The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/09/09
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thank you at home for tuning in for the next hour as well.
Bob Herbert of “The New York Times” will be here this hour.
The accused assassin of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas speaks at length today from prison about the Tiller family‘s decision to close Tiller‘s clinic in the wake of his murder.
And for the third time this decade, the tiny island of Palau makes it to American television—this time, for a pretty good and pretty strange reason.
That is all coming up this hour.
But we begin with the big Supreme Court news today, news that the clock has started ticking for President Obama‘s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor. She has just one month and four days left of schmoozing with senators and doing no interviews and hopefully not breaking anymore limbs, and memorizing her own record before her confirmation hearing starts on July 13th.
That date announced today by Democratic Senator Pat Leahy, who heads up the judiciary committee—which is where all of the action happens for judicial nominations.
Senate Republicans reacted to the announcement about when the hearings would start with outrage today. They want more time before those hearings start. Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, for example, had announced that he wanted to delay the hearings until September.
Just for historical context here, if the hearings for Judge Sotomayor begin as scheduled on July 13th—that would make it 48 days between the day that she was nominated by President Obama and the start of her hearings: 48 days. Is that an unreasonably short amount of time? Is that a long amount of time? Is that a normal amount of time?
Well, for Justice Alito, it was 70 days between the day he was nominated and the beginning of his hearings. Chief Justice John Roberts, 55 days—and that one had a hiccup in it. Judge Roberts was originally nominated to replace Sandra Day O‘Connor but he was re-nominated to be Chief Justice when William Rehnquist died. And still with that hiccup, they managed to get the hearings under way in 55 days.
Judge Breyer—excuse me, Justice Breyer, 60 days. Justice Ginsburg,
36 days. Justice Thomas, 71 days. Justice Souter, 50 days. Justice
Kennedy, 14 days between the day he was nominated and his confirmation
hearings. Justice Scalia, 42 days. And Justice Stevens—God bless him -
just seven days.
So, on average, if you average out this for the current courts, it‘s 45 days between getting nominated and getting your hearings under way. The Democrats are suggesting 48 days for Judge Sotomayor, which is right in the pocket. Even a little slower than average.
But the Republicans, nonetheless, are outraged. They say they feel rushed.
Why might Republicans want more time? Well, more time is more opportunity to try to find something objectionable in a judge‘s background. More time is also more occasion to use the Supreme Court vacancy to raise some money, to get yourself some political attention. I‘m talking to you, previously obscured conservative anti-Sotomayor activists who infuse cable news in my inbox now the way Cinnabon infuses an airport terminal.
More time is also—as argued by Senator Leahy last weekend—more of a chance to call the nominee names and accuse him and her of all sorts of horrible things while he or she is really prohibited by the nature of the process from saying anything in his or her own defense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PAT LEAHY (D-VT), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: But I‘ll tell you one thing that is going to influence the timing of when I will set this hearing, is all of these attacks are going out against her, she can‘t answer them. As a judge, she has to sit back there. Some of the most vicious attacks—being called bigoted .
DAVID GREGORY, HOST, “MEET THE PRESS”: Right.
LEAHY: . called her a racist, saying that no Republican should be allowed to vote for her. I intend to give her an opportunity as soon as possible to answer those.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Despite calls of caution from some Republican strategists that opposing Judge Sotomayor will do the party more harm than good, the reaction to the hearings start date announcement today shows that Republicans are at least hoping to drag this process out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY ®, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I think it‘s too soon for both Republicans and Democrats. I don‘t see how you can expect us to be ready when all of the information you have to have to make a hearing worthwhile has not been gone through. But this was not a bipartisan decision.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS ®, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I believe that‘s too early. I don‘t believe it‘s necessary. It‘s far more important that we do this matter right than we do it quick.
SEN. JON KYL ®, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: There‘s no reason for us to do that because there‘s no way to know at this point whether we‘ll have our work done by that time.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I don‘t know what our friends on the majority are fearful of. There‘s no point in this. It serves no purpose other than to run the risk of destroying the kind of comity and cooperation that we expect of each other here in the Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They think comity, C-O-M-I-T-Y. Some of us think comedy, C-O-M-E-D-Y. Homonyms are trouble in the august body that is the United States Senate.
All right. The appropriate context here for what the Republicans are doing is that Republicans provided zero votes in the House on the stimulus package and the stimulus package passed. Republicans provided zero votes on the president‘s budget and the president‘s budget passed.
Whatever Senator Grassley or any of these other senators decide to do to try to slow down this nomination process, whichever tactics Republicans choose, ultimately, we‘re probably still going to get Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor. That‘s the political reality here.
The news today is that the Republican Party has apparently decided to make a stand here, not because they expect they‘ll stop the nomination, but because they want to make a stand here. They have decided—in other words—that it will be politically useful to define themselves going forward as the party that tried to stop Justice Sonia Sotomayor from making it to the Supreme Court.
Joining us now is Republican strategist Mark McKinnon. He‘s a former adviser to President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain. He‘s now a contributor to “The Daily Beast.”
Mr. McKinnon, thanks for coming back.
MARK MCKINNON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Hey. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: First, I should ask if you agree with my premise again. And we had this discussion last time we spoke. Do you still think that it is likely that Sotomayor will be confirmed?
MCKINNON: I think it‘s almost a certainty. I have been burned at the stake by Rush Limbaugh and others for the last week for being a heretic on this issue. But my advice to the Republican Party is—when you‘re in a hole, stop digging; and we‘re just digging. And this whole notion of saying it‘s too early and we don‘t have enough time, I say hire some interns and pull a few all-nighters. It‘s not that difficult.
You know, I‘m just a shallow media guy but David Brooks, who is thoughtful conservative columnist who does his homework, says about her—she‘s a hard working, careful though unspectacular jurist whose primary commitment is to the law; little evidence that she‘s motivated by racialist thinking or an activist attitude; a smart, careful, hardworking, judicial professional. He says, “I hope she‘s confirmed.” I do, too.
If the worse that we can say about her is that she‘s unspectacular, unflashy, and unimaginative, then let‘s put away the pitchforks.
MADDOW: Yes. Well, I don‘t know. Souter is pretty glitzy.
MADDOW: I‘m just kidding. But when you describe, politically, the Republicans being in the hole and they need to stop digging, what‘s the political hole here? What‘s the risk for Republicans here?
You made the argument that they should essentially cease-fire on this nomination. It doesn‘t seem that they are stopping their firing. What do you think the harm is going to be?
MCKINNON: Well, cease-fire doesn‘t mean that we shouldn‘t go through the process—do due diligence, hold the hearings, and ask the tough questions. But by stretching this out, we are just sending a message to Americans out there who‘ve taken a pretty good look already. They‘ve seen the initial commentary and reviews, and I think they‘re coming to a pretty quick judgment that this—they may not agree with her politically but they think that she‘s common sense, has a great judicial record, one of the, you know, strongest judicial records of anybody that has come before the court for nomination in a long, long time. And that they just get the signal from the Republican Party that they‘re intentionally stretching this out to gain political points, and there‘s no other reason.
MADDOW: And so, you think this just—this puts more distance between the mainstream Americans .
MCKINNON: Yes, independent voters, soft Republicans out there, conservative Democrats—they just look at that and said, “Partisan.” You know, this is—they‘re doing this to gain political points. This is not an exercise that they‘re really trying to do due diligence but they‘re trying to score political points for political reasons. I think that‘s a problem for the Republican Party.
MADDOW: You talked last time you were here about the reflex in politics, the nonpartisan reflex in politics, to shoot anything that moves.
MADDOW: And along those lines, do you see that this reaction today was sort of predictable, that no matter what date Senator Leahy had announced, this would have been the reaction?
MCKINNON: That‘s exactly right. I think if it were—you know, if it was in August, they would have said the same thing. September would have been the same thing.
Now, you know, to be fair, I think the Democrats made a big mistake on the nominations when they had the same reflex on Justice Roberts, for example. So, I think both parties are to blame, but I think both parties taking the chin with the American public when they see them being so obviously political.
MADDOW: Although it‘s interesting. Senator Leahy said today that the Democratic impulse on Republican nominees was to go faster. So, I think everybody tries to get their own political advantage out of the pacing here.
MADDOW: The question—I think what it really comes down to, though, and this is why your argument I think resonates with people left, right and center—the one that you‘re making now—is because whatever tactic you‘re choosing to get your point across, it all boils down to whether people think you have a good reason for doing what you‘re doing.
MCKINNON: Yes. Well, that‘s the question of perception. And I think the perception on this one is—it‘s a tactic.
MCKINNON: You know, it‘s not a—it‘s not a good rationale. It‘s a tactic. It looks political—bad for us in the long run.
MADDOW: You are a—have been and are a consultant to Republican candidates and elected officials. A lot of the most heated rhetoric on this issue we have seen from people who are not elected, people like Newt Gingrich, people like Rush Limbaugh .
MADDOW: . who‘s been attacking you on this stuff. Is there harm to the party caused by people who are technically outside the party but very prominent voices to be using this incredibly loaded language in this thing?
MCKINNON: Well, I think there‘s a little bit of an upside here and that I‘m glad to see Senator Cornyn and Jeff Sessions and a lot of other congressional Republicans actually taking a step back from that heated rhetoric.
MCKINNON: Now, they are sort of jumping on the timing and that sort of thing.
MCKINNON: Which I don‘t necessarily agree with. But they have modulated their language and they‘ve taken a step away from the Rush Limbaughs Gingriches. It‘s glad to see Newt Gingrich reeled back his statement as well. So, there was a big .
MADDOW: He reeled it back from racist to racialist.
MADDOW: It‘s a very short reel.
MCKINNON: He‘s a racial incrementalist.
MCKINNON: But at least they‘re stepping it back. So, I think, that that‘s sending a message that, hey, maybe we did get too far on this. Let‘s get reasonable and dignified.
MADDOW: But to be clear, that change has happened around the language. We are still seeing a lot of these people who you just mentioned, people we shot tape from Sessions and Cornyn, now trying to make a huge issue out of this delay.
MCKINNON: Yes. They‘re still trying to gain political advantage.
MADDOW: They‘re still trying to do it.
MADDOW: Mark McKinnon, Republican strategist, former advisor for George W. Bush and Senator John McCain, now a contributor to “The Daily Beast”—it‘s always a pleasure to have you here, Mark. Thanks.
MCKINNON: Appreciate it. Thanks for having me on, Rachel.
MADDOW: Do we have the—do we have the scary music available?
MADDOW: We need the scary music because today, an accused terrorist was brought to New York City to stand trial. That‘s right, there‘s actual justice going on in America on a terrorism case. Article Three of the Constitution lives! It lives! Be afraid.
“New York Times” columnist Bob Herbert joins us with a calmer take on these issues in a moment.
MADDOW: Norm Coleman says that the chief advantage Democrats hold over Republicans is the grassy e-roots. Grass e-roots: the ability to use new technology to get your message out. Well, in yet, another example of that overwhelming grass e-roots advantage, Democratic representatives Maxine Waters of L.A. and Corrine Brown of Orlando, Florida, have taken to the Internets to deliver their message, which is basically—my basketball team is better than yours.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CORRINE BROWN (D), FLORIDA: Congresswoman Waters, let me commend you and the Lakers for—let‘s shake hands.
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: Oh, no.
BROWN: And we‘re going to show you what it‘s all about—one team, one fight (ph).
WATERS: The only reason I‘m here with you this evening, Corrine, is to bring my condolences.
BROWN: Both teams are great, but in the end, it will be the Magic.
WATERS: But who have you got? I got Kobe. Did you see this?
BROWN: We got a team. We‘re bringing a team. Not one person.
WATERS: You got to take some magic, for you guys to even come close to us.
BROWN: We‘re ready.
WATERS: OK. All right.
BROWN: All right.
WATERS: See you tonight.
BROWN: Go team!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Lakers do have a two-games-to-none lead in the NBA Finals coming into tonight‘s game. And if I had to judge the trash-talking here, I would say that Congresswoman Waters from L.A. seemed to get the better of her Orlando colleague as well. It‘s all about the rebounds, though. She got game, yes!
MADDOW: In 1998, U.S. embassies were bombed in Tanzania and in Kenya. More than 200 people were killed, including 12 Americans. Four people have gone on trial in this country for that crime, for that act of terrorism:
Wadih El-Hage, Mohammad Saddiq Odeh, Mohammad Rashed Owhali and Khalfan Khamis Mohammad. They were all convicted for that bombing and are now all serving life terms in the Federal Supermax Prison in Florence, Colorado.
Today, in Manhattan, a fifth co-conspirator finally went on trial, more than 10 years after the crime. His name is Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, and today he arrived in federal court in New York City to finally face justice.
Good news, right? You‘d think. But not if you‘re a House Republican. To them—finally putting Mr. Ghailani on trial after the convictions of El-Hage and Odeh and Owhali and Khamis Mohammad—finally putting Ghailani on trial is a bad thing?
House Minority Leader John Boehner issued this statement about the trial today, quote, “This is the first step in the Democrats‘ plan to import terrorists into America.”
And from Republicans House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, speaking with
MSNBC‘s Norah O‘Donnell -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC CANTOR ®, HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: There are so many unanswered questions about bringing these detainees onto U.S. soil. We have no judicial precedence for the conviction of someone like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No judicial—except for all of this guy‘s co-conspirators, who were all tried and convicted in this same court except for them? And except for the all the other normal terrorism prosecutions we used to do before we decided that we were too afraid of our own Constitution to live under it anymore?
Joining us now is “New York Times” columnist Bob Herbert.
Mr. Herbert, thank you very much for joining us.
BOB HERBERT, NEW YORK TIMES: Now, I understand the scary music.
MADDOW: Yes. Exactly. Be afraid! Be afraid! Make nonsense decisions that there are nothing to make us safer.
Did you ever think the United States would be—would see it as a matter of debate whether or not we‘re capable of holding a prisoner?
HERBERT: No. There‘s a lot I‘m kind of shocked at.
HERBERT: One, it‘s almost eight years since September 11th, and we‘re still tying ourselves up in knots over this. But one of the things that, really, has surprised me was this idea of, you know, throwing habeas corpus out the window, that you could hold someone in prison indefinitely without charging them, without allowing them to present a defense.
“The Times” had a story over the weekend where the Obama administration is considering allowing terror suspects at Guantanamo to plead guilty to capital crimes, and, therefore, you wouldn‘t have to have a full trial. These are all bizarre things. In some cases, it goes back, in my view, to what I used to read about the Middle Ages. It‘s very strange.
MADDOW: You covered the justice beat in one way or another for a very long time over the course of your career. When you see these debates now about the inability of Article III courts of normally—courts as normally constituted under the Constitution to be able to handle the types of crimes and threat that‘s Americans face, do you feel like that debate overall does long-term harm, just the legitimacy of our justice system?
HERBERT: Oh, the debate has. I mean, the harm is being carried out right before our very eyes. We‘re afraid of our own ideals, it seems to me.
HERBERT: I mean, does justice and the rule of law mean anything or, you know, do we just apply it when it‘s convenient to us? The ideals of this country are what make this country special. We‘re not special because we‘re the most powerful country on earth or because we‘re so rich, for example. We‘re special because of the ideals of freedom and fair treatment and the rule of law. All of those things are what makes the U.S. special.
When we allow terrorists to frighten us away from our own ideals, we undermine what‘s special about ourselves. We should not allow that to happen.
MADDOW: It also strikes me that the details of terrorism prosecutions
in this country are really poorly known. It‘s not—it‘s not just those -
the men who were tried and convicted already in conjunction with the embassy bombings. These are very well-known people, people like the Unabomber and Timothy McVeigh‘s case and his co-conspirator and all these people. We don‘t tend to follow these cases to fruition and know where these people end up.
But because of the debate right now that our court somehow can‘t handle terrorism prosecutions anymore, I wonder if the prosecutions—the successful prosecutions of those people are also being impugned, called into question some way, if it has going to have some larger effect on what we do try to prosecute in this country?
HERBERT: The larger effect that I think it has is that we don‘t feel
we‘ll get to the point, maybe we‘re already there—that we don‘t feel we have to be scrupulous in the administration of justice. You know, it starts with terror suspects, information that was gotten from torture or from extreme interrogation that‘s suddenly OK. Some things, evidence can‘t be admissible because it‘s classified. You know, hearsay testimony can be used to convict somebody of very serious crimes. And that‘s the beginning of a very, very slippery slope.
We shouldn‘t be there at all.
HERBERT: We should step back from it. We should give people fair trials.
If these are the worst of the worst—as they were characterized early on—then obviously, there must be some reason, someone saying they‘re the worst of the worst, let‘s use that evidence to convict them. But the question you have to ask is—we were told everybody at Guantanamo seven years ago were the worst of the worst, and now, so many people have been freed. What‘s going on there?
HERBERT: The simple fact of the matter is, we don‘t know who‘s innocent and we don‘t know who‘s guilty, and we need to sort that out.
MADDOW: Bob Herbert, “New York Times” columnist and all-around clear thinker on such issues—it‘s a real pleasure to have you here, Bob. Nice to see you. Thanks for coming in.
HERBERT: Thanks so much, Rachel. I appreciate it.
MADDOW: If the ultimate goal of anti-abortion terrorists in this country has been to close down perfectly legal abortion clinics, then today was a day that they have been waiting for. I‘ll have more in just a few minutes on the tragic efficacy of violence over law.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Still ahead: The violent fringe of the anti-abortion movement gave the nonviolent core of that movement what it wanted, with the murder of Dr. George Tiller. His clinic in Kansas will not reopen. Dr. Tiller‘s friend and former colleague, Susan Hill, joins us to talk about that shortly.
And, what do some maybe soon-to-be-released prisoners at Guantanamo and the TV show “Survivor” have in common? I will tell you in a moment.
But, first, it‘s time for a few holy mackerel stories in today‘s news. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Joe Lieberman of the Connecticut for Lieberman Party spent today threatening to shut down the Senate. “Shut it down,” they said, if they don‘t get an amendment passed that they want passed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: We‘re not going to do any more business in the Senate. Nothing‘s going forward until we get this right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In other words, senators Graham and Lieberman are ready to filibuster every single bill in the United States Senate until their amendment gets passed. Also, they will hold their breath maybe until they turn blue.
The amendment is called the Detainee Photographic Records Protection Act. It would supersede the Freedom of Information Act to block any chance that photos of prisoner abuse could be released to the public. The amendment says the government can suppress, quote, “any photograph taken between September 11th, 2001, and January 22nd, 2009, relating to the treatment of individuals engaged, captured or detained after September 11th, 2001, by the Armed Forces of the United States in operations outside of the United States.” In other words, no photos out ever again.
The White House reportedly supports the Graham/Lieberman bill, and according to Senator Graham, so does Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Graham said today, quote, “Secretary Clinton is very concerned.”
We naturally contacted the State Department today for a clarification
of the secretary‘s position. Her spokesman, Ian Kelly, relied, quote,
“Normally, we don‘t comment on private conversations between the secretary
and members of Congress. However, the president himself said the safety of
Americans serving overseas is a clear and compelling reason to not release
these particular photos. Foreign Service personnel—and their families -
serve America in nearly every country overseas, and, of course, Secretary Clinton has always had their safety paramount in her mind.”
And that, if you want to undo the Washington ease, is what you call endorsing with faint praise. We will keep you posted on the holding-our-breath-to-hide-the-torture strategy as developments warrant.
And speaking of Hillary Clinton, you may remember a colorful character from her presidential campaign who continued to insist long after most people thought that the Democratic primary was over that Mrs. Clinton could still eke out a win. Frankly, full disclosure here, I sort of insisted that from time to time, too. But the guy who really made me actually look quite sober, the guy who really took the cake was her campaign manager, Terry McAuliffe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JUNE 2, 2008)
TERRY MCAULIFFE, FMR. CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Mika, I want you to know, I brought you back your own Bacardi Gold from Puerto Rico.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI, “MORNING JOE” CO-HOST: Give me that.
MCAULIFFE: You and I are going to share this together to celebrate another big win by Hillary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was in June, after Hillary Clinton won the all-important definitive swing state of Puerto Rico.
Well, Mr. McAuliffe, the Clinton loyalist who has always appeared to operate on enough caffeine and happiness to fuel the entire Jolt Cola corporate “glee club,” has recently been engaged in a political battle of his own.
Today was the sparsely attended Democratic primary for the governor‘s race in Virginia. Terry McAuliffe was one of three candidates running for that Democratic nomination. And he did not win. That honor goes to a man named Creigh Deeds, who will face Republican Bob McDonnell in the general election for governor this November—which does mean Mr. McAuliffe can go back to being really enthusiastic about something—hopefully on TV, hopefully very soon.
And, finally, some exciting news for infrastructure dorks. Federal support has fast-tracked the construction of a new tunnel connecting New York City and New Jersey. A tunnel home run the Hudson River—very cool. Almost 15 years after the idea was first conceived, the groundbreaking ceremony was finally held yesterday for this $8.7 billion project.
By breaking ground this month, the project qualifies for $130 million in federal stimulus money. And so transportation poster guy, Vice President Joe Biden, was on hand to lend his support to the project. If you don‘t actually care about infrastructure but you do care about irony, there‘s a little good news for you in this story, too.
Joe Biden - Vice President Joe Biden, said this about the new tunnel to “The Bergen Record” newspaper in New Jersey.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT (through telephone): Look, this is designed - this totally new tunnel is designed to provide for, you know, automobile traffic. It‘s something, as you know, up your way that‘s been in the works and people have been clamoring for, for a long time.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ixnay on the archae octae(ph). The vice president, famously, is an Amtrak rider for 35 years now. The new tunnel is actually for trains, not cars. I suppose you could think of trains as big, long automobiles with steel wheels and sliding doors and conductors, but it‘s a stretch. All aboard, Mr. Vice President. All aboard.
MADDOW: Immediately after the murder of Kansas doctor George Tiller, his friend and colleague, Dr. LeRoy Carhart, announced that within a week, Dr. Tiller‘s clinic in Kansas would resume its normal schedule.
But despite the efforts of those who harassed and terrorized and finally killed Dr. Tiller, his clinic would continue providing the services for which he had been vilified and harassed and shot and ultimately, it seems, killed.
The Tiller family then walked back the statement from Dr. Carhart saying that they had not actually yet made a decision on the clinic‘s future. One person who said he did not want the clinic to be shut down because of Dr. Tiller‘s killing is the president of operation rescue, a man named Troy Newman, who said earlier this week, quote, “Good god, do not close this abortion clinic for this reason. Every kook in the world will get some notion.”
But today, Dr. Tiller‘s family announced that they will close the clinic anyway, immediately. According to a statement from the family, quote, “We are proud of the service and courage shown by our husband and father and know that women‘s health care needs have been met because of his dedication and service. That‘s a legacy that will never die. The family will honor Dr. Tiller‘s memory through private, charitable activities.”
Of course, the Tiller family‘s decision is a private one. And after what they have been through, no one - no one begrudges them making that decision. That said, we as a country, are now faced with yet another victory for the anti-abortion movement generally and for anti-abortion terrorist violence specifically, a fact underscored today by Scott Roeder, the man who is accused of murdering Dr. Tiller last week.
Today, Mr. Roeder did a lengthy interview from his jail cell. He called the closing of Dr. Tiller‘s clinic, quote, “A victory for all the unborn children.” Mr. Roeder stopped short of admitting his own guilt, but he said that if he is found guilty, quote, “The entire motive was the defense of the unborn.”
There, of course, is a law-abiding advocacy driven anti-abortion movement in this country that is not to be confused with the terrorist fringe that endorses violence. But for every murder, every firebombing, every act of vandalism that happens anywhere at an abortion provider in this country, the law-abiding protesters everywhere else in the country seem that much more intimidating to a woman seeking an abortion or a doctor providing one.
Because of the violence that has existed at the edges of this movement for decades, there are now only two providers left in this entire country of 300 million people who will do late abortions. There are only two left.
Earlier tonight, we spoke with Dr. Susan Wickland, who was on this show last week to talk about the threats that she has received as a doctor who performs abortions. Dr. Wickland phoned us tonight to tell us that the abortion care network is reporting that since Dr. Tiller‘s murder, there has been a noticeable increase in incidents of violence and intimidation against women at abortion clinics around the country.
Joining us now is Susan Hill, a friend of the late Dr. Tiller, who has opened more than a dozen clinics across the country since 1973. She‘s currently president of the National Women‘s Health Organization.
Ms. Hill, first of all, let me say I‘m sorry for the lost of your friend, for Dr. Tiller. And thanks for being here with us tonight.
SUSAN HILL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL WOMEN‘S HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Oh, I thank you that you invited me.
MADDOW: Have you seen any change in the number or the type of protests outside the clinics that you‘re associated with since Dr. Tiller‘s murder?
HILL: Oh, they‘ve been much more aggressive, much more hostile, yelling. Last Saturday, they were yelling at me that I was the next to die, that they were praying for my death. There‘s been not only not a letup, but a more vicious attack.
MADDOW: Do you - and this is, I guess, an overarching question but
also something specific about Dr. Tiller‘s murder. Do you see this murder
do you see the acts of overt violence that we‘ve seen against abortion providers in recent years. Do you see it as essentially succeeding as a form of terrorism?
HILL: It is, if we let it succeed. And for the providers who are still in this field, and they are very dedicated people, we won‘t let it succeed. We will figure out how to fill the void left by Dr. Tiller.
We‘re already making plans between almost all of the groups in the country. And you know, they‘ve been very effective, but we‘re still here and we‘re going to be here.
MADDOW: How much do providers around the country communicate with each other about these specific threats of violence?
HILL: There are several groups that are sort of ad hoc groups. And we have been really communicating almost daily for years, ever since we started to be killed. We felt we had to protect ourselves, and our best way to do it was to share information.
MADDOW: We know that the U.S. marshals were dispatched after this most recent murder to protect providers.
MADDOW: Is that enough? Is that an appropriate response? Does it make you feel safer?
HILL: We appreciate the help from the marshals, and we‘ve had it before after the first killings. So it makes us comfortable about the safety of our staff and our patients.
But there has to be more done. I‘ve been saying all week - you can‘t make people safe if the laws that are on the books are not enforced. And they haven‘t been enforced. They haven‘t been enforced since FACE was passed.
And with local police departments, especially, there‘s been a real problem and unwillingness to enforce the laws that were written to protect the safety of women all over the country.
MADDOW: Which, of course, was the whole justification for creating this as a federal - for passing federal legislation in this regard.
HILL: Absolutely. Well, I went and testified to Congress on the FACE Bill and really begged the Congress to pass it because there was no uniform enforcement all over - you know, between cities. And whatever they could get away with not doing, they did.
MADDOW: Last night on this show, Frank Schaffer, who is a veteran of the religious right in the early anti-abortion movement and has since changed his mind about a lot of his earlier views …
MADDOW: … said on this show that he wants to see mainstream pro-life groups and even some of the more militant pro-life groups start turning in their members when their members brag about things that would be violations of the FACE act, things like criminal damage, things like gluing locks shut, the forms of vandalism and criminal mischief and criminal damage that were turned into federal crimes in order to get a handle on this overall violent movement.
MADDOW: Do you think that would ever happen? Do you see any prospects for that sort of an effort by the pro-life movement to really take responsibility by doing something like that?
HILL: They haven‘t in the past. An example is Troy Newman, that you quoted earlier, who was, I guess, trying to disassociate himself with this man. And yet Troy Newman has, in front of our clinics, harassed women and, you know, intimidated them.
So I think when they get in trouble, when there‘s a violent act, they all run for the shadows or the corners. But they‘re back out in the next few months. We know they come back. I have been doing this 35 years. They know how to play the game.
And for the most part, they want to come back and be as really intimidating and harassing as they can be, which is a crime against women in this country who have a right to exercise their rights.
MADDOW: It is quite literally a crime. Lastly, is there something that you would like to see, not only in terms of better enforcement of the existing laws, but should there be other legislation? Should there be other means of protecting providers and clinic staff?
HILL: Well, you know, my frustration is that there are many laws already on the books, not just FACE - stalking, harassment, trespassing. These people that have been violent could have been stopped years ago if people had been willing to enforce it. And maybe a lot of these murders wouldn‘t have occurred.
MADDOW: Susan Hill is president of the National Women‘s Health Organization. Thank you so much for your work. Thanks for joining us tonight. And again, I‘m sorry for your loss.
HILL: Oh, thank you so much for having me.
MADDOW: OK. Coming up on “COUNTDOWN” - Keith talks with Steve Clemons, who‘s publisher of “TheWashingtonNote.com” about how hard President Obama has already made it for extremists to play the anti-American card abroad. We call this the change dividend.
And next on this show, the amazing and unlikely convergence of released prisoners from Guantanamo and the TV game show “Survivor.”
MADDOW: As the Republican Party searches for meaning in the political minority, its one national elected leader is doubling down in a metaphor about hats that confused everyone the first time.
If you missed Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele‘s “we all wear the same hat” routine on MSNBC‘s “Morning Joe” a couple of months ago, well, here he is with a new and improved, modified, much longer version, which he inflicted upon the college Republicans at their annual conference this past weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL STEELE, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION: Chuck wears his hat with the brim straight ahead. Now, our friend here from Penn State wears his hat cocked a little bit to the left. Our friend from Florida - she wears her hat with the brim sort of cocked to the right because that‘s just how they are in Florida. Our friend from UCF wears her hat backwards, because that‘s how they roll.
What do they have in common? They all wear the same hat. Barack Obama has asked your generation to wear his hat, the hat of one man. I‘m asking you to go out and ask your friends to wear our hat - the hat of an idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The hat of an idea, America. We subtitled that presentation
for our viewers who don‘t speak -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Behold, the beautiful nation of Palau. Palau is a collection of eight islands. It‘s in the Pacific Ocean. If you were in the Philippines and you sort of took a right, you‘d hit Palau before you‘d hit Guam.
Palau only has about 20,000 people in the whole country. They are really, really away from everything that‘s not Palau. But they got an outsized amount of attention during the Bush administration, specifically during the Bush administration‘s war on terror, and even within that, specifically about the war in Iraq.
And they got that attention because the White House proudly touted Palau as a member of the Coalition of the Willing. Now, little Palau was a steadfast if awkward ally for invasion because Palau and five other countries on the Bush administration‘s list of Iraq war allies didn‘t actually have a military, which made them an awkward military ally.
Citizens of Palau can actually join the U.S. Military and many have, but then again, saying that the nation of Palau supports a U.S. Military operation when that‘s their military, too? It‘s a little like throwing yourself a surprise party. Doesn‘t make all that much sense.
Well, Palau is back in the news today because we are finally figuring out the man at the state department who was in charge of closing Guantanamo, Daniel Fried, took a mysterious trip to Palau last week about which the state department would say nothing other than confirming he was there.
It turns out, Mr. Fried may have been negotiating Palau, our steadfast, if unarmed ally, as a landing spot for some particularly tricky Guantanamo prisoners. Four years ago, authorities at Guantanamo admitted that there was really no justification at all for continuing to hold a group of Chinese guys as prisoners at Guantanamo. Although they had ended up at Guantanamo, they were not actually suspected of being terrorists. They were not even suspected of being plain criminals.
Four years ago authorities at Guantanamo said, “These guys are innocent. We would like to let them go.” Four years later, they are still there. Nobody can figure out where to send them. These guys are Chinese Muslims. They‘re from an ethnic group called the Uighurs. If they were sent back to China, the Chinese government is all but promising to eat them alive since there is no love lost between the Chinese government and the Uighur minority which has shown some interest in maybe being independent.
Last year, a federal judge in this country ruled that the Uighurs had to be released here. There is a large and enthusiastic Uighur community in the D.C. suburb that said they would happily house these men and get them jobs.
But then, that ruling was overturned. And now, the Obama administration is arguing at the Supreme Court that the Uighurs should not be let out into the United States, even though they are innocent and even though we‘ve been holding them in prison for years knowing that they were innocent.
Well, now, today‘s news - a potential solution. We may be looking at another round of survivor Palau, this time though, it‘s the Uighur edition. No decisions have been made yet, apparently. But there are talks underway to have Palau accept our 17 woe-begotten innocent Uighur prisoners in exchange for a ton of money.
The AP is reporting that the negotiations for Palau to take these 17 guys may involve a promise of as much as $200 million of development aid and budget support and other inducements to sweeten the deal. That would be roughly $10,000 per citizen of Palau.
Or looked at another way, that would be a payment to Palau of $11,764,705 per Uighur. So Palau, our steadfast ally, for every Uighur, you take you get just about $12 million.
And you know, actually, I‘m happy to announce right here - we‘ll make a little news right here, that if the same terms offered, THE RACHEL MADDOW staff has agreed to take two Uighurs ourselves.
And because we are patriots, we will rail down the asking price to $23 million for the two Uighurs. And you can just credit our account for the amount that our government saved on airfare to Palau.
Alternatively, we as a country could man up and stop trying to bribe other countries to solve our problems that we are too fraidy cat to solve ourselves.
MADDOW: We turn now to our animation impersonation correspondent, the one and only Kent Jones. Hi, Kent.
KENT JONES, POP CULTURIST: Good evening, Rachel. An important record was surpassed over the weekend in the Welsh town of Swanzy(ph).
JONES: It‘s very inspiring. Take a look.
MADDOW: All right.
JONES (voice-over): As human achievements go, there‘s only a handful that really matter - scaling the summit of Mt. Everest, breaking the sound barrier, and of course, squeezing thousands of blue Welshmen into one disco.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We‘re trying to break the Guinness World Record for the most Smurfs in (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
JONES: You remember Smurf, that gaggle of adorable blue folk who live
in mushroom houses? And use “Smurf” as a noun -
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We‘re all ready to make Smurf ferries.
JONES: A verb -
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: All‘s well that smurfs well.
JONES: And an adjective.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR It‘s hard to be the smurfiest one yet.
JONES: Who among us hasn‘t thrilled to the antics of say Papa Smurf and then said to themselves, “I will now paint myself blue and find 2,000 of my friends to do likewise?” Such was the case in Swanzy(ph) where 2,510 Smurf imposters amassed to set a new Guinness World Record.
The mark was finally confirmed at 1:00 a.m. And every Smurf had to be checked to make sure no natural skin was showing because cheating would kill competitive smurfing. And yet, there was an existing world record, 1,253 Smurfs gathered in Ireland last year. Losing that record was no doubt a crushing blow to Ireland‘s national pride. So if you are visiting there, don‘t bring it up.
But in a throbbing club in Swanzy(ph), the happy world record breakers smurfed the night away, energized, not by alcohol or psychoactive drugs, but by the natural exuberance for which Smurfs are famous. Come on, America, let‘s break this record. Three cheers for the red, white and blue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I think the big scandal here is that the welsh Smurf hats were so much more awesome than the lame Irish Smurf hats.
JONES: You are getting into dangerous territory here. I mean - all right, OK.
MADDOW: That looked like a chef‘s toque to me. I want to see real Smurf action.
JONES: That‘s not smurfy enough. What‘s that?
MADDOW: It‘s nice to see more than one girl. Smurfettes always (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
JONES: A lot of Smurfettes out there - yes.
MADDOW: Very good. Thank you, Kent.
MADDOW: Cocktail moment - historical.
MADDOW: Historical cocktail moment - on this date in 1954, so 55 years ago, one of the best things that anybody ever did to the tyrannical, loathsome senator who gave us the term “McCarthyism,” Sen. Joe McCarthy, was spoken by Army special counsel Joseph N. Welch.
And so today, on the anniversary, I want to salute Mr. Welch for having said the exact right thing at the exact right time to the exact right jerk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH N. WELCH, ARMY SPECIAL COUNSEL: Look, you‘ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: “Have you left no sense of decency?” My favorite thing about that is that McCarthy never looks up.
Thank you, Kent. “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann starts right now.
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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.>