'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Oct. 15
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Iraq, declare victory and get out. Not because it's a good excuse, but because the chief of Joint Special Operations Command there says we have devastated al Qaeda in Iraq, possibly irreversibly. Great news for Iraq, great news for us, bad news for George Bush's hope of keeping us there for decades.
And more bad news. That chief of Joint Special Operations is the same guy who said in April 2003 major combat engagements are over, this is the mission-accomplished guy.
1984, closer than we thought. People deported by Immigrations and Customs sue, claiming they were injected with psychotropic drugs, like Haldol, to keep them quiet.
And the Pentagon illegally went fishing for Americans' personal, financial and credit records after 9/11.
Of privacy and legality and conservatives without conscience, the attack on Graeme Frost and his family.
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GRAEME FROST: I wonder why President Bush wants to stop kids who really need help from getting CHIP.
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OLBERMANN: His parents, Halsey and Bonnie Frost, join us in their first TV interview on the nightmare they've been subjected to by Limbaugh, Malkin, and their ilk.
Senator Larry Craig's first interview about Mitt Romney.
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SEN. LARRY CRAIG, (R), IOWA: He not only threw me under his campaign bus, he backed up and ran over me again.
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OLBERMANN: Does that sound at all familiar?
Senator Larry Craig continued. Thrown under the bus by Mitt Romney, now Romney has backed up the bus to run him over again.
Oh, for heaven's sake, now I'm writing Larry Craig's material.
You can't write stuff like this.
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UNIDENTIFIED BOY: There's something living on another planet and it's band. And it comes over here, what would you do?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Rudy Giuliani's plan to prevent another 9/11 and protect us all from extraterrestrial fascists.
All that and more, now on "Countdown."
(on camera): Good evening. Mission accomplished - again. Because one general thinks we have crippled the al Qaeda in Iraq organization, even though 98 percent of the violence in Iraq is unconnected to al Qaeda in Iraq. And yes, it is the same general who essentially declared mission accomplished late in April 2003.
Our fifth story in the "Countdown", a new dilemma for this administration, the potential for a military declaration of victory in Iraq. But with it, the stark realization that a military victory in Iraq is the last thing the Bush administration wants.
No aircraft carrier this time, just the reporting of Tom Rix in the "Washington Post" that the U.S. military believes it has dealt irreversible blows to al Qaeda in Iraq in recent months, leading a group of generals to believe another declaration of victory is in order. Among them lieutenant Stanley McChrystal, head of the Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq.
General McChrystal having pushed for the original declaration in April 2003 two weeks before Mr. Bush pop-gunned his way on to the deck of the aircraft carrier. We all know how that turned out. The evidence being reports of a purportedly accomplished mission in Iraq this time around, a sharp drop in suicide bombings said to be down from more than 60 a month in January, to 30 a month in July, which would still, unfortunately, be an average of one per day.
In addition, Lieutenant General Ray Odierno estimated recently that, based on support structure and supply lines, Iraq's capabilities have been degraded by 60 percent to 70 percent from the beginning of the year, which would mean that 30 percent to 40 percent of the group's structure remains fully intact.
We'll look at this from a military in a moment. First, the politics from Dana Milbank, national political reporter of the "Washington Post."
Dana, good evening.
DANA MILBANK, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST":
Congrats on this Larry Craig speech writing gig.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, thanks. We'll get to that in a moment.
But the White House made it clear, we're only in Iraq to fight al Qaeda in Iraq. If it buys into these numbers as an acceptable level of progress, would it not be time for U.S. troops to be brought home? How does the White House talk its way out of this corner?
MILBANK: Well, you should not be expecting, if you're aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, to get the call that the president's going to put on the flight suit and make the landing. It's a sadder but wiser president right now. The reason for this is just three months ago the president said his only personal best by using the word al Qaeda 95 times in a speech about Iraq. This has been the president's prime reason for staying in Iraq. So there's all the evidence that this wasn't leaked really by the top levels of the administration. They didn't necessarily want this kind of news out there because it does potentially undermine the main reason for extending the surge.
OLBERMANN: But in order to continue to win the argument or to perhaps win the argument for the first time that this fight is entirely about al Qaeda in Iraq, doesn't the administration have to concede now that the fight will never be over? If the counterarguments are, well, they've shown great resilience in the past and we'll never be able to wipe them out completely, isn't the White House going to have to concede either that we've beaten al Qaeda in Iraq or we can't ever leave Iraq?
MILBANK: Definitely many of the people involved in this military analysis were saying this argues for staying in Iraq even longer. It's a little bit like what became of sort of the tax cut message, if things are going poorly, you need a tax cut. If things are going well, you need a tax cut to keep things going well. That's very much the position the administration is in right now, arguing for the war in either case.
OLBERMANN: If the U.S. military is making these gains against al Qaeda in Iraq, if these numbers are even close, and yet the violence still exists, how does the White House manage to keep denying that Iraq is in a civil war in which U.S. troops are the mediators or stuck in the middle?
MILBANK: I don't think they're denying it that vigorously anymore. More and more administration officials are using words like that. The most that's being said now is that it's been suppressed by the U.S. troop presence there. And suggesting that this is a short-term phenomenon that will explode into a civil war if U.S. troops were to leave. I don't think anybody really is disputing the notion that there is a nascent civil war under way there.
OLBERMANN: General McChrystal seems to have put the White House in an impossible political position. Do the Democrats, as another softball comes up at five miles an hour, have any plan to exploit that position? Is anyone in Washington on the Democratic side saying, tomorrow morning I'm going to announce that we've won in Iraq is and it is time to come home? Does anybody have anything planned to hasten the end of this war?
MILBANK: I'm sure they'll come up with things. But you have to consider the track record. Not very good here. Part of what's needed here is not a better argument on the Democratic side, but the need to persuade some of those moderates in the Republican Party.
Hard to see how that happened because the public may say, good news coming out of Iraq, not differentiate what the particulars are. Therefore, support goes up a bit for the war in Iraq. If anything, it could wind up giving a boost to the Republican side.
OLBERMANN: Dana Milbank of MSNBC and the "Washington Post."
As always, great thanks, Dana.
MILBANK: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: For more of the perspective of U.S. troops on the ground, let's turn to Jon Soltz, who served as an Army captain in Iraq in 2003 and now, of course, is the chairman of votevets.org.
Jon, thanks for your time tonight.
JON SOLTZ, CHAIRMAN, VOTEVETS.ORG: Thank you for having me.
OLBERMANN: Shouldn't that be it? General McChrystal says the al Qaeda in Iraq organization may be irreversibly crippled. Shouldn't troops be boarding planes right now?
SOLTZ: It would be great if it was. It's just not what this war is about. He should be careful because obviously the statements that you had in the lead-in about mission accomplished are an issue. He's the head of the Special Operations Command. He controls the real war against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and obviously the war in Iraq, and General McChrystal's said statements here that the White House can exploit for political gain. I think Admiral Fallon, I think, is very concerned about statements he makes being used for partisan political efforts in D.C. here, because the president hasn't outlined the military strategy to win, he's outlined the political strategy not to lose. They will exploit this for political gain.
OLBERMANN: Let's do the ear-to-the-ground test that we do. Do the claims of progress against this group in Iraq match up with what you've been hearing anecdotally from men and women on the ground? Do they think things are getting better against this particular group?
SOLTZ: It depends on where you are in Iraq. If you're serving in Anbar now and served in Anbar two years ago and Fallujah, there might be less combat on your street. But I've got a really good friend right now who is in a platoon leader in the 1st Division in northern Iraq, in Diyala. They've got better IUDs, or these EFPs, up in their sector now. They got more car bombs, more suicide bombs. So the enemy likes to metastasize to where our Army isn't, which is now in Diyala Province in northern Iraq.
So the situation isn't necessarily that on the ground but most importantly the political situation isn't better. This is really about a Shia state that's created inside of Iraq and a greater Shia revival across the Middle East. Our goals have not been met because we don't have political reconciliation.
OLBERMANN: These are encouraging numbers regarding casualties, but they haven't hit zero. Sixty-six Americans in uniform were killed in September, 84 in August. If al Qaeda in Iraq is not killing them, if we have neutralized them, who is killing them? Aren't the most of the dead in Iraq a result of this civil conflict?
SOLTZ: We have a real issue in southern Iraq. The real issue with the Iraq war and the fourth phase of the war is this proxy war we're having. Iraq was like a cork that was holding Iran in place. When we removed Saddam, now Iran's influence is much greater. Iran has invested in the Shia militias in the south and the Mehdi army. So the Americans aren't only caught between Shia on Shia violence but the Shia on Sunni violence and between Sunni and America violence. So it is coming from all over.
Casualties go up and down. The bottom line is we have no political progress. Al Qaeda is stronger today than six years ago. Bin Laden is on the loose in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda in Iraq, it wasn't there before the war started. We have the situation where the Sunni insurgents wanted that name but they have no real relationship with bin Laden because they wanted the stature. Our administration seized on that because our administration wants to create an excuse to link 9/11 to Iraq.
OLBERMANN: You mentioned the political possibilities for the White House in these statements from McChrystal? Are there, in fact, political opportunities for those who are against the war? Cannot somebody say something at this point?
SOLTZ: That's a great idea. Say, hey, Larry Craig might be using your stuff. I might start using your stuff. That's a great argument to use tomorrow morning.
OLBERMANN: We won, time to go home.
SOLTZ: That's their plan. Their plan is to say that they've won so they can unite this country behind the war with Iran to help Republican gains next year. A very dangerous political strategy and has nothing to do with military success on the ground.
OLBERMANN: The emphasis in that sentence is come home.
Jon Soltz at votevets.org. Great thanks, as always, Jon.
SOLTZ: Appreciate it, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Injecting those who are to be deported with psychotropic drugs against their will?
The Pentagon seeking your credit records even if you're not part of an actual investigation of any kind? From the book "1984"? No, from the reality of 2007.
The family of Graeme Frost knows all about it. After the death threats, after the lies about them, after smears, his parents joining me tonight for their first television interview.
You're watching "Countdown" on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: Companies intimidated into cooperation. Innocent individuals investigated, asylum seekers injected with psychotropic drugs. Our fourth story in the "Countdown," another slice of life in George Bush's America.
First, the Pentagon use of the benign sounding National Security Letters, or NSLs. NSLs request financial records of untold numbers of individuals, issues to numerous undisclosed recipients, including Internet providers and credit reporting agencies, and according to an ACLU analysis of 455 of them issued since 9/11.
The Department of Defense has collaborated with the FBI to circumvent limits on its own authority to spy. Even using NSLs to gather information on people who were not even under investigation. Quoting from the guidelines, "An NSL is not limited to seeking the subject of an investigation because an NSL is available when the information sought is "relevant" to an investigation, information concerning apparent associates of, or individuals in contact with the subject of an investigation may also be obtained if relevant to the investigation."
It's not just the Pentagon overstepping its bounds. As we mentioned Friday, the former CEO of Qwest Communications, Joseph Nacchio, implies in court documents that not only did the National Security Agency ask his company to turn over phone records without a court order back in February 2001, long before the supposed urgent need for those records after 9/11, but that it dangled lucrative contracts in front of the company, then withdrew those contracts when he refused to hand over the records without a warrant.
And word of a physical assault that not only violates the Bill of Rights but may constitute torture.
Two immigrants are alleging that Immigrations and Customs enforcement officers forcibly injected them with drugs. They have medical records to confirm their accusations. One plaintiff, a Christian minister from Indonesia, who was deemed suicidal, was given twice the normal dose of Cotentin (ph)and the anti-psychotic medication Haldol without any kind of doctor's examination.
Joined now by constitutional law expert, a professor at George Washington University Jonathan Turley.
Jon, thank you for your time again tonight.
JONATHAN TURLEY, PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: This drug lawsuit, it's two people right now, but an immigration official testified to Congress last month that 48 other people were also forcibly injected with dangerous drugs. Does this go beyond American law? Does it violate international human rights provisions?
TURLEY: There's most certainly a question of international violations. This is not the first time the United States has been accused of this type of misconduct. In the so-called extraordinary rendition cases, where we were sending people to other countries to be tortured, there are actually U.S. officials that were quoted saying they knew these people would be tortured. Some of those people were allegedly drugged.
And there's no question that it's abusive under international domestic law to give these types of drugs without a doctor prescribing it. You're not supposed to give drugs just to make people easier cargo.
OLBERMANN: These details about the Pentagon spying program and National Security Letters, if, as I was quoting from its manual, these NSLs can be used to gather information on anybody, even somebody vaguely connected with a suspect, does that essentially mean that I or you dial a wrong number and it happens to belong to somebody that's under investigation, the Pentagon can go and get your information or my information as well?
TURLEY: They can. And you can thank the U.S. Congress for that. In the PATRIOT Act and four other pieces of legislation that were enacted, the NSLs can be used with extraordinary ease. And what is astonishing is that the abuses of the NSLs are well documented. As soon as the FBI got this power that they were promising to use in the most judicious and cautious way, they abused it with abandon. Congress has done very, very little.
But what Congress did do is they created this relevancy test. And most anything can be relevant. And your example is by no means far-fetched. Yes, if you show up on the phone records, by accident, of somebody that they suspect, you can have your records searched and you will not know it because the companies are told that they can't tell you.
OLBERMANN: The ACLU is pointing out that while the domestic surveillance capability of the Pentagon is meant to be limited, checked in some way, the Department of Defense in fact has been asking the FBI, which has a broader ken here, has wider spying rights, to issue the NSLs on the Pentagon's behalf, which circumvents obviously the limits on power. But is that circumvention of the law by itself also illegal?
TURLEY: Technically, I don't think it's illegal. It's a violation of the spirit of the law because the law is written so generally there's no question at all that they are not supposed to have the power to issue these NSLs to this degree. The FBI has to conduct its own decision as to who justifies the standard. The standard, of course, is so loose, as you have already pointed out, that almost anybody could satisfy it. But without any question at all, the Department of Defense is abusing the law and violating the spirit of the law. They found a way to get around it.
Once again, the silence is deafening in the wake of these abuses, the question is where's Congress, that branch that's supposed to be a check and a balance on these types of abuses?
OLBERMANN: The last one. These allegations from the former CEO of Qwest - and he's not necessarily a neutral witness - we have to take this with a grain of salt because he's trying to get an insider trading conviction overthrown. But what do you make of his allegation? Is this the first time we've heard anything like that that the NSA was trying to get phone records of citizens of this country, no warrant involved, seven months before 9/11?
TURLEY: You're right. We do have to consider the context. But what he is saying actually is confirmed by other sources. You know, this administration was seeking a massive expansion of presidential power and National Security powers before 9/11. 9/11 was highly convenient in that sense. I'm not saying that they welcomed it, but when it happened, it was a great opportunity to seize powers that they have long wanted at the FBI. The great irony, of course, with the NSA and the FBI is that their blunders help contribute to 9/11, but they radically expanded those powers as a result of that tragedy.
OLBERMANN: Nothing succeeds like failure.
Jonathan Turley is with George Washington University. Thanks.
OLBERMANN: Larry Craig tries to get guilty plea overturned. Not news. Larry Craig does TV interview. Not really news. Larry Craig uses the same exact phrase I wrote for this newscast? News.
And you may ask yourself, why am I wearing such a large shirt? You may ask yourself, didn't I try this thing on before buying it? And you may ask yourself, didn't this shirt come with alterations? Next on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: On this date, 99 years ago, Robert Albert Blondheim was born in North Carolina. He wanted to become a radio announcer. Was the first to think, I don't know about the Blondheim part, so he changed his name to Robert Trout. One of the great, unheralded newscaster, he coined the phrase "fireside chat." He anchored the newscast in which Edward R. Murrow reported from London. Was on the air when the Japanese surrendered. Later, reported for "60 Minutes." Was on the air until his death - the year of his death anyway in 2000.
On that note, let's play "oddball."
Dateline, India, at the Kashmir Big and Tall Shop where Andre the Giant gets his shirts made. Actually, he's gone to his great reward. This shirt here is a world record. It hangs 20 feet from top to bottom. The shirt's tailor used an entire day to sew the thing. The front pocket is large enough to fit three small children, none of whom are included with the purchase.
To Sydney, Australia, where an equine flu has put a ban to horse racing. Behold the majesty of camel racing. Australian jockeys trading horses for humps. And just look at them go. It's the fastest 20 minutes in sports. There's actually no betting on these camel races. Turns out camels were not the first alternate animal. After this pitiful display, kangaroos took themselves out of the run.
To Boca del Rio, Mexico, where we get a look at this beautiful statue of Vicente Fox, erected Saturday morning and pulled down by the mob Saturday afternoon. Sure, the guy in the statue looked a little like Saddam Hussein. Protesters were unhappy with the statue because they thought he owned that news channel in the U.S. Now the statue's dedication scheduled for tomorrow has been cancelled.
Speaking of corruption and FOX, another week, another kid smeared. The parents of Graeme Frost join me in the wake of the havoc brought upon their life by the lunatic fringe.
Tom Cruise's nightmares come true and we're attacked by the Martians, Rudy Giuliani wants you to know he's the candidate to fight the terror they unleash against an unsuspecting world, nor intergalactic fascists or any kind.
Those stories ahead, but first time for goofballs and good guys.
Number three, best campaign slogan. Jose Caragol, veteran member of the city council of Florida, says he frequently makes up ridiculous campaign slogans and says them in public. This was one of them, quote, "If you like oral sex vote Caragol "for council."
Priest Gary Husband of the remote town of Englewood, New Zealand, five hours outside of Auckland. Last year, the only clothing store in the area which sold women's underwear closed. Reverend Husband gathered volunteers to travel to New York City to buy lingerie en masse. Now the council there has recognized his efforts, establishing experimental bus routes from Englewood so women can go and buy their own underwear.
Number one best meal, an unnamed burglary suspect on the loose tonight after he entered an apartment and stole a pizza, six eggs, a can of beef ravioli, a can of peaches and one chicken and broccoli Hot Pocket. Police warn he should be considered dangerous and full.
OLBERMANN: In December, 2004, Bonnie Frost's car, carrying three of her four kids, hit a patch of black ice, and then it hit a tree. Her son Graeme and her daughter Jenna spent months in the hospital. Because the Frosts earned less than 55,000 dollars a year, the federal S-CHIP program helped with their bill. Graeme and Jenna got the care they needed.
Last month, Graeme asked President Bush to extend S-CHIP to other low and middle income kids. The right wing responded by calling for Graeme to die. In our third story tonight, his parents have decided to give their first TV interview. You'll meet them in a minute.
First, the remarks that drew right ring fury directed at a 12-year-old boy with a partially paralyzed vocal cord.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAEME FROST, SCHIP RECIPIENT: My parents work really hard and always make sure my sister and I have everything we need, but the hospital bills were huge. We got the help we needed because we had health insurance for us through the CHIP program. But there are millions of kids out there who don't have CHIP, and they wouldn't get the care that my sister and I did if they got hurt. Their parents might have to sell their cars or their houses, or they might not be able to pay for hospital bills at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: What other kids is Graeme talking about? SCHIP currently covers six million children too poor for insurance but not poor enough for Medicaid. But a growing number of Americans, two out of five, are not covered by employer insurance; 47 million don't have any health insurance. That number is also up. The uninsured children increasing by 600,000 last year alone.
So democrats want to expand S-CHIP to cover four million more kids. The cost, seven billion dollars a year. Enough Republicans agree that the Senate approved the expansion with a veto-proof majority. The House vote was about 20 short of veto-proof, so the president vetoed it. The House will try again on Thursday.
In the meantime, the right has targeted Graeme and his family. Rush Limbaugh and others spreading extraordinary, easily disproved lies that have been posted online anonymously about them, portraying them as rich and dishonest parasites. Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's reportedly collecting those lies and disseminating them to the media. And a Bush staffer named Nicholas D. Thompson of the Office of Strategic Initiatives choosing a blog called Red State to post a defense of the president two days after the "Baltimore Sun" had revealed on its front page that another poster at the same blog had called for the public hanging of Graeme and his family.
On that sad and extraordinarily disturbing note, let's turn to Bonnie and Halsey Frost. Great thanks for coming forward and joining us tonight.
OLBERMANN: Mrs. Frost, let me start with what matters. How are you and the kids doing through all this?
BONNIE FROST, MOTHER OF GRAEME FROST: We're doing well. Gemma and Graeme are doing well. They're in school. But they have a lot of healing left. They have a lot of work to go. So we're hanging in there.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Frost, just deconstruct this fictional picture of your family that's been put together by the fringe, the lunatic fringe. You're a business owner? You work out of a commercial property you own. You live on a street full of half million dollar homes. You pay 20 grand a year for your kids to go to private school.
HALSEY FROST, FATHER OF GRAEME FROST: It would seem to me it would be common sense if you do all the math on that, that we'd be doing really, really well. And that's far from the case. You know, that's quite a rosy picture they painted. But the fact is I did have a business. Of course, they did not report properly that I ran from like - Frost Works from 1990 and folded up around '98, '99, went as far as incorporating that, actually carrying health insurance. And actually that was probably one of the nails in the coffin in that business. It became cost too much to bear for that.
And half a million dollar homes. This is a house that we bought as a just near about shell and did all the work ourselves. So I would hope that we're not punished for the sweat equity into that. But I have the ability and the unique skills to be able to do everything that's required to turn this property around. And this is our home. This is not an investment thing. This is the Frost house.
OLBERMANN: And the kids are in private schools on scholarships mostly.
H. FROST: Yes. It's like, you know, we do get help from that, from the schools. It's a must. Without that, we really would be limited - have our options limited.
OLBERMANN: Mrs. Frost, your address posted online, these lies accepted as facts, death threats. Did you know beforehand that people like this existed in America?
B. FROST: I knew people like this existed in America. But I am shocked that it came to this, that they seem to use this as a distraction technique to take away the issue at hand. And that is that millions of children in America are without health insurance and could benefit greatly from the S-CHIP bill, just like my family has. And my main goal was to get that message across, that we just want to help other families like we have been helped. And just thinking that it was turned around in such a nasty, negative way is unbelievable to me.
H. FROST: Yes, definitely an agenda that they seem to need to be
filling. Because I guess when you have to attack in such a manner, you're
obviously it's a distraction because the facts are very clear. This helps hard working American families. This country needs this now. And I am sorely disappointed in our president for not having his finger on the pulse of what's going on right now.
OLBERMANN: Let me ask you, Mr. Frost, one more question before we look at some disturbing pictures in a different sense. But does Graeme know about what's happened since he gave the Democratic radio response? And if so, what's his reaction?
H. FROST: Yes he does. We keep the kids aware. And we are an open family about things. But at the same right, we don't sit there and read these ridiculous blogs that go on and on with faceless characters who can't sign their own name to what they're saying, which I think is just absolutely pathetic. All these other shows and what not, you know, they're going to just go on and make a case out of whatever they need to just to bolster their story and their take on this.
Yes, the kids are aware. And honestly, what I really appreciate is their being kids and they're being as normal as they can and going to school every day. We were just working on homework before we came here, working with Gemma and her math book. Actually, I was cooking dinner. You know, the basic, normal daily routine.
OLBERMANN: And a normal that you had to fight to achieve again. Mrs. Frost, I want to put up some of these pictures that might be a little tough and we warned the audience for people to look at. But earlier today we asked you if you had any photos that might illustrate what you and your kids went through. I'd like to show these now and ask you to just walk through for us what would have happened to them without this S-CHIP program.
B. FROST: Absolutely. Well, I have no doubt that they would have received care in the emergency room. But after their month in intensive care in their comas, they needed intensive rehabilitation, 4.5 months worth.
H. FROST: And so that people understand, we can just say rehabilitation. We're saying like this is like having babies again. Learning how to -
B. FROST: Gemma had to learn how to talk and walk and do everything again. She couldn't get herself dressed. She couldn't read. She couldn't write. She didn't know how to go up the stairs. You had to teach her to go up the stairs. Graeme could not eat. He couldn't walk. He couldn't sit up. He couldn't hold his head up. He couldn't swallow.
So it took months and months. And they are still working hard to get better and still getting special services and still going to physical therapy. And there's no way that we could have afforded to send them through all those multiple therapies to recover and to continue to heal. And I am positive that Graeme would not be walking, would not be eating. I don't know where Gemma would be right now.
OLBERMANN: Graeme was able to go on the radio and get involved in our political process. Instead of people standing up and cheering, even the ones who say no, he's wrong, but thank goodness he is able to do it, you get this. It is just phenomenal. Go ahead.
B. FROST: The thing is that even if you do not agree with the story, you don't attack the family and you really need to get back to the issue at hand, which is the health insurance bill.
OLBERMANN: Halsey and Bonnie Frost, again since the Rush Limbaughs of this world aren't going to be man enough to apologize to you, and Graeme, we'll do so on their behalf. We're sorry the media has gotten this bad. Great thanks for coming on with us tonight.
H. FROST: Thank you for being a responsible reporter on this and delivering the story in the manner that you do.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, sir. Go back and cook dinner.
H. FROST: You got it.
OLBERMANN: Kind of startling revelation from Senator Larry Craig in his first TV interview tonight. He's quoting me.
And the man who claims Fox's opinion people don't do the news there. Must be a lot of identical twins working over at his place. the worst persons derby ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Larry Craig has done his first network television interview and done his umptienth attempt to overturn the results of his own guilty plea. Our number two story on the Countdown, and worst of all for the beleaguered senator from Idaho he is, knowingly or otherwise, defending himself in part by quoting me.
Craig launching another effort, his second have that guilty plea after his arrest in a Minneapolis airport sex sting bath last summer thrown out. Today the senator filing with the Minnesota Court of Appeals less than two weeks after another judge there refused to dismiss the plea. That's also when Craig reversed himself on resigning, deciding to serve out his term to the bitter end, a description with which his Republican colleagues would readily agree.
The senator, his wife by his side, had his first network interview with NBC's Matt Lauer. The first excerpt has to do with Mitt Romney dropping him as his campaign liaison to the Senate and surprisingly enough, tangentially it has something to do with me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LARRY CRAIG (R), IDAHO: I was very proud of my association with Mitt Romney. I worked hard for him here in the state. I was a co-chair of his campaign on Capitol Hill. And he not only threw me under his campaign bus, he backed up and ran over me again. And you know, you kind of look and blink a little bit. And while they were reacting that way, there were another set of senators who were calling us and saying, what's going on? What can we do to help you?
MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Will you resign?
CRAIG: No, I won't resign. I will finish out my term. Let me tell you -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because there's so many more who don't want him to resign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: That middle part about getting thrown under Romney's bus and then Romney backing up and running over him again sounded awful familiar to some of us here. Countdown from august 29th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And Senator Larry Craig continued, thrown under the bus by Mitt Romney. Now Romney has backed up the bus to run him over again.
Kind of like Mitt Romney throwing Larry Craig under the bus and then circling the block and driving over him again.
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OLBERMANN: More of Matt Lauer's interview with Senator Larry Craig, with or without quotations from me tomorrow morning on "Today" on NBC.
And from the Senate, it's on to the house, the big house, possibly for the first big name in tonight's Keeping Tabs, our news from the world of celebrity and entertainment. In Vegas, it is beginning to look like it is coming up three lemons for the Juice. O.J. Simpson facing the prospect of prison after the alleged armed break-in of a hotel room in Vegas last month. Simpson says he was not armed. He and four other men were trying to recover his stolen collectibles.
Make that he and two other men because today two of Simpson's co-defendants began singing like canaries. First Charles Cashmore, who offered to cop a plea, telling the judge he can testify that guns were used in the break-in. Cashmore could get five years for that. Then a second co-defendant, Walter Alexander, offering to plead guilty to reduced charges and turn prosecution witness. Alexander could get up to six years.
Have you thought of this before? Al Qaeda in space! Rudy Giuliani is ready for them. That said, but first time for Countdown's worst person in the world.
The bronze to Michelle Malkin. No, not because she wrote a whole piece complaining that we would be interviewing Graeme Frost tonight. She was just quoting that mistake from another blog. And what, do you expect her to check the factual basis of an entire blog before writing it? But for advising by e-mail that, quote, I made the decision to quite appearing on the O'Reilly show in response to the poor handling of the Geraldo Rivera matter. The staged apology on The Factor was a complete farce.
You mean, they fired you.
The runner-up, Senator Lindsey Graham, throwing retired General Ricardo Sanchez under the bus after his comments Friday calling Iraq a disaster and the civilian management of the war worthy of the equivalent of courts-martial and the surge desperate. Said of the senator of General Sanchez, Abu Ghraib got out of control under his watch. The war in general got out of control under his watch. And it is not time to blame people but the surge is a direct result of having to make up for mistakes early on. As far as I'm concerned he was part of that mistake by being a commander who did not express then what he's saying now.
Gee senator, good thing now is not the time to blame people. And you wanted an active commander in Iraq to criticize the president or the secretary of defense. As General Sanchez himself said on Friday when he was asked about what was your point, we swear an oath to support and defend the constitution and to obey the orders of the president of the United States when we are in uniform. Do you want to undermine that fundamental bedrock principle of our democracy? Do you, senator?
But our winner, Roger Ales on the debut of Fox Business television, which may be a business channel. It might be a women's fashion network. We're not sure. It's too early to tell. Some of the cable networks, such as MSNBC, have their opinion people actually anchor the news. We don't do that. We have the separation of church and state.
He's talking about me, by the way. Apparently he forgot Brit Hume does the news for him or Brian Wilson or Bret Baier. Oh, wait, I'm sorry, opinion people, you mean the people on Fox that have their own opinions, they don't do most of the news. The ones who get their opinions from you in a memo every morning, they do most of the news. I get it. Roger Ales of FBN, Fashion Business News, today's Worst Person in the World!
OLBERMANN: For all of the remarkable crassness on this subject, ranging from Dick Cheney to Rudy Giuliani, for all of the lunatic fringe commentators like comedian Rush Limbaugh, who literally can't tell the difference between the series 24 and the reality that exists around them, until now fear mongering from the right has been limited to this planet. But in our number one story on the Countdown, presidential candidate Giuliani has now been forced to consider whether his administration would be prepared for a real war from the stars.
Or at the very least a bad thing coming from another planet. The question from a young boy at a town hall meeting in Exeter, New Hampshire, where the former New York mayor was campaigning yesterday. At least Mr. Giuliani was grinning when he answered thusly.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something living on another planet and it is bad and it comes over here, what would you do?
RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's the first time I've been asked that I'm not prepared for, an outer space attack. We're properly prepared for all the different things that could happen to us. We'll be prepared for that as well. Right? We'll be prepared for anything that happens.
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OLBERMANN: Smarter than most of his questioners. Anything? Even all those high tech inter-galactic zappers? Perhaps realizing that he might be further straining the credibility of his anti-terror message, Mr. Giuliani then said, quote, shall we take another question about this planet? You'll all be laughing until people from the planet Skyron in the galaxy of Andromeda try to put poison in the gum ball machines in Dover, New Jersey. Then you'll know who had the last laugh, Ronald Reagan. He knew what he was doing with that Star Wars thing.
Back on this planet now, for now anyway, comedian Paul F. Tompkins, who is a regular contributor to VH-1's "Best Week Ever." Paul, good evening.
PAUL F. TOMPKINS, COMEDIAN: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So inter-galactic terrorists or inter-planetaria fascists; whatever the case, Mr. Giuliani has clearly asserted we would be ready. Should we take him at his word on this?
TOMPKINS: Sure, maybe this explains why all those pre-9/11 security briefings were ignored. Perhaps they had bigger fish to fry.
OLBERMANN: All the truly realistic or at least the cool variations of what these guys would look like, however, involve technologies far more advanced than our own, their space ships are bigger, they blow things up with green stuff. Nine times out of ten, they really don't like us. They're meaner than Republicans. Do you think Mr. Giuliani has a true grasp of what he's promising to protect us against?
TOMPKINS: Well, I hope that his concept of alien races does not come from the movie "ET," that they just want to eat candy and make friends. If it is, I hope that he looks closer in that film, because this is the first alien race that actually wants to be - that actually is sort of benign, but has the power of resurrection, leaves and never comes back.
OLBERMANN: Now, do we expect whoever the Republican nominee to be is going to devote a platform here towards establishing a new wing for the Department of Homeland Security? Do we have to make it Department of Home Planet Security?
TOMPKINS: Well, this is the party that loves to create departments. I think they might have some sort of deal with a stationery store. So I have a feeling that this is definitely in the works. And it may lead to astronauts having to remove their shoes before he board the space shuttle.
OLBERMANN: Where is Lou Dobbs on this? Certainly he's back from this tonsillectomy or whatever they pulled out of him. Shouldn't he be up there advocating putting up a space wall to keep out these aliens?
TOMPKINS: Lou may actually turn out to be way ahead of us, because he's not yet revealed how high he wants that wall to be.
OLBERMANN: Straight up from Texas to god, right up there.
TOMPKINS: That's correct.
OLBERMANN: This raises a second line of thought, Paul. What if it's like our old departed friend Bill Hicks used to say, that when we see UFOS, these are not super-smart aliens meant on taking over the planet and using us for food. It is not to serve man, that they don't go to the world Capitols for a reason. What if they are, as he said, losers? What if they're here for minimum wage jobs?
TOMPKINS: Obviously, this is what Lou and friends have been afraid of for so long, and especially if we're talking about an alien race. Who knows how many appendages they might have. That's a lot of lettuce that can be picked that much faster. So long, so long American jobs.
OLBERMANN: I see, by the way, one of them has apparently attacked your earpiece in the middle of this.
TOMPKINS: I am human.
OLBERMANN: Do we have a regional impact on this, because the question was posed in New Hampshire and the audience laughed. Would this have gotten a different response elsewhere in the country, do you think?
TOMPKINS: Yes, people in New Hampshire have never seen their city featured in a Hollywood film where an alien race destroys American cities. So I don't think they'll ever get the message until that day that Hollywood makes a film in which an aggressive alien race needs syrup to live.
OLBERMANN: Now, to be fair, it was Boston in the remake of "War of The Worlds," in Tom Cruise's movie. It was greater New England, but as you said, nobody saw that. Nobody's seen such a movie, because nobody saw the Tom Cruise remake. OK, thanks for helping me out on that one, Paul. Paul F. Tompkins, perennial contributor to VH-1's "Best Week Ever," and tonight Countdown's senior inter-galactic counter-terrorism correspondent, thank you, Paul.
TOMPKINS: Nanu-Nanu, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this the 1,629th day since declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, live long and prosper. Good night and good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END