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MSNBC "Hardball With Chris Matthews" - Transcript

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MATTHEWS: Well, that was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a very strong, I think-very strong appearance yesterday on "Meet the Press."

Did the Obama administration make the right call in bringing these people to trial in New York? And should they send Guantanamo prisoners to Illinois?

We have members of the House of Representatives from Illinois. U.S.

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky is a Democrat from Chicago. And U.S.

Congresswoman Judy Biggert is a Republican from somewhere else.

Let me go with Congresswoman Schakowsky-Schakowsky.

Are you confident that the-that this is the right move, to bring these guys, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and the other four, to trial in New York in criminal court and prosecute them, perhaps convict them, perhaps execute them after the trial? Is that the smart move?

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Absolutely.

I think to say anything else is to pander to irrational fears, and, actually, it's insulting to our law enforcement and our judicial system, the professionals that-that work there.

There are already 216 individuals who have been convicted of terrorist-related activities in the United States in federal prisons. And we certainly could-could-could use prosecutions of those individuals. And we also could use the jobs in Thomson, Illinois.

BLITZER: Let me go to Congresswoman Biggert.

Do you think it's the right thing to do...

REP. JUDY BIGGERT ®, ILLINOIS: No, I don't.

MATTHEWS: ... to try these people in criminal court?

BIGGERT: No, I don't think it's the right thing to do. That's why we had the military tribunals.

When we have them come into the United States, they are granted the same rights as-as citizens or those that are here on a permanent visa. And that's-and that's not right, because it's going to change the whole way an enemy combatant is tried.

They're going to-what is going to happen with the Miranda rights?

What's going to happen with our secrets at the CIA and how they operate?

What's going to happen with all of the things that we're going to give up? The witnesses, who is going to-and the jurors, are they going to be subject to reprisals if they are in on this jury? I think this is the wrong way to go.

SCHAKOWSKY: You know-you know, Chris...

MATTHEWS: You know, back in the early part of our country-I want to go back to-stick with Congresswoman Biggert for a second and see if she is consistent here.

Back in the beginnings of our country, we had a trial for the soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre, and we gave those British soldiers a real trial. And John Adams was their defense attorney. And a lot of them got off.

Do you think that was a mistake, to give them a real trial, or should we just have executed them? What should we have done?

BIGGERT: Well, I'm talking about having a real trial.

MATTHEWS: I mean, was it wrong to give-was it wrong to give a real trial to people who shot down our people in the Boston Massacre? Or was that a good emblem of the kind of country we were going to be, a country of laws?

What was...

(CROSSTALK)

BIGGERT: I-I think...

MATTHEWS: John Adams was their defense lawyer. Should he not have taken that job? Should he have not defended the enemies of our country and shown that we have a good system of law in this country? Was that a mistake, historically?

BIGGERT: Well, yes, but they were-yes, but they were involved in the Boston Massacre that was on this soil.

We're talking about bringing in...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BIGGERT: ... enemy combatants that were international, that they were not here, bringing them in for the trials. We have-we have-we're at war. We have war criminals, and we should try them with the military tribunal, as we always have done.

MATTHEWS: Where did-where did Khalid Sheikh Mohammed go to college. Congresswoman Biggert, stick on this point. Where did he go to college?

BIGGERT: Probably Harvard.

MATTHEWS: No, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, where did he go to college?

BIGGERT: I don't know.

MATTHEWS: Well, he went to school, and he got a-he got his degree in North Carolina. So, go on.

Congresswoman Schakowsky, make your point, because I think this is a complicated case. But make your point. I don't think it's as simple as Rudy Giuliani makes it sound when he's playing to the crowds.

I want to-here is typical Giuliani. Let's listen to him playing to the crowds on CNN this Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JOHN KING")

RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR: First of all, it's an unnecessary advantage to give to the terrorists. I don't know why you want to give terrorists advantages.

And, secondly, it's an unnecessary risk to the city of New York, which already has any number of risks. If it was necessary, if this were the only option, well, of course I would be in favor of it.

It's part of-it's part of Barack Obama deciding that we're not at war with terrorism any longer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHAKOWSKY: You know, the...

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman Biggert suggested Khalid Sheikh Mohammed went to Harvard. I know what that means.

It's sort of the anti-intellectualism of the Republican Party. I think it's mindless talk. But he went to college in the United States. He speaks English. He came out of our country. It drives me crazy that somebody like that could be an enemy of our country. How do we properly try him?

Congresswoman Schakowsky, what's the right way for...

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, Chris...

MATTHEWS: ... an American to try this bad guy?

SCHAKOWSKY: You know-you know, Guantanamo Bay has been such a blot on the reputation of the United States around the world, that it has also been a recruiting tool for terrorists.

I think the fact that now we use the best justice system in the world in order to try these individuals makes all kinds of sense.

Look, we were able to try Zacarias Moussaoui. We were able to-to try the Blind Sheik. And we have incarcerated them in supermax prisons, where there is no chance of their getting out.

There is no threat. It-I think it's irresponsible to scare people in-in communities and to say that we cannot, the United States of America cannot handle these individuals, and our justice system just isn't up to it. Of course we can do it. We can give them a fair trial.

Look it, we executed Timothy McVeigh, a domestic terrorist. The-all of the options are open for these international terrorists.

MATTHEWS: Right.

SCHAKOWSKY: And I think we restore our respectability around the world.

BIGGERT: I don't think that we're really talking...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman Biggert, your thoughts.

(CROSSTALK)

BIGGERT: We're not talking the-the same thing. You said that-have a fair trial. I believe we can give him a fair trial in the civil courts, no question of that.

The difference is that even though Khalid Sheikh Mohammed might have gone to school here, he's not a citizen, doesn't live here. But even the U.S. attorney general has already said that he's going to be convicted. I don't see that that's fair.

This is just grandstanding, so that we can prove to the world what a wonderful judiciary system that we have. Let's get back to the basics. Let's have the military tribunal, where this belongs.

MATTHEWS: What do you make of that, Congresswoman Schakowsky?

You know, Secretary of State Clinton is a brilliant woman in many ways, besides being a politician, and she said on TV, on "Meet the Press" yesterday, that we're going to execute-we're going to try him, then execute him; he's going to pay the ultimate penalty.

It sounds like one of those old cowboy movies, where we're going to give him a fair trial and then hang him. I mean, if we're going to hang him, why is the trial important, if we have already decided that, that he's guilty?

SCHAKOWSKY: Because-because that's what we do in the United States of America. And even the most heinous criminals who are arrested for horrible crimes like molesting children are given trials in order to hear the-hear the testimony.

I think it's very important that we-that we do that. But I think, at the end of the day, all of the options-I'm not for the death penalty, but including the death penalty, would certainly be-be available.

MATTHEWS: Well...

SCHAKOWSKY: There is absolutely nothing to fear, and there is no reason for us not to do that. And I think that we actually look better when we do, do that.

MATTHEWS: Are you against the death penalty in these cases?

(CROSSTALK)

SCHAKOWSKY: I'm against the-I am against the...

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman Schakowsky.

SCHAKOWSKY: I am against the-the-the death penalty.

MATTHEWS: OK.

SCHAKOWSKY: I think the state committing a murder is a-is a murder.

MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Thank you, both, Congresswoman Biggert and Congresswoman Judy Biggert.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Thanks for joining us.

BIGGERT: From...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Coming up: Is Hillary Clinton thinking about running for governor of New York? That's next-that's right, in Illinois-next in the "Sideshow."

You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

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