Hardball with Chris Matthews
May 3, 2004
Go directly to the Howard Dean segment
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Tonight, pictures showing American abuse of Iraqi prisoners. Is this raising the danger factor for our troops? And how are the Arab street going to react?
Plus, Howard Dean, who ran for president, talks about the war he campaigned to end and the political fallout from this scandal here at home.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening, I‘m Chris Matthews. Six members of an Army Reserve military police unit face criminal charges of assault, cruelty, indecent acts and maltreatment of detainees in Iraq. And seven more U.S. soldiers have been reprimanded in the alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners.
A classified Army investigation has found that military intelligence officers issued questionable orders to enlisted reservists who were guarding the Iraqi prison.
According to the report, quote, “Military intelligence interrogators and other U.S. government agency interrogators actively requested that M.P.”—that‘s military police—“guards set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogations of witnesses.”
Major General Antonio Taguba, who headed the investigation, wrote that abuse by military police included videotaping and photographing naked male and female detainees, forcibly arranging detainees in various sexually explicit positions for photographing and forcing groups of male detainees to masturbate themselves while being photographed and videotaped.
NBC‘s Jim Miklaszewski is at the Pentagon.
Jim, I‘ve got ask you, just on the ground, it seems to me if the Arabs in the street over there, especially in Iraq, see this kind of stuff on television, they ain‘t ever going to surrender, because they‘re facing this if they get picked up.
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pentagon and U.S. military officials here at the Pentagon are simply livid over this episode, one Pentagon official saying that these pictures and this entire episode has setback U.S. policy in the Middle East by at least 20 years.
But there‘s something even more serious than that in the short term. They believe that the opponents of coalition forces and American troops on the ground will be further emboldened, could actually gather up some new allies in their fight against the U.S., and therefore those troops on the ground in the short term could be put at more risk.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about that, getting to the very point here. If you‘re out on patrol today, tomorrow, the next day. Does it make it less likely that an Iraqi insurgent will surrender?
MIKLASZEWSKI: No. I mean, the likelihood that an Iraqi insurgent would surrender at this point, not because he‘s afraid of being mistreated once in the custody of American soldiers, but because, as I said, they‘re further emboldened.
MIKLASZEWSKI: And if the U.S. was there to try to win the hearts and minds, as they appear now to be doing in Fallujah, one day the Marines are going in. One day they‘re not. That whole situation is equally confusing.
And there‘s some here at the Pentagon who are beginning to question whether there‘s been a total breakdown of the command structure in the U.S. military there in Iraq.
Not only at Abu Ghraib, but in several of the other instances we‘ve talked about.
MATTHEWS: I‘m trying to recall how intelligence works and interrogation works. A friend of mine years ago was in intelligence and he said you‘re not allowed to make the prisoners say anything but you‘re allowed to let them say anything. It‘s a very subtle thing when you try to get a person to tell you what he doesn‘t want to tell you.
What is the sense over there in terms of the rules?
MIKLASZEWSKI: Well, you know, there are techniques that the U.S. military does use that they claim are within the rules, such as not necessarily sleep deprivation, but sleep interruption. Constantly keeping the prisoners off base, rocked back on their heels. Depriving them of some food rations occasionally, putting them in solitude.
But nothing that approaches anywhere near what we saw in those pictures.
MATTHEWS: What about the notion of humiliation as a technique? This clearly falls into that category.
MIKLASZEWSKI: Absolutely. And U.S. military and Pentagon officials say that that is absolutely not allowed, particularly when you‘re dealing with the Arab culture, which according to Middle East and Arabist experts say that it is particularly sensitive issue when men are seen naked by other men, particularly women. Or certainly engaged in simulating those homosexual kinds of acts that we did see in some of those photos.
MATTHEWS: Seems pretty logical to me that we‘re causing more enemies than we‘re making friends over there. Anyway, thank you, Jim Miklaszewski at the Pentagon.
Lt. Col. Rick Francona was an adviser on Iraq‘s armed forces during the first Gulf War. He later worked for the CIA and participated in a variety of sensitive operations in the Mideast. He‘s now an MSNBC political analyst.
We‘re lucky to have you today, especially. As an officer, as a former officer with the U.S. military, your personal reaction first of all, Colonel, to this?
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, U.S. AIR FORCE (RET.): Appalled. I mean, it is morally reprehensible and inconceivable to me that a member of the U.S. military would act this way.
MATTHEWS: Are these pervs that just found their way into the military? Are they stupid people? Are they desperate sexual, what do you call, deviants? Or were they beyond—what is it? What do you call it? Frustrated sexually?
Why would they get involved in these kind of explicit—staging of explicit sexual acts? Homosexual acts, whatever. Why would they do that for fun? It looks like they were all laughing in these pictures.
FRANCONA: Well, you know, this looks like it started out probably as some sort of prank, let‘s see what we could get away with. And it just carried it to its logical extreme.
Obviously these pictures were taken to send home or to show something.
You can see the way they were laughing and all that.
FRANCONA: My problem with all of this is where is the supervision? Where are their senior NCO‘s? Where are the officers?
MATTHEWS: Do you have a sense—I don‘t want to prejudge particular cases, but the defense of these men is that they were operating under orders, that this was a signal sent, officially or not, by the military intelligence, soften these people up, humiliate them, wear them down, scare them, threaten their lives so that they‘re broken by the time we come in with the tough questioning.
FRANCONA: Yes. Now, I‘ve heard that, and that‘s very likely, it‘s military intelligence who is responsible for the interrogation and the extraction of information would ask the prison guards to soften them up, so to speak.
But there‘s a line you don‘t cross and, you know, these young military policemen know what that line is. It doesn‘t take a whole lot of training to know what‘s right or wrong. They crossed the line. This goes beyond any acceptable behavior.
MATTHEWS: So your sense, let me try to figure—trail this down. Is it a question of “I was only obeying orders,” which you seem to have knocked down as a defense here? What was it? Just insubordination, just a bunch of, you know, what do you call them? Hot doggers?
FRANCONA: Young troops out of control. They obviously were not well supervised. The NCO‘s and officers running that prison did not instill the right discipline in that.
I know they may have thought they were helping the military intelligence people, but they went way beyond anything that‘s the norm. I don‘t think you can say, “I was following orders.” I don‘t think that‘s going to wash.
MATTHEWS: Didn‘t they—I mean, anybody that would be—is involved in a schoolyard fight in their teens knows you don‘t make enemies you can‘t deal with later.
Why would these guys want to make any Arab guys in the country they‘re in personally mad at them? Or is that too normal to ask, a simple question like don‘t these guys know that they‘re going to hate our country when they get out and they will get out eventually. They‘re going to join whatever force they can to get even for this humiliation. There‘s going to be a natural blood hatred, isn‘t there, towards Americans?
FRANCONA: Sure. But I don‘t think that was entering their minds. I don‘t think they thought this all the way through. These—Their view of the war is very limited. They were working in this prison. Their job was to manage these prisoners, to follow the instructions of the military interrogators that were going to be working with it.
FRANCONA: They‘re not thinking long term. They‘re not doing the political analysis, but they have really set back our relations in Iraq.
MATTHEWS: Do you know the word “brutalized,” how it‘s actually supposed to be used, which means not that you‘re brutal to people, but you‘ve become brutal because of stresses and because of the way you‘re treated. Were these guys possibly victim to just the whole experience of being in those—working in those prison settings?
FRANCONA: I‘m sure that they—that there was a lot of stress dealing with these people.
Remember, these are not the compliant prisoners of war that we were dealing with in Desert Storm. These are combatants. These are people that are being held against their will. These are true believers in the cause.
I‘m sure there are discipline problems in that prison. But that‘s why you‘ve got seasoned senior NCO‘s and you‘ve got professional officers that are supposed to manage what‘s going on in that prison. There‘s a breakdown in command in that prison.
MATTHEWS: What‘s the mood in the military about this, people that are still in uniform? What they saying to you here about this?
FRANCONA: Everybody I‘ve talked to is just morally outraged. They cannot believe that this is happening. They cannot believe that in the days of the all-volunteer military, with the professional military we have, and you know, the fine troops we‘re sending over there, that all their reputations are new besmirched by the actions of seven to 10 people. It is... it‘s—they‘re outraged, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I thought there was supposed to be a wall between the people that are interrogating, the military intelligence folks, and the people in charge of incarcerating these people. And that wall—the people in charge of incarcerating them are not supposed to be part of the intelligence, you know, the rubber hose and the hard stuff. They‘re supposed to be a separate wall there. Is this a case where the wall broke down?
FRANCONA: Sure, that‘s probably what happened here. The military intelligence, of course, they‘re more interested in extracting information. The military police are responsible for the security and the discipline in the prison.
But the overall responsibility for what happens inside those walls is the senior military police officer. And the military intelligence people have to take a back seat to that. And that wall seems to have crumbled.
MATTHEWS: Yes. They‘re blaming everything on M.I.
Anyway, thank you very much, Rick Francona.
When we return, still ahead, the wife of one of soldiers accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners will be here to defend her husband.
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MATTHEWS: Coming up, the wife of one of the soldiers accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners says her husband was just following orders from the Defense Department and the CIA. She joins us in just a moment when HARDBALL returns.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Martha Frederick‘s husband, Sergeant Ivan “Chip” Frederick is one of six members of the Army Reserve military police unit who faces charges of assault, cruelty, indecent acts and maltreatment of detainees in Iraq.
At a military court martial, a court hearing for Sergeant Frederick, one witness described the acts of abuse he saw. He said, “I went down to tier one, the cell block where much of the abuse is said to have occurred, and when I looked down the corridor, I saw two naked detainees, one masturbating to another kneeling with his mouth open. I thought I should just get out of there. I didn‘t think it was right, as it seemed like the wrong thing to do. I saw Staff Sergeant Frederick walking towards me. And he said, ‘Look what these animals do when you leave them alone for two seconds‘.”
Ms.—Mrs. Frederick, thank you for joining us tonight. This is difficult. What is your reaction to that quote, reading that in “The New York Times”?
MARTHA FREDERICK, WIFE OF ACCUSED SOLDIER: It‘s a little bit hard to believe. And without hearing that myself, I don‘t believe it.
MATTHEWS: You don‘t believe the witness?
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the—you know, during World War II, the other side used the defense of “I was only following orders.” Do you think that‘s a good defense?
FREDERICK: Well, if you‘re looking at following orders from certain agencies in the government, yes. I do.
MATTHEWS: Do you think that the men involved in the military police knew what was inside and what was outside what they were supposed to be doing? Or they just had to accept the orders they were given?
FREDERICK: I can‘t speak for other people other than my husband. And I know that when I talked to him, he had told me many times that he had questioned what was going on in there, that he had spoke to people on numerous occasions and nothing was being done. They were being told that they were doing a good job; they were getting the information that they needed.
MATTHEWS: Your husband was keeping you up to date, apparently ,in his letters to you. Tell me what he told you about this whole mess over there before this ever came to public life.
FREDERICK: I received a call, and he told me there was some things that were going on there that he couldn‘t say over the telephone or by e-mail and that—oh.
MATTHEWS: No, ignore him.
FREDERICK: OK. Thank you. And he said that he wouldn‘t be—he couldn‘t talk about it through e-mail, telephone and that he had to talk to me when he got home. He said even that, you know, that the situations that he was going through, that possibly he‘s going to need therapy when he came home. So that kind of told me that it was something of a very serious extent.
MATTHEWS: You know, when people are at war and they face enemy people all the time, people that don‘t like them, and obviously these prisoners don‘t like us and they‘re mad at them the whole time. Did he ever give you that sense these guys in custody over there were really anti-American; he had to deal with their hostility all the time?
FREDERICK: Not at all. Not at all. I‘m sure that you have seen some of the pictures that have been aired over the television. And where he‘s actually standing side by side some of those people. He‘s actually hugging the kids. Comments that he made on some of the—he sent me home...
MATTHEWS: Not these pictures. Not the gross pictures.
FREDERICK: Not those pictures showing now. He was not in any of those pictures. And that is what I want the American public to see and other nations to see. They‘re judging my husband on these pictures that have other U.S. soldiers, or other people from that company with the thumb‘s up.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s read—Mrs. Frederick, let‘s read one of the letter he is sent to you. This was in the “New Yorker” magazine this week. It quotes a letter from her husband he wrote to you in January. That‘s four or five months ago.
It reads, “I question some of the things that I saw, such things as leaving inmates in their cell with no clothes or in female underpants, handcuffing them to the door of their cell, and the answer I got was, ‘This is how military intelligence wants it done.‘ Military intelligence has also instructed us to place a prisoner in an isolated cell with little or no clothes, no toilet or running water, no ventilation or window for as much as three days. The military intelligence officers have encouraged and told us, ‘Great job.‘ They were now getting positive results and information.”
You know, I‘ve worked in big corporations and stuff, and I—I sympathize with people at the bottom, because they do get the signals over and over again, “This is good. Good work here, nice work.”
And then if you‘re doing something wrong, you should be told. But normally it‘s what you‘re supposed to be doing.
Let me ask you about your sense of the military intelligence. Was it your understanding your husband‘s duty and the duty of his fellow men was to get these prisoners ready for interrogation?
FREDERICK: That‘s what I learned later on. But, you know, when you‘re looking at people like military intelligence, my husband doesn‘t know what the rules of military intelligence is. He‘s never been trained on the rules of interrogation. He‘s never been trained on dealing with POW‘s or detainees in that type of environment. The environment...
MATTHEWS: Well, why do you need—why do you need...
FREDERICK: It‘s totally different.
MATTHEWS: Why do you need training not to have guys stacked up naked or simulating or involved in these sort of homosexual acts? Why would someone need to be trained to not do that?
FREDERICK: Well, I haven‘t seen my husband been accused of...
MATTHEWS: I‘m talking about what we‘re watching in these picture, this whole disgusting picture we‘re seeing here. Why should people be trained not to do that? Why should somebody be trained not to do that? Shouldn‘t they just know they shouldn‘t do it?
FREDERICK: When you think about the military, this is my second marriage. My first marriage was to a Marine, and I know how military desensitizes people to be able to go out there and defend their country and, in defending that country, they may have to shoot a person point blank and not feel responsible and able to continue on. This is part of the process of becoming a soldier.
And you know, they—I feel like they put my husband in an uncompromising position. He was told they‘re getting the job done, good job. My husband constantly asked for some type of guidance, which was never done.
MATTHEWS: So you‘re basically—as you understand, the case that will be made by the attorney for your husband, the case is that he wasn‘t trained, his whole unit wasn‘t trained properly. They weren‘t given strict guidelines on how to treat prisoners. If anything, they were given encouragement to get these guys, quote, “ready for interrogation.”
FREDERICK: Exactly. They were put in a bad position without any rules. Not even the Geneva Convention. I mean, he didn‘t know what was lawful or unlawful there. And you know, my question now is, why or how did this stuff go on with these agencies or these civilians and the military didn‘t know about it?
MATTHEWS: Mrs. Frederick, thank you. Hold on for a second. You‘ve been very clear on this. Let me go to Colonel Rick Francona. Rick—Colonel, let me ask you this question. Listening to this wonderful lady talk about a difficult situation she‘s facing in her family.
Is that the case that enlisted guys working under the supervision ultimately of the military intelligence units are basically forced to do what those guys want done to get those prisoners done for interrogation?
FRANCONA: Well, I‘m sure that that‘s the position he felt he was in. But, you know, there‘s a line you don‘t cross, and these military policemen are trained in the handling of prisoners. And I don‘t know about the specific unit, but that‘s part of the function of the military police. I mean, they do a variety of functions.
MATTHEWS: These are reservists, though, Rick, aren‘t they?
FRANCONA: What‘s that?
MATTHEWS: What about the fact that they‘re reservists?
FRANCONA: Well, the reservists are trained, yes, but they have supervision. I mean, someone is in charge over there, and someone did not exercise discipline in that prison. There are senior NCO‘s, and a staff sergeant is pretty senior. He needs to know. He should know what he‘s doing.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Martha Frederick, Mrs. Frederick, one last time. Did your husband go to his higher ups within the military police?
FREDERICK: I don‘t know who he went with or the higher ups. I never did hear, but I‘m pretty sure that my husband never got trained with dealing with POW‘s. All his duties beforehand when he was called to active duty before this, they were doing road patrols. And...
MATTHEWS: But he knew how to treat prisoners in custody because he worked in the corrections system in Virginia, so he knew the regular way we treat regular American criminal prisoners?
FREDERICK: You cannot base correctional center training or on—when you‘re dealing with a foreign country, foreign language, foreigners. He doesn‘t know what the military intelligence rules were. He was never given any rules, period.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Thank you very much for coming on, Martha Frederick.
FREDERICK: You‘ve very welcome.
MATTHEWS: And thank you, Colonel Rick Francona.
We‘re going to talk about excerpts from the Army report on the alleged abuses. Go to HARDBALL if you want those excerpts—I‘ve been reading them myself—Hardball.MSNBC.com.
Up next, the latest from President Bush‘s campaign bus tour through Michigan and Ohio, two big battleground states.
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MATTHEWS: President Bush kicked off his two-day campaign bus tour in Michigan today.
HARDBALL election correspondent David Shuster is in Sterling Heights, Michigan, at the president‘s rally. David, how does it look out there?
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, they‘ve got about 2,000 people. This is an invitation-only rally. This is a rally designed to build up some energy for the people who are going to work on the Bush campaign here in Michigan.
This particular county is very significant. Macomb County, as you know, they coined the term “Reagan Democrat.” It‘s a traditional working Democratic county that tends to have a lot of crossovers. The president needs to do very well here if he‘s got a chance in the state of Michigan.
The slogan of the bus tour, the slogan of the rally, “Yes, America can.” This is about protecting homeland security, about the economy being revitalized.
But it‘s a tough sell here in Michigan, Chris. Since the president took office, the state has lost 300,000 job, including 136,000 jobs from manufacturing. And unemployment is up at seven percent, the third highest in the nation—Chris.
MATTHEWS: Is Michigan really a pickup state? I thought they were headed mainly for Pennsylvania as their pick up from last time?
SHUSTER: Chris, this is one of the states that they think they‘ve got a chance at, but the latest poll show that John Kerry is up four or five points. The president can afford to lose Michigan. John Kerry‘s got to win it.
The big deal for the president is going to be tomorrow in Ohio. He‘s got to win Ohio. It‘s a state Republicans say is part of their strategy. They‘ve got to pick up Ohio, a state the president won four years ago.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, David Shuster.
Up next, Howard Dean will be here with his thoughts on Bush‘s bus tour. I‘m sure he‘ll be brilliant on that subject, as well as his comments on the latest sad developments, embarrassing developments in Iraq.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: This half-hour, President Bush kicks off his bus tour through the battleground states of Michigan and Ohio, while John Kerry launches more TV ads. We‘ll take a hard look at the latest from the campaign trail with former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean. He‘s coming here.
But, first, the latest headlines right now.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Campaigning in Michigan today, President Bush defended his decision to take America to war in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was faced with a choice: Do I take the word of a madman; do I forget the lessons of September the 11th, 2001, and hope for the best; or do I take actions necessary to defend America? Given that choice, I will defend America every time.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Former Vermont Governor and Democratic candidate for president Howard Dean is a John Kerry supporter right now.
Welcome. Governor Dean, thanks for joining.
What‘s your reaction to hearing the president say that on the stump?
HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, it‘s just more nonsense, the kind he‘s been talking about the past year and a half.
Defending the United States of America had nothing to do with getting rid of Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein is a dreadful person, but he was never a danger to the United States. The president has admitted there was no connection between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. So what the president does and the Republicans are so good at doing is they make an assumption that‘s not true and then they defend it.
The president didn‘t have a choice between defending the United States of America and taking the word of a madman. We know Saddam Hussein‘s word was no good. We also now know after Richard Clarke‘s testimony and his book, off Paul O‘Neill‘s testimony and his book, that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the threat in the United States and the president was going to go to war with Saddam Hussein long before 9/11.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s try to put what you‘re just saying into context of your campaign. Many months back, you were a sharp critic of the war. The statistics, the polling shows that many more people, not a majority yet, but many Americans have come to question the purpose of this war.
What was your reaction when you first heard, having campaigned against the war unsuccessfully in a political sense, but I think your message got out to many people, what was your reaction when you heard that they couldn‘t find any WMDs over there. Did you think there were going to be WMDs in Iraq?
DEAN: I actually did think there would be some WMDs in Iraq.
The concern that I had about what the president was saying was it was clear that they were not about to get nuclear weapons, what the vice president said was not true. It was very clear to me that Saddam Hussein was not tolerating al Qaeda in Iraq. There was no al Qaeda in Iraq until long after we got rid of Saddam Hussein.
DEAN: So I was not so concerned about the WMD, because I knew Saddam had had those for a long time. We‘d been able to control Iraq easily with no-fly zones.
DEAN: I was concerned about the false information the president was giving the American people. And I still to this day don‘t know the real reason we went to war in Iraq.
MATTHEWS: Weren‘t you surprised when the president came out several months back and said there was no connection between the Iraqi government and 9/11?
DEAN: Well, he had been for a long intimating that that in fact—that there was a connection.
But the president doesn‘t lie outright. What he does is let people think things that aren‘t so, for example, talking about the connection between defending the United States and attacking Saddam Hussein. The truth is there is no connection and there never has been.
And if you pressed him on it and had the opportunity to ask him that question in different ways, he would have to admit it, just as he admitted there was never any Iraqi purchase of uranium from Niger, just as he ultimately admitted there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. But, you know, 80 percent of the people who watch Fox television think there is a connection. Even 24 percent of the people who watch—or who listen to NPR think there is a connection, because this administration has been trying to hint there was a connection for lo these many months.
Over 700 American brave soldiers are dead, over 3,000 wounded. I think this president has a lot of explaining to do in this election.
MATTHEWS: What about the happy Iraqi scenario that Howard Fineman likes to call it, which is the argument by Ahmad Chalabi and bought apparently by many within the Defense Department and the vice president‘s office, including the vice president, that from the moment we got over there, we would be cheered?
I went back and looked at all the quotes from Vice President Cheney before the war. They‘re going to love us to death over there. Well, certainly, they‘re not loving us to death this week. Were you surprised or not by the anger and the hostility toward the occupation?
DEAN: Well, I‘m not surprised. I think that the administration was not misled by Ahmad Chalabi. I think they simply used the information he gave to browbeat the CIA into giving them information that the CIA operatives knew was not probably completely accurate. Chalabi was an excuse more than he was I think an instigator. And I think smart minds would have discounted what Chalabi said. Chalabi is wanted for bank fraud in Jordan, had been convicted of bank fraud in Jordan.
MATTHEWS: Right, embezzlement, yes.
DEAN: And so people who are convicted of embezzlement are not generally the best sources in the world. I suspect our government knew that and they disregarded it because of the president‘s desire, obsession really, with Saddam Hussein and Iraq.
MATTHEWS: You‘re a doctor, but you‘re not a psychiatrist. I don‘t believe you‘re board-certified. But how do you know George Bush was obsessed with going to Iraq?
DEAN: Well, there has to be some reason that he started talking about it, as Paul O‘Neill wrote in his book, long before 9/11 in Cabinet meetings. There has to be some reason that he kept pushing for this war without any evidence or reason to do it. I still don‘t know what that reason is today. Look, I believe in the strong defense of America. If it were up to me and I had been president of the United States, I would have continued to surround Saddam Hussein as we did with no-fly zones. I would have continued to try to get the United Nations to put enormous pressure on him. And then I would have devoted some of the $87 billion we‘ve spent so far in Iraq on Afghanistan, where we‘re still under pressure from the Taliban. That is a real danger to the United States, and that‘s where we ought to be focusing our defense.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the president—do you believe the president purposely lied to the American people at this point?
DEAN: There‘s no way of knowing he was simply given terrible information...
MATTHEWS: So he‘s not impeachable? You don‘t believe there‘s grounds for impeachment, do you?
DEAN: Well, even if there were, certainly the right-wing Congress was not about—I can tell you, if Bill Clinton had done this, I suspect he would have been impeached.
MATTHEWS: If you were in Congress now, would you have vote for an impeachment resolution?
DEAN: Not without knowing a whole lot more than I do.
MATTHEWS: But your indictment is so strong. It sounds like articles of impeachment.
DEAN: Well, I don‘t believe the president. That doesn‘t mean I can prove that he‘s impeachable. I think that would be a step that you should not call for unless you know what the facts are. And we simply do not know what the facts are.
MATTHEWS: But you believe he was so obsessed with going to Iraq, he was willing to sell the argument that they had WMDs, willing to sell the argument that they were connected to 9/11, in fact, suggest that to the American people, intimidate it, as you said, and, third, willing to sell the argument it‘s going to be basically a cake walk, not an occupation?
DEAN: Not only that, his administration also told the American people we would be able to pay for this with oil money.
MATTHEWS: Right. It did.
DEAN: And, of course, taxpayers are out $87 billion as a result of this administration not being truthful with Congress.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe we can democratize Iraq, right now, looking forward to the next five, 10 years?
DEAN: Actually, as someone who did not support the war going in, I think now we need to try to do the best we can. I do not believe that this president will be successful in democratizing Iraq, because he has no ability to work with the countries that we need to bring in.
I think there is a possibility that we can end up leaving a democratic Iraq, but it‘s going to take eight or 10 years, as I said during the campaign, and we can‘t possibly do it alone, since this president managed to insult virtually every ally who we need to help us democratize Iraq.
DEAN: The right thing to do is what John Kerry wants to do. And I‘m not just saying this because I‘m a John Kerry supporter, which I am, but bring in the U.N., bring home the majority of American troops, particularly the Guard and Reserve, who have no business being in a place like this for this length of time, and turn this into an international reconstruction, not an American occupation. We‘ve got get the targets off the backs of our men and women in Iraq.
MATTHEWS: Do you think this latest scandal—and it is a scandal and it may be totally separate—I hope it was—from the whole system of running that war over there—and I think it is—this mistreatment of prisoners, this sort of graphic, disgusting use of prisoners for sexual sport or whatever the hell is going on over there, what do you think it says to the world, or what should it say to the world, just that we have a couple of freaks in the Army or what?
DEAN: Well, war is very difficult. I don‘t excuse that conduct for a moment. But I don‘t believe the vast majority of American troops are anything like that. I believe that most people in the armed services are as horrified as you or I are by that kind of behavior. We know that
MATTHEWS: But you know from history, you know from history, that if you‘re involved in counterinsurgency, whether you‘re the French or you‘re us, that you have to get the information out of the so-called insurgents. You can them resisters. That‘s just as fine with me. But you have to—if you‘re involved in being shot at every day and IEDs, these explosive devices being used against us, and all this treachery against us every day, don‘t you have to get rough with the prisoners to get the intel to protect the lives of your troops?
DEAN: I think that depends on the circumstances. Certainly, if a bomb is about to go off and kill men, women and children, that‘s a different standard that evidently having these people under lock and key and humiliating them deliberately.
DEAN: I always think humiliation is a very dangerous weapon to use. The president promised us a foreign policy based on humility, but instead gave us one on humiliation, humiliating both our allies, including President Fox.
DEAN: Gerhard Schroeder, Chirac. Those are all people we need in one capacity or another.
So, you know, I don‘t excuse this in any way, but I don‘t think it‘s typical of the conduct of American forces in general. There have been outliers in every war. We all remember the horrible doings of Lieutenant Calley at the My Lai massacre, which was far worse than this.
DEAN: There will always be people who ought not to be in the jobs they‘re in. But I think the vast majority of American troops are nothing like that.
MATTHEWS: OK, I agree with you on that. Thank you very much.
Stick with us, Howard Dean. I want to talk to you about the Kerry campaign and what you think might improve it.
Coming up, John Kerry is launching a multimillion dollar ad blitz this week. He‘s going on television to tell his biographical story about who he is. And there he is. There‘s a picture of him fighting in Vietnam.
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MATTHEWS: Coming up, more with Howard Dean. We‘ll take a look a John Kerry‘s latest political advertisements on television that attempt to define him, to tell the story of the man who wants to be president—when HARDBALL returns.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with Howard Dean.
This week, John Kerry launches a $25 million ad buy in 17 battleground states to present his biography to voters.
Here‘s a look at the Kerry biography.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JOHN KERRY CAMPAIGN AD)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was born in Fitzsimons Army Hospital in Colorado. My dad was serving in the Army Air Corps. Both of my parents taught me about public service. I enlisted because I believed in service to country. I thought it was important if you had a lot of privileges as I had had, to go to a great university like Yale, to give something back to your country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The decisions that he made saved our lives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he pulled me out of the river, he risked his life to save mine.
ANNOUNCER: For more than 30 years, John Kerry has serve America.
VANESSA KERRY, DAUGHTER OF JOHN KERRY: If you look at my father‘s time in service to this country, whether, it‘s as a veteran, prosecutor, or Senator, he has shown an ability to fight for things that matter.
TERESA HEINZ KERRY, WIFE OF SENATOR JOHN KERRY: John is the face of someone who‘s hopeful, who‘s generous of spirit and of heart.
KERRY: We‘re a country of optimists. We‘re the can-do people. And we just need to believe in ourselves again.
ANNOUNCER: A lifetime of service and strength. John Kerry for president.
KERRY: I‘m John Kerry, and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Howard Dean, your old rival, now your candidate, how did he look in that for you? Did you like—I notice that Teresa had no accent in this ad. What else did I notice? He had fellow troopers from the war, soldiers, back defending him. He didn‘t say he went to St. Paul‘s. He said he went to Yale. That probably will sell. I love the—what do you think when you dissect these things?
DEAN: I thought it was a damn good ad, I have to say.
John used those very effectively in the last three weeks in Iowa. And I think that‘s a smart thing for him to do. I really do. He is undefined, just as we all were when we ran in the primary. Other than Iowa and New Hampshire, most people didn‘t know much about us. And he had some very good ads at the end of those three weeks in those states. And I think this is a good ad and I think he‘s going to benefit from it.
MATTHEWS: Do you think this issue of the Republicans, the president and his people, very effectively turning the question not on his war service, which most people think is pretty good, but on his anti-war service after the war, the medals, the ribbons, that dispute? Do you think they‘ve hurt him a little on that?
DEAN: I don‘t really think so. I‘ll tell you why. Veterans in this country tend—historically tend to vote Republican. I think you won‘t see that happen this time. The veterans in this country are so mad at the Republicans. First of all, they weren‘t very disposed to like them anyway because he cut $1.8 billion out of the Veterans Administration, but they‘re so angry. They know that Kerry served with distinction. He has a Silver Star. You can say whatever you want about how much shrapnel he got in his leg, but people don‘t get Silver Stars without being genuine war heroes.
DEAN: Every veteran who served abroad who ever got a Purple Heart is thinking about George Bush who never served a day in his life overseas, Dick Cheney, who dodged the draft with five deferments, and thinking, how could these guys say this about one of their brothers? I think this—I think the attack on Kerry‘s military service was a fatal mistake for the Republicans.
And I think when we do the exit polling in November, we‘re going to find a significant switch
MATTHEWS: God, you‘ve got—you‘ve toted up Cheney‘s deferments to five. I only have one, college, grad school and then marriage. What are other two you got? How many deferments could a man have?
DEAN: That‘s what it said in “The New York Times.” And I know it‘s true, you cannot believe everything in “The New York Times.” That‘s true.
Let me ask you, during the course of those last weeks in the campaign, you remember with such poignancy...
DEAN: Two college deferments, by the way, not just one.
MATTHEWS: And convey to me, don‘t you feel—didn‘t you ever, at the campaign, when he pulled out Jim Rassmann, the guy he pulled out of the water over in the river with guys, the V.C., shooting at him, didn‘t you for a slight second there say, if only I had gone to Vietnam, I could be beating this guy right now?
DEAN: I wasn‘t thinking like that when I was 25 years old or 21 years old.
MATTHEWS: I meant, Governor, when you‘re in the campaign against Kerry and he‘s beating you over the head with his war record, didn‘t you wish you had one?
DEAN: No, you know...
MATTHEWS: Come on.
DEAN: I don‘t think that way. I really don‘t.
MATTHEWS: I would. I would say, this guy has got something I don‘t have and he‘s beating me with it. I‘d say, I wish I had that.
DEAN: No, well, I don‘t. I don‘t.
What happens in campaigns happens in campaigns. Look, if California had been before Iowa, I would be where John is right now. That‘s just the way it is. I‘ve seen 1,000 hockey games, because both my kids, my daughter and my son, both played hockey since they were 5 years old.
DEAN: I call that stuff woulda, coulda, shoulda.
DEAN: When the referee makes a call you don‘t like, well, that‘s part of the game.
MATTHEWS: Yes, if the world were flat, we‘d all be looking at each other.
DEAN: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this campaign. Do you ever want to say to John Kerry, get some heart, get some guts, get some of that sort of passion that I had? I know you got in trouble a little bit for too much passion, but do you think there‘s a middle ground between you and him?
DEAN: I think people are going to make a career of underestimating John Kerry. He‘s a very strong closer.
DEAN: I know all the Washington yak-yak
MATTHEWS: OK, I‘m one of them. Go ahead. You want to start.
DEAN: Well, I don‘t...
MATTHEWS: I‘m just saying that—I‘m asking you honestly, cross your heart, do you think John Kerry could show more heart?
DEAN: You could always do this or do that.
Let me tell you something that I think the national press has not gotten. I think Kerry had a great week last week. He was in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania talking about jobs. All the press that I read was not very good. But the press in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, where it really matters, was terrific. I think the national press always misses it because they never want to write the same story the local press writes. But it‘s the local press stories that really matter. I think Kerry had great week last week. This campaign is going to have a lot of ups and down. Kerry is going to make mistakes. Bush is going to make mistakes. We have got a long, long way to go here. I think John is in a pretty good place right now. And I think this ad campaign is going to help some.
MATTHEWS: What are the odds right now, 50-50 for the general?
DEAN: Yes, it is so close. The polls are very, very close. There‘s no question it‘s going to be a very close election.
MATTHEWS: OK, we‘re going to come right back to talk to Governor Howard Dean about what he‘s up to. Howard Dean coming back on HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.
Governor Dean, thanks for coming back. Are you still mad about this campaign?
DEAN: Am I still mad?
MATTHEWS: Yes, angry.
MATTHEWS: Well, you seem angry. I‘m a big Dean fanatic. I like you. I‘ve always liked you. And you‘re so angry.
Let me ask you this, you‘ve knocked the Washington yackers—and I‘m one of them. So are you going to be one of us?
DEAN: You know, who knows? I certainly won‘t be a Washington yacker, because if I do this, it will be from Burlington. But the talk show that we‘re talking about is a show that is—we‘re not under contract. We haven‘t auditioned. It is going to be about ordinary people, if I do it, not about politics.
MATTHEWS: But why would anybody care what you think about ordinary people?
DEAN: Well, that‘s what we‘re going to find out.
MATTHEWS: Why are you skirting your area of expertise? It‘s like being a jock and coming on doing a show that‘s not about sports.
DEAN: Don‘t forget, I was a doctor for 20 years. And you get to talk to a lot of ordinary people when you‘re a doctor.
MATTHEWS: Could this be Dr. Howard‘s show?
MATTHEWS: Are you going to give us weight advice and nutrition?
DEAN: Absolutely not.
MATTHEWS: And which exams to have?
DEAN: Not unless I can take it myself.
MATTHEWS: Are you going to use scream therapy?
MATTHEWS: Hah! Hah!
MATTHEWS: Do you really forward to this? You can‘t make a better living in medicine than you can in this dodge?
DEAN: Well, this is not about making a living. I‘m still pretty determined to try to redo the way the country is. Right now, corporations and the right wing of the Republican Party are running this country, and I don‘t think that‘s a good thing. And I‘m determined to figure out a way to change that. And one way of doing it, in addition to politics, is to let ordinary people have their say on television. And I think that‘s what this show will be about if we do it.
MATTHEWS: It going to be ordinary people talk out, speak out.
DEAN: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you from Burlington, the entertainment capital of the world, Burlington, Vermont.
DEAN: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: It sounds like a real winner.
Let me ask you about your views. You‘ve got two things going now. You‘re a supporter, a public supporter of John Kerry to win the presidency.
MATTHEWS: At the same time, you‘ve got an independent action campaign. You‘ve held on to your list of troopers, all the supporters you had during the campaign. Are they at odds with each other? Because you‘re a sharp critic of the war, a sharp critic. And John Kerry is a nuanced critic of the war.
DEAN: Yes. You know, our list of people and supporters was not just Democrats. There were moderate Republicans on there who are worried about the half trillion dollar deficits we‘ve seen every year since George Bush has been in office.
DEAN: There are Greens. There are independents. So it‘s not just Democrats.
MATTHEWS: But aren‘t you a sharper critic of this war than the candidate you support? And, therefore, he will be calling you up potentially every couple days and saying, cool it?
I think the issue really is right now is, we are where we are. And the question is, who would be a better president, George Bush or John Kerry? I happen to think it is John Kerry. If you‘re a really sharp critic of the war, the question, who is more likely to get us out with honor?
DEAN: And I think the answer is John Kerry. So John Kerry‘s position on the war now that we‘re there is not that different than mine, is, bring the U.N. in as soon as you possibly can, a feat that the president won‘t be able to accomplish because of the way he‘s treated both the U.N. and the members of the U.N. since that time.
So, yes, we are getting some pushback from our folks. But, generally, I think people really do want to change in presidents. And there‘s a huge difference between John Kerry and George Bush.
MATTHEWS: How about—I was talking to Ralph Nader the other— Governor, I was talking to Ralph Nader the other night. He‘s running strong. He is an anti-war candidate. What happens if he is clearly against the war? Couldn‘t he pull as much as 10 percent of the vote, where John Kerry is trying to be centrist about this?
DEAN: Well, of course you worry about a third-party candidate. But I think it is pretty clear what happens this year. A vote for Ralph Nader is the same as a vote for George Bush. And I don‘t think we can afford that.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, Governor Howard Dean. Good luck with everything.
Join us again tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL. We‘ll go deeper into the Iraqi prisoner abuse story with “The New Yorker”‘s Seymour Hersh.
Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with Keith.
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