Skip to comments.Ed Meese Takes Chris Matthews Head On 1/12/2006 (Cleans Matthews' Clock)
Posted on 01/13/2006 9:08:20 AM PST by Howlin
MATTHEWS: Up next, well get some reaction to Tices allegations from former Attorney General Ed Meese. Hes coming here. Youre watching HARDBALL only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. From the NSAs secret spying to the CIA leak probe and the bribery on Capitol Hill, theres no shortage of legal questions and criminal matters facing Washington lately. But just how many people have broken the law?
Were joined by a man who knows, former Attorney General Ed Meese. Hes author of the Heritage Guide to the Constitution, a very impressive volume, sir. Thank you.
Let me ask you, when you were A.G., the NSAdid it have this latitude to surveil us, Americans?
ED MEESE, REAGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, the ability to do that inherently in the Constitution was there, but it wasnt necessary to use at the time, except in certain instances, and at that time there was an intercept program in certain categories. It was very highly classified, but it wasit was used at the time and properly so.
MATTHEWS: Can you ...
MEESE: Its not really spying on Americans, its intercepting international communications dealing with terrorists at the present time, or enemies in those days, in which, on occasion, someone of the links would be to telephones within the United States, but its not wiretapping. Its not bugging. The news media is almost totally getting it wrong.
MATTHEWS: But whywhats the difference if Im on the phone with somebody in Saudi Arabia and Im being tapped?
MEESE: Well youre not being tapped. The tapping is a particular technique of connecting into the wires of a particular phone or intoplugging into a particular wireless phone. This is intercepting communications that are going overseas. Theres a lot of technology to it that I cant go into right now.
MATTHEWS: But its still eavesdropping, isnt it?
MEESE: It is surveillance. Its surveillance, under certain circumstances and its justifiable in a wartime situation or inwhen youre dealing with enemies of the country.
MATTHEWS: How do you police an administration so that it only surveils, it only intercepts phone messages, e-mails that are clearly in that category you describe, which is contacts with the enemy?
MEESE: You have all kinds of protections. You have inspector general operations within the National Security Agency that will look at this stuff. There are all kinds of protocols to protect against and minimize any possible people who should not be in this category.
Besides that, the president has gone out of his way to legitimatize this by meeting with Congress, by letting the committees of Congress know about it, the intelligence committees, the leadership of the Congress.
Hes gone out of his way to get legal advice from the Department of Justice, from the legal counsel for the National Security Agency, so I think the president has really done everything possible to handle this in the proper way.
MATTHEWS: But he hasnt obeyed the law, has he?
MEESE: He has obeyed the law.
MATTHEWS: The law says he has to get court approval by this special court, FISA, and he didnt do it.
MEESE: No, it doesnt say that. The law says that the FISA process is a vehicle available to the president, but it doesnt say its the only vehicle. Even the FISA court has admitted that, and theres ample case law to precedent ...
MATTHEWS: What checks his power then, the presidents to do it? How doesis there somebody there saying Mr. President, you cannot bug that person, you cannot intercept that persons phone messages.
MEESE: There is athere areas I say, there are protocols within NSA that would prohibit it. Theres an inspector general in the NSA that checks on this to make sure they are following it. Its like many other things, just like in wiretaps, that are legitimatized by a court order.
Once you get the wiretap warrant, its up to the individuals and the procedures within the FBI, for example, to make sure that theyre following the warrant in the proper way.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, you mentioned the fact that the president notified the Congress. He notified the intelligence committees, and when he did so, the ranking Democrat on Senate Intelligence Committee wrote a letterbecause he was told he couldnt tell his staff about it. So Jay Rockefeller wrote down in a letter complaining about it. That didnt do any good.
MEESE: No, he didnt write a letter complaining about it. He wrote a very short note saying he had some questions about this and then he didnt follow up on it. I think it was kind of one of those CYA letters to tell you the truth.
MATTHEWS: You dont think he was condemning the program at all?
MEESE: I dont think he was condemning the program, because if he had, he should have followed up. He wrote this to the vice president, if I remember correctly.
MEESE: He should have followed up with the vice president to explain what those questions were and to get an answer. Theres no reason why he couldnt have.
MATTHEWS: So youas your confidence in this administration not breaking the rules or is it a confidence you have in the government processes?
MEESE: I have a confidence in both, this administration because the president is a very honest man of great integrity. I also have a great belief that the proper rules are in place to prevent improper use of this particular technique.
I also understand the necessity of doing this when were dealing with terrorists. There is some reasons why you cant get a warrant, an authorization by the FISA court in certain circumstances. Thats what led the president to give the direction. He ispersonally, White House people, including the president, are monitoring it; thats why these authorizations are only good for 45 days or thereabouts. So...
MATTHEWS: Maybe I have more suspicion about misuse of authority, but I do remember that we spent a lot of time over the last several months looking at people in the administration who may or may not have used their authority to leak the identity of a CIA agent.
MEESE: Well, now, you know, thats a very good topic. Much more serious violation of security laws was made by The New York Times in revealing this and by the person who revealed this to The New York Times than ever happened in the Plame case that youre talking about. As a matter of fact, in that case, there was no violation of law in all probability.
MATTHEWS: Well, youre right. Its not been established yet.
MEESE: If there had been, they would have gotten Scooter Libby on that.
MATTHEWS: Yes, we just had Russ Tice on here, a staffer from the NSA itself, and I asked himmaybe hes wrong, you tell mepeople who were being targeted by the NSA surveillance, know it. Now, we know it. The average American knows it. Why is that shameful, or why is that a betrayal of American trust for The Times to report that we now know whats going on?
MEESE: Because this was a legitimate, lawful act by the president.
MATTHEWS: Then why keep it secret?
MEESE: Because you dont want the enemy to know that youre intercepting and surveilling these kinds of conversation.
MATTHEWS: So you believe they didnt know that?
MEESE: I believe they didnt know all of it. Not like they do now, and I think it was a terrible thing to reveal this. I think The New York Times is culpable of actually hurting our national security.
MATTHEWS: So how would you go onhow about all leaks get punished?
MEESE: Well, I think it depends on the seriousness of the leak. You know, in the Plame case...
MATTHEWS: The CIA believes that the Plame case was serious because they believed that it jeopardized the undercover security of our agents around the world and all their contacts.
MEESE: I dont think thats true. And I think...
MATTHEWS: Why did they bring it to the Justice Department?
MEESE: And particularly, I think in this particular case, this person wasnt even a covert agent anymore. It had been more than five years since she ever had been undercover. She was operating fully...
MATTHEWS: The fact is that shesher status was undercover, and the agency...
MEESE: Not at the time.
MATTHEWS: OK. Why did the agency go to the FBI?
MEESE: I have no idea.
MATTHEWS: Well, I do.
MEESE: It was certainly making a mountain out of a mole hill...
MATTHEWS: They felt...
MEESE: ... because here, she had been more than five yearsshe was a housewife. She worked at the agency in an administrative position. I think...
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, Scooter Libby is facing 30 years in jail for a mountain out of a mole hill. Thats a serious matter.
MEESE: It has nothing to dohe wasnt even charged with that crime. He was charged with a lot of offenses relating, allegedly at least, to ...
MATTHEWS: OK, why is he covering it up?
MEESE: ... falsely ...
MATTHEWS: Why is he covering it up if it was legal?
MEESE: Im not sure he was. Well have to wait for the trial to find that out.
MATTHEWS: We will. All we got are indictments.
Former Attorney General Ed Meese, thank you very much.
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Isn't it? Meese didn't say one thing that we haven't said right here on FR and Matthews seemed sandbagged.
I think we could take him.
Definetely a good read, thanks for posting. Its nice to hear that O'l Ed Meese is still around and kicking (hard)!
Happen to catch the whole thing; Meese was outstanding! Need to send him out there more often. He kept correcting Chrissy who always seems to have too much saliva in his mouth.
Oh no I didn't have to see it to appreciate it. This is fabulous!!! Meese had Matthews for lunch, and he doesn't even know it...or care. Matthews just keeps on keeping on, trying his darnest to keep up the charade that he knows what he's talking about.
Hellsbells, I could even insert the spots where Matthews spit and had drool at the corners of his mouth!
thank you soooooooooooooooooooooooo much! I would hate to have missed this.
AND.........did Matthews even once this week mention the Alito hearing? I didn't watch HARDBALL much this week, but when I flipped in, it seemed he was making a concerted effort to try and keep the spotlight away from the Democrat dunderheads embarrassing themselves trying to nail Alito.
You have to give Little Chrissy some credit for even inviting Mr. Meese on to the show to debate the issues. That's like me inviting Lebron James or Shaq over to my house for a game of one on one.
I happened to catch part of this interview, while I was clicking by. Stopped only to see Ed Meese, who would not let Chrissie interrupt him. Meese kept his train of throught very effectively, Matthews tends to bully so badly, but Meese dealt with him just great.
Chrissie's mind, such as it is, must be going by now. He's just now getting over a 3rd bout with malaria, after yet another family trip to Africa over Christmas. Why he keeps exposing himself to such a disease is beyond me.
He is not just articulate, he is sharp, no nonsense and no spin guy. We so desperately need more like him.
He never seems to know the facts and I wonder if it is purposeful. Or maybe it's just that Ignorance really is Bliss.
I really like Meese.
I wish I had, I am a big admirer of ED Meese. He is an incredibly decent men. Maybe I can catch it when it is rerun!
Do you doubt for a moment that Matthews knew full well that he was lying thru his teeth every time he spoke?
It was awesome...
Meese slapped Matthews around and just looked at him like "You have NO clue, Chrissy."
I found it equally humorous that Meese mispronounced Plame as "Palmey" as if the situation wasn't even important enough to bother with...
It made me want to stand up and cheer!
I will give Matthews some credit on his show last night though...
He had Russell Tice on (the NSA "whistleblower") and he did grill him a little about what he witnessed.
Dignified, intelligent, articulate elder statesmen....REPUBLICAN heroes.
roflmao.........I know! LOL.
I laughed all the way through that show.....especially when Tucker Carlson said that Chuck Hagel would be the GOP nominee.
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