The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/03/13
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: Good evening, Chris.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES: Thank you.
MADDOW: And Thanks to you at home for staying with us on a busy news day.
The White House announced late today that President Obama is about to pick
a whole bunch of new judges. Three nominees for the very influential and
high profile D.C. circuit court. If are a sense of how big of a deal, the
D.C. circuit court is, consider that of the nine justices currently on the
Supreme Court, four of the nine came from the D.C. circuit.
There are a ton vacant seats on that court right now. Republicans in the
Senate say they want to keep them all vacant so President Obama cannot get
his nominees on a court that important. But President Obama, we are told
today, will be nominating three judges for that court tomorrow in a
ceremony that will be held in the most unsubtle place in the world, the
At the Supreme Court today, a divided decision handed down about DNA. The
court ruling that if you are arrested for a serious crime, the police can
force you to give a DNA sample even if you don`t want to. It was a 5-4
decision, but it was not the usual conservative-liberal 5-4 split.
The minority opinion today was written by conservative justice Antonin
Scalia, but he was joined in his position by the more liberal justices
begins Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. That is a
foursome that doesn`t usually exist in nature.
Today in Afghanistan, an attack apparently aimed at U.S. forces in the
eastern part of the country, in Paktio (ph) province claimed the lives of
two American soldier and an Afghan policeman and also at least nine kids.
The bomb was set off by a suicide bomber on a motorcycle that was just
outside a boy`s school in the province. Today`s attack following an
earlier attack today which killed seven members of the same family.
Today, the interior department approved three giant energy projects on
public lands, two solar and one geothermal. Together, these are expected
to generate enough electricity to power 200,000 homes. The two solar
projects are in Nevada and Arizona. The geothermal one is in a place that
is called New York Kenyan which sounds very east coasty, but it is in
Nevada as well.
Today, in Colorado, the gun lobby turned in more than enough signatures to
force a recall election against the Democratic president of the Colorado
state Senate in his leadership in passing gun reforms in that state.
Also today, the Boston fire chief resigned as well as a no confidence vote
by the city`s 13 deputy fire chiefs, the deputy chief have accused the
chiefs of inappropriately refusing to assume command on scene in the
aftermath of the Boston bombing. They also accuse him of taking a selfy
photo of himself from a roof top of a burning building in the background
instead of taking command at that scene as well.
The chief was on the job for less than two years in Boston. We are now
told that he would be out by Friday. So, there is a lot going on in
But we begin with Doonesbury. Doonesbury, the comicster (ph), written by
Gary Trudeau reliably excellent genius political commentary and jokes since
the 1970s. Doonesbury is mostly a large cast of fictional characters who
you get to love, even the creepy ones, if you follow the trip.
But Doonesbury also has always mixed in real political figures which are
often characterized in visual means that have many meanings. For example,
Newt Gingrich was a little floating bomb with a lip fuse as if it might pop
at any moment. George W. Bush after the 2000 Bush v. Gore recount, he just
became a walking talking asterisk sometimes wearing a hat.
There is a news man character that is very clearly Sam Donaldson who is
called the (INAUDIBLE) in Doonesbury. And there is also a character called
Lacey Davenport. Lacey Davenport was quite transparently based on an
actual but now largely forgotten American political figure. The character
lives on in the script, right, but the basis of the Lacey Davenport
character has pretty much been forgotten in real life.
The basis of the Lacey Davenport character in Doonesbury, in real life, was
a Republican congresswoman from New Jersey named Millicent Fenwick.
Millicent Hammond Fenwick to be precise. She was a Republican member of
Congress from New Jersey. People say that politicians like Mitt Romney and
George H. W. Bush had a patrician problem. They seemed a little thirst in
Henley. They seems a little too aristocratic, too hoity toity to relate to
the regular people.
Well, Mitt Romney and George H. W. Bush had nothing on Millicent Hammond
Fenwick. Here she is smoking a pipe. Millicent Fenwick was the platonic
form of patrician. And after serving in Congress for eight years, she
decided in 1982 that she would try to move up to the House of Lords by
which I mean the Senate. Because one of New Jersey`s two senate seats was
all of sudden unexpectedly an open seat and that`s why she decided to make
the trial. The reason New Jersey had an open seat that year was because of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The abs investigation, videotapes of Congressmen
committing crimes. It started four years ago with the house in Washington
where FBI agents posed as representatives of rich Arabs looking for favors
and apparently succeed in bribing a half dozen congressmen and one senator,
most of them sentenced to three years in prison.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The congressman and senator. That one senator was a New Jersey
senator, New Jersey Democratic senator named Harrison Williams. And he
gave up his senate seat when he was convicted of bribery and conjunction
with t with the abs scam disaster.
The governor of New Jersey at the time was a Republican. He had to appoint
somebody to fill that seats until an election could be held. And the
governor at the time did, what seems to be the decent thing, he appointed
somebody who is just a place holder who is not meant to hold the seat in
any long term capacity so that people of New Jersey could in that election
choose the true successor for the guy who was now in jail.
But then for the November 1982 election, when Republicans had to pick who
they wanted to run for the seat, they picked for real, Millicent Fenwick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: This year congressional campaign includes a
familiar code of house members who are trying to enlarge their political
careers by moving up through the Senate. There are eight of them this
year, but none with a national reputation except one.
This is the face and profile of an American aristocrat. It is also the
face of the Republican Party Senate candidate in New Jersey, Millicent
Hammond Fenwick. Indeed, everything about the 72-year-old Fenwick exceeds
upper class breeding, barring and wealth. The Channel style suits and
heavy jewelry. The studied indifference to the nitty-gritty of politics.
The venality of her small talk with those of lesser station.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love to see productive land.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: The feisty refusing to give up her famous
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know that pipe, I was almost going to give it up
and I thought if I hear more time pipe smoking grandmother, I`m going have
to give it up. I can`t give up grandchildren, but I have to give up the
pipe. I couldn`t stand it. You know that I don`t like that sort of thing
at all. But then, I thought, I am not going to be bullied and told.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: And while she is now the favorite in the
Senate race, her election is not a given. She has not done well in the
campaign debates. Her party is outnumbered, 3-2 in New Jersey. She
doesn`t have the endorsement of organized women or labor . And despite her
claim of black support. She was not allowed to speak at a recent NAACP in
her neighboring county until after the TV cameras have left.
But everybody takes her seriously as a candidate, especially her democratic
opponent, Frank Lautenberg.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s no longer Frank who. They say Frank when.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Lautenberg is running as if he was not 12-15
points behind the polls behind in the polls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Millicent Fenwick was heavily favored to win that amazing race in
1982. She had all of the money in the world. She was running for a seat
that had become open because of a Democrat who held the seat before was
convicted of bribery and abs scam when she was the Republican.
Republicans should have won that seat. Everyone thought Millicent Fenwick
was going to win that seat. But, an underdog named Frank Lautenberg beat
her. He won that seat in the senate. And when Frank Lautenberg died this
morning at the age of 89 at home in New Jersey, he was remembered as the
last World War II veteran to ever served in the United States senate. He
was remembered as a father and a businessman and unusually consequential
United States senator who has a lot of very high profile legislation and
policy changes associated with his name and his tenure in public life.
But Frank Lautenberg was also remembered as a man whose political career
always seem to pivot unkind of amazing circumstances. I mean, his career
started with the abs scam created vacancy and then the race against
Millicent Fenwick and her pipe and the out of the blue underdog victory in
the race. He served for 18 years then until the year 2000 when he retired
from Senate, on his owned term, saying he did not feel like fund-raising to
run again. But then, as soon as he retired, literally at the press
conference where he announce that he was retiring, he then turned to the
friend and said he was making a mistake. He immediately regretted it as
soon as he announced he was stepping down. And he wanted to be back in the
senate and he let everybody knows that he wanted to be back in the senate
even though he just quit. MADDOW:
And then. less than two years later when another senator from New Jersey,
another Democrat, this one named Bob Torricelli, the Torch, when he went up
in flame in a big embarrassing want on bribery scandal of his own, that
happened in the middle of Bob Torricelli running for reelection.
But the scandal did not totally blow up and he did not quit the race until
just a month before the election. He is already on the ballot. Now, he
quits. What`s going to happen now? Well, there is old retired Frank
Lautenberg saying pick me. Pick me. I will run. I am desperate to get
back to the Senate. He had to go to the Supreme Court of the state of New
Jersey to decide whether or not Mr. Lautenberg could be allowed to
switcheroo onto the ballot with the very end of the campaign without having
to win a primary or do anything else to earn the spot.
But the state Supreme Court let him on the ballot and so Torricelli ran for
reelection in the middle of the scandal, finally had to quit, they swapped
in Lautenberg`s name at the last second and Frank Lautenberg ended up back
in the Senate after he previously left.
Frank Lautenberg`s whole political career has been amazing. It did not
start until late in life. He had already served in World War II, he came
back, he got his degree on GI bill. He became a very, very, very, very
successful, very rich businessman. Do you get paid by payroll service?
Does it say ADP somewhere on your payroll stub? That`s Frank Lautenberg.
Once Frank Lautenberg got into politics, every time he ran, a, he won and
b, there was some amazing story or amazing circumstances surrounding that
election. And it is therefore in keeping with the circumstances of Frank
Lautenberg`s amazing life that his passing today has brought about another
one-of-a-kind drama in New Jersey politics. To understand the drama, you
have to know about a little bit about Frank Lautenberg`s legacy and what he
did with his time in the Senate.
The thing he is probably most famous for was the fight that he led and won
in 1989 in the Senate. That was the first time around. He had been a two-
pack a day smoker at one point in his life, but he quit smoking and then he
made a change in the country for everyone which made it so airplanes no
longer need to have exhaust pipes that come out of the passenger
compartment. We just have the exhaust pipes for the engines now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new prohibition would take effect three months
after the president signs the legislation. After that the only domestic
flights for smokers could still light up would be just 12 daily flights
from inland U.S. cities to Hawaii, flight to which take longer than six
hours and one Chicago to Alaska flight, also more than six hours.
At Los Angeles international airport today, plane show the characteristics
smudge mark where cigarette smoke is vented from the passenger cabin.
Traveler, Peter McMartin (ph), an ex-smoker is all for the extended ban.
PETER MCMARTIN (ph), TRAVELER: I think it is the best thing that ever
happened. It should have happened years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: But Laura Carpentry (ph) said six hours is a
long time to go without a cigarette.
LAURA CARPENTRY (ph), TRAVELER: I think everybody should have the right to
do whatever they want to do. If they want to smoke on an airplane, they
should be able to smoke.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Loving anarchist sentiments like that aside, America eventually
told (INAUDIBLE) on Frank Lautenberg`s idea that really, nobody should be
able to do whatever they want on an airplane including smoking cigarette
In 1984 when he was a freshman senator in the minority party, Frank
Lautenberg led the fight to establish a national drinking age of 21.
Before that, some states let you drink as young as 18. In 2000, he led the
way for nation standards for drunk driving laws.
Frank Lautenberg supported the environmental cleanup of super fun sights.
He loved to fight for the funding of Amtrak and the family and medical
leave act and the Ryan White care act for aids.
Frank Lautenberg is a major reason why if you are convicted of domestic
violence, you have a hard time legally getting a gun in this country.
Having benefitted after GI bill himself, after World War II, Frank
Lautenberg was a leading fighter for the new post 9-11 GI bill during the
administration of George W. Bush.
In the Obama administration his health was not great, for some of it. He
announced in February that he would not run for reelection next year. But
at 89 this year, significantly sick in a wheelchair because of it, Frank
Lautenberg nevertheless came back to the capitol in April to cast votes in
favor of gun reform laws that he had long championed, including background
checks and an assault weapons ban.
And now, with Frank Lautenberg dying this morning at the age of 89, the
governor of New Jersey who is probably the highest profile Republican in
the country, Chris Christie is now, as of today, left with a whole bunch of
impossible decisions that have been left now to him from this proud liberal
Democratic senator who was just as pugnacious like Chris Christie and his
loud ideological nemesis for the entire time Chris Christie has been in
office in New Jersey.
The first thing Governor Christie has to decide is what to do with a bunch
of gun bills that are sitting on his desk. Frank Lautenberg was a champion
of reformat the federal level. At the state level Democrats and
Republicans in the New Jersey state legislature have just passed a number
of bipartisan gun reform measures and Chris Christie has been sitting on
his desk right now and has to decide whether or not he is going to sign,
the clock is ticking.
That way, common wisdom, of course, on guns, it`s still that any Republican
with national ambitions should not sign anything related to gun reformat
all. But, would the legislature in New Jersey send Chris Christie is
really, really low-hanging fruit. And it would be a big deal in New Jersey
if he vetoed this stuff. It is stuff like the terrorism watch list.
Should you really be allowed to buy explosives and guns if you are on the
How about 50 caliber weapons that maybe can shoot aircraft out of the skies
and they are taking off the landing? Does that seem like a useful thing in
The governor Christie has to decide on is among all the possible gun reform
in the country, it is low hanging fruit particularly the terrorism watch
list thing. And if Chris Christie cannot sign bills like that, then
honestly, no Republican can sign any gun legislation anywhere in the
But Governor Christie has got to decide if he wants to defy bipartisan
legislation and New Jersey overwhelming public opinion on easy bills like
this because of his national ambitions. And on top of that, now, he has to
decide what to do about Frank Lautenberg`s Senate seat. Because governor
Chris Christie does clearly has the power and the responsibility to appoint
somebody to fill the seat in the Senate, but New Jersey state law is not
just unclear, but actually contradictory on the question of whether or not
the person, governor Christie gets to appoint to the seat will hold the
seat until Frank Lautenberg`s term is up next November 2014 or whether that
appointee actually has to be on the ballot right away this November, along
sides a man named Chris Christie who is running for reelection as governor.
Complicated, right? New Jersey is a Democratic state. New Jersey likes
Chris Christie and he is a Republican, but it is a Democrat state. And a
Democrat is likely to win the senate.
Chris Christie could hurt his own reelection chances. He could at least
hurt the margin by which he is expected to win reelection if he decides
that that senate seat with a likely Democratic winner is going to be voted
on at the same time has his own reelection. If he said the election should
not be held until next November, well then, he looks scared and that`s
against his brand.
Should he appoint a place holder who is not going to run for the seat in
the long run. New Jersey is such a democratic state that would effectively
be setting up whatever Democrat to win when the special election finally
Should Chris Christie appoint a hard core red blooded conservative
Republican to the seat. He can pick anybody he wants. Should he pick
somebody like that to shore up his national standing in his own party which
thinks of him as a bit of a squish, an ideological squish. That would, of
course, would help him in, if he want to run for president in terms of
scouring the nomination and won`t help him win the general election and
won`t help him in New Jersey where he is the only Republican anybody likes
And then the question of Cory Booker. The mayor of Newark, a Democrat who
everybody thinks he is going to win this senate seat one way or the other
whenever he has to win it. Chris Christie and Cory Booker, a, get along,
b, seem to respect each other, c, are not running against each other for
governor because Cory Booker decided not to challenge him. Thank you, Cory
Booker. And d, the two of them in this circumstance present the most
delicious complicated Frank Lautenberg could not have invented it himself
ideological weird election circumstance in New Jersey ever for Chris
If Chris Christie appoints Cory Booker, Democrat Cory Booker to that Senate
seat, he would be appointing a guy who New Jersey probably wants anyway.
He would be infuriating his own party, of course, and making himself look
like the most bipartisan, practical, technocratic across the aisle kind of
guy you can possibly imagine which would make Democrats absolutely
terrified of him as a 2016 presidential candidate.
I have no idea what`s going to happen, but it will happen fast. Stay with
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: It`s no mystery that senator
Lautenberg and I didn`t always agree. In fact, it probably is more honest
to say we very often didn`t agree. And we had some pretty good fights
between us overtime. Battles on philosophy and the role of government.
But never was senator Lautenberg to be under estimated for the causes he
believed in and as an adversary in the political world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, probably the highest profile
Republican in the country this morning eulogizing his state senior senator
Frank Lautenberg. Governor Christie now has to decide when to replace the
late senator and who to replace him and the decision is fraud in a million
Joining us now is Steve Kornacki. He is the host of “Up with Steve
Kornacki” with is here won MSNBC on weekend mornings. Steve is also a
senior writer at salon. And don`t you have a long sorted history as a New
Jersey political reporter?
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI: Anybody who has done
politics in New Jersey is ordinarily thwarted, I think, but I did three
years there. And the (INAUDIBLE). I love that you put that out there, by
MADDOW: It is, I mean, it is – you do have to take the context on New
Jersey seriously. Noting that, you know, the first time that seat became
open, it was because of abs scam, the second time that seat became open, it
was because of the (INAUDIBLE) bribery scandal. I mean, it`s rich anyway.
But, am I right in thinking Chris Christie and Frank Lautenberg were really
at each other`s throats for most of the time there both in office?
KORNACKI: No. They did, you know, Frank Lautenberg has sort of second
incarnation as a senator. So, he left in 2000. He came back in 2002 when
you have the Torricelli situation. This was the guy who sort of freed from
a lot of the sort of limits he felt when he first return. He was worried
about reelection every six years and this sort of thing.
In the last decade, Frank Lautenberg was a lot more outspoken. He crave to
say a lot more strident at the height of the Iraq war. He took the call in
Dick Cheney (ph) and the Republicans chicken hawks. He has had chicken
hawks doll made. And so, a conservatives really – they never liked
Lautenberg that much to begin with, but they really came to really
irritated them in the last decade and Christie gave voice to that I think
in the last couple of years. So, it is interesting to see him making that
MADDOW: Do you think that history affects the kind of person who Chris
Christie picks for this seat? I mean, conceivably, whatsoever Chris
Christie picks could be there until a year from November or depending on
how they interpret the law and the state and how he decides to move
forward, it could be until this November. Which direction do you think it
KORNACKI: So, I think I talked to a number of people today and I got a
little bit in the Christie`s orbit I think. And I think basically, the
kind of person you pick is dependent on when the election takes place. The
first question that has to be addressed here is when. Is this – he is
going to appoint somebody, the question is, is it somebody who is going to
run first in November of 2014 or as somebody who is going to run in
MADDOW: Does he get to decide when?
KORNACKI: Well, this would be – the courts will probably decide.
Christie`s preference would be November 2014. He thinks he is in great
shape for reelection this year. He doesn`t want to muck it up. Cory
Booker, the like Democratic candidate, he doesn`t want to be running for
reelection with Cory Booker`s name in the Democratic columns.
He wants it 2014. The question is, twofold, to Christie. One, can he
justify in the court of public relation saying you know what, voters are
likely Democrat. I`m a Republican and I`m going to bypass an opportunity
to put that Republican before the voters now and waive here. Can you get
away with that in the court of public opinion. And two, can he get away
with in the real system because Democrats badly want this election in 2013
and they will sue if says where can we can due 2014.
The issue for Democrats is they are looking right now at Barbara Bono,
their gubernatorial candidate is likely to lose by a healthy margin this
fall. That jeopardizes the entire Democratic machine in New Jersey because
all of these Democrats in municipal and county level have to run with her.
And if the Democrats can get Cory Booker at the top of the ticket this
fall, that may not help Barbara Bono, but that is going to helps a lot of
Democrats up and down the ballot. So, they badly were not to be this
So, the question is when in terms of how it affects who this will be. If
it`s November 2014, what I am hearing today is Christie is much more likely
than to appoint a conservative to the seat. Because then, he is thinking
more in terms of 2016, Malpine (ph) national Republicans and if it`s
November 2013, he is picking his running mate in a blue state. You know,
so it is much more likely to go with a moderate, if somebody from this
MADDOW: I am picking a cross party choice at that point. I think that
would be the big Chris Christie patented, you know, one finger salute to
the political system he is so known for. And I don`t know. I think we
should for that as well.
Steve Kornacki, host of MSNBC`s weekend morning show, “UP WITH STEVE
KORNAKI” letting you keep up late.
Thanks a lot, Steve.
MADDOW: Good to have you here.
MADDOW: All right, the most bizarre congressional trip abroad maybe of all
me. The leaked case of the century and a preview of what will happen all
summer is coming up.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: “Above the Law.” He has been hard to kill. He has been under
siege part one and party two. But now Steven Seagal is in Russia with a
delegation of Congress people? We have the tape. There is dancing.
That`s coming up. He`s a punk. Get him, man.
MADDOW: Six years ago in July 2007, American helicopter pilots fired on a
group of Iraqis in a Baghdad suburb. Twelve people were killed including
two men working for the Reuters news agency. Driver and a photographer.
The military defended itself saying all proper protocols were followed.
They said there was no question that coalition forces were clearly engaged
in combat operations against a hostile force.
But there was some dispute about just how hostile the situation really was
and so Reuters asked the military if they could see any video that the
troops in the helicopter might have taken of the incident. The military
said no. Reuters then filed the Freedom of Information Act request. Still
Nearly three years went by but then in April 2010, all of the sudden the
video of that airstrike which killed that Reuters driver and photographer
and 10 other people, that video got posted online. It was video taken from
the perspective of the gun sight on the helicopter.
After requesting any such video and having the military tell them no,
Reuters was able to see it and the world was able to see it for the first
time three years down the road because it was posted online by WikiLeaks.
There`s a short version and a 40-minute long version of the video.
WikiLeaks added subtitles to it, they added their own written narration
describing what they believe was happening in the video.
They called the killings unprovoked even though some of the men seen in the
video seemed to have weapons. The AK-47s and a rocket-propelled grenade
WikiLeaks said at the time and still says that they`ve got the video from a
source but they would not name who it was. The video was released April
2010, about a month later the Army`s Criminal Investigation Division
arrested a 22-year-old Army intelligence analyst who was on active duty in
Private 1st Class Bradley Manning was suspected of leaking not just the
Apache helicopter video, but also hundreds of thousands of classified
documents including more videos and State Department cables and internal
Over the course of that year with Private Manning sitting in a confinement
camp in Kuwait and then a military prison at Quantico, that trove of
information that he now admits he sent to Wikileaks, those hundreds of
thousands of files made a lot of news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They documents revealed that even as Pakistan
accepted billions in U.S. aide, Pakistani intelligence officials allegedly
conspired with Taliban leaders to attack American forces in Afghanistan.
In May 2007, the Taliban shot down a U.S. helicopter with a shoulder-fired
missile, killing seven soldiers. But NATO commanders concealed that fact.
In one five-year period, more than 66,000 Iraqi civilians were killed even
though the Pentagon have repeatedly claimed they never kept such
statistics. U.S. Intelligence officials also estimate that the names of
more than 300 Iraqi informants working with the Americans appear in the
According to documents posted by WikiLeaks this weekend the U.S. military
knew of at least several dozen incidents involving security contractors.
This is the third and by far the biggest release of U.S. secrets by
Friends like French President Sarkozy described as thin-skinned and an
emperor with no clothes. Foes like Iranian president Adhmadinejad called
Hitler. Libya`s Moammar Gadhafi strange and always accompanied by a
voluptuous blond Ukrainian nurse. And North Korean dictator Kim Jung-Il, a
flabby old chap. One cable in January says Yemen`s President Saleh told
General David Petraeus, “We`ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice before her, ordered
U.S. embassies and intelligence services to gather private information on
U.N. leaders and diplomats, including computer passwords, even DNA and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Bradley Manning is accused of leaking classified documents that
made public things that were things like insulting names that American
officials used to describe the French president and that they thought Kim
Jung-Il was flabby. But also so much more consequential stuff. Military
cover-ups of attacks on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. An official death
count of civilians in Iraq. The names of hundreds of informants.
The government of Yemen signing off on the United States secret drone
problem and agreeing to help cover it up. Spying on U.N. officials and on
representatives from countries on the U.N. national security.
Earlier this year, Bradley Manning plead guilty to 10 of the 22 charges
against him. As of today he is being court marshaled for the remaining
charges including the charge of aiding the enemy. Prosecutors are not
seeking the death penalty, but if he`s convicted of these remaining
charges, he could be looking at life.
Does the question of whether or not he gets life depend on what the Court
Marshal proves in terms of his motive? Is the point now to figure out if
he leaked the documents for good reasons or bad reasons? And how is the
judge going to decide that?
Joining us now is Elizabeth Goitein. She`s the co-director of the Liberty
and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice.
Miss Goitein, thank you very much for being with us tonight.
ELIZABETH GOITEIN, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: Thank you.
MADDOW: Is the issue of Bradley Manning`s intent or motive at passing on
these documents, is that the center of this case now and how serious it is
GOITEIN: Strangely enough it`s really not. I mean, that`s what you read
about in the newspapers, is what was the intent? Is he a hero? Is he a
traitor? But the judge in this case has already ruled that his subjective
motive isn`t relevant to the charges that were brought against him under
the Espionage Act. So the only thing that matters under those charges is
whether a reasonable person would have had reason to believe that the
disclosures could harm national security.
It`s a little more complicated under the – aiding the enemy charge. He
did under that charge have to have some kind of evil intent is what they
call it. He had to know and really set up to be giving intelligence to the
enemy, to al Qaeda and associated forces. So the answer is yes and no,
depending on the charges.
MADDOW: So the people who support Bradley Manning, both from the sort of
social movement supporters outside the case and also his defense, his
formal defense, during the court Marshall, is essentially that they`re
calling him a whistleblower. And that`s –
GOITEIN: That`s right.
MADDOW: Not just a term that sounds good. It`s sort of a legal term of
art. What does that mean for him legally?
GOITEIN: Well, there`s a statute called the Whistleblower Protection Act
that defines a whistleblower as someone who has reason to believe that the
information they`re disclosing shows serious government abuse, fraud, or
waste. Now that`s not actually not at issue in this case because if that -
- if that is what he showed through these disclosures, it`s not a defense
to the changes that were brought against him under the Espionage Act, under
the charge of aiding the enemy.
So whether you think he`s a whistleblower or whether you think he`s a
traitor, it`s not really relevant to the charges against him.
MADDOW: Then why do you think that is the basis of the defense, both in
the court of public opinion and in the actual court martial?
GOITEIN: Right. Well, I mean, I think the defense is bringing it up to
try to help show that he wasn`t intentionally passing information on to the
enemy. I think in the court of public opinion, it`s really about our
understanding of national security leaks and how they should be treated in
cases where the leaker does not intend to harm the national security.
Now Bradley Manning is somebody who, you know, downloaded 750,000 documents
and passed them along. I personally don`t think of him as a classic
whistleblower because I don`t think he could have read all those documents.
I mean, I`ve done the math. If you give him 30 seconds per document and 12
hours a day to do nothing but read documents, it would still take him
longer than the entire time he was in Iraq.
But he also had no intent to harm the United States. So really should the
Espionage Act which is used to prosecute enemies of the state be used in
the situation? As the Obama administration has done in many instances.
MADDOW: Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National
Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. Thank you very much
for your time tonight. Thanks for helping us –
GOITEIN: Thank you.
MADDOW: It`s going to be about 12 weeks, they say at the outside, in terms
of how long this case is going to go on. There`s going to be more than 100
witnesses called on both sides. Court martials do not go exactly the same
way civilian trials, but the Bradley Manning case is now moving out of the
realm of great interest to his supporters to now once again being of great
national interest. You`re going to hear a lot about it all summer long.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Mystery solved. When the head of the Tea Party caucus, former
presidential candidate Michele Bachmann announced her resignation from
Congress last week when she announced she would not run for reelection, one
of the many interesting things about that resignation was that she did it
by video and then she was unavailable for comment. And her staff would not
say where she was.
So she is effectively phoning in her resignation statement and then she is
nowhere to be found? It`s kind of a strange way to do it, but we now know
where she was. She was with this guy. This is the 1990s action movie
hero, Steven Seagal, seen here dancing in Russia. If you do not –
recognize him from the dancing, that is because he no longer looks very
much like the way he looked when he was a famous action movie hero fighting
with Gary Busey in this pot boiler. Get it?
But it`s the same guy. This is him. This is him in Chechnya recently. I
think we`ve got him, yes. This is Chechnya on the right of your screen.
That`s Steven Seagal. On the left side of your screen is what traditional,
formal Chechen dancing looks like which Mr. Seagal is emulating. He`s
given it a whirl himself.
You never know how American celebrity of various kinds translates abroad.
So every once in a while you do get something like, you know, Dennis Rodman
being welcome to North Korea as a national hero. In Russia it turns our
Vladimir Putin loves him some Steven Seagal. Even late models Steven
And that Vladimir Putin affection has extended to Mr. Seagal getting a
welcome like a head of state from the Putin-supported regime in Chechnya,
and that is where Michele Bachmann comes in. Michele Bachmann and
Congressman Steve King and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Steve Cohen and
Bill Keating and Paul Cook all went to Russia last week to investigate the
Boston bombing suspects from Chechnya and they went with Steven Seagal.
They had a press conference with him at the embassy and everything where he
wore those wacky glasses. The members of Congress said that Mr. Seagal set
up a whole bunch of meetings for them with the FSB. Which of course is
what the KGB became. They also wanted to go to Chechnya itself. Mr.
Seagal wanted them to go meet his friends, the president of Chechnya who is
accused of widespread kidnappings, murder and torture of his political
Somewhere between those accusations and House of Representatives` rules
about accepting a free flight on Steven Seagal`s private plane to go to
Chechnya, that part of the trip fell through.
Back home in Washington today, House Republicans decided that their
contribution to American`s foreign policy responsibilities would be to
introduce legislation banning President Obama from closing the prison in
Guantanamo. The Republicans ban is folded into the language of the overall
bill funding the whole Defense Department which includes hundreds of
millions of dollars to keep Guantanamo going and to shore it up for years
That huge funding bill for the whole Pentagon gets a vote this week and the
Republicans are apparently going to make the president veto all funding for
the entire U.S. military if he wants to try to close Guantanamo.
There is a lot going on in the world right now. Turkey is now swaying
under four straight days of increasingly massive street protests against
what previously seemed to be a stable government there. Mostly young
people, but increasingly all kinds of people calling the government there
authoritarian and anti-democratic and taking to the streets in protest.
The ongoing war in Syria is the on-going war in Syria, with increasingly
complex international dynamics and politics surrounding that conflict,
encompassing Russia and the EU and Israel, and Lebanon, and Jordan, and
Iraq, and Turkey as well. There`s a war on in Afghanistan with two U.S.
soldiers and a policeman and nine kids killed in the eastern part of the
country today, and a suicide bomb attack outside a school.
The war we left in our wake in Iraq has heated back up again with the U.N.
saying this weekend that the death toll just last month from bombings and
assassinations and other attacks in Iraq was over 1,000 people killed.
It is a big, complicated world out there right now with a lot of
particularly difficult foreign policy problems confronting our country.
And six sitting members of Congress decided to go meet with the KGB on a
trip arranged by Steven Seagal, the action movie guy from the `90s. And
now with the Chechen dancing.
Four of those six members of Congress who went with him are on the
Intelligence Committee or the Foreign Relations Committee in Congress,
including Michele Bachmann.
What do other countries think of us when a congressional delegation like
this shows up in their country?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Six current and former IRS agents testified from
behind screens. Their voices distorted to protect their identity. They
said they`re afraid of the IRS, too, calling it vindictive, arrogant, and
merciless to taxpayers who owe money.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are told to go out there and collect in 30 days or
shut them down.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But are IRS abuses really any worse than they used
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`ve gotten much worse over the past several
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. The problems are worse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely, it`s much worse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree with my colleagues, much worse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I concur that it`s much worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Congress can be a weird place, but that has got to be one of the
weirdest moments in Congress ever. Altered voices. That happened in
September, 1997 when the U.S. Senate held hearings into the IRS. The
hearings were designed as a study in melodrama, with horror stories, and
the accusations, and the altered voices and the screens.
Those hearings back then were the work of Senator William Roth, Republican
of Delaware. The first round of Roth hearings were such a hit that he did
them the next year as well in 1998. And that was the year that Godwin`s
law just broke down and wept.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CODY MAYO, ATTORNEY: One of my clients put a .357 to his head and blew his
brains out just four days before his tax code case going to trial. Because
he couldn`t take the stress any longer.
WILLIAM MONCRIEF, WITNESS: I`m one of the few taxpayers blessed with the
resources to fight back against IRS abuse and Gestapo-like tactics.
SEN. FRANK MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: They accumulated this Gestapo-like
effort. Such Gestapo-like actions are uncalled for.
LEROY WARREN, WITNESS: The people out in the field refer to the criminal
investigation division as another state sanctioned terrorist group, the
Gestapo from Germany, you know, western Europe probably in World War II.
That`s the office that you would think the Gestapo ran it, not Americans
run that office.
JOHN COLAPRETE, WITNESS: I used to believe that such things could only
happen in a communist blocked country or police state. I don`t believe
that any more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The thing about lining up witnesses like that and having them
testify to the Gestapo evils of the IRS is that the IRS is pretty much
constrained by law from defending itself. Any taxpayer can tell the Senate
anything they like about the unfairness of their treatment by the IRS, but
unless that taxpayer gives the IRS personal permission to discuss his or
her case publicly, the IRS cannot say anything in its own defense, even to
rebut false charges, so it`s essentially a free play, you can say anything
You can`t be rebutted unless you allow yourself to be rebutted, and why
would you allow that. And if you liked that sort of thing the first time
around in the 1990s, well, welcome to the sequel this summer. This year,
it is Senator Tom Coburn saying his constituents have said they were
targeted by the IRS because they gave money to Mitt Romney campaign.
Michele Bachmann says to FOX News that the IRS uses your political ideology
to deny you doctor`s appointments.
The newspaper owner/strip club mogul tells – says that he was targeted by
the IRS not because of anything else about him but because he likes the Tea
Party. Then there was this St. Louis TV reporter who says the IRS started
hammering him after he challenged President Obama`s economic policies in an
interview. That reporter later got fired and then admitted that his,
quote, “issues with the IRS preceded that interview by several years.”
As a taxpayer, that guy or anybody is free to tell whatever story you like
about the IRS. Unless you give the IRS permission to, the IRS by law
cannot respond. It`s a neat trick, right?
Well, today on Capitol Hill, Congress asked the new acting IRS commissioner
about an Iowa anti-abortion group, which says the IRS made them pledge not
to protest Planned Parenthood, Congress Hal Rogers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. HAL ROGERS (R), KENTUCKY: That is completely unacceptable. Do you
agree with that?
DANIEL WERFEL, ACTING IRS COMMISSIONER: Let me start by saying I think
your question enters into a particular taxpayer, and then therefore I`m
restricted by (INAUDIBLE) from commenting on that particular, but yes, as a
broader matter, those types of question are – from my vantage point, and I
know I`m early in the job, inexcusable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Day one of the hearings this week in Congress about the IRS. But
there will be more. The acting commissioner saying totally agree that that
kind of thing shouldn`t happen, but also I can`t defend, describe, or even
address what this agency did or did not do in that particular case, the law
says I can`t.
Tomorrow, that same Iowa anti-abortion group will testify before a
different House committee at which the IRS will still not be able to defend
itself. The committee announced the hearing as being with, quote,
organizations targeted by the IRS for their personal beliefs. Just in case
you were wondering what the foregone conclusion of that hearing might be,
it`s right there in the title.
As a matter of governance, the IRS does have to explain itself and is
having to explain itself on this policy matter of what key words were used
to single out applications for tax-exempt status for getting more scrutiny.
If the IRS got that wrong and there was targeting that was unfairly hinged
on ideology, they will have to figure out how to make that right.
But does that mean that the IRS is auditing all these Republican guys who
Tom Coburn knows in Oklahoma and they`re only getting audited specifically
because they`re Republicans and they gave money to Mitt Romney and then
what do you know, audit? Who knows, who can say. But it sounds great.
And conveniently the IRS is precluded by law from being able to refute any
of it. So it sounds even better when you just keep repeating it.
And that means happy subpoena summer. It`s the hog wild anti-Clinton `90s
all over again, and we are about to have a whole summer of quite possibly
nonsense, unanswered, unproven assertions in all caps, italics, three-inch
headlines all summer long.
It is going to be a long, hot, stupid summer. We have done this all
before, but at least this time we know how it all ends.
Now it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.” Thanks for
being with us tonight.
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.>