Guests: Christopher Hitchens, Deborah Orin, Jeffrey Frederick, Sal Ruibal, Alan Abrahamson, Patrick Lang
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: “I apologize,” says Reverend Pat Robertson, for calling for the assassination of Venezuela‘s president. But has the damage already been done?
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews.
A French newspaper reported today that Lance Armstrong used dope to start his seven-year sweep of the Tour de France and has official records to prove it. Armstrong says he never used drugs, while the Tour de France, owned by the same company as the newspaper, has yet to challenge his victories.
Plus, a new poll finds that four out of five Americans, four out of five now believe the U.S. military sometimes intentionally gives us—quote—“false or inaccurate information.”
Our hottest story tonight, the great escape. Using tool made from materials their own American guards allowed them, hundreds of Iraqi prisoners at Camp Bucca in Iraq almost pulled off a great escape, movie-style, by tunneling out of the prison. How did they pull it off? Tunnelling the length of a football field—you‘re looking at it now—under the noses of their American guards. What does this tell us about the resolve, discipline and cohesiveness of these guys we are up against.
Patrick Lang is a former defense intelligence official who specialized in the Middle East and worked in Iraq.
Mr. Lang, I don‘t know. We‘re finally getting some answers tonight. The people we‘re fighting in Iraq are overwhelmingly Iraqis. They‘re the bad guys. They‘re the members of the old regime, the hated murderous old regime of Saddam Hussein. But, as bad guys, they put together what looked like “The Shawshank Redemption” here.
Or maybe should I call it “The Great Escape” with Steve McQueen. How did they get the length of a football feel, 15 feet in the ground, with ventilating system, lighting systems, a sophisticated prison escape system and route?
PATRICK LANG, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think most of these guys who are involved in this are not at all from the jihadi side of things. These are guys who were once members of the Iraqi army, former Baath Party people, government people.
And when I used to travel to Iraq a lot during the Iran-Iraq war, I was impressed that they had a lot of internal discipline and some of the officers showed a lot of initiative and knew a lot about engineering and things like this. So, I‘m not actually all that surprised about this.
It is interesting that they—in a camp like this, they could still organize themselves into committees and plan the thing. And there was sufficient discipline, so they got all this done, almost to the end, before someone ratted on them. Somebody is always going to rat on you if it goes long enough.
But it‘s quite amazing. And it tells you a lot about the fact that a lot of people we are facing are in fact remnants of what was once a pretty disciplined army. The fact that we beat them so easily doesn‘t really mean much in the context of the Third World. But this really shows you the fact that they are—they do have a lot of resolve to do whatever they‘re going to do.
MATTHEWS: Well, the scary and the bad part is, we‘re looking at what
looks to be the innovation—now, obviously, they didn‘t get away with it
but the enterprise in a negative sense of people who can work together in a cohesive unit and the kinds of things we see in them building this tunnel. We could also imagine them in the dark of night putting bombs together.
LANG: Oh, yes.
You know, if you look at what happened today in western Baghdad, I mean, there was an operation in which a group of about 40 of these guys in black uniforms wearing masks used a couple of car bombs to block off a street, so they could attack some police posts with machine guns, RPGs and rifles. And they slugged it out for an hour or so.
I think, you know, as Clausewitz, the German philosopher, said, war is the best teacher of war. And we‘ve got these guys who already knew, some, quite a bit, in a hard school now. And we‘re teaching them by beating the devil out of them all the time. And they‘re steadily improving.
I mean, the jihadis don‘t improve. They‘re just going to come in and try to blow themselves up to go to heaven. But these guys, I think, who are 85, 90 percent of the insurgents, are learning steadily and will probably continue to get better at this.
MATTHEWS: You know, one of the confounding things, sitting here at this desk back in Washington and trying to get the information from the people in the field, I trust Richard Engel. He‘s a young gutsy guy from NBC. I asked him again today. We are going to have a report from him tomorrow night on another subject.
But Engel tells me that the guys our troops are fighting over there, our men and women are standing up to, with the IEDs and everything else over there blowing us apart, when they can get with it sneakily, are all jihadists—not jihadists. They‘re all Baathists. These are guys who worked for Saddam Hussein and want the country back to do with what they want to do with it.
Why does the president keep issuing statements saying they‘re terrorists; they‘re the guys that came after us on 9/11; they‘re from outside; we have got to stop them there or stop them here? Nobody has ever accused Iraqis of coming to America and attacking us. Why doesn‘t the president say, we‘re going after Iraqi insurgents and fighting them? Why doesn‘t he—why does he keep saying we‘re fighting terrorists along the lines of the ones we had attack us 9/11?
LANG: Well, it has become a position of the administration to say over and over again that the insurgents don‘t have any popular support. Now, you hear that over and over again.
I heard somebody the other day, just yesterday say that, in fact, these people represent a minuscule portion of the Iraqi people. But, in fact, if you listen to Zal Khalilzad yesterday on television, he said the purpose of bringing the Sunnis into the constitution process is to split the Sunni population off from the guerrillas.
Now, you can‘t have it both ways. It‘s one or the other. And I think it is clear that the Sunni guerrilla, the Baathists, nationalists, whatever you want to call them, have a good deal of popular support, or they couldn‘t exist. They have to have supplies and shelter and communications, intelligence, all that stuff.
So you‘re right. There‘s a great inconsistency with this. And we ought to get straight about this and admit what the truth is.
MATTHEWS: What did you think when you picked up the paper today, Pat, and you saw that tunnel in “The Washington Post” that the bad guys built over there, these insurgents who are in our prison detention camp, having the wherewithal, the materials, apparently, cinder blocks, milk—they used the milk they were given, quite generously, you would have to say, by our people, our guards, to harden up the walls.
They used cinder blocks, obviously, also to sustain the walls. They got flashlights strung all the way through that football field length of tunnel. These guys are right out of “Great Escape‘ with Steve McQueen and the rest of them.
LANG: Yes, I didn‘t want to offend any Steve McQueen fans, but that was what I immediately thought of, because the only way you could do something like this, is you have a quasi-military organization created by the prisoners that assigns—you have a digging committee and a concealment committee and a this committee and a that committee.
And for all that to work inside the jail, where they could go to the American guards at any time and inform on the whole thing, indicates a kind of pretty much a military sort of organization with a great deal of internal discipline. And, you know, the only way they ever really found this thing initially was that a satellite photograph showed the color of the dirt in the compound was a different color from that outside, because they were—the disposal committee was littering the grounds with this stuff.
So, I think, you know, this is an impressive thing, actually. It‘s a
what it says to me is that it is going to be a tough fight. It is not going to be just a matter of the constitution going down easily. These guys are going to hang in there. They‘re going to fight for a long time.
MATTHEWS: You know, Ken Adelman, the arms expert and Shakespeare expert, I must say—he is a friend of mine—made it very clear that the initial fight in taking over that country from the Saddam regime and chasing him out of town into a spider hole were basically—was basically a cake walk.
And I think a lot of people don‘t like that term because people got killed, but it was fairly quick and effective. Why were they so bad in defending their country against the onslaught by us and the other coalition forces and yet are showing such resilience in this guerrilla war that is being fought against—or a civil war, if you will, that is emerging over there?
LANG: When I used to talk to their officers a long time ago, they used to say that the one thing they knew is that they could never fight the United States, the there was no possibility they could ever win against us, and that to try and do so was futile.
So, I really think that they didn‘t really very seriously try to fight our main armored forces until they got into the area of Baghdad. And in the big thunder runs down—going downtown by the 3rd Armored Division, all of our hundreds of armored vehicles, every single one of them, had hits on them from anti-tank weapons.
But I think the main idea in this probably was from the beginning a kind of stay-behind operation, that they were going to launch a guerrilla resistance once the country was occupied. So, I think there‘s some method to all this. I think we were a little bit deceived by the ease of our achievement at the beginning.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think they stood up to us and refused to participate in all the demands made by President Bush and the other allies if they couldn‘t beat us and they were that smart?
LANG: I‘m not sure they...
MATTHEWS: And they may still be smart, but they weren‘t smart enough not to avoid this war.
LANG: Yes. Yes. I know that.
But I‘m not so sure that, in fact, that they saw it exactly that way, because if you look at the records of what the international inspectors were doing on the ground in there, they were—they encountered some delays and things of that kind. But, in general, if they asked to go someplace, they ended up going there.
As we know, in fact, the Iraqis didn‘t have anything to hide in the way of WMD things, because we looked all over the country for it and we couldn‘t find it. You know, it is really difficult to prove a negative, isn‘t it?
LANG: If you‘re going to try to prove you don‘t have a nuclear weapons program and you don‘t have one, it is pretty hard to prove that.
MATTHEWS: Do you think we‘re winning this war against the insurgency?
LANG: I think that, if we want to wear these people down, the Iraqi nationalist Baathist insurgents, that we‘re looking in fact at a campaign that will last six or seven more years, because it will require a process of grinding them down while the government is developed.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
LANG: The jihadis, you‘ll never beat them—you‘ll never beat them in Iraq.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Patrick Lang.
Coming up, the director of the Tour de France accuses Lance Armstrong of deceiving the world of sports for using an illegal substance six years ago. Armstrong calls it a witch-hunt. Do the French have a solid case against our American hero?
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MATTHEWS: Coming up, a Tour de France official says Lance Armstrong has fooled the sports world. Armstrong replies, it‘s a witch-hunt. Who is telling the truth?
When HARDBALL returns.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
A French newspaper says Lance Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs in 1999. Armstrong says the report is false.
NBC News‘ Kevin Corke reports.
KEVIN CORKE, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The rumors have chased Lance Armstrong for years, going back to his first Tour de France victory back in 1999, speculation, though always denied, that he used performance-enhancing drugs.
Now a French newspaper, “L‘Equipe,” has turned what were whispers into a blaring declaration of guilt. The Armstrong lie, it proclaimed, citing its own four-month investigation, the paper says proves Armstrong used the banned substance EPO in the 1999 race. How does it know? Well, the paper says, last year, a French lab tested 5-year-old frozen urine samples it says belonged to Armstrong. The test, part of a program to refine EPO detection, was said to show traces in six Armstrong samples.
The paper says it matched a number code on Armstrong‘s sample with the same number on a medical certificate signed by Armstrong.
PATRICK LEROUX, “L‘EQUIPE” (through translator): For us, it is the truth. It is not at all a plot against Lance Armstrong. It is a journalistic investigation.
CORKE: Journalistic or not, it had the head of the Tour de France stating today he doubted Armstrong‘s claims of innocence, Jean-Marie Leblanc saying: “For the first time, these are no longer rumors or insinuations. These are proven scientific facts.”
But not everyone with the Tour de France is convinced.
CHRISTIAN PRUDHOMME, TOUR DE FRANCE OFFICIAL (through translator):
What the newspaper did was serious and troubling, but there is no proof and no legal value to this investigation.
JOHN EUSTICE, CYCLING EXPERT: They‘ve come right out and accused him of doping, with no proof behind it.
CORKE: Cycling expert John Eustice says thinks this is just the latest in a series of unfounded anti-Armstrong jabs by the French press and he questions the so-called evidence.
EUSTICE: There are a lot of issues surrounding these tests. Were they properly stored? Why didn‘t the athletes know that somebody had their tests, their entire reputations and lives in their hands?
CORKE (on camera): In a statement, Lance Armstrong denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs. As for the newspaper that published these latest allegations, well, that paper happens to be owned by the same French company that owns the Tour de France, a competition dominated by one American for the past seven years.
Kevin Corke, NBC News, Washington.
MATTHEWS: Alan Abrahamson writes about international sports for “The Los Angeles Times.” He‘s interviewed Lance Armstrong, asked him about doping and watched him win the Tour de France last month. Sal Ruibal covers sports for “”USA Today.”
Let me go to Alan first.
What are we to make of this charge by “L‘Equipe,” the French newspaper, that Lance Armstrong tested positively for dope, performance-enhancing drugs back in ‘99?
ALAN ABRAHAMSON, “THE LOS ANGELES TIMES”: I think we all first really need to understand that professional cycling is awash in rumors of just this sort of sort. And Lance Armstrong has been fending off just these kinds of rumors for years and years.
But this is without question the most interesting of the allegations, to put it lightly, against Lance.
MATTHEWS: Should we believe it?
ABRAHAMSON: Well, it all depends on what you think about documents and what you think about incomplete documents. These documents purport to show that doping control samples match up to Lance and doping control forms that he signed.
But they could never, ever stand up in a court of law for a lot of procedural and technical reasons. But, still, documents are documents. It is not of he said/she said, I saw/he saw. Documents are documents.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Sal.
Why do you think, why are we getting this kind of information six years late?
SAL RUIBAL, “USA TODAY”: Well, the study wasn‘t really an in-competition test. It was a scientific study designed to test, ironically, the accuracy of the EPO test itself. And they happened to use the ‘99 tour urine samples for that study.
And “L‘Equipe” was able to connect the dots between some of those samples and Lance‘s previous samples. So, in that sense, I don‘t think it really tell us that much, because, without A and B samples, legally, it doesn‘t really mean much. In terms of his reputation, yes, it is huge.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s talk about that reputation issue. In every American barroom tonight, it may have already started, there‘s a buzz out there. The French are jealous. We won their award. They‘re so proud of the Tour de France. An American, Lance Armstrong, seven straight times.
Is it the humiliation of France that is driving this story or is it objective journalism, Alan?
ABRAHAMSON: Oh, I don‘t think the French are out to get us or Lance Armstrong in retribution for, say, freedom fries or anything like that.
ABRAHAMSON: I mean, I think “L‘Equipe” is a serious, respected newspaper and they‘re out to do their job.
MATTHEWS: Sal, is that your assessment? It is a clean? It is a
clean call? It‘s not home cooking. It is not French—what‘s the word? -
I‘m trying to think of the word. I‘m sure there‘s a word for it.
RUIBAL: They have a word for everything in French.
MATTHEWS: Chauvinism, French chauvinism, I think is the right word.
RUIBAL: I think, in this case, maybe, there might be a bit of that, because French cycling is in a serious decline.
Not only are they not winning the Tour de France. They‘re not winning anything. And it is one of the top sports in the country. It is part of their national identity. And there may be some impulsion behind this, because the French cycling officials have been getting a lot of heat about their poor performance.
Even Kazakstan has surpassed France as a cycling power. So, they‘re in trouble there as well.
MATTHEWS: You know, I was recalling, Alan, the story a couple years ago with regard to the skating in the Olympics, when there was a French official who was caught playing some interesting strategic game and cheating there. It smacks of that to me.
ABRAHAMSON: Well, I don‘t know.
I mean, I think that‘s an interesting and maybe even a compelling argument. But to say that the French authorities are out to get Lance Armstrong just because of a skating scandal in Salt Lake seems to be a bit of a stretch. I don‘t doubt that there‘s been friction between the two countries. There‘s no question there‘s been friction over Iraq and other issues.
But to say that that directly leads “L‘Equipe,” which has sources up the wazoo in every sporting edifice in France...
ABRAHAMSON: ... to say that therefore they‘re going to get Lance Armstrong, to me, that‘s a bit of a stretch.
MATTHEWS: Well, I have to say, Alan—we‘re going to come back, Alan and Sal, in just a minute, talk more about the pattern of French relations to the United States with regard to sports and everything else.
But it hurts me, because I‘m so proud of Lance Armstrong. I think he‘s such a great athlete. And I still think, how can anybody take away from any of his greatness for winning seven straight? That must be one hell of a pill he took back seven years ago to have that kind of power. I‘m just kidding, because I think it couldn‘t possibly be that.
MATTHEWS: When we return, are the accusations against Lance Armstrong part of a pattern?
And, later, a crisis over illegal immigrants in Virginia. One legislator there said he has the answer.
This is HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back.
We‘re talking to Alan Abrahamson of “The Los Angeles Times” and Sal Ruibal of “USA Today,” trying to figure out why there‘s proof out there apparently by a French newspaper that has accused American hero Lance Armstrong of using dope, performance-enhancing drugs, back in ‘99 in the Tour de France.
Let me ask you. Let‘s start with Sal.
The same ownership that owns the Tour de France also owns this newspaper, “L‘Equipe.” If the newspaper story is true, that drugs were involved in the success of Lance Armstrong in the early going, in the first victory in the Tour de France in ‘99, why is not the—why haven‘t the ownership of the Tour de France gone after him and tried to take away his medal?
RUIBAL: Well, I don‘t think, in this case, they can take it back. They‘ve said they might take sanctions, but part of the agreement with using those samples was that no enforcement activity could be taken.
The real problem with the situation is that there‘s not enough evidence to prove that Lance is a doper and that he doesn‘t have enough evidence to clear himself. So, in this case, if you love Lance, you are still going to love Lance. If you don‘t like Lance, you are not going to like him. And that goes for the folks at the Tour de France.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Alan, do you have any sense, is there any arbiter who could come through here, like a fairy godfather or something, come in here and just solve this problem, so this is clearing his record or condemning him one way or the other, a clean verdict?
Lance Armstrong is faced with one of the most difficult prospects any athlete or anybody could ever face. And that is proving a negative. And the negative is, I never used dope. I mean, how do you go about doing that? I mean, it is almost impossible. And that is the dilemma he‘s facing.
I mean, it is really very difficult for him. And I understand full well why he finds it exasperating.
MATTHEWS: But, in sports, we‘ve been through this the last couple months, of course, and we will again, with baseball, people like Canseco saying never, never, never, and then, all of sudden, you got evidence and then things begin to develop.
Isn‘t there any way—you guys agree, Sal and Alan, that you cannot prove you didn‘t use drugs in this case. In other words, Lance Armstrong will have this on his bio—his obit, probably, when he dies.
RUIBAL: But I think it will be a small part of it, because he transcends sports. His cancer story is inspirational for people who don‘t even know how many wheels there are on a bicycle.
Let me ask you, Sal, it seems to me, watching the Tour de France, how many miles is it?
RUIBAL: It‘s about 2,500 miles.
MATTHEWS: Twenty-five hundred miles. It is about heart, as we say in sports. It is about guts. It is about mind discipline, keeping your focus. It is about strategy. It is about, I guess, to some extent, although he doesn‘t say, about the bike. Would drugs enhance the performance over that amount of time?
RUIBAL: Oh, definitely, especially a drug like EPO.
MATTHEWS: It would? How long does it last?
RUIBAL: For months and months, really, because what it does is, it develops more red blood cells in your body to carry oxygen.
It dissipates from the body within 48 hours, so there‘s no trace of it after that. So, in terms of, you‘re going to use a drug for performance enhancing, it is probably close to being the perfect one.
MATTHEWS: Then—but there has—just to clear the air for our audience tonight, there has been testing in the last six years and there‘s evidence—does he have any evidence to say, I haven‘t used drugs in those more recent years, Sal?
RUIBAL: Well, the only thing he can say is, I haven‘t flunked a drug test.
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s enough.
RUIBAL: And, really, so—yes, so far, all he can say is, you only have half of a drug test. In order to be official, it has to be both an A and a B sample. They only have a B sample. And, legally, that‘s not enough.
MATTHEWS: Alan, do we have positive news or positive evidence that he hasn‘t used drugs? Can we say tonight that, although there may be evidence from—that‘s been presented of partial results of a test back in ‘99, that, over the past seven years, there‘s no—there‘s no real evidence that he‘s cheated?
ABRAHAMSON: The problem is, this is an area that is, as I say, rife with suspicion and rumor and innuendo.
And Lance is facing the most difficult prospect of all time, prove—he says, I didn‘t do it. And everyone says, prove it. And he says, well, how do I prove it? I‘m clean. I mean, I‘m supposed to walk out on the street or on the sand and go, I didn‘t do it? I mean, it‘s almost impossible for him to do this.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, Alan Abrahamson of “The L.A.
Times” and Sal Ruibal—or Sal Ruibal of “USA Today.”
Up next, why one lawmaker wants Virginia to declare a state of emergency. I will give you the reason, 120,000 illegal aliens in that state alone.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Arizona and New Mexico were declared in a state of emergency last week by their own governors. And now a Virginia state legislator is asking Governor Mark Warner to do the same as a last-ditch effort to prevent illegal immigrants from overwhelming the state.
Jeffrey Frederick is the Republican state delegate.
Welcome, Jeffrey. Thank you.
JEFFREY FREDERICK ®, VIRGINIA STATE DELEGATE: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Why is Virginia in such bad shape? One hundred and twenty thousand illegal residents in that state.
FREDERICK: At least.
MATTHEWS: Illegal people in this country living in your state.
FREDERICK: At least.
Well, they—you know, they come through the borders on the Mexican border, whether it‘s Canada or wherever, and they land in Virginia and a couple other states as well.
And we have a big problem, whether it is increased public service costs, whether it‘s a strain on local law enforcement or intimidation of citizens at my local 7/Eleven or gangs and...
MATTHEWS: Who is hiring them? What‘s the draw? They must be getting jobs there or they wouldn‘t be coming.
FREDERICK: They sure are. A lot of builders.
MATTHEWS: Who is hiring them, what kind of businesses?
FREDERICK: A lot of builders. You know, there‘s been a big construction boom in Northern Virginia.
MATTHEWS: Well, aren‘t these builders required to show green cards?
FREDERICK: You would think.
MATTHEWS: For their employees?
FREDERICK: You would think.
You know, I run a small business. And one of the things that I have to do when I hire somebody is, I fill out an I-9. I have to certify under penalty of perjury that I have seen papers from people that make them eligible to vote. I don‘t know why they‘re allowed to get away with it. And that‘s something—that‘s a way that we need to approach the problem.
MATTHEWS: Are the people in your state in the tank on this? Are the people at the top of your government, the governor or the other state legislators in leadership positions getting rewarded for turning a blind eye to this illegality?
FREDERICK: I don‘t believe so. I think...
MATTHEWS: Well, then why are they permitting it?
FREDERICK: Well, I think people...
MATTHEWS: What‘s the motive?
FREDERICK: ... are trying to do everything that they can. The problem is, the federal government is letting this happen.
MATTHEWS: Your state, your commonwealth, hands out driver‘s licenses.
It‘s one of the notorious states...
FREDERICK: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: ... in this regard who gives driver‘s licenses, in other words, proof of I.D.
FREDERICK: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: To people who aren‘t even legally in the country.
FREDERICK: Well, three years ago, we passed a law called legal presence. And that changed that.
MATTHEWS: Oh, so you can‘t get a driver‘s license in Virginia anymore if you‘re not here illegally—here legally?
FREDERICK: That‘s correct. You have to show documentation that proves that you‘re legally authorized to be in the United States of America.
MATTHEWS: What do you have to show?
FREDERICK: You have to some sort of proof, whether it‘s a green card or whether it‘s a...
MATTHEWS: Do you think it is working?
FREDERICK: I think it is so far, yes.
MATTHEWS: So, the people driving cars to work in Virginia, the 120,000 people on the highways of Virginia, including Route 95, are driving illegally? Because they must be. They‘re here illegally and they‘re driving.
FREDERICK: There are quite a few that are here driving illegally. But that‘s not just part of—that‘s not just illegal immigrants. There are a lot of people that drive illegally.
MATTHEWS: That don‘t have a car—a driver‘s license?
FREDERICK: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you what you think should be done.
You say declare a state of emergency. Well, that‘s a procedure. But how will that drive people—are you going through state? Why don‘t they just go through your—well, why don‘t you talk about how you are going to actually get this done, if you‘re serious?
FREDERICK: Well, in New Mexico and Arizona, the governors both declared state of emergencies.
MATTHEWS: Yes. That‘s good P.R.
FREDERICK: That made them eligible...
MATTHEWS: It looks like they‘re doing something.
FREDERICK: Well, it made them eligible for additional federal homeland security funding.
And one of the complaints that we get among people is funding to do the things. At a state level, everybody wants money. And one of the things, one of the largest complaints we have from law enforcement in trying to enforce our laws, whether it is immigration laws or whether it‘s something as small as lawyering, is that they just don‘t have the resources to handle this stuff.
If we‘re able to get some resources from the federal government to confront this problem, because they‘re not dealing with it adequately, then that helps.
MATTHEWS: Somebody is working in a name-brand chain, convenience store, restaurant, whatever, in the field, in a field. They‘re working hard. I‘m not knocking them. They‘re working hard. Who is supposed to check and see once in a while, see if they‘re in the country illegally? Who is supposed to walk up to them and say, excuse me, sir, can I see your identification? Who is supposed to be doing that?
FREDERICK: We don‘t want to have a...
MATTHEWS: No. Who is supposed to be doing that?
FREDERICK: Who is supposed to be doing it? Well, when an officer stops somebody...
MATTHEWS: Which kind, federal or state? Is it INS...
FREDERICK: Well, if somebody gets stopped for—right now, in Virginia, if somebody gets stopped for driving without a license, they‘ll probably to go jail for a little while and then they will be released.
Yet, they know that they‘re here illegally, but they are not going to turn them over to INS. Sometimes, I guess they might, but sometimes—most of the time, they won‘t.
MATTHEWS: Why not?
FREDERICK: They let them go free on the street. Why not? Because they don‘t want to enforce our immigration laws.
MATTHEWS: Who is telling the police, the state troopers, not to do that, not to arrest anybody, when they won‘t show an I.D., when they don‘t show their driver‘s license?
FREDERICK: I don‘t know who is telling them that. I‘m not the governor.
MATTHEWS: Come on. You‘re smiling.
FREDERICK: I‘m not the governor. I don‘t...
MATTHEWS: You could call your leader of your party right now and say, what‘s the story? Why don‘t we as a party—we are Republicans. We‘re for law enforcement.
FREDERICK: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: We‘re conservatives. We want the law enforced in this country.
MATTHEWS: We don‘t want people coming to this country and the first thing they do is break the law by coming here. That can‘t be a Republican idea, can it?
MATTHEWS: Unless you guys are pandering for votes.
FREDERICK: We have an executive branch in Virginia. The state police fall under the executive branch. The governor is Governor Warren. He‘s a Democrat. He‘s not a member of my party.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe he is pandering by refusing to enforce the law?
FREDERICK: I think, in some fashion, he is.
MATTHEWS: In some fashion. Why are you using these words? Why else would he not—are there other laws in Virginia that aren‘t being enforced besides immigration?
FREDERICK: I sent the governor a letter on Friday.
FREDERICK: You would think—I confirmed with his chief of staff Friday afternoon that he received it.
If he really wanted to do something about it, heck, he got calls from “The Washington Times” for a comment on it and refused to have a comment. The biggest—the best comment they had was that, why do we need to protect our North Carolina border? If they—if he really wanted to get behind this, I don‘t know what the problem is here.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me suggest what it might be and you tell me. You‘re the politician. You‘ve been elected already by your people down in Prince William County, right, right on 95. You were telling me this before, right near Quantico.
FREDERICK: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: I know that place.
It seems to me—tell me if I‘m wrong—that both parties now, the Republican and the Democratic Party, the Republican Party of George W. Bush, are seeking very hard to win Hispanic votes.
FREDERICK: That‘s correct.
MATTHEWS: Republicans, by the way, call them Hispanics. Democrats call those people, that community, Latinos, just interesting...
FREDERICK: I call them Latino.
MATTHEWS: Right. OK. You‘re in Democratic parlance there.
Are both parties trying to be nicer to illegal people to show their support for that community, somehow being against illegal immigration is being perceived or sold to be somehow nice to the Latino community in this country?
FREDERICK: I can‘t speak from the federal level. I represent...
MATTHEWS: Well, you‘re a politician.
FREDERICK: I represent 80,000 people in Eastern Prince William County.
MATTHEWS: What do they want?
MATTHEWS: Do they want the law enforced?
FREDERICK: They want the law enforced.
I get an e-mail or a call almost every day about this issue. What am I going to do? And I got ideas.
MATTHEWS: And your answer is?
FREDERICK: I have got some ideas for some legislation. We have passed some legislation. This year in Virginia, we passed a bill that said that local and state government are prohibited from providing public services to illegal immigrants.
MATTHEWS: Why don‘t you pass a law that says any state trooper who stops someone in the country illegally and doesn‘t take action should be fired?
FREDERICK: I will be firing...
MATTHEWS: Wouldn‘t that be a good law to pass? Wouldn‘t they get the word right away, the state troopers, to enforce the law?
FREDERICK: I have plans to file legislation in January that will require that the state police enforce our immigration laws.
MATTHEWS: At what price if they don‘t?
FREDERICK: At what price?
MATTHEWS: If they‘re getting whispered in their ear by their commanding officers, don‘t really do this, we don‘t want to create a community problem here, it doesn‘t do any good, what you‘re...
FREDERICK: Well, I‘m in the legislative branch. We pass the laws and we leave it to the governor to enforce them. And we are hoping...
MATTHEWS: Well, how about a penalty that‘s serious?
FREDERICK: A penalty that‘s serious?
FREDERICK: Well, we will have to get that through the legislature.
MATTHEWS: Well, if you‘re going to be tough, you have got to be tough.
FREDERICK: I agree.
MATTHEWS: One hundred and twenty thousand illegal people in your state.
FREDERICK: That‘s right, or more.
MATTHEWS: They‘re not paying taxes. Are they paying taxes?
FREDERICK: Most of them aren‘t.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Jeffrey Frederick. I have been playing HARDBALL with you. But it looks like you got some guts.
Anyway, HARDBALL did invite Virginia Governor Mike Warner to appear on the show tonight, but he declined.
Up next, four out of five Americans believe they‘re being intentionally lied to or misled or given inaccurate information by the U.S. military.
And an investigation into the death of former National Football League player and Army Ranger Pat Tillman. Why didn‘t the military tell us up front he was killed in friendly fire?
Christopher Hitchens of “Vanity Fair” and Deborah Orin from “The New York Post” when HARDBALL returns.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, former pro football star Pat Tillman died 16 months ago. So, why is the investigation into his death now reopened?
When HARDBALL returns.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Pat Robertson, the Reverend Pat Robertson late today apologized for calling for the assassination, the taking out, if you will, of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. And four out of five Americans now believe the U.S. military intentionally lies to us. We are going to get to those stories in a moment. They‘re both very hot.
But, first, on the same day as that new poll, the military reopened an investigation into what happened to Pat Tillman, the great football star who gave up his career and a big contract to fight for the Rangers in Afghanistan and how that story of his death was first reported.
HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster reports.
DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nearly four years ago, in the wake of 9/11, Arizona Cardinals star Pat Tillman emerged as a true American patriot. He turned down a multimillion-dollar football contract to join the elite Army Rangers instead.
PAT TILLMAN, ARMY RANGER: My great grandfather was at Pearl Harbor and a lot of love my family has given up—has gone and fought in wars and I really haven‘t done a damn thing as far as laying myself on the line like that. And so I have a great deal of respect for those that have and what the flag stands for.
SHUSTER: Tillman and his brother signed up for three years of military service. In April of 2004, their unit was near the Afghan unit was near the Afghan village of Khost when Pat Tillman was killed.
Initially, the Army told his family and the public that the NFL star had died in combat while leading his troops up a hill under enemy fire. The Army awarded Tillman posthumously the Silver Star and a Purple Heart and the country mourned a soldier killed by the enemy.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: I will remember that his family and his country lost a good man.
SHUSTER: But a month after Tillman‘s memorial service, the Army stated publicly what Tillman‘s unit had suspected from the beginning.
LT. GEN. PHILIP KENSINGER JR., U.S. ARMY SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND:
The investigation results indicate that Corporal Tillman probably died as a result of friendly fire while his unit was engaged in combat with enemy forces.
SHUSTER: The Army found that a disabled vehicle prompted Tillman‘s platoon to split in two. Later, during twilight, Tillman was allegedly shot by soldiers in the first group who mistook his squad as the enemy.
STEVE COLL, MANAGING EDITOR, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Neither group knew where the other was and they sort of smashed into each other in the heat of battle.
SHUSTER: The Tillman family says two of the Army investigations changed key data about the incident and withheld crucial information. And the family said it suspects a cover-up because no high-ranking officers have been disciplined.
Army officials acknowledge it was a mistake not to say from the beginning that the NFL star had likely been killed by friendly fire. But the Army says the investigations since then have been thorough and that Army officials strongly agree with Arizona politicians, including Senator John McCain, who say an independent review is now appropriate.
(on camera): That review is being conducted by the Defense Department‘s inspector general. The Tillman family is satisfied and has high hopes the I.G. investigation will allow them, like their son, to rest in peace.
I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David Shuster.
A poll taken before the announcement of the latest Tillman investigation shows the American public highly skeptical of the information the military gives to the media. As for whether the military ever intentionally gives false or inaccurate information to the media, 77 percent say yes.
Does this explain why some might be skeptical about the events on the ground today in Iraq?
Deborah Orin is Washington bureau chief of “The New York Post” and Christopher Hitchens is writer, a great one, for “Vanity Fair,” as you are as well, Deborah, and author of the new book—I got to read it—“Thomas Jefferson, Author of America.”
You always write nice thin books. I like that. They‘re very readable.
MATTHEWS: How many days? Two nights?
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, “VANITY FAIR”: Long life.
MATTHEWS: Short book.
HITCHENS: Twenty-five years, almost 25 years in power, solidly, but...
MATTHEWS: Love him.
HITCHENS: But hard to condense. But they‘re short.
MATTHEWS: But you can do it.
HITCHENS: Cheap, well-produced, fine bookstores everywhere.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s to go Deborah.
What is it about the military? You‘ve covered the military. They hesitate to give bad news.
DEBORAH ORIN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “THE NEW YORK POST”: Well, it‘s true.
I mean, I think—let‘s not get carried away here, the fact that they hesitated...
MATTHEWS: Do I look carried away?
ORIN: The fact...
HITCHENS: I‘m feeling pretty calm.
MATTHEWS: I want to say something, by the way, since you caused me to pause there.
Pat Tillman is an American hero.
ORIN: Yes, he is.
MATTHEWS: Whether he took a bullet from a guy who was shooting, he thought, at an enemy or an enemy himself is irrelevant. He is out in the field facing fire in a very dangerous part of the world.
And I think, I think, in going into this and investigating, what people are trying to find out, including his family, is why the Army didn‘t just say so, what happened out there.
Again, look, friendly fire is one of the tragedies that happen in war. And they—it happens in all wars. What‘s wrong is when you pretend. I think the Army probably was uncomfortable with the idea that somebody who so much symbolized patriotism and selflessness, giving so much up to fight for his country, should have died in a way—in that way.
But, as you say, it doesn‘t make him any less of a hero and the shame is that they weren‘t honest in the first place.
HITCHENS: Well, don‘t forget they‘re having a little difficulty with recruitment at the moment. And he was absolutely golden as the example of the sort of person that they want to be talking about and attracting.
And so, what I want to know is, why has nobody been dismissed from the service for this? You can‘t go and lie to the guy‘s family on a point of this kind. It is absolutely unconscionable.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at what the president said today. He is out there really making the case for staying the course. Here he is out in Idaho today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will stay on the offense. We will complete our work in Afghanistan and Iraq. An immediate withdrawal of our troops in Iraq or the broader the Middle East, as some have called for, would only embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against America and free nations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: On Monday, yesterday, a White House spokesman was more biting—quote—“President Bush can understand that people don‘t share his view that we must win the war on terror, and we cannot retreat and cut and run from terrorists, but he just has a different view.”
Well, that‘s a bit sarcastic, Deborah. We wouldn‘t be that way here. But the fact is that there is now an argument. We heard it tonight. Who are we fighting over there, you know? We‘re talking to our correspondents over in Iraq and they‘re telling us that we‘re fighting Iraqi insurgents, people who are loyal to the old Baathist regime. They are the main element fighting us in the field. And yet, the president continues to say we‘re fighting terrorists, as if they‘re coming in from another country and they‘re using that as a nesting ground or a staging ground. Which is it? Who are our enemy over there?
ORIN: It is both. And there are...
MATTHEWS: No, that‘s not what they say out there. Our correspondents in there say, we are fighting Iraqis. Therefore, we‘re not fighting terrorists who have gone there to fight us.
ORIN: Chris, it is clear that there are people infiltrating from other countries.
MATTHEWS: There are some.
MATTHEWS: What is the main body of our enemy?
ORIN: The main body of our enemy are Baathists and foreign infiltrators.
MATTHEWS: You‘re fudging it.
ORIN: No, I‘m not fudging it. It is both and both problems working together.
MATTHEWS: What is the 95 percent and what is the 5 percent, so we know who we are fighting?
ORIN: I don‘t think it is 95 and 5.
ORIN: And, in a sense, it doesn‘t matter, because, if they‘re getting support, logistical support, from Syria or from Iran, it doesn‘t matter the percentage of people.
MATTHEWS: .. it does matter whether we are fighting terrorists or we are fighting Iraqis.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
HITCHENS: But beware of a distinction without a difference. I don‘t know a single knowledgeable officer who doesn‘t say that the hard core is the old Baathist secret police, actually, and Mukhabarat.
MATTHEWS: The bad guys from the old days.
HITCHENS: Well, yes.
And if the word terrorism, which I try always to avoid, because it is essentially an empty word now, means anything, it certainly applies to the internal fascist core of Saddam‘s police and the Fedayeen Saddam, this Islamicized militia that they have set up in his name. And they were recruiting people from out of Iraq to come fight long before an American foot was set there.
HITCHENS: ... Baathism and bin Ladenism. And that‘s...
MATTHEWS: That‘s right.
Terrorism in the American sense means people like the people allied with, even generally, with the people that attacked us 9/11. Would you consider the Iraqis part of that group? Would you consider them terrorists in the sense they come out of their country and attack us?
HITCHENS: Well, the guy who blew up the World Trade Center in 1993, Mr. Yasin, was ever after given hospitality and shelter in Baghdad.
HITCHENS: He‘s still—we‘re still looking for him.
The Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein was the only one in the Middle East to publicly praise those who did bring down the World Trade Center. Mr. Zarqawi, who is bin Laden‘s most dangerous lieutenant, possibly more dangerous than bin Laden, was in Iraq before an American foot was set there.
MATTHEWS: We know that. We know that.
HITCHENS: So, I mean, if the president, it seems is exactly right in saying...
MATTHEWS: When did Zarqawi get there?
HITCHENS: We don‘t exactly know. But he was mentionable as having been there for quite a while when Colin Powell, in what was—is not usually as remembered as his best speech at the U.N., identified him as being there. And it‘s at least, therefore, at that stage...
MATTHEWS: Do the Baathists, who are secular and part of the Iraqi reality—they‘re insurgents. Whatever they are, they don‘t like us there, because they want to grab back power.
MATTHEWS: You would say they‘re basically terrorists, just like the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11?
HITCHENS: Well, I don‘t—as I say, I think I would call them Islamic fascists.
HITCHENS: I think terrorist is too vague a term.
But, remember, Mr. Zarqawi came from Afghanistan. So, you could say, if you were a fatalist, well, if we hadn‘t invaded Afghanistan, he wouldn‘t be in Iraq. But that would mean we could do nothing. And that is in fact what is being argued for by people like today Gary Hart, (INAUDIBLE) and Chuck Hagel so forth. They‘ve got nothing to offer. They have got nothing to propose. They propose capitulation when we‘ve hardly started to get on top of these people.
ORIN: And to borrow a line from Steven Vincent, the journalist who was recently killed there, many of the people that the media now describe in Iraq as—quote—“insurgents”—close quote—if it were Central America, they would be describing as right-wing death squads, which is what they are, right-wing death squads.
MATTHEWS: That‘s fair enough.
Coming up, Pat Robertson issues an apology for suggesting a head of state be assassinated.
Christopher Hitchens and Deborah Orin are staying with us .
And a reminder: The political debate is 24/7 at Hardblogger, our political blog Web site. Follow all the action on the latest political stories each day. Just go to our Web site, HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.
This is HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with Deborah Orin from “The New York Post” and Christopher Hitchens of “Vanity Fair.”
Late today, televangelist Pat Robertson issued an apology for calling for the assassination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez—quote—this is the reverend‘s statement—“Is it right to call for assassination? No. And I apologize for that statement.”
Well, that was brisk.
HITCHENS: Well, he—if he started apologizing properly, he would never stop. I mean, this is the guy who said that the attack on the World Trade Center was punishment for sodomy in the United States. He‘s a moron. Why does anybody bother to care what he says?
MATTHEWS: Well, he is also lately—I don‘t know if he‘s a moron or
not—but he‘s also called for more—he has prayed to God on television
I watched him on “The 700 Club”—for more vacancies quickly on the Supreme Court. In other words, he wants death and mortality to create more opportunities for...
HITCHENS: He is a gibbering fool. He is proof of unintelligent design.
MATTHEWS: Oh, God.
Do you have another view, Deborah?
ORIN: I do.
MATTHEWS: Pat Robertson, who won the Iowa caucuses for president, lest I have to remind you, in 1988. We all covered it. Front cover, I think, of “TIME” magazine that week. He is in fact a Republican leader, whether Republicans like him or not. He is a figure in our time.
ORIN: Well, I don‘t know that I would say he was a Republican leader.
MATTHEWS: You mean winning a major caucus doesn‘t...
ORIN: Well, that was—that was, like, what, 17 years ago.
HITCHENS: No, his father was a serial politician. But...
MATTHEWS: Well, he was, though.
MATTHEWS: His father...
MATTHEWS: He won.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this.
ORIN: But there are no excuses.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think he said that?
ORIN: I have no idea. I mean, it was a stupid and nutty thing to say. And why he said it, I have no idea.
MATTHEWS: You know, the economist Lawrence Kudlow, a couple weeks back here, made the comment that he thought that, one way to get oil prices down was sending the military down there and deal with that government in Caracas. So, he‘s not the only guy thinking that there‘s a challenge here.
HITCHENS: Nobody says that Chavez is no problem. He‘s a very dangerous, (INAUDIBLE) populist demagogue who is buying a lot more weapons than his country can possibly need for self-defense and who has recently invited the Iranians to come and boosted them and...
MATTHEWS: How‘s that? That‘s something that..
MATTHEWS: That‘s something that Pat Robertson said the other day, Christopher. What does he mean when he says he‘s invited terrorists into Latin America? What is he saying there, Pat Robertson?
HITCHENS: Well, it‘s impossible to make out what Pat Robertson...
HITCHENS: I‘m not going to try.
MATTHEWS: What is Chavez up to?
HITCHENS: I did notice that Chavez—either he paid or he‘s going to pay a return visit to Iran, having invited the theocratic head, Khomeini, to come to Caracas recently, which did occur. And he made very warm statements about shoulder to shoulder with the Islamic republic and so forth.
MATTHEWS: Is Chavez just trying to make friends with everybody who hates us, Castro to Khomeini, just look at the usual suspects?
ORIN: That‘s a reasonable assumption, yes.
MATTHEWS: So he is our problem?
ORIN: He is problem for us, but this is not a solution.
MATTHEWS: What is the solution to Hugo Chavez, who controls so much oil in Latin America and is a populist leader of the left and apparently likes to take shots at America?
ORIN: Well, sometimes, you don‘t have solutions, you know? One of the issues here is obviously whether he was really democratically elected in the first place.
HITCHENS: If Pat Robertson would work for the administration, for example, he would have to be fired for saying that. You are not even allowed to discuss assassination under the special finding I believe by Gerald Ford.
If anyone mentions it, if you‘re a government official, you‘re supposed to leave the room and report the conversation. That‘s the way it should be. We‘re not in the death squad business. We are in the business of putting down death squads.
MATTHEWS: Will all this be put to bed by his apology or will this linger in the international press, Agence France-Presse, Reuters? Will publications around the world who don‘t like us continue to use the charge that a major American leader, who did run for president and did get some votes on the Republican side, has talked about assassinating foreign leaders? Can we assume this issue is dead now?
MATTHEWS: Or will it thrive on?
ORIN: Of course we can‘t, because the people who would like to make the United States look bad will be very happy to seize on it, I mean, anymore than, for example, Dick Durbin‘s comments will be forgotten.
MATTHEWS: You mean comparing Guantanamo...
ORIN: Comparing Guantanamo to Hitler.
ORIN: Whenever people say things that make us look bad, you can bet that people who hate us will stick to them.
HITCHENS: Durbin didn‘t quite do that. He said, you know, it‘s the sort of thing he would rather have read about happening in such a country than under American control. He doesn‘t say it‘s the same.
I think he‘s had a bum rap on it. He doesn‘t express himself very well. With Robertson, that‘s not the problem.
MATTHEWS: That‘s never been said of you, Christopher.
HITCHENS: Roberts doesn‘t know what he‘s going to say next.
MATTHEWS: You are extremely, extremely articulate, even when you‘re cruel.
HITCHENS: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: To Pat Robertson.
MATTHEWS: He is in fact a man of the cloth and a Yale Law graduate.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Deborah Orin.
HITCHENS: And a dingbat and a fascist.
MATTHEWS: And Christopher Hitchens, a man who fears not the use of the tongue here.
MATTHEWS: Join us again tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern for more
And up next, “COUNTDOWN”‘s Keith Olbermann and more on Pat Robertson‘s apology for calling for the assassination of Venezuela‘s president.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.