Guest: William Ruckelshaus, John Harris, Frank Gaffney, William Schulz,
Leonard Downie, Henry Kissinger
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Over 30 years after the crime, the case on Watergate is closed. Tonight, the executive editor of “The Washington Post” gives the inside story on the coming out of Deep Throat.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews.
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Deep Throat knew.
But why did it take nearly a third of a century for him to reveal his name?
And what was it like in the newsroom of “The Washington Post” when he did? We‘ll talk to Len Downie, executor editor of “The Washington Post.” And we‘ll hear from Henry Kissinger on Watergate and Deep Throat.
We‘ll also debate the Amnesty International report that criticizes the U.S. detainment camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Plus, Bill Clinton as U.N. secretary—general, as president of the world? We‘ll talk to the man who reports that that may be the former president‘s dream job right now.
But, first, we‘re joined by NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, who was a Washington reporter during Watergate.
Andrea, you spoke with Ben Bradlee, “The Washington Post” editor who led the Watergate coverage. What was his reaction to Deep Throat coming out of the shadows?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, he was glad that it did come out. And he was glad that there was this revelation, because it is a good thing. It‘s a good thing for journalism. It shows that “The Washington Post” kept the secret for more than three decades and that there are times when anonymous sources are really important, critical, in fact, to the unveiling of a story.
It was a very tough time. And, certainly, they are reacting today, the principals, to the criticism of some of the former Nixon officials, who have been really striking back. And this is part of our interview earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITCHELL: How mean and ugly was it? We now see some of these post-Watergate people as pundits and commentators. And it seems there‘s sort of a moral equivalency. How does that make you feel?
BEN BRADLEE, FORMER “WASHINGTON POST” EDITOR: It makes me sick to hear Gordon Liddy talk about morality in government. He hasn‘t been out of jail all that long. I mean, I—it‘s—it‘s just—it makes me sick.
And why—why people—why the press goes to him to get quotes about the morality of—the morality of it all surprises me. Chuck Colson, the same way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MITCHELL: Ben Bradlee, the legendary editor, one of the three people who knew the identity of Deep Throat. He didn‘t initially. Chris, he told me That it wasn‘t until after Nixon resigned that he said to Woodward, I‘m Going to have to know. They took a walk, went to McPherson Square, only a few blocks from “The Post,” sat down on a bench.
And he said, you have got to tell me, who is it? And Woodward without hesitation told him. He said the whole conversation laughed three minutes.
MATTHEWS: You know, there were several hours yesterday, Andrea, when we knew that Mark Felt said he was Deep Throat. And Woodward and Bernstein and Ben Bradlee didn‘t say anything. In fact, there was a period there where they put out a statement, all of them very similar statements, sort of debunking the story.
MITCHELL: Well, what...
MATTHEWS: What changed their minds to say, OK, he‘s the one?
What changed was, there was apparently turmoil in the newsroom, according to “The Washington Post” today. You‘re going to be talking to Len Downie and he can certainly give you the straight skinny on that. And the fact that Woodward, Bernstein and Bradlee had promised not to tell his identity until his death. They wanted to ascertain for sure that he had given his permission wittingly.
He is an elderly gentleman who has had a stroke. They wanted to make sure that he wasn‘t pressured. So, that was really the Woodward relationship. He always referred to Felt as “my friend.” In fact, Richard Cohen wrote in “The Washington Post” in his syndicated column today, longtime Woodward friend and colleague at “The Post” had been on the front line also during that period.
And he had once noticed, he says, in Woodward‘s notebook, M.F., which are, of course, the initials of Mark Felt, who was rumored, speculated about as the secret source. So, he had also long suspected, but no one had ever pressed Woodward on it. And he, of course, had never given the acknowledgment. He didn‘t even want to acknowledge this when Felt‘s daughter said that it was her father. So, they had several meetings.
But he didn‘t want to release that without knowing for real that Felt had given it up. And, after that, I think there was a time in the newsroom, according to Bradlee, when Len Downie came back from a retreat on the Eastern shore, where there had been a “Washington Post” meeting. And they had sort of a session with Woodward and discussed how to proceed. And that‘s when they decided to tell all.
MATTHEWS: What do we make of the “Vanity Fair” scoop of Carl Bernstein, who is listed on their masthead as a contributing editor? He never—he knew nothing about this scoop. He was scooped by his own magazine.
MITCHELL: Well, the security internally at “Vanity Fair” was apparently quite extraordinary. They had code names and secret messages back and forth. And they had been working on this for two years, since this very happenstance conversation between Nick Jones, who is Mark Felt‘s grandson, and his college friend, who is the daughter of John O‘Connor, who wrote the piece, who is an attorney and initially talked to Felt under lawyer-client privilege.
MATTHEWS: Well, we‘re going to hear more from the others today. What a story. It keeps unraveling.
MITCHELL: It is a great yarn.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much—a great yarn, as you say. Thank you, Andrea Mitchell.
MITCHELL: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Joining me now is the executive editor of “The Washington Post,” Len Downie.
Len, how important is it your understanding, you were there at the time—how important was Mark Felt for “The Post” to break the Watergate story?
LEONARD DOWNIE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Well, he was crucial in a certain way, in that Bob and Carl, right away, as you know, got on to the story in finding out things from the court, from documents, chasing people down in the White House.
But it wasn‘t always easy to see the pattern of the information that they were finding. And Deep Throat was extremely important in helping point out patterns to Bob. Obviously, the famous phrase, follow the money. But that wasn‘t the only way in which he tried to guide Bob toward things that mattered and away from things that were extraneous.
MATTHEWS: Why was he so spooky about it, in the sense that he would give some information to your reporters, your colleagues, and then he would sort of pull back and not quite help or be helpful at critical times?
DOWNIE: I think he wanted to be as helpful as possible without being found out. He was the number two man in the FBI. Everybody now knows his position was very precarious. The Nixon administration was hunting for who Deep Throat was.
There was speculation, as we now know from the Nixon tapes, speculation by the president that it might be Mark Felt, and by Haldeman. And so, he wanted to give Woodward enough information to help Woodward along, it seemed to me, but at the same time wanted to protect himself by not giving away information that could be traced to him.
MATTHEWS: Len, you have an unbelievable amount of information around you every day you go to work, All the people working in “The Post” newsroom. Were you surprised it was Mark Felt?
DOWNIE: Well, here‘s how it has been, Chris.
Obviously, I‘ve speculated over the years, along with everybody else. And, obviously, I have some insider knowledge that helped me eliminate some suspects and focus on others. And I first guessed that had it was Elliot Richardson. And when Mr. Richardson died, I was, of course, proven wrong.
DOWNIE: And then I guessed L. Patrick Gray and I was wrong again.
And so, finally, when I thought—my third guess was Mark Felt, I now was convinced enough by the elimination of other suspects, it was probably him. So, about three or four years ago, I wrote down his name on a piece of paper, put it in an envelope and gave it to Bob. And Bob acknowledged receiving the envelope, but never acknowledged anything was inside it.
And so, I had no idea if I was right or wrong until about two months ago, when, as you might recall, Bob made some statement or remark in answer to a question on television or at a speech about the advancing age of the man who was Deep Throat. And that made me think, hey, we better have a contingency plan for being able to report this story really well when he does die. And who knows when he‘ll die? It could be tomorrow. It could be several years from now.
So I went to Bob and said, help me prepare for this. And that‘s when he revealed to me that he had been writing something himself about his relationship with Deep Throat. And he decided to take me into his confidence and showed me what he was writing. And, of course, at that point, then I knew it was Mark Felt. And I began the preparations that helped us, as it turned out yesterday, when this news broken expectedly, to produce the kind of journalism we‘re producing in today‘s paper and tomorrow‘s.
MATTHEWS: There was a period of time yesterday when it must have been very tricky for you professionally, because you had this incredible figure around you, Bob Woodward, the world-renowned Bob Woodward. And, of course, you have got Ben Bradlee in an office nearby.
And you had to decide whether to pressure, it seems to me, Bob Woodward, to give you something for the next day‘s paper. Was there a period of time there when—I saw where Carl Bernstein was putting out a statement saying, more or less debunking the fact that this was a conclusive expose on—on the part of “Vanity Fair.” Did you have to fight with anybody to get this story in the paper?
DOWNIE: Well, indeed it was. We weren‘t quite sure exactly what the “Vanity Fair” article amounted to at first blush. And I wasn‘t even here. I was at a company off-site conference about two hours away on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. So, I wasn‘t even able to see the “Vanity Fair” article immediately.
So, I had to rush back here. It was during that interim time that Carl and Ben and Bob understandably said they weren‘t going to anything about it. And then we conferred. I met first with Ben and then I met with Bob here in the newsroom. And after carefully reviewing the piece and carefully discussing it with them and listening to Bob especially talk about the great importance to him of doing the ethically right thing in the situation and maintaining our agreement, if it should be maintained, of confidentiality, that I finally concluded that, based on what was in that piece, that Mark Felt‘s family and his lawyer had given away his identity now on purpose and that that ended our agreement of confidentiality.
MATTHEWS: For my—or our senior colleague here, Tom Brokaw, the key thing was when Mark Felt, the older man, 91 years old, comes walking out of the house, he said, if he didn‘t like the piece, he would have said something then. That was his confirmation that Mark Felt personally wanted the story out. Did that help you make the decision?
DOWNIE: That helped me feel better about the decision. I had already made it at that point. But I had exactly the same reaction that Tom did, that that was the sign of him and his family that they indeed had done this. And so I felt fine about our decision at that point.
MATTHEWS: Please come back. It is great having you on, Len Downie, executive editor of “The Washington Post.”
Coming up, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a long—a man very much a part of this whole Nixon story, joins us with his reaction to the revelation that it‘s Mark Felt.
And don‘t forget, tonight at 9:00 Eastern, a special edition of HARDBALL, “Deep Throat: The Impact on History,” hosted by David Gregory. And then tomorrow, on “IMUS IN THE MORNING,” Don will interview Bob Woodward at 7:29 Eastern time.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, Dr. Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state and national security adviser under President Nixon, he reacts to the disclosure that Deep Throat is former FBI official Mark Felt.
HARDBALL returns after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Dr. Henry Kissinger served as President Nixon‘s national security adviser. He was also secretary of state during both the Nixon and the Ford administrations.
Welcome, Dr. Kissinger.
Last night, my colleague Andrea Mitchell reported the following bit of tape-recording from the Nixon White House in October of 1972, wherein the chief of staff, Bob Haldeman, is talking to the president, President Nixon, about Mark Felt and the probability that he‘s been leaking information to “The Washington Post” team of Woodward and Bernstein.
Quote—Nixon: “What can we do about it?‘
Haldeman: “If we move on him, he‘ll go out and unload everything. He knows everything that‘s to be known in the FBI. He has access to absolutely everything.”
Nixon: “What would do you with Felt?”
Haldeman: “Well, I‘d ask Dean.”
Nixon: “What the hell would he do?”
Haldeman: “He says you can‘t prosecute him, that he hasn‘t committed any crime. Dean‘s concerned, if you let him know, he‘ll go out and go on network television.”
Nixon: “Is he a Catholic?”
Nixon: “Christ, put a Jew in there?”
Haldeman: “Well, that could explain it, too.”
You‘re smiling in understanding. What is the story on Nixon, Jews, Mark Felt, and Watergate?
HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I don‘t know what the relationship of Nixon to Mark Felt was.
I‘ve—I‘ve been racking my brain, but I haven‘t met Mark Felt. And I called some White House people, like Al Haig, and they don‘t remember ever having met Mark Felt. So, he was not a figure. He was not on the radar screen in the White House, at least as far as I‘m concerned.
Nixon‘s comments about Jews were sort of—there was a huge disparity between the comments he made about Jews and the large number of Jews he had in his administration. And it is hard to believe in one sense. I don‘t really think Nixon was anti-Semitic. He had sort of standard phrases.
KISSINGER: But I certainly never heard him...
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, I‘ve been—I‘m a student of these tapes, Dr. Kissinger, as you know. I wrote about a book about them. And every time Haldeman is in the room with him, H.R. Haldeman, the chief of staff, Nixon is at his worst on this subject. Does that make any sense to you?
KISSINGER: Yes. That makes a lot of sense to me, because I think Haldeman had some reservations.
Let me ask you about the whole Nixon—and I‘m sure you‘ve thought
this over a zillion times in your life in your long career and all that
you‘ve done. If you think about Nixon and break-ins, I know I have a tape
· I listened to it myself over at the archives—of Nixon saying, go break into Brookings after the Pentagon Papers were published.
There was another tape I listened to where he said, let‘s go break into the Republican headquarters and make it look like the Democrats did it. What is with Nixon and break-ins?
KISSINGER: You have to understand that Nixon had a habit of making grandiloquent statements. This was his way of letting off steam to prove that he was macho.
And the people who really knew him would not act on these comments. When I learned about Watergate, I asked Bryce Harlow, who was a wise old man around Washington, I said , what do you think happened here, Bryce? And he said, some damn fool went into the Oval Office and did what he was told, because Nixon didn‘t mean these things to be carried out. And he didn‘t really order them. He would say these things rhetorically. Let‘s break into Brookings. And he...
MATTHEWS: Well, let me read to you a quote, because maybe you were in the room. Maybe you don‘t remember it. I don‘t know.
But here‘s a quote from June of ‘71, a year before the Watergate break-in. “The way I want that handled, Bob”—that‘s Bob Haldeman—“is through another way. I want Brooking. Just break in. Break in and take it out. You understand?”
“But what do we have to do—how do we do that?”
Nixon says: “Don‘t discuss it here.”
In other words, Nixon is afraid he‘s being taped, I guess.
“You‘re to break into the place, rifle the files, and bring me.”
And then he says: “Just go in and take it. Go in around 8:00 or 9:00 at night and clean it up.”
He‘s even timing the break-in and you‘re saying it is rhetorical?
I was—well, I wasn‘t in the room when he said this. And I don‘t recall having been in the room when he said it. But I would have assumed, if I had been in the room—and I have no such recollection—that I would have thought, he‘s letting off steam and nothing is going to happen.
MATTHEWS: Well, God, he‘s precise, Dr. Kissinger, in letting off steam. I‘ve never heard a guy that timed break-ins and then everybody around just knows he is not to be believed. He is president of the United States.
KISSINGER: No, he is president of the United States. And he was—he was—in the field that I know, because, fortunately, for my knowledge of these things, he separated domestic and international affairs totally. In the field that I know best, in international affairs, he was very rational.
KISSINGER: He was very careful. He would sit there with a yellow pad writing down the pros and cons of things. Every once in a while, he would go into an eruption and say, let‘s bomb this or that. And then the wise thing to do was to go back to him the next morning and say, and go over this—the process again.
He had this streak of sort of grandiloquent statements relatively rarely. And, most of the time, in fact, 99.8 percent of the time, he was a very careful and thoughtful person. But he had this unfortunate tendency of flying off the handle with grandiloquent statements.
MATTHEWS: We‘ll come back with in a moment. Thank, Dr. Henry Kissinger. We‘ll be back with you, sir, in just a moment.
But, still ahead, is Guantanamo Bay turning into a gulag? That‘s the finding of a new report by Amnesty International. But President Bush calls it absurd. We‘ll debate that hot one.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD KLEINDIENST, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think, when the record in this case becomes known, anybody who has a fair mind about it and is looking at it objectively would be able to conclude that this has been the most comprehensive, deep, thorough investigation that the FBI has ever made, with probably the only exception being the tragic assassination of President Kennedy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with former Secretary of state Dr. Henry Kissinger.
Dr. Kissinger, when you‘re asked socially by family, friends, or acquaintances to explain Watergate, the word in its fullest connotations, what do you say?
KISSINGER: I say, tell me exactly what went on at Watergate, because most of the time, people don‘t really remember exactly what happened.
There‘s no doubt that Nixon made significant mistakes. There‘s also
no doubt that it was ruthlessly exploited by his enemies to make him look
like a caricature of himself. And someday, what people are going to make -
· look at this period and make a fair assessment of a somewhat tragic man who had big flaws, but also very considerable achievements.
MATTHEWS: How do you put in context positively or put a nice, I don‘t know, bow around the fact that Nixon did cover-up the Watergate break-in by trying to have the CIA stop the FBI investigation?
KISSINGER: You can‘t. That was—it was a huge error. And there‘s no justification for that, indeed, was rightly condemned for that.
MATTHEWS: Was Nixon overall a good president?
KISSINGER: I think Nixon overall was, especially in the field that I know, in foreign policy, he was a very—he was a very good president.
He was a man, as I said, who had some tragic flaws. And he didn‘t know how to master them. But he made major decisions in a critical period for this country, and he ought to be respected for that.
MATTHEWS: Would we have been better off if he had been allowed to complete his second term, given what you know about Vietnam and the larger geopolitical questions?
KISSINGER: I‘m a great friend of Jerry Ford‘s, but I think it would have been better for the country if he could—had been able to complete the design of the foreign policy with which he ended the term. But, of course, one admits he did much of it to himself.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. It‘s always having—it‘s great to have you on, Dr. Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state.
In a moment, Amnesty International says Guantanamo Bay has become a gulag. But President Bush calls that charge absurd—that debate coming up next.
And, don‘t forget, at 9:00 Eastern tonight, a special edition of HARDBALL hosted by my colleague, NBC News chief White House correspondent David Gregory, “Deep Throat: The Impact on History,” That‘s going to be the topic tonight at 9:00.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
A new round of heated debate has erupted over conditions at the U.S. prison camp for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Amnesty International set off the debate with a report harshly criticizing the treatment of prisoners there, indeed, comparing conditions at Guantanamo to those at the concentration camps in the old Soviet Union and demanding it be shut down.
President Bush reacted sternly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It‘s an absurd allegation.
In terms of, you know, the detainees, we‘ve had thousands of people detained. We‘ve investigated every single complaint against the detainees. It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of—and the allegations by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that have been trained in some instances to disassemble. That means not tell the truth. So, it‘s an absurd report. It just is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Amnesty International responded to the president with a statement of its own that reads in part: “What is ‘absurd‘ is President Bush‘s attempt to deny the policies of his administration, which has detained individuals without charge or trial in prisons at Guantanamo Bay and the completed reports into human rights violations in these prisons remain classified and unseen.”
Joining me is the author of that statement, William Schulz, the executive director of Amnesty International USA. Also with me is Frank Gaffney from the Center For Security Policy.
Mr. Schulz, thank you for joining us.
What are your main charges, the International—Amnesty International‘s main charges against the way we‘re treating prisoners in Guantanamo?
WILLIAM SCHULZ, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA: Well, Amnesty is concerned that the prisoners at Guantanamo have not been provided an opportunity to plead their case before what the Geneva Conventions require, a competent tribunal, at which they are given an opportunity to know what the charges are against them and to defend themselves.
We know that prisoners at Guantanamo and elsewhere in U.S. detention have been mistreated. And I will say this. You know, the administration never thinks Amnesty International is absurd when we criticize Cuba, China, North Korea, as we do regularly. Indeed, the administration, Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Bush, didn‘t think Amnesty International was absurd when it cited our reports constantly on Saddam Hussein in the months to the run-up of the Iraq war.
Amnesty International is an equal-opportunity offender. And we criticize everybody. Our report here has 149 countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, all held to the same standard.
MATTHEWS: Were Koran—was the Koran desecrated at Guantanamo, Mr.
SCHULZ: I don‘t know about the recent reports in “Newsweek.” We don‘t have reports on that.
MATTHEWS: No, I‘m sorry. This is listed as one of your charges.
SCHULZ: But, yes, Amnesty International has indeed received reports in the past of the Koran being treated without respect at Guantanamo.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe the charges?
SCHULZ: Well, I can say that Amnesty looks for patterns. We never rely upon just one or two people. We look for patterns of reports, not just from those who are former prisoners, but also from their families and, in this case, from others who have investigated this.
The U.S. government itself has now acknowledged that there were some mistreatment of the Koran.
MATTHEWS: And you also charge the United States with beating our detainees at Guantanamo until they‘re unconscious.
SCHULZ: Well, look, this is, again, not just Amnesty International. There have been reports from FBI agents who raise serious concerns about this, from military officials themselves who raise serious concerns about this. It is not just Amnesty International.
We know that the International Red Cross intervened here. We also know that, after Rumsfeld issued 27 rules of interrogation, he had to, upon the advice of military lawyers, rescind four of them. I think something is going on there. And because Amnesty has been denied access to that, because all human rights organizations have been denied access to Guantanamo, we can‘t say from firsthand experience. But we would love to. And we would welcome an opportunity to do that.
MATTHEWS: Frank, what firsthand experience do you have, or what information do you have about our treatment of prisoners down there that might challenge these—these charges?
FRANK GAFFNEY, FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY: What I think makes these charges absurd is that they are so wildly over the top.
You mentioned one yourself, the suggestion that Guantanamo Bay is a gulag for our times. This is absolutely preposterous, historically, especially when the scale of the criminal activity that is being alleged here, even if it were true—and I disagree strongly that it is true—but even if it were true, begins to compare with what we understand in terms of the totalitarian systems‘ systematic use of massive prison operations to repress an entire population.
When Amnesty International properly decries such misbehavior in totalitarian systems, I think all the world can applaud it. When they inaccurately and improperly and ahistorically chastise the United States, I think it is fair to say, it is over the top. It is indeed absurd. But it has to be good for business. Let‘s face it. If you‘re an NGO that is cashing in on publicity, what could be better than to have the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff all denounce your work. I think...
MATTHEWS: Well, wait a minute here. You‘re getting into motive. Are you saying, Frank, now that Amnesty International is a joke?
GAFFNEY: I didn‘t say it is a joke. I said they are taking advantage...
MATTHEWS: Well, you said they‘re dishonest. You said they‘re making up charges.
GAFFNEY: Look, I think—I think if—if—if one can be a little cynical here, Chris—I know it is not something you‘re accustomed to. But could it possibly be the case that people who profess to be serious about evaluating the behavior of governments all over the world could use wildly exaggerated and inaccurate, historically, and I think topically, information, data and charges and knowing that they will get a very strong response...
GAFFNEY: They‘re getting, I think, a free ride out of this, a huge publicity boost and probably...
MATTHEWS: Mr. Schulz, I‘m surprised at that, because I‘ve always heard that the Amnesty International organization was respected from left and right.
MATTHEWS: People like William F. Buckley have respected it over the years. It is not some lefty organization.
SCHULZ: It is not.
And, Chris, let me make two points about this gulag comment. First of all, Amnesty is a truly global organization. The comment came out of Amnesty London. It was made by the secretary general, who is a Bangladeshi national. And whether we like it or not, whether we Americans like it or not, this is how the U.S. detention system is perceived in much of the world.
Now, secondly, let me make this point. Of course there are differences in scale between the Soviet gulags, which Amnesty, of course, criticize regularly, between the Soviet gulags and the U.S. detention system. There are differences in size. People are not being starved, to best of our knowledge. They‘re not being denied medical care. They‘re not being forced into labor.
But there are also similarities. The United States has established an archipelago of detention centers, not just in Guantanamo Bay, but throughout the world, many of which are secret, in which people are disappearing. They‘re being held at...
SCHULZ: They‘re being held at...
SCHULZ: Let me just finish this point. They‘re being held...
MATTHEWS: I need to know one thing. And I need to know it before you go on.
MATTHEWS: How do you know all this? How do you get information about what‘s going on in Cuba?
SCHULZ: Cuba is actually one of the countries it‘s easiest to...
MATTHEWS: No, no, in Guantanamo Bay, our installation down there in Cuba, our military installation. How do you know—what are your reports based upon?
SCHULZ: They‘re based upon a pattern that comes from a wide variety of sources.
It comes from those groups that have had access there. It comes from former prisoners who have been released and their attorneys. But it also comes from media reports, from the FBI reports, from the revelations that the ACLU has produced in its FOIA request. It comes from reports from journalists who have been there, from the International Committee of the Red Cross. It is a pattern that is created there.
MATTHEWS: Frank, your turn. I‘m sorry. Go ahead, Frank.
I think the pattern that is being established here is that the Amnesty International is being used. I don‘t know whether it is entirely of its own design or not. But it is certainly being used for three purposes. Its reports are being used to demoralize the American people. Its reports are being used, I believe, to alienate our friends. And it is certainly being used to embolden our enemies.
This is to say, if it were true, I think that they would find ways to do it, to make their criticisms in a more judicious, a more accurate, a more faithful-to-the-facts fashion and avoid some of those dangers.
SCHULZ: Fascinating, because...
GAFFNEY: Clearly, what they are doing here—and I believe it is deliberate, because I don‘t think this is something that one would do accidentally. And you can‘t simply lay it off on to a Bangladeshi secretary-general in London.
This is being done in a way that is calculated to harm the United States. And I think, especially since I don‘t believe they‘ve got the facts right, that is really reprehensible.
SCHULZ: That is total nonsense.
And it is fascinating that Mr. Gaffney‘s response is almost word for word the sentiments that governments from China to Zimbabwe use when they are attack by Amnesty‘s reports.
GAFFNEY: There is a difference in the facts.
GAFFNEY: If you‘ve got it right, that‘s one thing. If you‘ve got it wrong, it‘s another thing.
MATTHEWS: William Schulz from Amnesty International USA, Frank Gaffney from the Center, thank you very much for joining us.
We‘ll be back.
GAFFNEY: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: We‘re going inside the Clinton White House right now with John Harris, author of the new book “The Survivor,” what a story about Clinton.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, inside the Clinton White House with John Harris, the author of the new book “The Survivor.”
HARDBALL returns after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As an ex-president, Bill Clinton has assumed a role as global ambassador for a myriad of causes. We‘ve long suspected on this show that his ultimate goal is to become secretary-general of the United Nations.
Earlier this year, NBC News White House correspondent David Gregory asked him about that prospect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID GREGORY, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Do you think it is time for an American to lead to United Nations and would you like that job?
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I‘m going to avoid your question, because I don‘t—I don‘t even think it is realistic. I can‘t imagine anything like that would ever happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, John Harris is a political reporter for “The Washington Post.” He covered the Clinton White House from 1995 until its conclusion in 2001. He writes about that presidency in his new book, “The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House.”
It is a great big, fat book, John. Congratulations.
I want to ask you this. You wrote in “The Washington Post” as a follow-up to your book—it is also mentioned in the book—that Clinton is out there sparking at the idea of maybe being the first American head of the U.N.
JOHN HARRIS, AUTHOR, “THE SURVIVOR”: Oh, it is his dream job. He would love to have it.
And he even—you know, he‘s ever the campaigner. He‘s gone through and weighed the different angles, what it would take to get it. I think he has made the judgment that it‘s—you know, there‘s a lot of reasons why it might not be that realistic, but there‘s no question that I think he would love to have it. And, as early as 2001, weeks after he left the presidency, he was talking about it with aides. I know he‘s talked about it with some friends as recently as the last month or so.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s be honest. Wouldn‘t he be good at it?
HARRIS: You know, he is—there‘s no doubt, in fact, that he is liked and widely respected around the world. He is not the controversial figure in Europe that he is—that he was and still is, to some degree, here in the United States.
MATTHEWS: That‘s so true of so many people, like, certainly Nixon was
· was loved in France. Of course, so is Jerry Lewis, but—and still is.
But, you know, also, Churchill was loved here. Roosevelt was loved there.
Everybody—let me ask you about—about Bill Clinton in the White House.
There‘s one funny part of it during the Monica mess. I guess it wasn‘t funny to him. You have the Secret Service guys clocking how fast it took for Clinton to get from the family quarters over to the West Wing work area if Monica was coming through the gate.
HARRIS: Well, it was funny. They would—they would see Monica at the gate, Bill Clinton in the residence. They can look at computer screens and tell where the president is at any time. And they would make almost a parlor game of it. How long is it going to be? Is it going to be 30 seconds, a minute? And the Secret Service agents would entertain themselves that way.
It is kind of a funny story. On the other hand, not all of them thought it was funny. There had been Secret Service personnel who had seen them in what they believed were compromised positions. And they felt very uncomfortable about it.
MATTHEWS: One thing that disturbed me in your book, on a dead serious note, there were people around the president that were grownup men and women, who saw his developing relationship with this young staffer, Monica Lewinsky, who was at one time an intern, and did nothing to discourage it. They could have walked into the room and said, Mr. President, you‘re walking on eggs. You‘re going to—or on glass. Stop it.
HARRIS: Well, Bill Clinton was under the impression that he was being scrupulously clandestine. But, in fact, there was a widening circle of people that knew about it. A number of them were uncomfortable about it.
You know, you‘ve got to remember, it‘s hard to go confront a president of the United States. There were people who did that, who tried to protect Clinton from his own worst habits. In fact, these were the people, remember, that effectively chased Monica Lewinsky out of the White House and made her get a job over at the Pentagon.
MATTHEWS: Evelyn Lieberman.
HARRIS: Yes. Evelyn Lieberman was one of them trying to protect Clinton from himself, as best they can.
MATTHEWS: Where was Leon Panetta, the chief of staff, during all this?
HARRIS: He worried about this all the time. Once, he got that worried that...
MATTHEWS: But he didn‘t step in and challenge the guy.
HARRIS: ... that Clinton had snuck a meeting with Barbara Streisand on the schedule. He knew this would cause a lot of speculation.
I‘m not suggesting I know the reality of what that relationship was about. But Panetta knew the rumors. He said, we have got to get this off the schedule. And he would do it, again, protect the president.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Bill Clinton, a serious man. Big picture, what does he think about now? What are the things he thinks—forget the career, the personal stuff. Where does he worry about in the world? Where is his head at?
HARRIS: I think he thinks that the themes of his presidency, this is a world that is increasingly interconnected. Globalization is the great historic movement of the age. I think he felt he understood that as president and that‘s what he wants to dedicate his ex-presidency to.
He doesn‘t ever criticize George Bush, or rarely directly. But he sees his world view as really the opposite of George Bush. Bush operates on the power of force. Bill Clinton believes in community and in persuasion. And I think he stands for that. And he thinks America can be a force for the good in alleviating poverty, energy, clean air. He is devoting a lot of attention to AIDS relief and treatment.
MATTHEWS: Right. So, if he ran for president of the world, do you think he would beat George Bush?
HARRIS: There‘s not a doubt. I mean, you can prove it. You can look at polls. It would be about 80-20 around the world.
HARRIS: In this country, not necessarily.
MATTHEWS: Yes, we just don‘t do it that way, do we?
Anyway, thank you.
I hope—it will be interesting to see if he makes it.
Anyway, thank you very much.
The book is really good. It is big and I think it is really fair, which is so rare. The book is called “The Survivor.” It is about the Bill Clinton presidency.
Good luck with it, John Harris.
MATTHEWS: When we return, much more on Deep Throat. We‘ll be joined by former acting FBI Director and former deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus, who was fired for not obeying President Nixon‘s order to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in the Saturday Night Massacre.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARCHIBALD COX, SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Some things I feel very deeply about are at stake. And I hope that I can explain and defend them steadfastly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good evening.
The country tonight is in the midst of what may be the most serious constitutional crisis in its history. The president has fired the man you just saw, the special Watergate prosecutor, Archibald Cox. Because of the president‘s action, the attorney general has resigned. Elliot Richardson, who was appointed attorney general only last May, in the midst of the Watergate scandals, has quit, saying he cannot carry out Mr. Nixon‘s instructions.
Richardson‘s deputy, William Ruckelshaus, has been fired. Ruckelshaus refused, in a moment of constitutional drama, to obey a presidential order to fire the special Watergate prosecutor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
October 20, 1973, President Nixon forced the firing of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in the infamous Saturday Night Massacre. Nixon had asked then Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Cox, but he refused and resigned. Richardson‘s deputy, William Ruckelshaus, also refused to fire Cox. And Nixon fired him. William Ruckelshaus also served as the acting director of the FBI before that.
He now joins to us talk about the announcement that Deep Throat was another high-ranking FBI official, Mark Felt.
Mr. Ruckelshaus, thank you very much for joining us.
Did you know Mark Felt back in the old days?
WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS, FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, I did.
MATTHEWS: Did you ever make him for a whistle-blower, a secret whistle-blower?
RUCKELSHAUS: Well, he was at the FBI when I arrived as the number two man. And he was there for about two weeks. And then he resigned.
MATTHEWS: What did you think about him? Did you have any sense that he was the Deep Throat character of this whole mystery?
RUCKELSHAUS: No. I had no sense of that. I knew he could have been, because he was in possession of enough information to have been the source of Woodward and Bernstein‘s—inside the administration. But he didn‘t—
I had no idea that he was Deep Throat.
MATTHEWS: You know, this whole story reminds me of another story that came out this week, that they found two Japanese imperial soldiers on some island in the Philippines. It‘s so much a flashback to way back when. What are your feelings, having been a participant in the Saturday Night Massacre, having been fired by Nixon because you wouldn‘t fire Cox and you would not help him destroy any chance of getting at the tapes and thereby freeing himself from prosecution? You were right in the middle, actually, of this whole thing.
RUCKELSHAUS: Well, that‘s true.
It seemed to me that when we would know who Deep Throat was when he died, because that‘s when both Woodward and Bernstein said they would reveal his name. So, it was unusual that he would come out. But it also seemed that, since he was the one who acknowledged who he was, that was much different than somebody trying to guess who Deep Throat was. So, it seemed to me to be a very verifiable fact.
MATTHEWS: You‘re a kind of a man in the middle morally on this. You were a Republican. You were a Republican office-holder, a Nixon appointee. And yet you wouldn‘t play ball with the Watergate bad stuff.
Do you think that the whistle-blower in this case, Deep Throat, so-called, Mark Felt, was serving a national purpose in leaking all this stuff to “The Washington Post”?
RUCKELSHAUS: It depends on his motivation. If his motivation was to stop what he saw as a cover-up of the investigation itself, an obstruction by the White House in carrying out the investigation, and this was the only way to get it out, if that was his motivation, then it was a very high calling that he was pursuing.
On the other hand, there were other options for him. He could have resigned and said that there was this obstruction going on. He could have gone to the grand jury and said something to them. But if this was the only way he saw he could do it, then he is justifiably to be praised.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of the mind-set of people like Pat Buchanan and, oh, Gergen and all the rest of them? They‘re very, to put it lightly, not exactly thrilled with this guy, Mark—Mark Felt.
RUCKELSHAUS: Well, I think they believe his motives were less than pure. And I have no idea what his motive was.
They‘re saying, since he was part of an investigation that was ongoing, his obligation was to use that system of gathering facts, giving it to the prosecutor, letting the prosecutor present it to a grand jury and then going ahead with a trial. Once you break that chain, then you break the whole system that was created to both find wrongdoers, as well as protect the innocent.
Big-picture question, Mr. Ruckelshaus. You‘re an office-holder, a public servant. What did Watergate do to the country?
RUCKELSHAUS: It did bad things. It took us a long time to recover.
And, in some ways, we have never recovered. And my own view is that a lot of the momentum that the country had—was beginning to develop back in the ‘70s was slowed and stopped for a long while and that it has—it has hurt the country badly.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you very much, William Ruckelshaus.
Coming up in one hour, join NBC News chief White House correspondent David Gregory for a special edition of HARDBALL, “Deep Throat: The Impact on History.”
And tomorrow morning at 7:29, Bob Woodward will be on “IMUS IN THE MORNING” right here on MSNBC.
And tomorrow night on HARDBALL, legendary CBS newswoman Lesley Stahl will be my guest.
Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with Keith.
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