The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/01/13
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: I can be the Rachel Maddow star. I like that
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: You are, of course, the Rachel Maddow
MADDOW: I was fishing there for a second. Thank you, Chris.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
OK, the basic story, the basic facts of the Boston marathon bombing,
at this hour, those basic facts remain the same as we have previously
understood. The two suspects are two brothers, one aged 26, who`s now
dead, one age 19, who`s being held in federal prison recovering from
multiple gunshot wounds. They lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They had
emigrated to the U.S. from the Northern Caucasus region of Russia about a
After he was caught four days after the bombing, the initial
interrogation of the surviving suspect reportedly included a confession to
the bombings, the assertion that they were motivated by religious
extremism, the assertion that the brothers learned how to make the bombs
from instructions on the Internet. The suspect also reportedly asserted
that he and his brother did not have any connections to any other
terrorist, individuals, or groups either here or abroad.
That basic story of the case remains unchanged today. But with the
news today of three additional arrests in connection with this case, we now
do have explanations for some sort of tangents or stray elements in that
basic story that previously had not been explained. Specifically, there
are three things that have happened during the investigation already that
did not necessarily make sense before, but now with today`s news, now they
are starting to make sense.
The first was the two arrests that happened on immigration violations
in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on the day after the bombing suspect was
caught. Now, we have more of an explanation on those two people arrested
and taken into custody on immigration violations and how that is connected
to the bombing case.
The second thing was the shutdown that same day of the whole campus of
UMass-Dartmouth, that whole college campus. Now, we have more of an
explanation as to why that happened, as well.
The third thing was the FBI searching a landfill in New Bedford, Mass.
Now we know what they were looking for and now we know that they found it.
It all started to unravel here this morning at a hearing in front of a
federal immigration judge in Boston. These were the two men who were
picked up in New Bedford on immigration violations the morning after the
bombing suspect was caught. They attended this hearing with the
immigration judge this morning via video conference. Their images got
beamed into the courtroom via satellite from where they sat in the Suffolk
The judge told them they were being held in prison for overstaying
their student visas. Their lawyers disputed that was true, but
importantly, these young men were also told this morning at this first
hearing since they were first arrested, they were told they are not charged
with any crime. Not charged. That was this morning.
This afternoon, that changed, when the FBI released this criminal
complaint describing they might not have been charged with anything this
morning, but as of this afternoon, they are being charged with a crime.
They are being charged along with one other young man.
The two guys with the immigration issue, they are from Kazakhstan.
Here`s Kazakhstan on a map, for reference`s sake. You can say it`s on the
other side of the Caspian Sea from Chechnya, in Dagestan, where the
bombings suspect brothers have family ties. It does abut – Kazakhstan
does abut Kyrgyzstan, which is one of the countries where the brothers had
Even though Kazakhstan is not part of the old Soviet Union anymore,
anybody from Kazakhstan is very likely to speak Russian. And that might
have made for a common bond and a basis of a friendship when both of these
young Kazakh men ended up at UMass-Dartmouth at the same time as Dzhokhar
Tsarnaev, the younger and surviving bombing suspect.
Today`s criminal complaint alleges that these two young men, along
with a third young man, who is also a friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev`s from
college, today`s criminal complaint alleges that these three young men
essentially reacted in a way that they should not have reacted, when they
realized that one of the bombing suspects was their buddy, was their friend
from UMass. The complaint alleges that the night the FBI released the
photos of the Tsarnaev brothers identifying them as the bombing suspects,
Dzhokhar`s friends who recognized him from UMass recognized that it was him
in the photos, they reacted by going to his dorm room on campus, they
convinced his roommate to let them in, and they took from Dzhokhar`s dorm
room his laptop and a backpack.
The backpack reportedly contained a number of fireworks, or at least
the outside containers of fireworks that had been emptied of their
incendiary powder. Fireworks type incendiary powder is said to have been
one of the components of the Boston marathon bombs.
These three young men, knowing that their friend was a suspect in the
Boston marathon bombings, allegedly took his laptop, took the backpack
containing those fireworks, they took it to an apartment that was shared by
the two young men from Kazakhstan. And then decided they would throw the
backpack away. They threw it in a nearby dumpster.
If that was their plan, as is alleged in this criminal complaint
today, it was a dumb plan and it did not work. The FBI`s first interview
with this young man, this young UMass-Dartmouth student, happened on Friday
the 19th. We now know the previously unexplained shutdown of the UMass-
Dartmouth campus happened that same day that they interviewed that student
We now know that his friends, the Kazakh guys, they were arrested on
immigration violations the very next day. Those were those arrests in New
Bedford. And now, we know that the reason the FBI agents were searching
the New Bedford landfill was because these young men told them where and
when they dumped the suspect`s backpack and the police followed the trail
of that trash to dig it back up.
We know they got from the landfill what they say is the backpack with
the fireworks in it, and we know that because the FBI has released this
We also know that they got laptop, because we were told earlier this
evening that the laptop is now in FBI custody.
The two young Kazakh men are being held on conspiracy to obstruct
justice. The other young man is being held on the charge of lying to law
enforcement. He could get eight years in prison. The other guys could get
five in prison.
All three of them are essentially accused of blocking the
investigation into the Boston bombing by lying and by trying to hide and
destroy what looks to be damning evidence against their friend from
That`s today`s developments. Those developments do not change the
basic facts of the bombing, but they do drag a whole new cast of characters
into it, and they do explain a whole bunch of things how we have seen the
investigation unfold thus far that we could not explain before today.
We`ve got a former senior FBI official on deck to help us understand
the importance of these arrests today and what we learned because of them.
He`ll be with us in just a moment.
But I want to start first, right now, from Boston, with NBC News
investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff for the latest.
Mike, thanks very much for being with us. I really appreciate your
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NBC NEWS INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Good to be
with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Is there more to add to the factual picture tonight beyond
what I just summed up from the criminal complaint? Is anything been added
to that in terms of our overall understanding?
ISIKOFF: I think you basically got it right there, Rachel. But I
want to emphasize a couple of points first here. As everybody has said all
day long, there`s no evidence that these kids had any prior knowledge of
the bombing, played any role in the bombing, were accomplices in any way.
And clearly they did things, if as alleged in the FBI complaint, are pretty
stupid and indefensible, going to that apartment, removing evidence.
But there`s a couple things that are absent from the affidavit that
are worth pointing out here. And you alluded to one of them. The laptop
computer, they took. In addition to the fireworks, they took the laptop
computer from the apartment, from Tsarnaev`s room, and took it back to
their New Bedford apartment.
And then the affidavit is absent – is curiously absent on anything
about what happened to it afterward. They dispose of the fireworks – the
backpack with the fireworks, throw it in the trash, and that`s the
obstruction of justice. That`s the concealing evidence.
The affidavit doesn`t say anything about what happened to the laptop,
which if you think about it, is what the FBI would want most in a case like
this. They want to see who Tsarnaev has been in contact with. They want
to see who he`s been e-mailing with. They want that hard drive.
What we were told tonight from the lawyer for one of the Kazakh
students is that laptop was turned over. And he says it was turned over
voluntarily and that`s consistent with this defense from which is that they
cooperated with the FBI.
Now, we don`t have confirmation from that from the FBI yet tonight,
they haven`t said anything about that. But it is noteworthy that they
don`t accuse these kids of trying to get rid of the laptop.
Secondly, we have the two Kazakh students and then the other American
who is charged with lying to the FBI. The two Kazakh students are not
charged with lying to the FBI. They are not accused of misleading them
once they are confronted by FBI agents. And that leaps out, because it`s
lying to the FBI in a terrorism investigation that is in some ways the more
serious offense. It carries the heavier penalty, and the Kazakh students
are not charged with that.
So, I think that, if, in fact, they had misled the FBI about that
laptop, they would have been charged with lying to the FBI. They weren`t.
So, bottom line, as I said, if the facts are alleged, it`s hard to
defend what these kids did. It`s clear that they went to that apartment
because they thought their friend might have been the Boston marathon
bomber and they were trying to protect him. And given the enormity of the
crime, it`s impossible to defend that.
But was this part of some larger plot? Were they acting on direction
from Tsarnaev? Were they trying to conceal a larger conspiracy here? It`s
hard to square that with the facts as alleged in this complaint.
MADDOW: Absolutely. The point worth underlying here, there`s no
indication they had any advanced notice of the bombing, that they were in
on the plot in any way, other than what they did when they found out about
NBC News investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff, live in Boston
tonight for us – Mike, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
ISIKOFF: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you.
Joining us now is Philip Mudd. He`s former deputy director of the
CIA`s counterterrorism center and the FBI`s security branch. He`s now
senior research fellow at the New America Foundation. His new book is
called “Take Down: Inside the Hunt for al Qaeda.”
Mr. Mudd, thank you very much for being with us. Appreciate your time
PHILIP MUDD, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Sure, sure.
MADDOW: So, we learned today, as Mike was just emphasizing, that FBI
agents now have reportedly the laptop in their own hands. It seems to me
like if you`re looking for trying to connect the – connect this crime to a
motive, or connect this crime to any sort of larger organization out there
in the world, the laptop might be critically important. Does it seem like
an important break to you?
MUDD: It`s not might be critical, it will critical.
The first question I would have as an intelligence professional is not
just what these two guys did, one of whom is dead now. The question is, we
cannot shut down this investigation until we determine whether these two
spiders were in the middle of a spider web, and believe me, that
investigation`s going to take time. And a critical piece will be who they
talked to, and there the laptop will be essential.
MADDOW: In terms of the attack itself, as Michael just made clear and
as the affidavit makes clear today from the FBI, there`s no accusation that
these three people that were arrested today had any part in the planning of
the event. Does after the fact assistance to their friend, the suspect,
indicate anything to you as an intelligence professional about them
potential being either sympathizers, fellow travelers, or somebody who
might be worth investigating, might be a thread worth pulling towards a
larger connection like that?
MUDD: It doesn`t tell me much. I think the media coverage is
extensive because of the nature of the case, obviously. But as an
intelligence professional, their lies and what they told the FBI that got
them into such trouble right now is not that interesting. There`s one
interesting question, and that is, where there people you were aware of who
knew about this beforehand or participated beforehand? Is there a spider
web that goes beyond these two guys?
MADDOW: You have talked about the difference between an ideological
association with a group like al Qaeda and an operational association. An
operational association would be the sort of thing that we think about with
them being kind of activated as a cell, them being directed to do
something, trained to do something, and then they follow through. An
aspirational or inspirational link would just be what they had in their
heads when they were acting on their own accord.
Is that division between those two different kinds of relationships
important in terms of whether or not we think about this as a terrorist
attack versus a crime? Should we care all that much about what these guys
were thinking about if nobody told them to do this, if nobody trained them
to do this, they worked it out on their own?
MUDD: I think we should care, because there`s a broader message about
how we fight this campaign against terror, and what I would call a campaign
against murder. The first people we took down from al Qaeda when I was at
CIA, people like the architect of 911, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 2003 –
these were ideologues that will go to their graves believing that what they
did was for a greater good and that the results of their efforts might not
bear fruit for 50 years, 100 years. They had bits of emotion, but they
were driven by a deep-seated ideology.
You fast forward 12 years, increasingly – and this case is not
unique, you`ve got kids who pretend like they`ve got an ideology, but, in
fact, they are emotional-driven, they are frustrated, they are angry, and
their ideology is just that veneer.
If you press this guy for an hour, I guarantee you, he can`t really
explain the roots of what he did. He`s going to tell you it some day, by
the way, to close, that what he did was wrong, because his ideology is not
as deep as the people who originated this movement 10, 15 years ago.
MADDOW: Does this mean you think of this as more of a senseless
crime, more of a random crime, the kind of way we look at mass shootings
and things, where we don`t care why they did it, we care about ways to stop
MUDD: I mentioned earlier, I see common characteristics to columbine,
which people in this country hate to the hear. They want to categorize
this as foreign terrorists who don`t belong in America. You have two
brothers, one of whom radicalized the other. They don`t know much about
the ideology. I guarantee they don`t know much about the religion.
This does not look to me like the al Qaeda guys we were taking down
10, 12 years ago.
The last thing, I`d say on this is really important: terrorists want
to be called terrorists. There`s a validation in the background for
terrorism that says what you`re doing is OK, because you can`t frontally
fight the United States. They can`t, however, defend against an accusation
and a charge that they are murderers. They killed innocents, there`s no
reason for that in any religion.
MADDOW: Philip Mudd, former deputy director of the CIA`s
Counterterrorism Center, and the FBI`s national security branch – thank
you so much for being with us tonight. I`ve been looking forward to
talking about this for a long time. Thanks.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got new video that nobody has ever seen
before from the most incredible thing you have ever seen inside our
nation`s newest presidential library. It is brand new. It`s never been
shown before. It blew my mind when we got it in today, and we`ve got that
for you, next.
MADDOW: I live in western Massachusetts, just outside the city of
Northampton, which is a lovely place. Among its many downtown charms,
Northampton, Massachusetts, has a really awesome and elegant big public
library. It`s called the Forbes Library. Forbes is not just a centerpiece
of downtown life in Northampton. It turns out it also has national
Forbes Library isn`t named for a U.S. president. There`s never been a
President Forbes. It`s actually named after some rich guy judge who
donated the building. But Forbes Library in Northampton, Massachusetts,
contains the presidential library and museum of former U.S. President
Calvin Coolidge. That`s all tucked away inside there somewhere, inside the
place where I used to check out DVDs back when I couldn`t afford rental
fees at Blockbuster.
Calvin Coolidge`s papers and his presidential memorabilia are tucked
away inside that building. It`s a public library in Northampton.
Calvin Coolidge is the last U.S. president not to have a free standing
named after him presidential library. Since him, since Coolidge, all of
our other American presidents that we`ve had, even Nixon, they all have an
edifice built somewhere in their honor.
The tourist brochure from the National Archives about all the
presidential libraries includes this kind of creepy map that seems like the
disembodied spectral heads of all these presidents loom over regions of the
country. Look at poor Arizona. They have nothing to do with Nixon, but he
looms over the state like a death`s head.
Before today, this map showed all of the different places you could g
in the country, as a member of the public to explore the modern presidents
and the things they have preserved for history about their presidency.
Well, as of today, as of May 1st, 2013, you can add a new one.
Brochure is now out of date. Down there by LBJ and Poppy Bush in Dallas,
Texas, today, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum officially
opened to the public for the first time, and I think it is important to
know, I think it should probably be said every time somebody notes that
there is a George W. Bush Presidential Library, I think it should be said
every time that this is, rather bluntly, a museum that is designed to make
you think that the Iraq war was a great idea. Seriously.
There`s a game that you play inside the George W. Bush Presidential
Library, and there have been all these sort of vague print press
descriptions about this game, that it lets you decide, it sensitively
handles the controversies of the Bush presidency by letting you decide –
We finally today got footage of the game being played. We got
permission from the library, we sent a crew down there with a camera this
morning to show, so we could see for ourselves, what happens when you play
the game. And it`s amazing. The library`s open to the public for the
first time as of today, and this is what`s happening there today, when
people from here on out go to the George W. Bush presidential library to
play the Decision Points game. This is what happens.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDY CARD: George W. Bush made many tough decisions as president.
Now you`ll get a flavor for what that`s like. Take a look at the list of
scenarios in front of you. First, you will select which one you want to
The majority of the theater chose the threat of Saddam Hussein.
President Bush had to make a choice: one, seek another U.N. resolution,
two, lead an international coalition to remove Saddam, three, take no
action and accept that Saddam Hussein will remain in power.
You are about to select get expert advice from a variety of people.
Just as President Bush did, you will have to weigh conflicting points of
OK, we`re ready to start. Work fast, the clock is ticking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, with a literal drum beat, actual drum beat to war coming
out of the speakers inside the theater, you then go about soliciting advice
from members of the intelligence community, from the Defense Department,
from Congress, from your White House advisers. And while you were getting
all that adviser, while you`re getting those briefings, you get interrupted
by ominous breaking news developments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we act to depose him, other countries could use
our actions to wage unjustified wars in the future.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chemical warheads (INAUDIBLE) –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the first really solid evidence –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: After you deal with all the breaking news interruptions about
new weapons that weren`t disclosed before being discovered and after you
solicit all the advice from your fake actor experts, it`s finally time to
make a decision.
They do set up three options for you to choose from, right? You can
seek a new U.N. resolution, OK, that makes sense. You can invade, of
course, they don`t say invade, they say, lead an international coalition,
which means invade.
If you want to not invade, what`s the label for not invading? That
choice is labeled take “no action.”
So, that`s the neutral presentation of options here. You can lead, or
you can do nothing. If you choose to do nothing – well, President Bush`s
former White House chief of staff then appears on screen and obviously
expresses his disappointment in you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARD: Time`s up. It`s time to make a decision. You were asked how
to address the threat of Saddam Hussein. You had three options. The
people in the theater today decided to take no action and accept that
Saddam Hussein will remain in power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Accept – way to go, wusses.
Andy Card doesn`t just stop there, though, with his disapproving,
almost disbelieving look, he then has President Bush to come on screen and
say the correct answer is you should have invaded.
When I first read descriptions of this, I thought they`d meant you`d
get historical footage of George W. Bush from his presidency, you know,
documenting the history how the Bush presidency handled the issue at the
But as you can see, this is President Bush now, this is contemporary
George W. Bush taped recently still making the case today that invading
Iraq is the right answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: My first choice was to use
diplomacy rather than putting American troops into harm`s way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: First choice, diplomacy. He goes on to explain the U.N.
resolutions that were passed to try to get Saddam Hussein to comply.
Then, he launches right into this explanation for why invading Iraq
was the right thing to do, because smoking gun was going to be a mushroom
cloud, because Saddam`s weapons of mass destruction, Saddam being linked to
terrorist groups. Seriously.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: After 9/11, the stakes were too high to trust the dictator`s
word against the weight of evidence and the consensus of the world. Saddam
posed too big a risk to ignore. He had used weapons of mass destruction in
the past, showed every sign of continuing to pursue such weapons, and
supported international terrorist organizations. The world was made safer
by his removal.
With his departure, 25 million Iraqis have the chance to live in
freedom and build a free society. The new democracy in Iraq can be a
valuable ally in the heart of the Middle East and a beacon of hope to
reformers around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Imagine at the Bill Clinton Presidential Library, an
interactive exhibit designed to prove that he did not have actual sexual
relations with that woman. Imagine an interactive meet Tricky Dick
hologram exhibit at the Nixon library, showing you point by point the ways
he really isn`t a crook.
You know, the weight of evidence did not show that we had to invade
Iraq. There was no consensus of the world that we had to invade Iraq.
When we invaded Iraq, look at this, every country in the map that is shaded
blue here, every country on this map shaded in blue was against us invading
Iraq. Does it seem like there was a world consensus that we should invade
The head of the U.N. at the time said he considered that invasion to
be illegal. The consensus of the world was that George W. Bush had to lead
an international coalition to invade Iraq? Are you serious?
These little kids, who as of today are going to our nation`s newest
presidential library to learn the unvarnished history about this presidency
are being told that Saddam Hussein showed every sign of continuing to
pursue weapons of mass destruction.
The case to invade Iraq was not mistaken. The case to invade Iraq was
cooked up. It was a hoax perpetrated on the American people, and they are
still cooking it up right now, ten years to the day after the mission
accomplished speech, as if the last 10 years never happened. This is how
kids right now, as of today, are being taught that part of our nation`s
I kind of think this is a national scandal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW (voice-over): In this 2011 interview with Britain`s newspaper
“The Guardian,” a man called Curveball confirms the lies of his pre-war
REPORTER (translated): Imagine you could go back to the past and you
were back in 2000 again. Would you tell lies again?
RAFID AHMED ALWAN, “CURVEBALL” (translated): Yes, yes, definitely. I
would do something against Saddam against the old regime. I would do
whatever was possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There was actually one person from the U.S. government who
met with that guy, who met with that professed liar, the guy who said,
“Yes, I`d do anything to get rid of Saddam. I`d lie, absolutely,” was
apparently one person from the United States who met with that guy before
we invaded Iraq. He was sent by the Pentagon to go meet with that guy, to
go hear his story to assess whether or not he was telling the truth, and
this is what he reported back.
Quote, “I do have a concern with the validity of the information.
These issues, in my opinion, weren`t further inquiry before we use the
information as a backbone of one of the major findings of the existence of
the continuing Iraqi biological weapons program!”
I did not add the exclamation point. That`s actually in the guy`s
original email. He`s saying with an exclamation point, hey, I think this
guy could be lying. Do not use this information to build a case for war.
That guy`s information was then turned into part of the basis for
Secretary of State Colin Powell`s case for war at the United Nations. When
the avatar of George W. Bush pops up on your screen at his new presidential
library that opened today in Dallas, he pops up on your screen to make the
case, even today, for invading Iraq. When he talks about the weight of
evidence about Saddam`s weapons of mass destruction, this is the kind of
weight of evidence that he`s talking about. The kind of evidence that came
at the time with an exclamation point from our own people telling us do not
use this, it very well could be made up.
But the newest presidential library in America opened to the public
today is still selling this stuff, still selling the same stuff, still.
Joining us now for the interview is retired Army Colonel Lawrence
Wilkerson. He was chief of staff to Secretary of State Powell in the lead-
up to the war in Iraq.
Colonel Wilkerson, it`s really good to have you here tonight. Thank
you for your time.
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, U.S. ARMY (RET): Thanks for having me,
MADDOW: Do you see it as important that the brand new Bush Library is
arguing the weight of the evidence that existed to invade Iraq? Is it
important in the big picture? Or does everybody just expect that a
presidential library will all be propaganda?
WILKERSON: I don`t think so. I think, as you pointed out in your
opening, this is a special kind of propaganda. This is Karl Rove
But let me point out to you how fast we rehabilitate things in
America. You earlier on your show had Philip Mudd. Philip Mudd was the
one standing behind me in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel at 2:00 in the morning
insisting I put items about terrorism back in Powell`s presentation that I
had thrown out calling them garbage. In fact, he was so insistent that he
went and ran and told George Tenet, and the next morning on the floor of
the U.N. Security Council, George Tenet accosted me about what I`d done.
So, Phil Mudd is still around, still advising on terrorism and so
forth. We rehabilitated people really fast.
MADDOW: You were involved in the preparation of Secretary Powell`s
presentation to the U.N. You have described that kind of pressure before,
although I will tell you I did not connect that to Philip Mudd and talking
about a totally different subject tonight, and thank you for connecting
Did you know when you were working on that presentation the specific
thing about the mobile biological labs buy, Curveball guy, that an American
who had met with him said he was a liar who shouldn`t be trusted – did you
have access to the information?
WILKERSON: We didn`t even know the term Curveball. All we knew was
that an Iraqi engineer, confirmed by other sources and methods of U.S.
intelligence, had been working in one of the labs, according to the
testimony, and had had an explosion in that lab and it had killed several
people and that he had given the CIA much information, which as you`ll note
in the presentation, we turned into sketches of the actual rail mounted and
truck mounted mobile labs.
It was very specific. It was very detailed, and George Tenet stood
behind it four square.
We didn`t know anything about Curveball, the BND, the German
intelligence equivalent of the CIA, or any of these other things, these
revelations that have come out since. At the time, George Tenet confided
none of that in us.
MADDOW: Colonel Wilkerson, one of the other things I wanted to ask
you about that I did not realize until seeing this tape from the library
today, is that in this Decision Points thing they asked you to work through
with the Bush Library, their way of telling this history, you as the sort
of fake president, you can get advice from the CIA, from the Defense
Department, from the U.N., from Iraqi academics, but there`s no option
programmed into the game to get advice from State Department, even as
President Bush says first, we tried diplomacy first.
I wonder if you feel that actually reflects the decision making in the
months leading up to the war. How heavily was the State Department
WILKERSON: It certainly does reflect the State Department. It
reflects the State Department`s power in the U.S. government to this day.
Diplomacy is the least used and the least honed instrument in our arsenal,
and the reason for that is longstanding. It starts with Dick Nixon and
others who derided the State Department is the home of pinko communist
dogs. That`s the way the State Department was looked at by the Bush
They tolerated Colin Powell, because Colin Powell had poll ratings
like Mother Teresa. They couldn`t very well not tolerate Colin Powell.
But the State Department, the State Department was looked on as a filthy,
dirty place where people worked to – were not competent and had no advice
to offer that was worth a damn.
MADDOW: Do you feel like when you`re looking right now at the debates
about Syria, the debates about Iran, the debates about other national
security challenges for our country around the world, and how we`re going
to deal with them – do you feel like there is a real concrete effect of
propagating a whitewashed history of what we went through with the Iraq
Does that affect the debates we`re having now on issues like Iran and
WILKERSON: Oh, I think so. I think as Yogi Berra, I think, once
said, it`s like deja vu all over again. I see us walking down the same
road with the same characters singing in the choir, the same people off the
same sheet of music with a few changes trying to get us into war with Iran.
The new momentum with respect to Syria is not just because of the brutal
civil war there, it`s also because of people like Lindsey Graham and John
McCain from my party and Bob Menendez from the Democratic Party, would like
to use Syria as a backdoor to get us into war with Iran.
This is another catastrophe brewing, and if the American people don`t
wake up and start saying something about it, they`re going to find
themselves in another trillion dollar 10-year war that`s going to produce
results not unlike those in Iraq today.
Let me say, Iraq is a mess today. It is an absolute mess. You`ve got
the Saudis funding the Sunnis and a resurgence of the civil war. You got
Maliki in the back pocket of Iran. So, what we have, as George Bush
doesn`t tell you in his library, is an ally in Iran in Iraq now. You got
the Kurds about to establish their own state in the north and Iraqis who
know anything about their country predicting it will break up in the next
four to five years.
So, that`s what George Bush did for Iraq.
MADDOW: The end of the game involves when he says they do the status
of Iraq now and they talk about Iraq being an ally, a strong ally on
defense and economic and all sorts of security issues for the United
States. It`s amazing stuff.
Retired Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, sir, former chief of state to
Secretary of State Colin Powell and the lead-up to the Iraq war – thank
you for making the connection with our earlier guest tonight. That was
stunning, and now I have to get you guys in the same room to talk to me at
the same time. That`s going to be a great night.
MADDOW: Thank you, Colonel.
All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: OK. First, it was David Lee Roth who was the singer in Van
Then it became this man. In the mid-1980s, it`s a sad day for
America. Sami Hagar seen here wearing a sleeveless yellow jumper with
inexplicable red straps in the 1984 music video “I Can`t Drive 55.” Now,
the car in which he cannot drive 55 is a car that`s called Ferrari.
So, here`s your pop quiz, who besides Sami Hagar circa `94 in a yellow
sleeveless jumper, who in American politics right now actually drives a
Ferrari? The answer, and why the FBI is involved in that answer, is coming
MADDOW: Now that we know who the candidates are for the next U.S.
Senate election in June, which is for the Massachusetts Senate seat used to
be held by John Kerry, now we know the candidates, there are two ways to
look at this matchup between Democratic Congressman Ed Markey and
Republican Gabriel Gomez.
One way to see it is as the second coming of Scott Brown, right? It`s
a political unknown against a veteran Democrat in a state that usually goes
blue – but, hey, it`s a special election, anything can happen. And this
guy`s a young, fresh face. That`s one way to see this race – the second
coming of Scott Brown.
The other way to see this race is as the second coming of Scott Brown,
the Scott Brown who is not a senator anymore because he lost really badly
When Mitt Romney was losing the presidential race in Massachusetts by
23 percentage points this past year, his Massachusetts-based campaign staff
was not just busy losing that race, they were also busy losing Scott
Brown`s race, too, an incumbent U.S. Senate seat held by a supposedly
popular guy lost by eight points. The same campaign people who lost Mitt
Romney the presidency, who lost Mitt Romney his supposed home state by 23
points and lost Scott Brown an incumbent U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts,
they are the same people in Massachusetts doing the Gabriel Gomez campaign
for the Senate seat against Ed Markey.
So, it`s the second coming of Scott Brown either way, right? Joining
us now is Steve Kornacki. He`s host of MSNBC`s weekend morning show “UP
WITH STEVE KORNACKI.” He`s also senior writer at Salon.com.
Steve, thanks for being here.
STEVE KORNACKI, “UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI”: No thanks needed for
MADDOW: I know. You know this stuff chapter and verse. And that`s
why I wanted to ask you, broadly, what do you find the most interesting
thing about this race? I mean, looking at history here, how does this fit
KORNACKI: It seems, in Massachusetts – yes, deeply blue state, 13
percent of the registered population is Republican, but one of the
consequences of sort of one party rule I think is that every once or twice
every decade, I`d say, the electorate of Massachusetts for some reason gets
riled up, gets cranky about one party rule and takes it out on a Democratic
And that`s sort of how Scott Brown got in over Martha Coakley, it`s
how a guy named Mitt Romney in 2002 ran against the gang of three. These
insiders on Beacon Hill, these Democratic insiders, and he beat Shannon
O`Brien in 2002. So, it happens from time to time.
In the stat that sort of jumps out at me, I believe Ed Markey, who has
been in the House since 1976, 36-year veteran in the House, I think that
would be the longest tenure, or one of the longest tenures ever in the
House before moving into the Senate.
And it`s guy who basically, he lives in the D.C. area. He`s got his
house in Malden, Mass, where he grew up, but there was a story earlier this
year, he really doesn`t live there anymore. It`s the kind of thing, if
people start – if the race captures public interest, if the spotlight is
turned up on Markey, he has the markers of insider-dom that I think
occasionally riled up Massachusetts voters again. Oh, this is the guy the
machine spit out at us. The Washington lifer (ph), he doesn`t live here
anymore, 36 years in Congress, we want something new.
And you have the biographer of Gabriel Gomez. You know, he`s a son of
Colombian immigrants, Navy SEAL, the sort of thing. There`s some appeal
there. He looks like an outsider of the system. You know, I will say,
he`s not been that impressive in terms of, you know, when he actually opens
his mouth. But at least on paper, there`s a contrast there that – I think
Markey will be fine. But I think there`s a possibility this thing gets
MADDOW: A lot of the common wisdom, particularly among liberals about
what happened when Scott Brown won in 2010, was that while Martha Coakley
may have made people very happy with her performance in office, her
performance as a candidate was lackluster. She wasn`t good at campaigning
I think Gabriele Gomez was particularly awful in the Republican
primary debates. He was the only candidate who had enough money to
advertise on TV, though, and maybe that`s why he won.
How do you see a mark up between Markey and Gomez, if they are both on
the same stage, both having to open their mouth?
KORNACKI: And that`s the thing. Markey actually is – I think he`s
got a little bit more life in a setting like that than Martha Coakley. I
think he`s better in the setting than Martha Coakley was. And you remember
sort of the iconic moment for Scott Brown as a candidate was when he was in
that debate and David Gergen said, well, this is Kennedy`s seat. Scott
Brown interrupted and said, no, it`s the people`s seat.
KORNACKI: The instinct to do that and I haven`t seen a similar
instinct, you know, from Gomez.
There was a third candidate in the Republican primary who finished
dead last with like 13 percent who`s a really sharp, quick witted,
creative, clever guy. And I would say, if you could put his personality in
Gabriel Gomez, then you`d really have a candidate.
So, I think it`s just one of those, in terms of Markey being in
trouble, it really rises and falls on, you know, does the entrenched D.C.
status, 36 years in Congress, that sort of thing, really not living in
Malden and living in the Beltway, does that, you know, rile up the voters,
in a way?
You know, I think it`s possible, not likely. I look at Coakley and,
you know, the thing I remember about Coakley, is we can talk about the
terrible campaign she ran. What it really was that was the height of the
health care battle, right?
KORNACKI: What`s when it came to a head, and that`s why it captured
the public`s interest. And the public looked at her and said, all the
stuff about the Red Sox, taking a vacation in the campaign, that didn`t
work. But the public, if it never reached that level of interest because
of health care, she would have won by 15 points.
MADDOW: And part of the reason that reached the level of interest is
because Tea Party groups and conservative groups are on the country decided
to make Scott Brown their vehicle at a time when they needed one to channel
the anger over health reform. They found it in him.
We`ll see if that sort of same dynamic can play out with Gabriel
Gomez. I don`t see it but I don`t always see things coming in
Steve Kornacki, the host of MSNBC`s great weekend morning show, “UP
WITH STEVE KORNACKI” – you are doing a great job on the weekends, man.
Great to have you here.
KORNACKI: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. I will use the word Ferrari in a completely
legitimate news context. Coming up next.
MADDOW: This was the lead editorial in “The Washington Post”
yesterday, “Virginia`s deepening scandal.”
This was the lead politics story in the same paper. Look at the
headline. When the headline is about your governor insisting he`s able to
govern, then, yes, Virginia, there`s a scandal at hand.
It started a few weeks ago with reports that Virginia Governor Bob
McDonnell had received undisclosed gifts from a campaign contributor who`s
now under federal investigation. The gift in question was a chicken dinner
– a $15,000 chicken dinner for a couple of hundred people that was served
at the wedding of the governor`s daughter.
The governor`s initial defense was that the dinner wasn`t a gift to
him, it was a gift to his daughter. So, he didn`t have to disclose it.
That later fell apart when “The Post” got a hold of the catering contract
and found that it was signed by the governor. So, it`s his contract. So,
anybody paying the cost of the contract was paying his costs.
Well, now, the FBI is involved. FBI agents and Virginia state police
looking into whether there`s been any quid pro quo between the governor and
the company, whether the governor took steps to help the company, quote,
“in return for anything of value for him and his family.”
In the course of that investigation, we are now getting more detail
out of Virginia about those things of value that the governor took, things
like a family vacation at the lake house of the company`s founder. And
that trip apparently included borrowing the executive`s Ferrari for the
ride home. Yes, this guy in a Ferrari – Bob McDonnell, a Ferrari.
When the July vacation ended, the McDonnell family borrowed a Ferrari
owned by Star Scientific`s chief executive the three-hour ride back to
Richmond. The model had a retail price of $190,000.
Apparently, the whistleblower in this case is the governor`s former
chef who turned over documents about that paid-for wedding reception. He
turned over the documents last year. Then, this year, he found himself in
trouble with the state attorney`s office.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli green lighting felony embezzlement
charges against the whistle blower chef. Well, now, the chef`s lawyers
have responded by saying, actually, our client, the chef, did not steal
from the governor`s mansion but, oh, by the way, we would like you to turn
over information about things the governor`s family took from the mansion.
And they provided a list, bottled water caps, Gatorade, protein powder
and other items taken from the mansion by two of the McDonnell kids for use
at their college residences. Flats of eggs taken from the mansion by
another of the McDonnell kids. Liquor taken by a McDonnell kid or her
boyfriend from the mansion for a private party. Pots and pans from the
mansion given to the McDonnell kids by the governor`s wife.
Protein powder and the chicken dinner and Ferrari, like the noun-less
in a political scandal mad libs.
The attorney general now says he wants to recuse himself from the case
against the chief. No idea if that`s related to the fact that Ken
Cuccinelli himself is also now in trouble in this matter, first, for not
disclosing that he owns part of the company in question her, but then for
not disclosing all the gifts that he, too, got from the company, including
a catered Thanksgiving dinner in a lake house summer vacation. So, not a
chicken in his case, but turkey and but still a nice vacation.
Ken Cuccinelli is the Republican candidate for Virginia governor this
year. Democrats are calling for him to resign because of the scandal.
That`s happening while the current governor is reduced to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: There are two things I would like
to people to know. One is that, you know, I had a remarkable opportunity
to serve these last 3 1/2 years and that there`s nothing going on at all at
this time that impairs my ability to do a good job and serve the people of
And that, secondly, you know, I`ve said, I`ve got – I have been
blessed to have a lot of friends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And some of my friends let me drive their Ferrari and pay for
my daughter`s wedding. Isn`t that what Virginians are looking for in a
governor? Have you met my handpicked successor, the attorney general? No
word yet on him in the Ferrari, but he has just started disclosing his free
vacations at the same guy`s lake house.
Virginia Republicans keeping it classy and fast.
Watch this space.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.” Thanks
for being with us.
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.>