updated 10/7/2005 10:39:45 AM ET 2005-10-07T14:39:45

Guest: Skip Brandon, John Warner, Stephen Hayes, Michael Isikoff

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  President Bush's top aide will give 11th-hour testimony to the grand jury in the CIA leak case.  A spy is suspected in the vice president's office.  A spy pleads guilty at the Pentagon.  And the president's top procurement officer indicted on five counts, a black day at the White House.

Let's play HARDBALL. 

Good evening.  I'm Chris Matthews. 

A long day of bad news in George Bush's Washington.  It began with a senior Pentagon official pleading guilty to passing classified information to an Israeli official.  Guilty pleas are generally not good news for others who may be involved in the matter.  They suggest that an accused has become a cooperative witness. 

Also a fresh report that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing whether a Marine security guard working in the vice president's office sent classified information to leaders in the Philippines. 

Then the bombshell.  Karl Rove, a figure in the CIA leak investigation, returns to the grand jury yet again to offer 11th-hour testimony on what could be the eve of an explosive special report by the special prosecutor, one that could—emphasis on the word could—include indictment of top officials. 

Against these developments and a Gallup poll showing less than a third of Americans back his handling of Iraq, President Bush again sounded the 9/11 alarm, arguing that the war in Iraq is—quote—“the central front in the war on terror.”

But, first, to breaking news on Karl Rove and the leak case.

We start tonight with “Newsweek”'s Michael Isikoff, John Harris from “The Washington Post” and Stephen Hayes of “The Weekly Standard.”

Let's go in that order.

Mike Isikoff, why is Karl Rove going back again to the grand jury? 

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, “NEWSWEEK”:  Well, after Matt Cooper testified in July and after his notes and e-mails were made public, or at least his e-mail was made public, making it clear that Karl Rove was his source, Robert Luskin, his lawyer offered the opportunity for—asked for the opportunity for Rove to reappear, if Fitzgerald wanted it. 

It's clear that what Luskin had been saying about Rove's account prior to that was different than what Cooper wrote he testified to and what the e-mail indicated he testified to happened, which is that Rove was the principal Supreme Court for Matt Cooper.  And he divulged, while not Valerie Plame's name, he indicated that Joe Wilson's wife, who worked at the agency, had arranged for the trip to—Wilson to go on the trip to Africa. 

That clearly put Rove in the ballpark.  And the real issue here, I think, is not—because that alone could not be of violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. 

MATTHEWS:  Unless it could be a violation of a perjury situation.

ISIKOFF:  It could, yes, exactly.  The question is the truthfulness of Rove's previous testimony. 

This is a fourth grand jury appearance.  That's extraordinary.  In every previous interview, Mr. Luskin has said over and over again that he had been assured by Fitzgerald that Rove was not the target of this investigation. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Was he assured by his client that he was not the source of the leak?

ISIKOFF:  He did not tell that to the Associated Press today. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to John Harris.

I want to ask right now, if Mike Isikoff is following the sequence of events with accuracy in reporting, if he knows, as you seem to know, that the reporter—the lawyer for Karl Rove felt he had to go back after it was public what had happened in the testimony from Matt Cooper of “TIME” magazine, in other words, that his client was the main source for information about Valerie Plame, the wife of Joe Wilson, who worked over at the CIA, he had to come back and sort of correct his testimony, change it, modify it.

It doesn't seem like it takes a lot of Perry Mason work here to figure that he's the target here. 

JOHN HARRIS, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Well, he's obviously a central figure.  And I think we have to assume now that he is a target. 

I have to say, this point is still murky to me, based on the reporting done that's been over at “The Post,” whether Luskin said, hey, let me come back; my client wants to come back, or whether he made that offer back in July, and Fitzgerald says, yes, I want you to come back.  In other words, who is seeking this testimony that I think could come as early as tomorrow is a critical question. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

HARRIS:  The other thing that is worth pointing out...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Excuse me.

Why would anybody who wasn't a prosecutor want anybody, especially themselves, to go before a grand jury?  Isn't it a very tricky turf to go on? 

HARRIS:  Absolutely.  Under ordinary circumstances, you never want to go anywhere near a grand jury.  But, clearly, this is not ordinary. 

One possibility is that Luskin thinks that his client might have said things that were too cute.  And, look, if there was any misunderstanding whatsoever about what—let us clean this up.  Let us clarify things.  We weren't trying to be a smart aleck on that earlier answer.  Now let us be more forthright. 

This sometimes works, by the way.  I know of one prominent case years ago now involving Senator Chuck Robb where he was on the brink of an indictment.  And he did, in fact, plead for a chance to go before the grand jury, essentially talked his way out of what was a looming indictment.  So, that might be what's going on here. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you, Steve, about this whole question.  Do you know—does anybody know the law here, where if you go back before a grand jury, where you may have perjured yourself, said something contradictory from the facts, as they were presented by the witnesses, that seems to indicate a perjury possibility, can you go back and clean up the mess before the grand jury issues a verdict? 

STEPHEN HAYES, “THE WEEKLY STANDARD”:  Well, I think you can go back and clean up the mess.  I don't think that that changes the substance of the perjury charges.  If you have committed perjury, you have committed perjury.  You can alter your answers.  But my understanding—and I may be incorrect on this...

MATTHEWS:  You can't say it depends on what your meaning of is, is, or something like that. 

HAYES:  No.  I mean, I think you can go back—go back—remember, we are speaking in extraordinary hypotheticals here.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Conceptually, yes.

HAYES:  You could go back and sort of clean up the issue or, on the other hand, muddy up the issue, depending on what was said earlier. 

MATTHEWS:  I'm watching somewhat, fellows, by second degree.  And I'm trying to figure this out. 

If everything you say is true, and you have been following this case as much as anybody, Mike, if there was—if we have testimony now before the grand jury that the primary source for the leak...

ISIKOFF:  No, no, for Matt Cooper's information, not for Robert Novak's information, which was the original trigger for this investigation. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Does it matter whether it was published or not, if somebody gave it under the law, if somebody leaked to somebody who didn't get to publish yet? 

ISIKOFF:  Technically, probably not, but, as a matter for bringing a criminal prosecution against a senior government official, it might—that might be a factor weighing in. 

But there is still—it is—all that said, there is still a lot of unanswered questions here. 

(CROSSTALK)

ISIKOFF:  In fact, there's as many—there's as many questions now as there has been all along. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

ISIKOFF:  We learned last week, Mr. Tate, who is Scooter Libby's lawyer...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

ISIKOFF:  ... gave a number of interviews, including one to me at “Newsweek,” in which he said, among other things, that while he did—that Libby did talk to Judy Miller about this matter. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

ISIKOFF:  ... he did not talk to Robert Novak. 

Now, a lot of people who have been following this had assumed that Libby was Novak's principal source, because he was so right in the middle of this. 

MATTHEWS:  And because of the way that Novak described it, as not being a partisan gunslinger.  And Libby is more of an ideological...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  .. professional.

ISIKOFF:  And we know that Cooper had said that he, that Libby had been his second confirming source, saying, yes, I heard that, too. 

So, the—the—the pool of suspects seemed to be very small here. 

But, taking a step back, the original leaker was Novak's original source. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

ISIKOFF:  It wasn't Rove, because we know that—or we believe we know that Rove has confirmed that he did give a second sort of—same sort of vague “I heard that, too” to Novak. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I have always wondered, by the way, Mike, can you go to jail for saying, yes, did you hear that, too? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I mean, how can do you go to jail for some impulsive answer to a question like that, Steve? 

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES:  Which is precisely why I think that when this—I mean, I agree—I agree with Mike that most of what is known to Patrick Fitzgerald is unknown to us. 

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES:  I think we're dealing in 5 percent.  It's a small sliver. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you all to—just so we end this with some clarity tonight, because, obviously, we have to wait until—anybody have an informed guess as to when we are going to have a grand jury terminate and get some—a report from the special prosecutor? 

Do you know, John Harris? 

HARRIS:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  That's a nice answer.

HARRIS:  I want to hear what Isikoff says. 

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

ISIKOFF:  No.  I believe the grand jury expires at the end of this month. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Reuters is saying—Reuters is saying a matter of days on the wires late tonight. 

ISIKOFF:  October 28.  So, it's a matter of weeks.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  We have—we have on this table, for those who follow this, like every couple nights a week, they watch, it looks to me like there is a possibly of either a direct indictment on the initial charge of outing an agent, which is probably, you all agree, fairly hard to prosecute, right? 

HAYES:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  The second one is just nail a guy on perjury or obstruction because his testimony—or they got together and conspired and—to put forth dishonest testimony, right?

The third possibility is this thing that jumped up in “The Washington

Post” because of Walter Pincus' piece this weekend, John.  And that is the

possibility of a criminal conspiracy involving efforts to defame, discredit

·         whatever the word is—Joseph Wilson and bringing down his wife in that effort and bringing down her identity in that effort. 

I'm not sure that's criminal, unless it involves the uses of classified material. 

John, do you understand that crime? 

HARRIS:  I know that this is Walter's leading theory of the case.  And he knows the story well.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, he went to law school so he could to do this stuff, Walter Pincus.

HARRIS:  Exactly.  Exactly so. 

But, you know, again, we don't know.  If that is the case, though, it would be criminalizing an extremely routine Washington practice. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Which is to screw somebody through the press.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS:  Right. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  It's called dropping a dime on somebody. 

HARRIS:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Right?  You guys get these calls all the time.  Guess what? 

I don't like this guy.  Here's some stuff on him, right?

HAYES:  Well, if they didn't use classified material, the ultimate defense, of course, is the truth. 

And it seems to me that what they were saying, if this was—I mean, I'm not even sure there was a leak.  If there was in fact a leak and if the leak did in fact mention Mrs. Plame, where she worked and her status, or even if it didn't mention her status, ultimately, it seems to me, the leak was true.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

HAYES:  And what he claimed to know or to say...

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES:  Yes, but what she claimed—yes, what he claimed to know and write in “The New York Times” article he wrote has, I think, largely been discredited, if you look at the bipartisan Senate...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Do you think it's possible here—I'm going to give you a chance for an opinion column here.  Is it possible that Pat Fitzgerald is using politics as a crime?  In other words, what goes on this city all the time, which is dishing bad stuff on somebody else to discredit their case, in this case, accidentally outing a woman who was undercover, and you didn't know was undercover, that's not a crime by your reading? 

HAYES:  No.  I don't think it's a crime.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  It's HARDBALL politics.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES:  ... would be a crime if they knew that she undercover.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES:  If they knew she was undercover or if they lied about it or if they conspired to create... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

ISIKOFF:  From the accounts of the lawyers, it is not at all clear where either Rove, nor Libby learned about Joe Wilson's wife and her work at the agency.  They both said they heard from it reporters, but neither can apparently identify which reporter they heard it from. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  That's an obscure claim, isn't it?  What kind of a claim is that, I heard it from reporters, like we are all amorphous and faceless?

ISIKOFF:  Right.  Right.  Right. 

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES:  Oh, I think that is absolutely plausible, absolutely.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What do you think, John, that somebody like Scooter, the vice president's chief of staff, the president's top political kid could have heard it at a party or somewhere or what? 

HARRIS:  Well, no.  I—but I think this transaction where reporters are bringing information that they have heard, I don't find that is that unusual.  I'm with Steve on that.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, no, but not remembering which one, is that unusual?

HARRIS:  I really don't find it that implausible.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that's interesting.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me go back to what I think is this whole big elephant we are trying to describe, because reading the articles about it and figuring it out, it—could it be what this is really about is that stories began to grow because of Joe Wilson, a former ambassador in Africa who took this trip to the middle of Africa, came back—and whatever his report said—and it could be murky as hell—came back with some kind of report, but then wrote an article in “The New York Times” that said the president should have known that there was no nuclear deal between Saddam Hussein and some African country like Niger.

He shouldn't have put it in his State of the Union.  And he damn well knew about it, because I was sent down there by the vice president to check it out, and I found there nothing to it. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Whether that's all true or not, whether none of that is true or not, the vice president's office is accused of saying, damn it, we're not going to let that charge stand.  We are going to take this guy down. 

HARRIS:  Well, why wouldn't they say that, if it wasn't in fact true? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Go ahead.

HARRIS:  And more than that, Chris—and that is what has always been

·         made me uneasy about this case, it wasn't for—until a month after Novak's column ran that people decided they were outraged by it and that some great misdeed had been done. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

HARRIS:  And everybody got up on their high horse.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that's when we found out there was a federal crime involved.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS:  ... routine Washington business.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Until we learned it was a federal crime that you cannot out the identity of an undercover CIA agent. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And then we all realized it was a criminal matter.

ISIKOFF:  That was a news to a lot of us and a lot of members of the public.

MATTHEWS:  It certainly was.

ISIKOFF:  But it was not news to the CIA.

In fact, what we do know is, this was triggered because the CIA filed a crimes report with the Justice Department on its own, not through prodding in the media.  They determined that there may have been a crime committed here.  And that is what started the whole ball rolling. 

Now, at the end of the day, Fitzgerald is going to have to—if he does bring a criminal case, he is going to have to justify—he is obviously going to have to justify it and explain what the crime is and show intent to violate the law. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, all coming in a week.  Could be an exciting week next week. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Michael Isikoff of “The Washington Post,” John Harris—I'm sorry—Michael Isikoff of “TIME”—of “Newsweek”—Mike—John Harris of “The Washington Post,” and Stephen Hayes of “The Weekly Standard.”

We're awaiting a bottom-of-the-hour news conference from New York City regarding a heightened terror alert and threats against the subways and trains there.

When we return, we will be joined by Senator John Warner to get his reaction to the news that Karl Rove will testify before the grand jury again. 

You're watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, Karl Rove will testify yet again before the grand jury investigating the leaks of a CIA's officer's identity.  Plus, Harry Connick Jr. on rebuilding New Orleans.

HARDBALL returns after this. 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

We're awaiting a news conference at the bottom of the hour.  New York City Police are warning of new threats against the city's subways and trains.  We will bring you that news briefing in just a moment.

And we're joined now by Senator John Warner, Republican of Virginia, who is chairman of the Armed Services Committee, a member of the Select Intelligence Committee. 

The Intelligence Committee comes to mind here.  Do we know anything about a terrorist group operating in the New York City area? 

SEN. JOHN WARNER ®, VIRGINIA:  I saw just the wire story, as did you.  But, you know, Chris, that's the world in which we live. 

I hope that the people who put this out at least screened it and determined the degree of credibility.  But let's face it.  That's what we are going to be seeing for a long time, until this war on terrorism is reshaped and ended, hopefully.

MATTHEWS:  The president has said that the war in Iraq is the center of the war on terror.  Well, what happens if the center doesn't hold, that the American people don't support that war more than a year or two from now? 

WARNER:  You know, that's the best question of all.

And those who, for a moment, even think that we should pull out should answer that question.  I can tell you, in my judgment, that Iraq would then become the number one training ground and the place from which the greatest degree of terrorism would be exported. 

These people who are the militant jihadists distorting the Koran,  distorting the proud and long Muslim religion, are just trying to drive us out and other nations out of the Middle East, so they can take it over, seize the energy supply, then go after us economically. 

And they have patience and they are determined to do it.  And the president laid that out in his speech today. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you say to people who argue that, before we went into Iraq, Iraq was an enemy of the terrorists, of Iran and Syria, that Iraq was at war with them for all those bloody wars that went on, and now we have changed that government to now it is infested by terrorists? 

WARNER:  Chris, we can argue time and time again why we went in. 

MATTHEWS:  No, I'm talking about the consequences of going in. 

WARNER:  But there were many legitimate—the consequences of going in, certainly, we did not anticipate this degree of insurgency.

But, nevertheless, the decision to go was the right one against Saddam Hussein.  What was his next move?  Twice, he attacked down in that part of the area.  He was going after the Saudi oil fields.  If he had seized those, eventually, then we would have had a different situation over there. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the president takes a risk verbally today in directly calling it not a war not on terrorism, but a war basically on Islamic extremism? 

WARNER:  No.  I think he's being...

MATTHEWS:  Isn't that dangerous thing to do? 

WARNER:  No.  To the contrary, he's being absolutely candid to the people in this country and the people around the world that are listening. 

It is.  Look how many places in the world have been struck with terrorism since our terrible strike in New York on 9/11, a dozen different areas, including London, England.  Look, Chris, we're all in it together.  It's not just our country against Iraq, trying to free those people in Iraq and allow them to establish their government.

But it is our nation and all other nations against a worldwide movement to go back and establish what they call a caliphate of the 7th century.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

WARNER:  Denying all fundamental of democracies and freedom.  Now, we better all sit down and study it.  And the president is using the right terminology. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think they are ready to go all the way back to taking Spain back?  Do you think the Islamic forces are that radical, that romantic? 

WARNER:  They have said from Spain all the way to Jakarta...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

WARNER:  ... is where they want to go.  And they have hit targets in all those areas. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about this tricky question of spying in the Defense Department.

WARNER:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  You are chairman of the Armed Services Committee. 

WARNER:  That's correct.

MATTHEWS:  You have oversight over that committee.

WARNER:  Correct.

MATTHEWS:  We have got a guy over there, a middle-level person—they call him senior, but he's really middle-level.  He works in that operation in the Defense Department.  He's now pled guilty to passing information to AIPAC, which is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.  We all know that, a very powerful lobbying group.

WARNER:  Well, unfortunately...

MATTHEWS:  And the Israeli government. 

WARNER:  Repeatedly, this happens.  And, at some point, I think AIPAC has got to be tougher. 

MATTHEWS:  Can we take a break?  We are on live television.

WARNER:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  Let's go right now to breaking news in New York—Ron. 

RON ALLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Good afternoon, Chris. 

We're hearing that there is going to be a press conference here in New York City very shortly held by Mayor Bloomberg and the police commissioner, Ray Kelly, to warn subway riders about the possibility about the—the possibility of an attack on the subway, based on a threat that has been received in recent days by New York authorities targeting the subway system. 

The warning essentially says that there may be an attack like those that happened in London recently and in Madrid, and that explosives would apparently be used.  And they might be concealed in baby carriages. 

Now, we don't know exactly what the New York authorities are going to stay about this threat.  But for them to hold a press conference and to share some of the information with the riding public is one indication that they are taking this very, very seriously, and certainly more seriously than any other threat that we have heard of here in recent months or for quite some time, I should say.

As to the source of this information, there is conflicting information as to whether the source is—how solid the source is.  We understand that, in the past, the information provided by the source has been accurate and sometimes inaccurate. 

Nonetheless, because the source apparently said that there would be an attack during a specific time, the second week in October, the New York Police have decided to make this information available to the public and ask riders to keep a very sharp eye out. 

However, there are no plans, as we understand it at this time, to raise the terror threat level.  But, as you may know, the terror threat level in New York City is always higher than it is everywhere else in the country because of September 11 and of course because of the unique concerns about New York. 

So, again, in about five minutes or so, we expect to hear from the mayor and the police commissioner here in New York City, who will tell us more about what this threat is what riders should do, again, keep a leery eye.  But we don't know just how accurate or how credible this threat is until we hear from New York authorities here quickly. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Ron Allen in New York.

We will be right back with you the minute that press conference begins.

What is your reaction to that, Senator? 

WARNER:  Regrettably, I was not able to hear the report. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, what it is, is, basically, the police have put out a report.  They think it is credible, but it's from a source that may not always be credible, that the people on the subway should beware that someone, perhaps pushing a baby cart, a baby carriage, might have a bomb. 

(CROSSTALK)

WARNER:  Listen, they're doing their duty.  And it's better to err on the side of it not happening than just to sit back and let it happen. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about this problem at the Pentagon. 

How do you, as a man in charge of the oversight of that agency, the Pentagon, deal with the fact that there is somebody over there who is cooperating with officials, who is pleading guilty already and may be ready to turn in somebody higher?  How do you deal with that? 

WARNER:  Well, it's very disturbing. 

Now, how do you deal with it?  It's the real world in which we leave. 

At any one time, there are up to 20,000 people working in that building. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WARNER:  And, occasionally, regrettably, people will change.

People who lead their life in a perfectly normal way can abruptly make a change of mind to go and become dishonest.  And how man protects against that is impossible. 

MATTHEWS:  Because we share so much information with Israel, I assume, as part of our alliance against terrorism, why would there be a need for this kind of espionage, if you want to call it that?

WARNER:  Well, we all know that all of us take a look over the fence at the other country. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WARNER:  Everybody knows that.  And we have to take precautions.

But it—to me, AIPAC is an organization which deals extensively with the Congress. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

WARNER:  And it seems to me that—I'm not saying they are implicated.  I have no facts beyond what you have said here, that the situation is darn serious. 

MATTHEWS:  Those cases are, by the way, wide open.  The only case that

is moving toward something, a plea of guilty, is the official at the U.S. -

·         in the U.S. Pentagon.

(CROSSTALK)

WARNER:  He will tell what happened.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

WARNER:  And they are not going to accept that plea of guilty unless that person goes and makes a full disclosure of all the facts. 

MATTHEWS:  Let's pop over to the vice president's office.

A Marine who was on duty over there at the vice president's office is now being probed for spying for, of all countries, the Philippines.  Do you think we're secure right now in our country in terms of espionage? 

WARNER:  As best we can.  As best we can. 

Do you realize, there's thousands and thousands of security clearances backed up in the system?

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WARNER:  We are having to check everybody these days. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

WARNER:  And I wouldn't pronounce fault on those who let this person slip through. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WARNER:  Because it may have been clean.  And then he suddenly decides...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, it was during the Gore tenure there, he came in.

But let me ask you, as a Republican, clean-as-a-whistle senior Republican senator...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  ... aren't you amazed?  You have got Frist facing a probe by the SEC.  You have got Tom DeLay indicted a number of times down in Texas.  That guy is after him.

You have got this problem here.  You have got this leak investigation going on, with a randy prosecutor out there, Fitzgerald, looking—calling this guy back, apparently, Karl Rove, again in for his nth appearance before the grand jury.  You have got all this stuff going on right now.  What do you think is going on? 

WARNER:  And guess what?

MATTHEWS:  Is it a second-term-itis situation?

WARNER:  No.  Wait a minute.

I will tell you what is going on.  I just left the floor of the Senate.  And Ted Stevens is down there working as hard as he can.  And we're likely to vote tonight on $400-plus-billion for next year's defense. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WARNER:  So, the system keeps going. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WARNER:  Regrettably, our colleagues, particularly Bill Frist, whom I

·         I just have the highest degree of confidence in this man's credibility and integrity. 

But, nevertheless, he's answering and complying with the judicial system...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WARNER:  ... in all of their investigatory procedures. 

DeLay's situation, that's one that is in the other body and let somebody over there explain that one.  But, yes, it's not the best.

MATTHEWS:  How about the leak case?  Aren't you worried about the leak case? 

WARNER:  Oh, yes, of course we are.  But, fortunately, this—you mean the case with Karl Rove?

MATTHEWS:  Well, it could be.

WARNER:  Well, it could be.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Yes, he's going back to the grand jury again. 

WARNER:  Again, the system is working.  Karl Rove is going back for the fourth time, which means he's working within the framework of the judicial system.  So, let's not pronounce judgment yet and doom and gloom. 

MATTHEWS:  No, no, there's just all this busy-bee activity by prosecutors. 

WARNER:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  I am just wondering which side are you on.  Do you think the prosecutors are overly zealous, nailing all these guys?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Or is there a problem in a second term where there is a lack of fortitude observing the law?

(CROSSTALK)

WARNER:  I used to be a prosecutor.  It was a very valuable chapter in my life and training. 

Let the system work.  But, in the meantime, the American people should know the Congress is doing its usual job.  Now, they may want to criticize the job we do, but we're going forward.  I was on the floor last night.  You saw us, Ted Stevens and I.   We were in a boxing match out there, trying to get my bill, the security—I mean, the armed services bill for 2006 up.  Within one vote, we almost achieved it, showing that colleagues were working. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about your oversight responsibilities as Armed Services—Armed Services chairman.  Do you think that you're going to ever look over and find out what the hell this espionage is all about at the Pentagon? 

WARNER:  Chances are that we will have to wait—and we should—until such time as the judicial process runs its course. 

(CROSSTALK)

WARNER:  Then we should look into, what were the steps for the security checks for these people?

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WARNER:  But bear in mind, people come in the door of that building by the thousands and work, do their job and go on. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

WARNER:  Every now and then, someone changes course middle stream. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Senator John Warner...

WARNER:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  ... chairman of the Armed Services Committee, running again for reelection. 

WARNER:  You bet. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you. 

We are going to Ron Allen right now, sir.  We are going to go to Ron Allen right now in New York with more on that subway situation up there—

Ron.

ALLEN:  Chris, the latest is that the New York City Police are apparently increasing their security on the subway system now.  There are more police officers and canine units that are being deployed. 

We are expecting, in a minute-and-a-half, at 5:30 local time here, a press briefing by the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, and the police commissioner, Ray Kelly.  We were told not long ago that there had been a threat that the police apparently see as somewhat credible to the New York City subway system. 

The threat warns that there may be explosives brought aboard the subways to attack the subways, as was the case in London and Madrid recently, and that they might be concealed in baby carriages or in some kind of a backpack.  You will recall the attacks in London were carried on by three people, three men who carried backpacks.  And the fourth attacker carried a backpack onto a double-decker bus nearby that blew up as well. 

Similarly, in Madrid, similar methods of attacking the subways were used there, commuter rail, actually, a couple of years ago.  We don't know the specifics of what the New York City authorities are going to say, other than to tell riders to be vigilant and to keep an eye out. 

We understand that the source who has provided this information is sometimes accurate and sometimes inaccurate.  But because police are taking the step of making this information public and warning the public about this, it clearly indicates that they are concerned about this new information that has been brought to them. 

Again, we were told that the press briefing would happen at about 5:30.  And we are coming up to that now.  And we hope that, very soon, we'll be hearing from Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly.  You can see the briefing room there at the New York City Police Department, where everyone is waiting to hear exactly what they will have to say. 

We understand this information comes from just one source.  And the other thing that has happened is that they have not raised the terror threat level here.  So, we are getting somewhat conflicting information as to how serious this might be. 

But, in terms of the terror threat level, of course, the level here in New York City is always higher than it is everywhere else in the country because of September 11 and because of the fact that New York is an obvious target for terrorists and has been for some time now.

But, again, these sources have told us over the last few days that there might be an attack on a New York City subway.  And we expect to hear more about that from the mayor and police commissioner very shortly. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

Ron, hold on there.  We will be back to you the minute the press conference begins.

Let's go now for some intel from Skip Brandon.  He's a former FBI deputy assistant director for counterterrorism. 

Skip, what do you make of this—this alert we have got right now in New York City subways? 

SKIP BRANDON, FORMER ASSISTANT FBI DIRECTOR OF COUNTERTERRORISM: 

Well, it's pretty frightening.  But it shows the dilemma that the officials have always when this happens.  You're in trouble if you do.  You're in trouble if you don't.  They have to lean toward doing. 

MATTHEWS:  And this is rush hour in New York.

BRANDON:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  In the Eastern time, 5:30, right in the middle of the crazy time, where everybody is getting on a subway to go to all the burrows and the outer counties.  It's pretty hard to tell people to wait, isn't it? 

BRANDON:  Oh, it's—it's almost impossible.  It is going to be an interesting evening in the city tonight. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the subway—the subway vulnerability.  Can you describe why we are seeing these situations in Madrid and then in London?  Is this an easy target for a terrorist? 

BRANDON:  You know, the sad thing is, it is a very easy target.  You have an awful lot of people packed in a very small space.  And it is almost impossible to control it.  You can secure the subways, but you'll have about three riders a day. 

MATTHEWS:  And the—the—the geometry of a subway, it's a close-in environment, where the concussion is deadly, I assume. 

BRANDON:  Yes.  It's a real force multiplier when a blast goes off in one of these tunnels, which we saw in London and to a degree in Madrid.  So, it's extraordinarily deadly, extraordinarily effective.  And it also psychologically creates panic, total panic. 

MATTHEWS:  Because you get that claustrophobic feeling...

(CROSSTALK)

BRANDON:  Oh, yes.

MATTHEWS:  That there's somebody carrying a bag next to you, you see a baby carriage, you go, oh, my God, we were warned about that.  And you can't get off that subway when it's moving. 

BRANDON:  There's nothing you can do.  You're right.  And there will be people experiencing that tonight.  They'll have some problems because of that. 

MATTHEWS:  So, what do you advise?  Now, that's the tough question.

BRANDON:  Oh, Chris...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You have got to get home to your baby-sitter, who is off-duty at 6:30 or 7:00.

BRANDON:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  You have got to get home.  Your—you have got to get the meal going, in some cases.  And you are saying, no, dear, I was downtown waiting to get the all-clear.

BRANDON:  Yes, exactly. 

Well, obviously, the security level is going to be extraordinarily high.  Sometimes, in going public like this, it preempts somebody.  It's going to drive them away.  Actually, the safety level may be higher right now than it was six hours ago. 

MATTHEWS:  So, we are—do you think—well, it's so loose.  We better not even guess.  I'm just myself guessing whether the information we are getting was from a source who was alien to this terrorist operation or somebody just trying to spook us who is in the operation. 

BRANDON:  The answer is, yes. 

We just—obviously, we don't know.  We don't know who the source is.  It's one of the things that has been of a great concern to many of us for a long time, is, they know how—they are starting to learn how we react.  Do they start just jerking us around, false alarm, false alarm, false alarm, the guard goes down, and then they hit?

MATTHEWS:  And the problem with the subway, which I guess is obvious to everyone who has had a chance to travel in the last couple years on an airplane, as opposed to a subway, is, subways don't have metal detectors, do they?

BRANDON:  No.  No.

MATTHEWS:  They have any kind of—any kind of check when you get on. 

Anybody can get on carrying anything. 

BRANDON:  Well, to a degree. 

There are more and more very quiet, rather sensitive devices that are going into place.

MATTHEWS:  Really?

BRANDON:  But you are absolutely right.  No, there is nothing like a metal detector.  There are no single choke points for people to go through, where you can pull them aside, go through it. 

You know, if we get to that point, as I say, you can secure the subway, but you're going to have three to six riders a day on them. 

MATTHEWS:  And you can get on a subway at any remote point in the outskirts of a city.

BRANDON:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  You can get on at Canarsie or somewhere.

BRANDON:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  ... and end up in downtown New York and take two or three transfers and nobody is going to know what's going on. 

BRANDON:  You can spend—as you well know, you can spend hours underground.  Awfully tough to work with that.  And, unfortunately, although there are certain improvements, we don't have the universal system of closed-circuit cameras that they did have in the U.K.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think we are close to that, to the idea of having those cameras, like in “Minority Report,” where they can pick up somebody by the pupils of their eye or whatever as they—and nail them as a suspect? 

BRANDON:  You know, we all worry about that. 

It's—it can be considered as intrusive, but we are living in a different age.  There is a lot of stuff coming along like that.  I think, sadly enough, I am going to have to say I hope we are close to that. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I keep thinking—we are looking at these amazing scenes of downtown Manhattan.  And we are all familiar with these.  This looks around in the 40s there, in the theater district.  You see the congested way we live.  It could be Tokyo.  It could be Rome. 

BRANDON:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  But it's America. 

BRANDON:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And you look.  There's hundreds of people for every couple hundred feet.  And we are all packed together in our cars.  And you can't even walk the sidewalks, it's so crowded.  And I love it myself.

BRANDON:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  But it's that very congested humanity, which a lot us really get—get into and like.  What makes New York so exciting is in fact the perfect opportunity for a congested bomb attack, where you hit so many people who are crowded together, especially getting into that subway. 

I always think—I always think, Skip, of getting on the subway down there at the—at the Madison Square Garden...

BRANDON:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  ... when you get on at 7th Avenue.  And that escalator carries so many hundreds of people every couple minutes.

BRANDON:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  How do you stop, how do you interrupt those people's flow?  You can't say, oh, could you stop for a minute while we check your shoes and see if there's any metal in them?  Could you please take off your overcoat?  Can you show us your laptop?  That would change New York living quite a bit. 

BRANDON:  Oh, it would—in a lot of ways, what we all love, it would destroy the city.  It would destroy what it is.

Is there an answer to that?  It's a tough answer. 

(CROSSTALK)  

BRANDON:  And this is going to sound trite, but we need better intelligence. 

MATTHEWS:  Let's go—hold on there, Skip Brandon, former counterterrorism man with the FBI.

Let's go right now to Steve Emerson, another expert on this whole problem of intel and security. 

Steve, thanks for joining us tonight by phone. 

A subway situation, perhaps following on what happened in Madrid, what happened in London, a scary situation, perhaps. 

STEVE EMERSON, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST:  Yes, it is scary. 

And the problem is that, with—with a source of unknown credibility or varying credibility, the hands of the New York City subway officials and New York City Police and intelligence, their hands are tied.  And I guess, honestly, they have really no alternative but to release this information in order to mobilize the public, lest there is any accusation they withheld it or lest there is a fear that somehow it could have been averted by actually having the public mobilized and having its eyes and ears extended throughout the subway system, which, in effect, Chris, is the best type of intelligence you can get on a first day type of reaction to a potential attack like this. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the purpose of terrorism is to scare everybody by saying, it could easily be you, whether it's on the streets of Jerusalem or here in New York or London or Madrid. 

You get—you get a situation where almost anybody can imagine being in it, like taking a subway.  And you blow some people up or threaten to.

Now, here's the situation.  We are facing rush hour on a Thursday night in New York.  It's just right now, 5:37.  I'm looking at the time, almost 5:38.  Here we are in a situation in rush hour where the mayor and the police chief are coming on television to say, look out.  How do you deal with a situation like that if you're a commuter?

EMERSON:  Listen, unfortunately, actually, most of the commuters, who probably are going to be oblivious until they get off the subway—and so, really, most of the people will be have—have been alerted, either people going onto the subway or people getting off, watching what's going on in the city itself, seeing broadcasts locally set up. 

My feeling is, again, there is going to be a lot of probably Monday-morning quarterbacking after all is said and done, in terms of whether it was advisable to release this, whether there's panic in the population.  But these are considerations, as we have seen in the last four years, that have been also very, very ambiguous in terms of not allowing the government to make a decision that is going to be vetted entirely correctly and accurately before they release the information. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

EMERSON:  It's raw intelligence, probably.  And I have no idea what the mayor will be saying.

But, obviously, there is a feeling that a lot more good, Chris, would have come—will come out by alerting the public of the potential of this, by letting them be the eyes and ears, as is the case in Israel, when the public basically stops 60 or 70 percent of all terrorist attacks by seeing people who are suspicious or suspicious objects, than by holding on to it and hoping to stop the operation by their own internal intelligence. 

MATTHEWS:  The trouble is, New York is so heterogeneous.  There are so many different ethnic groups.  There are so many people who dress differently in New York. 

Let's go right now to Steve Emerson to get—actually, we are going to go to the former Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik.  We have got a great witness here now.

Mr. Commissioner—we lost the commissioner. 

Let me go back to Steve. 

This—this problem of an America and a city which is a polyglot of ethnicity, identifying somebody else on a subway, it's—let's watch right now.

We are going to—here we go right now.  We're going to Mike Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, and Ray Kelly, the police chief. 

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG ®, MAYOR OF NEW YORK:  Good evening.  As we've known since 9/11 and even more so since the Madrid and London attacks, our mass transit system is a potential terrorist target.  Since the London attacks, the NYPD has taken additional measures to ensure the security of New Yorkers. The FBI has recently shared with us a specific threat to our subway system.  Commissioner Kelly and FBI Assistant Director Mark Mershon will go into more detail, but I wanted to assure New Yorkers that we have done and will continue to do everything we can to protect this city.  We will spare no resource.  We will spare no expense.                  We increased our police presence on our subways.  Our Hercules teams and critical response vehicles are focused on mass transit.  We will continue random searches of bags of people entering the system.                  A news outlet was aware of this report two days ago, and they were asked to hold it for operational reasons.  They did, and we are grateful for that.                  We have put extra protective measures in place now, however, that are noticeable to the public.  And we do want the public's help, as I said.  If you see something, say something.  Then the professionals will make an assessment. 

This is the first time that we have had a threat with this level of specificity.  The commissioner has been updating me on it throughout the week.  I believe we have an obligation to share information with the public, as long as it doesn't jeopardize their safety, and they can make their own decisions.                  I believe that they should live their lives like they always do, and have faith in the world's greatest police department. 

We ask that the public remain vigilant.  If you see something, say

something.  Call 311 or 911 if it's an emergency.                  In the meantime, you

should know that tonight I'm going to take the subway going uptown, and

tomorrow morning I'm going to do what I always do, get on the train and go

to work.  And I know a lot of other New Yorkers will do exactly the same

thing.      Ray Kelly will now give you a little more detail—Ray.  

                RAYMOND KELLY, NYPD COMMISSIONER:  Thank you, Mr. Mayor.  I also want

to thank Assistant Director Mershon for joining us.                 The New York City

Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have received

information which indicates that the city subway system may be the target

of a terrorist attack in the coming days.  While the information has not

been fully corroborated, it has been deemed of sufficient concern for

police department to enhance its counterterrorism coverage of the subway

system and to advise the public of the threat, and to ask its assistance in

reporting immediately any suspicious individual or activities to police or

transit personnel.                  Because of the heightened concerns, the police

department will be paying particular attention to briefcases, baby

strollers, luggage and other containers.                  The department asked the

public to curtail the use of these items, if possible, in the transit

system.                  Additional bag searches and other measures are being taken to

provide added protection to the city's subways, buses and ferries.                  The

Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal agencies are working

diligently to further evaluate the credibility of the threat.                  The New

York City Police Department has coordinated the increased coverage with the

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the New Jersey transit, the

Metropolitan Transit Authority, and Amtrak.                  In addition to the

stepped-up bag searches, we're increasing both the uniform and plainclothed

police presence throughout the transit system.  Detectives from the

Organized Crime Control Bureau and warrant squads will be supplementing the

coverage that we already have in place at major transit hubs.                  Our

critical response teams are paying particular attention to subway stations

throughout the system.                  Train order maintenance sweeps in which police

officers board each car of the subway have also been increased.                  These

and other measures will continue until further notice.  New York City

remains at level orange, the second highest alert level, where it's been

since September 11th.         And now, Assistant Director Mark Mershon of the

FBI.  Mark.                   MARK MERSHON, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FBI:  Thank you very much.

Good evening.  I know you don't like to hear this, but the detail of

this specific threat is, in fact, classified.  We put down threats,

multiple threats every day, but the detail of this specific threat was so

on point that we did raise this concern with the New York City Police

Department.  Commissioner Kelly and allied law enforcement agencies have,

in fact, ramped up security procedures, I think appropriate so.           The

encouraging news is that classified operations have in fact partially

disrupted this threat, and I'd like you to know that FBI agents and other

U.S. government personnel continue to work around the clock to fully

resolve this particular threat.                  Thus far, there is nothing that has

surfaced in that investigation, or those enforcement actions, which has

corroborated an actual threat to the city.                  Thank you.                  BLOOMBERG: 

We'll be happy to take a few questions.  Sir.                  QUESTION:  You say you

partially disrupted the threat, at the same time you say you can't corroborate it.  Can you clear that up for me, please?                  BLOOMBERG: 

Mark, there are operational things taking place and have been for a period of time.  And you have to understand that in cases like this, there are lots of different pieces of information, all of which are not necessarily consistent one with another.                  Mark, do you want to add anything? 

MERSHON:  Well, without being too specific, to say there are multiple individuals involved in this, and some of them have—have been resolved, so to speak, is my intent here.                  QUESTION:  Just one quick followup.  There have been reports on the air that there were three people arrested in Iraq, (INAUDIBLE) in Iraq, and that the information came from one of these sources?                 MERSHON:  I appreciate that there may be other reporting on this.  Please understand our operations are classified, and we cannot discuss them.                  BLOOMBERG:  Yes, sir.                  QUESTION:  (INAUDIBLE) unusually specific threat that pertains to the next couple of days?  Is there any reason that people when they hear it, shouldn't say to themselves, I'm going to stay out of the subway for a couple of days?                  KELLY:  Well, people have to make that decision on their own.  But they'll see a significant police presence in the subway system itself, and around the system, certainly at station entrances.                  But we feel an obligation to put this information out.  The public has to make a decision by themselves. 

BLOOMBERG:  And, as I said, I've looked at the information, and I'm going to take the subway.                  Sir.                QUESTION:  (INAUDIBLE).  Could you explain a little more why you waited two days to tell what you knew?

BLOOMBERG:  There were operations taking place that we thought were in the interest of ending the threat, and to release the information earlier could have jeopardized the lives of those conducting those operations. 

It is also true that we had enough specificity to be comforted that it was going—nothing was planned to happen for the next few days.  So I did not think, in making the judgment to withhold it, that we jeopardized the public safety.  At the same time, we wanted to make sure that the people who were doing everything they can to protect this city and our subway system had the flexibility and the opportunity to go do that.                  Yes, miss. 

QUESTION:  This is for either one of you or all of you.  Would you

tell us whether or not there had in fact been an arrest in Manhattan

regarding this threat?                 BLOOMBERG:  There has not been an arrest in

Manhattan at all.  Yes, sir.                  QUESTION:  Are there a specific set of

subway stations that are listed as part of this threat, and will there be

an officer outside every single subway station?                  BLOOMBERG:  There has not

been specific subway stations mentioned, and I can just tell you that that

person you see sitting next to you on the subway could very well be an

undercover detective.  You will see heightened police presence.  You will,

however, not see, by any means, all of the police presence, and that's by

design.  Yes, sir.                  QUESTION:  Would the operation that may have been

planned (INAUDIBLE)?                 BLOOMBERG:  I don't know what we can say.  I think

we can't really describe in any more detail.                  QUESTION:  (INAUDIBLE)

arrests (INAUDIBLE)?                 BLOOMBERG:  Nobody in New York has been arrested

or detained.  Sir, you had a question?                  QUESTION:  I wanted to know,

what is it about the nature of this information that lends it credence or

credibility?                  BLOOMBERG:  It was more specific as to target.  It was more

specific as to timing, and some of the sources had more information that

would lead one to believe that it was not the kind of thing that appears in

the intelligence community every day.                  QUESTION:  How (INAUDIBLE) subways

in New York City or subway in general?                  BLOOMBERG:  We've never had

before a specific threat to our subway system.  There have been people all

the time on the Internet and every place else that, you know, I'm going to

go get those guys.  But this was, suffice it to say, that this had—its

importance was enhanced above the normal level by the detail that was

available to us from various intelligence sources.  Sir.                  QUESTION:  You

said nobody in New York has been arrested?                  BLOOMBERG:  That's correct. 

QUESTION:  People can read that both ways.  That is, you don't think there's any operational cell in New York or you can't find them.  Is it one or the other?     KELLY:  No.  I think the statement stands on its own. 

We have not taken anyone into custody here in the city.  Operations

continue outside the city, and obviously...                QUESTION:  Are you looking for

individuals in this city?       KELLY:  Well, we have ongoing investigation,

along with, certainly the federal authorities in this matter.  And I don't

want to get into any more specific information than that.                  BLOOMBERG: 

Yes, sir.                  QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)                BLOOMBERG:  Well, if you're going

to carry a bomb on to a train or a bus or down the street, having some ways

to carry it is obviously one of those things—we are going to, when you

try to get one of the stations where we have bag searches, you may rest

assured that we will search your backpack with the same diligence we would

look at anything else you had with you where you could conceivably conceal

something.                  QUESTION:  Is the threat Islamist?  Or can you characterize

it any way?                  BLOOMBERG:  I don't know that—I don't think we can

characterize it coming from any ethnic group.  It was—it originated from overseas.  And we'll have to leave it at that.                  QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

BLOOMBERG:  That's one ever the more difficult things.  We live in a dangerous world.  We've heightened our presence.  We've heightened our security level before where there have been other things.  With time, you do more research and more analysis of the information, and gather more information.  And hopefully what we'll find is that any plans that did exist have been dissolved by the actions that have been taken by various security groups around the world.  And there's not going to be any one day where you wake up and say, ring a bell and say, OK, no more threats. 

What we have to do is continue, I think, what we've been doing.  We

have stayed at level orange.  We have been particularly, since the London

attacks, searching bags.  We have had a heightened police presence in the

mass transit system and elsewhere in the city, but mass transit by its very

nature is potentially a more inviting target.                  And we will continue to

do that, and the level will presumably decline over time.  And I can't give

you any one day to say it's over.  We live in a world where it's not over,

unfortunately.  We learned that less lesson '93, maybe we should have.  We

certainly learned that lesson on 9/11.        Yes, sir.                  QUESTION:  (OFF-

MIKE)                  BLOOMBERG:  I don't know—anything that we can say, Mark?

                MERSHON:  No.  Unfortunately, again, the predication investigative

details are classified.  We can't discuss those.  But I have shared with

you that there are ongoing enforcement and investigative activities.  And

there is a possibility that this particular threat will be resolved in the

coming days.                  BLOOMBERG:  Yes, sir.                  QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)                BLOOMBERG: 

Yep.                  QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)                BLOOMBERG:  Security detail would not

help me if there was a terrorist attack.  The truth of the matter is, I've

always believed that the subway system is safe and efficient.  And while I

don't know I'd use the word pleasurable, it's certainly not onerous to

ride.  It gets you there, air conditioned.  And I've always thought there

are always risks in the world. But I have no qualms if my—I would have

no problems with my daughters taking the subway anymore than me.                  Yes. 

I'm trying to get different people.  Miss.                  QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

BLOOMBERG:  I think you can rest assure that the bigger the stop, the more trains, different modes of transportation that come through there, the more people, the more the presence will be.  But that's true all the time. 

And everything will get ratcheted up.          Yes, miss.                  QUESTION:  (OFF-

MIKE)                BLOOMBERG:  No.  There did not seem to be any tie to the Jewish

holidays.  As you know, Rosh Hashanah is finished yesterday and Yom Kippur

isn't until a week from today.  So, there did not seem to be any ties to

that.                  QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)                BLOOMBERG:  I'm going to an event for

Ramadan tonight.  I'm sure I'll get that question.  We did not get that

question.  We do not know, as far as I know, any tie to religion, or time

or event.                  Yes, sir.                  QUESTION:  You mentioned baby carriages. 

                BLOOMBERG:  No, I think somebody here mentioned it.                  QUESTION:  I

believe you said try not to...                 BLOOMBERG:  Yes, yes.  Anything that

would make the job easier for the police.                  QUESTION:  Was there any

specific threat regarding baby carriages in particular?                  BLOOMBERG:  I

don't think that we can, without jeopardizing the ongoing investigations,

say specifically what the threat was.  But I think common sense says, that

to make the job easier for the police and to avoid you getting slowed down,

if you have to have a baby carriage with a baby, that's fine, but it would

be easier for everybody, the fewer backpacks, the the fewer baby car

carriages, or whatever, the fewer packages you carry, it's just common

sense.  And we just live in a different world.                Yes, miss.                  QUESTION: 

(OFF-MIKE)                BLOOMBERG:  We do not have any reason to believe that any of

them are in New York at this point in time.  I think that's fair to say. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you. 

BLOOMBERG:  Thank you. 

Mark, thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that's the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, of course, being very detailed in the threat nature here, saying that the FBI has learned in a detail so on point that it could not be ignored. 

They have alerted New York subway passengers to be alert for someone perhaps carrying a briefcase or a baby carriage or some other container.  Obviously, they are looking for a bomb, some explosive device. 

Let's go right now to an expert, however, Skip Brandon, formerly deputy—former FBI deputy assistant director for counterintelligence. 

Sir, let me ask you, Skip, what are you hearing here?  It sounds to me like he's saying, get on the subway.  I will ride the subway tonight.  I advise may daughters to do so and again tomorrow morning, yet be on the lookout.

BRANDON:  Yes. 

I think the mayor is making the point that he has to make right now.  There is a threat.  And they do have concerns.  As he said, they have ratcheted up.  But, in balance, the subways probably still remain safe.  Everybody on the subway is going to be looking for things tonight.  The police will probably be swamped with calls, but that's what they want. 

MATTHEWS:  If you see something, say something. 

BRANDON:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  He repeated that injunction twice.  If you see something, say something.  We have no idea as to the ethnic identity of the person.  He did, however, offer some detail I didn't expect.  He said the threat originated from overseas. 

BRANDON:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  What does that tell us?

BRANDON:  That surprised me a bit. 

MATTHEWS:  Me, too.

BRANDON:  Some—Ray Kelly and Mark Mershon, standing behind him, maybe wished he hadn't said that.  I don't know.

But it would tell me that there is an intelligence operation and that, probably, there is something planned coming from overseas.  Chris, this isn't a surprise.  We have known this was going to come. 

MATTHEWS:  And it sounds like something that they picked up from the traffic, whether from the National Security Agency or something like that, rather than some buzz in the streets of New York. 

BRANDON:  Well, you can—you can certainly speculate about that. 

That's—that's very possible. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think he got us speculating when he said it was from overseas. 

BRANDON:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... you agree with me on that, Skip.

BRANDON:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the—about the method here for the police. 

The police in New York are the first-responders.  They're going to be there if something goes bad.  They're also be there if nothing goes bad all through the night.  What will the police be doing tonight in—in—in response to the mayor's admonition and instruction? 

BRANDON:  well, they're going to be searching an awful lot of people. 

And that in itself is going to be a huge job, a huge task.  They are not going to search everybody.  It's going to be random.  But the chances of being selected are obviously a lot higher now than they were this morning.  They are going to be awfully busy all night.

(CROSSTALK)

BRANDON:  Probably also busy dealing with irate subway riders. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it gets to the whole question of profiling.  Do you go to the old lady who is clearly an old Irish lady?  Do you go to somebody who looks Middle Eastern?  Do you go to a black or a white, a young or an old, a well dressed, a badly dressed? 

I mean, common sense says look for somebody that might be a terrorist, but, then again, that runs into civil liberties areas, doesn't it?

BRANDON:  It does.  This—they're going to have to use a lot of common sense.

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

BRANDON:  But whether it's profiling or whether they're looking for people that simply look nervous, people that look like they're really afraid.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Got to go.

Thank you. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  A lot of people are afraid tonight.

Thank you, Skip Brandon.

Our live coverage of this threat against New York trains and subways continues now with Dan Abrams—Dan.

DAN ABRAMS, HOST, “THE ABRAMS REPORT”:  All right.  Thanks, Chris.

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

END   

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