Guest: Jackie Spinner, Tony Perry, Dana Priest, Michael Scheuer, Kathleen
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: President Bush picks his most trusted foreign policy adviser, Condoleezza Rice, to succeed Colin Powell as secretary of state.
Plus, the U.S. military opens an investigation into the case of a Marine fatally shooting an unarmed wounded Iraqi in a Fallujah mosque.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews.
Another close White House adviser gets a key cabinet post and more resignations at the CIA.
But first, the U.S. Marines have opened an investigation into the killing of an unarmed wound Iraqi insurgent in a Fallujah mosque over the weekend. The human rights groups are saying the incident, which was caught on videotape, could be a war crime. We‘re going to play you some of the videotape of that incident, record by NBC‘s Kevin Sites and his camera crew. But be warned, that the images may not be suitable for all viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey! There Marines in there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, there on the far right, far right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming around the back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, who‘s in here? Coming around. What the—you doing in here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You almost got shot by tanks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Huh, us?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. You guy almost got shot up by tanks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were telling us to come in here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tanks did?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. They were telling us there are people in here and telling us to come in here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You, we had two in here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you shoot them?
They have any weapons on them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Same guys from Yesterday?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They‘re the ones from yesterday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the wounded that they never picked up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He‘s—faking he‘s dead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he‘s breathing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He‘s faking he‘s—dead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He is now. We freezed the last shot and are deliberately not showing the video of the actual gunshot.
Tony Perry is the San Diego bureau chief of the “Los Angeles Times.”
He‘s been embedded with the Marines three times, most recently in Fallujah.
And “Washington Post” foreign reporter, Jackie Spinner, is embedded right now with the Army‘s 1st Infantry Division near Fallujah.
Jackie, what is the soldiers‘ reaction over in the field to this incident?
JACKIE SPINNER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Well, the soldiers are responding very carefully to this today. The Marines out in the field are saying that people should be very careful about passing quick judgments on this Marine who is involved in this shooting. They know that this is a very stressful environment. These are Marines who have come under fire by insurgents in this very mosque that day and the day before. The commanders are saying that they have obviously launched an investigation. And if it comes, they find out that this marine acted improperly, they will bring him to justice. So you‘re really getting two different reactions from the command and from the soldiers in the field today.
MATTHEWS: Are the soldiers in the field, Jackie, saying this is just part of the war, this is part of war anywhere, that people get killed, even if not quite according to the rules?
SPINNER: That‘s—that‘s—that‘s exactly what they‘re saying. They are disturbed, obviously, that by the images, but their reaction is simply that this is what happens. War is dirty. It is messy. And these individuals, insurgents, have been faking injuries during the course of this battle in an attempt to lure Marines and soldiers to them where they can take pot shots with small arms fire and mortar rounds. You know, but obviously, you do have some Marines here that are saying that no matter what the price of war, no matter how dirty it gets, it should not have gotten this dirty.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you—let me go back to Tony Perry in San Diego to get him here as part of the conversation. You were over in Iraq. You were embedded.
Does this seem like the norm of battle In Iraq?
TONY PERRY, “LOS ANGELES TIMES”: No. In fact, this is quite abnormal. You won‘t find conditions like this very often. And I think Jackie is right. The question will be was it logical that that young Marine thought that Iraqi was still a threat, still a combatant? Was he playing possum? Those are the issues that will have to be thoroughly investigated.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you, according to the dialogue we‘ve just watched as well as listened to, because we had the sub-scripts on the TV, he was told, this soldier, that the man, the wounded Iraqi, the unarmed wounded Iraqi was lying there from the day before.
What reason would he have to believe that he was armed and dangerous?
SPINNER: Well, all of that is speculation, obviously. I was not there in the mosque when that happened. I wasn‘t with this particular group of Marines so I would simply be guessing based on my own experience in being with these Marines and soldiers on the battlefield. It‘s been very difficult, I think, for a lot of the troops to determine who the good guys and the bad guys are. We know that there are civilians in the city still. There‘s gun fighting still going on in the city. And the vetting process to determine, you know, who‘s on their side and who is not has been a difficult one. I think until we hear from that Marine who actually pulled the trigger, we‘re really not going to know what was in his head when that incident occurred.
MATTHEWS: What did you make of the line by the, apparently by the trooper? Well, he‘s dead now.
SPINNER: Can you ask that question again?
MATTHEWS: What did you make of the line from the, apparently from the trooper, he‘s dead now!
SPINNER: Again, you know, it‘s hard to know. Unless you were there and unless you are that Marine and you‘re looking into that mosque, you‘re walking into that mosque, and apparently, it had just been hit by an artillery round. You know, there‘s a lot of confusion there in the battlefield. We‘ve seen it, we‘ve heard it when we‘re out there. And I think until, again, we hear from that Marine, it‘s going to be very difficult to pass any judgment based on just what we‘re looking at in that videotape, which is a moment in time. It is not the complete story.
MATTHEWS: Obviously not. Thank you very much for that great report.
Jackie Spinner with “The Washington Post” in Fallujah.
Tony Perry is staying with us. Tony, let me ask you about your experiences with the way we treat wounded. Does the United States military Marines and army both collect the wounded and give them treatment generally?
PERRY: Absolutely. That‘s required under the Geneva Convention. And it‘s how we want our people treated if they fall into the hands of the enemy. I‘ve seen that. I‘ve seen wounded Iraqis, wounded insurgents who just 90 minutes earlier were trying to murder Americans from ambush. I‘ve seen them be taken to a navy forward hospital, given million-dollar medical care surgery and medivacked out for advance surgeries. So, no army in the world has ever probably taken care of its enemies as well medically once they‘re wounded as the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps. the whole battle force does.
MATTHEWS: Have you seen a variety of conscience over there?
Some soldiers would be very careful about something like that, and others are just hot shots?
PERRY: I haven‘t seen a lot of hot shots. I‘ve seen a lot of care. And The rule of engagement are very careful. In this case, a lot will depend, what were the rules of engagement that young Marine was functioning under? What were the lawful orders that he had been given? What did he know and how was he to act when he entered that building? We‘ve yet to know.
There are two levels. One is the Geneva Convention rules of war, did he violate those for which he could be prosecuted? There was a second standard and even tougher standard, that‘s going to be the Marine Corps standard, the rules of engagement. So, he could be cleared for Geneva Convention and still face rather severe penalties, up to jail, prison really, from the Marine Corps itself.
MATTHEWS: But he was entering a situation where there were other
soldiers that were there, they were apparently trying to get out of line of
fire of tanks according to the script we watching there. Their language
that was picked up on our videotape and also you see the script to it of
what they were saying. He was going into an area that was already occupied
by U.S. troops, had been there a while.
Why would he presume to go in and shoot somebody as if they were a danger?
PERRY: As Jackie said, there have been instances of Iraqis playing possum, waiting until the U.S. troop bends down and then shooting them. There have been bodies rigged with booby traps. There‘s a lot of factors that can go on here. Again, will it be logical that he thought that this man was a threat? Don‘t forget that under the rules of war, you can kill a combatant, and enemy combatant, even though he may be sleeping under a tree, and pose no danger to you at the time. It‘s a very, very broad definition of when you can use deadly force on an enemy combatant.
MATTHEWS: What does it tell you, that there was a TV camera watching this whole thing? Does that suggest to you that he would have felt he was within his rights as a soldier, a Marine, to do what he was doing because he did it in front of the TV cameras?
PERRY: At some point when you‘re an embedded reporters, and I‘ve done it three times, once in Afghanistan, twice in Iraq for months on end, at some point, you blend into the surroundings and the Marines forget that you are there. And they start talking and acting as if you weren‘t there. And that‘s, of course, exactly what you want journalistically. I‘d be surprised if that Marine even knew the camera was there.
MATTHEWS: Can you offer a judgment as to what you saw in this whole incident, what did you see, having been there?
PERRY: No. Absolutely not. I think we all have to suspend judgment.
MATTHEWS: Reserve judgment. Suspend judgment.
PERRY: Absolutely. Until we know what his orders were, what was going through his mind, what was logical that we presume that he was doing when he came in there. What threat was he under?
MATTHEWS: Well, that would be fascinating to find out. Anyway, this story has unfortunately become the stuff of propaganda from the other side. And you understand that, too, right?
PERRY: Well, absolutely. Al Jazeera will have a field day with this, and it does look horrible, let‘s say it like it is, horrible to watch it. And I‘m sure a lot will be made out of it. But don‘t forget that the Marine Corps has already punished half a dozen Marines and put several in prison for mistreating Iraqi civilians and Iraqi captives. So this is not going to be swept under the rug.
MATTHEWS: We‘ve learned from our own police situations here at home, there can be deadly force applied, and it can be applied totally justifiably, but the pictures have a power to themselves when they‘re circulated around the country and around the world. And sometimes they cause more trouble than the horror itself.
Anyway, thank you very much, Tony Perry, for that great report.
Tomorrow we‘ll ask retired General Norman Schwarzkopf about this incident in Fallujah. It will be interesting to get his return on this, and what the troops on the frontlines of the fight are going through themselves right now, the stresses on them as soldiers facing the enemy.
Coming up, President Bush has announced his close confidant Condoleezza Rice as his pick to be secretary of state. The biggest job he can give. We‘ll take a look at how the president‘s cabinet reshuffle is consolidating the president‘s power. You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. President Bush nominated his closest foreign policy adviser, maybe his closest adviser, period, Condoleezza Rice, to replace Colin Powell as secretary of state today. But could she rebuild the bridges we‘ve broken with the world‘s leaders? “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman is also an NBC News political analyst, and Dana Priest is with “The Washington Post.”
Howard, you start. There‘s so much horrible stuff going on in the world today. We just talked about the soldier that may have been out of line when he killed that guy, that wounded prisoner over there in Iraq. We won‘t have that settled for weeks, it looks like. This horrible case of Margaret Hassan killed, the woman who lived and worked for the Iraqi people for 30 years. And let me ask you, in that environment, where is President Bush headed with his new government for the second term?
HOWARD FINEMAN, NEWSWEEK: Well, I think George Bush is headed to a consolidation and focus of his theory, which is taking the offensive in the war on terrorism. I don‘t see any relenting. I see additional focus. He‘s putting his closest advisers and long-time friends in sensitive spots. People that I first met when I went down to Austin, when Bush was assembling his presidential campaign and his governorship.
Gonzales at State, Porter Goss, a family friend, at CIA, and now Condi Rice at State. It‘s a big intentional focus. The only other side of the equation possibly is this, Chris: If President Bush decides to really get serious about diplomacy, he‘s got to have a person that he trusts implicitly. And that person is Condi Rice. So if you want to take the optimistic view about George Bush beginning to practice the arts of diplomacy in a serious way, then he needs somebody he trusts. And that person is certainly Condi Rice.
MATTHEWS: Any chance in the world, Howard, and I want to ask the same question of Dana at “The Washington Post,” that Condi Rice will become kind of a Becket figure, a person who is trusted implicitly but then becomes their own person, when given the responsibility of representing the State Department?
FINEMAN: Well, you put it in dramatic terms. That would be one heck of a story if it happens, and there are probably a lot of people out there hoping that it happens. She‘s been nothing but a tutor and a loyalist and an implementer so far, in four years. When I first met her, she was alone in that small office as he was gearing up his campaign. She‘s been at his side, mother henning him, as she puts it. Will she take that kind of role? I don‘t know. But as I say, if he‘s going to practice serious diplomacy now, she‘s going to be the instrument of it.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask Dana, do you think she might become Becket, Thomas Becket and turn against Henry II here, the president, and become her own diplomat and say, Mr. President, there‘s a diplomatic solution to this situation? Don‘t rush to judgment like you did with Iraq?
DANA PRIEST, WASHINGTON POST: Well, that would be a surprise outcome. I think I agree with Howard, in the sense that she has a record, and it is to be a loyalist, not to rock the boat, and really not to be able to take on the great personalities of Donald Rumsfeld and now Porter Goss at the CIA. So I don‘t see her tussling with them, trying to wrestle power from them, or even dominance within the foreign policy arena. If nothing else, I think people at the State Department are worried that if Colin Powell couldn‘t do it, she certainly won‘t be able to.
MATTHEWS: So we are just repotting the plants here.
PRIEST: I think we‘re seeing the militarization of foreign policy being taken to one further step.
I would add to that the shift that is occurring now at DOD trying to create their own intelligence apparatus. They have had—they have a lot of resources already. I think they‘re trying to take those and they would say make them more efficient, make them more aggressive, make them more operational, so they won‘t have to rely solely on the CIA, and they will have that ability to prosecute the war on terror themselves.
So I do think that you see a consolidation of power within the military. You notice that Secretary Rumsfeld is not stepping down.
MATTHEWS: Well, the old pecking order, Howard, before this last week‘s excitement, and I think people are getting too giggly about it, I‘m not sure it‘s that important, was the president. Close behind him in power, the vice president. Close behind him in power, thanks to the vice president, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. Behind him, Condi Rice. Behind her, Colin Powell. What has changed?
FINEMAN: Well, Powell is out of the equation, obviously.
MATTHEWS: You mean he has given up his fifth place (UNINTELLIGIBLE) still in fourth.
FINEMAN: He‘s out of the equation. I think basically you have a government run by the president, by Dick Cheney and by Karl Rove essentially on the domestic—on the domestic side.
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s interesting. How does Karl Rove act as commissar over the secretary of state, the new one?
FINEMAN: Well, he doesn‘t necessarily over State. But on all domestic issues, Karl Rove is the master of all he surveys. He‘s the guy who thinks of himself as a substance guy, not just a politics guy. You may remember, on the day after the election, George Bush referred to him as the architect. And I don‘t think Bush was being facetious when he said that. So domestic side, it‘s Rove. Foreign policy, defense, it‘s Cheney and Rumsfeld with the president.
MATTHEWS: Well, speaking of architects, let me go back to Dana. Stephen Hadley, who is replacing Condi Rice as the man in charge of putting the paper in front of the president‘s desk, or on the desk, is the guy who is a Cheney guy. And isn‘t he the one who took the bullet for the illusory uranium deal with Niger, and isn‘t he perhaps being rewarded now for taking that bullet, by being made head of NSC?
PRIEST: Could be. I don‘t know that for sure. Obviously, he‘s another loyal member.
MATTHEWS: A Cheneyite.
PRIEST: ... of that group. A Cheneyite, but a Bushite, too. And I think it is a consolidation of focus, a more extreme focus on a vision that they‘ve—that President Bush first put forward after 9/11, to go after certain countries, use the military to do that. Diplomacy will take a back seat.
If that changes, it will sure be surprising, given the sort of capabilities in terms of the power brokers that they‘ve put in place right now.
FINEMAN: Chris, Chris, can I just add that there‘s almost...
FINEMAN: ... a sort of house-to-house search under way for enemies of the administration from the first term at the CIA, at Defense, at State. These are people who are viewed by the inner circle in the Bush White House of Cheney and the president and Rove and others, of having been disloyal, of having leaked stories to try to slow down the war in Iraq. Those people are being gone after if they can be gotten at or as Dana pointed out, putting in a whole new administration boxes on top of it.
MATTHEWS: Speaking of house to house hunts, do you think that Colin Powell wanted to stay under certain conditions, and he was told, forget your conditions and say goodbye? Howard.
FINEMAN: I don‘t think he wanted to stay. I‘m surprised. Because I thought he‘d try to hang through the elections that are supposed to take place in Iraq. But I think he probably concluded that those elections aren‘t necessarily going to be a very pretty sight. Especially after what‘s been going on in Fallujah. I think he decided to make some demands that the president couldn‘t accede to.
MATTHEWS: Dana, I read your paper every day. Is it true that he has to stay on under the condition that the administration put a little distance between himself and Sharon? That it move a little further to the dovish side on some of these issues and the president said no?
PRIEST: I doubt he very much said dovish side. I think he probably said diplomacy should have a more prominent place. And as my very talented colleague Glenn Kessler wrote that that was what the deal that was on the table was. And yes, I believe that is to be the case. To add to what Howard just said about cleaning house, you know, they are cleaning house over at the CIA faster than you can count. And they‘ve now taken not just the top layer off, which is to be expected when they come in. But also they‘ve reached into the more operational layer. Groups of people who would not ordinarily consider themselves disloyal, or loyal to the president, but doing their job and you saw the two...
MATTHEWS: Last question. Why did George Tenet oppose the war in Iraq and not tell us until he was paid on the speaking circuit to tell us that he was against the war? Does it cost $500,000 to get the truth out of that guy?
PRIEST: No. I don‘t think that‘s what he did. He didn‘t do that at all. I think that was bad reporting. He did not oppose the war in Iraq. And so now they‘re being blamed. If you were to read David Brooks, who speaks sometimes for the administration line, the White House has taken revenge against the CIA. Well, six months ago people were criticizing George Tenet for not being more critical of the war in Iraq. You can‘t have it both ways. I don‘t see any indication that George Tenet slowed down or put the caution brakes towards the war in Iraq.
MATTHEWS: But is he out there speaking out, and saying that he had problems with the war during the course of...
PRIEST: No, he‘s not. There was a—that was bad reporting.
MATTHEWS: OK. Good to hear from you. I‘ll be nice now. Thank you, Dana Priest and thank you, Howard Fineman.
Up next, HARDBALL‘s David Shuster on a fight in the Senate that mirrors almost exactly the political culture war waging across this country right now. You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Since the election, we‘ve been talking a lot on this show about this nation‘s political culture war. It is now raging in the U.S. Senate. It is creating intrigue over the relationship of two Republican senators from my home state of Pennsylvania. HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster reports.
DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside the Dirksen Senate office building today a collection of conservative groups protested Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter. The newly reelected moderate is in line to chair the Senate judiciary committee and he spent much of the day meeting with committee members.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I join my colleagues in welcoming the distinguished nominees who are before us today.
SHUSTER: But Specter was not invited to meet with fellow Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Santorum is staunchly pro-life and he is caught between his allegiance to the Pennsylvania voters who supported Specter and the ambitions of a powerful conservative Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
The conflict began just after the election when Specter, a long time supporter of abortion rights, warned that certain types of judges will not get confirmed.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER ®, PENNSYLVANIA: When you talk about judges who would change the right of a woman to choose and overturn Roe versus Wade, I think that is unlikely.
SHUSTER: The White House was infuriated by Specter‘s remarks and the senator quickly issued a clarification saying there should not an litmus test. But over the last week, conservative groups led by the religious right have been flooding the phone lines of Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader Frist who is preparing a campaign for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. This weekend, Frist refused to endorse Specter‘s chairmanship.
SEN. BILL FRIST ®, MAJORITY LEADER: What I expect is for a chairman to understand that they are no longer responsible just to themselves or just to their constituents back at home. But as chairman of the committee, they‘re responsible to the feelings, the wishes, the beliefs, the values, the procedures that are held by the majority of that committee.
SHUSTER: And the committee includes not only Pennsylvania‘s Santorum but another hardcore conservative Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Adding to the intrigue, 18 years ago, when Sessions was nominated for a federal judgeship, Democrats blocked the session‘s nomination with the help of Arlen Specter. Other conservatives still have not forgiven Specter for helping to derail the Reagan-era Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork. This past weekend, to try and temp (ph) the latest controversy Specter made his own round of television appearances.
SPECTER: I have supported all of President Bush‘s nominees in committee and on the floor.
SHUSTER: Specter continues to try to reassure Republican that he will carry out the president‘s wishes. And conservatives acknowledge the senator probably has enough support to be chairman though they suggest that the chilly reception from Specter‘s own Pennsylvania colleagues should serve as a warning that this is a new era on Capitol Hill. I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David Shuster. You only get those kinds of reports here on HARDBALL. What an inside look at what‘s really going on.
Up next, the former head of the CIA‘s Osama bin Laden unit on al Qaeda‘s quest for nuclear weapons. You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: After 22 years with the CIA, Michael Scheuer left the agency this past Friday. It is fair to say few people there knew more about Osama bin Laden than did he and does. Yet Scheuer says his warnings about the threat that bin Laden posed to this country fell on deaf ears. His complaints were made public in “Imperial Hubris,” a book critical of the CIA and the Bush administration.
Michael, you‘re a gutsy guy. When did you sense that bin Laden was going to be a danger to us?
MICHAEL SCHEUER, FORMER CHIEF OF CIA BIN LADEN UNIT: I think we found out shortly after we began chasing him in January of 1996 that he was much more than any kind of terrorist we had ever seen before.
MATTHEWS: What is his motive? Why does he want to kill us?
SCHEUER: His motive—his motive is to change our policies, sir. Notwithstanding what the president or Mr. Kerry said during the campaign, he really doesn‘t give a darn about our democracy or our society. He is after a change in policies which he views as lethal to Muslims.
MATTHEWS: Does he think, for example—let me try this—and I don‘t want to sound like an apologist. But suppose we had truly an even-handed policy in the Middle East. Suppose there was a Palestinian entity of some kind and it had reasonable borders and it was contiguous enough to be a working state, and we didn‘t back dictators like the Saudi royal family, people like that who are simply selling the oil to keep their fingers filled with rings and girlfriends in London, all right?
Suppose we were a good country and an even-handed country, all right?
Would that make him any less hostile to us?
SCHEUER: We are a good country, sir, to start with.
MATTHEWS: In other words, in his eyes.
SCHEUER: Yes, in bin Laden‘s...
MATTHEWS: What are the problems besides Middle East and the oil kingdoms?
SCHEUER: With bin Laden, his opposition is based on support for Israel, support for the tyrannies.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Does he want to eliminate Israel?
SCHEUER: I think he does. I think that‘s...
MATTHEWS: OK, well, that makes it simple. You can‘t do that.
SCHEUER: That‘s clearly his goal.
MATTHEWS: So there‘s no policy negotiation we could ever have with this guy.
SCHEUER: It has to be a changes in policies and a more assertive use of military force.
MATTHEWS: No. What I‘m saying, there‘s no way not to be at war with this guy, from our perspective, is what I‘m asking you.
Right now, the choice isn‘t between war and peace. It is between war and endless war.
MATTHEWS: Was there any time that we could have avoided war against him?
MATTHEWS: So, basically, he started a war against us. We just got to beat him.
SCHEUER: Yes. That‘s exactly right.
MATTHEWS: OK. That‘s what I want to know.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, where is he?
SCHEUER: He is somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan, sir, along the border.
MATTHEWS: Somewhere up there in the northwest—the old northwest Malaccan territories of India, which is now Pakistan.
SCHEUER: Yes, sir. Some are.
MATTHEWS: Why is he protected there? What happened to Musharraf, our ally?
SCHEUER: Musharraf has bent over backwards, sir. Quite frankly, I would have bet my pension that Musharraf would not have done half of what he‘s done. He‘s done a tremendous amount for us.
MATTHEWS: But is he hiding him?
SCHEUER: I don‘t think he‘s hiding him.
MATTHEWS: Is he among those uncharted areas of the northwest?
SCHEUER: Yes. That‘s clearly the case, sir. He‘s lost in the largest mountains on Earth.
MATTHEWS: And has he got any political protection?
SCHEUER: Not political protection.
MATTHEWS: He has got a TV studio.
SCHEUER: Yes, sir, he does.
MATTHEWS: Where did he find that?
SCHEUER: When you have money, you can do most anything, sir.
MATTHEWS: Do you think he‘s been taken to Islamabad or places like that where they have modern facilities and allowed to appear in these videos we keep seeing?
SCHEUER: No. I suspect he is doing that in the field.
MATTHEWS: Last time we saw him, he was on a burro and he had dialysis problems, right?
MATTHEWS: How the hell did a guy on dialysis riding a burro escape from the strongest military force in the world, us?
SCHEUER: Well, first, I think a great deal of the dialysis problem is disinformation from al Qaeda. Second, aside from our special forces in Afghanistan, the military doesn‘t do an awful lot in Afghanistan.
MATTHEWS: Did we let him go in Tora Bora?
MATTHEWS: Was that our fault?
SCHEUER: It was our fault we didn‘t use our own troops, sir. We picked...
MATTHEWS: So we chose the better part of valor. We chose not to expose our troops to go in and hunting through caves.
SCHEUER: That‘s certainly what it looked like to me, sir, from my perspective, yes. And we hired as our surrogates people who were longtime friends of Osama bin Laden.
MATTHEWS: Is he like the tough kid who takes on the big shot, and, therefore, he is popular in it is own community? Is he the kid—is he a hero in the Islamic world?
SCHEUER: Absolutely a hero. You know...
MATTHEWS: OK. Why?
SCHEUER: First of all, there‘s no other leaders. You don‘t see many “I Love Mubarak” T-shirts around.
But the second point is, he speaks—for Muslims, he speaks the truth. They believe that our policies are indefensible.
MATTHEWS: OK. When you go to the Middle East, you see this quiet looking guy sitting around playing chess or smoking those pipes.
MATTHEWS: Hookah pipes, or watching “The Flintstones” on television or whatever they‘re watching, “The Beverly Hillbillies.” They‘re relaxing all day. Are they thinking about bin Laden and why they like him?
SCHEUER: I think that‘s right. I think he‘s the most popular figure in the Muslim world at the moment.
MATTHEWS: Because he spits in our face. And he also kills us by the thousands.
MATTHEWS: Do they like that?
SCHEUER: Well, they like that because they believe their religion is under attack by the United States.
Bin Laden could not be as popular as he was or as he is if it wasn‘t for our policies. We are his main ally.
MATTHEWS: Were you shocked by the killings of that filmmaker in Holland recently?
SCHEUER: I was shocked, yes, not surprised.
MATTHEWS: By the Islamic community there. They—you cannot speak against Islam. You just can‘t do it. If you speak against Islam, you‘re killed.
SCHEUER: Well, it‘s very much in vogue with what bin Laden wants.
Bin Laden has sought always to incite individual attacks on...
MATTHEWS: Does he want Sharia, absolute Muslim rule, where no one has freedom of speech?
SCHEUER: He wants—certainly wants the Sharia law. I‘m not sure if I would say that that means no freedom of speech.
The Afghans, for example, are among the most democratic people on Earth in term of a small-d democrat. There‘s a lot of talk that goes on. But religious principles, yes.
MATTHEWS: Well, they don‘t believe you‘re allowed to criticize Islam.
SCHEUER: No. Well, no Muslim does. So that‘s not a question of free speech.
MATTHEWS: Well, not like it, as opposed to encouraging fatwas, etcetera.
SCHEUER: Yes. I‘m sorry. I missed that question.
MATTHEWS: I mean, does he believe you should be able to be killed just because you speak ill against Islam?
SCHEUER: I don‘t think so.
I think the 9/11 Commission, report, for example is wrong. The 9/11 Commission report identifies bin Laden and his followers as takfiris, who kill Muslims if they don‘t agree with them. They‘re not takfiris. They‘re just very devout, severe Salafists and Wahhabis.
MATTHEWS: Does he have the money to do it again?
MATTHEWS: Nine eleven.
SCHEUER: ... 9/11, yes, it wasn‘t that expensive, first of all. The recent spate of oil increases, $50-a-barrel oil means a lot more money flowing to Osama bin Laden from donators around the world.
MATTHEWS: If you had to place your bets on the most ruthless, most heartless gamble of your life, would you bet he will hit us with nuclear?
SCHEUER: If he has got it, he‘ll use it. It will be a first strike weapon.
He doesn‘t want it for a deterrent.
MATTHEWS: He doesn‘t want a blackmail us.
SCHEUER: No, sir, he doesn‘t. He wants this war—he doesn‘t want to fight this war forever. A lot of people mistake him as someone who can‘t get along without fighting. But that‘s not clearly the case.
MATTHEWS: You mean he would like to lob one horrible bomb at us, kill tens of thousands and then say he won and slip into the night?
SCHEUER: Well, not slip into the night, but then begin to take over the governments in the Middle East, sir, the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, the Egyptians.
MATTHEWS: Well, how would that happen?
SCHEUER: With us out of way, his...
MATTHEWS: Oh, we would pull out of the Middle East.
SCHEUER: Yes, his operating belief.
MATTHEWS: So, his operating goal is to get us out of the Middle East, out of supporting Israel, back over here, not using the oil from over there.
SCHEUER: No. He‘s already said publicly that you can have all the oil you want. I can‘t drink it. We‘re going to sell it to you at a marketplace.
MATTHEWS: OK. We‘re coming back with Michael Scheuer to talk about the shakeup at the CIA, where he‘s been for 22 years.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, the shakeup at the CIA. Will the new round of resignations make the agency stronger? We‘re coming back with retiring CIA officer Michael Scheuer when HARDBALL returns.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with Michael Scheuer, who left the CIA on Friday, after 22 years working there. Two of the top people in the CIA‘s directorate of operations resigned. It‘s no secret this is an agency in turmoil.
Is the CIA in a meltdown mode?
SCHEUER: I don‘t think so, sir.
I think there‘s a lot of consternation with the new management team. It comes with any change of management. But the resignations were very I think painful for the clandestine service. For the first time, in Mr. Kappes, we had a deputy director of operations who had, forgive the trite phrase, but who had walked the walk and talked the talk.
He was an operator who had done hard things in hard places. And for the first time in a decade, we had a very, very serious operations officer as our DDO.
MATTHEWS: But there‘s no problem with the neocons, the ideologues in this administration, watching the CIA come apart. They‘ve been at war with you guys over there, haven‘t they, with Langley?
MATTHEWS: I read the papers every day. I want to tell you, whether you agree with me or not, publicly or not, I see a war that is going on constantly. The CIA leaks stuff detrimental to the administration, detrimental to the Defense Department. It goes back and forth. It‘s about leaking. It‘s new leaking.
It‘s constantly a war between the CIA, who seems to be skeptical of this war with Iraq, and the ideologues in the Defense Department and the vice president‘s office, primarily, that are at war with you guys over there. Isn‘t that true?
SCHEUER: To some extent, I guess it is true.
But the truth of the matter is, they probably don‘t like the idea of the war—of some of our opinions about the war in Iraq. If anything, cinched bin Laden transmitting from bin Laden to bin Ladenism in a worldwide movement, it was the war in Iraq. It doesn‘t make any difference really what the threat was from Saddam. There‘s a whole another issue of Iraq.
MATTHEWS: Sure. The going to war with Iraq, for whatever reason we had to go, whether it‘s geopolitical, ideological or this sort of lame argument for WMD, did it encourage the bin Ladenism in the world?
SCHEUER: Absolutely. You created it...
MATTHEWS: So, Mubarak, who you just disparaged a minute ago, was right when he said going to war with Iraq has created 100 new bin Ladens out there.
SCHEUER: More than that, sir. It has created an Afghanistan in the middle of the Islamic world. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, it was a backwater.
MATTHEWS: So all the political underpinnings of bin Ladenism, they‘ve the horror that hit us 9/11, have been enhanced and strengthened by our decision to go to Iraq.
SCHEUER: Absolutely. And most of this...
MATTHEWS: Well, the CIA knows this, right?
MATTHEWS: Why don‘t they tell it to the president?
SCHEUER: Well, I‘m sure Mr. Tenet must have told them.
MATTHEWS: He never did.
MATTHEWS: Tenet is only now for a half million dollars out there telling people on the lecture circuit he suspected their arguments for the war in Iraq. He never went public.
SCHEUER: I wasn‘t—sir, I wasn‘t in the room with the president and Mr. Tenet. But I can tell that you that the people who were working against Osama bin Laden were assured from the first day that much of the work we had done in the last decade would be undone by that war.
MATTHEWS: I can‘t wait to read all the books of all the guys who secretly opposed the war with Iraq, but didn‘t tell anybody during the war buildup.
We‘re going to hear it from Tenet. We‘re going to hear it from Powell. All these guys are going to hand-wring and say, oh, that was a bad war. But why didn‘t they speak out or quit as we were going into that war?
SCHEUER: I don‘t have the answer to that, sir.
MATTHEWS: Why did Tenet stay on if he disagreed with the war?
SCHEUER: I don‘t know if he disagreed with it or not, sir. He was the...
MATTHEWS: Why is he saying so now on the speaking tour?
MATTHEWS: You guys are secret keepers.
MATTHEWS: You really are.
Let me ask you, without naming names. Did most of the top people in the CIA believe that it was a mistake to go to Iraq?
SCHEUER: I would think that that is a shared view in terms of trying to finish off the bin Laden problem, sir, yes.
MATTHEWS: Did they believe that when Secretary Powell, who has just resign, that he had the true facts when he went to the U.N. and made the case for war or didn‘t he? Was that a sales pitch, rather than a fact-based argument?
SCHEUER: The only part of that I know about, sir, is that the—I happened to do the research on the links between al Qaeda and Iraq.
MATTHEWS: And what did you come up with?
MATTHEWS: Well, why didn‘t somebody say that to the president?
SCHEUER: We did. Well, I don‘t know. Again, there‘s a difference...
MATTHEWS: Dick Cheney never stops talking about that connection. He is still talking about Prague. He doesn‘t quit.
MATTHEWS: He‘s in the Laurie Mylroie tradition over there, which is to believe any connection to justify the war.
SCHEUER: When you talk about CIA analysis, sir, it‘s one thing when it is produced. It is another thing when it is delivered. Mr. Tenet made himself the briefer in chief to the president.
MATTHEWS: Did he make the case for war when it wasn‘t there in the facts?
SCHEUER: I don‘t know that, sir. I have no idea.
MATTHEWS: Who wrote the brief for the secretary of state when he went to the U.N.?
SCHEUER: I suppose part of it was written by the agency and part by the State Department.
MATTHEWS: Six trips over there by the vice president, Scooter, his chief of staff, what was that about? Why did the vice president go to the CIA to get a case for war when you guys say there wasn‘t a case for war? He came back with one.
SCHEUER: Sir, I‘m not—again, my knowledge of Iraq is very limited and limited to the al Qaeda aspect of it.
MATTHEWS: Is it possible that the case for war made outside the CIA based upon illusory information?
SCHEUER: I don‘t know. I know our consistent process of reevaluating ties by Iraq, between Iraq and al Qaeda, was driven by the analysis done at DOD.
MATTHEWS: I hate to think what history is going to say about this war. They‘re going to say there was WMD, because we know that. They‘re going to say there was no connection to al Qaeda, because we know that now.
And all the arguments we put forth to the world will be found bogus if you‘re right, because, if it wasn‘t for the CIA, where did we get the information justifying the war? Is there some other agency I should know about?
SCHEUER: Not that I know of, sir.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you. You‘re great. Gutsy guy. I know you‘re careful. And I‘m breaking you here, because this is HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: And don‘t call me sir anymore.
MATTHEWS: Michael Scheuer, what a gutsy guy. By the way, that‘s him down here, Michael Scheuer. Change the jackets. Michael Scheuer wrote this book, “Imperial Hubris.” He‘s a tough nut to crack.
Thank you, sir.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, my wife, Kathleen, will discuss her work at Harvard University on 24-hour news channels, the Internet, and how the media landscape is being shaken up.
And don‘t forget to check out Hardblogger, our political blog Web site here. Just go to HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Joining me right now is Washington TV anchor Kathleen Matthews, my wife, who is on sabbatical at Harvard University as a fellow at the Kennedy Institute of Politics. Her course is entitled “Tower of Babble: Making Sense of News in the New Millennium.”
Kathleen, what does that mean for us today?
KATHLEEN MATTHEWS, HARVARD FELLOW, KENNEDY INSTITUTE OF POLITICS:
Well, this is not the biblical Tower of Babel. This is tower of babble, in other words, that cacophony of choices that you have to get your news today.
It is not just ABC, CBS, NBC. Of course, it is MSNBC, CNN, all these cable channels, but also all the Internet sources that people have. And today young people will go to the Internet to get their news. They don‘t just pick up “The New York Times” or “The Washington Post.” They‘ll watch MSNBC because it is available 24 hours a day. But this means that there are smaller audiences for local news channels like mine, for the networks. And so my quest is to figure out how we get those younger audiences to keep on watching us, how we remain relevant in the news media.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s talk about the big story we led with tonight. And that is the horror over there in Iraq. Now, there‘s lots of people being killed over there. But one that grabbed our attention was this very nebulous case of a trooper going into a room, who thought perhaps that this guy was dangerous. He shot him. Other people will see it differently. The world may see it differently.
Tell me how that leads us into the brave new world we‘re going into.
K. MATTHEWS: I think it shows how the landscape of news is changing because of the new technology and also the new access it gives us.
Your embed could go into a situation like that that we wouldn‘t have imagined before. And pretty soon, everybody will be able to come home with video like that. You can now get a cell phone that can take pictures. You can get a teeny little video camera, digital camera. You can take pictures. You can put those pictures instantly on the Internet on your own Internet site, your own Web log or your video Web log.
And in that kind of day and age, you‘re going to see so much more of the kind of video that you saw at the top of your broadcast on the air. And the question is, how do we interpret it? When we see that stuff raw, how do we know its significance? How do we know the context? And I think that‘s what everybody is trying to figure out, because we‘ve always had conventional news sources with editors to vet that stuff and interpret it for us.
But when everybody has access to media, when the barriers of entry to media are lowered, and the consumer can be part of that news gathering process, how do you make sense of this tower of babble?
MATTHEWS: Well, much of what we know about the Kennedy assassinations is from the Zapruder film. How would the Zapruder film have made its way through market of our ideas today, rather than the way it did back in ‘63? Would it to go some blog site?
K. MATTHEWS: Today, possibly somebody would have gotten that on their cell phone and they maybe tried to sell it to the one of the networks. And the networks would be suspicious maybe initially. So they could go around the networks. And they could actually put it on an Internet site. Suddenly, people would start writing about that Internet site.
And that‘s what we talk about when we talk about the blogs. They‘ve become a buzz on the Internet, on the World Wide Web about this. And then suddenly conventional news sources would say, OK, has this risen to the point that we want to cover this story? Should we then buy this video or we should just pirate it off this Web site? And how do we interpret that?
And this will happen everywhere. I mean, if you‘re a politician today, someone like Arlen Specter, who we just saw in David Shuster‘s report, would be anywhere giving any speech, may not know that there‘s any news media there. But, in fact, anybody who is there who has a digital camera can take pictures of what they say, put it right on the Internet site, and potentially undermine someone‘s political candidacy or credibility.
And this is really what happened with Trent Lott. He didn‘t know there was a video camera in the room when he was at that going-away party for Strom Thurmond. And he made some remarks that ultimately got him into trouble and cost him his leadership position.
MATTHEWS: Yes. He said something about, we would be better off if he had won back then, we would have listened to him back in the real...
K. MATTHEWS: But everywhere you go, somebody can take pictures.
MATTHEWS: But that‘s OK with pictures, Kathleen, but what about with just buzz? Now, this—we‘re hearing a lot of buzz from people in the blogging world, I guess on the political left, about maybe the Chicago—the Cleveland results not being what we think they are, that maybe, that maybe, maybe, that John Kerry won in Ohio and won the election. You hear this buzz out there on the left in the blogging world. How do we vet it?
K. MATTHEWS: Right now, in every newsroom in America, you have people who are not only looking at the wire service reports. They‘re looking at those blogs right now. They‘re kind of surfing through the Internet to get information.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Everybody checks Drudge in this business. I know.
K. MATTHEWS: And people are checking that day and basically they‘re trying to find out, is there a sources of news there? Is there information we should be looking at?
MATTHEWS: But who vets it between discovering somebody is pushing a story because they think it‘s neat and somebody saying, wait a minute, we need editors, we have got to check the facts?
K. MATTHEWS: Well, I think you would take the stuff on the blogs about what‘s going on in the election counting, the vote counting in Ohio. You would put your own reporters on it or you would start to collaborate with some of these people that are bloggers and try to check out the story.
It‘s a way of almost having a first front of reporting that goes on that then conventional media checks out.
MATTHEWS: Is this good? Is the new good, Kathleen?
K. MATTHEWS: I think it is good in terms of, more information is better.
I think there‘s a lot of concern today that even though there are so many choices, so many places to get your news, are we actually getting more news? Are we getting more in-depth coverage? And I think anything that continues the dialogue, furthers the dialogue and the conversation, that gives us more information, information we need to make good decisions about our lives, about the kind of world we want to live in, this will be good.
MATTHEWS: Does it still have to be smart and beautiful and wonderful, like yourself?
MATTHEWS: And does Harvard fully appreciate having you up there as a fellow?
K. MATTHEWS: Harvard fully appreciated having you come to my class today to be a speaker at my class. It was great to have you there.
MATTHEWS: OK, as long they keep this stuff off the record.
Anyway, thank you, Kathleen.
Tomorrow on HARDBALL, our special report with “Newsweek” on “The Passion on the Right.” Managing editor Jon Meacham joins us to examine the role of religion in politics. That‘s a hot one, always. Also, Ron Reagan from the Clinton Presidential Library.
Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann.
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