Guest: Tyler Drumheller, Robert Baer, Michael Brown, Howard Dean
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Stop the plane.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews up in New York. Leading off
tonight: We got him. Faisal Shahzad was minutes away from taking off for
Dubai when federal authorities pulled him off the plane at JFK. Shahzad is
a naturalized American citizen. He was born in Pakistan and was charged
today with five counts in the Times Square incident, including trying to
explode a weapon of mass destruction. At the top of the show, tonight, who
is this man? Who was he working with? And how close was he to getting
away with it?
And what we know is there was a Pakistan connection. Shahzad traveled
there last year and trained at a terror camp. And today, Pakistani police
arrested as many as eight people suspected of helping him. What has U.S.
officials worried is the fact that a lone wolf, an American, may somehow
have joined up with international terrorists bent on killing other
One thing you can be sure of, the right-wingers, the Rush Limbaughs,
the “dittohead” tea party crowd, won‘t praise the government for catching
Faisal Shahzad. That “blame Obama first” gang will try to find some way to
hold the president responsible for the fact that an act of terror was even
attempted. We‘ll talk to Howard Dean about that one.
And remember this guy?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Again, I want to
thank you all for—and Brownie, you‘re doing a heck of a job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Brownie is now doing a heck of a job criticizing
President Obama about delaying action, as he put it, on the gulf oil spill
in order to stir up what he says is opposition to offshore drilling. What
will the right think of—well, what will they think of next?
And let me bring you up (ph) tonight with three cheers for people
who‘ve been maligned daily by the right wing but who last night got their
man, the federal government.
Let‘s start with the latest on the arrest of the suspected Times
Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, and the arrest of as many as eight others in
Pakistan. “Newsweek‘s” Michael Isikoff is an MSNBC contributor and Roger
Cressey, of course, is an NBC News terrorism analyst.
Roger, I want you to go first. How did we catch him?
ROGER CRESSEY, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Pretty simple, Chris, by using
Craigslist and using an e-mail address, and then ultimately a phone number.
That began a process that ultimately led to Shahzad‘s arrest. What the FBI
did with NYPD and a few other folks is pull the string on his electronic
communications after interviewing the individual who sold Shahzad the
Nissan Pathfinder. That was the first big break in the case.
Once that happened, then they‘re able to quickly move to the point
where, through additional phone number checking and—between Pakistan and
here, ultimately led them to Shahzad, and that‘s why he‘s in custody today.
MATTHEWS: And how did we stop him from flying away? How did we catch
him on the plane? Who gets responsibility for catching him?
CRESSEY: Well, the last line of defense there was the Department of
Homeland Security. It was Customs and border police. They were the ones
that picked him up. And I think there‘s going to be some discussion about
how did he get from the FBI monitoring him, surveying him, to the point
where he ultimately got on the plane. There may have been a disconnect
there at some point.
But I frankly think some of the discussion we‘ve heard now about how,
if he got on the Emirates plane, he would have gotten away is overblown.
That is a flight I‘ve taken a lot. It‘s a 13-hour nonstop. It either
could have been redirected back to JFK, it could have been diverted to
London, other friendly airports, or if it ended up Dubai, our level of
cooperation with the Dubai police is strong enough, we could have taken him
MATTHEWS: Why wasn‘t he on the watch list that was looked at by the
Emirates airliner? Why didn‘t they catch him when he—when his name
showed up on the—on the—on the schedule—on the—when he had a
reservation? The minute he got a reservation, why didn‘t they catch him?
CRESSEY: Right. So I think there‘s two things here. The first is
things were moving so fast, I think there was a coordination issue,
particularly at the very lower levels. He was only added to the no-fly
list within a period of hours after his name was identified. And then I
think there was a disconnect somewhere in the broader JFK security
perimeter, and we don‘t know the answer as to why that happened yet.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to Michael Isikoff, who‘s very good on
getting to the heart of some of this—well, let‘s see what happened here.
Was this just a good job by the cops, they caught the bad guy?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, “NEWSWEEK,” MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: In part. There was
some good police work there, as Roger indicated. One element that he
didn‘t mention is, you know, it started with getting the VIN number on that
Nissan truck that had the bomb. And they—it had been—it had been
deleted or altered on the front of the car, but the cops went under and
found the PIN number—the VIN number underneath. And that‘s how they
were able to link it up with the Craigslist app (ph).
MATTHEWS: Which is—the story to tell there is that you have a
vehicle identification number, a VIN number, hidden throughout your car,
apparently, right? It‘s there...
MATTHEWS: ... in a number of places, and you can‘t find all the
places where it is. So the police always going to be one step ahead of you
in finding one more place on your car where there‘s a Vehicle
MATTHEWS: That‘s the lesson here.
ISIKOFF: Look, there are—look, I think, you know, basically, this
was good police work, good detective work, good intelligence work, putting
all these pieces together.
But—and I do want to throw in a “but”—you know, there are some
questions about him getting on the plane. My understanding is that the—
his inclusion on the no-fly list wasn‘t added, wasn‘t downloaded by the
airlines quickly enough, so that he was able to pay cash and board the
plane, even though he was on the no-fly list. I think there are going to
be some questions about that.
But more broadly, there‘s still a lot of things we don‘t know here.
He—Holder, at his press conference said—Attorney General Holder said
that he‘s providing useful information after being questioned by the Joint
Terrorism Task Force, first without having been read his Miranda rights,
then read his Miranda rights. He waived them. And they say he continued
to talk, he continued to cooperate.
And while he has admitted that he had been in Pakistan, northwest
Pakistan, last year during his five-months trip to that country, his native
homeland, and received some training there, he insists that what he was
doing here in this plot, he was acting alone.
And I‘ve talked to some intelligence and law enforcement officials
today who are skeptical of that, who—one said, I don‘t think anybody
believes that. Now, he may be telling the truth, he may not be. But until
we know whether he was working with other people...
ISIKOFF: ... in the United States, you know, we‘re going to have to
reserve judgment as to how big of a success this was.
MATTHEWS: Well, his name is Faisal Shahzad, and here‘s some of the
things we know about the fellow. He‘s a 30-year-old naturalized citizen.
He‘s originally from Peshawar region of Pakistan and has family there. He
traveled to Pakistan last year, spent eight months over there. He‘s
already confessed to training at a terrorist camp in Waziristan, which is
where the Pakistan Taliban operates.
You know, as an American, as all three of us are, Roger, nothing is
more depressing than the prospect that people who choose to join us and
become naturalized Americans then choose to betray us, to try to kill us.
I mean, you‘d like to think that when a person goes through the process of
naturalization, they made a commitment to us as a country. And here‘s a
guy who changed his mind.
CRESSEY: Well, what I hope doesn‘t happen, Chris, is that there‘s
this broad pendulum swing saying, Aha, now we need to be on the lookout for
every naturalized American that comes from an Islamic country because
that‘s foolish, too. The issue‘s going to be—and he‘s going to...
MATTHEWS: Well, get to my point, not to your point. My point—
please don‘t change the point...
CRESSEY: No, I...
MATTHEWS: ... to a general concern...
CRESSEY: No, no. I‘m not changing the point.
MATTHEWS: ... about profiling. That‘s not what I‘m talking about.
CRESSEY: No, I know that, but...
MATTHEWS: I‘m disheartened to hear that an individual in this case
changed his mind. Do you know why he changed his mind?
CRESSEY: No. None of us do yet because he‘s still being questioned.
He‘s still being questioned. We‘re going to find out the answer to that.
Was he radicalized before he became a naturalized American? Did he get
radicalized after that? I mean, that‘s a fundamental question in the
ISIKOFF: Chris, it‘s also conceivable that he had been radicalized
before and he went through the naturalization process because he knew that
that would give him greater access to things.
ISIKOFF: You know, I mean, we don‘t know. I‘m just...
CRESSEY: Yes, that‘s true.
ISIKOFF: And this is speculation at this point. But we don‘t know.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about the training. How did we—did
we get all this from the—is he the singing terrorist? I mean, Roger,
we‘re finding out a lot just from him.
CRESSEY: Well, primarily, you know. Much like the Christmas Day
attempt, Chris, with Abu—Farouk Abdulmutallab, he volunteered all the
information, and he was pretty accurate with what he said.
ISIKOFF: But Roger, as we reported a little while ago, there‘s still
some skepticism as to whether he‘s telling the whole story...
CRESSEY: Oh, yes. No, no, no, no, no...
ISIKOFF: ... and I think that‘s a cautionary point to make.
CRESSEY: Mike, no, I get that. All I‘m saying is that, you know,
sometimes these guys do tell a modicum of truth. It‘s not the whole story.
CRESSEY: And in this case, Shahzad is going to say things that we‘re
going to be able to verify. It‘s about corroboration with Pakistani
officials and for our own intelligence community.
CRESSEY: So you‘re going to get a lot of it firsthand, and then
you‘re going to start to pull the string through the electronic
information, telephone and e-mails, and interviews with people in Pakistan.
So that‘s going to paint the broader mosaic of who worked with this guy,
what drove him to put—no pun intended—to put that Pathfinder in Times
Square on Saturday.
MATTHEWS: Yes. You know, it seems to be—Roger and then Michael.
There seems to be an intuitive tendency on our part, a penchant, to think
if it‘s a well-organized plot, if it‘s something like 9/11, or even the ‘93
plot on the World Trade Center, it seems to have a international element—
in other words, a lot of thought went into it, a lot of people, a lot of
minds, preparation, organization, et cetera. And when it‘s a real kind of
a screw-up like this, when everything seems to be wrong, then you assume
it‘s one person operating as an individual. Is that a fair way to look at
it, I mean, the fact that it was such a screw-up, that it may possibly not
have been coordinated?
CRESSEY: Well, you know, we use the term “sophisticated” a lot when
we talk about terrorism plots.
CRESSEY: And it doesn‘t—it doesn‘t have to be sophisticated just
because there are multiple pieces of coordination. It can be sophisticated
for other reasons. In this case, this wasn‘t a sophisticated device. It
was a crude device that wasn‘t going to work. So his capability was not
that impressive. But his intent was actually...
CRESSEY: ... very, very serious.
CRESSEY: So we‘ve got to split those two and understand each one.
MATTHEWS: So we know, Michael...
MATTHEWS: Michael, let me ask you about this because I guess when it
gets to criminal charges, we‘re going to learn down the road how serious of
a charge this guy gets hit with. But I just am wondering—I guess
because it was so badly handled by him and putting—I‘m not going to join
the comedians and how we make fun of how badly he put it together. But was
there an attempt to kill hundreds of people? What do you think this was
ISIKOFF: Oh, clearly. I mean, look, he was trying to kill as many
people as he could. And you know, there‘s sort of a good news/bad news
aspect to this. I mean, the good news is it was so primitive. And you
know, in that sense, the guy is a screw-up. But on the other hand, it is
worth sort of taking a step back.
You know, a few years ago, all the terrorism—almost all the
terrorism cases that the FBI had made in this country were sort of lone
wolves inspired on the Internet without any apparent connection with people
ISIKOFF: And we have had quite a few over the last year in which it‘s
precisely the opposite. It‘s people who have connections, who‘ve been to
Pakistan, who‘ve gotten training and then come back.
And I think there is a sense among counterintelligence officials that,
you know, this is part of a pattern, part of a trend, that they are sending
everybody they can back into this country, or you know, using what assets
they can have in this country to wage attacks. And that Pakistan Taliban
video over the weekend in which it was claimed that they will retaliate for
the drone attacks—I think there is an aspect of that that does make
people a little nervous.
MATTHEWS: Well, for that blow-back, it seems to be heavily
incompetent. Are you surprised, Roger, that if they‘re very angry, as they
might well be, at our use of drones effectively over in that region, the
Northwest Frontier—do you think that they would send back such an
CRESSEY: Well, that could also be a reality of what they have to work
with these days. I mean, if you play out Michael‘s theory here, we‘ve had
such great success with the Predator program and with the Pakistani
military in attritting that capability over there, you know, the talent
pool that they have at their disposal to come back to the United States...
CRESSEY: ... is simply as good as they may have hoped. So part of
the good news story here is that even though this was a serious attempt,
like the attorney general said, he wasn‘t that good, and that may be a sign
of the type of threat we have to deal with. It doesn‘t mean the threat‘s
not real, it just means the talent pool used to staff it is not what we‘re
used to, 9/11 and even with Najibullah Zazi most recently.
MATTHEWS: Well, thank you for your thinking and analysis, and thank
you so much for your experience, as well. Roger Cressey, it is fabulous to
have you on. Michael Isikoff, I love it. I‘m going to be reading more
from what you have to say.
We‘re going to cover this story throughout the show tonight, by the
way. Coming up, we‘re going to look at the Pakistan connection, eight
arrests over there. We‘re going to talk to two former CIA officials. How
much of that came from simply blow-back from what we‘re trying to do, catch
the bad guys over in that region of Pakistan?
But in one minute, during this commercial break: The race gets tighter
up in Pennsylvania between Senator Arlen Specter, who became a Democrat,
and Democrat Joe Sestak. Sestak—he‘s the little engine that could,
apparently. He‘s getting close.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Two weeks to go now, two Wednesdays from now, a big primary
in Pennsylvania, where Senator Arlen Specter is hoping to hold off
Congressman Joe Sestak. And a new Quinnipiac poll shows Sestak making a
run. Specter‘s lead has been whittled down to just 8 points among likely
voters. Last month, Specter had a 21-point lead. That‘s the second poll
in two days that shows Sestak within single digits. What an upset this
would be, Democrat Joe Sestak beating 30-year veteran, Arlen Specter.
Be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We now know that the Times
Square bomb suspect trained at a terror camp in Pakistan. What does that
tell us about the current state of play in the world of terrorism? Quite a
lot, I‘d expect.
Tyler Drumheller served as chief of operations for the CIA In Europe,
and Bob Baer was a CIA field officer. Tyler, you first, just your general
big thoughts, based on your experience, what this all adds up to, eight
months of training over there in Pakistan, a faulty attempt to cause real
mayhem in Times Square.
TYLER DRUMHELLER, FMR. CIA EUROPE OPERATIONS CHIEF: I think—in my
opinion, I think this is—what‘s happening now is what happened in Europe
about five, six, seven years ago, that you have people who are getting
caught up in this general idea of the United States being at war with
Islam. And people are either being recruited off the Internet or they‘re
fascinated or they have some problem here that leads them...
DRUMHELLER: ... back to their homeland/ And then when they get
there, they‘re indoctrinated. They‘re given some training. I suspect this
guy wasn‘t given a tremendous amount of training because the bomb wasn‘t
very effective. Then they‘re released back in, and without a great battle
plan, but to carry something out and with some sort of context, because,
obviously, they knew he was going to do it because they took credit for it
ether right before or shortly after it happened.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Let me go to Bob on that. Same question to you, big
picture, what‘s it about?
ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Well, we‘re at war in Pakistan. We
just can‘t forget that. We‘re killing, you know, dozens of people every
week with these Predator attacks. We‘ve taken sides in that war. And it
doesn‘t surprise me that these—these clans and families living in the
United States are fighting against the United States. It‘s just almost
inevitable. And this is what we‘re facing in this war. The longer it goes
on, the more likely we are going to get attacked. And I‘m afraid the next
ones are going to be successful.
MATTHEWS: Are you surprised they send a klutz to do this job in Times
BAER: Well, you know, I‘m a bit of a dissident on this opinion. You
know, if he had made a couple adjustments to those propane tanks and the
rest of it—I don‘t need to get into it—they might have gone off. And
the kill radius in that car, if those tanks had really caught fire, would
have been 50 feet. He would have done—you know, killed a lot of people.
MATTHEWS: Really. So you‘re open to the idea that maybe he may have
been well trained and missed a couple steps?
BAER: It‘s dicey, getting these things lighted. If he had been
lucky, as the mayor said, Mayor Bloomberg, we would have had a lot of
casualties. So yes, he was a klutz, and they could have made a lot better
bomb. But when these people are trained on the fly and recruited on the
fly, a lot of these operations are going to fail.
MATTHEWS: You know, Roger Cressey made a point earlier, Tyler, along
the lines you‘re talking about, about how they recruit overseas. We‘ve
been very successful, and I know we are, about assimilating people. It‘s
our great strength. You can become an American in very few years. You
learn a bit of the language, you make an effort to really become an
American, you get into our culture, you get into our values, you‘re an
American damn quick.
And the danger, of course, is some people don‘t have that motive, that
they may be doing all kinds of things to hurt us. In this case, this guy,
radicalized, how do you figure? How do you figure the radicalization
DRUMHELLER: Well, I think this is—I think the assimilation of the
Islamic community in the United States has protected us to this point. But
I think as things go along—I mean, in his case, it could be an economic
problem. It could be...
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think you‘re onto it.
DRUMHELLER: ... all sorts of things, and...
MATTHEWS: I think you‘re onto the economic problem.
DRUMHELLER: ... he—his house was being foreclosed on. It‘s the
same thing if you—what you saw in Europe—I keep going to that because
that‘s what I—I think that‘s an important lesson to learn. You have a
group of disgruntled people or a disgruntled guy, and all they need to do
is run into one person that‘s a serious recruiter or a trainer or something
like that. And then, like Bob said, they end up in a camp, they get a
degree of training, they go back.
And for the Pakistani—for the people on the end in Pakistan,
they‘re—they see this as a war with us. I mean, we—we—we should
not think that we can attack them, and they‘re not going to retaliate.
And, so, this, it‘s—I—I think it would be a mistake to think that
we‘re looking for a specific plan, like go to Times Square and blow it up.
But I think the—what they said was, probably train him and said, at
an opportunity, do something like this, which makes it much more dangerous.
It would be easier if it was a highly-organized thing, because that‘s
easier to penetrate.
MATTHEWS: You know, Bob, everybody knows about people that emigrate,
some successfully, and others not. A lot of people came here from Ireland,
for example, and most made it in America, and some had to go home. They
didn‘t make it here. They didn‘t fit in.
Is this an opportunity for recruitment?
ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Absolutely.
Immigration is going up. We‘re getting a lot more people. The State
Department effectively does not screen people immigrating to this country.
It‘s barely—it‘s cursory. We don‘t know who‘s inside our borders.
We‘re nothing like Israel, who keeps track of people, for obvious reasons.
We‘re still a very non-militarized, liberal country.
But we simply don‘t know who is within our borders. A lot of people
still don‘t speak English, and their primary loyalties are outside the
MATTHEWS: Yes, but people coming from Pakistan generally do speak
English. That wouldn‘t be the problem here, would it?
BAER: A lot of them don‘t. A lot of them just speak Urdu and Pashto.
BAER: They don‘t speak it very well, and they‘re not integrated.
They‘re moving out into communities in Connecticut and New Jersey, and
they‘re sticking together, and we don‘t really know who they are.
This is a big statement. But we—the FBI, let‘s put it this way,
cannot keep track of every immigrant in this country.
BAER: What happened at Times Square was not an intelligence failure.
In fact, it was a brilliant wrap-up of this guy. And—but what I‘m
really afraid, Chris, is the next time one of these guys are going to get
through, and what‘s it going to do to this country? It‘s going to rip it
apart, because people are going to be looking for quick, immediate answers.
MATTHEWS: How so?
BAER: You know, they‘re going to look, you know, to crack down on—
who knows where it‘s going to end up. You‘re going to see the Tea Party
being strengthened. You‘re going to see people blaming the White House for
a situation it didn‘t create.
BAER: It could affect the—could affect the United States for a
long time. Look, it got us into a war in Iraq we didn‘t need to be in,
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, I agree.
And, by the way, I think, coming up on airplanes, I thought this, with
the Christmas bomber—Tyler, you on this—I thought there was going to
be—well, I will predict it right now. We get a real bad airplane
situation in the next couple years, we‘re going to have all kinds of stuff
going on about who gets on airplanes. We‘re going to be so close to Israel
in the way that they do it, don‘t you think?
DRUMHELLER: I think it‘s going to...
BAER: Oh, absolutely.
BAER: People are going to demand it.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Tyler.
DRUMHELLER: I think it‘s going to go more and more in that direction.
And I think the other thing to worry about is the reaction—again, this
is going back to your—this is the reaction of the extreme right to that,
that you have a counter-reaction against these communities.
And just adds to bring in more recruits for these...
MATTHEWS: Yes. Explain how that happens.
DRUMHELLER: Well, it‘s because, as—as these attacks occur, it
feeds a certain—certain part of the extreme right that looks on
immigration as a threat to American identity. And then they react—and a
violent fringe of that reacts violently against Muslims in some part of the
And then the next thing you know, then the recruiters or the people on
the Internet who—if they‘re doing it remotely, play on this and say,
see, this is America hates Muslims.
I mean, and you hear that more and more when you talk to young
Muslims, that—it‘s not add it‘s not a majority, but it‘s a—and Bob
knows more about this—about that part of the world than I do.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. I know.
MATTHEWS: You know, Bob, the problem is really not so much people who
have a lot of contact with people from the Middle East or from South Asia,
like I do. It‘s people who don‘t meet anybody. So, they make the
generalization, I assume.
MATTHEWS: Obviously, they can‘t differentiate among the 99 percent
that are wanting to become Americans and the small element that just are
misfits, basically, and are open to recruitment. It‘s a situation that
takes a little bit of thought to put into it.
But, I tell you, when it comes to airplanes, people aren‘t going to be
so discriminating. They‘re going to want to know who‘s getting on that
airplane, if we have another problem like Christmas.
Tyler Drumheller, every time I have you on, I worry, because I know we
had you on for a reason. And it‘s usually not a good reason. It‘s not
exactly like Christmas Eve around here.
Anyway, thank you, Bob Baer. Same with you.
We have you guys on when we have trouble.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, that seems to be—all you have got to do is watch
the screen on MS and know what is going on, because you see your faces.
But, gentlemen, in all seriousness, it‘s great to have expertise.
We will have more on this story tonight as we go along with HARDBALL
tonight. It‘s the story. They caught the bad guy, it looks like, at the
airport just as he was getting on a plane to the Emirates. Good police
Up next: How much does Florida‘s Republican Party dislike Governor
Charlie Crist? Well, check out the “Sideshow.” They really don‘t like
You‘re watching HARDBALL. Good-time Charlie isn‘t too popular with
the Republicans down there. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
Now for the “Sideshow.”
Jon Stewart and Steve Colbert both mocked reaction to the failed bomb
plot in Times Square. Here they go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE COLBERT REPORT”)
JANET NAPOLITANO, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: It was a rather
amateurish type of bomb.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Looked amateurish, I think,
is a nice way to phrase it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was an incompetent bomber.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, this was, frankly, pretty pitiful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was really so incompetent. It was a failure,
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, “THE COLBERT REPORT”: No, guys, it was scary,
COLBERT: Hi, Mr. Terrorist, whoever you are.
COLBERT: Those people are just jealous.
COLBERT: That was a wonderful bomb, and we‘re all sufficiently
COLBERT: There‘s no need to try again. OK.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”)
BLOOMBERG: At about 6:30 this last night, an alert T-shirt vendor who
is a Vietnam veteran noticed an unoccupied suspicious vehicle. He alerted
police officer Wayne Rhatigan of the NYPD Mounted Unit, who was on his
horse, Miggs, patrolling Times Square.
JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”: I‘m sorry. Mr.
Mayor, Mr. Mayor, Jon Stewart, “Daily Show.” What type of vendor, and what
war did he serve in? And, I‘m sorry, what was the name of the horse?
STEWART: And do you have any information that matters?
STEWART: By the way, I‘m not trying to tell the mayor how to do his
job, but the best look for the bomb scare press conference probably isn‘t
the old Richie Rich.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Hey, it‘s just Mike Bloomberg being mayor of Gotham.
Next: Don‘t Tase me, bro. Last night, at the Phillies-Cardinals
game, a 17-year-old Phillies fanatic ran out onto the field and made it for
quite a bit before being brought down in front of 40,000 fans by a Taser
gun. Authorities are now investigating whether use of the stun gun went
Editorial point here: I know Philly fans are tough, but couldn‘t they
have just tackled the guy?
Finally, cleaning house. The Republican Party of Florida has just
posted an oil painting of Governor Charlie Crist on eBay. The portrait was
originally commissioned for party headquarters in Tallahassee.
But Governor Crist‘s decision to drop out of the Republican Senate
primary and run as an independent has made him persona non grata within the
party. Case in point, catch the painting‘s description on eBay—quote—
“Canvas is naturally sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, just
as Charlie Crist‘s political convictions are subject to fluctuations in
poll numbers,” which brings us to tonight‘s “Big Number.”
What‘s the going rate on eBay for Charlie Crist‘s painting? Six
thousand dollars. You‘ve got six days to make your bid for a portrait of
good-time Charlie. Six thousand dollars, going once, going twice—
tonight‘s “Big Number.”
Up next: Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, the guy blamed for
bungling Katrina, says President Obama deliberately delayed action on this
oil spill in the Gulf to stir up opposition to offshore drilling. Michael
Brown, the inimitable, joins us next.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC
A major sell-off today, as investors flock to the dollar on new
concerns about European debt—the Dow Jones industrial averages plunging
more than 225 points, the S&P 500 tumbling 28 points, and the Nasdaq
getting the worst of it, losing 74.5 points.
The dollar soaring against the euro on concerns that the Spanish
economy could be next in line for a bailout. Investors are worried about
crumbling regional banks, a crushing deficit, and skyrocketing
Adding to the unease, worries about a growing property development
bubble in China—one analyst describing the Chinese economy as—quote -
“addicted to development.”
Investors shrugged off a pair of positive economic reports, home sales
and factory orders both rising more than expected in March.
And drugmakers were among the very few winners, Merck gaining 1.5
percent after beating profit estimates, and Pfizer adding 2 percent on a
huge jump in first-quarter revenue.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA PERINO, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: What will be
interesting to me—and I‘m not trying to introduce a conspiracy theory—
but was this deliberate? You know, you have to wonder...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mean sabotage?
PERINO: Yes, if there was sabotage involved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, “THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW”)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: What better way to head off more
oil drilling, nuclear plants, then by blowing up a rig? I‘m just—I‘m
just noting the timing here.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Those are some of the comments
from people on the right about the oil spill in the Gulf yesterday.
On Neil Cavuto‘s show, former FEMA Director Michael Brown said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “YOUR WORLD WITH NEIL CAVUTO”)
MICHAEL BROWN, FORMER FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY DIRECTOR:
Only now is the president appearing to be engaged.
And I think the delay was this. It‘s pure politics.
You know, they don‘t say these things without it being coordinated.
And so now you‘re looking at this oil slick approaching, you know, the
Louisiana shore. According to certain—NOAA and other places, if the
winds are right, it will go up the East Coast.
This is exactly what they want, because now he can pander to the
environmentalists and say, “I‘m going to shut it down because it‘s too
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Michael Brown, you have a thought here. Why don‘t you
repeat that again live? What do you believe is going on here in the Gulf
in terms of the president‘s behavior, the whole—the whole business right
BROWN: Hey, Chris, I think there‘s two things.
I think, one, we‘re seeing the Rahm Emanuel rule number one taking
effect. And that is, let no crisis go unused. So, this is an opportunity
for a president who wants to bankrupt the coal industry and basically get
rid of the oil and gas industry to shut down offshore drilling in the Gulf
I think the other thing that we‘re seeing is, is this—I don‘t know
why it is in this country, but we have a plan from 1994 that says how we‘re
going to deal with these fires and these platforms collapsing. Janet
Napolitano did not implement that plan until seven days after the leaks
And then we find out we don‘t have the equipment. I mean, to me, it‘s
like Katrina all over, because people at the top are not paying attention
to what‘s going on, on the ground.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of BP‘s role here with regard to the
blowout preventer, and the fact that that was sort of the—the final way
to deal with a situation as horrific as this? Do you think that they had
the right management? Were they following procedure? Where is the blame
lie in terms of letting this catastrophe occur in the first instance?
BROWN: Yes, I don‘t think we know yet, Chris, because, you know, I—
I heard the clip from Dana Perino and the others.
I think we have to get the robots on the sea—on the seabed, get
that equipment up above sea level, get it on to some docks, and let‘s see
what happened. Right now, I don‘t know. You either had faulty equipment.
You had some problem with BP. And—and, as some people speculate, maybe
there was some sabotage.
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you make of that? What do you make of that
MATTHEWS: What do you make of that speculation about sabotage?
BROWN: You know...
MATTHEWS: Why would somebody sabotage something that would cause this
kind of damage to our planet, really?
BROWN: Well, because I think there are terrorists in the world who
would like to do that sort of thing. Terrorists don‘t give a rat‘s butt
about the ecology or anything else. All they care about is hurting
MATTHEWS: Well, do you think, based upon what we know, there‘s any
indication of terrorism?
BROWN: No, not yet. There‘s not.
BROWN: And I‘m not saying that there will be.
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you make of the—what do you make of the
political charge from the right that it—that the president or one of his
supporters did this in order to discredit offshore drilling? Do you make -
do you give any credibility to that?
BROWN: I—no. No. They—and, in fact, they did not do this.
But I think that, if you use Rahm Emanuel‘s rule, they‘re taking advantage
MATTHEWS: What do you—how do you...
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, we started off with your quote, Michael.
MATTHEWS: And I just wonder how you know things like this.
MATTHEWS: You say only—only now is the president appearing to be
You—what do you know about him not appearing to—you‘re
suggesting he‘s not really engaged in leading this effort to deal with this
catastrophe, he‘s faking it.
You are saying appearing to be engaged. Do you think he‘s not engaged
in this effort to try to prevent this disaster?
BROWN: Look, in politics in the White House, it is about appearances.
MATTHEWS: But do you think he‘s faking it; he‘s not trying to deal
with this horrific situation?
BROWN: No, no. I think—no, no, Chris, now I think he is. I think
MATTHEWS: OK. So, you didn‘t mean appearing to be. You say, I think
the delay was...
BROWN: I think he was disengaged, like another president we know.
MATTHEWS: No, but you say it was pure politics, the timing of his
You say he systematically or deliberately paused to allow this
wreckage, this terror, this horrible environmental damage to occur, that he
systemically chose, for—as you put it, pure politics, timed his actions
to be slower than they should have been? Are you serious?
BROWN: I think he was very—he was very ill-served, Chris.
He should have known exactly...
MATTHEWS: You‘re saying I think the delay was this—it is pure
politics. Are you saying that he somehow delayed his response to encourage
a worse disaster here, worse damage to the environment?
BROWN: No, one, he didn‘t want people to die. He doesn‘t want to see
oil on the shores. He doesn‘t want to see any of that. But I do believe -
I believe this very sincerely. When he comes out and says he would like
to see the coal industry bankrupted, I think they see a crisis like this
and they say, how can—because this is Rahm Emanuel‘s rule number one,
how do we take advantage of this situation. And I think—
MATTHEWS: You‘re leaping there, Michael. You‘re leaping so far away.
You‘re saying this—the president delayed his reaction to this disaster
so that he could hurt the coal industry? I‘m confused.
BROWN: No, no, hang on. He said in 2008 that he wants a cap-and-
trade bill that is so onerous that carbon-based industries like the coal
industry, if they try to do anything new, they‘ll go bankrupt. The
president is very anti-carbon energy. I understand that. I get it. I
just disagree with it.
I think in this case, he saw an opportunity to say, look how bad oil
and gas drilling is. Look at all this harm it‘s causing.
MATTHEWS: He just came out for offshore oil drilling.
BROWN: Chris, I‘m glad you asked that. He came out and said, look,
I‘m going to approve oil and gas drilling. And all you guys are going to
say, look what a great guy he is, trying to reach out to everybody else.
All he did was he approved two existing leases on the northeast coast, and
shut down all the other proposed leases on the west coast and the southeast
coast. There was nothing new in what he did.
MATTHEWS: Don‘t you know what you‘re saying to a third party, not
somebody like myself or somebody like yourself, listening to you, thinks
that you‘re sounding insane. You‘re saying that the president of the
United States went into slow-mo here, somehow—or somehow seemed to be
working faster than he really was, but was really quite slow to get there,
because he saw an opportunity to exploit a disaster so that he could reap
discredit on to the coal industry.
And by the way, a couple of weeks ago, he came down for offshore
drilling so that he could discredit it when this thing occurred. Are you
somehow suggesting he knew this would happen and that‘s why he came out for
offshore drilling? Is that what you‘re saying? It sounds crazy.
BROWN: Chris, the way you just put it, it sounds crazy to me, too.
MATTHEWS: Let me rephrase your thoughts, you said the president came
out for offshore drilling so he could discredit it. But the only way he
could discredit it, if we had this oil spill.
BROWN: No, he came out for offshore drilling in an attempt to appease
those on the right who want more drilling.
MATTHEWS: He came out for a compromise.
BROWN: Which was not a compromise at all. He only approved existing
leases that were already in effect. You guys failed to report that what he
announced was nothing. Now, he announced that so he could get, you know,
health care passed or something else.
MATTHEWS: I think he did it so he could get a climate bill passed as
part of an energy bill. That‘s what I think he was trying to do.
BROWN: Yeah, absolutely. You‘re right. The climate bill. But then
what happens is, this crisis occurs in the Gulf. Janet Napolitano does not
even implement the Oil Spill Response Plan of 1994 until I think like April
27th, seven days after the disaster. There‘s no explanation for that
MATTHEWS: OK. I just think—I think it‘s dangerous for people like
Dana Perino to say there was sabotage by the left here. Dangerous for Rush
Limbaugh to say the president or one of his supporters somehow blew up that
oil rig to create havoc and somehow have some sort of a bounce out of it.
I will tell you, Michael, I think your arguments are not strong about
the coal industry, because I don‘t think this relates to coal. I think you
could have made the case you just made—I think you made a case there
that he wants to discredit offshore drilling—if he didn‘t anticipate
this catastrophe. And I don‘t know how you can accuse this president of
such powers as knowing this catastrophe was coming down the line.
BROWN: Chris, I don‘t think he anticipated this catastrophe at all.
I think they took advantage of it, which is what Rahm‘s rule is, take
advantage of a crisis.
MATTHEWS: Thanks for coming on, Michael Brown. Great to have you on.
Up next, will the right-wing praise the Obama administration for
catching the Time Square terrorist? Give him a little credit? The fact
that an attack was even attempted, he might get blamed for that. Howard
Dean joins us next to assess the politics of everything that‘s going on
And in one minute, a lot of support for that new illegal immigrant law
down in Arizona. Surprising national support, you might say, if you‘re on
the liberal side of things. It may disturb you to hear how strong the
support is for that bill. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, take a look at this poll number from “the New York
Times”/CBS News poll: when asked about that new illegal immigration law
down in Arizona, 51 percent said it‘s about right. Tack on another nine
percent who say the law doesn‘t go far enough, and that‘s six in ten
American who support the new law.
This is a tough attitude country right now. Six in ten, a good
indicator why politicians on both sides, right and left, are afraid to go
after this baby. HARDBALL will come back in a moment.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back. In the same week that some Republicans are
suggesting that the Obama administration purposely slowed down the response
to the Gulf oil spill disaster, now some Republicans are questioning
whether the Obama administration deserves credit even for capturing the guy
in the Times Square bombing incident out at the airport tonight. Here‘s
former New York Governor George Pataki on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE PATAKI, FMR. GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: This is another case where
this administration, we are responding after something is attempted. We
saw it with the Christmas day airplane bomber. We saw it in Times Square.
We were lucky in both cases. And then we saw it in Fort Hood, where we
were not so lucky, and 13 of our great young heroes, who put their lives on
the line to defend us, were murdered.
I think this administration just has got to change its approach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That‘s what happens to an office-holder when he runs out of
staff and has to think up this stuff on his own. We have joining us now a
man who needs no staff to help him, doctor, governor, chairman Howard Dean,
the former governor of Vermont, former chairman of the Democratic National
Committee, a medical doctor and a CNBC contributor.
Dr. Dean, it seems to me that the Republicans are so desperate—we
just saw an example of Michael Brown saying the president was slowing down
his efforts in the Gulf of Mexico so he could attack the coal industry.
That is a bank shot even I can‘t follow.
HOWARD DEAN, FMR. GOVERNOR OF VERMONT: Well, you know, first of all,
the question is why is Michael Brown, given his track record, on television
talking to anybody.
MATTHEWS: We invited him and he came.
DEAN: You can‘t put everybody off the street on television.
MATTHEWS: He was head of FEMA for all of those years.
DEAN: Precisely the point, precisely the point, and look what they
did. So he may have been reflecting on how things were run in the previous
White House, but I don‘t think he has much knowledge about how they are run
in this White House.
Look, I think the president is doing the best he can. He has got a
big job. Not just this oil spill and not just the terror attacks, but he‘s
beginning turning the economy around. We‘ve got a health care bill, that
despite it‘s being not so popular, is eventually going to reform health
I think he‘s accomplished an enormous amount. And to—it‘s sad to
see what lengths the Republicans will go to. If you want to question his
policies, be my guest. But don‘t question his motives. What Pataki said
reminds me of the people on the fringe left who used to claim that Bush
knew about 9/11 before it happened. This kind of stuff has no place in our
society. It‘s ridiculous nonsense, and someone like George Pataki
shouldn‘t be talking like that.
MATTHEWS: I was surprised at Pataki. I‘ve always had a lot of
respect for him, but that performance—
DEAN: That‘s the influence of the Tea Party in the Republican party.
People feel like they have to say such outlandish things because they‘re
interested in running for office. It‘s ridiculous. And it doesn‘t serve
the country well.
MATTHEWS: Don‘t you think that Beck is pulling even people that are
sort of pretty far right, but not crazy like O‘Reilly and Sean Hannity—I
think Beck is pulling them all further over, and then pulling the
Republican party with them. It‘s like Grashom‘s (ph) Law, bad money drives
good money out of circulation. They‘re driving good ideas out of
circulation by going so far right, that party.
DEAN: This is why Michael Steele made an enormous mistake early in
his term as chairman of the Republican Party when he backed down to Rush
Limbaugh and began to cow tow to him. You‘ve got to stand up for what you
believe in at all times. You may not always believe what the rest of the
American people believe, but you‘ve got to stand your ground.
This stuff is not only going to hurt the country, it‘s going to
destroy the Republican party. Because who is going to vote for this kind
of stuff? There will be some, because there is a lot of anger out there,
but the fact of the matter is the country is not going to be taken over by
a far right conspiracy theorist, I don‘t think. And if it is, lord knows
the country is in deep trouble.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s talk about the two parties. You‘re a Democrat, a
progressive. Let me ask you about the stakes. It seems to me if something
screws up under the government when the Republicans are charge, they can
say we told you government sucks, we told you it was going to screw up,
because government is not really effective. Democrats have a stake,
though. They‘re the government party, because they believe in what
effective government can achieve, progressive policies. So therefore it
seems to me a higher standard. Is the president meeting it? With
DEAN: I think he is. Look, even Senator Sessions, certainly very
conservative, anti-government senator from Alabama, on his trip with the
president in the south where the—all the terrible oil damage either is
occurring or about to occur—said that the government really needs to
step up to the plate here. People need to rely on government when times
are really bad. And all this anti-government rhetoric is silly.
It was the government that the got us out of the Depression in 1932.
And—or not 1933, when it began. And now—actually, excuse me, it
began in 1929, but when Roosevelt came in, it was the government that
turned around. Government is important at times like this. Government was
important to stop terrorism. And you can complain all you want, but the
fact is, the president and the New York City Police, and a very alert and
terrific couple of American citizens on the street, we did avert a tragedy
in Times Square. And government responded and government did its job, and
government got that guy off the plane.
MATTHEWS: OK. How much score, one to 10, performance with regard to
the Times Square terrorist.
DEAN: Performance, what?
MATTHEWS: How are we doing? How is the government doing?
DEAN: I think they get an eight on that one. I really do.
MATTHEWS: How about dealing with the Gulf catastrophe, with the oil
spill? How are we doing on that, one to 10.
DEAN: we don‘t know yet. The truth is, this is really a huge
potential national disaster. People said this could never happen. It has
happened. It is going to require reassessing drilling and so forth and so
DEAN: it‘s a huge problem. We don‘t know how the government has done
on this one yet.
MATTHEWS: I agree with you. I agree on all counts. Thank you very
much, Governor Dean, for coming on HARDBALL.
When we return, I‘m going to have some thoughts about the people who
got their man last night, the federal government, despite daily criticism
from the right wing. They got the job done. You‘re watching HARDBALL,
only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with that arrest at John F. Kennedy
airport. You know, it‘s good to know that our government can do the job.
People like competence. Men like men who are competent. Women like men
who are competent. Women like women who are competent. Men like women who
are competent. Everybody likes competence.
The era of the Cutie Klutz (ph) this isn‘t. We don‘t want a Woody
Allen character running the country or our household. Annie Hall,
remember, was a comedy.
What killed President Bush‘s credibility? His utter claim that the
reason we went to war in Iraq was to search for nuclear weapons. Because
he and his people were dishonest enough to make that claim, he ended up
looking like an incompetent when we fought our way into that country and
are still fighting our way out, only to find there were no nuclear weapons
The incompetence became down right staggering when the commander in
chief pranced on to an aircraft carrier with that mission accomplished
banner flying overhead. The bozos couldn‘t even get the PR right.
Katrina, need I recall the words of the high commander on that front.
“Brownie, you‘re doing a heck of a job.”
Competence. We‘re still watching what happens in the Gulf of Mexico.
Still watching the operation to cap that gusher a mile down in the water.
But at least we have nabbed that guy heading off from the New York Airport.
You know, the big change in American attitude since the halcyon days of
World War II to the early 1960s was the belief that government could do the
job it set out to do. We beat the Nazis. We built the Interstate Highway
System. We built a middle class. We got to the Moon.
We did what we set out to do, and it showed up in the polls. Three
quarters of the country said the government could do what it set out to do.
Well, it‘s an American thing, catching that guy at the airport. Real
“Dragnet” stuff. And don‘t you think people like it. We love to see we
can do what we set out to do.
And that‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. Right now,
it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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