updated 2/10/2006 11:27:43 AM ET 2006-02-10T16:27:43

Guests: Sol Wisenberg, Jonathan Turley, Barney Frank, David Vitter, Arnold Fisher, Bill White, Dana Milbank, Karenna Gore Schiff

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Big update on the CIA leak case.  The “National Journal” reports that Vice President Cheney‘s former chief-of-staff Scooter Libby says his boss, Cheney, authorized the leaking of classified information to the press.  Will Cheney come to Libby‘s defense?  Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, I‘m Chris Matthews.  Welcome to HARDBALL.  Some new developments today in the CIA leak case.  According to the “National Journal,” Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheney‘s former chief-of-staff testified to a federal grand jury that he was authorized by the vice president and other superiors to leak classified information to journalists, in order to defend the administration‘s case for war in Iraq. 

And later we‘ll talk about the non-profit Intrepid Fallen Heroes Foundation and what you can do to help build a new state of the art rehabilitation center which will treat wounded American troops from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But first, HARDBALL‘s David Shuster with the latest on the CIA leak case.  Explain this.  It seems to me like a bombshell, David, the fact that the man on trial now, about to go to trial for having whatever, broken the law by either lying under oath or obstruction of justice in the leak case, is now telling prosecutors that his boss told him to do it.

DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT:  Well that‘s right, Chris and what makes it so significant is this now marks the very first time that the defense is now putting Vice President Cheney right at the heart of these leaks about Valerie Wilson, the wife of administration critic Joe Wilson. 

Legal sources in case, Chris, are telling us that this came up recently in a conference call with the judge in the case and Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.  There was a discussion about evidence and requests by the defense, by Scooter Libby to get classified documents and it was during this conversation, according to lawyers, that Scooter Libby‘s lawyers said that part of their defense is based on the idea that Scooter Libby was acting on orders by his superiors, including Vice President Cheney. 

Now this conference call was a follow up to an exchange of letters between Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and Scooter Libby.  Again, they are battling over classified information and Scooter Libby‘s lawyers wrote to Patrick Fitzgerald and they said, quote, “as we discussed during our telephone conversation, Mr. Libby testified in the grand jury that he had contact with reporters in which he disclosed the content of the national intelligence estimate in the course of his interaction with reporters in June and July 2003.  We also note that it is our understanding that Mr.  Libby testified that he was authorized to disclose information about the NIE to the press by his superiors.”

Chris, part of what is going on here is that the—Scooter Libby‘s lawyers are about to file a motion to try to case the case dismissed and one of the arguments they‘re going to make is because they cannot get some of these classified documents from the White House, Scooter Libby therefore is having his due process rights violated and therefore the judge should throw out the case.

Prosecutors have counted that no, these classified documents that the White House does not want to turn over, these are irrelevant to whether Scooter Libby was honest, whether he was truthful when he testified to the grand jury about his conversations with reporters about Valerie Wilson.  Chris?

MATTHEWS:  I want you to put this—I know we‘re talking legally here, but I want you to answer this political question.  Half the people in every poll we‘d say going to war with Iraq was a mistake.  Politically, in terms of public opinion now, are those half the people, half the country that says the war is a mistake right now, looking for an explanation of how they got rooked into buying the war in the first place.  And how does that fit into that?  Or this fit into that?

SHUSTER:  The way it fits in, Chris, is there you have the vice president, the White House, trying to defend going to the war not only before the war started but after the war.  So for example, after the war has begun and there you have Joe Wilson saying, “Well, wait a second.  The administration essentially misled the American people about why we needed to go into war.”

What this shows is that the vice president, according to Scooter Libby‘s own lawyers, the vice president was involved in trying to essentially undercut this administration critic, that there was the vice president, not only talking with Scooter Libby, not only advising Scooter Libby that yes, Valerie Wilson worked at the CIA, not only talking with Scooter Libby about that on the very day that Scooter Libby then talked to reporters.

But now according to Scooter Libby‘s own lawyers, Libby was acting under instructions or perhaps some judgment made by his boss, the vice president.  The reason however this may not prove some sort of legal jeopardy for the vice president is because remember, nobody is charged with actually a violation of the Espionage Act with the actual leak.

Libby is charged with not telling the truth during the course of the investigation.  The way this matters is if it now seems or now comes across that his untruthful statements, as prosecutors suggest, were in any way coached or the result of whatever the vice president was telling him, then that explains the possible avenue for prosecutors to go after the vice president if, they can get a conviction of Scooter Libby.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, David Shuster.  Jonathan Turley  is a law professor at George Washington University.  And Sol Wisenberg was a deputy independent counsel.  Professor, let me ask you about this, the law here.  If this develops as the defense strategy of Scooter Libby, the vice president‘s former chief-of-staff, that he took orders from his boss, is he off?

JONATHAN TURLEY, PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY:  Well he‘s not off.  It makes a good trial strategy.  This is what Ollie North did, he basically convinced the court and the jury that he was just a Marine colonel and you had a lot of higher-paid folks above him who were telling him to do this.

And it did have an effect.  You know, that dog may not hunt for this guy.  I mean, Scooter Libby was the most important aide to the most important person to the most important person in the world, George Bush.  So he is a very high-ranking guy, so I don‘t know if the jury is going to look at him and say, “You were just a puppet to a puppeteer.”

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you this about the defense.  The funny thing watching this case—funny, not ha ha, but funny sad—is that Scooter Libby‘s has shifted now it seems.  For the public his defense was “I heard about this from reporters, the identity of Valerie Wilson‘s wife (sic), the fact that he‘s an undercover agent, that classified information, I got that from the public.”

Now he‘s saying he got it from his boss, basically.  HE got this classified information, at least a whole pile of it from the boss.  Can he make both defenses?

SOL WISENBERG, FORMER DEPUTY INDEPENDENT COUNSEL:  No and it‘s not even relevant to the specific charges, Chris.  I mean, the vice president cannot give you permission to declassify information.  The vice president can‘t give you permission to violate the National Intelligence Identities Act.  And most importantly, the vice president can‘t give you permission to go into the grand jury and lie.

And Libby isn‘t even saying that.  He didn‘t go into the grand jury and say, “Cheney authorized me to leak Valerie Plame‘s name.”  As you pointed out, he did something quite different.  He didn‘t do that at all.  So I don‘t see...

MATTHEWS:  ... What did the vice—reading this article for the “National Journal,” what do you read by the fact that he said you can put out the national intelligence estimates, you can put out that information, you can put out classified information—is that itself a crime?  Apart from the charges against Libby, is the vice president now vulnerable to the charge that he broke the rule, maybe not always enforced, but public officials are not to release classified information?

WISENBERG:  Yes, that particular law leaking classified information is something that happens just about every day in Washington, and if you recall, Fitzgerald in his press conference, talked about the difficulty of prosecuting routine violations of that.

So I don‘t think that‘s much of an issue.  I don‘t think that‘s a big story.

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t think the vice president will get charged here on that?  But let me go to the real question of what might be a brilliant defense here by Libby‘s defense counsel, Ted Wells, who‘s apparently quite good, right?

TURLEY:  He is very good.

MATTHEWS:  OK, he says, “To defend my client, the vice president‘s former chief-of-staff, I need these classified documents that were tendered to me by the vice president, and I was given the go ahead to put them out.  But I need them as evidence.”

The vice president who has more clout than any vice president in history, says to White House counsel, Harriet Miers, “Don‘t give that stuff out.  If you give that stuff out, it‘s going to be useful to this defense and therefore it will allow the trial to go on.  Hold this stuff, stymie the prosecution, give the defense counsel an excuse to go to the judge and have the case thrown out.”

So it seems to me the vice president, if he wants to and we‘re speculating here, can help his former chief-of-staff in two ways.  He can publicly come out, fellows, and say “OK, I did tell him to do it.  I did tell him to put out this classified information.  He‘s right on, I shouldn‘t have done it, I‘ll take the bullet for him.”

Or he could say, “You‘re not going to see these documents because they‘re going to help him make his case.  And if I keep them to myself, keep them in the White House, then the defense counsel can have the case thrown out for lack of evidence.”

TURLEY:  Well that‘s what happened with Ollie North.  There was a very good indication that the Reagan White House kept back evidence in the hopes that it would destroy the chances for a prosecution.  It‘s going to be harder here, because the evidence withheld with North was really central.

The evidence here, you could make some pretty good arguments on the prosecution side that this is what‘s called gray mail, trying to, you know, ask for the world, when it‘s denied, ask to dismiss the case.

But Libby‘s lawyers have a tough roe to hoe here because Cheney is the perfect defense in a trial like this.  You know, he comes right out of central casting, he looks like the guy that‘s sort of in dark corners, sends people off to do dark things.  But you also can‘t afford to alienate this guy, because if you hope for a pardon, you know, putting him at ground central—ground zero is not a good move.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but I—well, let me just speculate here.  I don‘t think Scooter Libby wants a pardon, he wants an acquittal.

TURLEY:  I think that‘s right.

MATTHEWS:  He is going to be Paul Nitze, and one of the great wise men of our time.  You can‘t have a felony problem lurking back there, you just can‘t.  You‘ve got to clear yourself.

WISENBERG:  Well first the judge has got to rule that that evidence he wants is relevant, and I think it‘s going to be very doubtful here because from what I read in the story, he wants daily briefings to show how busy he was.  Well, you know, Fitzgerald will be willing to stipulate that Libby was a very busy man.  As Jonathan said, he was a very important fellow.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me go to your theory, they‘re going for a pardon, they‘re fishing here.  They‘re going to use everything they can to slow this trial.  Scooter has said he doesn‘t want a speedy trial, he told the judge that, right?  And then they‘re going for the reporters‘ notebooks, which they‘ll never get, right?  They may not even have notebooks. 

They‘re going for this kind of classified information.  Is he just fishing for ways to slow this baby down until the end of the term, when he gets a last minute, Clinton-style pardon?  A Marc Rich-style, you know, last minute kind of thing? 

WISENBERG:  Who knows, but if he gets a pardon, it is going to be on the last day. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, that‘s when they do their worst work as presidents.  Maybe we should deny them the last day, sneak up the inauguration 24 hours so they can‘t pardon anybody.  It‘s great having you gentlemen. 

Thank you. Complicated case, less so because of you guys.  Thank you for joining us, Sol.  And thank you very much, as always, Professor Turley.  You must have an exciting class at G.W. 

When we return, Congressman Barney Frank—another exciting guy—of Massachusetts says the U.S. government‘s response to Hurricane Katrina was tantamount to, quote, “ethnic cleansing by inaction.”  He‘s going to be here to talk about that, and explain exactly what he means.  And I think he will.

And later on the show tonight, Karenna Gore Schiff.  She‘s the daughter of the former vice president.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts are under fire again this week as more hearings get underway on Capitol Hill, and storm evacuees are here in Washington by the hundreds to demand more help in rebuilding their homes and their lives. 

Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank met with some of them yesterday and here‘s what he had to say. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  We have to do more, because here‘s what I have to say and I hate to have to have to say this about my own government.  But I believe what we are seeing with regard to New Orleans and the surrounding area is a policy frankly of ethnic cleansing by inaction. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts here right now to talk about what he meant by that, and what he thinks needs to happen to improve the situation.  Congressman Frank, thank you for coming on today.

FRANK:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Your remarks yesterday were pretty hot.  Do you stand by them? 

FRANK:  Yes, although I see there was some potential confusion.  Somebody wrote me an angry letter today and said were you accusing the president of genocide?  To me there was a very sharp distinction between ethnic cleansing and genocide. 

Genocide is murdering people.  By ethnic cleansing—and I welcome a cans to clarify this as certainly what I had in mind—I‘m talking about the policy of removing a certain kind of people from an area, not killing them, but getting them out.  And that‘s clearly what‘s going on in New Orleans. 

It is clearly going to be the case that if the Bush administration is allowed to continue its policy, there will be in New Orleans after this is over, this period of crisis, many fewer lower income people, and particularly many fewer African-Americans. 

The inaction of the federal government is such that people who were destroyed, whose homes were destroyed, whose lives were devastated by the hurricane, are getting literally no assistance. 

They got some short-term, temporary relocation assistance, very inadequate, but this administration‘s policy is so far literally to do nothing to try to help particularly lower income people build their homes and everybody understands the consequence of that.  It‘s going to be a much richer, much whiter New Orleans. 

MATTHEWS:  Is part of this, do you think, state by state politics?  Obviously, we all know from watching the returns over the years that Texas has gotten overwhelmingly Republican in recent years, and it could take a few more Democrats—in fact, several hundred thousand more—and still remain a heavily Republican state, whereas Louisiana is very close. 

I heard one Republican politician in Louisiana right after Katrina tell me he was quite happy with the fact or the probability that it would be fewer Democrats living in Louisiana because of this evacuation.  Do you think it‘s more than just the statistics here?  Is there some effort to keep the people they helped relocate in Texas? 

FRANK:  Well, that‘s why I said inaction.  No, I don‘t think it is—

nobody has deliberately tried to get the African-American population out,

but I think the fact that one consequence of the inaction is going to be

exactly as you said, a Louisiana that‘s much more Republican, a Louisiana -

it‘s one of the few southern states now which continues to have a Democratic senator. 

Yes, I do believe that there are Republicans—look, Karl Rove plays it this way and, again, that‘s what I said by inaction.  I am not accusing them of deliberately driving people out.  I am saying that the fact that the result of their total refusal to help lower income people rebuild housing will have that political effect, it‘s kind of icing on the cake. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think there had to be a conversation among the people involved like Rove or do you think it could have been an assumption they all shared and they quietly agreed upon it? 

FRANK:  Well, I think it‘s the other way around.  Let me put it this way.  If in fact the consequence—and I want to be very clear.  There‘s a unanimous, bipartisan consensus in Louisiana to do things.  I‘m supporting a bill run by the senior Republican from Louisiana in the House, Richard Baker, to try and get some funding back into this state for everybody, but I think the answer is this. 

I think if the consequence of doing nothing—which they are doing—to rebuild, to help lower income people rebuild, I think if that were politically negative for them, they would take that into account. 

In other words, it is the—they don‘t feel any problem that this is going to be politically good for them, and so I think it‘s the absence of a political motive to do the right thing.

MATTHEWS:  Are you sure, Congressman, that ethnic cleansing doesn‘t include killing people?  I‘m thinking of how we first learned that phrase and how most of us think of it as—from over in the Balkans and wasn‘t there an effort by Milosevic?  I know he‘s on trial for something over there, and I don‘t think it‘s just separating from one group from another. 

FRAN:  Yes, well, there was also a specific—he‘s been specifically accused of genocide with regard to one place, and I welcome this chance to clarify this.  I mean, as I understood ethnic cleansing, as I use it—and there have been other proposals. 

Some of them were extreme right-wingers in Israel who said well, we want to get rid of the Palestinians in the West Bank.                 So I distinguish between genocide and ethnic cleansing.  And as I said, I welcome the chance to do that. 

It is a—and by the way, there is this clear concept in American law, it is one thing, a terrible thing, to do something wrong.  It is a lesser bad thing but still often a legally culpable thing to have something bad happen that you could have prevented and not lift a finger to prevent it.

And that‘s—again, I want to stress the substance here.  There is zero proposals by the Bush administration to help rebuild low income housing.  There was public housing, subsidized housing, homeowners that had low income housing. 

They are getting virtually zero help and what that means is sure, people who are wealthy enough, they will be able to rebuild, so it is clear to anyone who looks at this that the consequence of the federal government refusing to help moderate and lower income people build is going to be this consequence.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much.  U.S. Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts.

When we return, Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana will respond to what we just heard.  And later, how Washington and the rest of the country are raising big bucks for a very worthy cause, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.  It deals with people, helps people who have had arms and legs missing because of their heroism and Iraq and Afghanistan.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  We just heard from Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, who says the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort for the poor is like ethnic cleansing by inaction.  To respond to that and to offer his sense of what‘s going on down there in Louisiana, we welcome the United States Senator from Louisiana, David Vitter.  Senator, your reaction, because you were sitting there watching this whole conversation.

SEN. DAVID VITTER ®, LOUISIANA:  Well, I think that comment is enormously irresponsible.  You know, I know we‘ve had a lot of flooding down there, but it still doesn‘t give Barney Frank the right to throw gasoline and a match on the situation.  And that‘s basically what he‘s doing, inflaming a very difficult situation.

MATTHEWS:  Will the mathematical results of the evacuation of people, which was assisted by the government, lead to fewer African-American voters in Louisiana and therefore a better chance for Republicans to win statewide.

VITTER:  Well, there are going to be fewer African-American voters, there are going to be fewer white voters in terms of percentages.

MATTHEWS:  How about fewer poorer voters?

VITTER:  And fewer rich voters.  I mean, numbers are going to go down for awhile.  Nobody knows as a percentage how that‘s going to end up, but to use inflammatory rhetoric like racial cleansing, ethnic cleansing by inaction, I think is making a very tough situation a lot worse.

And I think part of the reason is quite frankly that the national media coverage hasn‘t told the whole story.  The whole story includes neighborhoods like St. Bernard, almost all white, devastated in addition.  The whole story includes upper and middle-class white neighborhoods like Lakeview, completely devastated, a ghost land until today.

Now I‘m not trivializing lower Ninth Ward, completely devastated, an utter ghost town, but the storm did not discriminate on the basis of race and to inject race into a very tough situation, all I‘m saying is it‘s certainly not doing us any favors in Louisiana.

MATTHEWS:  Well, Congressman Frank, I don‘t have to defend him, he was defending himself in his way, but Mayor Nagin down there who‘s locally elected, he‘s up for reelection, the mayor of New Orleans said “I have want to keep this chocolate city.”  I mean, it wasn‘t like Barney Frank was the first to introduce the ethnic factor here.

VITTER:  No but what I‘m suggesting is not everybody should follow Mayor Nagin‘s lead in terms of, you know, those sorts of comments.  I think we need to get to a more constructive dialogue and Barney Frank‘s comments aren‘t part of that.

MATTHEWS:  OK, is there an effort to sort of—you know, one of the qualities of New Orleans that has made it appealing, I always say, I‘ve said it many times on this show before we had the horror down there—which is, it‘s a forgiving city. 

I always kid around and saying on your fifth divorce, you can walk into the Quarter and some bartender will say welcome, have a good time tonight, you know?  It is a good place, it‘s a forgiving area, but it also has an element of seediness to it, the Quarter, the strip shows, the whole routine. 

Is that going to retain, are we going to have the seedy parts of New Orleans?

VITTER:  Well, I open it‘s not utterly seedy.  I hope we can improve it in some way, but the fundamental character of New Orleans is going to be there.  I have no doubt about that because that is in people‘s blood.  I was born in New Orleans, I grew up in New Orleans and that‘s just part of the culture, part of growing up there.

So I don‘t have a doubt in the world that the true fundamental character of New Orleans is going to be there.  Now we have a lot of challenges to get more people back, to get our economy up and going.  Housing challenges, other challenges.

MATTHEWS:  But is it mainly an African-American city?  Is it by its nature a city that is built on music and that whole tradition of jazz and maybe poverty because the blues come from poverty?  Is it all part of that milieu?

VITTER:  I think New Orleans is about all different parts of the community, obviously including the African-American community.  But I think there are a whole lot of different and additional aspects to that, too.

MATTHEWS:  Let me now take the conservative position, to completely confuse things here.  Is it smart for the federal government to spend federal dollars to rebuild homes below sea level after we‘ve seen what happens?

VITTER:  If we do it right, and if we have a new reduced footprint, which I think we need to do, I think we need to come up with a plan in Louisiana that we‘re going to do things differently, that we will in fact have a somewhat reduced footprint.  Under those conditions...

MATTHEWS:  So you have most of the people above sea level?

VITTER:  ... yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Because I‘ve seen the map.  You could predict what was going to flood by the map.  It told you what was the lowest lying areas and they were the Ninth Ward and the poor people‘s area.

VITTER:  I want to be clear, I don‘t think it‘s quite as simple as yes above sea level, no below sea level.  But I do think we need some sort of reduced footprint.  I think we need to prove to the country that we‘re going to do things better and different.  And that‘s what we need to do coming out of Louisiana to get this recovery back on track.

MATTHEWS:  OK, last question, real fast, yes or no.  Can we match the Dutch, can we have a system of protecting the people from that water down there, in a way that‘s as sophisticated as the Dutch?

VITTER:  We absolutely can if we have the political will.  This is purely a question of political will.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, Sir—Senator David Vitter of Louisiana.  Up next, helping America‘s greatest heroes.  The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, we‘ll tell you what Washington‘s doing and what you can do because Washington may not be doing as well as it should.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Later in the show, we‘ll take a look at how President Bush says his anti-terrorist policies prevented an attack on the West Coast skyscraper.  That is the subject of dispute however. 

Plus the latest on the growing Muslim fury over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.  That, of course, is a global problem but first the story of patriotism at work here in America at home. 

The non-profit Intrepid Foundation is spearheading the Fallen Heroes Fund, which is paying for the construction of a new 60,000 square foot state-of-the-art rehabilitation center at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. 

The $45 million project is being funded entirely with private donations.  When it opens next January, the center will treat and rehabilitate wounded military from Iraq, Afghanistan, and all previous conflicts. 

HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster caught up with some big names who are pitching into help the fund—help fund the project—David. 

SHUSTER:  Well, Chris, last night members of Congress, Hollywood celebrities and journalists gathered for the Washington Press Club Foundation‘s Annual Congressional Dinner at the Ritz Carlton.  

We were invited to the party that was held by “Congressional Quarterly” to talk to some of the notables who are urging people to support this very fund and to ask people to help make sure that this project gets underway.  Watch. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RON SILVER, ACTOR:  Hi, I‘m Ron Silver, and I hope you‘ll join me in supporting the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.  They are building a new hospital in San Antonio and they are helping disabled veterans and doing a lot of other great work.  Please join in this effort.

SEN. BEN NELSON (D), NEBRASKA:  Ben Nelson, Nebraska.  I hope you‘ll support the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, support the veterans, support those who have suffered disabilities, support them every way that you possibly can. 

FRAN DRESCHER, ACTOR:  Hi, I‘m Fran Drescher.  Please support the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.  One hundred percent of your donations goes towards the construction of the center in San Antonio, Texas. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Www.heroes.org, and all the information you need is going to be on that Web site but it will help all of our heroes, rehabilitate them, and to get them back on their feet literally.  Thank you and reach in your pockets, 100 percent tax deductible. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I do not come here to ask tonight, I come to beg -

beg you to give to this very important fund. 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  I‘m Senator Graham from South Carolina.  Many Americans ask themselves what can I do to help, what can I do as an American to help my country in a time of need?  Well, you can contribute to this fund. 

JENNIFER BERRY, MISS AMERICA 2006:  Hi, I‘m Jennifer Berry, Miss America 2006, and I hope you‘ll join others in donating to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.  One hundred percent of your contribution will go to the new rehabilitation center in San Antonio, Texas.  Thank you for your service. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s a cause that deserves a lot of support and I‘m here to say that I‘m glad for the work they‘re doing and giving veterans an opportunity to receive the kind of physical rehabilitation that they need in order to get back in the mainstream, so good luck to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and Godspeed. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHUSTER:  It was quite an evening last night, Chris, and as you can see, Republicans, Democrats, Hollywood celebrities, Miss America, everybody lining up to support this very incredible effort that they‘re making underway in San Antonio, Texas—Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you David Shuster.

Arnold Fisher is the honorary chairman of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund,  He and his son Ken, who‘s been on the program before several times, are also behind the Fisher Houses, which are often featured on HARDBALL. 

Also with us is Bill White, president of the Intrepid Foundation.  Good evening, gentlemen.  Thank you for coming here.  A great cause and let me ask you this.  You‘ve raised how much money for this? 

ARNOLD FISHER, HONORARY CHAIRMAN, INTREPID FALLEN HEROES FUND:  Well, we‘ve—the $10 million for the Fisher House, we‘ve already gotten—we‘ve got 30 of the 35 for the Center for the Intrepid, which is a 65,000 square foot, state-of-the-world rehabilitation—physical rehabilitation center, being built at Brooke Army Medical Center. 

It‘s being built by entirely private funds.  We‘re not looking for any government money, we don‘t want government money.  What it is, it‘s Americans supporting our troops coming back without arms or legs or some of them that have been taken from us. 

So we‘re taking care of the families and we want to take care of these catastrophic wounded and this is going to be the state-of-the-world, physical rehabilitation center. 

MATTHEWS:  Bill, let me ask you about disability.  You‘ve got—we‘ve had people on this program, our UPS drivers, deliverers, and they‘re in their 20s, and you think, God, by the time they‘re in their 30s, they‘ll still be OK.  By the time they‘re in their 40s it‘s going to get harder and harder to get around on the prosthetics.  How good are the new arms and legs people are getting? 

BILL WHITE, PRESIDENT, THE INTREPID FOUNDATION:  Oh, they‘re almost bionic in nature.  In fact, the facility that Mr. Fisher and our tremendously generous board are going to be building down in San Antonio will provide the most state-of-the-world technology coming from Israel, from Holland, from all over the world.

And they‘ll be able to get back on their legs and arms, but more importantly, what Mr. Fisher and our board is trying to do is get instead of just their arms and legs back, actually provide them some of their dignity back.  You‘ll be able to walk around but you‘ll actually be able to learn how to go ride on a horse, do the laundry, take a walk with your kids. 

I mean, these are the things that at age 24, when you‘re returning from war, you want to be able to spend time with your children and your wife and your family.  And this is the kind of technology that will be in the center. 

MATTHEWS:  Why you? 

FISHER:  Well, we‘ve—my uncle Zach started many years ago, and he started the Fisher Houses and he took care of some of the military accidents that happened in the states.  And when he died, two of my cousins and myself took up this drive for the Fallen Heroes. 

And when Afghanistan started, we figured we just couldn‘t do it alone, so we established this fund, 28,000 Americans have contributed to this fund, and we have raised $30 million.  We‘re $5 million short, and ...

MATTHEWS:  OK, right now where do people send their money? 

FISHER:  To the fallenheroesfund.org. 

MATTHEWS:  Fallenheroesfund.org.  That‘s pretty easy. 

Fallenheroes.org—no punctuation? 

FISHER:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s simple.  Do you think that we have—what do we have?  How many amputees do we have now coming out of these wars? 

FISHER:  We‘re over 300 multiple amputees, and we handle about 40 or 50 at Brooke Army Medical Center a day.  The two Fisher Houses that are being built behind it are 21 rooms each, so it will be 42 families.  There will also be a child education center that will teach the young children what their mother or father, who have lost arms or ,legs will have to do and how they can help them. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, television can only go so far.  I‘ve been out there at Walter Reed and I‘ve seen cases where they don‘t even want the people on television, not because they‘re not good people, but they‘re afraid to scare people.  I saw a guy with brain injuries, blindness and double amputations who still believes he‘s on duty and he‘s going to his next duty.

I saw a guy cut off at the waist.  How do you rehabilitate a guy like that?  How does it work?  And his beautiful wife was walking right next to him and I said, “God, what a picture.”  If people saw pictures like this, they‘d have a different reaction to the cost of war.  Not to make the case against war, but to realize its cost.

FISHER:  I think if everybody went to Walter Reed or Brooke Army Medical Center or to one of these facilities, there would be no question about what we need to do to help these kids.  And they are doing incredible things with them, and I just want to tell you one story that‘s very recent. 

There was a—when I went to Brooke Army Medical Center the first time and I walked in to that ward and there were six men in that ward, there were six arms and six legs total and as we were walking out, they were wheeling in a sergeant that lost a part of one leg and all of the other.  And his wife was behind him, pushing the wheelchair, his mother and father were there and one of five children.  And the general said to him, “Don‘t worry, we‘ll fix you up and get you back to service.”  And his wife said, “Oh no.  We‘re going to Dakotas, we‘re going to buy the farm.”  And said, Billy and I said, “Let‘s buy the farm for them.”

Well Wednesday she called the Fallen Heroes Fund and said, “Tell Mr.  Fisher and the board they should take the money they were going to put in that farm and put it into the center.”

MATTHEWS:  The final sacrifice, hey, thank you.  Great man, Mr.  Fisher.  You use the word mister with power.  What a guy you are.  Thank you.

WHITE:  One other thing, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  No more time, even for this cause.  To contribute—go ahead. 

WHITE:  One-hundred percent of every penny that is given to this fund will go directly to building the center.  I don‘t know any other foundation that can say that.  It‘s a good thing for your donors to know.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  To contribute to the Intrepid Heroes Fund, again Fallen Heroes Fund, just go to fallenheroesfund.org. 

Fallenheroesfund.org.   When we return, President Bush gives details of a 9-11 style plot against Los Angeles that was foiled.  Are we safer now than before September 11?  Let‘s talk about it. 

And later Karenna Gore Schiff, the daughter of Al Gore.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  On a day when the White House reversed course and allowed the Senate Intelligence Committee, all of it, to be briefed on the NSA spying program, President Bush disclosed new details about a thwarted terrorist attack on the West Coast.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We now know that in October 2001, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September the 11th attacks, had already set in motion a plan to have terrorist operatives hijack an airplane using shoe bombs, to breach the cockpit door and fly the plane into the tallest building on the West Coast.  We believe the intended target was Liberty Tower in Los Angeles, California.

MATTHEWS:  Dana Milbank is the national political reporter for “The Washington Post.”  Dana, why did the president release that important news jam just now?

DANA MILBANK, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Well, he can.  You know, when members of Congress, if they were to put something out, it would be a leak of classified information.  When the president does it, he‘s just declassifying it.  So it‘s something they felt they didn‘t need to do before.  It‘s something they want to do to boost his ratings on the NSA surveillance program.  Now this wasn‘t necessarily related to that.

MATTHEWS:  Well tell me tell you something more.  NBC is reporting that I‘ve got a hot note on it, that it not only is not necessarily related, it‘s unrelated.  That domestic spying had nothing to do with catching this plot in the action.

MILBANK:  But, Chris, as a political matter, it doesn‘t matter.  There was an A.P. Poll out today that showed the program is now supported by nearly half of the public, 48 percent up from 42 percent earlier.

The fact is people aren‘t making these fine distinctions and whether it‘s the Democrats or whether it‘s some poor Republicans like Bob Barr at CPAC today trying to make the case that wait a second, think about the Constitution, the FISA law, this and that.  The president says, “Look, I‘m protecting you and people want to rally around that and this helps regardless of whether it‘s related or not.”

MATTHEWS:  I think that‘s been pretty clear.  I don‘t want to say I know the future but it‘s clear that people would rather be protected in their bodies and soul, rather than potentially against a possible infringement of their civil liberties.

The first call on you is to stay alive and a lot of people would say these guys may go over the top once in a while, but I want to be protected by a tough guy, not by a civil libertarian.  That hasn‘t changed.  Remember how George Bush Sr. ran against Mike Dukakis and said he was a card-carrying member of the ACLU.  Everybody knew what that meant.  Let me ask you about this ongoing battle.  This development we just reported, that the Senate Intelligence Committee is now going to get—how much information are they going to get about the spying program?

MILBANK:  Well, that‘s the thing, nobody knows and even they don‘t really know, because the administration can give them what they want to give them.  We don‘t know the entirety of this program and that‘s the thing, when it‘s concentrated in the executive branch, the courts don‘t know, the Congress doesn‘t know and certainly the public doesn‘t know.

We also don‘t know how many other of these secret programs there are, so they can give more.  They‘re saying they‘re giving operational details now as they gave to the House yesterday.  But this does not necessarily mean they‘re giving all the operational details, they‘re just going to give them what they want them to know.

MATTHEWS:  Sometimes I think that Arlen Specter, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, may be the sharpest knife in the drawer.  He‘s come out from what looks to be a classically middle-of-the-road solution here.  He‘s going to offer legislation that tells the government, this administration, that it has to run its program of domestic surveillance through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, which should have been the court perhaps of first review.  Now they‘re saying take the whole program through that court, let the court rule on the constitutionality of the program. 

MILBANK:  Right.  And if the court says there‘s something wrong with it, then the Congress could do something about it.  You could see that‘s where Specter was going with his questioning of Gonzales earlier in the week.  He said, why didn‘t you just present the whole thing to FISA, and Gonzales was saying, well, we didn‘t think we had to. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, there‘s plenty of time to do it, because he‘s saying do it now. 

Anyway, Dana Milbank of “The Washington Post,” thank you, sir, for coming on... 

MILBANK:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  ... HARDBALL tonight.

Up next, Karenna Gore Schiff, the daughter of Al Gore, with the story of nine little known women who changed America.  And on Hardblogger, a political shootout in south Texas.  NBC‘s Mark Murray, the story of a primary race between two Latino Democrats which turned into a classic Texas political brawl, and you can read all about it and other hot races around the country on our HARDBALL Web site, hardblogger.msnbc.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back.  Karenna Gore Schiff, you can see her right now, took her place in the national spotlight when she introduced her father, former Vice President Al Gore, at the Democratic National Convention back in 2000.  Since then, she‘s been a journalist, a lawyer, and most recently a child advocate.  Now, she‘s written a book about women who have changed modern America called “Lighting the Way.”  Welcome. 

KARENNA GORE SCHIFF, AUTHOR:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  We like—we like women.  You‘re a feminist, right? 

SCHIFF:  Yes, although that‘s a word that has been so mangled by some that.... 

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIFF:  So to me, I am definitely a feminist, because that means someone who believes in equal opportunities and rights for women. 

MATTHEWS:  Do we have them? 

SCHIFF:  I think we have made enormous strides, largely because of battles fought by previous generations.  And in this book, I describe many of those battles, and I find them to be very inspiring. 

MATTHEWS:  We just had the—you know, I got to anchor the funeral of Coretta Scott King.  It was very moving the other day.  And we remind ourselves of a lot of history, you know, about civil rights. 

SCHIFF:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  You have in this book a story about how Rosa Parks came to be Rosa Parks. 

SCHIFF:  Yes.  One of the most fascinating things that I learned in learning about these women was that Rosa Parks was a very sophisticated political activist, and one of the women that I wrote about, Septima Poinsette Clark, had set up citizenship schools—she was a black woman in South Carolina—she set up these schools around the South, teaching literacy, voter registration and also inspiring civic leaders.  Rosa Parks went to her workshop just a month before she made her brave protest, and said that Septima inspired her. 

MATTHEWS:  So it wasn‘t just some woman on a bus who had enough of sitting in the back? 

SCHIFF:  It was a lot more than that, and I think—I find it very inspiring to see how political change can happen from the ground up.  And often it‘s those in power who are the last to realize when there‘s that groundswell. 

MATTHEWS:  Tell me about Perkins? 

SCHIFF:  Frances Perkins was an incredible woman.  I always knew that she was the first female secretary of labor...

MATTHEWS:  Fist cabinet member.

SCHIFF:  First female cabinet member, yes, I‘m sorry, and she was also someone who was behind the drafting of many key parts of New Deal legislation, such as Social Security.  She was the only other cabinet member other than Harold Ickes to serve through the entire Roosevelt administration. 

MATTHEWS:  From ‘33 to ‘45. 

SCHIFF:  Exactly.

MATTHEWS:  Did she get real credibility as a cabinet member from Roosevelt?  Did he treat her like a regular member of the cabinet, or did he patronize her? 

SCHIFF:  Absolutely.  The one of the more interesting parts of her story to me is that she started with Al Smith, when he was governor of New York.  She worked for him, and she was always very loyal to him, and he was a fascinating political character himself. 

She took him face to face with sweatshop workers in New York City and around the state of New York, and he called it the best education he had ever had, and really worked for reform. 

MATTHEWS:  Smith was great. 

SCHIFF:  Smith was amazing.

MATTHEWS:  He was amazing.  Let me ask you about—now you know where I‘m heading right now.  You know where I‘m heading. 

SCHIFF:  I don‘t know, you‘re a great—you‘re a great...

MATTHEWS:  Now I‘m heading into what we call the pay dirt of this show, which is news. 

SCHIFF:  Oh, well.

MATTHEWS:  I‘ve noticed that women running for the Senate today do pretty well.  I mean, they don‘t have 50 seats out of 100, but there is a lot of them.  I noticed that the tree top states, New York—in terms of population—New York, Texas and California, two-thirds of their U.S.  senators are women now.  So there‘s a creeping success here of women moving higher and higher.  Will it go all the way? 

SCHIFF:  Well, I hope so.  I think that women have always been really consequential political leaders, often behind the scenes, and the stories in “Lighting the Way” illustrate that.  And I think that it was just a matter of time before they would also be doing that from elective office. 

MATTHEWS:  Did Tipper know that kiss was coming back in 2000? 

SCHIFF:  I think she was a little surprised, actually, don‘t you? 

Didn‘t she look surprised? 

MATTHEWS:  I thought she looked swept off her feet.  Yes, I think she was surprised. 

SCHIFF:  A bit.  A bit.

MATTHEWS:  But you know more.  I‘m sure you‘ve talked about it.

Hillary Clinton.  I hear from sources that I find very reputable, she‘s definitely running for president. 

SCHIFF:  I thought she was running for Senate right now.  I‘m a New Yorker, so she‘s my senator. 

MATTHEWS:  Don‘t you (INAUDIBLE).  You know the plan is to go all the way.  Do you think she should?  Is it time for a woman president? 

SCHIFF:  Well, I think—I think there are a lot of great candidates, potential candidates in the Democratic field.  It is barely 2006, so I think it‘s a little bit early to judge who‘s going to come out on top.  But I respect her.  I think she‘s doing a great job as a senator, and I certainly think that she would make a great president. 

MATTHEWS:  Why do you think the Republicans are going after a candidate so early, talking about her being angry and sort of going after her emotions?  Do you think that‘s a gender thing?  The fact that they‘re doing it, going after emotions?

SCHIFF:  Well, I don‘t know if it‘s so much a gender thing.  I‘ve noticed that angry is the new sort of buzzword from the right to—rather than engage in the substantive points being raised—and she was raising very substantive points about the budget and how it shortchanges a lot of important programs—I think—I thought that was really regrettable.  And in this book, in...

MATTHEWS:  Why should a conservative read your book?  It‘s called “Lighting the Way,” it‘s about women and the progress they‘ve made for America from small places to big movements, the big actions.  Why should a conservative read this book?

SCHIFF:  Because I think it illustrates the fact that the minority viewpoint is often prescient and just, and we can look back and see how in times past, it‘s been someone raising a point against segregation, against child labor, against pollution without regulation, who was shouted down and pushed aside, maybe called a communist, and it‘s important that we recognize that and respect and we should engage them.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m totally with you.  I think you‘re dead right.  It‘s the grassroots that matter.

Karenna Scott Gore—Karenna Gore Schiff, great book, “Lighting the Way.”  Tomorrow, the HARDBALL hotshots are coming back.  Right now, it‘s time for “The Abrams Report” with Dan.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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