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MSNBC Hardball with Chris Matthews - Transcript

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MSNBC Hardball with Chris Matthews - Transcript


MATTHEWS: We‘re back on HARDBALL talking about the life sentence without parole given to co-conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui in the bin Laden case.

We‘re joined now by U.S. Congressman Peter King, Republican of New York, who is chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.

What does this do to you in New York? Do you feel more like you can sleep better in New York now that you got one of the killers?

REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK: Well, I certainly supported the death penalty.

MATTHEWS: So you‘re with everybody else tonight.

KING: Yes, strongly. I had approximately 150 friends, neighbors, constituents who were killed on September 11, many people in my parish, my neighborhood. And almost all of them—and I don‘t want to speak for the victims—but almost everyone that I spoke to of the victims‘s families strongly supported the death penalty. I did. If there was ever a case where a person was evil incarnate, it was that day.

MATTHEWS: What did he do? What did Moussaoui do to the people in the streets of New York? What do they believe he did?

KING: That he was part of the overall conspiracy. And even, no matter how large his role was, he was part of the conspiracy to kill Americans, to kill New Yorkers. He knew what was going to happen, didn‘t try to stop it. He was over here for the purpose of killing Americans. So he was part of that bin Laden gang. And a result of that, if anyone deserves to die—and I do support the death penalty—it was Moussaoui.

MATTHEWS: What did you make of his crack on the way out of the jury room, out of the trial room today when he said, America, you lost and clapped his hands?

KING: I think no matter what the verdict was, he would have said that. If he had gotten the death penalty, he would have said you lost because I am going to become a martyr. I just think he always has to show or try to show that he is on top, that he is better than we are, that, you know, we‘re the infidels and he is—that he‘s better than we are. And I think it sustained him.

MATTHEWS: I guess you‘ve answered my question. Because I was going to ask you this question when we asked to you come on. Because you do speak for the regular guy out there in the boroughs of New York and that part of the country, the ethnic America, the Irish guys.

When they‘re sitting around tonight talking about this and Friday night, this weekend, what are they going to be saying about this trial, that the jury may have wimped out, the jury wasn‘t tough enough, the guy gamed the system by saying please execute me and the jury said no we are not going to do it, that is what you want?

KING: I don‘t think there is going to be any anger toward the jury. I think what you are going to see is people feel that it probably was a tough decision, and they decided not to go for the death penalty. I think people can understand it in a way.

I think friends of mine would have voted for the death penalty. But anybody can understand a juror being in that position. And if there was any doubt at all, whether he was really involved, so I think they can understand why the jury didn‘t do it.

I don‘t think you are going to see anger toward the jury. I really don‘t. They are going to feel this guy got off though. Even though, he is going to be locked in a basement.

MATTHEWS: Oh, it is horrible.

KING: But still he‘s alive.

MATTHEWS: Apparently, they don‘t give the guy food directly. We were learning this tonight. I was watching Dan Abrams, that they put him in a room and then they have a separate room between the room and outside. They put the food in then they open the vault to the food like a rat.

He goes out and eats his plate of food then he gets back in his room, his cage. And then the plate is removed by somebody when he is out of the room. He doesn‘t have any human contact at all.

KING: No, he will be pretty much locked by himself for the rest of his life, which, I think, he deserves, if anyone does. No, this is not an easy sentence by any means. I do think, again, in the sense of justice, that a death penalty was more appropriate.

MATTHEWS: What about the questions raised here by Michael Isikoff of "Newsweek." I know you know him. He is one of the best investigative reporters around.

That there are three other people out there that deserve to be tried in this case, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the so-called architect of 9/11, and this other fellow—what‘s his name? -- Binalshibh and there is another guy, and they‘re all part of the actual conspiracy of actually blowing up the buildings that day with the airplanes, the closer even in than this guy was, Moussaoui.

And then the argument is the reason we haven‘t gotten these guys on public trial so far is because they were tortured with the approval of the top of our administration here and they were water boarded or whatever all of these horrible ways are of getting the truth out of people. And the administration doesn‘t want us to have that kind of a trial because it will open up all of those wounds.

KING: Yes, I think they need to make a policy decision up front. Do you want to preserve someone for trial or do you want to get information out of them that could save American lives? And I use the example if we had captured Mohammed Atta on September 9.

Would you have opposed water boarding him, if you knew that there was a plan out there that was going to kill thousands of Americans but you didn‘t know where it was going to come from? I mean, it is easy to sit back four and a half years later and say well, we shouldn‘t have done this.

MATTHEWS: But does that explain why nobody wants to have a trial?

KING: I don‘t know if we could convict these guys at a trial because all of the evidence we got from them was extracted...

MATTHEWS: Oh, I see what you mean. So you don‘t think it is so much people trying to cover for what they did and they approved what somebody wouldn‘t like them doing. It is that would taint the evidence.

KING: Yes, because this would be a criminal trial in the United States. Remember, once the investigation focuses on you, you have to be advised of your rights, you haven‘t go be given an attorney. Obviously, we didn‘t do that. And I‘m glad we didn‘t do it with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

So I mean, and that—I believe from what I‘ve seen, I believe that the interrogation we did of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has saved a good number of American lives. And to me that was a price worth paying. There is no easy choice with this.

MATTHEWS: Can I make a suggestion to you?

KING: Yes sir.

MATTHEWS: Because we‘re friends.

KING: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Why don‘t they get U.N.—now that you have got plans now. Larry Silverstein has got plans to build the new World Trade Center. It was in the paper today. They are going to actually have a new World Trade Center. They are going to fill up all of those space and have big tall buildings.

Why don‘t they make the United Nations go down there and be there? So that if anything happens again, they decide to try it again, the whole world is captive to it? I would love that.

KING: Actually it is, you know, again...

MATTHEWS: Wouldn‘t it be good? Because then you would be blowing up the whole world, not just us. And you would force these guys to choose sides, the U.N.

KING: And it would make U.N. really focus. It would not just be an academic debate anymore. This would be for real.

MATTHEWS: Terrorism is for real guys.

KING: It would really be life and death. It would not just be New Yorkers or Americans, yes.

MATTHEWS: And I could put you down for putting the U.N. at the new World Trade Center.

KING: I think it would be, again—Yes. It would be a good idea to give them a wake-up call, to let them know what we have to live with day in and day out, while they are up there on 42nd Street...

MATTHEWS: You are a man of great dignity and great prudence sir.

Thank you, Peter King, the United States congressman from New York.

When we return, we will get the scene inside the courtroom today from NBC‘s chief justice correspondent Pete Williams. This is HARDBALL only on MSNBC.


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