MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL, overlooking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
For the first time since September 11, 2001, National Guard troops have been ordered to patrol Logan International Airport in Boston. Governor Mitt Romney issued the order this morning and he joins us now from Boston. Governor, what will the army troops, the National Guard troops be able to do there that the airport police can‘t?
GOV. MITT ROMNEY ®, MASSACHUSETTS: Well, frankly, the real reason they‘re there is because we don‘t have enough airport security personnel and TSA personnel to man the double number of points for inspection that we‘ve had in the past. We‘ve always had one single place for security checkpoint.
Now we have a checkpoint at gates, as well as at the security point. We have to double our number of personnel, almost, and there just aren‘t enough people ready to do that. And that‘s why the National Guard has to step in and play that key role.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of Bob Baer, the expert who just came on and said that the problem now isn‘t so much the detection of metal objects that could‘ve been used—that certainly were used in 9/11 and could be used again, because these liquids are undetectable and therefore we‘re going to be in the situation that the Israelis are in, where you really have to detect the criminal intent of the passenger.
How are we going to have the logistical capability to conduct those kinds of lengthy examinations of people before they get on a shuttle to D.C., for example?
ROMNEY: Well, I think what this particular experience has taught us is one more time, the only way to effectively protect the homeland is not by inspecting every possible source of attack, but rather to do effective intelligence and counterterrorism work. That‘s what the British have shown us again.
You have to find the bad guys, reveal the plots before they carry them out, because the number of ways that people can attack us and the number of possible targets is so large that you can‘t protect every single asset, every single human, every single airplane, building, hospital, school. You have to find the bad guys and get them out of our country before they attack us.
MATTHEWS: Well, there‘s the tough stuff, because, as you know, you‘ve got to make decisions regarding civil liberties and national security which often come in conflict. How do we really do a great job of surveillance if we have people who are very concerned in this country about the Fourth Amendment and other guarantees of our freedom?
ROMNEY: Well, of course, we have to respect our Constitutional guarantees of freedom, recognize that the most important civil right we have is the right to life. And we need to make sure that our citizens are protected and don‘t lose their lives by virtue of not having done an effective job to survey those who would attack us.
Fortunately, in Great Britain, they have a very tough Patriot Act equivalent which allows them to do the kind of surveillance that identifies this plot before five or 10 aircraft end up killing all on board.
That‘s the most important thing that we have to do is to protect our citizens, and we can do it within a constitutional framework that we‘ve come to know and love. But intelligence work and counterterrorism has once again been proven as the only effective way to protect the homeland.
MATTHEWS: How do we do that? I‘m sure you‘ve traveled to Israel and gone through those interviews where they‘re very extensive. I remember back when I got out of the Peace Corps, they asked me what was I doing with a typewriter, was I going to write anything about the country, really invasive kinds of questioning to try to get at your political intent because that‘s the only way Israel has retained its 100 percent safety record with regard to hijacking. Can we get that tough?
ROMNEY: Well, we‘re going to be as tough as we have to be to protect our citizens from the kind of criminals that want to kill them. I was at Logan Airport today, as people were having their bags checked one more time just before they got on the aircraft.
They were checked first at the security checkpoint, now at the gate checkpoint. And I asked people going on board, do you find this intrusive, are you bothered by this? And they said, no, we‘re glad you‘re doing it. The American people want to be safe as they travel. They want the airline industry to be safe and effective and on time. They want the hotel industry to be able to accommodate passengers.
Look, this is an extremely high priority for our country, to protect our citizens, and the most effective tool we have currently is intelligence and anti-terrorism efforts. But, of course, we‘re also going to use every means of technology we have to protect citizens at the airport and to have those devices in place that can identify attack weapons and the like. But there‘s no way you can find every possible weapon and secure every possible target. It‘s just impossible. Instead, you have to go after the bad guys.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.
P.S. Gov. Pataki (NY) followed where they called up the national gaurd as well . . . and, as mentioned before, Schwartzeneger in CA did as well.