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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/12/11

Guests: E.J. Dionne, Joe Cirincione, Ali Soufan

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, "THE LAST WORD": David, I`m sorry. We have to wrap it there. We invaded Rachel Maddow`s time. David Weprin, the Democrat, trying to win Anthony Weiner`s seat in York -- thank you very much for joining us tonight. WEPRIN: Thank you, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: And as we know, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is up right now. RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Lawrence, I take that as a friendly invasion. Thank you very much, my friend. (LAUGHTER) O`DONNELL: Never to happen again. MADDOW: I enjoy it really. No worry. I do it to Ed every single night, unfortunately, without trying to, so I can never complain about this ever. Anyway, thank you, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Thank you. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. The tiny little town of Mendon, Vermont, has a big problem right now. It is a problem that most other towns across the country do not have and it is a problem that Mendon, itself, did not have until recently. This right here is the main highway that runs through Mendon, Vermont. It`s called Route 4. As you can see, it`s a scenic little road lined by forests on both sides. That`s what Route 4 look like up until a couple weeks ago. Here`s what it looks like now. Oh, instead of a nice, scenic road, it`s now a thing that used to be a road but is now mostly just a river. When hurricane Irene barreled up the East Coast a couple of weeks ago, it took most of that stretch of Route 4 in Vermont with it. The road vanished into the floodwaters and this -- look at this -- this is what is left over Route 4. And that is a big problem if you live in that area and use Route 4 every day to get to work or to get to school or get to the grocery store. You know, you say problem, and Vermonters say challenge. If you commute along Route 4 and there aren`t other roads to drive on as a detour, what do you do, when your primary means of getting to work and home and back again as gone away? Vermonters it turns out hike through the woods. Residents in central Vermont found a half-mile-long path through the forest. Just a trail, really that allows them to bypass that crumbled out stretch of Route 4 that we just showed and that they used to depend on. Every day now, hundreds of people who live in central Vermont in that area walk about a half mile through the woods to get to their job or their school on the other side. This is their new commute. This sort of resourcefulness in the face of disaster has inspired a rather heartwarming local all for one/one for all response in Vermont. As "The New York Times" reported today, with little hearts in its eyes, quote, "Porta-Pottys donated by A1 Sewer and Drain have been placed at each end of the forest trail. Volunteers sit under tent canopies supplied by Celebration Rentals giving out sandwiches, beverages, doughnuts, gummy bears and red licorice. Six golf carts" which you just saw a moment ago, "from Green Mountain National Golf Course transport the elderly and the infirm. All terrain vehicles from Central Vermont Motorcycles and the Hendy Brothers John Deere dealership are used for safety patrols." So, on the one hand, this is a nice one community pulling together sort of story. Central Vermont, I love you. But, on the other hand, this is a real problem. If you can`t walk through the woods or you don`t want to, this would be your detour route by car. Look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to take Route 7 to Route 103, then get on 91 north via Springfield, then on to Interstate 89 until the Woodstock exit, which brings you back to Route 4 and into Killington. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So to get from here to here, you have to go here. Not ideal. So the central Vermont town of Mendon, they have a heartwarming tale to tell. But they also have that heartwarming tale to tell because they do have a problem. That road really needs to be fixed and it needs to be fixed fast. That hike through the woods is going to be a whole other metaphor when the snow starts falling in Vermont. Luckily for those Vermonters who are commuting by walking through the woods, help may be on the way. After initially balking at the idea of approving additional disaster funds without cutting something else in the budget, House Republicans in Washington now appear to have caved. Hurricane Irene disaster relief for places like Vermont may be authorized by Congress next week. You want to know who else is going through an incredibly elaborate long-distance detour to their regular commute right now? It`s people who need to cross the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky. On Friday, unexpectedly, the state of Indiana shut down the Sherman Minton Bridge. The Sherman Minton Bridge connects southern Indiana, the town of New Albany in southern Indiana, to the city of Louisville, Kentucky. Indiana is in charge of the bridge that spans the two states. The bridge was not shut down in this case because of some big storm like Hurricane Irene. The bridge was shut down in this case because it was deemed too dangerous to be kept open. Inspection crews found a crack in a load bearing part of this 50-year-old bridge and they decided they need to close down this bridge for at least three weeks for further diagnosis. Every day, 80,000 vehicles use that bridge to cross the Ohio River. Those commuters are being diverted to two other bridges in the area, making what used to be a 20-minute commute now more like a two-hour commute and, of course, it`s adding to the aging process of the other two bridges to which traffic is being diverted. The mayor of Jeffersonville, Indiana, is now urging motorists who need to go to downtown Louisville from southern Indiana to instead consider crossing the Ohio River in Madison, Indiana. That`s about 35 miles out of the way. The folks who use that bridge to get to work every day need it fixed and need it fixed now. You may remember last week during his address to the joint session of Congress, President Obama specifically mentioned a Kentucky bridge over the Ohio River that desperately need repair. That was a different Kentucky bridge over the Ohio River that also desperately needs repair. That was the Brent Spence Bridge that links Kentucky with Ohio. That one also needs to be repaired. It recently has been dropping concrete chunks on to its lower deck. In fact, there are lots of bridges across the country that need to be repaired. More than 69,000 American bridges are deemed structurally deficient by the Federal Highway Administration. Should we fix those bridges? Shouldn`t we fix those bridges? Shouldn`t we fix those bridges is essentially the argument for the infrastructure portion of the American Jobs Act which President Obama officially sent to Congress earlier tonight. Shouldn`t we fix those bridges? Shouldn`t we fix these roads and bridges that need fixing in America? For two reasons. One, because we need them to be fixed. There is no lovely wooded path staffed by volunteers with golf carts who are going to give you gummy bears that`s going to take you across the Ohio River. These things need to be fixed. But, also paying to fix these things now will pay people to do the fixing, which will mean those people are employed and getting paid to do that fixing, which will mean those people can in turn pay for other things which will mean money going into other businesses which will make the economy go. That is the whole idea of economically stimulative spending. You don`t give money to rich people. They`re just going to put it in the bank. They don`t need to spend it right away. They have a cushion. But if you pay for work, from people like unemployed construction workers and otherwise unemployed people, they don`t have a cushion. They will be spending the money they`re earning now because they need to which is economically stimulative, which is a tide that lifts all boats. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m standing with construction workers. We got roads that need work all over the country. Our highways are backed up with traffic. Our airports are clogged. And there are millions of unemployed construction workers who can rebuild them. So let`s pass this bill so road crews and diggers and pavers and workers, they can all head back to the job site. There`s plenty of work to do this job --- this jobs bill will help them do it. Let`s put them back to work. Let`s pass this bill rebuilding America. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was President Obama in the Rose Garden of the White House today stressing the urgency of getting this jobs bill passed now. Mr. Obama gave a speech introducing this legislation on Thursday. On Friday, he spoke about the plan in Eric Cantor`s district in Richmond, Virginia. Today, after the Rose Garden speech, he delivered his bill to Congress. Tomorrow, he`ll be in Columbus, Ohio -- Ohio, of course, the home of Republican House Speaker John Boehner. The day after that, he`ll be talking about this in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. And at all of these stops, President Obama is saying not just let`s pass this bill, but let`s pass this bill right now. Let`s pass this bill soon. Let`s pass this bill right away. There is a very palpable sense of urgency from President Obama and the White House on this. Republicans on the other hand, so far, the reaction from congressional Republicans has been sort of smirking but noncommittal, saying that they will get around to looking at the legislation in due course. They want everything to go through the regular committee process. They can`t really do anything until it`s been scored by the Congressional Budget Office, and so, they`re asking for that to happen. They`d like to take their time with this thing. Meanwhile, people who live in southern Indiana and work in Louisville, Kentucky, will leave for work tomorrow morning two hours earlier than they usually do, taking a long detour while watching one of this nation`s aging and crumbling bridges slowly fall apart. Joining us, E.J. Dionne, "Washington Post" columnist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. E.J., it`s good to see you. Thanks for being here. E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: It`s great to be here to discuss radical left wing ideas like building roads and fixing schools and bridges. It must be socialism. It`s really amazing, isn`t it? MADDOW: Well, the president keeps talking about how, you know, this used to be the kind of idea that wasn`t that controversial. This used to be the kind of idea the Democrats and Republicans could come together on. Is he right in pointing that out as a means of making the case that it could be that way again? DIONNE: As a historical matter, he certainly is right. I mean, who did more to build roads in this country than Dwight Eisenhower? He put through the Interstate Highway System. Republicans -- I used to cover the state legislature in New York, and Republicans would often say, we don`t want to spend money on welfare, we want to do the things government ought to like build roads, like build transit -- and so, yes, for then. But you`ve had a Republican Party that`s just retreated from government. Now, I think they`re a little scared of, say, a 13 percent approval rating for Congress. They know some of this stuff is popular. And building roads and fixing schools is popular. But what I`m worried about is what you alluded to in the introduction, which they`re not this time going to say these are awful ideas the president put forward, because a lot of them really are very moderate Republican sort of ideas including tax cuts. They`re going to delay and take their time. Maybe cut it down to size, so it doesn`t have a big effect. And maybe just put in some poison pills like have some anti-labor and anti-environmental sections to get rid of certain regulations. And that`s where I`m worried that this whole thing could get gummed up in that kind of process. And it would be a shame because we could push the economy forward with this. MADDOW: Does the president and the -- do congressional Democrats have any leverage to prevent that from happening? DIONNE: Well, first of all, it`s good to see the president out there not only on the first day but now for three days running say pass this bill. He`s notably not saying, oh, I am looking forward to working with Speaker Boehner, we can find some kind of solution. He`s got a specific proposal out there. And I think what he`s done here in some ways is flip the politics from the old stimulus package because if they don`t pass this, he can now say that we could have been better off in you had passed this. So, I think the politics are a little better, but it`s still going to be rough to get it through. But at least he`s making a fight this time. And I hope he sticks with it. MADDOW: Let me quote you something a very wise man wrote today, E.J. "The president has offered eloquent offenses of the role of government in the past only to revert to bipartisan fantasies that in the end always make him look weaker. The central question for his jobs plan and his future is whether this time he sticks with an analysis of the nature of our political fight that sees it as it is, not as he wishes it were." The wise man who wrote that today is, of course, E.J. Dionne. What did you mean by seeing it as it is, not as he wishes it were? DIONNE: Well, see, I think the Republican Party has changed fundamentally. It`s been taken over by a kind of radical individualism and a view of government that Republicans historically have not taken. I was very happy to see the president quote Abraham Lincoln. But you don`t have to go all the way back to Lincoln. And they are in a very different place right now and you have Republicans who really believe that it`s more important to stop certain things from happening even if it causes a lot of trouble the way the whole fight over the debt ceiling caused it, to make sure you defeat this set of sort of radical lefties in power. So I think it is a very different Republican Party and the president acted as if he thought it was the old Republican Party. For now, he seems to be acting as if he understands what he`s really up against this time. MADDOW: Do you think that it`s resonating with a base and with beyond a base, a sort of Democratic broad electorate who has criticized the president tactically for conciliating too much, for giving up too much, for being too unreasonable against an unreasonable opponent? O`DONNELL: Mark Schmitt had an interesting piece in "The New Republic" where he referred to the president`s fighting bipartisanship as opposed to other kinds of bipartisanship. I think the base likes the fact that this package to get the economy moving is bigger than they expected it to be and they like the fact he`s fighting for it. But the ideas, themselves, are fundamentally bipartisan. So, you had the odd spectacle of Paul Krugman and David Brooks both praising this. You know, one liked the bipartisan side. The other liked the fighting side. So maybe he can win re-election. MADDOW: E.J. Dionne, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and "Washington Post" columnist -- stick a pin in that. We will be coming back to that assertion momentarily I`m sure. E.J., thank you so much. DIONNE: Thank you so much. Take care. MADDOW: So, the interview tonight is someone who before now had only ever been able to testify to Congress from behind a screen that shielded his identity. He`s now out of the undercover counterterrorist world he has been living in for the better part of a decade and he`s here tonight in person. I`m very much looking forward to this. That is coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: One of the side effects of the nuclear age is nuclear waste. When used as directed, nuclear power produces nuclear waste, which is hard to get rid of just if you`re trying to dispose of it. And, of course, it`s expensively dangerous to have around, to maintain anywhere, because it`s radioactive. And in some cases, it could make rather nicely horrific radioactive bomb material. There was an explosion at a nuclear waste site in France today. One person was killed in that explosion and four people were injured. According to French nuclear safety authorities and police there was no radiation leak at this nuclear waste processing facility. Within hours of the explosion, authorities said the episode was over, contained, finished. The utility that owns the plant called it, quote, "an industrial accident, not a nuclear one." A French nuclear safety official said the explosion took place in the oven where the plant was melting down used mildly radioactive metal objects. Quote, "This is very, very low, nothing close to the radioactivity you would find inside a nuclear power plant." So, a lot of folks in the south of France are being told today essentially to breathe a sigh of relief that today`s explosion took place in an oven disposing of only mildly radioactive metal objects. Closer to home, you may recall that during last month`s major earthquake on the U.S. East Coast, the North Anna nuclear power station in Virginia went into automatic shutdown. During the shutdown, backup diesel generators kicked in to keep North Anna`s nuclear fuel cool. It wasn`t until days after that we learned the earthquake that shook the North Anna plant was more than it was designed to handle. The North Anna power station was not built to withstand the level of shaking that resulted from the earthquake that happened last month. The first time that happened in the U.S. The North Anna station was about 11 miles away from the epicenter of that earthquake. The earthquake that made the shaking it was not design to withstand. That nuclear power plant at the epicenter of the earthquake is about 60 miles away from the city of Richmond, Virginia. It`s about 100 miles away from Washington, D.C. U.S. nuclear safety authorities say in light of the North Anna incident, they are working on new safety standards for America`s nuclear power plants to cope with natural disasters like earthquakes and floods. In the meantime, you may have noticed natural disasters continue and do not always bother to check which nuclear power plants are designed to withstand them. In February of last year, the state Senate in the great state of Vermont voted to close down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in 2012, next year, when its current license is up. This week, the state of Vermont and Entergy, the company that owns the power plant, are going to court over the decision. Federal nuclear authorities did give the power plant a new license. And the company that owns the plant thinks the state of Vermont shouldn`t get any say over whether or not there will be a 40-year-old nuclear power plant operating in the state of Vermont for 20 more years. They say that license should be enough to keep them open no matter what Vermont wants. So, the state of Vermont deciding they as a state wanted to send this nuclear power plant packing once its 40-year license expired. Now, the state of Vermont has to prove to a federal judge that they have a right to make that decision as a state which means we are about to find out who has more power in this country right now -- a nuclear power plant company or a state? Joining us now is Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, which is a global security foundation. Joe also serves on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton`s international security advisory board. He`s also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations. Mr. Cirincione, thank you for being here. JOE CIRINCIONE, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: My pleasure, Rachel. MADDOW: Let me ask you first about Vermont. The state of Vermont in federal court now is trying to prove it has the power to send Vermont Yankee packing. Do you have any idea what`s going to happen in this case? CIRINCIONE: No. We don`t. That`s what makes it so interesting. You have to understand what`s going on here. The state says it has real concerns about the safety of the plant. The company says that doesn`t matter. A state doesn`t have power to shut a nuclear power reactor over nuclear safety concerns because the federal government is the only entity that has that power. That`s in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. So, as long as the NRC, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, says it`s OK, it overrules the state. So, the state is saying, Vermont is saying it has other concerns. For example, that the plant was leaking radioactive tritium several years ago. And when they discovered this, the reactor company lied about it, that the plant is so expensive to operate that they`re afraid that the company is just going to walk away and leave Vermont holding the bag for potentially billions of dollars of cleanup. So, this contest is going to set a precedent for whether states can use economic concerns or concerns about liability of the plant as reasons to close the power plant that no one in the state actually wants operating. MADDOW: Joe, the larger issue that this gets at is that Vermont Yankee feels like a very old plant, getting to the end of its 40-year licensure, which is the reason the NRC was even considering it for a re- licensure. But these things, as we know, were designed with a 40-year life span in mind. And that`s essentially the vintage of all nuclear power plants in the United States. These are also the similar age and similar design to the reactors in Fukushima. Do you think it`s legitimate to have safety concerns about the aging of these plants? CIRINCIONE: Absolutely. In fact, there`s evidence that the power company, itself, has these concerns because there may be plans to sell the plant to a brand new company that`s been set up at the state of Vermont doesn`t believe has the capital to actually operate it. So, we could be seeing essentially a dumping of the plant, and one of the reasons that the company is suing Vermont to stop it is they don`t want the state to stand in the way of the financial operation that would relieve them of liability to run what they are now looking at as a nuclear white elephant. MADDOW: In terms of the North Anna plant in Virginia -- CIRINCIONE: Oh, yes. MADDOW: -- it was a week after the earthquake before we found out the plant had been shaken more than it was designed to handle. We were told initially that the automatic shutdown runs smoothly, that the diesel generators kicked in smoothly and that there was no danger because it was designed to withstand stronger shaking than it went through. It turns out the last part, how much it was designed to withstand in terms of shaking was not what they initially told us. How worrisome is that to you? CIRINCIONE: Well, the plant is still shut down, and it`s still not operating. And there are great concerns about whether the plant can safely operate. The NRC, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is planning a special inspection of that facility. I think you have to be very worried about this. And this is why the Nuclear Regulatory Commission just last month issued a task force report with a series of pretty good recommendations saying that, for example, all plants in the United States should re-evaluate their construction based on what we now know about the higher than we thought likelihood of things like earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes -- all of which have hit us in just the past few months and have effected operations at nuclear power plants. The concern is that the commission, itself, won`t actually act on the recommendations of its task force. Some of the members more friendly to the nuclear power industry understand that what the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is proposing is going to cost the industry money. They want to keep their profits high, costs low. So, you may see an effort to delay and delay and delay the safety recommendations. MADDOW: Hearing those concerns from you, Joe, about safety regulations in general in the U.S., about the North Anna plant, about the Vermont Yankee situation -- on the other side of this, am I right to think that you think there`s no real radioactive or nuclear risk associated with that French incident today that got so much attention? CIRINCIONE: Well, the French incident I think actually was what the French said, an industrial accident. It`s never good to have an explosion at a nuclear facility. This is a facility that makes the highly controversial fuel, MOX, mixed oxide fuel, that has plutonium in it -- a very expensive, dangerous fuel. It doesn`t appear the fuel, itself, caused the explosion. We still don`t know what the cause is. One thing we know about accidents at nuclear plants is we never get the right story on the first day, whether it`s Three Mile Island or Chernobyl or Fukushima or now France. We`re probably going to have to wait a couple of weeks or so. The IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has asked for a special inspection of that facility. Let me just add -- this comes at a very inappropriate time as far as global nuclear power industries are concerned. Tomorrow, the IAEA is set to take up a series of recommendations to increase safety regulations at plants globally. It`s recommendations that France doesn`t want to see passed. I think this accident, even if it`s nonnuclear, is going to have an impact and raise concerns of most of the agencies` members. MADDOW: Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, a man who I have to say -- he rumors that you have, it`s never a good idea to have an explosion at a nuclear facility. The rumors that you have that tattooed on your back in Latin, I can tell everybody that`s not true. But thank you. CIRINCIONE: Absolutely. MADDOW: Thank you. CIRINCIONE: Thank you for having me on. MADDOW: Appreciate it. All right. The interview tonight, with former FBI counterterrorism a agent Ali Soufan, who is the major part of the reason why we as a country know literally how we find out that al Qaeda was behind 9/11. The story of why he left the government since then is as amazing as the story of what he did in government. That is coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: There was a reason why President Obama gave his joint session address to Congress last Thursday and not Wednesday. There was a reason why upon the president`s request to speak before both houses of Congress on Wednesday. There`s a reason why the Speaker of the House John Boehner, the man who controls the schedule, responded to that Wednesday request by saying no. There was a very specific reason. Was it a good reason? I will let you be the judge. That`s coming up. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In May 1998, Osama bin Laden gave a press conference. Not the most accessible press conference in the world. Bin Laden declared war on America, again. Only a few handpicked journalists were there. But that press conference in 1998 did give us these fantastically overused photos of Osama bin Laden in a very fetching camouflage vest sitting in front of a dramatic looking banner. The banner he is sitting in front of is the flag of al Qaeda. Black banner, white Arabic writing. In Islam, the Hadif are the descriptions of things the Prophet Mohammed said or did during his lifetime. One of the Hadifs says, if you see the black banners coming from Khurasan, join that army, even if you have to crawl over ice, no power will able to stop them. When Osama bin Laden first declared war in the United States two years before that `98 press conference, he signed and dated the first declaration of war August 23rd, 1996 in the Hindu Kush Mountains, Khurasan, Afghanistan. Khurasan is the historical region that spans part of Iran and Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and Pakistan and Afghanistan. Bin Laden was in part of Afghanistan that could be considered part of it but he really wanted to be thought of as a guy in Khurasan. And he gave his group his black banner, so he could make it seem like his army, his terrorist group, had been foretold by the Prophet Mohammed more than 1,000 years ago. He didn`t want to be just Osama bin Laden, radical son of construction billionaire. He wanted to be Osama bin Laden, mighty warrior prophesied in the seventh century by the great prophet of Islam to lead a great army that could not be defeated. And that insight into the self-concept of Osama bin Laden and the seductive recruitment tactics of al Qaeda gives us the title of Ali Soufan`s new book "The Black Banners." Ali Soufan is our guest for the interview tonight. He`s an American Muslim born in Lebanon. One of only handful of Arabic-speaking FBI agents. Mr. Soufan joined the bureau in 1997 and brought with him an obsessive interest in al Qaeda and particularly in Osama bin Laden. Mr. Soufan was still a rookie. He was in his first year at the FBI when the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed in 1998. When he asked his FBI supervisor that morning if we knew yet who was responsible for those bombings, the supervisor replied that it was still unclear, but, quote, "I think it might be your guy." Meaning it might be Osama bin Laden, the guy that Ali Soufan, as a rookie in the FBI, had been all over. Two years later, al Qaeda bombed the USS Cole in Yemen. Ali Soufan was in Yemen investigating that attack, chasing al Qaeda, chasing bin Laden when September 11th happened. Within a week of 9/11, Ali Soufan was face to face with the highest level al Qaeda operative custody anywhere. He was interrogating bin Laden`s bodyguard and confidant in a prison in Yemen. That interrogation produced America`s confirmation that al Qaeda and bin Laden were behind the 9/11 attack. Within six months, Ali Soufan was face to face with the first high value al Qaeda operative captured by the United States. He was interrogating Abu Zubaydah. That interrogation was credited with identifying the mastermind and leader of the 9/11 attacks, as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. But when you get to the part about that interrogation, in Ali Soufan`s book "Black Banners," it starts to look like this. There`s some writing for first few pages, right? This is the Abu Zubaydah. You start to see a few more redactions. And then you get page after page of redacted text. There`s something in here that somebody still doesn`t want you to know. Let me introduce you now to Ali Soufan to explain why. The book is called "The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al Qaeda." Mr. Soufan, thank you for being here. I know you could be anywhere for your first live interview. And I`m really grateful that you`re here. ALI SOUFAN, AUTHOR, "BLACK BANNERS": Thank you for having me. It`s a pleasure. MADDOW: Let me start with the specific and broaden out. Who is responsible for the redactions in your book? SOUFAN: Well, from the redaction came from the agency, from the CIA. The book was approved by the FBI. And when we finished the approval process with the bureau, it took about three months and it was reviewed by the counterterrorism division. It was reviewed by information security. We didn`t have one single redaction. So, unfortunately, for some reason, some people at the agency thought that there`s a national security need in redacting a lot of the things that you showed. MADDOW: But you never worked for the CIA? SOUFAN: No. MADDOW: You worked for the FBI. SOUFAN: No, never worked for the agency. You know, fortunately for us, it doesn`t take away from the narrative. It doesn`t take away from the story. I mean, people know that I justified, and my statement is the only statement under oath about what happened with Abu Zubaydah. I testified on the Senate at that. They know the enhanced interrogation of Abu Zubaydah. And they his interrogation techniques and what I believe that they didn`t work. And that`s what I`m trying to say in the book and that`s the narrative that I`m putting in the book. And I believe all the threats that`s mentioned in the book are threats that are already in public domain and all the things that have been redacted, mostly narrative rather than facts. MADDOW: In terms of the other people who have talked about the Abu Zubaydah interrogation, it`s one of those things that discussed by many, many, many politicians including then-president of the United States George W. Bush in 2006 -- SOUFAN: Sure. MADDOW: -- and justifying enhanced interrogation techniques. How did you get Abu Zubaydah to tell you that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was mastermind of 9/11? And then how did Abu Zubaydah end up getting waterboarded dozens of times? SOUFAN: Well, this is interesting, because I actually testified about this. That we knew that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the mastermind of 9/11 way before enhanced interrogation techniques were even applied. We knew that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the mastermind of 9/11 in April of 2002, before the contractors even set a foot in the undisclosed location of where we were. So, just to basically read later that people are claiming it was waterboarding that produced the information that led us to identify Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the mastermind is totally wrong. And, unfortunately, the same thing with Padilla, you know, the alleged dirty bomber, even though I believe he`s a brain surgery away from being a dirty bomber, but that`s a different story. They claimed it was waterboarding that caused Zubaydah, and you can see that clearly in the Steven Bradbury memo in OLC, Office Of Legal Counsel memo, they claimed it`s waterboarding that produced information that led us to it. Waterboarding did not start until August of 2002, a couple weeks before. But still, you know, July/August of 2002. Mr. Padilla was in custody after an international manhunt in May of 2002. So, unless you have a time machine, you`re having a problem, you know, with keeping the timeline straight. MADDOW: And when the enhanced interrogation techniques and waterboarding for happening to Zubaydah, you called FBI headquarters in Washington to say -- SOUFAN: Yes. MADDOW: -- to say either I leave or I`ll arrest him. Are you talking about arresting the guy who was doing the enhanced interrogation technique? SOUFAN: I was angry I guess. MADDOW: But the FBI told you to leave? SOUFAN: Yes. MADDOW: Saying that we don`t do those kinds of tactics? SOUFAN: We don`t do these kinds of things. The order came from Director Mueller. And the FBI since then as an agency did not get involved in any of the so-called special techniques that were applied on some of the high valued detainees. MADDOW: We`ll be right back with more from Ali Soufan, his landmark new book "Black Banner" is just out today. We`ll be right back with him in just a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: "My hand started shaking. I didn`t know what to think. This is September 12, 2001. They just sent these reports," the redacted thing said. "Seeing my reaction. I walked out the room, sprinted down the corridor to the bathroom and to a stall. There I threw up. I sat on the floor a few minutes. Seemed like hours. What I had just seen going through my mind again and again, the same thought kept moving back. If they had all this information since January 2000, why the hell didn`t they pass it on? My whole body was shaking. I heard a SWAT agent asking, `Ali, are you OK?` He had seen me run to the bathroom and followed me in. `I am fine.` I got myself to the sink, washed out my mouth and splashed some water on my face. I covered my face with a paper towel a few moments. I was still trying to process the fact that the information I requested about major al Qaeda operatives, information the CIA had claimed they knew nothing about had been in the agency`s hands since January of 2000. The SWAT agent asked, `What`s wrong, bud? What the hell did he tell you?` `They knew, they knew.`" That is from Ali Soufan`s new book "Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against Al Qaeda." Ali Soufan joins us again now. Ali, when you say they knew, they knew, you`re talking about the CIA there. What did they know? SOUFAN: Not as an agency. People there knew. Some people in the agency knew that Khalid Mihdhar, Nawaf Hazmi were in the United States. And we were looking to people connected to the USS Cole for a few months, for about more than a year in Yemen. And here are two people who we know from our Cole investigation have met with the person who facilitated the attack and his job was to videotape the operation, and one of the suicide bombers over the Cole in Southeast Asia. And we put at least three requests for information, not thinking then they knew. You know, we`re investigating, we`re getting information. We share the information with everyone. And hoping that any intelligence agency, law enforcement, you know, anybody who has some information to share it with us because we`re investigating the death of 17 of our heroic sailors who perished on October 12th of 2000 on the USS Cole in Yemen. Unfortunately, nobody told us anything until 10 years to the day, September 12th. Ten years to the day. I still don`t know the reason why the information was being withheld. I don`t know if it`s intentional or not intentional for withholding the information. I don`t know if people failed to connect the dots as the theory came or if people dropped the ball. I think there`s a big difference between the two. But I know that the information was not shared. And later, the 9/11 Commission came to the same conclusion and the CIA inspector general report came to the same conclusion that, you know, the CIA I.G. goes actually further to say that people many the agency failed to show the information on timely basis with the FBI, with the State Department, with the Immigration and Naturalization Services, failed to put the Mihdhar, who was in Flight 77 that flew into the Pentagon in a no-fly list and so forth. That doesn`t mean everyone in the agency -- you know, I don`t believe in conspiracy theories. And some of my very good friends are, you know, in the agency, in the CIA, as you see in my book. MADDOW: You`re generous toward the CIA. SOUFAN: Absolutely. And it`s dedicated for all the heroes of the CIA, the FBI, the military. You know, when you work with somebody on the front lines and you`re far away in dangerous areas, you only have each other to depend on. So, many of the heroes in the book basically are CIA officers, from the CIA officer who, you know, tried to get all the information from a detainee so the detainee cannot be rendered to a CIA officer who actually walked before me out of the Zubaydah interrogation and came home. He said that`s not worth it. To a CIA officer in Guantanamo Bay who basically was a phenomenal leader in guaranteeing there is no institutional barriers between the entities down there and all of us work for Uncle Sam. So I have a lot of great appreciations for the men and women in the CIA and we have to actually remember one thing, Rachel, that it`s because of the employees of the CIA, the enhanced interrogation techniques and that program was shelved. It was them who went back and complained to their inspector general and a lot of complaints happened over the years. And then the inspector general of the CIA conducted an investigation and reached out -- MADDOW: Based on CIA employee complaints. SOUFAN: Absolutely. It`s their own inspector general. They came to the conclusion that, look, the CIA program is excellent. However, the enhanced interrogation techniques, the CIA inspector general said they could not verify one single imminent threat that stopped because of that technique. And basically they talk about how bad that technique morally, legally and so forth. And that`s why the techniques were shelved in 2005. So, we shouldn`t mix waterboarding with the CIA efforts. I mean, the men and women of the CIA, everyone in this country owe them great thanks for the service that they do and many of them gave the ultimate sacrifice for this great country of ours. MADDOW: Ali Soufan, you changed the narrative about our understanding of both pre-9/11 and post-9/11 fighting against al Qaeda. Thank you for writing this book. I know it`s an act of bravery. Thank you for your service. SOUFAN: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Nice to meet you, sir. SOUFAN: Thank you. MADDOW: Ali Soufan`s incredible new book called is "Black Banners." It is out today. You can read an excerpt from it at our blog, Maddowblog.com. We will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: President Obama sent his new jobs plan to Congress today -- the one he`s asking Congress to pass right away. The president said last week the American Jobs Act would be paid for, everything in it. On page five of the bill, we start to see how he intends to do that despite doing things like ending tax breaks for the owners of corporate jets and for rich oil companies and by limiting itemized deductions for the wealthiest Americans on their tax returns. Now, it`s up to Congress to go through the bill and read it, maybe vote on it. Congress, though, however, you know, is busy. It`s a busy, busy place. A few weeks ago, the White House said the president wanted to give a major address on unemployment and turning the economy around. The president wrote to congress saying he would like to deliver that address on Wednesday night, last Wednesday, to a joint session of Congress. That`s what a big deal this was -- joint session of Congress. Whoa! Joint session of Congress, that is a big deal. That`s State of the Union big. That is starting a war big. For a president to request a joint session of Congress is a very big deal. For the Congress to say no to that request is an even bigger deal -- that is unheard of. In response to President Obama`s request to address a joint session of Congress last Wednesday, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner did something that has never been done before in the history of our nation. He said no. He said it would be inconvenient for the House because he said there were votes scheduled in the House for Wednesday night, for last Wednesday night when the president wanted to do his speech. Mr. Boehner said there would not be enough time after those important House votes to prepare for the president to come speak. So, John Boehner said, "No, Mr. President, I will not convene a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. Why don`t you pick a different day?" This is unprecedented. No speaker, no Congress has ever said that to any president in U.S. history. President Obama did move his speech. He moved it to a different day. John Boehner`s House of Representatives did convene on Wednesday for its very, very, very important votes that couldn`t be moved. And now we know what those Wednesday night votes were that were so important. It turns out in fact it was just one vote. It was a roll call vote. It was a roll call vote, quote, "authorizing the use of the capitol grounds for the District of Columbia special Olympics Law Enforcement torch run." It`s a charity jogging event that uses the Capitol grounds. They had to vote whether that was OK for the jogging. The House, for the record, said yes, it was unanimous. That was the vote that was so important that it could not be moved. And instead, the president of the United States had to move his joint address to Congress to Thursday. So, incidentally, his speech would share the evening with the opening game of the NFL football season. In fairness, I should mention that the House of Representatives did have one other important business matter that they took care of on Wednesday night instead of hosting the president of the United States at his request. In addition to the vote on the Special Olympics torch run, the House of Representatives that night also took time to congratulation a girl`s softball team from North Carolina for making the Little League World Series. I also would like to lend my congratulations. That was the activity in the House of Representatives on Wednesday when they could not make time for the president -- one vote and some nonbinding speechifying. And so, the president had to give his speech the next night instead of the night he wanted. The Republican congressman from the South who screamed at President Obama, "You lie!" in the president`s address in the joint session of Congress two years ago, that congressman, Joe Wilson, did show up for President Obama`s speech when it finally happened on Thursday. But at least four other Republican members of Congress from the South said before President Obama`s speech that they would not bother to show up. They would not be there. They didn`t have the time -- because there`s apparently something about this president that erases the need for whatever deference congressional Republicans might otherwise feel toward the office that President Obama holds. I would love to hear them explain exactly what that is. In the last Republican candidates` debate, you may recall that Texas Governor Rick Perry told the nation that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, which means it`s a criminal act that should be punished by locking somebody up and then, of course, it should be ended because it`s a criminal activity. There has since been another debate co-hosted by CNN and a Tea Party group that is based out of a Republican P.R. shop in California, weirdly. That debate is just wrapping up. The highlights and lowlights brought to you by Ed Schultz right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END