updated 5/5/2005 1:54:50 PM ET 2005-05-05T17:54:50

Guest: R.W. Apple, Erik Saar, Mike Rogers, Edward Markey, Margaret Carlson, Adel Al-Jubeir

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Is the trail of bin Laden hotter than ever?  Does the nabbing of terrorist number three show we‘re closer to the big man? 

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews. 

On the day a military judge threw out Lynndie England‘s plea that she‘s guilty of abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib, a new book alleges bizarre interrogation tactics at Guantanamo, including the sex-up approach.  We‘ll get to that later in the show.

But, first, al Qaeda‘s daily operations commander was captured in Pakistan‘s tribal region earlier this week.  What does it mean for the hunt for Osama bin Laden? 

HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster reports. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  It was a triumphant President Bush today who interrupted an event about Social Security to talk about a top aide to Osama bin Laden. 

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I want to remind you, the war on terror goes on.  And today‘s report on the capture of a top al Qaeda operative, Abu Faraj al-Libbi, represents a critical victory in the war on terror. 

SHUSTER:  Intelligence officials say al-Libbi was captured in Pakistan‘s tribal region of south Waziristan, where al Qaeda militants have been fighting Pakistani forces for over a year.  Al-Libbi himself is suspected of being the ringleader behind two assassination attempts on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. 

Shortly after 9/11, Musharraf pledged to help the United States dismantle al Qaeda and find the group‘s leaders along the rugged Pakistan-Afghan border.  According to analysts, al-Libbi was al Qaeda‘s third in command, behind only bin Laden and top deputy Ayman al-Zawahri. 

Furthermore, Bush administration officials say al-Libbi‘s arrest was the result of human intelligence.  And that means the U.S. or Pakistani governments now have insiders or helpful contacts within al Qaeda‘s upper echelon.  It is the kind of penetration the Bush administration has been seeking for three years. 

BUSH:  I applaud the Pakistani government for their strong cooperation in the war on terror.  I applaud the Pakistani government and President Musharraf for acting on solid intelligence to bring this man to justice.  The fight continues.  We‘ll stay on the offensive until al Qaeda is defeated. 

SHUSTER:  Al-Libbi‘s arrest is tantalizing to U.S. officials in part because he is believed to be the only al Qaeda member who was communicating directly with bin Laden. 

That could mean al-Libbi knows where bin Laden is and also knows how bin Laden gets messages to deputies.  The prospects of getting closer to bin Laden come at a crucial time for the Bush administration.  The president‘s approval rating is the lowest since he took office and the White House has been getting hammered after telling the State Department to stop publishing the report that found there were more terror attacks last year than any year since 1985. 

(on camera):  Cynics therefore have already begun to suggest the Bush administration is overinflating the significance of al-Libbi‘s capture.  But the Bush administration says the arrest really is a big deal and that it is a crucial development in the war on terror. 

I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David Shuster. 

Adel Al-Jubeir is the foreign adviser to Saudi Arabia‘s Crown Prince Abdullah. 

What do you make of this arrest? 

ADEL AL-JUBEIR, ADVISER TO SAUDI CROWN PRINCE ABDULLAH:  I think it‘s a very significant arrest.  He—any time you catch one of the operations people of al Qaeda, it is a significant step forward. 

He was reported to have taken over the position that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed occupied, which was chief of operations for al Qaeda.  And I believe that this is a very big blow for the organization. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think you can, in your own mind, pinpoint where bin Laden is?  Do you think he is in Pakistan? 

AL-JUBEIR:  God only knows.

(CROSSTALK)

AL-JUBEIR:  All we have to do is, we have to be determined and we have to be persistent and we have to be patient.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about a comment made by your foreign minister, Prince al-Faisal.  He said the war in Iraq we‘re fighting right now is creating terrorism, rather than resolving terrorism. 

Well, that‘s an argument made by a lot of people in this country, that Iraq was a diversion from the war on terror.  Do you believe that?  Does your government believe that? 

AL-JUBEIR:  We are seeing people going into Iraq in order to commit terrorist attacks.  So, in that sense, it is creating terrorists or becoming a magnet for terrorists who want to do harm to the innocent. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it was smart for the United States to go to war with Iraq, as a Saudi Arabia citizen? 

AL-JUBEIR:  Well, I believe that‘s now water under the bridge.  The U.S. is in Iraq.  The war did take place. 

What we need to do is look forward and not look backwards.  Monday-morning quarterbacking does not make sense in this... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Why is your chief justice, the chief justice of your Supreme Court, urging young Saudi men to go to Iraq and fight us, kill Americans?

AL-JUBEIR:  He put out a statement challenging the tape that was attributed to him yesterday, I believe. 

Our chief justice has been very consistent and very public in condemning terrorism and the killing of the innocent.  And he was very public and very clear in condemning calls for people to go and fight in Iraq. 

MATTHEWS:  What did he mean when he said—and he did verify his voice here—“If someone knows that he is capable of entering Iraq in order to join the fight and if his intention is to raise up the word of God, then he is free to do so”?  What else could that mean, except, I‘m giving you permission to go fight the Americans? 

AL-JUBEIR:  Well, as I said, Chris, he put out a statement yesterday in which he said that tapes can be altered and can be doctored and he reiterate his opposition to sending people to Iraq and his opposition to taking up arms in Iraq. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you saying that this tape was changed from what he actually said?  He said it was his voice. 

AL-JUBEIR:  Correct.  That‘s my understanding from the Lisa Myers piece. 

But, if you read the statement that he put out yesterday, he‘s challenging and that saying that he has been very clear over the past few years in terms of his position on terrorism and encouraging people to go and take up arms.  And the statement is available and you can read it on the embassy‘s Web site. 

MATTHEWS:  When young people sitting in cafes in Riyadh or anywhere else in your country, in Mecca, and they‘re watching the war news, which side are they rooting for?

AL-JUBEIR:  I think they‘re...

MATTHEWS:  Are they rooting for us, the Americans, the coalition forces?  Are they rooting for the insurgents who are fighting us and killing us? 

AL-JUBEIR:  I believe that most people in Saudi Arabia want the situation in Iraq to stabilize.  I think most people...

MATTHEWS:  But who are they rooting for? 

AL-JUBEIR:  In order to want the situation to stabilize, you have to root for all of Iraq.  And that includes the American forces in Iraq. 

We must find a situation where Iraq can be stabilized, so that the country can be rebuilt.  It is important that Iraq remain united.  It is important that Iraq‘s neighbors do not interfere in Iraq‘s affairs.  The sooner that the Iraqis can take control of the destiny, the better it will be for their future, as well as for ours, because we live right next door to them. 

MATTHEWS:  If the young people in your country, in Saudi Arabia, are not rooting for the Iraqi insurgents against us, why does your foreign minister say the war in Iraq is creating terrorism, rather than resolving terrorism? 

AL-JUBEIR:  Any time you have the situation where you have warfare and any time you have a situation where you have two sides, it is very easy for people who are deviant or who are deranged or who are off the wall, so to speak, to decide to go there in order to take up arms, irrespective of what side they fight for or they fight against.  And I think that‘s the situation that we‘re seeing in Iraq. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of the fact that, here, in the United States, according to a new “USA Today”/CNN/Gallup poll, a brand new one, almost five in—or six out of 10 Americans, 57 percent, say the war in Iraq was not worth it?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  That number is growing, by the way, of people who think this war was not worth it in this country. 

AL-JUBEIR:  I‘m not surprised.  People always engage in reassessing decisions that have been made.  And, as I said earlier, it really is not helpful to go back and try to determine whether the war was worth fighting or not.  The war has already been fought.  The United States is in Iraq.  The U.S. has no choice but to stay the course in Iraq and stabilize the country, hand it over to the Iraqis, and then pull out. 

If we sit here and argue about the efficacy of the decision, it won‘t get us anywhere. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

Yes, but let‘s talk about the government over there.  When you look at that Iraqi government taking shape over there, with Chalabi, who is wanted for crimes in Jordan.  He got his government back.  He is number two over there, it looks like, according to the pictures taken this week, right?  How did—how did Chalabi—how did Chalabi get to be oil minister?  How did he get all this power for a guy who has never been elected to squat?  How did he do this?

AL-JUBEIR:  I believe you should really ask the Iraqi people this and the Iraqi politicians that, because they‘re the ones who...

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t think he was put in there by our people? 

AL-JUBEIR:  I believe that—well, he had problems at one point with the United States and he was shut out, if you remember.  There was a controversy surrounding the information...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t the vice president‘s office in love with this guy? 

AL-JUBEIR:  Again, you should ask the vice president‘s office.

MATTHEWS:  But you‘re a student of American politics.  You‘re over here lobbying us.  Don‘t you know who is on the side of the Iraqis? 

AL-JUBEIR:  It would be inappropriate for me to comment about this. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, it would be inappropriate.  I get your message.  I get your drift. 

Let me ask you about gas prices.  It seems like history is changing, that there are a lot of competitors in the world for oil.  The Chinese aren‘t riding bikes anymore.  They‘re driving cars.  The Japanese, of course, have had them for a long time, a lot of competition for your oil.  Is that why the price is going up? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Or is it because we have a bottleneck with regard to refineries? 

AL-JUBEIR:  I believe there are several reasons for the increases in the price of crude oil.

One of course is the growth in demand in particular in China and India.  The second one is concerns about political stability.  You have a war in Iraq.  You have potential instability in other countries, including in Saudi Arabia.  People are worried about terrorism.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

AL-JUBEIR:  Which puts a premium on oil. 

You have shortages in the infrastructure of oil, refining capacity and so forth, which puts upward pressure on product, which pulls up the price of crude oil.  And then, of course, you have speculative fever, where hedge funs have gone into the commodities business, in particular oil, and have taken long positions, which have inflated the price at the—in the exchanges. 

We don‘t see a shortage in the physical supply of crude oil as we speak.  We believe that there‘s enough crude available to satisfy the world‘s demand for it.  And...

MATTHEWS:  So, the president is wrong, because President Bush last week said that the only thing that is going to bring down the price of gas is more supply of crude. 

AL-JUBEIR:  We have been supplying crude.  We‘re producing over 9.5 million barrels of oil a day.  We have another 1.5 million available that we can make available to our customers, should they so choose.  We have discounted some of our crude in order to make it more attractive.  Inventory levels have gone up.

MATTHEWS:  So, why are prices going up in the United States?  Do you think it‘s—it is not the producer.  You say it‘s not you.  It‘s not the world price for crude.  It‘s somewhere in the middle.

AL-JUBEIR:  It‘s the combination of factors that I mentioned to you. 

For example, the gasoline situation in the United States, not only is there a refining shortage in the U.S., but it is also very difficult to sell gasoline in the U.S., because you have these dozens of different blends of gasoline that vary from region to region that make it prohibitively expensive to produce the gasoline and ship it to the U.S.

Having said that, Chris, the price of oil and the price of gasoline are coming down.  We have seen a 30 cents drop in the wholesale price of gasoline over the last month.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

AL-JUBEIR:  We have seen an $8 or $9 drop in the price of crude oil. 

I believe that the worst is behind us.

MATTHEWS:  Are we ever going to go below $2 a gallon for our gas here? 

AL-JUBEIR:  We‘ll to have see.  I wouldn‘t be surprised if...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you.  You‘re a young guy.  You‘re a Saudi citizen.  You‘re a Saudi national.  You much think about this.  How much oil is left in your country? 

AL-JUBEIR:  A lot. 

MATTHEWS:  Like 100 years? 

AL-JUBEIR:  Probably more than that. 

MATTHEWS:  Even with the Chinese and Indian demand, the global glut of demand?

AL-JUBEIR:  We have 261 billion barrels of oil available.  We believe that we have another 200 billion barrels that we can add to those reserves.  We will be producing oil for a very, very long time.  We are investing currently $50 billion to increase our production capacity from 11 to 12.5 barrels over the next three or four years and then to 15 million beyond that.  We really don‘t see a shortage in crude oil.

MATTHEWS:  So, when I see those lines of cars going by my house every Saturday on the way to the mall, just spending gas, they shouldn‘t worry about it running out someday?

AL-JUBEIR:  No.  I don‘t believe so. 

The world needs to think as a whole in terms of the energy looking forward 30, 40, 50 years. 

(CROSSTALK)

AL-JUBEIR:  And this is one reason that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia has called for the convening of...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Who would you rather sell your oil to, us or the Chinese? 

Or don‘t you care? 

AL-JUBEIR:  We are an energy provider.  And whoever wants our energy is free to buy it from us. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  I like that statement of absolute neutrality. 

Thank you very much, Adel Al-Jubeir.

Up next, what can Washington do about the rising cost of gasoline? 

And, later, an eyewitness report on what goes on behind the scenes at Guantanamo Bay, where suspects in the war on terror are being held. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, the politics of gas prices.  Does Washington really understand the problem and what can President Bush do to fix it?

When HARDBALL returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  With Americans paying more at the pumps, will politicians pay at the polls?  A confidential memo circulating among Republicans on Capitol Hill points out that skyrocketing gas prices are putting the economy and jobs at the top of the list of issues worrying voters. 

Congressman Edward Markey is a Democrat from Massachusetts.  And Congressman Michael Rogers is a Republican from Michigan. 

Congressman Markey, you‘ve long been known for your efforts at conservation.  Why are Americans still buying big cars, gas guzzlers, when the Japanese car industry is getting all the sales right now with smaller cars? 

(CROSSTALK)

REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  Well, as you know, General Motors does not make hybrids.  Ford only made 4,000 hybrids last year.  The Japanese and the Koreans are sending these cars over now in such numbers that they can‘t even satisfy it.  You have to wait six months to purchase a fuel efficient automobile made from overseas. 

So there‘s a big problem right now.  Our auto industry has been caught with these high energy prices.  They‘re not likely to come down significantly.  So, we do have a very significant problem with American consumers not having any American cars to turn to which are fuel efficient. 

MATTHEWS:  The prestige car, Congressman, is to own an SUV. 

Everywhere you go where people have a lot of money, they own SUVs.  However, the latest figures have just come in.  While GM is in tremendous trouble—and you being from out in Michigan know all about it—Nissan, best April in history.  Toyota, the best month in the history of the company.  At the same time, our guys are crashing, like GM.  What did we get wrong?  What did our marketing get wrong?  Where did our thinking go wrong in America? 

REP. MIKE ROGERS ®, MICHIGAN:  Well, one thing is that, if you notice, Toyota and Nissan are moving in on the truck market, the SUV market and the luxury market. 

MATTHEWS:  But they‘re getting the economy market. 

ROGERS:  Well, they‘ve had the economy market for years.  That was not

·         this...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Why is that market booming?  Because gas prices are booming, right? 

ROGERS:  Well, obviously, people are price conscious on gasoline and what those cars can do. 

General Motors, they are making changes.  They‘re working on a hybrid.  Hybrids are not going to be the answer everywhere.  If you‘re in suburbia America, a hybrid may not be the answer for you. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about this.  When you go to a—Congressman Markey, when you go to the gas pump to buy gas now, you almost have to use a credit card because it costs so much.  You have got to spend $50 to fill your tank.  It is like you need Brazilian cruzeiros.  You need so much currency now to pay for a car, a load of gas. 

Isn‘t that causing people to make different decisions or not or how much they drive, what kind of car they try to buy? 

MARKEY:  There‘s no question that‘s about to happen.  People really feel that, when they go to the gas pump now, that the oil cartel is holding them by the legs and tipping them upside down and shaking money out of their pockets. 

The problem is, is that President Bush and the Republican leadership in the Congress have resisted attempts to increase dramatically our fuel economy standards over the last five years.  Gerald Ford in 1975 signed a bill which doubled the fuel economy standard from 13 miles to 27 miles per hour.  He was from Michigan.  Today, we‘ve gone backwards to 1981‘s few economy standards.  OPEC knows it.  They know they have got us over a barrel. 

And no matter how much people might want to buy fuel efficient hybrids, there aren‘t any for sale in America unless you want to buy them from Japan or from Korea. 

MATTHEWS:  Why doesn‘t the United States government encourage by taxation policy the purchase of hybrid cars or more fuel efficient cars? 

RODGERS:  Well, we want to make that incentive to buy what is a more expensive automobile.  And it takes time to get that money back. 

As I said, if you‘re a suburban driver, it takes longer to get your money back in a hybrid than you are, say, a city driver.  And if you notice where those sales are, they tend to be oriented in metropolitan areas.  That‘s the right decision for them. 

MATTHEWS:  But don‘t we still get a tax loophole for buying big, heavy cars because they‘re like farm equipment? 

ROGERS:  Well, when it relates to your business, absolutely, vans, truck, farm equipment, you bet. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but you buy—if you buy an SUV, a car that people like to drive because it looks good and it feels strong, it is bigger. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  It is a luxury item.  Aren‘t people buying them and getting tax breaks because they‘re being argued that...

ROGERS:  You know, one thing you have to remember, when they passed that had 1975, moms liked to drive station wagons.  Remember this? 

MATTHEWS:  Sure.  I know.

ROGERS:  And because they could get their family in it.  It was a bigger car, a safer car.  They could get all their kids, put the bike...

MATTHEWS:  I agree.  I agree.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Why should the federal government encourage the purchase of heavy cars?

ROGERS:  Well, let me get to that. 

The CAFE standards artificially eliminated that station wagon.  They went to different things.  Well, what did they go to?  Minivans, trucks, SUVs.  So, the people who are buying these aren‘t folks who are on the block.  These are people who want bigger cars, safer for their family, get more stuff in there.  Technology hasn‘t reached the point where they can get good gas mileage on a heavier vehicle.  When it does, they‘ll sell like crazy.

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Markey, do—U.S. policy encourage purchasing of heavy cars or lighter cars?

MARKEY:  Believe it or not, inside the energy bill which just passed the Republican Congress last week, they removed the tax break to purchase a hybrid, but they left in the $35,000 tax break to buy a Hummer 2. 

Now, what kind of incentives are we creating in 2005 at the height of an energy crisis, the price of oil over $50 for more than six months?  So, the tax policy is not being used correctly.  The president should have already announced to the Saudi Arabians that he was calling in the secretary of transportation and ordering him to begin a new process of dramatically raising the fuel economy standards for every SUV and automobile in America. 

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS:  Let‘s get to the problem, though. 

(CROSSTALK)

MARKEY:  While maintaining the safety and the comfort of those vehicles.

ROGERS:  The problem is, you have said no to all of our fixes.

This energy bill, the first one—we‘ve been working on this.  When we started, oil was $25 a barrel.  Today, it‘s $50.  And the Democrats, you included, said no, no, no.  You stopped it.  You stopped it.  Had we done this four or five years ago, when I came into Congress, we would have seen this ability. 

MATTHEWS:  Done what?  Done what? 

ROGERS:  This energy bill.  This is great energy policy for America. 

We invest in alternative fuels, $2 billion for hydrogen vehicles.  We actually say we‘re going to have refineries.  If we‘re going to use gasoline here, we ought to be able to refine every gallon of it.  We can‘t today.  We have to import refined material, horribly expensive.  We cut the number of regulations as they apply to gasoline. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... do for conservation?

ROGERS:  Well, in conservation, we encourage things and encourage companies to get to where they add technology to appliances and other things to reduce the draw when it is plugged into the wall, including your cell phone. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

ROGERS:  So, we‘ve made those kinds of efforts.  And this is a long process.  It took us a long time to get here.

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t the problem that people are driving more and they‘re driving heavier cars that cost money?  You can have better fuel efficiency, but if the car weighs more, it is going to use up more gas. 

ROGERS:  If it weighs less, you take chance of a higher death and fatality rate.  That‘s proven.

MATTHEWS:  So you think heavier cars are better?

ROGERS:  Well, if you‘re a family person, I don‘t begrudge you one bit trying to get... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s the problem, isn‘t it?  You may not begrudge you, because you‘re a politician.  But the fact is, the bigger the car, the heavier car, the more the energy it takes to drive the car. 

ROGERS:  I don‘t begrudge them because I‘m a dad and I have got kids. 

And I want them in a safe vehicle.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So, in other words, you‘re choosing safety over economy?

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS:  That‘s the choice for me, yes.  And I think a lot of families make that choice.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Markey, your thoughts?

MARKEY:  That is a false choice. 

Scientists at MIT and engineering schools all across America say that they could improve the fuel economy standards for the existing set of vehicles by 10 miles per gallon using existing technology, without compromising safety or comfort at all.  But the problem is, is that—the problem is, is that...

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS:  That is simply not borne out by the facts.  That is simply not borne out.  I mean, what we‘re saying is, let‘s incentivize these people... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to come back and talk about this.  I think there is a clash of views here. 

We‘ll be back with Congressman Edward Markey and Congressman Mike Rogers.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Congressman Mike Rogers and Congressman Ed Markey.

Congressman Markey, we just had Adel Al-Jubeir on from the Saudi Arabia government, who said that there is plenty of crude oil out there.  If we want it, if we are able to buy it and refine it, we can get it from them now.  It‘s not their fault the prices are going up.  It is our fault we can‘t refine it fast enough. 

MARKEY:  Well, that‘s the problem.

OK, what they‘re saying is, if you could refine more oil, we would send you more oil.  We‘ll make you even more dependent upon us.  That‘s the premise of the Saudi Arabians.  He‘s holding the president‘s hand with one.  In the other hand, he‘s got his hand in the pocket of American consumers. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you want the Saudis to do, Congressman? 

MARKEY:  I want the president to tell the Saudis, like President Kennedy told the Soviet Union in 1961, that he was going to put a man on the moon, I want President Bush to tell the Saudi Arabians that we‘re going to have every American driving an SUV and an automobile within five to 10 years that is twice as efficient as it is today. 

And we‘re going to put OPEC on its back.  We‘re going to drop the price of oil.  We‘re going to make our economy stronger.  And I want a stronger message from this president.  He has not delivered it yet.  And, as a result, the American consumer and the American economy is being harmed and harmed very seriously. 

MATTHEWS:  Mike Rogers, what do you think is the cause of these high gas prices? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is it refinery capacity?

ROGERS:  Oh, absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  Or crude prices?

ROGERS:  Absolutely.

We haven‘t built a refinery in this country in over 25 years, not one.  And, unfortunately, folks like Mr. Markey try to stop us from doing that in this bill, saying, look, if we‘re going to use it, we ought to at least be able to refine it.  We have to import refined gasoline, which is horribly expensive to do that.  We‘ve gotten after that.  And this bill said, no, we‘re going to create refinery capability again in the United States. 

MATTHEWS:  What about the argument he made that we should have cars that use less—half as much gas? 

ROGERS:  This president has stood up...

MATTHEWS:  You being from Michigan, can you politically support something like that? 

ROGERS:  Oh, absolutely.  Yes, we‘re for it, believe me. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You can double the efficiency of our cars and get away with that politically?

ROGERS:  Well, I‘ll tell you what we did do.  We said, we‘re going to spend all of this money, $2 billion, on hydrogen fuel.  We think hydrogen is the car of the future.  And we‘re going to build it in America.

MATTHEWS:  Why is Nissan and Toyota making a bundle on lighter, more efficient cars and we‘re selling these big SUVs that people aren‘t buying?

And why is GM in huge trouble?  Why are the Japanese beating us with the cars that people want to buy in this country?

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS:  But, remember, their big sales increases came in heavier vehicles, trucks and SUVs.  They weren‘t really in that market.  They‘ve made a run at those markets. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, why are they beating us?

ROGERS:  It‘s good marketing.  Well, people are preferring those models.  That is something the big three has to come to grips with. 

MARKEY:  Chris. 

ROGERS:  This is a design, sales problem.  It‘s not—that part of it is not the gas consumption.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Markey..

(CROSSTALK)

MARKEY:  Chris, Chris...

MATTHEWS:  Yes, quickly.

MARKEY:  Detroit is saying that the hydrogen vehicle is the vehicle of the future.  But it‘s 15 years from now.  While Detroit is waiting, Toyota and Nissan are sending us the hybrids today.  Detroit doesn‘t have an answer.  We‘re going to be importing more automobiles. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  This is going to be a hot issue.

(CROSSTALK)

MARKEY:  The president‘s own bill, as analyzed by his own Department of Energy, has said that it will increase the price of gasoline by 3 to 8 cents.  So, his own bill doesn‘t solve the problem. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you both, Congressmen, Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan.

When we come back, Margaret Carlson and Tucker Carlson—no relation

·         on the Army cover-up of how Pat Tillman died.  What a story.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

So, what‘s the political fallout of rising gas prices?  Can the president stop those prices from rising?  Can the Democrats make an issue out of it? 

We‘re joined right now by the Carlsons—no relation—Tucker of MSNBC and Margaret of “TIME” magazine.  The two are, as I just said, not related. 

Let‘s talk about this Pat Tillman cover-up.  We all grieved his loss.  He gave his life for his country.  But the manner in which he gave his life for his country was never told to us at the time.  What do you make of the Army‘s position to cover up basically the fact that he died from friendly fire over in—over in—over in Afghanistan? 

MARGARET CARLSON, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, “TIME”:  That the government should never be making decisions about what a family should know about a death that‘s theirs.  It is theirs.  And they say, well, they wanted the family to be able to grieve without knowing this. 

Well, if Pat Tillman had been killed by al-Zarqawi, I think the government would have let them know.  It was that it was friendly fire.  They thought it detracted.  And I think it comes from the same animation where they don‘t want to show the coffins.  They don‘t want to have the president going to funerals.  They just don‘t want...

MATTHEWS:  I wonder what real people who have suffered loss, Tucker, feel about these decisions.  Do you think they feel that the government was being kind or being deceitful?  Which emotion do you think they would have toward learning now that Pat Tillman was clearly a victim of friendly fire and that was known by his buddies on the front there? 

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC:  Right. 

Well, it is an example of deceit.  It was deceitful.  But I think it‘s also understandable.  It‘s a human response.  I mean, you want every fallen soldier to be recorded as a hero.  And the common definition of hero is, you know, someone who is killed by the enemy in pursuit of victory against the enemy.  And it just so depressing.  You can understand from a human perspective why his superiors, people at the Pentagon, wouldn‘t want that information to get out.

It did get out, though.  And I think that‘s important to note.  We know the truth.  I don‘t know.  I think it‘s understandable.  I doubt anybody holds it against the Pentagon for not releasing that.  I think everyone understands it intuitively. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to find that out, I think, in the days ahead.  You never know.  And I agree, why I say I don‘t know what the reaction is going to be.  It could either be, thank you for being sympathetic or no thank you for not telling us the truth. 

Let me ask you about gas prices, you first this time, Tucker.  Gas prices are up.  They‘re over $2.  They may never go down again.  Is this a political question, whose fault is it, the president‘s?  Do the Democrats have an opportunity to exploit this or is this is a fact of economic life; we have competitors in the world for oil; we‘re going to have to pay more?

T. CARLSON:  I think they‘re all true.  Everything you said it true.

Yes.  I mean, of course it is a political issue.  It‘s economics at a level people can understand, absolutely, especially over the summer.  It doesn‘t make logically a ton of sense, though, the competing arguments against Bush, one, that he is sucking up to the Saudis too much, pushing them, you know, holding hands with the crown prince in order to get gas prices lower, and, second, that somehow he is benefiting from them being high. 

I think the truth is, the president doesn‘t control gas prices.  And if the Republicans were smart—and that‘s obviously not guaranteed now or ever—they would pull out tape of Democrats saying, we ought to have higher gas prices.  And in Europe, in Germany, it costs $9 to buy a gallon of gas and here it is only costs, whatever, $1.50, from a couple of years ago, and pull those out, because there‘s a lot of that on tape.  They probably won‘t do it, though. 

MATTHEWS:  Will that work, Margaret, if Republicans start explaining why the prices only seem higher? 

(LAUGHTER)

M. CARLSON:  It doesn‘t seem...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, all I know is, if you go to a gas pump now, you‘d better bring a lot of currency.  And you better stop at the ATM and hope you got some money in the bank.

(CROSSTALK)

M. CARLSON:  Yes.  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Because it is expensive in terms of the amount of currency you have got to turn over now, $50 to fill the—fill the tank. 

M. CARLSON:  Yes.  Hit the $100 thing on your ATM.

It‘s a political fact that hits every week as you go to the pump.  A picture is worth 1,000 words.  The picture with the prince holding hands reinforced the feeling we have that the United States is soft on the Saudis and is not doing anything about conservation.  Whether they pump more, whether we build more refineries, as long as Bush is not talking about...

MATTHEWS:  But didn‘t he seem to be trying to court them and trying to get them to be nicer to us by holding hands, not thanking them for having high prices?  Wasn‘t he trying work them a little with that hand-holding? 

M. CARLSON:  Well, whether he is nice or not and whether they pump more or not, the policy of the United States is headed down.  It is still a dead end.  You have got to have more conservation, because we‘re still going to be dependent on the Middle East for oil. 

T. CARLSON:  But I think the question...

MATTHEWS:  Tucker, I don‘t know about you, but I know everywhere where I go where the people have money—I don‘t care if it is a restaurant you drive by or a nice resort or whatever—wherever people have money, they spend the money on big, dark, usually black, beautiful SUVs, the high top end of the market.  They weigh a ton.  They way four or five tons.  They‘re heavy.  They use up a lot of gas.  You could have the most efficient engines in the world. 

If your car weighs a huge amount, it is going to use up a lot of gas.  Why weren‘t we warned by someone that that wasn‘t a useful future for us, that, sooner or later, we weren‘t going to be able to afford to fill those cars?

T. CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t think that it is just rich people who buy SUVs.  It is rich people who complain about SUVs.  It‘s people with big families drive big cars.  It‘s people who work in agriculture, people who work in the construction trades.  All of them drive big cars with bad gas mileage. 

I think the real story here is that the market actually is a pretty effective—is pretty effective in responding to rising gas prices.  You saw that Ford and GM announced their SUV sales are tanking and the sales of hybrids are spiking.  That‘s obvious.  Gas prices go up, people buy fewer cars that get bad gas mileage.  It kind of defeats the argument that somehow you need the federal government to step in and decide what kind of car you can buy. 

(CROSSTALK)

M. CARLSON:  A policy which doesn‘t discourage the purchase of big cars and the building of big cars lasts a long time before those cars go away.

And the last president who really, really worked on it was Jimmy Carter, the president you worked for, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  It did him a lot of good, didn‘t it?

(CROSSTALK)

M. CARLSON:  Yes.  And then—and then...

MATTHEWS:  Put on a sweater and lower the thermostat and say goodbye. 

(LAUGHTER)

T. CARLSON:  Wait a second.

MATTHEWS:  Because that is what happened.

M. CARLSON:  I don‘t think that was the only thing that did him in, however, Chris. 

But if the SUVs were put under CAFE standards, if they had mileage standards not for a truck, but for a car, the car companies would have built them. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But isn‘t the problem, Margaret—and I‘m a conservationist, I think, at least in theory—people like the feel of a big, heavy urban defense vehicle, a big strong vehicle where you can drive up next to a person when the stoplight comes on and feel a lot stronger than the person driving the economy car?

(CROSSTALK)

T. CARLSON:  And they should be allowed to feel that way.

M. CARLSON:  Someone called SUVs the shoulder pads of the 2000, which is, women feel really good being in that big a car. 

But they can—automobile engineers will tell you, they can build them safely without being that heavy. 

MATTHEWS:  Not that heavy.

T. CARLSON:  Well, wait a second, though. 

You have to buy, you have to pay for the gasoline for your car in this country.  So, if it is worth it to you to pay a ton for gas, you get to drive an SUV.  It is not clear to me why Barbra Streisand and the Congress have to get involved and tell you that you‘re committing sort of sin by driving a big car.  You—if it‘s worth it, you need to pay for it. 

(CROSSTALK)

M. CARLSON:  The amount of gas consumed—it does matter how much you‘re willing to pay.  The amount of gas consumed matters to the common wheel, no pun intended.

T. CARLSON:  Well, then I hope that—I hope that every person with an income over $1 million a year will forswear private aircraft.  I hope no celebrity will fly in a private plane ever again. 

MATTHEWS:  Tucker, you made your point a second ago, when you said

everybody is going to pay for their big cars.  You‘re right.  It is going

to be at high cost, though.  People are going to be stuck with those big

cars, stuck with $2.50, $2.60 a gallon.  It‘s going to be a lot of cash out

of people‘s pockets because of those decisions that were never discouraged

by our tax policy.

Anyway, thank you, Margaret Carlson.  Tucker Carlson, thank you joining...

T. CARLSON:  Thanks, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  When we come back, we‘ll be joined by a former Army interpreter who blew the whistle on the interrogation techniques used inside in Guantanamo Bay, where suspects in the war of terror are being held and questioned. 

And don‘t forget, sign up for HARDBALL‘s daily e-mail briefing.  Just log on to our Web site, HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, we‘ll talk to an Army interpreter who blew the whistle on sexual interrogation techniques used down at Guantanamo Bay—when HARDBALL returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Today, Lynndie England‘s sentencing trial took an unusual trial when the judge rejected her guilty plea.  Private England‘s image was, of course, seen around the world in connection with the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison. 

This week, a new book by an Army sergeant in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, tells of abuses there.  It is called “Inside the Wire.”  It‘s written by Erik Saar.  And Erik is right here. 

You talk in your book graphically about a process called sex up.  What is that about, a way to get to prisoners? 

ERIK SAAR, AUTHOR, “INSIDE THE WIRE”:  Well, the description I describe, Mr. Matthews, is a technique that was used in the interrogation booth, where sex was used as a weapon to create a wedge between the detainee and his faith. 

In other words, sex was used as a way of enticing a detainee to make him feel ritually impure, so he couldn‘t go back to his cell and pray.  And, in one instance, fake menstrual blood was wiped on a detainee‘s face, so he would then not be able to gain strength from his relationship with his faith and his relationship with his God, thereby relying more on an interrogator and placing his hope in that individual. 

MATTHEWS:  Talk to me about the role that U.S. military women played in this.

SAAR:  Well, in the situation I described and in a number of other circumstances that I know my colleagues were involved in, the female interrogators, which I believe they were operating in the instances that I cite under what was permissible by the command that was there—and the command certainly knew what was going on, to be honest with you, sir—they were used as a tool, really, to create this wedge between the detainee and his faith. 

MATTHEWS:  How so?  Be graphic.  Explain what the women did, what performances they put on in front of these Islamic prisoners in order to get them to break. 

SAAR:  In one instance that I was present for, a female interrogator took her outer top off, wearing—while she was wearing a tight T-shirt and was touching herself and rubbing her chest on the back of a detainee, saying I know that you‘re aroused by this American infidel.  How do you think Allah feels about that?

And doing so, again, to create this wedge.  And then, additionally, in the same interrogation that I was involved in, she wiped red ink on the face of a detainee in order to make him think it was menstrual blood and make him feel unclean.

MATTHEWS:  What was the reaction?  Did it work, to be blunt?  Did this work as a means of getting information out of these prisoners? 

SAAR:  Chris, it absolutely did not work.  And, to be honest with you, it was—not only did I feel like it morally was inconsistent with who we are as a country, but possibly, more importantly, for some individuals, it is entirely ineffective, not only in that instance, but it also burns bridges down the line for trying to have channels open to gain intelligence from that individual, because it makes it difficult for American intelligence officers to go back and try to build a relationship with that individual. 

MATTHEWS:  How many terrorists do we have down there in Gitmo? 

SAAR:  Well, that‘s a difficult question, Chris. 

But what I can tell you is that, when I went to Guantanamo Bay, I was under the impression that we were holding there the worst of the worst. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SAAR:  Meaning, to me that meant hardened terrorists. 

MATTHEWS:  Killers. 

SAAR:  Killers who had actually planned September 11 or were plotting future attacks against the United States.  And we were also told that there were enemy combatants that were actually picked up on the battlefield. 

MATTHEWS:  How do you know they aren‘t? 

SAAR:  Well, I had a top-secret security clearance access to the intelligence that was coming out of the base.  And I‘m not saying, I‘m not creating the picture that there is no intelligence whatsoever there.  I‘ve not said that at all. 

But the amount of intelligence that we‘re getting compared to the number of individuals that are there, in addition to contrasting that with the damage that‘s being done to our international reputation I think is meager, sir. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think will happen with these people when they‘re released?  Are they going to be dangerous to us because they‘re so angry or what? 

SAAR:  Well, I think that not only the individuals that are released, but I think, in some instances, Chris, it transcends the 500 or 600 individuals that are there, in that what we‘re doing is a rallying cry to the Arab world, that, as we try to promote human dignity and democracy and justice throughout the Arab world, we defy those very same values at Guantanamo Bay. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, this book is going to make some noise.  Thank you.  It‘s called “Inside the Wire.”  It‘s about life in Guantanamo and the techniques we‘re using down there.  It‘s by Erik Saar.

Thank you, Erik.

SAAR:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Up next, a real treat.  “New York Times” associate editor R.W. Apple joins us.

And don‘t forget to check out Hardblogger, our political blog Web site.  Just go to HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The byline R.W. Apple is nearly as symbolic of “The New York Times” as the paper‘s masthead.  Apple has been with “The Times” since 1963 and has covered politics, wars and foreign affairs.  His first loves, however, might be food and travel.  His latest book combines them both.  It is called “Apple‘s America: The Discriminating Traveler‘s Guide to 40 Great Cities in the United States and Canada.” 

And I have to do this.  I don‘t often do this.  Buy this book for sheer pleasure.  If you travel with business and you‘re going to a city like Detroit or Philly and you want to think really nice things about that city, read this book.  It has got great cultural stuff in here. 

I want to talk to you about it in a minute.

R.W. APPLE, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”:  OK.  Great.

MATTHEWS:  Let me talk to you about your newspaper.  Today, in “The Washington Post,” somebody unloaded on “The New York Times,” said—his name is John McCanlis Phillips (ph).  He said your paper—and he used to work there—is anti-Christian, anti-evangelical, anti-conservative Catholic, the paper itself is. 

APPLE:  Well, he‘s talking, in fact, about, as I read the piece, about both us and “The Washington Post.”

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

APPLE:  In terms of their columnists being anti-evangelical, anti-Catholic, anti-religious, because they claim that there‘s a jihad under way by the religious forces in this country.  I do not believe that there‘s a jihad under way. 

MATTHEWS:  You believe “The Times” and “The Post” have that bias of secular bicoastalism against the heartland of America and its religious beliefs? 

APPLE:  I think both papers tend to be secular in their approach. 

Yes, I do.  They serve largely secular audiences. 

And I‘ve been out around the country promoting my book.  And before that, I was out on the campaign.  And I have to say that, like it or not, religious people, particularly in the Midwest, the mountain states, and the south, think that the Democratic Party is anti-religious.  And, of course, they consider “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post” as arms of the Democratic Party. 

MATTHEWS:  Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster, told me that at dinner last year well before the election.  He said the Democrats are in big trouble because the poll data shows that among the people who go to church services or synagogue once a week, they‘re dying.  They‘re losing by 20 or 30 points. 

APPLE:  Chris, listen, this is a religious country.  This country was founded by religious people. 

And the Democratic Party at some of the most crucial moments in its history has had major figures from the clergy at the cutting edge.  Martin Luther King Jr. is the most obvious.  But how about the Barragans (ph)?  How about William Sloane Coffin?

MATTHEWS:  All anti-war during the ‘60s. 

APPLE:  Indeed.  And that element of the Democratic—Father Drinan -

·         that element of the party has been silenced, not by any nefarious means. 

But they never talk about...

MATTHEWS:  Why has the history been silenced?  Why have we forgotten that the left in American politics used religion as well as the right has? 

APPLE:  And religion used the left.  This was—theologians like Niebuhr and writers.

MATTHEWS:  Right.  And the abolitionist movement was driven by religion, as was suffrage. 

APPLE:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  As was prohibition.

APPLE:  Indeed.

MATTHEWS:  As was the civil rights movement.

APPLE:  But this has all been wiped from the national consciousness. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

APPLE:  And liberals...

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the Committee For the People for the American Way have done this job?  Who has done the job of washing away all the history of liberal religious connection? 

APPLE:  Well, you can start with the candidates. 

It‘s the candidate‘s job, not pressure groups, to articulate the position of the party.  It‘s the candidate‘s job to speak to this kind of issue.  If a large number of Americans now, as always, are religious in part have their beings, why just forget about that?  Why throw those votes away?  I don‘t get it. 

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t get it.  Well, the Democrats are going to have to come back with people like Bob Casey in Pennsylvania, who is pro-life, and they‘re going to have to look for candidates who fit this bill. 

Let me ask you this.

APPLE:  Look, it‘s no coincidence that the last two Democrats who have been elected president have been Southerners.  And they‘ve both been religious Southerners, Clinton and Carter.  Whatever you think of their religions, they were not people who were afraid to talk about being religious. 

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that interesting?

Let me ask you about my city of Philadelphia.  This book is a treasure.  By the way, I especially offer this to traveling salesmen who look to—they have to go to a city they don‘t really want to have to go to.  It is so rich about my city.  Talk about Philly and why you think it is a great city. 

APPLE:  Well, I say—people in Philadelphia are maybe a little bit upset with me.  I say it is a city on second base and not sure whether it can get home. 

By that, I mean, Philadelphia is a city that had the guts taken out of it.  Think of the Philadelphia institutions that disappeared, from the Athletics to “The Saturday Evening Post.”

MATTHEWS:  Pennsylvania Railroad. 

APPLE:  Pennsylvania Railroad.

MATTHEWS:  “The Bulletin.”

APPLE:  “The Bulletin.”  Wanamaker‘s Department Store, all gone, and with them jobs. 

Philadelphia is trying to remake itself on the basis of culture and—

What shall I call it? -- historical tourism.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

APPLE:  And a love of Rocky. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But I walked down the Avenue of the Arts the other day in Philadelphia.  And I had a little coffee at the Starbucks there.  That area is really a booming cultural center. 

APPLE:  It is, indeed.  It started with the Cezanne exhibition. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

APPLE:  People not only came from strange foreign cities like New York and Washington.  They came in from the main line. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

APPLE:  Some of them hadn‘t been into town for 40 years from the suburbs.  So, that said to the city fathers, hey, we got something here. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  It‘s a great...

(CROSSTALK)

APPLE:  So Broad Street became the Avenue of the Arts. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s why we need cities, still, is for culture, right? 

You can‘t get it in the burbs. 

APPLE:  Right.  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  Johnny Apple, we can‘t get you in the burbs either. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  “Apple‘s America.”  This guy—this is a treasure chest, especially for the lonely guy out there traveling alone and he wants to feel good about the city he is visiting.

Tomorrow on HARDBALL, what the British election will mean for America‘s war in Iraq, Tony Blair facing the lions in Britain. 

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

END

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