The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 04/22/13
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you very much.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
I do actually have some breaking news to give you right now. This is
brand-new from NBC News` Pete Williams. Several officials familiar with
the initial interrogation of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at the hospital in Boston
describe him as cooperative.
A senior government official tells NBC News that Tsarnaev has told
them by writing some answers and by nodding yes or shaking his head no to
others that he and his brother were not in touch with any overseas
terrorists or groups. And that they conceived the bombing attack on their
own, motivated he told them by religious fervor. They got their
instructions on how to make bombs from the Internet, he said, according to
Again, that is breaking news from just moments ago from Pete Williams
at NBC News. We`ll give you more on that as we learn it.
Today at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, a federal
court hearing was called to order in the hospital room. A federal
magistrate judge came to the hospital, along with the defense attorney and
the prosecutor, and late this afternoon, they released a transcript of the
court hearing conducted right next to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev`s hospital bed at
Judge, “I`ll ask the doctor whether or not the patient is alert. You
can rouse him.” And the doctor says to the patient, “How are you feeling?
Are you able to answer some questions?” The defendant nods affirmatively.
Then the clerk of the court says, “United States District Court for
the district of Massachusetts is now in session. The Honorable Marianne B.
Bowler presiding, the case of U.S. versus Tsarnaev will now be heard. Will
counsel please identify themselves for the record?”
And then the defense counsel and the prosecuting counsel identify
themselves. They say, “Good morning, your Honor.”
The judge then asked the defense counsel, “You have had an opportunity
to speak with your client?” The answer is “Very briefly, Your Honor.”
Then the judge says to the patient/defendant, “So you have your
lawyers here.” The defendant nods affirmatively.
Then it`s the judge. “Mr. Tsarnaev, I am Magistrate Judge Bowler.
This hearing is your initial appearance before the court. We`re here
because you have been charged in a federal complaint. At this hearing, I
will advise you of your constitutional and legal rights. I will tell you
about the charges against you and the penalties that the court could impose
if you are found guilty.
You have been charged with: one, use of a weapon of mass destruction
and malicious destruction of property resulting in death.”
The judge asks the prosecuting attorney, Mr. Weinreb, “What are the
maximum penalties?” The prosecutor tells her, “Death or imprisonment for
life or imprisonment for any term of years.”
And it`s the judge again, speaking to the defendant. “This is not a
trial, and you will not be called upon to answer the charges at this time.
If at any time I say something you do not understand, interrupt me and say
so. Is that clear?” The defendant nods affirmatively.
The judge, “All right. I note that the defendant has nodded
affirmatively. As a first step in this hearing, I`m going to tell you
about your constitutional rights. You have the right under the
Constitution of the United States to remain silent. Any statement made by
you may be used against you in court, and you have the right not to have
your own words used against you.
You may consult with an attorney prior to any questioning, and you may
have the attorney present during the questioning. Counsel will be
appointed without charge if you cannot afford counsel.
If you choose to make a statement or answer questions without the
assistance of counsel, you may stop answering at any time. This right
means you do not have to answer any questions put to you by law enforcement
agents or by the assistant U.S. attorney, Mr. Weinreb.”
The judge then says, “I want to make it clear: you not prohibited from
making statements. But that if you do, they can be used against you. You
are not required to make a statement at this initial appearance, and any
statement you do make may be used against you.
Finally, if I ask you any questions here in this hearing or at any
future hearing which you think might incriminate you, you have the right
not to answer. Do you understand everything I have said about the right to
remain silent?” The defendant nods affirmatively.
The judge says, “You have the right to have this court assign counsel
if you cannot afford counsel or if you cannot obtain counsel. Can you
afford a lawyer?” The defendant says, “No.” And this is the first time we
know that he can speak, because he does speak. He says just that one word.
And apparently he says it with difficulty, because the judge responds
by saying, “Let the record reflect that I believe the defendant has said
“I have provisionally appointed the federal defender to represent you
in this matter.” And then the prosecuting attorney asks for the young man
to be detained pending trial given that he is in a hospital bed and can`t
move. The defense attorney says effectively, “Yes, that`s no problem with
us. We voluntarily agree to that and they all agree the defense lawyers
can have access to their client pursuant to hospital regulations and that
sort of thing.”
And then they agree that the next hearing, will be May 30th, which is
five and a half weeks from now at 10:00 in the morning. And then
proceedings are adjourned at the hospital bed.
That`s the way we do it in this country, even if justice has to travel
to you in your hospital bed as you recover from gunshot wounds to the head
and the neck and the legs and the hand. The judge will come to you and the
prosecutor, and you will get read your rights and be assigned defense
attorney if you cannot afford one, and you will be tried in court, in
civilian court. You are nothing special.
Also today in American military court, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord,
just south of Tacoma, Washington. Today, the worst fratricide incident of
the whole Iraq war resulted in a guilty plea. Army Sergeant John Russell
pleaded guilty to shooting and killing five fellow servicemen, one Navy
commander and four fellow Army soldiers. He was at a combat stress clinic
in Baghdad in May 2009 when he opened fire. It`s the worst incident of
Americans killing other Americans from the whole Iraq war. He pleaded
Also today in Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police held a press
conference to announce the arrest of two men want one in Toronto and one in
Montreal. They were allegedly part of a plot to derail a passenger train
inside Canada. Police say the attack was not eminent. It was in the
planning stages. They also say the two men were getting, quote, “direction
and guidance from al Qaeda members abroad.
Also today, this nuclear plant in eastern Tennessee, the Watts Barr
nuclear power plant returned to its normal status this afternoon, following
what the Tennessee Valley Authority called an unusual event late Saturday
The unusual event was a shoot-out on the grounds of the nuclear plant
at about 2:00 a.m. on Saturday night, Sunday morning. Security officer at
the nuclear plant was doing a routine perimeter patrol when he came across
somebody on the grounds of the plant. He confronted the individual,
whereupon the individual shot at him multiple times. He did not hit the
security officer himself, but the vehicle the security officer was in was
struck multiple times.
The nuclear plant security officer then returned fire, there is no
sign that he hit the intruder. The intruder subsequently disappeared,
probably by boat down the Tennessee River. They have not found him.
And that`s all just in today`s news cycle. Everybody freak out.
There is no reason to believe that any of these stories are related to
each other. In fact, if you had to bet, you would be wise to bet that none
of them are related to each other.
But this kind of news cycle just today`s news, is a reminder of the
broad array of threats that law enforcement has to deal with. Threats that
fit somewhere into the matrix of terrorism might be terrorism and mass
casualty events versus intended casualty events.
Just from those stories in today`s news, the highest death toll is the
soldier who shot and killed five other service members in Baghdad. There
is no death toll or injuries in the nuclear plant shoot-out, but we worry
than because we worry about where happened. We worry about a nuclear
terrorism, about the vulnerability of American nuclear sites to people who
would use nuclear material or radiation as a weapon.
The plot in Canada was interrupted by police before anybody was hurt.
They were under surveillance for a year, apparently. But we worry in
particular about that kind of plot, that kind of case because of the
reported links to al Qaeda abroad as an international terrorist
organization with the proven track record of causing mass casualty events,
including in the West.
But in the case of the Boston marathon bombing, we know that the death
toll is four. We know the injury count is enormous, over 170 people,
including many amputations and other serious injuries.
But is it connected to something else, to someone else other than the
two brothers who were accused of carrying it out? We know of no links thus
far between the Tsarnaev brothers and any terrorist organizations. They
are of Chechen ethnic origin, and Chechen groups fighting for independence
from Russia have used terrorist tactics in the past.
But no Chechen group has taken responsibility for their actions. No
group of any kind he taken responsible for their actions. In fact, several
Chechen militant groups have gone out of their way to deny any association
with the bombing or with the brothers.
There is some evidence of increasing religious radicalism by the older
brother, including videos posted online and a YouTube play list that was
maintained under his name, although we cannot be sure it was definitely
his. That said, there is no evidence that we know of, signs that were
evident to other people in advance of the bombing of that kind of growing
radicalism in the younger brother, the one who is still alive, the one who
had his court hearing at his hospital bed today.
But, again, repeating the breaking news from just mutes ago, NBC News
justice correspondent Pete Williams is reporting tonight that several
officials familiar with the initial interrogation of the younger Tsarnaev
brother in the hospital describe him as cooperative. A senior government
official saying he has told them by writing some answers and by nodding yes
or shaking his head no to others, that he and his brother were not in touch
with any overseas terrorists or groups. He says they conceived the bombing
attack on their own, motivated he told them by religious fervor.
He apparently, according to these officials, told his interrogators
they got their yes or shaking his head no to others that he and his brother
were not in touch with any overseas terrorists or groups. He says they
conceived the bombing attack on their own, motivated he told them by
religious fervor. He apparently, according to these officials, told his
interrogators they got their instructions on how to make bombs from the
The fact that it is two suspects, these two brothers has led to
comparisons to the D.C. snipers who killed ten people in 2002. In the D.C.
sniper case, it was two assailants, and the older one, the grown man was
seen as the initiator of the attacks and the dominant force behind them.
The younger assailant who was 17 years old when the attacks occurred seemed
to have again along with the older man, basically as a father figure.
Another reference point in terms of an attack conducted by two people is
the Columbine killings.
This is another two-person attack. The Columbine attack killed 13
people. And, again, in the case of Columbine, you had one dominant
personality who was seen as the driving force of the attacks.
As Dave Cullen wrote at “Slate” today, the older of the two boys, Eric
Harris, is the one who sought out the arms, collected the ammo, researched
the big bombs they used, built all the pipe bombs, drew up the plans and
diagrams, conducted the recon, calculated how to maximize the body count,
cooked up batch after batch of failed napalm, and generally devised the
plan. The other assailant at Columbine, the younger one, mostly seems to
have just gone along.
After Columbine, there was a long effort to try to figure out what
might have motivated that attack. There was what seems to have been a
misguided focus on bullying as a possible motive for a long while.
Dave Cullen`s book on the massacre is called “Columbine”, mostly
settled on a simpler truth that the dominant one between those two boys was
In terms of the D.C. snipers, if there was any coherent motive for
committing the crimes, that motive has been obscured by time, by the
incoherence by either suspect, by the fact that one has been executed now,
and by frankly, no one seeing it in the long run as the most important
thing to discern or try to remember about those guys and what they did.
And it`s not strange that we don`t have a clear handle on what the motive
was in that attack.
Was there a motive in the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting?
The guy who dressed up as the joker and walked into the movie theater for
the midnight showing and shot up the theater, did he have a motive?
The Tucson shooting that killed a federal judge and almost killed
Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, was there a motive in that case? The
Virginia Tech massacre? The Newtown massacre?
We think of all those assailants as sick. But do we want to know
beyond them being ill, beyond them being sick why they thought they were
doing what they did?
The Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski was clearly sick. His motivation was
vaguely environmental or at least anti-technology.
Christopher Dorner who terrorized the city of Los Angeles and killed
four people, he did that apparently because of a grudge against the LAPD,
which was his former employer.
The Atlanta Olympics bomber, he was an anti-abortion and anti-gay
extremist. That`s what motivated the Atlanta Olympics bombing. The
Oklahoma City bombing was a militia-aligned racist. He had all sorts of
How much should motive matter in responding to a mass casualty attack
in the United States? Does it only matter if that attack is tied to a
larger group of organized people? And this we just experienced means he we
should expect more attacks from those who have similarly motivated.
The United States has declared that we are at war with a specific
organization called al Qaeda. But in the Boston attack it turns out that
as the initial interrogation report suggests, there was no operational
relationship between al Qaeda and the bombers, if no one assigned them this
bombing, no one trained them or supplied them or supported their work, if
it turns out that one or both of the bombers had a vaguely pro al Qaeda
feeling in his head that motivated him to do this on his own or on their
own as brothers, then does this get treated any differently than the
Columbine attack, than the D.C. sniper-type attack?
What is the strategic importance of knowing what motivated them? And
how do law enforcement and good interrogators pull those threats?
Joining us now is Ali Soufan. He`s a former FBI special agent. His
interrogation proved the first link between al Qaeda and 9/11 just after
the attacks. The book he wrote about his experience in the FBI is called
“The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al Qaeda”.
Ali, it is great to have you here. Thank you for –
ALI SOUFAN, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: It`s great to be here again.
MADDOW: When you heard the transcript of what happened at the bedside
of the suspected bomber in Boston today with him being read his rights,
being advised he has the right to remain silent, as a former high level FBI
interrogator, how does that sound to you?
SOUFAN: It sounds great. That`s exactly how we should deal with
these individuals. There is nothing special about them. They committed a
crime, and they need to be punished for that crime.
And this system, our federal system is one of the best systems in
dealing with al Qaeda, in dealing with terrorism.
I`ll give you an example. Since 9/11 until today, we had probably
about more than 165, 170 cases of terrorism, disruption that happened in
the United States. Each one of these suspects were read their rights.
Each one of these suspects gave great amount of intelligence to the law
enforcement and the intelligence communities that helped tremendously in
understanding networks and disrupting plots, arresting other people.
And then we were able to convict them in a court of law where they are
in jail and probably they will never see the day of light again.
So this is extremely important. This is also merely important to
counter narrative of al Qaeda.
MADDOW: In what way?
SOUFAN: Because they wanted the people to look at them in the Muslim
world, that they are mujahedeen, they are doing jihad, they are doing
something bigger than themselves.
But you know what? They are not. They are nothing but criminals.
Look at Omar Abdel Rahman. Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheik.
MADDOW: The blind sheik, right.
SOUFAN: He is probably, on the religious scale, way higher than Osama
bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri. When he was arrested, when he was convicted
in court, not one demonstration in the Muslim world came out in support of
Omar Abdel Rahman.
How many demonstrations we have in supporting bin Laden`s bodyguards
and Guantanamo in heaven`s sake?
So, I think when we do it by the book, when we do it in accordance
with our values, when we do it in accordance with our principle, we win.
We win on every level. We counter the narrative, but also we have the
ability to convict these individuals and bring justice to all the victims.
Today, for example, in Guantanamo Bay, we had hundreds of people who
are still in custody in Guantanamo Bay. At one point, we had more than
500, 600 people in Guantanamo Bay. We`re able to convict only seven
people. And most of them are back at their homeland.
MADDOW: At the military tribunals?
SOUFAN: At the military tribunals.
MADDOW: Which was in session today, with, again, I don`t want to
describe it as a sketchy record but a much less solid record than we`ve had
in the federal criminal court.
SOUFAN: Sure, absolutely.
MADDOW: One of the things that this administration did early on, and
the Obama administrations continued a lot of the national security policies
in the Bush administration, to be clear. But they did establish this High
Value Interrogation Target Group where we`ve got high value interrogation
subjects, and they`ve got a team that they keep very secret and under wraps
that they sort of fly in, to do, conduct the most important interrogations.
And we have been told that they will be leading the interrogation of the
How will that team approach interrogating this young man?
SOUFAN: I think they will do it like any FBI agent or any law
enforcement individual will do it. These individuals are trained to
collect intelligence from detainees. But also on the same time now we have
a suspect who already was read his Miranda rights. He`d already have a
And I don`t think that should affect any trained interrogator or any
trained interviewer in doing their job. We have been doing this for many,
many years. We did it against terrorist suspects, organized crimes, people
who are charged with treason, spies, and it always worked, and it always
gets the intended results.
MADDOW: In terms of this breaking news that we`ve just got tonight.
Again, this is a senior government official saying that the initial
interrogation of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in his hospital bed, he says that he and
his brother were not in touch with any overseas terrorists or groups. They
conceived the attack on their own, motivated he told them by religious
fervor. That`s the language that I have been given.
How – how should that be approached in terms of strategically trying
to unwind any threats that might exist beyond these young men? They`re
saying they acted alone. But presumably, the thing that made them want to
do this could make other people want to do this as well.
SOUFAN: Sure. And I think it`s too early to predict at this point.
I mean, the interrogation is still very early. This is probably the very
People change what they talk about when they are faced with more
evidence. There is a lot of things going on at this point. So, the
interrogation is not the only venue where we`re going to know what happened
with these people. There`s a lot of leads going internationally and
probably inside the nation, a lot of interviews.
We are probably working with the Russians to know more about the trip
of the older brother to Dagestan where he stayed six months. Who are the
people he met with? Who are the people he probably associated with? How
was he recruited?
There is probably leads are being sent to people who probably had some
MADDOW: If he was recruited.
SOUFAN: If he was recruited.
MADDOW: They`re not indicating that they were answering to anybody
SOUFAN: At this stage, at this stage they are not. But I think all
the leads will be followed.
And, you know, if they are not involved with anything, you need to
also be worried about people who would like to copycat these kind of
SOUFAN: Individuals who are frequenting the radical Web sites. You
know, compare their visits to a radical Web sites to, for example, travel
pattern, trying to put these things together.
This is extremely important, because what we did so far, we tactically
were able to weaken al Qaeda tremendously. Unfortunately, we haven`t been
doing much encountering the narrative, and we`re seeing the narrative
spreading around, especially on the Internet. And I think this is – this
is one of the things that we have to focus on.
MADDOW: In the way that we treat them in terms of responding to these
attack shapes our side of that narrative.
MADDOW: Ali Soufan, former FBI counterterrorism agent, author of “The
Black Banners: The Inside Story of the 9/11 and the War Against al Qaeda,”
now heading up the Soufan Group, which is security consultancy – Ali, it`s
great to have you back. Thank you so much for being here.
SOUFAN: Thank you, Rachel. It`s great to be here.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead on Boston and on other
matters. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: File this under something to keep an eye on as law
enforcement keeps doing its work on the Boston marathon bombing last week.
Now, I want to give you the initial caveat here, that nobody has any idea
if this is connected to the Boston bombing suspects or not.
But you should know about this in case it is. There`s currently an
unsolved triple murder in the Boston area. And it turns out that unsolved
triple murder has an odd and seemingly coincidental connection to one of
the two marathon bombing suspects, to the older brother who was killed late
Thursday night in a shoot-out with police.
Again, file this under one to know about, although we do not know if
Here is what we do know. This is a map of the greater Boston area.
Boston proper of course is where the Boston marathon bombings took place
Cambridge is where the main suspects in this case had been living, the
Tsarnaev others. Watertown right next door to Cambridge was the scene of
the mass shootout with police that took place on Thursday night. Watertown
is also where the younger of the two suspects was found hiding in a boat
late on Friday night.
Right next to Watertown is a city called Waltham. Waltham is sort of
a technology and education hub in the Boston area. But in September 2011,
so about a year and a half ago, Waltham was the site of a really grisly
murder. It was a triple murder that took place in a quiet residential
neighborhood on a dead-end street.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Sources tell News Center 5 the victims, men all in their
late 20s or early 30s were stabbed to death with a knife or possibly an ice
pick, and drugs were involved. The triple homicide is a major shock in
this quiet neighborhood, home to many families. Investigators worked
through the night, collecting evidence. They towed away this Mercedes,
which may hold some answers to this murder mystery.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They went to the second floor and saw a very
graphic crime scene. There were three dead bodies in the apartment. It
does look like the assailants and the decedents did know each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So quiet neighborhood in the Boston area, three men dead, no
immediate suspects, but investigators believe that the killer or killers
knew the victims. Again, this was September 2011.
A year and a half later now, there have still been no arrests in this
case. The triple murder is still an open investigation.
Two of the three victims in the murder were young men who lived nearby
in Cambridge, Mass. The third victim was the third person whose apartment
that was in Waltham, a 25-year-old named Brendan Mess. It was Brendan
Mess`s girlfriend who arrived home in Waltham that day and found the three
dead bodies and the apartment covered in blood.
Brendan Mess was a local mixed martial arts fighter in Waltham. He
had became friends with another man in the area who was about his same age,
who was a boxer, who was a really good boxer, a boxer named Tamerlan
And some of the first reporting on Tamerlan Tsarnaev that came out
late last week after the bombing, the murder of his close friend Brendan
Mess was described as really the only tragedy that we knew of his life in
America. It was described as maybe one of the turning points in his life.
But that murder is not solved. The thing that was notable about that
crime in Waltham, that triple murder, obvious it`s notable. It was an
unsolved triple murder. That itself is notable.
But the other thing notable about this crime is that it was a
particularly brutal crime scene. These were three, fit, capable young men
killed with stabbing injuries to their necks. And this murder was
apparently drug-related, but not in the way that drug-related crimes are
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a girl running out of the house, saying
there is blood everywhere. And there is like marijuana all over the bodies
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Marijuana all over the bodies.
One of the three victims in that murder had been charged with
marijuana possession and the intent to distribute a few years earlier. But
this has always been one of the strangest details about this crime. I
mean, a drug-related murder usually means that drugs were stolen, drugs
were fought over in some way. And maybe that did happen there in that
apartment in Waltham as well.
But it has always been a strange detail of that crime that marijuana
was left strewn all over the bodies, and $5,000 in cash was left at the
Again, nobody has any idea of this unsolved triple murder in Waltham
is connected to the Boston marathon bombing suspects other than the
reported and possibly totally coincidental close friendship between the
older of the two bombing suspects and one of the men who was killed in that
In terms of the drug-related murder and then the pot angle, this
threat of connection, if there is anything here is a gossamer thread. But
drugs have come up in reporting over the last week in terms of
understanding how the bombing suspects lived.
One of the things reported since the bombings about Tamerlan Tsarnaev,
the older one, is that at some point in rent years as he got more and more
religious, he began to turn against drinking and smoking and against
smoking pot in particular. His mother said he began to push those beliefs
on his family members as well. Tamerlan`s younger brother Dzhokhar, the
other suspect, college friends who knew him, say that he suddenly turned
against marijuana over the last year after having smoked a lot of it
regularly up until then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: For people who knew him, there were no warning signs.
Andrew describes an average college sophomore who played intramural soccer,
enjoyed FIFA soccer video games, and smoked a lot of marijuana.
About how often do you think he was doing it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably every day.
REPORTER: But you said this year, you didn`t see him smoking pot as
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I think – he told me from one of our
conversations, he was like, oh, I don`t smoke anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We have two brothers, both of whom have recently sworn off
marijuana, and we have a triple murder that appears to be somehow related
to drugs in which marijuana has been spread over the three dead bodies at
the crime scene, and $5,000 cash is left untouched. And, again, nobody
knows if there is a connection beyond the coincidental connection between
the two crimes, beyond the friendship between one of those victims and one
of the bombing suspects.
Locally, there are new questions being raised about that murder in the
Waltham press. Questions being raised by people who have been involved in
that investigation. The possible connection between the older suspect in
the bombing case and the unsolved murder in Waltham went national today
with the Web site “BuzzFeed” running a very provocative piece on it.
In terms of any official response, the Middlesex district attorney`s
office, who has been investigating the Waltham murder, it`s interesting.
They`re not shooting down the idea that there could be a connection.
They`re sort of saying the minimum they can say at this point without
saying much. But they are saying they`re looking into a possible
connection. They are checking for any connections between Tamerlan
Tsarnaev and this unsolved triple murder.
The connections between these two crimes may be just coincidental.
There is no reason at this point to say that there is more. But as the
D.A. looks into this further, watch this space.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD CHENEY, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Simply stated, there is
no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapon of mass destruction. There is
no doubt that he is amassing them to use again our friends, against our
allies, and against us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Not true, it turns out. When it comes to understanding what
Dick Cheney was falsely alleging there, there is really no doubt what he
was alleging, right? WMDs, chemical weapons, biological weapons, nuclear
weapons, that`s what weapons of mass destruction means, right?
So, then, why did the Boston marathon bombing suspect today get
charged with use of a weapon of mass destruction? WMDs, really?
There is an explanation. That`s coming up.
MADDOW: If you were old enough to follow the news in the early 2000s,
there is one phrase from the news from the technical side of national
security news that if it appeared on any social studies test, you would be
able to define it, no problem, even though it`s a technical term. You
would be able to define it because we heard it defined over and over and
over again by politicians and the media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
CHENEY: But we also have to address the question of where might these
terrorists acquire weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons,
biological weapons, and nuclear weapons? The al Qaeda organization is
absolutely determined to do everything they can to acquire chemical,
biological, and nuclear weapons.
ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There is no
question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of
mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly.
DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: This administration and
the last administration and several other countries all agreed that they
had chemical and biological weapons, and that they had programs relating to
nuclear weapons that they were reconstituting.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Saddam Hussein has gone to
elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taking great risks to build and
keep weapons of mass destruction, with nuclear arms, a full arsenal of
chemical and biological weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Even if you believe nothing else they said at the time, if we
learned one thing from our elected officials during the run-up to the Iraq
war, it was that the term “weapons of mass destruction” means three things.
It means nukes – the whole smoking gun is going to be a mushroom cloud
kind of thing. It means chemical weapons – like mustard gas or VX. And
it means biological weapons like the anthrax attacks after 9/11.
And if you ask the military, if you ask the Department of Defense,
they agree with that definition of WMD. That was laid out for years by the
American government when they were trying to make the case for going to war
in Iraq. WMD, chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons
capable of a high order of destruction or causing mass casualties according
to the U.S. military. In other words, this.
The FBI, though, has a different definition. They define WMD
differently. The FBI definition of a weapon of mass destruction covers
some of the same stuff as the Defense Department definition, but it also
adds this part. So, it`s nuclear or chemical or biological, or any
destructive device as defined in section 921 of this title, i.e. “Explosive
Go to section 921. It defines a destructive device as any explosive
incendiary, explosion or poison gas, bomb, grenade, rocket, having a
propellant charge of more than four ounces, a missile having an explosive
or incendiary charge of more than one quarter ounce, a mine, or a device
similar to any of the devices as described in the preceding clauses.
OK. That`s a whole different definition. A grenade or a bomb is not
the same as a nuclear weapon. And it is strange that different agencies in
our government define weapons of mass destruction so differently.
The Defense Department actually did a study on all the various ways we
use what sounds like a term of art, what sounds like a very specific thing.
They found more than 50 definitions, with some official standing in the
United States and elsewhere.
Well, the suspect in the Boston bombings was charged today from his
hospital bed. In the case of United States of America versus Dzhokhar
Tsarnaev, the offense listed first against Mr. Tsarnaev is use of a weapon
of mass destruction. Mr. Tsarnaev is being charged with the federal crime
of using a weapon of mass destruction, but they mean it the way the FBI
defines it, not as the military does. This does not mean that he had
access to a chemical, biological, or nuclear device. It means that he used
something that blew up.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a U.S. citizen. He will be tried in a civilian
court. As of this evening, a senior government official tells NBC News
that he can be described thus far in his initial interrogation at the
hospital as cooperative.
Joining us now for the interview tonight is Neal Katyal. He`s a
former acting solicitor general of the United States. He`s professional of
national security law at Georgetown. He successfully argued the case of
Hamdan versus Rumsfeld before the Supreme Court, which challenged policy of
holding military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay.
Professor Katyal, it`s great to have you here. Thank you very much
for your time.
NEAL KATYAL, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Thanks for being here.
MADDOW: So the difference between WMDs as a military matter and WMDs
as a criminal matter, for me, it`s kind of a reminder of the parallel
systems we`ve got in this country for handling different threats. Is there
any reason that we should see the investigation and the potential trial of
the Boston marathon bombing suspect as appropriate to send through a
military path rather than a civilian path?
KATYAL: Absolutely not. And I do think that the administration took
the wise course here. I mean, for many years, we`ve been hearing a lot of
tough talk about send people to Guantanamo. Put them in military
We now have a track record. And that track record doesn`t look too
good for those kinds of military systems. They haven`t worked. I mean,
they`ve only convicted a few people. The few convictions that have
happened have been reversed on appeal by very conservative judges in our
federal courts system.
And so, I think the Obama administration wisely said well, we have
this existing criminal justice system. It`s worked really well. It`s
detained and incarcerated hundreds of terrorists. Why reinvent the wheel
when we`ve got something that works really well.
MADDOW: The breaking news that we had in this case this hour, at
least into the investigation of this case this hour, is that a senior
government official told NBC News tonight that in the initial interrogation
at the hospital, the suspect said that he and his brother learned bomb-
making on the Internet. They were not in touch with any terrorist groups
overseas, and that they were motivated by religious fervor.
Now, I don`t know where they learned bomb-making on the Internet, and
I don`t know why they came to believe that religious fervor should equal
bombing the Boston marathon.
But does the fact that the U.S. government says we are at war with al
Qaeda factor into this case at all given what we know about this case thus
KATYAL: Well, not as of yet. I mean, it may turn out to be that they
are members of al Qaeda or something like that. But right now, based on
that initial interrogation, there isn`t that. And in order to send someone
to Guantanamo and use a military commission, the person has to be a non-
U.S. citizen, and, of course, the suspect here is a U.S. citizen.
So this kind of talk has been thrown around. But there is no
realistic possibility that this is a viable option. And as I say, as a
practical matter, it`s really something that has failed. I mean, I`m now
in the private sector. And if I – if someone came to me with a track
record of the Guantanamo military commissions, I think they`d be fired, you
know, at the get-go.
MADDOW: One of the decisions that has been made thus far is that
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was mirandized today at his initial court appearance in
the hospital when the judge and the prosecutor and the defense attorney
came to him.
But this apparently was after he had responded to questions from
investigators before he was read his rights. The administration is citing
the public safety exemption from the Miranda warning as being the
justification for asking him questions before they told him he had a right
to remain silent. Is that public safety exemption being applied within the
spirit of that exemption, or are they stretching it here?
KATYAL: Absolutely. I do think it`s being applied appropriately.
And that`s part of the overall point that I was saying. The criminal
justice system is very flexible and not as brittle as what the critics say
and the reason why you have to go to a military system or something like
The Supreme Court in 1984 in New York versus Quarles said that there
was a broad public safety exception in cases of imminent threat. And this
is, I think, if there is ever going to be an exemption that qualifies, this
is that type of one. And the administration, you know, I think it`s
important to say wisely I think, you know, said they got their
interrogation, they did what they needed to do. Now they have read him his
rights and the trial can proceed in the way that trials do all the time.
And as you were saying in your set piece a few minutes ago, this is
the way we do things in this country. You know, justice comes to you, even
if you`re in a hospital bed. We don`t need to send you to Guantanamo,
Boston bomber, in order to try you. We`ve got the tools, the techniques,
the prosecutors and everything we need right here to do it.
MADDOW: Neal Katyal, professor of national security law at Georgetown
University Law School, thank you very much for your time tonight. You are
exactly the guy I wanted to talk to. I appreciate it.
KATYAL: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: I will say in terms of that public safety exemption to the
Miranda, I don`t know if we will ever find what the questions were that
they asked him before they mirandized him. But if they`re claiming it was
within the public safety exemption, I kind of want to know what the
questions were. I kind of want to know if they weren`t just using that as
an excuse to get at him before they had to read him his rights, because
that`s not what the public safety exemption is supposed to be.
Who knows if we`ll ever know?
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. GEORGE VELMAHOS, MASS GENERAL HOSPITAL: Thing to consider right
now is that all the patients are, first, alive and, second, are in rather
stable condition. I am more confident than I was in the morning that no
further life would be lost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: One week ago tonight, when we came on the air only hours
after the Boston marathon bombing, we knew three people were confirmed dead
in the initial attack. Three people killed either instantaneously or
nearly instantaneously as a result of wounds suffered at the bombing on
At this hour right now, that number, three people killed in two
bombings, is exactly the same, three. One police officer was later shot
and killed at MIT, allegedly by the bombing suspects, but that was a
completely different incident days later. That was not the bombing. At
the bombing itself, three people were killed in the bombs. All of the
other, more than 170 who are wounded in bombings, all of them are still
And, one week later, hospital officials say all of them appear likely
to survive. We know the injuries they suffered in the bombing, right? We
witnessed it at the scene. Limbs severed, serious concussive injuries,
To see the streets of Boston`s Back Bay, forgive me, but literally
washed in blood, and to have nobody else die other than three people who
are killed instantly, that is a miracle. That`s a tribute to Boston`s
world class medical care, to EMTs who expertly triaged at the scene and
distributed the wounded among the level one trauma centers so that no one
center individually would be overwhelmed. It`s a tribute to doctors and
nurses who on days off flooded to work as soon as they heard the first
Many of them have been in operating rooms ever since, operating in
some cases on the same patient two or three times. Amputations are not one
operation deals. They`re complicated, multipart surgeries as doctors have
been willing to explain to us calmly and firmly in their medical briefings.
Today, we also learned that the transit officer who was shot and
wounded while pursuing the bombing suspects arrived at the hospital in far
worse shape than we had previously known.
This is MBTA officer Richard Donohue. He exchanged gunfire with the
suspects before he was shot in the right thigh. Doctors say that bullet in
his right thigh severed his femoral vein and artery and he began to bleed
out. When EMTs got to him, his heart had stopped beating, they started
resuscitating him. By the time he got to the E.R., he had lost essentially
all of his blood.
At the hospital, doctors gave him transfusions to replace it. They
stopped the bleeding in the thigh, they saved his leg, and they restarted
his heart after 45 minutes?
His doctors expect him to walk again. And a fellow cop that visited
him today said Officer Donohue was already breathing on his own.
Here is how the head of the trauma surgery describes what the Boston
medical community managed to pull off this week. Quote, “All I feel is
joy, whoever came in alive stayed alive.” Whoever came in alive, stayed
alive, more than 170 people. Just astonishing.
MADDOW: This is not about the Boston bombings. This is a 17-year-old
from Colorado named Easton LaChapelle. When he was 14, he got bored,
decided to learn to build a robotic arm. He made a prototype using a 3D
printer to make the parts. He learned to write codes so we can program the
hand to work using wireless technology, he entered it in a prestigious
international science and engineering competition last year, he came in
What you get for second place is you get 1,500 bucks and name a minor
planet after you, which is cool. But then today, 17-year-old had a chance
to show it to the president of the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Is it working yet?
EASTON LACHAPELLE, 17-YEAR-OLD: Yes, actually, it was, yes. About
two minutes ago.
OBAMA: I heard.
Up until two minutes ago is the –
LACHAPELLE: I had it to shake your hand, yes. It was. I had it come
up and shook your hand.
OBAMA: It is working.
LACHAPELLE: Oh, definitely, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It works on it for years, wins the prize, two minutes before
the president sees it, it breaks down.
The president told the young man he ought to show his work to DARPA,
the Pentagon super secret gadget lab, possibly the coolest place to work in
government if you`re a scientist or engineer, except maybe NASA. Easton
LaChapelle will be interning at NASA this summer. He also has his own
robotics company and head of NIH asked for his e-mail address today at the
science fair. He is 17 years old.
The White House science fair is not typical science fair where kids
compete against each other. It brings together other Americans who won
honors elsewhere, gives them a chance to show their brain power to the
leader of the free world. Some of the projects were potentially world
changing, innovative ways to detect cancer, using bikes to make
contaminated water drinkable, economically viable biofuel made from algae
grown under a 17-year-old girl`s bed.
Some of the projects are just really interesting, a robot that paints
with water colors. Some fill more than one need, like three boys, second,
third, fourth graders from Georgia came up with, as a way to keep football
players from overheating in practice. Shoulder pads with a built in
cooling system, activated by sensors that track your body heat.
A practical project with side benefit of combining cool and nerdy
sports and science, a point that the boys wanted to emphasize today to the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: We want to let all kids know they can be awesome at
athletics. And science!
OBAMA: And science. I like that. Well, I`m proud of you, guys.
Congratulations. All right. Stay with your science, not just athletics,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Congratulations to the young brainiacs who made it to the White House
science fair. It`s kind of my favorite thing that happens with the White
House every year. I know everybody loves the Easter egg roll. I`m a
science fair partisan.
That does it for us tonight.
Now, “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL” begins now.
Have a great night.
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