Guests: Bill Nelson, James Inhofe, Hafez al-Mirazi
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Tonight all hell is breaking loose in Washington as new pictures of American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners come to light.
President Bush apologizes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I told him I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners, and the humiliation suffered by their families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And the chorus of critics call for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign or be fired on the eve of his testimony on Capitol Hill.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews.
President Bush tells the king of Jordan he‘s sorry for the humiliation suffered by Iraqi prisoners and their families at the hands of American prison guards.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I told his majesty as plainly as I could that the wrongdoers would be brought to justice and that the actions of those folks in Iraq do not represent the values of the United States of America.
I told him I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners, and the humiliation suffered by their families. I told him I was equally sorry that people have been seeing those pictures, didn‘t understand the true nature and heart of America.
I assured him Americans like me didn‘t appreciate what we saw. And it made us sick to our stomachs.
I also made it clear to his majesty that the troops we have in Iraq were there for security and peace and freedom, are the finest of the fine, fantastic United States citizens who represent the very best qualities of America: courage, love of freedom, compassion and decency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The president also rejected calls that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should resign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Secretary Rumsfeld is a really good secretary of defense. Secretary Rumsfeld has served our nation well. Secretary Rumsfeld has been the secretary during two wars, and he is an important part of my cabinet. He‘ll stay in my cabinet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Senator Bill Nelson is a Democrat from Florida. Senator James Inhofe is a Republican from Oklahoma. Both are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Senator Nelson, you‘re going to meet with the secretary of defense tomorrow. Do you think he should resign?
SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: Let‘s see what he says, Chris. Let‘s see if he has an explanation of why he basically suspended the Geneva Convention with regard to prisoners of war.
Let‘s find out what he says, why he didn‘t inform the commander-in-chief, the president, of this report that came out much earlier this year.
Let‘s get the answer to those questions.
MATTHEWS: Senator Inhofe, what are your questions? What is your view on whether he should resign, I should say?
SEN. JAMES INHOFE ®, OKLAHOMA: First of all, he should not resign.
And I would say that even before the meeting tomorrow.
But I think Bill has a point. We need to see what he does say tomorrow. There is still a lot of doubt in my mind as to when he knew and how much he knew.
Let‘s keep in mind, though, Chris, this is—this is happening during the time that the secretary of defense is fighting a war; he‘s making determinations; kids are dying. He‘s trying to prosecute that war.
And then he hears that there is a problem in a prison. And we don‘t know—I don‘t know to this date, when he may have seen some pictures. And so I agree with Bill, let‘s wait until tomorrow and find out.
MATTHEWS: Are you surprised that the president of the United States, George W. Bush, who is personally known for his personal loyalty, should publicly chastise the secretary of defense?
INHOFE: Well, you know, what I heard him say was he was defending the secretary of defense. He was talking about how good he was. He may have made a mistake in his judgment at this time.
But he said over and over again, in three different statements since the pictures came out, that he should be retained. He‘s a good secretary of defense. And this may have been bad judgment in this case. We‘ll find out.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at what President Bush said when asked what he told Secretary Rumsfeld yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I told him, I should have known about the pictures and the report. And as I understand it, the—General Kimmitt declared to the press corps in Iraq, I believe it was, that there was an ongoing investigation.
He made it clear, the Army said we‘ve discovered something. We‘ve discovered an issue. And therefore, we‘re now going to investigate it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The president focuses on the pictures themselves because they‘re obviously, what he called them...
MATTHEWS: ... incendiary quality in the Arab world, especially. Is that what he‘s concerned about? The fact that this was public? Or that it happened?
NELSON: I think both. The fact that it happened, the fact that American M.P.‘s would allow rapes to occur and then chortle about it. The fact that they would take these awful pictures and then the fact that it got out.
My goodness. Look at what harm it‘s going to do to us in Iraq and in the Muslim world.
MATTHEWS: But when you fight a war—go ahead Senator, your turn.
INHOFE: Let me say, if anyone can look at George W. Bush and his response and not agree that that‘s genuine remorse, I don‘t know what they would believe. Because this guy is a very compassionate guy. He is very much concerned.
And it‘s something—he agrees with Bill that this is a serious thing, to have this image out there of America.
But here we have 137,000 troops over there. Bill and I have both have been over there. We‘re proud of them. They‘re proud of their mission. And yet we have a few bad apples that did some things that I think were improper.
But again, we don‘t know yet exactly who saw these pictures and whether anything was withheld.
NELSON: I hope you‘re right that it‘s a few bad apples. I hope it‘s an isolated incident. But you know, there are 25 to 35 investigations going on right now. And...
MATTHEWS: Could this be scapegoating, Senator Inhofe? I want to ask you about the nature of fighting an insurgency.
Whenever any country has to fight an insurgency, people in another country who have to occupy as part of this effort at regime change, you‘re focusing on people who speak a different language. They‘re all together out there.
You‘ve got to crack these conspiracies that every day are putting out IED‘s on the road to kill our troops. And don‘t you have to get pretty tough with prisoners to get the information you need to protect your own troops?
INHOFE: You know, Chris, I was criticized for something I said because I was comparing the way they, how they look it and how we look at it through our eyes.
Let‘s look at this prison.
No. 1, this is one prison out of 26. No. 2, this is the same prison where Saddam Hussein was torturing people in an indescribable way, far worse than any abuses that took place in these pictures.
We‘re talking about drilling holes in their hands. We‘re talking about electrocuting people. We‘re talking about just dropping their bodies, half their bodies into acid. You know, things that are really serious.
Now if were an Iraqi and I went through what they said they went through, I would say to myself, “That‘s not nearly as bad as if we had been here when Saddam was in charge.”
MATTHEWS: So why are they dumping on us on this issue of humiliation when they had so many cases of actual cruelty before?
INHOFE: Well, you know, this is a case—we‘re in the middle of a war right now. They‘ve—you know, they‘ve gone through this thing where a lot of people used to think that there was not a connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Now that has been changed.
People are looking for a political reason to be down on this administration. And certainly, the Iraqis are the first ones in line.
MATTHEWS: What are you saying? People now believe that the Iraqis had something to do with 9/11, Senator?
INHOFE: Oh, yes. I think so. We have that pretty well down in recent reports that have come out, that there‘s no question about the connection. In fact, I can hold up a report before you right now and read it to you, that this is something that was well known at that time.
MATTHEWS: The president himself, a couple weeks back said there‘s been no evidence of any connection between Iraqis and the attack on the United States on 9/11.
INHOFE: We‘re not talking about the attack on 9/11. We‘re talking about the connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
Here is a report right here, that states in 1992, that the—of the four closest friends that they had and they were working with, the last one is Osama bin Laden. He‘s well known Saudi business leader, founder of the Saudi opposition in Afghanistan. And he has connections.
MATTHEWS: What report is that, so we know what that report is, Senator?
INHOFE: That report is called the, “In the Name of Allah, the Merciful and Compassionate, Top Secret, Republic of Iraq, in 28-3-1992.” I don‘t know how their calendars work. Intelligence services.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. We‘re going to come right back and talk about this question of whether this is a systemic problem over there; it‘s a few bad apples. That is the question. Because if it‘s systemic, big heads are going to roll.
And later reaction from the Arab world. We‘ll talk to a Washington bureau chief for Al Jazeera Television.
Plus, Queen Noor of Jordan on what the United States need to do to stop terrorism and make peace in the Middle East.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, a preview of Donald Rumsfeld‘s testimony tomorrow on Capitol Hill. Plus Arab reaction to President Bush‘s apology today from the Washington bureau chief of Al Jazeera Television. HARDBALL, back in a minute.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with senators Bill Nelson of Florida and James Inhofe of Oklahoma.
Senator Inhofe, just to get my Constitution straight, senators advise and consent for the nomination of cabinet officials. Is there any constitutional means by which a senator or the senate as a body can remove a cabinet member?
INHOFE: Not that I know of. I don‘t know that it‘s ever been done.
Maybe Bill does.
MATTHEWS: Bill? I mean Senator?
NELSON: I don‘t know.
MATTHEWS: So it‘s up to the president?
NELSON: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: And what is your—what is your—you‘re more closer to calling for a resignation yourself, I believe, based upon our earlier conversations.
Senator Nelson, what do you want to hear to stop—to begin to, at least begin to stop the drum beating to get rid of this guy?
NELSON: Well, I‘m not necessarily out to get him. I want to know how much he is going to be held accountable as the top civilian appointee over the military.
And I want to know these things. I want to know why he basically suspended the Geneva Convention...
MATTHEWS: Do we know he did?
NELSON: He certainly said back in ‘02 that—and 2003, after the war, that basically, he implied that they‘re not going to use the Geneva Conventions.
NELSON: What you have to do with POW‘s, with combatants, that‘s a different thing. And you know, you said earlier, we‘ve got to be rough with these guys in order to get information.
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s the history of occupations. You have to be tough with people, because they‘re all talking their own language. And they‘re working together.
Let me go to Senator Inhofe. This whole question about, certainly the defense, the families that have been on the show this week who have defended their husbands, in most cases, in all cases. They say this was coming down from the higher ups.
They said there were—the more sophisticated comment was that they were trying to get to us humiliate these people to spread fear in their hearts. That was our general order from above, from the intelligence people in the Defense Department to us M.P.‘s, the reservists.
Could it be that they were given a general go-ahead to shake these people up and get them ready for interrogation?
INHOFE: Yes, Chris, I think that could be right. Now I was down in Guantanamo back when, I think actually Miller was there at the time. He‘s now in charge of this thing, and he‘s an excellent person.
But you know, this is serious. You know how they interrogate us. You‘ve seen that before. And what we do to them is just a picnic compared to what they do to us.
You have to—I think I heard you talk about during the independence factor, some of the things that the French did. You‘ve just got to be tough, and you‘ve got to try to get the information out.
If you don‘t get the information out, more Americans can be killed.
And then you‘d really hear squealing about it.
MATTHEWS: Did it bother you last week when you Secretary Rumsfeld said he wasn‘t prepared for a difficult occupation? He said on this show, and I think it got some word out there.
I mean, he said on this program that he didn‘t expect an occupation with all these negative aspects. He thought—I‘m sure he didn‘t buy the cakewalk scenario, but he didn‘t expect us to be holding all these prisoners and having to get all intel and all this dirty part of counterinsurgency.
Does that surprise and dismay you, that he didn‘t think this was coming, this kind of stuff?
INHOFE: Who are you talking about? Rumsfeld?
MATTHEWS: Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.
INHOFE: Yes, well, no, I don‘t think we did. I certainly didn‘t expect it to be this way. And of course, now they have to, knowing what they‘re dealing with, they have to end this thing. And one thing we can‘t do is not win it.
But let‘s remind ourselves that what‘s going on in this one prison, there are some 25 other prisons around there that we haven‘t heard anything bad about. And so I think this is an isolated case.
But I do think, again, you‘ve got to be tough and you‘ve got to try to extract the information of these people or American will die.
MATTHEWS: Are you afraid this will be a chilling effect on tough interrogation? The bad P.R. on this thing?
INHOFE: I certainly hope not.
MATTHEWS: Senator Nelson, is that your feeling?
NELSON: I hope not. But Jim—Jim, you said you think it‘s an isolated case. I hope you‘re right.
INHOFE: Right. I hope I‘m right, too.
NELSON: All kinds of examinations going, upwards of 35.
MATTHEWS: Thirty-five what?
NELSON: Thirty-five investigations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
And Jim, if you‘ve read that report, as I have, you‘ve seen stuff that you just never could imagine that American M.P.‘s—allowing rapes to go on. A 15-year-old kid raped.
MATTHEWS: By another prisoner.
INHOFE: Hey, Bill, I was over—I was over in Iraq the day the war was over in 1991. And I saw the torture chambers, and I saw the body parts sticking to the ceilings. And I saw the—a little boy, 7-year-old boy with his ear cut off. I‘ve seen all of that. And that‘s what we‘re fighting. We‘re fighting terror.
NELSON: But we have to conduct ourselves different, Jim.
INHOFE: Well, we‘ve got to win.
NELSON: Well, we‘ve got to win, but Jim, we have certain standards of decency. And the Geneva Convention.
MATTHEWS: The problem with occupation, senators, as you know, is it has to—in many cases, it has to be tough when counter—as a counterinsurgent, you‘re fighting insurgents. Everything they do is secret. Everything is secret keeping. You‘ve got to break those secrets.
Anyway, thank you, Senator Nelson, Senator Inhofe.
Up next, a look at how the Arab world is reacting to the abuse of Iraqi detainees.
And later, Jordan‘s Queen Noor will talk about the effect of the abuses on Iraqis is going to have on our relations with that Arab world.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I told him I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners and the humiliation suffered by their families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That was President Bush describing his apology for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners to Jordan‘s King Abdullah.
While the president has addressed the scandal in interviews in two Arab networks now and an Egyptian newspaper, he has not gone on Al Jazeera Television.
Hafez al-Mirazi is Al Jazeera‘s bureau chief for Washington, D.C.
Sir, would you like him to come on your network, the president of the United States?
HAFEZ AL-MIRAZI, AL JAZEERA TV: He‘s welcome at any time. We have an open invitation for the president to be on Al Jazeera. And we carry all of his activities live for our viewers, including that press conference that we have just watched the clip of.
MATTHEWS: Being a journalist, why do you think he‘s chosen not to go on your station, on Al Jazeera?
AL-MIRAZI: Well, I‘m afraid we have to wait for the next Bob Woodward book to find out why the president preferred the Saudi-owned network over the leading independent Arab network, Al Jazeera.
MATTHEWS: You were born in Egypt, sir. Right? You‘ve been in the United States for 21 years. So unlike all of our guests we‘ve ever had on this show, with the exception of Prince Bandar, you know both east and west as well as anyone. Right?
AL-MIRAZI: Well, I can‘t say that. Maybe Prince Bandar could.
MATTHEWS: You‘re a humble man.
But let me ask you this question. Tell me significance of the kind of humiliation that these prisoners were subjected to.
Why is it important in the east? In the Arab world? Why is it horrifying? To be performing sexual, homosexual acts? Why is that—maybe it‘s distasteful to a lot of people, but why in the Arab world especially?
AL-MIRAZI: I don‘t think it‘s something related to the Arab world or Muslim. It‘s a human issue. And the president said, it‘s un-American. You could say its un-America, un-Islamic, un-Jewish, un-Arab. And I believe this is way we should look at it.
I mean, if you look at the “Washington Post” pictures, or the CBS or others...
AL-MIRAZI: ... nobody—or even in the report of General Antonio—
Taguba, I think.
MATTHEWS: Yes, Taguba.
AL-MIRAZI: Yes, Taguba. These acts, really, is not acceptable at all for any human being, regardless of the culture.
MATTHEWS: Was there an outcry on your network when we discovered the real torture chambers in Baghdad?
AL-MIRAZI: Yes. Al Jazeera put everything. And mainly part of the...
MATTHEWS: You mean the true torture conducted by the people under Saddam Hussein?
AL-MIRAZI: Yes. We carried whatever mass graves people that found out. Al Jazeera did carry that.
Also, we have interviews with people who are tortured in the Arab world by Arab regimes. And that made Al Jazeera hated by many Arab governments that won‘t allow us in because of talking about human rights abuses by Arab regimes.
MATTHEWS: Is this embarrassment, this humiliation by Arab prisoners by American prison guards, a bigger deal than the tortures practiced by Saddam Hussein on his own people?
AL-MIRAZI: I think the issue is that there is no moral equivalency here. I mean, the U.S. would lose immediately once we say, “Saddam did it more or we did it less.”
The frustration usually comes from high expectation. And if the U.S. would like to perceive itself, and would like also people to judge the U.S. based on higher moral grounds...
AL-MIRAZI: ... then the outrage would be there. Especially when you have pictures that is authentic and nobody is discrediting it, the same way that Mr. Rumsfeld and his deputy used to discredit most of the pictures on Al Jazeera about civilian casualties before.
MATTHEWS: You know, back in the colonial days when the Arab nations were first getting their independence, back, especially in the 1960‘s, there was, of course, the Battle for Algiers.
And you had a lot of French torture of prisoners to get information out of them. Right? You know that history. It was pretty horrible. Because it was the only way you could beat an insurgency, is to basically force the insurgents to tell us or any colonial or occupying power what‘s up. Right?
MATTHEWS: Does this ring back to those days or is this considered something new and perverse or what? How does it connect?
AL-MIRAZI: No. It doesn‘t. Just for people—Unfortunately, it reinforces for some people with bad images, or misperception about the U.S., that all they‘re talking about is hypocrites. They don‘t mean what they say.
It gives them some kind of evidence, quote unquote, that, “Look, they are no different as occupiers from the ugly occupation that we had under the French or the Palestinians have under the Israelis.”
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this. Do you think that there‘s any reparation a president could do besides going on your network—let‘s not be selfish about this from your network point of view.
Does he have to fire somebody big? Do heads to have roll from say, the Pentagon level—I mean, all the way up to the secretary of defense?
AL-MIRAZI: I would like to say that there are two issues here. There‘s moral clarity about condemning the act. And that‘s very clear from the president and we should applaud him.
MATTHEWS: So you do applaud him?
AL-MIRAZI: I would applaud him for the moral clarity that we do not mince words. We didn‘t compare with Saddam Hussein whatsoever.
But there is no moral authority in the eyes of the Arab viewers and the Arab people for the president or for the role of the U.S. in Iraq. They look at it, they—even as independent polls showed, as the head of an occupation.
How ugly the occupation is, the pictures might add more to the ugliness of the picture.
MATTHEWS: Right. So the Arab world wants us out of Iraq?
AL-MIRAZI: I think that‘s true. And at least people expected maybe something other than a clear no about the resignation of Secretary Rumsfeld.
MATTHEWS: Well, they...
AL-MIRAZI: Rather than be more powerful than I was sorry or I am sorry.
MATTHEWS: So in other words, there would be more power packed behind a resignation than words?
AL-MIRAZI: Deeds speak louder than words.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Hafez al-Mirazi of Al Jazeera.
Up next, Jordan‘s Queen Noor will be here with her reaction to the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: This half-hour on HARDBALL, Queen Noor of Jordan on the abuse of Iraqi prisoners and what effect it will have on America‘s relations with the Arab world, plus, what the United States needs to do to stop Islamic terrorism.
But, first, the latest headlines right now
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Our next guest is an American who became a queen and used her role as first lady of Jordan to promote human rights issues throughout the world. She wrote a very successful book about her experience. It‘s entitled “Leap of Faith.” And long after the death of her husband, King Hussein, she continues to advocate for cross-cultural understanding, human rights, women‘s empowerment, and peace.
She recently traveled to Tajikistan to participate in a conference on land mines.
Your Majesty, Queen Noor, welcome. Nice to have you here.
HER MAJESTY QUEEN NOOR, AUTHOR, “LEAP OF FAITH”: Great to be here.
MATTHEWS: You grew up in America. You became a queen of Jordan. You‘re very loyal to your country. Let me ask you about how you felt as a person who grew up in America to see these pictures coming out of Iraq.
QUEEN NOOR: Well, as a citizen of the world, not only someone who grew up in America, but an Arab and a Muslim and a humanitarian activist, I like everyone else was devastated for everyone involved and deeply concerned about the impact that they will have on what have been deteriorating relations between two worlds that I love and respect and believe can and should be working together to promote peace and stability in the world and not at odds, as we appear to be today.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about President Bush‘s attempt to deal with the situation, to reconcile those concerns. He went on world television yesterday. He spoke to Arab television, a couple of Arab networks. Do you think that will help or not? Or is that not enough?
QUEEN NOOR: I think it is absolutely critical that there be dialogue and an effort made to better communicate, a better effort at public diplomacy on the part of the U.S. administration, particularly with the Arab and the Muslim world.
I think any effort to reach out and to be open and straightforward and sincere about trying to develop relations based on mutual respect, on the basis of human rights, international law, and our collective work for peace is—can only be positive.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of the term war on terrorism?
QUEEN NOOR: Well, I think that the war on terrorism, it‘s not an inappropriate expression when you recognize that the war on terrorism has to be the war on poverty, the war on injustice, the war on the disenfranchisement of people throughout the world who are the pool from which extremists will draw their recruits.
If we have failed to address those needs and to recognize that the—the sense of security and hope and opportunity of people around the world is absolutely—is the most important antidote to extremism and to forces...
MATTHEWS: But—let me offer you a big but, Queen Noor.
MATTHEWS: Latin America is filled with poor people, down-and-out people in the worst situations in the world. Below that—I was in the Peace Corps in Africa. It is worse than anything in Latin America, the poverty in Africa. This poverty in Asia and South Asia especially, they‘re not coming at us. They‘re not engaging in terrorism.
It‘s the Islamic world that‘s engaged in terrorism. Why, of all the world‘s poor people, is that where the terrorism is coming from?
QUEEN NOOR: I have just actually come from a board meeting of an organization that I am very much involved with, passionate about, Refugees International. It is an advocacy organization for the human rights of especially refugees and others who have suffered from conflict zones throughout the world in Africa, in Latin America, in Asia, as well as in the Middle East.
And there is terrorism being practiced on civilians, because they‘re 90 percent of the victims of terrorism, in all these places because of poverty.
MATTHEWS: But not against us.
QUEEN NOOR: Well...
MATTHEWS: Why did our buildings get knocked down by Islamic terrorists, not by African, Asian or any other kind, Latin American terrorists?
QUEEN NOOR: I think that that is a difficult and complex question to address in the short time that we have. And I think you will find, tragically, that, if they had access, if they had the resources, that there would be, tragically, too many groups around the world that would see the United States as guilty of not doing more to promote their human rights and opportunities for economic and—economic opportunity and for political participation.
MATTHEWS: When the World Trade Center was hit by the 19 men—and only three or four of them were apparently leaders, smart people. They knew what they were doing. There were screeches of pleasure and excitement, ecstasy, as they went into the buildings.
These people knew what they were doing. They had a real clear sort of
· is it a combination of nationalism, resistance to the West, anger over the fact we‘ve always taken Israel‘s side against the Arabs, anger at the fact we‘ve always dealt with perhaps corrupt governments and exploited the oil, grabbed the oil? Is it a good reason they had for coming at us?
QUEEN NOOR: There‘s never a justification for those kinds of atrocities.
They are condemned by Islam. Suicide, the killing of innocents is condemned emphatically in Islam. It is also not a reflection of Arab culture. All the reason you listed are part of the reasons for the ghastly atrocities that we witnessed on that day. It is a series of responsibilities that we in the Arab world bear for societies that have marginalized so many people, that have not promoted public participation in decision-making, but have allowed half of Arab women to be illiterate, that have not promoted education, freedom of speech and the kind of knowledge and awareness that is absolutely critical.
We have had—just to look on the positive side, there have been two Arab human development reports that have been released by the United Nations‘ UNDP, written by Arabs, respected and credible within the region. That have identified the whole range of responsibilities that we in the region bear. On the other hand, those reports also—and they‘re very objective—also make reference to the U.S. policies in the region, particularly the Arab-Israeli conflict, which has to be understood as a root cause of frustration and anger in a region and among Muslim communities the world over.
You will not succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan or in addressing terrorism and extremism in the Middle East if you don‘t recognize that that longest-standing, longest military occupation in modern history, is—has to be addressed.
MATTHEWS: You know, whenever I think we‘re too pro-Israeli or we‘re tilting too far in the direction of the Likud government over there, it always strike me, is there any line that the Israelis could draw that the Arab world would respect? If they drew the line 10 feet from the Mediterranean and said, this is all we want, would the Arab world ever accept Israel as a country in the end?
QUEEN NOOR: The crown prince of Saudi Arabia presented a plan which was endorsed by the entire Arab League that committed the countries of the Arab world to peace and security for Israel in exchange for their withdrawal from the occupied territories in 1967.
MATTHEWS: Including Jerusalem.
QUEEN NOOR: That was also called for by President Bush in 2002.
MATTHEWS: Right. Right.
QUEEN NOOR: The U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 from 1967 and others, which were just reaffirmed yesterday by the Middle East quartet provide a framework on the basis of the U.N. Charter, which states the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force. Occupation is illegal under these circumstances. And that‘s what they‘re asking for.
MATTHEWS: But Arab piece of that is recognition of Israel and
guarantee that they would help—that they would police that border. It‘s
one thing to say, Israel, give back some land from ‘67. But they have to -
· the Arab country‘s piece of that deal is, A, full recognition of the state of Israel, full recognition by all the governments involved.
QUEEN NOOR: Absolutely. And that was committed to.
MATTHEWS: And two—well, that was—and, two, policing of the Arabs on the other side of the line so they don‘t go and attack Israel once they got the land back.
QUEEN NOOR: You‘re absolutely right.
I think one point that needs to be made here is that terrorism is a result, in this particular context, of occupation.
QUEEN NOOR: It is a struggle by those who feel dead. I happen to be a juror for the documentary films in the Tribeca Film Festival right now. I just saw a film, an incredibly moving film, by an Israeli filmmaker. His father is Palestinian, his mother Israeli.
He is an Israeli who made a film called “Arna‘s Children.” It provides the most compelling human face of the lost generations in the Palestinian communities. This focuses on Jenin.
QUEEN NOOR: Those who say on the film: I feel dead. I have nothing.
I have no voice.
And they feel that their only voice, some of them, not all of them, of
course, is to resort to extraordinarily
MATTHEWS: I was there on the West Bank. I talked tot parents of people who committed suicide. And I still wonder why Yasser Arafat, when handed back 98 percent or 90 percent of his country, sat there and said no to the deal at the end of the Clinton administration.
QUEEN NOOR: That is a complex...
MATTHEWS: Why did he do it?
QUEEN NOOR: You will find even Clinton administration people, even some of the Israelis who were part of that framework and the Palestinians all acknowledging that the timing—that that—that, yes, they were very, very close.
MATTHEWS: We‘re coming right back with more from Queen Noor.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, much more with Queen Noor of Jordan; plus, “The Washington Post”‘s Robin Wright on Secretary Rumsfeld‘s testimony tomorrow.
HARDBALL back in a minute.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. I‘m with Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan.
Queen Noor, let me ask you this. Americans are constantly looking for solutions. We are a solution-conscience country. We‘re not used to wide-open hopeless cases. And when we hear from people—people like me hear from people I consider good guys, they may be tough guys, but good guys, like your late husband, King—President Mubarak of Egypt, Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, people that look like they might down the road help bring peace, it‘s always like, yes, they want peace, but they can‘t control their own terrorists.
And if you‘re an Israeli, for example, you can‘t trust dealing with a government that can‘t control its own terrorists. So then you have Mubarak who very boldly came out and said, us going into Iraq will create 100 bin Ladens. So who do we listen to in the Arab world? Who in the Arab world speaks for peace and some sort of an arrangement with Israel that would bring ultimate peace?
QUEEN NOOR: I think what you have to recognize is that throughout the Arab world, first of all, you need to be speaking to the Arab people, recognizing that they have to be the constituency that the United States addresses, because their governments may be able to make public statements and quiet commitments with the United States.
But, in fact, if their public opinion, as is the case today, in the Arab world is overwhelmingly negative because of what it sees in the media, not just Arab media, mind you, but BBC and Western media.
MATTHEWS: What do they see? What‘s the average guy in Cairo see?
QUEEN NOOR: We started this discussion with what was the most recent images of the American face in Iraq, tragically, but that is what the world is now seeing.
MATTHEWS: Perversity in prison, basically.
QUEEN NOOR: They‘re seeing a reinforcement of a suspicion and concerns about what are American motives in the region and, sadly, for all the moderates in the region that the United States needs to work with, an eroding of the ground based on American values and its humanitarian principles in what is said.
So that is one isolated but potent component of a larger issue. What I think is absolutely critical is to be—the United States should have initially, and working with the U.N. and other international organizations, and today needs to in Iraq, in the Palestinian territories, in that conflict and throughout the world, be focusing on humanitarian issues, where people can feel that there is an infrastructure for peace and stability being focused on, that the resources are going in to building up a capacity for people to feel some sense of hope and opportunity, and not disproportionately focused on military objectives, which, as we have seen, do not build that kind of confidence and mutual—sense of mutual respect and common ground that is essential.
MATTHEWS: Do many Arab people living in Libya and Syria, in your country of Jordan, and Egypt, do they really want human rights and democracy? Or would they rather have Sharia, Islamic rule? Would they rather have even strong dictators, as long as they‘re nationalistic and talk a tough language against the West?
QUEEN NOOR: I think that you will find people driven to extremes when there is no middle ground that offers them a voice and offers them a hope and opportunity.
The Arab human development reports clearly show—and what I have seen throughout the region as well, which is that the overwhelming majority of people in the Arab countries, including the Palestinian territories, are looking for security and stability, economic hope and opportunity, safety, safety, and a chance to contribute their voices to political decision-making. That is what they want.
Human rights is top of the list in terms of what contributes to security and contributes to confidence-building measures between a great power like the United States and people in the region or among different communities in our region. In the absence of respect for human rights as a clear—as a defining characteristic of policies and relationships, you will fail. We will all fail.
MATTHEWS: Why did we have a period of hope during the ‘90s?
QUEEN NOOR: We had a period of hope because, in part, we had leaders
who were out there in front of their people, but not so far out in front of
their people that they
QUEEN NOOR: ... that they were disconnected from the realities of their populations, who recognized, whether it being King Hussein...
MATTHEWS: We had Hussein, your husband. And we had Mubarak.
QUEEN NOOR: King Hussein.
MATTHEWS: And Arafat for a while there looked like he was playing ball.
QUEEN NOOR: And I think he was. And so—and the Palestinians were. And there was—this was a period during which you heard so much less of extremist voices. You did not hear and feel...
MATTHEWS: Well, what went wrong? Was it Sharon dancing up there on the Temple Mount? What caused this trouble?
QUEEN NOOR: Well, we lost key figures that had the credibility and the vision to make peace.
MATTHEWS: Lost your husband, lost Rabin.
QUEEN NOOR: Who recognized that no community in our region will live in security unless each community is living in security, that no peace is possible unless it‘s based on mutual respect, on justice, and on a common vision for the future.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Queen Noor.
Coming up, “The Washington Post” reported today that Donald Rumsfeld resisted repeated pleas to correct the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. We‘ll talk to the reporter who broke that story.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
“The Washington Post” reports that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld resisted several attempts by Secretary of State Colin Powell to curb the problems in Iraqi prisoners. A senior State Department official said—quote—“It‘s something Powell has raised repeatedly, to release as many detainees as possible and second to ensure that those in custody are properly cared for and treated.”
Robin Wright wrote that story for “The Post” and is the author of “Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam.”
Is that something that is important here to know, that the secretary of state warned the secretary of defense that this is something he had to fix? And why is that important?
ROBIN WRIGHT, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Well, it‘s very important understanding how much the administration knew at what point.
And the fact that the secretary of state had made this issue, dating back to January, in several meetings with all the top national security executives in this administration really shows us how many people knew what. And this included Vice President Cheney, as well as, most importantly, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
MATTHEWS: Well, did Armitage and Colin Powell know at the time that there were pictures being taken of these abuses?
WRIGHT: No, I do not believe that they knew that.
But they were concerned about three different issue. One was the treatment of the prisoners, or detainees. One was the conditions at these facilities. And the third was the fact that thousands of these detainees were being held without any charges against them. And Powell, as well as Paul Bremer, the U.S. governor of Iraq, had repeatedly urged the administration to release as many as possible, numbering in the thousands.
MATTHEWS: Did Secretary Powell or anyone around him at State Department know that the prisoners were being abused in this general fashion?
WRIGHT: I do not believe that they knew at the time. I think that they‘ve only been aware in the last couple weeks.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s talk administration politics now. There has been a long rift between Secretary Powell and Secretary Rumsfeld. Is Powell taking advantage of Rumsfeld when he‘s down?
WRIGHT: I don‘t think so.
In fact, it took a long time to wheedle this information out of a lot of people before I finally got it confirmed in the kind of quote you cited in the introduction of this story. It is one that the administration does not want to emphasize, particularly at this very delicate juncture in the transition in Iraq. The administration is trying to speak with one voice when it comes to the very delicate political transition, which is now just six weeks away.
There is an awful lot that has to be accomplished during this period and they don‘t want to appear divided, as they have so often during the past year.
MATTHEWS: What do you think, as a reporter—I don‘t know how much interpretation this require—is the impact of this nasty story on the transition?
WRIGHT: Oh, I think that it is going to make it a little bit more difficult for the United States when it goes back to the United Nations and asks for international support, cover for the multinational force that the U.S. hopes will stay in Iraq after June 30. It is also going to make it difficult just in terms of some of his foreign policy objectives, promoting democracy in the Middle East, for example, which is the administration‘s second most important initiative this year.
It is going to roll out this new plan in June at three international summits. And it is going to be rather embarrassing in the aftermath of these revelations.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the occupation. When you have an occupation of a foreign country which includes a lot of hostile people who are going to commit acts of insurgency against you, like IEDs, the improvised explosive devices, that are killing our men and dismembering them, you have to get pretty rough in trying to get the intel from the people you pick up as to what‘s coming next.
Did—Secretary Rumsfeld was on this program last week. And he said he didn‘t foresee a difficult occupation. Is that what is part of this whole thing, the failure to foresee what was inevitable? When you take over a country, you occupy it. When you occupy it, you deal with insurgency. When you deal with insurgency, you have to deal with interrogation and it gets dirty.
WRIGHT: I think that there was enormous naivete within this administration over what lay ahead after declaring mission accomplished in May last year.
They didn‘t understand that the United States would not be welcomed in a long-term occupation. They already have shortened it by over a year so that the United States will end this mission next month, the political rule of the country. But they were also very naive in understanding that they couldn‘t keep troops there. And I think it is going to be very difficult to keep this many troops in Iraq after June 30.
I think that because of what has happened both at Abu Ghraib and the real resentment and growing even hatred among many Iraqis of the United States, it is going to be—there will be greater pressure on the administration to pull out earlier.
MATTHEWS: Any chance that Richard Armitage will replace Rumsfeld?
WRIGHT: I don‘t think so. But I think that the big question in this town today is whether Donald Rumsfeld will survive this, what is a real public relations disaster for the United States in the rest world, as well as the Middle East.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, Robin Wright of “The Washington Post.”
Join us again tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL, as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld testifies about Iraqi prisoner abuse on Capitol Hill tomorrow.
Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with Keith.
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