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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/14/13

Guests: Tom Goldstein

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Happy Friday to you. And happy Christmas in June. Did you see what just happened in Texas? I`ve got a15-second piece of tape. See if you can tell from watching this 15 second piece of tape what weird thing is going on at this bill signing that just happened down in Texas. You`re not looking for something in this clip visually. You`re actually listening for something. So, check this out. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: I`d like you to hear from the author of the bill who happens to also be the father of Reagan, Representative Dwayne Bohac. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Did you -- did you hear that, the ringing? The weird ringing. Kind of a seasonal sounding ringing. All right. Now here`s another clue. Here is Texas Governor Rick Perry signing the bill at that bill ceremony. Everything looks kind of normal. But wait, wait, wait, wait. Who`s that guy? Who`s that guy over Rick Perry`s right shoulder? Who`s that guy with the funny hat and the long white beard? Yes, that`s Santa. Rick Perry, in fact, stacked the room with a whole bunch of stunt Santa Clauses for the bill signing. What just happened in Texas is that Rick Perry signed a bill, he had a big ornate signing ceremony with sleigh bells ringing and Santa Clauses all over the room to sign a bill that makes it not illegal to say "Merry Christmas" in Texas. Seriously. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MALE TV ANCHOR: Well, it might be June, but folks at the state capitol today are getting ready for the holidays. FEMALE TV ANCHOR: Today, Governor Perry signed legislation that will let teachers and students use greetings like "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hanukkah" in schools. (CHEERS) FEMALE TV ANCHOR: Those are members of the Lone Star Santas Club. They came to the capitol to give their backing on this bill. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes. You can say merry Christmas in Texas now. Thanks to Governor Rick Perry, it`s not illegal to say Merry Christmas. Now, was it ever illegal to say Merry Christmas in Texas? You know, you never can be too careful, but saying Merry Christmas is now doubly triply, merrily, Rick Perry protected in Texas in case you were ever worried. Rick Perry has been worried about this for a long time. The secret illegal nature of Christmas is a big Rick Perry idea in politics. You may remember when he was running for president he tried to make one of the central issues of his campaign, the fact he had led the fight to keep Christmas from being illegal in Texas. And he would lead that fight nationally against President Obama. He wasn`t afraid. President Obama may want to make Christmas illegal and ban Christianity, but Rick Perry has Santa on his side. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PERRY: I`m not ashamed to admit I`m a Christian. But you don`t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know that there`s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can`t openly celebrate Christmas and pray in school. As president, I`ll end Obama`s war on religion and I`ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage. Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again. I`m Rick Perry, and I approve this message. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So that was how Rick Perry ran for president the first time. He will, in his barn coat, protect you from homosexuals. So, in case you are worried, America, the one man who will stand between you and homosexuality is this guy. It`s Rick Perry receiving and then, of course, famously cuddling a bottle of maple syrup that was given to him in a speech in New Hampshire. Rick Perry will protect you from the gay and he will keep Christmas legal from the Democrats who want to make it illegal. That is how Rick Perry first ran for president. That`s how he ran first time and presumably that is how he is going to run for president the second time. And although we are still observing a ban about talking about 2016 here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, it is there in my own handwriting on a whiteboard in my offices, one of the ways that you know despite the 2016 ban that Rick Perry is running for president again besides the fact Rick Perry, himself, says he`s open to running for president again, one of the ways you know he means it is because that bill signing with the sleigh bells and Santa Clauses where he saved Christmas, that was one of the last things he did in Texas before he left the state to fly to the new Christian Coalition Conference thing in Washington. Rick Perry will be speaking tomorrow at the Christian Coalition Conference that is hosting all of these other Republicans who want to run for president. The Christian Coalition Conference is now called the Faith and Freedom Conference ever since Ralph Reed sullied the old Christian Coalition name but it`s the same old thing it`s ever been. It`s Ralph Reed and it`s Gary Bauer and Phyllis Schlafly and all the rest of them. This confab for the social conservative wing of the Republican Party, it comes to a really sensitive time in our politics, when it comes to the issues nearest and dearest to the hearts of these folks, particularly when it comes to gay politics. By which I mean anti-gay politics which has been a central thing at the Christian coalition and the organized Christian conservative movement has always stood for. And the sensitive issue for them right now is not just the general American public opinion shift be in favor of gay rights. The latest ABC News/"Washington poll this week found 57 percent of Americans now support legalized equal marriage rights. It`s beyond that, though. It`s not just that sentiment, that broad feeling in the country that makes their position against it seemed awkward. It is that the question is being called. There are policy positions coming up, policy decisions coming up on this where Republicans are going to have to make their feelings known not just to each other, but to the majority of the country which disagrees with them on gay rights. Republican politicians are about to lose the luxury of only talking about gay rights in front of anti-gay audiences like the Faith and Freedom Coalition or avoiding the question altogether because they really don`t want to be quoted about it because their Republican position on the subject is so unpopular. One of these policy decisions that`s about to come down on them is the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. It`s a bill that simply says you can`t be fired for being gay. No employer can put up a sign in their window that says we don`t hire gay people. It is legal for an employer to do that right now under federal low. You can`t do something like that on the basis of race, of course, you can`t do that on the basis of sex, you can`t do that on the basis of age and all these other protected categories. But if you want to fire somebody simply and only because they are gay, if you want to put out a job announcement that says "I will not hire you if you are gay, no gays need apply," nothing in federal law stops you from doing that. Today, the Nondiscrimination Bill that would fix that got its 50th sponsor in the Senate, in the form of Majority Leader Harry Reid. And that means the nondiscrimination bill now has enough votes to pass if the Republicans wouldn`t filibuster which, of course, they would. Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio was asked about his position on that nondiscrimination bill yesterday by an enterprising "Think Progress" reporter who followed him into an elevator. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: The Senate this summer is going to be taking up the Employment Nondiscrimination Act which makes it illegal to fire someone for being gay. Do you know if you`ll be supporting that? SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I haven`t read the legislation. But, by and large, I think all Americans should be protected, but I`m not for any special protections based on orientation. REPORTER: What about on race or gender? RUBIO: Well, that`s established law. REPORTER: But not for sexual orientation? RUBIO: Hi, how are you, man? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Hey, how are you, man? That counts for not an answer. It`s kind of brutal to watch the running away. Not for sexual orientation? Even though -- hey, how are you? It`s tough to watch. But Marco Rubio being anti-gay, Marco Rubio having anti-gay policy positions is not a surprise. He`s never taken a pro-gay rights position on anything really. And it was just yesterday that he said he would blow up the whole immigration reform issue. He would blow up this whole thing that he has been working on, that he staked his whole political future on, he will kill the whole idea of immigration reform if immigration reform applies to gay people, too. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) RUBIO: This bill has in it something that gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill. I`m gone. I`m off it and I`ve said that repeatedly. And I don`t think that`s going to happen and it shouldn`t happen. (END AUDIO CLIP) HAYES: I`m gone. I`m off it. That shouldn`t happen. So, Marco Rubio, the supposed future of the Republican Party, says there should be no immigration reform if it also would apply to gay people. And he says it should be legal in this country for your boss to fire you because he found out you`re gay or because he`s decided he thinks that you`re gay. Maybe nothing should be surprising about social conservative politics and what these guys stand for, still, in 2013. But the nondiscrimination thing, right? I mean, you would think that would be something where they could bring more people across the line on this. I mean, the reason that Harry Reid is number 50 in terms of the sponsoring the Nondiscrimination Act is because the 48th and 49th votes for the nondiscrimination bill just happened. Those are from Angus King who is sort of right down the middle, centrist independent senator from Maine. Also from Heidi Heitkamp who`s probably the most conservative member of the Senate now who is a Democrat. Heidi Heitkamp, for example, voted against background checks for gun sales and she`s a very conservative person on lots of social issues. But even she is for nondiscrimination. But when it comes to the Republicans, not only is Marco Rubio not in favor of it, it`s not even the province of Rob Portman. Rob Portman is the guy who decided he was suddenly for gay marriage after his son came out to him. So, he is OK for marriage rights for his son, but not for nondiscrimination? I`m okay with you being forced out of your job, son, because of you who are? I just don`t want you to go through it alone? If you`re married, you can both be fired for being gay, together. How does that make sense? These maverick Republicans that you see on your screen right here, these are the only three Republicans in both houses of Congress who support employment nondiscrimination for gay people. And while all of those members of Congress are Republicans in good standing, what you are not looking at there is the Republican primary field for 2016. You apparently cannot support something like nondiscrimination for gay people and have any future in Republican Party politics. Nobody who has any real prospects of being a national leader in Republican politics in the next few years has anything other than 100 percent anti-gay policy position on something like nondiscrimination. That is apparently still a requirement if you are a Republican and you want to hold higher national office. And that is awkward given the country as a whole is in a really, really different place than that, and there`s a very good chance this coming Monday that very awkwardness is all going to come crashing down on the Republican Party because this Monday there`s no guarantees, nobody knows for sure, but many court observers are expecting that this Monday morning, the United States Supreme Court will issue a pair of high-profile rulings on the issue of same-sex marriage. The court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of California`s ban on same-sex marriage otherwise known as prop 8 and we also expect a ruling from the court on DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, the law passed by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton. It`s an anti-gay law that denies same-sex couples any federal recognition and any of the federal benefits of being married. The Supreme Court heard arguments on both of those cases in March. This Monday is the next possible day that we could get final rulings from them on those cases and a lot of people are expecting those cases to be ruled on on Monday. And those looming rulings are a problem for Republicans who find themselves on the wrong side of fast-moving public opinion on this issue. By which I mean almost all elected Republicans, because in Republican world, it is a very different world than the rest of us live in when it comes to talking about the gay. As an example, this week, as the court is gearing up to issue those rulings and 50 co-sponsors are signing on to the nondiscrimination act, Republicans in congress were being lobbied by all the social conservatives who were in town for Ralph Reed`s new version of the Christian coalition and their big conference. Republicans in Congress spent this week getting lobbied on the evils of gay marriage and the darkness that will be unleashed on the land if the court rules in a pro-gay way. This was a Republican congressman from Ohio being visited by that group yesterday. Watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KEN BLACKWELL: If the court shelves DOMA and (AUDIO GAP) steps on the voice of the people of California, that will radically change the definition of marriage which will, I think, probably unleash the sort of civil protests that`s reminiscent of the civil rights movement in the `50s, `60s. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It`s going to be the mass civil disobedience of the 1950s and 1960s all over again if the court rules in favor of gay marriage. The nation will rise up in anger and the streets will fill for years. Really? The problem for Republicans is that after these rulings come out, they are not just going to be able to talk to the Ken Blackwells of the world and the Ralph Reeds and Phyllis Schlaflys of the world about it, and the people who cheer them in speeches when they call it sodomy, right? After these rulings come out, this is going to be the biggest news in the country. They`re going to have to talk to the rest of the country, too, who is increasingly not only against them on these issues, but bewildered by them and their positions on these issues. Nobody knows exactly what`s going to happen on Monday, but this is going to be fascinating to watch. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) EDIE WINDSOR, DOMA PLAINTIFF: I am today an out lesbian, OK, who just sued the United States of America, which is kind of overwhelming for me. When my beautiful, sparkling Thea died four years ago, I was overcome with grief. Within a month, I was hospitalized with a heart attack. That`s kind of common. It`s usually looked at as broken heart syndrome. In the midst of my grief, I realized the federal government was treating us as strangers and I paid a humongous estate tax, and it meant selling a lot of stuff to do it and it wasn`t easy. I live on a fixed income and it wasn`t easy. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was Edith Windsor, Edie Windsor, plaintiff in the Defense of Marriage of Act case before the Supreme Court right now. A lot of very practiced court watchers think that a ruling on that case and a Prop 8 case in California may be announced on Monday. It is not at all certain if it will happen then or what that ruling will be. But joining us now with probably the best guess in country is Tom Goldstein. He`s co-founder of the SCOTUS Blog, Web site that covers the Supreme Court that won a Peabody Award in Excellence in Electronic Media this year, first blog to win that award. Mr. Goldstein lectures at Harvard and he has argued 28 cases before the Supreme Court. Tom Goldstein, thank you for being with us. TOM GOLDSTEIN, SCOTUS BLOG: Merry Christmas. Thanks to Governor Perry for letting me get that off my chest. MADDOW: Yes, I know you`ve been held back by the threat of the Gestapo, right? Listen, Tom, there`s no way to know if Monday is going to be the day. But what is your thinking about whether or not it`s going to be the day? GOLDSTEIN: I think this one probably will go to the bitter end the justices heard argument as you described it in March. They don`t give us any heads-up, but it`s likely to be such a big fight particularly when you have two cases on such a historic question as same-sex marriage that some time in the next two weeks, it`s going to happen. But Monday might be a little ambitious. But it could happen for sure. MADDOW: What do you expect to be the outcome of these cases? Do you expect they`ll be decided at the same time, we`ll hear about both rulings on the same day? GOLDSTEIN: Yes, I`d be shocked. They are twins in a sense. They present a question about a federal law being unconstitutional and the state law. Some of the same theories that it violates equal protection to discriminate between same sex couples and heterosexual couples. So, it would be the court`s practice to do it together. In terms of what`s going to happen, I would guess there`s going to be a split result that just as you describe puts it back into the national conversation. First and foremost, I think DOMA is going to be struck down, either an this theory that it violates the rights of same-sex couples or violates the states rights, if the state wants to recognize same-sex marriage, I think Justice Kennedy is sympathetic to the idea that Congress can`t overturn that judgment. Proposition 8 it asks this very conservative Supreme Court, our most conservative Supreme Court ever, a lot to recognize a right to same-sex marriage. It looked like the center of the court was looking for some way out of deciding that question. MADDOW: They could do that by saying we shouldn`t have taken this in the first place or by deciding it on some technical ground that avoided the merits? GOLDSTEIN: Exactly right. To say that maybe these plaintiffs didn`t have the right to appeal because everybody who is responsible for enforcing these laws is giving up on them. The president says that DOMA is unconstitutional. The governor in California refuses to defend Proposition 8. That wave of national attitude that you`ve been describing applies to the elected officials as well. That might, ironically, give the Supreme Court a way of kicking that critical, fundamental question down the road while still advancing the ball through the DOMA case. MADDOW: I`m going to be a bit of a heretic and talk about the justices as political people for a second. I know they don`t like to be talked about that way. But I do tend to think of, especially the younger more conservative justices as being politically minded. Justice Roberts, in particular, as a young chief thinking about how he is viewed. And when I think of him as a political figure, I think of him worrying about how his federal conservatives might think about his ruling on Obamacare. Maybe he doesn`t want to be seen as a squish, maybe he wants to be seen as a conservative. If I extrapolate -- I`m making that up. If I extrapolate, he doesn`t want a 5-4 ruling when he`s on the side of five voting for gay marriage. I would think that he wants a large ruling than that. He wants it to be six, seven, eight nine votes in favor. Am I crazy to think about it in those terms? GOLDSTEIN: Well, I don`t think you have to even think about it as just political. You can think about it as somebody who really cares a lot about the perception of the institution. I don`t think he sweats things a lot. That`s the nice thing about life tenure. But in all events, it`s really odd to think that he would be the fifth vote. Justice Kennedy who`s written two very significant cases on gay rights, who`s really the person who same-sex marriage advocates are looking to first and foremost by the court`s conservatives. He would have to be the fifth vote then the chief the sixth vote almost certainly. MADDOW: In terms of the rulings, other big rulings that are expected from the court soon, obviously, the other that everybody is really on tenterhooks about is the Voting Rights Act. Do you have any other informed speculation for us on either timing or likely outcomes there? GOLDSTEIN: That one is probably up sooner. It was argued beforehand. This is the question of whether Section 5, a really historic provision of the Voting Rights Act, which says that coverage jurisdiction, who have a history of discrimination dating back to the 1960s has to get the permission of the Department of Justice or the court before deciding their voting systems -- the idea that they would keep moving into new forms of discrimination if they always had to be sued. And this court a few years ago shot a shot across the bow of that law to Congress and said you need to narrow it, you need to cut back the number of covered jurisdictions. And Congress didn`t do anything. The justices do not like it when it seems like the other branches of government aren`t paying attention. And so, that statute I think probably is in big although by a thin majority. MADDOW: Tom Goldstein, cofounder of SCOTUS Blog -- tom, thank you very much for your time tonight. You always make these things both clear and scary. GOLDSTEIN: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: Thanks a lot. With the Voting Rights Act, with Section 5, I mean, that is a backbone civil rights protection. And if that goes, and most informed people on these matters seems to think it`s going to be going, I have no idea what the political repercussions of that are going to be but it`s going to be a very big deal in this country in a way that`s going to last for a very long time. So think I. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is earlier today in Newtown, Connecticut, right outside the town hall. Reading of names of more than 6,000 people who have been killed by gun violence since the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings in Newtown six months ago today. The victims and victims` families and community members paused for a 26-second moment of silence to honor each of the 26 victims of Sandy Hook - - 20 first graders, of course, and six educators. Since Sandy Hook on December 14th, there have been 10 mass shootings where at least four people died other than the shooter, himself, in our country. The most recent was last week when a 23-year-old man killed five people in a rampage near Santa Monica College in southern, California. The dead included his father and brother. He was armed with an AR-15 assault rifle and .44 caliber handgun. He used the rifle to fire about 100 rounds in this 10-minute-long attack. He had about another 1,300 rounds with him and in a duffel bag, he had 40 separate extended capacity magazines for the rifle that each held about 30 rounds. It has been six months since Newtown. And everybody else is saying that despite the national horror, the national outcry over what happened at Newtown, the federal level everybody`s been saying that Congress has really done nothing on guns. Actually, though, the House of Representatives did pass something just last week on guns. The Republicans in the House of Representatives passed one piece of gun-related legislation since Newtown. And it is a bill to stop the government from buying ammunition, to stop law enforcement from buying ammunition. So, that in the shooting war, the U.S. government is about to declare on American citizens, the government side will run out of bullets sooner and then FOX News can win the war or something. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re watching inexplicably without any, any voice from the Department of Homeland Security, we are watching another purchase of 7,000 AR-15-like rifles. We are watching 2 billion rounds of ammunition, principally .40, and .9 millimeter. We are looking at the purchase of 2,700 light armored vehicles in the midst of, at least allegedly, 2,700 of those vehicles. What in the world is going on as the homeland department -- Department of Homeland Security seems to be arming up and the administration`s trying to disarm American citizens? PAT ROBERSTON, TELEVANGELIST: Imagine what homeland security is doing. It`s just awful. Are we going to talk about how many ammunition they are stockpiling? Who are they going to shoot, us? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: This idea that the U.S. government is stockpiling ammunition to kill us all was birthed in the usual conspiracy clearinghouses. The same people who brought you the Boston marathon bombing was faked. Or maybe it was an inside job and Michelle Obama did it. The same people that said the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma, was a government-made weather weapon which President Obama used to shoot tornadoes at Oklahoma on purpose? Those are the same folks who have been predicting an American government arms race against the American people. I mean, why else would American law enforcement want bullets except to enslave us all? (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: So what are they going to do if they want to violate our Second Amendment rights? Do it with ammo. LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Can you explain this to me? What do they need it for? INHOFE: Well, they don`t. That`s the point. INGRAHAM: Then, but people -- I mean, but it had been purchased before Obama by the -- INHOFE: Yes. No, not these numbers, now, Laura. Not these numbers. The best evidence of that is look what happened to the supply. The supply is gone. And where did they go? The supply, some of it, of course, people -- INGRAHAM: Are buying up. INHOFE: --knowing that we have a president who wants to take away -- yes, they`re buying it up but not to those proportions. Now, I know this for a fact because I know the people that are, you know, concerned about this. And so, so, there`s no downside if I`m wrong on this. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: I know this for a fact because I know people are concerned about this, so there`s no downside if I`m wrong about this. That`s how I know it is a fact. It seemed insane when Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma responded to the supposedly concerned Americans who gave him no downside if he`s wrong with a bill to actually block law enforcement agencies from buying ammunition for training. But Senator Inhofe is that kind of guy and you know, hey, he`s in the minority party in the Senate so this crazy idea of his, you know, brought to us by people who believe President Obama decides where tornadoes go, that crazy idea of James Inhofe is not going anywhere in the United States Senate and that`s true. But you know what? It passed anyway. It didn`t go anywhere in the Senate, but Republicans control the House. And in the Republican- controlled House, they passed this thing. By lots. Look. By a big margin, 234-192, a party line vote. They passed their version, the House version of the Jim Inhofe stop law enforcement from buying bullets conspiracy theory bill. They passed it as an amendment to the funding for homeland security. So, when we lament that six months after Newtown, Congress cannot get anything done about guns or ammunition, or our country`s massive and worsening problem with mass shootings, it is wrong to lament that because the Republican-controlled House of Representatives can get something done on this issue. They can feed the apocalyptic paranoid from my cold dead hands war against the government conspiratorial gun nut base that they thrive on. They can feed that. That`s what they can get done. And in surely totally unrelated news, the Gallup polling organization today reported that Americans` confidence in Congress has not only fallen to the lowest level ever recorded since the dawn of modern polling, the level of confidence that Americans have in Congress has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded for any American major institution ever in the history of polling. And since the national catastrophe that was Newtown six months ago today, this congress has been earning that distinction it holds in the American mind every single day. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Remember when a few months after his lopsided loss in the race for Senate in Massachusetts last year against Elizabeth Warren, remember after that race, after he lost to Elizabeth Warren, when former Senator Scott Brown got on Twitter and he was like bqhatevwr and nobody knew what was going on with him and his explanations didn`t make sense and it didn`t get resolved and Scott Brown deleted everything and we tried to pretend it wasn`t happening -- it`s happening again. It`s happening again. What`s this about? That`s coming up. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The place in the world that sounds most like a made up place but, in fact, is a real place, is Timbuktu. The name to notes the idea of it being hard to get to. It has become a Western metaphor for faraway- ness, for remoteness. And that is not just because Timbuktu is far away from the U.S., lots of places are far away but they don`t have the specific connotation. I think that specific connotation is because Timbuktu is on the very edge of Africa`s largest desert, the Sahara Desert. It`s located in northern Mali. And even if you are relatively close to Timbuktu, it is still remote and difficult to get to. That is one of the many reasons why a current series of scoops from "The Associated Press" has been fascinating. Since February, "The A.P." has been rolling out exclusive stories based on documents they say al Qaeda fighters left behind in a building in Timbuktu. An "A.P." reporter says she found a stash of confidential al Qaeda documents in that house, quote, "tucked under a pile of papers and trash." And if the documents are real, and "The A.P." says they are real, they reveal a lot of stuff about al Qaeda we did not know before and they probably did not want anybody to know, stuff like their strategy how they plan to rule in Northern Africa, once they topple enough governments to do that. This is building where "The A.P." reporter found the secret al Qaeda documents in Timbuktu, and these are the documents, themselves, published in the original Arabic and translated by "The A.P." into English. "The A.P." has published four stories in the series so far, all based on the stash of documents that this one reporter found in a house in Timbuktu. Some of the stories have had sort of morbidly hilarious details about al Qaeda`s day-to-day office politics like the one about al Qaeda`s leaders in Northern Africa being really angry at one of their subordinates for ignoring their phone calls, missing meetings, disobeying orders and worst of all, failing to file his expense reports. It turns out that`s a universal problem. More seriously, though, reporting from this same "A.P." reporting in Timbuktu turned up evidence of this al Qaeda group in Mali possessing and training to use fairly sophisticated surface to air missiles. "The A.P." actually published the al Qaeda surface-to-air missile training manuals. So, we have information about what certain weapons certain al Qaeda cells have and what they`re planning to do with them because of this word ongoing source of "A.P." reporting. Sometimes, even the most sensitive and sensational news like that, we know exactly how a news organization got its hands on this sensitive or sensational thing they have published that does have national security ramifications. Sometimes we know. Sometimes it`s a reporter finding it in a trash heap in a house in Timbuktu. Sometimes, though, the source of the information is not so easily traceable. For example, on the same day this week that "The A.P." published their latest scoop on al Qaeda and the surface-to-air missiles, on that same day, "The Washington Post" also published a different story about al Qaeda. "The Post`s" story was about how U.S. forces sabotaged the al Qaeda online magazine "Inspire", including in some ways that al Qaeda apparently was not readily noticing. Things like screws up their bomb-making instructions to the instructions still sort of looked right but the bombs that were made by using those instructions would not be bombs that worked. Quote, "Sometimes the disruption occurs when the magazine is being put together, intelligence officials said. A U.S. operator might alter a technical point in a set of bomb making instructions so the device will not work. The sabotage could go unnoticed for a long time," the source said. "The Washington Post" knew this sensitive information and was able to publish it because these unnamed officials leaked it to "The Washington Post." If al Qaeda was not noticing that their bomb making instructions online were sabotaged, it seems important that officials leaked that fact to a newspaper because now al Qaeda knows, right? We do not know why these officials leaked this information because we do not know who they are. They are unnamed. We can`t acquire as to their motivations, we can`t report about their motivations. But it seems right now like every big news story about national security, at least in the last couple weeks has been based on leaked information. Of course, the bombshell about NSA spying was originally an anonymous leak. The leaker decided to reveal himself. So, now, we at least know who he was and we know his explanations for why he did it. But there are also stories like this one in today`s "Washington Post", which is supposed to be about the shocking elaborateness of President Obama`s upcoming travel plans to Africa. We do not know who leaked this travel and security document about the president`s forthcoming trip, but we do know why it was leaked. Somebody wanted to embarrass the administration about this. Somebody who`s described by "The Post" as being, quote, "concerned about the amount of resources necessary for the trip." In the same story, "The Post" notes these exact same kinds of preparations were made for previous presidents who traveled to Africa but, of course, when it is this president, it`s an outrage for some reason. And, of course, the biggest national security story in the news right now, not only here but globally, also started in this country with a leak. A story that broke as we were going to air last night that the Obama administration has now determined with high confidence, they say, that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons and that the U.S. will be arming the rebels in Syria in response to that declaration about chemical weapons. In the last 24 hours since that story broke, this one, too, has been driven further largely by leaks. I mean, despite the administration`s efforts to brief reporters on their decision-making ahead of the leaking, they have not won. The leakers have won. The Obama administration`s own announcement of this new big escalation in U.S. involvement in another Middle Eastern country, it was leaked to "The New York Times" and then leaked to a senator. Senator John McCain, before the White House had announced anything official to the public on Syria, went to the Senate floor to tell everybody what the White House was about to say. He was asked, hey, how did you know that information before the White House said it? And he replied that he had to protect his source. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN: Can you give us a sense of how you found out that the U.S. would be arming the rebels? SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I`d heard that from a reliable source that I`m sure would not like for me to give you his name, Brianna. And I`m sure you understand that. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Then, today, it was unnamed western diplomats who leaked to "Reuters" that the White House is seriously considering a no-fly zone in Syria. That leak, despite the fact that White House officials, that the White House`s official comments on no-fly zone today called the idea "difficult, dangerous and costly." The White House has also not yet officially specified what kind of weapons they plan to provide to the Syrian opposition, but the leaks have provided it. Again, tonight, two officials leaking this time to CNN that the U.S. is going to send small arms and ammunition and maybe anti-tank weapons. According to these anonymous leakers, those weapons will be provided by the CIA, which, of course, would be covert action so there will be no official disclosure of that action, and so, therefore, leaks. There`s a lot going on in national security and national security- related politics right now. But one of the newsworthy things about national security politics in the United States right now is how many significant leaks there have been of supposedly closely held information in recent days. Just about every day for the last couple of weeks, there has been a significant new leak of some important new national security information. And it is in that bewildering context of real information, of apparently real information, and of fake information that we are now trying to figure out exactly why the United States has decided to intervene in the Syrian civil war after holding out for months, and what kind of intervention we really are about to make. And whether this is a symbolic step, a political step, or whether this is something that might actually make a difference in that war. Joining us now on that last point specifically is NBC News foreign correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin. He has made three trips to Syria since the start of the revolution there. Ayman, it`s great to have you here. Thanks for being here. AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Great to be here. MADDOW: Strategically, the U.S. government has said for a long time that they want the Assad government to fall. Is what they`re doing now something that will make it any more likely that will happen? MOHYELDIN: That`s going to be very difficult to assess right now because of all of the articles that you mentioned. We don`t know what the weapons are going to be. We don`t know if they`re going to tip the favor of the fight in the balance of the rebels in the opposition, because ultimately that`s the stated U.S. objective. That`s what the opposition wants. But as a result of what the U.S. is doing, that`s being met by other countries. Russia, China, Iran and now, Hezbollah, are sending their weapons, fighters and supply to the Syrian regime and you`re having a little bit of a proxy war. MADDOW: Thinking about -- I mean, thinking about Hezbollah-trained fighters and obviously the Syrian formal military, plus the support, you describe, from Russia and China and from Iran, if that`s the force on one side, is there any level of shipping weapons to the other side that could make it a fair fight? Or is this always going to be an unbalanced guerilla warfare against organized force kind of thing? MOHYELDIN: Well, you know, from a perspective of military, you can probably create the balance because if you impose a no-fly zone, that would require countries, NATO countries like Turkey, the United States, European countries and there`s no doubt on a military level, the comparison between the forces that you mention and the NATO countries definitely favors the NATO countries and their technical capabilities. But on the ground, the rebels over the past several -- two years of this revolution, have been able to capture territory, hold on to it, but they`re not able to prevent the Syrian regime`s air force from bombarding them or their tanks from advancing on to those cities. That`s why we`re seeing the spike of the death tool. So, one of the reasons why people are advocating or arguing for a no fly zone is to neutralize that specific threat and that`s certainly something that now as we`re learning from leaks that the U.S. considering. MADDOW: So, the rebels believe that the air power on the Syrian government side is definitive. That is the thing that`s making the difference. And if they were denied the air power superiority, they could overrun the country. MOHYELDIN: Absolutely. And it`s also, it was the same argument that was made in Libya, up until the point that the Libyan opposition-controlled Benghazi, it was only when NATO intervened and gave them the air superiority and move on to Tripoli. Same thing here. People are arguing, the opposition is arguing they cannot keep the territory they are holding, because once they push out the regime, what tends to happen is the regime`s air force comes in and just levels the entire area. And that is why they`re calling for the no-fly zone. MADDOW: This started U.S. involvement in this fight started as humanitarian aid, and there was some question as to how much humanitarian aid actually got there. Then it was supposed to be body armor and night vision goggles, which is sort of technical assistance, more than humanitarian aid, again, questions as to whether any of that got there. But now, it`s military aid, with limitations we`re hearing on the kind of weapons that we will ship. If that doesn`t turn the tide, strategically, hasn`t the U.S. already committed itself to the next step which would be the no-fly zone? I mean, when you talk about in terms of the way this intersects with U.S. politics, if the idea is that we are intervening, in order to make a difference, and what we`re doing thus far might not make a difference, don`t we then have to do the no-fly zone? Isn`t this kind of a slippery slope? MOHYELDIN: It`s a very slippery slope. The United States has made clear what it`s objective is, President Bashar al-Assad has to go. So, you have on paper, this is a stated U.S. objective and this is the goal. So everything the U.S. is doing between now and getting to that goal it incremental. Now some people argue that the U.S. allies in the region, Arab countries are saying, if you are already stating this goal, why are you proceeding incrementally to get to the specific issue that you know is going to bring down this regime, and that is a direct U.S. intervention. And it`s not military. We`re not talking about military again. You have to pull back from the terminology that`s used. But it`s either no-fly zones, more diplomatic pressure to neutralize the Russian influence at the United Nations and getting NATO involved. But at the end of the day, you have already stated the objective, everything that happens between now and then is incremental, and people are saying, you need to go all the way to the end line. MADDOW: I don`t think there is any controversy at all, other than the U.S. military involvement. And I think once the involvement -- the military supplying has started as the beginning of the American military involvement, there is very little that I can imagine that politically can hold the U.S. from going all the way, and then we`re there for a decade. MOHYELDIN: You know, and that part of the world doesn`t want to see another U.S. military intervention. MADDOW: This part of the world doesn`t either. Right. MOHYELDIN: Absolutely. And that`s why you don`t -- it`s highly unlikely the U.S. is going to have any types of boots on the ground. And perhaps it shouldn`t have type of boots on the ground. But at the end of the day, they want to see more U.S. leadership in the region diplomatically. MADDOW: Oh, I feel like I`ve seen this movie, and I hated this movie the first time around and the second time around. NBC News foreign correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin -- Ayman, it`s always great to have you here. Thank you very much. Thanks. All right. Still to come, newspaper endorsements that come with the side of oh, snap. And on the plus side, our old friend Scott Brown. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The largest Spanish language newspaper in Massachusetts is called "El Planeta." It`s based in Somerville, Mass. And the paper`s whole history of the paper, it has never endorsed a candidate, ever. But this year, in the election to fill the Senate seat previously held by John Kerry, with Republicans running their ever Latino state-wide candidate in the whole history of the state, "El Planeta" decided to jump in and make an endorsement. Massachusetts has its ever first Latino candidate for Senate. So, the largest Spanish language paper in Massachusetts is going to weigh in. And today they did. They endorsed the other guy. "El Planeta" did not endorse Gabriel Gomez. They endorsed Ed Markey, the Democratic candidate. Quote, "You would expect that for a Spanish-language media outlet during an electoral campaign with the Latino U.S. Senate candidate, the decision to support him would be easy, but on the matters that most affect the Latino community in Massachusetts, we think that Edward Markey has demonstrated a greater commitment to the defense of those issues than the Republican candidate Gabriel Gomez." The paper singling out Ed Markey`s support for immigration reform, his support for Obamacare, his support for funding education and health care, specifically praised him over Gabriel Gomez on his support for abortion rights and an assault weapons ban, both of which Gabriel Gomez opposes. Ed Markey had First Lady Michelle Obama campaigning for him a couple of weeks ago. Vice President Biden and former Vice President Gore did a fundraiser for him this week. President Obama was with Ed Markey in Roxbury, in South Boston this week. Former President Bill Clinton is going to be doing a Markey campaign rally in Worcester, Mass, tomorrow, which people in Boston think of s western Mass, but those on western Mass know it`s central mass. Then, Vice President Biden is going to be back again this week, campaigning for Ed Markey again. So, Ed Markey is having a couple of good weeks. And the election is two weeks away. But you know it is not all bad news for the other guy, for the Republican candidate. Because today, Gabriel Gomez, because he just got Scott Brown, Massachusetts famous half-term senator, Scott Brown, who won his seat in a special election but then lost it by eight points the first time he had to defend it. After waiting until this late day in the game to say anything at all, Scott Brown finally told the "Boston Globe" yesterday that he will do whatever it takes to get Gabriel Gomez elected. Bqhatevwr it takes. If you have been wondering what Scott Brown has been up to since Elizabeth Warren turfed him out of the Senate -- well, me, too. This is still his Twitter page, it turns out, which still says Scott Brown United States Senate -- not anymore. Right next to him, looking into a glowing, white blob, here is Scott Brown tweeting a picture of himself in a flag tie that he says it`s him, JC Watts, Governor Constangy. Governor - - who`s Governor Constangy? Scott Brown, next tweet. Oh, I see, not Governor Constangy. That was apparently the governor`s regional director, who Scott Brown mistook for the governor. The actual governor he says is not Governor Constangy, but Governor McGrory. Who is Governor McGrory? I`ve never heard of a McGrory. Next tweet, Scott Brown. Oh, you mean Governor McCrory of North -- oh, finally knew we would get there. But you know what? In the middle of that dust storm in Scott Brown`s mind, there was also this -- this ping that must be really exciting to Gabriel Gomez right now to have his endorsement. If you miss the bqhatevwr days, those days are back. What does this tweet mean from Scott Brown? Really, actually, don`t bug me, I have no idea, I`m just really, really looking forward to the United States Senate race in Massachusetts on June 25th. Whatever. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again on Monday, but because it is Friday, you have to go to a particularly interesting prison tonight. Goodbye. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END