The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/11/15
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I would trust your algorithm any day.
Other people, I don`t know, Chris.
HAYES: That is the sweetest thing anybody has ever said to me.
MADDOW: It sounded kind of robotic when I said it, but I did mean it
the sweet way.
HAYES: I would trust your algorithm.
MADDOW: Yes, I love your algorithm. Thank you, my friend.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Wednesday.
Good news for anybody who is rooting against ISIS. Look at this
footage today. Look at this.
This was shot today in a suburb of Tikrit, in northern Iraq. ISIS,
the ISIS terrorists, has been in control of Tikrit and its surrounding
suburbs for months now. What this footage from today shows is the
celebration of the people of this one suburb, the suburb called Al Alam,
people celebrating and dancing and cheering because the Iraqi government
troops and the militias they`re fighting with defeated ISIS there, and
kicked ISIS out of this town.
At one point in this footage, you see a guy, he comes up to the
troops and he`s holding a pot of coffee. This guy here, he`s holding a pot
of coffee and you can hear what he`s saying here, if we up the sound a
little bit. He says, and we translated the Arabic, what he said to them is
“We welcome you. You are welcome, welcome. May God protect and bless
you.” He gives the coffee to these Iraqi soldiers.
The little girl you just saw, she gets asked, again, in Arabic, “How
do you feel right now?” The little girl answers back, “I am very happy,
because you came and rid us of the militants.”
And then the soldiers here dancing, and cheering, and jumping up and
down, also this group of Iraqi women who you can see dancing and cheering
and chanting. What they are saying in Arabic is “Sunnis and Shiites are
brothers. We will never sell this homeland.”
Sunnis and Shiites are brothers. And then, of course, a lot of this
footage, because they`re happy, they shoot their guns in the air. Yay,
Sunnis and Shiites are brothers. This is a reason to be cheerful all
over the world, right? I mean, in part, because Sunni and Shiite able to
get along is the kind of the big question in terms of whether or not Iraq
is going to survive as a nation.
But it is also 100 percent totally key to what it means to fight
against this barbaric terrorist group ISIS. I mean, if you are rooting
against ISIS, if you are concerned about the fight against ISIS, the fight
against ISIS is not an esoteric thing right now. It is an active fight
under way with real bullets and real guns, house-to-house, town-to-town,
it`s underway right now in parts of western Iraq among other places.
Western Iraq is a region in Iraq that is Sunni. ISIS is also Sunni,
very Sunni terrorist group. And these troops and these militias that have
come in to fight ISIS in western Iraq, for the most part, they are not
Sunni. Most of them – most of them at least are Shiites from the Iraqi
military. And these mostly Shiite militias that the Iraqi military is
So, these Shiite groups are coming into this Sunni area and they are
having some success fighting against the Sunni terrorist groups ISIS.
And if that is making the people on the ground this these towns sing,
Shiites and Sunnis are brothers, if that is making the Sunni towns people
liberated from these terrible Sunni terrorists, if it`s making them give
coffee to the Shiite soldiers who rescued them, to thank them, that
progress across the sectarian divide in a place where that sectarian divide
can be everything in the whole world, that progress is both fascinating to
see, and it is very heartening.
Here is the thing, as amazing as that footage is today, and it got
some wide play today, here`s the thing – here`s the thing that is tricky
specifically for Americans who are, you know, understandably psyched about
seeing ISIS get their butts kicked in this one part of Iraq, what`s tricky
about that even as it is heartening, is that, yes, it`s the Iraqi military
kicking ISIS` butt in this part of Iraq, but honestly, the only reason
they`re able to do that is because they`re getting a lot of help from a
country called Iran.
The Shiite militias that are fighting alongside the Iraqi government
and beating ISIS, in some cases in western Iraq, those Shiite militias are
being coordinated by Iran. They`re literally being led on the ground by
Iranian revolutionary guard generals who are there in person on the front
lines in Iraq in the fight against ISIS.
And that is awkward for Americans, because, right – I mean, there`s
us and Iran. Basically we`re the Great Satan to them. They`re the Great
Satan to us.
And so, you have to be able to absorb a little more nuance than that
because Iran hates ISIS. We hate ISIS. Iran is fighting ISIS. We are
And ISIS in places like this little town, this little Al-Alam, where
we got this footage from today, ISIS is paying a price for that, for having
powerful enemies of all different stripes.
But our American politicians here at home are also paying a tiny
little price for it themselves, because apparently, it is hurting their
brains to try to understand this tiny little single nuance. In Washington
today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held high-level hearings with
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and secretary of defense and secretary of state,
this high level hearings all about fighting ISIS. And that fight against
ISIS, of course, is already under way, right?
The U.S. has led more than 2,700 air strikes against ISIS targets
both in Iraq and in Syria. But Congress has never weighed in on it.
President Obama has just ordered those strikes, ordered this ongoing month-
long offensive on his own authority. And even though Congress likes to
talk about ISIS and likes to talk about how tough they want to be about
fighting ISIS, Congress has actually not been tough enough to formally
debate that action, let alone go on the record about it and take a vote
about it, to decide whether or not it should happen, or if that military
effort should happen in some other way.
They like to talk about ISIS as a threat and how tough they feel
about it. They have not yet done anything, anything practical about making
any sort of decision about how to fight ISIS.
So, today, this hearing in the Senate was supposed to lay the
groundwork for Congress starting to have that discussion. Congress
eventually maybe even taking a vote on the way President Obama has already
started this war against ISIS. But Iran is also fighting a war against is.
We are prosecuting a war against ISIS with or without Congress. Iran
is fighting a war against ISIS. We are fighting on the same side as Iran
against the same enemy.
And, again, I think that is a nuance too far for some of the great
minds in the world`s greatest deliberative body.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Iran`s goal is to become the regional
ASHTON CARTER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Probably true, yes.
RUBIO: And certainly, they`re never excited to see additional
American troops present anywhere in the Middle East. That`s a fair
CARTER: I can`t tell what excites them. I can`t imagine that our
bombing ISIL is unwelcome to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: OK. So, this is Ash Carter, the new defense secretary,
saying, I don`t know what excites them, senator, but whatever else you
think about Iran, honestly, Iran is psyched that we are bombing ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARTER: I can`t imagine that our bombing ISIL is unwelcome to them.
But I don`t know that, because I don`t know what they`re thinking.
RUBIO: Well, bombing ISIL is unwelcome to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No, backwards. Bombing ISIS is very welcome to them.
Again, there`s not that many pieces on this chessboard. Iran is
fighting ISIS. We are fighting ISIS. Us bombing ISIS, Iran likes that.
That is welcome.
Marco Rubio thinks it`s the opposite. Marco Rubio office told us
today that he misheard what the defense secretary said today at that
hearing. But he must have really misheard it, because Marco Rubio kept
repeating it today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBIO: Because as we heard from secretary carter, they are not fans
of us bombing ISIS because it involves our presence in the region.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No! They are fans of us bombing is, Senator.
He said the opposite. Iran is fighting ISIS. They don`t like us.
But they do like us bombing ISIS.
It is not that complicated. But apparently it is just too complex to
grasp in Washington right now. Again, Senator Rubio`s office told us he
misheard the Defense Secretary Ash Carter on this today. That`s why he
kept talking about it backwards.
But it was not just today. Senator Rubio has made this mistake
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBIO: I understand why the president has not put in place a
military strategy to defeat is. If we wanted to defeat them militarily, we
can do it. Here`s why he hasn`t done it, because he doesn`t want to upset
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It would not upset Iran, for the United States to militarily
defeat ISIS. Iran is fighting ISIS, too.
We may disagree with Iran on lots of stuff. But when it comes to
ISIS, when it comes to this one thing, us and Iran, we feel the same.
But it is – Marco Rubio is a part of this. But he is part of a deep
tide of “I don`t get it right now” on foreign policy on one side of
And I say it`s only happening on one side of American politics,
because there is this tide now, of not just Democratic astonishment, but
astonishment from the mainstream media, and from mainstream Republicans
that is cresting right now against what Senator Rubio, and most other
Republican senators just fundamentally don`t understand about this really
big issue of Iran.
I mean, “The New York Daily News” front page this week got so much
attention, right, when they called these Republican senators who signed the
letter to Iran this week, called them traitors. That is the thing that has
obviously got the most attention in terms of the media response to what
Republican senators have done about Iran this week and sending them this
But even “The New York Daily News” “Traitors” front page this week,
the nation`s editorial pages on this subject are just as off the charts.
For example, here`s “The Concord Monitor” from New Hampshire. The
Republican senators who wrote the letter to Iran this week, quote, “are
playing a political game, dangerously out of bounds. If the open letter to
Iran represents the path forward for U.S. foreign policy, chaos is the
“It is simply stunning,” they write, “that New Hampshire Senator
Kelly Ayotte and 46 other senators cannot see that. Unlike the thousands
of other times Senator Ayotte has signed her name, she will remember this
signature. How can she forget? It`s not every day that a United States
senator attempts to undermine foreign policy and weaken the nation in one
cursive swoop.” That`s Kelly Ayotte`s hometown paper.
Here`s “The Courier Journal” in Mitch McConnell`s home state
Kentucky. They lead their editorial bluntly, “Has Congress gone crazy?
That`s what many U.S. observers and much of the world must be wondering
after a group of rogue Republican senators opted to communicate directly by
letter with the leaders of the Islamic Republican of Iran. Among the 47
senators signing the letter, Kentucky`s Mitch McConnell, the new Senate
majority leader, and Rand Paul, a first term senator with presidential
This is the paper calling out the two home state senators. “Mr.
McConnell took over the leadership post this year to end dysfunction and
return the Senate to a working body. That effort appears off to a poor
start. And if Mr. Paul`s signature represents his grasp of foreign policy,
Republicans should be justifiably leery about him as a presidential
nominee. Whatever the outcome of negotiations with Iran, the 47 senators
have done immeasurable harm to their image and U.S. credibility in world
affairs. It is regrettable that Kentucky`s two senators were among them.”
“Louisville Courier Journal.”
Here`s a headline in “The Salt Lake City Tribune” in Utah. Look at
the headline, “Utah senators increase risk of war. Senators Lee and Hatch
join a foolish campaign.” Quote, “It will be up to history to judge
whether the latest partisan stunt joined by Utah Senators Mike Lee and
Orrin Hatch amounts to an act of end times warmongering or merely another
bit of cringe-worthy buffoonery on the global stage.”
Here`s “The Detroit Free Press”, “The Republicans who dispatched this
letter have disgraced themselves and undermined the credibility of the
nation whose Constitution they took an oath to uphold. Among the
signatories of this letter are Senators Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted
Cruz, all three potential 2016 presidential contenders. At minimum,
signing such a letter should disqualify each man from holding the high
office they seek to degrade.”
Here`s “The Pittsburgh Post Gazette”. “The letter sent Monday by 47
Republican letters to Iran was damaging to America`s role in the world.
The senators who signed the letter should be ashamed.”
Senator John McCain, who was one of the senators who signed this
letter, now seems to be expressing some regret about having signed it. He
told Greta Van Susteren on FOX News last night, quote, “Maybe that wasn`t
the best way to do that.”
Senator Bob Corker, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, he
told reporters that he`s surprised so many Republican senators signed on to
this thing. He did not.
Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who also did not sign on to it, he
said he did not think the letter would be helpful.
Senator Susan Collins who also did not sign on to this letter, she
told reporters now, quote, “It did not seem to me to be appropriate for us
to be writing the ayatollah at this critical time during the negotiations.”
After getting just absolutely shellacked, just absolutely beat up,
coast to coast, within their own party, in the press, not just by Democrats
and the White House, but by everybody, after getting absolutely shellacked
for what they did with this amazing letter to Iran, in “The Daily Beast”
today, Republicans in the Senate tried to do sort of a take-back. They
tried to come up with an alternate explanation for what they just did, how
they might have made this decision that everybody thinks was such a
Their new explanation for what they did with this letter and why is
that they didn`t really mean it, it was a joke. They didn`t mean it
seriously at all.
Look at this from “The Daily Beast” today, “Republican aides were
taken aback by the response to what they thought was a lighthearted attempt
to signal to Iran and the public that Congress should have a role in the
ongoing nuclear discussions. Two Republican aides described the letter as
a cheeky reminder.”
One top Republican Senate aide says, quote, “The administration has
no sense of humor.”
Why don`t anybody realize we were totally kidding when we wrote this
letter to Iran saying don`t listen to our country about your nuclear
program, don`t listen to our president? Obviously, we thought that was
hilarious. Why is nobody laughing?
At one level, this is a 2016 story, right? I mean, here`s Hillary
Clinton tweeting today that the Republican letter to Iranian clerics
undermines American leadership. She says, “No one considering running for
commander-in-chief should be signing on.”
Marco Rubio`s pitch to Republican donors about why he should be seen
as a serious presidential contender this year for the Republican Party is
that all these Republican governors in the race, they don`t have foreign
policy expertise. Not like he, Marco Rubio. Not like he does, because of
his time in the Senate misunderstanding what Iran is.
If this is what passes for high level Republican expertise on foreign
policy, we`re about to have another really stupid presidential election
cycle when it comes to foreign policy. I mean, you thought it was bad with
Mitt Romney, double Guantanamo, right?
I mean, right now, among the 2016 Republican presidential contenders,
the who guys who are trying to position themselves as the smart ones on
foreign policy, are Marco Rubio, and also, yes, Rick Perry. Whoo!
So one level of this Iran debacle this week, and the continuing
problem, honestly, it just – of Republican foreign policy illiteracy, it
is at one level a 2016 story. And a more pressing level, though, at a more
real level, that affects all of us, 2016 is a long ways away, right? And
we have a lot to fight about when it comes to 2016.
But right now, we really do have an active war going on against ISIS
in Iraq and Syria. And it involves thousands of U.S. troops. And a very
complicated set of, you know, not alliances, and very fragile coalitions
where everybody`s very testy.
That is happening right now already. That is under way. That is a
military campaign of considerable scale, and it has been under way for
months. And our Congress is technically trying to start, maybe, to debate
that for the first time right now.
The first day of formal debate on this today was humiliating for its
ignorance. But the consensus in the Beltway media and among people who
watch this stuff in Congress, when it comes right down to it, there will
ultimately be no vote in Congress on the war against ISIS, no vote to
authorize the military force that our men and women in uniform are already
exerting in Iraq and Syria on behalf of a country and a government that
cannot get it together to figure out what they are even doing, let alone
make a decision about it. And that is not a 2016 problem, that is a here
and now problem that needs to be fixed.
MADDOW: Developing news that we`re keeping an eye on tonight out of
Florida. Search and rescue operations have just been put on hold tonight
for the four Army National Guard aviators and seven United States Marines
who are aboard a Black Hawk helicopter that crashed last night in Florida
It`s believed to have gone down into water near the Santa Rosa
Peninsula there, off the Florida coast, east of Pensacola. It happened
last night around 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
The downing of the chopper is believed to have happened shortly after
it lost contact with Eglin Air Force Base nearby. There was very dense fog
in the area when those 11 servicemen aboard that Black Hawk took off for a
nighttime training exercise. It was already very foggy.
At this point, it is thus far unclear exactly what brought that
chopper down. Sadly, some human remains, and some pieces of wreckage from
the chopper did wash ashore today. Pentagon officials said tonight that
all 11 service members who are onboard the Black Hawk are presumed to be
dead, even as search and rescue operations continued today.
Vice President Joe Biden addressed this crash earlier at an event in
Washington. He offered his condolences to the families of those who were
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The tragedy like
this cannot go unspoken to. We – I think we sorely underestimate the
constant commitment that only 1 percent of all the population makes on
behalf of our security. Ninety-nine percent of the rest of us owe them a
debt of gratitude and thanks, and our hearts go out to the families of the
servicemen and women involved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Seven marines aboard that Black Hawk were reportedly from a
special operations unit from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The four Army
aviators were from the Air Assault Helicopter Battalion based in Hammond,
Louisiana. Search and rescue efforts, as I mentioned at the top here, have
been paused operationally, but they are scheduled to continue in the
morning as weather permits.
We`ll have more details on this as they become available tonight.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: I sort of hate having to say this but once again, we have
late breaking news about the agency that is charged with protecting the
president of the United States, the Secret Service. And the reason I hate
having to say this we`ve got late breaking news on the Secret Service, is
because lately when there has been late breaking news about the Secret
Service, it has not been for good reasons, and tonight is no exception.
“The Washington Post” broke this story tonight. This is almost
unbelievable. Quote, “The administration is investigating allegations that
two senior Secret Service agents, including a top member of President
Obama`s protective detail, drove a government car into White House security
barricades after drinking at a late night party last week.”
Carol Leonnig at “The Washington Post” cites two unnamed sources in
her report tonight, one current and one former government official. A
Secret Service spokesman has now confirmed that an investigation is, in
fact, under way.
These are high ranking officials within the Secret Service. One man
is a senior supervisor in the D.C. field office. The other is second in
command within President Obama`s personal detail.
I`m just going to repeat that for a second. One of the two senior
Secret Service officials under investigation for allegedly crashing a
government car into a barricade at the White House after a night of
drinking at a late night party last week, one of them is second in command
on President Obama`s personal protective detail. Ga!
This reportedly happened a week ago tonight. Late last Wednesday
night, March 4th. The two men were reportedly at a retirement party at a
D.C. bar, for the Secret Service spokesman who was leaving the agency,
retiring. Later that night, sometime after leaving that party, Carol
Leonnig reports that the two men allegedly tried to drive their Secret
Service car with the overhead flashing lights on, onto the White House
According to witnesses, the men turned on their overhead flashing
lights on the car, they were showing their badges to be allowed unto a
specific part of the White House grounds when their vehicle drove straight
through security tape and then hit the barricades on the White House
According to Carol`s report tonight, quote, “Officers on duty who
witnessed the March 4th incident wanted to arrest the agents and conduct
sobriety tests, but the officers were ordered by a supervisor on duty that
night to let the agents go home.”
Again, that is reporting tonight from Carol Leonnig at “The
Washington Post.” NBC News has also now confirmed the story.
In September, it was Carol Leonnig who was also the first to report
on an incident in 2011, in which a gunman fired shots into the White House.
How the Secret Service bungled its response to that incident. It took the
Secret Service four days to realize that those shots had actually hit the
first family`s residence at the White House, and they only figured it out
then because a housekeeper showed the Secret Service the broken glass and a
chunk of concrete where the bullets had hit the building four days later.
The news surfaced around the same time that we learned that during a
trip to Atlanta last September, members of the president`s security detail
allowed a security contractor who was not cleared to be there to board an
elevator with the president. The man had a gun. And the Secret Service
had no idea who he was, and they let him onto an elevator with President
Later that month, Secret Service agents failed to stop an intruder,
who jumped the White House fence. The man had a knife on him. He made it
all the way across the White House lawn, and into the White House, and
through much of the first floor of the White House and all the way into the
East Room before an agent finally tackled him.
In the wake of all of this, the head of the Secret Service and a
number of top officials within the agency resigned. Now according to the
“Washington Post” tonight, the problems have apparently continued. Under
the new director of the agency, a responsibility for the investigation into
this latest alleged incident has apparently been given to the inspector
general`s office at the Homeland Security Department. They reportedly did
that rather than keep the investigation internal to the Secret Service,
because the Secret Service officials involved in this latest alleged
incident are so high ranking.
Again, the breaking news tonight is that the Secret Service confirms
that an investigation is under way into an alleged incident one week ago
tonight in which the number two official on President Obama`s personal
security detail and a senior supervisor at the D.C. field office for the
Secret Service allegedly crashed a Secret Service field into barricades on
the White House grounds after a night of drinking at a late night party in,
D.C. God save us all.
Joining us now is Carol Leonnig, the national reporter for “The
Carol, thank you very much for your time tonight.
CAROL LEONNIG, THE WASHINGTON POST: Sure. Glad to be here, Rachel.
MADDOW: I tried to summarize the details of that as I understand
them. Did I get any of that wrong? Did I leave anything important out?
LEONNIG: You got everything right. I have two small tweaks, which
are these are allegations that are under investigation right now. And we
don`t know exactly what happened. We know what sources have told us. And
it led to the Secret Service confirming that these allegations of two
agents being intoxicated or suspected of being intoxicated are indeed
something they`re looking into.
The other small tweak is, as far as we can tell from the sources who
have reached out to us about this, the car crash was relatively minor in
the big scheme of things. They essentially ran into temporary barricades.
We don`t know if there`s damage to the car. What we are being told
essentially is, these guys appeared intoxicated, were behaving erratically,
and again, sources are saying that they were driving essentially through a
secure zone that had been cordoned off because of a suspicious package that
was under investigation.
And that was very worrisome to the Secret Service officers, and the
metropolitan police department officers on the scene, because you don`t
cross an area with a suspicious package in it, and these individuals were
acting as though they were a big deal. And they could go through whatever
they wanted to go through.
MADDOW: Carol, do we know from – in terms of the specific
circumstance, do we know if the suspicious package is why they had come
back to the White House? I mean, if they had been out drinking at a late
night party, allegedly, there`s a question about why they ended up back at
the White House grounds at all. Was it because of that suspicious package
call, do we know?
LEONNIG: It does not appear that their return to the White House had
anything to do with the suspicious package. It appears that their reason
was essentially they were in a downtown bar for this retirement party. The
other senior official who is very, very well-respected and liked at the
Secret Service, and he – these individuals, rather, also very senior
people, were returning to retrieve their government car.
As you may know, or as some of our viewers, your viewers may know,
Secret Service agents, particularly high ranking ones, have government cars
that they drive to and from work. So this may have been the means to get
MADDOW: I got it.
One last question for you, Carol. You reported – and this I thought
was a particularly shocking thing in your report today other than the
overall allegations – that even though officers on the scene wanted to
arrest these two agents, essentially give them sobriety tests, a supervisor
said no, let them go home. In “The Washington Post” tonight, you published
the names of the two men who were allegedly in the vehicle in this
Do you also know who the supervisor was?
LEONNIG: I think I`d rather not answer that at this moment, Rachel,
if it`s OK with you. I mean, we`re working on our reporting as we go. We
published those individuals` names because we were very, very sure that
those were the people under investigation.
And as you know, from reading our account and others, the Secret
Service is confirming that the two individuals under investigation have
been reassigned temporarily. But I think we`ll just say, stay tuned on the
MADDOW: I hear you.
Carol Leonnig, national reporter for “The Washington Post” and a
scoop machine on this subject recently – Carol, thank you very much for
helping us understand it. I appreciate it.
LEONNIG: You bet. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We got lots still ahead tonight, including a
best new thing in the world, that is pure joy on toast and that will not
make me throw my pencil like I just did. I broke it.
We`ll be back.
MADDOW: If the Hillary Clinton e-mail story is starting to annoy
you, if it`s starting to seem like a lot of speculative poking at something
where people are trying to find political implications way before they
understand the facts from which those political implications might
reasonably derive, you`re not alone feeling that way.
But there is at least one part of this story that is legitimately
important, and already very, very well understood. We`ve already got the
facts on it. It`s probably the most important thing about this whole
scrum, and that story is next.
MADDOW: Trey Gowdy is the chair of the House Select Committee on
Benghazi. Ever since it was revealed that former Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton used only a private e-mail account on a private server when
she was secretary of state, Congressman Gowdy has insisted that his
committee should have access to more of her correspondence from that time.
Earlier today, I was on my colleague Andrea Mitchell`s program here
on MSNBC, and I said this about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Republican chair of that committee, Trey Gowdy, saying
on our network this morning, he wants the whole server, he wants to be the
one who goes it, to go through all of her personal e-mails and decide to
his satisfaction what counts as personal and what doesn`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Since I said that this morning, we`ve heard from Congressman
Gowdy`s office. His office clarified to us he does not personally want to
be the one who goes through Hillary Clinton`s e-mails. He instead wants to
set up a system by which that will happen. He wants a third party am some
kind to take custody of Hillary Clinton`s e-mail server from her House, and
he wants that third party to read through all of Hillary Clinton`s e-mails
and decide which of those e-mails are private and which are work-related.
So, again, to be clear – Trey Gowdy said he does not himself want to
rummage around in Hillary Clinton`s personal e-mails. What he is demanding
is that she hand over her e-mail server to someone else who will then
rummage around in her personal e-mails and handle the ones that are not
personal over to him. OK, then, I`m happy to clarify.
After Secretary Clinton gave her big press conference about her email
practices at the State Department yesterday, her office then put out a
nine-page statement about her e-mails, and her e-mailing as secretary of
And we did learn a couple of news things. For instance, when
Secretary Clinton handed over more than 30,000 e-mails to the State
Department, here`s a reasonable question, why was the State Department
given printed copies? That is a fair question, right?
I mean, you`ve got all these tens of thousands of e-mails, why not
just put them on a flash drive, or send them via Dropbox or forward them.
Hillary Clinton`s office says that is not allowed. So, maybe you`re
thinking, oh, OK, that must be for security reasons. The printed e-mails
are handed over in person to prevent hacking or leaks or something?
No, that is not the reason. Quote, “The instructions regarding
electronic mail in the foreign affairs manual require that, quote, `until
technology allowing archival capabilities for long-term electronic storage
and retrieval of e-mail messages is available and installed, those messages
warranting preservation as records must be printed out and filed.`”
They can`t handle it if you forward them to them. When it comes to
e-mails, the State Department archives paper that are printouts of e-mails.
We should all plant a tree in their name.
The State Department is not alone in having a complicated
relationship with technology. But as far as record-keeping and handling
requests for the records it keeps, the State Department apparently is in a
league of its own.
A new report from an independent group called the Center for
Effective Government ranked the State Department as the worst agency in the
entire government for responding to Freedom of Information Act requests.
The group gave the State Department a grade of “F” for how slowly it
processes requests, and how unclear its rules are. Not only does the State
Department just fail to respond to tons of requests for information, it
actually flat-out denies nearly half of them that it does respond to. No
other agency even comes close to refusing that many requests for what ought
to be public documents.
Remember, these are government documents, that the public has a right
to see, or at the very least, has a right to get an explanation for why we
cannot see them. But the State Department is in a league of its own when
it comes to saying no to request to the public and from the press.
Well, “The Associated Press” decided that they had enough. “The
Associated Press” today filed a lawsuit against the State Department
demanding that the State Department hand over public documents that its
reporters and editors have been asking for for years, and for which they
feel they have been stonewalled by the Department of State.
Joining us now is Jay Ward Brown, he`s lead counsel representing the
“A.P.” in this new lawsuit against the State Department.
Mr. Brown, thank you very much for being with us.
JAY WARD BROWN, LEAD COUNSEL IN AP`S SUIT AGAINST STATE DEPT.: My
MADDOW: So, so when and why did “The Associated Press” decide that
it was necessary to bring this as a lawsuit instead of continuing just to
pursue it as a request?
BROWN: Well, this has been a five-year odyssey for some of the
requests that are at issue in this lawsuit. The earliest of the six
requests at issue were made with the State Department in 2010.
And although the Freedom of Information Act, the federal statute that
requires agencies to release records to citizens, provides that the
government is supposed to release those records in 20 days, as you just
pointed out in the report that you cited, the statutory deadline is honored
not even in the breach, but rarely if ever, and that`s especially so with
the State Department. And it becomes a process of negotiation between the
news organization making the request, and the agency. And you have to keep
nudging the agency along, as the “A.P.” reporters, and their editors did
But there does come a point when as is the case here, the agency
isn`t responding at all, that litigation is the only option. And the
statute provides for litigation, to have a judge, a federal judge, resolve
the dispute over release of the records when the agency doesn`t respond to
the request. And that`s what`s happened here.
MADDOW: Can you tell from what you know about your client`s case, or
is it material to the case you are bringing, some theory about why the
State Department is so much worse than everybody else? I mean, does the
State Department give explanations that are different than the kinds of
explanations that other agencies give? Are they nonresponsive more often
than other agencies are? Do they just seem either confused or lost as to
what they have?
BROWN: I think the State Department would say two things.
One, they mention publicly a number of times that they receive over
19,000 FOIA requests a year. Admittedly, that`s a lot of requests.
Nevertheless, they`ve got a legal duty under a statute passed by Congress
to process those requests in a timely way, but they would tell you they`re
behind because they get so many requests.
Secondly, in fairness to the department, some of the requests do
implicate information that affects national security. That`s obvious that
an agency like the State Department. But there are also procedures and
protocols for dealing with that.
And it`s really hard to understand how with respect to the requests
in question here – for example, the earliest request filed by the “A.P.”
in this case were for copies of Secretary Clinton`s engagement calendar,
her official engagement calendar for a limited period of time during her
tenure. Can`t be that many pages involved in that. And one would think in
fewer than five years, the State Department could have responded to that
But to date, other than playing vanilla communications saying we`re
working on it, the State Department has produced no materials, no records
in response to that request. Or to any of the six requests that are at
issue, except for three documents produced in response to one subpart of
one request about a defense contractor called BAE Systems. And it`s really
hard to understand how that can be.
MADDOW: How – yes. And particularly, and this is not the scope of
your case, but particularly given the other independently arrived at
information about how poorly the State Department fares in its response
rate, compared to other agencies, regardless of who the secretary is of
that agency, whoever`s last ought to be forced by some means to catch up to
everybody else. And it may be that your case may be the one that does
Jay Ward Brown, lead counsel representing “The A.P.” in this suit –
thanks very much for helping us understand this tonight. Appreciate it.
All right. Coming up, we did a thing on this show last month that
involved the state of Oregon, and an owl. And there`s news on that tonight
that makes me so happy, I almost can`t believe it. That`s coming up.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Good people of Salem, Oregon, beware, it has happened again.
The angry owl patrolling your local park is still at it.
The nice folks at the Salem Parks Department tell us today that after
the four angry owl attacks on joggers that we reported in the state capital
of Oregon earlier this year, now there has been another one, number five.
This time, the owl did not go straight for the hurt or steal a hat or
hurt anybody, but the owl did swoop in close and scary, according to the
parks department, quote, “Warning them just who they were messing with.”
So, the owl scared somebody else.
But let it be noted, this scared jogger was forewarned, after that
string of earlier owl attacks this year. Salem, Oregon Parks Department
installed owl attack warning signs, that was originally a graphic for this
show. We were very happy to help. And those beware of owl signs went up
last month in Salem, to our lasting delight.
But it turns out they have a use beyond warning people about owls in
the park, because it turns out people want to own them. One person wanted
a sign so badly they tried to take the sign right off the post in the park.
Well, now, you don`t need to resort to theft to get your very own
scary owl sign. The Salem Parks Foundation has decided to make these
scaled down 12 x 12 replicas of the sign and is offering them for a $30
donation. The $30 donation will be to the benefit of the city`s parks.
Yes, I love this so very much. It might be the best thing that`s
ever happened to this show.
But it`s not the best new thing that happened today. That`s still
ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: About a week after the shooting death of Michael Brown in
Ferguson, Missouri last summer, there was one truly strange moment of news
in the overall chaotic response to that shooting. It happened when the
Police Chief Tom Jackson called a press conference which he said he would
release the name of the officer who is involved in that shooting.
But then in that press conference, to everyone`s surprise, the police
chief also released some surveillance footage, which Chief Jackson said
showed the victim in the shooting, Michael Brown, participating in a strong
arm robbery not that long before he was shot. The release of that
surveillance video of Michael Brown at a convenience store was totally
Then, the chief gave a second press conference that same day where he
gave this verbal, elaborate explanation for why he felt compelled to
release that tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS JACKSON, FERGUSON, MO. POLICE CHIEF: We`ve got a lot of
Freedom of Information requests for this tape, and at some point, it was
just determined we had to release it. We didn`t have good cause, absent
any other reason to not release it.
What I did was release the videotape to you because I had to. I`ve
been sitting on it, but I – too many people put in a request for that
thing and I had to release it.
REPORTER: Why would you release the video of the robbery? What`s
the explanation for the timing?
JACKSON: Because you asked for it. You asked for it. I held it as
long as I could.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Nobody asked for it. Nobody knew it existed. His
explanation why he was releasing that powder keg of a tape was because
reporters had been demanding it be released. There were no on-record
requests for that tape because nobody knew it was there.
It was one of the weirdest things that happened in the immediate
aftermath to the Michael Brown shooting.
Well, now tonight, that Ferguson police chief has finally left his
job and became the latest high ranking official in Ferguson to resign. He
would leave the force effective next week.
With the chief`s resignation tonight, that makes it six people who
have gone in the city of Ferguson so far. It`s his police sergeant, it`s
also his police captain. It`s the clerk who were on the court where
Ferguson police brought their cases.
It`s one of the judges who heard those cases. It`s the city manager
of Ferguson. We reported that last night, as he reported that he was
leaving, but now, it`s the police chief.
Ferguson still needs to fix itself, but the process of Ferguson
sloughing off the people who did the stuff that made it nationally famous,
the process of stopping the bleeding and holding people accountable for
what they have done, that is underway. Who knows, maybe there will more.
I should note that my colleague Lawrence O`Donnell will have much
more next hour. So, please stay tuned.
MADDOW: Best new thing in the world.
There`s a whole range of emotions that can happen over the course of
the day if you are a person who likes sports, even if you`re not watching a
game that day. So like today, after several days of unrelenting dread and
depression and resignation over the fact that this man was reported to be
leaving my favorite football team. Today, I had the elation about the
reports that maybe, maybe my beloved Vince Wilfork might find a way to stay
at the New England Patriots, even though we thought they were cutting loss.
Vince might stay. My spirits soared. Vince Wilfork, he`s enormous,
he`s a well-conditioned athlete. He`s the pulsing, throbbing emotional
core of the Patriot`s defense.
His wife is as adorable as he is. I love the Wilforks.
He might stay. The feeling of elation.
Totally outside the news cycle about what`s important in the world,
totally outside the rightness and wrongness of the business of sports and
all the worthy rest of it, if you are a person who loves sports, you tend
to have feelings about it.
But even if you are not a person who love sports, the best new thing
in the world today is something that feels really good. It happened last
night in an exhibition tennis match between Roger Federer, arguably the
greatest tennis player ever, and Grigor Dimitrov, who`s a 23-year-old up
and coming star.
An these guys put on a show for the fans. At one point, they
exchanged between the leg shots, both of them. That itself is worth the
price of admission. So, if you were catching this game, you probably felt
like you were seeing something cool.
But that was before this happened –
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRIGOR DIMITROV: Someone wants to challenge you!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grigor will bass the baton here to a young guy.
Looks like he`s ready to go.
Look at this. Roger freaked out. He hit the pass.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Not only does the kid get pulled out of the crowd last night
to play a point with Roger Federer, he then beats Roger Federer, fair and
square with a perfectly placed lob over Federer`s head and the kid does it
while wearing jeans.
And Dimitrov was like, yes, that`s what I meant to do, too. That`s
how it would have done. Look at him. So cool. Best new thing in the
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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