THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, WASHINGTON TIMES; PETER BEINART, THE DAILY BEAST TAPED: FRIDAY, JULY 30, 2010 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JULY 31-AUGUST 1, 2010
Copyright (c) 2010 by Federal News Service, Inc., Ste. 500 1000 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, Inc. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Internet Service, please visit http://www.fednews.com or call(202)347-1400
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Wikileaks Gusher.
GEOFF MORRELL (Pentagon spokesman): (From videotape.) Our focus really, frankly, right now is to try to determine if there is anything in these 90,000 pages of documents that could indeed endanger our forces. This was dumped on us like it was dumped on you all Sunday night.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The dump was really a dump, a big dump, like 90,000 pages. The Wikileaks posting on Monday features information linking Osama bin Laden to suicide bombings in Afghanistan, a plot to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and Osama's financial dealings with North Korea. The "Afghan War Diary," so described, made its way onto computer screens worldwide, available to one and all. The 90,000 pages span from 2004 to 2009 and were posted on Wikileaks, a website dedicated to uncovering secrets. The site relies on user-generated content. It runs on 24 servers and half a dozen countries.
All of these servers are engineered to conceal the identity of the posters on the site. But the elusive, quote-unquote, "Afghan War Diary" poster has been identified as Wikileaks founder, Australian Julian Assange. Assange has described his mission to the German weekly Der Spiegel. He, quote, "loved crushing bastards," unquote.
U.S. officials believe that Pakistani and Afghani operatives, working in tandem locally with U.S. intelligence, now face serious threats to their own safety. Assange claims he withheld publishing over 15,000 pages, due, apparently, to doubts over information security. Again, apparently, he believes that operatives named in the documents have nothing to fear.
JULIAN ASSANGE (co-founder, Wikileaks): (From videotape.) There is a military argument for keeping some information secret. It is very timely. But that information expires quickly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: We know that Wikileaks' website creates danger for human sources who supply information to the CIA. Is there any other damage from Wikileaks to U.S. intelligence efforts in Afghanistan?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, there's Afghans in there, John, who have been named and who have been identified as to where they live. Those people are in danger right now of being murdered and their families of being murdered.
What this fellow is -- look, there are critics on this panel, I would think, and opponents of the Afghan war. This man is a saboteur of American foreign policy and of the war effort, and I think this is deeply damaging. And the people that did this ought to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
But I do believe this, John. There's no question this has put a brand new focus on the Afghan war, and the key thing about it is the revelation in detail of how the Pakistani Intelligence Services are not only working with us; they are also working, training and plotting with the Afghan Taliban to kill American soldiers. So this created real problems between us and Pakistan, and I think it's brought a new focus on the debate. And frankly, it'll be deleterious to the president's war effort.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, do you agree with that?
MS. CLIFT: Well, the purpose of these leaks are really to narrow the options that the president and the Democrats face going forward. And clearly he's not making any arguments other than the fact that he's antiwar and he wants this to come out.
Now, he did have the cooperation of somebody in our military, who will be prosecuted. And I certainly do regret that if anybody's lives are in danger, and our military officials are saying that is the case. You know, we'll see about that.
But these documents do show us the inside of a war that has not gone well, and they are designed to put pressure on our officials going forward. And they've alerted the American people to the fact that we are sending billions of dollars particularly to the Pakistanis, who are supposed to be our allies.
Now, all people in Washington, in the know, understand that the Pakistanis play this double game. But the American public is going to look at this, and if you're not comfortable with a lot of ambiguity, you're going to wonder what it is we're doing over there. And that's the question, the fundamental question, this president still has to answer in greater satisfaction than he has.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: These secrets reveal malfeasance and corruption in Afghanistan. Does that further weaken the president's case for being in Afghanistan?
MS. CROWLEY: Well, I think -- well, a couple of things. First of all, it does point to this double game that Pakistan has been playing, but that's not exactly news. And actually, over the last year and a half, Pakistan has realized that they -- that their regime is also under threat by these extremist elements. And, in fact, a couple of months ago the Taliban was within 60 miles of Islamabad.
So they have really redoubled their efforts in terms of working with the United States on drone attacks on the border regions, trying to take out as many of these fundamentalists and extremists as possible, and working in conjunction with the United States.
So, yes, the ISI is shot through with these Islamist elements. However, it would be a huge mistake, I think, for the United States to back away from Pakistan or let that relationship collapse, because the only way we're going to make this work is by working as closely with them as possible.
The other part of this document dump that I found fascinating was the fact that it identifies Iran as a key supporter of al Qaeda and the Taliban, which puts the lie to the idea that Sunni and Shi'a Muslims do not work together, especially against a common enemy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Pakistan is number one. Afghanistan is number two.
Pakistan is now the recipient of a relatively new aid package from the U.S., a $7.5 billion commitment that the U.S. made over the next five years. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton brought with her to Pakistan recently $500 million in additional aid to the $7.5 billion commitment, bringing the total package to $8 billion.
This prompted a question of how the secretary could convince the American people that at a time of shaky economic conditions at home, spending that kind of money in Pakistan was something we really wanted to do.
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: (From videotape.) This is where the principal terrorist threat to the United States emanates from. We have to prevent Afghanistan from falling into a failed state that can then be even a bigger danger to us, and that costs money. So terrorism, on top of an economic challenge, would be devastating for us. And therefore, we have to stay on our toes and try to prevent that from happening.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She doesn't like the interview. She did it on television, and it was a great interview and she was very expressive and very frank. It was with Greta Van Susteren about two weeks ago. That's where that's taken from. And her main point is that Pakistan is essential for Afghanistan's survival. You agree with that. She's bringing over there $400 million and another $7.5 billion in reserve.
MR. BEINART: Well, you know, even just putting it that way -- "Pakistan is essential for Afghanistan's survival" -- shows how much we put the cart ahead of the horse here. It's Pakistan that is the most important country. Pakistan is a much, much bigger, richer, more powerful country.
Really what's going on in Afghanistan is significant mostly because of how it affects what's going on in Pakistan. And that's why I think we're right to be investing in Pakistan, investing in that relationship time, diplomatic effort, money, as aside from whether we should be doing all that investment in Afghanistan, because Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Pakistan is a very, very powerful country. And it, much more than Afghanistan, its tribal areas and some of its cities are where al Qaeda is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think this is all caviar to the general? In other words, do the American people understand the hardship of today that they're facing by reason of an economic turndown? And if so, do they want to see $7.5 billion going into Pakistan? MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. BEINART: If the president makes the case that this is in America's national-security interest, I think he can bring large elements of the country along. The problem is --
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. BEINART: -- that when it comes to the Afghan war, the president himself is clearly somewhat ambivalent and conflicted.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. BEINART: He doesn't want to make his presidency about Afghanistan --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he should be.
MR. BEINART: -- in the way the Bush administration had its presidency be divided by Iraq.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Brzezinski says the more you put troops in there and you beef it up, the more the Taliban come in.
MR. BEINART: Well, I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're giving them motivation. Maybe if we evaporated, the Taliban would evaporate too.
MR. BEINART: Look, I think Joe Biden believes the same thing. And that's why you have a division and a contradiction at the heart of this very policy.
MR. BUCHANAN: But John --
MR. BEINART: And those in the military --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what do you think about the grievance of the American people, about seeing all of this money going all --
MS. CLIFT: The American people are grieving about the soldiers in Afghanistan. They're not sitting home fretting about the $500 million check to Pakistan. And what this president has to worry about is the growing antiwar sentiment if he doesn't more fully explain why we're in Afghanistan. And he's also -- I think the pressure on him to stick to that July 2011 deadline to begin to withdraw in a meaningful way --
MR. BUCHANAN: John, he's got a number of deadlines.
MS. CLIFT: -- (inaudible) -- this country. MR. BUCHANAN: He's got a number of deadlines. The first one's going to be in December, the December review that's going to take place. That is now going to be dramatic. And my guess is Biden will weigh in again. He's already said that he doesn't believe there will be an increase in troops; 100,000 we'll be topped out at.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think President Obama's heart and soul are in this war.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's -- but the Biden statement --
MR. BUCHANAN: I think Obama's going to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Biden statement is all wired. You know that.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think President Obama is going to turn this around, and I think he's going to start out -- I think he's going to stay with the July deadline --
MS. CROWLEY: Yeah. And you know what?
MR. BUCHANAN: -- and there's going to be a major withdrawal.
MS. CROWLEY: And the leaks actually help him adhere to that original deadline --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CROWLEY: -- because it makes the argument how difficult, what an uphill battle this is. I do --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And how much corruption and malfeasance there is over there.
MS. CROWLEY: Yeah, you mentioned the $7.5 billion-over-five-year commitment. You know who fought for that? John Kerry. And now he is trying to fend off from the far left -- he's trying to fend off a lot of fellow Democrats who are saying --
MR. BUCHANAN: But Lugar has gone soft too.
MS. CROWLEY: -- that this war is not worth it. And now you've got some Republicans also stepping up their criticism of this war.
The American people will support an overseas intervention if it's perceived that we're winning. But we also want to see a commander in chief who, if he is going to double down --
MR. BUCHANAN: But the polls -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish.
MS. CROWLEY: If the commander in chief is going to double down on the troop commitment, as Obama has, then they want to see their commander in chief not do this schizophrenic policy of surge and withdraw.
MR. BUCHANAN: But the polls have already turned upside down.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On what, Afghanistan?
MR. BUCHANAN: On Afghanistan.
More people want to get out than want to stay.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: More people think we're losing than think we're winning.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. Get out of there.
Exit question: Five years from now, will Wikileaks kill congressional support for the Afghanistan war? Five months from now. Pat.
MS. CROWLEY: Five years or five months?
MS. CLIFT: You said five years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What'd I say, five years?
MS. CROWLEY: Five years.
MR. BUCHANAN: Five years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Five months.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's already damaged support, and I think it will further accelerate the deterioration. You've got over 100 Democrats now voting against, and a dozen Republicans voted against funding the war in Afghanistan.
MS. CLIFT: Makes the politics fascinating. But there's a lot more Democrats who voted against the war funding last week, and the Republicans had to carry the water on that one.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. Right.
MS. CLIFT: And they're beginning to get divided in their ranks. But five months from now, they're not going to pull the plug on funding, I don't believe.
MS. CROWLEY: When you look at a story like this, a big document dump, a big leak like this, you ask who benefits. And I think President Obama actually does benefit, because he does want to stick to his original time line on getting out. But you also have to ask who got screwed here: General David Petraeus, who accepted a demotion as commander of U.S. Central Command to oversee the Afghan war. And this document dump just made his job a whole lot harder.
MS. CLIFT: He's not --
MS. CROWLEY: And that's where presidential leadership comes in.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. And conversely, is McChrystal now looking pretty good?
MS. CROWLEY: Well, I don't know, relatively speaking. But Petraeus's job has just been made so much more difficult. And that's where the commander in chief's job comes in.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible) -- fortunate he's out of there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, McChrystal -- yeah, I know he's fortunate he's out, but he's starting to look good, because he said we could be over there for 100 years.
MR. BEINART: I think the real conflict is not going to be with Congress. Look, Congress couldn't even cut off the funding for the Iraq war. Obama's going to be able to go with this -- the battle's going to be between the White House and the uniformed military. That was the struggle last year. That's going to be the epicenter of the struggle. It's a fascinating human drama, really, when you think about it, David Petraeus versus Barack Obama.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think you're going to have --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is you are all partially correct.
Issue Two: Arizona Annulment.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton issued a temporary injunction this week blocking the most controversial parts of Arizona's proposed new immigration law. It was mere hours before the law was due to take effect, handing a victory to the Obama administration.
Judge Bolton barred Arizona police from enforcing key provisions of the statute voted into law by the Arizona legislature about three months ago. Bolton wants time for her court to hear additional arguments regarding the statute, specifically whether or not it infringes on the U.S. Congress's and the White House's role in immigration matters.
In her ruling, Judge Bolton states, quote, "Requiring Arizona law enforcement officials and agencies to determine the immigration status of every person who was arrested burdens lawfully present aliens because their liberty will be restricted while their status is checked." Bolton declared that officers would not be allowed to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without warrant. Quote: "There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens under the new law."
Arizona officials promptly appealed Judge Bolton's injunction to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Legal experts say the case will ultimately have to be decided by the Supreme Court. Arizona Governor Brewer says, in effect, blame the feds, notably Barack Obama. Governor Brewer apparently sees the Arizona law as hinging on the criterion of reasonable suspicion.
This is the scenario cited by Arizona law advocates. An officer stops a group of people in a car that is speeding. The car is overloaded. Nobody has identification. The driver, in his manner, acts evasively. The car and its occupants are on a known smuggling corridor.
With the new law in place, the occupants of the car are detained while the attending officer contacts U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, ICE, to check on the immigration status of the passengers. If ICE reports that the suspects are indeed illegal aliens, some legal action is taken, which may include arrest.
President Obama has denounced the law as racial profiling, and the Justice Department has filed a suit on grounds that the U.S. Constitution states that the naturalization process is a federal, not a state, responsibility.
Quote. Article I, Section 8, the U.S. Constitution, states that the naturalization process is a federal, not a state, responsibility, quote, "to establish an uniform rule of naturalization."
Question: Did the Justice Department primarily base its case on uniformity or preemption under the Article VI of the Constitution? Monica Crowley --
MS. CROWLEY: The Justice Department --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- will you shed wisdom on this?
MS. CROWLEY: The Justice Department's case was based primarily on preemption, that the federal government has brought an exclusive authority to regulate immigration.
A couple of problems with this. This judge who decided this and made this ruling was essentially hallucinating novel legal theories to justify her opinion. She conflated federal law with federal enforcement policies, or, as it happens, the lack thereof. So what she was saying in this decision is that if the feds refuse to enforce federal immigration law, the states can't do it either because it would transgress the federal policy of non-enforcement, which is insane. Her decision makes no legal or rational sense. It's going to go up to the 9th Circuit and probably up to the Supreme Court. And on the issue of preemption, both the 9th Circuit, which is the most liberal circuit court in the land -- and, by the way, the most overturned -- they backed up a 2007 Arizona law that requires a state to go in at the point of employment and say that they can go after employers who knowingly hire illegals.
MS. CLIFT: The judge's ruling, I think, is well within the bounds of reason. It's a temporary injunction. She is not really judging on the merits, but she essentially accepted the Obama administration's case that this is largely -- this is probably unconstitutional. And so it'll go its way on up through the various jurisdictions.
This really isn't about the legal niceties. It's not even about the substance. This is now a political issue. It's a wedge issue. And the Republicans think they've gotten Christmas in July because it's gotten all these people --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well --
MS. CLIFT: -- stirred up. But we don't vote until November, and there are a lot of other people who are going to get stirred up. So I think this, again, in the political mix, this adds energy, I think, on the Democratic and progressive side.
MR. BUCHANAN: This is a disaster for the Democrats, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A disaster.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's a disaster. The Democrats --
MS. CLIFT: Not in the long term, certainly.
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, it was preemption. They also threw out sanctuary-city policies, which they've got in San Francisco and Houston and all these other cities. They're out the window. What this does politically, it puts a focus on the illegal-immigration thing. Nine states put in amicus briefs along with Arizona. Mexico had an amicus brief with the Democratic -- (laughs) -- position.
MS. CROWLEY: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: Obama did not even talk about it after the decision came in.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. MR. BUCHANAN: Kyl and McCain were talking about it. This is going to be a blazing hot issue. But I do agree with Eleanor to this extent. Some of these things sort of fade. But if this thing keeps coming back, there is no doubt who it benefits.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's ruinous for the Democrats -- ruinous.
MS. CLIFT: No, no, no, no.
MR. BEINART: It's bad for the Democrats in 2010, when you're going to have an electorate which skews older and white, and that is the Republican Party at this point. But the Republican Party's dream -- remember when they elected George W. Bush in 2000? The whole point was he had done so well with the Hispanic vote. The Karl Rove dream of turning the Republican Party from something other than a party of aging white people is fading very, very fast. And in the longer term, that's very good for the Democrats.
MR. BUCHANAN: The Democrats -- he's exactly right. In the long term, if you've got -- if massive immigration continues and illegal immigration gets amnesty, it is the end of the Republican Party.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also, we're not just talking about Latinos entering Arizona.
MS. CROWLEY: That's right.
MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, no.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where are the other illegals coming from?
MR. BUCHANAN: The illegals are --
MS. CROWLEY: Well, you --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All parts of the world in Arizona. How many illegal immigrants do they have in Arizona today?
MR. BUCHANAN: Four hundred fifty thousand, almost the size of the U.S. Army.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Is the power pendulum in the U.S. shifting? Are we moving away from the federal government towards the power of the state, especially on immigration? Yes or no.
MR. BUCHANAN: Republicans and conservatives are moving back to states' rights dramatically and heavily, even to nullification and things like that. There's even talk in Tennessee of secession, John. (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: Yes, we've had -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: We've had this battle before. Remember George Wallace standing up --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: George Wallace stood in the school house door. And the states' rights people will lose once again.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, you think so.
MS. CLIFT: I do.
MS. CROWLEY: When you look at polling on the Arizona law, 65 percent of the American people say that they would like their own state to pass a law --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CROWLEY: -- and enforce it, just like the Arizona law. You mentioned how many other people other than Mexicans --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CROWLEY: -- which is actually a term that ICE uses and so on, OTMs. This is a national-security issue, because after 9/11 there have been thousands and thousands of OTMs coming from Iran, coming from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, that are allied with Hezbollah and al Qaeda. We're talking about a severe national- security issue. And now we know that Hezbollah is working in conjunction with the drug cartels along the border. This is a very serious thing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it as bad as she says it is?
MR. BEINART: With all due respect, that's absolute nonsense. We have a much larger border with Canada, almost completely undefended, which happens to have a large Muslim population.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He said 400 --
MR. BEINART: If you wanted to come in across the borders of the United States and you were in al Qaeda, it would be so much easier to come across from Canada than go through the desert and risk your life in Mexico.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The people from Arizona watching you are booing you now. They're booing you.
MR. BEINART: Go ahead; boo me. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And there are a lot of other states, more states --
MR. BEINART: Look, I don't make my -- I don't come to my moral opinions based on public opinion.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the other states --
MS. CLIFT: Texas --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're on the wrong side of the equation.
Issue Three: Misplaced Mosque?
PAMELA GELLER (Stop Islamization of America): (From videotape.) Why should there be a mosque in there, on the top floor looking down at Ground Zero? It's offensive to people.
TIM BROWN (New York City firefighter: (From videotape.) Stop hurting the families. Every day there's stories in the newspaper. They're hurting the families again. They don't deserve it. These American families have paid too much.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The uproar continues over plans for a new $100 million mosque to be built in Lower Manhattan, just two blocks from Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center's twin-towers atrocity.
WOMAN: (From videotape.) I am not against a mosque. I am against the location of the mosque.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg disagrees. He says freedom of religion trumps. Let the Muslims put the mosque where they want.
NEW YORK CITY MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I): (From videotape.) Everything the United States stands for and New York stands for is tolerance and openness.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The 15-story building that houses the mosque will also serve as an Islamic community center. The head of the project, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, defends both the mosque and its location as a way to appeal to young Muslims.
IMAM FEISAL ABDUL RAUF: (From videotape.) We want a place where young Muslims will be part of a new generation of peacemakers. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Opponents of the plan say, "Fine idea, but put the mosque and the headquarters someplace else." They also question where $100 million for the cost of the mosque and the building is coming from. So far, Imam Rauf refuses to say. Well, New York Republican Congressman Peter King insists on knowing. Quote: "It's a house of worship, but we are at war with al Qaeda. I think the 9/11 families have a right to know where the funding comes from. I think there are significant questions," unquote.
Despite the outrage at the location of the mosque, it does have its supporters, including this husband who lost his wife on September 11th, 2001.
CHARLIE WOLF (widower of 9/11 victim): (From videotape.) They want to blame all Muslims for what happened. I don't want to paint that broad brush. I will not paint that broad brush.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Will a mosque overlooking the World Trade Center site inevitably be seen as Muslim triumphalism? I ask you, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: I don't think so. It's two blocks from the World Center site. It's a complex. It's going to be a community center and a teaching center. There are churches and synagogues and other places of worship in that same general area. And the Muslim religion is one of the great religions of the world. Now, there have been some aberrations, and I certainly would not deny that. But that does not and should not define the religion.
And it seems to me that having an institution like this at least gives the opportunity of advancing some understanding. And it went through just fine. The mayor was okay with it. The council was fine with it. But then the elections approach, and a couple of candidates have jumped on this as a wedge issue to incite people who are worried about an invasion of al Qaeda or something.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You live in New York, Monica.
MS. CROWLEY: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the story? Where do you come down on this?
MS. CROWLEY: Well, the imam who is spearheading this project -- which, by the way, is called the Cordoba Project, and that's all you need to know about the symbolism for Muslim triumphalism, because it's a reference to Cordoba. It's a reference to the Islamic Moorish empire, okay?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did they do when they went to Constantinople? MS. CROWLEY: You have to have a fundamental understanding of Islam here. This is about putting a symbol of Islamic victory on Ground Zero. The imam in charge of this, Feisal Rauf, has radical ties. He has written extensively about implementing Shari'a, which is Islamic law, in the United States. He has embraced Wahhabism. And he will not disclose where this money is coming from.
I think that he needs to answer all of those questions as a bare minimum before he's allowed to proceed. If they want to relocate this mosque anywhere else, fine. That's what America's all about. But on the sacred ground of Ground Zero is completely unacceptable.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you say that the money trail ought to be followed here more than anything else? Where is the $100 million coming from?
MR. BEINART: I think we should follow the law exactly as we do for every other church, synagogue or mosque anywhere else in the United States. If someone has got ties to terrorists or crime, sure, they should follow that.
But what we really have here -- let's be honest about this. This has exposed the beating heart of the conservative movement today, which is still anti-Muslim bigotry.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Like Buchanan.
MS. CROWLEY: Talk to the 9/11 families.
MR. BEINART: Yeah, the --
MS. CROWLEY: Peter, the 9/11 families is not the conservative movement.
MR. BEINART: The 9/11 families are divided along political lines, just like any other group of Americans. But fundamentally, what you're having here is a group of people on the right who have always basically believed --
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. BEINART: -- that this is a clash of civilizations; again, Islam. They don't recognize that our very national security depends on making Muslims in the United States feel welcome.
MS. CROWLEY: A clash of civilizations --
MR. BEINART: And they're so ignorant of Islam that they don't even realize --
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MS. CROWLEY: No, they understand very well. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish. Let him finish.
MS. CROWLEY: They understand it.
MR. BEINART: -- that, in fact, the Iberian Peninsula --
MS. CROWLEY: They understand it.
MR. BEINART: -- in fact, was one of the great hallmarks in Muslim-Christian-Jewish relations in the world.
MS. CROWLEY: It's a very naive view of Islam.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Out of time. Bye-bye.