The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/19/13
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: Control during the U.S. war in Iraq. The
second part tells the story of two men from Yemen including one who was a
driver for Osama bin Laden.
Miss Poitras is still working on the third installment in that trilogy
which is about U.S. surveillance of phone calls and e-mails and so on since
9/11. She posted a bit of that one last year on “The New York Times” Web
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You build social networks for everybody. That then
turns into the graph, and then you index all that data to that graph, which
means you can pull out a community, that that gives the – you an outline
of the life of everybody in the community. And if you carry it over time
from 2001 up, you have that 10 years worth of their life that you can lay
out in a timeline that involves anybody in the country. Even senators and
House of Representatives. All of them.
The dangers here are that we fall into something like a totalitarian state
like East Germany.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Working with top-level sources like that former NSA employee,
uncovering government secrets, shooting and producing her films all over
the world, Laura Poitras, the documentarian, she has been busy.
But as she has been doing a lot of traveling for her work, for her films,
she has found that she gets stopped a lot at the airport, and not anything
like what you might get stopped at for the – stopped at the airport for.
She`s been stopped dozens and dozens of times at the airport. For
interrogations that sometimes last for hours.
Miss Poitras started taking extraordinary precautions with her data using
encrypted e-mail, working on computers that were not connected to the
Internet. Stashing her notes in safe deposit boxes. And she kept on,
though, getting stopped at the airport. Starting in 2006, she was detained
and questioned like that more than 40 times.
In April of last year, Salon.com wrote about what had been happening to
Laura Poitras as she tried to travel, and then finally, finally after that
public attention, and that article from Salon.com, the airport
interrogations of Laura Poitras stopped. She found that, OK, she now can
get on a plane again, more or less like the rest of us.
The author of that article in Salon about Laura Poitras was the lawyer,
blogger and civil liberties journalist Glenn Greenwald, who lately has
teamed up with the subject of that article that he wrote, he has teamed up
with Laura Poitras, alongside Barton Gellman`s reporting for the
“Washington Post.” It has been Glenn and Laura`s series of exposes that a
detailed much that we did not know before about the reach of America`s
intelligence agencies into the lives of ordinary, non-terrorist, non-
suspicious peoples – people living in this country.
The way U.S. intelligence can and does track our phone calls, our e-mails,
virtually all of it, all the time. Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald have
done this reporting, of course, based on classified documents given to them
by a former contract worker for the NSA, and he of course is the one who
now has temporary asylum in Russia.
But it is Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald who know what their source has
to tell. And it is they who have been telling his story, making news out
of the documents that he has given to them week after week now since June.
And yes, their source may be in Russia now, but they`re not. Glenn
Greenwald lives in Brazil with his partner who`s Brazilian. Laura Poitras
now has been living in Germany because she says she needs a place to work
on her documentary about U.S. surveillance without worrying that the U.S.
government will try to seize her material.
Well, early yesterday morning Glenn Greenwald got a call when he was at
home in Brazil. The call informed him that his partner had been – his
personal life partner, his boyfriend, had been detained by authorities in
the UK at the Heathrow Airport. His partner`s name, David Miranda. He`s
Brazilian. He was on his way home from visiting Laura Poitras in Berlin.
British authorities held him at the airport for nine hours. Questioning
him about the reporting that Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras had been
doing about surveillance. They seized Mr. Miranda`s electronics, they took
his cell phones, they took his thumb drives, they took his video game
player. They took a laptop. And then with the “Guardian” newspaper
lawyers at the airport, they finally let him go after nine hours of
The British law that allows that kind of detention does not require law
enforcement to have a reasonable suspicion about the person they are
detaining, but this seems important. The law only exists explicitly for
the purpose of determining whether that person is or has been involved in
the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.
That`s what that law is for. That is the grounds on which they stopped
him. That was the legal authority under which they held Glenn Greenwald`s
partner in detention for nine hours. Acts of terrorism.
Journalism is not terrorism. Journalism can be enraging to people in
power. Journalism can sometimes even be frightening to people in power.
But journalism is not terrorism. Reporting on what governments do, even
when those governments prefer to keep those actions secret, is not
Terrorism is a real and discreet thing in the world. It is not an all-
encompassing term that you apply to everything the government doesn`t want
you to do.
The White House, today, said it had been given a heads up in advance that
the detention of David Miranda was likely to happen. Britain gave the U.S.
a heads up before it happened. The White House went out of their way today
to say that it was Britain`s decision to detain Glenn Greenwald`s partner.
It was not something the U.S. asked Britain to do and, OK, fine, but the
White House did know about it in advance and it still happened.
We have that kind of special relationship with Britain where if our
government were outraged that this detention was going to happen, we could
have objected, right? We could have at least asked our dear friends, the
British government, to not do this. Maybe in the interests of not
intimidating the activities of the free press, if not for any other reason.
Did our government make any objections when they got advanced notice from
Britain that this detention was going to happen? Did our government
protest? And if not, why not?
I tend to think that we did not protest since it went ahead. I know the
U.S. government is not happy about Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald and
their reporting about U.S. surveillance. The president said that the
disclosures from their source have led to a disorderly debate about these
issues and even though we ought to have a debate about these issues, it
ought to be more orderly.
Fine. But if the United States wants to convince the world that the Glenn
Greenwalds and Laura Poitrases of the world are correct when they say the
U.S. government is going too far, if they want to underline and put
flashing red lights on that reporting that says that counterterrorism is
being used to justify all sorts of things that are not justified by the
actual threat of terrorism and that, in fact, have just green lit gross
government overreach and intrusion, and intimidation of legitimate
activity, including journalism, then putting journalists and their families
through marathon interrogations and seizing all their electronics is a
really great way to start convincing the world that all that reporting is
Letting our closest allies do it while we stand silent is the same thing as
us doing it. Journalism is not terrorism. Pretending otherwise is
outrageous and ridiculous and a dangerous affront to who we are as a
country and as democracy. It`s an absolute outrage.
MADDOW: When the financial crisis happened at the end of the George W.
Bush presidency and the economy really went down the toilet all across
country, there were a million manifestations of that that were really
terrible. For individual families, for people who lost their jobs, for us
as a country. I mean, there was one quarter back in 2008 when our economic
growth rate was negative 8.3 percent. That was the negative growth rate
that quarter for the whole country.
One of the weirdly unsettling manifestations of that very dark time in our
recent history was when some towns and some counties and some states
decided that they had to un-pave themselves.
Do you remember this when we decided that the United States of America
could no longer afford paved roads?
Thirty-eight counties in Michigan started grinding their paved roads, their
asphalt roads, into gravel because they could not afford to keep them
paved. In South Dakota 100 miles of asphalt road were ground into gravel.
In Ohio, they couldn`t even afford to grind down their roads. Some Ohio
counties just made an official decision to let their paved streets erode
into unpaved streets.
This started happening in 2009 when the economy was still just spiraling
downward. By 2010, it was a national-level story that was covered to great
effect in the “Wall Street Journal” and some other places including on this
It`s happening in Ohio and it`s happening in Alabama and it`s happening in
Pennsylvania, which means that somewhere in China, it is entirely possible
that a businessperson sat down for a ride on a 200-mile-an-hour, state-of-
art, levitating bullet train and cracked open the “Wall Street Journal” and
read about how in America we`ve decided we can`t afford paved roads
That is one of the stories that we did on this show that really stuck with
me from that time in and after the financial crisis. Right? That was
summer of 2010, that was three years ago.
A symptom of how badly we were hit by the financial crisis and the
recession that it caused. But now it is 2013 and the economy is not, you
know, shrinking 8 percent anymore. The economy is growing. Of course, it
would always be better to be growing more than it is, but comparatively we
are doing much better than we were and have been for a few years now.
And yet, today, in Texas, another round has just begun of un-paving the
roads. Seriously. In four counties in south Texas and two counties in
west Texas, today is the day that the state started converting paved roads
into gravel roads.
The Texas State Department of Transportation made the announcement last
month. Quote, “Since paving roads is too expensive and there`s not enough
funding to repave them all, our only other option to make them safer is to
turn them into gravel roads.”
To be clear, it`s not like they`re saying gravel roads are better, it`s not
like they figured out some grounds on which gravel roads are, like, more
aesthetically pleasing or more ecologically sound, or somehow they help you
get the most out of your performance car or something. These are not
artisanal roads. The roads in Texas are being unpaved because pavement is
something that we cannot afford there anymore.
And specifically in this part of Texas it is happening because of the,
quote, “sharp increase in heavy traffic due to the oil boom.” The damage
related to energy development has become so extensive that state and local
authorities lack the funding to make all the repairs. The problem has
increased heavy equipment and heavy truck traffic to service the energy
industry in Texas.
Oil companies, energy companies are doing great. That is why they`re
generating increased traffic. They are doing more business. They`re
making more money and they`re tearing up the roads in the process. And
you`d kind of think that wouldn`t be the end of the cycle, right? You`d
think that there would be kind of a sort of cyclical arrangement.
You know, making more money. Using up the roads to do it. Need money to
fix the roads. Roads help us make more money. You think it would kind of
connect as a cycle, right? Right? But no. The way that it is working in
Texas right now is that the oil companies are making more money. They are
grinding the roads into dust in order to make their more money. And then
the end is there can`t be roads anymore.
What? What is going on here? It`s like nobody has ever been able to
figure out the missing link. The relationship between private enterprise,
private individuals making profit, and there needing to be public
infrastructure to facilitate them making that profit. What could possibly
connect those two things? What does private profit do to contribute to
public infrastructure that it needs in order to –
Quoting from the “Texas Tribune” today, “Efforts to increase taxes on the
companies that are profiting from the energy boom to cover the road repair
costs failed to gain traction.”
In Texas politics.
And so Texas as of today has started converting its roads to gravel. And
the state in some cases will be reducing speed limits on those roads to 30
miles an hour because, you know, they are not paved roads anymore.
President Obama was back at the White House today. His eight-day
Massachusetts vacation was marked by Republicans angrily denouncing the
fact he went on vacation at all. Also the president making a very sober
statement from his vacation about the bloodshed in Egypt. There were some
candid photos showing the president breaking the rule that presidents
should never be photographed with anything on their heads. But also he
doesn`t look all that dorky. Bike helmets are much cuter than they used to
The president`s vacation, though, was also reportedly marked by some
protests. Low key local protests where the president was staying that were
aimed at catching the president`s eye. Quote, “Dressed in a polar bear
costume, Jerry Karnas, the field director for the Center for Biological
Diversity, has been all over the island trying to catch the president`s eye
as his motorcade drives past.”
At Ali`s General Store in West Tisbury, a bunch of grapes bookstore in
vineyard haven. A gay headlight and (INAUDIBLE), you name it. Quote,
“Polar bears not pipelines,” said Mr. Karnas, removing his bear head to
talk to the “Boston Globe.” “Wherever he goes here, we want him to see an
There were some other reports last week that locals had put up signs
against the Keystone pipeline in their front lawns during the president`s
visit, hoping that he would see them as he drove past or rode past on his
bike in Martha`s Vineyard.
The Keystone pipeline decision is still pending for this president after he
put it off last year to allow for more study on the issue.
But when it comes to our country dealing with Canada`s dirty tar sands oil
and its byproducts, one American fight against one giant pile of oily
Canadian mess has actually quietly just been won. It started right here on
the banks of the Detroit river in Detroit, Michigan, and yes, that is a
giant nasty pile of something called pet coke.
Back in May “The New York Times” highlighted what they described as a black
mound of Canadian oil waste rising over Detroit. That oil waste is
something called petroleum coke, pet coke. It`s a high sulfur, high carbon
waste byproduct of Canadian oil sands. The pet coke that local residents
started spotting out there on the banks of the river was put there by the
company that owned it. A company call Koch Carbon, owned by the Koch
brothers, Charles and David Koch.
So this company owned by Charles and David Koch had just started piling up
all of this pet coke right on the banks of the Detroit river before they
are preparing to ship it off to other countries to be used as fuel. In
addition to being sort of a hideous eyesore, the pet coke pile also posed a
potential health risk.
We`ve got some video shot last month. Look at this. Look at that along
the banks of the Detroit river showing the black dust from the pet coke
pile being kicked up in a storm that hit the area and just spreading
everywhere. That black dust started blowing into nearby homes in Detroit
coming right through the windows.
One local resident telling the “Detroit Free Press” that her apartment,
quote, “is a dusty place but it had never been that thick or dark.” Last
month she wiped up a new coating of the dust with a sponge and provided it
to the “Detroit Free Press.” Subsequent testing ultimately confirmed that
the dust indeed contains pet coke.
That same building in Detroit also happens to house the office of a local
state legislator named Rashida Tlaib. And she told the “Free Press,”
quote, “What I have seen is complete chaos with pet coke flying
The company that is storing the pet coke on that site on the riverbank, it
turns out, never bothered to get a permit to store it there. And after
months of wrangling with the city, Detroit officials have now finally had
enough. Detroit`s mayor may not have much power anymore, now that the city
is controlled by an emergency manager, but the mayor has, nevertheless,
ordered that those pet coke piles be removed by next Tuesday, by August
The city official in charge says that if they fail to move the pet coke
piles by that deadline, quote, “We will come down there and padlock the
The Koch brothers` company, for its part, says they plan to move the pet
coke piles to Ohio. In the meantime, though, thanks to the urging of local
Detroit residents and their representatives, the pet coke piles that remain
will at least be covered until they can all be transported away.
State Representative Rashida Tlaib says, quote, “The mayor agreed with the
concern that it needed to be covered immediately so it is not flying all
over our neighborhood.”
Sort of an age-old question in politics about the balance of power between
the people and rich corporate interests, right? I mean, in our age, the
richest corporate interests are energy companies. Oil companies are the
most profitable industry ever known in the history of keeping track of
What is the balance of power in our country right now between us and them?
Between oil companies and us who live with what they do?
In southern Texas and in west Texas, it is local residents seeing their
roads ground to dust. In Detroit, the pet coke piles have to be moved by
Tuesday, but tonight in Michigan also, two Democratic state legislators are
convening a town hall meeting to deal with the next one of these messes.
The proposed dumping of Canadian nuclear waste along Lake Heron. A
proposed Canadian underground radioactive nuclear waste repository right
off Michigan`s shore.
These fights happen all over the country all the time with companies that
seem to only get more powerful. Who wins these fights? And when it is the
people who win these fights against the companies, how is it that the
people win them? What makes for good strategy in fights like this?
Joining us now is Rashida Tlaib, she`s a Michigan state representative,
whose district includes this area of Detroit where the pet coke has been
Miss Tlaib, thank you very much for being with us.
STATE REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: So can you describe what it has been like to have this giant
three-story pile of pet coke in your neighborhood, in part of your
TLAIB: It`s four stories high and it`s complete reckless disregard for
hardworking people who are really struggling today to keep their
neighborhood together and they truly did not deserve to have toxic dust
lining up their homes, lining up their lungs.
And like I said, it was complete chaos. But what`s more disturbing is the
fact that the Koch Carbon Company decided to come on to the Detroit
riverbanks with no permits, completely unannounced, and put four stories
high, 40 feet tall, of petroleum coke along the river with complete
disregard for protections that are in place, permits that they have to
None of us knew exactly what it was and when we started getting our homes
tested and finding that petroleum coke was in our homes and to a home where
there was a mother who`s having her first child, eight months pregnant, to
a gentleman who just had surgery. It just disturbed us. We – it was
complete anger that came all over through the neighborhood in trying to
say, we don`t deserve this.
We may not be billionaires, but we have right to breathe clean air, we have
the right to actually deserve people to follow the laws. All of our
business need to follow the laws. And this one in particular was very
disturbing that they decided to do this without the necessary regulations.
MADDOW: When you started to understand the scope of the problem, and
obviously from some of that footage that we`ve got, it seems like it`s just
– it`s blatantly clear even to anybody who didn`t have an immediate
interest in the neighborhood. But when you did start to realize the scale
of the problem, how did you go about lining up the kind of alliance and the
kind of coalition that you needed to build in order to get this changed?
I mean, the pet coke piles aren`t gone but they`re scheduled to be gone
TLAIB: You know, Congressman Gary Peters has been leading the fight with
me. A number of our residents. And you know, one of the things that are
so important is I`m so proud of the local residents who know what they
deserve which is clean air. Know they deserve these protections. They
fought so hard taking pictures at 7:30 in the morning, putting videos on
YouTube. You can go to d-cats.org, all these residents constantly putting
People going on their boats taking photos on their boats. It was just
constant watchdog over these piles. And we kept going to the state, to our
governor, to our mayor, and demanding that the piles get removed and
covered immediately. Because we already have one of four of our children
in the southwest Detroit community has asthma.
We`re already surrounded by a polluting industry. And in this case, this
was just throwing more dirt, more toxic into our lungs. And we were very
much afraid. And I think that really encouraged a lot of people to start
working together and fighting this. And we won.
MADDOW: Rashida Tlaib, Michigan state representative, thank you for your
time tonight. We know this deadline set by the mayor is on Tuesday. We
also know that this company has blown past a lot of deadlines in the past.
We will stay on this. And I hope you`ll stay in touch with us as you try
to keep holding them accountable. Thank you.
TLAIB: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right.
An immoral agenda. That is how one angry North Carolinian is describing
the recent rollback of rights in her home state. Her decision about what
to do about it, though, may – might make your day, might weird you out,
might do both. And that story is coming up. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN ARKIN, ACTOR, “ARGO”: OK. You`ve got six people hiding out in a town
of, what, four million people, all of whom chant “death to America” all the
live long day. You want to set up a movie in a week, you want to lie to
Hollywood, a town where everybody lies for a living. Then you got to sneak
007 over here into a country that wants CIA blood on their breakfast cereal
and you`re going to walk the Brady Bunch out of the most watched city in
BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR, “ARGO”: Passed about 100 militia at the airport.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The story behind the movie “Argo” happened in real life in 1979,
but it didn`t get declassified until almost 20 years later. And it was one
of those CIA secrets that when it got revealed you just couldn`t believe
And so it becomes an amazing book written by the CIA officer at the center
of the whole thing and then it becomes one of the greatest magazine
articles ever in the history of great articles in “Wired” magazine. And
then somebody auctions it for Hollywood and then Ben Affleck goes all dry
look and a beard and he casts John Goodman and Alan Arkin, and everybody
pretty much loves the movie, and then it gets the Oscar and – and, and.
Incredible story. I can`t believe that actually happened. Do you believe
that was real? That was amazing.
There are amazing CIA secrets that get revealed in the world. And then
there are the other kinds of CIA secrets that are not so much amazing as
they are no duh. We have had a rash of no duh CIA secrets revealed just in
the past few days. These ones are probably less likely to ever star Ben
Affleck and win Oscars.
But it is weird that we are learning about all of them right now. All of a
sudden we`re having all of these new disclosures. All in a rush. Why is
that? That story is coming up. Stay with us.
MADDOW: If you`re in college and you live full time in an on-campus dorm,
odds are you do not get utility bills in your name. You`re in an on-campus
dorm run by your school, in most cases your electricity and heat and
everything else are folded into the overall cost of your room and board
that you pay to your college as part of the cost of going to school.
You also very well might not have a driver`s license. If you`re a full-
time college student living on campus, you might have a car. In a lot of
places that is not the norm.
Personally, I got my driver`s license about 30 seconds after I turned 16.
I saved up money from working and bought a car in high school even before I
turned 16 so it was ready for me the second I got my license. I was
desperate to drive as a teenager.
When I went to college, I did not have a car there. I don`t even think I
kept my driver`s license current while I was in college. Even though
college students live life differently than they might otherwise live it if
they weren`t full-time students, the Supreme Court ruled clear as day
college students have the right to vote where they go to school.
College students can vote where they go to college. Except maybe not in
North Carolina. Last week the Republican Party chairman from Pasquotank
County in North Carolina brought a challenge to the local elections board
there saying a student from the local historically black college should not
be allowed to run for office in the county because he couldn`t be
considered a local resident.
The evidence against this student in part is that he doesn`t have any
utility bills with his name on them. Which, of course, he doesn`t have
because he lives in the dorms at school. The newly appointed Republican
majority on the local elections board sided with the Republican Party
chairman and they disqualified that young man from running for office.
The same challenge would also block his right to vote in that county. The
Republican Party chairman now says he will try to go after voting rights
for all of the students at that local black college in Elizabeth City using
the same kind of residency challenge.
He says, in fact, Republicans should do that statewide, given the success
he`s already had against the students at Elizabeth City. He told the
Associated Press, quote, “I plan to take this show on the road.”
That was Tuesday of last week. On Monday of last week, the Republican
governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, signed a new law that says you
can`t vote in North Carolina unless you show a government-issued photo ID
and government-issued student photo IDs do not count for some reason.
Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who are legal voters are thought
to not have the ID that they will need in order to vote now.
On Monday night last week, it was over in Watauga County in North Carolina
where the newly appointed Republican majority on the local elections board
there voted to shut down the voting and early voting location at the
Appalachian State University student union.
That precinct, which was obviously convenient for students who wanted to
vote, that precinct was at a school where the students have had a pesky
proclivity for both voting and for voting Democratic. So they`re shutting
that one down.
Now, today it`s Forsythe County in North Carolina, where the newly
appointed Republican majority elections board there says they also want to
get rid of the voting sites at their local historically black college,
which is Winston-Salem State University.
So shut them down at Appalachian state, shut them down at historically
black Elizabeth City, shut them down at historically black Winston-Salem
State. Shut them down.
This has all happened in the past week. Voting rights under assault at
warp speed in North Carolina and it is more than just the new statewide
law. Republicans in North Carolina are cracking down on the right to vote,
systemically county by county, across the state.
The Republicans took over state government in November. That gave them the
power to take over the voting process in every county in the state and we
are witness now to their reaping what they sowed, county by county, school
by school, shutting it down.
One Democratic state senator has decided she has had enough. But in order
to fight what is happening in her state right now, interestingly, she has
decided to quit her job as a state senator.
Ellie Kinnaird has been a senator in North Carolina since 1997. She`s 81
years old and she has been in the Senate for more than 16 years. Today she
announced she is resigning her seat.
Quote, “What led me to this decision are the actions taken by the
Republican majority in the legislature that has been a shocking reversal of
the many progressive measures that I and many others have worked so hard to
enact, measures that over the years have made North Carolina a model of
moderate to progressive pro-business, but also pro-people public policy in
“From the Republicans` denial of health care security for our people, to
their failure to promote a vibrant workforce through support for our
education systems, from their tax cuts for wealthy and their tax increases
for the poor and middle class, to their efforts to deny people their right
to vote, they`ve been pursuing a divisive and, I think immoral agenda,” she
“I`m heartened, however, though, by the many grassroots efforts to fight
and it is here that I want and need to put my energy and efforts. I`m
working with others on a grassroots project to make sure everyone in the
state has a proper voter ID so that no votes are denied, even though the
voter ID bill is aimed at exactly that, repressing the vote.
” I`m going to work for candidates in the next election who reflect our
values. I look forward to working together to change this course and
restore our state to the shining beacon it was for so long.”
She`s 81 years old, she is leaving her job as an elected official, as a
state senator, to fight instead from the outside, at age 81. This is a
person I want to meet.
Joining us now is Ellie Kinnaird; she resigned her state senate seat today
in North Carolina.
Senator Kinnaird, thank you very much for being with us tonight. I know
you`ve had a very busy day.
STATE SENATOR ELLIE KINNAIRD (D), N.C.: Thank you for inviting me.
MADDOW: So why quit the state senate? What do you think you can
accomplish outside the legislature that you`ve not been able to accomplish
KINNAIRD: Well, first of all, I can`t accomplish anything in this session.
We have two-year terms. The first session has the budget and then also big
bills like this voter ID bill.
The second just comes back to tweak the budget and finish up some
But for my situation, I can`t do anything because I`m one of only 17
Democrats out of 50. So I know that what we`ve got to do to turn this
around is to make sure that people know that they have a photo ID that is
approved – and it`s a very narrow group of things that are allowed – and
then beyond that to make sure that people are registered to vote and, most
importantly, that they know what precinct they`re going to vote in. It
used to be if you came to the wrong precinct on Election Day, what happened
was you got a provisional ballot.
But now it`s the exact opposite. Your vote doesn`t even count. That will
have a great impact on students and other people because they`ve split so
many precincts. People honestly don`t know where they vote.
MADDOW: You have been in the North Carolina Senate for over 15 years.
You`ve seen a lot in North Carolina politics. It`s a striking and dramatic
decision for me to see you as such an experienced legislator decide that
the way to work on this is outside the system.
How radical have the changes been that led you to this decision?
How big a deal is this recent move?
KINNAIRD: Well, I think the straw that broke the camel`s back was really
the voter ID bill which is going to greatly impact African-Americans and
other minorities, which is also going to impact low-income people, who may
not have a driver`s license.
And it also, as I said, really impacts the students, and that is a very
significant group of people who are mostly voting Democrat. So this is a
very blatant and obvious way to suppress the vote of those who would not
keep them in office.
MADDOW: In terms of the – some of what we are seeing with the students
and the suppression of their right to vote, I`m thinking specifically about
that case with the young man, Mantravius (ph) King at Elizabeth City, that
historically black college on the east coast of North Carolina.
That seems to me – the tactics being used against students there just seem
blatantly unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has said that students have
a right to vote where they go to school, but Republicans are systemically
challenging that now.
Should we expect that there`s also going to be a big legal fight over these
matters in North Carolina?
KINNAIRD: I think that`s one more legal fight. We already have a number
already in the courts. But what is more serious is that in one county
where one of our major universities is located, they have moved the voting
site, which was for early voting on the campus, and consolidated all of
them into one precinct, which means that all of those students who were
voting on the campus in early voting, all the staff, all the faculty and
all the townspeople will now be in one voting site.
And, of course, that`s really going to suppress it. And I`m almost
positive they are going to do this all throughout the state so that what
happens is every college town – and we have 17 universities and about 35
private colleges – they will challenge that now. They will take away
those early voting sites where all the students and faculty and staff voted
and they vote high quantity Democrats. So we`re very worried about that.
MADDOW: Former State Senator Ellie Kinnaird, who resigned her seat today
in order to take this fight outside the legislature and throughout the
state, Senator Kinnaird, thank you very much for helping us understand your
decision tonight. And good luck to you. I appreciate your time.
KINNAIRD: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. There`s been a lot of serious stuff on the show tonight.
There`s a lot of serious stuff going on in the world. That`s how it works.
But did you see the new dog? New dog. New White House dog. Did you see?
Hold on. That`s next. We`ve got pictures and everything. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So everybody knows Bo, right? Bo is the dog of the Obama family.
He`s a Portuguese water dog. He`s almost five years old now and he,
frankly, has run unopposed in terms of cuteness throughout President
Obama`s time in office.
Well, that all changed today. Bo now has competition in the form of this.
New puppy. Hi, girl. Hello. Hi. Hi. This is Sunny. Sunny is also
obviously a Portuguese water dog with the ridiculous hairdo that Portuguese
water dogs get from God.
We got the new news today that new dog, Sunny, also now lives at the White
House and also belongs to the Obamas. She is 14 months old, which
presumably means she`s been in, like, how to become a White House dog boot
camp training for a few months. I don`t know.
Her arrival at the White House was announced today in a series of tweets
and in an official video this afternoon.
And if you think you cannot deal with the new dog`s adorableness, save a
thought today for BOURDAIN: , who now must deal with no longer being the
undisputed cutest member of the Obama family. It`s OK, Bo. It`s going to
be OK, big guy. Hang in there.
MADDOW: OK. The man on the right in this picture we`re going to put up.
See the red arrow? The man on the right, one of the guys holding
binoculars, that is President Kennedy. It`s 1962. He`s at Camp Lejeune in
North Carolina. And he`s holding binoculars because he is watching the
Marine Corps practice landing operations.
The other guy with the binoculars there on the left, that is Vice President
Lyndon Johnson. Sitting between President Kennedy and Vice President
Johnson is the King of Iran. Iran has a king. Or at least Iran had a
king. Except they don`t use the word king. They call him the shah. The
shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.
Here he is again on that same trip with President Kennedy and with both of
their wives, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and also the empress of Iran,
the shah`s wife. The government of Iran and our government used to be, to
use a technical term, besties. We were really close with Iran. We were
double date with the king close with Iran.
Of course now our governments could not be more at odds. We have no formal
relations with Iran. We don`t have an embassy there. They don`t have an
embassy here. But we did used to be very, very close allies.
And one of the major reasons that that relationship ended was because of
the shah and the CIA. It was called Operation Ajax. August 1953. So in
Iran the shah was the king. He was technically in power.
But Iran also had a prime minister who was democratically elected. And the
elected prime minister in 1953 was Mohammed Mosaddegh. He was very
popular. He also wanted policies that the shah did not want. And he
scared the bejesus out of the West. So much so that Operation Ajax was
hatched by the CIA to overthrow that prime minister in Iran.
The straw that broke the camel`s back, the reason they decided he
definitely had to go, was him crusading for Iran to own its own oil. The
shah had cut a deal with the British to essentially let England own all of
But Mosaddegh said that was ridiculous, it was a terrible deal for Iran and
frankly a majority of Iranians agreed with him. He was very, very popular
among his own people. And he was very unpopular outside of Iran.
Especially in the West. Especially among leaders of the U.K., who until
that time quite enjoyed totally running Iran`s oil operation with the
blessing of their friend the shah.
And then here comes this democratically elected guy, this populist guy,
telling the king of Iran and telling the prime minister of England and
telling the President of the United States that he is going to reclaim his
country`s oil industry because that`s what he thinks is fair, and most
Iranians agree with him.
Danger, Will Robinson. Danger. Obviously, that could not stand.
And so we, the United States, specifically the CIA, hatched a plot to
overthrow that prime minister. It was internally justified over here
because he was giving our friends in England and our good buddy the king of
Iran a really hard time and we were also scared that he seemed too friendly
with the communists in his country.
So in the early 1950s we organized a coup to overthrow the democratically
elected leader of Iran. We used propaganda and subterfuge to gin up and
fake street protests. We pressured our buddy the shah himself to sign a
decree forcing the prime minister out of office.
The shah had to flee Iran for his own safety for a while once he did that.
But the coup did work. And the elected prime minister, this populist guy,
was forced out. And so our good pal the king was returned to the throne in
Iran. And Britain`s oil interests were kept safe for a little while
longer. And Mosaddegh spent the rest of his life under house arrest.
And then, spoiler alert, here`s how that all turned out. Not all that many
years later. Within a generation the Iranian revolution. When Iranians
ousted the shah, the guy who we had artificially ensconced on his throne in
Turns out people do not like having their leaders picked for them by the
CIA. They don`t like having their leaders picked for them by anybody, but
maybe particularly by the CIA. And after years of all this being known but
not officially owned up to by the CIA, today the CIA admitted for the first
time ever, OK, yes, we did it. We were behind that world-changing coup in
Iran back in the 1950s.
They released a CIA internal history, not only admitting to it but
explaining how they did it and why. And that admission is both a huge deal
and also, as I said, something everybody already knew since, oh, say,
pretty much the day after the coup happened in the first place. Look at
the date on this story. August 20th, 1953.
The day after the CIA carried out Operation Ajax, open charges that the
U.S. implicated in the first stages of the coup. This was the day after
the coup, they were already saying it was us. But we`ve always formally
denied it until today. And this is such a widely known thing that we did
that there is literally an app for it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Introducing Operation Ajax for the iPad. Based on
actual events of the CIA`s involvement in overthrowing the Iranian
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So the CIA today admits something that was already universally
known but was still officially a secret thing. And there have been a
flurry of these kinds of no duh CIA admissions lately.
On Friday the CIA admitted that Area 51 exists, that secret tract of land
in Nevada where UFO conspiracists think the CIA did all their secret
experiments on aliens.
On Friday the CIA admitted, yes, Area 51 exists, but they did not admit
that the alien stuff exists.
Also last week the CIA admitted that yes, for years they had kept a file on
the linguist and left-wing philosopher and anti-war activist Noam Chomsky.
They`d always denied they had done that. But it was pretty much
inconceivable that they wouldn`t have been keeping tabs on him, given who
we know they were keeping tabs on at that time. We always knew it, but now
they are admitting it.
When you implausibly deny stuff that everybody knows is true, it costs you
some of your credibility. If we know it is so, if it is proven to be so,
if it is widely reported and admitted to be so but you just won`t formally
admit it, you don`t seem all that trustworthy in your formal statements
So it is a good thing for the credibility of the U.S. government that the
CIA is now admitting this stuff formally that everybody has already
reported and figured out. It`s also why it was good for the credibility of
the U.S. government when we finally got an admission from the Obama
administration that we are in fact killing people with drones outside of
Instead of hearing them say for years in the most passive way possible that
people had been killed under circumstances we could not comment on that we
all knew were drone strikes, it helped when they finally admitted, yes,
we`re killing people with drone strikes.
And that is why it is good now for the credibility of our government that
we are finally getting this admission from the CIA about what happened in
Iran. And yes, maybe it took until today, until the 60th anniversary of
the coup, but they never saw fit to admit to it before and now they do.
Credibility is priceless. And it is an important thing. A praiseworthy
advance when our government stops implausibly denying what is widely known
and proven to be true.
If this is the new CIA approach under director John Brennan, then, thank
you, Director John Brennan. If in your life people believe you when you
talk, it is a sign of credibility well earned and in some ways of a life
Same goes for government. If you are in public service, try to leave
government more credible than how you found it when you got there. Telling
us what exactly the NSA does might be a nice next step, you guys.
Now it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a great
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