MSNBC: The Situation With Tucker Carlson, 6/1/06
CARLSON: Welcome back. An updated on the aftermath of the Haditha story. The investigation into what happened in November in that Iraqi town is not complete. But at least one group is now calling for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. That group is the Council on American-Islamic Relations, known as CAIR.
It’s spokesman, Ibrahim Hooper, joins us tonight from Washington. Mr. Hooper, thanks for coming on.
IBRAHIM HOOPER, SPOKESMAN, CAIR: Thanks for having me.
CARLSON: Don’t you think we ought to wait until the investigation is done and we know what really happened before you start calling for defense officials to resign?
HOOPER: Well, first of all, I think it’s pretty clear what happened. There have been no reports refuting the allegations of a massacre that I’ve seen.
But it’s not just the alleged massacre. It’s the series of blunders and flawed policies that have come out of the Pentagon since Secretary Rumsfeld has been there. The looting that was allowed…
CARLSON: Wait. One news story at a time here, though, if you would.
CARLSON: Your organization issued a press release pegged to the story of Haditha, the massacre of that…
HOOPER: In the press release we mentioned Abu Ghraib.
CARLSON: That’s right. However…
HOOPER: We mentioned the looting that was allowed in Iraq. We mentioned Guantanamo. We mentioned all these other flawed policies.
CARLSON: It did low in the press release. But the headline is “in the Aftermath of Haditha we call for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld.”
Now we don’t know what happened. The military has not commented publicly on this, as you’re fully aware. It could be that the stories we have seen in the press are either inaccurate or at best incomplete.
Don’t you think, like the rest of the country, you ought to slow down, take a deep breath and find out what happened before you start weighing in, in ignorance?
HOOPER: I think there have been enough eyewitness reports — really bone-chilling reports of what happened, and even from soldiers who were involved in the incident or in the clean-up of the incident to determine that something happened there. And this is just the straw that broke the camel’s back.
CARLSON: What do you mean, something happened there? That’s good enough for you? You’re a — you’re a public policy organization and “something happened” is good enough for you to just weigh in and call for someone’s resignation? Please.
HOOPER: When you have — when you have babies and women and old men in wheelchairs shot to death with no apparent reason other than people going house to house? Come on.
CARLSON: How the hell do you know? I’m not in any way — I’m not defending the deaths of civilians. It goes without saying. And incidentally, I’d like to see you condemn the deaths of civilians in other instances a little bit more often, as I’ve said before.
But in this case, we don’t know the circumstances under which they were murdered. And I’m just saying are you helping the discourse by weighing in before you know the facts?
HOOPER: Even if for some reason this turned out to be a complete hoax, we have called for Secretary Rumsfeld’s resignation in the past for the long string of other blunders that have occurred on his watch. And this is just the latest one. It’s time for him to go.
CARLSON: But I wonder why your organization, of all organizations, is doing so. You’re not a military organization.
CARLSON: You don’t claim expertise in military affairs. Are you speaking now on behalf of the people of Iraq? It sounds that way.
HOOPER: First of all, we’re Americans. We’re concerned about America’s image in the world. Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, the — all the things that have happened in Iraq and Afghanistan and different places in the Muslim world. These harm our nation’s image and interests. We’re concerned about it, and we don’t want it to continue.
CARLSON: It sounds to me like you’re concerned about America’s sins, real and perceived, because that does seem to be your focus of your organization’s efforts. Not America’s image but America’s badness. I mean, every time we have you on, it’s America has done this wrong with Muslims, America’s done this wrong with Muslims.
HOOPER: Well, you need to call me about good subjects sometimes.
CARLSON: I wonder how much time you spend on good subjects.
HOOPER: We have an entire Muslims CAIR program this summer. Muslims volunteer to do good work in communities all across America.
CARLSON: Let me get right to the internal contradiction of what you just said. You said we’re doing this because we care about America’s image abroad. If you care so deeply about America’s abroad — I’m dubious, but let’s say you do — then why are you sullying that image by weighing in on something about which you don’t really know a lot?
HOOPER: We don’t…
CARLSON: But you’re assuming that American soldiers killed these people in cold blood. You don’t know that, but you’re implying it. Does that help America’s image abroad? I don’t think so.
HOOPER: We — we protect the reputation of our armed forces by holding them and their commanders to the highest standards possible.
CARLSON: Right, and those standards include knowing the facts before passing judgment. Those standards, I think, apply to all of us, even CAIR.
HOOPER: OK. I think if you go back and read the eyewitness accounts…
HOOPER: … read the accounts of the soldiers, I think you may have a different idea about how this came about.
CARLSON: Well, we — I’m waiting until we know the facts. Mr. Hooper, thanks for joining us.
HOOPER: Thanks for having me.