The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/4/2015
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: December 4, 2015
Guest: Malcolm Nance
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You`re great, Chris Hayes. You`re great
at your job and you`re a great guy. Thanks, man. Well done.
HAYES: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us this hour. He
is great. I mean it.
All right. The largest island in the Mediterranean is Sicily. You
know how Italy is shaped like a boot? Sicily is like a little soccer ball
that`s being kicked off the toe of the boot. That`s Sicily right there –
largest island in the Mediterranean.
Second largest island in the Mediterranean is Sardinia, which is also
Italian. Basically, if the Italian boot had kicked the soccer ball of
Sicily up into the air, that would be Sardinia, where that soccer ball
would go. Sicily and Sardinia in the Mediterranean, those are the two
The third largest island in the Mediterranean, though, is not Italian.
It`s over on the other side. It`s its own nation. It`s called Cyprus.
Cyprus, you see it`s on the right side of your screen there in red just
above the MSNBC logo.
Cyprus is apparently a beautiful place. I`ve never been there. I
would love to go. But it`s over there in that part of the Mediterranean,
over near Turkey and Lebanon and Syria.
And Wednesday night this week, the British parliament held a ten-hour-
long debate over whether or not they would vote to send British military
jets to start bombing ISIS targets inside Syria, ten-hour debate. Prime
Minister David Cameron had asked parliament to do this before a year and a
half ago and he suffered a huge political defeat, a defeat so bad it could
conceivably have cost him his seat as prime minister, when the parliament
unexpectedly said no to his requests for airstrikes in Syria back in 2013.
But this time, this week, Wednesday, the British parliament said yes.
And it was not that much of a surprise, even though it was a reversal.
After the Paris attacks, after the opposition labor party basically stopped
fighting the conservatives on this issue, David Cameron and his government,
they basically knew that they were going to win this time, that they were
going to get that vote this week.
And part of the reason we know that they were confident of that vote
is because British Typhoon and Tornado jets had already taken off from
Scotland and landed at the British air base on Cyprus. And those British
warplanes were sitting there on the runway in Cyprus gassed up and bombs
loaded and ready to go as soon as they got word that that vote had gone
through in parliament.
And the vote in parliament went through, and those planes in Cyprus
basically immediately took off. And they took off for Syria with bombs
loaded under their wings and they came back from those missions in Syria
without the bombs anymore.
And that started this week, the first U.K. air strikes against ISIS
targets in Syria. It was overnight Wednesday night into Thursday morning.
They apparently hit some Syrian oil fields with those bombs.
And now, after Britain made that decision, today, it`s Germany.
Today, it was the German parliament which also voted that they would send
their military to support strikes against ISIS inside Syria. Germany`s
parliament voting today to send 1,200 German troops and a naval frigate and
a bunch of Tornado reconnaissance jets to support anti-ISIS strikes in
Syria as well.
So, our European allies, our closest allies, France and Britain and
Germany, they are all now following us, following our military into what
has been a long American military campaign already against ISIS. The U.S.-
led military coalition against ISIS, which has mostly been the U.S.
military, it`s already launched thousands of airstrikes against ISIS
targets both in Iraq and in Syria. And whatever the effect of those
thousands of airstrikes so far, those thousands of bombs dropped on ISIS
targets, these months and months and months of bombing ISIS so far have not
apparently done anything to stop ISIS-inspired or even ISIS-directed
terrorist attacks around the world including deep in the heart of the West.
Nevertheless, ISIS attacks in the West have now inspired more
countries to get in on that ongoing military campaign. Whether or not it`s
actually working, it`s about to get bigger. There`s going to be more
airstrikes now. There`s going to be more targets hit. The airstrikes will
be launched and supported by more countries` militaries.
In those countries in France and Britain and Germany, these countries
that have made recent decisions to get in on the fight against ISIS in
Syria and those countries, our great allies, they at least bothered to vote
on doing this. They believe that their parliaments ought to vote on new
big military missions and how to fight ISIS. They had these big dramatic
votes in their various parliaments in the last few weeks.
In France, right after the Paris terror attacks, in Britain on
Wednesday, in Germany today, they voted. They believe in those countries
that it is a political decision of their democracies, whether or not to
wage war, whether or not to join a big military campaign. In this country,
on paper, that`s how it`s supposed to be. That`s supposed to be the way we
But in recent years, we have evolved in such a way as a country that
our parliament, our Congress doesn`t really do that part of its job
anymore. Our politicians now yell at each other about military campaigns
and fighting ISIS but they never actually vote on it. And so, we`re in
this interesting place as a country because we are engaging in no formal
small-D democratic or political processes at all on this issue of fighting
ISIS, and waging this military campaign against them in Iraq and Syria. At
the same time our country is participating in and in many ways leading the
international military fight against ISIS, which is rapidly escalating now
not just in terms of the numbers of U.S. troops that are committed to that
force, but it`s escalating now into something that is almost starting to
look like a World War effort against ISIS.
And that was all before the latest mass shooting in America was linked
to ISIS. With today`s reporting one of the two San Bernardino shooters,
the female shooter appears to have posted online an endorsement of ISIS and
a pledge of allegiance to the ISIS leader just before Wednesday`s mass
shooting attack in southern California.
And whether or not any vote will ever be cast by any American
politician as to how ISIS should be responded to, as to how ISIS should be
fought, we are, even without votes, we are seeing a change in American
politics because of this issue and we`re seeing it on the American
political right in particular.
Since Paris, the Republican presidential polling has shifted
inexorably to solidify and increase the lead of the Republican presidential
front-runner Donald Trump. The latest Republican national poll is just out
today from CNN and it shows something pretty remarkable. It shows Donald
Trump`s lead leaping out to an unprecedented margin.
I know Mr. Trump has been in the lead for a while. You`ve heard that.
But look at that margin. This is almost a qualitatively different kind of
lead. And if you need more evidence for that and you don`t want to believe
me here on MSNBC, then watch how almost uncontrollably excited CNN itself
was to present the results of their own poll, which produced this result,
which they themselves apparently can barely believe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A brand new CNN/ORC poll just released
has some bombshell findings. Not only is Donald Trump still in the lead,
he is leading by a stunning amount.
Take a look. Trump is now at 36 percent. This is his all-time high.
It is 20 points above his closest competition and that is now Senator Ted
Cruz, while Dr. Ben Carson has slipped to third at 14 percent.
Pundits got it wrong. First they said that he was going to hit – 20
percent was his ceiling. He would never get higher than 20 percent. Then
he hit 25 percent. Well, that was going to be his ceiling.
Then it was 30 percent. He won`t get anymore. Last week, it was 32
percent. Today, it`s 36 percent.
What`s going on?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: What`s going on is total
Donald Trump dominance over the Republican field. Alisyn, inside this poll
where you`re right this lead is larger than we`ve seen all cycle long, he`s
dominating on every issue, right? On commander in chief, on the economy,
on how to deal with ISIS. You name the issue, especially an issue like
immigration, he is the dominant force inside the field right now.
So, yes, it bears out in these horse race numbers. But it`s even
almost more impressive for him when you look under the hood at all those
issues that are driving it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In this new CNN poll, Donald Trump is at 36 percent. That is
20 points ahead of his nearest competitor, who is Ted Cruz. But the Ted
Cruz part of it is almost immaterial. There`s Donald Trump way up ahead.
The second tier all bunched together as Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio.
That`s basically the whole field, though. Nobody else in the entire field
even hits 5 percent.
I mean, that`s just astonishing news for Donald Trump as a front-
runner. It is, I have to say, equally astonishing news for some of those
very far down ballot candidates including Rand Paul. Senator Rand Paul,
who`s now nationally at 1 percent. He does not look like he`s going to
make it onto the main stage for the debate, which will happen in a week and
Even more astonishing, though, than Rand Paul`s political death is
what seems to be happening to would-be front-runner Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush may
be the establishment favorite but he nationally right now is at 3 percent
in the polls.
And he`s at 3 percent in the polls despite this level of ad spending.
Do you remember? This was the other shocking political data we got this
week which is the combined ad spending by candidates` campaigns and the
super PACs supporting them.
Jeb Bush is almost tripling his nearest competitor in terms on how
much money he has spent on ads. He has already blown through $30 million
in pro Jeb Bush ads. And what that has bought him is a grand total of 3
percent in the national polls.
At this point, he would be better off just setting his millions of
dollars on fire because at least that would have the side effect of keeping
somebody somewhere warm. But his $30 million burnt so far has bought him
nothing. Politico.com today quotes unnamed Jeb Bush staffers wondering out
loud if the Jeb Bush campaign will even still exist by the time the Iowa
caucuses happen on February 1st. One Bush donor based in New York City
according to “Politico” tells the publication, quote, “I think staff morale
is exceedingly low. I suspect they know they`re in a death spiral now.
There is no getting out of this.”
Jeb Bush loyalists are trying to spin “Politico” into reporting
they`ve still got a chance, they`ve still got confidence it might happen
for them. They apparently are not going to run just more ads. But now
they`re going to start running ads that are 15 minutes long for Jeb Bush.
And sure, maybe voters who hate 30-second chunks of Jeb Bush will love
something 30 times longer than that. But if that`s the big idea, I don`t
see much reason to hope. I mean, one Bush adviser tried to sell the idea
that even though they will definitely lose Iowa they think they have a
chance of winning New Hampshire. This Bush adviser tells “Politico”,
quote, “We are right in the mix in the Granite State.”
In fact, if you look at the last New Hampshire Republican poll which
is just out a couple days ago from PPP, Jeb Bush is not right in the mix
with a chance to win New Hampshire. Jeb Bush in New Hampshire is in eighth
He`s getting beaten there by Carly Fiorina and John Kasich. He`s
getting lapped by Chris Christie. He`s losing to Donald Trump in New
Hampshire by 22 points, which is better than the 33 points by which he is
losing nationally to Donald Trump. But still.
It may seem crazy but it appears now to be almost inarguably true that
as national security and terrorism concerns increase in the United States
and among the electorate in terms of things they say are most important to
them, so does the prospect that Donald Trump really is going to be
nominated as the presidential nominee for the Republican Party.
And let me make one last point about the crazy aspects of this. One
of the crazier things, one of the most seemingly insane things that has
happened in the aftermath of the San Bernardino attack is the
conspiratorial raving by this kind of wing nut lawyer who Syed Farook`s
family has apparently hired to represent them in the aftermath of Syed
Farook and his wife carrying out this attack in southern California.
As part of I guess explaining or trying to explain away the San
Bernardino attack, this lawyer in southern California has suggested to the
press that maybe the San Bernardino attack didn`t really happen. Maybe it
was all faked. You know, so the gun control people can get what they want
– the way the Sandy Hook massacre was faked.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAROOK FAMILY LAWYER: You can`t really trust these – first of all,
none of the family members or anyone was ever aware of any pipe bombs. I
can`t – I don`t think you can really trust that information. And then
also, this –
REPORTER: Trust what information?
FAROOK FAMILY LAWYER: I understand that this evidence was
particularly – was supposedly found on the scene.
REPORTER: We saw them with the helicopters.
FAROOK FAMILY LAWYER: There`s a lot of motivation at this time to
create – to emphasize or create incidents that will cause gun control.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There`s a lot of motivation at this time to create incidents
that will cause gun control. He`s suggesting that all this news about
there being some kind of massacre in San Bernardino was manufactured by
people who want gun control. You know, of course it`s happened before.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAROOK FAMILY LAWYER: It does seem plausible to us that this petite
woman would be involved in this hyper caricatured kind of Bonnie and Clyde
kind of crazy scenario. There was a lot of questions drawn with regard to
Sandy Hook and whether or not that was – that was a real incident or not.
We just don`t know. But I mean – obviously, these things were found
there. How they got there we don`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: There was a lot of questions drawn with regard to Sandy Hook
and whether or not that was a real incident or not. We just don`t know.
This is insane, right? I mean, I don`t know why the family of the
dead attackers from San Bernardino have hired a lawyer or why they have
hired this particular lawyer, but apparently, part of their public defense
is going to be that maybe this whole thing didn`t really happen. Maybe the
whole San Bernardino massacre was faked by the government or by some other
people who want to take away your guns. Maybe it was a false flag attack.
Just like all those questions we have about whether or not the Sandy Hook
massacre of first-graders was faked or carried out by the government in
order to create a desire for gun control and thereby steal away your guns.
It`s insane. It`s so offensive I almost can`t describe it. I almost
cannot speak of it. But conspiracy theories like this exist in our
country, right? They circulate in our country.
And they come from somewhere. And mostly where they come from is the
Web site and radio show of a man named Alex Jones, who is the foremost and
most insistent proponent of the idea there wasn`t a massacre at Sandy Hook
and all those kids weren`t really killed, it was all faked for political
effect by people who want your guns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX JONES, INFO WARS: Yes. So, Sandy Hook is a synthetic,
completely fake, with actors in my view manufactured. I couldn`t believe
it at first. I knew they had actors there clearly but I thought they
killed some real kids. And it just shows how bold they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The idea that the sandy hook massacre was faked, and also in
his words that the Boston bombing was faked. And also, of course, that
9/11 was faked.
And yes, this same guy, of course, is now promoting the idea that the
San Bernardino massacre this week was faked, it was also a false flag
conspiracy to try to come and take your guns.
That guy`s name is Alex Jones. He runs a radio show and a popular
conspiracy theory Web site.
And lest you think there is some divide between the craziness in the
world and the craziness in our politics, lest you think that by God, by
right there has to be some distance between that kind of offensive insanity
and the small-D democratic system of the greatest democracy on the face of
the earth, lest you think there`s any distance there, let it be known that
on the day of the San Bernardino attacks, that morning before we got word
that that massacre had happened, that day, the prohibitive front-runner for
the Republican presidential nomination spent that morning doing a half
hour-long fawning mutual appreciation society interview with Alex Jones –
with the guy who says that those kids didn`t die at Sandy Hook, Sandy Hook
massacre was a fake, and the Boston bombing was a fake and 9/11 was a fake
and after we learned about San Bernardino, of course, he says San
Bernardino was a fake, faked by these people who act these things out as
elaborate hoaxes to take your guns because that`s what the U.S. government
In his interview with the Republican presidential front-runner Donald
Trump, he told Mr. Trump, quote, “You are a true maverick.” He told Donald
Trump that he thinks 90 percent of his audience supports Donald Trump for
And so, yes, this is as nuts as nuts can be. But this is not the
fringe anymore. This is the modern Republican Party, and it looks like
they are really going to do this. Hold on. This might hurt.
MADDOW: So this just in, as they say. This just happened. As we
were just talking about Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump,
new national CNN poll gives him the largest lead he has ever had in the
race nationwide. He is 20 percent ahead of his nearest competitor. He`s
now 33 percent ahead of Jeb Bush.
You think that Mr. Trump would be happy. But earlier tonight he spoke
to several thousand supporters in Raleigh, North Carolina. He started off
by getting a warm reception from the crowd. But then this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t want it.
TRUMP: You know, the shame is that it`s one – it`s one person. And
the dishonest media, they are dishonest. You don`t believe how dishonest.
They will make that one person into the headline. Trump has – they
can`t even use the plural. They can`t put the S. But they`ll figure it
out. But they`ll say Trump has protester.
(END VIDEOI CLIP)
MADDOW: That would be incredibly dishonest, right? To make one
protester seem like lots of protesters.
But then Donald Trump went on to get interrupted by protesters nine
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: That`s number four.
TRUMP: OK. I think he came back. I think he came back. Don`t worry
about him. We`ll do this quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You may have heard that some of those protesters were saying
something that sounded like “Black Lives Matter.” And that may be what
they were saying. It is not clear at all, though, if the protesters were
all from the same group.
Donald Trump at this speech tonight in Raleigh, North Carolina, was
interrupted by different protesters ten separate times in the speech.
There was an NBC reporter in the room who counted them. That said,
all reporters are dishonest.
At the end of the tenth interruption, Mr. Trump ended his speech and
walked off the stage.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: So the amount of new information released about the San
Bernardino attack, the amount of new information released today was small
but significant. First, there`s the big news that the female shooter had
reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS on a Facebook page basically as the
attacks were getting under way. We also got our first photo of that female
attacker. She`s a Pakistani citizen named Tashfeen Malik.
In terms of the law enforcement response, the FBI now says they are
investigating the attack as an act of terrorism, but they also say there`s
no definitive indication the couple were acting in concert with anyone
That said, at today`s press briefing by authorities in San Bernardino
the local police chief also spelled out in careful detail another incident
in San Bernardino that preceded the attack. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF JARROD BURGUAN, SAN BERNARDINO POLICE DEPT.: On Monday night,
Tuesday morning before the incident, so November 30th, December 1st, right
around midnight, 1:00 in the morning, there was an incident at the regal
cinema in downtown San Bernardino at 4th and E Street, and what that case
was is that a gentleman that was described as appearing to be Middle
Eastern came up and spoke to the security guard around the time the theater
was closing, and he was asking the security guard some questions about the
movies and times and things like that but the security guard kind of
thought that it was odd.
That person ultimately left in a silver Volvo four-door vehicle, 2012,
2013. We do not have a plate. The security guard thought it was weird.
Shortly thereafter, the security guard then noticed a red late `90s Dodge
Durango driving around the area with another person that was possibly
Middle Eastern in appearance, that appeared to be taking some photographs
in and around the theater. So, the security guard took it upon himself,
notified our police department.
We got out that day or that night, we took a report, and we put that
out in a BOLO to every law enforcement area – I`m sorry, every law
enforcement agency in the county as just simply some suspicious
circumstances that were noted. So, that is all we have on that.
And then it went into the regular investigative channels and protocols
where the local was notified and they`re doing an investigative follow-up,
looking at video, that sort of stuff, to try to determine if there`s a real
threat or to see if there`s any plates associated with those vehicles.
At this point, we have zero connection that – or zero evidence or
information that connects that event with what happened here at the Inland
Regional Center on Wednesday morning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They said they had zero evidence that there was any
connection between that event just described by the San Bernardino police
chief and the mass shooting that happened on Wednesday morning. But they
did go through that incident, that previous incident Monday night, Tuesday
morning in very specific detail. So on the same day that the FBI director
said that the FBI has no reason to believe there was anybody else working
with the couple who carried out the San Bernardino attack, we also got this
new information and just this new information that you saw there about
local police concerns at a downtown San Bernardino movie theater on the
Monday night this week before the attack.
The movie theater in question is about a nine-minute drive from where
Wednesday`s attack took place at the Inland Regional Center.
Once again, though, the word from the FBI today is that they have no
indication that the attackers acted as part of a terror network or terror
cell. My question is, what do we know about what gives authorities that
Joining us now is NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams who was
at the FBI director`s briefing today.
Pete, thanks very much for staying with us tonight. I appreciate you
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: You bet.
MADDOW: What makes the authorities believe that the shooters weren`t
linked to any larger group?
WILLIAMS: Found no indication of it. Most of the evidence that they
have so far is pretty clear, is records that are in the possession of
others. That is to say, phone records, e-mail, social media, that kind of
The primary source material would be the electronic devices
themselves, their phones, their computers. The FBI has those, but it`s
going to be hard to get any information off of them very quickly because
the killers, as the FBI director calls them, went to great lengths to try
to conceal what`s on them. They smashed them. They threw the cell phones
away. They banged up the hard drives.
So, it doesn`t mean they can`t get anything off of them. But it`s
taking a while. And the electronic communications they have, they reveal,
for example, this Facebook posting, phone calls to others, but they don`t
give substance other than the Facebook posting of what they were talking
So, it`s hard for the FBI to know what their plans were, who they were
in communication with – well, what the communication was. There`s no
indication that they say that a foreign terror group was in touch with them
or any own terrorists were in touch with them either in the U.S. or
MADDOW: The information about the Facebook posting, specifically
about the female member of the couple, we have not heard about any similar
allegations of any profession of faith or allegiance to ISIS from the male
part of the couple.
MADDOW: Is that feeding a thesis, a law enforcement thesis that she
may have been the instigator, that she may have been the radicalizing force
here, if that`s the appropriate thing to call it?
WILLIAMS: I wouldn`t call it a thesis based on the people I`ve talked
to. It`s certainly a question. And you can understand why.
You look at the trajectory of Syed Farook`s life. He seems to be
fitting in, doing well with his colleagues. And was there a change in his
life? Well, a year ago he brought his bride back that he met online and
picked up overseas from Saudi Arabia, where they had their first face-to-
face meeting and brought her to the United States.
So, she`s been here a little over a year. She became a lawful
permanent resident a year after she got here July of this year.
So the question naturally arises, is that the precipitating event?
Did she become radicalized when she was here or did she come here with
radical views? Was she a plant?
All those questions are on the table. And they just don`t really have
any information to answer them.
They know very little about either of these two in terms of their
radical views. They can`t say what the motive was. They can`t say why did
they attack this place, was there some other attack they had in mind, why
did they have all those bombs, why did they have all that ammunition”
They`re haunted by those questions at this point, but they don`t have
the means to answer them yet.
MADDOW: NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams – Pete, thank
you very much. I appreciate you being here on a Friday night. Thank you.
MADDOW: We`ve got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Programming note: after this show tonight I am not sending
you to prison because you are going live instead to NBC`s Chris Jansing,
who`s going to be hosting “THE LAST WORD” tonight live from San Bernardino,
in part that is because Chris Jansing today had an incredible get for an
interview. She has been able to speak with the sister of Syed Farook, the
sister of one of the San Bernardino attackers.
Again, NBC`s Chris Jansing interviewing Syed Farook`s sister, here
tonight on a live edition of “THE LAST WORD” that is after this show. You
are not allowed to go to prison, at least not yet.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: In 1972, terrorists kidnapped 11 members of the Israeli
Olympic team at the Munich Olympics. All 11 hostages were killed. The
hostage takers tortured and killed some of the hostages themselves, but
most of the hostages` deaths occurred during a rescue attempt by German
police that went disastrously wrong.
The German military did have skilled snipers and the kind of commando
training that would have been helpful in planning and executing a hostage
rescue raid like that. But German law said their military couldn`t ever be
used on German soil and the police just didn`t have the capacity to do
something like that properly.
So, after that, within less than a year after that disaster, Germany
invented for itself a new domestic elite police unit made up of civilian
police officers but with lots of elite military gear and military-style
training. That unit still exists today. They`re called GSG 9. And that
is the elite German force that to this day handles things like domestic
counterterrorism operations and hostage rescue.
The Munich disaster was 1972. GSG 9 was created in response in 1973.
1973 is also when the FBI created its first formal SWAT team in this
country. In the late 1960s, the early 1970s, the United States had faced
our own spasm of domestic terrorism, mostly from radical leftist groups and
various separatist groups.
Even if you just take the issue of hijackings as an example, between
1968 and 1972, there were over 130 U.S. airplanes that were hijacked, 130
hijackings in four years.
In 1973, there was a 71-day armed standoff at Wounded Knee between
members of the American Indian movement and the FBI and U.S. Marshals
Service, 71 days. There was a lot of gunfire exchanged over those 71 days
including sniper fire. In the end, 15 people were wounded, two people were
killed. That was the winter of 1973.
And later that year, the FBI`s New York field office decided that they
would create that agency`s first formal SWAT team. Some local police
departments had been experimenting with the idea. The Germans at that time
were creating their own federal elite special weapons and tactics unit with
its GSG 9 group.
But the New York field office at the FBI in `73 decided they would
take the leap for that agency. An elite team of FBI agents specially
trained and equipped as almost a commando force to deal with kidnappings
and hijackings and heavily armed suspects and explosives.
New York field office was first and then a year later, the FBI decided
every field office around the country should have its own SWAT team.
Today, there are 56 FBI field offices and each of them, all 56 of them,
have their own SWAT team. They call it a tactical team.
FBI agents working at that field office volunteered for that job, they
get special training, special vetting. And when the occasion arises, they
can be called up for SWAT duty at a moment`s notice. Your federal taxpayer
dollars at work.
And on Wednesday this week, when San Bernardino police approached a
house in Redlands, California, that was believed to have been used by the
suspects in the San Bernardino mass shooting and the police took a look
inside and realized they did not have the manpower or the training to
properly deal with a house that was possibly filled with active explosives,
they made a call. They called in the FBI field office in Los Angeles and
asked them to please send over their tactical team to help.
And it was that specialized unit, the FBI tactical team that took over
that site, that conducted the search of that house, and indeed it was good
it was them dealing with it because officials now say there really were 12
pipe bombs in that house as well as equipment and materials to make many,
A lot of the FBI`s resources are located at their D.C. headquarters.
The agency has flown in a special team from there to reconstruct crime
scenes in San Bernardino. They`re sending evidence from the shooting to
their Washington laboratory by plane once or twice a day now. But one of
the legacies of an earlier period of frequent terrorist violence in U.S.
history and world history is that on Wednesday night when local police in
San Bernardino basically ran out of resources, they had at their disposal
an FBI-trained elite equipped tactical team ready to go, ready to handle it
just a short drive away.
Law enforcement has a lot of capacity in this country. Does law
enforcement have the specific capabilities, the specific weapons and
tactics that they need, particularly when it comes to preventing incidents
like this, when it comes to stopping incidents like this before they
happen, particularly when it seems like all the relevant contacts, all the
relevant enlistment, these declarations of intent, they all now seem to
Joining us now is Malcolm Nance. He`s a former U.S. counterterrorism
and intelligence officer. He`s now the executive director of the Terror
Asymmetrics Project. His next book is called “Defeating ISIS.”
Malcolm, it`s good to see you. Thanks for being here.
MALCOLM NANCE, VETERAN U.S. INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Always good to see
MADDOW: I understand you as part of your work are going to be
training some domestic tactical units on counterterrorism techniques and
approaches. What are the big principles you that think need to be used for
that kind of stuff in the United States right now?
NANCE: Well, we actually do have a lot of capacity, as you said.
Ever since that period in the 1970s, you know, when the first SWAT team
started evolving after the Munich Olympics and all the – as you said,
American hijackings, a lot of American terrorist groups, small-scale
terrorist groups like the SDS.
That capacity has grown over that period of time. And then you
accelerate that to the period post-9/11 where we decided to have this
capacity in virtually every city, not just with the federal level but also
with the state and local level. There is a lot of military-trained people.
There are a lot of weapons systems out there now. People complain about
militarized vehicles and things like that with their law enforcement
But this capacity is needed to a certain extent. Now, we`ve seen this
week and after the incidents that occurred in Paris people are starting to
realize we need this kind of capacity. We need heavily armored vehicles.
We need 50-caliber sniper rifles. That is there in place.
As you saw in San Bernardino a large quantity of material came in.
You had this local, you had the sheriffs, you had the state troopers and
then the FBI tac teams come in from Los Angeles.
MADDOW: But you had all of those people come in after everybody was
MADDOW: And what we don`t have, or I guess what I want to know, if we
are getting better at, is the kind of counterterrorism weapons and tactics
– and maybe I mean weapons in scare quotes – but the kind of thing that
would let us see these things coming before they happen eventually.
NANCE: In fact, that would be anti-terrorism.
NANCE: And we do have great anti-terrorism capacity but as you saw in
this incident, these people were operating in a vacuum. And, you know,
I`ve heard all day today why it didn`t they see it, how come the family
didn`t know about this?
Well, you have to know about what goes on in the intelligence level of
the organization that you`re operating against. Let`s say we`re assuming
right now we`re all up against ISIS and ISIS-inspired people, al Qaeda-
inspired people. We know right from the bat, the first thing they do is
isolate you away from your family.
We saw that in the Omar Abdulmutallab, the airplane bomb. His parents
in Nigeria went to the Central Intelligence Agency and said we don`t know
what`s going on with our son, he doesn`t talk to us, we think he`s a threat
to the United States. That`s how we learned about it, because they
couldn`t communicate with him.
So, it`s the level of intelligence that now needs to come out to U.S.
law enforcement is almost the same that we had in 2003 when I was training
state and homeland security departments. Foreign intelligence officers
from the Middle East like myself now have to come to federal and local law
enforcement to give them the same intelligence capacity and the same
intelligence training as a U.S. special operations unit in Iraq or
Afghanistan would have.
MADDOW: So –
NANCE: That`s the factor that`s missing.
MADDOW: And as we have seen the sort of physical up-scaling in our
capabilities, the intelligence, the – basically bringing intelligence home
is part of it that we`re halfway down the path to.
Malcolm Nance, former U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence officer -
- Malcolm, thank you. I learn something every single time I talk to you.
NANCE: It`s my pleasure.
MADDOW: Appreciate it. We`ve got lots more ahead today, including an
incredible story out of California that has absolutely nothing to do with
terrorism but is jaw-dropping in its own way. That`s ahead.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: I know you don`t read the physical paper anymore. I know you
get all your news online and on TV.
Here`s a reason to go buy “The New York Times” in print tomorrow.
Tomorrow morning when “The New York Times” is published for the first time
since 1920, they are going to run an editorial on their first page. A-1 of
the “New York Times” tomorrow includes an editorial called “The Gun
Epidemic,” which argues that it is a “moral outrage and national disgrace,
the state of our nation`s gun laws.”
Again, first time they`ve run an editorial on page 1 since 1920.
That`s tomorrow morning in “The New York Times”.
MADDOW: For gun control activists, it`s become a white whale. A
loophole in our existing federal gun laws allows thousands of people a year
to buy guns without having to have a background check. You just have to
buy your gun from somewhere other than a gun store.
That loophole was tacked into the Brady Act which took effect in 1994.
Basically, the result of is, if you buy a firearm at a federally licensed
dealer, yes, you have to get a background check. But if you guy a gun from
a private seller, even if it`s a huge gun warehouse market place, like one
of these gun shows, then congratulations, felon terrorist domestic abuser
or certified insane person, no background check required. Here`s your gun.
It wasn`t until years after the Brady Bill took effect in May 1999
after the Columbine massacre that Congress felt even compelled to try to
fix that. It was New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg who first introduced
legislation to say that even sales at gun shows should require a background
The Lautenberg bill passed the Senate in a nail-biter tie breaking
vote by Vice President Al Gore is how it passed. But in that year, 1999,
it went on to die in the House.
Since then, that loophole has remained. It`s survived lots of
attempts to close it. Right after the Sandy Hook shootings in new town,
Connecticut, in 2012, there was momentum from Democrats to revisit the
issue once again, this time from help with a handful of Republicans, but
still it wasn`t enough.
Even now, immediately after the San Bernardino attacks, with even some
Republicans coming out once again to say they would support background
checks for all gun sales, the Senate once again this week failed to close
that loophole. But could there be another way?
“The New York Times” is now reporting that White House officials are
looking to ways to try to close at least most of the gun show loophole
without Congress. They think they may have a way to do it by President
A White House official telling “The New York Times,” quote, “the work
is very much under way.” Asked at a press briefing whether the president
would wait until the investigation into San Bernardino is over before he
took any such action, Press Secretary Josh Earnest today said no. He said
the White House had been working on trying to do this, trying to close this
loophole since before this week`s shooting anyway.
If that is the case, if they`re working on it, if they have a way to
do it, that, of course, is big news for the folks who have been trying to
fix this thing for almost two decades now. Will it work? How can it be
done without Congress?
Congress really is never going to do it. It`s never going to happen
unless President Obama does it, not unless the Republican Party somehow
gets itself surgically separated from its conjoined twin, which is called
MADDOW: This is a story that would have been a huge deal this week
had everybody`s attention not been completely riveted on what happened in
San Bernardino. But this is also a southern California story.
This is the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility. It`s basically
some old oil wells now being repurposed to store natural gas underground.
The gas gets injected deep underground, thousands of people
underground by big compressors and the gas gets stored there in underground
tanks until the company wants to take it out again and send it to consumers
through it network of pipeline.
Something went wrong there in October. One storage well, 8,500 feet
underground started leaking, started leaking both natural gas and the
additive that they put in natural gas to give it in rotten egg smell so you
know when you have a leak.
And the people of Porter Ranch, California, which is in southern
California San Fernando Valley, they live about a mile downwind of this
natural gas storage fields. And when it started leaking, they got a really
big whip. And since then, for weeks now, since October, the gas company
has been trying to stop that leak but it hasn`t worked.
The private utility that owns the storage well is called Southern
California Gas Company. And they say they think the leak is happening
somewhere in the first few hundred feet below ground, in a casing around a
particular seven-inch pipe. But even though they have this theory of what
the problem is, their efforts to fix this problem haven`t worked at all.
Their big idea was to fill that pipe with saltwater, basically as a
cork so that the gas could get up and while they were figuring out where
the league was and how to fix it. So far, they`ve tried their saltwater
method six times and it has failed six times.
Their next big idea was to try to kill the well altogether. You might
remember this idea from the BP disaster. You drill a new well, a new hole
next to the original hole and you intercept the leaky pipe somewhere below
where it`s leaking. You pump a bunch of cement in to plug the well.
So, that`s the new plan with this big natural gas leak as well. The
only problem is, if all goes perfectly, that sort of plan will take months,
up to four months. And for some residents of Porter ranch living with that
the rotten egg smell, that means four more months of headaches and nausea
and nosebleeds and respiratory problems.
And aside from this as a potential public health disaster, this is
also a budding environmental disaster because the primary component of
natural gas is methane, which is a particularly potent greenhouse gas.
State air quality regulators estimate the leak is releasing up to 50,000
kilograms of methane every hour, and they say if that well keeps doing that
at that rate, then basically this leak will equal 25 percent of
California`s daily greenhouse gags emissions. Or another way to think of
it, this is roughly the same effect as driving 160,000 cars for a year.
Meanwhile, the gas company is footing the bill to temporarily relocate
residents from nearly 350 homes in the area. They may end up relocating
hundreds of more people before this is done.
The resident, not surprisingly, are gearing up far major legal fight
here, including a class action lawsuit. They`re suing not only the gas
company but state officials who they say have been negligent in allowing
the leak to happen. Attorneys for the residents say they want the gas
company to stop injecting gas into these underground wells for storage
altogether. They want the state officials to require the companies end
This week, L.A. County supervisors asked California Governor Jerry
Brown to intervene and use his executive authority to have state regulatory
officials take immediate action to figure out how to stop this leak. The
company can`t do it. Let the state come in and do it.
One thing it turns out we are great at in this country is drilling
holes really, really, really, really, really, really deep in the ground for
oil and gas purposes. One thing we`re not so great at is figuring out what
to do with those holes when things go wrong with them.
This leak is so big it`s a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions for
all the state of California. Four months to fix it? Watch this space.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again Monday.
Our live coverage continues now with my colleague Chris Jansing in San
Good evening, Chris. It`s great to have you there.
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