Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 3/22/2016
Date: March 22, 2016
Guest: Christopher Dickey, Brian Katulis, Anthony Roman, Julie Smith, Ryan
Greer, Tara Maller, Chris Murohy
GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, UNITED STATES ARMY (RET): They are AK-47s. They`re
not – I put off hundreds of explosive devices, that we`re trained. We
have technology. These people are making TATP with –
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: We have to go.
General McCaffrey, thank you as always, sir. I love your expertise and
It`s now 1:00 a.m. in Belgium, 8:00 p.m. on the East Coast here in the
United States. We`re continuing to follow the aftermath of today`s
terrorist bombings in Brussels.
Here`s what we know at this hour, the blast at a Brussels airport occurred
at 8:00 a.m. local or 3:00 a.m. Eastern Time in the U.S. NBC News is
reporting that there were three suitcase bombs, one of which failed to
detonate. An hour later, another bomb exploded in the city subway system
during rush hour. The explosives reportedly contained nails that pierced
the bodies of victims.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks. In one location, authorities
found an explosive device, chemicals and an ISIS flag.
Meanwhile, authorities released this image of three men pushing luggage
carts at the airport prior to the attack. NBC reports they are suspects in
the attack. Two are believed to be dead. The other, the man in the
lighter jacket to the right is being sought as we talk.
Any way, tonight, many questions remain, of course. Who are the men
pictured in the photo? How far in advance was this horror planned? Did it
get moved up after the arrest last week of the suspect from the November`s
Paris attack? And the most ominous question, are there many attacks on the
way in the near future?
Let`s begin this hour in Brussels, where Christopher Dickey is the world
news editor at “The Daily Beast”.
Christopher, thank you for joining us. Give us wrap up, a wrap around of
what you can report right now.
CHRISTOPHER DICKEY, THE DAILY BEAST: I think the most interesting thing
we`ve heard is that there was a taxi driver who took the three guys out to
the airport. And they wouldn`t let him lift the bags out of his trunk. In
fact, they were so heavy he couldn`t lift them. He thought that was
When he heard there was these explosions he got in touch with police and he
took police to the apartment from which he picked them up. And that is
where they got that break and found those chemicals and that evidence, the
flag, other evidence of jihadist activities. So, that was a really
important break in the case and it helped them go back and look at the
videos, the closed circuit TV videos from the airport and identify those
three. That`s how they got to be singled out.
I think that`s the most interesting development. It takes them well down
the path toward finding this one guy. It`s not just that they have an
unidentified picture. They also know where he was holding up and they may
even have some DNA. We haven`t heard anything like that yet.
MATTHEWS: Do we have any leads like that, commensurate with that on the
subway, the metro attack today an hour later?
DICKEY: None that I`ve heard. That was a much more devastating attack.
Not only were more people killed, but when you set off a bomb inside a
crowded subway car, you`ll kill a lot of people. If it`s a suicide bomber
with a vest on, his body is obliterated and it`s a horrible thing to say,
but it`s also going to be mixed in with a lot of other DNA.
MATTHEWS: Living over there in Paris and reporting from there primarily,
Chris, do you have a sense of Belgium? I mean, it`s taken some hits on
this program as an inadequate government in terms of security, an
inadequate government in terms of immigration and assimilation, and those
goals we always like to put together, not being the case in that country.
Do you have a sense of that situation of Belgium? A country that gets very
little attention in the United States and now does.
DICKEY: Well, you know, look, Belgium is a country that`s not terribly
well-organized. You`ve got the Flemish population and the French speaking
population. This is a country that went for almost two years without a
government, in fact, just sort of limping along.
It`s very hard to run a tough security establishment when the people at the
top can`t get their act together. That was definitely the case here. I
think it`s not a surprise they are not competent in their police work.
In terms of immigration, I think they wound up with a lot of people who
were brought here to work in factories and the factories closed and the
people didn`t have anywhere to go. They stayed put and got embedded in
neighborhoods like Molenbeek. And what`s the economy of Molenbeek is
basically dealing hashish.
So, they don`t like police very much. They have an underground culture.
And when you introduce jihadist into the mix, who tell young men, you seem
to be leading kind of a pointless life, but I`m going to show you how to be
a man, I`m going to show you how to be a hero, I`m going to show you how to
go fight for the rights of your Muslim compatriots around the world.
Some men find that seductive. Some young men find that seductive. And
that`s how they wind up in Syria.
MATTHEWS: You`re a great storyteller. Unfortunately, I think it`s the
exact truth in what you described. I mean, it`s such – it is a narrative
that we`re going to have to live through the rest of our lives.
Anyway, thank you, Christopher Dickey, over in Brussels.
Brian Katulis is with the Center for American Progress, and Anthony Roman
is counterterrorism and risk management analyst who join us now in these
You know, we`re just going around an area here. We`re trying to focus in
on the picture of three suspects. Two of which had strangely wearing
gloves, which may have contained in them a button to push. Suicide
bombers, we`re looking at that because it`s all we have right now. A cab
driver we just learned from Chris Dickey, a cab driver was told by the
passengers, don`t try to lift the bags. We`ll do it. That`s something
But that`s really the rudimentary information we have, but we do know it`s
ISIS. It`s something really big. So, put it together if you can,
something really big with something – with small players here.
BRIAN KATULIS, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, I think what`s
interesting, listening to the reporting on this, is that the tip of the
spear here is law enforcement and intelligence work and everything you just
described there, Chris. This is what our law enforcement and intelligence
agencies do. I think it`s important that this attack and our reaction to
it is much more mature.
We`re understanding that, you know, a decade ago, perhaps, we have would
have said, look, our U.S. military should go somewhere and invade
something. And now, we understand that the nature of this threat requires
there to be functioning, governing institutions and there actually has to
be this forensic type investigation.
So, there`s no foolproof system but we have gotten really good in this
country here in the United States in preventing attacks like this.
MATTHEWS: But just remember, 9/11, I don`t think anybody has to be
reminded of it. But those people were living in Germany, the masterminds,
the ones putting it together are living in Germany, the ones who really
led, the pilots of those planes, they got their pilot training in Florida,
KATULIS : Yes. That`s right.
MATTHEWS: So, a lot of that was pretty close to home when they were
putting it together.
Let me bring in Anthony Roman here about this picture.
How did we start with the macro of ISIS trying to develop a caliphate in
the terrain of the land mass of Iraq, what`s left of Iraq and Syria, what`s
left to Syria, and at the same time, do we have this kind of loyalty on the
continent of Europe which brings people to kill themselves just to kill
some people at an airport entrance on a weekday morning, or kill some
people in rush hour in Brussels. Just to do that, just to create a noise
that will unsettle the West. Just to do that.
ANTHONY ROMAN, RISK MANAGEMENT ANALYST: Yes, when you have an entire
community that`s disenfranchised economically and socially and politically,
it`s a fertile ground for ISIS to harvest future terrorists. They bring
them to the so called caliphate. They receive military training.
It`s exciting. There`s camaraderie. For the first time in their lives, a
purpose, and they come back and highly radicalized.
And then when you factor in that the intelligence services are not being
effective, that the U.S. intelligence agencies are reluctant to cooperate
with the Belgium intelligence agencies, you have a real problem on your
hand. And this is why Belgium is such an easy target.
MATTHEWS: Do you think it`s why they live there? It`s a chicken and egg
problem. Why are there so many bad guys coming from such a small European
ROMAN: Well, this area in Molenbeek is a no-go zone. Some of my
intelligence sources right after the Paris attack were present undercover
in Molenbeek. They reported that there was an air of absolute defiance
that this is our area, this is our country, we`re not leaving and you`re
not interfering with what we do.
That was the common feeling of the intelligence agencies that there were
there. That is just a reflection of a complete lack of appropriate
community policing, a complete lack of engaging the community,
economically, socially and politically, so that they participate in the
process and help you with the solution.
So, the solution is actually counter intuitive to what most people think.
It`s inclusiveness. It`s participation. It`s developing your sources
MATTHEWS: It`s Europe. It`s not America.
ROMAN: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Brian.
I`m European, that`s why we left. That`s why most Americans left because
they didn`t fit into Europe.
KATULIS: But it`s part of the answer, right? In our own debate, we are
heard here in America, some messages of steady resolve and resilience, and
then we`ve also heard erratic fear-mongering, trying to paint entire
communities and entire, you know, Muslim communities in a particular way.
MATTHEWS: You mean the way the British treated the Irish for several
KATULIS: True, but –
MATTHEWS: The way the French treated the Huguenots?
KATULIS: Right. But I think –
MATTHEWS: I mean, there is a history of not fitting into Europe.
KATULIS: But those were a different eras. I think at this point this
issue of pluralism and exclusivity is at the core of how do we keep
MATTHEWS: Well, there`s a difference. I hope we still stay better at it
than they are.
Anyway, Brian Katulis, thank you.
Anthony Roman, sir, I loved listening to you.
Joining us right now is Betty Newsome.
Now, Betty, thank you for joining us. It`s been reported that your niece
and your husband who live in Brussels are now missing at this point
tonight. Can you tell us what you know?
I think we`ll try to get back to her.
When we return, reaction to the horror in Brussels today from presidential
candidate John Kasich. He`s going to join us life.
Our coverage of the terror attacks in Belgium will continue after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a time when you
have to keep your cool. This is a time when you have to have a good action
plan of how to move forward. This is a time when you have to remain
But not a time in which you should let your rhetoric take advantage of a
situation where people may be frightened. This is time for real
leadership. If I were in Cuba right now, the last thing I would be doing
is going to a baseball game.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to our special coverage of the terror attacks in
John Kasich, Governor Kasich, took a measured approach in his conference
today, calling upon President Obama to return from Cuba, but also speaking
out against those who use inflammatory rhetoric to further scare the
I`m joined right now by Ohio governor and presidential candidate John
Were you President Kasich today, what would be your priorities and what you
would like to do and begin to do as you woke up this morning?
KASICH: Well, Chris, I probably would have finished the speech and then I
would have wanted to come home and I would have called all the world
leaders either individually or on a call. I would have had my intelligence
and military folks and I would have met with them to talk about
vulnerabilities and then I would have sent them to Europe.
And, by the way, this isn`t anything anybody advised me to say. This is
what I, you know, intuitively and instinctively know and send them to
Europe, send them to Brussels, sit down with our allies in Europe.
Honestly, examine our vulnerabilities and begin to fix them.
And, Chris, the other thing is we`ve got to go and destroy is. We keep
talking about it but we`re not doing anything about it, and we need that
coalition of Arabs, the Muslims who support us and that good coalition to
go and take them out on the air and the ground and, of course, we need
aggressive, aggressive intelligence, human intelligence. We need to make
sure that the civilized world is together on this.
We need to share intelligence and here at home when it comes to these
counter terrorism task forces that are made up of FBI, Homeland Security,
state and law enforcement – they need to have the resources which I`m told
they have, and they need to have tools, which is why I`m glad – I think
we`re getting a resolution in this encryption case.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the U.S., and I know you`re very patriotic
about – well, the gut kind of patriotism that you and I share. I know all
And I`m thinking, how do we keep that the way it is that for most of the
people who have come to the United States over the years? In fact, 99.999
percent come here because they want to be Americans. And that`s what they
want to be. They want to be Americans and wave the flag like we all did as
I remember, we used to march up and down in front of our Catholic grade
school waving the flag like George M. Cohan, it was unbelievable, because
we want to assimilate as fast as possible. Some people come here and they
come and they join large communities. They are isolated from the rest of
the countries. Might be in Denver, Detroit, New Jersey, could be anywhere,
where the people really do create their communities to themselves. That
could be harmless, like that little Havana down in Florida, which is really
their animosity is aimed at Castro and his brother.
When you have an east/west situation, the Muslim world being offered these
ideas of terrorism and radicalization, how do you work against that as
Americans where we have a very free society? How do you stop it? Can you?
KASICH: Yes. Well, Chris, I think number one, is sometimes it takes
another generation. You know, when my mother and father who were the sons
and daughter of an immigrant, they didn`t talk much about the old country.
But some people do cling to that.
But I think it`s a generational change. You know, the kids begin to
assimilate on the ball field, soccer field. They begin to assimilate in
school. It begins to change.
You`re right. There are some communities like as you mentioned in little
Havana, but they`re still really, frankly, they love America and have
assimilated. And I think that`s part of it.
The other thing is, Chris, listen, these counterterrorism task forces, the
ability of state and local law enforcement, along with the FBI, to be able
to gather information while still respecting the civil rights and freedom
of Americans, that`s where we come in, Chris. That`s where you and I
notice something in our community and our neighbors notice something, and
we let law enforcement know.
I give you a perfect example, in San Bernardino, the neighbor apparently
saw things happening but the neighbor didn`t tell anybody. The father saw
radicalization happening to his son, didn`t tell anybody. So, there`s
going to be responsibility, to some degree on our part, to be able to let
the law enforcement community know about radicalization, and then we have
to deal with it.
On assimilation, I think that it`s a process of generation is what I
MATTHEWS: Well, unfortunately, the case where is the people will come here
from a country pretty remote from here whether North Africa or the Middle
East. The parents will bust their butt when they get here to make a living
and to fit in. And then the kids come along and they find themselves
alienated, you know, as the kids of immigrants, it`s very tricky.
Anyway, reacting to the attacks this morning, Donald Trump said again that
torture works when interrogating suspects. I`m not sure what brought this
up, but here`s what he said.
(BEGIN VDIEO CLIP)
INTERVIEWER: Aare you in the camp that harsh interrogation, torture, works
in case like this?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I am in that camp. I`m in
that camp. I don`t believe the other people. I am in that camp.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And here is Hillary Clinton, what she had to say on the same
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As to waterboarding, our
country most experienced and greatest military leaders will tell you that
torture is not effective. It does put our own soldiers and our own
civilians at risk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, Governor, I don`t know whether Donald Trump
knows anything about waterboarding, if he knows anything more about
snowboarding or waterboarding or any of that stuff, but it seems to be a
statement of strength the people seem to like today. They want know you
will push to the limits our power to protect us. Just right to the limits
and beyond the limits, some people seem to like of human decency.
KASICH: Well, you know, I think that a leader is somebody who is tough and
strong and measured.
You know, when you think about Ronald Reagan and you knew him and I knew
him, he never overreacted. He never used inflammatory rhetoric. He was
always very, very calm even the middle of a crisis.
You know, we think back to a guy we all admire and love was Winston
Churchill. I mean, he said never, never, never give in. But, you know,
there are proper ways to show strength. And, frankly, I think if you
gyrating back and forth, it doesn`t give people confidence.
Look, when it comes to interrogation, I talk to people who were high up in
the CIA, there are techniques we can use. The problem with torture is that
we can often get information that`s completely false. We want to be
effective in terms of our techniques of interrogation and we want to be
strong about it. We don`t have to apologize for it. We`re trying to
protect the country.
But my approach is to be measured, to be strong, to be calm and be able to
take action. I happen to believe here in the United States with our Joint
Terrorism Task Forces, their biggest challenge is the lone wolf, the home
grown terrorists. And, look, we`ve got to make sure we know who`s is
coming into the country, for example, with this visa waiver program.
That`s an appropriate thing for Congress to look at and administration to
lead the way on.
But let`s be resolute and let`s solve this problem, and that`s the way I
approach it. If it doesn`t get me a vote, I guess that`s just tough, isn`t
MATTHEWS: What about this snake thing trump talks about? He tells the
person of the story who bring the snake in, they tell a story of a person
who brings the snake into their house, they raised the snake, they feed it,
and the poisonous snakebites the person and kills them. And he said
something like, in this little story, this little fable, what do you
expect? What do you expect? That`s the argument he makes.
KASICH: Look, I can just tell you that we`re going to have – we`re going
to have to rely on local police, state police, state intelligence, not
state intelligence but the FBI and our intelligence community. And in
regard to that, when it comes to the lone wolf or when it comes to the home
grown terrorist, we`re going to have to have neighbors keeping their eyes
KASICH: Because you can say all the things you want to, Chris, and you can
use all the rhetoric you want to, but I`m interested in solving the
So, in my state, you know, I`m the governor of Ohio, we`re the seventh
largest state. It`s a state we`ve had to keep our eye on.
I remember getting a Homeland Security briefing when I first became
governor of the threats. We handle these things. I`m not telling you
we`re going to be perfect.
But I can tell you, today, I talked to our head of public safety today, we
go over things. We ask about the resources. We try to find out where the
threats might be. They tell me things that they think are appropriate, and
we just move forward making sure that we`re going everything we possibly
I think when people hear that, they feel better about that, frankly, than
when we lose our cool. We had an Ebola crisis, we thought, in Ohio. I
handled it in a calm and strong way. It gives people confidence to know
somebody`s in charge.
But I can`t promise anybody we won`t have a lone wolf or a homegrown
terrorist. We`re going everything we can to bring all the assets, because
when I think about people whether in Europe. Look, when people die and
they bleed in Europe, we die a little bit and we bleed a little bit in the
United States. And I think about my family the same way I think about
people that I don`t even know who live in our country.
MATTHEWS: You know, last question, and I agree with everything you said.
There is a tendency in our history when we get attacks, we get very – it`s
not bellicose – raring to do something about it. We move to the right,
not left/right, the usual terms, we get very militaristic in a sense. We
want to do something to show the people that hit us that we can hit them
back just as hard, if not harder.
Is that going to affect this election? Is this going to help Trump because
of his incredible statements about banning Muslims from the country and
torture and all the things he said put him on that very marshal side of
things? Doesn`t this help him what happened, not his idea to do it.
He had nothing to do with it. He didn`t want it to happen. Obviously, he
didn`t want it to happen.
But, politically, does that not help the person like him who gives sump a
strong statement of defiance?
KASICH: Maybe that`s a time when leaders need to really kind of stand in
the breech. And, look, I don`t think we ought to namby-pamby here. I`ve
been saying all along that we need to be not only in the air but on the
ground against ISIS and destroy them and put a coalition together. I`m the
one that argued that NATO needs to be strengthened. I`m the one that said
that we`re going to arm the Ukrainians with lethal defensive weapons.
So, don`t think about me as some softy and I want to make sure that our
intelligence community has what it needs. But I think there`s also –
there`s also words and an attitude that I don`t think is constructive,
plain and simple.
MATTHEWS: Governor John Kasich, thank you for giving us your time tonight.
KASICH: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next, the challenge across Europe and here at home in the
face of this continual terrorist threat. I`m going to speak to two people
just back from the Belgium capital, right after this.
MATTHEWS: Right now, we`re looking at the picture. This is a strange
thing to see in New York City, the Empire State Building dark tonight in
honor of the victims of the Belgium terror attacks. It`s right there in
the middle. It`s blocking out more than it`s showing.
It`s the Empire State Building. I haven`t seen it like that. Well, as the
morning begins for the victims of the Brussels attacks today. There are
renewed concerns over the impact those attacks could have here at home. Of
course, Americans are thinking about this.
Joining me now is MSNBC political analyst and “Washington Post” columnist,
Jonathan Capehart, and Julie Smith from the Center for New American Society
– Security. Actually, Julie is also an adviser to the Clinton campaign,
which helps you to position her politically. She`s not a neocon.
Let me ask you – which is very important. You know, what`s interesting
just in terms of empathy, you know, somebody once said, you see the
starving in Ethiopia, you`re more concerned about your toothache. You know,
people`s sympathies are hard to arrest from afar. And for some reason,
people`s sympathy has beginning to grow.
I know would have thought – remember the years we had George W. Bush,
France was the bad guy. France – freedom fries – the french were no
good. Anything France was bad. And yet along came the September bombing
and everybody felt something. Maybe because Paris is the most beautiful
city in the world right next to San Francisco maybe, but it`s the most…
CAPEHART: Or Rome.
MATTHEWS: Or Rome. There`s some competitors there.
But people felt something for those people. Maybe because the nightclub
they were at, young people having fun on a late weekend night, seemed to be
something that a lot of people of any age would like to be doing and all of
a sudden they`re dead.
SMITH: Yeah. Well, we`ve been talking about it since 9/11. We been
talking about what if they walked into a large stadium or restaurant or a
MATTHEWS: Subway, movie theater.
SMITH: Subway – and here it is. It`s happening right in front of our
eyes in place that many of us visit from time to time. And it`s a culture
that feels close to ours. It`s cities…
MATTHEWS: You could walk into a movie theater, David, a big oversized
luggage and nobody would stop you. If anything, they would help you and
put it away in the aisle.
I mean, I hate to think about how vulnerable we. And we are – subways,
nobody checks you getting on a subway. You race on to the car. You`re
there in two seconds. You`re on the train and moving. You could be doing
And you don`t want to be doing profiling in this country. So, what – I
don`t know what we do.
CAPEHART: Well, look…
MATTHEWS: Lucky, we`ve been lucky.
CAPEHART: Yes, lucky we have been lucky. But let`s also talk about –
yes, there were sympathies for Paris because many of us have been there,
many of us like Paris. But people forget that one week later…
MATTHEWS: You`re quite the – yeah, I wouldn`t speak so gently. There are
a lot of people in this country who have never been on a airplane who did
feel for Paris.
CAPEHART: Well, right, but the point I`m getting to is one week later on
November 20 in Mali, there was a horrific terrorist attack where 20 people
were killed, 170 hostages in a hotel. Where…
MATTHEWS: In Timbuktu.
CAPEHART: Where were people holding vigils for them. Where were people
demanding that President Obama drop everything and do something for them.
What about Cameroon…
MATTHEWS: But what`s your point.
CAPEHART: …the next day.
MATTHEWS: These are more remote to our experience, I agree, they are very
CAPEHART: But they`re all – they are all pinpricks in the war on terror
that we`re all afraid of.
MATTHEWS: Look how angry we got when Kenya was hit, a country we have
always been close with, Kenya and Tanzania. Those was our embassies, but
the people that were killed weren`t Americans, mainly, they were host
nationals, as we said in the Peace Corps, host country nationals.
SMITH: Yeah, but Europe is our closest allies. I mean, we`ve had the
longest standing relationship with these guys. We rely on them not only to
fight terrorism, but a whole host of other challenges around the world.
There is – there are common values there. There are connections, personal
connections. But there`s a democracy that we feel linked to.
I mean, we`ve had such a rich history with Europe for 60 or 70 years.
MATTHEW: Let`s talk about the empathy. It`s a weird empathy we have
towards the killers, not negative positive, negative empathy. We try to
imagine fellow human beings, as I was trying to say, fellow human beings
getting up in the morning, brushing your teeth, getting your clothes on,
taking a shower, getting a cab, somebody arranges to get the cab. Only
this time, the cab ride for you and your two friends is to go kill
yourself. And in killing yourself, kill total
strangers who are babies, you know, mothers, grandmothers, regular people,
just killing regular people you`ve been living among your whole life in
And killing people you see on the corner, people you pass by, people you
say hello to, people that sell you a newspaper in the morning. Kill them.
That`s what really strikes me. And goes capability to do that, the
capability to have a plan
and say yes I will do it weeks ahead putting it together actually carrying
How do you stop a person who is doing on that in their head basically and
even know what`s going on in their heads – three guys talking to each
other for all we know. It could be five or six.
CAPEHART: Right, for all we know. I mean, the problem here is they`re
like lone wolves, but this is a bigger problem than lone wolves. We`re
talking about people living in a country, and some were born there. Some
raised there who feel
alienated, isolated, and are able to basically hide in plain sight and plot
and plan and murder.
Hundreds of people, if you include all of the terrorist attacks that have
happened since November 13, 2015.
I mean, I`m with you in terms – in the exasperation over how is it
possible that this can happen. I remember talking to my mother last night
and she said why can`t we just go in there and get them? And I said, mom,
we`re fighting an enemy that has no country.
MATTHEWS: And no person, in some cases – I said earlier tonight, a 13-
year-old today five years ago could be – five years from now could be a
terrorist. He`s not a terrorist now. He will become one. It`s not an
SMITH: Yeah, this is the real vulnerability for Europe. They have got all
of these young people that are inspired by the ISIS movement, by the
ideology, by what…
MATTHEWS: Is it online?
SMITH: It`s all online. They connect easily. They are targeted in many
ways. They are targeted to be radicalized in various countries across
Europe. It`s not just a Belgium problem. It`s not just a French problem.
It`s all over Europe. And this is what the Europeans have been trying to
tackle. They can do more. But what we have to also understand is that we
may never get at the heart of
our vulnerabilities if we`re going to keep our societies as open as we want
So, yes, we can and should do more, but in many ways as you pointed out,
MATTHEWS: And what percentage of people we all went to school with had
tough times going to school? There are a lot of people that feel
alienated. Everybody in their life sometimes feels alienated. And if
there`s somebody out there saying come on join up, we know just how you
feel, we`re going to suit you up right. You`re going to go to heaven.
SMITH: Although, yeah, these…
MATTHEWS: We didn`t have that.
SMITH: Yeah. Yeah.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank god – well, we`ll see. We don`t know what to
thank god for yet, except that we`ve been lucky to be lucky so far in this
Thank you Jonathan Capehart and thank you Joy Smith.
Up next, what can be done here in the United States to fight this threat of
terror back home here? I`m going to speak to Senator Chris Murphy of the
foreign relations committee. And I usually agree with him, so I can`t wait
to hear from him.
And this is MSNBC`s live coverage of the terror attack. There it is over
there in Belgium today. You never know what the next day will bring. Stay
MATTHEWS: That`s a makeshift memorial over there in Brussels to the
victims of today`s attack.
Welcome back to our live coverage of the terror attacks today in Belgium.
And joining me right now is Connecticut U.S. Senator Chris Murphy. He is a
member of the Senate foreign relations committee and has long had serious
concerns about how terror intelligence is actually being shared between the
United States and Europe.
We`ve been hearing a lot, Senator Murphy, tonight about the problems of
dealing with the Belgium government. They have, what, three languages over
there – Dutch, French and Flemish. And that`s one of the problems they
People think they leak, the government over there, the information we give
them. How bad is it? is it that bad?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY, (D) CONNECTICUT: Well, add to that they have six
different police departments effectively inside Brussels itself.
And the broader problem here is that right now our ability in the United
States to be safe from the continued radicalization in places like Brussels
is really dependent on the quality of something called the no-fly list.
That is the list that prevents European citizens from traveling to the
United States if they`re subject of one of these investigations.
But the reality of the situation is that we are really unsure as to how
good the information on these no-fly lists are and how good Europeans are
at populating that list with information about their pending
And so one of the recommendations that we have to take seriously in
Congress is telling a lot of these European countries that if they still
want to be part of programs like the program that allows you to come into
the United States without a
visa, then they have got to start populating these records, these no-fly
lists with their up to date information about pending investigations.
MATTHEWS: I`m thinking of the degrees to which have – we check people as
they cross borders. When I was kid, you drive across with our parents
across Niagara Falls, and to Canada all you do is answer with a local
accent, a Philly accent or whatever, if it sounded American, you could
cross and come right back if you saw Niagara Falls from the Canadian side.
That`s how comfortable we were. If you get on an Israeli airliner, you
have to go through an interview, and you`ve probably done it. You`d have
to go through a serious interview. They really try to figure you out
psychologically, politically, ideologically. They want to know that nobody
is going to cause any trouble to Israel, and certainly not on one of their
Where do we fit in that spectrum? How tough can we interview people coming
from those problem areas of the world?
MURPHY: Well, we have a different relationship with the Europeans. And of
course, a lot of our economy relies on the fairly free flow of travel to
and from Europe.
But we clearly have to raise the standard by which we allow people to come
here without a visa. That probably involves increasing a lot of the
security screens that are part of the visa free travel program to the
United States. And it requires us saying to the Europeans that if they are
not populating the no-fly list with their most relevant information, then
we aren`t going to allow them to continue to be part of that program.
There are going to be some tough messages we need to send to the Europeans
here in order to make sure that our homeland is kept safe.
MATTHEWS: Well, senator, Ted Cruz is running for president, of course,
offering dire warnings today in his statement that read in part, our
European allies are now seeing what come of a toxic mix of migrants who
have been infiltrated by terrorists and isolated radical Muslim
neighborhoods. We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure
Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.
Senator Cruz was asked by reporters about his proposal to patrol Muslim
neighborhoods here in the U.S. And he doubled down on the concept. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: Political correctness costs lives. And it is
standard law enforcement, it is good law enforcement to focus on where
emanating from. And anywhere where there is a locus of radicalization,
where there is an expanding presence of radical Islamic terrorism, we need
law enforcement resources directed there. We need national security
resources directed there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m wondering what that means. What do you think – what does
it mean to you what he`s talking about, tanks, or police cars, squad cars,
regular patrolling of Muslims neighborhoods. It seemed to me that would
only drive up the sense of (inaudible), of keeping secrets.
MURPHY: Yeah, so, I think there`s sort of an overplay in our politics
about analogies to the Nazis. But the ADL came out very strongly today
opposing Senator Cruz`s it struck them in way that had some pretty
insidious historical contexts to it.
Listen, the difference – one of the critical differences between the
United States and Belgium is that we don`t ghettoize our Muslim populations
that we have
been able to assimilate them as we have legions of immigrants before them.
Part of what leads to this radicalization is that Muslims believe that are
coming to be ostracized from the general population. And the things that
are coming out of Senator Cruz`s mouth, things that Donald Trump were
saying are just going to push American Muslims into isolated corners of
cities, which then allow them to fall pray, to fall victim to some of these
– to some of this messaging.
This is really dangerous. And it has some very insidious historical
context to it.
MATTHEWS: Yeah, and it`s so interesting – against that is the reality of
what we see. We go to an airport. I`m in an airport every two days. Our
airports and our traffic with people across this country within our country
is overwhelmingly diverse. There`s so many people with traditional garb
and head coverings and other signs of Islamic faith and so many different
kinds of people, different shades of color. We have so many different
people in this country. You would think the people would get used to that
and a sense of security and not say everybody they see that looks a little
different is dangerous.
And I do think they do. And people like Cruz may try to build this up, but
I don`t think it`s the way most people who get around think about things
anymore. Maybe their grandparents did
MURPHY: Well, you know, Chris, the piece of this is that ISIS`s
development is dependent on two messages. One, the inevitable expansion of
their so-called caliphate. And, two, the idea that the east is at war with
the west. Now, the caliphate is shrinking and it shrunk by over a third
just since the beginning of last year.
So, that narrative is really unavailable to them in a way that it has been
in the past. And so there are more and more reliant on the second
narrative, which is why they`re trying to strike at the west, so that they
will goad us into saying things, into taking steps that will prove to their
would-be recruits that this really is a war between Christians and Muslims.
And so everything that we do in our presidential candidates say to feed in
to that narrative just frankly grows the potential strength of the
And if you want to beat these guys, in the end you actually have to take
away the reasons from their growth, not add to them.
MATTHEWS: I – that is well said. Put that out as a statement, senator.
I think people need know that what the bad guys, the ones who are stirring
up the hell, encouraging young people to kill themselves, what they really
want is an east-west war. And the way you get that is listening to people
like the kind of things that Trump has been saying lately, and has been
saying for awhile. Ban them. They`re the enemy. They want to hear that.
Anyway it`s perverse, but it does make sense if you think about it. Thank
you so much, senator. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, thank you for coming
Our coverage of the terror attacks in Belgium will continue. Stay with us.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s one of those mornings where the morning newspaper has
already used to this because something so horrible that day as it did today
that everything else is before us. We`re back with our coverage of the
deadly terror attacks in Belgium, of course.
Joining me now from Brussels is Ryan Heath who was on a bit before, senior
European, or European Union correspondent with Politico. Thank you, Ryan.
Another Ryan, Ryan Greer, is with me. He`s a counterterrorism expert here
home, formerly with the State Department. And Dr. Tara Maller is a former
military analyst with the CIA.
Doctor, you first – talk about failure. I always think when people say it
failed. Well, that`s definitional. But what would have been the odds on
catching somebody like this and why were they really reasonable odds? To
catch somebody, they just go to their car. They put some heavy thing in
the cab driver notices it`s too heavy for him to even pick up. They go to
the airport. Some people, the surveillance camera later catches the fact
they have two gloved hands and no glove on the right hand, which is
mysterious. And they may be using a button to blow up the luggage they`re
carrying. They have a luggage bomb.
TARA MALLER, FRM. CIA MILITARY ANALYST: Well hindsight is 20/20. And I
think in this case what you saw was strategically Belgium was on the radar
screen of law enforcement. You heard it being talked about for weeks, for
MATTHEWS: It`s like the hole in the wall gang, it`s like they all go up to
Malabeek (ph) and that`s where they hide because the police don`t bother
MALLER: Exactly. So, there has been ramped up security measures in place.
Having said that, there are hundreds, if not thousands of soft targets.
So, what the police and law enforcement officials really need is they need
intelligence, not just Belgium is heightened security they need the signals
intelligence. They need the communication between the individuals.
So, unless they are able to access that, whether that was through their
phones, their emails or in some cases face-to-face communication, it`s
really difficult to pin down the precise time, location and place.
MATTHEWS: Does it tell you something the fact that that struck within a
country within a reasonable, almost walking distance of where they live,
that they didn`t go off – with all this talk – Ryan, who is going to talk
about the inter-European thing? You are, actually, did the fact that –
this isn`t really a factor of being able to move from one European country
to another, this was all done within Belgium.
MALLER: Well, this was done within Belgium, and this is where these
individuals were operating. It`s possible they were going to carry this
attack at a future point in time. And they may have done this now
MATTHEWS: Well, they`re not the same people, because they would be dead.
MALLER: Well, they probably did this now because of the recent capture of
the terrorist that is…
MATTHEWS: You believe there`s a connection – three days later?
MALLER: I believe there`s a connection. There`s been some reported
connections in the press and – yeah…
MATTHEWS: Just pick up on this, this whole question of easy movement
within Europe. And secondly, the whole question of, well, ghettoization,
for lack of a – it`s a terrible word, but we`ve been using it.
RYAN GREER, COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT: When we look at the example of the
Belgian city of Vilvord (ph), it was the top recruitment city for ISIL two
years ago. And then they put into place community engagement, community
MATTHEWS: How do we know it`s the top recruitment center?
GREER: According to the mayor there it was two years ago. Since then it`s
not had any ISIL recruitment from people going to Syria. And of course the
results like that aren`t always replicable, but it`s not just part of our
values to reach out to people and welcome them into our communities and
integrate them, but it`s also an effective way to reduce the next
MATTHEWS: Chicken and egg problem. Did that become a place where these –
where the recruits are from because it`s a safe place from the police,
because the police are ineffective? Is that what caused it?
GREER: Well, if you look at how many…
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Tara – let me go to the other Ryan – you come
back. Ryan, to you, sir. Answer the question, why is it all – why did we
know that was troubled area before this morning?
RYAN HEATH, POLITICO: Well, Molenbeek has a 25 year history of local
politicians being deliberately happy to recruit poorer and immigrant
into the area. And what they failed to do was create a police force and a
community leadership that was willing to engage those people.
And then by failing to invest in the community, then failing to invest in
any of the security and intelligence monitoring necessary to deal with the
fallout of not investing in an integrated community, you created a bit of a
perfect storm to have people want to be radicalized. And then with
developments in Syria we knew
that over a hundred people from that district were going to Syria to be
trained. And they thought many of them wouldn`t come back. And then when
they did, they still failed to have police who spoke Arabic at all in most
cases, often not the dialects that these people were speaking in.
Then, when we knew about the Paris attacks and we knew the list of people
who were living in that area, we were promised house to house searches.
Now, obviously you can`t search 30,000 houses overnight, but you can search
more than 1 out of every 250 homes. That wasn`t taking place either.
So, it`s not a case of cross border movement in Europe, it`s the case that
there was a known hot spot and there wasn`t really a crackdown in that
area. The Belgian authorities stumbled. They didn`t update their laws.
And that`s part of the problem now.
MATTHEWS: Ryan Heath, well said.
GREER: And on top of that, I mean, there are 500 individuals from Belgium
who went to fight in Syria. You can`t arrest and kill your way out of
this. There`s just not enough law enforcement to do it. But there`s also
not systematic border security screening in the Schengen zone.
MATTHEWS: I guess they didn`t have enough time – they have three European
languages in the country. They didn`t have time to learn Arabic, because
you`re busy learning the other two European languages.
Anyway, Ryan Heath, Ryan Greeg and Tara Maller, thank you from my political
science professor. We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Coming up in about 45 minutes, MSNBC will bring you live
election coverage of the Arizona primary. Also, the caucuses in Utah and
Idaho today. And I`ll be joining Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow for
Right now, our coverage of the terror attacks in Belgium continue with
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