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MSNBC "Hardball With Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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MSNBC "Hardball With Chris Matthews" Interview With Rep. Marsha Blackburn
Interviewer: Chris Matthews

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MR. MATTHEWS: Let's turn now to Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. She's a Republican of Tennessee. She's been on the show before.

Thank you, Congresswoman.

What do you make of this? Let's read something -- I want to read something to you, the lead of The Washington Post today; pretty strong language by one of the straightest reporters in the business, Dan Balz. He writes, quote, "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's extraordinary accusation that the Bush administration lied to Congress about the use of harsh interrogation techniques dramatically raised the stakes in the growing debate over the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies, even as it raised some questions about the speaker's credibility. Pelosi's performance in the Capitol was either a calculated escalation of a long-running feud with the Bush administration or a reckless act by a politician whose word has been called into question. Perhaps it was both."

What do you make of that report by Dan Balz in the Post today, Marsha Blackburn?

REP. BLACKBURN: Well, Chris, I think that what Dan had to say in that is correct in that it is an extraordinary accusation that she has made, especially when she's talking in terms of the CIA and saying that they lied in their recounting of the situation. So the burden of proof now rests with her to prove her position and to defend what she is saying.

You know, we have had former Congressman Goss, CIA Director Goss, come forward and say, you know, "That is not my recollection." We also have heard from Leon Panetta today and the statement that you read at the top of the show. And so it is an extraordinary measure that we are seeing play out.

MR. MATTHEWS: What do you make of former Senator Bob Graham, who was chairman of the Intelligence Committee? He was a real note-taker, we all learned, almost notoriously so, in terms of the detail. It was kind of funny, in fact, how many notes he kept during the day.

He says that he had only one briefing and the CIA record book showed four briefings. They later corrected themselves. Could it be that they're not infallible, and could it be that when Leon Panetta, now head of the CIA, is defending that agency, he's simply being a good boss?

REP. BLACKBURN: You know, I was listening to that. That's the first time I had heard it as you were talking with Congressman Clyburn about that. And my --

MR. MATTHEWS: We like to do those things on the show here. We like to produce new evidence and new news.

REP. BLACKBURN: (Laughs.)

MR. MATTHEWS: But go ahead.

REP. BLACKBURN: Well, right. And what it made me think about was the February 2003 briefing that Speaker Pelosi and Jane Harman, Congresswoman Harman, were to have. Congresswoman Harman attended and Ms. Pelosi sent one of her aides to that briefing, who later recounted it to Ms. Pelosi.

Now, what we could have had was a briefing where someone sent an aide instead of attending themselves. And so I was wondering -- I wondered if that could have possibly been a situation that had occurred there, because we know that Speaker Pelosi was to have been in the February briefing. And we also know from that February briefing that Congresswoman Harman did write a letter of inquiry on some issues and that Speaker Pelosi, at that point in time in '03, did not make any further inquiries into that briefing.

MR. MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, we're going to have later on this show, I think, some very discouraging news about -- well, a report; let's say it's that -- it's an initial report that the vice president's office had something to do with encouraging very serious interrogation; in fact, enhanced interrogation of a suspect to try to get some connection established between 9/11, what happened to us here on 9/11 of 2001, and the war in Iraq, with an obvious purpose of trying to establish the justification for the war in Iraq, not necessarily for pure security reasons.

Do you think we need some kind of a truth commission to get at all this stuff?

REP. BLACKBURN: The first thing I think we do need is some type of investigative select committee or special committee to look at the allegations that have been made against the CIA and to look at what did or did not transpire in the Intel Committee. And I think that that is going to be a necessary step for the Intel Committee to go through before we move forward to anything else.

I think that it is rather extraordinary that we have these comments from the speaker. And then we're hearing other things from individuals that were involved, and also from Mr. Panetta today.

MR. MATTHEWS: Okay, thank you very much for joining us. Have a good weekend, U.S. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn --

REP. BLACKBURN: Good to be with you, Chris. Thank you.

MR. MATTHEWS: -- of Tennessee.


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