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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/14/11

Guests: Ed Rendell, Richard Engel, Elizabeth Warren, Spencer Ackerman

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thank you very much, Lawrence. I`ve been very, very excited about this interview to the point where I think I have over- prepared and now will not know what to say. So, it should be a catastrophe. It will be fun. LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, "THE LAST WORD" HOST: Well, we won`t miss a second. MADDOW: Thank you. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: As always, I rely on Gail`s love and support and that of our two lovely daughters. So, I want to thank Ayla and Arianna for their help as well. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) BROWN: Just in case anybody is watching throughout the country, yes, they`re both available. No, no, no. No. Only kidding. Only kidding. Only kidding. Only kidding. Arianna definitely is not available. Ayla is. This is Arianna. This is Ayla. Oh, I can see I`m going to get in trouble when I get home. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: You know, Massachusetts is an old state. Massachusetts has been a state since 1788. Massachusetts is so old it`s not even a state. It`s a commonwealth. When the Pilgrims landed in America, they landed at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. Massachusetts has the world`s oldest functioning written constitution. That`s Massachusetts. It`s old. By the time we got around to forming a Congress in this country and sending people to it, Massachusetts had a delegation of ten members, eight in the House and two, of course, in the Senate. And the 223 years that Massachusetts has existed as a state -- I mean commonwealth -- Massachusetts has sent 465 people to Congress, I think. That`s what I was able to figure out today. Of those 465 people, a grand total of four of them have been women. That`s it. Four women in the entire history of Massachusetts sent to Congress -- 461 men, four women. In the special election to replace Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy, Democrats did choose a woman in 2010, Martha Coakley, as their nominee. But, as you saw, and to the great momentary embarrassment of his daughters, Scott Brown did end up winning that night. Since Scott Brown was elected to the United States Senate, he has mostly followed the wise counsel that lots of new senators get which is to keep your head down, try not to make too much noise or too much news. We`ve been asking for interviews with Senator Brown for more than a year here at this show when we frankly have not gotten anywhere with those requests. But it`s not just us, though. The most press that Senator Brown has done in the time he`s been a senator has been to promote his glossy autobiography. That`s been the most of the press he`s gotten. When he has been forced to weigh in on national political issues, it has sometimes been a little weird in the sense that it has been hard to follow his positions sometimes. He doesn`t always seem to have a great grasp of either the policy issues that he is talking about or in some cases -- which is the weird part of it -- he does not have a good grasp of what his own position is on those issues. Take, for example, the Paul Ryan Republican kill Medicare budget. When the Paul Ryan budget was heading toward a vote in the Senate in May, Senator Brown told an audience in Massachusetts, quote, "The leaders will bring forward Paul Ryan`s budget and I will vote for it." I will vote for it -- that`s what he said. A few days after saying that, staffers for Senator Brown explained that that statement, I will vote for it, was not in fact a statement about how the senator would vote on that legislation. It was just a statement that he would vote on it. He was talking about having the opportunity to vote on that bill even though what he explicitly said was, I will vote for it. Ultimately after saying, yes, he wanted to vote for the Paul Ryan plan to kill Medicare and after that, his staffers say they didn`t know whether or not he wanted to vote on it to kill Medicare, Scott Brown eventually settled on no, as a no vote on that legislation. So, it was yes, then it was I have no idea, ignore what I said and then it was no -- all in the span of 10 days. That`s been sort of what it`s like talking to Scott Brown about national issues when he is willing to talk about them, even though mostly he`s just not willing to talk. The single most distinguishing factor, though, about Scott Brown`s tenure in the senate thus far has been more unexpected than that. It was not seen as a big Massachusetts issue necessarily. It was certainly not what he campaigned on. It was not what I think most people either who supported him or who did not support him did not expected of him when he went to the Senate. But in the 19 months that he has been in Washington, Scott Brown has emerged as arguably the most Wall Street of all 100 U.S. senators. And I don`t mean that in a stylistic way or a critical way. I just mean it in terms of the math. Out of all 100 U.S. senators, Scott Brown ranks number one right now in campaign contributions, campaign contributors from hedge funds. Scott Brown is also the senator who has received the most campaign money from the venture capital industry. Scott Brown is number two among all U.S. senators in receiving money from private equity and investment firms. He`s also number two in money from the securities and investment industry. Look at his top campaign contributors right now. Fidelity, that`s listed as FMR Corp., Goldman Sachs, Mass Mutual Life Insurance, Bank of New York Mellon. Scott Brown has taken so much money in from Wall Street in the short time in Washington that "Forbes" magazine last year put him under the headline "Wall Street`s Favorite Congressmen." You know, we maybe should have seen this coming. Maybe Wall Street and Scott Brown knew something nobody else did before he was elected. In the six days before his special election victory last year, Scott Brown in six days took in nearly half a million dollars from the financial industry. The return on Wall Street`s investment, the payoff they have gotten on what they have spent on Scott Brown, is the kind of margin that makes Wall Street guys drool on to their tasseled loafers. As the Wall Street reform bill was being crafted in the Senate, it was Scott Brown who saved Wall Street firms $19 billion that they would have otherwise paid back to the taxpayers. He stripped out a fee that was included in that bill that was meant to have the guys who broke the financial system pay to fix it so that taxpayers didn`t have to bear the whole burden. Wall Street`s investment in Scott Brown really paid off. I mean, think about that -- $19 billion they didn`t have to pay because of him specifically. And even though Scott Brown is not facing re-election until 2012, the gratitude of Wall Street for what the bank of Scott Brown has done for them in the U.S. Senate is a major reason why he is sitting right now on nearly $10 million in campaign contributions already. Even now many quarters out from this election in 2012, his latest fundraising figures show he`s raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from the financial industry every quarter -- now, even before he has technically started running for re- election. If you want to know why the stock market has been all over the place recently, everybody`s been sort of trying to peg things going on in American politics to what`s going on with these giant swings in the stock market right now, people are trying to make those connections I think are doing so at their own peril. The real reason the stock market is swinging and going nuts is actually because of what`s been going on in Europe. Europe is starting to look like how the United States looked three years ago at this time. At this time exactly three years ago, the U.S. financial system was beginning to collapse, at the end of the George W. Bush administration. That is what caused the Great Recession here. I mean, we had the controversial bank bailout to stop us from going into an immediate Great Depression at that time. The damage done to us by the Wall Street collapse, the collapse of the financial system of Wall Street firms is what put us into the mess that we are still unable to get out of. The determinative thing in American life and American politics that is clouding out everything else going on, all other political activity, frankly, all other factors is this economy, right? This economy still not recovered from the Wall Street collapse. The Wall Street collapse that Wall Street brought on itself by its own behavior and that we are all still paying for. And so, this is an open question. I think this is an open question. I do not know the answer. Does an electorate angry about the economy chiefly motivated by anxiety about the economy and wanting the economy to get better -- does that electorate want Wall Street`s favorite to be their senator? Is anger about what happened to the economy at all directed toward Wall Street which is where this problem came from? Or have Republicans succeeded in redirecting anger about the economy on to Washington, and specifically on to Democrats? And on to the Obama administration that has tried to drag us out of the pit that Wall Street threw us in with frankly not enough success to make anybody feel good about it? The person who led the charge for Wall Street reform, the person whose signature Washington achievement is a new agency to protect individuals and families and regular people from conniving ways that Wall Street wants to cheat us, that person is Elizabeth Warren. And Elizabeth Warren has just entered the race to run against Scott Brown for the United States Senate in Massachusetts. Joining us for her first national interview since announcing her candidacy today in Massachusetts is Elizabeth Warren. Ms. Warren, thank you very much for coming back on the show. Congratulations on your announcement. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), RUNNING FOR SENATE: Thank you very much. Thank you for inviting me here. MADDOW: There have been rumors swirling around for months that you were thinking about jumping into this race. What was the deciding factor that made you say I need to do this? WARREN: You know, I was getting out and talking to families all around in Massachusetts -- families who said, "We`re in real trouble here and we need someone who`s going to talk about these issues." And so, after I talked lots and lots of families here in the commonwealth, I decided that this was the right thing to do. And that`s why I`m doing it. I`m out here to speak for middle class families and I`m out here to be part of the families who are going to start pushing back. MADDOW: I know that you were out today on your announcement day, for 12 hours today, meeting people across Massachusetts. I want to quote to you one of the people who you spoke to, a 25-year-old woman later said this to a reporter. She said, "She told me that she really wanted to fight for the middle class, that they`ve been hammered on for a very long time and if things didn`t start to change we`d be in big trouble. But I`m not sure if any one candidate is able to turn things around for an entire group of people especially with the way things are in Washington right now." What`s your response to that young woman who you met today? How do you overcome that hopelessness about D.C. that exists among so many people right now? WARREN: You know, I`ve been told a lot of times about what`s not possible. I grew up in pretty tough circumstances and I fought all my life for everything I`ve gotten to do. I was told when I was down in Washington we couldn`t have a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the reason was because the largest lobbying force ever assembled on the face of the earth have said no, they said they`ll kill it, they said it won`t happen. And, you know, my view on that just meant then you stand up and you push harder. You push back. You don`t step down. Now, we`re talking about the whole future of the middle class. I mean, things are really tough out there. And my view on this is that means we just have to fight back. I am not giving up on this. I am ready to take this fight all the way to the floor of the United States Senate. MADDOW: Scott Brown`s campaign has already bought a derisive web address to use against you,, which I don`t exactly know what that means. I guess they`re trying to portray you as a rich person or representing rich people or maybe being a foreign person -- I don`t know. What are you anticipating about how your opponents -- I mean, you`ve talked about the opponents you faced in your fight for the middle class in the past. What to you anticipate from how your political opponents will run against you? WARREN: You know, I don`t know. Let the name-calling begin. It`s obviously already started. But I faced off against the largest banks on Wall Street who said, look, this is how it`s going to be. And I pushed back and I didn`t step down and I`m not going to step down here. I grew up -- look, I started baby sitting at 9. I started waiting tables at 13. I got married at 19. I graduated from a public university, started teaching elementary school. My family didn`t have much of anything, but I grew up in an America that invested in me. And that`s how I got to do a lot of things. But what I mostly got to do is I got to keep fighting for families like mine. And that`s now what I want to keep on going. You know, there was a time -- we came out of the Great Depression. We wrote a set of economic rules and we spent 50 years growing America`s middle class, making it stronger, making it more vibrant. Every generation said, my kids are going to do better than I did. And starting about 30 years ago, we really lost our way on that -- so that now we are in a place where middle class families have just been hammered for a generation. It`s not just what has happened in the last few years. It`s been going on now for a long time. And it`s the case that nobody seems to get this -- nobody in Washington. Washington has been wired now for the big institutions, for those who can hire an army of lobbyists. It`s not working for middle class families. And that`s what I care about. That`s why I`m going step up on this one. Why I`m ready to fight back. MADDOW: It is Washington wired as you say, for those interests because Washington has been bought. I mean, we`ve always had a problem of big money and lobbyist influence in Washington, but with the Roberts court, we have seen those forces really unleashed in terms of unlimited campaign donations and anonymous campaign donations if you`re fortunate enough to get the Democratic nomination. Scott Brown is already sitting on $10 million, a huge proportion of it from the forces you have been fighting. How do you compete with that? WARREN: You know, I`ll put it this way -- I can be outspent but I can`t be outworked. I`m getting out there. I was -- today, I was all across the state. I met with people -- it was like meeting with family, all the way throughout Massachusetts. Thousands of people have come to the Web site, and they`ve said, I want to be part of this. And that`s what I really think this is about. This isn`t going to be just about me and this isn`t going to be just about money. This is going to be about a lot of people pulling together and making some change, some change that they -- that we really need. MADDOW: One of your main opponents for the Democratic nomination is the mayor of Newton, Massachusetts, Setti Warren. He has experience in government in Massachusetts, as a mayor. You don`t have experience as an elected official. Do you see that as a disadvantage for you, something you need to explain to voters? WARREN: You know, all I can do is say to voters across the state of Massachusetts, I`ve been working on this set of issues pretty much all of my life. I`ve been out there taking on special interests and I`ve stood up against them. And that the end of the day, we`re now going into an election, I`m willing to get out there and work my heart out for this. This is something I want to do because I think it`s the right thing to do. And I`ll be there day in and day out working. It`s all I can do. I can offer what I am and what I`ve done and that`s -- that`s it. I`m going to work for this. MADDOW: Elizabeth Warren, Democratic candidate for the United States Senate in Massachusetts as of today. Thank you for making the decision to be with us tonight on your announcement day. I know that`s a hard decision to make. And I really appreciate your generosity with that. Good luck to you. WARREN: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. "Best New Thing in the World" is coming up at the end of the show tonight. Also, Richard Engel will be joining us in studio just tonight. We have a big show tonight. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) MADDOW: President Obama is a very fit and very athletic person. He`s very good, for example, at basketball, which is his favorite sport. However, he is not very good at bowling. He is, in fact, bad at bowling. Which if you remember momentarily during the `08 presidential primary campaign, him being bad at bowling turned into a cipher for why he wasn`t going to be able to get white people to vote for him. Remember that theory? About being bad at bowling meant no white electorate would vote for him and then he wins Idaho and Nebraska and everybody remembers, hey, didn`t he win Iowa, too? It become sort of untenable analysis. But, still, he is in fact bad at bowling. We learned that in March `08 when candidate Obama visited this bowling alley in Blair County, Pennsylvania and got some size 12 shoes. In the 2008 election, President Obama, ultimately the man who would become President Obama, won Pennsylvania pretty easily. He actually won by more than 10 points in Pennsylvania. But he did not win in Blair County where he went bowling. He lost by 24 points in Blair County. He still did win the state as Democratic presidential candidates have been doing in Pennsylvania for almost 20 years now. And in 2008, that won him 21 electoral votes over John McCain. You only need 270 total. Pennsylvania gave him 21 of those. Republicans now control both houses of the state legislature and governorship in Pennsylvania. And they have just proposed a change so that if Barack Obama performs the same way in the next election as he did in `08, he would not get 21 electoral votes like he did last time or 20 which is how many Pennsylvania will get this time around. If Barack Obama does in Pennsylvania what he did the last time, this time he would get a net gain of maybe one electoral vote under a new set of rule the Republicans are considering. Even if he wins the state, they might just give the Republican nominee more electoral votes anyway. Nice, right? The Republican plan is to stop awarding all of Pennsylvania`s electoral votes to whoever wins the state`s vote overall and instead to award most of them district by congressional district. In 2008, Barack Obama won the state by more than 10 points. If you look at the map district by district, if you squint at it, if you sort of squint that, it looks like John McCain might have won. And John McCain did win more congressional districts in that race. He won 10 out of the 19. He was able to pick up the Republican areas of the state, as you`d expect, places like Blair County, home of that bowling alley. But he won his districts by smaller margins. So McCain lost the popular vote statewide by a lot. Pennsylvania Republicans think it`s going to go like that again in their state in 2012, the Republican narrowly carrying a bunch of Republican districts but losing the whole state. In this new plan being considered by the Republican-controlled legislation with support from the Republican governor, which means it very well could become law, in this new plan, a replay of the `08 presidential race in Pennsylvania with the new this plan in place would mean the Republican nominee with those 10 districts John McCain won would be winning 10 electoral votes. Barack Obama with his nine districts would win nine electorate votes, plus two bonus electoral votes for winning the state`s overall popular vote. So, President Obama`s overall net gain from this Pennsylvania win would not be 21 electorate votes like it was in `08, it would be one electorate vote. Barack Obama would get 11. John McCain would get 10. That`s what Barack Obama would get for trouncing the Republican nominee in Pennsylvania by more than 10 points like he did last time. He`d get one net electoral vote. So, by persuading no more people, by winning no more votes, by winning no more congressional districts than they did the last time, Republicans in Pennsylvania might have just figured out a way to add 20 electoral votes to the Republican side of the margin in the next presidential race. Not by getting anymore votes. Not by persuading anymore people. Just by changing Pennsylvania`s rules so they would benefit the Republican candidate. This is how Republicans in the states rule this year. This is what they`re doing with control of the state legislatures and the governorships. Unions give money to Democratic candidates and do get out the vote for Democratic candidates, and then unions have to be destroyed by state law. Democrats count on newly registered voters turning out for Democratic candidates, then it must become much, much harder to newly register voters. Democratic voters are disproportionately minorities and students who disproportionately don`t have official photo ID, then official photo ID will be required to vote by state law. And now, in Pennsylvania, Republicans can`t figure out how to win the state, but they can figure out how to narrowly win some districts. So, then, by golly, they`ll change that state law, too. This is called using public policy for partisan outcomes. This is called putting your thumb on the scale. Joining s now is former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, former chair of the Democratic Party and now a MSNBC political analyst. Governor, thank you for being here. It`s nice to see you. ED RENDELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Nice to be here. MADDOW: Let me just ask you what your position is on this new plan in your state, this Republican plan to divide up the state`s electoral votes. RENDELL: Really, Rachel, it`s shameful. It`s absolutely shameful. First of all, it violates the spirit if not the letter of one person, one vote. Think about it. In Philadelphia, which is a city that`s about 83 percent Democratic registration, let`s say the vote follows registration -- well, Philadelphia, Barack Obama would carry 83-17. That would get him three electoral votes. There are three congressional districts. But in the three suburban districts, let`s say the Republicans carry each district narrowly, 51 to 49, they would get three electoral votes. So, your vote in a suburban area counts a whole lot more than a citizens` vote in an urban area where there`s a concentration of minority voters. And I think opens up to the possible legal challenge to this maneuver, number one. But it`s unfair. It violates the spirit of one person, one vote. Secondly, it is bad for Pennsylvania, because, right now, as you know, Rachel, Pennsylvania is one of the big three --Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio -- where elections are decided. We get the most money spent during the election campaign, the most attention from the candidates and the campaigns. And year in and year out, month in and month out, we have a lot of clout down in Washington. People don`t want to truck with Pennsylvania because of its power in an election. Why should we unilaterally disarm? Why should Ohio, with a Republican governor, Ohio keeps all of its, let`s say, 19 electoral votes going to the winner and keeps its clout. In Pennsylvania, a rout in Pennsylvania would be something like 11-7. So, we pick up four electorate votes. That would be the whole ball of wax. No one would pay nearly as much attention to Pennsylvania as they did now. And, lastly, it`s blatantly political. If you`re going to do this in Pennsylvania and the Republicans are going to pick up electorate votes, what about Texas? We`d like to pick up electorate votes in Texas. If you did it by district in Texas instead of getting shut out, Democrats would gain electorate votes. It`s silly. It`s partisan. It`s unfair. They should be ashamed of themselves. MADDOW: One of the sort of internal dynamics at work here, reported on this today, that some Republicans in Pennsylvania in the state legislature are actually against this, because they think it will make it harder for some Republicans to get re-elected if national Democrats are competing more all over the state in Republican areas. Are you seeing Republican resistance to this, too, or are Republicans most onboard? RENDELL: No, I think there`s nervousness on the Republican side. They`re in pretty good shape in the legislature. They`re pretty hesitant to screw with the status quo. You know, politics begins at home, number one. So -- it might not pass. And we`re going to have an all-out assault against it, particularly in the southeast. We`re going to make voters understand the unfairness of it and I think it might not pass. But you know what would be delicious irony? If let`s say Mitt Romney`s their candidate. He carries Pennsylvania. But Barack Obama comes in very close and gets, let`s say, nine of Pennsylvania`s 20 electoral votes and Barack Obama becomes president by five electorate votes. Wouldn`t that be nice? Wouldn`t that be nice? MADDOW: It would be nice. RENDELL: Be careful what you wish for. MADDOW: Be careful what you wish for, but you got to enjoy being the person who likes watching the funny movie "Over the Edge of the Abyss" and be willing to get that close to it. RENDELL: Absolutely. But it`s shameful. It`s not fair. It`s undemocratic and we should put it aside real fast. MADDOW: Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell -- thank you very much for joining us tonight, sir. It`s nice to have you here. RENDELL: My pleasure. MADDOW: Thanks. Carmageddon is what they called it when they shut down a freeway in Los Angeles this summer. Remember that? It was going to be the worst thing ever. And then it turned out to be fine. The "Best New Thing in the World" today is a comprehensive upgrade on everything about carmageddon, including the name and the merchandise. Please stay tuned right at the end of the show. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Tonight, we had the first national interview with Elizabeth Warren since she has announced she`s running for the United States Senate against Scott Brown. Very excited to have had that. But tonight is a big show. We`ve also got next an exclusive scoop from about something apparently crossing over kooky far right conspiracy theory world to the FBI. Breaking exclusively here. That story is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: At the last Republican debate in Tampa, Florida, this happened -- a plane flying over the venue trailing a banner that read "Where is the real birth certificate?" This also happened at the Ames, Iowa, straw poll last month, only instead of an airplane, it was a billboard carrying that same message, "Where is the real birth certificate ?" in all caps. Naturally. If you thought the birthers were gone, if you thought conservatives were over this thing about President Barack Obama`s birth certificate, they`re not. At least the hard core birthers at "World Net Daily" are not over it. They`re the ones who are paying to fly the all capital letters real birth certificate banner over major Republican events now. You can read their own coverage of their continuing birther crusade at their Web site today right under their exclusive expose that President Obama`s Social Security number has been revealed as a fake. And that`s right under their crack reporting on how they have proven by definition, being a liberal means you are mentally ill. So, yes, "World Net Daily" is still around. They will be around, still trying to make a buck off the more gullible elements of the conservative base I think for quite some time. They`ve been around a long time before they got on to the birther thing, though they have always been on the conspiratorial ragged edge of the right wing. In 2006, for example, "World Net Daily"`s crusade was that U.S. military would never succeed in post-9/11 war unless we treated those wars as more of an actual crusade. Here`s a ""World Net Daily"" interview with a counterterrorism expert in 2006 who told them, quote, "Muhammad`s mindset is a source for terrorism." Muhammad as in the Prophet Muhammad. Quote, "United States and an increasing number of other governments are beleaguered by an expanding array of states, groups and individuals whose goals, actions and norms are animated by Islamic values." It is not terrorism that is beleaguering the United States. It`s Islamic values, having Islamic values, being a Muslim, that is the threat. Since the Prophet Muhammad, himself, his mindset is a source for terrorism -- that`s the kind of stuff that "World Net Daily" was pitching before they were pitching the birth certificate thing. Spencer Ackerman`s scoop at tonight is that the Muhammad`s mindset is a source for terrorism guy from "World Net Daily" is now doing training for the FBI`s counterterrorism officers. In July, last month, or in July of this summer, Spencer reported FBI trainees were being taught things from the weirder edge of the right wing anti-Muslim fake expert movement with training materials saying things like Islam "transforms a country`s culture into seventh century Arabian ways." That was an instruction the FBI trainees that the Arabic mind is, quote, "swayed more by words than by ideas and more by ideas than by facts." Which is the kind of thing you sort of expect to hear from your racist old uncle after a few too many cups of eggnog at the family event, it is not the kind of thing you expect from the nation`s elite federal counterterrorism force at the FBI. The FBI responded to Spencer`s story in July by saying, quote, "This presentation in question was a rudimentary version used for a limited time that has since been replaced." But it turns out there`s more. With Spencer Ackerman now reporting on another set of FBI training materials dated March of this year, bylined by the aforementioned Muhammad`s mindset guy from "World Net Daily" interview. His chart for training FBI counterterrorism officers showing how over time since the founding of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, over time the more pious and devoted you were as a Jew or a Christian, the less prone you were to violence. As Spencer put it, as time goes on the followers of the Torah and Bible move from violent to nonviolent. That`s not so for devotees of the Koran. See that bottom line that just goes straight to the right? That shows over time religiously adherent Muslims stay as violent as ever. In other words, as Spencer puts it, religious Muslims have been and always will be agents of aggression. Joining us now is Spencer Ackerman, senior reporter for "Wired" magazine. Spencer, thank you so much for joining us tonight. Congratulations on the scoop. SPENCER ACKERMAN, WIRED.COM: Thanks for having me, Rachel. MADDOW: Any sense of how widespread this training is or whether this is an isolated incident? ACKERMAN: The FBI, as you might be surprise to know, decided they didn`t really want to tell me that. What they did tell me is that this was training that agents who had two to three years of experience in counterterrorism have gone through and they said to me that this is just the opinions of this one particular author who you introed very well. We`re still trying to find out the extent of this training. MADDOW: I don`t want to ask you, of course, who your sources are. Why do you think someone is getting you this material from FBI training? Is it because this is upsetting people inside the FBI? ACKERMAN: It`s very deeply upsetting to counterterrorism experts inside the FBI. They`re very concerned about two related issues which are counterterrorism and civil rights. And those two go hand in hand, because as you remember the great Jimmy McNulty said on "The Wire" a cop isn`t anything without his sources of information. And unless there`s community buy-in, in American Muslim communities and other communities around this country, law enforcement can`t do its job. It can`t learn about what`s happening and alert to threats. And if millions of American Muslims feel they`re being treated by the FBI like a target to be watched for aggression instead of Americans whose civil rights are to be respected and protected, you`re not going to cooperate with law enforcement. And that`s what their dedicated counterterrorism professionals inside the FBI are very disturbed by these briefings about. MADDOW: Hearing the reaction is coming from inside the FBI is comforting if you`re worried about the content of this material. Do you think that -- when I summarized that in that introduction, did I summarize the worst of this? Is there more you`ve uncovered or have been uncovering about this training that is even more sketchy? ACKERMAN: There`s tons of dozens of pages of documents that we`ve acquired at, stuff that talks about Muhammad as a cult leader, stuff that talks about obscure version -- obscure passages in the Koran as being weird guide posts to aggressive behavior, stuff that talks about an obligation to give charity in the Muslim community as millions of Americans do, as being simply a mechanism to fund combat. There`s a lot of stuff here that I think a lot of people will find disturbing. MADDOW: Spencer Ackerman, senior reporter for "Wired" magazine -- Spencer, thanks for letting us break this on TV tonight. It is your scoop. And we`re glad to have you here to help us cover it. Appreciate it. ACKERMAN: Thanks. MADDOW: We now turn to Richard Engel, NBC chief foreign correspondent. Richard, it`s great to have you here. Thank you. RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: It`s great to be here with you again. MADDOW: You reported in the 9/11 documentary we did together about a market for Islam experts producing some pretty non-mainstream radical training for local law enforcement about the country. ENGEL: This isn`t the first instance of this. There have been many. It`s happened with local police departments. I don`t know the details of specifically of what this report from found out about the FBI. But there is a market for so-called experts who are painting themselves as counterterrorism experts and many of them are just peddling racism. MADDOW: In terms of how widespread that is -- I know that so-called expert who we profiled in the documentary, I know that he is a guy who travels all over the country and does this intensively with local law enforcement. Do you have the sense that this has infiltrated higher ranks or more broadly, or even into non-law enforcement areas? ENGEL: Yes, yes it has. There are people who are presenting themselves as Islamic experts or Muslim world experts saying things exactly like were quoted in that article, that Islam naturally leads to violence and if you read the Koran that you`re going to become a terrorist and that giving charity is a fund-raising mechanism for groups like al Qaeda. And that is a major problem. It has emerged over the last decade. This association in people`s minds between the religion of Islam and terrorism and I can understand why some of the association might be there. But this association, if it`s penetrating law enforcement agencies, and it is penetrating law enforcement agencies, then you`re going to have the exact backlash that he talked about where the people on the ground, the sources of information to actually prevent terrorism aren`t going to cooperate. MADDOW: So, that`s the practical impact of it, that it actually has - - ENGEL: And it`s stupid and wrong. I mean, that cartoonish slide -- I hope that wasn`t being used to train the FBI. It is shockingly disturbing if it is being used to train the FBI with the Bible and the Koran pointing up toward peace -- the Bible and the Torah painting up toward peace and the Koran pointing into some dark abyss. It`s just ridiculous. If that`s given forward as expert advice, it is a very sad statement. MADDOW: Richard Engel, NBC chief foreign correspondent, it`s nice to have you here. Thanks for your expertise on this, Richard. Appreciate it. We will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Hey, programming note. We`re going to be doing this show live from Atlanta tomorrow because I`ll be doing the first cable interview with former President Jimmy Carter with his White House diaries being released in paperback this week. That will be exclusive here at 9:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow here on MSNBC. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Back in January, you may recall someone planted a bomb in a backpack along the route of the Martin Luther King Day parade in downtown Spokane, Washington. Workers spotted the backpack and its potentially fatal contents a half hour before the MLK parade. A bomb squad equipped with specialized robots moved in and in a bomb squad`s words, quote, "successfully disrupted the device." The Martin Luther King, Jr. parade got rerouted that day in Spokane but it did still take place even as the hunt for the bombing suspect began. Now, this part is a little bit creepy. It turns out the suspect was in the parade. He slipped into the crowd. He marched along with his intended victims. That`s him there in the orange baseball hat there, trying to scoot out of the frame. He appears to be carrying a camera to document the destruction he hoped he was about to cause. You can see him more clearly here. FBI agents arrested Kevin Harpham, a neo-Nazi in Washington state in march two months after finding the backpack bomb at the parade. This is his mug shot. He pleaded guilty to two counts, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. He also admitted that the attack was motivated by race. Harpham faces more than 30 years in prison. The FBI did a lot right here. From day one their very aggressive statements on this showed they were taking this very seriously. Those strong statements from the FBI, I have to say, were part of why we covered this story right from the beginning. They made no bones about playing this down. They said it was a big deal from day one. To catch the perpetrator in this case, they relied on some terrific shoe leather investigation. Check this out. The hunt began, of course, with the backpack found along the parade route. The bomb inside was made of steel pipe filled with black explosive powder, as well as shrapnel coated in rat poison. Rat poison is an anticoagulant. So, the bomber wanted to make it harder for the people he hurt to stop bleeding from their injuries. The bomb was wired to a remote car starter. The kind you activated by pushing a button on your key chain. The shrapnel in the bomb, the stuff coated in rat poison, we now know was a bunch of fishing weights, just ordinary fishing weights like ordinary non-violent, nonwhite supremacist people get to use their fishing lines to stay under water so the fishing bait can attract the fish. The FBI found the same kind of fishing weights sold in packs of 10 at a Wal-Mart. They then went through the sales records of 72 Wal-Mart stores in the Pacific Northwest starting in 2010. And they found what they were looking for, an unusual number of quarter-ounce fishing weight with sold in packs of 10 in one week in November in one particular Wal-Mart store. And look who bought a large number of quarter-ounce fishing weights in November from that Wal-Mart. Kevin Harpham -- he bought four packs of fishing weights in November 1st, 2010, along with some Kraft brand jet puffed marshmallow cream, some milk and some food items. He also bought a food chopper. He returned two days later and bought six more packs of those weights so that`s 60 more pieces of shrapnel and four days after that, 30 more weights, plus some more milk. And more marshmallow cream, because you get really hungry when you make a bomb and the sugar makes you thirsty? I don`t know. The FBI also found the camera that Kevin Harpham bought so he could take pictures at the Martin Luther King, Jr. parade. They still have the pictures that he took of himself on that camera, although he had tried to delete them. They also were able to isolate Kevin Harpham`s DNA on the straps of the backpack that he put the bomb in. Earlier on the show tonight, we talked about some FBI counterterrorism training that seems to have gone very badly wrong, training materials for FBI agents telling them they should think of Islam as an under-evolved religion, that they should think of being religious as a sign of violent tendencies when it comes to Muslims -- far-right conspiratorial stuff being treated like real training at FBI. So, that was the bad news today about the FBI and counterterrorism, as scooped by Spencer Ackerman for But while we are on the subject of FBI and counterterrorism, it is frankly also worth pointing out something that the FBI got really, really right. Congratulations on closing the Spokane, MLK Day bomber case and thank you. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. "Best New Thing in the World" today? It`s back, yes. "Best New Thing in the World" today is a "making lemonade out of lemon" situation. Some enterprising Americans figuring out a way to turn a really bad situation into something that is --it it`s not less bad but it is at least cute. Here`s the situation. More than one out of every three bridges in Mitch McConnell`s home state of Kentucky are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. More than one in three, they need fixing, including urgently this one. This is the Sherman Minton Bridge. It`s a major artery into and out of Senator McConnell`s home city of Louisville, over the Ohio River to southern Indiana. The Sherman Minton Bridge was closed on Friday, suddenly, with no warning, when an inspection found a very important crack in a very important load-bearing part of the bridge. President Obama`s American Jobs Act that he has been stumping for around the country would, if it passed, fast-track about 700 million bucks to Indiana and about 500 million bucks to Kentucky right away, specifically to do stuff like fixing broken bridges. But Kentucky senator, top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, has denounced the American Jobs Act as not serious. His Mitch McConnell plan for dealing with more than one in three Kentucky bridges needing to be replaced is apparently so serious I he`s keeping it secret. But I promise a best new thing here and there is one. In the face of rather monstrous traffic and detour adversity, like what is being faced in southern Indiana and in Kentucky right now, in the face of that kind of adversity, Americans innovate. That means a brand new every 45 minutes $1 ferry service across the Ohio River right now that did it not exist before, which is particularly handy if you work right at the bridge abutment. But still better, another option for getting across the Ohio River there with Sherman Minton shut down. But it also means another kind of innovation in the form of branding and merchandising. When we first talked about the emergency shutdown of the Sherman Minton Bridge on the show and the proverbial bomb that it was dropping on Louisville area traffic, I described it as that region`s version of "carmageddon," right? Los Angeles had what it called "carmageddon" one weekend this July because L.A. had to shut down the 405 Freeway in both directions for construction work. Carmageddon went off without a hitch in the end because there are was lots of warning, lots of advance publicity, and ultimately, it only lasted a couple of days. In Louisville, though, I noted their Sherman Minton Bridge version of "carmageddon" came with no warning and is indefinite. Nobody knows how major the needed repairs are going to be to this bridge. Nobody knows where the money is going to come from, particularly if Kentucky`s home state Senator Mitch McConnell is now against fixing bridges. But when the Sherman Minton Bridge`s occasions a version of carmageddon -- had I been as smart as two Louisville born engineer brothers, I would have realized that this infrastructure disaster over the Ohio River should not be called carmageddon but should be called Shermageddon, for the Sherman Minton Bridge. They snapped up the domain name, where there`s a Shermageddon t-shirt, a Shermageddon travel mug, there`s a Shermageddon bumper sticker, which seems particularly apt, and naturally, there`s a Shermageddon trucker cap. We tried desperately to get ourselves an official Shermageddon trucker cap today from David and Michael Harp in time to show you one in the flesh. Ours is apparently in the mail, due to arrive soon. But in the meantime, we made our own mock-up of it in anticipation. It`s not nearly as nice as the real thing, and for the "Best New Thing in the World" Shermageddon brothers, I bow to your superior news-related nickname-bestowing skills. Drive on. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow night. Now, it is time for "THE ED SHOW." Good night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END