Guests: Kate O‘Bierne, E.J. Dionne, Bernard Kerik, George Allen
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, why does the U.S. government, the president, the attorney general, the INS Refuse to enforce the law? Why do we keep debating and passing immigration laws and still let millions of illegal immigrants and millions of employers keep breaking the law, no matter what the law is. Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. Tonight, while the country is fired up over illegals crossing the border, the congress is fired up over a member‘s office getting raided. As congress gets set to pass a broad based immigration bill, we asked the only question that really matters, will the bill work? Will it be enforced.
Plus, can Democrats convert campaign money and national unrest over the Bush administration into a big November win this fall? Will Republican candidates invite the president out on the trail to help them or maroon him in the White House. And if Republicans lose the house, how bad will life get for George W. Bush?
And can Iraqi security forces make their country safe, so that we can come home? Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik answers that HARDBALL question.
Plus, top Republicans are up in arms over the FBI raid into Democrat William Jefferson‘s congressional office, but first my interview with Republican senator and probable presidential candidate, George Allen of Virginia.
Senator Allen, 20 years ago, this Senate and the House and the president got together, they had a big signing ceremony and they said they were going to stop illegal immigration into this country. It was a joke, nothing happened. Illegal immigration continued even faster than before. Why should we trust the government to enforce the borders, to enforce our immigration laws now?
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN ®, VIRGINIA: I don‘t think you ought to trust the government. I think the American people want to see credible, believable action. In fact, President Reagan‘s attorney general Ed Meese said it was amnesty back 20 years ago for three million people and it wasn‘t followed through on and at least there was the honesty 20 years ago in calling it amnesty.
Now we have 11 million estimated in this country here illegally and I don‘t think there‘s going to be much credibility or confidence on the part the American people until they see this flow reduced to a trickle, with more border patrol, with more detention centers, with more actual fences, with more also virtual fences, and sensors and technology on the border.
Until that‘s done, all of this amnesty and these convoluted three-tiered approaches I think are absolutely meaningless, so we need to secure the border, it should have been done years ago, we need to get about doing it right now.
MATTHEWS: The president came out a couple weeks ago and said we should sing the national anthem in English. What was that? What meaning did that have to you? Was that bluster?
ALLEN: No, I think it was a question, there were some folks singing the national anthem in Spanish and the president was undoubtedly asked about and said no, the national anthem should be sung in English. And the words are in English and I don‘t know if it‘s so much bluster, but it‘s one of those issues that are secondary issues but came up and it‘s something that the American people had a reaction, thinking that English should be our national language and our national anthem ought to be sung in English.
After all, Francis Scott Key composed it in English when we were fighting the English in The War of 1812.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the National Guard. You were governor of Virginia. What do you make the idea of a National Guard unit going down from a state like the Commonwealth of Virginia and heading down there for a couple of weeks? Is this just a show of force by the president or is it a real contribution to border enforcement?
ALLEN: I think it‘s a recognition finally on the part of the president, that our borders are not secure and we need more personnel. The National Guard will be sent down temporarily as a backup or a back stop to our border patrol personnel.
We need more border patrol personnel, easily double is the best number or estimates, but we need more actual border enforcement, and I think the president dramatically recognized that there needs to be more of an effort on the border.
Those who want to volunteer and serve on this backup or support and surveillance aspect of border security, can do so. I think the guard from Virginia as well as other states are proud to help, although I think most of the guard will undoubtedly come from the states along the Mexican border, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
By the way, governors of New Mexico and Arizona did deploy some of their guard previously, because of the inadequate efforts on the part of the federal government.
MATTHEWS: Do you really believe that we can seal the border?
ALLEN: We can do a better job. Right now it‘s a flow, it‘s a river flowing across our borders and ever since the concept of amnesty or rewarding people with a track towards citizenship was broached, the number of people rushing across the border, entering our country illegally, is increased.
And yes I do think that we can stop the flow to a trickle. I‘m not saying it could be absolutely 100 percent safeguard, but I think it could be done a lot better than it is right now. And I don‘t think there has been the prioritization of making sure we have the fencing, the sensors.
The detention centers themselves are inadequate. So many who are actually apprehended are let out on their own recognizance because there is insufficient capacity and they‘re not foolish, they don‘t show up again. It‘s flaunting of our sovereignty and the security of this country and the rule of law to not have a secure border when we know so many hundreds of thousands are coming into this country illegally.
So yes, I do think we can secure the border much better and in a way that will then be able to - we can look at, all right, what do you do with the 11 million who are here illegally? I am not one who advocates rounding them up and deporting them back to their own countries. That‘s not appropriate, practical or credible, but what needs to be done is we need to stop the flow of illegal entry into this country.
MATTHEWS: What is your message, you‘re on national television now governor, senator now, what is your message to people in this country, big business, big agriculture or the local bakery or the average housewife who hires an illegal worker, what‘s your message to them now, you‘re breaking the law, stop doing it?
ALLEN: Well, I think that any employer ought to try to find out if the person that they‘re hiring on is legally in this country. Now what we have is a lot of document fraud and counterfeiting that is very, very good and it‘s hard for an employer to be able to discern the difference between a National Social Security Card and one that is a counterfeit.
But we need to send a message to the American people is that Americans, your federal government is finally getting around to doing what you expect it to do, and that is to secure the border. We are a country that is a nation of immigrants. We have been settled, built, and improved by immigrants throughout our history. My mother is an immigrant, so I appreciate the value of I am immigrants to our country.
We also are nation of laws and so for those who need temporary workers in agriculture, whether they need them in the tourism industry, whether we need them for technology workers, there ought to be much better, more effective ways of bringing in people into this country legally who have been checked out to help provide the jobs and the services that employers can‘t find Americans to fill.
MATTHEWS: Aren‘t you avoiding the key issue here of identifying the workers? The president says we‘re going to have a tamper proof system, biometric I.D. cards and that seems to me the reason people come to this country. Some may come to break the law, most come to work. Why don‘t we enforce the law against illegal hiring? Are you for that?
ALLEN: Yes I‘m very much for enforcing the laws.
MATTHEWS: For I.D. cards.
ALLEN: Yes. I think that makes a great deal of sense, and the best—if you can make a machine readable or you can go on line to verify that Joe or Sally or whomever may be, is who they say they are that‘s good. Our worry, my concern is that if we do it under the existing system, it‘s not an adequate system. We need way more. We need at least 100,000 more in this country for seasonal workers. We need 100,000 plus more for agriculture workers.
MATTHEWS: What‘s an appropriate sanction for somebody who hires somebody illegally and knowingly, who doesn‘t check their papers, who goes with some fraudulent looking document, do you think the government of the United States is serious, are you serious about enforcing the law against illegal hiring? Are we for big sanctions, big fines, imprisonment? How do you stop a business guy as you say who needs a lot of cheap workers from doing it against the law? How do you stop it?
ALLEN: Well, in the event that you can prove that they knowingly hired someone illegally, there are fines, there are penalties for those who do it. Now for those who have tried to comply with the law and they check out an individual and that person somehow the Social Security number pans out, even if it‘s false, that person hasn‘t committed any crime knowingly, but for those who have, yes, I do think there ought to be fines against them.
MATTHEWS: You don‘t sound too enthusiastic, Senator. Republicans never sound very enthusiastic when it comes to fining business people. Isn‘t that the weakness here? Everybody, the Democrats are playing to LULAC and the Latino groups, I don‘t know where the labor unions are, but you seem hesitant, Senator, to nail a big business guy or farm owner, nail him with a big fine and say hit him so hard he‘ll never think of doing it again. Are you that tough on illegal hiring?
ALLEN: Yes. Let‘s take it al on here, Chris. Now the point of the matter is if somebody knowingly violates the law, obviously we need to enforce the laws. But one way that I think we can make it much better for employers who can‘t find Americans to do the work is to make sure that we have—weather it‘s the ag workers, the seasonal workers or others—that there is a good, legal method of hiring people from other countries.
There are proposals, we‘ll still have amendments and I think that what you‘ll find is employers do want to hire illegal workers because they are desperate to fill those jobs.
And once that‘s done, those who are in here illegally will have a much harder time finding work and they‘re going to have to reenter or enter this country in such up a way that they have all the opportunities to work. And also be checked out for their criminal behavior. But anybody who is knowingly violating the law, whether it‘s the employee or the employer, yes that law needs to be enforced.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you. Stay with us, we‘ll be right back with Senator George Allen of Virginia.
And later, what‘s going on in the CIA leak investigation? HARDBALL‘s David Shuster talks with former federal prosecutors about what special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is doing right now and what that might mean for Karl Rove at the White House. Plus, former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik is coming up. You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We‘re back with Senator George Allen. Many people think—he‘s certainly running for re-election in Virginia, Senator, we know that. That‘s true. And you may be running for president. Is that true?
ALLEN: We‘ll see what happens in the future. One thing I do know, I‘m running for re-election and I hope the people of Virginia accord me with their trust to keep working for them in Washington.
MATTHEWS: Well part of being considered as a potential presidential candidate by the great mentioner, whoever he is, you‘re under a special spotlight right now. There‘s been a lot of stories written now about the fact that you used to have a confederate flag in your living room, a noose in your law office and that you were in your high school yearbook wearing a confederate flag pin. Explain.
ALLEN: Explain, as a kid and in college, yes, I was a maverick anti-establishment and there‘s certain things that all of us have done when we were kids that may not make much sense 30, 40 years later. As far as all of that‘s concerned, I looked at the confederate flag and the Virginia flag and the Betsy Ross flag. I like flags, I collected them, it was part of a collection. And it was in my own home.
MATTHEWS: What was the kick you got out of it? Was it to be a maverick as you say? Was it to be an oddball out, just a kid who does what nobody else he is supposed to do, to be a little naughty, what‘s the message?
ALLEN: The message—what my message is when I was a teenager, generally I was one who liked that bumper sticker, “question authority.” And I didn‘t look at the confederate flag or anything other than historic or regional pride issue, in Virginia, it‘s part of the history of Virginia.
I do recognize and have grown through the years and recognize that particularly since the confederate flag has been used and appropriated by hate groups, the Klan and others, that for others it means something much different than history or heritage. Or like on the top of the “Dukes of Hazard” car or something like that. And so I wouldn‘t want to harm or disparage anyone, and so I‘ve learned a lot over the years, and have grown.
MATTHEWS: What about the noose in your law office? Why would you display a noose?
ALLEN: Oh, somebody brought a noose in. I had a western motif in my office. I buckarooed on ranches out West, primarily in Nevada and also Idaho, and I had wagon wheels and lassos and chaps and all that. And somebody brought in a little old noose and we had it, it was on my secretary‘s desk for a short period of time.
MATTHEWS: So that wasn‘t part of your maverick streak?
ALLEN: No, no. That was actually—that was somebody said, oh, this will fit in with all your cowboy stuff that you have here in your office. I still have the wagon wheels and oh, the horse collars or mule collars and those sort of things. I had the single trees and so forth, all sorts of things in that office, that I collected over the years and it was a western motif.
MATTHEWS: Well great. Well let me ask you this. Are you surprised that there‘s been so much press coverage, these little facts about your past. I didn‘t think it was a big story and I got online late this afternoon and I looked at—I mean, seven or eight right up front, all these news stories, the “American Prospect,” “Forbes,” I‘m not raising issues. Are you surprised that this has grown as an issue? That paraphernalia you used to carry around?
ALLEN: Well, I guess that happens when you‘re running for office. Some people want to go back and see what you did in high school and when you‘re in university and so forth. I guess that just goes with the territory. I know who I am. I know how I grew up and I know they try to make all sorts of assertions out of this.
I grew up in a family where you don‘t care about someone‘s race, my father‘s teams. He cared about teams I played on, you don‘t care about someone‘s religion or ethnicity or race. You care about whether they can help the team win. My father told us kids, hey, be like Deacon Jones. He was a role model that my father wanted for our kids.
And so yes, I was rambunctious. Was I a maverick? Was I anti-establishment? Did I go—I didn‘t fit in in a lot of places but that‘s the way I was and somewhat that way now. But I also have learned through the years and I think all of us have grown, we learn, certain symbols back then meant one thing and now to some people they mean something else now. And I‘m much more cognizant of it and respectful.
MATTHEWS: Big question, last question, Senator. Are we better off without an immigration bill than some papered-over bill like the Simpson-Mazzoli 20 years ago?
ALLEN: I think we‘re better of if we secure the borders. That‘s the one thing there‘s a consensus on here in this country and that is if this bill, this convoluted three-tiered approach that‘s going to cause a lot of document fraud. And I don‘t think it will become law, I think that if this fails, what we ought to do in appropriations bills is get the money there for fencing along the border, for sensors, for more border personnel, more detention centers.
And I think that if we can slow down and I think stop the flow of illegal entry into this country, the American people would appreciate it, and it‘s what they expect out of their government.
MATTHEWS: Great to have you on. Please come back, Senator George Allen of Virginia, running for re-election, perhaps running for president if a couple of years.
Up next, what special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is up to at the CIA leak probe. Former federal prosecutors explain what‘s going on behind the scenes coming up. And later former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik plays some HARDBALL. You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: The grand jury investigating the CIA leak case met again today at the courthouse, but prosecutors from Patrick Fitzgerald‘s office were not there and there was no sign the grand jury received evidence on presidential adviser Karl Rove.
Rove‘s attorneys are waiting for a decision from Fitzgerald on whether Rove will be charged or cleared, so the question now is, what‘s the procedure for deciding if a crime has been committed?
HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster has been talking with former federal prosecutors who were once in a similar position and he has this report.
DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was exactly four weeks ago today when presidential adviser Karl Rove testified for the fifth time in the CIA leak investigation. Twenty-eight days later, the man known as “Bush‘s brain” has still not been cleared.
Rove‘s lawyers say they‘ve heard nothing from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and believe Rove remains under investigation for testimony related to a conversation with “Time” magazine reporter Matt Cooper about CIA operative Valerie Wilson.
Fitzgerald‘s office refuses to comment, but former federal prosecutors describe the following procedures when considering an indictment. First, the prosecution team would review the evidence. Then, they would examine the case law and the relevant statutes. And finally, the prosecutors would decide whether a reasonable jury would convict at trial.
If prosecutors believe they would win a conviction, next, they would then prepare to seek a grand jury indictment. One former federal prosecutor says the timing now for Karl Rove is not in his favor.
DAVID SCHERTLER, FMR. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: If Pat Fitzgerald had, in fact, reached a decision not to indict, he would have announced that and he would have told Karl Rove and his attorneys. The fact that he hasn‘t announced it gives you some—makes you believe that he might be headed toward an indictment and might be tightening up all the loose ends at this point in anticipation of presenting the indictment.
SHUSTER: There are no Justice Department guidelines that say prosecutors should rely on a higher burden of proof or recheck all of the evidence when considering a charge against a public official. But in most cases, say former prosecutors, the scrutiny in a high profile case becomes part of the equation.
SCHERTLER: So I think that there‘s, you know, probably at least some personal motivation on the part of Patrick Fitzgerald to make sure that he does a thorough job and a good job, and that when he does issue an indictment, if that‘s what he‘s going to do, that he‘s ready to go to trial and feels very confident that he can win that case at trial.
SHUSTER: Sol Wisenberg, who led the grand jury investigation of President Clinton, suspects that Fitzgerald is now busy analyzing transcripts of Rove and dozens of other grand jury witnesses and is mapping out the evidence and considering every potential defense argument.
SOL WISENBERG, FMR. DEPUTY INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: Fitzgerald has very carefully gone through time sequences and, obviously, has chronologies he‘s working with in his office.
SHUSTER: Some defense attorneys argue that a prosecutor should not indict a White House official unless there is a pattern of misconduct. That raises the question, would Fitzgerald hold back an indictment if he only found one instance where an official misled investigators? The former prosecutors point to Fitzgerald‘s public statements last fall.
PATRICK FITZGERALD, U.S. SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: The truth is the engine of our judicial system. If you compromise the truth, the whole process is lost.
WISENBERG: If he‘s only got one count on Karl Rove, but he believes that Rove is guilty and he believes he can convince a reasonable jury that Rove is guilty, I don‘t believe he‘s going to withhold indictment because he‘s only got one count.
SHUSTER: When it comes to the timing of Fitzgerald‘s decision on indicting Rove or letting Rove know he has been cleared, attorneys say there is a very simple issue that might be affecting Fitzgerald‘s schedule. Compared to other special counsel investigations, Fitzgerald‘s staff is small. Attorneys note he only has four prosecutors working on the CIA leak case. And as Fitzgerald said last year about his team and top investigator ...
FITZGERALD: I have got a full-time job. Jack has a full-time job in Philadelphia. My full-time job is in Chicago. Everyone working on this case has another full-time job.
SHUSTER: According to one lawyer representing the witness in the CIA leak case, Fitzgerald did not want to leave Chicago this winter because he was so busy with the corruption trial of former Illinois Governor George Ryan, and since then, the Fitzgerald team considering Karl Rove has been busy filing or responding to pretrial motions in the Scooter Libby case.
WISENBERG: Washington is an impatient town. Twenty-eight days is nothing to a prosecutor. And really, I think that it‘s one thing to keep somebody hanging for years, but 28 days after last grand jury appearance is no big deal from his perspective.
SHUSTER (on camera): A spokesman who is being paid by Karl Rove says the presidential adviser did nothing wrong and is confident he will be cleared, but according to lawyers for other witnesses in this case, the only thing certain right now is that the investigation and focus on Rove continues.
I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David. Up next, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik talks about securing Iraq and America. It‘s going to take a lot of people, money and time, but how much will it do to get this job done?
And tomorrow night, special live HARDBALL coverage at 7:00 p.m. Eastern of President Bush‘s joint news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Iraq‘s new prime minister said that his army and police forces would be able to take over security operations from the United States forces by late next year. That‘s ‘07 at the end of the year around December, but three years after the war in Iraq began.
Criminal groups and militias have infiltrated police units and terrorized the Iraqi civilian population. Did the Bush Administration miss an opportunity to head off this insurgency and establish an Iraqi police force after the fall of Saddam? And what needs to be done now to stand up a competent police force that can take over security duties from U.S. troops?
Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik was sent to Iraq in 2003, that‘s three years ago, to rebuild their interior ministry, which included reconstruction of their police force. Commissioner Kerik thank you very much for joining us.
Is it an impossible job that you have taken here or took to build up a police force that could police the country, urging—or rather getting closer all the time to a civil war?
BERNARD KERIK, FORMER NY POLICE COMMISSIONER: I don‘t think it‘s an impossible job. I think it‘s possible if you have the resources you need to do the job. You know, when we went into Iraq, you know, we went in for the first time in many, many years, going into a conflict where I don‘t think we understood the enemy like we understand it today. I don‘t think we understood the insurgency and what would follow.
And it‘s going to be a difficult task, but I think it can be done, and it‘s really going to be dependent now on the Iraqi government, the new government, to instill laws that they can handle, to instill order, and to hold the police commanders and the military commanders accountable to do the jobs that they have to do to secure the country.
MATTHEWS: A couple weeks ago, we all watched let‘s say we were all staggered by the picture of Iraqi troops just getting out of the military academy over there taking off their uniforms, their fatigues, because they didn‘t want to be assigned anywhere outside their home towns. That didn‘t look like the development of a real army. Did that stagger you to see that picture?
KERIK: You know what, Chris, these are cultural issues I think that sometimes we in the United States don‘t understand. I think they‘re cultural issues that the Iraqi government would understand.
They would know about better than we do and that‘s why I say the new ministry of interior, whoever that minister is going to be at this point, he‘s got an enormous task. He‘s going of to assign people that are loyal to Iraq, not to various different groups and things out there. It‘s going to be a task. Do I think it can be done? I think it can be done, but it‘s not going to be easy.
MATTHEWS: As New York City police commissioner, you have probably attended and presided over a lot of graduations from police academy. Young officers that come from every ethnic background in the world, South Asians, African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Whites, Irish, Italians, everybody. Pulling together a police force in the United States, compare that to pulling together a police force in Iraq where you have Sunnis, Shia and Kurds?
KERIK: There is no comparison. The education level here is far better, the training here is far better. You have to realize, in Iraq today, we‘re trying to shuffle through as many troops as possible, both on the military and the police side.
In the United States, when I sent someone through an academy, a basic academy, it was six or seven months in New York. In Iraq, it‘s eight weeks. We need the highest amount of numbers possible for them to take over their own security, so that being said, you know, the training is not the same, the education is not the same, the culture is not the same. So it is a task.
Can it be done? Yes, it can be done, it‘s just going to take time.
MATTHEWS: A lot of mistakes were made as we got into Iraq. Maybe the biggest mistake was going into Iraq in the first place. Put that aside for a second. You said that we weren‘t prepared for the insurgency. Didn‘t anyone who hired you say we‘ve just invaded a country, we‘re telling them what to do over there at gun point, we have to expect that people are going to resent that, resent our very presence? Did you get that kind of admonition when you went in there and took the job?
KERIK: No, when I took the job, basically I was briefed on what the ministry of interior consisted of, the various agencies within, what we thought or what they thought would be needed. We had a 25-man assessment theme that went into the country to assess the national police and security forces.
My biggest problem with what happened after that was the funding mechanism. If you will recall, the congressional supplemental that we requested and were fighting for, it did not get there as quickly as we needed it. Money takes an enormous time to get through the congressional and senatorial process. And when you‘re trying to manage or reconstruct or rebuild a country, you don‘t have the kind of time we have here.
We stood up 35 or 37 police stations in Baghdad. We brought back 37,000 cops throughout the country in a matter of four months. You couldn‘t do that in the United States. But you know, people have to realize, it does take time, and it takes money, and to get that money through the U.S. process, it‘s an enormous problem.
MATTHEWS: So you didn‘t get the money in time for recruitment, for training that you needed?
KERIK: No. You to realize, one, we wanted to bring back the police that were there prior, two, we wanted to recruit new. Everybody had to be retrained that was already there. Their ideas of an interrogation or an investigation was hold somebody upside down and beat them on the bottom of their feet until they told you what you wanted to know.
That stuff had to change, so we had to train the old, retrain or train the new. You had to vet the people that were coming in, because we didn‘t know who they were. You know, the president and the administration was criticized for not vetting. We had no vetting tools. We had no prior databases. We had no prior intelligence. Everything had been looted or burned or destroyed. It was an enormous task and I think the 25 men that worked for me did a tremendous job for the time that they were there, but we definitely needed more resources.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think you were told that—or what were you told about the decision not to use the existing police and retrain them?
KERIK: Honestly, that decision was left up to me by Ambassador Bremer. I did not think that we should disband or eliminate the prior police force. I was adamantly against it. I was authorized by ambassador Bremer to bring back the Iraqi police that had sort of dissolved back in to the communities, and we got them back as quickly as possible.
When you think we—you know, when I got there on May 18, I think, we had about a thousand people at the academy, those numbers rose over the last—over the next four months, to about 37,000. So we brought back a lot of people and then we began recruiting. But it‘s an enormous task, particularly when you don‘t have the people you need, or the funds you need to do the job.
MATTHEWS: Are the people that you trained over there and the people that have been trained subsequently, do they have the stuff, the moral or personal authority to gun down their own people if they are breaking the law. In other words, do they have the stuff that we question all the time weather the Arabs on the West Bank in Palestine have the stuff to shoot Arabs who break the rules by going to kill Israelis.
Do the Arabs in Iraq have the stuff for a Sunni to kill a Sunni, a Shia to kill a Shia, a Kurd to kill a Kurd. Do they have it to be policemen?
KERIK: Honestly, Chris, I think they do. If you look at Jordan specifically, you look at their intelligence services, their police services, their military, some of the best in the world. You look at Jordan, Kuwait, the Arab Emirates, they do.
And I think they will in Iraq as well. I think it depends on one thing and that‘s the leadership. You need leaders that when they raise a flag and yell charge, these men and women will follow. So far we really have not seen that and I think it‘s going to really depend on the new Iraqi leadership and who they put in those positions.
MATTHEWS: Speaking of leadership, we found no WMD. There‘s been lots of questions about cherry picking and manipulation of Intel. We didn‘t expect an insurgency. We‘ve lost 2,500 men over there and women. We‘ve lost 7,000 wounded, some very seriously for life. We‘ve discovered no connection between Iraq and 9/11. Knowing all of that now, looking backward, do you think it was right to go into Iraq, was it a smart move?
KERIK: Me personally? Yes, I think it was a smart move. I think it was the right move. When you look at Saddam‘s hatred for the United States, when you look at the money he had access to, when you look at all the weapons, you know people are still talking about weapons of mass destruction.
The entire country of Iraq was a big weapons dump. And I think, you know, still today, they‘re still digging up warehouses. They‘re still digging up things underground that they haven‘t found. Personally me, that man was a weapon of mass destruction and he had to be removed. When you look at the al Qaeda fight that‘s in there now and in the last 12 months, 550 al Qaeda people have blown themselves up, there is a fight there that we should have taken on, we have to take on, and I‘d much rather take it on there than here.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik. Up next, while Congress keeps busy battling over the border, the FBI raids an office of one of their own members. Both Democrats and Republicans are crying foul about this. Was it a misuse of power or was it simply enforcing the laws that Congress passes? This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Here to talk about border hopping Bush bashing and FBI break-ins up on the Capitol is the “National Review‘s” Kate O‘Beirne and the “Washington Post‘s” E.J. Dionne. Let‘s talk about it all at once, as a potpourri as they say on the McLaughlin Group.
You first, E.J. What is the connection here, we have a U.S. enforcement capability, the CIA, the FBI, etc. The FBI, when it should be probably doing other things, is up on Capitol Hill breaking into a member‘s office. What‘s that about?
E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: You sound like a member of Congress.
MATTHEWS: I‘m just wondering, is it the right thing to do?
DIONNE: First of all, I think legally they probably could do it. I find it astonishing that they never made the phone call. They didn‘t sell it to Dennis Hastert or maybe to Nancy Pelosi because this had never happened before.
MATTHEWS: Kate, would you give the leadership of both parties a heads up on a raid on Capitol Hill, a heads up, tell them it‘s coming?
KATE O‘BEIRNE, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well first of all, it should be said, this actually is what the FBI ought to be doing or at least some of them. It‘s a public corruption case. This is a congressman accused of, and there‘s strong evidence of, having taken bribes. There‘s a tape involved, $90,000 has been found in his freezer.
It is a huge abuse of the public trust, and now we see Speaker Hastert and Minority Leader Pelosi arguing that a crooked congressman‘s taxpayer-funded office ought to somehow, even though they—the FBI proved to the satisfaction of a judge that evidence of this felony is in that office...
MATTHEWS: ... Because they got the warrant.
O‘BEIRNE: Exactly. They got a warrant from a judge. It out to be out of bounds.
MATTHEWS: Are these crocodile tears by Hastert and Pelosi? Crocodile tears, remember that phrase in school? You went to Catholic school. Remember the nuns would say crocodile tears, you‘re just pretending to be hurt.
Do they really want to get this heads up that Kate mentioned? If you were Speaker Hastert, would you want to get a call from the FBI, “We‘re about to raid Bill Jefferson‘s office. We‘ve got a lot of stuff, we‘ve got a warrant.”
And then, or Nancy Pelosi, leader of the Democratic Party and the congressman say, “We‘re about to raid one of your members of your caucus. What do you want to do about it?” She says, “Well, I either tell him that it‘s coming, and then I—I put the cabash on the raid because I warned him to get his junk out of the office, whatever it is. No. 2, I don‘t tell him and he hates me.” Why do you want to know ahead of time about the raid?
DIONNE: Well that‘s precisely why the Justice Department did the wrong thing. Because if they had informed him—if the Justice Department had informed Pelosi and Hastert, the Justice would have put them in the impossible position. Instead...
MATTHEWS: ... OK, what should they have done then if they got the heads up about a break-in in one of the congressional offices?
DIONNE: I think in the end, they could haven‘t told the member. They would have been in worse trouble if they had told a member, but then they would have been in huge political trouble.
MATTHEWS: If they warned a member, they would have been accessories, because they‘d basically say, get your stuff, whatever it is, out of the office, wouldn‘t they?
DIONNE: They would be in trouble.
O‘BEIRNE: They are genuinely outrage. They are not feigning outrage. In talking to people on the Hill, they are genuinely outraged.
MATTHEWS: What do they want done?
O‘BEIRNE: They seem to think that the Constitution protects members of Congress in their workspace from any such search warrant they do. They cite the speech and debate clause, they think it was an intrusion by the executive branch. They sort of ignore the judge being involved here. They think it was an intrusion on the executive branch to the independence of the legislative branch, that they think poses some sort of a huge risk.
MATTHEWS: Do they pretend they‘re like an embassy abroad, that they have extra territoriality? In other words, they‘re not to be raided?
DIONNE: I think everybody looks terrible in this. What Pelosi and Hastert standing together sound like, what we care about most, is institutional protection. So that‘s no good for them. The justice doesn‘t look very good. What this reaction shows is there‘s a strong reaction to both parties against the Bush administration and against abuse of power.
MATTHEWS: Suppose you‘re attorney general and you‘ve got this refrigerator full of money. You know with marked bills—called it pros and assets last night, but that‘s fun. And you had all kind of probable cause. This guy is doing hanky panky, and you don‘t invade his office on the Hill, you don‘t check out his office and you go to trial and judge says, “Did you check out his papers at work? Did you check out any other evidence?” And the public finds out that the government is so squeamish, so afraid of the Capitol and the Congress, would that be an acceptable position for the judiciary or for the executive?
O‘BEIRNE: No, I think the FBI was obliged ...
MATTHEWS: So which side are you on here?
O‘BEIRNE: No, no. I think the FBI was obliged to pursue this.
MATTHEWS: Where are you?
DIONNE: I think that the FBI probably had a right to do it. Here‘s what I don‘t understand.
MATTHEWS: Well, where are you on it?
DIONNE: Here‘s what I don‘t understand.
MATTHEWS: Should they have done it, yes or no?
DIONNE: I think they should have told the Congress and then done it is what I think. But what I also think is—what I would like to know more about is whether they he didn‘t have their case already, why did they need this extra staff? Maybe you‘re right. Maybe ...
MATTHEWS: Same reason. I tried to figure that out. Do you need more than $90,000 in cold cash.
DIONNE: You‘ve got the cash in the freezer, you‘ve got him on tape.
MATTHEWS: I know, here‘s my thing. They‘re all like Fitzgerald. They‘re all like Fitzgerald, they want more. Prosecutors always want more.
O‘BEIRNE: Prosecutors want all the available evidence and they were told and satisfied a judge that available evidence was in this office and Congress is not above the law. The FBI represents the American people. This is U.S. versus Jefferson should it come to that and so too does the judge.
MATTHEWS: I think Congress should be susceptible to the laws it writes. How‘s that for an idea? We‘ll be right back with Kate O‘Beirne and E.J. Dionne in a moment.
Could one issue like immigration or Iraq or corruption be the key to deciding who wins this November? We‘ll find out when we come back. You‘re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with the “National Review‘s” Kate O‘Beirne and the “Washington Post‘s” E.J. Dionne. We had, of course, on the show tonight George Allen, who I think is going to be one of the real frontrunners for the Republican nomination. Do you guys agree?
O‘BEIRNE: I do.
DIONNE: Less than did I about six months ago. I think he‘s lost some ground.
MATTHEWS: OK, well let‘s talk about his problems, and I don‘t know whether it‘s a big problem or not, but it‘s kind of the screening you‘ve got to go through and I‘ve got to play my part which is to investigate old questions.
Back when he was a young lawyer, I guess, he used to keep a noose in his law office. He used to keep a confederate flag in his living room. Of course, he‘s running—he‘s in office in Virginia. Also used to wear in high school a confederate flag pin.
His answer kind of general. He gave kind of a general answer, nothing new what he thought. He said, “I was a maverick. I was anti-establishment. There‘s certain things that all of us have done when we were kids that may not make much sense 30 or 40 years later.”
That was the basically his argument. You know, as part of my maverick naughtiness I think I put some words in his mouth, but that was where he was. E.J., is this something that anybody can actually use against him?
DIONNE: I don‘t know if it hurts you in the Republican primary, but it might hurt you in the general election.
MATTHEWS: Explain why it would not ...
DIONNE: Well, the Republican Party has a very conservative set of voters and a lot of the early primaries are in the south. But I think in a general election it could hurt him, because I think he needs to say more than just how he was a maverick. For a lot of people, especially black people, the confederate flag is a symbol of slavery and oppression.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK, let‘s play this the other way.
Kate, suppose you‘ve found out that one of the guys who is a young candidate today, somebody in their 30s or 40s running for senator or something bigger, used to love to wear a Che Guevara T-shirt. I think that‘s, at this point, absolutely harmless because there is no fight with Che Guevara anymore. He was killed years ago by our side. Would that be a fair thing to use against somebody? A Che Guevara T-shirt?
O‘BEIRNE: Well, people bothered by it would be bothered by it not because he poses a current threat, a present threat, but because of what he represented which is ...
MATTHEWS: Would you vote against a person because they wore a Che Guevara T®MD+IN_®MDNM_-shirt in their 20s?
O‘BEIRNE: Alone? I would have questions. I would wonder what it meant.
MATTHEWS: What do you think would it mean that would bother you?
O‘BEIRNE: That this individual was an admirer of this brutal communist who, with blood on his hands, was responsible for the kind of oppression that revolution has given us.
MATTHEWS: It couldn‘t be—well, how about—let‘s think. People wear Karl Marx sweatshirts. I guess that‘s more ridiculous. They wear Einstein sweatshirts, we all grew up with those.
MATTHEWS: They were OK. I‘m trying to think of people doing things because they‘re a little bit naughty, they‘re a little wise guy. And whether that means anything more than I‘m a wise guy, you know, make you want of it.
O‘BEIRNE: Well, we have to recognize that the rules, the rules about the confederate flag have changed in fairly recent memory. There‘s every reason to believe that when George Allen was in California and wearing a confederate flag lapel pin, it was like the “Dukes of Hazzard” thing. What did it mean to him?
MATTHEWS: That‘s what he said.
O‘BEIRNE: Maybe it meant pickup trucks and beer and driving around with somebody who looks like Daisy.
MATTHEWS: But are you speaking with a forked tongue here, Kate?
O‘BEIRNE: It‘s only recently. It‘s not the ...
MATTHEWS: Because you‘re saying all these defensive things about him. E.J., I don‘t want to argue this. You do this. Say something to defend your buddy Che Guevara.
DIONNE: No, you know, I think what you need to do is ask somebody what did that mean? In other words, somebody is going to see somebody with a Che Guevara shirt and I think it is perfectly reasonable for Kate O‘Beirne to go to him and say what were you doing that for? Do you still believe—what did you believe them, what do you believe now?
And I think that Allen needs to go beyond just, oh, I was a rebel. I was just doing this because I wanted to be like some guy on the “Dukes of Hazzard.” I don‘t think that works.
O‘BEIRNE: But he‘s a ...
MATTHEWS: You‘re being very judicial E.J. Do you find, would you wear a Che Guevara T-shirt right now?
DIONNE: I think this is a problem. No, I wouldn‘t.
MATTHEWS: Why? Why wouldn‘t you wear one?
DIONNE: Because I‘m not a communist. I‘m on the Democratic left.
O‘BEIRNE: Unfortunately, they‘re extremely popular.
O‘BEIRNE: I have to hope a bunch of kids wearing them currently, because they‘re pretty popular—actually don‘t understand who he is and what did he. George Allen is a lucky man. This confederate flag stuff is going to sound pretty old by 2008.
MATTHEWS: Probably by asking you about it tonight it begins to erode already. However, I like this Che Guevara question, too, because I think there‘s some people out there on the left who maybe are wearing one. We‘ll see pictures of those some day.
Anyway, thank you E.J. Dionne, thank you Kate O‘Beirne.
Play HARDBALL with us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern. Our guests will include Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean and NBC‘s Tim Russert. Right now it‘s time for the “ABRAMS REPORT” with Dan.
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