updated 12/2/2004 2:22:13 PM ET 2004-12-02T19:22:13

Guest: Richard Shelby, Deborah Orin, Frank Rich, Kristen Breitweiser, Peter Gadiel, Richard Holbrooke

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  The United Nations proposed historic changes, recommending an expansion of the security council.  And a U.S. Senator called for the resignation of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, over the United Nations Oil-for-Food scandal. 

Plus, 2 9/11 families go at it over the proposed Intelligence Reform Bill.  Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  Today the United Nations in the headlines on two fronts.  First, a new report recommends a major overhaul at the U.N.  One proposal would increase the security council membership from 13 to 24.  The U.S. is among the most powerful of the current members.  Will expanding the council dilute U.S. power in the U.N.? 

Second, Kofi Annan gets more criticism from U.N. Oil-for-Food program.  Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota is the chair of the Senate subcommittee which investigated that program.  He says it is riddled with scandal and that Kofi Annan should resign.  Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama is on that subcommittee.  He agrees with Senator Coleman. 

Why, senator, why should Kofi Annan be booted out of secretary-general of the U.N.? 

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY, ® ALABAMA:  Well, I can—for many reasons I think he should go.  The No. 1 reason is you look at the U.N., the U.N. is in dire need of reform everywhere.  And it starts at the top.  He is the secretary general. 

Where you had this Iraqi oil for food and medicine and everything and you got his son involved as a consultant.  You know, he should be above reproach as far as that is concerned.  He shouldn‘t have his son working for a Swiss company who is monitoring a lot of that. 

I think that is the tip of the iceberg.  What I would like to see, Chris, is real, meaningful audits of all the U.N. accounts.  Let them appear on the Web sites.  Let the American people and the world, not just the American people, the rest of the world, know what the U.N. is doing, who is running the U.N., how short they are in various areas and I believe this calls for new leadership.  I agree with Senator Coleman.  He‘s right on.

MATTHEWS:  Kofi Annan‘s son was pulling $2,500 a month from that consulting agreement.  Is that grounds, do you believe, for a complaint here of conflict of interest? 

SHELBY:  Well, I will leave that up to the Voelcker commission and others.  It doesn‘t look good, it doesn‘t smell good and it begs the question of many other things.  But I think this is just the tip of the iceberg.  The family connection there is only a small part of what is probably going on at the U .N., Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  For what it‘s worth, the United Press International a couple of weeks ago had a story that we read here which said that Bill Clinton was angling for the job of Secretary-General of the U.N.  Do you think that is serious? 

SHELBY:  No, I don‘ t.  I think that would be a step down.  I have got a lot more confidence in Bill Clinton than that, President Clinton.  He has been the president of the United States.  He is a smart man.  I think he is too smart to take that job.  I hope he is.

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t think he would want another bite at the greatness apple? 

SHELBY:  I will leave that up to the historians and his legacy, but I believe Bill Clinton as a former president of the United States is too smart to accept something like that even if it were offered. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about this problem we are facing now at the United Nations. There is a report out circulating from the general assembly, which is all the members of the U.N., all the countries in the world, about enlarging the number of people in the security council, which of course calls the shots.  There‘s 5 members right now that can veto any action, any military action, by the U.N:  that‘s the United States, the USSR, now Russia, the UK, Britain, of course, France and China. 

They‘re all the winners of World War II, of course, including some of the survivors like France and China.  They are talking now about adding 6 new permanent members who also will have the veto power, Germany, Japan, the two losers of World War II, India, the second largest country in the world, Brazil, the largest country in Latin America, Egypt, and either Nigeria or South Africa. 

Do you think it would be a good thing to bring the membership up to date 50 years after World War II? 

SHELBY:  Well, I think that is something we have to look at.  I‘m not proposing that.  I don‘t know who made this proposal.  But there have been proposals before that India, over a billion people, is not a member permanent member, Germany with the third largest economy, is not a permanent member.  Japan the second largest economy in the world.

But I‘ll tell you, Chris, none of this makes sense unless you have got a real evaluation of what the U.N. is about, who is running the U.N., what goes on there.  Why do they oppose so many of our proposals and have in the past, and I believe they will in the future.

MATTHEWS:  Well, aren‘t those different questions?  It could be a clean U.N. that disagrees with us, it could be a corrupt U.N. that we own.  Which is your—you are making both charges, that they are wrong politically and they need transparency in their bookkeeping. 

SHELBY:  Well I think we need, first, to look at all the accounts of the U.N.  We need new leadership at the U.N.  And as far as enlarging the security council, I think that is something that, you know, that ought to be debated, ought to be looked into.  One out the other won‘t work.  I think we have to get at the root cause of what is going on at the U.N.  Who is running the U.N.  How corrupt it is.  How meaningless it is as times. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the Kofi Annan situation.  The United States is one of the largest dues payers, maybe the largest dues payer.  That would makes sense to the U.N.  We seem to pay the most for everybody.  Should we hold off our dues until Kofi Annan goes?  How tough would you get here? 

SHELBY:  Well I think the administration, President Bush and the new secretary of state and Jack Danforth at the U.N., they ought to decide that.  Because after all, they make our foreign policy.  And this is foreign policy at its best, or worst. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you a couple of things.  First of all, about the George Tenet comment today.  I talk to you before we went on the air You heard about it before.  George Tenet, the recent CIA director was quoted at a business meeting today.  He thought he was speaking off the record.  In other words, he didn‘t think there was any reporters in the room.  Apparently there was a business publication represented in the room.  And they got it out to the Associated Press.  That he says now that there should not be a national intelligence director.  There should not be one person above all the bureaucracies who is responsible to the country and the president for putting all the information we have about terror threats.  What do you make of that? 

SHELBY:  Well, he is the former director of the CIA.  He left under fire.  I said years ago that he should go.  And he finally went.  It took a long time. 

But I can tell you, Chris, I support the bill that Senator Lieberman and Senator Collins have put forth.  I voted for it.  But it is not as strong as I would like for it to be, but it is too strong for a lot of people that‘s turf who would be violated. 

Right now, it has gotten down, I believe, to a question of turf.  Who is going to control the budget, the personnel.  The secretary of defense is a powerful man.  I have a lot of respect for him.  If I were secretary of defense I would probably be looking at my turf.  On the other hand, if we ever, in my judgment, are going to have meaningful intelligence reform, you have to have a real cabinet member that sits next to the secretary of defense, who controls the money, that controls the personnel.  And even this bill that I support won‘t do that, but it is an improvement over what we have. 

MATTHEWS:  Why doesn‘t this stop states from issuing driver‘s licenses which is the way that people get on airplanes.  You show a driver‘s license, that is proving you are a safe bet, to be on a plane.  Why do they continue to issuing driver‘s licenses to people in this country illegally.  They are not good bets to get on an airplane, somebody who is in this country illegally.  And why do—why doesn‘t your bill address that problem, that big loophole in our security?

SHELBY:  Well, I think that‘s one of the problems.  And I believe that‘s what Congressman Sensenbrenner raised as part of his objection over in the House.  And I think they‘re legitimate objections.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think there is any time that the Congress and the Senate would have the nerve to say you can‘t have an illegal—you can‘t have a driver‘s license if you don‘t belong in the country? 

SHELBY:  No.  I don‘t know we‘ll go that far. 

MATTHEWS:  Why not? 

SHELBY:  I‘ll tell you one thing, the immigration problem in this country, although we all come from immigration stock, our immigration problem here is still dismal.  It‘s in a mess.  And I don‘t see a heck of a lot of improvement. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, we didn‘t all sneak into the country, and weren‘t all issued driver‘s licenses the second we got here so we could get on the next plane.  I mean, there is a problem of security if you say, we‘re going to have all this new bureaucracy and all this responsibility and accountability, but anybody who wants to get on an airplane is not a problem. 

SHELBY:  It is a problem.  I agree with you.  I have no problem with that.  I think that goes to the essence of security. 

MATTHEWS:  I think it would be nice if the Senate and Congress would deal with this problem. 

Anyway, thank you very much—once again, Senator Richard Shelby.

Coming up, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke on Kofi Annan and the plan to expand the security council and its permanent membership. 

And later, 2 family members who lost loved ones on 9/11 debate how the reform is going on and whether its good for America right now.  This is a hot one coming here from the families of 9/11.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Joining me now is the former United States ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke.  Mr.  Ambassador, help us understand what is being talked about for reforming the U.N. 

RICHARD HOLBROOKE, FMR. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.:  Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed this high-level panel.  Grant Scowcroft was the American representative on it by the way.  They are making some recommendations one of which is to create a second deputy secretary general for peacekeeping.  That has not been made public yet in the articles but it is in the report and I think you can say you are reporting it for the first time here tonight on HARDBALL. 

The part of the report that got more attention was to enlarge the security council from 15 members to 24.  The U.S. has already come out in favor of that under the Clinton administration.  I came forward with a version of that on behalf of the Clinton administration.  The Bush administration didn‘t change it.  There are two different versions.  It‘s highly technical.  The most important thing to underscore, Chris, is that the panel does not, repeat, not recommend any change in the five members who have the veto power, the U.S., Britain, France, China, and Russia.  They do not want to expand that.  If they wanted to expand it, I don‘t think the United States government or the Congress would ever stand for it.  That was what Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill put into the U.N.  charter to protect our rights and there‘s no change contemplated than that.

MATTHEWS:  So the big five coming out of World War II, the United States, the former U.S.S.R., Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China, you believe it is essential for U.S. policy.  What are your views on the subject that we should maintain that veto power within that big five? 

HOLBROOKE:  Look, Roosevelt and Truman knew what they were doing.  They knew that the League of Nations had failed and led to World War II because there was no protection for the U.S. in there and therefore the Senate had rejected the treaty for various reasons in 1919.  They gave us the veto.  Stalin of course got it, right or wrong.  Roosevelt added China, which was then Nationalist China not Communist China.  The British were always part of the alliance.  Then the French kind of snuck in at the last minute.  It‘s a weird story.  If you and I or anybody were creating a five big nations in the U.N. with veto power it wouldn‘t be those five. 

The Europeans would not get three seats, Russia, France, Britain.  They would get one European Union seat and then work it out.  But to change that is almost impossible.  To change it and weaken the U.S. veto would be to eliminate our ability to protect our national security interests.  So that is not going to change. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the proposal out there not to give the veto power but permanent membership would be given to Germany, Japan, India, Brazil, Egypt, and either Nigeria or South Africa, are there any of those countries do you think that should get veto power as well as permanent membership in our interest.  Should Germany or should Japan? 

HOLBROOKE:  No.  To change the charter would mean resubmitting the U.N. charter to the Senate for confirmation and ratification again.  To expand the veto power to any country, no matter how pro-American it might be right now would be red meat to those people in the Congress who actually don‘t want to either weaken or destroy the U.N.  I believe that the U.N.  is a flawed, deeply flawed institution but still an important indeed indispensable one for American national security interests, if we work aggressively to protect our interests in it.  And the kind of change you just suggested, I know you‘re not advocating it, but that kind of change would be tantamount to destroying our role in the U.N.  So I would oppose any change under what they are calling in U.N. speak, the P-5, the permanent five that you just mentioned.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the fireworks right now.  Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota has called for the removal of Kofi Annan as secretary general because of his son‘s involvement with the Food for Oil program over in Iraq.  Do you think that is an appropriation sanction for the secretary general, that he should step down? 

HOLBROOKE:  I watched Lester Holt‘s interview on MSNBC with Senator Coleman, who is a friend of mine and somebody I‘m working very closely with particularly on HIV/AIDS.  And I mention that because today is World AIDS Day.  I have been in events on World Aids Day all day long including the whole morning with Secretary General Annan. 

For Kofi Annan to be forced to resign at this point just doesn‘t make sense.  There are five congressional investigations going on.  One of them headed by Senator Coleman himself, plus the Volcker Commission which Coleman mentioned to Lester Holt in his interview.  Let those investigations proceed, let the chips fall where they may, let‘s find out what happened. 

Meanwhile the U.N. is indispensable to the U.S. and Iraq, vital in Afghanistan, in the Balkans, in Darfur, on HIV/AIDS.  There is this high-level reform panel you just mentioned, there‘s the millennium summit.  Kofi  Annan, let‘s be honest, his son misled him.  And that is a tragedy.  I know both Kofi who is a close friend who is a close friend of mine and his son and I find that situation tragic. 

I listened to Coleman with Lester Holt.  If Coleman‘s standard would be applied the next person who should resign and very fast would be  Secretary Rumsfeld.  Because he says that a CEO conducting business this way would have been removed by the board of directors.  But he is not calling for that.  And I think his analogy is not correct. 

MATTHEWS:  I only have a couple of minutes left with you but I don‘t want to miss it.  We don‘t get you on that often.  Mr. Ambassador, let me ask you about Iraq.  Casualty levels have gone way up within the last few couple of weeks.  They are really hurting and they always do hurt but they‘re hurting more this time of year and they‘re really going up.  Also we have real questions from the Sunni community and the Kurds about whether we should go ahead with the election planned for January.  How is the situation?  Give me your sort of medical report on the Iraq campaign. 

HOLBROOKE:  A medical report would say this patient is continuing to bleed and when they stopped the bleeding of Falluja by taking over the city the bleeding spread 200 miles north to Mosul, a city that the Americans boasted was safe.  It is like guacamole.  You hit them in Fallujah and they show up in Ramadi.  You hit them in Ramadi, they show up in Mosul.  This is a very difficult situation. 

MATTHEWS:  Will 10,000 more troops help? 

HOLBROOKE:  10,000 more troops is going to make no difference at all.  Chris, you are just old enough to remember 1965 after LBJ won a landslide election much bigger than this one over Barry Goldwater.  He began the incremental escalation in Vietnam.  You need a lot more troops to pacify the country.  As far as the election goes, they‘re damned if they do and they‘re damned if they don‘t.  If they postpone the election the Shiite majority, 60 percent of the country let by Ayatollah Sistani is going to go absolutely crazy.  They‘re going to say, look, you are denying us again the power we legitimately deserve.  The British did this to us, the Ottomans did it for 400 years, Saddam Hussein did it to us for 30 years.

If on the other hand you go ahead with the election and you can‘t conduct it in the Sunni areas, and the center are trying to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the Sunnis are going to say we were disenfranchised. 

So the administration is now reaping the harvest of everything that it did wrong in the last year and a half.  As someone who initially strongly supported President Bush and hated Saddam Hussein and was glad to see him go, I find us now in a tragic situation.  You want a medical report, this patient is as sick as the U.S. was in Vietnam 38 years ago.  It is a very serious situation.  It‘s the most serious strategic problem we face since Vietnam.  The casualties are not as high, but as you just pointed out they are rising rapidly.  And frankly, if you are a troop in Iraq today you are in greater danger than you are in Vietnam, if you take into account the proportion of soldiers, they got ¼ of the number of troops in Iraq we had in Vietnam. 

And furthermore in Vietnam, I spent 3 ½ years there, we knew where we could walk the streets of the cities at night.  In Iraq today, Chris, you can‘t go anywhere.  It‘s a dangerous situation, and the American public should recognize that we have a long, ugly, difficult road and there is no easy solution left to this.  We all have to pray the administration can find a way through this morase. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. Sounds like critical condition.  Thank you very much, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. 

Up next, John Kerry is joining the legal fight for a recount in Ohio. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Four weeks after the presidential election Senator John Kerry is now joining one of the legal battles for a recount in Ohio.  The Kerry/Edwards campaign has filed court documents to help the Green and Libertarian presidential candidates over come some hurdles that they‘re facing now. 

HARDBALL correspondent, David Schuster reports. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT, (voice-over):  In Delaware County, Ohio, just north of Columbus, the Kerry/Edwards campaign filed these legal documents seeking to intervene and keep the recount efforts going.  Quote, “As candidates in the November 2, 2004, general election, John Kerry and John Edward have a significant interest in the subject matter of this case.  By helping Green candidate and Libertarian candidate defend their recount efforts the Kerry campaign hopes eliminate an argument made by Ohio‘s secretary of state an by some local election boards. 

They‘ve been complaining that a recount on behalf of candidates who were not competitive would be a waste of time and money.  Last week an Ohio judge agreed issuing an injunction that favored the local board. 

JOHN BONIFAZ, LEAD COUNSEL, LIBERTARIANS AND GREEN PARTY:  Added intervention by Senator Kerry further demonstrates we must have a proper counting of all the votes. 

SHUSTER:  Sources close to John Kerry say he was personally briefed on the legal wrangling on Tuesday, and then gave his campaign lawyers the green light to intervene.  Kerry believes the move is consistent with this statement made the day after the election. 

JOHN KERRY, (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  In America is vital that every vote count and that every vote be counted.  But the outcome should be decided by voters, not a protracted legal process. 

SHUSTER:  Kerry aides say this process in Ohio will not be protracted because a recount there is inevitable.  And Kerry‘s involvement, according to legal experts will probably make the recount happen sooner rather than later.  Still after weeks of ignoring the wild theories about Ohio, for the Kerry campaign, this represents a change.  The Internet has been burning up with arguments, some logical, some not, about the network‘s inaccurate day exit polls, limited voting machines in Democrat precincts, tabulation errors and election computers vulnerable to hackers. 

JIM GERSTEIN, DEMOCRACY CORPS:  Those who say we shouldn‘t count these votes because they aren‘t going to impact the outcome of the election are missing the point of giving people confidence in their Democratic system.  The purpose is to make sure every vote gets counted. 

SHUSTER (on camera):  Strategists see something else.  On the Internet the Democratic anger has been intensifying at John for not addressing many of the elections irregularities.  And with the pressure being increased by figures like Jesse Jackson, Kerry‘s legal filings, Chris, may tamp down some of the pressure, at least, as far as it concerns Ohio.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Well, there‘s trouble in River City.  Look who we got on now.

Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Deborah Orin, she‘s Washington bureau chief of “The New York Post.”  And Frank Rich is the associate editor of “The New York Times,” where he writes a weekly column on politics and pop culture, which I love.  It‘s on Sunday in the arts and leisure. 

And you are here.  It is going to be great. 

Now, let‘s talk about this, Ohio.  Should there be a recount, Deborah Orin? 

DEBORAH ORIN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “THE NEW YORK POST”:  There is no point in a recount. 

We ought to remember that Pennsylvania, which Kerry won, was closer than Ohio.  I guess the Democrats are feeling good about doing a recount.  But to me it makes no sense at all.  There isn‘t the slightest—as I recall it, so far, the recount has increased Bush‘s margin. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Frank Rich.  Is it useful for John Kerry to have his lawyers involved in that case now?  In fact, I think he is now a party to the case to get a recount in Ohio.

FRANK RICH, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”:  I don‘t think it has practical use whatsoever. 

He lost.  Deborah is right.  It is not going to change the result of anything.  It is sort of an exercise.  But perhaps at least to stop some of the conspiracy theorizing and blogging.  If it‘s in play, then, what the hell.  Do it.  It‘s not going to change a thing.  It is a sideshow. 

MATTHEWS:  Is this an indicator that John Kerry is smart and he‘s not going to make the mistake that Al Gore of having a hangdog look around himself for a couple years, grow a beard, give up, be pathetic?  He is going to go out there and keeping fighting to the end, so that the red hots in the Democratic Party say at least he fought it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m thinking about, is this an indication he is going to run again, is my theory. 

RICH:  Oh, that‘s interesting.  It hadn‘t occurred to me.  I don‘t know.  I have no idea.  Let Deborah speak on that one. 

MATTHEWS:  Deborah, I predict he runs again—and I believe if he Hillary in the primaries, he‘s going to be damn tough to beat by the Republicans, because the men of this country will be so happy that somebody beat Hillary that they will vote for the guy just for that reason. 

ORIN:  I think he does want to run again.  I think he is going to wake up and smell the coffee and realize that, in the Democratic Party, there is no one who really wants him to run again. 

(CROSSTALK)

ORIN:  He is having, for example—tomorrow, he is having a thank you party in New York for all the fat cats. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s something Al Gore didn‘t do.

ORIN:  Exactly. 

He is certainly acting like a guy who wants to run.  But I just don‘t think—I don‘t know any Democratic strategist, frankly, who wants either Hillary or John Kerry to be the candidate. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, if you have to choose, I‘m thinking Kerry. 

What do you think, Frank? 

RICH:  Well, you can‘t fight something with nothing.  And the fact is, there aren‘t any great candidates in the party, indeed.  These may be the only two.  So, you know, it is not some miracle that is going to come down and find some other great candidate.  So he could be in the position. 

He was never a popular candidate within the Democratic Party even before he lost.  So...

MATTHEWS:  Remember that Reagan joke, Frank, about the two guys out in the woods at 3:00 in the morning?  And one of them is getting up and saying, what are you putting your shoes on for?  He says, because there is a bear outside.  And the other guy says, well, you can‘t outrun a bear.  He says, no, but I can outrun you. 

(LAUGHTER)

RICH:  Exactly. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And isn‘t that what politics is about? 

RICH:  Absolutely.  So you can‘t rule him out, because there‘s not some great star that we know about that can come in.

And I think Hillary Clinton, indeed, is a very problematic candidate as well.  But the party is going to have to play the hand which it has been dealt. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  That is my theory why Gore—I mean, why Kerry. 

ORIN:  Kerry.

(CROSSTALK)

RICH:  Well, don‘t rule out Gore.  Well, don‘t rule out Gore. 

MATTHEWS:  I know.  Gore made a big mistake by acting like he lost. 

If George W. Bush had lost in exactly the same way that Al Gore had lost, in other words, ahead in the popular vote, behind by one or two votes in the Electoral, he would have walked around the country, been on “Jay Leno” and “Letterman” acting like a winner the whole last four years, just because it is—his psychological bearing is stronger. 

Let me ask about this big fight over intelligence reform.  It looks it‘s like it‘s the only game in town in Washington between now and Christmas and the holidays.  Are we going to have a national intelligence director who is accountable for trouble next time? 

ORIN:  I think we will, but I don‘t think that the bill is going to pass over the next week when they come back for the lame-duck session.  And the reason for that, I think, is that there is a growing feeling among not just Republicans, that some of the questions being raised by Duncan Hunter and James Sensenbrenner are legit. 

MATTHEWS:  Which one is your favorite? 

ORIN:  Well, I think they are both real.  I think...

MATTHEWS:  OK, here‘s one I wonder.  When you get on an airplane, you and I show a driver‘s license. 

ORIN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Apparently, you can get driver‘s licenses without even being here legally. 

ORIN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  So what can that thing actually mean?

ORIN:  Well, that is Sensenbrenner‘s point. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

ORIN:  And the reason that they don‘t want to do it now is because there are states that give away driver‘s licenses like they were candy bars. 

MATTHEWS:  And you don‘t even have to live in the state.

ORIN:  And you don‘t have to live in the state.  One of them I believe is still Virginia. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  It is like incorporating in Nevada.  Here‘s your opportunity.

ORIN:  Or Delaware. 

But those states don‘t want to be cracked down on.  Plus, it is politically incorrect, because there are a lot of illegal aliens living perfectly law-abiding lives in this country who rely on illegal licenses.  But I think Sensenbrenner is right.

MATTHEWS:  Well, the Senate dropped this out of the bill.

Why did Lieberman and Collins drop this out of the bill, Frank, if it was part of the effort to seal the problem on security? 

RICH:  I think that they thought in some way it might be politically expedient.  That is the only explanation I can come up with. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

RICH:  I do think that they are going to come up with some kind of deal, whatever compromises are made.  It is hard to imagine it‘s going to happen before the holidays.  But there is just too much politically riding on this for everybody, including the president.  And they‘re just going to have to come to terms.  There‘s no winning in letting this thing die.

MATTHEWS:  So, you think, Frank, just because the country has been sold on the idea of accountability, there has to be one person who oversees all the intelligence agencies?  The president has to win with that, you‘re saying?

RICH:  He does.  He just has to.

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of George Tenet?  The old jack-in-the-box did it again today.  He was giving a speech somewhere.  He thought it was off the record again.  This happens all the time.  It happens to me.  It happens with everybody.  He thought there was no reporters in the room.

He came out and said, we can‘t have a national intelligence director because it doesn‘t make any sense to have a person out there all alone unless they are heading up agency like the CIA, because they‘re just another staffer. 

RICH:  Well, he just jolted his book advance up another $100,000, don‘t you think?  He obviously has very strong views that he is letting out in these paid appearances. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

RICH:  And I guess we‘re going to get—it is going to be like nibbled to death by ducks.  We are going to see them all come out. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What does it cost to get the truth out of a government official?  It depends on their speaking fee, because that is what it costs to get the truth.  They don‘t tell you when they‘re in office.  You find out when they get out of office.  And then they tell you the truth for the first time.

MATTHEWS:  Deborah, is this...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  It is so hilarious.  They only tell the truth if you pay them.  They are informants. 

ORIN:  Well, I think the thing about Tenet is—let‘s not be naive.  He knows perfectly this was going to be reported.  This idea of, eek, there were reporters...

MATTHEWS:  Well, apparently he insisted—I was just reading the AP on this.  He insisted they clear the room of any network or any kind of big-time reporters for any major newspaper. 

ORIN:  Sure.  Sure. 

MATTHEWS:  But there were some business publications left in there.

(CROSSTALK)

ORIN:  But that is for deniability.  Then he can say, oh, I didn‘t mean for this to go out.

It‘s the basic rule in Washington.  If you don‘t want it to be public, you don‘t say it, you don‘t write it, you don‘t put it an e-mail. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s why people love—that‘s why people love “The New York Post.”  Nothing is on the level, right?

ORIN:  That‘s right. 

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Deborah Orin.

I want to ask you, Frank.  I want you to ask you about something really on the level.  That‘s Tom Brokaw leaving tonight.  I want you to talk about that.  And a little sentiment might be in order here from both of you, even “The New York Post.” 

We‘ll be right back to talk about Tom Brokaw, the big guy, leaving tonight from “Nightly News.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, NBC‘s Tom Brokaw signs off from “Nbc Nightly News.”  What does the future hold for the big three broadcast networks?  HARDBALL returns after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with “The New York Times”‘ Frank Rich and “The New York Post”‘s Deborah Orin. 

Tom Brokaw, last night. 

Thoughts, sentiment are in order, Frank Rich.

RICH:  Well, look, this is a very honorable guy who has had a remarkable career and is leaving when he is on top, which rarely happens in show business or in the news business.  And that in itself is so dignified.  Usually, people have to be carried out. 

And, you know, I think, frankly, if I can say this on MSNBC, I think NBC with a falling prime-time schedule and an unproven successor, is going to have some problems, at least over the short term, in doing anything like what he has done in that job. 

MATTHEWS:  Deborah Orin. 

ORIN:  You know, Tom Brokaw is a lovely human being.  And I think that is what has made him so successful.  And I think it comes through. 

I will tell a little story of when I was a kid reporter back in the 1980s and I was on a plane going to a debate in Iowa that landed in Nebraska because of a snowstorm.  The only way to get back was a rental car.  They wouldn‘t rent to anybody except to Brokaw because they were out of rental cars. 

And two of us who were nobodies, Brokaw drove back to Iowa.  He insisted on driving.  Obviously, you don‘t trust the network star‘s to kid reporters. 

(LAUGHTER)

ORIN:  But he took us back.  He drove us to our hotels.  He was a moderator of the debate.  And I tell you honestly, I cannot think of—I do not believe that Peter Jennings or Dan Rather would even have considered doing it. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Rather—I don‘t care what anybody‘s politics are or view of the guy.  He is a gentleman. 

(CROSSTALK)

ORIN:  But I think what comes across from Brokaw so clearly is, he is a guy from the red states.  He‘s a Midwesterner.  He is a genuinely nice human being. 

And that whole thing that he created about—or not created, but gave voice to about the greatest generation, I think helped all of us appreciate our own parents in a way perhaps we didn‘t before. 

MATTHEWS:  You know what, Frank?  One reason I think he is going to get very good ink, as we are hearing it tonight, basically talked out here, is because he really, clearly—and I‘ve watched him over the years—he loves print people.  He loves the guys who don‘t have a camera following them around, who don‘t have an anchor desk.  He seems to really like guys like two.  He likes people that have to put it together on paper every night. 

RICH:  Yes. 

When I‘ve been thrown together with him or been with him, it has almost always been completely with print journalists at conventions or whatever.  And he likes it.  Look, he is a writer  He is a reader.  And it is very interesting, because he is someone who, unlike some TV journalists of his generation, never was in print, I don‘t think.  He has always worked in broadcasting and yet he has a real affection for the written word and the printed word. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So why is he Rocky Marciano?  Why is he retiring?  Nobody retires at the top of their game.  In politics and journalism, print or TV, everybody waits until they are carted out the door.  Why is he walking out the door? 

(CROSSTALK)

RICH:  It must be some scandal that “The New York Post” is going to break tomorrow. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s not start it here. 

RICH:  I‘m joking. 

MATTHEWS:  No scandal. 

Why do you think, Deborah—nobody quits.  Rocky Marciano was the great boxer from the ‘50s who actually was heavyweight champion, never been beaten, quit. 

ORIN:  I think—you know, what am I going to say?  It reflects who he is.  I think he has a happy personal life and he wants to enjoy it.  And he knows when to go. 

And you are right.  Very few people do.  He is a person of genuine quality and a person of genuine quality may know things that most of the rest of us don‘t realize. 

RICH:  But, also, he is intellectually curious.  And I think he may actually want to do different things.  I‘m a believer even in my own life in changing jobs and... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You have certainly—you have done some things that amaze us all, Frank. 

(LAUGHTER)

RICH:  I don‘t know about that, but the thing is that, you know, he says he wants—I know he wants to do some television documentaries.  But he says that he wants to write about other things.  And he may be interested in stories beyond the greatest generation stories. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Got to go.

HARDBALL has tears tonight for Frank—for Tom Brokaw.  And I‘ll tell you, those words of Frank are brilliant. 

And thank you, Deborah.  You are so sweet when you are nice.  Anyway, thank you, Frank Rich and Deborah Orin.

When we come back, two family members who lost loved ones—it is getting hot now—on 9/11 debate the intelligence reform bill.  And it is going to be hot.  That bill stuck in Congress right now.  We‘re going to see if it‘s going to get unstuck.

More HARDBALL after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Congress has a small window of opportunity next week to break the deadlock over legislation that would create a national intelligence director.  But the debate extends beyond Republican holdouts in the House to the families of 9/11 victims themselves. 

Peter Gadiel is opposed to the intelligence reform legislation in its present form.  He is a board member of 9/11 Families For a Secure America.  His son James was killed at the World Trade Center.  Kristen Breitweiser supports the current legislation.  She lost her husband, Ron, at the World Trade Center and lobbied for the creation of the 9/11 Commission. 

Let me go to Peter first. 

This is the first time you‘ve been on the program.  Sir, why do you oppose the idea of having a single intelligence director for the whole country‘s defense? 

PETER GADIEL, 9/11 FAMILIES FOR A SECURE AMERICA:  We are not—we haven‘t taken a position on the nature of the intelligence reform that is in this bill.  Our concern is that this is a half-a-bill that does not address border security issues.  So whatever it may or may not do in intelligence reform, it simply doesn‘t do the whole job. 

MATTHEWS:  Is your main concern that people are getting driver‘s licenses, which are the currency used to get on an airplane?  That what I show, what everybody else shows.  You show a driver‘s license.  Are you concerned that people are getting those driver‘s licenses who are not in the country legally?

GADIEL:  That‘s correct.  We are. 

MATTHEWS:  And why doesn‘t the legislation address that?  That is your concern.  Why isn‘t it?

GADIEL:  Well, it doesn‘t address that issue because Senator Collins and Senator Lieberman refuse to address anything that has to do with border security or illegal immigration.  

MATTHEWS:  Why?  GADIEL:  Why?

MATTHEWS:  Are they pandering to the Latino constituency?  Is that is what is going on here?

GADIEL:  I think they‘re not just pandering to the Latino constituency.  They‘re pandering to people who exploit illegal aliens, who make profits from illegal aliens. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, why would a nice guy like Joe Lieberman do that or Susan Collins?  Why would they do that sort of thing? 

GADIEL:  Well, maybe they are not so nice.  Maybe the face that they present to the public is nice, but maybe underneath they‘re really not so nice.

MATTHEWS:  What do you think they are up to? 

GADIEL:  I think you described it pretty well when you about pandering. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me go to Kristen Breitweiser.

Why do you—you support this legislation despite the fact it doesn‘t deal with the question of driver‘s licenses. 

KRISTEN BREITWEISER, 9/11 WIDOW:  Exactly, Chris. 

Listen, to be frank with you, immigration is a serious problem.  The 9/11 Commission addressed that in their final report.  I wish the immigration problem was our only problem with regard to our vulnerabilities against terrorists.  Unfortunately, there is a whole host of other issues, issues that this legislation address, issues that Peter doesn‘t even want to talk about it because he is myopic in his view.

All he wants to talk about, all he clearly knows is immigration. 

Let‘s talk about the air marshal training that this legislation calls for.  Let‘s talk about the increase in border agents and border investigators this bill calls for.  Let‘s talk about biometric screening at the border this bills calls for.  Let‘s talk about a DNI, NCTC. 

MATTHEWS:  What good is all of that if anybody...

(CROSSTALK)

BREITWEISER:  Let‘s talk about cargo screening. 

MATTHEWS:  Kristen...

BREITWEISER:  Let‘s talk about increased requirements for airliners. 

Of course, these are all things that this bill does.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

(CROSSTALK)

BREITWEISER:  And Peter just wants to focus on what it doesn‘t do. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

What good is all that bureaucracy and all that fixing do if anybody can get on an airplane with a driver‘s license and they‘re not even in the country legally?  What good is it to have all that if anybody can get on an airplane no matter where they‘re from or what their business is?

BREITWEISER:  Chris, I wish we could keep every terrorist...

MATTHEWS:  Don‘t you have some guarantee that the person—don‘t you have a guarantee that the person who gets on an airplane is in fact in this country legally to start with?

(CROSSTALK) 

GADIEL:  If Kristen will allow me to speak.

MATTHEWS:  Go ahead, Peter.  Your turn.

GADIEL:  If Kristen will allow me to speak, I have just been called myopic and uninterested and unwilling to comment. 

I have spoken with a lot of people who know a great deal about intelligence who find this bill flawed.  At our press conference yesterday, 9/11, we had Frank Gaffney, who thinks that this is a defective bill in its intelligence reforms. 

I have spoken with a lot of people who spent many years in intelligence who disagree with the nature of the intelligence reform.  I‘m speaking about immigration because what this bill is like building half a building.  You have got two walls, but the other two walls are not there.  So this is a highly defective bill. 

It‘s not that I‘m unwilling to talk about intelligence reform.  It‘s that I think that Ms. Breitweiser has been misled and is very naive.  This is an integral, integral part of reform, as the commission itself stated.  And if she doesn‘t want to talk about immigration, it‘s because the people who are manipulating her in Congress who have led her to believe that we‘ll take this up next year have not told her the truth.  The people who don‘t want to take this up now are people who don‘t want to take it up next year. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Who are they, besides—is it Lieberman?  Is it Collins?  Give me the names of the people who are not operating in good faith here, who have no intention of cleaning up our system, so you can‘t have a phony driver‘s license if you don‘t—actually, it is an accurate driver‘s license.  It‘s a good driver‘s license, but you shouldn‘t have it.

GADIEL:  It is a real driver‘s license, yes, right.  It is a real

driver‘s license,

MATTHEWS:  You shouldn‘t have it. 

GADIEL:  And under this bill—in fact, this bill that that Ms.  Breitweiser supports actually invites states to continue giving driver‘s licenses to illegal aliens and terrorists.  Now, if that is what she really wants, that is the bill she is going to get in this.

(CROSSTALK)

BREITWEISER:  Chris, can I just jump in?  Chris, can I jump in here?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I want you to more than jump in.  I want you to explain how the concerns raised by Peter will be dealt with by the U.S. Congress in the next session.  Do you believe they will? 

BREITWEISER:  I think that Peter first needs to find out where the president stands on giving driver‘s licenses to illegal immigrants. 

And I‘m not here to debate immigration policy.  I‘m here to debate national security policy and our abilities to fight terrorists.  And, second of all, I don‘t appreciate Peter telling me that I‘m pandering to some senators.  I‘m not backed by a lobbyist group.  I‘m here because my conscience drives me to be here, so that I know that our nation is as safe as it can be. 

GADIEL:  I never said you were pandering. 

BREITWEISER:  Finally, finally, finally, I would just like to say that, even if you barred illegal immigrants from having driver‘s licenses, we would still have people boarding planes with either international driver‘s licenses, passports or their visas. 

The reason those 19 hijackers got into this country was because they had falsified passports, fraudulent passports, and they had inaccurate visa applications.  That‘s how they got into this country.  And, frankly, if you want to step back to how they actually had the ability to fly to this country, that was because they had terrorist financing and terrorist funding. 

So, this driver‘s license issue is frankly a red herring. 

GADIEL:  A red herring.

BREITWEISER:  I think the real issue at hand is the Department of Defense.  And I think it really comes down to defense contractors who are very nervous about a director of national intelligence having control over a $40 billion budget and what that will mean for their pocketbooks.

And I think it also has a bit to do with the failure of the president to really come forward and tell us the truth as to how he feels about, A, illegal immigrants having driver‘s licenses, and, B, how he feels about a director of national intelligence holding control over a $40 billion budget that right now is in the hands of Donald Rumsfeld. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you.  In other words, you‘re saying the president is not operating in good faith here? 

BREITWEISER:  Frankly, I don‘t quite understand a president that was elected that has said that he has a mandate, that says he has political capital to spend.  I don‘t understand.  If he can‘t get this bill passed, when we have the majority of the Congress, we have his support, we have the American people, how can he not get this done? 

(CROSSTALK)

BREITWEISER:  How is he going to get his controversial bills next term?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Peter, there is a new fly in the ointment.  And that is George Tenet, who gave a speech today in which he said we should not have a national intelligence director who doesn‘t have line responsibility over a major agency like CIA. 

In other words, why have another superstructure above all these agencies if that person isn‘t in the daily battle against terrorism?  What is your feeling about the impact of that statement today by George Tenet?

GADIEL:  Look, they can reshuffle these agencies all they want. 

But if we have incompetent people, if we don‘t have agents on the ground in Iran and Iraq and other places like that, it won‘t make any difference what they do.  And the fact is that, even if this reform goes through, we know, the way government operates, it is going to take years for this thing to take effect.  And we will not be any more secure under this bill than we are now. 

So the—and, first—and, Kristen, I resent the fact—I didn‘t say that you were pandering. 

MATTHEWS:  No, I suggested...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I didn‘t suggest she was.  I said that the people, the politicians who are afraid to bring this issue up are pandering.

GADIEL:  Kristen—just because somebody disagrees with you, Kristen, doesn‘t make them myopic. 

(CROSSTALK)

GADIEL:  I have lost someone, too, and you have no right to question my motives in this.

BREITWEISER:  Chris, may I just jump in for one second?

MATTHEWS:  Yes, your last word.

BREITWEISER:  I think what everyone needs to realize is that this 9/11 Commission report addresses the holes in the safety nets that are supposed to save American lives in a terrorist attack.

And while this bill is not 100 percent perfect, you know what?  If it gets enacted, 70 percent of the things that failed us on 9/11 will be fixed.  That means, in the next attack, we‘ve got a 70 percent chance to thwart it.  And if Peter gets his way, if these immigration people get their, we are at ground zero.  We have a zero percent chance to fight these terrorists in the next attack.  And that is unacceptable.

GADIEL:  I‘m afraid her percentage is off by 50 percent.  It‘s a 50 percent bill.  And that all it amounts to, a 50 percent bill.

MATTHEWS:  OK, well, thank you all.  I understand your passions on both sides.

BREITWEISER:  Thanks very much.

MATTHEWS:  You both lost heavily in this whole issue.

Anyway, Kristen Breitweiser, thank you.

And thank you, Peter Gadiel, for joining us tonight. 

Coming up at 9:00 Eastern tonight on an extra edition of HARDBALL, a tribute to NBC‘s Tom Brokaw, who signed off tonight for the final time on “Nightly News.”

And, tomorrow, the outgoing head of the NAACP, Kweisi Mfume, will join us, along with former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, and also Patti Davis, the daughter of President Ronald Reagan and the sister of Ron Reagan. 

Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with Keith.

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