The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/19/12
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thanks, my friend.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
It was July 23rd, 2007. And it was one of the debates where the
moderator does not ask the questions. Instead they have the questions
submitted by different people all around the country via YouTube.
At that debate in July 2007, there was the greatest surprise visual
review from any questioner in any debate thus far, or since.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JARED TOWNSEND, MICHIGAN: Good evening, America. My name is Jared
Townsend from Clio, Michigan.
To all the candidates, tell me your position on gun control as myself
and other Americans really want to know if our babies are safe.
This is my baby, purchased under the 1994 gun ban. Please tell me
your views. Thank you.
ANDERSON COOPER, MODERATOR: Senator Biden, are you going to be able
to keep his baby safe?
THEN-SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I tell you
what? If that`s his baby, he needs help.
BIDEN: I think he just made an admission against self-interest. I
don`t know that he is mentally qualified to own that gun.
I`m not – I`m being serious. Look, this idea, we go around talking
about people who own – I`m the guy that originally wrote the assault
Look, we should be working with law enforcement right now to make sure
that we protect people against people who don`t – are not capable of
knowing what to do with a gun.
BIDEN: Because they`re either mentally unbalanced and/or because they
have a criminal record.
COOPER: We got one more question.
BIDEN: I hope he doesn`t come looking for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was July of 2007. Joe Biden was running for president
at the time.
You know, that famous quote from the conservative activist Grover
Norquist about how his goal is to shrink government down to the size where
he can drown it in a bathtub. That famously is Grover Norquist`s attitude
about all of government, right? It makes it sort of remarkable that
anybody would even think he might be a relevant player in stuff like the
negotiations over taxes and spending and deficit reduction that are
happening right now between the White House and congressional Republicans.
Really, we have to consult the guy who wants to drown the government?
But talking that way about government, talking about killing the
government in a bathtub is not designed to make you a mainstream appealing
figure. It`s designed to make you a hero on the right. It`s the type of
conservatism that sees itself as insurgent. You know, it`s them against
the government. They like to see themselves as outsiders who are only in
Washington because they want to destroy Washington.
So, mostly, when you hear rhetoric like that from the right, it is
ideological posturing. If it were a real governing philosophy of the
Republican Party, the government would not always get larger under
Republican presidents the way it does.
But there is one part of government where that sort of attitude, the
get it down to the size where you can drown it in the bathtub attitude is
not just empty right-ring branding and hyperbole. There is one part of
governance at the federal level where the conservative movement has
actually succeeded in making government small enough to drown it in the
bathroom at home. That part of governance still technically exists, but
they have hollowed it out and sucked the life out of it. They have made so
it weak, it cannot properly function, and nobody expects it to.
And you can tell what part of governance they have done this to with
one simple test. Find any other federal agency in the United States
government when on the day that the president of the United States at a
live, nationally televised, on all the networks news conference, when the
president talks about a personnel matter at that specific agency and names
the agency explicitly, the president says it himself, on TV that day –
find me any other federal agency where on that day you call that agency for
comment on that day before the close of business at 5:00 p.m., and they
tell you: actually, there is nobody here to – there is nobody here to help
you there is nobody around to answer any of your questions. We might want
to try transfers you to one of our West Coast offices because the time
difference, it`s earlier there maybe there is somebody still.
I understand it`s the holiday season, sort of. But the ATF, the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives is so under-
resourced and understaffed, it is so atrophied from being politically
undermined for so many years that, today, when the president of the United
States said it might be nice to put somebody in charge of that agency
officially for the first time in six years, there was nobody home at that
agency to comment on that. Nobody available this afternoon to handle press
queries about that rather high profile presidential assertion.
If you make a product that is regulated by the government for health
and safety reasons in this country, it is understandable that you`ll resent
that, right? That your industry, whatever it is, won`t like your
regulators. You would rather that part of the government that regulates
you just go away. Nobody wants to have to deal with somebody telling you
what you can do and can`t do in your industry. All industries resent their
regulators – that has been true since the beginning of industry.
But in the case of the gun manufacturer`s lobby, they have gotten
their wish. They would please like the part of the government that is
responsible for regulating the health and safety of their products to
disappear. And through the magic of the conservative movement and the gun
lobby and politicians not standing up to that movement`s pressure, nobody
runs that part of our government anymore, and nobody has for the entire
time that Barack Obama has been president. And nobody did for a good part
of the time that George W. Bush was president.
In 2006, Republicans in Congress got an amendment added to the
reauthorization of the Patriot Act. It made the director of the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives a Senate confirmable position.
And then guess who the Senate confirmed? Nobody. Not ever, not since at
We are a nation with over 300 million guns, and the worst gun violence
problem of any industrialized nation on Earth by a mile, and the part of
our national government that is responsible for responding to that problem
and regulating that product has been so successfully demonized and attacked
and undermined by the gun lobby and the conservative movement that the
current interim acting director, because that`s all we`re ever allowed to
have anymore is an interim acting director, the current one is a commuter.
He is part-time. He also has another job being the U.S. attorney for the
state of Minnesota.
Same thing was true at the end of the Bush administration. At this
time, the ATF`s interim acting director was also a commuter. He also had
another job as a U.S. attorney in Boston.
And, you know, why bother having somebody do this job full time? It`s
like the way people who make keys and people who repair shoes sometimes
share a storefront. Each one is like half a business. Cobbler, key
cutter, and ensuring the safe and legal operation of the multibillion gun
market in the United States. You can just do that on Tuesdays and
Thursdays, right? Maybe you can do that online, check into flex-time.
The fact that the gun lobby and the Republicans will not allow anybody
to be in charge of the agency that regulates firearms in this country is
one of the ridiculous anomalies about this particular field of policy and
governance that the president talked about at his press conference today.
He got very specific about this today in a way that he has not done before.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is already a
growing consensus for us to build from. A majority of Americans support
banning the sale of military-style assault weapons. A majority of
Americans support banning the sale of high capacity ammunition clips. A
majority of Americans support laws requiring background checks before all
gun purchases so that criminals can`t take advantage of legal loopholes to
buy a gun from somebody who won`t take the responsibility of doing a
background check at all.
I urge the new Congress to hold votes on these measures next year in a
timely manner. And considering Congress hasn`t confirmed a director of the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in six years, the agency that
works most closely with state and local law enforcement to keep illegal
guns out of the hands of criminals, I`d suggest that they make this a
priority early in the year.
If we work harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,
there would be fewer atrocities like the one in Newtown, or any of the
lesser known tragedies that visit small towns and big cities all across
America every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The president today getting pretty specific about what kind
of reform he is aiming for. He also explained his plan for how to get
there, which is also a pretty specific plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an
excuse for doing nothing. The fact that we can`t prevent every act of
violence doesn`t mean we can`t steadily reduce the violence. And prevent
the very worst violence.
That`s why I`ve asked the vice president to lead an effort that
includes members of my cabinet and outside organizations to come up with a
set of concrete proposals no later than January, proposals that I then
intend to push without delay.
This is not some Washington commission. This is not something where
folks are going to be studying the issue for six months and publishing a
report that gets read and then pushed aside. This is a team that has a
very specific task, to pull together real reforms right now.
I asked Joe to lead this effort in part because he wrote the 1994
crime bill that helped law enforcement bring down the rate of violent crime
in this country. That plan – that bill also included the assault weapons
ban that was publicly supported at the time by former presidents, including
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The president setting a deadline that is just weeks from now,
not months from now, but weeks from now for when he wants specific
proposals for reform. He said real reform right now. That tight timeline
ensures that this is going to stay at the top of the agenda in this moment
where the public is clamoring for change.
Also, putting the vice president specifically in charge of it ensures
that it is going to remain a high profile executive effort. Vice President
Biden also what a substantive record on this issue. Not only did he write
the 1994 bill that included the assault weapons ban, he spent years
shepherding it through Congress, meeting and negotiating with Republicans,
making the kind of compromises that helped win support for the bill without
So, in putting Vice President Biden in charge of working for reform on
this issue, the president has picked a guy who has a record of getting
exactly this kind of reform done in Congress.
But I think it`s also important here that when the president today
invoked Vice President Biden`s work on the assault weapons ban in 1994, he
also name-dropped somebody who was another really key player in that fight,
and that is former President Ronald Reagan. By 1994, Ronald Reagan was not
frequently participating in politics, right? But that year, he intervened
personally to get crucial Republican votes for the assault weapons ban in
Now, today, there is no President Reagan anymore. It is not clear in
Republican politics who could play the role of a President Reagan on an
issue like this to move Republicans to supporting it.
But Vice President Biden is going to need some Republicans. And he is
going to need some Republican leadership in order to get this done. In
1994, they needed President Reagan`s help, even when they had a Democratic
House and a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president.
This time, the Democrats do not have the House. Is there any hope
that there will be Republicans who will help make this possible? If there
is no Republican help, like there has been on so many other issues in the
Obama administration, if there is no Republican help at all, if they
totally blank him on this, then nothing can happen through Congress, and
that makes it much shorter list of reforms that can be done.
Speaking realistically, what is possible here? Not just what is
desirable, but what is possible? With this big presidential commitment to
this issue today, what really might get done?
Joining us now is Senator Barbara Boxer of California.
Senator Boxer, thank you very much for being here. It`s nice to have
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks.
MADDOW: President Obama said this will not be just another Washington
commission whose ideas get pushed aside after months of study. What do you
think is possible to achieve?
BOXER: First of all, I want to say that Joe Biden is a no nonsense
person who I had the privilege of working with the – authored the Violence
Against Women Act. He is as you said shepherded it through, Senator
Feinstein`s bill that banned the assault weapons. He created the COPS
program which we together worked to make sure that there were some grants
to make schools safer through that COPS program.
So he is giving the job to a can-do person who is well loved in the
Senate and in the House. And I think this signals that this issue, as you
say, is going to be front and center.
Senator Feinstein has been very overt about the idea that this is more
doable than people think it is. Obviously, there had been an attempt on an
assault weapons ban, shepherded by then-Senator Biden before Senator
Feinstein was successful with her bill in 1994.
Do you feel like there are lessons learned about how to get these
things done, how to find some common ground, how to find some Republicans
that will express not just support for this idea, but will actually go
there when it`s time to vote?
BOXER: Well, Rachel, one of the intriguing things about the vote on
the Feinstein amendment was it was not filibustered. It just got the 51
needed. And I remember, because she reminded me the other day that Carol
Moseley Braun was running late, and we held our breath and Carol came in
and voted aye.
So, one thing I would hope is we wouldn`t have to face a filibuster.
We`ve got to keep in our minds what just happened in Connecticut. We`ve
got to keep those children in our minds. And it touched the hearts of
everybody. And I think if we do that and we forget about our political
skins for five seconds, we can get something done.
And with Joe doing his work and Senator Feinstein and others like
Senator Lautenberg working on high capacity clips, I`m working on school
safety, Chuck Schumer is working on mental health help, we have a very good
team of people working on all these issues. And it should happen.
MADDOW: When you talk about what we need to put aside in order to
make this progress, I know that you tonight were one of the senators who
attended this big bipartisan screening for the Senate of the movie
“Lincoln.” I just – (a), I liked the movie. But (b), I liked that you all
went together, that it was Democrats and Republicans in the Senate going
together to find some common ground. I sort of think of it as a movie club
or a book club for you.
I wonder if that – (a), how it went, and (b), if that made you feel
any differently than you might have before about whether or not Democrats
and Republicans can move forward together?
BOXER: I`m really happy that you asked the question, because when I
stood up to ask a question of a couple of the people on the panel who were
pretty fabulous, like Daniel Day Lewis and Doris Kearns Goodwin and Steven
Spielberg and Tony Kushner, and it was really quite a panel. The first
thing I said, was how great it was to see bipartisanship here.
But let me tell you what I think you know how great the movie is.
I`ve now seen it twice. It`s better the second time.
But it shows you that government can do important, good things for the
cause of human dignity. And that it takes work and it is hard. And it
takes focus and presidential leadership.
And you have to think about the good of the country. And it shows
that government can be a force of good. And, of course, you know, in my
work sometimes, it`s so exhilarating and sometimes it`s so frustrating.
And you get – you just throw up your hands. But we can do it. If
Lincoln could do what he did, which was an amazing feat to outlaw slavery
when everything, all the cards were stacked against him – as a matter of
fact, I think it was Tony Kushner who said tonight we had the fiscal cliff.
There it was the 13th Amendment cliff. No one knew whether it would pass
until the actual votes were taken.
So, we`re faced with these things, and we really do have to work
together as hard as it is. And sometimes it`s hard.
MADDOW: Senator Barbara Boxer of California – thank you for your
time tonight. I`m sure this is the last thing you wanted to do after
seeing that film and being in that environment. I really appreciate you
taking the time.
BOXER: No, I`m delighted. Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. There is one gun control measure that does not require the
federal government to do anything. It requires a little bit of money and
some volunteers, and a little bit of planning. And everybody ends up
really happy at the end of it, even the people who usually complain about
everything, and it`s already happening.
Some dramatic pictures from one sudden trend in this field that is not
at all a bummer. That`s coming up.
MADDOW: Ready for a story that is not a bummer? This is not a
Here is how it works: you bring in a firearm, any kind of gun, rifle,
handgun, semiautomatic weapon, it doesn`t even have to work properly. It
could be broken for all they care. But you just bring it in and you hand
it over. You give it up.
And in exchange, you get money, or gift cards. Sometimes you get
money and a gift card. And it`s no questions asked.
It`s called a gun buyback. And it happens all the time all over the
In Camden County, New Jersey, this weekend, look at this. Look at
this! Residents traded in their guns for cash.
They traded in 1,137 firearms in Camden County, New Jersey, over two
days. That was a record, the most successful gun buyback in the state`s
People could trade in up to three guns per person. Payment was done
on a sliding scale depending on the gun, with the most dangerous weapons
garnering $250 each.
The money for that particular buyback came from the attorney general`s
office in New Jersey.
Also this weekend across the country, in Oakland and San Francisco,
the same scene. A record-breaking gun buyback, almost 600 guns taken off
the streets. Each gun exchanged for $200. People waited in long and cold
lines for hours for the chance to make that exchange in Oakland and San
The guns the city has collected will be cross referenced with a
database to make sure they were not used in any crime. And then those guns
will be melted down and turned into less deadly things like park benches
I bet if anybody needed plowshares, they could make those, too.
Those weapons in California were collected by the police, but the
buyback part was funded by nonprofit groups, including $100,000 donation
from a guy who runs a medical marijuana dispensary. And apparently, that`s
a good way to make a lot of money.
In Brooklyn, New York, this weekend, people went to trade guns for
debit cards at two different locations. The program was run by the police
and the Brooklyn district attorney`s office. More than 130 guns were
turned in in exchange for up to $200 a gun.
In Evanston, Illinois, just north of Chicago, there was a gun buyback
program this weekend at a church organized by a community activist whose
son was shot and killed in Evanston last month. The police collected 26
handguns, 15 rifles, four shotguns.
In Baltimore, Maryland, at the city college high school, officers
collected firearms, more than 450 firearms in exchange for $100 gift cards
from a legal grocery store.
In a press release about the event, the grocery store said, quote, “no
gun dealers, please”.
On Mother`s Day in Los Angeles, a gun buyback program there. Look at
this, took in 1,600 weapons, including an assault rifle with a 50-round
clip and a silencer. Somebody even turned in a rocket launcher. That
program is run by the city`s gang reduction unit.
Detroit, Michigan, has seen a bunch of these buybacks, including one
last August, where more than 700 guns were turned in at one location in
just six hours on just one day.
The most interesting question to come out of the president`s press
conference today is what exactly will happen at the federal level on the
reform of gun laws. The president said there would be firm proposals from
his administration in a matter of weeks. Real reforms right now, he said.
But whether or not there is specific and consequential action at the
federal level to reduce gun violence, honestly, specific and consequential
action can happen in any town, any time – with almost no notice and very,
very little planning.
That`s what these gun buyback programs show. They can be held in
small towns and big cities. They can happen in parking lots or in churches
or in grocery stores. The money can come from a local government or it can
come from you.
It won`t solve every problem. It will not prevent every crime. It
will not prevent every tragedy related to gun violence. No one thing will.
But community-run buybacks hurt no one. They are voluntary. Anyone
can do them. They can get guns off the streets and out of the places they
are not wanted.
The end results of the programs like this are honestly relief and
gratitude for the opportunity on all sides. How many things are true of
that on any policy issue in this country?
This seems like a place to start.
MADDOW: Here is a weird detail about campaign logistics. When they
are in full campaign mode, presidential candidates scramble from event to
event very quickly, sometimes three or four or five in one day. Of course,
they don`t travel alone. They haul their aides and their entourages along,
and they also take with them the reporters covering their campaigns.
The way it works traditionally is that many campaign reporters are
transported around by the candidate because the schedule is so intense and
so fluid, that that can basically make it impossible for news outlets to
arrange for their own reporters` travel and logistics independent of the
So the campaigns end up taking a bunch of reporters with them
everywhere they go. They sort of take responsibility for their press pool.
And that means they even feed the reporters and put them up in hotels.
It`s like a big carpool, if all the kids in the carpool were trying to
catch the driver of the carpool saying something really embarrassing all
But even though the campaign takes responsibility for arranging the
room and board and travel of the reporters who are covering their
candidate, that doesn`t mean that the campaign pays for those things for
the reporters, that would be weird, right? That would be a strange
relationship between the coverers and the coveree.
And so, to avoid that ethics weirdness, the arrangement they make is
this: news organizations promise in advance that they will pay the costs of
their reporters` food and travel once the whole campaign is finished. The
campaigns promise to charge reasonable prices for those things. They
promise the charges will be tallied up after the campaign, and the news
outfits promise to pay.
It`s not an official rule or anything, but that`s the way it works.
That is the way it has traditionally worked – until this year. BuzzFeed
was first to report this year a bunch of news outlets are taking the
unprecedented step of contesting the charges from the Mitt Romney campaign,
because they say the charges are crazy expensive. Like crazy, crazy
A bunch of major newspapers, including “The L.A. Times”, “The Wall
Street Journal,” “The New York Times,” and “The Washington Post,” as well
as Web sites like BuzzFeed and Yahoo have now sent letters to the Romney
for president campaign protesting price gouging of the reporters. And from
the details that they list, it kind of seems like they have a point.
Quoting from the letter, “We`ve dealt with numerous campaigns over the
past decades, and understand that we pay a premium to travel with a
candidate. But recent invoices from your campaign have raised serious
questions about the charges you have forwarded to us for travel with Mitt
Por ejemplo, $745 per person charged for a vice presidential debate
viewing party. The price for one meal and a hold on October 18th, $812. A
hold is just a space where the press waits after one event before leaving
for another event. On the very next day, the price for a meal was $461.
On October 30th, the price for food and a hold was $345.
Quote, “These costs far exceed typical expenses on the campaign trail.
Also, it was clear to all present that the campaign`s paid staff frequently
consumed the food and drinks ostensibly produced for the media. Were any
of the costs of these events charged to the campaign itself to cover the
care and feeding of its staff?”
The Romney campaign, the campaign of one of the richest men ever to
run for president, charged reporters $812 for a meal. We do not know at
this time exactly what that $812 meal consisted of. I hope it was this.
For the record, this is a hamburger were a diamond on it.
We actually searched various New York City restaurants today, looking
for the most expensive meals we could find, and we could not find an $812
per person meal. So, this is our best estimation, the closest we could get
– hamburger with diamond.
Until these loose ends get tied up, the Mitt Romney for president
campaign cannot become the historical curiosity it is now destined to
become. There are still some material consequences of that campaign that
have to be sorted out, mostly with American Express.
But in today`s news, there was another major story that made clear in
the starkest possible terms just how important that Romney campaign was.
And what a different country we would be already if the result of that
elect had gone in the other direction.
That is coming up at the close of tonight`s show. It is a big story.
It`s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go
after somebody, they should go after me. And I`m happy to have that
discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador who had
nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on
intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Does this mean we get Susan Rice back? I know, I know, it`s
a done deal. We are told that the president is picking John Kerry to be
secretary of state after Hillary Clinton.
But if this was supposedly the reason that Susan Rice could not be
considered for that job as well, this is out now, and it says in a fair
world, we would get Susan Rice back in contention.
This is the report of the Independent Accountability Review Board that
was authorized by law as part of the response to the attack on the U.S.
consulate in Benghazi, the attack that killed a serving U.S. ambassador for
the first time since the 1970s. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other
Americans were killed in an armed assault by a militant group on a U.S.
facility that was in an area known for its armed militant groups.
The attack was concurrent with worldwide protests at U.S. facilities
throughout the Muslim world against a cartoonish anti-Islam video that had
been posted on YouTube.
The report, which was chaired by long-time diplomat Thomas Pickering
and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, placed blame
on the U.S. for being unable to foresee that attack and unable to protect
against that attack squarely on the U.S. State Department.
And so somebody totally unrelated to that expect be secretary of state
now? I don`t understand.
Republican senators after the election decided that the person they
wanted to attack for Benghazi was somebody who had nothing to do with that
attack, nothing to do with embassy security, with diplomatic security, not
even somebody who works at the State Department. But she was somebody who
the president was considering nominating for secretary of state. She was
the U.N. ambassador.
Well, Susan Rice last week withdrew her name from consideration for
the secretary of state job because of Republican senators unrelenting
criticism of her on the basis of Benghazi. Then today, the long-awaited
accountability report on that attack reiterates that she had no role, no
responsibility for what went wrong there whatsoever.
Because of who the report did find responsible, three State Department
officials did resign today, including the assistant secretary of state for
diplomatic security and two deputy assistant secretaries responsible for
that region of the world and for embassy security specifically.
The top dog at the department, Secretary Clinton, says she is
accepting all of the review board`s recommendations, even the classified
ones that we don`t get to know about. She said the State Department is
requesting that Congress transfer more than $1.3 billion out of a
contingency fund for Iraq into bolstering security at embassies and U.S.
That will include funding for a thousand more U.S. Marines to be
distributed to U.S. embassies around the globe. A thousand, that`s a lot.
And it is likely to be all but permanent.
Joining us now is Andrea Mitchell, NBC`s chief foreign affairs
Andrea, thank you very much for being with us. I appreciate your
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You
bet. Good to be with you.
MADDOW: Secretary of State Clinton has been out sick recovering from
a concussion, but we are hearing that she may testify in Benghazi, on
Capitol Hill next month. Two of her top deputies are expected to testify
What do you anticipate is going to happen with all of that?
MITCHELL: Well, it`s unclear that she`s actually going to be able to
testify because Congress may not be in session next month, although they
are pressing for her to. In particular, Bob Corker, a member of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, said today not very subtly in fact that he
would not be moving ahead on the nomination of her successor expected to be
John Kerry, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, until they`ve
had a chance to hear from her.
She and her staff have simply said to the committee chairs that she
needs more time. And in fact tonight we learn that she will not be
traveling. That her doctors do not want her to get on an airplane for any
extended travel until at least mid-January. So, this is a very difficult
pace for someone who is used to being nonstop.
On Benghazi, the hearings will be held tomorrow. I think that
certainly on the Senate side they will be polite. Two top officials, the
two top deputies are going to be testifying.
But this has been a devastating report, there is no way to sugarcoat
it. It basically said there is systemic fault in the State Department.
And it goes all the way back at least until 1998, that the improvements
that had been ordered in 1998 after the embassy bombings in Kenya and
Tanzania have not been done and that there are security failures at high-
threat posts all over the world.
MADDOW: Andrea, I think about the relationship of the State
Department to the other giant in the American government in terms of our
relations and our outposts around the world. And that, of course, is the
Defense Department. Anybody close to the missions of those two departments
talks about how much the State Department is dwarfed by the Pentagon in
budget and in what they`re consequently able to do.
Is this the sort of thing where the State Department just isn`t
capable, hasn`t been resourced enough, and doesn`t have the skill and the
ability to take care of its outpost abroad in a dangerous world?
MITCHELL: Well, they need security. And the Marines are there at
major embassies, but not at these kinds of outposts.
Benghazi wasn`t even a consulate, really. It was a mission. And
then, what we later learned was a very large – relatively large CIA annex
that wasn`t very far from that post.
So, there was a very small footprint. They relied on the local
militia. And they should have been aware.
Gross mismanagement, grossly understaffed – those are tough words
from this report by two top very highly regarded officials, Mike Mullen and
So they were relying on local militia. The security videos that were
shown to the Senate committees last week and the house committees indicated
that those militia, those Libyans ran, they jumped into a pickup truck at
the very first sign of trouble and just took off and drove away.
So, there was no real security, just a handful. And they were
completely overwhelmed. So there is bad intelligence, bad planning. They
had requested, including Ambassador Stevens requesting better security.
But the post did not demand it.
And also, Congress, several of them were honest, including Corker and
a couple of the other members today in the Senate and the House were
acknowledging they also are at fault, because they did not properly fund
the State Department. And it really is a crisis here.
Either they have to put a lot more money in and put real guns there,
and not rely on the host countries in these countries after the Arab spring
where you don`t have – let`s face it, a dictator, a totalitarian leader
like Mubarak who can guard your embassy for you, or we have to pull back
from high threat posts. And no one wants that to happen. That`s a very
Look, after we pulled our combat troops out of Iraq, the State
Department was left in Iraq holding the bag, and completely unequipped to
deal with that.
MADDOW: A dilemma, as you say, and a crisis at a time when the State
Department is already an incredibly delicate political position. This is
fascinating and important stuff.
Andrea Mitchell, NBC`s chief foreign affairs correspondent – it`s an
honor to have you here, Andrea. Thank you.
MITCHELL: My honor. Thank you. Good night, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. The bad news is we made a mistake on the show.
The good news is the correction involves a hilarious celebrity video. And
we never had an excuse to play celebrity videos on the show ever. But
tonight, we have a legit reason to do it, and that is coming up.
MADDOW: There are certain things that happen in American politics and
in American law that even though they happen relatively recently, even
though they happen within the last generation, you still kind of can`t
believe they really happened at all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL STERN, NBC NEWS REPORTER: It was the kind of day that even Bork
described as difficult. He had to defend an opinion he wrote involving
women workers at a West Virginia chemical plant in which he upheld a policy
requiring the women, whose future unborn children might be harmed by the
chemicals to be sterilized or quit.
Five women underwent sterilization to keep their jobs.
SEN. HOWARD METZENBAUM (D), OHIO: Judge, I must tell you that it is
such a shocking decision, and I can`t understand how you as a jurist could
put women to the choice of work or be sterilized.
ROBERT BORK, FORMER U.S. CIRCUIT JUDGE: Some chose sterilization.
Some did not. The fact is if they had not offered that choice, these women
would have been put in lower paying jobs or would have been discharged.
They offered a choice to the women. Some of them, I guess, didn`t want to
METZENBAUM: I cannot tell you strongly enough that the women of this
country are terribly, terribly apprehensive about your appointment.
Yesterday, you said women and blacks who know your record on the court need
not fear you.
But the fact is, Judge Bork, they do fear you. They`re concerned.
They`re frightened. And it`s only fair to say that you`ve made it quite
clear in your appearance before this panel that you`re not a frightening
man, but you are a man with frightening views.
BORK: I have never said anything or decided anything that should be
frightening to women. In fact, you`re undoubtedly correct, Senator, that
there are women who are apprehensive. I think it can only be because they
don`t know my record.
STERN: Later in the afternoon, one of the West Virginia women who was
26 when she was sterilized, sent a telegram to the senators, calling it the
most awful thing that ever happened to her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That really happened here. A federal judge upholding a
corporation`s right to fire employees if they do not submit to being
sterilized. That happened, and not all that long ago.
But wait, here is another one. This one is from politics. And again
you kind of can`t believe that it happened.
What was going on at the time is a special prosecutor was
investigating the White House. And when the prosecutor ordered the White
House to turn over some evidence for the investigation, the president told
his attorney general to fire the prosecutor and his whole staff. The
attorney general said no and then quit.
So then the president called the attorney general`s deputy and said
you fire the deputy. And the deputy said no. And then he got fired by the
The president had to keep going down the chain of command until he got
to the third guy that he asked, and then that guy was happy to do it. That
guy fired the special prosecutor and had the FBI come in and seal off the
prosecutor`s office, because the president did not want to be investigated.
For something it turns out he really did do and he got caught for.
That is not a movie that really happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: “The Tonight Show” will not be seen tonight so we can
bring you the following NBC News special report.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good evening.
The country tonight is in a midst what may be the most serious
constitutional crisis in its history.
The attorney general has resigned. Elliot Richardson, who was
appointed attorney general only last May in the midst of the Watergate
scandal, has quit, saying he cannot carry out Mr. Nixon`s instructions.
Richardson`s deputy, William Ruckelshaus, has been fired. Ruckelshaus
refused in a moment of constitutional drama to obey a presidential order to
fire the special Watergate prosecutor.
The president has abolished special Watergate Cox`s office and duties
and turned the prosecution of Watergate crimes over to the Justice
Department. And the Department is now headed at the president`s direction
by the Solicitor General Robert H. Bork who has held his office only since
Bork issued a terse statement tonight saying an explanation of his
firing of the special Watergate prosecutor, “All I will say is that I
carried out the president`s directive.”
That`s a stunning directive, and nothing even remotely like it has
happened in all of our history.
MADDOW: There are some things that really have happened in modern
politics that still seem impossible to believe now. And when these not
quite believable things have happened in the field of law, they frequently
have involved a man named Judge Robert Bork.
Judge Robert Bork died today at the age of 85. After his involvement
in the Watergate ear, Saturday night massacre, after he said that companies
absolutely had a right to sterilize their female employees or fire them,
after he said that racial segregation had to stay legal, and that there is
no right of free speech in America unless you`re talking explicitly about
the government in that speech – after all of that, maybe the most amazing
thing about Robert Bork`s career, is that on the basis of that career, he
was nominated to be a Supreme Court justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Bork again stuck by his position that the Constitution does
not bar the government from regulating personal and marital conduct.
BORK: A marital right to privacy, I don`t know. I would – it may
well, I have seen arguments to that effect, but I have never investigated
BIDEN: Well, as I said earlier, Judge, we`re going to see a lot of
things start to come up in the law we`re going to have to face that are
going to relate to marital right to privacy, just the way technology is
changing. And we`re going to have everything from legislation, I predict
to you, in the next 20 years, on everything from test-tube babies to
BORK: Oh, I think we are, and I don`t know – I don`t know what the
answer to that is because I have never thought about it.
BIDEN: I think the Constitution is more expansive than I think you
read it. And I think judges have more latitude and should have more
latitude that you think they should.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s a very young Joe Biden.
Ronald Reagan knew that he was picking a fight when he picked somebody
as controversial as Robert Bork to be on the Supreme Court. But it wasn`t
clear before those confirmation hearings who was going to win that fight,
which way it was going to go. In the end, 58 senators voted no on Robert
Bork. That was the highest votes cast against a Supreme Court nominee.
After being denied on the Supreme Court by those 58 votes , Robert
Bork went on to become a conservative hero, mostly I think by virtue of how
badly his effort to become a Supreme Court justice failed.
He immediately resigned his seat on a lower court, and he became a
full-time conservative celebrity and author. He became the American
right`s North Star for what a judge or potential judge should be like.
As I said, Judge Bork has died today at the age of 85. And he is
being celebrated on the political right that came to celebrate him almost
as a hero, came to almost worship him, politically.
But for the rest of the country, Judge Bork`s legacy stands as a
reminder of what might have been. Robert Bork this past year was named the
top judicial adviser to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Had
the election gone the other way, had Mitt Romney won, Judge Bork would have
been advising President-elect Mitt Romney right now about who`s America`s
next judges should be – about who should be appointed to the Supreme Court
by President Romney.
That did not happen because of this election. America lost a judge
today, the right lost one of their heroes, and the rest of America lost a
vivid reminder of just how much elections have consequences.
MADDOW: OK, “Department of Corrections”.
I made an error on last night`s show. I had no idea I made this error
because I apparently am now an old person. The less aged members of THE
RACHEL MADDOW SHOW staff, Pat, were mortified when I said this, but I had
no idea it was wrong, listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The new song out from the latest album by the singer Kesha,
apparently the number three song in the country on radio.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: OK, the part that is correct there about what I said last
night is the song being new and off the latest album and it being the
number three song in the country on the radio.
I was talking about the song being pulled now from the radio in the
wake of what happened in Newtown. But an important part of that report on
last night`s show, I got wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The new song out from the latest album by the singer Kesha,
apparently the number three song in the country on radio.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Apparently what I got wrong is the name of the person whose
song it is. I got the name wrong from an incredibly pop singer, and I
already feel like a dummy. So, it would be great if somebody could explain
my error to me in the way that did not make me feel even more clueless and
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KE$HA, SINGER: Just so you know, just a little FYI, my name is not
Keisha, no. It`s not cashew. It`s not catch up. It is not LaKisha,
KeyShondra – none of those things. It`s not Keyshia Cole. It`s actually
Ke$ha, like Ke$ha, with a dollar sign.
Anyways, you can call it whatever the hell you want to if you`re
playing my record. But, if you just want to know what my actual name is –
it`s Ke$ha, with a dollar sign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: She has a dollar sign on her thumb there – I am old, I guess
I know it.
And I am also sorry, Ke$ha, with a dollar sign, that I said your name
incorrectly. I think I`ve been done (ph) it multiple times. If you`d like
try me to take it out of my hide, you will find me in the senior section,
wondering if those pants I still have from high school might become
fashionable again sometime in the next year. It`s very embarrassing. I
regret the error, a lot.
Now, it is time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Thanks for being with us tonight. Have a great night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>