updated 5/23/2005 2:18:50 PM ET 2005-05-23T18:18:50

Guest: Wayne Downing, Patrick Lang, Robin Wright, Ahmed Nazif, Colin Powell, Howard Fineman, Margaret Carlson

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  A London tabloid shows Saddam Hussein in his underwear.  Will the front page picture stir more anti-American fury in Iraq in the Muslim world? 

Let‘s play HARDBALL. 

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  Tonight, my interview with former Secretary of State Colin Powell about the work he‘s undertaken for America‘s youth. 

But first, a London tabloid splashes a photo of an underdressed Saddam Hussein, and says their source is a U.S. military official.  NBC‘s Don Teague is in London with the latest.

DON TEAGUE, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Good evening, Chris, from London, where people were shocked to wake up this morning and see this.  That, of course, is a picture of Saddam Hussein in his underwear, splashed on the front page of the U.K.‘s most popular newspaper.  The Sun newspaper says it got the pictures from military sources.  They include some other photographs of Saddam Hussein doing things like hand-washing his socks, sleeping and shuffling around his prison cell.  Now according to The Sun, their source handed over the pictures in an effort to weaken the Iraqi resistance by showing Saddam Hussein not as a superman or a god, but quote, “an aging, humble old man.”

One of Saddam‘s defense attorneys reacted to the pictures this morning on “THE TODAY SHOW.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIOVANNI DISTEFANO, SADDAM HUSSEIN‘S ATTORNEY:  All of us are outraged, and it is of course regrettable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TEAGUE:  Well, meanwhile, the U.S. military calls the release of the pictures a clear violation of DOD directives and possibly Geneva Convention guidelines for the humane treatment of detained individuals.  Officials are launching an investigation to try to find the source of those pictures which they say are probably at least a year old—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you, Don Teague.  Patrick Lang, a former defense intelligence official who specialized in the Middle East.  Robin Wright is the diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post.  But we begin with General Wayne Downing who commanded a special operations task force during the first Gulf War.

General Downing, what positive value could putting these pictures in the paper do for our side in this war?

GEN. WAYNE DOWNING, (RET.) U.S. ARMY:  Chris, I don‘t see much positive that is going to come out of these things.  I think in themselves, they‘re probably not going to stir a whole lot of sympathy for Saddam Hussein.  But what it does do is you put it in the larger composite and, you know, you take a look at the Abu Ghraib pictures.  You take a look at the abuse of—the other stories of abuse of prisoners.  You look at this Koran story that came out.  And then you add Saddam Hussein.  And what this plays into, Chris, is this big war of ideas struggle that we have with these Islamist extremists.  And of course, the goal is the allegiance of the vastly largely uncommitted Muslim population.  This plays right into what the Islamists are telling them, that the United States action shows.

MATTHEWS:  U.S. military—excuse me, general. 

DOWNING:  . that they have no respect for the Islamic religion.

MATTHEWS:  General, this is an odd question.

DOWNING:  . or for the Muslims.

MATTHEWS:  The hard question for me is, do you believe any U.S.  military official of any rank thought they were doing America‘s business when they sold this picture—this set of pictures to a tab in London?

DOWNING:  Boy, I‘ll tell you, Chris, it is a real stretch for me that somebody in the military did this.  Maybe somebody associated with the military.  But I think anybody that has got a head, anybody that is thinking about this thing, that understands what this struggle is all about, could just see that this is—no good is going to come of this.  This is just another thing we‘re going to have to get over.

MATTHEWS:  Patrick Lang, do you think we‘re in speculation time right now this week and going into the weekend, but it‘s not just a question of whether a military guy did it, it‘s whether anybody did it with a positive motive, we might think would be appropriate here.

PATRICK LANG, FMR. DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE OFFICER:  Well, the only thing you can say about this at this point I think is that anybody who had access to him who had a digital camera and an Internet account could have done this.  And I think probably there are some Iraqis who have access to him as well as us, even though we guard him.  So I wouldn‘t quite accept the idea yet that some American soldier did this out of a sense of cupidity or plain stupidity.  I‘m not sure yet what that is.  But in fact, I can‘t believe that anybody would think this is a good idea, because it will affect us badly.

MATTHEWS:  Well, somebody thought $900 was a good idea. 

LANG:  Well, that was.

MATTHEWS:  Because the paper said that‘s what they paid the person to give them these.

LANG:  if somebody paid—took $900 to do this, they certainly didn‘t have the best interests of the United States at heart, because this—people in fact in Arab countries have a high sense of what the dignity ought to be for a former head of state.  Even if they hate Saddam Hussein, they will think this is bad.

MATTHEWS:  I want Robin Wright to jump in here on what the general, General Downing said about how this will be received in concert with the recent bad news of Abu Ghraib and this big long torture discussion about whether Newsweek had a story or they probably didn‘t have a story about the flushing down the toilet of the Koran.

ROBIN WRIGHT, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Well, this comes at a very unfortunate time, because Laura Bush, the first lady, arrived in the Middle East yesterday and is planning to give a major speech on Saturday, talking about the kind of respect the United States does have for the Islamic world.  And this comes at a time that threatens to kind of undermine what she is saying.  At the same time, I think that within Iraq, which is, in some ways a very—or maybe the most important audience, that you will get a very different reception I think, even among the insurgents.  There are some who are Saddam loyalists who will be probably even deeply more angry over this publication of photographs.  But I don‘t think it‘s going to  impact the Islamic extremists, the foreign fighters.  I don‘t think that Saddam is an issue for them.  So the reaction to this will be quite diverse, in fact. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you this about the pictures over there.  Do you think this is something that the pictures—are they going to run in the Arab papers over there?

WRIGHT:  Oh, I suspect they will tomorrow when—after the Muslim Sabbath, they will find that this plays in most papers and this will probably have an aftermath we‘ll see it in next week. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you—let me go right now to General Downing.  Of course the big concern we have in the short term, in the first instance, is whether this exposes our troops to more suicide attacks.  I‘m reading about suicide people coming at us over there in Baghdad with their feet duct-taped to the accelerator pedal in a car, their hands duct-taped to wheel, this kind of suicidal fanaticism.  Is it going to fuel that because the religious people might feel, hey, their religion really—and their identity is really under assault here? 

DOWNING:  Chris, I‘m not sure what‘s really going to fuel it is.  It‘s going to reinforce some ideas.  I really think Robin has got it right when she says the Salafists, the Sunni Salafist extremists, it isn‘t going to make much difference to them.  Some of the pro-Baath Party people, former regime officials, it is just going to still them.  But, you know, as we‘re all talking, you know, this is just one event in a big mosaic.  And it just reinforces an image that we don‘t need in the Islamic world, and an image that we‘re trying to shed if we‘re going to get on with this struggle.  And this is a long struggle. 

MATTHEWS:  What about the military?  Let me talk to you about discipline.

DOWNING:  And it is going to take us time to work out of it. 

MATTHEWS:  General, the discipline question.  What kind of officer would believe that they should be freelancing photos? 

DOWNING:  Well, I think Pat has it right, too.  You know, let‘s not jump to conclusions that it is an officer. 

MATTHEWS:  You mean, they‘re lying, the British press is lying? 

DOWNING:  No, no.  I‘m not saying that. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, they said it was a U.S. military official, the press. 

DOWNING:  Well, let‘s see what actually comes out of this thing.  The thing we have to remember now, Chris, the people that have had access to Saddam Hussein are not a bunch of reservists, National Guard MPs.  The security on Saddam Hussein is first class, top rate professionals.  So, you know, the people who have gotten these pictures, and, you know, they could have taken these off of a video surveillance camera.  They could have taken stills off this thing.  But however they‘ve gotten these things, they were wrong to do it.  And certainly, the motivation, you know, $900 is nothing, I mean, to pay for something like this.  So it‘s probably not money.  But I hadn‘t thought that perhaps it is not even an American who is involved in that.  But that‘s also possible, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Patrick, let me ask you about this whole (INAUDIBLE).  The president obviously believes in the importance of public diplomacy and this cultural war going on in the airwaves with Al-Jazeera and all the other competing sources of information in that part of the world.  Karen Hughes he‘s deployed to take this, his most trusted friend and ally in politics to go over and do this.  If you put it all altogether, Abu Ghraib, the argument of the Koran this week, this thing this week, are we getting killed in this war in public diplomacy and public argument? 

LANG:  We‘re not doing very well.  And it is against the backdrop in which a lot of Muslims across the world tend to think in a kind of we-they basis in which they naturally are willing to accept ideas that we have done some bad thing to them or to their religion.  So these things have a kind of cumulative effect, you know?  And one thing builds on another.  And there‘s this large number of people in Iraq who either have been somewhat favorable to the insurgents, these are Sunni Arabs, probably, or they have been passively accepting of them.  And this kind of a thing, when you get this time after time, the disrespect of the guy, a violation of Arab standards of modesty, all that kind of stuff.  It could tip people to some extent in the direction of supporting the insurgents.  I would agree the jihadis don‘t care about this.  They would like to get their hands on Saddam themselves.  And the nationalists, the Baathists, they in fact—I think they‘ve moved way past Saddam Hussein.  They have their own agenda of returning to power. 

MATTHEWS:  Robin, get on that topic right now, if you don‘t mind.  Because we haven‘t talked about Saddam Hussein in so many months.  What is his iconic role right now?  Is there a sense of “bring back Saddam” among the insurgents?   Or what is it, is he overlooked and passed by or what?  How would you describe his role now? 

WRIGHT:  I don‘t think he has much of a role at all, in fact, except maybe among 10, 15, maximum 20 percent of the insurgents, the Baath loyalists, maybe larger.  I don‘t think we have any firm idea on the numbers.  But the fact is they‘re a very diverse elements to this insurgency, and we make a mistake by pulling them altogether.  Saddam, I don‘t think there‘s any nostalgia for Saddam at all.  It is a little bit like neighboring Iran where there is a nostalgia for the time of the shah but not the shah himself.  There was greater—ironically  less crime, more electricity, less uncertainty about just walking out in the street during the time of Saddam, despite his extraordinary repression of his population.  And I think for that reason, there‘s a little bit of wistfulness about a period of comparative order.  But none for the man himself. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  General, stay with us.  Stay with us, Robin and Patrick.  When we return, we‘ll ask about the American military‘s role in Iraq right now.  We‘ll be back with General Wayne Downing, Patrick Lang, and Robin Wright.

And on Monday on HARDBALL, Senator John McCain will be our guest.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  We‘re back with Patrick Lang, Robin Wright, and General Wayne Downing. 

General Downing, the Geneva Convention, what does it say about taking embarrassing pictures of people and putting them in newspapers? 

DOWNING:  It says you‘re not supposed to do that, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Simple as that.  OK.  Let me move on, that was a quick response.   Here‘s one, Pat, listen.

DOWNING:  Yes, I know, I mean. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s obvious, right?  Is that what you‘re saying, General, it‘s obvious?  We shouldn‘t be doing it. 

DOWNING:  Yes, yes.  It‘s obvious, yes.  You‘re just not supposed to do that. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Here‘s what President Bush said about the photos of Saddam Hussein. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I don‘t think a photo inspires murderers.  I think they‘re inspired by an ideology that is so barbaric and backwards that it is hard for many in the Western world to comprehend how they think. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  “Barbaric and backward.” Do you think that is going to resonate as a phrase throughout the Middle East in the next couple of hours? 

LANG:  I think you have to be really careful about using language like this, because there are a lot of really fervent Muslims out there who, although they‘re not violent people, share some of the attitudes and thinking of the people who are fighting us in various places.  And when you start calling them barbarians and talk about their tradition of murder, and things like this, you run the risk of making them think, well, he is against all of us, in fact, it‘s not just this particular bunch of hoodlums that are—that fly airplanes into buildings, things like that.  So I think it is really—that kind of language is not a good idea. 

MATTHEWS:  Robin, what grabbed me was the word “backward.” I always thought that was the extremist—most extreme sensitivity of the Arab and Muslim world. that they have been, to some extent—well, to a large extent, passed by technologically.   And they really deep down feel very angry about it. 

WRIGHT:  Well, it‘s as if there‘s a differentiation among cultures and societies and I think that won‘t play well.  But ironically, I think the thing that is going to resonate so much far more than the photographs themselves is the fact that this appears to be a total abrogation or ignoring of the Geneva Convention.  The fact that the United States doesn‘t play by the rules—the international rules, that it promoted, that it still promotes around the world.  So I think that is going to be what haunts us in some ways more than the photographs. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask General Downing, as a man who has led troops into battle, do you think that the afterglow or the fallout of the Newsweek account that came out two weeks ago, and they attempted to repair beginning this past weekend‘s—with last weekend‘s edition, do you think that‘s going to have a continuing impact out there in the field? 

DOWNING:  Well, Chris, not on our soldiers.  I think our soldiers read this.  They‘re very with it.  They know what‘s going on.  They have access to all the television, all the cable shows.  So, I mean, they know what is going on.  But they‘ve got their mission and they have got to do it.  I think some of them are probably shaking their heads and say, hey, they‘re just putting another rock here in my rucksack.  But I think the effect that we have got to look at is what does this have on the population in Iraq?  What is the effect on Muslims around the world?  And again, I don‘t think the Saddam Hussein pictures are that bad of themselves.  But added with all these other things, you know, it really reinforces this message that the Islamists give that we are anti-Muslim, that this is a war against Islam.  And that‘s not what we want. 

You know, we talked about this war of ideas, this public diplomacy.  It has not been good.  And one of the reason it has not been good is because we‘ve got an American face on this whole thing.  And we‘re not telling that story well.  We‘ve got to get people in those countries to do it, people with not visible connections to us, to tell the story.  Because we‘re not any good at doing it ourselves.  Somebody that handles domestic political affairs and knows how to appeal to an American audience is not going to go to places like Indonesia, the Sudan, and Pakistan and put out a message that is going to be acceptable or even believed by some of these populations. 

MATTHEWS:  Patrick, what is going to be worse in terms of the impact in the Arab world, in terms of casualties we‘re going to take in the next couple of months, the story about the toilet, the flushing down of the Koran, which turns out not to be true, or this picture-taking of the former tyrant, Saddam Hussein, which is true? 

LANG:  Well, as I said, this has a cumulative effect.  And the issue -

·         the cultural values, as General Downing was saying, are quite different in these places.  The idea of somebody showing you in your shorts on television or in the newspapers or something like this doesn‘t resonate the same way.  Where they are very personally offended by the... 

MATTHEWS:  We had Ron Reagan do it a couple years ago on “Saturday Night Live.” 

LANG:  In fact, it isn‘t the same thing at all.  This is taken as a deep insult that you would show something, especially somebody who been the president of an Arab state.  So that really hurts us a lot.  In the end, if we can prove that nobody really desecrated the Koran at Guantanamo, then in fact that will gradually die away.  But, I mean, this image will persist all over the Arab world for quite a while. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  It‘s going to be in all his news services, these pictures are going to be in every paper from now on.  Anyway, thank you very much.  Patrick Lang, Robin Wright, and General Wayne Downing, thanks all, have a nice weekend. 

In a moment, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell‘s interview with the Egyptian prime minister about the elections coming up in Egypt and the Muslim world‘s view of America right now. 

This is HARDBALL only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is promising elections in his country this September.  This week, President Bush met with Egypt‘s prime minister and urged that the elections be free and fair. 

NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell sat down with the Egyptian prime minister and asked about his country‘s resistance to democratic reforms. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  Tell us about your meeting with President Bush.  Did he press you on democratic reforms in Egypt? 

AHMED NAZIF, EGYPTIAN PRIME MINISTER:  He urged us to make sure that the next presidential election will be free and fair and transparent.  I think he was very positive about the whole thing. 

MITCHELL:  The president has wanted international monitors to be on the scene in the Egyptian election.  You have said that local judges can handle it.  Are you willing to accept international monitors? 

NAZIF:  I think the maybe thing that we want to do is to reflect the free and fair elections.  We haven‘t decided yet whether that entitles to have international monitors or not.  You know, the way the world observes elections today makes it very difficult for you to hide an election. 

MITCHELL:  But what would be wrong with international monitors, Jimmy Carter?  People of his stature have done this in the past, have gone all over the world to all sort of places to monitor elections.  What would be the drawback of having the world see it firsthand? 

NAZIF:  In the Middle East, in countries that you know have been subjected to foreign interference, colonialism for a long time, there is some sensitivity there.  The main objections are coming from the judges themselves.  They don‘t want anybody else to run the elections with them. 

MITCHELL:  There is a great deal of controversy here in the United States that you must have noticed since you were here, about the article in Newsweek and about the way the Koran was or was not handled in the prisons.  What is your view of this and of the sensitivities, and of what the American people, the American administration need to do to reassure the Muslim world that this is not a deliberate slight of the Muslim religion? 

NAZIF:  Yes.  I think the incident itself, if it happened, would be very unfortunate.  But even more importantly, the way the reaction is taking place in the Islamic world is very indicative of the sentiment that exists.  I think that there is a feeling there that there is sort of a conspiracy theory around about Americans intentions towards Islam.  And I think we need to deal with that.  Now the image problem needs to be dealt with on both sides.  There is an image problem for the Middle East, for Islam, in the West.  And there is an image problem—an equal image problem, for the United States in the Islamic world. 

MITCHELL:  How do you think the Iraq War and the continuing problems of the insurgency and the occupation have affected that image problem? 

NAZIF:  I believe that‘s part of the problem, because many people in the Middle East see the conflict in Iraq as something that could have been avoided, but in fact has happened. 

MITCHELL:  Did you discuss this with the president in the meeting today, the aftermath of the Iraq War and how it is affecting the region? 

NAZIF:  We talked mostly about what we can do together to get the process as a success.  We don‘t intend to send any soldiers to Iraq.  The president didn‘t ask us for that.  But we think that that we need to make sure that the Iraqi soldiers are being well-trained. 

MITCHELL:  One of the other great preoccupations right now of the United States and also its European allies is what is happening in Iran.  If Iran develops a nuclear weapon, will you feel that Egypt needs to for its own security in the region? 

NAZIF:  No.  Our decision was very clear.  We will not pursue the development of the nuclear weapons in Egypt. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  That was Andrea Mitchell interviewing Egypt‘s prime minister. 

When we return, we‘ll catch up with Colin Powell and find out about his work on behalf of America‘s youth. 

And this Sunday on “MEET THE PRESS,” Tim Russert interviews Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC ANCHOR:  MSNBC keeps you up-to-the-minute every 15 minutes.  I‘m Milissa Rehberger.  Here is the latest.

Idaho authorities have dismissed a tip that two missing children were spotted in a van.  Police say they have few clues in the disappearance of 9-year-old Dylan Groene and his 8-year-old sister, Shasta.  They disappeared from the house where their mother, brother, and a family friend were found murdered on Monday. 

Michael Jackson‘s former lawyer Mark Geragos returned to the witness stand at Jackson‘s child molestation trial today.  Geragos testified that he told an investigator to monitor the accuser‘s family after he suspected they would meet with tabloid reporters or try to sue Jackson.  Meanwhile, the defense is expected to rest the case as early as next Tuesday. 

And the Justice Department will make information on sex offenders available on a single Web site.  Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says the site will be running in a few months.  It will include state-by-state information on convicted sex offenders including names, photos, and background information. 

You‘re up-to-date.  Now let‘s go back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

He‘s a four-star general who became a national hero as one of the architects of the first Gulf War.  He wrote the blueprint commonly known as the Powell doctrine for using overwhelming force in military conflicts. 

His autobiography became an instant best-seller, but his story didn‘t end there.  President Bush named him to be secretary of state.  And while he often found himself at odds with administration hawks over foreign policy, he in the end made the case for war with Iraq before the United Nations. 

Now Colin Powell has returned to a cause he holds close to his heart, helping underprivileged young Americans.  We spoke to General Powell at an event for his organization, America‘s Promise.  And while he wouldn‘t discuss politics or the war in Iraq, it was a chance to catch up with his latest mission. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COLIN POWELL, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE:  The campaign is called America‘s Promise, The Alliance for Youth.  We formed it some eight years ago.  And it‘s intended to bring into the lives of needy young people the resources that we think they need to be successful, responsible caring adults. 

It‘s a safe place in which to learn and to grow, a healthy start in life, skills they need and an opportunity to give back.  We‘ve been at it for eight years.  We‘ve had a lot of success with it.  My wife is now the chairman of the organization.  We have got a great board. 

And more and more communities and corporations are joining into this effort to bring these resources in the lives of young people in need.  What we have just done is to launch a new effort as part of America‘s Promise.  And that‘s to identify the 100 best communities in America for young people. 

Why?  Because it‘s good to have a little competition.  But it‘s not just to identify the 100 best.  But through this process of looking for the 100 best, encourage thousands of communities around America to take a look at what they‘re doing.  Can they do more?  Can they her from each other?  Is there synergy in all of this?  And can we take America‘s Promise up to another level? 

MATTHEWS:  How do we get kids coming out of the inner city, or rural areas, or wherever, to have the skills to compete in the world?  Because according to Tom Friedman‘s latest book, a kid coming out of America has got to compete with a kid from India, man to man, woman to woman. 

POWELL:  You‘d better believe it.  Our youngsters are now in competition not just with other youngsters in America, but in this “Flat World” that our friend Tom Friedman talks about, we‘re competing with Indian engineers, and Pakistani engineers, and Chinese youngsters who are going to science fairs, high-school science fairs, and you can get five million Chinese students in such a science fair, but only about 65,000 Americans. 

So we have got to put our youngsters on a better track to success in our schools, which means better schools, more investment in our schools, more investment in our teachers.  But it‘s not just the schools.  It‘s responsibility of families, as well, to give the youngsters the right start in life. 

So Head Start programs, and you know, focus on the family, all of this is important to start kids off well.  They don‘t start their educational experience in the first grade.  They start it at home with adults reading to them, adults giving them a send of purpose and discipline, how to mind your manners, how to listen to somebody.  These are the basic things youngsters need as they start down the educational path. 

Once they get into our schools, they‘ve got to be challenged.  They‘ve got to be pressed to apply themselves, to study hard, to take the things that, you know, most youngsters tend to shy away from, at least I did, math and science.  We need more of our youngsters going into these technical fields. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s imagine there‘s a sharp adult out there right  now.  He may be retired; he may be still be working.  His kids—he‘s an empty nester.  He doesn‘t have any kids anymore.  He‘s a little scared about going perhaps into the inner city and saying, “I‘m going to help a kid.  I‘m going to connect up with a kid who may not have the right attitude toward me right now.”  How do you get him past that barrier of saying, “All right, I‘m going to take some risks.  I‘m going to help a kid”? 

POWELL:  It‘s a great question.  And what we have to do is expand programs such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters, which can save to this empty nester out there.  We‘re not asking you to become this kid‘s father.  We‘re just asking you to spend a couple of hours a week in touch with this youngster, to hear this kid‘s dreams, to give this kid the benefit of your experience, be a big brother, not a father. 

We‘re not asking to you take on the full burden of responsibility for that youngster.  Most of the youngsters that we look for mentors for have parents.  The parents just need some additional help, or it‘s a single parent who needs some additional help. 

So I would say to the empty nester, “Reach out.  Go on your community Web site.  Reach out to big brothers and big sisters.  Go to your church.  See what you can do.  And see if you can not give a few hours a week to get in the life of one or two or more youngsters and share your experience.  If you have raised children, then you know what it‘s all about.  Here‘s a chance to touch another young life.”

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me—last question for the general and the former secretary of state.  What‘s it like being like this, doing this kind of thing, compared to trying to keep order in the world? 

POWELL:  Well, it‘s a little different, but you know, I did this

before.  And I will be helping my wife and all of the other leaders of

America‘s Progress with this effort.  But I‘m also looking at other things

that I think will keep me in touch with that world that you‘ve made

reference to. 

MATTHEWS:  Can you give us any scoops? 

POWELL:  Well, I‘m looking at a number of ideas as to how I can use my experience as a general, as a diplomat, to remain involved in the needs of the world.  In fact, the kinds of challenges that we‘re dealing with here at home, that America‘s Promise is addressing, are challenges that exist all over the world.  And maybe the kind of promised approach we have taken to this challenge here in America is an approach that I can take to the rest of the world or other countries in the world. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, please come back and give us a briefing on that at the time. 

POWELL:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, General Powell.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Now back to our top story, the pictures of Saddam Hussein in his underwear that were printed in a London tabloid.  HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster reports on the impact those photographs could have on the insurgents in Iraq. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  The photo headline, “Tyrant in his Pants,” was published by the British tabloid, “The Sun.”  “The Sun” says it obtained the pictures, quote, “from U.S. military sources,” and that the photos were leaked in the hope of dealing a body blow to the resistance. 

In the Muslim world, such pictures are considered culturally humiliating.  The Bush administration promised an aggressive leak investigation, even as the president and his spokesman seemed to be at odds with each other over the photo. 

TRENT DUFFY, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN:  I think this could have serious impact, as could the—as we talked about with the revelations of prisoner abuse. 

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I don‘t think a photo inspires murderers.  I think they‘re inspired by an ideology that is so barbaric and backwards that it‘s hard for many in the western world to comprehend how they think. 

SHUSTER:  Many Muslims, though, who have not joined the insurgency still think the United States is evil.  First, they were outraged by the early photos at Guantanamo Bay when prisoners were shackled and blind-folded on the ground.  Then there were the bizarre mortician photos of Saddam Hussein‘s sons.  The U.S. military wanted to prove Uday and Qusay were gone, even though Islam prohibits parading the faces of the dead. 

PAUL BREMER, FORMER HEAD OF COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY:  Ladies and gentlemen, we got him. 

SHUSTER:  When Saddam was captured, videos of the former Iraqi leader being examined by a medic were criticized even by the Vatican.  A top cardinal said American forces were treating the Iraqi leader like a cow. 

And then there was Abu Ghraib.  The photos included prisoners hooded and standing on a box, prisoners piled naked, others being bitten by dogs, and one prisoner being controlled with a leash. 

JULIETTE KAYYEM, HOMELAND SECURITY ANALYST:  Clearly, someone in charge is not taking responsibility for the—either the abuse of prisoners, or the taking pictures of them, or the humiliation. 

SHUSTER:  The demeaning underwear photo of Saddam, who is guarded 24 hours a day by the U.S. military, comes after reports of Koran abuse triggered widespread anti-American riots last week in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  And in Iraq, the insurgency seems as violent as ever with a steady supply of Muslims willing to carry out suicide attacks. 

And so Bush administration officials acknowledge this is a delicate time, as “The Sun” newspaper promises to release more photos this weekend. 

I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David Shuster.  In a moment, we‘ll have the current photos.  We‘ll talk about how the current photos of Saddam Hussein sparked more anti-American violence.  That‘s a big potential out there.  “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman and “Time” magazine‘s Margaret Carlson will be here to talk about the damages, the damage report on these pictures.

And don‘t forget:  Sign up for HARDBALL‘s daily e-mail briefing.  Just

log onto our Web site, hardball.msnbc.com

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC ANCHOR:  MSNBC keeps you up-to-the-minute every 15 minutes.  I‘m Milissa Rehberger.

Indiana‘s parole board has recommended against clemency for a death-row inmate who wants to be an organ donor.  Gregory Scott Johnson is scheduled to be executed next Wednesday.  On Monday, he asked for more time so he can donate part of his liver to his ailing sister. 

Senate Republicans have scheduled a test vote next Wednesday that could set off a filibuster showdown.  The Democrats refused to clear the way for a confirmation vote on one of the judicial nominees they‘ve been blocking.  Republicans vow to change the Senate rule on filibusters. 

And a new “Star Wars” movie set a new single-day record, taking in $50 million on its opening day yesterday.

That‘s it for now.  Let‘s go back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Today‘s photos of Saddam Hussein in his underwear come after “Newsweek‘s” report of the Koran abuse which the magazine retracted.  I‘m here with “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman and “Time” magazine‘s Margaret Carlson.  Macy‘s here talking to Gimble‘s, after the destruction of Macy‘s.

Let me ask you, Howard, you know, I have to tell you.  This is not smarmy B.S.  I sat there reading an advance copy of your magazine last Sunday at home with my cigar out on the patio like I like to do.  I thought your piece on Arlen Specter was spectacular.  And I‘m looking at the magazine.  I said this magazine is a hell of a magazine these days.  What went wrong? 

HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK”:  I think we weren‘t as careful as we should have been.  We were following what we might have thought were routine and good journalistic procedures that turned out not to be enough to protect us from a very bad mistake that caused real injury, caused death, that we will always be responsible for and always feel badly about.  It‘s because we thought we had something confirmed enough.  We clearly didn‘t.  And when we realized it, we eventually retracted it. 

MATTHEWS:  Margaret, you‘re talking to somebody who is a top official, or a senior official, inside an institution that you‘re reporting on, in this case, the military.  You‘ve relied on this official for years.  And he‘s always, or she‘s always, been first-rate, honest, credible, candid. 

You get a story from a person like that that‘s worth putting in the magazine on deadline.  You check it out, or you run it by somebody else in the department.  They say, “No problem.”

What do you do to prevent that from turning into a disaster?  If you‘ve seemed to have gone through the traces, at least enough, to avoid a disaster and you face a disaster. 

MARGARET CARLSON, “TIME”:  You almost can‘t.  If your source is hopelessly wrong on something the source thinks is right, and then you take the extra step of passing it by people who should have known, and they don‘t stop you...

MATTHEWS:  Who should have seen the incendiary prospects. 

CARLSON:  Yes, they at least should have at least known what the consequences could have been and did not stop. 

FINEMAN:  It‘s easier for to you say that than for me, because we were wrong.  What happened was, that the original source, who was very credible and who had helped us in the past reliably, turned out, when we went back to this person later, not to be sure of their memory.  At that moment, we realized that no amount of running it past other people was going to be enough because that source really didn‘t know what he or she was talking about. 

MATTHEWS:  And they weren‘t willing to stand up under pressure?

FINEMAN:  They weren‘t willing to stand up under the pressure.  And there may be another story, but not one that we‘re reporting at this moment. 

CARLSON:  I think speed is of the essence when these happens.  When your source crumbles, you‘ve got to...

MATTHEWS:  John Podhoretz who writes a column—I think it‘s online.  I really respect him.  He is a conservative; I like him.  He said he thought that this isn‘t just a question of getting a fact wrong.  It‘s a question of a value system that‘s wrong. 

You take a story that you know is going to be incendiary, it‘s going to start fires all over the Middle East, and it did, something really, really hot.  And you put it in a magazine knowing it‘s going to cause anti-American hysteria and maybe death.  You don‘t know, and you run it. 

Was there a question, in your mind, that whether “Newsweek” was right

·         even if they had the fact right about flushing a Koran down the toilet -

·         whether to put that in a magazine?

FINEMAN:  Well, Chris, here‘s the remarkable thing.  I don‘t think anybody at “Newsweek”—and all my colleague who work on the story will and have said this—none of them really realized that it would be incendiary.  And it wasn‘t really the focus of the inquiries when we were putting that periscope item together. 

It more had to do with questions of culpability of a general who may or may not have been responsible for what was going on at Guantanamo.  The matter of the alleged desecration of the Koran wasn‘t even on anybody‘s radar screen.  And as other people...

MATTHEWS:  Would it have been on yours? 

FINEMAN:  Probably not to the extent that it should have been.  I think the failing...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Flushing the Koran down the toilet wouldn‘t look like an insult to a billion people? 

FINEMAN:  Well, I think it might.  But you asked me what my reaction would have been.  And I have to tell you honestly—and this is the real failing of American journalism, perhaps, or one of them—that in this very small world, we don‘t know as much about other cultures and other religions as we should, which is especially damning at a time when we‘re at war, at least in part, with Islamic extremists. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you going to hire a mullah to check your copy? 

FINEMAN:  No, no, we‘re all going to...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, what are you going to do to avoid this insensitivity you‘ve exposed here? 

FINEMAN:  Well, we‘re all going to have to learn.  We‘re all going to have to learn very rapidly.  And unfortunately, this is, you know, not a very pleasant way to have to learn, but I think it‘s probably all the more symbolic of American culture than we want to realize. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I think these cultures are warring with each other.  You look at—you know, beheading is not a big deal in part of the Islamic world.  It‘s the way they execute people, like the French did all those years.  But when we see a beheading, we go nuts.  Right?  We go crazy.

CARLSON:  And they know we do, which is why they videotape it. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s their way of flushing the Koran down the toilet to us. 

CARLSON:  But flushing a Koran down the toilet is worse than Muslims killing other Muslims. 

MATTHEWS:  First of all, I don‘t know what industrial strength toilet can handle a book.  Do you?  I‘m serious. 

CARLSON:  You can‘t flush a bible down a toilet.

FINEMAN:  Well, yes, I can‘t—I know even less about plumbing, OK? 

MATTHEWS:  How about an incendiary question?  Is it possible that the first account by Mike Isikoff is true? 

FINEMAN:  Yes.  It‘s very possible.  And that‘s part of the sea that this was all floating on.  Many, many allegations by detainees that this kind of conduct had happened, other rumors floating around of that kind.  What we thought we had that was news was that American investigators had confirmed these allegations and that that confirmation would be in an Army report.  That turned out...

MATTHEWS:  The fact was wrong. 

FINEMAN:  That fact at least was not true enough for us to have reported it in the first place, OK?  Because our source...

CARLSON:  You see it in the report.  But it could be...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  ... the source backed up.

MATTHEWS:  Is “Newsweek” still out there reporting on use of religion against detainees? 

FINEMAN:  Sure, we are.  And I think so is much of the journalism world doing the same thing.  It‘s a big question because we are in a conflict of civilizations.  And we have to show that we‘re tough, but we have to show that we‘re respectful, as well.  And to the extent that “Newsweek” didn‘t hold up its part in the American bargain, I think that‘s a shame. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, we‘ll be right back.  Excuse me, we‘ll be right with Howard Fineman and Margaret Carlson. 

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Howard Fineman and Margaret Carlson.  What did your magazine at “Newsweek,” after this brutal week for you guys, a “Bad Day at Black Rock,” I guess, what did you think of having the White House press secretary dictate terms? 

FINEMAN:  Well, not only did we not like it, apparently the rest of the White House press room didn‘t like it.  And I actually think in pure...

MATTHEWS:  The country probably loved it. 

FINEMAN:  Yes, the country probably loved it.  But in terms of pure spin terms inside the beltway, that ended the story.  Because to all the other reporters who, you know, were wondering what we had done and why, suddenly their attention returned to the White House‘s efforts to strong-arm the press.  And they didn‘t like it. 

I should say also we‘re looking at the procedures we use.  And I think we will tighten as necessary so this doesn‘t happen again. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, wouldn‘t it be good for your magazine—I will now prescribe an option.

FINEMAN:  Yes, please.

MATTHEWS:  I know you can—when I was in the Peace Corps, you could get a magazine overseas, those thin airmail editions. 

CARLSON:  International.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  “Newsweeks” for all Peace Corps...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You get them in Nairobi.  You can get them all over the Middle East. 

FINEMAN:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Wouldn‘t it be good to have a copy of “Newsweek,” the international edition at least, that said we were wrong on the cover so the Arabs, and the Islamic people, and the other people over there would read it and say, “I guess they‘re apologizing.” 

FINEMAN:  Well, we did say—Chris, we did say we were wrong in the magazine.  We said in so many words...

MATTHEWS:  It was buried. 

FINEMAN:  No, it wasn‘t buried.  It was a big story.

CARLSON:  The editor‘s note, but...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  No, it wasn‘t just an editor‘s note.  It was a big long story.  We turned all our reporting resources... 

MATTHEWS:  In what paragraph did you finely admit the mistake in? 

FINEMAN:  ... on herself.  I think it was right there in the second paragraph which for us is like the lead.  And it said, “How did ‘Newsweek‘ get its facts wrong?”  I mean, we do deserve credit, I think, for immediately turning all of our reporting resources on our own problems. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you going to—I‘m sorry to put you—are you going to follow up on your reporting on use of religion in prison?  Have you got any other stories to report along this line? 

FINEMAN:  Well, I think it‘s a big story.  And I think, as I said before, journalists around the world are looking at it.  We‘re looking at it, too. 

MATTHEWS:  Any more apology?  Any more explanation coming out next week‘s edition?

FINEMAN:  No.  We retracted what we had gotten wrong because we couldn‘t be sure of our source as we were when we published it.  And we‘re moving forward from here. 

MATTHEWS:  I want to move forward with you, Margaret.  No jumping on here, because you‘re “Time” magazine.  Let me ask you this.

CARLSON:  I know, but we didn‘t jump on. 

MATTHEWS:  I did note that was very polite.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about something where it isn‘t polite.  It‘s coming down to the real question here of power in the Senate.  My hunch is the Republicans have the votes to crack the filibuster and judicial nominees.  What‘s your hunch right now?  What‘s your numbers? 

CARLSON:  My hunch is that, in the end, when arms are twisted, the votes are there. 

MATTHEWS:  Enough to break it?

CARLSON:  However, I don‘t think it‘s going to happen immediately.  And I think cooler heads don‘t want it to happen.  There are people like John Warner.  He doesn‘t want the vote. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, give me scenario you think‘s going to work out between now and the Supreme Court fight of the summer. 

CARLSON:  That the Republicans, when they have the votes, are going to push it and go for it.  But in the meantime, John Warner, maybe your profile subject, Arlen Specter, certainly John McCain, Lincoln Chafee, are going to say, “Please don‘t make us walk the plank on this.” 

FINEMAN:  I think they‘re going to have to walk.  I think this is what...

MATTHEWS:  Walk the plank? 

FINEMAN:  I think this is what the whole Bush presidency is about. 

Not to be...

MATTHEWS:  Change. 

FINEMAN:  ... you know, operatic about it.  But it‘s true.  It‘s about change, and it‘s about the idea of the courts and the law in society as it relates to faith. 

MATTHEWS:  Sure.

FINEMAN:  We were talking about faith before.  This is about faith also.  It‘s about abortion.  It‘s about traditional family values.  It‘s about gay marriage.  It‘s about that whole complex of things.  This is what the Republican base wants.  This is what George Bush and Karl Rove have built his presidency on.  And this is what Frist wants to build on. 

MATTHEWS:  Some real conservatives in the U.S. Supreme Court. 

FINEMAN:  Real conservatives in the U.S. Supreme Court, and they will do what they have to in the Senate to get it. 

MATTHEWS:  Well said.  Thank you very much, Howard Fineman.  Good luck. 

FINEMAN:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  You were strong this week. 

Margaret Carlson, you were noble. 

Anyway, HARDBALL goes back on the road Monday for the premier of a new TV movie about the life of a familiar face on this show, Senator John McCain.  And in this little TV clip, he tells a Vietnam prisoner official he‘d rather stay in captivity than be granted amnesty.  This is an actor playing John McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  What is your decision? 

SHAWN HATOSY, ACTOR PORTRAYING SEN. JOHN MCCAIN:  I will remain here and wait for my proper turn. 

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  Major Overly and the others have left with honor.  This will get worse now, McCain.  You may not get a chance at all.  Do you realize that? 

HATOSY:  Yes. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  On Wednesday, Academy Award-winning actor and activist Tim Robbins is going to be here.  And then next Friday, long time Reagan aide Michael Deaver joins us.  And this weekend, I‘ll be giving the commencement address at Quinnipiac University up in Connecticut. 

Right now, it‘s Keith‘s top five stories of the week next on

COUNTDOWN.END

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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