The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/19/15
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. And thank you.
Thanks to you at home for staying with us this hour.
I am surprised to say that we`re actually leading tonight with some
breaking political news. I did not expect to be leading with political
news tonight. But something has just happened in politics that we`ve got
exclusively and that is potentially a very big deal.
So, here`s what`s happened – today the leading Republican candidate
for president, Donald Trump, gave an interview to Yahoo Politics, which
Yahoo wrote up as follows, “Yahoo News asked Mr. Trump whether his push for
increased surveillance of American Muslims could include warrantless
searches. He suggested he would consider a series of drastic measures.
Yahoo News asked Mr. Trump whether this level of tracking of American
Muslims might require registering Muslims in a database or giving them a
form of special identification that noted their religion. Mr. Trump would
not rule it out.”
So that was the situation as of this afternoon. Reporter asks
candidate, would you do this rather extreme thing? And the candidate does
not say no. At least in the way the reporter wrote it up. And so, yes,
that interview and that story have had a big impact today, as you can see
from all the headlines about it.
Also from responses like this one from one American Jewish group who
said in response to this Yahoo News article, “Registering everyone of a
certain religion to a list? We`ve seen that. It doesn`t end well.” It`s
from a Jewish group called Bend the Arc.
Here`s the thing: If in fact the front-runner for the Republican
presidential nomination really is publicly advocating that America form a
national registry for Muslims, or start issuing special badging or ID cards
specifically for Muslims, that indeed would be a hair on fire development.
But caution, right? This is a print interview. What everybody has
been reacting to today was not a direct quote from Mr. Trump but rather the
characterization of that conversation by Yahoo`s reporter Hunter Walker,
who`s a very good reporter.
Well, we have now obtained the actual audio recording of that portion
of the interview. So, you can now hear for yourself how this went.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HUNTER WALKER, YAHOO NEWS: France declared this state of emergency
where they closed the borders and they established some degree of
warrantless searches. I know how you feel about the borders. But do you
think there`s some kind of state of emergency here and do we need
warrantless searches of Muslims?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we`re going to have
to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be
upset about it. But I think that now, everybody is feeling that security
is going to rule and certain things will be done that we never thought
would happen in this country in terms of – in terms of information and
learning about the enemy. And so we`re going to have to do certain things
that were frankly unthinkable a year ago when you look at what`s happening.
WALKER: And in terms of doing this, to pull off the kind of tracking
we need, do you think we might need to register Muslims in some type of
database or note their religion on their ID?
TRUMP: Well, we`re going to have to look at a lot of things very
closely. We`re going to have to look at the mosques. We`re going to have
to look very, very carefully.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: So, there has been a lot of political reaction to this today.
I think understandably. But the audio makes it quite clear I think that it
wasn`t Mr. Trump proactively raising the idea of a national registry of
Muslims or making Muslims carry special documentation identifying them as
The reporter for Yahoo News, Hunter Walker, raised those specific
prospects. And the issue here is how the candidate responded when he heard
those very, very radical ideas. So, that`s where we were as of this
We e-mailed the Trump campaign today to try to figure out if the
candidate really means what was implied by that conversation. We asked his
press secretary this. We asked, “Would Mr. Trump rule out a database of
American Muslims or would he consider that? And would he rule out having
Muslims carry a form of ID that notes their religion, or would he consider
So, we put those direct questions to the Trump campaign. So far we
have not heard back directly from the campaign. But here is why this is at
the top of the show tonight, and this is why is – here`s why this is
breaking political news. The candidate himself did address the subject
again tonight. Not with Yahoo News but when he was asked about it by an
NBC News reporter on a rope line at an event in Newton, Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Should there be a database system that tracks Muslims of
TRUMP: There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases. We
should have a lot of systems. And today, you can do it. But right now we
have to have a border, we have to have strength, we have to have a wall and
we cannot let what`s happening to this country happening –
TRUMP: I would certainly implement that. Absolutely.
REPORTER: What do you think the effect of that would be? How would
TRUMP: It would stop people from coming in illegally. We have to
stop people from coming into our country illegally.
REPORTER: Specifically how do you actually get them registered?
TRUMP: It would be just good management. What you have to do is
good management procedures. And we can do that. It`s nice.
REPORTER: Would you go to mosque and sign these people up?
TRUMP: To different places. You sign them up at different – but
it`s all about management. Our country has no management.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Muslims specifically. How do I you get them registered into
a database? It would just be good management.
We talk about extremism in American politics all the time. And even
presidential front-runners sometimes say things that seem beyond the pale
and we all say, wow, that seems beyond the pale.
But a national registry of Americans who are one particular religion,
a mandatory national registry of people of one religion requiring them to
be entered into a federal database, making Muslims carry special
documentation that identifies them as Muslims, if this isn`t a big
misunderstanding, this really is kind of beyond “beyond the pale”.
I mean, I live in hope that we will get a response from the Trump
campaign directly on whether this really is what he is proposing to do.
But so far, the most direct conversations on this matter have come in
conversations between NBC News reporter Vaughn Hillyard and Donald Trump,
who spoke with Mr. Trump today about this issue in Iowa on two occasions,
Vaughn Hillyard, thank you very much for being with us tonight on
very short notice. I really appreciate you being here.
VAUGHN HILLYARD, NBC NEWS CAMPAIGN EMBED: Hi, Rachel. Yes.
MADDOW: So, Mr. Trump had these conversations with Yahoo News today
in which a reporter raised the prospect of a Muslim registry and religion-
specific identification cards for Muslims. Mr. Trump did not bat those
ideas away or say they were unreasonable. He also didn`t directly endorse
In your conversation with him where you really pressed him on those
policies specifically, did he seem to understand what you were talking
about and did he seem to indicate one way or the other whether he supported
HILLYARD: Yes. I think the thing is there were questions up in the
air. When I got him on the rope line tonight, that was a specific
question. Should there be a database for Muslims in the United States? At
first he said yes, we should have databases, more than databases.
Then he sort of turned the conversation to illegal immigration, that
we need a border, we need to identify the people here in the country.
That`s when I followed up again. I said, OK, but we`re talking
specifically about Muslims. Should there be a Muslim database? And he
said absolutely. He said I certainly will implement that in my White
And then I said, OK, but where do we go from there? If we`re trying
to identify Muslims, where are we going to identify them? And that`s when
he said, many different places. I said mosques? And he said many
And then I said, OK, well, how are we actually going to go about
that? Then he goes we`re going to go to many different ways. He goes,
that`s when he turned the conversation to management. And he goes I`m a
manager and this country is not being managed correctly.
So, that was the question there. And he absolutely did understand
the question was about Muslim databases. That would not be denied. He
said absolutely certainly that we should implement that in the Trump White
MADDOW: I don`t mean to belabor this point, Vaughn. And I actually
don`t mean to be patronizing to Mr. Trump when I say it. I ask this
because this is such a radical thing to be discussing and I want to give
him the benefit of the doubt because it`s hard for me to believe that even
he would propose this.
Did you have any sense that he might be tired or confused or
mishearing anything? Is there any – do you have any belief that there
could be some ambiguity in terms of what he understood or were you clearly
looking eye to eye and having the same conversation that both of you
understood what you meant?
HILLYARD: No, it was very, very clear. He heard me audibly, he
looked me in the eye, he knew exactly what was being asked. Because you`re
asking, that he actually had two town halls. The video you just watched
was after the town hall, the first, number one. So, then the questions
were like OK, wait, did we understand this correctly.
So, I went for the second time. And that`s a question I posed in
talking to some people here, is if we`re going to have Muslim databases
here in the United States, what`s the difference between registering Jews
in Nazi Germany –
MADDOW: Let me interrupt you.
HILLYARD: I went up to him –
MADDOW: Let me interrupt you just for a second because we`ve just
fed into the system just literally this second that exchange and I think we
can actually just play a recording of that exchange. Fire away. Go ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLYARD: Mr. Trump, why would Muslim databases not be the same
thing as requiring Jews to register in Nazi Germany? What would be the
difference? Is there a difference between the two? Is there a difference
TRUMP: Who are you with?
HILLYARD: I`m with NBC News. Is there a difference between
requiring Muslims to register and Jews?
TRUMP: You tell me.
HILLYARD: Do you believe –
TRUMP: Why don`t you tell me?
HILLYARD: Do you believe there is?
TRUMP: You tell me.
HILLYARD: Should Muslims be fearful? Will there be consequences if
they don`t register?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And I assume that was the end of the conversation and he
walked away and didn`t engage with you any further?
HILLYARD: That was the end. I mean, that entire clip you just
played was 30 seconds long. And I think I don`t know how many times I
asked – I know he said four different times, he said “what do you think?”
And I asked him, well, what do you think?
It was very clear tonight. I got almost a minute with him trying to
just ask. And I asked the campaign afterwards if he was willing to clarify
behind the stage, if he would rather, you know, explain kind of his answers
and they said they didn`t want to take up the offer tonight.
I think what you heard, Rachel, is what it is. And I think that`s a
question that will be a question at his future events here. Number one,
the extent of what do these Muslim databases mean.
The other question – I know we asked at the end – was, are there
consequences for people that do not register in the system, that you`re
going to have a database? Are you going to be punished for not enlisting
in the database? That`s a question again he did not answer.
So, at what point will we hear the answer? I`m not sure. Will it be
another rope line? Will he take a presser? It`s a question that we`re
going to have answered.
But, again, it would be interesting to hear his answer to the
difference. You know, I think there would be a reason for the Muslim
community to be concerned in the United States if that`s – if that`s being
MADDOW: NBC News reporter Vaughn Hillyard. I`m sure that was oddly
exhilarating and a little intimidating to be pressing that point and him
getting so angry about it. Thanks for explaining how that went tonight and
clarifying this. I really appreciate it.
Vaughn Hillyard reporting from Iowa tonight.
I will say that last point that Vaughn made there, which is that
after having these exchanges on camera with Mr. Trump, including that last
one where Mr. Trump clearly got very angry with him for pressing the point,
Vaughn did go to – off camera to members of Mr. Trump`s campaign to ask if
they might want to clarify this matter, whether the campaign might want to
try to, forgive me, clean this up a little bit.
The campaign said they would not like to take that opportunity, to
clarify Mr. Trump`s remarks, so his remarks on the record stand. And in
fact the Republican presidential front-runner right now appears clearly to
be advocating a national database in which Muslims in the United States
will be forced to be registered. And there will be legal consequences if
Asked earlier in the day about whether or not he really means that
there ought to be something like a special identification that notes that
people are Muslims, Mr. Trump did not bat that question away. He did not
say yes or no to that. We`ve tried to clarify with his campaign tonight
whether he wants that to, that this would seem to be a qualitative
different kind of proposal in American politics.
And this will – it will be hard to see this as a natural evolution
of what`s happening in the Republican Party right now. I think this will
have to be seen as a break. I hope.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: NBC`s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is going to
be joining us live from Paris in just a moment tonight. We`ve also tonight
got presidential candidate Martin O`Malley here in studio.
Big show tonight. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: So, it turns out “The Washington Post” was right. Last
night at this time we were basically marveling on the air at what was at
that point stand-alone unique reporting by “The Washington Post” that the
organizer, the leader of the Paris terrorist attacks had himself been
killed in Paris in that police raid in Saint-Denis the night before last.
It was only “The Washington Post” reporting that he was dead.
And honestly, it seemed unlikely at best for one big reason. It just
– it seemed impossible that a guy like that could have made it into Paris
undetected. I mean, of all the people in the world in all the places in
the world, that seemed like the one place that that guy just could not be.
Because of who he was and because of what the police and security services
knew about him already.
In April, when a determined terrorist attacker with an apartment full
and a car full of weapons tried to attack a church just outside Paris, that
attack was thwarted and that attacker was taken into custody after the
genius accidentally shot himself in the thigh on his way to the attack and
then called 911 to come save him. So that attack in April, the attacker
himself was arrested, but another named suspect in that attack was not
arrested. The other named suspect in that foiled church attack was named
by police, known to police, but he was not arrested. That was the attack
on the church in April.
Four months later, in August, there was another thwarted terrorist
attack in France when a heavily armed Moroccan man tried to shoot up a
high-speed train until a group of hunky American tourists leapt into harm`s
way and tackled him and put a stop to his attack. That train attacker was
also taken into custody just like the church attacker, but once again in
addition to the attacker himself French police named another suspect in
that attack who was not himself arrested. Same guy named suspect – from
the church attack in April.
And the reason that named suspect was not arrested after either of
those two attempted terrorist attacks even though he was a named suspect in
both is because police couldn`t find him. They did not believe he was in
France or even in Europe. Right after the “Charlie Hebdo” attacks this
past January, police chasing down the source of some of the weapons used in
those attacks, they ended up in Belgium carrying out a ton of police raids,
including one in which police were met with a huge onslaught of gunfire.
Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the named terror suspects for those two terror
attacks, he was reportedly part of that Belgian terror cell that was hit in
that police raid in Belgium just after “Charlie Hebdo” and just before that
cell could apparently launch a major attack on police targets.
But Mr. Abaaoud was neither killed nor captured during that raid. He
turned up just a few weeks later in the ISIS propaganda magazine bragging
about that Belgian terror cell of his and talking about how he had escaped
that raid and talking about how he was able to get in and out of Europe and
in and out of Syria at will without ever getting apprehended by the police.
He then turned up in an ISIS propaganda video apparently in Syria
committing atrocities on videotape and seeming really, really happy about
So, all that to say, this is a really, really high-profile guy. He
has long been considered the most notorious wanted Islamic extremist
terrorist in Belgium and France. The top French prosecutor today said that
French authorities have thwarted six total terrorist attacks since the
spring. He has been known to them as being involved in four of the six.
The French sentenced him in absentia in France to 20 years in prison
this past July. In France, there is not a more high-profile terrorism
threat or terrorism suspect or counterterrorism target than this man. And
that has made it very hard to understand how after all the attention he`s
brought on himself from law enforcement and the security services, it`s
made it very hard to understand how he could be still leading even more
active operational terror plots in France even after all his other failed
or thwarted attacks just this year.
Just made it hard to understand that he was still operating with
enough freedom of communication, enough freedom of movement to be actively
running another major complex terror operation in France. Made it hard to
understand how that was possible. Made it impossible to understand how he
could be doing that while physically being on French soil himself.
How could a terrorist suspect that notorious, that high-profile, get
anywhere in Europe let alone into France again, let alone into Paris, and
then even after the Friday terrorist attacks in Paris, he was apparently
still there. The Friday terrorist attacks Friday night he was apparently
there. Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday, Sunday night, Monday night.
Tuesday. Tuesday night – that`s when the raid happened.
(BEGIN AVIDEO CLIP)
POLICE: Where is your boyfriend?
WOMAN: He is not my boyfriend.
POLICE: Where is he?
WMAN: He is not my boyfriend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That recording obtained by NBC News, it was apparently
recorded by a neighbor as the police raid went down two nights ago in
Saint-Denis. The Paris prosecutor now says that raid resulted in the death
of a female suicide bomber who was a cousin of the organizer of the Paris
terrorist attacks. The Paris prosecutor also now says that the organizer
of the Paris terror attacks was himself at that raid and killed in that
raid, which means he was in Paris. He was there.
How on earth was someone like that, that specific guy of all people,
able to get into Paris undetected? This is just an unimaginable
intelligence and law enforcement failure given how high-profile he was.
NBC`s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel today interviewed a
French government terrorism adviser. And Richard put it to him that that
seemed to him basically like finding out after 9/11 that Osama bin Laden
himself was hanging out somewhere in New York City even after the attacks,
having personally been on scene to orchestrate them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCOIS HEISBOURG, FRENCH GOVERNMENT COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: Yes,
these guys were able to move all too easily from one country to another,
one city to another.
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: This almost
seems as if Osama bin Laden who was killed in a raid in Queens just outside
Manhattan, he was right near the spot.
ENGEL: What does that say?
HEISBOURG: That says that it`s very difficult to keep track of more
than 10,000 people who have been listed as being security threats of an
Islamic variety. That`s what all those people.
ENGEL: What`s the answer? More cops surveilling more people or
better lists, the real actors, the real dangerous ones?
HEISBOURG: No, the lists I would argue to have proven to be actually
the more robust part of the system. What has been definitely not robust is
the ability to track the people who are on those lists.
ENGEL: So the success was knowing who to look for, and the failure
was not actually looking for them.
HEISBOURG: Absolutely. The long and the short of it is that there
were no clean skins. There were no people who came out of the blue
literally. All of these people were known to some extent, to varying
extents, if not by the French directly, by the security services of other
countries in Europe. And we did not do what was necessary to keep track of
ENGEL: Consistently, France has known who the actors are and said
oh, yes, we were watching that guy.
ENGEL: And they still managed to carry out attacks.
HEISBOURG: Absolutely. This is where you get into the complete
disconnect between the scale of the threat and the level of the resources.
ENGEL: What does this say about the foreign fighter problem? All of
these militants who`ve come from Europe, gone to ISIS, and come home.
HEISBOURG: Yes. What does ISIS give them? That`s a question we
have to ask because after all, why would they go to Syria when they can
self-radicalize at home? There`s all sort of stuff you can learn on the
They went to ISIS in Syria or Iraq both to be in contact with the
people who were inspiring them and motivating them – this is a powerful
ideology for these people. And, of course, ISIS also provide them with
There`s stuff you that can`t do through the Internet. You do not
learn how to prepare explosives in real time through the Internet, even if
you have the step-by-step instructions. You do not learn how to kill the
maximum number of people with a limited number of Kalashnikovs without
doing some training. That is what ISIS provided.
ENGEL: This was a known militant. Probably the most wanted man in
France. And he`s caught a few miles from the center of Paris.
HEISBOURG: Yes. There`s an Arab saying –
ENGEL: That seems like an absolute failure.
HEISBOURG: It is a failure. Of course it`s a failure. What`s your
definition of success? That certainly was not a success. That was an
But you have an Arab saying which is if you want to hide, hide in the
eyes of the sun. The place where you are the least likely to be looked for
is actually very close to your target. That is not an exoneration of the
failure. But –
ENGEL: I keep imagining Osama bin Laden after 9/11 hiding in
Brooklyn. It`s just – it seems like a total breakdown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Today, France put forward a resolution that may be voted on
at the U.N. Security Council tomorrow. It calls on every country in the
world to take action to eliminate ISIS`s safe haven in Iraq and Syria.
Tomorrow, E.U. ministers will meet in an emergency session to address
sharing intelligence to try to stop ISIS attacks in Europe.
Today, police raids continued across Europe and specifically in
France. Officials say there have now been more than 600 counterterrorism
and police raids in France in the past week.
So, the response is now turned up to 11. But it was kind of turned
up to 10 before this. I mean, the “Charlie Hebdo” attacks were earlier
How did the most notorious terrorism suspect in France get back into
that country, into Paris, right under the nose of French intelligence? I
could understand almost anyone except him.
Richard Engel`s here next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HEISBOURG: We have yet to build up a skill base and a number of
people are needed to keep track of an organization as professional and as
competent as Daesh. Daesh leaves al Qaeda in the dust. This is a
completely different generation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Francois Heisbourg, he`s a counterterrorism adviser
to the French government. He was speaking today with NBC`s Richard Engel,
who joins us live now from the streets of Paris.
Richard, my friend, thank you very much for being with us.
ENGEL: Good to be with you once again.
MADDOW: So, that was a remarkable back and forth with the
counterterrorism adviser to the French government. Did you ever get an
answer today from him or from anybody in terms of how French authorities
think the organizer of the attacks was able to get into France, get into
Paris right under their noses?
ENGEL: They weren`t that surprised, frankly. He wasn`t that
surprised and many people aren`t because the border system in Europe, the
borders between Europe and the Middle East go through Turkey. That whole
system is collapsed right now. As you know, there are no borders within
Europe. So, the only challenge is getting onto the continent.
And right now, if you can leave Syria, you can get into Turkey, that
border is completely porous. People cross it illegally all the time.
Then, just go between Turkey and Greece.
And there are boats that go every single day with thousands of people
making that journey on small rafts, and there are no checks. We had a
piece on this show a couple of days ago about how easy it is.
So, really, you cross the Syrian border, you enter Turkey. There are
many indications that the mastermind, now late mastermind, was crossing
often between Syria and Turkey. Once you do that, you`re in Turkey. Move
on to Greece, you`re in Europe. Then everything else is open.
There are indications, this top counterterrorism adviser was saying
that he moved a lot, that he wasn`t just this one trip coming to Paris,
that he frequently traveled. So, no, he was not surprised.
And what was interesting – I was listening to your previous segment,
which is sort of disturbing on many levels, but what he was advocating is
not mass surveillance, not mass registry. He said they have a list, this
country has a list with 10,000 names on it.
Now, that`s a big list, but there are millions of Muslims in Europe
and there are millions of citizens in this country who are immigrants.
And he was saying there are 10,000 names on the list that they think
are dangerous people, suspected radicals. Follow them, he was saying.
Focus on them and leave everybody else alone. And he said the breakdown
here is they`re not doing that, they`re not focusing on the people who they
think are in trouble. They come in, they put them on a list and then they
disappear, they go to other countries, they`re ignored and that`s where the
He was not calling for more wiretaps and more text messages to be
gathered and massive surveillance and shutting down the borders and walls
and data registries and ID cards with religions on them. He said, the
people we know are dangerous, actually watch them.
MADDOW: And that`s the other side of the fact that these guys all
popped on various lists. These guys were on the watch list. These guys
were not clean skins as he put it. And that is good news in terms of how
people are getting onto those lists.
But if those lists aren`t turning into law enforcement action, all it
lets you do is have more acute regret.
NBC chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel reporting for us from
Paris – Richard, thank you so much. Great to have you here. Amazing
interview today. Thank you.
We`ve got much more ahead tonight, including Governor Martin
O`Malley, Democratic presidential candidate, here live.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has given two
major national security speeches since she has been running for president
this year. The first was in September around the time of the Iran nuclear
deal. She gave a big speech about that, big Q&A afterwards, made a bunch
Her second major national security address as a presidential
candidate was today in New York on the issue of ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s time to begin a
new phase and intensify and broaden our efforts to smash the would-be
caliphate and deny ISIS control of territory in Iraq and Syria. That
starts with a more effective coalition air campaign with more allied
planes, more strikes, and a broader target set.
We may have to give our own troops, advising and training the Iraqis,
greater freedom of movement and flexibility, including embedding in local
units and helping target airstrikes. We should immediately deploy the
special operations force President Obama has already authorized and be
prepared to deploy more as more Syrians get into the fight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Hillary Clinton has said in this campaign that she is not
more hawkish than President Obama, that she would not necessarily be a more
aggressive commander in chief. But today at the Council on Foreign
Relations, she laid out a complex plan to fight ISIS that continues many of
the efforts of the Obama administration, but on the military side, she says
she would do more – more planes, more airstrikes, more targets for air
strikes, more American troops on the ground, getting those U.S. troops into
more combat, arming more regional fighters, running a no-fly zone, running
safe zones on the ground in Syria.
She is proposing a bigger and more aggressive war.
Joining us now is one of her rivals for the Democratic nomination for
president, former Maryland Governor Martin O`Malley. It is good to see you
MARTIN O`MALLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Good to see
you, too, Rachel.
MADDOW: This is a detailed plan of action from Secretary Clinton
today. Are there – are there specific points of policy on which you
disagree with her, things that she`s proposing doing that you think are
wrong, that you wouldn`t do?
O`MALLEY: Secretary Clinton`s speech today was really like
everything and the kitchen sink. And I think where she really gets it
wrong is in this. She said, it all begins with sending in more firepower.
Actually, I respectfully disagree. It all begins with having a lot
better intelligence on the ground, which we`ve not done as a nation –
MADDOW: Well, she`s proposed an intelligence surge as well.
O`MALLEY: I`ve seen that. She had everything in this speech. There
wasn`t anything in this speech, but she said the first thing was send in
Actually, in this new era of warfare, this is very different from the
20th century. This is 21st century warfare. And I would argue that
actually understanding your enemies, understanding their networks, I saw
your clip before about the counterintelligence chief from France talking
about the fact that – and he said I think very honestly, we have not built
up the numbers of people with the training, the skills, and the
intelligence to be able to step – to keep one step ahead against these
It`s a lot more like fighting gangs than it is the old world sort of
two nation states squaring off with big divisions in an open field. And
that`s what we`re missing here. Look, we`re not going to defeat ISIS by
applying cold war strategies or big military solutions in the absence of
better intelligence on the ground, understanding how these networks are
It`s almost like – here`s a metaphor for you – look, an immune
system is strong not because it outnumbers the bad germs in the world.
It`s strong because it`s better connected. And what we have the ability to
do as a nation is actually to connect what France wasn`t able to do, the
big central intelligence, with state police and with the local police who
are actually there on the ground, but it requires closer and better and
more timely connections to stay three steps ahead of these guys. It`s very
hard to do from a centralized big institution standpoint, which is the old
way of fighting these wars.
MADDOW: And I hear you in terms of how the military response has to
fit into a larger response and you`re saying a more complex response. But
on the military part of it specifically, I spent a long time today trying
to figure out if you have ever answered this question directly and I`m not
sure that you have.
When President Obama said he wants limited number, several dozens of
special operations forces on the ground in Syria –
O`MALLEY: I supported it.
MADDOW: You do support that?
O`MALLEY: I did it. I support td like four weeks ago when he said
MADDOW: OK. Do you also support a no-fly zone, enforcing a no-fly
zone in Syria?
O`MALLEY: I do not support a no-fly zone for this reason. With the
Russian air force in that no-fly zone I think it leads to the possibility
of escalations of a Cold War nature that do not merit the benefits of
creating that no-fly zone. I mean, look, we already have huge refugee
camps both in Turkey and also in Jordan. I don`t support a no-fly zone.
MADDOW: Do you think the air strike campaign, there`s been several
thousand already, do you think it`s done any good, would you support an
increased air strike campaign or do you think it`s not been worth it?
O`MALLEY: I could possibly support an increased air strike campaign
depending on what the human intelligence is on the ground.
You know, and this is what we`re missing. I mean, one of the
downsides of our American character is we think that our technological
superiority is actually going to pull us through every conflict. But we
have to maintain our technological superiority, but we also have to add
human intelligence on the ground.
And so, you know, to be at the opposite end of the most
technologically advance drone strike doesn`t mean a hill of beans if you
don`t know what you`re striking.
O`MALLEY: I mean, you need better intelligence on the ground.
That`s been the failing in every one of these regime-toppling operations
Secretary Clinton has been a part of in the past.
I mean, yes, there are brutal dictators in the world. There are
authoritarian regimes. But we need to understand what happens after
they`re gone. We need to understand who the emerging leaders are. And
that`s the greatest failing.
We`re still fighting like we`re in the cold war. Either you`re going
to have a red jersey on because you`re for the communists or you`re going
to have a blue jersey on because you`re for the United States of America.
And depending on what jersey, we topple you.
And in the absence of communism being a threat, we continued on that
path. And what we need to understand is that we need to be in some ways a
little more like the Chinese, taking a longer-term view. Understanding
that America`s role in the world is fulfilled not just by drone strikes,
not just by military power but building up sustainable development and
doing the things to keep these jihadists from being able to recruit
desperate starving angry young men into their ranks.
That`s the whole of government approach that Martin Dempsey was
talking about and that`s what we need for a new century.
MADDOW: Former Maryland Governor Martin O`Malley, Democratic
candidate for president – always good to see you sir. Come back soon.
O`MALLEY: Thank you.
MADDOW: Will do.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: I told you this was a big show. NBC “Nightly News” anchor
Lester Holt conducted an amazing interview today, a jaw-dropping interview
today with the captain of the commando unit that stormed the Paris concert
hall. That was the scene of the deadly hostage standoff on Friday night
during the Paris attacks.
You have probably seen some of this interview today, but we`ve got a
big part of this interview that has not aired anywhere yet. It`s next. It
is, as I say, jaw-dropping.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: The anchor of NBC “Nightly News,” Lester Holt, has been
reporting from Paris all week. He just got an interview, which I`m going
to show you in a moment, with the French commando captain who led the
police assault on the Bataclan music hall the night of the Paris attacks.
That`s where 89 people died that night.
And, of course, hundreds of hostages were held inside that music
venue. Three terrorists stormed the building with AK-47s and live suicide
vests. The standoff went on for hours. It finally ended when an elite
French commando force stormed the building, killed the remaining terrorists
But tonight, NBC News got an exclusive interview with the captain of
the unit who led that assault, and he went step by step through what
happened inside the Bataclan. I lobbied to air this tonight, portions you
haven`t seen anywhere else, because as an uninterrupted piece of testimony,
it is unbelievable. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: What did you see when you got there?
POLICE CAPTAIN: First, we saw the uniformed division, the street
police, from the district trying to do something at the entrance of the
theater. So, we try to replace them. We took position on the entry of the
theater, and then we discovered hell on earth. I mean, more than maybe
7,000, 8,000 people were laying on the floor.
HOLT: Seven hundred to 800?
POLICE CAPTAIN: Yes. Laying on the floor. Tons of blood anywhere.
No sound. Nobody was screaming.
HOLT: Were the people afraid to leave?
POLICE CAPTAIN: Yes, nobody was moving because they were afraid of
At that time, we know that one terrorist had been killed by the
uniformed division, the first responders. And we try to find the two more.
HOLT: And were there?
POLICE CAPTAIN: They were on the first floor on the left side of the
HOLT: When you say the first floor? The balcony?
POLICE CAPTAIN: The balcony, exactly.
HOLT: So, your team goes upstairs.
POLICE CAPTAIN: Yes.
HOLT: Into the balcony.
POLICE CAPTAIN: Exactly, on the left side.
HOLT: Where did you find the terrorists?
POLICE CAPTAIN: It was the last door, an access to the backstage on
the balcony. We approached the door and suddenly one of the terrorists on
the stage, we don`t know, asked us to go backward.
So, I tried to speak with them and he told me that he wanted to
negotiate. So, I said, OK, give me a phone number. He gave me a phone
number, I radioed it to the negotiator and they tried to contact between
the terrorist and the negotiator.
HOLT: Do you know what was said in that conversation, what the
POLICE CAPTAIN: It was like classic political demands about, we are
here, it`s a retaliation of what you do in Syria. We`re going to kill your
wife, kids, because you attacked Muslim countries and all this stuff. It
was the same. Like in January, it was the same.
HOLT: Was it clear there were ISIS? Did they use the term
POLICE CAPTAIN: Yes, they use the term caliphate soldier, soldier of
HOLT: And you knew they had hostages?
POLICE CAPTAIN: We knew they had a lot of hostages there.
HOLT: When did you get the green light, the permission to go?
POLICE CAPTAIN: We got the green light very quickly. As soon as we
were ready, the chief said, OK, when you want, you can go. And we start.
We used the shield.
HOLT: This was the first thing that went through the door?
POLICE CAPTAIN: Exactly.
HOLT: And it`s pretty obvious what happened.
POLICE CAPTAIN: Yes, as soon as we opened the door, one of the
terrorists shot like between 20 to 30 rounds of AK-47 bullet, 70.62
HOLT: And that`s these holes?
POLICE CAPTAIN: Exactly. Immediately we have in the middle get hit
in the hand so he fell down because of the pain.
HOLT: One of your officers was hit?
POLICE CAPTAIN: Yes, yes, in the middle of the group.
So, we cannot take care of him. We still go. Before when we
prepare, we say okay, when we first get wounded or something, nobody stop.
We`re still going. There`s another group after us ready to take care of
the wounded officer.
HOLT: You can`t afford to pause.
POLICE CAPTAIN: No, we can`t afford to pause.
HOLT: So, you`re coming in, they`re shooting at you, did you get
eyes – were you able to see the hostages?
POLICE CAPTAIN: The first thing we saw was the guy shooting and a
lot of – maybe 20 on the stage between the shooter and us.
HOLT: On the floor?
POLICE CAPTAIN: On the floor. Most of them on the floor. We cannot
shoot at that time, because it was too risky for the hostage. But we keep
going, keep going, keep going. And what moment there is some stairs, we
didn`t know about it. And the shield fell down on the hostages. So the
first two guys were only without any protection and they still go.
At the end of the hallway, it was like a dead end for him and the
first one blew himself with an explosive jacket. And the second one tried
to do the same, but he got shot by the two first officers.
HOLT: They were both wearing suicide vests and one of them went off?
POLICE CAPTAIN: Yes, blood everywhere.
HOLT: Did it injury any hostages or any of your people?
POLICE CAPTAIN: No, no. Thankfully, no.
HOLT: What`s it like to look at this shield.
POLICE CAPTAIN: Well, maybe it`s good stuff. So, we want to thanks
HOLT: It did its job.
POLICE CAPTAIN: It did its job. And hopefully, maybe if we don`t
have this, we kind of lost five or six officers.
HOLT: I know you can`t talk about the investigation, but do you take
any gratification in the fact that you saved hostages at the Bataclan, that
your teammates took down Abaaoud.
POLICE CAPTAIN: For now, I think we will feel exactly what we did in
a few days. We are still on the move, we are focus on what we have to do
now. So it`s difficult for us to realize what we did.
HOLT: And according to the prosecutor, there are still people out
there. So for you, what does that mean?
POLICE CAPTAIN: It means we have to stay 24/7 ready to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That commando captain, his unit was, in fact, called on
again to take part in raid in Saint-Denis two nights ago that we now know
killed the ringleader of the attacks. It`s just an incredible interview,
though, and an incredible account. If you want to see the whole thing
unedited, you can go to MaddowBlog.com.
We got more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: You know, you think about fighting terrorism, groups like
ISIS, and everybody, including Governor Martin O`Malley, who was here
earlier tonight, everybody says we need to destroy their networks, destroy
their support structures.
One of the key ways we do that pretty effectively in this country is
that at the U.S. Department of Treasury, there`s an undersecretary for
terrorism and financial crimes. At least there usually is. But we don`t
have one right now, because Congress has gotten around to voting to confirm
someone for that job.
Instead today, they found time to establish a new requirement that
the heads of the FBI, Homeland Security and national intelligence all must
personally sign off on each individual refugee from Syria or Iraq, and
guarantee personally that each one is not a security risk.
The screening for these refugees already takes at least a year and a
half. It includes in depth interview, reference check, biological
screenings, consultation with nine different government agencies.
But that bill to get these personal sign-offs on each individual
refugee, that bill passed the House today. It goes to the Senate tomorrow.
If it passes there, President Obama will veto it.
But hey, at least Congress gets to enjoy wasting time on that
demagoguery today and tomorrow. It`s not like they`ve got anything else
substantive to work on.
That does it for us tonight. Our live coverage continues now with
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