'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, August 4
Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons
The toss: Original document
Guests: Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Markos Moulitsas, Steve Clemons, Jeremy Scahill, Paul F. Tompkins
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
If you can't be right about health care reform, be wrong at the top of your voice. Paid Republican plants and tea party veterans are now disrupting any Democratic event about anything.
This is House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's news conference about high-speed rail.
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DON JEROR, FORT STANWIX TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: Why would you guys try to stuff a health care bill down our throats in three to four weeks when the president took six months to pick a dog for his kids?
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OLBERMANN: The White House plan to use the phony protestors against Republicans obstructing reform. Congressman Chris Van Hollen on the health care negotiations in the House; Markos Moulitsas on how to buy a senator 2009.
Two diplomatic Clintons for the price of one-as the former president negotiates the release by North Korea of two journalists working for the former vice president.
Blackwater and Iraq: Far worse than ever, ever imagined. "The Nation" reports two former Blackwater employees allege, in documents in federal court, that company founder Eric Prince may have been involved in the murder of the individuals who were cooperating with federal investigations of his company, and that Mr. Prince believed himself, quote, "a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe."
Our guest: Jeremy Scahill of "The Nation."
The birther hilarity gets more hilarious still. That fake Kenyan birth certificate-it was made out of a real Australian birth certificate.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come and say g'day. I'll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie for you.
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OLBERMANN: Happy Birthday, Mr. President. You're now an Aussie!
And the leak from the coming Bush book by a former speechwriter. Barney the dog-the former president once said Barney was the son he never had. Well, that would explain this.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Barney.
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OLBERMANN: All that and more-now on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
Fake tea party protesters no longer limiting themselves merely to shouting down the effort to reform health care in this country, they now seem intent on disrupting any Democratic event about anything anywhere they can find one.
Our fifth story on THE Countdown: Why do these people hate democracy? From Utica, New York, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer among the lawmakers holding a news conference there this morning to announce $5 million in extra stimulus funding that will be used to build a high-speed rail line in Upstate New York that can totally remake the state.
Congressman Hoyer is talking about how the stimulus plan is helping the economy when he is interrupted by protesters.
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REP. STENY HOYER (D), MAJORITY LEADER: Let me tell you the facts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, lies.
HOYER: For the last three months, housing starts are up in America, the last three months. Jobs.
HOYER: Ninety-five percent-haven't changed since the Bush administration.
JEROR: You're lying to me!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right.
JEROR: I don't have sophisticated language. I recognize lawyer when I see one.
HOYER: Ladies and gentlemen.
JEROR: Why would you guys try to stuff the health care bill down our throats in three to four weeks, when the president took six months to pick a dog for his kids?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Well, you're right about not having sophisticated language. That man identified as Don Jeror, J-E-R-O-R, founder of the Forth Stanwix Tea Party, quote, "Patriots." On that sign, quotation marks around the word patriots are his, not ours.Meanwhile, outside a health care event in Hartford, an extremely tasteless protester talking about the cancer fight by Senator Dodd, making reference to Ted Kennedy, euthanasia and alcohol-getting every single one of his facts wrong.And in St. Louis, Missouri.
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OLBERMANN: . tea party protesters cheering for themselves-simply for being against health care reform and for their ability to derail a town hall meeting held by Senator McCaskill's staff. The protest was organized by the corporate lobbying group Americans for Prosperity, which is led by Tm Phillips. Tim Phillips, whose previous firm Century Strategies, helped to launder money for Jack Abramoff.
In a new memo, the DNC denouncing Republicans and their allied astroturf groups for, quote, "inciting angry mobs of a small number of rabid right wing extremists funded by K Street lobbyists to disrupt thoughtful discussions about the future of health care in America."
The "inciting angry mobs" part of that statement realized on the eastern shore of Maryland, where Democratic Congressman Frank Kratovil was hung in effigy by this proud and smiling protester. It looks like one of they lynch mob pictures in the early 20th century, fomenting hatred apparently is what makes that man happy.
"The New York Times" reporting that the Austin rally of Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett, protestors held a sign that displayed a tombstone with Congressman Doggett's name on it. Politico.com is noting that another protestor's sign had the Nazi SS lettering on it.
Congressman Doggett saying in a statement, he is more committed than ever to passing health care reform. He will be Rachel's guest tonight.
At a lunch at the White House this afternoon, Democrat "Ours" Max Baucus perpetuating the lies of bipartisanship.
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SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D), MONTANA: We agreed there should be bipartisanship because that's more sustainable, it's more enduring, it's the right thing to do. American people want us to be working together.
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OLBERMANN: And remember that's Max Baucus, fourth leading recipient in all of Congress in campaign contributions from the health care industries. Just remember to spell it correctly on the check.
Time now to turn to Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. He is the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and serves as assistant to Speaker of the House Pelosi.
Congressman, thanks for your time tonight.
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MONTANA: Good to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: These fake grassroots protesters-have the facts now become completely irrelevant in this equation? They're opposing health care, they're opposing all government formulas and programs, but don't touch their Medicare. Do we have the heart to tell them that Medicare is a government program, and are they simply smoke bomb throwers in the public discourse at this point?
VAN HOLLEN: Right. Look, these are guys who said they want to get rid of Medicare and rid of Social Security until they don't get their Social Security check or until they get denied their Medicare.
What's really sad about this, Keith, is that members of Congress, Democratic members of Congress, are going home to talk to their constituents about the health care reform, holding the insurance companies accountable. They want to have a conversation. And the Republicans said, "We really want the American people to hear what's in this plan because when they hear about it, they won't like it."
Well, the fact is, they're scared to death about the American people finding out about this plan and they're not letting these conversations take place. They're disrupting meetings. They're shouting people down. They're hanging people in effigy.
And I think, when the American people see what's going on, it is going to totally backfire on those who are opposing the effort to reform the health insurance industry and to try and change the system.
So, in some ways, I say, "Look, if you want to engage in this kind of conduct, let the American people see you for what you are.
OLBERMANN: Is that the backfire idea? I mean, the White House has said it's hoping to kind of go jujitsu on this, to use the staged energy against the people who are fomenting it. But how-I mean, how do you do that other than showing some idiots smiling next to a picture of a congressman hanging in effigy?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, one thing I think people need to know about is all of the town hall meetings and conversations where people are having productive exchanges. And so, then constituents can see exactly what they're being denied because some of our members have had these very productive exchanges where people learn more about the bill. Members of Congress get input from their constituents, and it works the way you would hope it would work. And these disruptions are denying millions of Americans that opportunity to have that conversation with their member of Congress.
So, I think, number one is informing people who is behind this. It's these fringe elements but it is being fueled-as you indicated-by some special interest groups in Washington, including the health insurance industry, which, of course, stands to profit enormously from the status quo. They've seen their profits going through the roof.
OLBERMANN: And the question at the heart of this whole process, Congressman, what is the plan for actually getting this done once the recess is over in September?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, the plan is, in the House, we now have al three committees having reported the bill. We're going to pull that bill together, based on what our members of Congress are hearing from their constituents and get a vote in the floor of the House, because the status quo is unacceptable to the vast majority of the American people.
Other than this fringe elements who are trying to shut down the process and shut down the conversation, most people understand that if you want to see your premiums go through the roof, if you want a health care system where when you lose your job, you lose your health care, and in fact, when you've been paying your premiums day after day and when you really need the health care, you're often denied it because of some fine print in the contract-that's what we need to change.
And I'm confident that when people do hear from their constituents and have an opportunity to actually hear their constituents speak, they will find out there's great support from the American people. That's exactly why these disruptions are taking place, because I think that the opponents of health insurance reform understand very well that there's a great desire for reform in the country, and these people are trying to put a stop to it through any means possible.
OLBERMANN: If you can't win on the points, win on the screaming.
Congressman Chris Van Hollen-great thank you for your time, Congressman.
VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you.
OLBERMANN: Of course, the menagerie of opposition from blue dog in Congress to lemmings goaded into shouting down health care reform that would benefit both their children and their wallets all evolved, adapting out of fear or greed from the same single cell slime, the fat cats getting rich off health care in this country. Not the nurses, not the paramedics, not the E.R. docs who treat first and ask questions later, but their corporate employers and lobbyists.
As I recounted in the "Special Comment" last night, Democratic Senator Baucus, the lead hostage-holder in delaying health care reform, he has won more than $3.8 million in ransom from the health care industry, according to figures from the Center for Responsive Politics.
The incitement of the ignorant has been openly orchestrated by the insurance companies and by supposedly grassroots groups bussing protesters from state to state. Groups like Conservatives for Patients' Rights, which is run by this man, multimillionaire lawyer Rick Scott, a former partner in the Texas Rangers baseball team with George W. Bush. He now owns a chain of health clinics after he had been ousted as head of the Columbia HCA Health Care Company while it was under investigation for defrauding taxpayers, a fraud to which it pleaded guilty.
And what is the goal for purchasing compliant legislators and punishing others with protests? An unnamed lobbyist told "The Hill" newspaper, the key strategy is first, quote, "creating delays," and then if talks break down, use that opportunity to, quote, "outright kill a proposal."
And this salient fact: the dollar is being used to try to kill health care reform originate in the health care fees charged the very patients who would benefit from health care reform.
Let's turn now to Markos Moulitsas, the founder and publisher of DailyKos.com and author of "Taking on the System: Rules for Radical Change in a Digital Era," which comes out in paperback next week.
Markos, good evening. Congratulations on the paperback.
MARKOS MOULITSAS, AUTHOR, "TAKING ON THE SYSTEM": Thank you very much. And glad to see you back from vacation.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, kindly. Me, too.
Ultimately, what do the insurance companies and big pharma and the other health care-related industries, what do they get for all of the millions, that $1.4 million per day that PBS estimated they're spending on legislators and bogus grassroots campaigns? Why is it worth what seems like a tremendous expense for them?
MOULITSAS: Well, it is a tremendous expense-expenditure of money. Keep in mind that this is more money that the insurance companies are spending on this campaign than George Bush and John Kerry spent in the general election, presidential campaign of 2004. This is outrageous amounts of money.
And what they're doing, obviously, is they're buying delay. They're buying friendly legislators-legislators that are trying to slow, water down, and possibly if they can kill this-because, obviously, their bottom line is going to be greatly impacted by true public option that keeps health care costs down and makes health care available to pretty much all Americans.
OLBERMANN: Our friend Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com analyzed some of this data that I've been quoting from the Center for Responsive Politics and they found that the six key senators on Baucus' committee are among the senators who rely most on corporate donations rather than donations from individuals, and your site looked at all of the senators who are opposed to reform and you found that they primarily come from smaller states, meaning fewer people voted for them. These are interesting fact.
But can you put the two findings together and apply them to this health care debate?
MOULITSAS: Sure. I mean, what happens is that those small state senators don't have a large fund-raising base to draw upon. They represent small states. So, they proportionately depend on those corporate interest dollars to fund their campaigns. And furthermore, those dollars go a lot further.
And you're right, a $5,000 check to a California senator, it ain't going to go very long because obviously California is a very expensive state to campaign in. But in Montana, in North Dakota, in states like that, that money goes a long, long way. So, it's a lot cheaper to buy those senators.
And those senators are more than happy to take that money because it sort of frees them from the responsibility or the chore of having to raise money from actual average, regular Americans. It's easier to get that $5,000 check or that PAC money than it is to actually go ask some regular Americans for a $20 contribution.
OLBERMANN: So, what do we do about this now?
MOULITSAS: Well, I mean, we're going to have to keep fighting the way we're fighting it. It's a propaganda war in a lot of ways. I mean, you have the insurance companies doing these-these astroturf protests trying to sort of create this impression that this is a broad American mandate against health care reform.
We see the polls. We see the numbers. It's obviously not true.
Americans want reform. They want it desperately.
And I think we need to keep talking about it and keep pushing and keep calling and writing legislators and reminding them that they made a campaign promise to support and to reform the system, and that we're going to try to hold them accountable to those promises.
OLBERMANN: The devil's advocate question here, finally-can it not be said that progressives in the country have already to some degree lost this one because free universal health care is off the table, and now, progressives are spending time and money and effort to pass a plan that might wind up doing not much more than tweaking the insurance rules and handing the insurance monopolies 47 million new customers?
MOULITSAS: Well, if the-if that's what get at the end, if they kill the public option and all we get are these insurance mandates, then I think it's up to progressives to kill it and then try again in two years after we get a new Congress and when we try to hold these people accountable. So, we can't go for the worst option.
Now, the best option may be off the table, but if we get a good, solid public option, that's something that we can expand on in further years. And this is why the insurance companies.
MOULITSAS: . and conservatives are trying to kill it because they don't want further expansion of this program-which I think could happen.
OLBERMANN: And remember, the public option is the equivalent of letting the government sell water and not having to rely on the bottled water companies.
Markos Moulitsas, the book is "Taking on the System." It's out in paperback next week. As always, my friend, thanks for your time.
MOULITSAS: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: Sometimes, the news is indeed even worse than we imagined. Accusations now in court documents under oath by two of his former employees that the founder of Blackwater, the mercenary people, not only viewed himself as some sort of messenger chosen by God to rid of world of Muslims, but he was also involved in the murder of witnesses who were cooperating in a federal investigation of his company.
And also, sometimes, the news is indeed better than anybody could have hoped. Bill Clinton goes to North Korea and comes home with the two imprisoned American reporters.
OLBERMANN: Bill Clinton's trip to North Korea pays immediate human dividends, might it also jumpstart talks on nukes?
Breaking news unbelievable, even for the Blackwater mercenaries-the company's founder is accused of participating in the murder of witnesses in the federal investigation of his firm and he is portrayed as believing himself, quote, "a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe."
Barney the dog, the son President Bush never had. And Lou Dobbs, the birther CNN never had until recently?
"Bests" and "Worsts"- ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: The crazy, perhaps fatally-ill despot overseeing the sentencing of two American journalists to 12 years hard labor for showing up in his country-in our fourth story on THE Countdown: How even that kind of obstacle can be overcome by what us old-timers call diplomacy and damn quick, too.
Bill Clinton went to North Korea yesterday. Today, Laura Lee and Euna Lee are free and are about to be out of that country and home. The Korean Central News Agency is reporting, Dictator Kim Jong-il has issued what's being called a special pardon to Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee, the two journalist arrested after entering the country last March and then sentenced to 12 years in prison each.
The women's families, hearing of the pardon, issued a joint statement saying in part today, "The families of Laura Ling and Euna Lee are overjoyed by news of their pardon. We especially want to thank President Bill Clinton for taking on such an arduous mission and Vice President Al Gore for his tireless efforts to bring Laura and Euna home. We also must thank all of the people who supported our families through this ordeal. We are counting the seconds to hold Laura and Euna in our arms."
And this late word from Clinton spokesman Matt McKenna, "President Clinton has safely left North Korea with Laura Ling and Euna Lee. They are now en route to Los Angeles, where Laura and Euna will be reunited with their families."
Let me turn now to Steve Clemons, senior fellow at the New America Foundation, author of "The Washington Note."
Steve, good evening.
STEVE CLEMONS, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Any idea what actually happened here, what went-how this moved so quickly?
CLEMONS: Well, I think that there's been a lot of spade work done by folks in the State Department, by other informal players, the head of the Korea Society, Evans Revere, who used to be in the State Department, was playing a role behind the scene. And, of course, Al Gore, Bill Richardson, and a lot of other people who have been trying to secure these journalists' release from the gulag that they were sent to.
Bill Clinton came into it recently and took on a very high-risk, high-reward strategy that could have ended in a lot of embarrassment for him and the country if North Korea wanted to, but this is really turned out really well, I think, for both the United States and possibly to get North Korea back into a good place with us.
OLBERMANN: And to that point in the moment, I should mention Gore's connection to this is, of course, both of these reporters work for the television network with which he is financially involved, Current.
But about-anything about Kim Jong-il, an explanation has got to include a factor of guesswork. This is the big cowboy movie fan, the man who.
OLBERMANN: . openly admires American culture, if not anything about the country besides it. Why Bill Clinton? I mean, did the president bring him a boxed set of John Wayne films? What worked about Clinton?
CLEMONS: Well, you know, in Asia and in North Korea, face matters a great deal. And Kim Jong-il came very close during the end of the Clinton administration to getting Bill Clinton over to that country.
Madeleine Albright and Bill Clinton's nuclear envoy-or North Korean envoy at that time, Wendy Sherman, 19 days before the Clinton administration ended, Bill Clinton was going to go to North Korea and essentially sign some semblance of a nuclear deal with North Korea. That got disrupted by other issues, particularly Middle East peace talks at the time. So, that gain never played out.
And to some degree, this has been sort of a delayed movie of bringing the big prize. Kim Jong-il has always wanted to get a president of Bill Clinton's stature over. And one thing I think is really important is that Barack Obama, his magic is being able to speak beyond dictators to publics. But North Korea is a place where that hasn't really worked.
But Bill Clinton is the one guy who does penetrate North Korea. He's extremely popular there. And so, this helps us but it also gives Kim Jong-il a huge prize. Those photo-ops are going to be a big issue for Kim Jong-il and he's going to want to show some positive moves on his side for getting this prize.
OLBERMANN: And does this-as you mentioned-does it indeed fit into efforts to restart talks about North Korean nukes?
CLEMONS: I think it steadies the situation. We've seen, you know, just a very quick spiral downward. And I think Bill Clinton not only secured the release of these two journalists, but more importantly, he saw the importance-or we've seen the importance of directly engaging Kim Jong-il. When you engage his minions, you get all sorts of frustration and you get filtered out. If you're able to directly deal with Kim Jong-il in a way, you're able to move it forward.
And I have a sense that we don't know for sure that there's no way that nuclear issues weren't part of the discussion between Kim Jong-il and Bill Clinton.
OLBERMANN: And briefly, did he also engage the heir apparent, considering that eventuality?
CLEMONS: Well, I'm sure that he met just about everyone. Every-
I'm sure we're going to be seeing pictures of Bill Clinton with lots of various North Koreans for some time. This was a big deal for them. And, you know, I think in the long run, it's good for us.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Pictures in exchange for the freedom of these reporters, absolutely.
Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation, author of the foreign policy blog, "The Washington Note"- as always, great thanks for sorting it out for us.
CLEMONS: Thanks. Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I don't know what this is but from this distance, it sure looks like it's broken. Speaking of which, Lou Dobbs is not reacting well to seeing his ratings drop like a stone after he embraced the birthers. So, today he embraced Michelle Malkin and he embraced the crazy.
"Worst Persons" is ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: "Bests" in a moment, and the son President George W.
Bush never had.
First, see, you know who gets screwed that this the new president's birthday? All those other August fourth-ers, Roger Clemens, Rocket Richard, Frankie Ford who sang "Sea Cruise" and Louis Armstrong. Louis Armstrong?
Let's play "Oddball."
And we begin with a sad story out of Kingfisher Lake near Peterborough, England. Benson, the celebrity carp is dead. Benson, named after the cigarette brand Benson & Hedges because of the cigarette-shaped hole in one of her fins is believed to be the largest carp in England. She weighed in over 60 pounds. And over her 25-year life span, she'd been caught and released by the locals 63 times. Anglo-anglers came from all over England to catch the fish and have her picture taken with her, but last week, Benson was found lifeless floating on the lake's surface.
Attempts to revive Benson the carp were unsuccessful. The cause of death is unknown. Although, taking 63 hooks might be a place to start looking. Benson the carp, British pen pal to the late Dick the goldfish was 25 years old.
Maybe old Benson got sucked up into one of these-this here is the Jet Lev Flyer. It's the self-contained water-propelled jet pack that allows you to soar over your lake or river at around 25 miles an hour. A motor pump-watch out for the bridge-a motor pump punches water into that yellow tube which feeds the engine which shoots the water out of the backpack and voila. The price tag though is $130,000.
So I hope you really enjoy walking on water, sir.
And it's loft, considering it's nowhere near as cool as the Oddball classic here, the foreign, fireman-invented, water propelled flying car. Stick that in your hose, jet lev flier.
Lastly, to Red Wing, Minnesota, where four years ago the Red Wing Shoe Company made what it called the largest boot in the world so celebrate its 100th anniversary. Now they're moving it to their new store/shoe museum, or Shoeseum, and tried to get a little publicity for themselves in the process.
Nice try, Red Wing Shoe Store of Red Wing, Minnesota. Better luck on the publicity game next time. In case you're wondering, the boot is 16 feet of real leather. And it's also available as a platform boot.
The model here is a 638.5 D. My nephew could wear that.
Breaking news about the Blackwater mercenaries, a jaw-dropping exclusive from "The Nation." The reporter who broke it joins us next.
And happy birthday, Mr. President. Today you are an Australian.
These stories ahead, but first time for Countdown's top three best persons in the world.
Dateline, Pensacola; number three, best reason to become a creationist, Kent and Jo Hovind. The best reason, to insist you work for god and thus you not have to pay taxes. The Hovinds are the co-owners of Dinosaur Adventure Land and they're in jail for not having paid 430,000 dollars in taxes. A district judge has now ruled that their creation theme park can be closed and sold to make up the money they own.
Dateline Murfreesboro (ph), Tennessee; number two, best reason to become a tea baggist. Christian Hidalgo, the tea party organizer there. His reason to insist you don't owe taxes. Turns out there are 80 grand in state and federal tax liens outstanding against Mr. Hidalgo. That's right, another tax protester who is actually just a tax dodger.
And dateline Washington; number one, best leak, Al Kamen of the "Washington Post." Reports that former Bush speech writer Matt Lattimer's new book about the administration includes this, quote, "President Bush, confiding wistfully and sounding serious that his dog, Barney, was the son he never had."
Oh, my god!
OLBERMANN: The slaughter of civilians for sport, weapons smuggling, destruction of evidence, wholesale corruption and finally murder. In our third story on the Countdown, a full-fledged criminal enterprise executed by the military contractors known formally as Blackwater, according to the sworn testimony of two of its employees. "The Nation's" Jeremy Scahill, who broke the story, joins us in a moment.
The details come straight from two sworn affidavits filed late last night by persons who identities have been sealed to protect their identity, men who have previously cooperated with federal prosecutors in the criminal inquiry into Blackwater. From John Doe number two, a former member of Blackwater's management team, quoting the affidavit, "it appears that Mr. Erik Prince, Blackwater's founder, and his employees murdered or had murdered one or more persons who had provided information or were planning on providing information to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal conduct. On several occasions after my departure from Mr. Prince's employ, Mr. Prince's management has personally threatened me with death and violence."
John Doe number two also stating that Mr. Prince, pictured here, smuggled unlawful weapons into Iraq, including sawed-off, semi-automatic machine guns with silencers and illegal hand grenades. The affidavit also says that Prince, quote, "views himself as a Christian crusader eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe. To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the crusades. Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game."
Striking similar allegations made in the affidavit of John Doe number one, a former U.S. marine who worked for Blackwater in Iraq. He alleges that incidences of unjustified deadly force were initially videotaped and watched in a session called a Hot Wash. Blackwater, now known as XE Services, spelled XE, maintains that Mr. Prince and the company are innocent of any wrongdoing and performed their duties on behalf of their employer, the State Department.
Joining me now, as promised, the contributor to "The Nation Magazine" and author of "Blackwater, the Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army," Jeremy Scahill. Good to see you. Thanks for coming in.
JEREMY SCAHILL, "THE NATION": Thanks for having me back, Keith.
OLBERMANN: As horrific as all this sounds, it's just part of what you described in the piece today. Flesh it out for us.
SCAHILL: Obviously to hear the term murder and Blackwater in the same sentence is no great surprise, particularly to people who have been following the history of this company. It's been at the center of some of the worst violence of in Iraq, killing civilians repeatedly. Five of its men are going to be tried on manslaughter charges for the Nisr (ph) Square Massacre in Baghdad in September '07. Another one pled guilty.
The Congress is investigating. The IRS is investigating. This is a scandal-plagued company.
What is explosive about what's happened here-and you just went through some of the most explosive of these details-is that you have two former Blackwater officials. I have learned from sources that's John Doe number two was actually in Blackwater management and was privy to some of the inner workings of the company.
Erik Prince, the owner of Blackwater, remains the sole owner of the company, no matter that he stepped down as CEO and founder of the company. He micro-manages every aspect of Blackwater's operations and that's been well known.
On the Christian supremacist angle, let's remember that Erik Prince viewed Blackwater as a neo-crusader force and has from the beginning. This is a guy who comes from the powerhouse of the radical religious right. His father was a major bank roller and gave the seed money to Gary Bauer to start the Family Research Council, James Dobson, Focus on the Family.
And then we have his force employed in Iraq as part of a war against a Muslim nation that George Bush characterized as a crusade. What we have here, Keith, is a confirmation from insiders at Blackwater that, in fact, Erik Prince did have a neo-crusader agenda, and, most explosively, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were intending to or did cooperate in the federal government's criminal investigation of Blackwater.
This is deadly serious.
OLBERMANN: To the murder in a second. But you mentioned something in here that strikes an obvious question. How could the Bush administration's State Department have missed this crusader element here, or was that what they were looking for?
SCAHILL: Missed it? I think it was considered a plus in the Bush White House. Remember, Keith, what we had here was the Bush administration essentially create a force that acted as an armed wing of the administration, not subject to the military command, not subject to the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, that reported directly to George Bush's secretary of state and then to the president.
These were his men, his private force in Baghdad. And the allegations that they were running around shooting Iraqis as part of a war to eliminate Islam globally, as is actually what one of these individuals said, is extremely disturbing to anyone who believes in any semblance of Constitution, law or human rights.
OLBERMANN: Some specifics, to what you know about them. This is a strong term murder in court documents. This is under oath. This is not somebody throwing something up against a wall to see if it will stick. Are we talking about something related to the 2007 Baghdad Massacre or something here?
SCAHILL: It's unclear but I will tell you what I do know about this, Keith. The fact of the matter is that these individuals, in these sworn depositions, provided those depositions to lawyers, Susan Burke and the Center for Constitution Rights, that are suing Blackwater on behalf of Iraqis killed by Blackwater operatives in Iraq. They are suing them in civil litigation.
What we do know is that these same individuals say that they gave this identical information to the federal government, one of them in Grand Jury testimony, as part of the on-going criminal investigation. When I called the Justice Department and asked specifically, are you investigating Erik Prince on allegations that he was involved with murder, the Justice Department interestingly said that they would not confirm or deny any action that they may or may not be taking against uncharged individuals.
Erik Prince, according to the lawyers suing Blackwater, could be eligible for murder charges in both Virginia and the state of North Carolina under this existing law. That's the argument they're making in their motion that was filed late last night in the Eastern District of Virginia.
OLBERMANN: Jeremy Scahill, who has been the watchdog on Blackwater, now Xe, of "The Nation," who brought this story to everyone's attention today. Great thanks for doing so and great thanks for coming in.
SCAHILL: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We had some breaking news, updating the story we brought you earlier in this news hour. This is the first video of President Clinton and those two American journalists leaving North Korea just a few hours ago. As we reported, Mr. Clinton having negotiated the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee earlier today. They are now en route to Los Angeles, where the two women, who are affiliated with the Current TV network, will be reunited with their families.
They're headed to Los Angeles. Current, of course, run by that man's vice president, Al Gore. And President Clinton with what is being roundly described as mission accomplished, in the ultimate sense of the word, having done that and perhaps having re-established some relationship between this country and North Korea at a critical time in the history of both.
The current president of the United States is today 48 years old. And according to the birthers, he's also an Australian man named David Jeffrey Bobford.
And the implosion of Lou Dobbs, defending birthers and Democratic Blue Dogs and siding with Michelle Malkin, a triple header.
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, one of the survivors of the orchestrated anti-health care protest, Congressman Lloyd Doggett on White House plans to try to turn those stunts against the GOP.
OLBERMANN: Happy birthers day. That Obama Kenyan birth certificate is actually a retouched Australian birth certificate. G'day.
That's next, but first time for Countdown's number two story, tonight's worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Congressman Peter King of New York, announcing on this network, quote, that health care, quote, "is not a major issue among the American people. I think the last poll showed 14 percent as seeing health care reform as being a major issue."
Oh, Congressman; the last poll to which you referred was the NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, so thanks for that. The three most important issues in that poll to American voters were job creation, 38 percent, the deficit, 17 percent, and health care, 14 percent. So the third most important issue, which, by the way, is actually in a statistical tie for second most important issue, that is not an important issue in Peter King's book.
Is school bad where he grew up or is he just willfully stripping himself of logic?
The runner-up tonight, former actor Chuck Norris, officially coming out of the closet today as an Obama birther. Writing to the president on his birthday, quote, "refusing to post your original birth certificate is an unwise political and leadership decision that is enabling the birther controversy. The nation you are called to lead is experiencing a growing swell of conspirators." You can get medication for that without prescription now, Chuck. "Growing swell of conspirators who are convinced that you are covering up something. Why don't you just prove them wrong and shut them up. I agree with CNN's Lou Dobbs."
OK, Mr. Norris, this is where your argument falls to the ground. Also the president did release his birth certificate. Even World Net Daily vetted it and found it legit. The most amazing part of this is that Mr. Norris goes on in his letter to note, "I must admit that I find it a bit of a groundless stretch not to believe in the birth announcements in two major Hawaiian newspapers in August 1961, in which Hawaii's Health Department would have been required to post information it received directly from hospitals. Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama, 6085 Kalanianaole Highway, son, August 4th."
See, that's the essence of the thing. The plot to pass a foreign-born baby as the president of the United States began with birth announcements in the newspapers of Hawaii 48 years ago this week. Is the baby also mentioned in the "Da Vinci Code?" Was he named Damian?
Speaking of which, today's winner, Lou Dobbs. Bit off more than he could chew by aligning himself with the birthers at CNN, the last place they do real journalism, as his ratings implosion suggests. "You're talking about off his meds Olbermann saying last night that he thought Lou Dobbs thought the birth certificate thing was legit, whatever the heck it was. Olbermann straight up is a liar and he's a fraud. He doesn't know anything about-well, I should say that. First, I think he does know. I think he doesn't care what's true because he's just so blind by his partisan views. It's amazing to me he says things he would never say to one's face and he does it night after night after night."
Lou added that these things bring, quote, "little light on him, spotlight, I mean, gives him viewers. I don't know why he does it, but there it is. I'm delighted to turn now to a delightful journalist Michelle Malkin."
To start with, Michelle Malkin doesn't even call herself a journalist. Secondly, ratings, Lou, when we beat you two to one last night in all categories.
Thirdly, meds, Lou? CNN's fading shot only in soft focus birther embracing, former star, men who during the week makes millions off bashing immigrants, especially Hispanics, even though his wife and kids are Hispanic, the man who, when he was 37, threatened to beat up his wife's 62 year old boss because he wouldn't let her anchor sports casts anymore?
What do you want, Lou? To come take a swing at me? That Lou Dobbs? Meds? Have you had your tranquilizer dart yet today, Lou? Lou Dobbs, today's worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: As 44 turns 48, a birthday present from the birthers, that forged Kenyan birth certificate produced over the weekend was created from a real birth certificate, but not one from Africa. It comes from a land down under. Our number one story, this just in, the president of the United States is actually a 50-year-old Australian man named Jeffrey-
David Jeffrey Bomford, or it's the other way around.
As we reported, a few details of a Russian immigre, dentist turned correspondent school lawyer Orly Taitz's forged Kenyan masterpiece. They're off a little bit. "Washington Independent" now examining the similarities between the fake document and an actual Australian birth certificate from 1959. It appears that somebody did a little copy and paste work with the birth certificate of David Jeffrey Bomford of Adelaide (ph).
Not only identical in design and lay out, but similar in key details. The registrar on the Australian document is G.F. Lavender. On the forged document, it is E.F. Lavender, a type of detergent and a type of specially bred gecko, seriously.
The district registrar on the Australian document is J.H. Miller. On the one brought to us by Ms. Taitz, M.H. Miller. So either a bunch of mid-century birth officials from two different parts of the world all shared similar names, or the forger's attention to detail stopped at the artificial aging of the paper part.
As to the actual man whose birth certificate is helping fuel the birthers-
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID JEFFREY BOMFORD, AUSTRALIAN: That is ridiculous. Little old person in Adelaide, the president of the United States. I don't know whether to laugh about it or not, or be worried about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Be worried about it. Earlier this afternoon, the jolly swagman president dined with the Senate Dems, Blue Dogs and all, and then stopped by the White House press briefing room, surprising fellow birthday girl and veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas with cupcakes.
Meanwhile, Secretary Clinton, on an ironically times, albeit pre-planned trip to Kenya today-Orly Taitz seems to think she was there to inspect birth certificates. Denying that her forged Obama document is a fake. Ms. Taitz claiming on her blog, "if Kenyan BC," birth certificate, "that I provided would not be genuine, Hillary would not be rushing to Kenya, would she?"
And by the logic, if it was not a fraud, wouldn't the world have come to an end this morning, to prevent everybody in two hemisphere from laughing hysterically at your incompetence, Ms. Taitz?
Joining me now, comedian Paul F. Tompkins. Paul, good evening.
PAUL F. TOMPKINS, COMEDIAN: Good evening, Keith. If I'm not much mistaken, I believe Orly's last name is Taitz.
OLBERMANN: What have I been saying?
TOMPKINS: I would rather not say what you have been saying.
OLBERMANN: What's the difference?
TOMPKINS: Fair enough.
OLBERMANN: The president is now Australian, or this man Bomford is actually our president. What does this means in terms of the vice president? Is Biden out and Hugh Jackman in?
TOMPKINS: Yes, he's talking the Amtrak from Perth. What I don't understand about this-the thing that infuriates me the most is why didn't these goof balls use a Kenyan birth certificate as a template? This is what drives me nuts more than anything. Why Australia? Do they think Australia is a country in Africa? I don't understand why this-some cursory Internet research really would have helped them out. Maybe they could have actually looked up Obama's birth certificate in the first place, and that would have stopped the whole thing there.
OLBERMANN: No, probably not. What do they do now? Do they get t-shirts that claim the dingo ate my birth certificate? Or where do they go from this monstrosity?
TOMPKINS: They will probably just know that as a Seinfeld reference anyway. But I think the next t-shirt that the birthers are probably going to be forced to come out with is, can't you see he's colored?
OLBERMANN: Let's cut right to the chase, exactly, just because whatever large percentage of these are actually white supremacists. The other interesting note about this-I mentioned Louis Armstrong has gotten eclipsed in the August 4th birthday thing. But Helen Thomas is 89 today. She has been a fixture at the White House for many years. How come nobody's gone to her and said, let's see your documents?
TOMPKINS: Keith, that's a very nice try to trick me into making Helen Thomas age joke. But like Lorraine Braco (ph) in "Goodfellas," I will not go in that room and pick out a suit.
I tell you the journalist's whose documents I'd like to see is Lou Dobbs, just so I can say that I still haven't seen them even after he has shown them to me. And hopefully the last shred of his sanity will go and he will build a wall around himself.
OLBERMANN: Well, they didn't have them then, because writing had not been invented. Back to this birther issue. We are going to see a split among these people, eventually, those that believe Obama is from another country and the other ones who believe Orly Taitz-that Orly Taitz is from another planet?
TOMPKINS: Well, I wouldn't be surprised if Orly Taitz's soon advises that the proof of Obama's birth is hiding behind a comet, and we all need to go buy black Nikes.
OLBERMANN: Very good. Good '90s cultural reference, Paul. We remember the Al Smith Dinner last year, the one in which Mr. McCain had such serious fun at my expense. But the president, then candidate Obama, had noted that he was from the planet Krypton. Now, does this complicate the business of being a birther at this point? The Constitution does not explicitly discuss what happens if the president is born in a different galaxy.
TOMPKINS: Yes, but that is by design, Keith. You see, the framers, in their infinite wisdom, knew that if a higher intelligence ever visited our planet, we would be vaporized instantly.
OLBERMANN: They would-they would see us and go, all right, what is else is in this neighborhood because we're not staying here.
TOMPKINS: Can't blame them.
OLBERMANN: Exactly. Orly Taitz is here. We're not sticking around.
Palm F. Tompkins, always a pleasure to talk to you.
TOMPKINS: Good to be back, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And thanks for the correction, appreciate it.
TOMPKINS: My pleasure.
OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this the 2,287th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq, and said that his dog Barney was the son he never had. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END