Hardball | March 08, 2013
>>> a left turn on the drones. let's play "hardball."
>>> good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. let at the start tonight with this. like a lot of watching you got interested in politics back when nifs school. something about it just grabbed me and it was the basic things, the role of the individual in this country and how we get treated by our government and what role the united states of america should play in the world. if i ever forget vietnam, please remind me and do it loud. so when john mccain blasted rand paul the other day for, quote, stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in their college dorms, i thought back to when i myself was in one of those college dorms up at holy cross in worcester where people are now under 10 inches of snow. i assume they're arguing about drones up there about the rights of the united states government to use those drones against americans , even americans who may have turned against their country. debates are great. debates in college dorms are where it all begins. what burns in this country. keeps us hot with ideas. keeps us giving a damn about guarding what is our legacy, freedom, freedom from government interference, freedom from decision that is suggest that government is more important than citizens. so i may not have the attitude of a rand paul but i worship his right to have it. i would never put down that attitude simply because i think there's a bit of right wing paranoia attached to that guy. why? because in some dorm room somewhere perhaps where i went to clem, where you went to college, there are young people arguing about it and i say thank god for that. cynthia tucker is a pulitzer prize winning syndicated columnist and ron reagan is a radio talk show host and msnbc political analyst . ron i always trust what you think in your heart and your brain put together. put them all together, this thing, this fight on the right between the establishment hawks, that's what the establishment is in the republican party , hawkish like mccain and lindsey graham , are putting down rand paul because he isn't one of them and he dared to question the use of u.s. military power in this case against individual citizens. where are you, a man of the left, on this one?
>> well, on the subject of drones, and this is a very interesting thing to watch this divide among the republicans whereas you say the establishment, which is reflexively pro-military on the republican side , is running up against the new tea party republicans who aren't to reflexively pro-military who are ideologically libertarian and see threats to civil liberties where some progressive lefties might also. i, too, am troubled like rand paul , like a stopped clock occasionally he's right and on the use of drones --
>> i used that phrase yesterday. did you watch last night because i said a broken clock is right twice a day.
>> i didn't see that. great minds think alike.
>> it's yours, too. let me go to cynthia -- if you want to finish that thought go ahead. rand paul can be pretty wacky. he's talking about the united states government hitting somebody in a cafe, i imagine a cafe on some street corner sipping their grand marnier , sipping their coffee, and all of a sudden a drone comes in because they said the wrong thing politically. i don't think that's going to happen in this country of ours. do you think it's something we should be debating whether it should happen?
>> well --
>> are you asking me.
>> gor ahead cynthia .
>> rand paul used a very extreme example to call attention to this issue of targeted killings , and i think the question we should be asking is not whether a drone is going to descend, bring hell fire on some american sitting having coffee just because of something they said, but rather what is it that brings an american citizen or for that matter a foreign national onto this list? how do you get on the president's targeted killings list? who makes those decisions? what's the rationale? unfortunately, this whole policy is so shrouded in secrecy we don't know the answers to that and that's what we ought to be talking about. and i, too am glad -- i don't trust rand paul but i'm glad he's brought attention to that subject.
>> i agree. i think we all agree. let's look at the three options. there's hitting nonamericans. we have a value for that. hitting americans , and then among the americans we have a value for whether we hit them at home here or hit thm abroad. that's the way to dwe cline this whole thing. in his filibuster rand paul envisioned the worst fears of the black helicopter crowd. take a look.
>> ft. you're sitting in a cafe and somebody thinks you e-mailed your cousin in the middle east and they think you're conspiring with them, you get -- you should be charged. you should be, you know, imprisoned if they can make the charges stick, but they shouldn't just drop a hell fire missile on your cafe experience.
>> well, senator john mccain took to the senate floor late yesterday to mock rand paul and his young libertarian fans. i guess he assumes he has them. let's listen.
>> if mr. paul wants to be taken seriously, he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in their college dorms. he needs to know what he's talking about.
>> well, "the new york times" also caught this photo. it's kind of funny of those two senators walk ard i would sharing what was a large elevator but too small for them. look at them trying to get away from each other. in his letter to senator paul , eric holder wrote, quote, it's come to my attention that you have asked an additional question. does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone in kill an american not engaged in combat on american soil? and the answer to that question is no. are you concerned we're using drones again nonamericans, against americans overseas, or americans at home. die cot myself that. where are you concerned?
>> i'm concerned there's no real transparency and no real rules around this. when are we allowed to kill american citizens over seas? are we allowed to use drones in any way, shape, or form domestically.
>> al allah can i, a u.s. citizen overseas working with the enemy. where are you on that?
>> that is a tough one. that is a real tough one. there's evidence that guy was actively involved in planning attacks against the united states . if that's the case what's the difference between sending in a s.e.a.l. team and sending in a drone? but if you apply that domestically what's the difference between sending in a s.w.a.t. team and sending in a drone instead if i'm a police commander. i don't want to send guys through the door --
>> no, i agree it's about lethal. i want to focus -- back to you cynthia . suppose some kid glows up in california, he thinks we're too pro-israeli. he decides to join the other side if you will. join al qaeda . so he ends up over there in some country like yemen and he's sitting around in a cafe basically hanging around trying to make contact with the enemy. is he a ripe target by our standards of justice in this country to be knocked off by our military, by drone or any other means? is it wrong to consort with the enemy?
>> that's the question. you know, petraeus had proposed when he was still running the war in afghanistan that the obama administration adopt a policy whereby people would be targeted for drones because based on some suspicious activities that looked like they might be terrorists. even if we weren't sure who those people were. that worries me. it bothers me not just we might be killing american citizens. it worries me that we might be killing anybody. if we don't have absolute certainty that these people represent a legitimate threat to the united states . and it certainly ought to be more than something they said. you know, after we killed al awlaki, a drone also hit his son. well, we're now told that that was an accident. well, how did he end up --
>> was it an accident or -- does anybody admit he was a target? cynthia ?
>> nobody knows . nobody is saying. and that's the problem again. it is shrouded in secrecy. united states citizens don't nou what is being done in our names and we should.
>> it gets really tricky and this isn't anything i would worry about our government doing, but a lot of americans are quite willing on the left and the right, mostly the left lately, to basically take on their government in a very dramatic almost revolutionary way. look at jane fonda for example. she went over and consorted with the north vietnamese . we were at war with them. of course, it -- what happens when we have enemy most people on the right would say were enemies but joe kennedy wouldn't say is he an enemy. hugo chavez , is he our enemy because he's a lefty? what does it take to become an enemy of the united states ?
>> we need to know that and back to cynthia 's point which is such a central point. what are the rules around here? where is the transparency here? we're owed this as american citizens. our tax dollars are paying for these drones and these hell fire missiles and things. you know, we're owed an explanation about this and what happens when other countries get this technology? what's good for us is good for them. would we feel good about north korea having a bunch of drones they could send --
>> well, we can't stop them. nothing we do will stop them from doing what they wish to do. let me get to something philosophical. both of you can handle this. you first, ron. you raised it. what is the connection between the serious left and the serious right? i mean by that people who are concerned about the basics of individual liberty ?
>> that is the connection, that people are concerned about civil liberties whether they're our american civil liberties or civil liberties of people living in other countries. we don't make that distinction. all people are created equal as far as we're concerned. how would we feel if some third country or some other country decided to rain down a few missiles on our country or take out a few people ha they thought were american terrorists? we'd be up in arms justifiably so.
>> same question -- i'm sorry to interrupt. how do you feel the difference as a progressive columnist, the difference between the hard -- i don't mean hard left in terms of supporting revolution or anything but i'm talking about hard left in terms of really being suspicious of any government power in the way that some on the posse comitatus right are pretty much i think paranoid myself but how does it meet? how do those two ends meet?
>> there is absolutely some legitimate common ground between those who are serious on the libertarian right and those on the left who fear that the government has encroached too far on our civil liberties . last year in a column i praised ron paul , rand paul 's father, because he spoke out against the killing of al awlaki. very few republicans were willing to do that. i think ron paul is very serious and has long been serious about his concerns about civil liberties and the american government going too far . and so progressives can certainly make common cause with libertarians who are serious on issues of civil liberties .
>> i also think and i will offer this opinion. i like to know who is the president is. and i know why we have to live by law because i'm not sure what i would think about any of this conversation with dick cheney aboard calling the shots because i don't think he has the same lines any of the three of us have about where you stop with government power. i think he's pretty unlimbed in that department about the rights --
>> i agree completely.
>> thank you.
>> that's another reason why we need rules.
>> thank you.
>> you can't set a precedent like this. the dick cheneys of the world will get back into power eventually and we don't want to set a precedent where they can do whatever they want.
>> thank you for ending it friday night with a worst case scenario . thank you very much cynthia tucker and thank you ron reagan . coming up.
>>> when is president obama going to get some credit, and this is like rodney dangerfield . when is he going to get some credit for this amazing economy that's coming back? it definitely is coming back, maybe not like gangbusters that unemployment rate really dropped again and a quarter million new jobs out there. and the stock market for the rich is going through the roof. when is this guy going to get some respect?
>>> republicans, when are they going to set some standards. when he gets to this number we'll love him. will they ever admit he's doing a good job.
>>> someone who admits he was wrong. 3wk9 wrote an op-ed in "the washington post ," i couldn't believe it when i saw it, saying the defense of marriage act which he signed into law should be overturned. he says not only did the law provide an excuse for discrimination the law itself was discriminantory.
>>> i'm fascinating with the jockeying taking place in bate parties for 2016 . rand paul is running, jeb bush is running and hillary clinton , we'll be waiting for her. when does she decide? we'll ask that and get to thul this.
>>> what happens when you're too far right for pac. you charge them with being under the threat of sharia law . only in red america . this is "hardball," the place for politics. politics. mmmm! [ female