The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/19/13
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
The various branches of the United States military all operate service
academies. The service academies are really prestigious institutions,
There`s West Point, which was founded in 1802. That`s just to orient
you on the map, that`s about an hour north of New York City, West Point,
The United States Navel Academy, it is in a beautiful spot in downtown
Annapolis, Maryland, walking distance from the Maryland state capitol
there. The United States Naval Academy founded in 1845.
The United States Coast Guard Academy was founded shortly after the
civil war. That is here in coastal Connecticut, New London, Connecticut,
essentially just opposite Montauk, at the end of Long Island.
And then there`s the United States Air Force Academy, which is in a
totally different part of the country, it`s way inland in Colorado Springs,
Colorado Springs is really known for two things – it`s home to the
Air Force Academy, with its big airfield and it`s massive football
Colorado Springs is also home to Focus on the Family, the right wing
social conservative organization. And what`s interesting about Colorado
Springs is that those institutions that that city is most known for are
right to next to each other. Literally, if you walk out the back door of
Focus on the Family and you cross onto the Ronald Reagan Highway, you`re on
the landing strip for the Air Force Academy. They are right next to each
It`s kind of weird. I mean, all the other service academies are
relatively near each other on the East Coast, and there`s the Air Force
Academy, way inland at Focus on the Family-ville.
Service academies are very, very prestigious place to go to school.
If you are 18 years old and you`re thinking about a career in the United
States military, you, of course, can just enlist. But if your grades are
good enough, and you have the recommendations and you can do the PT and you
have what it takes for the very stringent application process, you can also
choose to apply to these service academy for your chosen branch of the
And if you get in, and it`s hard to get in, if you get in, you will
get a good college level education along with your military training. You
will leave that service academy not only with that top ranked education,
but also as a military officer.
And at the Air Force Academy specifically, one of the things that`s
required of every cadet that goes through the academy, is that you have to
take part in a counseling program. Yes, counseling obviously sounds way
too wussy. So, instead, they call it a coaching program.
It is essentially though a counseling program that is mandatory for
every Air Force Academy cadet. You`re assigned to something called the
Center for Character and Leadership Development, where one of the academy`s
counselors – I mean coaches – will work with you as a mental personal
trainer, to help you reach your goals and live the values of the academy.
Every at the academy, every cadet, has to do this in one way or another.
John Aravosis today reported for the first time anywhere, that the man
in charge of counseling, I mean, coaching at the Center for Character and
Leadership Development at the United States Force Academy is this man, Dr.
Do you remember the rent boy scandal? Do you remember the rentboy.com
scandal? One of the nation`s foremost opponents of the idea that
homosexuality is something that can be cured, that the right counseling can
cure you of being gay, was this guy George Rekers, who had the Rentboy
scandal. He himself had the proponent of curing gay people through
therapy, he himself was photographed by “The Miami New Times” returning
from a long European vacation in the company of a young man whom he had met
and hired through a Web site called Rentboy.com.
The counselor guy tried to say he just needed somebody young and
strapping to carry his luggage for him on this trip. But the Rentboy guy
himself said actually what he was hired for was to give intimate, special
massages to his older and well-paying client on that trip.
Two weeks before his trip with the hot, young guy he met at
Rentboy.com, George Rekers and one of his “being gay can be cured” groups
sent this letter to every school superintendent in America. They sent this
all 15,000 superintendents in the country, telling them that they should
not believe the hype that any of their students might have been born gay or
The letter says, quote, “It is critical to understand that these
conditions can respond well to therapy.” So, if you`re gay, don`t worry,
it can be cured, says the guy with the hooker, masseuse. Sorry, masseuse.
George Rekers is part of a group called NARTH, probably the leading
pseudo-clinical organization that says they can cure you of being gay.
Not long after George Rekers was spotted the Miami airport with his
young strapping blond friend, the other well-known organization in the
country that pledged to be able to change your sexual orientation, a group
called Exodus International, they actually closed up shop. After more than
30 years of maintaining this really high public profile, saying that gay
people can be cured, Exodus International earlier this year shot themselves
down as an organization. They issued a statement that essentially
admitted, yes, you can`t actually change these people.
All the leaders at Exodus International who said that they personally
had been cured of their sexuality basically said, yes, actually, we`re
It turns out it doesn`t work. Sorry.
Here`s the amazing, though – Exodus International is now gone.
George Rekers is now impossible to Google without finding yourself lost in
an online world of fascinating gay dating sites. But Michael Rosebush who
was the director of counseling at Exodus and co-authored a book with George
Rekers of Rentboy.com fame, Michael Rosebush has found a way to land on his
feet, because he`s the guy who`s now running the mandatory counseling
program for all cadets at the United States Air Force Academy.
It`s not like he`s been hiding his particular light under a bushel
here. I mean, this is his work history. This is his handbook of therapy
of how to rid yourself of homosexual attractions, co-authored by him and
George Rekers among others. Here`s his other book called “Sanctification
Coaching”. It kind of sounds like counselor speak word salad that means
nothing. But they do spell it out easily in the book.
“If you are tired of being distressed over your same-sex attractions,
then sanctification coaching was written for you. Its groundbreaking
methods will help you achieve sexual purity and heterosexual confidence.”
Here`s a Web site for his business that he operated before he got
hired at the Air Force, showing as you can see there, sad but very
attractive men who presumably from the context are gay right this instant,
but they`re about to not be gay.
This guy`s entire career, before being hired at the Air Force Academy
was devoted purely toward curing gay people. That is his resume, that is
what his career has been. It`s what his bio says, it is what he does. He
is a professional, lifelong career-long I will make you not gay anymore
The thing this guy does is not just disappearing, as groups like
Exodus go out of business and NARTH gets humiliated through like the
Rentboy.com, through no fault of their hunky young consorts who actually do
not carry their luggage. This stuff is disappearing in America in part
because it is being made illegal. This type of quack counseling that
purports to be able to cure people of being gay is now illegal in
California and in New Jersey, and coming soon to a state near you.
The Air Force, though, does not seem to have a problem with this –
with letting this guy oversee the counseling for every single cadet that
goes through the Air Force Academy. What were they thinking in hiring this
Yes, he did used to work at Focus on the Family, which we know is just
across the road, so maybe they were psyche to save on the relocation
allowance? Maybe they`ve run into him at the underpass. Did the Air Force
hire him despite his expertise or did they hire him because this is
actually what they wanted? This is who they wanted specifically, because
of his past, overseeing the mandatory counseling program for every Air
We spoke with the Air Force Academy tonight and they confirmed that
Dr. Rosebush does have this job and that cadets are required to have this
counseling, I mean coaching, through counselors who he oversees. The Air
Force told us this evening that the person who hired Dr. Rosebush, this is
kind of strange, has retired from the Air Force. And because of that, they
said they could not comment on whether his background as an ex-gay
counselor factored into the decision to hire him.
But they did tell us that this revelations about what his
qualifications are would not necessarily lead to his being removed from his
current position, because according to an Air Force spokesman, there have
been no complaints against him from within the academy. In a statement,
the Air Force told us he was hired for his background in leadership
development and analytical skills.
This would not be the first time that the physical proximity of the
U.S. Air Force Academy and Focus on the Family led, I ink, to the
conservative movement, and especially the social conservative and religious
conservative part of that movement bleeding over into this very specific
and very important part of the U.S. military.
But in the broader picture, even without infiltrating the United
States military at levels like this, the social conservative and
specifically the anti-gay parts of the conservative movement, they`re kind
of feeling their oats right now. I mean, the Beltway commentary has people
who talk about politics for a living keep saying that the Republican Party
is changing on this issue, that Republican politics should sometime soon
start to be embarrassed or at least get electorally shy about associating
themselves with the hardcore antigay politics that surely represents the
party`s past and not it`s future.
That conversation is happening in the press and it`s happening in the
Beltway, by that is not the way conservative politicians are behaving, not
at all. This weekend, one of the Republican Party`s mainstream 2016
presidential hopeful, one that`s supposed to be popular with the kids and
fresh face for the party, he did an event with the head of the Pat
Robertson university law school.
See, there`s Marco Rubio there on the invitation on the right. That`s
the Pat Robertson law school guy on the left there. He is the guy who put
out my nominee for the single greatest Obamacare press release title of all
time. Remember that? “Obamacare will mandate free sex changes.” Really?
Incidentally, also when that George Rekers Rentboy thing came out in
“The Miami New Times”, that guy from the Pat Robertson law school is the
one who defended George Rekers saying that clearly this was a setup.
Somebody planted the hooker there. I don`t believe the massager thing for
But there`s Marco Rubio doing an event with him this weekend as part
of his 2016 kickoff, right?
The Liz Cheney, Mary Cheney, Dick Cheney, Lynne Cheney public feud
that erupted over the past 48 hours in Wyoming and in “The New York Times,”
and on Facebook and in the PR shop hired by the family so they could have
their family change in public, that delightful spat was sparked by these
ads being run against Liz Cheney in Wyoming as she tries to mount her
Senate campaign there against Mike Enzi.
This antigay ads being run against Liz Cheney saying she`s too pro-gay
for Wyoming. And they seem like back to the future, to have Mike
Huckabee`s daughter, her PAC running attack ads against a candidate who has
a gay sister saying, see, this shows you`re not anti-gay enough, that may
seem like `80 style retro anti-gay politics to do that.
But that ad was effective enough in Wyoming, it got Liz Cheney to
basically change her stated public opinion now, to now say she`s against
gay marriage, to throw her only sister under the bus in the process,
because of that pressure from that right wing ad.
In Texas right now, anti-gay politics from Rick Perry and from Greg
Abbott, his attorney general now and wants to be governor after Rick Perry,
their anti-gay politics have driven the state of Texas right now to start
personally insulting and mistreating serving members of the United States
military, which you would not think would be good politics anywhere, let
alone in Texas. But these guys desire to be a purely uncompromising anti-
gay in Texas has now brought Texas Republican politics to the point where
the state is defying Pentagon policy and defying a direct order from the
secretary of defense in order to tell active duty service members who show
up at state facilities that they need to get out, that they need to go deal
with getting their benefits and their housing allowances and their ID cards
elsewhere, because if they are in a same sex relationship and that is their
family, Texas doesn`t care that they`re serving service member, Texas
doesn`t care that they`re active duty, Texas doesn`t care your kind is not
welcome at Texas state offices, get out of here, soldier.
A state government choosing to spit in the faces of active duty
service members, currently serving troops ought to be a huge political
liability for any state politician associated with that behavior, right?
But in Texas, the Republican calculation is that it is more important to be
really anti-gay than to support the troops.
Contrary to Beltway wisdom right now, on the right, radically anti-gay
politics are in ascendance in the Republican Party. They`ve got a bunch of
big political victories lately. They`ve got the Republican Party wrapped
around their finger to the point where people are choosing their anti-gay
politics over their support for members of the military.
Right now, as the Republican speaker of the House is booking meeting
rooms so virulently anti-gay groups can meet in the basement of the U.S.
Capitol and is refusing even allowing an anti-discrimination bill to be
come up for a vote, right now, the Republican Party, from the very top, is
taking a more aggressively anti-gay stance than they have in a really,
really long time. It`s weird and you would never know it from reading the
Beltway press but that really is what`s going on in Republican politics.
And to the contrary, on the other side, in the blue states, it`s
completely opposite to that, particularly since the Supreme Court ruling
striking down the Defense of Marriage Act this summer. Democratic
controlled states are rushing now to the courts, through the legislature,
through voters` own decisions to move forward a Democratic controlled state
in this area of civil rights, particularly on the issue of marriage.
A couple started getting married in New Jersey a month ago yesterday.
The Hawaii state legislature voted last week to approve equal marriage
rights for that state. And tomorrow, in the state of Illinois, Governor
Pat Quinn, himself a staunch Catholic who nevertheless has championed the
issue of gay rights in his state, Governor Pat Quinn will sign a bill into
law tomorrow, making Illinois the 16th state in the nation to recognize
equal rights for all married couples in that state.
The two parties are moving in two completely different directions on
this issue of policy. It`s not being reported that way. It`s not being
talked about that way in the Beltway press. But that is the way it`s
Don`t listen to what Republican pundits say Republican politicians
ought to do. Look at what they are doing. You would think it was 1992 all
over again and these guys were cheering for Pat Buchanan at the Republican
Nobody calls it a culture war anymore. But as much as anytime in the
last generation right now, there are definitely two sides on this issue.
Joining us now is the governor Illinois, Pat Quinn.
Governor Quinn, thank you very much for being with us tonight. It`s
nice to see you.
GOV. PAT QUINN (D), ILLINOIS: Yes, same here, Rachel. How are you
MADDOW: I`m good. Thank you.
Why did you decide to champion civil unions a couple of years ago and
why did you decide to make it such a priority to pursue equal marriage
rights in Illinois?
QUINN: Well, Dr. King once said it`s always the right time to do the
right thing. It is the right and, you know, it`s ironic, today is the
150th anniversary of the Gettysburg address delivered by Abraham Lincoln of
Illinois. And I was at his tomb this morning, and at the presidential
library last night where we heard the Gettysburg address.
And it begins right at the beginning with saying, “We`re a nation
conceived in liberty and we`re dedicated to the proposition that all men
are created equal.” So, liberty and equality, that`s what marriage
equality is all about. And it`s very important that our state I think send
a message because we`re the most representative in the Union of the whole
And by signing the bill into law tomorrow for marriage equality, we`ll
be the 16th state and I hope we can spread the movement all across the
other 34 states in the Union.
MADDOW: When you look at the future of this issue, particularly in
your state, now that you`re going to have this change in the law, do you
think that is – that fact in the law and the fact of equally married
couples in your states is going to continue to change the politics around
this issue? There was a big issue in Illinois Republican politics when the
state chairman essentially was forced out of that job in the Republican
Party for supporting equal marriage rights.
Do you think that changes once people can get married in Illinois?
QUINN: I sure hope so. You know, there was a chairman of the
Republican Party in our state who favors marriage equality and he was
drummed out of the party basically, kicked out.
But, you know, the people are way ahead of politicians on this issue.
And I – the people of Illinois favored marriage equality by a good
majority, and it was really special I think two weeks ago when the debate
occurred in the Illinois House that led to the passage of the bill, it was
very reverent and important debate, people listened and spoke from the
And that`s what it`s all about, that`s what democracy is all about.
And I think the process of democracy will lead to more states adopting
marriage equality, I hope sure so. And our state`s a big state. We`re the
fifth largest in the country and I sure hope we can get marriage equality
in Texas real time soon.
MADDOW: Well, on that issue of Texas, obviously, as governor, you`re
commander in chief of the National Guard in your state as –
MADDOW: – as Governor Perry is in Texas. I`ve got to ask your
reaction to his decision to refuse to afford equal treatment to all married
couples among service members, defying a direct order by the Pentagon,
pushing that conflict actually further now. He`s now adding additional
things that same-sex service members, families are not allowed to do in the
state of Texas. They are being sent to federal offices instead.
What`s your reaction to that?
QUINN: Well, he`s just plain wrong. You know, as commander in chief
of our Illinois National Guard, I went to Iraq and Afghanistan a couple of
years ago with Governor Perry. As a matter of fact, I was his roommate and
I was sentenced to the harshest punishment known to man, seven days on the
road to Rick Perry.
And I don`t agree with him on his position on discriminating against
those who have a right under federal law to marry and have their rights
recognized by the United States military. I think it`s very, very
important that we protect all of our service members who volunteer, answer
the call of duty, defend our democracy, our right of government of the
You know, Abraham Lincoln a long time ago, he was in Illinois National
Guard and he understands how important it was to volunteer to defending our
democracy. And that`s what we believe in Illinois, we`re a welcoming
state. We don`t want to where like any state that would discriminate
against people when it comes to equality in the matter of love.
MADDOW: Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois, thank you for your time
tonight. I imagine that planning ceremony tomorrow is going to be a lot of
fun. I hope you enjoy it, sir.
QUINN: Yes. We`re going to have 3,000 or more people packed
together. It`s going to be a special day for democracy.
MADDOW: It`s going to be a big day in Illinois. Thank you, sir.
Appreciate your time.
QUINN: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Creigh Deeds and I both
have – let`s face it – sort of funny names.
Still trying to figure out the spelling of Creigh.
But that`s not the reason I`m here tonight. It`s not just because of
my personal bias.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We have devoted a lot of ink on this show to weird and
dramatic twists and turns in the politics of the great state of Virginia.
Before the “Ripley`s Believe It or Not” victory of Democratic
fundraiser Terry McAuliffe in the governor`s race, before the Republican
Party upended their own nominating process to pick a really surprisingly
hard right wing ticket that then lost the most interesting election
anywhere in the country this year. Before the outgoing governor`s bribery
scandal, we were the first national to cover the state controversies in
Virginia over forced ultrasound and reproductive rights and voting rights
and, and, and, and. We have spent a ton of time covering Virginia in the
show in the past few years, often with snarky headlines like “Below the
Beltway”, or the “Virginia Monologues”, or “SpongebBob and Friends” when we
were talking about the governor`s corruption scandal.
Because Virginia politics have been amazing recently, we have covered
Virginia politics on this show a lot. But the political news in Virginia
came to a halt today with a tragic and almost unimaginable piece of news
out of Bath County. Bath County is north of Roanoke, Virginia. It`s way
out in the western part of the state.
When Governor Bob McDonnell was elected governor in Virginia, the
Democrat who beat to get that job was State Senator Creigh Deeds. Creigh
Deeds had also run against Bob McDonnell four years earlier, for Virginia
attorney general, a race that was beyond close. Before the attorney
general`s race this year, which still isn`t decided, that Creigh Deeds/Bob
McDonnell race was the closest statewide race in the history of Virginia.
Creigh Deeds is a well-regarded, well-liked middle of the road
Democrat in Virginia. He`s famous for supporting gun rights among other
positions that are popular for his rural district.
Creigh Deeds` son Gus was a co-chair of Sportsmen for Deeds, in his
dad`s last campaign. That`s him there on the left. His son also loved
blue grass and he played banjo, which made for this, I think, super awesome
“A.P.” photo from the campaign trail during his dad`s losing campaign for
Well, today, at Senator Deeds` home in rural Bath County, it appears
that the senator`s son attacked his father with a knife, stabbing him
multiple times in the head and upper body. Senator Deeds survived. He`s
being treated at the University of Virginia Medical Center. But sources
told the local press today that he lost a lot of blood. His condition is
described by the hospital now as fair.
Again, at this time, the working theory is that the person who stabbed
Senator Deeds and nearly killed him was his son, Gus. Police say they`re
not looking for any other suspects. First responders at the scene found
Gus at the place where his father was stabbed, at the same home.
Gus himself was near death when first responders found him, his near-
death from a gun shot wound. First responder summoned a medevac helicopter
to try to save Gus, but he died on the scene in Bath County. Police are
treating this as an attempted murder and a suicide.
Gus Deeds was 24 years old. “The Richmond Times Dispatch” first
reported that yesterday, he had been hospitalized briefly under an
emergency custody order, which allowed him to be held for four hours so he
could be evaluated psychiatrically to see if he should be held even longer.
Quoting “The Times Dispatch”, “The son was evaluated Monday,” meaning
yesterday, “at Bath Community Hospital, but he was released because no
psychiatric bed could be located for him across a wide area of western
For whatever reason, this young man was committed for psychiatric care
yesterday, but then he was released, specifically because there was nowhere
to put him. That`s at least the reporting from “The Times Dispatch”.
Virginia mental health beds, at least in part, that part of the state,
if this reporting is correct, was just maxed out. There wasn`t anywhere to
Last year, a report by a mental health advocacy group tried to raise
the alarm that cuts to mental health services had caused a severe shortage
of beds for psychiatric patients. That led to a burst of local news
coverage in and around Virginia about how Virginia in recent years had cut
more than 250 available beds for psychiatric patients in the state, leading
to a severe shortage of help for people suffering in extremis with mental
illness, with just nowhere for them to go.
A Fairfax County state senator today said of this tragedy at the Deeds
home, quote, “This was preventable,” describing a lack of psychiatric beds
that prevented them from holding Gus Deeds yesterday, described that as,
quote, “breakdown in the mental health system.”
Gus Deeds was the valedictorian of his high school class. He broke
school records for perfect scores on states standardized tests. He had the
highest class average in 10 different subjects. This past spring, he made
the dean`s list at the College of William & Mary.
He`s survived tonight by his three siblings, by his mother, and
thankfully by his father.
We`ll let you know more as we learn more.
MADDOW: NBC News Richard Engel is one of my favorite people to talk
to in the world about anything. But when Richard is personally breaking a
really big story as he did today, he is definitely the best person to talk
to in the world about that. Richard Engel broke a huge story today and
he`s here live, next.
MADDOW: We are accustomed to thinking of the end of a war as a good
thing, right? Say, a time for skipping out into the streets and grabbing
somebody good-looking and giving them a kiss. And, yes, we thump our chest
in roar when a war begins. But we are so very happy when a war finally
In October 21st, 2011, President Obama announced that U.S. troops will
be leaving Iraq right away, the very last of them would be home for
Christmas that year. The war was over. After 8 1/2 long years, the troops
were coming home, all of them.
NBC`s Richard Engel was there when they crossed out of Iraq and shut
the gate behind them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS: It is now just after sunrise here in Kuwait
as the last American troops leave Iraq. Some of the soldiers have been
waving, others taking pictures to remember this moment – the moment the
Iraq war ended.
(voice-over): Moments later, the gate to Iraq was shut.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Iraq was a war that our nation`s leaders chose, and American
troops by the hundreds of thousands were stuck there for more than eight
years, fighting and dying, even after it quickly became clear that the
pretenses under which they were sent to Iraq were false.
And after all that, you might have expected that the closing of the
actual physical gates on that bloody, expensive, morally disastrous war
would be cause for celebration, bipartisan, nonpartisan, beyond partisan
celebration in America.
But that is not how it went.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Unfortunately, unfortunately, it is
clear that this decision, of a complete pullout of United States troops
from Iraq was dictated by politics and not our national security interests.
DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: We`re now in a situation where
we`re pulling all of our troops out of Iraq – period, no stay behind
force. That`s a mistake.
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They were unable to
negotiate a status of forces agreement to allow the 10,000 to 20,000, to
30,000 troops to remain which I think was a failure on the part of the
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: President Obama got the troops out of Iraq. Republicans were
furious. They wanted that war to keep going. They wanted thousands of
Americans to stay in Iraq indefinitely.
But that kind of arrangement was not agreed to between our government
and the Iraqi government. And so, sadly, every American came home, and
almost everyone in the country not named Cheney or McCain or maybe Romney
celebrated that the troops were home. That one of America`s forever wars
was finally over.
But even as that happened, the other forever war dragged on. Just a
few months before the last U.S. troops left Iraq, President Obama announced
that U.S. troops would also be leaving Afghanistan eventually. He said the
U.S. would start bringing troops home then, but it would take a long time
to get them out. He said the U.S. would start handing security
responsibilities over to the Afghans, but the process wouldn`t be complete,
and American soldiers wouldn`t be scheduled to leave until the end of 2014.
By 2014, in the president`s words, the transition will be complete.
And yet, it has not been exactly clear what complete would mean in this
context. It has not been clear whether or if any U.S. troops are going to
remain behind and for how long.
And that led to this, frank and I think startling question from an
American service member, a master sergeant, for Defense Secretary Leon
Panetta speaking a year ago. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MASTER SERGEANT: Sir, I`m Master Sergeant (IANUDIBLE) from
communications squadron. Looking at the long term plan, I understand that
– my understanding is that the drawdown in Afghanistan is not completely,
is not completely pulling out. So, can we expect five, ten years from now
our children will still be serving in that region of the world to maintain
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Five, ten years from now, Mr. Secretary, are my kids going to
be serving in Afghanistan too? The answer from the defense secretary that
day was basically, yes. He said the plan was to have an enduring presence
in Afghanistan, even after the war was technically over.
Well, today, NBC`s Richard Engel broke the news of what the plan is,
for that enduring presence. Richard has posted an early draft of an
agreement between the American and Afghan governments allowing for an
ongoing presence of American troops in Afghanistan, even after the end of
2014, thousands of U.S. troops and major U.S. facilities on the ground.
Richard writes, “The document outlines what appears to be the start of
a new open ended U.S. military commitment in Afghanistan.” “The war in
Afghanistan,” he says, “does not seem to be ending, rather it is being
renewed under new scaled down terms.”
Joining us now live from Kabul is NBC News chief foreign correspondent
Richard, congratulations on this scoop. Thanks for being here
ENGEL: It`s a pleasure to be with you as always. Kabul is missing
MADDOW: Yes, I was going to say.
ENGEL: You`ll have plenty of time to come back, it seems.
MADDOW: I was just going to say – I know that spot, and I have a
feeling we`re going to be seeing you long there longer than we expected to
Richard, I`ve got to ask you – what struck you about this draft
agreement when you first got a hold of it?
ENGEL: Well, I was struck by the scale of it. As you mentioned
earlier, there`s always been this vague notion which now U.S. officials are
saying was never vague. We said all along there was never going to be this
enduring presence. But really, it was all vague.
It was never clear how many troops were going to stay, it was never
clear how long they were going to stay, and some of these questions remain
But what is clear, when you see a draft of this document, is that U.S.
officials and Afghan officials behind closed doors have been very hard at
work hammering out a detailed agreement that would allow U.S. troops to
stay here that would, in fact, require an enduring U.S. presence for
decades or at least a decade or more. The document talks about going up
through 2024, and beyond.
ENGEL: It outlines a variety of commitments like U.S. paying for
Afghan security forces, securing Afghan security forcers, maintaining
outposts that are not called bases but that are called access to Afghan
bases, but access where the U.S. personnel would have exclusive control and
could keep their planes and vehicles inside and would be allowed to patrol
the perimeter and taxation and that they would receive mail without subject
to subject to censorship or confiscation. Very detailed agreements,
talking about a new phase of the war.
And what I was struck about, is – I`m in Afghanistan right now
because potentially several thousand leaders, tribal leaders, and
politicians in Kabul are going to start debating this openly over the next
few days here to decide if this is a good deal for Afghanistan. The reason
this is all coming out right now is Afghanistan doesn`t think that this is
a good enough deal and they want to try and get a better deal.
And I was struck that, why is it that the United States knows much
about this when at the end of the day, it will be the U.S. paying for all
this and sending its sons and daughters to support all of this.
MADDOW: Right. The debate about whether it is a good deal for the
United States of America, even after technically the end of our longest war
ever in America history, it seems like a debate worth having.
I don`t want to ask you to compromise your sources at all, but do you
think the word is getting out through the scoop that you got today? Do you
think that this draft is being leaked because the Afghans are dissatisfied
or because the Americans are dissatisfied?
ENGEL: I think that both sides, the Afghans – the Americans think
this is a done deal, that this is no big deal, that this is an important
thing for Afghanistan`s instability, and that it`s an important thing to
safeguard the American progress that has been made, those are both the
diversions of events that are being explained to me from U.S. and Afghan
Both of them seem like this is a done deal and what we`re seeing now
is negotiating tactics, with the Afghans debating this so they can get
slightly more restrictive procedures put in place so that American troops
who will stay won`t be allowed to enter Afghan homes, or that they will be
required to high pay a higher percentage of the budget, or pay more in
customs duty and taxes.
And the Americans are saying that`s just what the Afghans are doing,
so don`t worry about this, this is really a negotiating ploy.
But nobody seems to be asking, is this a good idea at all? We had 12
constant years of warfare and now we`re going to have an open ended period
of training and dependency from Afghanistan.
MADDOW: NBC –
ENGEL: Now, there are hard options here, if there is no truth left
behind, this country could collapse and the insurgency, the Taliban, the
other extremists networks could either take over or make this country
ungovernable. So it`s not like you have great options in Afghanistan right
MADDOW: NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel, doing
more than anyone in the country as usual, to make this a subject of debate
rather than something that we possibly receive, Richard, thank you very
much. I really appreciate it, man. Well done.
Absolutely. All right. Good to have you back with us.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Late in the day today, the United States Supreme Court
decided to not block the Texas anti-abortion law that has shut down or
stopped a third of the clinics in that state from providing abortions.
This is not a totally done deal. There`s another case about a similar law
that may not yet to the Supreme Court. But that ruling came down late
Also late today, a federal court in Missouri decided to delay the
execution of the white supremacist serial killer who is best known for
having shot and paralyzed “Hustler” publisher Larry Flynt. The same man
confessed to killing 20 people.
Larry Flynt survived the assassination attempt and he recently has
been lobbying against the planned execution that was schedule for tonight,
at a minute past midnight in Missouri. Today, late in the day, a federal
judge stayed that execution in Missouri indefinitely.
There was a bunch of big national news today, that broke late in the
day, all on different issues, but all concerning courts and crime. And in
one case, a congressman.
Today, in D.C. superior court, Republican Congressman Trey Radel of
Florida was charged with misdemeanor cocaine possession. The congressman
is in his first term. He was a conservative radio host before coming to
Congress last year.
We do not yet know the circumstances of his arrest other than the fact
that it occurred on October 29 in the district. And he has not yet said
anything, he had not yet said anything about it publicly before
Politico.com broke the news from the court documents.
The congressman we know is due in court tomorrow, in D.C. So far,
there is no sign that he is planning to resign. He did put out an apology
statement tonight after “Politico” broke the story. The apology statement
said he, quote, “struggles with the disease of alcoholism” and that, quote,
“led to an extremely irresponsible choice,” one apparently involving
But, again, Congressman Radel due to appear tomorrow in court to face
cocaine possession charges. We will keep you posted as we learn more.
MADDOW: This is a really good story.
All right. In late 2010, during year two of the Barack Obama
presidency, conservatives all over the country were outraged that President
Obama had the nerve, the gall, to go on vacation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MONICA CROWLEY, FOX NEWS: He is actually shoehorning the job of the
presidency into his busy schedule of going on vacation, listening to the
comic stylings of George Lopez, swaying to Paul McCartney, playing golf,
shooting hoops, taking smokes. What else is this guy doing? Is he ever
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Is he ever working?
The President Obama takes too much vacation thing was not confined to
the right-wing fringe and FOX News, it really became a mainstream
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ROMNEY: His idea of a hand-on approach to the economy is getting a
grip on his golf club. He`s going off for 17 days in Hawaii. He`ll be
playing a lot of golf.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes, Hawaii. Can you believe that guy? Why would anybody go
Republicans have been incredulous and outraged every single time
President Obama and his family have gone on vacation, from the very, very
beginning of his presidency. In the second year of his presidency, like
being mad again at the time, about him going to Martha`s Vineyard.
But what`s never really noted in all of that fuming outrage was that
this – is how much time President Obama had taken at that point in his
presidency, compared to his predecessor, George W. Bush. That`s a
comparative vacation time by that point into the presidency.
It doesn`t matter, though, right? Obama is lazy. That guy never
works. You know what President Obama does? He puts his feet up on the
desk at work.
Earlier this year, the conservative Web site, the Drudge Report,
posted this photo of the president on the phone in the Oval Office with his
foot on the desk. The right lost its collective mind. It was disgraceful.
It was offensive. It was – it was, exactly what lots of presidents before
him had done without upsetting anyone.
This is called Obama derangement syndrome, right? It`s when common
sense, logic, ability to simply Google something vanishes. It surrenders
before the superior force of just incoherent blinding disdain for this
Today, a new one that is a doozy. Today, the American right is
outraged that President Obama removed the words “under God” from the
Gettysburg address. Did you hear that? Oh, my God, did you hear, did you
hear? Oh, my God. Oh, my God.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: When Obama recited the Gettysburg address
for Ken Burns to be included in the PBS documentary – Obama left out
“under God” from his reading of the passage. That this nation under God,
shall have a new birth of freedom. He left out “under God”.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He left out “under God”!
This was a thing on the right today, all over the right. Not just on
AM radio. Look, “Obama removes God from Gettysburg address.” That was at
a Web site called Breitbart.
Or this one, “Obama omits God from Gettysburg address reading,” on
the right-wing blogs.
On this one, “Watch, President Obama leaves out an important word in
the reading of Gettysburg address, God.” That was on right-wing radio.
“Obama delivers Gettysburg address on YouTube, leaves out under God.”
The conservative “Daily Caller” Web site was apparently so heated
about but their version of the story that they had the managing editor of
the whole Web site, write up their article about it.
This was the headline at “National Review Online”: “Obama cuts `under
God` out of Gettysburg address.”
The conservative media criticism Web site Mediaite also covered it
under the guise of covering the outrage about it. “President Obama omits
The right just had its hair on fire about this today. How dare
President Obama, alter the language of the Gettysburg address to remove its
reference to God?
Yes, he did not do that. The Gettysburg address is one of the
speeches where a few different versions exist. Nobody taped it if you know
what I mean. At least five versions of the address are in circulation at
any given time, which is why you often hear the speech recited differently
each time you hear it.
When the documentary filmmaker Ken Burns put together his compilation
of lots of different people, including actors, politicians, and news
anchors, and TV hosts, reading the Gettysburg address, he published for
this project all five major known drafts of the speech. And he, he, let it
be publicly known that he asked President Obama, specifically to read a
very early draft called the Nicolay draft, and that draft does not include
the phrase “under God”, which is why President Obama did not include the
phrase “under God” in what he read, period. End of story.
In America, at least, that would be the end of the story. In
conservative media land-istan, though, this scandal will never die because
President Obama killed God. Everybody freak out.
Folks at “Media Matters” first noticed this story today, and they have
since been posting all of the embarrassed corrections from all of the
conservative media outlets that ran head first toward the story that did
not exist. Not all are apologizing yet. And honestly, why would they?
The stuff has been working for them for years.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Have a great night.
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