Guests: Robert DeNiro, Matt Damon, Milton Bearden
Fri Dec 22, 2006 23:46

'Hardball College Tour' for Dec. 18
Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guests: Robert DeNiro, Matt Damon, Milton Bearden
“The Good Shepherd,”

The Good Shepherd - Trailer
2hr 40min - Rated R - Drama/Suspense/Thriller/Romance


'Hardball College Tour' for Dec. 18
Read the transcript to the Monday show

Updated: 10:55 a.m. MT Dec 19, 2006

Guests: Robert DeNiro, Matt Damon, Milton Bearden

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews and welcome to the HARDBALL college tour. Tonight from George Mason University in Virginia with two of Hollywood‘s biggest stars. They‘re going to talk spies, patriotism and politics and their new movie, “The Good Shepherd,” which hits theaters this Friday. Please welcome the director of the movie Robert DeNiro.

MATTHEWS: And then we got the CIA today that did interesting things like create the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, which became the fighters of the Soviet occupation and then became al Qaeda.

BEARDEN: No, come on. Americans learn their history from the football coach around here? What is that?

MATTHEWS: You want to get ...

BEARDEN: The Soviets created ...

MATTHEWS: You want to get like this?

BEARDEN: You want to get like this?

MATTHEWS: You are like this now. Let‘s go.

BEARDEN: OK. Let‘s go. The Soviets probably by invading the country, killing a million and a half people, wounding a million and a half, driving 5 million into exile might have had a little something to do with creating the people who rose up against them. Jimmy Carter ...

MATTHEWS: But didn‘t you give them Stingers and everything and arm them?

BEARDEN: You bet we did.

MATTHEWS: Didn‘t we bring in the Arabs from all over the Arab world into Afghanistan to help build them up?

BEARDEN: No, absolutely - let me make you a promise right here, right now. You go find one single Arab that we brought in from the Arab world, trained and recruited and I will sit down on the show with you and about five minutes we‘ll be asking him to get out of here. Didn‘t happen.


BEARDEN: That story for the media has always been just too good to check.

MATTHEWS: So the CIA did not play a role in throwing the Soviets out of Afghanistan?

BEARDEN: You bet we did and it was the right thing to do.

MATTHEWS: Help me.

BEARDEN: Help you what?

MATTHEWS: What did we do?

BEARDEN: We armed the Afghan people to resist the Soviet invasion.

End of story.

MATTHEWS: And where did the people that came out of that became the al Qaeda crowd come out of it?

BEARDEN: The al Qaeda crowd came to a failed state which the United States of America, in all honesty, created by just walking away.


BEARDEN: You go ahead in February 1989 you drive the Soviets out of Pakistan. Great up to that point. Within a few months the Austrians and the Hungarians had opened the border and the whole world was collapsing in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

We walked away from Afghanistan and let the state fail.

MATTHEWS: And then al Qaeda came up and ...

BEARDEN: And then al Qaeda came up.

MATTHEWS: ... the Taliban, they grew out of it.

BEARDEN: Well, the chaos came and the Taliban came to put some order to it.

MATTHEWS: I‘m looking for—what‘s called blowback, right?

BEARDEN: Everybody likes blowback.

MATTHEWS: I love blowback. It‘s what happens with the unintended consequences of covert operations.

BEARDEN: No, it‘s what happens with the unintended consequences of every major policy thing you do. Arming Stalin to fight the acute evil, the Third Reich, was a very good idea but it kept them going for another 30 years.

MATTHEWS: We‘re going to talk more about this controversial issue of the CIA. It gets more controversial as we argue here with Robert DeNiro and Matt Damon and Milton Bearden, plus more questions now from the audience from the HARDBALL college tour, George Mason University, back on MSNBC.


QUESTION: Hans Mier (ph) from Sterling, Virginia. My question is to all three of you. While preparing to shoot some very intense scenes in the movie, I was curious to know if the torture scene, in particular, made you think about the methods being used currently in Guantanamo Bay, where the U.S. has been holding detainees since 9/11, and if you feel the ends justify the means in getting what is supposedly best for the safety of the U.S. citizens and the rest of the people around the world.

MATTHEWS: Waterboarding, is that what it was, Matt? You were watching in that movie?

DAMON: Yes, basically.

MATTHEWS: They had a guy with a hood over him. They kept pouring water on him—I‘d never seen this before—making it look like—feel like he‘s drowning. It was a horrible scene.

BEARDEN: Yes. Powerful, powerful.

MATTHEWS: Is that what we do?

BEARDEN: We all know we‘re doing it now. I think it‘s an issue. I think—I think there‘s sort of metaphorical stuff that you need to work with in a movie, but...

MATTHEWS: How often does that fail and just kills the guy?

BEARDEN: I think that—I think that it fails and destroys the people who are doing it about as it does the people that it‘s being done to. I think that America needs to say, “How much do I want to give up of what this country has been—become over the next—last 230 years, peace at any price or make me safe.”


BEARDEN: How much do I want to give up? And that‘s the question that you‘re going to have to fathom.

MATTHEWS: Robert DeNiro, when you—when you directed that scene, that horrible scene in that movie, maybe the toughest scene to watch, where you see a bunch of guys dressed up like us, you know, dressed up, well-educated, elitist, Ivy Leaguers. And they‘re up there just watching this Russian guy, who is—looks to me authentically trying to defect, treating him like dirt, like an animal, torturing him, intellectually and physically. What was that about?

DENIRO: Well, I thought that this would get the point across. It was very powerful and we had—I had done some research. Part of it was from Abu Ghraib, obviously. I‘d seen those images. And the other part was just what we thought would make a point at that point in that scene. That was it.

MATTHEWS: What did you feel, doing that?

DAMON: Watching it or...

MATTHEWS: Doing it. You‘re an actor. You‘re playing this guy who‘s just taking it. He‘s watching another guy, another professional, being tortured like that. He was obviously trying to tell the truth. And yet, you didn‘t want the truth.

DAMON: From the perspective of the character, though, from the perspective of the character, everything that I do makes sense to me, which is why I think it was a well-written movie. I understand why I‘m doing that in that situation. I believe what‘s at stake, if I don‘t understand exactly what this person‘s intentions are, is worth the price of doing that, to my character. Not this—I mean, to my character.

MATTHEWS: Ends justifies the means?

DAMON: No. To him in that situation, his behavior is justified.

Everything the character does in the movie is justified, to him.

MATTHEWS: We‘ll come back and talk about that. That is fascinating.

Milton Bearden, thank you very much, sir. We fight here, and you won. Thank you, Robert DeNiro is going to stay with us, Matt Damon is going to stay with us as the HARDBALL college tour continues from George Mason University.



MATTHEWS: That was about a B+, by the way.

DAMON: There‘s no other reason to rush that fast to war unless you know, you don‘t have it.

MATTHEWS: Do you think the war was fought because the region—was it about WMD? Was it about Mideast politics? Was it about ideology?

DAMON: It kept changing when their excuses would change. They‘d go, wait, actually they don‘t have any of that stuff. They‘d go, oh, oh, well then it‘s actually about democracy. Well democracy is not going to work. We‘re just going to settle for—as long as it‘s secure. I mean, it just keeps changing.

MATTHEWS: Do you think guys like Cheney—I love to pronounce his name correctly, by the way. Do you think guys like—it‘s like a Dickensian name, Cheney. Do you think he knew he was saying stuff that wouldn‘t turn out to be true, or was he just mad dogged to fight the war?

DAMON: I‘d like to see him under oath.

MATTHEWS: I would, too. I‘d like to see him with you.


MATTHEWS: Do you think if you waterboarded Cheney, like in the movie, that you‘d get a different truth out of him?

DAMON: Well, there‘s two answers to that question. One is he doesn‘t strike me as the kind of person who has any real personal courage. When it was his turn to go, he didn‘t go. He deferred six times.

MATTHEWS: He said he had other priorities.

DAMON: Yes, he had other priorities. And he doesn‘t seem to have other priorities about sending other kids there and other peoples kids.


MATTHEWS: We‘ll be back...

DAMON: ... The second part to the answer is that I believe that if you waterboard anybody, they‘ll tell you anything and that torture is completely impractical, on top of being dishonorable. It‘s completely impractical because you can—I mean, if you torture a normal person, if you torture anybody, they‘re going to tell you whatever you want them to tell you. So if you‘re getting information that you‘re going to then use and you get it by torturing them...

MATTHEWS: ... Why is man at his worst throughout history used it then if it doesn‘t work? Why has it always been part of—going to the Middle Ages, back to ancient times. People were so cruel to each other, they get what they want out of them. Why do they do it if it doesn‘t work?

DAMON: I don‘t know. I don‘t do it.


MATTHEWS: God, you‘re an innocent man. But you—I want to talk more. We‘ve got to talk more about the CIA, because I still am—every time I look at this guy, I think of him as the father in “Meet the Parents.” Anyway, more HARDBALL College Tour with Robert DeNiro and Matt Damon. We‘ll be right back from George Mason University.




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