The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/15/09
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thank you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
“The New Yorker‘s” Jane Mayer is here tonight, as we learn about what sure looks like the Bush administration breaking its own convoluted rules on torture. Fired U.S. attorney, David Iglesias, will also be here live in the next hour. There‘s lots to come.
But we begin tonight with new developments in a story that is now moving faster than even its own politics. Revelations today about a legal gap between what was authorized by Bush administration lawyers and what was actually done to prisoners in U.S. custody during the Bush administration -a gap between what was and it continues to be the explanation for why torture was so necessary and the real circumstances in which torture was actually done.
In 2006, President Bush explained the specific circumstances he thought justified the CIA‘s network of secret prisons and the torture program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: A small number of suspected terrorist leaders and operatives captured during the war have been held and questioned outside the United States, in a separate program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency. These are dangerous men with unparalleled knowledge about terrorist networks and their plans of new attacks. Security of our nation and the lives of our citizens depend on our ability to learn what these terrorists know. I can say that questioning the detainees in this program has given us information that has saved innocent lives by helping us stop new attacks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Helping us stop new attacks. That justification was not just the political justification made by the president to the nation in public—that was also the secret legal justification, too. We now know that when the Bush Justice Department approved the torture program in 2002, that approval was contingent on the need to stop new attacks against the U.S. It‘s right at the beginning of that August 2002 memo that says torture‘s OK.
It says, quote, “Our advice is based upon the following facts, and this opinion is limited to these facts. If these facts were to change, this advice would not necessarily apply. The interrogation team is certain that Abu Zubaydah is withholding information regarding plans to conduct attacks within the United States or against our interest overseas. In light of the information you believe Zubaydah has, and the high level of threat you believe now exists, you wish to move the interrogations into what you described as an increased pressure phase.”
What that means is that this ill-conceived, legally dubious memo gave the go-ahead to waterboard only in order to prevent another attack. It was the so-called ticking time bomb scenario. That was the public justification and that was the secret legal justification.
And now, in this “here comes a new piece of information” everyday, post-torture world that we‘re living in, we are getting evidence upon evidence that waterboarding—which was only purportedly legal to use in the case of an imminent attack—waterboarding was used for other reasons. So, conceivably it wasn‘t even legal under the Bush torture memos.
Exhibit A came yesterday from former NBC News investigative producer Bob Windrem. Windrem revealed that Vice President Cheney‘s office suggested an Iraqi intelligence officer be waterboarded, to try to prove a link that the White House believed existed between Iraq and al Qaeda—not to help us stop a new attack, but to help us justify a war that we had already launched on Iraq.
That officer wasn‘t captured until April ‘03. The government of Saddam was gone; the statue of Saddam had been pulled down in Fardus Square. But the suggestion came down to use the waterboard on him anyway, to try to find that al Qaeda link that would retroactively justify the invasion.
Then today, news first reported by “Huffington Post‘s” Sam Stein about Khalid Shaikh Muhammad. KSM was captured on March 1st, 2003. That month, he was waterboarded 183 times. What we now know from the intelligence committee is that U.S. officials who interrogated KSM and who waterboarded him were asking him first and foremost about a link between Iraq and al Qaeda.
From that report, quote, “Counterterrorism Center noted that the questions regarding al Qaeda‘s ties to the Iraqi regime were among the first presented to senior al Qaeda operational planner Khalid Shaikh Muhammad following his capture.”
Now, I said, evidence upon evidence. Here we go. You ready?
The pressure to use techniques like waterboarding to find the link between Iraq and al Qaeda is further corroborated by an Army psychiatrist present at these high value detainee interrogations. His name is Major Paul Burney.
And he told the Senate Armed Services Committee, quote, “Even though they were giving some information, and some of it was useful, while we were there, a large part of the time we were focusing—excuse me—we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaeda and Iraq and we were not being successful in establishing a link between al Qaeda and Iraq. The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish this link—there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”
And if you want evidence with your evidence upon evidence, how about more from a high-ranking Bush administration official at that time? The chief of staff to the secretary of state, Lawrence Wilkerson, after appearing on this show on Tuesday night, revealed at “The Washington Note” that, quote, “As the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002, its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al Qaeda.”
Want more? OK. An anonymous former senior U.S. intelligence official tells “McClatchy‘s” Jonathan Landay that one of the reasons, quote, “These interrogations were so persistent and why extreme methods were used, was that for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were demanding proof of the links between al Qaeda and Iraq.”
This is all unfolding so fast now that Washington politics can‘t really keep up. What seems to be emerging factually from multiple sources is that waterboarding was used to try to come up with a link between Iraq and al Qaeda which may mean that waterboarding was done outside, even the rickety legal construct that the Bush administration built to support it.
Joining us now is Jane Mayer. She‘s a staff writer for “The New
Yorker Magazine.” She‘s author of the bestselling book, “The Dark Side:
The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals.”
Jane Mayer, thank you so much for your time tonight.
JANE MAYER, THE NEW YORKER: Glad to be with you.
MADDOW: We‘re trying to figure out the role of Vice President Cheney‘s office here in part, on the torture issue, the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq.
From your reporting, what can you tell us about what sort of interests Cheney took personally in the intelligence that was gleaned from these interrogations?
MAYER: Well, I mean, I think we‘re beginning to learn more and more about this. He is described in my book by the number two person in the Justice Department, James Comey, as having become obsessive basically after 9/11, with the threat of terrorism.
And you can see it more and more, really. I mean, he‘s been speaking out so often he‘s becoming the face and the defense for these programs, really. And he was—I think, if you look at it carefully, many of the fingerprints go back to his office. And we‘re beginning to sort of, you know, connect those dots now.
MADDOW: And he was going through raw intelligence at this time, in terms of the lead-up, post-9/11, pre-invasion of Iraq, he was not only getting briefed, receiving the same kind of information the president was getting, he was also going through the raw materials, wasn‘t he?
MAYER: Well, what happened after 9/11 was, he was dissatisfied with the kind of information that had been given to them from the CIA. And so, they demanded just every single piece of scrap of information about threats that might be coming towards the United States. And at his direction, they took away the filter that the CIA had had, where previously, before 9/11 the president, the vice president, people who are not intelligence experts had only been told about things that were really possibly important.
After 9/11, they sought everything. It was called the Threat Matrix Report. It was this extensive thing they started every morning. Cheney started every morning with The Matrix Report and then went through it all again, sitting down with the president. So, he did it twice every day.
And it was described to me by some of the more expert intelligence officials, Roger Cressey, who worked in the NSC, as filled with garbage—just completely alarming stuff that would just make anybody lose their judgment. Somebody else described it to me as like being locked into a room with Led Zeppelin playing—I mean, you just would lose your mind looking at this stuff. And they started it every day looking at these things.
So that was kind of the mindset they were in. Then, you know, there were reports of Cheney going over to the CIA and personally taking great involvement in the issue. There were reports that he had a reading room set aside for himself over there.
Not all the details are out. I don‘t know whether or not—how many of times he went over there. There are a number of people who say he was there a lot, and pushing so hard on this front.
MADDOW: Jane, I know that—you know, we haven‘t seen it yet, but we know in 2004, the CIA inspector general came out with a report that everybody describes as quite damming on the enhanced interrogation program. The report is still classified. It‘s expected it might get released at some point sometime soon.
Do you know how Cheney reacted when that report was first issued in 2004?
MAYER: Well, yes. I mean, this is another example where you see Cheney in action.
Basically, when that report came out, it was a secret report. It was given to just a few people. But all hell broke loose inside the sort of the top ranks of the government—because basically, the inspector general of the CIA, who is the watchdog, was saying this program is criminal. All kinds of lines have been crossed - in the KSM interrogation among others.
And Cheney was apparently incredibly incensed. And he asked to have the independent watchdog of the CIA come to his office for a private chat. What happened in that chat, we still don‘t really know. But just the fact that he—the vice president—who doesn‘t usually have a role in intelligence matters, was calling the inspector general of the CIA in to basically, I think, call him on the carpet saying, to defend these interrogation programs, is really unusual.
I spoke to one of the other inspector generals at the CIA just to check this with him. I called Fred Hitz and I said, “You know, when you were inspector general of the CIA, did you hear from the vice president? Did they ever call you into their office over there in the White House?”
And he said, no, I mean, it‘s incredibly unusual. This is really strange.
So again, you sort of see how involved Cheney was.
MADDOW: What‘s emerging is this portrait of Cheney being involved in—not only everyday matters—but in just the incredible minutia of everyday matters. Which I think if—I mean, depending on what happens in terms of accountability, I think will be a really important textual thing to know, in terms of just how involved and engaged and directive he was about things going on with intelligence.
Jane Mayer, author of the bestselling .
MADDOW: Sorry, go ahead. Let me allow you to respond to that.
MAYER: I was just going to say, a lot of this is still not really known. It‘s hard to see, because there‘s been a great report done by the Senate Armed Services Committee, we know a lot about what happened in the Pentagon. What happened with the CIA and the relationship with Cheney‘s office is still not known. I think it‘s one of the reason why there‘s really got to be more kind of independent inquiry into this thing. But there‘s a lot we still don‘t know.
MADDOW: Jane Mayer, author of the bestselling book, “The Dark Side”
thank you so much for your time tonight. I look forward to your continued reporting on the subject. Jane, thanks.
MAYER: Thanks a lot. Great to be with you.
MADDOW: President Obama has decided to restart the Bush era military tribunals for some prisoners at Guantanamo. And story that contains the words “restart,” “Bush era” and “Guantanamo,” not good.
And, Karl Rove testified today about firing federal prosecutors. That only took—forever. We‘ll have more on that in a moment with one of those fired prosecutors.
MADDOW: The security contracting firm Blackwater has lost its license to operate in Iraq, but it is still operating in Afghanistan. And “The Wall Street Journal” reports today that four Blackwater affiliated contractors have been fired and are being held in Afghanistan after they got in a car accident and then shot up a civilian Afghan vehicle. Two Afghan civilians were hospitalized. The contractors were off-duty at that time. They were carrying weapons they were not authorized to be carrying, and at least some of the four men had reportedly been drinking.
Nice. You know, after Blackwater became synonymous with unaccountable profiteering thugs getting drunk and shooting up civilians in Iraq, they had to get a new logo and changed their name to She (ph) or Zee or whatever. I prefer She, naturally. I wonder what they‘ll have to change their name to now. And wonder when the Obama administration is going to get these guys off the payroll?
MADDOW: If it‘s Friday, the Obama administration must be announcing another jaw-dropping decision on civil liberties. Today, the White House said it restart the military tribunal system at Guantanamo—the same system that President Obama rejected when he was a candidate for president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: As president, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act, and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing with the terrorist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was then, this is Friday. The Bush—I mean, Obama administration released a statement today saying that the president now believes that with some reforms, the tribunal system can be an avenue for administering justice alongside real courts. And when you make a blatant 180 on an issue as fundamental as this, this is what your press briefings devolve into.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED HENRY, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The president—pardon me—flatly said, “I will reject,” used the word “reject” to the Military Commissions Act. He‘s not rejecting it today. He‘s embracing the Bush law .
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No.
HENRY: . with tweaks. He‘s embracing that law by saying, “I want to tweak it.”
GIBBS: I‘m buying a car except I‘m changing the engine and painting it a different color.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Oh, it‘s a different color. Military tribunals are a different color now. Is that all? Why is everybody so upset?
Joining us now is Air Force Major David Frakt. He‘s defense counsel with the Office of Military Commissions, which administers the tribunals at Guantanamo. He‘s defending a young man named Mohammed Jawad, who was a teenager when he was arrested and is still in Guantanamo.
Major Frakt, thank you so much for joining us again.
MAJ. DAVID JR. R. FRAKT, REPRESENTS GUANTANAMO PRISONER: My pleasure.
MADDOW: President Obama froze the military commissions when he came into office. He gave himself until May 20th to decide what to do.
How does this decision today affect you and what‘s going to happen to your client?
FRAKT: Well, it means my client is left languishing in Guantanamo for another four months. Today, the prosecutors filed a motion for an additional 120-day delay in his case, so that‘s the most immediate impact.
MADDOW: The president is announcing some changes to the commissions
evidence will be inadmissible if it was obtained through cruel, inhumane or degrading interrogation methods. Hearsay is restricted and there are some other reforms.
In your—to your mind—are those transformative changes or are these just minor tweaks?
FRAKT: Well, these are really just minor incremental changes. I think it‘s important to note something that President Obama said in his statement today. He said that these reforms will begin to restore the commissions as a legitimate form for prosecution. And I think there‘s a long way to go.
Coerced evidence is still admissible under these proposed rule changes.
FRAKT: Hearsay evidence is still widely, broadly admissible under these proposed rule changes.
So, they are minor tweaks. And, you know, when President Obama promised changes in policies, we thought he was going to change from President Bush‘s policies, not that he was going to change his own policies.
MADDOW: Do you feel that—even with these reforms as proposed—and we don‘t know exactly how they‘re going to play out because they‘re just being proposed—do you feel like it is possible for your client to get justice through the tribunal system?
FRAKT: Well, that would be a minor miracle. I mean, the amazing thing about Mohammed Jawad‘s case is that the case is so weak and the evidence is so insubstantial that I think that we might have actually won even under these incredibly slanted rules. But—I mean, for the typical defendant, you would not want to be tried under the rules and procedures under the Military Commissions Act. And these changes really don‘t fix the fundamental flaws with the commissions.
MADDOW: Would you object to your client being charged in a normal, federal court the way we used to try terrorism suspects?
FRAKT: Well, of course, he is a juvenile. So, I would expect him to be treated as one.
My objection would be that he didn‘t commit any crime. And, you know, so—but I would welcome—all we‘ve ever asked for is, you know, our day in court and a fair trial in which we could prove his innocence. And we‘ve been denied that.
You know, he—the Military Commissions Act is supposed to guarantee a speedy trial within 120 days. This is now the second 120-day delay that they‘ve asked for, and that‘s after proceedings have been going on since October 2007 in his case.
So, you know, justice delayed is justice denied. And that‘s what‘s happening to Mohammed Jawad and some of these other detainees.
MADDOW: How long has your client been at Guantanamo?
FRAKT: He‘s been there since February 6th, 2003 and he‘s been in U.S. custody since December 17th, 2002.
MADDOW: Air Force Major David Frakt, defense counsel with the Office of Military Commissions—thank you for joining us again, and thanks for your service.
FRAKT: My pleasure, Rachel. Thanks for keeping us on the headlines.
Nancy Pelosi‘s claim that the CIA lied to her about waterboarding is being backed up by Senator Bob Graham‘s journals. He kept a record of everything—and I mean every freaking thing. More on that in detail in a moment.
MADDOW: Still ahead: Karl Rove is finally talking about his alleged role in firing federal prosecutors. One of those fired federal prosecutors joins us next.
My friend Kent Jones will also be taking a look at the week in review, and the kids who auto-tune the news have set their auto-tuning sites on me, which is very embarrassing. That is all coming up.
But first, it‘s time for a couple of holy mackerel stories in today‘s news.
On Wednesday of this week, the administration asked Congress to grant it the authority to regulate formerly unregulated financial instruments. We‘re not talking about violas (ph) in the read section here. We‘re talking about credit default swaps, insurance contracts, and all these other exotic financial doohickeys most of us had never heard until the economy started exploding last fall in a bad way.
The day after that request to Congress, President Obama held a town hall meeting in New Mexico where he said he wanted to sign a credit card reform bill by Memorial Day—which is really soon. The House has already approved a credit card bill and one is pending in the Senate. The bill would set limits on how badly the credit card companies can stick it to you on interest rate hikes and late fees.
It would also curb the marketing of credit cards to people under the age of 21 –which brings us to the single, most wonderful part of the story. The part where we show the picture of North Dakota senator, Byron Dorgan, and a giant Hello Kitty. After seeing this picture posted at Politico.com today, we called Senator Dorgan‘s office to find out the context here. It turns out he was pointing out that credit card offers are using brands like Hello Kitty, whose target audience—by the company‘s own admission—is people age 10 to 14 or younger.
And he‘s right, actually, if you go to the Hello Kitty main Web site, right there on the front page, right above the character page for the little botchy Hello Kitty character whose favorite color is black and whose food is shallots—right above that one, there‘s the Hello Kitty credit card offer. Because what 10 year old with an interest in anthropomorphy‘s Japanese pink cat doesn‘t need a platinum-plus Visa card brought to you by Bank of America? You can also get to the same offer at Bank of America.com/HelloKitty. Unbelievably.
Bank of America—don‘t we sort of own Bank of America now after the bailout? Does that mean we‘re all complicit in the Hello Kitty credit card thing?
And finally, the Preakness is this weekend—the third race in the Triple Crown that also includes the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. This year‘s Triple Crown has been riveting because a horse called Mine That Bird won the derby in really dramatic fashion. Remember that sneak move on the inside rail and then running away with it on a home stretch?
Well, the jockey who won the derby with Mine That Bird, the previous day, had won another race called the Kentucky Oaks, riding this so-called super-filly, Rachel Alexandra. The horse that did not get entered in the derby but that did run away with the Oaks the day before by about 20 lengths. Same jockey, two different horses, two huge wins on two consecutive days.
Well, the Preakness is tomorrow and that same jockey has decided to not ride the horse on which he won the Kentucky Derby. He‘s decided to ride the filly, Rachel Alexandra. Only four female horses have ever won the Preakness in the whole history of the race.
Now, here‘s the weird political twist to this story. Now, you‘ll recall that there‘s a connection this year, right, between the Kentucky Derby and the Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens corruption trial? Remember this? The man who went to jail for bribing Stevens is Bill Allen. Bill Allen went to jail in part to secure immunity from prosecution for his son. The dad testified that his son delivered bribes to an Alaska state legislator. But the son nevertheless got off scot-free when his dad went to jail.
So, Mark Allen, the son, who didn‘t go to jail, owns Mine That Bird
the horse that won the Kentucky Derby. Mark Allen is also the man who, this week, conspired to keep Rachel Alexandra, the super-filly, from being able to run the Preakness. He entered another horse in the Preakness so Rachel Alexandra would not have a spot in the race.
Remarkably, Mark Allen says he consulted with his dad in prison this week and had a change of heart, quote, “His advice to me was just to do what‘s right because arrogance and greed isn‘t right.” So, Mark Allen withdrew the other horse from the Preakness. Now, Rachel Alexandra will be in the Preakness.
The Ted Stevens-Alaska corruption scandal still has a really weird connection to horseracing. A jockey gave up his chance to ride the Kentucky Derby winner in the next big race and a filly might win the Preakness because a convicted felon in prison for bribery told his son to do the right thing. This isn‘t sports anymore. It‘s a morality play.
MADDOW: Because of what the Bush administration was like, a typical day in the life of a former Bush administration official sometimes includes giving testimony in criminal investigations.
A typical day may also include, as it did today for Karl Rove, a bit of a perp walk, video of your entrance into your lawyer‘s office for that meeting with federal prosecutors.
Today, Karl Rove spent four hours with a special prosecutor named Nora Dannehy, pursuant to the U.S. attorney, the Bush administration‘s politically motivated firing in 2006 of nine federal prosecutors. It was the scandal that led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
The scandal began on December 7th, 2006, when seven U.S. attorneys were asked to resign. The reason given was poor performance. But that began to unravel when it became clear that the attorneys in question, including New Mexico‘s U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, who we‘ll be speaking with in just a moment, had received glowing job performance reviews before they were dismissed.
A Justice Department investigation last year uncovered evidence that improper, political motivations were actually behind the firings. A treasure trove of internal information showed just how deeply political considerations seeped into decision-making that was available to the investigation.
And among the trove of information that they published was an E-mail from January, 2005, almost two years before the firings, which showed Karl Rove‘s interest in the U.S. attorneys.
The E-mail said, quote, “Karl Rove stopped by to ask how we plan to proceed regarding U.S. attorneys, whether we are going to allow all to stay, request resignations from all and accept only some of them, or selectively replace some of them, et cetera.”
Alberto Gonzales‘ chief-of-staff responded, quote, “We would like to replace 15 to 20 percent of the current U.S. attorneys. The vast majority of U.S. Attorneys are doing a great job, are loyal Bushies. If Karl Rove thinks there would be political will to do it, then so do I.”
Loyal Bushies in print in an E-mail. Loyal Bushies. Yes. Bush officials also had a near-obsession with voter fraud cases. In October 2006, according to testimony from Gonzales, President Bush and Karl Rove raised concerns that some prosecutors were not aggressively addressing voter fraud, only in voter fraud cases in places where Democrats had won close races, mind you.
We now know that David Iglesias was fired after Republican politicians complained directly to Mr. Rove that Iglesias did not prosecute preferred voter fraud and corruption cases. But who was really behind Iglesias‘ firing?
Well, the Justice Department investigation wrote in its report, quote, “Based upon our inability to compel the cooperation of certain witnesses, we were not able to identify the role the White House played in the decision. That inability to compel the cooperation of key witnesses changed a bit today, but finally, the closed door testimony of one Karl Rove.
Joining us now is David Iglesias, the former U.S. attorney of New Mexico. Mr. Iglesias, thank you very much for your time tonight.
DAVID IGLESIAS, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY OF NEW MEXICO: Thanks, Rachel. Glad to be here.
MADDOW: What questions do you hope special prosecutor Nora Dannehy asked Mr. Rove today?
IGLESIAS: I hope she asked Karl Rove who came up with the idea, to what extent did they know about ongoing voter fraud or corruption investigations, and why did they feel a need to change U.S. attorneys midstream?
I mean, this entire firing process is unprecedented for a sitting president to do that to his own U.S. attorneys. I hope - and I‘m sure she did. She‘s got a great reputation for being thorough.
MADDOW: When you say question him about the involvement in voter fraud and corruption cases, how do you think those - those types of cases factored into the overall allegation here, which was the politicization of the Justice Department by the White House?
IGLESIAS: Well, the White House, believe it or not, has no business in directing specific prosecutions. That‘s a matter solely within the province of the attorney general, and that‘s been the historic practice of the Justice Department in Republican and Democratic administrations in the past.
But in the last administration, the White House and in particular, Karl Rove, saw a way to use United States attorneys and the Justice Department to file specific targeted prosecutions that would inure to the benefit of the Republican Party. And that is improper, illegal and it could, in fact, be criminal.
MADDOW: To what extent do you think Karl Rove was involved in your firing after those complaints went from politicians in your state back to Washington about your reluctance to do political essentially bidding on cases like that?
IGLESIAS: I think he was up to his eyeballs. And I said two years ago that all roads lead to Rove. I still believe that‘s true. Now, that being said, there are five boxes of information related to the U.S. attorney firings that have been recently been made public to the Rep. Conyers committee.
We‘ll find out at the end of the day whether or not there‘s a prosecutable case. But I believe Rove is the prime mover of this.
MADDOW: We know that Harriet Miers is also expected before that House Judiciary Committee. What are you expecting her to have to answer to?
IGLESIAS: Well, she left in January of 2007, right before everything hit the fan. Although, she first discussed the idea of replacing all 93 United States attorneys and that was an idea so radical that even Alberto Gonzales saw the foolishness of that and did not agree with that.
I think she‘ll have some historic knowledge, but I don‘t think she‘s a prime mover in the way that I believe the evidence will ultimately show Karl Rove was.
MADDOW: Mr. Iglesias, what do you hope is going to come at the end of this? This has been a heck of a saga for you, professionally. It‘s been a saga for all of us, both politically and just as citizens. What‘s the best case scenario for you in terms of how you think this all settles out?
IGLESIAS: After two years of stonewalling, of constitutional gridlock, of litigation, I hope at the end of the day, there will be consequences, possibly criminal consequences, to anyone involved that tried to use the Justice Department and in particular the United States attorneys in a way that‘s improper under obstruction of justice statutes.
I never want this to happen again because the Justice Department is really one of the few agencies that was expected to be nonpolitical. And we have to go back to that standard.
MADDOW: If it does turn out that it‘s even beyond Karl Rove‘s level, that there was involvement by the attorney general, that there was involvement perhaps even by the president, would you feel the same way in terms of accountability reaching that high?
IGLESIAS: Well, sure. I mean, as I understand it, possible targets would be former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, possibly former Sen. Pete Domenici.
I mean, the obstruction statute, Rachel, is very broadly written and it uses language to the effect of corruptedly(sic) influencing an official to do something, which would include hurrying up an investigation that‘s not ready, things of that nature.
So yes, I mean, I‘m a law and order kind of former U.S. attorney, so if there‘s a provable case, I‘m sure Nora Dannehy will file it against whomever.
MADDOW: David Iglesias, former U.S. attorney of the State of New Mexico, thank you so much for your time tonight. Your perspective on this is not only personal but you‘re just very cogent and compelling when you tell the story about it. And I think it‘s made a big difference in terms of Americans understanding what this all meant. Thank you.
IGLESIAS: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Keith takes on Texas Governor Rick Perry over his support of Texas secession. It‘s tonight‘s WTF and you do not want to miss it.
Next, on this show, how one man‘s meticulously-kept diary is embarrassing some very important people in Washington.
MADDOW: As the Republican Party continues their search for meaning in the political minority, they are finding it increasingly less important to swell their ranks in order to undermine the Democrats‘ agenda. Who needs to torpedo the Democrats‘ ship when the Democrats can take care of that themselves? Thank you very much.
Take the case of Dawn Johnsen, President Obama‘s nominee to head up the Office of Legal Counsel. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid needs 60 votes to confirm her because the Republicans are filibustering.
Well, Democrats hold 59 seats and Indiana Republican Richard Lugar supports her. So that‘s 60, right? Victory, right? Right? Actually, no. Harry Reid‘s problem is not with the Republicans. It‘s with conserve-dem Ben Nelson who opposes Dawn Johnsen because of a job she held 15 years ago at an abortion rights organization, a job that has nothing at all to do with the job for which she is currently nominated.
Republicans, feel free to take your time winning back the Senate. Because the conserva-dems have the whole hamstringing the Democrats, hamstringing the president thing down pat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, MINORITY LEADER: It‘s hard for me to imagine that anyone in our intelligence area would ever mislead a member of Congress.
SEN. KIT BOND (R-MO): I‘ve been dealing with the CIA for a number of years. They don‘t lie to members of Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is under attack from Republicans after she claimed yesterday that the CIA lied to her and misled Congress. She says the CIA told her in 2002 that they had not waterboarded Abu Zubaydah, when in fact they had waterboarded him. The CIA says they did tell her that. She says they didn‘t, which means we‘re in a they said-she said kind of fight here.
The Speaker of the House does have two big advantages in this fight. Number one, she‘s the one calling for full release and investigation of all the documentation, which is not the kind of thing you usually do if you‘re the one who‘s hiding the truth.
Second, she has an ally to back up her claims. He is former Florida Senator Bob Graham who says the CIA didn‘t tell him about waterboarding either when he was head of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D-FL), FORMER HEAD OF THE SENATE INTELLIGENCE
COMMITTEE: When I was briefed, which was about three weeks after the speaker, the subject of waterboarding did not come up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You know, it would be weird if they told Pelosi about waterboarding and not Bob Graham a few weeks later. But that‘s not all. Sen. Graham has further evidence that the CIA records about who they briefed on what and when aren‘t all that accurate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: The CIA, when I asked them, what were the dates these briefings took place, gave me four dates, and I went back to my spiral notebooks and a daily schedule that I keep and found. And the CIA concurred, that in three of those four dates, there was no briefing held. That raises some questions about the bookkeeping of the CIA.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Finally, the day comes when a huge matter of national security and accountability in the nation‘s soul boils down to Bob Graham‘s spiral notebooks. Bob Graham documents everything in tiny little spiral notebooks. Everything - what he eats, what he wears, who he talks to, how many calories he burns on the treadmill, every meeting, every ride in a car, every walk down a block, everything.
He has filled up thousands of little tiny spiral-bound notebooks. They‘re made by the North Carolina Paper Company. He bought out their entire supply when they stopped making his preferred notebook in the 1990s.
So ubiquitous are Bob Graham‘s journals, so complete that one of Graham‘s portraits even shows one of those little notebooks open on his lap.
Six years ago, one of the senator‘s local papers, “The St. Petersburg Times” obtained a full day‘s worth of Bob Graham journal entries and they reprinted it in the paper. It reads, in part, and I‘m telling you, this isn‘t even the whole thing, “Log, 9/17/02, Tuesday, 6:50. Awake at 3 STTH” - that stands for his Washington apartment, 3rd St. Town House. Then he writes, “181” - that‘s his weight. He weighs himself every day. “6:50 to 7:00, apply scalp medicine. 7:00 to 7:40, kitchen, brew coffee, prepare and drink breakfast - soy, skimmed milk, OJ, peach, banana, blueberries. Read post. Dress in gray suit.”
We‘re going to skip ahead to, “12:35 to 1:00, briefing on prescription drugs with Lisa Layman, Bryant Hall. 1:00 to 1:10, Caroline Berver, Bryant Hall, re: Haitian detainees. 1:10 to 2:15, Capital S211 (LBJ Room), Democratic caucus luncheon (salmon).”
Skipping ahead to “8:40 to 8:50, 3rd St. Townhouse, bedroom, bathroom.
Change to blue shorts. Apply scalp medication. 8:50 to 10:150, 3rd St. Townhouse office,” and within that time breaks it down from “8:50 to 9:00, update notebook, from 9:00 to 10:50, review staff memos, miscellaneous dictation.”
That is an abridged day in the life of Sen. Bob Graham. He does that every single day, every day for more than 30 years. And even with me reading all of those details that I just read, I cut out more than 12 hours of the journal listing for just that one day.
Now, why does Bob Graham keep these journals? Here‘s how he explained it to Katie Couric a few years ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: My father carried a notebook as a dairy farmer. He would write down numbers of sick cows and fences that were broken to be sure that they got taken care of. I adopted this discipline from him. I use it to write down names of people who have something to say and that I want to be certain that I follow up.
I write down what I am going to try to get accomplished on that particular day. For me, it is a means of organization, discipline. And I guess my question is why more people in public office don‘t do this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There is actually an answer to that. The reason more people in public office don‘t do that nowadays is because - remember how Bob Packwood got caught writing down details of everyone he ever sexually harassed or had an affair with? That‘s why people don‘t do it anymore.
But if you are not Bob Packwood, and instead you‘re “soy and blueberries, gray suit, scalp medication” Bob Graham, eventually your diaries get used to prove that the CIA‘s own records of who it briefed on what and when can‘t necessarily be trusted. Bottom line here - spies, zero, nerds, one.
MADDOW: Now, it is time to look back on the last seven days of public lame-itude. Here now is my friend Kent Jones with the “Weak in Review.” Hi, Kent.
KENT JONES, POP CULTURIST: Good evening, Rachel. Big beautiful world of weak out there.
JONES: Check it out.
MADDOW: All right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: First up, beauty aid of the weak. A Chicago-area company is marketing hair care products inspired by, if that is the correct term, ousted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you Blago, “It‘s Bleepin‘ Golden,” shampoo and conditioner for that post-gubernatorial, pre-reality show scandalicious glow anytime. Weak.
Next, thespian of the weak. Actor Stellan Skarsgard, appears in the new movie, “Angels and Demons.” But check out what he thinks of the novel‘s writer, Dan Brown, quote, “I think Dan Brown is a terribly bad writer. It‘s like eating peanuts at a bar. You don‘t like them but you keep on eating them anyway.” Poor Stellan, forced to accept feature roles in major motion pictures based on a failed scribbler so clearly beneath him. Weak.
Next, wardrobe malfunction of the weak. The saga of straight-marriage centurion Carrie Prejean took another turn this week after topless photos of Miss California were splashed far and wide. Prejean insisted the wind made her top blow open. Yes, that‘s it. The wind did it.
CARRIE PREJEAN, MISS CALIFORNIA USA 2009: And if you can see in one of the photos, I was not looking into the camera and it was basically a wardrobe malfunction.
JONES: Something is malfunctioning, Miss Prejean - your alibi. Weak.
Finally, bladders of the weak. Two employees were fired at Yellowstone National Park for relieving themselves in the old faithful geyser. Old faithful - come on, Yellowstone is like America‘s backyard. Would you do that in neighbor‘s backyard? Dude, you‘re not a poodle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Is that actual footage of them?
JONES: Yes, they got caught on a surveillance camera.
MADDOW: Oh, well -
JONES: Someone is always watching.
MADDOW: Cocktail moment for you, Kent.
MADDOW: The kids from “Auto-Tune the News,” the Gregory Brothers …
JONES: Oh, yes. Yes.
MADDOW: … are out with a new edition. It‘s very good. I‘ll show you a couple pieces of it. The whole thing posted on our Web site, but I‘ve got a couple of clips. The first one is Hillary Clinton with the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
MADDOW: I love when they say, “playing donkey kong with you.”
JONES: Oh, yes.
MADDOW: There is also really good Katie Couric and Dick Cheney.
Dick Cheney not actually a very good auto-tune singer.
MADDOW: Katie Couric is still the best.
MADDOW: But now we know that I also, like Dick Cheney, am awful at it.
JONES: Ah, we‘ll see.
MADDOW: My “Auto-Tune the News” debut - here it is.
You didn‘t think you‘d be able to hit that high note, did you?
JONES: Oh, Ron Paul.
MADDOW: The full new “Auto-Tune the News” by the Gregory Brothers is at “Rachel.MSNBC.com.” Come on. Loosen up. It‘s Friday. Have a great weekend.
“COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann starts right now. .
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and CQ Transcriptions, LLC‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.>
Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research.
User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s
personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed,
nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion
that may infringe upon MSNBC and CQ Transcriptions, LLC‘s copyright or
other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal
transcript for purposes of litigation.>