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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/01/13

Guests: Philip Mudd, Lawrence Wilkerson

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: I can be the Rachel Maddow star. I like that idea. CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: You are, of course, the Rachel Maddow star. MADDOW: I was fishing there for a second. Thank you, Chris. Appreciate it. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. OK, the basic story, the basic facts of the Boston marathon bombing, at this hour, those basic facts remain the same as we have previously understood. The two suspects are two brothers, one aged 26, who`s now dead, one age 19, who`s being held in federal prison recovering from multiple gunshot wounds. They lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They had emigrated to the U.S. from the Northern Caucasus region of Russia about a decade ago. After he was caught four days after the bombing, the initial interrogation of the surviving suspect reportedly included a confession to the bombings, the assertion that they were motivated by religious extremism, the assertion that the brothers learned how to make the bombs from instructions on the Internet. The suspect also reportedly asserted that he and his brother did not have any connections to any other terrorist, individuals, or groups either here or abroad. That basic story of the case remains unchanged today. But with the news today of three additional arrests in connection with this case, we now do have explanations for some sort of tangents or stray elements in that basic story that previously had not been explained. Specifically, there are three things that have happened during the investigation already that did not necessarily make sense before, but now with today`s news, now they are starting to make sense. The first was the two arrests that happened on immigration violations in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on the day after the bombing suspect was caught. Now, we have more of an explanation on those two people arrested and taken into custody on immigration violations and how that is connected to the bombing case. The second thing was the shutdown that same day of the whole campus of UMass-Dartmouth, that whole college campus. Now, we have more of an explanation as to why that happened, as well. The third thing was the FBI searching a landfill in New Bedford, Mass. Now we know what they were looking for and now we know that they found it. It all started to unravel here this morning at a hearing in front of a federal immigration judge in Boston. These were the two men who were picked up in New Bedford on immigration violations the morning after the bombing suspect was caught. They attended this hearing with the immigration judge this morning via video conference. Their images got beamed into the courtroom via satellite from where they sat in the Suffolk County jail. The judge told them they were being held in prison for overstaying their student visas. Their lawyers disputed that was true, but importantly, these young men were also told this morning at this first hearing since they were first arrested, they were told they are not charged with any crime. Not charged. That was this morning. This afternoon, that changed, when the FBI released this criminal complaint describing they might not have been charged with anything this morning, but as of this afternoon, they are being charged with a crime. They are being charged along with one other young man. The two guys with the immigration issue, they are from Kazakhstan. Here`s Kazakhstan on a map, for reference`s sake. You can say it`s on the other side of the Caspian Sea from Chechnya, in Dagestan, where the bombings suspect brothers have family ties. It does abut -- Kazakhstan does abut Kyrgyzstan, which is one of the countries where the brothers had lived. Even though Kazakhstan is not part of the old Soviet Union anymore, anybody from Kazakhstan is very likely to speak Russian. And that might have made for a common bond and a basis of a friendship when both of these young Kazakh men ended up at UMass-Dartmouth at the same time as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger and surviving bombing suspect. Today`s criminal complaint alleges that these two young men, along with a third young man, who is also a friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev`s from college, today`s criminal complaint alleges that these three young men essentially reacted in a way that they should not have reacted, when they realized that one of the bombing suspects was their buddy, was their friend from UMass. The complaint alleges that the night the FBI released the photos of the Tsarnaev brothers identifying them as the bombing suspects, Dzhokhar`s friends who recognized him from UMass recognized that it was him in the photos, they reacted by going to his dorm room on campus, they convinced his roommate to let them in, and they took from Dzhokhar`s dorm room his laptop and a backpack. The backpack reportedly contained a number of fireworks, or at least the outside containers of fireworks that had been emptied of their incendiary powder. Fireworks type incendiary powder is said to have been one of the components of the Boston marathon bombs. These three young men, knowing that their friend was a suspect in the Boston marathon bombings, allegedly took his laptop, took the backpack containing those fireworks, they took it to an apartment that was shared by the two young men from Kazakhstan. And then decided they would throw the backpack away. They threw it in a nearby dumpster. If that was their plan, as is alleged in this criminal complaint today, it was a dumb plan and it did not work. The FBI`s first interview with this young man, this young UMass-Dartmouth student, happened on Friday the 19th. We now know the previously unexplained shutdown of the UMass- Dartmouth campus happened that same day that they interviewed that student at UMass. We now know that his friends, the Kazakh guys, they were arrested on immigration violations the very next day. Those were those arrests in New Bedford. And now, we know that the reason the FBI agents were searching the New Bedford landfill was because these young men told them where and when they dumped the suspect`s backpack and the police followed the trail of that trash to dig it back up. We know they got from the landfill what they say is the backpack with the fireworks in it, and we know that because the FBI has released this photo. We also know that they got laptop, because we were told earlier this evening that the laptop is now in FBI custody. The two young Kazakh men are being held on conspiracy to obstruct justice. The other young man is being held on the charge of lying to law enforcement. He could get eight years in prison. The other guys could get five in prison. All three of them are essentially accused of blocking the investigation into the Boston bombing by lying and by trying to hide and destroy what looks to be damning evidence against their friend from college. That`s today`s developments. Those developments do not change the basic facts of the bombing, but they do drag a whole new cast of characters into it, and they do explain a whole bunch of things how we have seen the investigation unfold thus far that we could not explain before today. We`ve got a former senior FBI official on deck to help us understand the importance of these arrests today and what we learned because of them. He`ll be with us in just a moment. But I want to start first, right now, from Boston, with NBC News investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff for the latest. Mike, thanks very much for being with us. I really appreciate your time. MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NBC NEWS INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Good to be with you, Rachel. MADDOW: Is there more to add to the factual picture tonight beyond what I just summed up from the criminal complaint? Is anything been added to that in terms of our overall understanding? ISIKOFF: I think you basically got it right there, Rachel. But I want to emphasize a couple of points first here. As everybody has said all day long, there`s no evidence that these kids had any prior knowledge of the bombing, played any role in the bombing, were accomplices in any way. And clearly they did things, if as alleged in the FBI complaint, are pretty stupid and indefensible, going to that apartment, removing evidence. But there`s a couple things that are absent from the affidavit that are worth pointing out here. And you alluded to one of them. The laptop computer, they took. In addition to the fireworks, they took the laptop computer from the apartment, from Tsarnaev`s room, and took it back to their New Bedford apartment. And then the affidavit is absent -- is curiously absent on anything about what happened to it afterward. They dispose of the fireworks -- the backpack with the fireworks, throw it in the trash, and that`s the obstruction of justice. That`s the concealing evidence. The affidavit doesn`t say anything about what happened to the laptop, which if you think about it, is what the FBI would want most in a case like this. They want to see who Tsarnaev has been in contact with. They want to see who he`s been e-mailing with. They want that hard drive. What we were told tonight from the lawyer for one of the Kazakh students is that laptop was turned over. And he says it was turned over voluntarily and that`s consistent with this defense from which is that they cooperated with the FBI. Now, we don`t have confirmation from that from the FBI yet tonight, they haven`t said anything about that. But it is noteworthy that they don`t accuse these kids of trying to get rid of the laptop. Secondly, we have the two Kazakh students and then the other American who is charged with lying to the FBI. The two Kazakh students are not charged with lying to the FBI. They are not accused of misleading them once they are confronted by FBI agents. And that leaps out, because it`s lying to the FBI in a terrorism investigation that is in some ways the more serious offense. It carries the heavier penalty, and the Kazakh students are not charged with that. So, I think that, if, in fact, they had misled the FBI about that laptop, they would have been charged with lying to the FBI. They weren`t. So, bottom line, as I said, if the facts are alleged, it`s hard to defend what these kids did. It`s clear that they went to that apartment because they thought their friend might have been the Boston marathon bomber and they were trying to protect him. And given the enormity of the crime, it`s impossible to defend that. But was this part of some larger plot? Were they acting on direction from Tsarnaev? Were they trying to conceal a larger conspiracy here? It`s hard to square that with the facts as alleged in this complaint. MADDOW: Absolutely. The point worth underlying here, there`s no indication they had any advanced notice of the bombing, that they were in on the plot in any way, other than what they did when they found out about it. NBC News investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff, live in Boston tonight for us -- Mike, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. ISIKOFF: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Thank you. Joining us now is Philip Mudd. He`s former deputy director of the CIA`s counterterrorism center and the FBI`s security branch. He`s now senior research fellow at the New America Foundation. His new book is called "Take Down: Inside the Hunt for al Qaeda." Mr. Mudd, thank you very much for being with us. Appreciate your time tonight. PHILIP MUDD, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Sure, sure. MADDOW: So, we learned today, as Mike was just emphasizing, that FBI agents now have reportedly the laptop in their own hands. It seems to me like if you`re looking for trying to connect the -- connect this crime to a motive, or connect this crime to any sort of larger organization out there in the world, the laptop might be critically important. Does it seem like an important break to you? MUDD: It`s not might be critical, it will critical. The first question I would have as an intelligence professional is not just what these two guys did, one of whom is dead now. The question is, we cannot shut down this investigation until we determine whether these two spiders were in the middle of a spider web, and believe me, that investigation`s going to take time. And a critical piece will be who they talked to, and there the laptop will be essential. MADDOW: In terms of the attack itself, as Michael just made clear and as the affidavit makes clear today from the FBI, there`s no accusation that these three people that were arrested today had any part in the planning of the event. Does after the fact assistance to their friend, the suspect, indicate anything to you as an intelligence professional about them potential being either sympathizers, fellow travelers, or somebody who might be worth investigating, might be a thread worth pulling towards a larger connection like that? MUDD: It doesn`t tell me much. I think the media coverage is extensive because of the nature of the case, obviously. But as an intelligence professional, their lies and what they told the FBI that got them into such trouble right now is not that interesting. There`s one interesting question, and that is, where there people you were aware of who knew about this beforehand or participated beforehand? Is there a spider web that goes beyond these two guys? MADDOW: You have talked about the difference between an ideological association with a group like al Qaeda and an operational association. An operational association would be the sort of thing that we think about with them being kind of activated as a cell, them being directed to do something, trained to do something, and then they follow through. An aspirational or inspirational link would just be what they had in their heads when they were acting on their own accord. Is that division between those two different kinds of relationships important in terms of whether or not we think about this as a terrorist attack versus a crime? Should we care all that much about what these guys were thinking about if nobody told them to do this, if nobody trained them to do this, they worked it out on their own? MUDD: I think we should care, because there`s a broader message about how we fight this campaign against terror, and what I would call a campaign against murder. The first people we took down from al Qaeda when I was at CIA, people like the architect of 911, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 2003 -- these were ideologues that will go to their graves believing that what they did was for a greater good and that the results of their efforts might not bear fruit for 50 years, 100 years. They had bits of emotion, but they were driven by a deep-seated ideology. You fast forward 12 years, increasingly -- and this case is not unique, you`ve got kids who pretend like they`ve got an ideology, but, in fact, they are emotional-driven, they are frustrated, they are angry, and their ideology is just that veneer. If you press this guy for an hour, I guarantee you, he can`t really explain the roots of what he did. He`s going to tell you it some day, by the way, to close, that what he did was wrong, because his ideology is not as deep as the people who originated this movement 10, 15 years ago. MADDOW: Does this mean you think of this as more of a senseless crime, more of a random crime, the kind of way we look at mass shootings and things, where we don`t care why they did it, we care about ways to stop them? MUDD: I mentioned earlier, I see common characteristics to columbine, which people in this country hate to the hear. They want to categorize this as foreign terrorists who don`t belong in America. You have two brothers, one of whom radicalized the other. They don`t know much about the ideology. I guarantee they don`t know much about the religion. This does not look to me like the al Qaeda guys we were taking down 10, 12 years ago. The last thing, I`d say on this is really important: terrorists want to be called terrorists. There`s a validation in the background for terrorism that says what you`re doing is OK, because you can`t frontally fight the United States. They can`t, however, defend against an accusation and a charge that they are murderers. They killed innocents, there`s no reason for that in any religion. MADDOW: Philip Mudd, former deputy director of the CIA`s Counterterrorism Center, and the FBI`s national security branch -- thank you so much for being with us tonight. I`ve been looking forward to talking about this for a long time. Thanks. MUDD: Thanks. MADDOW: All right. We`ve got new video that nobody has ever seen before from the most incredible thing you have ever seen inside our nation`s newest presidential library. It is brand new. It`s never been shown before. It blew my mind when we got it in today, and we`ve got that for you, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: I live in western Massachusetts, just outside the city of Northampton, which is a lovely place. Among its many downtown charms, Northampton, Massachusetts, has a really awesome and elegant big public library. It`s called the Forbes Library. Forbes is not just a centerpiece of downtown life in Northampton. It turns out it also has national significance. Forbes Library isn`t named for a U.S. president. There`s never been a President Forbes. It`s actually named after some rich guy judge who donated the building. But Forbes Library in Northampton, Massachusetts, contains the presidential library and museum of former U.S. President Calvin Coolidge. That`s all tucked away inside there somewhere, inside the place where I used to check out DVDs back when I couldn`t afford rental fees at Blockbuster. Calvin Coolidge`s papers and his presidential memorabilia are tucked away inside that building. It`s a public library in Northampton. Calvin Coolidge is the last U.S. president not to have a free standing named after him presidential library. Since him, since Coolidge, all of our other American presidents that we`ve had, even Nixon, they all have an edifice built somewhere in their honor. The tourist brochure from the National Archives about all the presidential libraries includes this kind of creepy map that seems like the disembodied spectral heads of all these presidents loom over regions of the country. Look at poor Arizona. They have nothing to do with Nixon, but he looms over the state like a death`s head. Before today, this map showed all of the different places you could g in the country, as a member of the public to explore the modern presidents and the things they have preserved for history about their presidency. Well, as of today, as of May 1st, 2013, you can add a new one. Brochure is now out of date. Down there by LBJ and Poppy Bush in Dallas, Texas, today, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum officially opened to the public for the first time, and I think it is important to know, I think it should probably be said every time somebody notes that there is a George W. Bush Presidential Library, I think it should be said every time that this is, rather bluntly, a museum that is designed to make you think that the Iraq war was a great idea. Seriously. There`s a game that you play inside the George W. Bush Presidential Library, and there have been all these sort of vague print press descriptions about this game, that it lets you decide, it sensitively handles the controversies of the Bush presidency by letting you decide -- no. We finally today got footage of the game being played. We got permission from the library, we sent a crew down there with a camera this morning to show, so we could see for ourselves, what happens when you play the game. And it`s amazing. The library`s open to the public for the first time as of today, and this is what`s happening there today, when people from here on out go to the George W. Bush presidential library to play the Decision Points game. This is what happens. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANDY CARD: George W. Bush made many tough decisions as president. Now you`ll get a flavor for what that`s like. Take a look at the list of scenarios in front of you. First, you will select which one you want to tackle. The majority of the theater chose the threat of Saddam Hussein. President Bush had to make a choice: one, seek another U.N. resolution, two, lead an international coalition to remove Saddam, three, take no action and accept that Saddam Hussein will remain in power. You are about to select get expert advice from a variety of people. Just as President Bush did, you will have to weigh conflicting points of view. OK, we`re ready to start. Work fast, the clock is ticking. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, with a literal drum beat, actual drum beat to war coming out of the speakers inside the theater, you then go about soliciting advice from members of the intelligence community, from the Defense Department, from Congress, from your White House advisers. And while you were getting all that adviser, while you`re getting those briefings, you get interrupted by ominous breaking news developments. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we act to depose him, other countries could use our actions to wage unjustified wars in the future. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chemical warheads (INAUDIBLE) -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the first really solid evidence -- (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: After you deal with all the breaking news interruptions about new weapons that weren`t disclosed before being discovered and after you solicit all the advice from your fake actor experts, it`s finally time to make a decision. They do set up three options for you to choose from, right? You can seek a new U.N. resolution, OK, that makes sense. You can invade, of course, they don`t say invade, they say, lead an international coalition, which means invade. If you want to not invade, what`s the label for not invading? That choice is labeled take "no action." So, that`s the neutral presentation of options here. You can lead, or you can do nothing. If you choose to do nothing -- well, President Bush`s former White House chief of staff then appears on screen and obviously expresses his disappointment in you. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARD: Time`s up. It`s time to make a decision. You were asked how to address the threat of Saddam Hussein. You had three options. The people in the theater today decided to take no action and accept that Saddam Hussein will remain in power. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Accept -- way to go, wusses. Andy Card doesn`t just stop there, though, with his disapproving, almost disbelieving look, he then has President Bush to come on screen and say the correct answer is you should have invaded. When I first read descriptions of this, I thought they`d meant you`d get historical footage of George W. Bush from his presidency, you know, documenting the history how the Bush presidency handled the issue at the time. But as you can see, this is President Bush now, this is contemporary George W. Bush taped recently still making the case today that invading Iraq is the right answer. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: My first choice was to use diplomacy rather than putting American troops into harm`s way. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: First choice, diplomacy. He goes on to explain the U.N. resolutions that were passed to try to get Saddam Hussein to comply. Then, he launches right into this explanation for why invading Iraq was the right thing to do, because smoking gun was going to be a mushroom cloud, because Saddam`s weapons of mass destruction, Saddam being linked to terrorist groups. Seriously. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: After 9/11, the stakes were too high to trust the dictator`s word against the weight of evidence and the consensus of the world. Saddam posed too big a risk to ignore. He had used weapons of mass destruction in the past, showed every sign of continuing to pursue such weapons, and supported international terrorist organizations. The world was made safer by his removal. With his departure, 25 million Iraqis have the chance to live in freedom and build a free society. The new democracy in Iraq can be a valuable ally in the heart of the Middle East and a beacon of hope to reformers around the world. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Imagine at the Bill Clinton Presidential Library, an interactive exhibit designed to prove that he did not have actual sexual relations with that woman. Imagine an interactive meet Tricky Dick hologram exhibit at the Nixon library, showing you point by point the ways he really isn`t a crook. You know, the weight of evidence did not show that we had to invade Iraq. There was no consensus of the world that we had to invade Iraq. When we invaded Iraq, look at this, every country in the map that is shaded blue here, every country on this map shaded in blue was against us invading Iraq. Does it seem like there was a world consensus that we should invade Iraq? The head of the U.N. at the time said he considered that invasion to be illegal. The consensus of the world was that George W. Bush had to lead an international coalition to invade Iraq? Are you serious? These little kids, who as of today are going to our nation`s newest presidential library to learn the unvarnished history about this presidency are being told that Saddam Hussein showed every sign of continuing to pursue weapons of mass destruction. The case to invade Iraq was not mistaken. The case to invade Iraq was cooked up. It was a hoax perpetrated on the American people, and they are still cooking it up right now, ten years to the day after the mission accomplished speech, as if the last 10 years never happened. This is how kids right now, as of today, are being taught that part of our nation`s history. I kind of think this is a national scandal. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW (voice-over): In this 2011 interview with Britain`s newspaper "The Guardian," a man called Curveball confirms the lies of his pre-war claims. REPORTER (translated): Imagine you could go back to the past and you were back in 2000 again. Would you tell lies again? RAFID AHMED ALWAN, "CURVEBALL" (translated): Yes, yes, definitely. I would do something against Saddam against the old regime. I would do whatever was possible. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: There was actually one person from the U.S. government who met with that guy, who met with that professed liar, the guy who said, "Yes, I`d do anything to get rid of Saddam. I`d lie, absolutely," was apparently one person from the United States who met with that guy before we invaded Iraq. He was sent by the Pentagon to go meet with that guy, to go hear his story to assess whether or not he was telling the truth, and this is what he reported back. Quote, "I do have a concern with the validity of the information. These issues, in my opinion, weren`t further inquiry before we use the information as a backbone of one of the major findings of the existence of the continuing Iraqi biological weapons program!" I did not add the exclamation point. That`s actually in the guy`s original email. He`s saying with an exclamation point, hey, I think this guy could be lying. Do not use this information to build a case for war. That guy`s information was then turned into part of the basis for Secretary of State Colin Powell`s case for war at the United Nations. When the avatar of George W. Bush pops up on your screen at his new presidential library that opened today in Dallas, he pops up on your screen to make the case, even today, for invading Iraq. When he talks about the weight of evidence about Saddam`s weapons of mass destruction, this is the kind of weight of evidence that he`s talking about. The kind of evidence that came at the time with an exclamation point from our own people telling us do not use this, it very well could be made up. But the newest presidential library in America opened to the public today is still selling this stuff, still selling the same stuff, still. Joining us now for the interview is retired Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson. He was chief of staff to Secretary of State Powell in the lead- up to the war in Iraq. Colonel Wilkerson, it`s really good to have you here tonight. Thank you for your time. COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, U.S. ARMY (RET): Thanks for having me, Rachel. MADDOW: Do you see it as important that the brand new Bush Library is arguing the weight of the evidence that existed to invade Iraq? Is it important in the big picture? Or does everybody just expect that a presidential library will all be propaganda? WILKERSON: I don`t think so. I think, as you pointed out in your opening, this is a special kind of propaganda. This is Karl Rove propaganda. But let me point out to you how fast we rehabilitate things in America. You earlier on your show had Philip Mudd. Philip Mudd was the one standing behind me in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel at 2:00 in the morning insisting I put items about terrorism back in Powell`s presentation that I had thrown out calling them garbage. In fact, he was so insistent that he went and ran and told George Tenet, and the next morning on the floor of the U.N. Security Council, George Tenet accosted me about what I`d done. So, Phil Mudd is still around, still advising on terrorism and so forth. We rehabilitated people really fast. MADDOW: You were involved in the preparation of Secretary Powell`s presentation to the U.N. You have described that kind of pressure before, although I will tell you I did not connect that to Philip Mudd and talking about a totally different subject tonight, and thank you for connecting those dots. Did you know when you were working on that presentation the specific thing about the mobile biological labs buy, Curveball guy, that an American who had met with him said he was a liar who shouldn`t be trusted -- did you have access to the information? WILKERSON: We didn`t even know the term Curveball. All we knew was that an Iraqi engineer, confirmed by other sources and methods of U.S. intelligence, had been working in one of the labs, according to the testimony, and had had an explosion in that lab and it had killed several people and that he had given the CIA much information, which as you`ll note in the presentation, we turned into sketches of the actual rail mounted and truck mounted mobile labs. It was very specific. It was very detailed, and George Tenet stood behind it four square. We didn`t know anything about Curveball, the BND, the German intelligence equivalent of the CIA, or any of these other things, these revelations that have come out since. At the time, George Tenet confided none of that in us. MADDOW: Colonel Wilkerson, one of the other things I wanted to ask you about that I did not realize until seeing this tape from the library today, is that in this Decision Points thing they asked you to work through with the Bush Library, their way of telling this history, you as the sort of fake president, you can get advice from the CIA, from the Defense Department, from the U.N., from Iraqi academics, but there`s no option programmed into the game to get advice from State Department, even as President Bush says first, we tried diplomacy first. I wonder if you feel that actually reflects the decision making in the months leading up to the war. How heavily was the State Department consulted? WILKERSON: It certainly does reflect the State Department. It reflects the State Department`s power in the U.S. government to this day. Diplomacy is the least used and the least honed instrument in our arsenal, and the reason for that is longstanding. It starts with Dick Nixon and others who derided the State Department is the home of pinko communist dogs. That`s the way the State Department was looked at by the Bush administration also. They tolerated Colin Powell, because Colin Powell had poll ratings like Mother Teresa. They couldn`t very well not tolerate Colin Powell. But the State Department, the State Department was looked on as a filthy, dirty place where people worked to -- were not competent and had no advice to offer that was worth a damn. MADDOW: Do you feel like when you`re looking right now at the debates about Syria, the debates about Iran, the debates about other national security challenges for our country around the world, and how we`re going to deal with them -- do you feel like there is a real concrete effect of propagating a whitewashed history of what we went through with the Iraq war? Does that affect the debates we`re having now on issues like Iran and Syria? WILKERSON: Oh, I think so. I think as Yogi Berra, I think, once said, it`s like deja vu all over again. I see us walking down the same road with the same characters singing in the choir, the same people off the same sheet of music with a few changes trying to get us into war with Iran. The new momentum with respect to Syria is not just because of the brutal civil war there, it`s also because of people like Lindsey Graham and John McCain from my party and Bob Menendez from the Democratic Party, would like to use Syria as a backdoor to get us into war with Iran. This is another catastrophe brewing, and if the American people don`t wake up and start saying something about it, they`re going to find themselves in another trillion dollar 10-year war that`s going to produce results not unlike those in Iraq today. Let me say, Iraq is a mess today. It is an absolute mess. You`ve got the Saudis funding the Sunnis and a resurgence of the civil war. You got Maliki in the back pocket of Iran. So, what we have, as George Bush doesn`t tell you in his library, is an ally in Iran in Iraq now. You got the Kurds about to establish their own state in the north and Iraqis who know anything about their country predicting it will break up in the next four to five years. So, that`s what George Bush did for Iraq. MADDOW: The end of the game involves when he says they do the status of Iraq now and they talk about Iraq being an ally, a strong ally on defense and economic and all sorts of security issues for the United States. It`s amazing stuff. Retired Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, sir, former chief of state to Secretary of State Colin Powell and the lead-up to the Iraq war -- thank you for making the connection with our earlier guest tonight. That was stunning, and now I have to get you guys in the same room to talk to me at the same time. That`s going to be a great night. WILKERSON: Anytime. MADDOW: Thank you, Colonel. All right. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. First, it was David Lee Roth who was the singer in Van Halen. Then it became this man. In the mid-1980s, it`s a sad day for America. Sami Hagar seen here wearing a sleeveless yellow jumper with inexplicable red straps in the 1984 music video "I Can`t Drive 55." Now, the car in which he cannot drive 55 is a car that`s called Ferrari. So, here`s your pop quiz, who besides Sami Hagar circa `94 in a yellow sleeveless jumper, who in American politics right now actually drives a Ferrari? The answer, and why the FBI is involved in that answer, is coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Now that we know who the candidates are for the next U.S. Senate election in June, which is for the Massachusetts Senate seat used to be held by John Kerry, now we know the candidates, there are two ways to look at this matchup between Democratic Congressman Ed Markey and Republican Gabriel Gomez. One way to see it is as the second coming of Scott Brown, right? It`s a political unknown against a veteran Democrat in a state that usually goes blue -- but, hey, it`s a special election, anything can happen. And this guy`s a young, fresh face. That`s one way to see this race -- the second coming of Scott Brown. The other way to see this race is as the second coming of Scott Brown, the Scott Brown who is not a senator anymore because he lost really badly really recently. When Mitt Romney was losing the presidential race in Massachusetts by 23 percentage points this past year, his Massachusetts-based campaign staff was not just busy losing that race, they were also busy losing Scott Brown`s race, too, an incumbent U.S. Senate seat held by a supposedly popular guy lost by eight points. The same campaign people who lost Mitt Romney the presidency, who lost Mitt Romney his supposed home state by 23 points and lost Scott Brown an incumbent U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts, they are the same people in Massachusetts doing the Gabriel Gomez campaign for the Senate seat against Ed Markey. So, it`s the second coming of Scott Brown either way, right? Joining us now is Steve Kornacki. He`s host of MSNBC`s weekend morning show "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI." He`s also senior writer at Steve, thanks for being here. STEVE KORNACKI, "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI": No thanks needed for Massachusetts. MADDOW: I know. You know this stuff chapter and verse. And that`s why I wanted to ask you, broadly, what do you find the most interesting thing about this race? I mean, looking at history here, how does this fit in? KORNACKI: It seems, in Massachusetts -- yes, deeply blue state, 13 percent of the registered population is Republican, but one of the consequences of sort of one party rule I think is that every once or twice every decade, I`d say, the electorate of Massachusetts for some reason gets riled up, gets cranky about one party rule and takes it out on a Democratic candidate. And that`s sort of how Scott Brown got in over Martha Coakley, it`s how a guy named Mitt Romney in 2002 ran against the gang of three. These insiders on Beacon Hill, these Democratic insiders, and he beat Shannon O`Brien in 2002. So, it happens from time to time. In the stat that sort of jumps out at me, I believe Ed Markey, who has been in the House since 1976, 36-year veteran in the House, I think that would be the longest tenure, or one of the longest tenures ever in the House before moving into the Senate. And it`s guy who basically, he lives in the D.C. area. He`s got his house in Malden, Mass, where he grew up, but there was a story earlier this year, he really doesn`t live there anymore. It`s the kind of thing, if people start -- if the race captures public interest, if the spotlight is turned up on Markey, he has the markers of insider-dom that I think occasionally riled up Massachusetts voters again. Oh, this is the guy the machine spit out at us. The Washington lifer (ph), he doesn`t live here anymore, 36 years in Congress, we want something new. And you have the biographer of Gabriel Gomez. You know, he`s a son of Colombian immigrants, Navy SEAL, the sort of thing. There`s some appeal there. He looks like an outsider of the system. You know, I will say, he`s not been that impressive in terms of, you know, when he actually opens his mouth. But at least on paper, there`s a contrast there that -- I think Markey will be fine. But I think there`s a possibility this thing gets interesting. MADDOW: A lot of the common wisdom, particularly among liberals about what happened when Scott Brown won in 2010, was that while Martha Coakley may have made people very happy with her performance in office, her performance as a candidate was lackluster. She wasn`t good at campaigning or debating. I think Gabriele Gomez was particularly awful in the Republican primary debates. He was the only candidate who had enough money to advertise on TV, though, and maybe that`s why he won. How do you see a mark up between Markey and Gomez, if they are both on the same stage, both having to open their mouth? KORNACKI: And that`s the thing. Markey actually is -- I think he`s got a little bit more life in a setting like that than Martha Coakley. I think he`s better in the setting than Martha Coakley was. And you remember sort of the iconic moment for Scott Brown as a candidate was when he was in that debate and David Gergen said, well, this is Kennedy`s seat. Scott Brown interrupted and said, no, it`s the people`s seat. MADDOW: Right. KORNACKI: The instinct to do that and I haven`t seen a similar instinct, you know, from Gomez. There was a third candidate in the Republican primary who finished dead last with like 13 percent who`s a really sharp, quick witted, creative, clever guy. And I would say, if you could put his personality in Gabriel Gomez, then you`d really have a candidate. So, I think it`s just one of those, in terms of Markey being in trouble, it really rises and falls on, you know, does the entrenched D.C. status, 36 years in Congress, that sort of thing, really not living in Malden and living in the Beltway, does that, you know, rile up the voters, in a way? You know, I think it`s possible, not likely. I look at Coakley and, you know, the thing I remember about Coakley, is we can talk about the terrible campaign she ran. What it really was that was the height of the health care battle, right? MADDOW: Right. KORNACKI: What`s when it came to a head, and that`s why it captured the public`s interest. And the public looked at her and said, all the stuff about the Red Sox, taking a vacation in the campaign, that didn`t work. But the public, if it never reached that level of interest because of health care, she would have won by 15 points. MADDOW: And part of the reason that reached the level of interest is because Tea Party groups and conservative groups are on the country decided to make Scott Brown their vehicle at a time when they needed one to channel the anger over health reform. They found it in him. We`ll see if that sort of same dynamic can play out with Gabriel Gomez. I don`t see it but I don`t always see things coming in Massachusetts. Steve Kornacki, the host of MSNBC`s great weekend morning show, "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI" -- you are doing a great job on the weekends, man. Great to have you here. KORNACKI: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. I will use the word Ferrari in a completely legitimate news context. Coming up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This was the lead editorial in "The Washington Post" yesterday, "Virginia`s deepening scandal." This was the lead politics story in the same paper. Look at the headline. When the headline is about your governor insisting he`s able to govern, then, yes, Virginia, there`s a scandal at hand. It started a few weeks ago with reports that Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell had received undisclosed gifts from a campaign contributor who`s now under federal investigation. The gift in question was a chicken dinner -- a $15,000 chicken dinner for a couple of hundred people that was served at the wedding of the governor`s daughter. The governor`s initial defense was that the dinner wasn`t a gift to him, it was a gift to his daughter. So, he didn`t have to disclose it. That later fell apart when "The Post" got a hold of the catering contract and found that it was signed by the governor. So, it`s his contract. So, anybody paying the cost of the contract was paying his costs. Well, now, the FBI is involved. FBI agents and Virginia state police looking into whether there`s been any quid pro quo between the governor and the company, whether the governor took steps to help the company, quote, "in return for anything of value for him and his family." In the course of that investigation, we are now getting more detail out of Virginia about those things of value that the governor took, things like a family vacation at the lake house of the company`s founder. And that trip apparently included borrowing the executive`s Ferrari for the ride home. Yes, this guy in a Ferrari -- Bob McDonnell, a Ferrari. When the July vacation ended, the McDonnell family borrowed a Ferrari owned by Star Scientific`s chief executive the three-hour ride back to Richmond. The model had a retail price of $190,000. Apparently, the whistleblower in this case is the governor`s former chef who turned over documents about that paid-for wedding reception. He turned over the documents last year. Then, this year, he found himself in trouble with the state attorney`s office. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli green lighting felony embezzlement charges against the whistle blower chef. Well, now, the chef`s lawyers have responded by saying, actually, our client, the chef, did not steal from the governor`s mansion but, oh, by the way, we would like you to turn over information about things the governor`s family took from the mansion. And they provided a list, bottled water caps, Gatorade, protein powder and other items taken from the mansion by two of the McDonnell kids for use at their college residences. Flats of eggs taken from the mansion by another of the McDonnell kids. Liquor taken by a McDonnell kid or her boyfriend from the mansion for a private party. Pots and pans from the mansion given to the McDonnell kids by the governor`s wife. Protein powder and the chicken dinner and Ferrari, like the noun-less in a political scandal mad libs. The attorney general now says he wants to recuse himself from the case against the chief. No idea if that`s related to the fact that Ken Cuccinelli himself is also now in trouble in this matter, first, for not disclosing that he owns part of the company in question her, but then for not disclosing all the gifts that he, too, got from the company, including a catered Thanksgiving dinner in a lake house summer vacation. So, not a chicken in his case, but turkey and but still a nice vacation. Ken Cuccinelli is the Republican candidate for Virginia governor this year. Democrats are calling for him to resign because of the scandal. That`s happening while the current governor is reduced to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: There are two things I would like to people to know. One is that, you know, I had a remarkable opportunity to serve these last 3 1/2 years and that there`s nothing going on at all at this time that impairs my ability to do a good job and serve the people of Virginia. And that, secondly, you know, I`ve said, I`ve got -- I have been blessed to have a lot of friends. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: And some of my friends let me drive their Ferrari and pay for my daughter`s wedding. Isn`t that what Virginians are looking for in a governor? Have you met my handpicked successor, the attorney general? No word yet on him in the Ferrari, but he has just started disclosing his free vacations at the same guy`s lake house. Virginia Republicans keeping it classy and fast. Watch this space. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Thanks for being with us. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END