updated 2/9/2006 12:28:08 PM ET 2006-02-09T17:28:08

Guests: Irshad Manji, Akbar Ahmed, Tony Blankley, Amy Goodman, Torie Clarke, Sue Bailey, Mike Huckabee

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR:  East is east and west is west.  Thousands of devout Muslims explode at a handful of irreverent cartoons, some of which were never even published.  Can a comic strip start World War III?  Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, I‘m Chris Matthews.  Another day of Muslim rage over cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed as protesters in Afghanistan try to storm an American military base.  Four protesters were killed today by Afghan police and at least 20 were wounded.

Tonight President Bush reacted by calling on governments around the world to help stop the violence, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had stronger words, accusing Iran and Syria of deliberately stoking Muslim anger over the cartoons.

With American foreign policy committed to spreading democracy to the Middle East, when we looked at these pictures, you can‘t help but wonder if the divide between Western, our, and Middle Eastern cultures runs too deep.  Could this cultural clash turn into a religious war and do these Muslim demonstrators want to live in the democracy President Bush is selling?  Do they believe in freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion?  More on this debate in a moment. 

And later, “Decision 2006,” some Democrats are concerned the lack of leadership and weakness on national security issues could hurt their opportunities in the midterm elections.  Can the party turn themselves around in time to win control of Congress?  But first, NBC‘s Keith Miller is joining us from London with the latest on the cartoon protest.  Keith?

KEITH MILLER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Chris, the cartoon controversy took a strange turn in Tehran today where Iranian protesters attacked the British embassy with rocks.  But the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, which offended Muslims worldwide, were never published in Britain.

The violence continued in other countries as well.  In Afghanistan, five people were killed and 20 wounded, when police opened fire on protesters attempting to storm an American military base.  Meanwhile, Afghanistan‘s top religious council called for an end to the protest.

And on the West Bank, an international monitoring team is leading the city of Hebron after Palestinians attacked their office.  The violence connected to the cartoons hit about a half dozen countries in the past week. 

But today, a French satirical weekly published more cartoons.  One showed the Prophet with a turban in the shape of a bomb.  The French president condemned the publication.

All of Europe is now talking about a clash of civilizations.  The Danish prime minister, where the cartoons were first published last September, said it was a global crisis.  He said rumors and lies were spreading on the Internet, and over cell phones, creating what he called a “cyberspace war.” 

But E.U. officials today and diplomats in the Middle East say the demonstrations have not been spontaneous, but instigated by governments and radical groups using the controversy for their own ends. 

And as you said, Chris, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was more specific today accusing Syria and Iran of stroking Muslim anger.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, Keith Miller in London.  Much more on the cartoon controversy later in the program.  But now it‘s NBC‘s Lisa Myers and a HARDBALL exclusive report on someone who became a U.S. citizen by marriage and then was arrested for helping Abu Musab al-Zarqawi plan attacks in Iraq.  Lisa, thank you.

LISA MYERS, NBC NEWS SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Chris.  The man arrested in Iraq, 44-year-old Shawqi Omar was born in Kuwait, came to the U.S. at age 17, married an American, became a U.S. citizen, and lived here for 16 years.

Now the U.S. government now alleges he‘s been working closely with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to plan attacks on Westerners in Iraq, that he even cruised Baghdad hotels, using his English skills to help identify potential kidnap victims.


MYERS (voice-over):   This is Shawqi Omar several years ago, with some of his six American children.  He lived in Minnesota, and Utah, but spent much of his time in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he briefly attended N.C.  State University.  Records indicate Omar and his family lived here at one point.  He had an import business at this address. 

Omar‘s family now says he traveled to Baghdad in 2002, to try to make some money on contracts to help rebuild Iraq.  However, a new court filing alleges Omar chose a different course, that he‘s been working closely with al-Zarqawi, helping plan attacks on Westerners.

The U.S. government claims that when Omar was arrested in Baghdad in October 2004, the military found weapons and bomb-making materials in his home, as well as five insurgents.  Even more chilling, Omar allegedly used his English skills to visit Baghdad hotels to find Westerners to kidnap.  Most of Omar‘s family still lives in the U.S.

BASSAM OMAR, SHAWQI OMAR‘S BROTHER:  No mother wants to see her child locked up. 

MYERS:  His brother Bassam denies Omar has any terrorist connections. 

OMAR:  Based on my knowledge of him, I could say without being too biased, I mean, he is not a terrorist.  This is all a big mistake, and it‘s not fair to him or us.

MYERS:  Omar‘s lawyer complains that Omar has been held in Iraq for 15 months, without being charged with any crime and without access to a lawyer.

SUSAN BURKE, OMAR‘S LAWYER:  The fact that the allegations may be dramatic, that doesn‘t undercut the fundamental premises that this is an American.  You have to abide by the Constitution.


MYERS:  Omar‘s lawyer has gone to court arguing that if he‘s done something wrong, he should face charges in an American court.  He‘s now being held by U.S. coalition forces in an Iraqi prison as an enemy combatant, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Lisa, he was arrested back in October of 2004, that‘s 15 months ago, as your report said.  Why are we hearing about it now?  You scooped it, but it seems like they really did a good job of keeping this. 

MYERS:  Well, they did, Chris.  The U.S. military announced last March that an American citizen had been arrested in Iraq, but refused to disclose his name.  The military finally released his name only yesterday, after his family went to court, claiming he‘d been denied his rights as an American citizen.  So basically, Chris, his family forced the military to put his name out there.

MATTHEWS:  Is this the type of person, you know, sort of a transnational, he becomes an American but sort of keeps his foot in the land over there, in the Mideast, that we‘re trying to find out about through NSA surveillance?

MYERS:  Well, certainly he‘s one of the types of individuals.  To some extent, this man is a counterterrorism expert‘s nightmare.  He has American citizenship, he has extensive contacts within the country, he can travel freely on an American passport.  And he—you know, even when he was in Baghdad, he had ready access to individuals across the United States.

Now, there are three FBI field offices currently investigating his contacts here.  So far there‘s certainly no indication that anything he poses a threat here in this country, nor anything I should add that implicates his family who still live here in any way.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you.  It‘s a very scary story, the idea of this guy going around to hotels, as you say, and saying there‘s a couple of Americans in room 13G or whatever, and you can nab them tonight at 10:00 p.m. when they usually come in.  Wow, pretty scary.  Thank you very much, Lisa Myers.

Coming up, Muslim outrage over cartoons in a Danish newspaper.  How did it get to the boiling point?  We‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Widespread protests and violence continue to sweep the Muslim world today over a published cartoon, several of them, of the Prophet Mohammed.  HARDBALL‘s David Shuster has the latest on the protests, also some background on how the fury began. 


DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  In Afghanistan today, demonstrators seething with anger tried to storm a U.S. military base.  Afghan police stopped them, shooting four protesters to death and bringing the number of Afghans killed this week in the disorder to 12. 

European intelligence officials say some of the protests across the Middle East have been fueled by Muslim extremist leaders who distributed obscene cartoons of Mohammed and claimed those were the cartoons published in European newspapers.  Today, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused two governments of inciting violence. 

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE:  I don‘t have any doubt that given the control of the Syrian government in Syria, given the control of the Iranian government, which by the way, hasn‘t even hidden its hand in this, that Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and to use this to their own purposes. 

SHUSTER:  So how did all of this begin?  Islam prohibits any depiction of Mohammed.  Last September, an editor of a Danish newspaper read that museums in Europe had removed artwork considered by Muslims to be offensive, so the editor asked Danish newspaper cartoonists to submit images of the Muslim prophet for a story about irony. 

Twelve cartoonists responded including one who depicted Islam‘s holiest figure with a bomb in his turban.  Muslim leaders in Denmark tried to get an apology from the newspaper.  When that failed in October, the Danish Muslim leaders tried to get a meeting with the Danish prime minister.  The prime minister refused to get involved, citing freedom of the press. 

In December, Denmark‘s Muslim leaders sent delegations to Egypt and Lebanon to raise the issue with Muslim scholars and clerics in the Middle East.  Denmark officials say the Muslim delegation intentionally inflamed Islamic leaders by passing off cartoons of Mohammed that were not among those published by the Danish newspaper. 

In early January, with tensions rising across the Middle East, a Norwegian newspaper tried to explain why, and reprinted the original 12 cartoons. 

On January 26th, Muslim anger sparked a boycott of Danish dairy products in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Mohammed.  On January 29th, the Danish prime minister said again, his government cannot be held responsible for what is published in independent media. 

Exactly a week ago, French and German newspapers reprinted the cartoons, saying press freedom is more important than protests.  Since then, protesters have gone on a rampage around the world.  In Iran, a leading state sponsored newspaper this week announced a contest for the best cartoon about the Holocaust.  At the White House today ...

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Freedom comes with the responsibility to be thoughtful about others. 

SHUSTER:  President Bush and Jordan‘s King Abdullah said press freedom should be exercised with sensitivity, and they pleaded for an end to the violence. 

BUSH:  We reject violence as a way to express discontent with what may be printed in the free press.  I call upon the governments around the world to stop the violence, to be respectful, to protect property, protect the lives of innocent diplomats who are serving their countries overseas. 

SHUSTER:  While there is some sympathy in Washington for the anger over offensive cartoons, some politicians away from the cameras have noted the lack of Muslim outrage over repeated violence against civilians victimized by al Qaeda. 

(on camera):  Still, the issue at the moment is how to stop radical Muslims from taking to the streets and going on violent rampages.  And while the Bush administration‘s foreign policy is based on the idea of winning over hearts and minds, its condemnation of western culture and the shouts of “death to America” aren‘t exactly signs of progress. 

I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington. 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David Shuster. 

Ambassador Akbar Ahmed is the former high commissioner of Pakistan to Great Britain.  He‘s now the chairman of Islamic studies at American University here in Washington, and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. 

Irshad Manji is visiting fellow at Yale University and author of the book “The Trouble With Islam Today.”  Let me go Irshad Manji.  Thank you, madam, for joining us tonight, professor.  Were the newspapers wrong in Denmark, is it as simple as that? 

IRSHAD MANJI, YALE UNIVERSITY:  Well, we Muslims love to say that context is everything, particularly when, you know, people are complaining about offensive verses in the Koran, so let‘s apply that same principle here. 

The context in which these cartoons were published was that they were printed right next to a story about a Danish author who was having trouble finding anybody to illustrate her children‘s book about the Prophet Mohammed. 

Every illustrator she went to, Chris, declined the job, fearing the condemnation of Islamic extremists, and now we know why.  So the motive behind publishing these cartoons was not malice, it was frustration.  And for that reason I don‘t think they were wrong. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me—Mr. Ambassador, I didn‘t know this, I‘m not a student of international religions or comparative religion.  Is it part of Islamic doctrine if you will that you don‘t try to form a picture in painting or sculpture or bronze of the Prophet Mohammed? 


Yes, and in fact, that has been maintained.  Particularly in mainstream Sunni Islam, there have been depictions in miniatures, in color, and they‘re reverential.  In Shia Islam, there is an attempt to depict them, but, again, the face is always blocked out of respect and reverence. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s very much like Judaic—you always say you don‘t mention the name of God and Yahweh, and it‘s always very careful. 

AHMED:  It is basically, Chris, going back to the Abrahamic tradition. 

MATTHEWS:  And, in fact, the Bible, or rather the Ten Commandments say you can‘t worship graven images. 

AHMED:  Exactly, so it is very much the Abrahamic.  You know, breaking the idols and so on, and of course, some people carry it to an extreme.  In Saudi Arabia, for example, they have attempted to demolish the tomb of the Prophet, because many Muslims come there and they pray and they show extra reverence and affection because of the central role the Prophet has in Islam. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go back to Professor Manji.  Would these—had these depictions of the Prophet Mohammed been respectful, like most religious references are in most cultures, especially the West—I mean, we tend to show respect unless it‘s a nightclub act for religion.  Would that have caused the same stir?  Would it have been as useful to those who wanted to create the same stir? 

MANJI:  It‘s really difficult to say, Chris, because there are, in fact, some people, as Professor Ahmed pointed out, who would take this to the extreme and cry blasphemy over any pictorial depiction of the Prophet Mohammed. 

As your setup piece pointed out, it was a small group of Danish imams who went to the Middle East and very judiciously, strategically disseminated these cartoons.  You know, might they have done that if these were so-called respectful depictions?  They might have.

MATTHEWS:  Well, we have a respectful one in the U.S. Supreme Court building.  It‘s a freeze, it‘s part of a freeze, it shows Moses, other—as you say in the Aramaic, and the whole history of Abraham, the Semitic tradition, and there was a mild complaint I guess about that once. 

AHMED:  Yes, and Chris, you have exactly a similar painting, a very impressive one, at Lincoln‘s Inn in London, which is one of the greatest law courts in London—again, a depiction of the Prophet, but respectful, so there is Moses, and you had the great law givers. 

Now the fact is, Chris, that in many Muslim countries, it is blasphemous to insult or ridicule the Prophet.  For example, in Pakistan, there‘s something called the blasphemy law, which at times can be carried to an extreme, but it exists.

So for Pakistanis—and we are 160 million Pakistanis—the fact that the Prophet is being insulted or humiliated is also not only a cultural imperative, it‘s also a legal one in that context.  We have to be sensitive to local culture there. 

MATTHEWS:  We live in this country, as you both know, with blasphemy practiced not frequently but often enough.  I think one of the Beatles said “we‘re bigger than Jesus” and that caused a stir for weeks.  It hurt their sales, in fact, for awhile. 

We have all—I can point to many example, everyone of which would be a flash point for someone watching and I would rather not get in to that, but we have a free society. 

We have bloggers, we have independent newspapers, we have the “Philadelphia Inquirer” the other day, “The New York Sun” which is a conservative paper, the “Philadelphia Inquirer” which tends to be a liberal newspaper.  Professor, how to do you stop all these various interests from exercising their freedoms?

MANJI:  Which professor are you referring to?

MATTHEWS:  You, madam.

MANJI:  Well, look, you‘re absolutely right to point out that here in the west, we have a relatively free and Democratic society.  And what I‘m proud to say that most American Muslims would never respond in the way that so many Muslims in the Islamic world are responding, because we know that this is a First Amendment society, and guess what?  The First Amendment protects our freedom of speech, not just everybody else‘s. 

And Christians and Jews know that as well.  That‘s why, Chris, today, the—this month‘s issue of Rolling Stone magazine can show Kanye West with a crown of thorns on his head obviously invoking the passion of Christ.  Some Christians may be complaining about it, but I don‘t see people dying over it and I don‘t see bomb threats against Rolling Stones offices. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll have to see.  I know you can‘t yell fire in a crowded theater.  We‘ll get back to this question.  When can you express your freedom in this country or should we be more careful?  More with our guests when we come back. 

Later on this program, former Pentagon spokesperson Tory Clark, remember her, on selling the Iraq war and cooling down, the kind of thing we‘re talking about, through better communication.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 



KING ABDULLAH OF JORDAN:  With all respect to press freedoms, obviously anything that vilifies the Prophet Mohammed, or attacks Muslim sensibilities I believe needs to be condemned, but at the same time those that want to protest, should do it thoughtfully, articulately, express their views peacefully. 


MATTHEWS:  That was King Abdullah of Jordan, responding to the cartoon protests with President Bush today, who with was with him today.  We‘re back with Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, who is Chairman of the Islamic Studies Department at American University here in Washington and Professor Irshad Manji, a professor at Yale and also the author of “The Trouble with Islam Today.” 

Mr. Ambassador, we were talking during the break, the connection between this dispute, which looks look it‘s getting bigger and bigger, and the war in Iraq, make the connection. 

AHMED:  The connection is crystal that right now America has troops in Iraq, in Afghanistan, very close connection with governments in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, it is really very deeply involved with the Muslim world.  And President Bush has made a very vigorous attempt to win hearts and minds. 

He has members of his A team, Dr. Rice, Karen Hughes, out there making this attempt.  How do you think this team feels in the field when you have this unexpected backlash blindsiding them, because right now the mood is building up to an anti-west and then anti-American mood and those young soldiers, we‘ve lost 3,000 or 4,000 lives in Iraq alone, how do you think those young soldiers feel who are fighting for America, giving immense sacrifices and they‘re really making a heroic attempt to win hearts and minds and suddenly you get this irrational anger appearing in the Muslim world, frustration, anger?

I‘d like you to talk to them and get their advice how to deal with this issue. 

MATTHEWS:  Professor Manji, this war on terror, and I‘m not ever sure it‘s the right phrase to use, war on terror, but the war in Iraq is a real war.  We‘re over there shooting people that are shooting back at us, using explosives to get us, we‘re using tanks to get them and humvees.  Are we creating more terrorists through this kind of communication in the world, just east-western communication, than we‘re killing? 

MANJI:  You know, that‘s a tough one, Chris.  I mean—

MATTHEWS:  Why is it so tough? 

MANJI:  Because we don‘t know what the alternative is, and let me explain what I mean by that.  I was in Europe for all of November and December shooting a film about Islam.  And what I noticed was startling, that there is a profound silence among both Muslims and non-Muslims about the gulf between our respective cultures.

So what I‘m trying to say is I think this Danish newspaper did try to make an attempt to open up that dialogue, open up that discussion.  Didn‘t realize that a group of Danish imams would be taking the cartoons and planting them in the Middle East, so my point is that you can have the best of intentions, which I do believe this newspaper did and—

MATTHEWS:  We have people out there today publishing these cartoons in newspapers, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Sun and on blog sites, knowing exactly how inflammatory that is.  What do you make of that? 

MANJI:  Are you asking me? 


MANJI:  First of all I think that once again the blogosphere is one of those new frontiers.  Go back to my original point.  That motive and context matters.  If what people want to do is show the rest of the world what the furor is all about, then people do need to have access to the cartoons, but if all they want to do is inflame, as Professor Ahmed and I  are both worried about, then of course that‘s just wrong. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  We have so much more.  I‘d like to get later on in these discussions to what role do states play in this, the president, what role does the government of Syria.  Ambassador Assad, what role is he playing, what role is Ahmadinejad in Iran playing, are they stirring this thing up, are they using this thing?  Yes or no? 

AHMED:  Yes, absolutely everyone will play his own game, because it‘s such a highly emotional—

MATTHEWS:  Do you agree?

MANJI:  I do agree, Arab elites and Muslim elites love scenarios like this, Chris, because they provide convenient opportunities to distract anger away from local injustices. 

MATTHEWS:  Well they‘re playing this world like a pinball machine and all the lights are on and al the bells are ringing because they want them to.  We‘ll be right back with more of this as the weeks go on. 

Thank you very much Professor, thank you Mr. Ambassador. 

Up next, more on the cartoon‘s controversy.  Why is The Philadelphia Inquirer the only U.S. major daily that has published these cartoons? 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Is this cartoon violence just the latest chapter in a global clash of civilizations?  And were the political shots at yesterday‘s funeral for Coretta Scott King misfires?

For more on those big questions, we welcome Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of “The Washington Times” and author of “The West‘s Last Chance,” a very timely volume, and Amy Goodman, the host of “Democracy Now.” 

Amy, thank you very joining us.  I guess there‘s a certain comfort level in having two different parties fighting over something that we‘re not directly involved in yet.  And that‘s the battle between the Europeans and the Middle Easterners over a series of cartoons. 

What‘s your feeling about—well, I will just put it to you bluntly.  How do we stop this crap?  How do we stop this fighting between left and right, east and west rather, that doesn‘t do anyone any good? 

AMY GOODMAN, HOST, “DEMOCRACY NOW!”:  Well first of all, I don‘t think that this has to do with west versus east.  The question is, does a paper have a right?  Yes.  Is it right?  No. 

But I think this is about tinder box.  This is about people who are feeling maligned, people who are feeling marginalized, and this has very much to do with the global situation, specifically the war in Iraq. 

This has to do with the occupation.  This has to do with hundreds of Muslims who are held at Guantanamo without charge, with the Koran being desecrated.  This is just one more issue.  The cartoon cannot be seen in isolation. 

MATTHEWS:  You easily assign victimhood.  What about a filmmaker in northern Europe who gets killed because some of the audience don‘t like the movie?  Who‘s the victim?  Those who feel agitated enough to kill a filmmaker, or the guy who gets killed?  That‘s easy for me.  The fire is responsible, not the fire brigade. 

You make a movie, somebody else can make a movie back at you.  Somebody kills you, they‘re the bad guy.  Who do you say is the bad guy here? 

GOODMAN:  I don‘t think you generalize from a person who murders someone to a cartoon that—well, let‘s look in this country.  Let‘s just look in this country.  If there was a cartoon that went after African-Americans or that went after Jews, people would decry that. 

And I think that it is extremely important that we understand what it means when people are just made fun of on the cartoon pages, but their voices are not heard on the front pages on a regular basis, that they can define the story. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, we live in a country where satire begins in the morning with Howard Stern and Don Imus, and you hear satirical remarks all day long on the talk radio from left and right.  We live in a world of sarcasm, satire and attack rhetoric.  And it‘s the way we get along. 

Tony, your thoughts.  Amy is very clear there.  She thinks the bad guys here are the people who ran the cartoons. 

TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES:  The question is how do you exercise freedom of speech in a time of war, and this is an example of the crux of the strategic dilemma we constantly face in the war on terror.  And I agree with you, I don‘t much like that phrase.  Really it‘s a war against radical Islamist terror. 

Here it is.  Every time we have take an action that has some utility, like taking Afghanistan, kicking the Taliban out, it has a predictable side effect of driving formally non-radicalized Muslims into the enemy radicalized camp. 

I think in Afghanistan, most people thought getting rid of Taliban was worth paying that same price.  We‘re paying the same price in Iraq.  Whatever you think about Iraq.  The judgment was it was some advantage to go in there and kicking out Saddam.  We‘re paying a price in radicalizing a further number.  The jury is out on whether that was a good deal.

This is another case of the question where are there good reasons for republishing these cartoons?  I think there are, but you have to consider that there‘s also a price to pay.  I think the reasons that...

MATTHEWS:  But you don‘t pay it.  That‘s the problem.  The person who runs the cartoon on a blog site or runs it in a newspaper in Philly doesn‘t pay the price, it‘s some soldier over in Iraq or Afghanistan. 

BLANKLEY:  Look, it pretends how precise you are.  Theo Brandoch (ph) in Holland paid a price.

MATTHEWS:  The filmmaker.

BLANKLEY:  The filmmaker who was assassinated by a self-admitted radical Islamist terrorist.  He paid the ultimate, as a filmmaker on that.  We don‘t who is going to pay the price.

But the larger question is, in the struggle to defeat radical Islamist terror, what is useful and what is not useful?  There‘s a utility in the cartoon republication and a number of them.  One is to show clarity.  I‘m surprised at the number of people who don‘t understand that the threat we‘re facing is not merely al Qaeda but this larger cultural threat. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go to state by state.  And the people who tend to be more hawkish always look in terms of states not cultures and they tend to be more warlike.  Accordingly, they focused on Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11, and they‘re focusing now on Syria, I believe, and Iran.  The administration is saying states are responsible for stirring people up. 

Where are you on that, Amy?  Is it people, cultures, religions, geography or is it states that are stirring up this war mentality against the west? 

GOODMAN:  Well I think it‘s interesting that Condoleezza Rice says Iran and Syria is behind this.  At the same time they say that it‘s Arab states that are stirring this up.  I think the United States is opportunityisticly using this to now vilify countries.  I would like to see the evidence. 

MATTHEWS:  Are we ginning up a war with Iran and Syria, you are saying? 

GOODMAN:  Oh, absolutely.  I mean, I think that every excuse to go after these two countries, I think we have to look right now at the situation that is before all of us. 

And that is the situation in Iraq and the tremendous anger that this is not only generating in the Arab world but among peace loving people all over the world.  The cartoon and isolation is not the story. 

MATTHEWS:  You know that amazed me.  Amy, you, and I agree on a lot of things, but I thought, Tony and Amy, that when we went into Iraq, we were going to see the kind of bedlam we‘re looking at now around the world.  And yet it was a series of cartoons that caused that. 

The street scenes we showed tonight in Afghanistan and Tehran and all around the Middle East and the Islamic world had come about because we invaded Iraq, I would have said I could have predicted that.  But they didn‘t come about then.  They came about because of cartoons. 

BLANKLEY:  Well, yes.  Although, the legitimate argument that some more terrorists have been brought online in Iraq.  That‘s been an argument of the anti-Iraq people. 

I would like to go back to the question you posed though, who is responsible.  It‘s not just Syria and Iran.  Although you clearly you don‘t have demonstrations in a police state like Syria or Iran without the authorities approving of it. 

GOODMAN:  Or Saudi Arabia and U.S. allies.

BLANKLEY:  Let me just finish the thought. 

It‘s a combination.  There are some people in the street who are sincere, they‘re outraged.  There are some people who are radical Islamists around the world who are trying to manipulate this.  And there are some secular states like Egypt and Syria who are exploiting the moment for their own practical geo-political purposes.

GOODMAN:  And the United States.

BLANKLEY:  It‘s a mix of reasons.

MATTHEWS:  People don‘t want to show their religiosity when it isn‘t always so apparent.

Anyway, very lively discussions going on all over the world right now, Tony Blankley, Amy Goodman.

Up next, former Pentagon spokeswoman, Tory Clark.  The mother of that embed program during the war in Iraq.  What does she think about the war in Iraq now.  This is HARDBALL only on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, Torie Clarke, the former Pentagon spokeswoman.  Is the president convincing the country that war in Iraq is still a good thing, when HARDBALL returns.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Here to talk about the president‘s war in Iraq, how it started and how it‘s going is former Pentagon spokeswoman—spokesperson, spokesbeing, Torie Clarke. 

She‘s the author of the new book, this is an unforgettable title, we‘re going to have a little fun, we‘ve been talking about this horrendous debate between the people who support the publication of these cartoons, there‘s your book by the way, “Lipstick on a Pig.” 

You‘re an expert on communications, you‘ve been the chief spokesperson for the Pentagon during a hot war and you keep things cool and you know what you‘re talking about, you‘re great flack as we say in Washington.  Are you proud of that? 

TORIE CLARKE, FMR. PENTAGON SPOKESWOMAN:  I don‘t like the word flack. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, public relations professional. 

CLARKE:  Getting better.  Getting warmer.

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the perfect? 

CLARKE:  I think in this era, we need a new title and a new way of describing the position. 

MATTHEWS:  So, you‘re out of government now.  No ties. 

CLARKE:  No ties. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re sitting there, President George W. Bush calls you in and says Torie, you‘re good at this, I have this flash point out there, I was with Abdullah today, the King of Jordan, we can‘t seem to nail this. 

We‘re the next step, they‘re blaming the Europeans, they‘re going to get to us in the next couple days.  I want to do something before they get to us, before the east starts blaming us on these cartoons because some ran in The Philadelphia Inquirer, they‘re going to say America is guilty too.  What do I say to the world.

CLARKE:  I think he‘s got to keep doing more of what he‘s been doing.  You have to handle it very, very carefully.  You have to denounce the violence while supporting freedom of expression, you have to do it, you have to have more people from that part of the world like King Abdullah saying the exact same things. 

It‘s one of those things where the president of the United States, leader of the free world, has to say what he has to say but more importantly is getting other leaders to say the same thing. 

MATTHEWS:  Does he have to condemn the blasphemy here. 

CLARKE:  He has to condemn the violence. 

MATTHEWS:  How about the blasphemy?  Making fun of the Prophet Mohammed by showing him with a torpedo coming out of his head? 

CLARKE:  I think it gets very difficult to talk about particular pieces of this and this is why.  I was fascinated by the conversation earlier this evening, because this isn‘t black versus white.  This is not west versus Muslim.  Within the Muslim community, there are different opinions on this.  Some are sincerely, genuinely outraged about this, and horrified about it.  Others, it is orchestrated, and it is set up. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you saying you can‘t put the toothpaste back in the tube?   That this war is going to go on.  I‘m asking—I‘m not asking you right and wrong, you‘re right, I don‘t think it is right and wrong simply put.  Maybe—do you think he might have to simply say, no religion should make fun of another religion? 

CLARKE:  No being I don‘t think he has to say that at all.  I think he has to continue saying what he said, which is we are all for freedom of expression.  It‘s one of the things we are trying to help promote and encourage in the Middle East, but you cannot under any circumstances allow violence. 

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s something closer to home, this is the question of America‘s support for the war America‘s fighting, largely, with the coalition of the willing.   Right now the latest poll we have is a week old, I don‘t think things have changed. 

Removing Saddam Hussein, in other words, going into Iraq to change the regime there, by force, was it worth it?  Forty-two percent.  This is the NBC poll.  Forty-eight percent not worth it.  So the plurality of people right now after all things are considered right now, looking at everything, don‘t think the war is worth it. 

CLARKE:  I‘m not surprised.  I don‘t necessarily agree with them, but I‘m not surprised.  Look, this war has been difficult from the very, very beginning.  If you go back to the months leading to the start of the war, end of 2002, beginning of 2003, there was not a lot of public support for going to war with Iraq, even with most people thought they had weapons of mass destruction.  For some very good reasons. 

We had lived in this wonderful world for a long time, blessed by unique geography and good neighbors where we would say we‘re not going to whack you, we‘re not going to cause any trouble unless you whack us first and then we‘ll really go after you.  Afghanistan, people got it. 

Iraq will be the first truly preemptive action in a long, long time.  That‘s a tough hurdle.  People who wanted to do harm to our friends and allies and to ourselves. 

MATTHEWS:  What‘s that mean? 

CLARKE:  It means people who want to kill us. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think Iraq was a threat to the United States? 

CLARKE:  I do.  Because we live if a world in which individuals, not massive armies, navies, air forces, individual can do great catastrophic harm and there are different players in that world and Iraq was one of the centerpieces of destabilization, of mixing and mingling with terrorists of all sizes and shapes. 

They had demonstrated their ability and desire to use weapons of mass destruction in the past, they had demonstrated their intent.  It was the right decision at the time.  But back to your question. 

MATTHEWS:  I have heard this argument so long and I think that argument, at the time, could have been used against Pakistan, it could be used against Saudi Arabia. 

There are so many governments in that part of the world who do us harm  by the way they let their children be educated, by the kind of culture they instill in people, the hatred that they allow, not just against Israel but against the west. 

There‘s so many forces out there.  Former Soviet engineers with a tremendous capability to sell, out of economic desperation, weaponry that can be used by terrorists.  I think Iraq would have been the least likely source of nuclear technology for someone who wanted to get their hands on it.  Least likely source, and I don‘t hear the argument to the contrary. 

All the arguments about W.M.D. have been shot down.  No evidence of an African deal, no evidence involving aluminum tubes.  All the arguments that your side put up to get us into this war have been shot down, especially the argument that we were going to be received by people who are going to be happy to see us.  They are fighting us.  They are not happy to see us.  That the oil in America was going to be cheaper.  That the oil was going to pay for the war itself.

You‘re crowd made every argument in the world to get us in that war, and then they all quit.  What I can‘t understand is how an administration packed with hawks, they are all gone.  Scooter is facing jail.  Wolfowitz is gone.  I don‘t know what else is gone, but all the hawks seem to be gone now.

You‘re not there now backing the war.

CLARKE:  Eighteen things in that two minute rant.  So let‘s address a few pieces of it.  Let‘s address a few important pieces of this and let‘s go back to the original point about public support.  But let‘s go back to what happened.

Colossal, humongous, terrible Intel failure.  Now, you can change your opinion now.  You can say those arguments don‘t hold up now, but back then the debate was not about whether or not they had weapons of mass destruction.  It was what to do about it.

MATTHEWS:  The casualties are real.  The hatred against us around the world for going to war are real.  All the arguments to get us in the war have been shot down Torie.


MATTHEWS:  It was a great sales job.  And it worked and we got into the war.  And people now know that the arguments used to get us in the war, the carrot and the stick, were not true.

CLARKE:  No, I disagree completely.

MATTHEWS:  Where was I wrong in my rant?

CLARKE:  I disagree completely.  Because the evidence at the time all pointed to it, them having weapons of mass destruction and having the desire and intent to use.  The French, the Russians, the Germans, who felt as strongly against the war as you did...

MATTHEWS:  They didn‘t go to war.  They didn‘t go to war.

CLARKE:  ...never disagreed that they had weapons of mass destruction. 

It was all about what we do about it.  But let‘s go back to public support.

MATTHEWS:  The American tradition is to use the Department of Defense and the American fighting men and women to defend this country against dangers to this country not to fight wars of elections, wars of choice, as you call it a preemptive war.  Every country in the world could fight a preemptive war and argue the case you made.

Thank you, Torie, for coming on this show.

Up next, a new study finds that a low fat diet doesn‘t necessarily cut certain health risks.  Do we need to change our eating habits again?



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Fit or fat, a study published today in the journal of the American Medical Association says a low fat diet does not reduce the risk of cancer or heart disease among women.  So does this mean that a dinner of pizza and ice cream is good for you?

Our guests are Governor Mike Huckabee, only half of what he used to be, is the author of the book, “Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork.”  He lost 110 pounds the old fashioned way with diet and exercise.

And Dr. Sue Bailey is a MSNBC analyst and former assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.

First of all, doc, you first, you are the professional here.  What does this say to you this study that says that low fat diets didn‘t help all those women avoid cancer and heart disease?

DR. SUE BAILEY, FMR. ASST. SECY. OF DEFENSE, HEALTH AFFAIRS:  Well, first of all, it did have some findings that were interesting.  There were fewer polyps in the colon of the women that ate lower fat.  And there were nine percent fewer breast cancers.

And the women who were really too old, they started too late, the study didn‘t go on long enough.  So you really can‘t get all of the information from this that you would like.  It was a good study.  The people should still eat right and look at the type of fats that they are eating.

MATTHEWS:  What do you think, Mike?

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE ®, ARKANSAS:  I would tend to agree, but I think the big issue that it did was not surprise me, but it showed that if you take any one thing and try to make it the whole thing, it is almost like the old saying that if you tell a partial truth then the whole truth becomes an untruth.

If you tell people that if you just lower your fat intake you are going to be healthy, that is not the whole picture.  You also have to eat some fats just not trans-fats.  You ought to eat good carbohydrates.  You ought to eat whole grains.  You ought to incorporate a good diet.

And most importantly—and I think a lot of studies, particularly by Dr. Kenneth Cooper, has shown this—you have got to have an active lifestyle.  I don‘t care what you eat, if you are sedentary and don‘t get out and move, you are not going to be healthy.

MATTHEWS:  Dr. Bailey, a lot of us are worried about diabetes.  I have to take a pill every day.  Aren‘t we better of skinnier just basically not eating a lot of fat food like ice cream and pizza and candy.

BAILEY:  Absolutely.  You are.  Obesity is related to diabetes and lots of other diseases.  So people need to count calories.  Mike is right.  You have to exercise.  That is very important.  You really need to know what kind of fats you are eating.  Don‘t eat trans-fats.  Be careful about saturated fats.  And count calories because, yes, you want to keep your weight down.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  So what fats are OK now that weren‘t OK before this study came out today?

BAILEY:  Fats like olive oil.  Fats that are found in things like nuts.  There are a variety of fats that can be a big part of your diet.  They might be as much as 35 percent of the diet, according to the Department of Agriculture, which in 2005 rewrote things after this study was done.

MATTHEWS:  Could you have gone through your diet as successfully governor?  It must have been a tremendous amount of willpower to exercise, to give all of your favorite foods.  You must have had some terrible foods you were eating.  If you had been given this news that, oh, low-fat diets don‘t work.

HUCKABEE:  Well, for me it was a matter of did I want to live or did I want to die.  And I kind of liked the idea of life.  It was a better choice.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you might be like the president some day too because you are skinnier.

HUCKABEE:  But, you know, just getting to the place where I knew that I was going to outlive a lot of my political opponents.  I wanted to be able to do that and look them down and say I am still here.

MATTHEWS:  How are people treating you differently when you‘re skinny?

HUCKABEE:  People are nicer to you.  I mean, you go into a store there is just sort of a look of contempt people give you when they know that you are really overweight.  They don‘t want to sit beside you on the airline.  They look at you like oh please don‘t sit beside me.  In a theater it is like, I hope he doesn‘t sit there.

There is a real sense.  There is a natural prejudice that happens.  No doubt about it.

MATTHEWS:  That is something.  And it happened pretty much right away?

HUCKABEE:  Oh yes.  Of course, then you have the people that immediately tell you after you lose weight, oh you have lost too much weight.

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that awful?  Isn‘t that awful? 

Dr. Bailey, I think we are surrounding by people that the minute you lost 10 pounds, they go now don‘t go too far here.  Don‘t overdo this thing, and you are killing yourself to lose another 10.  And they just demoralize you.

BAILEY:  Oh, Chris.  They are jealous.  So again they need to think about the same things that you are thinking about, adding exercise to their lifestyle, thinking about what they are eating and counting calories.  That‘s what it is all about.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Are you going to run for president, governor?

HUCKABEE:  I don‘t know.  I am going to run in the marathon here in about a month.  I know that I am going to do for sure.

MATTHEWS:  No, no.  This is HARDBALL.

HUCKABEE:  Yes, I know that.

MATTHEWS:  This is not a nice show, as you just heard before in the last interview. 

HUCKABEE:  I am telling you the honest truth.  I am not ruling it out.

MATTHEWS:  But I see your name—are you going to enter this thing down in Memphis?  We are going to go down and cover it.

HUCKABEE:  Yes, I will be down here.  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Are you going to be in that straw vote?

HUCKABEE:  I am not sure about the straw vote.

MATTHEWS:  Do you want to win it?  Do you want to win it?

HUCKABEE:  Really haven‘t even thought about it.

MATTHEWS:  Governor Huckabee, thank you for coming in today.

HUCKABEE:  It‘s a pleasure, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Sue Bailey, doctor, thank you, as always.

Join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.  Right now it is time for “THE ABRAMS REPORT” with Dan Abrams.



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