updated 6/17/2004 12:04:40 PM ET 2004-06-17T16:04:40

Guests: Dick Durbin, Richard Shelby, Thomas Kean, Lee Hamilton, John Walsh

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Tonight, the debate over torture has gotten serious.  Can it be justified in a world facing terrorism, or do the ends not justify the means?

Plus, debunking Cheney: the September 11 commission finds there was quote, “no credible evidence,” closed quote, that Saddam Hussein helped al Qaeda target the United States.  We‘ll talk to the 9/11 chairman Tom Kean and vice chairman Lee Hamilton. 

Let‘s play HARDBALL. 

Good evening, I‘m Chris Matthews. 

In the wake of the Iraqi prison abuse scandal, the Senate today passed an amendment reaffirming the United States‘ commitment to not engage in torture.  The measure also requires that the Defense Department provide guidelines to ensure these standards are met. 

I‘m joined by the amendment‘s author, Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois and member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and by Senator Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama and former intelligence committee chairman. 

Senator Durbin, what is the purpose of your amendment?

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS:  Now more than ever, we need to say to the world that America is going to stand by its principles, principles that have guided us for decades. 

We are opposed to torture.  We are opposed to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners.  And we won‘t use it as a matter of policy in our government. 

What we did today on the floor of the United States Senate was to say with an overwhelming unanimous roll call vote, and a voice vote for that matter, that this is the policy of the United States and will be follow by the Department of Defense. 

MATTHEWS:  Senator Shelby, do you believe there are times when we have to get the information out of someone in the worst way?

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY ®, ALABAMA:  Well, it depends on what you mean

by the worst way, Chris. 

I agree with Senator Durbin that we should never, never practice cruel and inhumane ways to get information out of prisoners, because we wouldn‘t want our prisoners, if they were prisoners of war somewhere, tortured that way. 

We should never, Chris, cede the moral authority that‘s very important to us as a world power to anyone in this world. 

MATTHEWS:  So you agree we should never use torture, ever?

SHELBY:  Well, I say I‘m basically against the use of torture.  I think that the ends do not basically justify the means. 

MATTHEWS:  But I mean, everybody is against it in principle, but what about in situations where we face a critical threat, an immediate threat from a major terrorist act and we know that somebody knows what‘s coming our way.  At that moment, what would you choose to do, Senator?

SHELBY:  Well, I—first of all, I think we should have rules to go by, and we should go by those rules.  We—we shouldn‘t look the other way on things like that. 

But on the other hand, what you point out is very important.  If we knew something was imminent and somebody had the information, I think we should do everything we can to—could to get it out of him. 

But what are those methods that we should use?  I think that some should not be used.  I‘ve seen a lot of those pictures, and I don‘t like them. 

MATTHEWS:  Senator Durbin, if we could get the information out of a guy who knows something about an imminent attack and that‘s by putting a dog in his face, an unmuzzled dog in his face without hurting him, is that considered too tough?  It seems to me, that would be reasonable at that point. 

DURBIN:  Well, unfortunately...

MATTHEWS:  The Israelis don‘t feed people, for example, for three days, don‘t let them ongoing to sleep for three days.  There are all kinds of techniques to get people to talk.  Should we abdicate our right to use them?

DURBIN:  When you suggest using those tactics, you have to understand what human nature and experience has taught us.  People will say almost anything to make the pain stop, to make the fear stop.  And it‘s usually totally unreliable.

And secondly, as Senator Shelby has said, we are inviting that same type of treatment when it comes to Americans and American soldiers, and that certainly isn‘t a bargain that we want to strike. 

MATTHEWS:  How about terrorists, people that are not in uniform, people who have never joined any organized army or navy or whatever, should they also qualify with this kind of right, a protection against torture?

DURBIN:  I can tell you the Geneva Conventions don‘t exempt any category of human beings.  There are those—soldiers in uniforms.  There are those civilians.  The standards are basically the same when it comes to torture, cruel, inhuman, that kind of degrading treatment. 

The United States has said for decades, for more than a century, for that matter, that as a matter of policy, this country under a rule of law will not engage in that conduct. 

MATTHEWS:  So both of you Senators challenge the thinking of, say, Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law that there are some times when you have to be really wicked to get the information out because there‘s a major catastrophe facing us?  You still...

SHELBY:  Still...

MATTHEWS:  I‘m sorry.

SHELBY:  I said, Chris, that maybe we ought to look at the circumstances and look at other methods short of being cruel and inhumane.  If you look at the frames that I saw of some of the interrogations that have been in controversy recently, I think they went too far. 

MATTHEWS:  Senator Durbin, are there any circumstances we should be the bad guy to stop something worse from happening?

DURBIN:  You know, you could make that as a movie plot, but I think in real life it‘s seldom that simple. 

The question is whether we‘re going to engage in a course of treatment that defines us as a nation.  And believe me, those photos out of Abu Ghraib will define America for generations to come. 

It is far better for us to stand for the principles and values of America that have been time-honored and true, and the war on terrorism, as dangerous as it is to America, shouldn‘t be a reason for us to vacate those principles. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Here‘s what Senator John McCain of Arizona had to say about the American hostage being held right now—this is a real case—in Saudi Arabia. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  I think it‘s a result of the Saudis paying a price for countenancing and even funding organizations that carry on act of terror throughout the world. 

The Saudis, for years, had some kind of a tacit agreement with the al Qaeda and other terrorists that they would not carry out acts of terror within Saudi Arabia in return for a wink and a nod on the part of the Saudis about a lot of their activities. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Senator Durbin, do you think that the war on terrorism, as it‘s called, has ground down the rules on both sides?  Or is it just terrorists acting like terrorists on the other side, nothing to do with us?

DURBIN:  Well, frankly, I don‘t think the rules should change, because we‘re in a situation in this world where the United States is defining itself. 

There are people around the world who are trying to define us.  They are trying to say to those who might be our adversaries, here‘s a reason to hate the United States. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.

DURBIN:  This is their value.  This is their image.  And if we give in to that impulse, to that temptation to go down to the lowest level, trust me, we can‘t kill off the enemy fast enough.  They‘ll be recruited even faster. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think they‘ve already begun to escalate on their side?  Yes, Senator—Senator Shelby. 

SHELBY:  I believe we should never cede our standards or give away our standards, because we have stood for a lot in this world, and if we go, as Senator Durbin says, down to their level, we will lose. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about the whole question of terrorism and how it seems to be escalating. 

Senator Durbin, when we see what‘s being done to our people and other westerners in Saudi Arabia right now, do you think that‘s a result of what we‘ve done to our prisoners on all these television screens all across the world, all these al Qaeda people?  I mean, everybody getting to see what we‘ve been doing. 

According to a recent poll taken by our government over there in Iraq, something like a big percentage of people believe that we‘re as bad as the people in those pictures in Abu Ghraib prison. 

DURBIN:  Chris, think back to your youth and the Vietnam War and recall the image of the little napalm girl running toward the camera, naked. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.

DURBIN:  It‘s an image you‘ll never forget. 

Imagine now the image of a woman, American soldier, holding a naked Arab man on a leash.  That, too, is an image which we are going to fight for many years to come. 

Is it inspiring the terrorists?  Sadly, I believe it is, and we have to make certain that we do not compromise our own principles and we don‘t compromise our values and we make it clear that America doesn‘t stand for this kind of conduct. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you agree with that Senator Shelby, that that‘s heated up the battle here?

SHELBY:  I think it heated the battle up, and there‘s retaliation there.  And there‘s nothing stronger than pictures, as you know.  We‘re all on TV tonight. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, one thing I want to run by you is remember the old argument where even during the Vietnam War, senators, and we‘re all old enough to remember this, there were people around the world who thought our government was responsible for Vietnam.  But whatever our politics were individually, they didn‘t hold it against us individually.

If you were lucky enough to have travel around the world, “You damn American.  You‘re in Vietnam.”  They‘d say, “It‘s too bad about your government.”

Now I hear, talking to diplomats, that they‘ve identified us with our government.  Senator Shelby, they now blame Americans for what they see Americans do and they don‘t just blame Uncle Sam, they blame us as Americans.  Do you see that happening around the world?

SHELBY:  Well, that brings about personal accountability, and I‘ve heard more and more of that, and I think you‘re absolutely right.  They used to differentiate.  Maybe they‘re not differentiating now. 

But I‘m going to say this about the people who were carrying on the torture and inhumane treatment.  I think they only represented a very few of our soldiers that are stationed and have fought over in Iraq.  And they don‘t represent...

MATTHEWS:  How do you know that they‘re not—Senator, are you assured that they‘re not following guidelines or policy from above?  We‘ve gotten a lot of reports just in the last week when we were all sort of taking off time to honor the late President Ronald Reagan.

During the last week or so there‘s been even more evidence that there‘s okaying going on, agreement, countenance going on from the Justice Department to this kind of behavior.  As long as it‘s not obviously physically destroying somebody, if it‘s just kind of scaring them with dogs or making them naked or embarrassing them, that all seems to be countenanced now by our government. 

SHELBY:  Chris, somebody set the tone for this.  Somebody—and it was not just the PFC or a corporal, I believe.  There‘s a big investigation going on, and I think they should follow the facts. 

MATTHEWS:  Senator Durbin, do you agree that this has come from above, that the fish rots from the top, as Michael Dukakis used to say?

DURBIN:  I can tell you this.  Attorney General Ashcroft said it wasn‘t his job to define torture.  It wasn‘t the job of the administration to define torture. 

But the memorandum that was leaked by the “Washington Post” defined torture.  It said there were certain limits that you could go to that frankly this government has never endorsed.

And to my mind that set the mood, set the atmosphere and the environment for a number of people, and I don‘t know how high up it went, to believe that some forms of torture were acceptable in this war on terrorism. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe that it‘s possible to occupy an Arab country which would, by its nature, create increasing hostility because the longer you‘re there, the less you‘re liked, obviously, without having to deal with repressing insurgencies, without having to deal, in a very touch fashion, with insurgents, including the use of torture?

Couldn‘t we have seen this road coming as we headed down it a year ago?

SHELBY:  If we had had good intelligence on the ground there, we could have—we should have known that. 

But Chris, as you well know, we had great military intelligence.  Our forces did very well initially dispatching the forces of Saddam Hussein, but we did not have the requisite intelligence or information as to how the people would react. 

MATTHEWS:  Senator Durbin, does repression of a hostile insurgency or a hostile population require tough methods including torture to break those insurgencies, or is there another way to go about maintaining a occupation in a hostile terrain?

DURBIN:  We‘re trying to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, to convince them that self-government and democracy is a good way to live.  And frankly, if we create images in that country, images of torture and repression, it may just backfire. 

We were hell-bent to get in this war.  We couldn‘t wait until the U.N.  inspectors finished their job.  We couldn‘t wait until we had a broader coalition.  We couldn‘t wait until we had an exit strategy.

And now we find ourselves mired in a situation where we continue to lose soldiers on a regular basis.  It tells me that we didn‘t do the appropriate planning for this important mission, and we‘re paying a very, very heavy price for it. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Much more with Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Richard Shelby when we return. 

And later, what role will religion play in this year‘s presidential election?

Plus, the 9/11 commission says there‘s no credible evidence that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks.  The commission‘s top two members will be here, the chairman and the co-chairman. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Join me Friday night for a very special interview with Ron Reagan, the son of President Reagan on “DATELINE NBC.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  We‘re back with Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois and Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama. 

While the commission investigating the attacks of 9/11 said there‘s no evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks, a little later in this show the chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 commission will be here.  But here is what vice president Dick Cheney said Monday. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  He was a patron of terrorism, paying $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers in Israel and providing safe haven and support for such terrorist groups as Abu Nidal and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.  He had long established ties with al Qaeda. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, the implication there, Senator Durbin, is that the vice president is once again suggesting a tie between what we did in Iraq and what happened to us 9/11.  Is that a fair connection, or is that just sort of a tangential thing that the vice president is claiming there?

DURBIN:  It‘s a fabrication and a rationalization.  There‘s no evidence to link the two.  Clearly, the vice president is trying to justify remarks he made before the invasion, which have proven to be false. 

I frankly think he should admit, as the president did, when it came to the uranium from Africa and other statements that he made that they were just wrong.  It‘s far better for us to be open and honest with the American people than to hold on to stories that have been proven false. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, what about this meeting that they claim on the—I guess the more pro-war side.  They claim there was a meeting in the spring of 2001, five months before 9/11, a meeting between Atta, the lead attacker, and an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague.  Do you think that‘s true or not?  According to the 9/11 commission, that didn‘t happen.  No evidence.

DURBIN:  Virtually unsubstantiated. 

MATTHEWS:  Senator...

DURBIN:  Virtually unsubstantiated. 

MATTHEWS:  Senator Shelby, what do you make of this conflict in the way we look at this?  Should we look at our war with Iraq as getting even or following a hot trail of the people who attacked us 9/11, or should we see it as some sort of pre-emptive attack on a country that might cause us trouble?

SHELBY:  Well, I think it‘s pre-emptive to a great extent.  We all thought, and I thought rationally so, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. 

We knew he used gas on his own people, the Kurds.  We knew that he would have loved to have had and tried to build nuclear weapons.  We have not found any of that to speak of. 

And I think—I know that when I supported the war, I supported getting rid of him and getting rid of him as a menace and—and a future problem maker. 

MATTHEWS:  What percentage of the people from Alabama believe that there was a connection between 9/11 and Iraq?

SHELBY:  Well, I haven‘t polled them...

MATTHEWS:  Roughly, half the people?  When you talk to people, do you hear that sentiment?

SHELBY:  Well, I haven‘t talked to them, Chris, specifically about that.  They know that they were both—al Qaeda is trouble, as you well know, they hit us here several times, in ‘93 and then in 2001.  We know the history of Iraq, what they would do, and if they had the opportunity to do under the leadership of Saddam Hussein. 

I think people do connect it some way, but as far as the specifics of connecting the meeting in Prague, I haven‘t seen the evidence thus far. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, unfortunately, thanks to the president and a lot of country music out there, and I‘m sure they‘re not working together, there‘s a hell of a lot of sentiment, Senator Durbin, that I hear from regular people that there‘s a connection. 

“Remember how you felt,” all the country music says, we‘ve got to get back and pay back for what happened to us, get the people that hit us, and they‘re different people, apparently.  Senator Durbin. 

DURBIN:  It‘s the same kind of empty—it‘s that same kind of empty rhetoric that led us into this war, without thinking about how we‘d get out of this war. 

You know, we ought to be thoughtful and reflect on the fact that terrorists are now breeding in Iraq and killing American soldiers.  That was not the case before our invasion.  I‘m glad Saddam Hussein is gone, but let‘s be honest about the price that we paid for that. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you confident in saying, are you willing to say now, Senator Shelby, that there‘s no evidence between a connection with Saddam Hussein and what happened to us 9/11?

SHELBY:  No, I wouldn‘t say that at all.  I said I haven‘t seen and we haven‘t...

MATTHEWS:  Is there any reason to believe—is there any reason to believe there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11?

SHELBY:  Well, I would have thought there would be some connection there, because they had similar goals, but I haven‘t found the actual evidence of the connection yet. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much for joining us, Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois...

SHELBY:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  ... and Richard Shelby of Alabama. 

More HARDBALL when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Tonight in the battle for the White House, religion and politics.  It‘s becoming an issue in the election.  HARDBALL election correspondent David Shuster reports. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  In the modern era of presidential politics, John F. Kennedy is considered the trailblazer. 

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATE:  And I‘m a member of my church, and I know that—I know my responsibilities as a citizen of the United States and a supporter of the Constitution. 

SHUSTER:  Kennedy was a Catholic, and in 1960 there were fears he might be beholden to the Vatican, so just two months before election date, Kennedy addressed the issue head-on, telling ministers the separation of church and state was absolute. 

KENNEDY:  I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be in the national interest and without regard to outside religious pressure or dictates. 

SHUSTER:  For John Kerry, also Catholic, the issue for some is not that this former altar boy is too religious, but rather that he‘s not religious enough.  Kerry supports abortion rights, and he‘s been citing Kennedy to fend off sharp criticism from the clergy. 

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m running to uphold the constitution of our country, which has a strict separation of the affairs of church and state.  And that‘s what we lived by with President Kennedy.  It‘s what we‘ve lived by for over 228 years.  That‘s what I will live by. 

SHUSTER:  As for President Bush, his supporters see an opportunity.  A recent “TIME” magazine poll found that 56 percent of voters believe America is a religious nation and that religious values should guide political leaders. 

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Life is a creation of God, not a commodity to be exploited by man. 

SHUSTER:  Before September 11, the president kept his evangelical beliefs largely to himself, talking about it usually in the context of kicking alcoholism.  But after the terrorist attacks, those close to Mr.  Bush say he discovered his life‘s mission. 

BUSH:  We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name. 

SHUSTER:  And the president has firmly placed America on the side of good.

Still, for every voter who likes the way President Bush talks about his faith, the polls indicate there is another voter who would prefer a president keep it private.

Last week it was Ronald Reagan Jr. talking about his dad.

RON REAGAN JR., SON OF RONALD REAGAN:  But he never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians, wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage.

SHUSTER:  And yet, it‘s something that is a factor in this election.  The “TIME” magazine poll found that most voters who consider themselves very religious prefer Bush over Kerry 59 percent to 35 percent.  Voters not religious prefer Kerry over Bush 69 to 22.

(on camera) And complicating matters, analysts say that on both sides of the religious divide, the number of extremists is growing.  That means President Bush and John Kerry have to be careful as they reach towards the middle while counting on their core supporters as a matter of faith. 

I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David Shuster. 

Up next, a new report by the 9/11 commission says there‘s no evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda worked together on the attacks against New York and Washington.  The commission chairman, Tom Kean, and Lee Hamilton join me. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  This half-hour on HARDBALL: the commission investigating 9/11 says there‘s no credible evidence that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks.  The panel‘s top two commissioners will be here. 

Plus, John Walsh, 20 years after the disappearance and murder of his son Adam. 

But first, the latest headlines right now.

(NEWSBREAK)

Back to HARDBALL with Chris Matthews.

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  The 9/11 Commission began its final set of public hearings today and found no connection between Saddam Hussein and the September 11 attacks. 

The commission staff statement reads: “There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and the al Qaeda also occurred after bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan in 1996, but they do not have appeared to have resulted in a collaborative relationship.  Two senior bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between Iraq and al Qaeda.  We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States.”

This statement comes two days after Vice President Dick Cheney spoke of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  He was a patron of terrorism, paying $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers in Israel and providing safe haven and support for such terrorist groups as Abu Nidal and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.  He had long-established ties with al Qaeda. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean chairs the 9/11 Commission, and former U.S. Congressman Lee Hamilton of Indiana is the vice chairman. 

Thank you, gentlemen, for joining us. 

This is a development a lot of people will find clarifying, Governor, that there was no direct connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. 

THOMAS KEAN, 9/11 COMMISSION CHAIRMAN:  Well, that‘s what our staff has found.  Now, it doesn‘t mean there weren‘t al Qaeda connections with Iraq over the years.  They‘re somewhat shadowy, but I think they were there.  But with 9/11, no, our staff has found no evidence of that. 

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Hamilton, so many polls have been taken that shows the American people, almost three-quarters of the people, believe there was a connection.  How do we rectify that?  Is your commission going to clarify that to the extent that people won‘t still be singing country music that says “remember how you felt?”

LEE HAMILTON, 9/11 COMMISSION VICE CHAIRMAN:  All we can do is state as clearly as we can what the evidence is that we have found.  We have found no operational collaboration between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden with regard to attacks on the United States.  That conclusion is a very firm one that we have reached. 

What the governor referred to is also true.  There are all kinds of ties.  There are all kinds of connections.  And it may very well have been that Osama bin Laden or some of his lieutenants met at some time with Saddam Hussein lieutenants. 

They had contacts, but what we did not find was any operational tie with respect to attacks on the United States. 

MATTHEWS:  Governor, what about that long talk about meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta, who was the main character and the main bad guy in this attack on the United States, the lead pilot, you might say, and the—and the Iraqi intelligence official in Prague?  Did that occur five months before 9/11? 

KEAN:  We have no evidence that that occurred.  In fact, we have some evidence that we think Mohammed Atta was actually in this country at that time. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s the paper trail evidence, right? 

KEAN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the other thing.  And the other thing that‘s talked a lot about in this city is where that fourth plane was headed, Congressman.  Was it headed toward the Capitol, the one that crashed in Pennsylvania because of the passengers overtaking the hijackers? 

HAMILTON:  We don‘t know for sure, but we do know that in the discussions leading up to September 11, the Capitol was a target. 

MATTHEWS:  Why? 

HAMILTON:  Well, it was a—because it was a great symbol of freedom in this country.  And the al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, specifically, wanted to hit a target, very high profile that would be recognized not only in this country as a high-profile symbol, but would be recognized across the world.  So the White House, the Pentagon, the Capitol, we think, were all targets at one time or another. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go to two points there, Governor.  We‘ve had—I‘m sorry, go ahead. 

KEAN:  No, I was going to say, one of the interesting things is that, evidently, Osama bin Laden really wanted to hit the White House.  And Mohammed Atta said it‘s a difficult target.  You know, the Capitol is easier, it‘s bigger, it‘s sitting up there, and we can‘t get the White House. 

So in all probability, they were heading maybe for the White House. 

If they couldn‘t hit it, then on to the Capitol. 

MATTHEWS:  What about the idea that this was really smart sort of political invective?  If they wanted to hit the Capitol because they said it was “responsible for U.S. policy in the Mideast,” pro-Israeli Policy?”  Do you make anything of that?  Do you give any credence to that? 

KEAN:  Well, what we have on the evidence so far is that they really wanted the great symbols of America.  Obviously, the twin towers were a symbol, the Capitol a symbol, the White House is a symbol.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

KEAN:  Anything that was a symbol of the United States might empower around the world and to show that those symbols could be destroyed. 

MATTHEWS:  But you also have in your report that they wanted to hit us when the Israeli prime minister was visiting us in the spring.  I mean, it seems like a very targeted attack on our policy. 

KEAN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  I mean, the people that say there‘s no connection between al Qaeda and our policy towards Israel, of course is an absurd proposition.  Everything is related in the Middle Bast.  But isn‘t it true—it seems like they sat around and read the papers and said, well, we‘re going to send a real particular message here, don‘t be pro Israeli. 

HAMILTON:  Look, there‘s no question that there‘s an awful lot of speculation in this country about the motivation of these folks.  I don‘t know that we can sort all of that out. 

MATTHEWS:  But it says here—I‘m reading the wire copy coming out of the report.  I‘m not guessing at this.  It says—the report says bin Laden believed the Capitol was most responsible for U.S. policy on Israel.  It also says that bin Laden wanted to go after us in—in May of 2001 because the Israeli prime minister would be visiting Washington at that point.  Are these in your report or not, these two points? 

HAMILTON:  What is in our report, I think, is that the motivation for Osama bin Laden and a lot of the hijackers is mixed, partly religious, partly political. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.

HAMILTON:  And American foreign policy has consequences.  And they‘re not always consequences that we can predict. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.

HAMILTON:  For example, we put troops in Saudi Arabia.  I supported that.  I think the Congress supported it without objection back in the early ‘90s.  That was the thing that apparently triggered Osama bin Laden, putting American forces on sacred soil...

MATTHEWS:  And keeping them there for 10 years. 

HAMILTON:  That‘s correct, if we are to believe what Osama bin Laden has said.  So here‘s a policy, unanimously agreed upon in the United States government, one that I still think was correct.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

HAMILTON:  But nonetheless, had the unexpected consequence that it triggered Osama bin Laden. 

MATTHEWS:  Is your staff report conclusive on the question of whether the Mideast issue is part of the—was part of the triggering of this attack? 

KEAN:  Israel?

MATTHEWS:  Yes, the whole fight over—the thing we watch every day in the newspapers. 

KEAN:  Yes, I don‘t think there‘s any question about it, because when Osama bin Laden issued his fatwah and said this is why we have to kill Americans, he mentioned two things.  One was our policy toward the Palestinians and Israel, the other was putting American troops on holy soil in Saudi Arabia.  Those are the two main reasons that he said now you have to go out and kill Americans. 

MATTHEWS:  But didn‘t we know, Congressman, back when the United States went to war the first time in the Persian Gulf, that we knew there was a high price we were paying in terms of violating their sacred belief in their land in Saudi Arabia?  And that‘s one of the reasons why the Saudi government was apparent—was so hesitant to let us put our troops in there.  Didn‘t we know it then, and how come we forgot it for 10 years, that this was a sore point with these people? 

HAMILTON:  Well, we understood that.  But what triggered the war in 1991 was when Saddam Hussein moved across into international boundary.  That‘s what really brought American power into play there, I believe.  An international boundary, he crossed it, and tried to take over the oil resources of Kuwait. 

MATTHEWS:  Does that mean that we should have been more sensitive to the people and the beliefs and culture of Saudi Arabia than their own monarchy was?  Because the monarchy didn‘t seem to be as disturbed about this as the people were. 

KEAN:  Well, I don‘t know how disturbed the people were.  Saddam Hussein was very disturbed about it...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

KEAN:  ...and his followers obviously. 

MATTHEWS:  You mean bin Laden. 

KEAN:  Bin Laden, I‘m sorry. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.

KEAN:  Bin Laden was very upset about it.  But I don‘t know.  We haven‘t done any polls.  I don‘t really know how seriously the rest of them felt about it.  But we‘ve got—but I think the answer to your question is basically, yes, we‘ve got to be a lot more sensitive to people in the Middle East. 

We‘ve got to understand them better.  We‘ve got to understand their beliefs, their culture, and where they‘re coming from.  And we have to do a much better job the United States government has ever done before. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about what their capabilities have been, because it seems like they were grander even than they executed on 9/11. 

More with Tom Kean the chairman, and Lee Hamilton of the 9/11 Commission.

And later, John Walsh on the 20th anniversary of the founding of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m back with 9/11 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton. 

One of the things in your report today which is going to grab all the headlines tomorrow is the grandiosity of their original plan for 9/11.  Describe the dimensions of that, Mr. Chairman. 

KEAN:  Well, they were going after both coasts.  I mean, they were—they were trying to train pilots.  This was the original plan.  Actually, it was cut down.  But originally, they were going after the tallest building in Seattle, the tallest building in California, plus buildings in the capital, plus the World Trade Center. 

MATTHEWS:  In one hour.  In one hour.

KEAN:  Yes, in one hour.  And then Mohammed Atta—or, no, actually it wasn‘t Mohammed Atta.  But the way he was going to land, kill all the males on board his plane and say this is because of your policy in the Middle East.  And announce that to the news media. 

MATTHEWS:  And who was going to say that? 

KEAN:  I think it was the fellow who planned the whole thing. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it‘s possible that Khalid Mohammed—Sheikh Mohammed, the guy who you‘re hearing from now, apparently the source of all this...

KEAN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  ... isn‘t making an after-the-fact case to screw Israel?  That basically the original goal was to go after their concern about Saudi and the holy land, but now they figured here‘s a great plot for them to start spilling their guts in a way that‘s dishonest?  I mean, how well do we know that this guy who is squealing right now is telling the truth, Mr.  Hamilton? 

HAMILTON:  Well, we don‘t know for sure. 

MATTHEWS:  Don‘t you...

HAMILTON:  We...

MATTHEWS:  ... notice that none of that stuff about Israel came out in the beginning and now it‘s all over the place, and this stuff?

HAMILTON:  Well, you could be right.  I just don‘t know. 

The fact of the matter is we‘ve interviewed a lot of these detainees.  And there are ways of cross-checking stories and all the rest.  But you‘re dealing with people, you don‘t know whether they‘re telling you the truth or not. 

MATTHEWS:  Is this under—is this under torture or some—it‘s just sort of wearing a guy down?  Do we know where the—what kind of circumstances we got this info?

HAMILTON:  We do not know the circumstances. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about what your—in your report, is your sense that—and this is the big question, I guess, for this September in New York.  The Republicans are meeting, your party is meeting in New York right there at Madison Square Garden and Penn Station, where every—anybody that‘s ever been there at 5:00 at night on a rainy night, everybody‘s getting on that subway there.  Do we think they have the capability to hit us in the Big Apple again? 

KEAN:  Well, you know, whenever they‘ve hit us in the past, it‘s been unexpected.  Everybody is going to be prepared for that.  Everybody is looking at that.

Everybody looking at New York.  Everybody is looking at Boston.  Somebody said in the hearing today, you know, the biggest example of—biggest opportunity they‘ve ever had was at Reagan‘s funeral.  Not only United States leaders, and the whole Congress, but world leaders.  So there are unfortunately in a free society a great number of opportunities. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  The Reagan funeral luckily wasn‘t scheduled. 

KEAN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  This baby is in New York. 

KEAN:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you very much.  We would like to have you on for a year here, you have so much information.  Thank you very much, Chairman Tom Kean, former governor of New Jersey, and one of the great U.S.  congressmen ever from Indiana, Lee Hamilton.  He‘s here now as vice chairman of the committee. 

Up next, John Walsh, 20 years after the founding of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  He found it when he lost his child.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Over 20 years ago, John and Reve Walsh brought their son, Adam, to a department store in Hollywood, Florida, to shop for lamps and never saw him again.  Sixteen days later, police discovered that Adam, their son, had been abducted and murdered.  And that led John Walsh to help found the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and to host the Fox Network‘s “America‘s Most Wanted.”  John joins us from Capitol Hill, where the center he founded is marking its 20th anniversary today.

John, thank you very much.  A little bit of—it‘s a serious business, as you‘ve been involved in it for all these 20 years.  But I‘ve got to ask you a semi-serious question to start with.  Why has it taken the United States so long to find the most wanted man in the world, Osama bin Laden? 

He is 6‘8”.  That‘s very tall for a man in that part of the world.  He was riding a burro and he‘s on dialysis.  I mean, it seems to me he has a certain clear-cut description that shouldn‘t be too hard to trace. 

JOHN WALSH, HOST, “AMERICA‘S MOST WANTED”:  Well, I agree with you.  You know, for the last 16 years on “America‘s Most Wanted,” we‘ve been profiling and capturing fugitives all over the world.  And I‘ve often thought, although this guy is hiding in a very difficult part of the world to hunt him down, you know, a country that could put a man on the moon and a lunar mod—or a module on Mars should be able to find this guy. 

I‘ve often said that I think that we should put together an international death squad.  Take a couple of the Israeli Mossad—they‘re some of the best man hunters in the world—New Zealand‘s got some, Australian Rangers, a couple of the British Royal Marines, a couple of Ireland‘s Black Watch Guys, put that whole force together.  Land them in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, and say, hunt this guy down and kill him. 

And for people who say, well, if you kill Osama bin Laden, you‘re not going to take the guts out of al Qaeda, well, what happened when Hitler killed himself in Germany?  Germany is the land of BMWs.  What happened in Italy when the Italians hung Mussolini in the square in Milan?  It‘s now the country of Armani suits and good food.  I say we need a multinational task force, death squad, hunt the guy down and kill him. 

MATTHEWS:  Are the rules, or rather the methods of catching someone international? 

WALSH:  Well, I‘ll tell you, there‘s a real difficulty in this because we‘re such a politically correct country.  We want to play by all the rules.  The media in this country second guesses everything that anybody does in an official capacity. 

But where he‘s hiding out—and I‘ve been to the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan—there are no rules over there.  These are tribal warlords that he‘s paying off.  He can move into Sudan, Somalia. 

I say, you know what?  We‘ve got to get over playing by the rules. 

I was at ground zero, one of the only media that was allowed there.  This guy engineered the death of 2,800 innocent people in one day.  In your terms, he plays “hardball.”  It‘s time for to us play hardball. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Let me ask you—let‘s go back to the home situation here.  How big a problem is this missing children when it gets deadly in this country right now? 

WALSH:  Well, we have, the Justice Department says, about 4,800 stranger abductions last year.  Three hundred of those cases were never solved or the children were found murdered. 

I think it‘s a big problem, especially if it‘s your child.  You know, I‘ve often said to anchors like yourself, if it was 300 anchormen or women, or 300 actors or athletes that were kidnapped last year and never found or found murdered, it would be a big problem.  But it is an ongoing problem.  But, you know, fortunately, the media is giving it much more attention than did it 22 years ago when Adam was kidnapped. 

MATTHEWS:  Is there a profile to the abductee? 

WALSH:  Well, it‘s -- 99 percent of the time it‘s a white male.  They‘re serial predators.  They‘re child molesters, pedophiles, 99.9 percent of the kids are taken for sexual exploitation. 

Lots of times, the guy will kill the child so there will be no witness.  You know, that‘s the profile.  A white male... 

MATTHEWS:  Boy-girl breakout—how‘s the boy-girl breakout with regard to the victim? 

WALSH:  About 60 percent girls.  About 40 percent boys.  The Justice Department says that young women from the ages of 11 to 18 are the number one category of crime victims.  But these pedophiles, you know, mostly little girls.  But almost as many little boys. 

MATTHEWS:  And what percentage of the cases—you say it‘s about 60 girls to 40 boys—what percentage of the cases are people who have been under surveillance by these—these predators?  And how many are sort of impulsive and how many are planned? 

WALSH:  Well, a lot of them are impulse.  But a lot of them are planned. 

You know, for example, I‘ve interviewed lots and lots of pedophiles. 

Number one, it‘s a sexual preference.  Children is their sexual preference.  They‘re not curable.  Everybody in the psychiatric community will tell you that.  And they act on these impulses. 

Sometimes they track the child.  Sometimes they know who the child is. 

And sometimes it‘s just a crime of opportunity. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the new crime of opportunity, that‘s using the Internet.  How common is that now among 300 cases a year of real deadly abductions for sexual purposes and ultimately murder to cover up, I guess?  By the way, is the murder to cover up, or is that part of the allure for these people?

WALSH:  Sometimes it‘s the progression of the sexual abuse, sexual molestation.  They get to the point where they do the murder for sexual kicks.  A lot of times it is to cover up. 

I‘ve seen letters from pedophiles back and forth in prison who said, you know what?  I‘ve gotten caught three or four times.  The next time I get out of prison, the next kid I grab, I‘m going to kill him so there‘s not a witness. 

The Internet is a wonderful tool, but it has also become a wonderful place to hide for Internet predators.  The Justice Department now says one in five kids receive unsolicited sexual advances over the Internet.  The bad news is only one in four kids ever tell their parents. 

So these people hide in chat rooms, prey upon kids.  Lots of times, divorced kids, kids that are having family problems.  And that little girl that‘s going to the mall thinking that she‘s going to meet another 13-year-old is many times meeting a 55-year-old predator that has lured her out to the mall. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘ve got some help from the Reagans.  I see you got a letter today right from Nancy Reagan.  It‘s a heck of a time for her to be supporting you, but she‘s sure out there doing it.

And also, President Reagan signed the legislature that led to the formation of your center.  Here‘s what Nancy Reagan wrote you today in this letter dated today: “It hardly seems possible it has been 20 years since my husband spoke at the opening ceremony of your organization.  I know he would be both impressed and gratified by how successful the center has been.”

What‘s been the push behind the Reagans here? 

WALSH:  Well, the Reagans have been supportive from day one.  Back in 1982, after Adam‘s death, we found out that the FBI and the Justice Department opposed a bill called the Missing Children‘s Bill.  And that would simply led parents like Reve and I put our kids‘ names in the NCIC computer incase they were found dead or alive. 

The Reagans supported that bill.  And when that first bill was passed, Ronald Reagan thought it was important to have Raven and I, and our then 1-year-old daughter, Megan, who was born a year after Adam was murdered, in the Rose Garden.  He made sure that we were in the Rose Garden. 

Then we buried the hatchet with the FBI, and I still work very closely with them.  Then we had the Missing Children‘s Assistance Bill, and President Reagan said, this bill is passed.  We need to let the nation know that we now have a center for missing and exploited children, an 800 number. 

So he had me speak in the East Room, which is reserved primarily for foreign dignitaries. That was important to him.  And I had many meetings with him in the Oval Office.  The Reagans were big, big supporters of our battle. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  John, I don‘t want to waste this opportunity.  How can an average person be a big supporter?  I mean, do you go to the post office and look at the pictures?  Do you look at the milk cartons?  What do you do to help in this cause of reducing the number of kids who are grabbed and killed? 

WALSH:  Absolutely.  Seventy percent of missing kids are found by pictures put out there by the private sector.  Like Advo (ph), that send you those little cards in the mail.  They found 120 kids.  Wal-Mart has found over 100 kids with pictures in the Wal-Mart store. 

Number one, look at those pictures.  Don‘t assume it couldn‘t happen to you.  Number two, and get good information.  1-800-THE-LOST is the national center‘s toll-free hotline.  It‘s a cyber tip line to report cases of cyber solicitation.  It‘s the child pornography tip line, and you can get free information.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  What was that number again?  1-800 -- what was the last part of it? 

WALSH:  1-800-THE-LOST.  MATTHEWS:  THE-LOST.

WALSH:  Free information on how to prevent crimes against children. 

MATTHEWS:  There it is up on the screen.  Thank you.  It‘s an honor. 

And congratulations on the success of a very serious effort.  John Walsh. 

And to learn more about the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, go to your Web site—go to our Web site, in fact, hardball.msnbc.com. 

Join us again tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2004 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2004 FDCH e-Media Inc. (f/k/a/ Federal Document Clearing House Inc., eMediaMillWorks, Inc.), ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and FDCH e-Media, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,