The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 01/09/15
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. Thank you.
We`re continuing our live coverage tonight.
Alan Dershowitz will be back with me tonight. We did not finish our
conversation last night about why he said France rewards every terrorist.
Let`s see what he says tonight.
And before French police killed three terrorists today, the terrorists
explained their motivation, saying, quote, “We are the prophet`s
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are following a developing situation in
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rapidly unfolding event live in the French
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A sea of military and police uniforms here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two brothers suspected in Wednesday`s terror
attack at a Paris newspaper are holed up inside that building.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Contact has been made through the anti-terrorism
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two people involved in a second hostage standoff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: French military and anti-terrorism police have
surrounded the Kouachi brothers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That started, those are bangs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not one, but two hostage crises have played out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those are flash bangs. So that is the very first
thing the assault team would do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tense, terrifying, shocking day in France.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Continuing smoke pouring out right now from the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: French tactical units have successfully raided
both of those different locations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we know for sure now is the three gunmen are
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People really want this to be over.
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Everyone should combine to
condemn completely this outrage.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States
stands with you today, stands with you tomorrow. We stand for freedom and
(FRENCH PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE SPEAKING FRENCH)
O`DONNELL: Tonight in Paris, the Arc de Triomphe is lit up with a
sign that reads, “Paris is Charlie”. Two separate hostage situations ended
with three terrorists shot and killed by French police. Another suspect, a
woman, is still at large.
The Kouachi brothers who massacred 12 people two days ago were tracked
to a location near Charles de Gaulle Airport. Before French police killed
the brothers, Cherif spoke to a French TV reporter while he hid from police
in a printing factory.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CHERIF KOUACHI: We`re telling you that we are the prophet`s defenders
peace and blessings be upon him, and that I, Cherif Kouachi, was sent by
Yemen`s Al-Qaeda. OK?
IGOR SAHIRI, REPORTER: Yes, yes.
KOUACHI: So, I went there and it was Anwar Al-Awlaki who financed me.
SAHIRI: And how long ago was this?
KOUACHI: Before he was killed.
SAHIRI: So you came back to France not long ago?
KOUACHI: No, a long time ago, during the secret years. Don`t worry.
I know how to do things.
SAHIRI: And now there`s only you and your brother?
KOUACHI: That`s not your business.
SAHIRI: But do you have people behind you, or not?
KOUACHI: That`s not your business.
SAHIRI: OK, but do you plan to kill again in the name of Allah?
KOUACHI: Kill who?
SAHIRI: I don`t know, I`m asking you the question.
KOUACHI: Did we kill civilians during the two days you`ve been
looking for us?
SAHIRI: You killed journalists.
KOUACHI: But did we kill civilians or people during the two days that
you looked for us?
SAHIRI: Did you kill this morning?
KOUACHI: We are not killers. We are defenders of the prophet, we
don`t kill women. We kill no one.
We defend the prophet. We kill people who insult him. We don`t kill
women. We are not like you. You are the ones killing women and children
in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. This isn`t us. We have an honor code in
SAHIRI: But you just sought revenge here, you killed 12 people.
KOUACHI: Yes, because we sought revenge. You just said it well.
Because we sought revenge.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Amedy Coulibaly first met Cherif Kouachi in 2005 while
both were in prison in France. It was in prison where Amedy converted to
radical Islam. By 2009, Amedy Coulibaly was out of prison and working at a
Coca-Cola factor where he actually met the French President Nicolas Sarkozy
when Sarkozy visited the factor to discuss youth employment.
Ten months after that meeting, police search Amedy Coulibaly`s
apartment and found 240 rounds of ammunition. Yesterday, Amedy Coulibaly
shot and killed a policewoman in a suburb outside of Paris, according to
police. And today, he took hostages at a kosher grocery store in Paris and
then called a French TV station.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REPORTER: Are you linked to the two brothers who carried out the
Charlie Hebdo operation?
AMEDY COULIBALY: Yes, we coordinated to carry out the operations.
REPORTER: Are you still in contact with them? Have you recently been
on the phone wit them?
REPORTER: In what way did you coordinate? Are there other events
planned? Is there a plan that you are carrying out together?
COULIBALY: No, we only coordinated at the start. When they started
with Charlie Hebdo, I started with police.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: French police stormed the kosher grocery store at the same
time police were shooting and killing the Kouachi brothers at the other
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
O`DONNELL: Police shot and killed Amedy Coulibaly and discovered that
he had already killed four of the people in the kosher grocery. The 15
hostages who were still alive when the police entered the store all
Tonight, five people connected to the attacks are in police custody.
Police are still searching for a woman they say is connected to today`s
grocery store attack.
Joining me now with the latest is NBC News chief foreign correspondent
Richard Engel who is near the site where the two Kouachi brothers were
Also joining me, Laura Haim, White House correspondent for the French
network Canal Plus.
Richard, what do we know about the five people who are in custody?
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: We know very
little about them, in fact. The chief prosecutor in Paris gave a very
detailed press conference a couple of hours ago and laid out almost minute
by minute what happened today, what the police learned, what they`ve been
gathering, the kind of evidence, the weaponry that these two brothers were
carrying. But they wouldn`t say much about ongoing investigations. They
wouldn`t say much about the fourth suspect, the woman who is believed to be
still at large. The French authorities still consider this very much an
So, in terms of the intelligence collection that is going on now,
people who they have in custody, people who they are still looking for,
that much, the French are still keeping quite under wraps.
O`DONNELL: And, Richard, tell us the significance of Cherif Kouachi
saying today publicly that he was financed, backed by Yemen`s al Qaeda.
ENGEL: Well, I think it takes away – if it is to be believed, and
there are many indications, there are many reasons why it seems very
plausible, it means that this was in part an al Qaeda in Yemen attack. It
was an international attack. It was not a lone wolf attack. This wasn`t
some radical who decided on his own to carry out an operation.
This was something that was planned. This was something that took
months, if not a lot longer to conceptualize. And it shows a different
scale of terrorism than we`ve been accustomed to in the last several months
when we saw that attack in Sidney, which was just an individual who many
local authorities just described as derange, perhaps even mentally ill or
the individual in Canada who stormed parliament, who had been living on the
street for some time.
These individuals, these brothers were not like that. These were
hardened Islamists who had been in and out of jail, had been under
surveillance for a long time, traveled abroad to Yemen, traveled abroad to
Syria, according to French officials.
So, I think it is quite significant when you think about the scale and
what they`re able to accomplish.
O`DONNELL: Laura Haim, you expressed 100 percent confidence that the
French police were going to track down these two brothers who killed those
cartoonists and started this, 100 percent confidence that it would happen.
And you were completely confident that it would end in bloodshed.
What was your reaction to the way it all happened today?
LAURA HAIM, CANAL PLUS: I was not surprised at all. They wanted
that. They wanted to speak to the press.
It`s fascinating to see what happened to them when they called this
news channel in France. When you speak French, when you understand the way
they speak, they speak to the journalists like they`re friends with the
They don`t seem afraid. They seem very relaxed. The brother, he`s
expressing in France, a full confidence about oh, we don`t kill people.
It`s in the name of the prophet.
This is quite horrible and it`s very challenging for what`s coming for
all of us in the next weeks and months, because now, those people are going
to inspire more people to do those types of things. The media are going to
have a huge responsibility in the way those stories are going to be played
live on TV.
O`DONNELL: And, Richard Engel, today, al Qaeda`s branch in Yemen,
member of that branch said that the group was directed in their attack
against “Charlie Hebdo.” And I`m wondering what you mean that will mean to
France`s response to this, having an actual geographic base out there as to
whether these orders were coming from.
ENGEL: There`s actually a far more confusing element to this story.
In the past, when we`ve talked about militant attacks or terrorist attacks,
one of the first questions asked has always been, well, who is responsible?
Which organization? And they were fairly clearly defined organizations.
In this case, you saw the two brothers claiming that they were acting
in the name of al Qaeda in Yemen and said that they were directly financed
by Anwar al-Awlaki. But the militant who entered the supermarket, he
claimed that he was affiliated with ISIS, which is a rival group with a
very similar ideology. There`s not that much in terms of their political
goals or their religious leanings between the two.
And I think because of the war in Syria, the war in Iraq, the Internet
where all of these different types of individuals can exchange ideas, we`re
seeing a much murkier picture where individuals could be attracted to al
Qaeda in Yemen, but also like ISIS, maybe switch their allegiances between
the groups. And it`s becoming a much less clear picture because of the
large number of individuals who are fighting and meeting and collaborating
on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq.
O`DONNELL: And, Laura, it seems what Richard was –
ENGEL: And the Internet.
It seems what Richard was just describing is what has you saying,
others are going to try this. I mean, here are these two brothers saying
tat they were back by one group, the other terrorist today saying he was
backed by another. And yet, about them saying they were working together
and coordinated to some extent.
And so is that your – what Richard just described, is that your sense
of how big this problem is in France?
HAIM: It`s huge, not only in France, but in Europe and Richard is
ENGEL: I`m not hearing you –
HAIM: OK. I`m just saying that – did you hear me?
O`DONNELL: Yes, we hear you, Laura. Go ahead.
HAIM: I think Richard is fully right.
And what we saw today was the French police people are calling the
children of 9/11. Those people, those brothers were very young when 9/11
happened. After 9/11, according to my sources inside the French community,
they grew up with hate about everything, and then the war in Iraq happened.
And then Abu Ghraib happened. It was, according to my sources, huge for
these two brothers. Then they could completely radicalize.
One of them went to prison. He discovered a preacher inside prison.
And after it was completely over, they wanted to be extremists. They
wanted to go to Syria. They wanted to avenge Abu Ghraib.
You`re going to see that more and more often. I think in the next
days, the big story is going to be this woman, what is happening with this
woman who is still at large.
O`DONNELL: Laura Haim and Richard Engel, thank you both very much for
joining me tonight.
Coming up, the leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah groups makes a bold
statement saying Islamic extremists have insulted the Prophet Mohammed more
than any satirical cartoonist ever could.
And, what can we learn from the tactics of the French police today. A
former Boston police officer who led the search for the Boston marathon
bombers will join me.
And in “The Rewrite” tonight, what I hate about TV.
O`DONNELL: The head of Britain`s security service, MI5, is asking for
greater authority to help prevent terror attacks, like the ones in Paris
this week. Andrew Parker told the BBC that his officers had stopped three
terror plots in the past few months, and that more than 600 British
citizens have gone to Syria to join jihadists.
Up next, more details on exactly how the French police closed in on
those terrorists today.
O`DONNELL: That was the scene today about 20 miles outside of Paris,
when French police forces stormed the printing factory and killed the
Kouachi brothers after a standoff. According to the Paris prosecutors, the
brothers emerged from the woods surrounding the town at 8:30 a.m. local
time. They hijacked a car. A gun fight broke out when French police
spotted the brothers driving that car.
Said Kouachi was shot in the neck. The brothers fled the scene and
holed up in a nearby printing factory. They took the manager hostage but
did not know that a second employee of the factory was hiding in a kitchen
cupboard on another floor. That employee remained undetected during the
Police tried to text message the brothers but received no reply.
After a seven-hour standoff, the brothers emerged from the factory and
started shooting. Officers returned fire and tossed stun grenades. Both
suspects were killed and two officers were injured. Both hostages were
In a simultaneous raid at the kosher market in Paris, French police
killed that terrorist and saved over a dozen hostages. Four hostages had
been killed by the terrorists before the police raid.
In a speech later in the day, the president of France praised the
French security forces.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): I want
to pay tribute to the courage, the bravery and the efficiency of the
Gendarmerie, of police officers, and of all of those who took part in these
operations. I want to tell them that we are proud of them because when the
order was given, they carried out the assault simultaneously and got the
same result. They did it to save human lives, those of the hostages.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is former superintendent and chief of the
Boston Police Department, Dan Linskey. He was the incident commander
during the Boston marathon bombing attack.
Dan, I imagine when you were watching this, this week, there were a
lot of echoes of what you went through in Boston.
DAN LINSKEY, FORMER BOSTON POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: There were
certainly a lot of emotions that I was going through as I watched my
brothers and sisters over in France deal with similar challenges that we
O`DONNELL: You know, when I saw this situation in France, I have huge
confidence in French police. I share that with some of my French guests
who have been here. The Gendarmerie, one of the oldest police forces in
the world, well over 200 years ago, and they have the advantage in that
country of having basically three police forces, unlike the United States
where there`s 12,000 local police forces, 18,000 total law enforcement
agencies. And so, they always get to bring the best they have to every
situation no matter where it is geographically in France.
LINSKEY: There`s no doubt they well-trained, well-equipped. A
national police force similar to theirs is, you do away with all the
jurisdiction issues that can get into the way, and they do bring the best
to bear to these challenges. They did an amazing job today.
Two tactical – very difficult tactical situations were going on. And
everyone who is alive before those tactical raids started is alive today.
O`DONNELL: Dan, it seems the more we learn about these terrorists,
that they didn`t really have a plan or an expectation of getting away. It
seems like they were trying to draw this out as long as they could.
But what you were up against in Boston, was it your sense that the
Tsarnaev brothers, when you look at all the evidence now, were really
trying to get away? Or were they looking for an ending like this?
LINSKEY: We don`t know. We don`t know what the plan was. It might
have been that the French authorities were so fast in getting on these
targets that they couldn`t go to their plan.
I can`t comment on the two suspects in my case because we got an
ongoing case. But, you know, we`re not sure exactly what they`re up to.
But we wound up with very similar circumstances where subjects were trapped
and we had to ask communities to stay indoors to help us get them in
O`DONNELL: Will other police agencies, including the Boston Police
Department, be studying exactly how the police handled that situation in
the kosher grocery store? Because that`s the kind of thing that could
happen anywhere in the United States.
LINSKEY: Absolutely. And we do that around all these major events.
I`ve been traveling and learning, teaching lessons, learning from the
marathon. We deal with real life training exercises that we try and do in
fact, the French have come over and participated an urban shield exercises,
similar to the urban shield exercises we ran before the marathon that was
so successful in helping us mitigate the loss of life there.
This will be studied. They did a lot of things right. We`re going to
find some stuff that went wrong. That`s always going to happen and we need
to figure where we made mistakes and address them the next time so we can
make sure they don`t happen again.
Tactically what I find to be the most striking thing of the day, Dan,
and the most amazing accomplishment, is that those police officers went
into the kosher grocery store and no one died, other than the terrorists as
a result of the police going in there.
LINSKEY: Amazing. That video is so eerie, as is – you know, someone
who`s been there in that threshold, you want to go in there as quickly as
possible. And that grate, going up so slowly, you know, the adrenaline as
I watched it on TV was coursing through my veins.
I can`t believe – I can`t imagine how intense it was for them. They
went in knowing they were going to face machine gun fire, believing most
likely, when we first started in law enforcement, I first started in law
enforcement, you had to worry about gun fire in these types of situations.
Now, we have to worry about bombs. We have to worry about chemical
and biological weapons. They went in there and they faced a hail of
O`DONNELL: Dan Linskey, thank you very much for joining me tonight.
LINSKEY: Thank you for having me, Larry.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, why one Hezbollah leader says Islamic
extremists have done more to harm Islam than anyone else in to history.
And, Alan Dershowitz is back tonight. We`ll see if he still believes
what he said yesterday, quote, “France rewards every terrorist.”
O`DONNELL: In political news today, Mitt Romney told a roomful of
financial executives and former contributors that he was considering –
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
– a third run for the White House, something that has been obvious
since he said he would never consider another run for the White House.
And Governor Chris Christie recently talked to a roomful of federal
prosecutors. He was questioned about the George Washington Bridge lane
A spokesman – spokeswoman said that the governor agreed to speak to
the prosecutors voluntarily.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Up next, the leader of Hezbollah says that extremists who kill in
defense of their prophet are damaging Islam more than anyone else in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, FRENCH PRESIDENT (via translator): Those who
committed those acts, those terrorists, those madmen, those fanatics have
nothing to do with Islam.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The “Associated Press” reports that the leader of
Hezbollah said today, –
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
– “Islamic extremists have insulted Islam and the prophet Muhammad
more than those who publish satirical cartoons, mocking the religion.”
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah did not directly mention the Paris attack on
the offices that left 12 people dead. But he said, “Islamic extremists who
behead and slaughter people,” – a reference to the group – to the ISIS`
group`s rampages in Iraq and Syria – “have done more harm to Islam than
anyone else in history.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Joining me now is Nihad Awad, the Executive Director of the Council on
Islamic Relations. Sir, do you agree with what that leader of Hezbollah
said about these killings by terrorists have done more harm to Islam than
anything else in history.
NIHAD AWAD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COUNCIL ON ISLAMIC RELATIONS:
Absolutely. And this is what our religion says all along. And let me just
also quote a very important thing, although these traitors claim to have
said or, allegedly, they have said that they avenged the prophet Muhammad.
I would say they have avenged their egos, their little brains because
they seem to be illiterate about Islam and what the Koran says about
Mockery is there. We expect it from people who sometimes, you know,
poke fun at the religion. And this is not new to us. It`s not new to the
Koran, even to the prophet, peace be upon him, himself.
He was addressed in the Koran that when they mock you, just be
patient. Be patient over what they say about you or to you.
And even in a very clear statement in the Koran, Chapter 15, Verse 63.
It says to the believers that when the ignorant address them, –
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
– they say, “Peace.” So, our response to mockery is peaceful
response, not killing and not avenge as these individuals have done.
So, yes, they have deviated from the religion that I and 1.6 billion
people believe and live it. And, therefore, yes, they have deviated.
And I agree with the President of France that they have nothing to do
with our faith –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
– that`s lived by, as I said, by millions of people around the world,
including 5 million in France and millions others in the U.S. and in
O`DONNELL: You know that we just heard the President of France say
that these attacks had nothing to do with Islam at all. The killers, the
terrorists themselves say that is not true, that that`s exactly the point.
And I want to read what Sharif Kouachi said, and actually quote him
today, what he said over the phone. He said, “We are not killers. –
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
– We defend the prophet. We don`t kill women. We kill no one. We
defend the prophet. We kill people who insult him.” He said, “This isn`t
us. We have an honor code in Islam.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Now, I think some of the confusion comes based on what you just said
that Koran does not support that statement. But that is not the only
guidance that religious Muslims have.
The results of Sharia Law. And there are those who insist that Sharia
Law does indeed call for the death penalty for anyone who draws an image of
AWAD: This is completely ridiculous. There is no such thing that`s
called Sharia Law, either “Sharia” or “law” because the two mean the same
And those derived from Koran do not ever say that you should kill
people who mock you or disagree with you. Because the basis of my faith is
It is a very clear verse in Koran, in Chapter 256, Chapter 2nd, that
there be no compulsion of religion. This is the foundation of my faith,
that you cannot compel people to be like you, or to believe like you, or to
believe in what you believe.
And, therefore, they have to be free, the way you are. You are free.
You cannot impose your faith, tradition and your thinking on other people.
So, I do not know where they invented and they came up with this
notion that you have to kill those who disagree with you or those who do
not believe in your faith.
O`DONNELL: Sir, can I ask you, are you saying that there are
competing versions of Sharia around the world, that someone in London might
say, “Sharia requires this,” someone in Syria might say something else, and
someone in Michigan might say Sharia does not require any of those things.
AWAD: Absolutely. You know what I`m saying. Again, look, there`s
1.6 to 1.7 billion people around the world.
Do you see them committing violence around the world. We`re talking
about – we`re talking about only maybe a few hundreds, few thousands who
misunderstand, misinterpret or taking things out of context.
And this happens in many faith traditions. It is not only new to
Muslims, and it`s not limited to us Muslims.
O`DONNELL: Well, what doesn`t happen in any other faith traditions in
the world today is there are no other faith traditions in the world that
are going out and killing people for cartoons or drawings about any
That magazine had done drawings of the Pope. There`s not a Catholic
in the world who was motivated to even a violent thought about that as far
as we know.
But I`m sorry we`re out of time –
AWAD: We`re talking only about few individuals. We`re not talking
about 1.2 billion people.
O`DONNELL: OK. But what we are not talking about is every or other
religions in the world with this particular phenomenon.
AWAD: You`re talking only about few individuals.
O`DONNELL: OK. Nihad Awad, thank you very much for your time.
AWAD: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: I really appreciate it.
Coming up in the “Rewrite,” what I hate about TV.
Federal prosecutors investigating Former CIA Director David Petraeus
have recommended that he be charged for mishandling classified information.
Investigation began after it was revealed that Petraeus had an affair with
a woman who was writing a book about him.
And federal prosecutors believe he shared classified information with
that woman, Paula Broadwell. Petraeus has denied the wrongdoing. The
possibility of an indictment is now being reviewed by Attorney General Eric
Up next in the “Rewrite,” what I hate about TV. Hint – it is about
to happen right now.
In tonight`s “Rewrite,” what I hate about TV. It`s what everyone
hates about TV, the commercials.
They take an hour-long program like this and then reduce it to 43
minutes, 40 seconds. And that`s the industry standard, including in
All of your favorite commercial TV dramas are 44 minutes long or less.
And then, of course, there is the problem that the show must end at a
precise moment on the clock.
In the case of this program, it must end every night at exactly 11:00
p.m. Never 11:01 p.m. or 11:02 p.m., 11:00 p.m. That`s it.
So, the worst thing that can happen is that in, say, the last two
minutes of this show, someone says something that deserves four minutes of
conversation, and that happened last night.
Retired Harvard Law professor, Alan Dershowitz, was my last guest.
And in the design of the show, we gave the segment double the amount of
time that we usually give the final segment, because I know Alan Dershowitz
always has a lot to say.
And it`s always worth listening to. And he is usually a cogent,
precise and economical speaker.
I know many of you have watched this program on night when the final
segment of the show is two minutes long or three minutes long. I wasn`t
going to let that happen last night to Professor Dershowitz.
And we managed to preserve seven minutes, three seconds for the final
segment which, I think, is maybe the longest final segment we have ever
But it wasn`t long enough. At a time when the manhunt in France was
still going on, we gave Alan Dershowitz four minutes and 46 seconds to
discuss the recent allegations that he had sex with an underage girl, who
also had sex with a billionaire client of Attorney Dershowitz.
Mr. Dershowitz responded to the accusations against him point by
point, and to my questions, forcefully and, I thought, very effectively,
using careful language and direct references to documentary evidence.
One of his answers was two minutes long. But every word was relevant,
on point and emphatic.
Then, with two minutes, 16 seconds left in the show, I asked Professor
Dershowitz about something he said about France yesterday. His exact words
were, “They reward every terrorist.”
Professor Dershowitz immediately said this is true. I said, “That is
absolutely not true.”
Then he interrupted me and my next question and I interrupted him, I
got in a few one-liners, Professor Dershowitz got in a few one-liners and a
But it was messy and contentious, and it`s not the kind of TV I want
to participate in or watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You want to stand by, “They reward every terrorist.”
ATTORNEY ALAN DERSHOWITZ, FORMER HARVARD LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR: They
have released –
O`DONNELL: Tell me how –
DERSHOWITZ: – they have to release convicted – let me give you the
context in which I said this.
O`DONNELL: It`s a crazy thing to say. France does not reward –
DERSHOWITZ: I`m sorry, it`s right. They have the worst record –
O`DONNELL: – every terrorist.
DERSHOWITZ: – of any country in Europe.
O`DONNELL: Do you want to say they`ve rewarded a few terrorists?
O`DONNELL: Are you really going to sit here and say –
DERSHOWITZ: Let me tell you, –
O`DONNELL: – they rewarded every terrorist.
DERSHOWITZ: – virtually every terrorist who has been convicted and
sent to prison in Paris has either gotten out – the point I was making was
a general one, and that is that they voted for Palestinian statehood for a
country that was built on terrorism.
They have done everything to avoid joining the fight on terrorism. I
feel terrible for these people. I feel terrible for France. But –
O`DONNELL: Virtually every country in the world has voted for that
statehood. You know that.
DERSHOWITZ: United States hasn`t. And many other countries have not.
O`DONNELL: Virtually every country in the world.
DERSHOWITZ: Well, good countries don`t vote for it.
O`DONNELL: So, most countries in the world are under Alan
Dershowitz`s bad countries.
DERSHOWITZ: I`ve written a book called “White Terrorism Works.” And
what I do is I prove in that book that terrorism is rewarded.
And particularly all through Europe, terrorism is rewarded. They –
Europe is part of the problem. France is part of the problem.
I feel terribly sorry for the victims but France is part of the
problem. Maybe this will give them a wake-up call and have them join the
war against terrorism rather than becoming part of the problem, of
facilitating and rewarding terrorism. I stand by that statement.
O`DONNELL: I will advise you –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And then I had to end it because we were out of time.
Now, I know that some viewers think that I get in argumentative,
interruption-laced discussions every night on this show.
But they`re actually quite rare, because I hate that stuff. Now, if
you check the record, that stuff probably happens no more than a couple of
times a year on this program.
But if those are the only shows of mine that you see, then that`s what
you think I do. And that argumentative stuff is always more memorable, and
so it lasts longer in people`s memories than the well-reasoned calm
television talk which is, of course, much more forgettable.
The only reason confrontations like that ever happen on this program
is the brutal time limit we are working with. I know there`s 90 seconds
left in the segment.
Something is being said that I can`t let go unanswered and I
interrupt. And then the discussion crashes to a close.
If I have the kind of time they have on C-SPAN, I could let everyone
take as long as they want to answer every question. I could think
carefully about what I was going to say after that.
And just wait for my turn to speak. And I would love to do that.
Some of you actually enjoyed that confrontation last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Gerry Willis tweeted, “Great show tonight. Thank you for calling Alan
Dershowitz out. He is angry because France voted to recognize Palestine.”
Leo tweeted, “Alan Dershowitz`s statement was absurd on the face of
it. He conflated insufficient punishment with reward.”
Donald Newman tweeted, “I lost respect for you tonight, Lawrence.
Even if Dershowitz is wrong re France and terrorism, you were rude and
unprofessional talking over him.”
And Doc Holly tweeted, “I really love Alan Dersh – humble beginnings
from Brooklyn but his great interview with Lawrence went south very fast.
Kiss, make up, boys.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Well, Alan Dershowitz is going to join me next but it will be by
satellite from Miami, so there will be no kissing.
Alan Dershowitz shocked me yesterday by saying this about France –
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
– “They reward every terrorist.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
What shocked me was that a former Harvard Law School professor and
lawyer could say something so reckless and provably untrue. Today is not
the first time French police have killed terrorists.
France has imprisoned terrorists for life. But, last night, Alan
Dershowitz said, “Every terrorist who has been convicted and sent to prison
in Paris has been released.”
That is simply false. And, last night, Alan Dershowitz cited France`s
support for Palestinian statehood as evidence that France rewards every
President George W. Bush supported and supports Palestinian statehood.
Last night, Alan Dershowitz said, “Good countries,” that was his term,
“Good countries don`t support Palestinian statehood.”
That sounds like Alan Dershowitz thinks that harmless little Ireland
is a bad country, that every African country is a bad country, that every
South American country is a bad country, and that every Asian country is a
bad country, and that the United States is a bad country because the United
States does, in fact, support Palestinian statehood.
What shocked me about all of this is that when Alan Dershowitz speaks
about legal matters, he speaks like the lawyer that he is, in careful,
precisely measured language. Every word counts. Every word has meaning.
And so, when I hear him say, “France rewards every terrorist,” I think
he means every. I don`t think he means some. I don`t think he means a
few. I don`t think he means something poetic that is different from the
precise words that he has so carefully chosen.
Here to explain what Alan Dershowitz really means is former Harvard
Law School professor, Alan Dershowitz, author of “Terror Tunnels, The Case
for Israel`s Just War Against Hamas.”
Professor, thank you very much for coming back tonight. I am sorry we
ran out of time last night, and we`re going to have more time.
And I want you to respond in whatever way you like. But what I`m
hoping, after what you saw in France today, you can, at least, now, retract
or correct the statement, “France rewards every terrorist.”
DERSHOWITZ: Well, first, Lawrence, thank you for having me back on.
I`m certainly happy to make peace. I enjoy your show.
What really got me angry is I felt a little bit as if I were
blindsided last night because I was asked to come on about one subject and
then, suddenly, you threw this other subject at me.
Hey, I can improvise. And then you quoted this totally, totally out
of context. My point was this – when you reward any terrorist, you reward
You can`t pick and choose, the way France, historically has done. For
years, France was releasing all the Middle East terrorists that they were
arresting because they were trying to protect their own homeland.
They were saying, “As long as terrorists don`t attack us, we`re going
to get in bed and play footsie with terrorists.” They wanted to export
terrorism and they ended up importing terrorism, very, very selfish.
Now, the point about Palestinian statehood, as you probably know, I
I support Palestinian statehood as long as it`s based on a negotiated two-
What I was opposed to is what France did, voting in the United
Nations unilaterally to accept the Palestinian state, which included Hamas,
which France recognizes as a terrorist organization.
And when you reward Hamas, you reward all terrorists. When you reward
any terrorist, you reward all terrorists.
I wrote a whole book about that and mentioned it yesterday. My book,
“Why Terrorism Works.” The thesis is that you can`t pick and choose the
way France and many other Western European countries do.
The point I was making was a very general one, that you cannot reward
any terrorists, lest all terrorists become incentivized. And I think
that`s been the problem around the world today.
I think, almost every country picks and chooses, decides which
terrorist it`s going to get in bed with, which terrorist it`s going to
I commend France for what it did today. I think France has changed
its policy. France, because it`s become the victim of attack.
But when it was not the victim of attack, when it was trying to play
the game of “Don`t Attack Us and We`ll Very Gently Let You Off the Hook.”
Germany did the same thing. England did the same thing.
And I`m not suggesting countries are bad because they want a
Palestinian state. I think countries have bad policies when they reward
Hamas and Palestinians who have refused to accept Israel`s two-state
The Palestinians have, six times, rejected offers of a two-state
solution. Why do you reward the rejectors and punish those who made the
That`s rewarding terrorism. And so, I think, Lawrence, we can agree
that when you reward any terrorist, you reward the concept of terrorism.
That`s what I meant. If I was imprecise, you can give me a B-minus.
I`m happy to come back though anytime if we can have a civil, legitimate
You just have to give me a little bit of advance warning what the
subject is going to be. Then we can have a good conversation.
O`DONNELL: I get that. And as I explained in the previous thing, I
discovered that quote about France after we had agreed to talk about that
other case that we had last night.
But what we don`t agree on, professor, is the use of that word,
“reward.” Now, that is your choice. And it`s your choice for emphasis and
O`DONNELL: – for conveying your meaning. I do not embrace that word
in this situation.
Carlos the Jackal, who the French went after starting in 1975 for
terrorist activity, they finally got him. It took them 20 years.
He`s in prison for life in France. They snatched him out of Sudan in
DERSHOWITZ: Because he was attacking them.
O`DONNELL: But see, again, to go back to something you just said in
that response, you said you think that, today, France has changed policy.
They haven`t changed policy. They`ve been after –
DERSHOWITZ: Because they are being attacked.
O`DONNELL: No, they were attacked in 1975. And they went after this
guy right away. The French Police have killed terrorists in the street
before today. Nothing changed today for the French Police.
DERSHOWITZ: Their own terrorism, you know. They killed their own
terrorists. They still – now, they`ve began to become a little tougher on
Middle Eastern terrorists that don`t endanger them.
My point I was making is you either have to fight all of terrorism or
you`re going to be losing. France thought they can attack only terrorists
who attack them, and then they will be safe.
It backfired. It turned out it became a safe haven for terrorists.
They welcomed Arafat when he was clearly still a terrorist.
They welcomed Khomeini. They welcomed many other terrorists. And
because those were not terrorists that endanger them. It was terrorists
who endanger other countries in the Middle East.
My point is that you have to have a unified approach to attacking all
terrorism. So, I will revise my remarks and make it clear what I mean, and
that is to support any terrorist is to support terrorism, and that is a bad
policy and a bad mistake. There has to be a uniform approach that a
terrorist who attacks another country is as bad as the one who attacks you.
O`DONNELL: I`m sorry, I`ve got a clock up there. We`re now 17
seconds over. It`s the most I`ve ever violated the network rule about
going out of here at 11:00. Thank you very much, Professor Dershowitz,
really appreciate it.
“Lockup” is of course next.
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