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Hardball - Transcript

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MSNBC
SHOW: HARDBALL 19:00

August 27, 2004 Friday

TRANSCRIPT: # 082700cb.461

HEADLINE: HARDBALL For August 27, 2004

BYLINE: Chris Matthews; Pete Williams; David Shuster; Lisa Myers; Ron Reagan

GUESTS: Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski; Sen. Lindsey Graham; Roger Simon; Ken Duberstein

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Joining us right now in New York-that's where we are for the convention this week-is South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, who's been a friend of this show for I don't know how long.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: I'm an alumni.

MATTHEWS: Of course, he's a member of the Armed Services Committee, and he's also a military lawyer with a lot of experience with the Air Force Reserves.

Let me ask you about this latest report from Pete Williams, Spy for Israel allegedly working in the high levels of the Pentagon.

GRAHAM: Yes. It's very disturbing. I mean, sharing policy papers about our strategy against another nation, Iran. If true, people need to be seriously dealt with, I agree.

MATTHEWS: There's already some questions about the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with our knowledge of their decoding equipment, our decoding of their operations over there in Iran.

GRAHAM: Yes.

MATTHEWS: There's a lot of loose lips over there, apparently.

GRAHAM: Well, and that's very dangerous. People suffer when that happens.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the case we just talked about with General Karpinski. It's been on your mind, I know, because...

GRAHAM: It sure has.

MATTHEWS: ... you're pro-military. You like the military. You're from a state that provides a lot of military personnel over the years, South Carolina. What's your sense, when you look at the various parties? Who's primarily responsible?

GRAHAM: Well, I like it, and that's why I'm driven to make sure that this stain on the honor of the military is addressed. I think there's several levels of responsibility. One, I think our civilian leadership put our troops in a bad spot. We didn't have enough people over there. I've been saying that a year-and-a-half. You had one guard for every 75 prisoners. The Army manual says one for five or six. It's a tough spot for these people to be in.

But let me tell you about some of the people involved. They were not directed by the higher-ups to do bad things. They chose to do bad things. It was a tough environment, but they're having orgies in cellblocks among themselves. Some of the humiliation you see in those photos is just personally bad behavior.

But some of the photos, I think, suggest more. The use of the dogs-to me, that's a very key event. Miller comes from Guantanamo Bay, talks about dogs, Pappas, the colonel for-the military intelligence colonel, says, After that, we started using the dogs. They had a contest to take adolescent Iraqis into a room and use the dogs, and they would bet on how quickly they would make them urinate.

MATTHEWS: Right.

GRAHAM: That's just disgusting behavior. But those dogs, in my opinion, were used in an illegal manner. And the question is, Did he misunderstand what Miller said, or was it an orchestrated effort to interject a terror technique into interrogations?

MATTHEWS: Well, could it be that you, like-you get a car as part of your job, but then you misuse the car at night? Could it that be simple? They were taught techniques for sexual humiliation. They were given dog collars, hoods, given dogs. And when it came time and nobody was looking, they said, Well, let's have a little more fun with this job?

GRAHAM: Well, let me tell you, people are supposed to look. You just had the general on. The military justice system will deal with everybody in responsibility, but from October to January, that jail was unbelievably poorly maintained and disciplined. What went on at night was way out of bounds. And the first thing do you as a commander, 101, when you become a commander, or you're a lawyer advising a new commander, show up when they least expect it. What went on in that jail from 2:00 to whenever is no excuse. There's a lot of command responsibility here. If this is just privates and lieutenants, we've missed the boat.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the pictures we saw. We saw some which were simply gross, the ones you describe. But we also saw pictures, clearly, that looked like people on duty. We saw MI, military intelligence people.

GRAHAM: Sure, 43 of them now.

MATTHEWS: Well, it seems to me it wasn't just "Animal House," as Jim Schlesinger called it, in the middle of the night.

GRAHAM: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: It was daytime work.

GRAHAM: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: What do you make of those pictures?

GRAHAM: Well, No. 1, the environment there of getting intelligence-we complained about, We don't have enough people here. If you really want to get good intelligence, looks like you would focus on it. You got one guard for 75 prisoners.

MATTHEWS: Right.

GRAHAM: You had untrained, ill-equipped translators. So what you see is military intelligence officers around the abuse. So when these young people say, The military intelligence people knew about it, the evidence is very clearly there. They did know about it.

I don't think it comes from a memo from the Pentagon. But some of this happened in Afghanistan. You asked a good question. Where the hell did those hoods come from? How did that get into that prison? Did they misunderstand how to use the dogs? And the only reason this is important is because we are the good guys. And the president said the Geneva convention would apply in that prison. And we have adhered to the Geneva convention for 50 years for one primary reason. If our people fall into enemy hands, we want to keep the moral high ground.

What went on in that prison is not only un-American, it was criminal. And the people involved who actually did it are responsible.

MATTHEWS: Right.

GRAHAM: But in the military, Chris, you have a duty as a commander to make sure that criminal misconduct does not go on for two months.

MATTHEWS: Is Don Rumsfeld immune from resignation or from being fired?

GRAHAM: I don't think...

MATTHEWS: It seems like, in every report-I mean, the Jim Schlesinger report, he particularly said, Don't fire Rumsfeld. Well, that seem to be an odd-that's the president's decision. Why is Jim Schlesinger saying, Protect-it seems like no matter what goes wrong in terms of bad intel, in terms of not knowing we're going to face a serious resistance over there, which the president, as you know, admitted yesterday-everything goes wrong, and Rummy comes up as smiling.

GRAHAM: Well...

MATTHEWS: He's a very likable guy...

GRAHAM: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... a charmer like there's never been maybe. But he seems like he's immune.

GRAHAM: Well, I don't think anybody should be immune from criticism, and he was criticized. I think the proper criticism for Secretary Rumsfeld is that the post-collapse of Saddam Hussein was poorly planned. Now, you're not going to fire somebody...

MATTHEWS: Right.

GRAHAM: ... for what happened in a jail 5,000 miles away. But here's where we need to look hard...

MATTHEWS: Troops. Troop levels.

GRAHAM: Right. Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: He kept saying to win lean and mean.

GRAHAM: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: And it didn't work.

GRAHAM: But lean and mean won the war, but you need a different occupation model. And when you got so many prisoners on your hands, it wasn't working (UNINTELLIGIBLE) This is the best example I could give about how the occupation was poorly organized.

MATTHEWS: Right.

GRAHAM: Untrained people, not enough of them with the skill sets to do their job, and you've got chaos. But somebody in the Pentagon or the Justice Department tried to cut corners with the Geneva convention, set in motion very questionable practices, and they need to be held accountable.

MATTHEWS: More coming. Thank you very much, Senator Lindsey Graham. See you next week at the convention.

GRAHAM: I'll be here.

MATTHEWS: You have a big role to play.

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