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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 02/19/15

Guests: Lawrence Korb, Matt Duss, Charles Pierce, Malcolm Vance, TsedeyeGebreselassi

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN. REP. TED YOHO (R), FLORIDA: They`re fighting for their god and all I can say is, the person who has god on their side is going to win this. HAYES: Holy war talk from a Republican member of Congress as a majority of Americans now favor ground troops to fight ISIS. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These terrorists are desperate for legitimacy. HAYES: Tonight, as the president fights his critics, have we learned nothing? Then, the political fallout from Rudy`s horrible Obama remarks. RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I do hear him criticize America much more often than other American presidents. HAYES: Plus, Benjamin Netanyahu commissions a poll that would make Dick Morris blush. DICK MORRIS: We`re going to win by a landslide. HAYES: The raise the wage campaign scores its biggest victory ever. And my exclusive interview with the former CIA agent who did two years in prison for talking to a reporter about torture. (on camera): You`re the only person that has gone to prison over torture. FORMER CIA AGENT: Yes. HAYES: How do you feel about that? (voice-over): ALL IN starts right now. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. NBC News has learned that Iraqi military forces backed by U.S. air strikes and possibly even American ground troops could launch an assault to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS fighters as early as April. This news arrives on the same day that a new poll shows for the very first time a majority of Americans now favoring the use of ground troops in the fight against ISIS. It caps a week in which war rhetoric has dramatically ratcheted up. A senior U.S. official from U.S. Central Command told NBC News Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski that as many as 20,000 Iraqi military and Kurdish forces could be involved in the operation to retake Mosul, Iraq`s second largest city. The official said that if needed, U.S. ground forces, including Special Operations Forces and forward air controllers used to call in air strikes could also be involved in the operation. Eerily, arriving on the same day, word that for the first time, a majority of Americans would support U.S. ground troops in the battle against ISIS. According to a CBS News poll, 57 percent now favor using U.S. ground troops against ISIS. That support represents an increase from 47 percent in October of last year, and just 39 percent one month before that. Furthermore, 65 percent of Americans now view ISIS as a major threat to the U.S. The war rhetoric is also not limited to discussion of ISIS or even Iraq. A member of Congress is now suggesting that the proposed authorization to use military force in the battle against is include the nation of Iran. Congressman Ed Royce, Republican of California, and chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was asked in an interview about including Iran in the administration`s proposed AUMF. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) HUGH HEWITT: Do you, personally, I don`t know what the committee would do, but would you support giving the president the explicit authority to strike at the Iranian nuclear capacity if they do not abandon it themselves? REP. ED ROYCE (R-CA), CHAIR, HOUST FOREIGN AFFAIRS CMTE: I think it is a good idea. And I will tell you, Hugh, that there are two jihads going on. One of them is the ISIS jihad, which you and I are familiar with. The other is something that`s not being talked about that much, but that is the jihad that`s coming out of Iran. (END AUDIO CLIP) HAYES: That comment comes as hawks in Congress are doing everything in their power to destroy the possibility of a deal with Iran on its nuclear program, and a rise amid a crescendo of drum-beating for more war in the Middle East with the U.S. waging those wars. And it furthers a week of particularly harsh criticism that has been unleashed on the White House. Not only that the proposed AUMF should more explicitly allow ground troops, but that the president of the United States is not employing the correct war rhetoric. And that particular brand of criticism has not stopped. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) YOHO: When you have the president of the United States unwilling to identify who the terrorists are as Islamic radical jihadists, how can you solve a problem? We`re taking god out of this country, they`re fighting for their god, and all I can say is the person that has god on their side is going to win this. (END AUDIO CLIP) HAYES: President Obama speaking today at a global conference on violent extremism, bluntly responded to the complaint that he is not identifying is as Islamic terrorists. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: We have to confront the warped ideologies espoused by terrorists like al Qaeda and ISIL, especially their attempt to use Islam to justify their violence. These terrorists are desperate for legitimacy. And all of us have a responsibility to refute the notion that groups like ISIL somehow represent Islam, because that is a falsehood that embraces the terrorists` narrative. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: If the terrorists` narrative in this case is coming from ISIS, that they are fearsome and fearless and terrifying and threatening and are coming for the West and coming for the U.S., well, that`s a narrative being embraced all throughout American politics and media at this moment. Joining me now, Lawrence Korb, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, former assistant secretary of defense, and Matt Duss, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace. Mr. Korb, let me begin with you, since you were at DOD a while back. What do you make of this news leaking of a planned offensive against Mosul, which seems at first blush at least a bit strange, because obviously there is no longer any element of surprise, were there to be one? LAWRENCE KORB, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, I think the ISIS knew we were going to come to Mosul. What`s very significant about this, back in the end of November, General Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said we would go after Mosul in the first quarter of 2015, but he said we`d need 80,000 troops. Now, they`re talking about 20,000, which is a big difference. And the fact is that I think it shows that we`re making some progress. The military always does worse case. If he could go from 80,000 down to 20,000, you know, to be able to take Mosul, I think that it shows that, you know, we are degrading them, at least militarily. HAYES: Well, let me follow up on that, and, Matt, I want to ask you a question. But this seems to me to be something that is essentially never talked about. I mean, basically, we`re getting these horrific images of ISIS that make you feel angry and terrified and disgusted. That they`re beheading Christians on the beach in Libya or killing the Japanese photographer or the Jordanian pilot, that is distinct from whether they`re having a good six months from a strategic standpoint, in terms of the ground they hold. And there`s some evidence to suggest that they haven`t had a good six months in terms of the ground they hold. Larry? KORB: OK, again, I think it`s important that we`ve killed several thousand of them, and they are replacing them, but the troops that are coming are not nearly as effective as the ones that we`ve killed. The Kurdish -- the Peshmerga is getting much better. We`re beginning to train the Iraqi forces. I don`t worry so much about them going into Mosul, because as that same Pentagon press release talked about, there`s 1,000 to 3,000. I wonder what happens after, and I wonder what`s happening if you`re using Shiite militias as part of this 20,000 troops force. HAYES: Matt, you were -- witnessed the buildup to the war in Iraq in 2002 and 2003. It feels to me an eerily similar kind of crescendo happening, in which it`s very hard to find any kind of perspective, or to find anyone asking hard questions about what actually happens the day after is might be defeated or the fact that ISIS is a creation of the last military intervention there, or the fact that the last place in which we intervened militarily, 2011, in Libya, we now have ISIS. I mean, are we just reprising all of our mistakes? MATT DUSS, FOUNDATION FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE: Well, I think the problem here is that it`s a very seductive idea that military force is decisive in a way that political or diplomatic or the economic tool, all of these other things are not. And I think that`s very appealing to people, because they`re confronted with these images day after day of the brutality of ISIL, and they are brutal. They are a monstrous organization, there`s no question. So I think it gives rise to this idea that we just need to strike them and we`ll solve the problem that way. But I agree, if anything should have disabused us of this idea, it`s the last decade and more of Iraq. And I just want to pick up on something that Larry said. Yes, so, OK, so even if we take Mosul, we will still be stuck with the problems that we were stuck with in Iraq, which is that we have a Shiite-dominated government that`s not inclusive. You have a Sunni minority that feels completely unrepresented. This is a problem we couldn`t solve with over 100,000 troops in Iraq. So, the idea we`re going to address it now, I just see no strategy for this. HAYES: Well, Larry, you made mention of the Shiite troops, and that gets to the fact that whatever political solution there might be to ISIS seems incredibly difficult to get your hands around. I mean, what do you think we`re going to see? Are we going to see more U.S. ground troops in Iraq before all is said and done? KORB: Well, you might see -- we already have 3,000 troops. The real question is, are you going to send large combat divisions like we did when we invaded Iraq? I think that`s off the table. And, you know, when I saw your poll about the Americans supporting this, as Matt just pointed out, they all supported the initial invasion of Iraq. Now, I think if you do use them and you have spotters on the ground that can call in air strikes if you need to, maybe some Special Operations Forces, that`s allowed in the AUMF, the authorization for the use of military force that President Obama has set up. But that`s what I said. The real question is, what happens after you get Mosul? Who`s going to run it? Are you going to have Shiites in there? Are you going to go house to house to root these people out and cause more damage? And then the final analysis, we`re not going to defeat ISIS militarily. We have to undermine their narrative, so that young people around the world are not -- in the Middle East and around the world are not attracted to join them. HAYES: Matt, I want you to respond to Congressman Royce. This is a fairly prominent Republican. He`s the chair of foreign affairs, talking about including Iran in the AUMF. I mean, you have a situation now in which there is a war of all against all that`s happening across Syria and Iraq. In which you have American members of Congress who want us to be fighting Assad, ISIS, and functionally Iran all at the same time. DUSS: Yes. It`s just crazy. There`s no other word for it. I mean, we`re in the midst of a very delicate and very important and potentially very significant negotiation with Iran, that while would not solve all the problems, it would take the nuclear issue off the table and create the possibility of addressing some of these broader issues, between the United States and Iran, that could have very positive implications for U.S. security and for regional security. Now, the idea that we would -- that we would include Iran in a declaration of war and authorization for the use of military force, I mean, if you want to, you know, empower Iranian hardliners to simply withdraw from the negotiations, that seems like a great way to do it. And it seems increasingly clear that that`s precisely what a lot of these hawks in Congress want to happen. HAYES: Yes, I just cannot imagine. I mean, we have -- every force that is currently fighting in Iraq and Syria is a force that at some point, some prominent member of Congress or politician or media outlet has called for the U.S. to use military force against. And at a certain point, I mean, you imagine a quagmire of just ghastly proportions, should we see more and more U.S. troops brought in there. Lawrence Korb and Matt Duss, thank you very much. KORB: Thank you. DUSS: Thanks. HAYES: All right. Why it seems like America`s mayor doesn`t understand the meaning of the word "patriot," ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Earlier this week, I sat down for a face-to-face on-camera interview with a former spy. And interviewing a spy, as you might imagine, is tricky business. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Before we go further, I`ve got to ask you this. I`ve had some experience in talking to spooks in my reporting career. And two things have struck me. One is, a lot of them seem a little crazy. And the other thing is, you guys are trained, paid liars. FORMER CIA AGENT: Yes. HAYES: So, it`s like, why should I believe anything you`re saying to me now, right? I mean, you literally, professionally lied for decades. FORMER CIA AGENT: Yes, you`re trained to lie. You lie all the time. You lie, you cheat, you steal, you swindle, you trick people. That`s the nature of the job. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: More of my interview with John Kiriakou, the only official to go to prison in connection with CIA torture, coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Last night in Manhattan, a group of conservative economists, media figures, and business executives came together for a dinner featuring Wisconsin governor and likely 2016 GOP presidential candidate, Scott Walker. And with Walker just a few seats away, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani addressed the crowd, had said something that even he knew was horrible. Quote, "I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe the president loves America," Giuliani said, as quoted by "Politico". "He doesn`t love you and he doesn`t love me. He wasn`t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country." Giuliani was asked to elaborate this morning on FOX News. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GIULIANI: Well, first of all, I`m not questioning his patriotism. He -- he`s a patriot, I`m sure. What I`m saying is that in his rhetoric, I very rarely hear him say the things that I used to hear Ronald Reagan say, the things I used to hear bill Clinton say about how much he loves America. I do hear him criticize America much more often than other American presidents. And when it`s not in the context of an overwhelming number of statements about exceptionalism of America, it sounds like he`s more of a critic than he is a supporter. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: OK. Giuliani opened that comment by saying he was not questioning the president`s patriotism. What he had said, again, was, quote, "I do not believe the president loves America." So, here`s the actual dictionary definition of the word "patriot." Quote, "A person who loves and strongly supports or fights for his or her country." So, Rudy Giuliani is correct. He was not questioning the president`s patriotism. He was flat-out calling the president unpatriotic. So, anyway, Scott Walker, who again was sitting just a few seats from Giuliani last night, was asked about Giuliani`s claim today on CNBC. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: The mayor can speak for himself. I`m not going to comment on whether -- what the president thinks or not. He can speak for himself as well. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you agree with those comments? Were you offended by those comments? What was your reaction when you heard them? WALKER: I`m in New York. I`m used to people saying the kind of things that were aggressive. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: You know, people say the president`s not patriotic. Quick side note here: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a likely Walker rival in the GOP presidential race decided to send out a statement proactively this afternoon, quote, "Governor Jindal refuses to condemn Mayor Giuliani for his commons." Now, since Jindal wasn`t at dinner, I doubt very many people were actually asking his position on this. But just so you know, to be clear, Bobby Jindal really wants all of us to know, he is squarely on team Obama doesn`t love America. Now, back to Scott Walker. I want to be completely clear about what was going on last night. In addition to Giuliani, the dinner attendees were reported to have included Larry Kudlow, Arthur Laffer, and Steven Moore, as well as anti-tax activist, Grover Norquist, central figures in the GOP`s decades-love love affair with supply-side economics, whose driving concern is cutting taxes for the rich. What they want is to stick with the Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan agenda, and they`re now auditioning to find a better vessel to sell that agenda to the American people. In Scott Walker, they seem to think they may have found their man. Joining me now, Charles Pierce, writer at large at "Esquire" magazine, and a staff writer at "Grantland". Charlie, it`s been a long time since I`ve seen a politician say something preceded by, "I know this is a horrible thing to say, but" get to the clause, comma, and just keep going. CHARLES PIERCE, ESQUIRE: That`s right. Once you get to the phrase, "I know this is a terrible thing to say, but" is when you take off your sock and stuff it in your mouth and you don`t talk for the rest of the evening. Chris, remember when you and I were young and McCarthyite used to be an insult? HAYES: Yes. I mean, yes, I do. PIERCE: Well, it`s not anymore! It is permissible within mainstream Republican and mainstream conservative dialogue to say anything about this president. HAYES: Really. It really is. And this is something, I mean, the president doesn`t love this country, he wasn`t raised the way you and I were -- which is all just gross, I don`t know what that`s supposed to mean, but he wasn`t raised like you and I were raised, who knows what Rudy Giuliani meant by that. But also, the fact, I was genuinely, I will say, I was genuinely, and I probably shouldn`t be surprised, genuinely surprised that Walker didn`t just say, of course I think the president loves this country. Rudy Giuliani doesn`t speak for me on that. Easy! Like he won`t say it, he wouldn`t say it! PIERCE: Hey, he`s still backing and filling on Charles Darwin. He`s got to work his way up to Rudy Giuliani. No, not only is this a party full of bullies, it`s a party full of cowards. I mean, you heard Rudy Giuliani try to walk this thing back today, and as you pointed out saying, I wasn`t questioning his patriotism. Well, you weren`t questioning his sense of style, pal. Everybody knew what you were saying. Everybody in that room knew what you were saying. And to have Walker come out and say -- well, it`s New York, you can hear, you know, anybody say anything. This wasn`t some guy yelling out the window of a cab. This wasn`t some guy on a soap box in Central Park. This guy was standing up in front of an audience of the creme de la creme of the conservative movement. I mean, you talk about the four horsemen of the apocalypse. I mean, you have the four horsemen of the fiscal apocalypse in that room. HAYES: And to me, what that signifies, I think, is that they are auditioning -- they see in Scott Walker, Matt O`Brien, I think, a writer I follow on Twitter, said, he`s the candidate for people who think that Republicans just need to change their message or their packaging and not really change any of their ideas. That Scott Walker, there`s a sense that, OK, maybe this can be the guy who can successfully run on essentially the Ryan budget and the Mitt Romney agenda. PIERCE: Well, yes, he`s the -- you know, he`s the Mitt Romney who doesn`t have a car elevator. You know, he`s got this weird kind of blue- collar thing going now, and he`s a victim because people have shouted terrible things outside their house. And, you know, I -- I saw this coming the night I was in Milwaukee, the night he won his recall. I said, this guy is everything everybody thinks Chris Christie is. All Chris Christie has done is yell at the various bets noire of the Republican Party. This guy`s beaten them all. This guy has heads on his wall. And I thought that was a very compelling thing. The only thing I wondered about -- actually, there are two things I wonder about: number one, why so many people who work for his campaign are going to jail. Number two, whether or not he would overcome this charisma deficit he obviously had, and he did that in Iowa. And now, I think people are looking at him as a serious contender. HAYES: And yet in the last week, this is where I think, this is the peril that all Republican front-runners or establishment choices or whatever you want to call them are going to have. Which is, they believe it is impossible for them to survive a Republican primary or not damage themselves by saying they believe in or they accept evolution as a theory of natural development, or that they, of course, think the president loves this country. There`s going to be one of these every week. And those are going to accrue. And they`re going to come back to haunt whoever it is who ends up with the nomination. PIERCE: Well, I mean, this is a chronic problem that goes -- no, that has gone back to at least 2008, where John McCain felt obligated to put Sarah Palin on the ticket to -- at least partly to appease these people. You know, we all saw what the clown car looked like in 2012. And it looks like in 2016, we`re going to have a clown SUV. HAYES: I`m reminded also, when you talk about McCain, of there was that sort of iconic moment, remember, where at one of these town halls, these town halls were getting sort of rowdier and rowdier and angrier and angrier, and someone basically got up and questioned president`s at the time, Senator Barack Obama`s patriotism, and John McCain basically put him in his place and said no -- you know, called him a Muslim. You`re never going to see that in this version of the GOP -- PIERCE: Look, to me, that was the high point of the 2008 McCain campaign, was that moment with that woman, where he said, no, he`s not, he`s a good American citizen, a fine family man, whatever. OK. None of the guys or ladies who are rumored to be running for the Republican nomination have those kind of stones. It`s simply not viable anymore, given the fact that, you know, the size of the genie that`s been let out of this bottle. HAYES: Charlie Pierce, as always, a pleasure. Stay warm up in Boston. PIERCE: Thanks! Thanks, Chris. HAYES: All right. Good news for half a million Walmart employees, plus more of my exclusive interview with the only official who ever went to prison in connection with the CIA`s torture program, ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: There`s record-breaking cold across the country today. It`s winter, so it`s supposed to be cold, but it is really cold -- so cold that things like this are happening, we think, although there are some in the office who are skeptical this could actually happen, according to NBC meteorologist Bill Karins. This morning in Barrow, Alaska, the northern- most city in the U.S., it was 13 degrees. In Nashville, Tennessee, it was 11, and it was 40 degrees in both Juneau, Alaska, and New Orleans. It`s even cold in Florida. Cold for them. It`s so cold there that the national weather service has issued a freeze warning for the town of Frostproof. It`s a real place. Something called the Siberian Express is responsible for all of this. It`s actually cold arctic air from northern Russia and it`s predicted to be even worse tomorrow in some places like here in New York, and this weekend, more winter precipitation -- this is like a sick joke at this point. More winter precipitation predicted for some, including the state of Massachusetts, where Boston is already buried under 96 inches of snow. So, really, the only solution to cope with a seemingly never-ending winter is to stay inside and watch videos, like this, and contemplate whether they`re real or not. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Today, Walmart announced it would be giving raises to half a million employees. The company plans to start paying all of its workers at least $9 an hour by April, with a plan to push that to $10 an hour next year. As Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillan explained, the move enables the country`s largest employer to better retain talent. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DOUG MCMILLON, PRESIDENT, CEO OF WALMART: We`ve got about 75 percent of our store management in the United States that comes from our hourly ranks. So today`s cashier is tomorrow`s store manager, tomorrow`s store manager may have my job. So we want to make sure that that opportunity is there for people as it has been for some many of us in the past. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Upon hearing Walmart`s decision to pay its workers an hourly wage nearly $2 more than the federal minimum wage that currently sits at $7.25 an hour and hasn`t been raised in over five years, the White House hailed the announcement and used it to put pressure on congress, tweeting, quote, "good to see Walmart raising wages for about 500,000 employees. Now it`s time for congress to hashtag #raisethewage." Today`s news, of course, also comes after years of political pressure from a national movement of low-wage workers and groups supporting them, from black Friday protests and nationwide strikes to actions outside stores to workers exercising their right to unionize and also facing tremendous recrimination, there`s been a sustained push to get retail employees a living wage. One of the groups that`s been fighting that fight, a group called Our Walmart, put out a statement today claiming victory, but also pointing out, there`s still more to do. Quote, "we are so proud that by standing together, we won raises for 500,000 Walmart workers." Adding that, quote, "this announcement still falls short of what American workers need to support our families." For years, the Walmart name has been synonymous with both low prices and low wages. The question now is, could we imagine a future in which that changes? Joining me now is Tsedeye Gebreselassi for the National Employment Law Project. It`s great to have you here. TSEDEYE GEBRESELASSIE, NATIONAL EMPLOYMENT LAW PROJECT: Great to be here. Thank you. HAYES: So, this -- this is good news -- I mean, this is big. That`s a lot -- that is a very significant raise for the people that are getting that raise. GEBRESELASSIE: That`s right. I mean, look, it`s a significant raise both because so many workers are going to benefit, 500,000 workers, and because Walmart is the largest private employer in this country, employing 1.3 million workers. Really through its actions, you know, sets the wage for this very low wage sector that`s growing. HAYES: This is a really important point, right, because people -- other places, other retail that are essentially competitors of Walmart or competitors for hiring those people, right, they -- we could imagine there`s going to be spillover wage effect for folks not even working at Walmart. GEBRESELASSIE: That`s right. And in fact, Walmart is responding to what retailers before it have done. I mean, one of the reasons why Walmart I think is raising its wages now, is because it is facing competitive pressure from other retailers like Gap and Ikea, that raise their minimum wages last year, Costco that pays a $12 an hour starting wage and nearly $20 an hour average wage. And so Walmart is responding to this, realizing that it can`t retain a workforce when it has to compete with companies that pay well and also provide, you know, good schedules, which is another issue that we`re working... HAYES: Right. So let`s talk about that in a second. But first, the big question to me also here is, are we seeing the fruits of sustained political activism, organizing, and pressure, or we`re finally seeing some tightness in the labor market, particularly at the bottom of the wage scale, which is what raises wages in a kind of econ 101 sense? GEBRESELASSIE: We`re seeing both of those things. We`re seeing tightness in the labor market and competitive pressure meaning that Walmart is responding to it. We`re seeing the fruits of very intense organizing activity over the last couple of years and Walmart workers going out on strike and raising awareness to things like Walmart doing a food drive for its workers, because its workers were relying on public assistance to make ends meet. You know, all of that feeds the consciousness. And then the third thing is, we are seeing a radically shifting political and economic landscape, where 29 states have raised the minimum wage above $7.25 an hour, where cities like Seattle and San Francisco have instituted $15 an hour minimum wages. And in this environment -- I mean, Walmart`s $10 announcement almost sees antiquated at this point, right? And so that`s why I think the workers are saying, look, this is a great first step and it`s welcome, but there is so much more to do that we`re not going to stop. HAYES: And there`s also an interesting backstory here in terms of how Walmart has reacted in the past to external efforts to mandate higher wages. GEBRESELASSIE: Total... HAYES: Yeah, completely obstinate and refuse. In D.C., there`s a D.C. ordinance that was going to require a certain floor on the wages at that Walmart store. They basically lobbied very hard, they spent a lot of money, they got the mayor to veto it. Something similar happened, went down to Chicago, and they were basically like, we will walk. So, what`s fascinating to me is like, will well -- it`s as much about power as it is money, about who gets to say when the wages get raised? GEBRESELASSIE: Exactly, exactly. And when you have, when you have -- you know, the momentum that`s happened over the last couple of years, the fact that these workers, you know, both Walmart and fast food workers have put $15 an hour into the national conversation about what our economy needs to recover, that is immense political power that Walmart, you know, today I think shows that it was responding to. HAYES: Do you think we`re going to see anything like this in the fast food sphere, which has been the site of so much sustained organizing? GEBRESELASSIE: I think -- I mean, look, I think that the fast food movement started two years ago and has already achieved immense sgains, both in terms of raising workers` wages, being the force behind many of these minimum wage laws that went into effect and starting to bring the corporate parent to actually listen and be at the table, so who knows? I mean, I think it`s two years is a very short amount of time, but I think today`s announcement bodes well. HAYES: Yeah. And hopefully tight labor markets continue. Tsedeye Gebreselassie, thank you very much. GEBRESELASSIE: Thank you. Ahead on the show... (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: When do you first hear about the program, as i believe they called it in the agency. Am i right about that? They called it program. KIRIAKOU: Yeah, the program. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: More of my exclusive interview with the only CIA official who ever went to prisons in connection with that program in a few minutes. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Earlier in the show, we told you about the bitter cold that`s gripping parts of the U.S. I`m sure many of you are trying to think of ways to keep warm tonight. I would like to offer a suggestion, snuggling right on up with our Facebook page where if you like us you can bask in the warm glow of my reciprocal approval. Back in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Only one current or former U.S. government official has gone to prison in connection with the Bush-era torture program. John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer, who once worked at the agency`s counterterrorism center and who plead guilty in 2012 to intentionally disclosing the identity of a covert agent. Kiriakou got out of prison earlier this month, 23 months into a 30- month sentence. And yesterday, I sat down with him at his home in Virginia, where he`s now under house arrest and out under house arrest, to talk about his time at the CIA and his role in making the agency`s torture program public. By 2007, there were multiple reports in the press describing the so- called enhanced interrogation program, mostly citing anonymous sources. And then in an interview with ABC, John Kiriakou became the first current or former CIA officer to confirm on the record that the agency had, indeed, waterboarded a detainee. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KIRIAKOU: My understanding is that what`s been reported in the press has been correct, in that these enhanced techniques included everything from what was called an intention shake, where you grab the person by the lapels and shake them, all the way up to the other end, which was waterboarding. He resisted. He was able to withstand the waterboarding for quite some time, and by that, I mean probably 30, 35 seconds. HAYES: That`s quite some time? KIRIAKOU: Which was quite some time. And a short time afterwards, in the next day or so, he told his interrogator that Allah had visited him in his cell during the night and told him to cooperate, because his cooperation would make it easier on the other brothers who had been captured. (END VIEO CLIP) HAYES: The man Kiriakou is discussing in that clip, a man by the name of Abu Zubaydah. Kiriakou was on the team that helped capture that prisoner in Pakistan, but he wasn`t actually present for the interrogations that he described in that interview, and as it turned out some of the information Kiriakou gave ABC was, well, wrong. As detailed in a Justice Department memo from 2005, which came to light in 2009, Abu Zubaydah was water bordered at least 83 times, as opposed to just 35 seconds. And as the Senate intelligence report on the CIA released last year noted, the quantity and type of intelligence produced by Zubaydah remained largely unchanged by the use of torture. Kiriakou has come to feel very differently about the CIA`s detention and interrogation program than he did back in 2007. When we spoke yesterday, he gave me his perspective on what happened to Abu Zubaydah, starting with the mission to capture him in Pakistan back in 2002. (BEGIN VIDEO CILP) KIRIAKOU: We were told by headquarters at the time that Abu Zubaydah was the number three in al Qaeda. That turned out to just not be true. He actually had never joined al Qaeda. And he had never pledged fealty to Osama bin Laden. But he was an al Qaeda associate. And he was the director of al Qaeda`s two training camps in Afghanistan. So, as such, even if he wasn`t the number three in al Qaeda, he was a pretty important target for us. HAYES: But you`re operating at the time thinking, we`ve got the number three of al Qaeda. KIRIAKOU: Oh, yeah. HAYES: And you must have been stoked? KIRIAKOU: Oh, absolutely. In fact, a lot of us felt it was just too good to be true, that, you know, we`ve hit this one guy, we`ve hit this one guy, we`re not going to catch the number three in al Qaeda just by going out and looking for him. HAYES: But you do catch him. KIRIAKOU: Well, we did catch him. HAYES: So now you`ve got Abu Zubaydah. What happens next? KIRIAKOU: Well, he was shot and severely wounded in this raid. He was shot by a Pakistani policeman in the thigh, the groin, and the stomach with an AK-47 and we didn`t think he was going to live. We got him medical treatment immediately that night. And he nearly bled to death. And then once he was stabilized, we flew him to a military hospital nearby. And he was there several days, spent most of it in a coma. We had a couple of brief conversations. And then, finally, the CIA sent a private jet in, with a trauma surgeon from Johns Hopkins University hospital. And they flew him off to a secret site. HAYES: When do you first hear about the program, as I believe they called it, in the agency? Am I right about that? They called it the program? KIRIAKOU: Yeah, the program. I went back to headquarters in May or June of 2002 and I heard about it, I think it was probably the middle of August, when I first heard it from a colleague who I had served in Pakistan with. HAYES: And you hear about it as sort of water cooler chat, as a formal briefing, as... KIRIAKOU: Water cooler chat, in the hall. Yeah. That Zubaydah had recovered from his wounds, he was not cooperative, and that that they were going to waterboard him. HAYES: What is your feeling at the time about the program? Like, what is the feeling in the halls? Like, do people know this thing`s existing? Do they know that you`re hearing it third-hand? KIRIAKOU: 99 percent of the people in the agency had no idea that this was going on. This was... HAYES: People literally had no idea. KIRIAKOU: No idea. This was a very closely held program. And I`ll admit to you that I, like many other people, was still so angry about September 11, I thought, well, if these murderers don`t want to cooperate, then we have to get rough. HAYES: Do you now feel, looking back, that the decision to do this was fundamentally driven by that kind of thirst for reprisal? KIRIAKOU: Oh, absolutely. HAYES: As opposed to some strategic... KIRIAKOU: Oh, there was no long-term plan. Right, there was no long-term plan, just like Guantanamo. Guantanamo was only supposed to be a temporary holding site, until we could figure out where to put these guys on trial. And trials never came. And here we are, what is it, 14 years later, and we still have Guantanamo. Well, in the agency, at the time, and I`m talking about midway through 2002 now, there was no long-term plan. It was still all about reprisals. And at the same time, Osama bin Laden had said that he was planning an attack that would dwarf September 11. And we were petrified that would happen and we would be caught flat- footed again. HAYES: Do you have more occasion to hear about the program, about interrogation, about... KIRIAKOU: Oh, sure. As time went on, more and more people began talking about it. And that`s how I heard that Abu Zubaydah had been waterboarded and that he had cracked, which is what I told Brian Ross on ABC News in December of 2007. That turned out to not be true. HAYES: So you hear that he`s waterboarded and that he cracked. You come away thinking that... KIRIAKOU: Wow, that worked. HAYES: Right. KIRIAKOU: Wow. That was fast. That`s what I thought. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: The Senate intelligence committee`s report on the CIA detention and interrogation program released this past December revealed that Abu Zubaydah had provided interrogators with valuable intelligence before he was tortured, a finding which contradicted the CIA`s assertion that so-called enhanced interrogation techniques were necessary because he`d stopped cooperating. The Senate report revealed many other disturbing details about the CIA program -- ice water baths, detainees subjected to severe and prolonged sleep deprivation, threats of sexual violence to family members. And while the foreword to the report states that CIA techniques violated the law, none of the officials responsible and faced prosecution, a fact that`s not lost on John Kiriakou. He`s now under House arrest, serving out the rest of his sentence for identifying a covert officer to a reporter. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: You`re the only person that has gone to prison over torture. KIRIAKOU: Yes. HAYES: How do you feel about that? KIRIAKOU: Very disappointed. And not because I think people involved in the torture program should just across the board be prosecuted. I don`t. I think reasonable people can agree to disagree about whether or not those people should be prosecuted. I don`t think they should. But... HAYES: You don`t think they should be prosecuted? KIRIAKOU: No, because they thought that they were following the law. They were told that the Justice Department had approved these torture techniques, that they had been signed off by the National Security Council and the president, and that what they were doing was legal. I get that. I understand. But we now know from the Senate torture report that there was a lot that was done that was not authorized by those national security findings, that was not approved by the White House. And in a couple of cases, people died in CIA custody. I always maintained that there were torture techniques worse than waterboarding -- sleep deprivation can make you so crazy you can`t participate in your own defense. That`s inexcusable. It`s illegal. The cold cell, where a prisoner is stripped naked, placed in a 50- degree cell, and then has ice water thrown some him every hour. People die from those kinds of things. Why aren`t those officers prosecuted? HAYES: That`s interesting. So the line that you see for prosecution should be that things that were done within what agents were told was in the bounds of the law shouldn`t be prosecuted, even if that actual retroactively was an erroneous legal judgment? KIRIAKOU: Exactly. I believe it was an erroneous legal judgment. I think that the Justice Department`s office of legal counsel was wrong in issuing those opinions. But if you`re a CIA officer at the working level and the Justice Department says go ahead and do it, it`s legal, well, if you don`t have a moral problem with it, what else are you going to do? HAYES: But those incidents that we`ve learned from the Senate torture report, in which that was exceeded... KIRIAKOU: Yes. HAYES: You think that should be subject to prosecution? KIRIAKOU: I absolutely think that those officers should be subject to prosecution, yes. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: We reached out to the CIA for a response. They declined to comment. Up next, the legacy of the torture program and whether a retired spy can be a reliable narrator of history. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: You guys are trained, paid liars. KIRIAKOU: Yes. HAYES: So, it`s like why should I believe anything you`re saying to me now? You literally professionally lied for decades. KIRIAKOU: Yeah, you`re trained to lie. You lie all the time. You lie, you cheat, you steal, you swindle, you trick people, that`s the nature of the job. Yes. The problem at the agency oftentimes is that those guys don`t know when to turn it off... HAYES: do you know when to turn it off? KIRIAKOU: I hope that I do. I think that I do. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Joining me now, counterterrorism expert Malcolm Nance, author of "An End to al Qaeda." Malcolm, great to have you. I`ve been following you for a long time. I`m really glad to have you on the show. MALCOLM NANCE, COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT: My pleasure. HAYES: What do you think -- I thought that his point, John`s point about prosecution -- I mean, what do you think, first of all, to start this off, about the fact that he`s the only guy who`s seen the inside of a jail cell for this entire program and what he did was talk to a reporter about it. NANCE: well, within the intelligence community, you`re always going to have a dim view of people who disclose highly classified information. Unfortunately, when you`re dealing with clandestine agencies like the CIA, naming someone in their true name is a federal felony. He has copped to that. He admits to all of that. And he`s served his time for that now. But the very fact that he is the only person who has been brought to account for activities which, certainly coming from my perspective in the world, you know, I stand for the honor of the program that actually was brought out, that`s the survival, evasion, resistance, and escape program, which was brought out, drawn from the blood of tortured American service members, and which was re- engineered into this program, which he described earlier. It`s almost shameful. HAYES: Do you think he`s hated, Kiriakou? I mean, I get the sense that he is persona non grata inside the CIA. Well, he`s a convicted felon. And that`s all you can say. But the activities as he presented them the first time were almost within whistleblower protections. Again, he divulged that classified information, and that`s what he`s been held to account for. But the broad program of individuals who literally decided that these activities, which the world has seen forever as torture, which we prosecuted people for in World War II, was good enough for us to use. That in itself is a crime. I mean, it`s certainly enough to besmirch the entire honor of the United States. But that -- people should be held to account for that. HAYES: What do you think the legacy of that period has been for counterterrorism and intelligence now? Have things gotten better? Is there some sort of internal repudiation that`s happened, or is it basically, that was a bad chapter and if we have another attack and someone sends the order down from OIC again, we`ll go back at it? NANCE: Well, let`s just look at this on a day-to-day basis. Look at today. We have ISIS and a large-scale al Qaeda affiliate that is now taking over terrain in various parts of the Middle East, fulfilling bin Laden Jihad, executing people wearing the orange jumpsuits of prisoners that were sent to Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. The entire last 13 years that I`ve been operating throughout the Middle East -- I just came back from seven years in the Middle East, every person has brought up Abu Ghraib, torture, waterboarding, and all of these atrocities, these activities which were carried out by U.S. personnel and U.S. government agencies. This is not the standard that we needed to defeat these enemies. We cannot allow a moral equivalency with our -- with the opposition. HAYES: It`s fascinating, you say that, of pointing out those orange jumpsuits, which has become now so iconic in the snuff films that ISIS seems so fond of. Respond to someone like Tom Cotton, senator and veteran who says, that`s making excuses for evil, making excuses for the enemies. They don`t need an excuse. How dare you bring that up. VANCE: Well, you know, Tom Cotton, of all people should know better. He was a service member. He swore an oath to uphold and protect the United States, but not just to protect the citizens of the United States. We have a 200-plus- year history of serving with honor. And if honor and the dignity of the United States and when the United States armed forces goes into war or our intelligence agencies go into operations and we can`t do it cleanly, then, you know, you`re not actually working for our goals, you`re working for our enemies` goals. We can not empower ISIS. We cannot empower al Qaeda. We cannot empower Boko Haram to go out and do what they believe we`ve done. HAYES: Malcolm Nance, really a pleasure. Thank you, sir. That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END