Aired on December 13, 2001

Guests on this program were:

  Giselle Fernandez
Mansoor Ijaz
Trace Adkins
Sebastian Junge


Panel Discussion

Bill: Good evening.
Welcome to "Politically Incorrect." Let me introduce you to our panel.
Giselle fernandez, I'm so glad you're here with your esteemable journalistic credentials on such an important news day.
Thank you.
Sebastian Junger, this is your new book, it's called "Fire," which contains an inside account of Afghanistan's Northern Alliance.
Very timely.
Thank you for being here.
I wanted you here for quite some time.
Mansoor Ijaz, did I say that correctly?

Mansoor: you did.

Bill: That is an eagle feather, I got it.
An American muslim activist, writer, and terrorism expert.
And you also, of course, negotiated, as we read in the paper recently, Sudan's counterterrorism offer in 1997.
And Trace Adkins.
I must say I must be getting older because I'm actually really listening and enjoying your music.
And I never listen to country.
I'm just saying I'm from New Jersey.
Give a hand to this panel.

[ Applause ]

I didn't grow up with country music.
But this is really good, and I'm happy for you, you finally got a big top ten hit with this.
All right.
But let's talk about Osama Bin Laden because he was a little bit on the news today.

[ Laughter ]

Did you see his latest tape? He releases a lot of tapes.
He's sitting there --
I guess we all must have seen at least pieces of this --
talking with his homies, partying like it's 1399.
They eat a little.

Trace: Off the floor.
They eat off the floor.

Bill: They eat off the floor.
Hey, we call that a picnic here.

[ Laughter ]

Mansoor: You ought to see when they get a big picnic.
They put a big lamb right there in the front and they just grab big pieces off of it and grab a little bit out of the food, it's just ridiculous.
It really is.

Bill: Thank you for that insight.
You see why we have experts here? But anyway, they eat a little, they talk a little, they exalt a little a bit about the World Trade Center, and at the end he has sex with Pam Anderson.
I don't understand how she gets on every grainy video.

[ Laughter ]

Just kidding.
Reading the transcript, can anyone doubt, not that I had any doubts before, that he is the mastermind behind this? What can the muslim world say now, and I'm sure they will, to contrafute this? This tape.

Giselle: Here's what I think is suspect.
They say they found the tape in some abandoned house or guest house outside of Kandahar by mistake.
This wasn't planted.
I find that somewhat suspect.
Also the timing of the tape and his remarks are unclear.
We heard no substantiation by the bush administration or their experts as to when this dialogue actually took place.
Is he viewing tapes of the attacks that happened simultaneously, or is he saying, "This is the tape that I saw, now the next plane is coming, we calculated this."

Bill: I think that's very clear.
This is sometime --
I think it's in November they said.
But it's certainly sometime after the events took place.

Giselle: I don't think that's clear, actually.

Mansoor: Bill, the point here, though, is not about what is said on the tape as much as it is what you said first.
Which is, "Is he the terrorist mastermind?" My judgment after watching what I have seen of that tape, and reading the transcript carefully, is that this is a guy who's taking credit for something I don't think he himself planned.
The people that are around him --

Bill: Why? What makes you think that?

Mansoor: Because an Arab who has a megalomaniac problem which is what Bin Laden has become, would love to take credit for everything that went wrong here because that's what they're all about.
But the real planners in this thing were Zawahiri, and he stays quietly in the background, off to the side, not on camera, not saying anything.
He's deferring to his --

Bill: Oh, so what? They're always together.

Mansoor: We have gone through the process --
listen, we have gone through the process of making a cartoon caricature into a megalomaniac.

Bill: What is this with the denial? What is the world with denial?

Mansoor: We have to keep our eye on the ball.
It's not about one man.

Bill: The ball?

Mansoor: The issue here is the organization, the infrastructure and that's what we have.

Giselle: What's despicable about the tape, he likened the victory of the trade center attack to a soccer match and said that praise Allah, this was a huge success.
He gave us information that we did not know he had.
He said that the hijackers did not know they were going on this mission, that they operated independently.

Mansoor: That could have all been after the fact as well.

Bill: That was a little misrepresentative when we heard it before.
He said, "we did not reveal the operation until they got to the airport and just before they boarded the planes," which, as you remember --
remember there was an argument between them that they reported that.
That was the argument.

Trace: "Does that mean we're going to die?"

Bill: Yeah, it's like "Oh, you mean martyr with a big 'm'?"
[ Laughter ]

"Oh, I thought we were going to Cuba.
I was going to be the beach with a pina colada.

Giselle: He said he was surprised, but I'm not sure what the actual terminology was, but he did express surprise that the whole towers collapsed.
He said, "We were only hoping that three or four floors would be devastated."

Sebastian: But what about Atta's letter? Didn't Mohammed Atta leave a letter in his suitcase --

Giselle: Before the last dance.

Sebastian: before the last dance.
No, before the attack where he was telling his subordinates to pray and to clean yourselves because they were going to die, so they did know they were going to die.

Bill: He did, because he was the lead hijacker.
I think the other guys, when they got to the airport, they knew they were on some sort of a mission, but then it was like, "Oh, we're not going to Disneyland? Well, maybe I will have a steak."

Mansoor: Bill, we're making the same mistake that we made for the last five years in overdramatizing what Bin Laden says or does or any of that.
This is about an infrastructure that has spread and metastasizes throughout the world in such a deep way.

Bill: But why can't you admit it's him? He does.

Mansoor: it's not a matter of him or not him.

Bill: He admits it, why can't you?

Mansoor: It's not a matter of him or not him.
It is him.
That's not the issue.
That's the point I'm trying to make.

Bill: So you are saying he is the man?

Mansoor: They're still here.
They're still after us and, they're coming to get us.

Trace: And we didn't need this tape to give us another reason to kill him.

Mansoor: Exactly, that's the point.

[ Talking over each other ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

Giselle: This is the first time we have proof.
Before I think there was a lot of skepticism as to whether or not the White House is trying to demonize somebody so that we had somewhere to reject all of our anger and hate.
This is the first time the Arab world and the United States of America can look at this tape and say, he knew, he takes credit, he reveled in the disaster that has changed our world forever, and this, for the first time, could convince our coalition to stay united when we need that.
I think the big question about this tape, and I state it again --
what is the timing of the tape? Why did it take a the Bush administration a week to release it? What propaganda are we worried about? Are the national security interests really at stake?

Bill: I think they were just making sure it was real, and they're probably getting a translation.

Mansoor: they were checking with the Saudis to make sure they knew who the other two guys were on the tape to make sure that they weren't part of the royal family or an important family in Saudi Arabia.
They wanted to make sure there wasn't some connection --

Bill: Covering their oil ass.

Mansoor: Exactly.

Bill: Yeah.

[ Laughter and applause ]

Mansoor: That's what they were doing.

Trace: Why didn't they make the guy with lung cancer leave the room? He was coughing through the whole thing.

[ Laughter ]

I couldn't even hear what they were talking about.

Bill: Their was a lot of ass kissing on their.

Sebastian: It was terribly shot.
It's a terribly-shot video.

Mansoor: you know what they smoke over there? They smoke cow dung.
They don't smoke regular cigarettes.
You didn't know that? That's what's in their hukas they're sitting there smoking on all the time.

Giselle: was this tape intended for us to air publicly?

Bill: I don't know.
I think that's very interesting that criminals --
I saw this, the first thing I thought of was Nixon.
Why do criminals feel the need to tape themselves?
[ Laughter ]

To somehow go back to scene of the crime.
They can never just do it.
You know, the kids at the high school.
It's like they have to leave evidence.
They have to incriminate themselves.
It's in the criminal mind.

Bill: But in their mindset, in this particular terrorist culture, they perhaps want a record.
They maybe think this man is going to die as a martyr with a capital "M," and they want some record of him assuming responsibility on tape.

Sebastian: And he's not a criminal, as far he's concerned.
This is a historic moment.
This is the beginning of the downfall of the West.
And I can see in his mindset, "Okay, we have to preserve this." He has a huge ego.
I mean, that's one thing that came across to me.
Just an enormous ego and his praising of God in this, for me it was the most revolting thing.

[ Talking over each other ]

Giselle: I mean some could compare this to let's say Hitler had a tape talking to his colleagues about the slaughter of all the Jews.
I mean imagine --
you can't compare it to 6 million Jews and so many others --

Bill: Right, same idea.

Mansoor: There's another element and that is you have a guy who here who is essentially trying to ensure that the sleeper cells that are here in the United States or Germany or England or wherever they're planning their next set of attacks, he's saying to them, "Boys, I'm still here.
I haven't gone anywhere yet.
All their smart bombs haven't gotten me yet."

Giselle: I think it's so smart, and, at the same time, it's so hard for us to grasp, you're saying, "Don't be fooled by the charade that it's only Osama Bin Laden.
There's so many others." And you've mentioned others that I don't even know about.
And sleeper cells, that this is just the very beginning.
I think we, as a nation, we need to at least have that face of evil.

Bill: And let's get real.
It's not just the cells and the so-called terrorists.
He refers to the mosque, he's talking to a guy who just came from a mosque in Saudi Arabia.

Mansoor: Not any mosque, the grand mosque.

Bill: The grand mosque.
This is what makes me mad when people compare him to Tim McVeigh.
No, because there wasn't a cleric in the United States who was praising Tim McVeigh the day this happened.
Okay? So he does refer to the rest of the Islamic world, not that they're all for him.
But, I mean, come on.

Giselle: Well, what I think is scary, he says, "Now their are hundreds more followers that are going to be devoted now to Osama Bin Laden as a result of the success of these attacks." And they celebrate that.

Mansoor: This is what's disturbing, that he was trying to tie the guy who had just come from the grand mosque, apparently and made a statement that said, the leader of the prayer --

Trace: The head preacher guy.

Mansoor: The head preacher guy.

[ Laughter ]

Thank you, Trace, for putting that in plain English.
The head preacher guy basically had given a farquad.

[ Talking over each other ]

Bill: A what?

Mansoor: A farquad.
A cheap sermon, like a cheap sermon.

Giselle: What was the dream sequence about? Was the dream like a foreboding? What was the reference to all the dreams?

Sebastian: Their's dozens of dreams in that tape.

Giselle: Was that someone saying that they got this from God as message as how to carry this out?

Mansoor: This is their to desire to try and present this as the enlightened spiritualness of what they're doing.
It's all nonsense.

Giselle: You know what this tape does? I'll tell you what this tape did for me.
It made me sick.
And it makes me absolutely recoil at the despicable nature of these people and this terrorism.
And it reinforces the need to not only weed out the Bin Ladens, but to wipe out terrorism --

Bill: He's dumb to show himself because a monster is always scarier when you don't see him.
Remember like the first "Alien"? Very scary 'cause you never saw the monster.
Then by the third one she was dating him.

[ Laughter ]

Bill: All right, we got to take a break.
We'll be back.

[ Applause ]

Bill: All right.
Let's get back to the Middle East.

Trace: Wait a minute, wait a minute.
I declare a farquad on Mansoor.

[ Laughter ]

You've come around to my way of thinking now.

Bill: Well, the --

[ Applause ]

Trace: Thank you.

Bill: The Middle East meets the deep South.
That's always good to see the world coming together.
And speaking of that --
that's actually what I wanted to talk about, because I know you've been critical of former President Clinton, because he didn't apparently get Bin Laden when he could have.
Possibly true or possibly not.
But I think one thing that President Clinton really got was that the world is completely interconnected.
And I think that's something President Bush is only learning since September 11th.
I mean, President Bush --
let's face it --
came into office, and a lot of people voted for this, with the idea of "Let's pull out treaties," "We don't really need anybody else," "Go kill each other, I'll be on the ranch."
[ Laughter ]

And the rest of the world doesn't like that, and I understand that.
And I think he's done a commendable job of coming up to speed and understanding that you can't be that way.
It's like ecology.
You take out one little thread and a lot of other stuff falls.
And we cannot be just dissociated from the rest of the world.

Mansoor: That's correct.
But the problem, Bill --

[ Applause ]

The problem, Bill, is that President Clinton got it right as far as the Middle East was concerned.
He went in there and literally brought these leaders together.

Bill: Right.

Mansoor: But he completely ignored --
tell me one Arab --

Trace: He did a good job on that one, didn't he?

Mansoor: Tell me one Arab country that he visited in a state visit to give them the dignity and the respect that they were so desperate --

Bill: Name one Arab country that deserves to get any respect with a state visit.

Mansoor: Well, let's not be quite that hard-line about it.

Bill: Really?

Mansoor: The fact of the matter is that if we're gonna live with $50 a barrel oil for a long time, we've had a lot of dignity and respect for them.
That's part of the problem with us.

Bill: Well, touche on that one.

Mansoor: We've built the structure that depends on that.

Bill: Yep.

Mansoor: The simple point I'm trying to make to you is that it is one thing to engage genuinely, to your enemies and your adversaries and your allies alike.
It is another when you pick and choose in such way that you actually are destroying, or undermining, your own national security.
And that's the argument that I've made in recent weeks, that we were asleep at the switch on the most important problem of our time.
That was --

Bill: Sure.

Mansoor: --
Where were the terrorist cells developing? What were they doing?

Bill: Well, everyone agrees with that.
What people, I think, argue about is, again, can we just be isolationists? Can we say to the rest of the world, "You know, you guys are so messed up.

Giselle: I think the lessons that we've learned --
and I think it goes way beyond Clinton --
and I don't think we can hold Clinton at a time of, you know, panacea here.
He knew about Bin Laden, he didn't follow up on it.
He may have brought people together diplomatically, but we didn't get any magnificent treaties.
And I think it's too early to judge Bush, and you can't judge him other than September 11th and on, because the world has changed significantly.
And anything that happened before is irrelevant.
He hasn't been able to prove himself until now.
And I personally think he's doing a brilliant job engaging.

[ Applause ]

But I think what this really speaks to, Bill, in terms of the whole idea of isolationism or globalization and really being interconnected planet, we have been exploitative and imperialistic in nature for centuries.
And when we take a look at what we've done in Latin America, what we did in Afghanistan --
we go in, we get what we want, we prop up the enemy and then we back out, and we don't care what's left behind.
The Soviet --
the former Soviet Union.

Bill: You know what?

Giselle: No, we do.

[ Talking over each other ]

Bill: Until the military develops crystal ball technology, that is so easy to say.
Yeah, we propped up the Taliban or whoever against the Russians.
I would take that bet again today.
Because the Russians were worse, and the Iranians were worse than the Iraqis in 1980!

Giselle: It's about leaving the job undone.
We go in, we do --

Bill: Yeah, I'll agree with that.

Giselle: --
Serve our interests without understanding the culture, the dynamic and the consequences of what we're doing in these other lands.

Bill: Well, leaving the job undone, that's your boyfriend bush again.

[ Laughter ]

Giselle: We've paid the price.

[ Audience oohs ]

[ Applause ]

Trace: He ain't left the job undone, he's just gettin' started, man.
This is gonna take a long time.

Bill: We did in 1991 with Saddam Hussein, didn't we?

Trace: That was big George.

Bill: Right.

Giselle: The sins of the father, baby.
Sins of the father.

Trace: You can't hold him accountable for that, man.

Bill: I'm not.
I'm saying George Bush the first did that.

Giselle: I think we have to account for what we've done historically and learn from our lessons.
And not go in --

Trace: The reason that he didn't kill Saddam then was because of peacenicks like you keepin' him from doin' it.

[ Laughter ]

Bill: First of all, you obviously have never seen this show when you weren't on it, because I ain't no peacenick, high hat.

Trace: Yeah, well.
Yeah, but you know.
It was those peacenick, liberal types --
people that kept him from finishing the job.
There was such an uproar over the whole thing.

Bill: What a bunch of bologna.

[ Talking over each other ]

Bill: He had a 91% approval rating.
He could have done anything he wanted.
How you can excuse that and blame it on the peacenicks.

Trace: Yeah, and being worried about makin' the folks from Saudi mad and all that.

Bill: That's the worst denial than his.

Trace: Denial of what?

Bill: Living in denial.

Trace: Denial of what?

Bill: Denial that it was George Bush's fault for not doing it! You're blaming it on peacenicks in Berkeley.

Mansoor: Let's assume that it's not George Bush's fault.
There are a lot of other leaders in this world who are not worth making peace with either.
Look, in the Middle East today, you have a militant Jew and a greedy Arab.
How are you going to make peace between these two guys? One's a terrorist and the other one terrorizes.

[ Talking over each other ]

You can't make peace with people who don't have any concept of what the word means.
That's the problem.

[ Applause ]

Now, what is the United States supposed to do about that?

Giselle: We're supposed to walk softly and carry a big stick.

Bill: I don't know where to begin on that on.
So I won't, we'll take a break.

[ Applause ]

Bill: Okay, in the time we have left, I do want to pick on something you said.
You said that before September 11th really doesn't matter.
And I think it really does in this administration and past administrations.
And to pick up on the Bush administration, the first one, I don't know if anyone remembers this, some of you, I'm sure, do.
But their was a time when James Baker, the velvet hammer, you remember this? When he actually said in a congressional hearing, he said publicly to the Middle East people, to the Arabs and the Jews in the Middle East, he said, "You know, when you get serious about peace, here's the phone number of the White House." Well, you know what? That is arrogant.
That does not help the problem.
When you're the Secretary of State, your job is to put up with exasperating old men who hate each other.
It's not to take your ball and go home and say, "You know what? You get serious, call us, fellows, but it's not really my problem."
Sebastian: Not when we're giving each side $3 billion a year of American taxpayer money.
No way.

[ Applause ]

We, the American people, have a right to demand from people that we support financially, give them jobs, give them economic help, to make sure that they understand that our value system, our way of life is something that they need to understand and bring peace to themselves.
You can't make peace with people who don't want peace for themselves.
There's no way you can do it.

Giselle: I have to tell something.
You said what happens before September 11th, I agree with you.
Believe me, the administration in this country made us know better what it's like now to be under the threat of terror in the Middle East, whether on either side than they ever did before.
And as a result, we will respond differently, and hopefully, we will learn and learn by what history has taught us in the Middle East, the conflict --
the peace process has collapsed and fell apart.
Perhaps now, we can really engage in new peace process.
Take a look at Arafat.

Bill: We really have got the lesson that I think Clinton understood, because Clinton, being a playa' --

[ Laughter ]

understood that the haters always hate the players.
And if you just --

Giselle: He loved the Jews, look at Monica Lewinsky.

[ Laughter ]

Mansoor: We're not touchin' that one, are we? No way.

Sebastian: Things have changed, though, we've been hurt.
Maybe for the first real time in our history we've been hurt.
I just came back from Afghanistan, and people there, they knew about the attack on September 11th, and we've talked about it, and basically, their reaction was, "Well, we're so sorry for you, but you've joined the human race."

Bill: Right.

Sebastian: "We all live like this.
And now you do too." And I think it's important, and we can exploit that, we can use that to good ends, because now we really have a reason to think about peace, the rest of the world, but we will always be vulnerable now.
And we're going to act differently.

Mansoor: This is a chance for America's muslims to stand up and be counted for once in showing what America's ideals are really all about, and helping us to formulate the structures for peace in other parts of the world.

Bill: Here, here, well said.
Thank you.
We'll be right back.

[ Applause ]

Bill: Okay, here's the world coming together.
Sebastian Junger's "Fire." Trace Adkins, "Chrome," with a big hit, "I'm Tryin." It's about time, you've been tryin' a long time.

[ Applause ]

Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher


Executive Producers
Bill Maher
Nancy Geller
Jerry Nachman
Marilyn Willson

Co-Executive Producer
Kevin Hamburger

Sheila Griffiths

Created By
Bill Maher

Directed By
Michael Dimich

Writing Supervised By
Billy Martin

Kevin Bleyer
Brian Jacobsmeyer
Bill Kelley
Bill Maher
Billy Martin
Jerry Nachman
Ned Rice
Danny Vermont
Eric Weinberg

Coordinating Producer
Joy Dolce

Associate Director
Bob Staley

Stage Manager
Patrick Whitney

John Cramer

Executive in Charge of Production
John Fisher

Brad Grey
Bernie Brillstein
Marc Gurvitz

© 2001 Follow Up Productions

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