The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/05/13
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thanks to you at home for staying with us
for the next, hopefully, derp-free hour. You never know.
After serving 12 years in the United States Senate, Senator Ben Nelson
of Nebraska left the Senate last year and he founded a lobbying firm. So,
left the Senate, now in a lobbying firm.
Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison put in nearly 20 years in the
United States Senate before she, too, left and joined a lobbying firm.
Senator Kit Bond, 24 years in the United States Senate, he cashed out
and is now a lobbyist.
Senator Jon Kyl, 26 years on Capitol Hill. He left the Senate in
January to join a lobbying firm.
Whatever happened to old Senator Evan Bayh, my old friend? Oh, right,
What happened to old Senator Bob Bennett? Lobbyist?
How about Byron Dorgan? Oh, lobbyist.
Chris Dodd, he used to be a senator. Now, guess what? Hey, lobbyist.
Blanche Lincoln, remember when we made a life-sized flat Blanch
Lincoln and tried to mail it to Claire McCaskill in Missouri? Yes.
Senator Blanche Lincoln gone from the Senate and now is a lobbyist.
Judd Gregg was a senator, now a lobbyist.
And Scott Brown, remember Scott Brown from Massachusetts, what has
become of him? Actually, this one is really interesting – actually, just
kidding. This one`s not interesting at all. Scott Brown did what they all
did and went to go work for a lobbying firm, as well.
That is how it works. He`s just like all the rest of them.
But the loss of that particular Senate seat, the loss of that Senate
seat, which enabled Scott Brown to fulfill his ex-senator destiny, which
they all have, right? That job at a high-end D.C. lobbying firm doing the
bidding of the financial industry, even though on a personal level, the
loss of that U.S. Senate seat ended up the way these guys all end up, which
is, you know, basically naked and shameless, covered in honey and rolling
around in a pile of Goldman Sachs` $100 bills, even though Scott Brown
personally is doing great since he got turfed out of the Senate. He`s
doing just fine, thank you.
Still, the loss of his particular Senate seat, it stinks. Republicans
were so excited to win that seat in the first place. They were so excited
to win it that losing it was always going to be terrible for them. But
with his seat, it was all the more terrible, because the other campaign
that the Scott Brown guys were working on on the night they lost Scott
Brown, that Senate seat in Massachusetts, the other campaign his political
team was working on that same night that he lost, was this guy`s campaign.
They were the Mitt Romney team, as well, which also lost that same night.
Eric Fehrnstrom and all those Massachusetts Republican guys, they had
been heroes for getting Scott Brown elected in 2010, but then in 2012,
their presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, lost his home state of
Massachusetts by 23 points. He lost the whole presidency, not by quite a
landslide, but a resoundingly large margin, and Scott Brown, running as a
supposedly popular incumbent senator, also lost his Senate seat that same
night by a mile, by seven points, and he was the incumbent.
It still stings. That was just a terrible, terrible night. The kind
of night at maybe is a career ender for some folks.
For Eric Fehrnstrom from all those guys, that whole Massachusetts
class of Republican national political operatives, it was a terrible night.
So, Scott Brown personally is, obviously, going to do just fine. But Eric
Fehrnstrom and those political guys will probably never recover. Probably.
Because now those same guys who lost that Senate seat and who lost the
presidency all on that same night back in November, now, they have found
another square-jawed, handsome Massachusetts Republican to try to claw
their way back up to the top.
Elizabeth Warren took Scott Brown`s seat in the Senate, but in the
special election to fill Massachusetts other U.S. Senate seat, the Romney
and Scott Brown folks are trying to find themselves a new meal ticket in
the Republican candidate from that race. So, it`s staffer from Romney Iowa
2012 and Romney New Hampshire 2012 who`s heading up the campaign.
It`s the Romney communications director, who also had the job for
Scott Brown. It`s the Romney operations director. It`s the Romney digital
rapid response director. It`s the Scott Brown campaign treasurer. Eric
Fehrnstrom himself is in the real power position in the Massachusetts
Senate campaign, which is not at the campaign itself at all, he is at the
PAC that is working from the theoretical outside with unlimited money to
try to elect the Republican candidate to that Massachusetts Senate seat.
The national Republican Party has also sent Senate campaign staffers
into Massachusetts to work on the campaign. Just yesterday, they reported
another $400,000 ad buy in the race. That comes on top of their previous
$400,000 ad buy, which in Massachusetts in an off-year election is a whole
heck of a lot of money.
Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, he`s sending out
solicitations to, please, try to win the Republicans this Senate seat in
The Republicans are just pulling out all the stops, and you know what?
Special elections are unpredictable. You never really know what`s going to
happen. That`s how we got Scott Brown in the first place in blue state
But in this special election, the Republican candidate so far has not
done all that great a job making his case for himself. His name is Gabriel
Gomez, he`s an ex-Navy SEAL, he`s a private equity guy.
The Democrat in the race is Congressman Ed Markey, long-time
congressman. Mr. Gomez has so far attacked Congressman Markey for being in
Congress too long. Gabriel Gomez also once called Ed Markey “pond scum”.
But it was not all that clear way why.
Because Mr. Gomez is not all that clear of a talker, Ed Markey`s
campaign against him has had the luxury of running ads that are just
uninterrupted clips of Gabriel Gomez trying to explain himself, like this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you release a list of all your clients when
you were Advan International, so the public knows who you worked with and
what kind of investments you made and dealt with?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you release all your clients when you were
at Advent International so the public knows who you worked with and what
kind of investments you made and dealt with?
GABRIEL GOMEZ (R), MASSACHUSETTS SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Advent
International is a private organization. I would have to discuss it with
them and leave it up to them. I`m not employed at Advent International
UNIUDENTIFIED MALE: Would you ask them to release the names of your
GOMEZ: Look I resigned two weeks ago, I would be more than happy to
discuss it with them.
UINIDENTIFIED MALE: I asked last time if you disclosed your client
list your private equity days, Advent International. You said you didn`t
know if they`d allow you to ask them. Have you asked them?
GOMEZ: I have asked them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what did they say?
GOMEZ: They haven`t come back to me yet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On March 22nd, you were here, I asked you if you
would release your client list from Advent International, you were there
nine years. You said, “I`d be happy to discuss it with them.”
You were back two weeks later, April 5th, I asked and you said, “They
haven`t come back to me with it yet.” Have you gotten it yet?
GOMEZ: You know, you got to ask Advent International about it, it`s a
– they`re a private firm and it`s really up to them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But would you ask – would you state now that you
would like them to release it. You do think the public has a right to know
what you were doing for nine years in some detail, right?
GOMEZ: I have no qualms if Advent wants to release that information,
but I also respect that they`re a private firm and it`s really up to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s the way it`s been going so far in this Massachusetts
Senate race. Tonight in Massachusetts, it was the first debate between the
guy who you just saw talking his way through the attack ad against him,
between the Republican candidate Gabriel Gomez and the Democratic Senate
candidate, Congressman Ed Markey.
This was the first of what will be three debates before the election
in Massachusetts, which takes place three weeks from now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOMEZ: You`re going to see two different styles tonight. You`re
going to see somebody who`s going to try to scare you. I`m going to speak
from the heart. I`m going to tell you the truth.
I think the people of Massachusetts are smart enough to realize that
they are going to want to have somebody they want to work for, as opposed
REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: You`re going to hear a lot in Mr.
Gomez about how he`s a new kind of Republican, but you`re going to hear the
same old stale Republican ideas. And that`s going to be a big part of what
this debate is all about.
I`ve had a job down in Washington. It`s been to battle Tea Party
Republicans to bring out interests that are contrary to Massachusetts.
I`ve been down there fighting the Newt Gingrich Republicans, and both Newt
Gingrich and Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, they are both endorsed
and send contributions up to Mr. Gomez.
They want Mr. Gomez down there to help them get the majority that will
ultimately further this gridlock.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is the Massachusetts Senate debate that just wrapped up
tonight, just about an hour ago. This is the first of three of them that
there`s going to be. The reason this Senate race is happening in the first
place, the reason there is an open Senate seat in Massachusetts, is because
John Kerry, who was the senior senator from Massachusetts, he, of course,
gave up this senate seat in February to become secretary of state.
But Senator Kerry was not the person everybody initially expected
President Obama to nominate for the secretary of state job. Everybody
expected that secretary of state nominee was instead going to be this
person, the U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.
Susan Rice, by all accounts, was going to be the president`s nominee
for secretary of state, until Republicans in Congress decided they were
going to go after her for Benghazi, which she had nothing to do with, but
they decided they would go after her for the talking points that were
drafted by the CIA after the Benghazi attacks.
Susan Rice used those talking points in September 2012 on the Sunday
shows. Nobody in Congress made all that big of a deal at her appearance at
the time until months later when it seemed like she was going to be
nominated to be the next secretary of state. And then suddenly, Susan
Rice, having used those CIA talking points on TV, made it impossible,
unfathomable for Senate Republicans that she could ever hold the secretary
of state job because she used the talking points the CIA gave her, and it
was around that time that Senate Republicans just started calling her
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Susan Rice appears to be the front-runner now
for secretary of state. You told CBS last night that you`ll do everything
to stop her confirmation. Why?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: She`s not qualified. This isn`t a
select committee. If appointed clears her of any wrongdoing, besides being
– besides not being very bright.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I`m not going to promote
somebody who has misled the country or is either incompetent. That`s my
idea of Susan Rice.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Incompetent, not very bright. Those rather over the top
attacks against Susan Rice led to one of the angrier moments from President
Obama that we have seen in his entire presidency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Senator McCain and
Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after
me. For them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with
Benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that
she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous. When they
go after the U.N. ambassador, apparently because they think she`s an easy
target, then they`ve got a problem with me.
And should I choose, if I think that she would be the best person to
serve America in the capacity of the State Department, then I will nominate
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama did not nominate her to the State Department.
Ambassador Rice withdrew her name from consideration, saying that the
confirmation process would be too lengthy, disruptive, and costly.
So, instead of Susan Rice, John Kerry got the secretary of state gig
and Susan Rice stayed on as our nation`s U.N. ambassador, until today.
Today, President Obama gave Susan Rice a new job, a very powerful new job,
for which there happens to be no Senate confirmation process.
President Obama announcing today that Susan Rice will be his new
national security adviser. The president also naming Samantha Power as his
nominee to replace Ambassador Rice at the United Nations. Samantha Power
will face a Senate confirmation.
Today`s announcement comes on the heels of the three nominees the
president announced in the Rose Garden yesterday for appeals court judges,
nominees to the powerful D.C. circuit court of appeals, nominees who,
themselves, are pretty uncontroversial but who Republicans have reacted to
with outrage. So, those three nominees yesterday, Susan Rice and Samantha
power named today, President Obama clearly not shying away from a fight
these days, but how hard a fight are any of these moves expected to be and
were they unexpected?
Joining us is now, Andrea Mitchell, NBC`s chief foreign affairs
correspondent and host of “ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS” on MSNBC.
Andrea, thank you so much for being with us tonight.
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thank you. My pleasure.
MADDOW: So, you and I talked on this show the night that Susan Rice
had withdrawn her name from consideration for secretary of state. What do
you think is the overall political significance of her being tapped now for
national security adviser instead?
MITCHELL: Well, I think that the clip that you showed of the
president at that post-election news conference where he said, you know, if
you want to attack the Benghazi policy, come after me. It was right out of
“The American President”, the Aaron Sorkin movie, and he said, you know,
but don`t go after her. That is outrageous.
That told you so much. This president really likes Susan Rice, wanted
her at his side. She will be a very different kind of national security
adviser. She will be very tough, very forceful, very energized.
Some say she is less political, interestingly, than Tom Donilon, who
has really come across as a statesman, but had a political background. But
she really isn`t political enough, and that`s why she got herself in
trouble with the Republicans. They found her a lightning rod.
The fact is that, as you know, the final release of all of those e-
mails that went into the writing of those Benghazi talking points
completely vindicated Susan Rice. She had nothing to do with the creation
of the talking points.
She was, basically, the spokesperson for the administration that
Sunday, and that was the extent of her involvement. She was not
responsible for Benghazi security, the substantive failures there, that
have been well-exposed.
So this is really a vindication and a validation of her relationship
with the president, her role, and she is in the captain`s seat and let`s
face it, she`s going to be the gate keeper for all the national security or
foreign policy team, and that means that John Kerry has to really go
through Susan Rice for access to the president of the United States.
MADDOW: In some ways, national security adviser, at least in terms of
its proximity to the president, is a more powerful job.
MADDOW: Given her background, what we`ve seen both at her time in the
Clinton administration, her time at the U.N., the way that she handled the
whole Benghazi controversy, deserved or not, do you think that
substantively we should expect a shift in national security strategy and
approach with having Susan Rice there as opposed to having Donilon there?
MITCHELL: The interesting thing, she has been in the past more
interventionist in sort of her DNA and the way she approaches policies,
such as Libya, but she has not been so far on Syria. I think she fully
appreciates the complexity of the bad choices, all of the choices, being
bad on Syria. So I don`t see a real impulse on either her part or Samantha
power to change policy on Syria from what it has been.
In general, she`s less cautious than Tom Donilon. I think, certainly,
closer to the president. Has a deeper relationship with him.
John Kerry, by the way, made a statement in Guatemala. He had a news
conference in Guatemala where he`s at the Organization of American States
tonight, was not here for these announcements and described her as
brilliant, top diplomat, someone who he is quick to point out has worked
for him and supported him in his 2004 presidential race. So, he is
applauding these new colleagues.
MADDOW: In terms of the Samantha Power nomination. U.N. ambassador
is a high-profile job, not as high profile as something like secretary of
state, but she will have to be Senate confirmed. She has been a blistering
critic of previous United States decisions to intervene or not intervene on
the basis of humanitarian concerns in other conflicts abroad. That`s
really sort of where she made her bones, won her Pulitzer Prize with her
book, “The Problem from Hell”, do you think it`s going to be a difficult
confirmation for her? Are you seeing anything about how those lines are
shaping up around her nomination?
MITCHELL: It could be, and not because, necessarily, because what she
has done, but as a proxy fight over Susan Rice, over whom they have no
control. So, they could go after Samantha Power. We`ve seen similar
things happen in the past, although the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
in general is more respectful, so – and the fact there is Democratic
leadership in the Senate. So, this won`t be like the house oversight
But she could have some difficulty. She did get herself in some
difficulty back in the `08 campaign by an off the record – she thought it
was off the record session, referring to Hillary Clinton, the rival of
Barack Obama, as a monster and had to quit the campaign. Then she came
back and left the White House on maternity leave and then came back to the
NSC and left again in February.
So, she`s – you know, this is very interesting to see these two
powerful women, both mothers, both working actively, you know, very close
to the president and having very strong points of view. It`s going to be
MADDOW: Seeing – I mean, beyond just the administration, seeing
Condoleezza Rice in the previous administration, seeing Hillary Clinton as
this very, very consequential secretary of state, to see Samantha Power,
Michelle Flournoy, Susan Rice, all of these women at the top of their game,
at the top of the national security apparatus, I feel like this is sort of
somebody`s going to write about this some day. Probably it`s going to be
MITCHELL: You know, it is a good subject, because, boy, they are
powerful, they are smart, they are tough. Flournoy left for awhile, who
knows which she will next come back after her work at the Pentagon. They
are finding their own pace. It`s very interesting, indeed.
Andrea Mitchell, NBC`s chief foreign affairs correspondent, and the
host of “ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS”, 1:00 p.m. here on MSNBC, Andrea, thank
you so, so much.
MITCHELL: You bet.
MADDOW: All right. Lots to come, including a visit from NBC`s
Richard Engel. Richard has a genuine scoop tonight about a very
controversial U.S. policy. We`re going to let him spell that out for you
tonight. You will not have seen that anywhere else. That`s coming up.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, the Senate race in Massachusetts this year is an off-year
election. The special election for the Senate seat in New Jersey that
there`s some news on today that we`re going to talk about later on this
hour, that`s going to be another off-year election.
Off-year elections always get sort of off-sized attention and seen as
having more importance than they would at any other time just because they
stand alone. The whole House of Representatives isn`t turning over, the
White House isn`t turning over, there`s just this few stand alone races.
And it happens with special elections.
But in the state of Virginia, it always happens. Virginia always has
off-year elections. This year, this odd-numbered year, is the big election
year in the big purple state of Virginia. And the election this year in
Virginia has been getting weirder and weirder and weirder all year long,
not just because of who the Republicans have picked to run this year, but
also now because of what else is going on in Republican politics outside
the election itself.
For context in terms of who the Republicans picked to run this year
for governor, you may recall that they chose the guy that is defending
Virginia`s ban on gay people having sex.
For lieutenant governor, they chose the guy that says yoga makes an
empathy vacuum of your soul, which Satan is, quote, “happy to invade.”
For attorney general, Republicans chose the guy who wanted you to
report any possible miscarriages to your local sheriff within 24 hours.
Those are the people hand picked by Virginia Republicans at their big
Virginia Republican statewide conference this year to run in this year`s
big statewide election.
Then, today, “Washington Post” blew open the slow, simmering story
that`s sort of been cooking all year long about the Republican who
currently is governor in Virginia, governor ultrasound, Bob McDonnell, and
his unexpected scandal involving a chicken dinner and over the counter,
tobacco-derived, magical anti-inflammatory pill and a Ferrari. Headline,
“McDonnell aides expressed concern about his role in event for Star
Star Scientific is the company that`s in this saga. They make a non-
FDA regulated tobacco-derived supplement, wonder pill, that Virginia
Governor Bob McDonnell appears to be holding in this photo that he now says
he never authorized.
The boss of Star Scientific and the company itself have both been
major donors to Governor McDonnell`s campaign and also Governor McDonnell
the guy, over $100,000 in contributions and in gifts.
In March, “The Washington Post” reported the head of this company paid
for a $15,000 chicken dinner that was served at the wedding of the
governor`s daughter and was never disclosed by the governor as a gift.
That same campaign and chicken dinner donor, that same tobacco
supplement mogul, a man named Johnny Williams, also loaned the governor his
lake house for a nice vacation, and then when the vacation was over, he
loaned the governor his Ferrari for the drive home. That was all in 2011.
“The Washington Post” also reported that three days before the
daughter`s wedding, the first lady of Virginia, Maureen McDonnell, she flew
down to Florida. Hey, nothing much else going on, my daughter is getting
married in three days, what can I do, Florida?
Yes, Florida. She flew to Florida for a seminar where she toted the
wonders of this tobacco-based supplement thing made by the guy paying for
their daughter`s wedding reception just three days later.
When it came time to formally launch the miracle pill supplement
thing, the McDonnells hosted the launch party for the wonder pill at the
We have learned all of that about Virginia`s first family in just the
last few months, and already it would be bizarre and scandalous enough for
an election year story in Virginia, even before you got to the Ferrari.
But wait, there`s more. It turns out it slices and dices and end
(INAUDIBLE), because as of today, we now know how the governor`s top staff
have been feeling about this mess as it has unfolded in real time.
“The Washington Post” today publishing a series of bombshell e-mails
from the governor`s staff, specifically about the launch party for the
campaign donor`s wonder product, right? The launch party for the pill that
inexplicably held at the governor`s residence. E-mail from the governor`s
scheduler on August 15th, quote, “I hope I am not losing my mind
completely. Do you know something about a lunch with Virginia researchers
scheduled at the mansion for August 30th?”
Reply from the mansion director, quote, “That`s the lunch that MM,
first lady Maureen McDonnell, is hosting for Johnny Williams.” Johnny
Williams, the campaign donor guy who runs the company who is launching the
The governor schedule again this time to the first lady`s chief of
staff. Quote, “The governor will be in D.C. in the morning and will not be
able to attend this.” The first lady`s office replying, quote, “The first
lady is not going to be happy about that.”
That`s how some of the governor`s staff gets the news that they are
hosting this party for the company that belongs to the friend of the
governor who paid for the chicken dinner. And never mind what else the
governor was dealing with that mind as governor, there was a big wildfire
in Virginia that month, followed by hurricane Irene, followed by an
inexplicable earthquake. Never mind any of it, right? The governor was
going to the launch party for the campaign donor`s wonder pill that was
being held at the governor`s house. His wife wanted him to.
A big part we know the party happened is because the donor`s company
put out the press release of it, but this is not the version the company
wanted to send. The emails published today include the back and forth on
the press release and include what was supposed to be the final draft of
that press release sent over from the company, with lines about the
governor and first lady joining with doctors to learn more about the state
of the research into this product.
Quote, “Johnny Williams, Star Scientific CEO, expresses his
appreciation for governor and first lady McDonnell`s interest in the
company`s work.” Quoting them directly, “All of us are very grateful for
the governor and Mrs. McDonnell for their interest in our research and
Staff members for the governor and first lady saw that draft press
release on the eve of the big event, the staff members, in technical terms,
flipped out. Quoting directly, all caps, “No way this can go as written,”
says the first lady`s chief of staff. Governor spokesperson, quote, “Are
we sure we can do something like this?” Minutes later, the lawyer who
serves as deputy chief of the governor`s staff says, “You are exactly right
to be suspicious.”
Are we sure we can do something like this? No, we are not sure. We
are not sure at all, and the party starts in about 18 hours.
Reading through these e-mails released by “The Washington Post” today,
you can just feel the dread as the governor`s staff realized what they are
working for and what they are in for – 5:59 p.m., quote, “I do not
understand this, we are doing an event with them? Seriously, we are
hurricane-centric here, I don`t have time to focus on this. Hold on.”
Too late. They did manage to get the press release changed so the
McDonnell`s names did not appear directly, not explicitly, but they hosted
that party at the governor`s mansion and now, the FBI is looking into
whether there was any quid pro quo between this company and Governor
McDonnell, and the guy running for the next governor of Virginia has
ordered a special investigator to probe whether Mr. McDonnell broke
Virginia law about reporting gifts. While Mr. McDonnell has been
fundraising and campaigning for his would-be successor, who has also having
him investigated and who also got a bunch of gifts from that same donor
that he didn`t report until a long time after he was supposed to report it.
The election in Virginia is just five months away. Watch this space.
MADDOW: Arguments and disagreements about Vice President Joe Biden
abound. Is he an effective adviser to President Obama? Is his occasional
verbal gaffery a good thing, or maybe a bad thing? Did he smile too
aggressively at last year`s presidential debate?
Discussed endlessly, right? He`s the favorite topic of the Internet
machine. But one thing that comes with the job of the vice presidency that
Joe Biden is unquestionably great at, that there`s no debate about, that no
one at all doubts that he does better than anyone happened again today, and
we`ve got the tape. And it`s great.
And it is coming up at the end of the show tonight. If you have not
seen it, you will want to see it here. Hold on, stay with us.
MADDOW: NBC`s chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, has a bit
of a scoop on his hands, and it comes in two parts – an interview, a
remarkable interview, and also some documents, some documents that not only
have never been disclosed before, they are documents of which nothing of
the kind has ever been disclosed before.
But let`s start with the interview. With the U.S. Air Force drone
pilot speaking with Richard Engel. This is remarkable tape. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: You were from a
tiny little town in Montana. You signed up for the air force. What did
you think you were going to be doing?
SR. AIRMAN BRANDON BRYANT, U.S. AIR FORCE (RETIRED): I was told that
I would be working behind the lines. I passed all the tests, I got a –
scored really high on the AZVAB and my recruiter made a James Bond
reference. You know the guys that sit in the back and give James Bond the
information he needs to execute the missions? I was like, yes. And he`s
like, you`ll be one of those guys. And I was like, that`s really cool.
So, I didn`t think I`d have to pull the trigger. I knew people would
be dying, but I wouldn`t be – at least I believed that I wouldn`t be a
direct result of someone`s death. You know how people say that drone
strikes are like mortar attacks, artillery – well, artillery doesn`t see
it. Artillery didn`t see the result of their actions. It`s really more
intimate for us because we see everything. We see the before action –
before, action, then after.
So, I watched this guy – I watched him bleed out. I watched the
result of, I guess, collectively it was our action, but I`m the responsible
one that guides the missile in.
ENGEL: You put the laser on him and now he`s dead.
ENGEL: Do you think that he was a combatant?
BRYANT: I have my serious doubts now, but I didn`t really question
the voices in my head.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: NBC`s chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, speaking to
a man in the United States Air Force, it was his job, stationed far away
from any battlefields, to help kill people using drones. There`s a lot we
do not known about our drone programs, either in the military or the even
more secret CIA-run drone program.
But tonight, beyond that interview, Richard has a real scoop. He has
examined the United States government`s own accounting of who and where
U.S. forces killed people with remotely controlled unmanned drones. And it
turns out the accounting is not what you would expect.
ENGEL (voice-over): NBC News has examined classified documents
detailing 114 drone strikes in Pakistan in 2010 and `11, locations, death
tolls, alleged terrorists affiliations,. But they also reveal what U.S.
officials don`t know, like how many killed.
Classified documents detailing 114 drone strikes in Pakistan in 2010
and `11, locations, death tolls, alleged terrorists affiliations, but they
also reveal what U.S. officials don`t know, like how many killed, between
seven and 10 in one strike, 20 to 22 in another.
U.S. officials do seem certain they almost never kill civilians. In
those 114 strikes, only one acknowledged civilian causality.
MICAH ZENKO, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: They want to maintain the
myth that civilians are not harmed with drone strikes, which is simply
ENGEL: What`s more, about a quarter of those killed are described
generically as, quote, “other militants.” It suggests U.S. officials don`t
always know exactly how many, or who they are killing. Sometimes targeting
suspects based on what`s called a signature terrorist profile, where they
live, who they meet, who they talk to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is NBC News chief foreign correspondent,
Richard, thank you for being with us tonight.
MADDOW: So, what exactly is being counted in the document that you
ENGEL: They are counting causalities. They are counting victims, and
they are quite accurate about certain things. There`s a column listing
sometimes even the name of the compound or who owned the compound and the
region where the strike took place, and then there`s the category estimated
number of combatants killed.
And that is a range. Sometimes they say they killed seven or they
killed maybe 10, or seven to 10. They are not exactly sure, because these
drones are fired from the sky, there`s an explosion, and they estimate how
many people were inside.
Then there is a category listing who these people were. They are
terrorist affiliations, and as you saw in that graphic, sometimes they are
al Qaeda, sometimes they are from other militant groups, and about a
quarter of the time, they are listed as “other militants,” generic. So
when you combine these two, you don`t know exactly how many people you`re
killing and you don`t really know who you`re killing exactly, because they
are just generic militants. They are other bad guys.
Then, you have a picture where for a fairly substantial amount of
time, the U.S. doesn`t know who it`s killing or how many. And that does
raise questions about the claims by the White House that this is almost an
And this wasn`t really looking – this report wasn`t looking at the
use of drones as an ethical weapon, or are they efficient? It was looking
at the claims that these weapons are always right, that they are somehow
terrorist magnets that are dropped from the sky and only find their
targets. How can you claim infallibility and claim that in these 114
strikes, there was just one mistake, one person killed, that was a civilian
and at the same time say, well, we don`t really know how many people were
killed or who they were, but we know they weren`t civilians?
I don`t know how you can do that.
MADDOW: Is there – do we know when these – when this accounting is
from and do we know that the targeting and the accounting is done in the
same way now?
ENGEL: There is a – there`s two types of drone strikes. This was
done in 2010, 2011, and, yes, the same targeting principles apply. There`s
two types of attacks. One is a signature strike, and the other is a
Let`s start with personality strike. Personality strike means you
know who the person is, and they are a known militant, you follow them
around, you are looking for them, and then you find an opportunity and you
Signature strike is more secretive, more controversial, more
problematic. This means you don`t know specifically who the person is, but
they have the profile, the signature profile, of a terrorist.
MADDOW: Which you can tell from the sky?
ENGEL: Because you are watching the of same area over and over again,
so you know the kind of places where they hang out, the kind of vehicles
that they are driving, who they are talking to on the phones. So if
there`s a established terrorist compound and al Qaeda militants are known
to frequent this place and you see people coming in and out carrying things
on a regular basis and you know from intelligence who they are talking to
on the cell phones, and their cell phones they are talking to are other
people who are known militants, then you`re extrapolating and saying, well,
this person who`s frequent in this area in talking to these people,
probably a terrorist we should kill.
MADDOW: And that person would get listed as other militants killed?
ENGEL: Or foreign fighter, or they might, in this case, list them as
al Qaeda if they think they have enough evidence to link them to al Qaeda.
But it`s subjective.
ENGEL: The weapons are very precise, but at the end of the day, it`s
a human determination on who gets attacked and who gets droned. And you
have people who are looking at lots of intelligence, but they are trying to
read the intentions of somebody in Waziristan before they`ve taken them
MADDOW: And this is more detailed information, this is a more
detailed list than anybody outside the government has ever seen about how
those – what those things are that we have done, where we did them, and
why we think we did them at the time. NBC chief foreign correspondent,
Richard Engel. Thank you for joining us tonight.
I should say, you can catch more of Richard`s interview with the drone
operator on the “Today” show tomorrow morning.
All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: A couple years back, there was a great documentary made about
the mayor`s race in the town called Bogota, New Jersey, looks like Bogota,
but it`s Bogota, because it`s New Jersey.
They had a race where two of the three candidates were legally blind,
two of the three. It included the campaign manager for Jessie “The Body”
Ventura, there was a whole bunch of drama about the high school football
team, and, of course, there were amazing Bogota, New Jersey accent, not
The documentary w as called “Any Town USA” and it was just great.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE LONEGAN, REPUBLICAN MAYOR: I think it is necessary to run
election like you`re behind all the time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steve Lonegan is an outright liar.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He means well. And he has been doing that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hate Lonegan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could put a monkey up against him and I think
the monkey would win.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no intention of losing this election.
FRED PESCE, THE DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGER: I`m in it. I`m in it and
we`re going to win it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fred`s a good guy and I think he is an honest
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know Fred, and I happen to like Fred. Fred`s
not a smart guy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re probably the only politician in the nation
running against two legally blind candidates.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can do the job just as well, no, they can`t.
I can do a better job but they can do a good job, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I`m actually running for mayor of Bogota.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes, so I`m going to to vote for you so
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, what a joke.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Independents don`t usually win.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is splitting the anti-Lonegan vote. We need
to be united by anti-Lonegan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A large of angry protesters marched city hall
calling for the mayor`s head.
CROWD: Lonegan must go!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a voter in Estonia. There`s no like secret
way of sending an e-mail? Can he fax in the ballot application?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was “Any Town USA”. Great documentary. But the guy at
the end, the main character in the documentary, Steve Lonegan, he won that
election in 2003. He was mayor of Bogota, New Jersey, for two terms. Then
became state director for the Koch brothers thing, Americans for
Well, as of today, he is the first candidate to announce that he is
running as a Republican to try to replace the dearly departed Senator Frank
Lautenberg in the United States Senate. The “Any Town USA” guy is in,
first one in. That`s just the start of what Chris Christie has brought in
There`s more, next.
MADDOW: If you get to be one of the 100 United States senators that
we have in this country, you will earn the tidy salary of $174,000 per
year, for your term of six years. For the privilege of earning that salary
as of last year`s election, you will likely have to raise and spend about
$10.5 million in order to get the seat in the first place – $10.476
million was the average cost of winning or holding a U.S. Senate seat in
2012. It is expensive for John Q or Jane Q. Public to become or remain a
United States senator.
But there`s a certain group of Americans for whom running for Senate
is even costlier than the rest of us. That group of Americans for whom it
costs the most to run for Senate is the group known as the House of
Representatives, because if you are running for the Senate, you cannot hold
onto your House seat while you also run for the Senate. It`s kind of a
weird thing, lots of people in the House want to move to the Senate. But
this is one factor that holds a lot of people from actually running. Sure,
you want to be in the Senate, but do you want to give up your House seat
enough to try?
That problem, that conundrum for ambitious members of Congress doesn`t
apply if the Senate race is held off the normal calendar, then you`re not
running for both at the same time, you can then run for the Senate without
giving up your seat in the House. The only time it applies when Senate
races are held at weird times. It becomes kind of a free play.
So, when Chris Christie declares special election for this October to
fill the seat left vacant by the passing of Frank Lautenberg, that race
immediately got very “last one is a rotten egg”, especially for members of
the House because it`s going to be held at a weird time, in an off year
election on a Wednesday in October. So, these guys don`t have to put their
House seats at risk to run for the Senate. So, what do they have to lose?
Multiple sources say that New Jersey Congressman Rush Holt, the
resident rocket scientist of the House, apparently wants into the Senate
race. Same goes for Congressman Frank Pallone in New Jersey. And why not,
he could still be Congressman Pallone if it fails, right? Those two were
expected to be some of the unexpected resistance to the person who
everybody assumes will run for the Senate seat, Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
Cory Booker has made clear that he wants to succeed Senator
Lautenberg. He plans to make official announcement any day.
The man who these Democrats and a cast of Republicans to be determined
will seek to succeed is, of course, Senator Frank Lautenberg, whose funeral
was today in New York City. At the funeral, he received what we should all
hope to receive when our time is done. A eulogy that was among the best in
the business, delivered by a man who has delivered 16 of them since he has
been vice president, and he is very good at them in times like this, Vice
President Joe Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have, as a lot
of my colleagues have, I`ve spoken at more eulogies than I like to
remember. I advise you all, you have already broken the rule I advise
people to observe. Never make a good eulogy. You`ll be asked again and
again and again.
I knew Strom Thurmond so well, I was asked to do his eulogy. This is
a lot easier.
I realize it is beyond my capacity to find the words to do justice to
Frank Lautenberg. Obviously, I can`t do justice to what he meant to all of
you. Or even what he meant to me and to this country.
I took the train, as my colleagues know, every single day. I would
blow out of the Senate, I got it down to seven minutes to make the train,
and I sometimes missed the train. One day I`m breaking my neck to get to
the train. I am sprinting. If you ever take Amtrak, just now ask anybody
when you hit Washington station do you know Joe Biden, I guarantee you,
they`ll tell you a story about my trying to make the train.
I am like those old commercials, running for the airplane, jumping
over chairs. I am carrying my bag, which seemed like my staff deliberately
weighted down to slow me down. And I swear to God, true story, I get up,
conductor says, hey, hey, Joe, hold up, don`t worry, you`re OK. We are
holding it for Lautenberg.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joe Biden really, really knows how to do that well.
Thanks for being with us tonight.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWREENCE O`DONNELL.”
Have a great night.
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