The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/17/14
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. The conservative
medium and conservative movement in this country have a single and
undisputed home on the Internet. There`s one low tech, mostly black and
white Web site which is basically the home page online for the whole
American right wing. And it has been the same Web site, it has been the
same place for more than a decade now.
And, yes, there have been others that have tried to topple it, but
nobody`s been able to. I mean, no offense to our friends at the FOX News
Channel, but the FOX News Web site is terrible. Even the new FOX News Web
site is terrible.
And when they got a new new FOX News Web site recently, that, too, was
terrible. Nobody really uses the FOX News Web site as their home page
unless they`re paid to do so because they work at the FOX News Channel.
Other well-funded entrepreneurial efforts have been made on the right
to try to take over that sector. New right-wing media hubs have been
popping up on the right over the last few years. Tucker Carlson did one.
I think that one still exists. The people who did the fake pimp video
about ACORN, those people they tried to set up a Web site that would become
the new right wing home page for American conservatives.
There`s been lots of efforts to try to take over this territory, but
nobody has been able to succeed in toppling the king of them all – which
has been that way for a very long time now. The website that is more
influential on the American right than any other by a factor of “N” is, of
course, the “Drudge Report”.
As dominant as we think of the FOX News Channel in terms of defining
the conservative mindset in Republican politics on television, in the
online sphere, the “Drudge Report” is way more dominant than FOX is on TV.
There`s nothing like it on the right.
It is absolutely the home page for American conservatism. And it has
been for more than a decade. And you can just watch American conservatism
unfold there. The front page banner headlines at the “Drudge Report” over
the last year and a half have been one way of sort of peek in the window
there to see how obsessed the right has been with the issue of Benghazi.
Just looking at that one Web site, right, “Drudge Report”, Benghazi
headline. “Drudge Report”, Benghazi headline. “Drudge Report”, Benghazi
headline. “Drudge Report”, Benghazi headline.
“Drudge Report”, this is a good one, he knew. Didn`t even have to
say, you knew that was a Benghazi headline.
“Drudge Report” with a siren, Benghazi headline.
This Web site which is the hard wired brain of the conservative
movement and conservative media in the Republican Party, this singular Web
site which is basically the wizard behind America`s right wing Oz, the
“Drudge Report” has been absolutely obsessed with the attacks on the
American diplomatic facility in Benghazi almost two years ago.
Well, today, the United States government announced that the
mastermind of that Benghazi attack, the alleged mastermind, he was arrested
in Libya, taken into custody by U.S. Special Forces and the FBI. Can you
imagine how something like that is going to play on the “Drudge Report”,
I mean, for more than a year and a half now, the “Drudge Report” has
been burning out its sirens and having to get new ones, freaking out about
everything Benghazi related, hyping things that are not even about Benghazi
in case they might have implications. Any time anything else breaks in the
news, it`s a distraction from Benghazi.
Well, today, they caught the guy who allegedly did Benghazi. Can you
imagine how Drudge is going to deal with this news today?
This was the headline for most of the day today on the “Drudge
Report”. “Price of meat, chicken, and fish soaring to an all-time high.”
After a year and a half of wall-to-wall three-inch headlines about
Benghazi, today is the day that the “Drudge Report” chooses to lead with
the fact that chicken prices are rising. As an aside, I should let you
know that I don`t actually know if chicken prices are rising. The other
main source for this information seems to be “World Net Daily” which has
also been the source the breaking news that President Obama is not only
Muslim but gay, and also secretly Muslim gay married. Also blood moons.
But today, what may or may not be high chicken prices, that was the
“Drudge Report” lead story today. Later in the day, I should tell you the
“Drudge Report” did change up their main headline to this one which
concerns Mexican troops on the U.S. border. The dollar bill icon there on
the right, though, that is still about the high price of chicken.
On TV, of course, the FOX News Channel has been Benghazi central, to
the point where it`s sometimes even been weird and hard to follow. You may
remember just a couple weeks ago that a dayside FOX News Channel show,
dayside is apparently supposed to be their straight news, no opinion
A dayside FOX News Channel show cut away from an official President
Obama presidential press conference and the host at the time explained that
FOX was only planning to go back to the president`s live press conference
if the president took a question about Benghazi. But if he wasn`t talking
about Benghazi, FOX had no plans to cover the press conference. See,
because they had Benghazi stuff to talk about. Why would you cover a
presidential press conference if it wasn`t about Benghazi?
Today, as “The Washington Post” first broke the news that the alleged
leader of the Benghazi attack was in U.S. custody, that a successful
special operations raid had gone off in Libya without a hitch and the
alleged perpetrator of the Benghazi attack was on his way back to the
United States to face justice, one might reasonably expect at the all
Benghazi all the time FOX News Channel they would be excited about this big
breakthrough news, right?
Instead, though, at the FOX News Channel, they seemed kind of just a
little let down. And they quickly turned from the news of this guy being
arrested to their own suspicions about the timing. Maybe this is all just
a trick to help Hillary Clinton`s book sales, seriously.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have the former secretary of state who`s in
the middle of a really high-profile book tour and I think this is
convenient for her to shift the talking points from some of the things
she`s been discussing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think this thing needs to be tied in a bow for
certain individuals to have a clean break from an incident that has become
and will continue to be a scandal and anchor around a certain individual`s
neck who may want to run for president and so –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Having an interview today with FOX News` Greta
Van Susteren and Bret Baier.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What a great thing to announce on FOX News that
the perpetrators have been brought to justice. It`s all too neat and it`s
too cute. I want to give – I want to be grateful. I want to give the
benefit of the doubt to our authorities. But in this case, it feels too
neat on the timing.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: It`s too neat on the timeline. It`s too cute. After a year
and a half of covering Benghazi wall to wall as if it were a year and a
half long O.J. Simpson white bronco car chase, on the day that the alleged
perpetrator of the Benghazi attack is arrested and brought into U.S.
custody after a special forces raid, the take on FOX News is that that`s
not actually news. That is just designed to distract you from the Hillary
Clinton book tour.
It`s all too convenient, people. Sheeple.
It`s been amazing, amazing, amazing on the right today. Conservative
media is having a very, very hard time with this news today about the
alleged leader of the Benghazi attack being arrested. They have to make it
into bad news. They have to make it into maybe even a scandal, itself,
that the administration has captured the alleged perpetrator of the attack.
And Republicans in Congress are doing the exact same thing. It`s not
just on the media. Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire put out a
statement as soon as she heard the news today which, again, you think would
be – this would be greeted as good news, but Senator Ayotte instead said
this, “Rather that rushing to read him his Miranda rights and telling him
he has the right to remain silent, I hope the administration will focus on
collecting the intelligence necessary to prevent future attacks and to find
the other terrorists responsible for the Benghazi attacks.”
Oh, so you guys arrested the guy who did it? Well, I bet you arrested
him wrong. And I can`t believe he`s the only one you arrested. Wow!
In February, Senator Ayotte joined with Senator Lindsey Graham and
Senator John McCain to write this letter to the White House expressing
their outrage that no one had been arrested and brought to justice for the
Benghazi attack. Now that someone has been arrested and being brought to
justice for the attack, Senator Ayotte has decided today that she`s still
Senators McCain and Graham today also stayed outraged, both of them
insisting to the reporters today that the president was still doing it
wrong – unless he brings this guy to Guantanamo.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I`d bring him to Guantanamo. Where
else can you take him to?
REPORTER: Has the administration indicated where they`re going to
MCCAIN: No, no.
REPORTER: What they`re going to do with him?
MCCAIN: No, not that I know of.
REPORTER: What do you think of the –
REPORTER: Do you have preference?
MCCAIN: Guantanamo. It`s where we put terrorists when we apprehend
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Actually, no. In this case, and in every other case like
this since President Obama has been the president, nobody new goes to
Guantanamo. People come back to the United States and they go on trial in
a regular court.
But John McCain and Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio and Kelly Ayotte
and all the other Republicans in Congress who commented on this today say
they have to come up with a way to turn this into bad news. They have to
turn, figure out a way to turn it into bad news that the guy who allegedly
led the Benghazi attack has been arrested.
So, the way they decided to make it into bad news is that that guy is
not going straight to Guantanamo. So, they`re all lining up behind John
McCain on this and saying, yes, the guy`s got to go to Guantanamo, good
thing we`ve still got a Guantanamo, right, Senator McCain?
Good thing we and the Republican Party still have your leadership to
follow on issues of foreign policy and terrorism and what ought to happen
at a place called Guantanamo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
MCCAIN: I believe we should close Guantanamo.
I`m for closing Guantanamo Bay.
We need to close Guantanamo.
I think Guantanamo should be closed. I think it`s become a symbol and
I would move those detainees to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, where we have a
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: John McCain ran for president of the United States in 2008
saying he would close Guantanamo and prisoners who might otherwise have
been handled that Guantanamo should be sent to federal prison. Now,
President Obama is proposing to prosecute the alleged leader of the
Benghazi attacks and send him to federal prison, so now John McCain is
lighting his hair on fire and saying, no, the guy has to go to Guantanamo.
Why do people keep asking John McCain what he thinks about these
things? It`s obviously not his strong suit. He doesn`t even remember if
he likes Guantanamo or not – which is fine.
I mean, we all have our weak spots. I can never remember if I like
garbanzo beans or not. But I know that about myself. I`d never try to
open up a Mediterranean restaurant. I don`t know. It`s not my strong
John McCain is the king of foreign policy in the Republican Party, but
doesn`t know what his own position is on Guantanamo or whether terrorists
should be instead in federal prisons – his own position.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I`d bring him to Guantanamo. Where else can you take him to?
I would move those detainees to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, where we have
a federal prison.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Asked and answered. He can handle both sides of the debate.
Today, after “The Washington Post” broke the story of this arrest and
the White House confirmed it and the president made preliminary remarks
about it at an event he was doing in Pennsylvania, the Attorney General
Eric Holder and FBI Director James Comey, they both spoke about the federal
criminal charges that have been unsealed against the alleged leader of the
Benghazi attack who`s just been picked up. These charges were first filed
last July. They were unsealed today.
The three charges that were unsealed today that he`ll be facing, they
could, if he`s convicted, lead to life in prison or technically even the
death penalty, but the Justice Department says they may add yet more
It`s going to be interesting to watch how Republicans handle this and
whether they continue to try to turn it into a bad news story. I mean,
this does come immediately on the heels of Republicans trying to return –
Republicans trying to turn the return of an American prisoner of war into a
bad news story.
You remember all the Republican members of Congress putting out
initially congratulatory celebratory tweets and statements saying how
excited and happy they were like most Americans were when we learned Bowe
Bergdahl was being returned to the U.S. after five years in Taliban
custody, right? All of those statements and tweets from Republican elected
officials then had to be retracted because it became the Republican Party
line that actually the return of this last American prisoner of war was
supposed to be bad news. Not good news like you might have first thought.
So, it`s going to be very interesting right after the Bowe Bergdahl
political fiasco on the right to see if Republicans try to do that on this
story, too, about the alleged ringleader of the Benghazi attacks. I mean,
after screaming from the rooftops for a year and a half that the
perpetrators in Benghazi had to be brought to justice. Will Republicans in
the conservative media be able to try to turn this into a scandal? Will
they be able to make it part of their broader conspiracy theory? That
someone is actually being brought to justice for the attack.
And this is all happening at the same time as Washington is trying to
figure out how to process the legitimately bad news, the legitimately
terrible news out of Iraq. I mean, as frustrating as it is to see somebody
like John McCain cited as an authority on Guantanamo when John McCain isn`t
even an authority on John McCain`s own position on Guantanamo. The reason
that John McCain has been ubiquitous in the media for the past week is
because he is also supposedly the Republican Party`s greatest expert on
Iraq and specifically on war in Iraq.
And John McCain, let the record show, John McCain was wrong about Iraq
and the war in Iraq, in almost every way that a person can be wrong about
something like that. He was wrong about Saddam having weapons. He was
wrong about how long the war would take. He was wrong about how big the
war would be. He famously said that as far as he was concerned, he thought
that maybe Saddam sent the anthrax attacks.
John McCain was wrong about whether there might ever be any trouble
between Sunnis and Shias in Iraq.
Because John McCain was so wrong about Iraq, it is frustrating to see
him everywhere, right? On the Sunday shows, on the cable news shows, in
the paper with reporters following him around the Capitol now. As if his
previous abject and consequentially terrible failures on this exact subject
somehow make him worthy of listening to the exact same subject right now.
And there`s a lot of this going on right now. I mean, Iraq war
architects like Kenneth Pollack and Robert Kagan are getting quoted in “The
New York Times” again advocating for another Iraq war, even though the last
one they designed was such a disaster.
“Politico” quoting Doug Feith. Bill Kristol on ABC. Paul Bremer in
“The Wall Street Journal” and on CNN and here on MSNBC. Paul Wolfowitz on
MSNBC and on “Meet the Press”.
Judith Miller, the disgraced “New York Times” reporter the newspaper
had to apologize for after they ran her bogus pro-Iraq war stories over and
over and over again on the front page, helping make a national case for
that war that was false. I mean, Judith Miller, literally her. Not just
somebody who looks like her. There she is back on FOX News in this case
making the case for Iraq war again.
It is very frustrating to see that this is the way that we handle
debates about foreign policy in this country. We take people who were so
provably, terribly wrong and bring them back and treat them like experts on
the very subject they have been so wrong about. It is maddening.
Their argument for taking them seriously is to ignore everything
they`ve said up to this point. For neoconservative pundits, it`s a
guaranteed job security. Pushed for armed conflict and if it descends into
chaos, then that`s just reason to push for more armed conflict. There are
no consequences for being so wrong all the time.
It is frustrating. If you have been feeling frustrated about seeing
all these Iraq war architects and cheerleaders back out there doing it
again with no accountability, you are not alone in your frustration.
But you know what? We did learn something in the last 10 years. We
did learn something from how we went to war the last time. That last quote
that I just read that you saw on screen, that`s from this article at
Look at the very satisfying headline. “Stop treating war-crazy
buffoons as experts! They got it wrong, remember?”
And I think it matters for our national discourse that there are a lot
of headlines out there like this right now, right? On Iran, let`s ignore
those who got it all wrong. Iraq war boosters get second chance in media
spotlight. Media should stop boosting people who got Iraq wrong. How many
times do the neocons get to be wrong before we stop asking them what to do
Here`s James Fallows from “The Atlantic” tweeting a couple days ago.
“Working hypothesis, nobody who stumped for the original Iraq invasion gets
to give advice about disaster now nor should they be listened to.”
Liberal Web site, “Daily Kos”, even has this petition posted right
now. “Sign this. Tell Iraq war cheerleaders to shut up.”
As frustrating as it has been for you at home to see all of the Iraq
war cheerleaders being quoted again cheerleading for yet more war in Iraq,
I have to say, it is also satisfying, and also feels like we`ve gone
through some measure of growth as a nation that you are not alone in that
frustration. And that there are so many other even very outspoken people
who are frustrated by that and the pushback is strong. The pushback is
I mean, yes, it`s happening, but hey Sunday shows, hey op-ed pages,
hey cable news, hey, everybody. We know you`re attempted to keep booking
these yahoos on these subjects, but if you keep turning to the people who
were famously wrong about Iraq to ask them to do about Iraq, you at least
will be laughed at and you will be embarrassed that you did this, and you
will eventually have to apologize or at least explain yourself for why you
thought Bill Kristol should be explaining what to do now.
We can see what you`re doing and it`s funny and not in a good way.
But for all of the calling the question that is sort of happening in
Washington and the media right now, for all of the truly red meat right and
left fighting and humiliation that is happening right now on our politics,
on foreign policy issues, there is a real test for how we handle these
questions in our nation that has nothing to do with short-term partisan
gain and score settling and pointing and laughing at people who need to be
pointed at and laughed at.
There is something real that we can do here to sort of cut through
both the funny stuff and also the bull. It is the genius of the Founding
Fathers and the way they structured our Constitution that when questions of
war and peace arise, as they do right now with the terrible situation in
Iraq 2 1/2 years after American troops left there, when questions of war
and peace arise, for us as a nation, it really is very clearly supposed to
be the Congress who explicitly makes the decision about what our country
should do in terms of military intervention or not.
It is not the Congress` place just to go in front of TV cameras and to
tweet and to send grandstanding open letters. Article 1 Section 8 of
Constitution gives Congress the job of making the actual decisions about
real bombs, instead of just throwing rhetorical bombs without consequence.
And as much noise as we hear right now about the always wrong peanut
gallery yelling that President Obama needs to reinvade Iraq, there was just
as much of that noise yelling that President Obama needed to invade Syria
last year. You may remember.
And while it seemed for a moment like President Obama maybe was going
to do that and he was threatening to use air strikes in Syria, he
threatened that all military force options were on the table in Syria.
When it came time to maybe exercise those options last August, President
Obama went to the Rose Garden and made a speech.
He acknowledged the congressional clamor for U.S. military
intervention in Syria and then he called the question. He said, yes, he
was open to the prospect of military intervention in Syria and if our
country wanted to do it, Congress should vote to do so. Congress should
take a vote and say that`s what we should do because that is Congress`
And you know what? The United States did not start a war in Syria.
Even after all those members of Congress were screaming that we ought to.
We did not get involved militarily in Syria because Congress not only
didn`t vote to do it, they never took it up.
They don`t want to actually put their money where their mouths are.
They just want to carp about it. When it came time in Syria, they did not
want to take a binding vote on what to do, they preferred to just yell
about it on TV. When President Obama called the question, it was over.
Under the Constitution, Congress is actually required to get out of
the armchair and make binding decisions on military matters. We are seeing
the worst of the armchair quarterbacking right now on Bowe Bergdahl, and on
the Benghazi arrest and on Iraq. But if you want to see this debate get
much better really fast, if you want to see our foreign policy politics in
Washington get much less petty, not TV talking points, not self-
contradictory chicken price partisan diversions, right?
If you want to see this become real, real decision-making with real
accountability, then as was the case with Syria, and as is required by the
United States Constitution, the Congress should be exercising its
responsibility and its prerogative to make a binding decision on the use of
American military force. Real decision-making. Scary, right?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Whatever residual force was discussed
to be left in Iraq would have been, had the Iraqis accepted the terms by
which we leave troops anywhere in the world, which they refused to do. But
that force would have been noncombat. It would have been not involved in
combat. So, it was not a combatant force that was being contemplated. It
was train, advise, assist, so forth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday discussing the
decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.
Joining us now is Carne Ross. He`s a former British diplomat who
resigned over the war in Iraq. He`s now head of a non-profit, nonpartisan
diplomatic advisory group that`s called Independent Diplomat.
Mr. Ross, thank you for being here. It`s nice to see you.
CARNE ROSS, FORMER BRITISH DIPLOMAT: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Having been there in the middle of the initial international
debate over the war in Iraq in 2002 and 2003, how do you feel like the
international debate is going right now? In terms of the quality of the
debate about the very critical security situation in Iraq?
ROSS: It`s very confused. In a way, what we`re seeing is the epic
playing out of the final neocon project in Iraq because, in a sense, what
is happening is post-invasion order established by the U.S. after the
invasion is collapsing. President Maliki was appointed essentially by the
U.S. He was chosen by the then-U.S. ambassador who was, himself, a Bush
And it`s a function of his government the way that he`s conducted
himself that we face this disastrous situation we see in Iraq today, but
the debate I feel is very confused. Not at least because there is a
confusing situation. It`s not at all clear what is the right thing to do.
MADDOW: In terms of the American side of this debate, obviously this
is not an American issue. This is an Iraqi issue and an international
issue. But we have got very difficult and hard to traverse politics around
talking about Iraq at all in this country because of the disaster of the
failed and false case for the war that was public in 2002. You went
through a similar situation in Britain.
As the United States considers its option, I think there is a real as
to what the U.S. Congress has to decide. President Obama has announced
that 275 U.S. troops are going to Iraq under the war powers resolution on
his say-so alone, equipped for combat but basically there to preserve and
protect American life and property. Is that an important strategic
ROSS: I don`t think it`s that significant as far as I understand it.
The troops are being sent there to secure the U.S. embassy with militants
quite near Baghdad. It makes sense. The U.S. embassy is a very large
installation. I imagine it needs a lot of security people to protect it.
Obama has been very clear that he doesn`t want U.S. boots on the
ground in any kind of sort of interventionist sense. It still seems to be
an open question whether there might be some kind of airstrikes or drone
attacks, whether he would need to seek congressional approval for that. I
don`t know. Elsewhere in the world, of course, he has not.
MADDOW: In terms of the – if there is going to be a sort of
unilateral or multilateral, the alliances are awkward. The Shiite
government in Iraq led by Prime Minister Maliki is supported very strongly
by the government in Iran, also to a lesser extent by the government, the
Shiite-led government in Syria which has I own distractions and, of course,
by the U.S. which sees the Maliki government not only essentially as its
progeny but also its project.
Is the United States capable of working constructively with allies who
are that complicated for us? On any sort of action?
ROSS: It`s extraordinarily difficult. I mean, obviously, the
preferable outcome here is some kind of political solution both to the
government crisis in Iraq and also to the regional crisis because this is a
war. These battles transcend borders. They involve Syria, to an extend
Lebanon and elsewhere. This is a regional war is spreading.
Clearly, it needs to be dealt with politically. That would require
the U.S. to engage with Iran. There`s no way that Maliki can be asked to
step down as people now seem to be talking about here in the U.S. without
the Iranians consenting to that.
He`s a tough guy. He would, himself, object. He is to an extent a
creature of Iranian power and also to an extent he`s his own man. But
getting some kind of new inclusive political settlement that would include
Sunnis and Kurds, as well as the dominant Shia ethnicity would require the
Iranians to be engaged. Yes.
MADDOW: Obviously, they know that their interests are primary in the
region in terms of their direct connection to this conflict. If there did
need to be significant discussions about the fate of the Kurds, about
potential partition in Iraq about not just political settlement but perhaps
total political reorientation in the region along sectarian lines or
otherwise. Who else besides Iran has credibility and diplomatic capability
to be constructively involved there?
ROSS: Well, the truth is only the U.S. can pull this together. At
the ends of the day, it remains the global power. I think only the U.S.
would have the inclination or the ability to force some kind of regional
solution. It would have to include the Saudis, the Gulf countries, which
of course have been sympathetic to the Sunni side, had been supporting
To some extent, there`s been Gulf support for ISIS, itself. They
would have to be included in the regional discussion. That would be the
ideal. One hope I have, which is a fairy faint hope, I must say, is that
this crisis will push for a much, much more invigorated political effort to
solve both the crisis in Iraq and the related crisis in Syria which is –
which as long as that war continues, we will continue to have ISIS, we will
continue to have rampant extremist groups getting weapons, large resources.
This problem will not be solved.
MADDOW: Your point about America having the capability to do
something that maybe nobody else can have, can do, but it not being
military capability but rather diplomatic weight I think has been lost thus
far and I think is the next most important thing for people to start
debating, in this country.
So, thank you for explaining it. Carne Ross, executive director of
Independent Diplomat, thanks for being here.
ROSS: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The state of Oklahoma`s terribly botched execution back in
late April, that had a sort of surprising effect of starting basically a
moratorium on killing prisoners in this country. Well, that moratorium
appears to be set to end tonight, but there`s a lot of drama and turns out
a lot of suspense about whether or not that`s going to happen. And that
story is coming up. Stay with us.
MADDOW: At the end of April, the state of Oklahoma made international
news when they tried to stop doing an execution that they had already
started. Since then, nine straight planned executions have been put off or
canceled in this country. There hasn`t been one since what happened in
Oklahoma. What happened in Oklahoma went so wrong it basically shocked the
whole country out of doing any more executions.
This is how Oklahoma officials explained that night what they thought
went wrong, but we now know that this isn`t actually what happened at all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIR. ROBERT PATTON: Ladies and gentlemen, I`m going to make a short
statement. I will not be taking any questions. So please don`t scream and
holler at me. But I`m going to let you know what I know at this point in
As those that were inside witnessed, it was determined that he was
sedated approximately seven minutes into the execution. At that time, we
began pushing the second and third drugs in the protocol. There was some
concern at that time that the drugs were not having the effect, so the
doctor observed the line and determined that the line had blown. After
conferring with the warden, and unknown how much drugs had went into him,
it was my decision at that time to stop the execution.
At approximately 7:06 hours, inmate suffered what appears to be a
massive heart attack and passed away. That is it. That is all my
statement. That`s all the information I have at this time. Thank you.
REPORTER: Sir, can I ask you one quick question? Oklahoma City
(INAUDIBLE). We`d like to ask you at what point what drugs were being
administered that this started happening?
PATTON: As I said, we pushed all three drugs and determined it was
not having the side effect and we checked and the line had blown.
REPORTER: Why did you decide to lower the curtain?
PATTON: So that a physician could check the vein. That`s where the
REPORTER: When did he pass away?
PATTON: 7:06 hours.
REPORTER: What does line is blown mean?
PATTON: The vein blew.
REPORTER: The vein blew.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The vein. What does that mean?
PATTON: It means the vein exploded.
REPORTER: His vein exploded?
REPORTER: Where was he when he died?
PATTON: He was inside the execution chamber.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No, his vein didn`t explode, even if that were a thing which
it`s not. It is apparently not what happened in that case in Oklahoma.
An independent autopsy of the prisoner who Oklahoma tried to kill that
night and then tried to stop killing and then ended up killing anyway, that
independent autopsy reportedly found that it was just medical error that
screwed up that execution. The execution team failed to properly place the
The autopsy found skin punctures that suggested that the execution
team had repeatedly tried to stick the I.V. into other places including the
prisoner`s arms. His veins reportedly had excellent integrity. They
should not have had a tough time placing the I.V. into this man, but for
whatever reason, the execution team couldn`t figure out how to do it and
that`s how they ended up trying to put the I.V. into his groin, which is
hard to do and a very painful thing.
They failed to do it properly and that`s why the execution was botched
and who knows how that man ultimately ended up dying after they pulled the
After that experience six weeks ago, you can see how if you were
facing execution, you might want to know who was on the team designed to
stick the I.V. into you, to start the process of killing you with the
deliberately misused pharmaceuticals. But that information, the members of
the team, that`s being kept secret in the state of Georgia tonight as they
prepare to carry out the first execution in the country after that Oklahoma
experience in April. That execution was scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m.
tonight, but it`s past 7:00 now and last we knew, it was still pending at
the supreme court.
Also tonight in Missouri, after a series of last-minute stays of
execution in that state, it also looks like Missouri is going to go ahead
with its next execution tonight. It`s planned for 12:01 a.m. local time.
An appeal in that case is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court as well.
And then, a third in 24 hours. Another execution is scheduled for
tomorrow in Florida. There`s been nine straight stays or delays of
executions since what happened in Oklahoma. But now, we`re scheduled for 3
in 24 hours and this issue of secrecy around the medical personnel involved
and also the drugs used in these look like but aren`t quite medical
procedures, that secrecy is at the center of the fight by the states to
start killing prisoners again and by these prisoners` lawyers to try to
stop the states from going ahead.
Having doctors participate in executions is a controversial thing,
medical professionals broadly. I mean, obviously do no harm is the literal
Hippocratic Oath. But to be more specific, the country`s largest
association of doctors, the American Medical Association, they`ve got on
explicit position on capital punishment. Their position is that no member
of the medical profession should participate in any way in authorizing an
The American Board of Anesthesiology concurs, they say that
anesthesiologists should not participate in execution by lethal injection.
They`re particularly important since anesthesia is one of the drugs they
try to kill people with in lethal injection.
But the American Board of Anesthesiologists has gone even a step
further. They have a policy that would essentially revoke the board
certification of any anesthesiologists who are found to be involved in
executions. So, from that professional association`s perspective, you
know, you want to kill people, we can`t necessarily stop you, but then we
can say that you can no longer be an anesthesiologist anymore. Not one who
can practice anywhere in the U.S., at least.
Last month, “The Journal of the American Medical Association”
published an editorial basically calling for the rest of the medical
community to follow the lead of the anesthesiologists. Quote, “Unless the
profession is willing to stand up in defense of its own ethical principles,
it will lose the authority to call itself a profession.”
Well, tonight, the lawyers for the man scheduled to be killed in
Georgia arranged for an anesthesiologist to be there, but just as a
witness. Maybe to help explain what he sees if the execution goes forward
even though he will not be participating in the execution, himself.
As America struggles to figure out if this pseudo-medical approach to
killing people is still going to be considered both constitutional and
logistically feasible, could the medical profession, itself, play
potentially a crucial role in deciding whether or not we can go through
with this at all as a country, anywhere in the country?
Joining us now is one of the authors of that editorial in the “Journal
of the American Medical Association”. He`s Glenn Cohen, Harvard Law School
professor specializing in medical ethics.
Professor Cohen, thanks very much for being with us. I appreciate it.
GLENN COHEN, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Thank you for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: I want to read and ask you to elaborate or explain for our
Board certification is not required to practice medicine but in many
fields, it`s a de facto requirement for physicians to practice within their
specialties. The American Board has taken a courageous step that is
adopting a policy, that its diplomates who participate in lethal injection
for capital punishment are subject to having their board certification
revoked. The boards of other specialties should consider taking the same
Why did you recommend that, and what do you think the practical effect
of such a step would be?
COHEN: So we think it`s totally incompatible of the role of the
doctor. A doctor is about healing. A doctor is about soothing pain. A
doctor is not meant to be conscripted by the state to make what is the
involuntary killing of another person look as though it`s a medical
procedure like getting your teeth pulled or putting your dog to sleep.
It`s kabuki theater, Rachel, and we think doctors should stand up.
Whatever your position is on capital punishment, it`s wrong to make
this procedure look like medicine. That`s not what it is.
If doctors were to begin to refuse this, many states actually require
that a doctor be present and participate. We`re of the view that if the
board certification started withdrawing board certification from those who
participated, this would be a serious blow to those who wanted to go
through this procedure.
Now, I should note there are other ways of killing people. There are
plenty ways of killing people that are lawful under the Eighth Amendment
that don`t look like medicine. All we`re saying is not let`s pretend this
medicine as usually practiced. This is execution. This is something
MADDOW: Do you think that states that currently have lethal injection
as their protocol would continue – if this happened – would continue
going ahead with this as their protocol and just use corrections officials
or anybody else with no medical training whatsoever to go ahead with this?
How do you think that would affect both the ethics of what they`re doing
and also the political practicality of that form of policy?
COHEN: So, I think given what happened in Oklahoma, botching which
was incorrectly performed, if doctors could no longer participate – and I
should be clear that I believe the Corrections Physicians Association has
also come out against capital punishment and against participating in
I think that this particular protocol would go by the wayside and be
forced to kind of wrestle with what we`re actually doing. Hanging, firing
squads, there are plenty of ways of killing people painlessly that don`t
require doctors to be involved, but the horror of that is what I think we
have to internalize if these particular protocols went away.
MADDOW: Thanks very much, Dr. Glenn Cohen, Harvard Law School
professor specializing in medical ethics. I appreciate you being with us
here to help us understand this. Thank you.
COHEN: My pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Lots more to come. Stay with us.
MADDOW: One of the things that happens when you run for higher office
is people start digging through your closet looking for skeleton, something
you said before on the record but ignored can all of a sudden be not just
ignored by national news if, all of a sudden, you are say running for the
United States Senate. A major party candidate for the United States Senate
just had a skeleton come out of his closet and scare the bejesus out of his
otherwise promising campaign and that story is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOM TILLIS (R-NC), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: What we have to do is find
a way to rise and conquer the people of assistance. We have to show
respect for that woman who has cerebral palsy and had no choice in her
condition that needs help and that we should help. And we need to get
those folks to look down at these people who choose to get into a condition
that makes them dependent on the government and say at some point, are you
on your own. We may end up taking care of those babies, but we`re in the
going to take care of you. We got to start having that serious discussion.
It won`t appetizing next year, wrong time because it will be politically
charged. One of the reasons I may never run for another elected office,
some of these things may get railroaded out of town.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It turns out, he didn`t get railroaded out of town.
That was the man who is the Republican Senate in North Carolina
against incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagan.
His name is Thom Tillis. He`s currently the speaker of the house in
the North Carolina legislature. And that video of him dividing and
conquering the sick and poor, turning the sick against the poor,
specifically – we`re not taking care of you.
That video is from 2011 and it just quietly simmered on the Internet
for three years until Thom Tillis got that Senate nomination, and suddenly,
it became important enough that people started digging through all his old
Now, there`s more. This new tape is from “The Carolina Business
Review.” It was an interview that Mr. Tillis taped in 2012. It has just
been dug up and reported by the muckrakers at “Talking Points Memo”. And,
of course, they dug it up because Mr. Tillis is running for Senate.
And if you are running for the United States Senate seat, it`s now a
matter of national curiosity if it turns out you`ve ever said something
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you see this shift that Hispanics used to be
in the Republican Party and now, they`re clearly on the other side of the
aisle, when you see all of these things that have transpired, what do you
think about – what is going on in the Republican Party?
TILLIS: Well, I think it has more-to-in the demographics of this
country and recognizing that and having a platform that resonates. The
traditional population in North Carolina and the United States is more or
less stable. It`s not growing. The African-American population is roughly
growing, but the Hispanic population and the other immigrant populations
are growing at insignificant numbers. We got to resonate with those future
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: “So, the traditional population is more or less stable.
That`s different from the African-American or the Hispanic population, and
the other immigrant populations.
So, what`s the traditional population in this configuration?
`Talking Points Memo” reached to the Tillis campaign for an
explanation. The campaign assured “TPM” that when he said traditional
populations, he definitely didn`t mean white people. He told “TPM”, quote,
“Traditional North Carolinians refer to North Carolinians who have been
here a few generations. A lot of the population growth is people who move
from other states to live, work and settle down in North Carolina.”
Whether or not Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis sees black and
Hispanic populations as traditional North Carolina residents, they can vote
– at least, technically, they can still vote. As speaker of the North
Carolina House, Thom Tillis ushered in new legislation that will make North
Carolina one of the 15 states where there will be new rules in place for
this year`s 2014 regulations that will make it more difficult to vote.
Under Thom Tillis` leadership as House speaker, North Carolina has passed
what have been called the most draconian rollbacks of voting rights in the
The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law say the voting bill
that Thom Tillis shepherded through the legislature was the single worst
bill we have seen introduced since voter suppression bills started sweeping
the country. Provided non-traditional voters are able to cast their
ballots in North Carolina Senate race this fall, Thom Tillis voting back
voter rights will probably always be an issue for the Republicans in this
North Carolina Senate race this fall.
But now that Thom Tillis has also been dug up on tape explaining who
exactly he considers to be a traditional North Carolina voter, the Thom
Tillis/Kate Hagan race just got tilted in a pretty significant way. I
mean, this is sort of like George Allen and his “macaca” comments in the
Virginia Senate race. This is like – I mean, this is like a guy saying he
wants to divide the poor from the sick, so we can conquer both of them,
since he is neither.
This is not way you win a United States Senate seat in the state of
North Carolina. Not anymore, at least. Watch this race over the next few
days and weeks. Republicans thought they picked the perfect guy here when
they picked Thom Tillis, but these two clips that you just saw, these have
all just surfaced sense they picked him for this nomination. What else is
out there that still hasn`t come out?
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD”. Thanks for being with us tonight.
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