All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 05/26/15
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN –
TV ANCHOR: An alarming number of shootings this holiday weekend.
HAYES: Nine people are dead and 32 shootings in Baltimore`s most
violent weekend in over a decade.
Meanwhile, tensions flared in Cleveland in the wake of the acquittal
of two cops who shot and killed two Cleveland residents. And the DOJ steps
in to overhaul the police department.
MAYOR FRANK JACKSON (D), CLEVELAND: Today, May 26th, 2015, marks a
new way of policing in the city of Cleveland.
HAYES: Plus, the 500-year flood in Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As the water receded, we`ll start to tow cars to
get those roads open again.
HAYES: A flash flood emergency in Houston as the search for survivors
continues and the state surveys the damage.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: You cannot candy-coat it. This is
HAYES: We`ll go live to Texas for the latest.
Then, Bernie`s running. We`ll tell you why Bernie`s got more support
than Graham, Jindal, Fiorina, Kasich, and Santorum combined.
And I sit down with filmmaker Martin Smith to discuss his upcoming
“Front Line” episode “Obama at War.”
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our finger is on the trigger.
HAYES: ALL IN starts right now.
HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Tensions are high in Cleveland, Ohio, tonight following the acquittal
of Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo in the 2012 shooting death of two
unarmed black suspects. The verdict announced on Saturday set off protests
and fears of further unrest leaving Cleveland`s favorite son, LeBron James,
to step forward and urge calm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEBRON JAMES, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: I think sports in general, no
matter what city it is, you know, if something is going through a city
that`s very, you know, dramatic, traumatizing, any of that case, I think
sports is one of the biggest healers in helping a city out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: A city that is still mourning Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy
shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer this past November while
holding a pellet gun.
The acquittal of Officer Brelo adds only – only puts more pressure on
an already tense relationship between residents and police. Brelo was
acquitted of voluntary manslaughter for his part in a shooting during which
Cleveland police officers fired 137 bullets into a car carrying two unarmed
suspects killing them.
The case became a symbol of the Cleveland police department`s pattern
of excessive force. It led to a federal inquiry, and that inquiry resulted
in a damning report which paints a picture of a department where excessive
force and abuse is retune.
Today, city officials announced they reached an agreement known as a
consent degree, with the Justice Department to address some of those
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: I look at this agreement and the reform in it not as a
program. This is not for us a program. This is, becomes a way in which we
do business in the city of Cleveland. As I said before, it becomes part of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The decree subjects the department to some of the toughest
policing standards in the country, some of which may also seem, frankly,
quite modest. For example, as part of the agreement, Cleveland police are
barred from using head strikes with hard objects like a gun against people
who are handcuffed or restrained. They are instructed to use de-escalation
techniques such as verbal persuasion before resorting to force and told not
to retaliate when individuals verbally confront or disrespect officers.
Joining me now, Nina Turner. She`s former Ohio state senator,
assistant professor at Cuyahoga County Community College.
Nina, I have to say, I`ve been going through the report and some of
the behavior which is now banned under the consent decree, pistol whipping
someone or responding with violent force against a subject who`s being
verbally insubordinate, strike me as things that people shouldn`t have been
doing in the first place.
NINA TURNER (D-OH), FORMER STATE SENATOR: Well, amen to that, Chris,
but as my grandmother used to say, common sense ain`t common. So, we
needed that kind of thing. It`s unfortunate that they need to spell that
out in the consent decree, but here we are.
HAYES: You feel that there`s any timing of this announcement. I
mean, here it is what it`s like watching from afar. You got an update
given by the Tamir Rice investigation I think last week, in which there`s
essentially no progress made. Reports about the fact that those officers
may not be been interviewed by investigators.
You`ve got the Brelo acquittal. You`ve got huge protests. And then,
today, the mayor kind of admit and saying we signed on to this consent
decree which looks to me like me an attempt to sort of calm things down or
take the air out of any growing movement there might be in the streets.
TURNER: I mean, Chris, timing is everything. In all fairness to the
mayor, he and the Department of Justice have been working on figuring out
this consent decree for quite some time, but, you know, it`s necessary, we
do want to let – folks do need to know there are people in authority who
hear their cries and that something is going to be done about this. And
the consent decree is the beginning of a long process.
And, Chris, I know you probably started reading already but there`s
something in the introduction that spoke to my heart, which is mutual trust
and accountability and respect and one that is enduring, and the keyword is
enduring, because the African-American community not just in Cleveland but
all across this nation has been going through this kind of struggle the
entire time. This state of emergency has been one for generations.
African-Americans just didn`t have camera phones at their disposal, but the
cries of a people.
You cannot have large swaths of a population that talks about a system
that is unjust to them and not hear their cries. This is not brand new.
This is not an African-American problem. This is not a Cleveland problem.
This is not a state of Ohio problem. This is an American problem.
And we have to do something about it, and it starts with Cleveland.
HAYES: Well, to the point of it not being brand new, I mean, in fact,
if I`m not mistaken Cleveland entered into a consent decree 12 years ago to
reform patterns of excessive abuse in the police department which I got to
say is kind of a dispiriting historical nugget given what we`re looking at
TURNER: I know, Chris, but you know what, this is the moment. This
is the moment. We can`t get do-overs. We don`t have second, third chances
on this because of what has happened in Cleveland and Ferguson and Beaver
Creek and just all across this country. This is it.
And if we don`t do this now, you know, you think we have problems, so
I understand what happened in 2012, but this is the moment to get this
right. Failure is not an option.
HAYES: Let me ask you this final question. My understanding, you`re
police officer – your son is a police officer, is that right?
TURNER: Yes, he is.
HAYES: Have you guys been having conversations about this? I mean,
what have those exchanges been like?
TURNER: We have. I mean, Chris, it`s heavy. You know, he
understands both sides of this. His dad was a police officer. He is one.
And so, he understands what his responsibilities are. But at the same
time, he is a young African-American male who has been profiled over his
lifetime, so has his dad and a whole host of African-Americans. But he
takes his service, his service to the community.
And that`s what this is. This is about public service to protect and
to serve. But it`s been a very, very heavy time.
And one other point I do want to make, Chris, a mother told me today
that her 7-year-old son – because I was out there today – that her 7-
year-old son asked this question, why are they doing that to people with
brown skin? I have brown skin.
To the point that a young 7-year-old believes that people with brown
skin are targeted, out of the mouths of babes, we have to do something
about this. This is the moment to change this, Chris. We`re going to get
HAYES: All right. Nina Turner, thanks for joining me.
TURNER: Thank you.
HAYES: Memorial Day weekend was one of the worst for the city of
Baltimore in more than a decade. More than 30 shootings, and 9 dead in a
city still reeling from the unrest and aftermath of the death of Freddie
Gray. Traffic was briefly brought to a standstill today on a Baltimore
highway as protests continue a month after Freddie Gray`s death in
Baltimore police custody. The protest led by Pastor Jamal Bryant who gave
the eulogy at Gray`s funeral, were in response to state officials` decision
to fund a new juvenile jail but not allocate money for public schools.
Today`s action comes against the backdrop of the city that has just
experienced its worst month of homicides in 15 years. There have been 35
homicides in Baltimore in the month of May alone, making it the deadliest
month in Baltimore since 1999.
According to Baltimore police, many other city officials, there is a
reason why. Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said referring to the unrest
surrounding Gray`s death, “It was an earthquake kind of time and I think
we`re dealing with the aftershock.”
Joining me, Matt Taibbi, contributor at “Rolling Stone”, just wrote a
piece titled “Why Baltimore Blew Up”, about policing and overpolicing
All right. I`m going to give you the argument I would be making if I
were a conservative host, you know?
MATT TAIBBI, ROLLING STONE: And they are making.
HAYES: And they are making. And it`s very easy.
This is what happens, you have riots, you have disrespect for the law,
you have disorder, you have people burning and throwing rocks. The police
get scared and spooked. They step back.
And into the vacuum, the thin blue line evaporates and you get murder
and mayhem unlike you haven`t seen in 15 years. And it`s – there`s a
certain kind of appeal to that story.
TAIBBI: Sure. That story is going to have headline appeal, but it`s
a very small sample size kind of an argument. I think it`s difficult to
make that argument especially considering, for instance, what happened in
New York in 2014 after stop and frisk was repealed. Everybody was
predicting that crime would run rampant in the streets of New York City.
In fact, crime went down again, as it has been historically over across
country for two decades.
And there`s no real correlation to anybody, any criminologist can
point to between specific policing techniques and the drop in crime or rise
The other thing is, nobody is against law enforcement. They`re
against bad law enforcement. I think that`s the issue in Baltimore.
What people are protesting for is a change to the abusive patterns of
this kind of broken-windows policing. And I think they can still
effectively enforce the law without doing what they`re doing.
HAYES: Well, that`s the question, right? I mean, there`s been, in
the kind of doctrine that a lot of people have adopted there`s a connection
between them, right? We talk about broken windows. The idea is if you let
people do things like graffiti or jump turnstiles, right, that inevitably
leads to an attitude of permissiveness that needs to murder.
HAYES: And so, you have to go upstream, what upstream means is
grabbing people for minor offenses.
What this policy eventually leads to, inevitably, is a situation where
police are forced to go out and create hundreds of thousands of contacts
with the populations in certain parts of certain cities. And what this
does is it creates this endless stream of particularly misdemeanor arrests
and offenses, people who are stopped in the street for things like on
instructing pedestrian traffic, or on instructing government
administration, or riding the wrong way on the sidewalk on a bicycle.
And the courts are clogged with these stupid cases and it creates
amount of hostility in the population and that`s what this kind of policing
leads to. It`s inherently adversarial and creates distrust in the
HAYES: And then you see it – I mean, I think part of the reason the
protests in Baltimore have focused on the funding of this juvenile jail is
that, of course, the backend of that system is building a court system and
jail system to deal with all the people who may get nixed the first time
for a misdemeanor, and then they have a warrant, an outstanding warrant,
maybe they miss a court date next thing you know they`re in juvi.
TAIBBI: It all snowballs. First time you get, what, you get one
minor charge, next time you go to court, next you`re going to be denied
bail. Now, somebody has to take care of you when you`re in jail awaiting
bail. That cost money. Next thing, you`re taking money out of the school
system to pay for an expanding jail system. It all snowballs from there.
This whole idea, this proactive policing policies create their own
gigantic bureaucracies which end up having their own momentum and end up
creating arrests in a way and creating their own kind of criminal
HAYES: But then come back to this original point, right, the idea
that the Baltimore police and Commissioner Batts basically has said this.
He hasn`t quite come out and said this. Basically we`ve taken a step back
because you people, you know, didn`t like what we were doing, you got in
our faces, you videotaped, screamed at us. We take a step back. This is
what happen when you take a step back.
TAIBBI: OK. There`s an argument to be made maybe there`s something
going on in Baltimore like that. But that happened in New York as well.
We had an almost exactly similar kind of slowdown in New York after the
protests following Eric Garner incident and what happened? Nothing. So, I
think it`s very difficult to draw conclusions.
HAYES: The craziest thing is something you mentioned before as a
parenthetical, no one knows what created 20 years of decline in crime.
HAYES: At the heart of this whole conversation is this huge
TAIBBI: Right. Academics all across the country will tell you the
TAIBBI: We have no idea.
HAYES: No idea.
TAIBBI: Violent crimes have been dropping for two decades. The
population, prison population has been expanding during this time and no
one knows why crime is going down.
HAYES: Matt Taibbi, thanks for joining me.
Still ahead, record-setting rains in Texas leave Houston in
floodwaters. Are there signs emerging of another El Nino?
Coming up, a Democrat who may beat the odds of posing a serious
challenge to Hillary Clinton. Senator Bernie Sanders makes it official.
HAYES: If you`re a frequent visitor to the World Wide Web, and I bet
you are, chances are you`ve seen a 404 error page sometime at some point in
your travels. It happens when people in charge of the website move or
delete a post or when you type in the URL incorrectly.
Over the years, the people of the Internet have gotten creative with
the standard 404 web pages. This web design company displays a handy Venn
diagram, what night have landed you on the error page. This software
company has an interactive error page that lets you fire the guy who
couldn`t find the page you were looking for, which means slightly cruel.
LEGO`s error page is also pretty cool.
But the newly launched Bernie Sanders presidential campaign was
apparently looking for a really useful error page. Here`s what happens
when you arrive at broken URL on a Bernie 2016 site.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Hi, this is Senator Bernie Sanders.
The good news is you`re on the right Web site and it`s a really good
Web site. The bad news is you`re on the wrong page. Just scoot down to
the bottom of the page and you`ll find your way back home to where you
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Just scoot on down. Bernie sanders can do more than just
point you in the right direction on his campaign Web site. Why he believes
he could beat Hillary Clinton, ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIE SHIELDS, MISSING WOMAN`S SISTER: We are in a house that is now
floating down the river. Call mom and dad. I love you. And pray.
REPORTER: Those are the last words Julie Shields had with her sister,
Laura. She was on the phone with her when the cabin she was staying in
with her husband, Jonathan, and two kids was carried away in the rushing
SHIELDS: My sister will always be my sister.
REPORTER: The conversation ended when Laura thought she saw a light
from a helicopter above there to rescue them.
SHIELDS: And I just expected to go to the Wimberley High School the
next day and find her, and then when she wasn`t there, I knew something was
very, very wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Two families were vacationing together in a small Texas town
over the weekend when flash floodwaters swept their vacation house off the
ground. House reportedly smashed into a bridge as it was swept downstream.
Today eight of the nine people who were staying there are still missing.
In all, 13 are listed as missing. 18 people are confirmed dead as a result
of the severe weather in Texas and Oklahoma this holiday weekend.
Huge swaths of Houston, America`s fourth largest city, brought to a
near standstill by severe flooding. Mass transit, rail, and bus service
was suspended while the Houston independent school district closed all its
schools and offices today.
According to the Weather Channel, the Houston metro area got nearly a
foot of rain in 24 hours. City`s downtown area was submerged while many of
Houston`s roadways were completely flooded.
After last night`s win over the Warriors, the Houston Rockets advised
fans to wait out the storm as the game ended around 11:00 local time. A
few hundred fans did. Remained at the Toyota Center until early this
For years now, Texas has been suffering from a major drought. In the
last few weeks, hurricane-like rains put an end to that, but the relief has
come at a tremendous cost.
Joining me now, NBC News reporter Charles Hadlock.
And, Charles, what is the latest there in Texas?
CHARLES HADLOCK, NBC NEWS REPORTER: Hi, Chris.
Well, as you mentioned, Houston got hammered overnight with 11 inches
of rain. Six of those inches fell in just one hour alone. It filled this
basin of the Buffalo Bayou just on the edge of downtown.
It also spilled onto freeways and underpasses, trapping people in
their cars. More than a thousand cars were stranded all across the city.
The city has towed already 750 of them off the streets. Two people,
unfortunately, drowned in their vehicles. A third was plucked – a body
was plucked from a tree. And then, a fourth victim was found downstream in
Brays Bayou southwest of here. That was part of a rescue effort earlier
Houston Fire and Rescue sent out boats to more than 500 people
rescuing them. Unfortunately, on one of them, the rescue boat overturned
spilling them into the water. A second rescue boat was able to capture the
firefighters and some of the victims but three of them were swept
downstream. At least one body has been found. They`re still looking for
two other people. An elderly couple ages 85 and 87.
The bad news is that more rain is expected, but the good news is, the
water that`s already here in Buffalo Bayou and other bayous around Houston
are beginning to subside quite a bit.
So, there`s not going to be the travel problem tomorrow that there was
today. It was gridlock as you mentioned. Freeways were under water. But
now, all the main lanes are open. Houston is back open for business.
School will be in session again tomorrow. And Houston maybe can get back
to normal tomorrow.
Back to you, Chris.
HAYES: All right, NBC News reporter Charles Hadlock, appreciate it.
Joining e now to talk about if the severe weather in Texas is
indicator of El Nino, and its return, Radley Horton, climate scientist from
Columbia University Earth Institute.
So, I saw this news then I saw a bunch of people saying this is
another indicator we may be in store for an El Nino this year. I had seen
people writing about a month or two ago saying we`re getting some
indications. What is El Nino? And how do we know if it`s coming?
RADLEY HORTON, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY EARTH INSTITUTE: El Nino is a
global phenomenon, it`s basically a situation where the upper ocean
changes, the upper atmosphere changes all around the globe. It`s almost
like ringing a bell and the effect of ringing that bell changes in global
energy are a shift in wind patterns, it moves the jet stream all over the
It turns places like Indonesia and Australia that normally get a lot
of rain into areas that can have really severe droughts leading to crop
failures, forest fires. It`s associated with droughts in India, droughts
in northeast Brazil, heavy rain in some other areas. It`s a global
HAYES: OK. So how – what role does this flooding play in how we
calculate whether we are getting an El Nino?
HORTON: So I don`t think we can link this particular terrible
flooding event to an El Nino. On average, when we look at the winter
season in the southern U.S., you do see more rain if you shave a strong El
Nino. This time of year the link is not very strong.
But if we do see that El Nino, which is looking more and more like
we`ll see next winter, definitely, you`re shifting the odds, loading the
dice towards above normal rainfall in the southern U.S.
HAYES: When will we – so, how often do these El Ninos come?
HORTON: On average, anywhere between every three and every seven
HAYES: OK, every three and seven. It`s not like a comet, right? So
we don`t know if it`s coming regularly.
What do we start looking for to sort of find out why are people
increasingly confident that`s what we`re headed toward?
HORTON: So, we`re looking for a few things. We`re looking at
surface temperatures in parts of the tropical Pacific Ocean, especially the
Central Pacific and East Pacific along the coast of Peru.
So, one signal is you start to see above normal water temperatures at
the surface. If those water temperatures are also above normal with depth,
then that starts to have some power.
HAYES: So, there`s this sort of energy that`s kind of burbling,
right? It`s getting hotter and hotter and it`s going to send those
patterns across the world.
HORTON: And you get started quickly enough, you get feedback where
the changes in the ocean impact the surface winds in a way that can
reinforce the ocean warming, so you can kind of lock into the pattern.
That what gives you the predictability.
HAYES: Obviously, there`s been talk about the California drought,
Texas has been suffering a drought for a while. How common is it places
find themselves in drought and punctuated by intense flooding?
HORTON: So, this is, I say it`s exceptional just how extreme we`ve
gone into this heavy rain. Parts of Oklahoma have had 20 inches or more of
rain. Extremely heavy rain events as we expect to see with increasing
greenhouse gases, but also day after day this persistence. So, it`s rare
for the switch to be that strong.
Having said, I did hear that there was a drought in the `50s in this
region where things turned pretty quickly from drought to wet but not this
HAYES: All right. Radley Horton. Thanks for joining us. Really
HORTON: Thank you. Good to be here.
HAYES: All right. Still ahead, ISIS` own version of shock and awe,
and its ruthless success. Former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Christopher
Hill, joins me to discuss.
And next, the second Democratic candidate to declare for the
presidential race, Senator Bernie Sanders.
HAYES: In a new interview with CNBC today, Senator Bernie Sanders had
a pretty interesting response when asked about Hillary Clinton and Bill
Clinton having earned at least $30 million in the past year and a half,
mostly from paid speeches.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: When you hustle money like this, you don`t sit in
restaurants like this. You sit in restaurants where you`re spending – I
don`t know what they spend – hundreds of dollars for dinner and so forth.
That`s the world that you`re accustom to and that`s the world view that you
adopt. I`m not going to condemn Hillary and Bill Clinton because they made
a lot of money. That type of wealth can – you know, it has the potential
to isolate you from the reality of the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Sanders formally kicked off his campaign with the Democratic
presidential nomination with a rip roaring speech in his home state of
Vermont today which he called for among other things public financing in
campaigns. We`re going to bring you all the sights and sounds shortly.
Sanders acknowledged to CNBC that he faces long odds against Hillary
Clinton. He insists those odds are not insurmountable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: I fully concede that I can enter this race as a major
underdog. No question about it. As I said before, though, don`t under –
don`t underestimate me. I think we`re going to do better than people
think, and I think we got a shot to win this thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: The issue of wealth and income
inequality is the great moral issue of our time, it is the great economic
issue of our time, it is the great political issue of our time and we will
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It is official. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders is running
for president as a Democrat. He kicked off his campaign in earnest today
with a speech in his home state of Vermont calling for single payer health
care system, an increase in the minimum wage to $15, reforming campaign
financing, and overturning Citizens United, rethinking U.S. trade policy,
breaking up large financial institutions, making higher education free,
taxing carbon to address climate change, and expanding Social Security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Today we stand here and say loudly and clearly, enough is
enough. This great nation and its government belong to all of the people
and not to a handful of billionaires.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Sanders had a sort of soft launch for his campaign late last
month and got off to a surprisingly strong start, with social media
enthusiasm and robust fundraising, including raising more than $1.5 million
in just the 24 hours after he announced his run.
Still, Sanders is obviously the David to Hillary Clinton`s Goliath in
the race for the Democratic presidential nomination as reflected both in
organizational and fundraising advantage, and in the current polling, which
shows Clinton with the support of 64 percent of Democratic voters, and
Sanders at just 7 percent behind two Democrats who appear unlikely to enter
Now, it doesn`t mean Sanders doesn`t have a real constituency. When
you measure in terms of actual voters, as this chart from the Washington
shows, Sanders has nearly as much support as a presidential candidate as
Republicans Rick Santorum, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal and
Lindsey Graham combined.
But does he actually have a really chance to win? Joining me from the
site of Sanders` kickoff speech in Burlington, Vermont is John Nichols,
Washington correspondent for The Nation.
All right, John, first of all give me a sense of the scene there.
There was a ton of people, and what struck me was, you know, Bernie Sanders
I think is familiar to people who are progressives in the U.S. You see him
on this network as a sort of gadfly. Here he was in this real presidential
campaign kind of style theatrics of a big crowd, and cheering, and the
signs, and the whole thing.
JOHN NICHOLS, THE NATION: Yeah, it really was. And they had a theme
to it. This is a waterfront that Bernie Sanders as mayor of Burlington,
the better part of 30 years ago, worked to keep open and make sure it was a
great public space, and they filled that public space today.
If you were here at about 4:30, 5:00 this afternoon, you saw people
literally flooding into the park. Police were estimating a better part of
5,000 folks. And it was a remarkably robust and energetic rally.
HAYES: OK. So the real question here is, you know, does he have a
chance? What is this race going to look like? You`re a very savvy
chronicler of American politics, despite, I think maybe your rooting
interest in a person you also politically vibe with. What`s your read on
Look, Bernie Sanders says that this race would require a political
revolution for him to get the Democratic nomination and obviously to go on
and win the presidency. I don`t think that`s a casually chosen set of
words. A political revolution means everything changes in a big way.
Now, their theory, if you talk to the Sanders aides and campaigners,
is that they go very, very strong into Iowa and New Hampshire, the
traditional first states. They get better than expected showings there.
They pull some wins in caucus states early on, and then they look for a
real showdown in a big state like Michigan, perhaps – again, quite early
on. And they go for it. They go for that shock appeal moment.
But all of those things are, again, posited on the notion they`ve got
to – they basically have to start a prairie fire that would be epic and
relatively unprecedented in American politics.
HAYES: A big part of this is, to me, Bernie Sanders says he doesn`t
want to attack Hillary Clinton, that`s not why he got into this race. And
IU understand that. And I think it`s admirable in certain ways.
But the way that you win when you`re running a certain campaign is you
have to attack the front-runner. The political logic of that is very, very
difficult to avoid.
Do you see that changing as we go on in this campaign?
NICHOLS: It`s not going to happen, Chris, at least as best I can
imagine. I`ve covered Bernie Sanders going back to his early congressional
races, and the
fact of the matter is he just doesn`t do the personal attacks. He loves
the issues. He gets very intensely into them. You heard this speech
today. It was a, you know, very, very hard-core issue-oriented speech with
a lot of detail, lot of
And the fact of the matter is I think that Bernie Sanders believes
that in the expected six debates with Hillary Clinton, hitting very, very
hard on the issues is maybe the best way to corner her. But I just don`t
think you`re going to hear the personal hits that I think a lot of people
expect in politics. It`s really not his style, and also I think, frankly,
he wouldn`t deliver them very well.
I read the speech today, I watched the speech and then I read it, and
there was a lot in it that I personally like and agree with profoundly.
It was interesting to note, to me, an omission. And you can obviously
nitpick any speech, what`s not included. But given the news out of
today, given what`s going on with Baltimore, there really was no mention,
as far as I could tell, and reading it over a few times, over-policing,
mass incarceration, these issues.
And it struck me as a missed opportunity I think a little bit,
particularly when you`re thinking about trying to build some sort of
coalition within a Democratic primary to take on somebody like Hillary
NICHOLS: I couldn`t agree with you more, Chris. I think that`s right.
The senator referenced exceptionally high unemployment among African-
American youth, and clearly in the context of the very class and economics-
oriented speech referenced, that concern – and a number of others that I
speaks broadly to a lot of folks, but this is a candidate who attended the
march on Washington in `63, who organized for civil rights, who actually
has a lot of history here. And frankly, I think he`s going to need to and
probably be very pleased to give a speech where he goes hard-core into
these issues. They can not be unaddressed. They have to be a part of any
insurgent campaign in 2016.
HAYES: And I think we`re going to see it increasingly as more central
the presidential campaign even when we get to the stage of the two
John Nichols there in Burlington, Vermont, which looks like a real
tough gig, John.
NICHOLS: It`s a tough, hard night in Burlington.
HAYES: Enjoy. Thanks a lot.
Still ahead, did Defense Secretary Ashton Carter make a gaffe when he
said the Iraqi forces showed no will to fight ISIS or was he simply telling
the truth or, you know, both? I`ll ask the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq.
HAYES: Pope Francis, who`s turned out to be one of the more
progressive pontiffs in recent history, reveals he has not watched
television since 1990. The pope told an Argentine newspaper he made a vow
to the Virgin Mary he would never tune in again, according to a translation
by Newsweek and hasn`t watched TV since July 15th, 1990.
AS noted by Newsweek that means the pope missed TV blockbusters like
Friends and American Idol, but was spared the entire swath of reality-based
TV including Jersey Shore.
But what the pope might have seen just in the nick of time, the May
1990 series finale of Newheart, which at the time offered a pretty classic
ending with our protagonist Dick Lowden, Vermont innkeeper, played by Bob
Newheart, wakes up into his previous sitcom The Bob Newheart Show in which
his character was psychologist Bob Hartley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB NEWHEART, COMEDIAN/ACTOR: Wake up. You won`t believe the dream I
just had. Don`t you want to hear about it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, Bob. What is it?
NEWHEART: I was an innkeeper in this crazy little town in Vermont.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All right, so my theory – and hear me out – is the pope saw
that and said there`s no way they`re ever going to top this. So we`re off
HAYES: Iraqi forces are launching a major campaign to take back the
city of Ramadi, a key area is militants seized last week. As one State
Department official told The New York Times, the U.S. strategy has been to
work with Iraqi leadership to, quote, consolidate the retreating Iraqi
forces, many of whom were physically and psychologically traumatized by car
bombs used by ISIS in the fighting.
A State Department official telling The Times the Ramadi offensive
involved 30 car bombs, including 10 that were each roughly the size of
those in the Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people and took out
entire city blocks in the Iraqi city.
Just you read that and you just gloss over it, but think about that
for a moment. Imagine the sheer horror and fear of those watching ten
Oklahoma city-sized bombings happening in quick succession in the heart of
a city. And think
about what would go through the minds of the Iraqi soldiers watching or
caught in the ensuing chaos and blood.
All that is, of course, quite intentional. ISIS has been highly
in employing those kinds of tactics, bringing massive shock and awe
campaigns to the cities they are in the process of capturing as a means of
intimidating their enemies before actually getting down to fighting them.
President Obama described the fall of Ramadi as a tactical setback,
noting the administration`s strategy in Iraq and Syria would not change.
But over the weekend, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter questioned the
ability of Iraqi security forces to take on ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASHTON CARTER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: What apparently happened was
that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not
outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet
they failed to fight. They withdrew from the site. And that says, to me,
and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the
Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Those comments prompting Vice President Joe Biden to call the
Iraqi prime minister reassure him of U.S. support in efforts to retake
Earlier tonight I spoke with former ambassador to Iraq Christopher
Hill. I asked him about ISIS and its developing sophistication.
CHRISTOPHER HILL, FRM. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: Well, first of all, it`s
important to understand with respect to Ramadi, they had something like 120
fighters so this is not high-intensity warfare. This was really amounted
Iraqi army that just wasn`t up for it.
Now, why the American secretary of defense points that out publicly,
well, it`s hard to say but I think it reflects a considerable amount of
frustration with them.
But I don`t see really the overall gist of this is that somehow ISIS
is on the ascendancy. I think it reflects a low point for the Iraqi army
and frankly for some of our strategy in terms of training up that Iraqi
HAYES: Well, but it strikes me the issue here is deeper than
training, right? I mean, the idea was that there`s some technocratic
solution in terms of we can train these troops, but it seems to me there`s
a deeper question here about whether these individuals want to possibly die
for whatever it is they are fighting, particularly if they have no faith in
the state for which they are dying or the state will be able to hold those
gains once they make those sacrifices.
HILL: Well, I don`t think this largely Shia army has much faith in
the idea that the Sunnis are going to sort of come together with them and
live happily ever
after together. I think there`s a view in the Shia army that why should
they be fighting for Sunni land? After all, the Sunnis have made it
abundantly clear that they`d like out, they`d like their own state.
And so I think it is essentially, as you suggest, kind of a
fundamental political question. Haider al Abadi, the Shia prime minister
has done his best to do outreach to the Sunnis but I don`t see a lot of
Sunni willingness to live under the Shia. And that`s the essential problem
with Iraq – and by the way, it`s been an essential problem for a long,
HAYES: Well, that does seem to be the issue that we keep kind of
lapping around, right, because what we saw in Ramadi isn`t different from
what we saw in Mosul. And in the intervening months there was a new
strategy or we`re going to train them or we`re going to form a new
government and this one is really going to really be the inclusive one.
We keep hearing the same kind of slogans and mottoes about what the
Iraqi state should be. Somehow it doesn`t develop. You have to sort of
what point you try something else?
HILL: Well, I mean, I don`t think we`re ready to sign on to
dismembering the Iraqi state. I mean, show me a change of international
borders there, and I`ll show you another war.
HILL: So I`m not there yet, but I`m certainly there with the idea
that the Sunnis have never accepted a Shia-led Iraq. After all, it would
be the only Shia-led state in the entire Arab Middle East.
And you have to remember that even though the Sunnis are only some –
Arab Sunnis, that is, are only some 20 percent of Iraq, they feel a kind of
strategic depth going right back into Morocco because they only – only
Sunnis run Arab governments in the Middle East with the exception of Syria.
So there is a real problem there. There`s been a real problem for a
long time. This sectarianism didn`t just start recently. It`s been
around. And I think we have to deal with it maybe a little more honestly
and not just think this is some simple political problem of Sunni outreach.
And I also wonder how – how you understand the sectarian tensions
that are so at play here. There are kind of two ways of thinking about it.
One is that they reach back forever, and there have been conflicts around
these sort of doctrinal differences for a long time. The other is that
these are born of, chaos, war, and destruction, and that people get rather
tribal in that everyone of every kind of background – that if the U.S.
government fell tomorrow, you`d find Americans getting extremely tribal
very quickly. And that`s really what`s going on here.
HILL: Well, I think you put your finger on it. Obviously, the issue
has been around a long time, but it doesn`t mean they`ve been at each
other`s throats for a long time.
What has happened, though, is when you take civil authority away,
albeit a hideous civil authority in the form of Sunni dictator Saddam
Hussein, people revert to other forms of loyalty. And in the case of Iraq,
they very much reverted to a kind of sectarian sense of loyalty.
So, clearly there has to be some rebuilding of the state, but the
problem is the Sunnis just don`t accept the indignity of living under the
Shia. They resent this concept. And that`s why we have not had a lot of
support from other Arab
countries all of whom are Sunni and none of whom regard the ascendancy of
the Shia in Iraq as being good news by any stretch of the imagination.
HAYES: Former Ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill, always a
pleasure. Thank you.
HILL: Thank you.
HAYES: Stunning story of what the Obama administration`s war machine
faced with the assent of ISIS. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were there plans for how to react to the fall of
GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Well, no.
There were not because, of course – they said, look, there were several
things that surprised us about ISIL: the degree to which they were able to
form their own coalition, both inside of Syria and inside of northwestern
Iraq, the military capability that they exhibited, the collapse of the
Iraqi security forces.
Yeah. In those initial days, there were a few surprises.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s General Martin Dempsey admitting the Pentagon did not
have a contingency plan in place when ISIS took the city of Mosul in June
2014. He`s featured in the latest remarkable documentary from Frontline on
PBS. It`s call “Obama at War.” It shows an administration coping with the
rise of an Islamic State and a president faced with the grim reality of the
I`m joined now by producer Martin Smith.
OK, Martin, having worked on this for a while now, you know, I keep
what was it like in the situation room when the person had to come in and
say, Mosul has fallen? Or a week ago when someone had to come in and say,
120 ISIS fighters just took Ramadi?
MARTIN SMITH, PRODUCER, OBAMA AT WAR: Right.
It`s not good news. I mean, what – yeah. I mean, there have been,
you know, one surprise after another for many months now. Even before the
fall of Mosul, remember, that Fallujah fell in January of 2014 then it was
June that Mosul fell.
It wasn`t as if no one saw them coming. The administration was
getting warnings all along from the ambassadors in the region and from the
Maliki`s government was saying, look, we need more help, things are
HAYES: There`s a variety of questions we`re confronted with as we
look at this situation and that are presented both in the last film you
did, which is about the rise of ISIS, and this one. One is, are we doing
the right thing? You know, is the strategy – is there a strategy? Is the
strategy being pursued?
And then the deeper question is about the limits of American power in
the region which is can things actually be done? Which is the much harder
question. It`s much easier to say, well, if we`d done x, y, and z. The
harder thing is to say, maybe we can`t really…
Look, there`s a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going on. It`s
very easy to take shots at the president, because as Palmyra falls, as
Ramadi falls, as Mosul fell, you can say, we should have done this and if
we had done that, that wouldn`t have happened.
But we don`t know. There`s no sort of control in the experiment that
shows you what would have happened if we had done something differently.
So our film really lays out a narrative, and I think that`s the
contribution of putting everything in context and seeing who was saying
what and when. And going back to 2011.
In the midst of the Arab Spring, everybody was optimistic, everybody
in region said that Assad had months to go, he would fall. He opens fire
on the demonstrations. He shows a willingness to be as brutal as his
more so. And tens of thousands, now a couple hundred thousand are dead.
We lay out the – it`s really in a sense about the president at war
with himself because as you say, it`s a very difficult series of decisions
to make. Do you arm these rebels? You know, do you draw a red line? What
do you do now that you`ve drawn a red line?
So we take you through that narrative and put it all together in one
place. And I think that`s the – there`s a synthesis in that and a better
understanding of what`s happened.
HAYES: And it seems like if there`s a sort of through line that this
White House`s approach in this conflict, which now I think we can say spans
the border, whatever is left of the border which has been essentially
eviscerated, it is basically not getting sucked back in. That`s seems to
be the guiding ethos here.
SMITH: Absolutely. Well, he came to office with that promise, we`re
not going to do this anymore, let`s not do stupid stuff, right?
And you know we had a president who reacted very quickly, the previous
president, The Decider. Here, you know, this president mulls these
carefully, very deliberately. And people will say, certainly the Syrian
opposition that wanted support from the United States, will say he`s at
fault for that.
But he`s educated by – he took the lesson of Iraq. He took the
Afghanistan. And these are not – and our record of going into these
countries whether it`s Moammar Gadhafi or Saddam Hussein, it doesn`t turn
out very well.
So we have decades of experience really in the Middle East that show
that we don`t really know how to fix these things.
HAYES: That, I think, is the most sort of profound thing that sort of
looms all over this entire enterprise.
A fantastic piece of work as was the last film you did. Everyone
should check it out. Martin Smith, thanks for your time. Really
Obama at War premieres tonight on PBS. You can check your local
And that is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts
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