case, right. And also, this is --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: We have a meritocracy here.

MS. CROWLEY: -- not the first time --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's judging on the basis of race? Is that what you're saying?

MS. CROWLEY: Yes. And this is not --

MR. CORN: No.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: A Latina woman. MS. CROWLEY: Based on these statements -- listen, there is a reason why judges wear black robes, because they're supposed to erase their identities and their backgrounds and their biases.

(Cross-talk.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish. Will you let her finish?

MS. CLIFT: She's gone on. She's had enough time.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, you're next, and then Eleanor.

MR. CORN: Two words: Clarence Thomas. Did his race have anything to do with his appointment?

MS. CROWLEY: Does his race factor into his judgment? That is the question.

MR. CORN: Wait a second. Answer that question first.

MS. CROWLEY: We're talking about Sonia Sotomayor.

We're not talking about the decision-making that went into choosing her.

MR. CORN: You have -- Justice O'Connor and Justice Ginsburg have both said, with their backgrounds -- you have Justice Alito saying that he, being the son of an immigrant --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, let's here --

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute, Eleanor. I'm going to go right to you. I want to hear President Obama's own stated baseline for his own ideal Supreme Court nominee.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) We need somebody who's got the heart to -- the empathy to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom, the empathy to understand what it's like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Obama is getting exactly what he wants. That's his candidate, Sotomayor, according to his own definition.

MS. CLIFT: She's --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's the perfect fulfillment of his expectation, correct?

MS. CLIFT: She has the best credentials of anybody on the court. She's served longer in various --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forget that. She does --

MS. CLIFT: And there is at least one and maybe two people on this panel who are --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me, I get to finish -- who are here because of affirmative action. It gives you a chance to get in the door, and then you prove yourself. She's more than proven herself. MR. ZUCKERMAN: Excuse me --

MS. CLIFT: And women don't have to apologize for wanting a seat at the table when they're more than half the population.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: She has --

MS. CLIFT: And Hispanics don't have to apologize.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: She happens to be --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Mort in. Eleanor, let Mort in.

MS. CLIFT: She is a fine appointment.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: She happens to be an outstanding appointment, I think, and I have no problem with the standards with which Obama --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You would vote for her if you were in the Senate.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I absolutely would vote for her. She was a summa cum laude graduate of Princeton. She was on the Law Review at Yale. She was an excellent judge. You know, yes, she's going to have some prejudices -- or not prejudices; some thinking or some perspective on the basis of her life. Every single one of the members of the court does.

MS. CLIFT: Everybody does.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Nobody is immune to that, although I have to say she's not the most qualified on the bench, since I think Stephen Breyer, who is a very good personal friend of mine, is.

MR. CORN: Do you think you could --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. I want to ask this question.

MS. CLIFT: She has more experience than he does as being a judge.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can any of you defend that statement, that statement alone, on which she said a Latina would be better than a white male if you consider the composition of this court, which is eight to one female --

MR. CORN: Eight to one male.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?

MR. CORN: Eight to one male. MR. ZUCKERMAN: Eight to one male.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me -- eight to one male, and therefore, another person with a different affect towards life would, in fact, be better just to make us feel that there is some rounded-out court? I ask you.

MR. CORN: Well, she's not going to defend it.

MS. CROWLEY: The court is not --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her in.

MS. CROWLEY: The court is not a Petri dish for this kind of social engineering. I lack empathy when it comes to empathy on the court. That's not what the court is made for. It's made for impartial judgments.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She says --

MS. CROWLEY: And those comments --

(Cross-talk.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's saying, "I'm traveling on two rails, not one rail. One rail is gender. The other rail is my experience."

MS. CROWLEY: The law should have -- has no accommodation for that.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you vote for her? Would you vote for her? You would vote for her. You would vote for her.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I would vote for her.

(Cross-talk.)

MS. CLIFT: I would like to quote --

MR. CORN: Listen, every --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. I would like to --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Eleanor in.

MS. CLIFT: I would quote Justice Alito, who, in his confirmation hearing, said that as the son of Italian immigrants, when he gets an immigration case, he can't help but think of his immigrant grandparents. That's all --

MS. CROWLEY: That is a completely different statement. (Cross-talk.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: She said something different. She is saying --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does she (convict ?) herself by her own --

(Cross-talk.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out.

MR. CORN: Yes, I would. The reason --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, that's all I want to know.

Issue Three: The Guantanamo Redemption.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) Instead of serving as a tool to counter terrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.

I hereby order, and we then provide the process whereby Guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Guantanamo prison facility is located in the southeastern tip of Cuba, at the U.S.'s 16-square-mile Guantanamo Bay naval base, the area of which is under perpetual lease from Cuba. Since the 9/11 attacks, 775 prisoners have been detained in Gitmo. Four hundred and twenty have been released without charge. Seventy- four have returned or are suspected to return to terrorism against the U.S. Two hundred and forty detainees remain.

Closing the facility means that Guantanamo detainees will be housed in federal prisons and tried in federal courts and military tribunals, all located on American soil. The first Gitmo detainee is being tried now in New York. Closing of Guantanamo is not popular with a majority of Republicans and Democrats in both the Senate and the House. They said no to giving the president the $60 (million) to $80 million he wants to close Guantanamo.

SENATOR BEN NELSON (D-NE): (From videotape.) I think the tribunals can occur anywhere, and I would prefer not to see them occur in America, within the continental United States.

SENATOR JON KYL (R-AZ): (From videotape.) The reality is that there's no point in having some kind of facility in the United States where these people are kept if it can be done in Guantanamo. And it can be done there perfectly safely.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: As for Americans at large, 65 percent oppose closing Guantanamo and oppose trials in the United States and oppose any Gitmo detainees in the United States. Thirty-two percent approve. So a consensus of Americans, if you believe the polls, say forget about closing Guantanamo.

Question: Is it perilous for Obama to disregard public opinion in this regard? I ask you, Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Yes, it is. Look at those poll numbers. The American people are absolutely adamant about not closing Guantanamo Bay. I was there three years ago. It is the ideal place to keep these terrorism suspects.

Look, Obama announced the closure without having a plan in place, which, by the way, was the left's attack on President Bush in the waning years of Iraq, that he didn't have an exit strategy. There is no exit strategy in place here for the world's most hardened jihadists.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it hygienic?

MS. CROWLEY: It is -- DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about food?

MS. CROWLEY: It is a state-of-the-art facility. These terrorists are treated extremely well with health care and medical services and food.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about climate?

MR. CORN: The climate is -- (inaudible).

MS. CROWLEY: It's the Caribbean.

MR. CORN: To begin with, they're suspected terrorists. I know you don't like to use that term. It makes people sound soft. But listen --

MS. CROWLEY: They're there because they're Boy Scouts, right?

MR. CORN: Listen --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the point? What's the point?

MR. CORN: We have Uighurs who have been there for seven years who have done nothing wrong, and we can't even take them back in this country?

MS. CROWLEY: Wait a minute. They were picked up on the battlefield in Afghanistan --

MR. CORN: No, they were declared non-enemy combatants.

MS. CROWLEY: -- because they were plotting to overthrow the Chinese government.

MR. CORN: We have nothing against them.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort. Hold on Eleanor. Mort, what do you think?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, you know, it has become a symbol, and a bad symbol, for America, without question. On the other hand, there are practical problems here that you are now encountering. I don't think we're going to be able to overcome the commitment of closing it. We're going to have a very difficult time dealing with these prisoners. We have to be very careful in dealing with them, because we cannot disclose sources and methods that --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's get a couple of things --

MR. CORN: (Inaudible.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Hold on. MR. CORN: (Inaudible.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Contain yourself. I want to know this. Is it the current thinking of Obama that he doesn't want these prisoners back here? Will he take them in prison, or the ones who are --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He's got a real problem in that some of these prisoners, if they come back here, will not be able to be tried. We do not know how to do that.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will any other country accept them if we reject them?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: So far, virtually nobody is willing to accept them.

MS. CLIFT: Guantanamo will be closed. The secretary of Defense supports it. He says it's --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Supports what, the closing?

MS. CLIFT: He supports the closing. He says it's an advertisement for jihadists.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will the Republicans put up a real fight against Sotomayor, yes or not?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Not if they have minimal intelligence.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MS. CLIFT: I agree.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: "I agree" what?

MS. CROWLEY: Yes, they will.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: With Mort? No?

MS. CROWLEY: Yes, they will.

MR. CORN: No, they're going to fold.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Answer is they will fold.

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END.