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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/19/13

Guests: Tom Weiner

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Map time. This is Canada. Canada is enormous. Canada is the second largest country in the world by area. It`s provinces and territories stretched from Yukon territory in British Columbia in the west, all the way to Labrador and Newfoundland in the east. The eastern parts of Canada are way further east than you think they are. There is a whole time zone in Canada that is an hour further east than the time zone in U.S. East Coast. And then beyond that, there`s another one that`s even further east. For Newfoundland alone, and that`s one of those weird, half hour time zones. Canada is huge. But the Canadian province that sits roughly on top of the state of Montana is the Canadian province of Alberta. And earlier this month, just outside a place called Zama City in northern Alberta, there was a plane full of oil company officials flying over that part of the province. And they noticed there was something wrong. They noticed than an oil pipeline had burst, even though nobody had heard anything about it. An Alberta oil pipeline that was being operated by a Texas company called Apache just leaking all over the place. The spill was first noticed that day by company officials flying -- they noticed it from the air. They in turn notified the government of Alberta. But something weird happened after they notified the government of Alberta, nobody said anything. The company and the government just kept quiet about the whole thing for days and days and days and days. The spill was first spotted from the air on June 1st. It was not until 11 days later, on June 12th, that the government finally said anything publicly about the fact that it had happened. Some local residents learned about the spill before the government announcement, quote, "after somebody reported it to a local TV station." But the rest of the public was essentially left in the dark. Asked why they kept quiet about the whole thing that entire time? An official from the oil company told a local reporter out there, quote, "It didn`t affect people in general. There wasn`t anybody harmed. There wasn`t anybody that was directly affected." That is not at all true. Here`s what spill looks like, just oil and wastewater and toxic goo everywhere. As you can tell, this is a heavily wooded area. This is actually an environmentally sensitive wetlands region that a local Indian tribe relies on for hunting and trapping and their basic survival. A chief for that tribe told a local official that every plant and tree died in that area that was touched by the spill. The newspaper describes it this way -- across the broad expanse of northern Alberta, the landscape is dead. This spill which the oil company and the local government decided to not inform the general public about for 11 days after they knew about it, turns out to be giant. It turns out to be one of the largest spills of its kind in recent history. It covers an area of more than 100 acres, 9 and a half million liters of this toxic goo has been released. And even though the oil company has insisted publicly that what was spilled was not actually that harmful, they say, it`s mostly just saltwater, trust us. The images that have been released by those who actually live in the area seem to show a heck of a lot more oil mixed in with that fresh clean salt water that was spewing out of the pipeline. In response to this spill, there was a lot of initial questioning about whether enough was being done to maintain the aging oil infrastructure in that area, whether these old pipelines were meeting the necessary safety standards, whether more should be done, whether more should be invested in safety sake in replacing all the old stuff. And that worry is why it freaked everybody out so much when they realized this big disaster in Alberta was not because of the old stuff. The pipeline that failed and that took those 100 acres with it when it failed, a pipeline was only 5 years old. It was a 5-year-old pipeline designed to last for 30 years, it didn`t even make it one sixth of the way through its expected life span. A spokesman for the oil company said it was, quote, "kind of puzzling" as to why the pipeline leaked. Hmm, we have no idea. I wonder why that happened. Pipeline spills have become a fairly common thing in North America. Not just in Canada, but here as well. There was, of course, the big Exxon pipeline spill that took place earlier this year in Mayflower, Arkansas. That was actually an aging pipeline. None of the area residents in the area knew their houses were on top of a pipeline, but it was there. The burst pipeline that sent oil flowing through the streets like a wave. That pipeline that burst in Arkansas was nearly 65 years old. It was also the giant Yellowstone River oil spill in Montana, July 2011. That was also an Exxon pipeline. That one fouled one of Montana`s legendary natural assets. And there was the Enbridge oil spill right near the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010. That one has taken years to clean up. Cleanup costs are up to a billion dollars and counting so far. In part because that`s Alberta tar sands oil and no one really knows how to clean up Alberta tar sands oil. But up in Alberta, up in the oil fields up there, it`s the Red Deer River, a major source of drinking water for the province, that the oil spills have been fouling lately. Oil spills have been fouling a lot up there for a long time, the network of infrastructure through Alberta have had an average of two crude oil spills of some kind or another every single day for the past 37 years. Two spills a day. And it is easy to conclude that that`s Canada`s problem to deal with, right? But President Obama right now has to decide whether that is going to be our problem, too. President Obama personally has to make a decision very soon about whether or not to approve construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline that will carry oil from Alberta, Canada, all the way through the United States from our northern border, to the Gulf of Mexico. That project requires a presidential permit in order to go forward because that pipeline crosses the international border with Canada. The company that`s trying to get that presidential approval to build the pipeline is a company called TransCanada. TransCanada`s public pitch about why President Obama should approve their permit immediately is all about how safe this pipeline`s going to be. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUSS GIRLING, TRANSCANADA CEO: We can build a safe pipeline. This will be the safest pipeline that has ever been built in the United States. And I don`t think that the process needs to take this long. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: This will be the safest pipeline that has ever been built many. That was the CEO of TransCanada. They`re going to make this as safe as houses, right? This week, we learned maybe not. TransCanada has reportedly decided to reject the latest most state of the art technology that is out there for catching oil leaks in pipelines. There is a system out there of infrared sensors and fiber optic cables that are laid outside the pipeline in order to detect a spill as soon as it happens. That system exists. That sort of technology has officially been recommended by the U.S. government for this particular pipeline project. But TransCanada says actually we`re good. We`re not going to do that. They say employing that sort of technology would be impractical for this project. So, they`re just not going to do it. Yes, they said they would be the safest pipeline ever, but not that safe. The spill detection systems that they are planning on using have what`s called a spotty record of catching leaks, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. TransCanada is going to go with the spotty record stuff anyway, instead of the state of the art stuff. That sort of attitude toward safety on this project is part of why there is so much political consternation and attention and protests when it comes to this one particular pipeline. And, you know, honestly, this would not be the only pipeline in the United States, it`s not like we don`t have others. We`ve already got more than 19 million gallons of oil moving around the country by that means every single day. But this project and a few others like it, would add another 5 million gallons a day to what we`ve got already, which would be a big increase. There`s also consternation here because this pipeline is huge. It crosses the whole country. It essentially cuts the entire country in half. And in so doing, it runs through a lot of really important, very large sources of American drinking water and groundwater, which has caused concerns even among pro oil Republican governors who find their jurisdictions to be along the planned route. Honestly, the other reason this is such a hot button political issue is the fact of who gets to make the decision. Because it crosses an international boundary, this is on President Obama personally to make the decision. It`s his thumbs up or his thumbs down as to whether or not we can bear the risk of this thing as a country. So, the fact that this company is not trying to lower the risk as much as they could, that does ratchet up the pressure even further in terms of whether or not the president is going to approve this thing. As does the president`s own insistence on keeping the issue of the environment and climate change at the top of his agenda. On the list of things that he says he wants to do, something about in his second term. He keeps saying that over and over again. In all these high profile speeches, even with congress saying they have no interest at all in helping him work on it. Today was just the latest instance of President Obama doing that. The president travelled to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to give a speech. He stood under a broiling hot sun, wiping sweat off his brow, he had a broken teleprompter, forced him to read his speech off paper. The president said we must confront the crisis of climate change before it is too late. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The grim alternative affects all nations -- more severe storms, more famine and floods, new waves of refugees, coastlines that vanish, oceans that rise. This is the future we must avert. This is the global threat of our time. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The global threat of our time. That was today in Germany. But it echoes exactly what the president said in the longest treatment of any policy issue in his inaugural address earlier this year when he said, "We will respond to the threat of climate change knowing the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms. America cannot resist this situation," he said, "We must lead it." The president followed up those strong words with even more talk about more climate change, during his State of the Union Address, which is a few weeks later. But from that, we have one interesting political point. So, the president I very publicly urging action on this issue, saying that we`ve got to do something on this. But behind closed doors, he has apparently been telling sort of a different story. He`s been apparently acknowledging the very real political dangers in choosing to act on this issue. This is according to reporting from "The Washington Post." They say that during a recent private fundraiser in California, quote, "President Obama expressed concerns about the political pain involved, saying that dial testing of his State of the Union speech showed that the favorability ratings plummeted when he vowed to act on climate change if Congress refused to do so." So, interesting that dial testing would show people not liking the idea of the president saying he would act on this if Congress didn`t. But even more interesting that President Obama is telling his donors that at fund- raisers when he`s explaining to them what`s going to happen in the second term. So, behind closed doors, President Obama acknowledging that acting alone on this issue because Congress won`t carries with it a certain amount of political risk, but acting alone even with that acknowledged political risk. One that`s on his mind that he`s talking about in unscripted moments, even with that, it is apparently what he intends to do. Because paired with the speech of the Brandenburg Gate today, the White House now says that as soon as next week, we should expect a major presidential address announcing new policy on the issue of climate change. None of these new policy efforts will require any money from Congress or any legislative action from Congress. This is the president acting on his own. The president, we are told will be acting directly despite what he was telling everybody privately about his worries about the dial testing. So, how does President Obama weigh the strategy here? And are there lessons from how previous presidents have dealt with strategic dilemmas like this, that may be informing what he is about to do? Joining us now is my friend, Steve Kornacki. He`s host of MSNBC`s weekend morning show "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI." He`s also a senior writer at "Salon". Steve, thanks for being here. STEVE KORNACKI, UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI: Happy to be here. MADDOW: Are there historical parallels for other presidents consideration decisions like this, whether or not it`s on the environment? KORNACKI: I think the biggest thing to keep in mind is, it`s the second term, not the first term. There are political calculations here because he`s the head of the Democratic Party. So, the party, there`s a certain amount of -- any political decision he makes, any policy decision he makes that has political ramifications, it will affect the entire party, it will affect Democratic candidates in 2014. But you are talking about a president that does not have to face the voters again for the rest of his life. He will not be a candidate in 2016. He will not be a candidate ever again. There`s a little bit of freedom that comes with that, and I think there`s a little bit of urgency that comes with it, too, because of the gridlock and because of the Republican obstruction and opposition that he states. I think you sort of have this realization on the part of the White House that there`s an opportunity here for immigration, if you get beyond immigration legislatively, where are the opportunities to make a big lasting impact on an issue that really matters. And there really isn`t anything on the horizon right now. And you look at an issue like climate change, this is something that Obama`s base cares, you know, deeply about. This is an issue that he tried to do something in his first term, got stalled legislatively. And this is an issue where there are executive powers, he has executive powers that he can use to go around Congress on this. So, I think if there`s a time to face the political risks of it, it`s the second term. MADDOW: In terms of putting this agenda out there as a non-legislative agenda, putting this out there things I can do with a Congress that won`t act. What do you make of the fact that President Obama has been bringing up that dial testing with donors presumably California donors rich enough to be hearing the president talk off the cuff and an off the record meeting, I guess where supposed to think are interested on the environment and pressing him about what he`s going to do on those issues. And he`s responding talking about what an unpopular action he thinks it might be to take steps on his own. KORNACKI: Yes, I think there`s a few things. First of all, you have the Keystone thing in there. And the expectation, I don`t have any real intelligence from the White House. The expectation you hear as well as I do, he will end up approving the Keystone pipeline. So, part of it is I think sort of tempering the expectations of his base and saying, look, you don`t want the Keystone pipeline, you want me taking action on climate change. You may not necessarily get everything you want out of this. So, I think that might be part of laying out the political risks for them. Also, though, I do think there`s a risk of -- not a risk, but there might be a possibility of overstating the political risk of all this too, because if he takes the executive actions we`re hearing about now, what are you going to have? You`re going to have Republicans saying Obama`s divisive, he`s radical, he`s refusing to work with us, he`s going around us, he`s engaged in a job killing war on coal. You`re going to hear everything you heard since the day he became president. MADDOW: Right. That they`ve been saying all along -- KORNACKI: Right. It`s been effective to a point. I mean, there are states and parts of the country that are off limits to Obama and Democrats right now for all intents and purposes electorally. You think of West Virginia which used to be a Democratic state where Obama just got wiped out last year. There`s a lot of reasons he doesn`t have a chance in a state like West Virginia. But I think, in a lot of ways, they`ve already paid the political price that they would pay for having an aggressive environmental agenda. MADDOW: What do you think the political calculation is about the midterms and if this is something that is done by this president who is never going to face the voters again, does that insulate Democratic voters -- Democratic members of Congress who you would otherwise be putting on the spot to vote for his agenda on this and then having to defend it in borderline states? Would that might be relevant? KORNACKI: Right. It frees them from the vote. Obviously, you know, in a state where West Virginia, for instance, you`ll have whoever the Democratic unit is for any race would be tied to the radical decisions of the Obama White House. But I also think there might be a second calculation here quickly that`s worth pointing out, and it`s tied in with rules reform in the Senate and it`s basically this: Obama`s EPA administrator is facing the potential of filibuster of Republicans in the Senate. Obama also recently nominated three judges for the appeals court, the D.C. circuit appeals court, also facing potential filibuster for Republicans in the Senate. It`s the EPA administrator who would have to impose all these new rules Obama would be posing. If there`s litigation on those that t will go to the D.C. circuit court of appeals. So, potentially, he`s picking a fight over rules reform that could get in place in EPA administrator who imposed the rules and judges who would uphold the rules in court. MADDOW: Right. All the while worrying about what the dial testing in the state -- (CROSSTALK0 MADDOW: I love this. I mean, the substance of this issue as a policy matter is fascinating. I think TransCanada made it a lot harder for the president by rejecting state of the art safety equipment for the pipeline, with all of these other pipeline spills going. But his calculation on here is ornate by necessity and it`s fascinating. Steve Kornacki, host of MSNBC`s morning show, "UP WITH CHRIS KORNACKI" -- Steve, as always, thanks a lot. KORNACKI: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: All right. The Republican Party doing its best, trying to reform our immigration system. It`s a big deal for immigrants. It`s a big deal for Republicans. What is in the Republican Party`s way? The Republican Party, of course. It`s been kind of a big day. That story is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Late word tonight that the great American actor James Gandolfini has died while on vacation in Italy. There are unconfirmed reports that it was a heart attack. We do not know exactly. Mr. Gandolfini`s portrayal of a neurotic, powerful mob boss in HBO series "The Sopranos" is justifiably an icon in modern American story telling. Tony Soprano is among the great characters in dramatic television history. More recently, Mr. Gandolfini appeared as the unnamed CIA director in the movie "Zero Dark Thirty". In a statement tonight, HBO calls James Gandolfini a great talent and a gentle and loving person. He was born and raised in New Jersey. He graduated from Rutgers. Among many other things, he was a strong and visible and proud booster of his alma mater. James Gandolfini was only 51 years old when he died tonight in Italy. I`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: About a month ago, a researcher at the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation caused a round of political consternation for his think tank and for the conservative movement more broadly when it turned out that his doctoral dissertation was little on the white supremacist side. So much so that he got fired from the conservative think tank, Heritage Foundation, which was supposed to be leading the charge against immigration reform, in part using a major report on immigration report that he had written. "The Washington Post" first reported the story. Jason Richwine had written, quote, "The average I.Q. of immigrants in the United States is substantially lower than that of the white natives of the country. And the difference is likely to persist over several generations. The consequences are a lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low I.Q. immigrant groups and more underclass behavior." The only reason anybody cared about Jason Richwine and his tome of eugenics he was also the author of the big Heritage Foundation report on immigration reform and why we shouldn`t do it. The bottom line of that report, the big pull quote, the headline, the boil down, the data point heard around the world was that immigration reform could not happen in the United States because it would cost $6.5 trillion, trillion with a T. That`s more than it costs to go to the moon and back 1,000 times but they decided that`s what it cost to let all these low I.Q. immigrants in the United States get legal status. While the racial purification guy ended up getting fired, his report stayed. His report that immigration reform would cost a bajillion dollars, that report has stuck around and heritage is just still trying to use it. It`s idea that stuck around on the right edge of the American political spectrum. Immigration reform will be very, very expensive. As it turns however, the Congressional Budget Office which actually scores things like immigration reform, they say the truth is the opposite, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress just crunched the numbers on immigration reform and they estimate that the bill that Congress is now considering would save the country about $175 billion over the first 10 years. It would save the country that much money. And over the next decade it would save another $700 billion. It would make the deficit shrink, not grow. It would be economically beneficial not economically bad. And that makes the politics of this awkward. Exemplifying the awkwardness today was the juxtaposition of the two things that congressional Republicans did today to try to reach out to Latino voters. On the one hand, Speaker of the House John Boehner, for the first time on the history of his speakership, met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The caucus is not a partisan body, but it does happen to be all Democrats. So, John Boehner met with the Hispanic caucus. Yay, that`s outreach. That`s a good sign, right? On the other hand, yesterday, John Boehner said he would not bring to a vote any immigration bill that did not have the majority support of Republicans in the House. This is what other Republicans were doing today. And all day essentially filibuster, and all day filisbustery news conference that lasted from 9:00 in the morning until 5:00 in the afternoon, all about their opposition to immigration reform. All about how immigration reform would be disastrous for the country. On the same hand, only way out in right field, you also have everybody`s favorite Internet star Glenn Beck who is now comparing the peaceful pro- immigration protesters who protested at the Kansas secretary of state`s house, he`s comparing them to the Ku Klux Klan. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GLENN BECK, RADIO HOST: Seven hundred protesters got into buses at a church and went to his house to protest. This is, I believe, the same exact tactics used by the Klan in the 1960s. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: By tactic, you mean travels from point A to point B in a vehicle powered by a combustible engine, then, yes, immigration reform protesters are exactly like the KKK, Mr. Beck. And thank you for proving beyond reasonable doubt the infallibility of things like Godwin`s law. When the Heritage Foundation let the eugenics guy write its report on immigration reform, the big boss at the think tank, of course, was Jim DeMint, used to Senator Jim DeMint. He used to be the Republican senator from South Carolina before he up and quit in the middle of his term in order to go run the Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation was supposed to provide the intellectual backbone for the anti-immigration movement. That is how it was suppose to go. Then, it turned out the backbone was sort of really ostentatiously racist and the researcher got fired. But Jim DeMint did not get fired. And today, when FOX News needed a guest to talk immigration reform, they booked Jim DeMint. That was their go-to expert guy. Over in the Senate, the bipartisan group of senators working on the immigration reform, the immigration reform bill, they reported a few hours ago, they have made significant progress. One Republican senator said a deal could be reached as early as tomorrow. Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: At the start of this week, the FBI called a big, very highly covered press conference to announce a new addition to their 10 most wanted list. This is the list of the 10 people who the FBI considers the most dangerous people in the world. The new addition to this list that they wanted to announce was this man, Walter Lee Williams, who is wanted for the alleged sexual exploitation of children. The FBI had their big press conference on Monday announcing that Walter Lee Williams was now on their 10 most wanted list. That was on Monday, he`s on the list. By Tuesday, he was captured. One day after the FBI put him on their most wanted list, he was caught in Mexico. That`s kind of an impressive thing, right? And that is not the shortest stint someone has had on the 10 most wanted list. In 1969, it was a man named Billy Austin Bryant who was caught on murder charges after two hours on the list. The FBI put him on the 10 most wanted list, two hours later they had him. The 10 most wanted list is some list. More than 90 percent of the people who go on that list eventually get caught. The whole reason the 10 most wanted list exists is because of publicity. It has been around since 1950, when reporters asked the FBI to please name some of the toughest guys who they were pursuing. The resulting list the FBI gave to the reporters created so much publicity, that the FBI`s director, J. Edgar Hoover, started the 10 most wanted fugitive`s program that same year. It has been proven to work over time. So, now, the FBI holds these press conferences announcing who the top these 10 worst bad guys are, and they get a ton of coverage, they got a lot of headlines out of those announcements. And then more often that not, they catch the bad guys and that, of course, gets them even more headlines. The FBI can marshal a whole lot of press attention whenever it wants to, and it does so all the time, when it comes to things they want to get attention for and things they feel are their own successes. And then there`s the opposite, when the FBI does something that actually needs explaining. Not publicizing or bragging about it, but explaining. Something that maybe even needs investigating, but that the FBI would rather everybody shut up about. And that story is coming up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We`ve got that FBI story coming up, along with the interview tonight in just a second. But, first, one news note particularly to watch out for tomorrow, to set the scene for you, this is the screen in Sao Paolo, Brazil, today. Demonstrators took to the streets in big anti- government demonstrations in Sao Paolo. About 50,000 people shutting down the main roads leading into Sao Paolo, which, of course, is Brazil`s largest city. In another city in the northeast of Brazil, at least 15,000 people rallied outside a soccer stadium before a match between the Brazil and Mexico. Police there fired teargas and rubber bullets into the crowd to try to disperse people. Important thing here, and the reason for the news note on this is that today was supposed to be the day off from protesting. Today was supposed to be Brazil`s day off from protesting, after a nationwide demonstrations swept through at least 10 major cities in Brazil, in the past week, today was the day that protest organizers said nobody would protest. They would take the day off. But in a country as big and populated and apparently as annoyed with the government as Brazil is right now, a day off is not a normal day off -- a day off means that just 65,000 people took to the streets anyway. This past week in Brazil has seen hundreds of thousands of Brazilians out in the streets, demanding better public services, demanding an end to public corruption. The protesting in Rio alone is estimated to include 100,000 people. The relatively peaceful protesters have been met with an aggressive police crackdown in certain cities. Protesters walk-through the streets, police have shot into the crowd with rubber bullets, and paper spray and tear gas. There were also reports of intensified police brutality in certain cities, including this video of a Brazilian reporter being beaten up by a police officers while covering the protest in Sao Paolo earlier this week. One startling photo that has become the iconic image of this conflict thus far. This is on the front page of "The New York Times` this morning. It shows a woman being pepper-sprayed from point blank range. She`s being dressed casually. She got her back over her soldier. She does not appear to be posing any threat to anyone. But this is how the police are treating her. The story behind this photo that this woman was reportedly standing completely alone in what appears to be a deserted, and these three riot officers approached the woman and told her to leave. She objected to them verbally and this is what they did. The police appear to have taken an aggressive stance. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has tried to diffuse the situation by praising the marchers. Yesterday, she said, "My government hears the voices clamoring for change. My government is committed to social transformation. Those who took to the streets yesterday send a clear message to of all society, above all to political leaders, at all levels of government." President Rousseff, it should be noted, is up for re-election next year. The protests in Brazil started last week over a bus fair increase of 10 cents but Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro suspended today. They also now plan on reducing public transit fairs following the protests. But, you know, just about the protests in Turkey are no longer about the preservation of a park, which is where all those protests started, this protest that took place countrywide in Brazil this week have come to be about much broader complaints about Brazilian governance and about social services and about national priorities. Last year, Brazil became the sixth largest economy in the world. But income inequality is a huge issue. About one in five people live below the poverty line, about 6 percent of the people in the country surviving on a dollar and 25 cents a day. Demonstrators are protesting in part against billions of dollars being funneled not into education or health care or other basic needs for the population, but into big spectacular events, into stadiums and facilities being built for Brazil to host the World Cup for 2014, and the Summer Olympics in 2016. The cost to Rio de Janeiro to host the World Cup is estimated to top $13 billion. And the protests today around the stadium, following on the start of the soccer confederation`s cup, which is a tournament that`s a precursor to the World Cup, this is Brazil today. This is Brazil today, a supposed day off from the protests. These have been incredibly dramatic, incredibly big protests. But the main organizers say tomorrow is not the day off. The tomorrow will be the day to watch for when everybody should be expected to hit the streets. It`s going to be a big news story tomorrow. Watch it here. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: About three weeks ago in Moscow, there was a really dramatic press conference which I have to warn you includes the display of some graphic images, the press conference was called by the family of Ibrahim Todashev, who was shot and killed by FBI agents in Orlando last month. Mr. Todashev was 27 years old. He`s originally from Chechnya. The FBI was questioning him because years earlier he had been friends with one of the suspects in the Boston marathon bombing. Mr. Todashev himself was not a suspect in the bombing. There were never even allegations that he had anything to do with the bombing. But while agents were interviewing him at his house in Orlando, something happened and he ended up dead. The photos his father displayed at the press conference, he distributed them as well, they appear to show his son, his body with six bullet wounds in his torso and one to the back of his head, at the crown of his head, left side rear quadrant. We have not authenticated these photos. Nobody has. But the family says the photos were taken by a family friend in Florida who went to the morgue in Florida and saw his body there. And if these photos are real, and he was shot seven times, including one in the back of his head, that is a little hard to square with the idea of him being shot in self-defense by FBI agents. At the press conference, Mr. Todashev`s father said he would try to travel to Florida himself, to at least try to collect his son`s body to bring it back to Russia to be buried. That was three weeks ago, that press conference. Well, today, the father finally got the body home. An overnight flight last night took the body from Florida to Russia. "The Boston Globe" reporting that part of the reason it took so long to get the body is because the FBI is still holding on to the man`s green card and his passport which made it hard to get the body shipped home. Officially, the cause of death from the medical examiner is just listed as homicide. We have nothing else from them. The FBI will not even let the medical examiner`s office release the information about how many times Mr. Todashev was shot. On the day of the shooting, the FBI said officially that he was killed after he initiated a violent confrontation of some sort during his interview. Initially three unnamed law enforcement sources leaked to the press that actually Mr. Todashev had been armed with a knife and that`s why they had to shoot him. Within 12 hours of those initial claims, though, two of the three law enforcement sources recanted and said, he did not have a knife. And there were other unnamed law enforcement sources that said he was totally unarmed. Why did they have to shoot him at all then? And apparently shoot him a bunch of times? Time for a new leak. Then, we got another new set of leaks from unnamed law enforcement sources, saying, OK, he didn`t have a knife, he didn`t have a blade of some kind, but he wasn`t unarmed either, he had a pole or a broomstick or maybe it was a sword. He threw a chair, he tipped over a table. Maybe lunged for a ceremonial sword that was right there, maybe it wasn`t right there, it was across the room, somewhere in the apartment maybe. There have been FBI law enforcement leaks about what happened from the beginning. All contradictory, but all making it seem like the FBI did the right thing by shooting and killing this guy. And in the face of all that unnamed source leaking, the official word has been nothing. So, unofficial self-exonerating leaks by the dozens. But officially, bupkis, silence. "The Boston Globe" describing the FBI in this case as being unusually tight-lipped, saying their refusal to clarify anything about how and why they killed this guy in Florida, quote, "contrasts sharply with past shootings involving agents." The only word from the FBI officially at all was that violent confrontation press release the day of the shooting, and then a week later, they put out another statement that gave the address where the shooting happened and the guy`s name. But the only thing they said is the shooting was under review internally. Quote, "The FBI is conducting a review. While this internal review process is occurring, we cannot comment regarding investigative details, the FBI takes very seriously any shooting incidents involving our agents and as such, we have an effective time tested process for addressing them internally. The review process is throughout and objective. Time-tested process. This was supposed to be a reassurance, be patient. Sure, this whole thing kind of makes no sense and hasn`t really since the very beginning, but the FBI itself will get to the bottom of it, internally. You want to know how that`s going to go? According to the blockbuster scoop in "The New York Times" today, the FBI has used this internal review process to investigate 150 shootings by FBI agent over the past two decades, 70 people shot and killed by FBI agents, 80 people shot and wounded by FBI agents. And if you add those together, in all 150 of those cases, the FBI internal review process said that the shooting was justified, all 150. In a FOIA lawsuit, "The Times" got 2200 pages of documentation from the FBI showing that perfect 100 percent exoneration rate for all FBI shootings that killed or wounded someone. Those documents are for shootings between 1993 and 2011. And since 2011, quote, "same pattern". An FBI spokesman says that since 2011, there have been no findings of improper intentional shootings by FBI agents. So, more than 150 shootings that killed or wounded somebody, all reviewed internally, all of them -- every single one turns out it was just fine, totally justified. That was even the finding in one shooting in Maryland in 2002, where an FBI agent shot an innocent man in the head after mistaking him for a bank robber. They shot him in the head, he survives and the bureau settled the lawsuit with him by paying him $1.3 million. But still, the internal review said the agent did nothing wrong. So, then why did you pay him $1.3 million? They have never in at least 20 years ever said an agent did something wrong when an agent killed or wounded a person. Not once. If that seems sketchy, don`t worry. Law enforcement sources, as always, have an explanation. Quote, "Current and former FBI officials defended the bureau`s handling of shootings, arguing that the findings of improper behavior were attributable to several factors, "Agents tend to be older, more experienced and better trained than city police officers and they generally are involved only in planned operations and tend to go in with overwhelming presence, minimizing the chaos that can lead to shooting the wrong people." So, they never shot the wrong people, except for sometimes when they shoot the wrong people and have to pay them $1.3 million. But even then, trust us, it`s fine -- 150 out of 150 all clear. And that is the perfect review, perfect record process that is under way right now in the thus far totally unexplainable killing of the young man who the FBI shot and killed while questioning him about the suspects in the Boston marathon shootings. That is the review process that the FBI says justifies the agency saying nothing about the shooting at all, other than their incoming, self-exonerating unofficial leaks to the press. And this is the only review that will ever happen of that shooting. This is no other official inquiry of any kind into the shooting. Not the local prosecutor where the shooting happened. Not an independent federal inquiry, even though two Massachusetts state troopers were there at the apartment when the guy got killed. There will be no other kind of internal review process, that in 20 years has a 100 percent perfect record of exonerating the FBI every time. No wonder the family is livid. How can this possibly the system that we`ve got? Joining is now for the interview is Tim Weiner. He`s a Pulitzer Prize- winning reporter. He`s author of three books, including "Enemies: A History of the FBI." Tim, it`s great to see you. TIM WEINER, AUTHOR: Hello, Rachel. MADDOW: Why do you expect or what should we understand about the total information blackout about the Todashev killing? WEINER: The FBI is our secret police. And they do a lot of dirty, difficult, dangerous jobs, working against spies and terrorists, like white collar criminals. But there is one job they can`t do, and they`ve never been able to do in their 100-year history, which is to police themselves. MADDOW: If a prosecutor in Orlando said you know what? This has been ruled a homicide by the medical examiner and this happened on my patch, I want to investigate. Could that happen? WEINER: No. I mean, a giant comet will hit the Earth before that happens because the FBI jurisdiction is nationwide, and it trumps local law enforcement in every case. There is only one force that is able to investigate the FBI, and that is the inspector general`s office at the Justice Department, which on the flow chart of the government is above the FBI. That is a small crew of over-worked and under-paid lawyers. They have investigated misconduct by the FBI before, but not individual shootings. They will get after great systemic problems but not a pattern of misconduct as revealed in the nifty scoop by my old newspaper today. MADDOW: Well, pattern of conduct. I mean, this scoop is astonishing. It`s a result of a FOIA lawsuit. "The Times" has received and posted online 2,200 pages of documents that are all of these review, but the bottom line is, is that in 150 of them, the record is 0-150. Shouldn`t we expect that that pattern is too suspicious to go uninvestigated? WIENER: This is one of the great problems with democracy. OK? We want a secret police to keep us safe. And we want to be free and have civil liberties, freedom of information and knowledge, but who is going to police the police? OK? This has been a problem of democracy ever since they came up with the idea in Athens a while ago. MADDOW: Has there ever been an effective effort over the course of the life of the FBI while it has existed in this way, to police it better than it has been policed? WEINER: I can think of two. After Watergate, after Nixon fell, the FBI had to investigate itself, because under Nixon and Johnson, going back in the `60s, they had broken into people`s houses, tapped their phones, gotten their mail, without warrants in pursuit of domestic terrorists like the Weather Underground. OK. Sound familiar? MADDOW: Yes. WEINER: Policing people with illegal tactics in the name of national security. And the FBI did investigate itself and wound up indicting it number two guy, Mark Pelt, also known as "Deep Throat" and his intelligence aide. They were convicted of conspiring to violate the civil rights of Americans and pardoned by Ronald Reagan during his first months in office. The second is an inspector general report of the take-down of a terrorist who had been on the lam for 30 years, a bomber, lived in Puerto Rico and a member of the FALN, which conducted a number of bombings in the city of New York, and across the country, in the name of liberating Puerto Rico from the United States. Well, the FBI went in there in 2005 and it was, they have a term they used in the Marines we can`t say on television, but the first two syllables are clustered. And the chain of command in a lethal operation should be like the chain of command of the military. But it was screwed up beyond all recognition. The bureau`s self-policing depends on the senior FBI officers, who tend to turn over every two years, and, you know, go into private security industry jobs, and have no effective oversight of themselves or the agents under their command over the long run. MADDOW: If there is not a political outcry to exert political pressure on the FBI to make this right after this "New York Times" scoop, I don`t know what will happen in modern times toward that end. But it was a fascinating development. WEINER: It would be helpful to have a strong attorney general. MADDOW: Maybe a new director of the FBI. WEINER: There will be a new director of the FBI in September, and good luck to him. MADDOW: Tim Weiner, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of among other books "Enemies: The History of the FBI." Tim, thank you. It`s great to have you here. Thanks. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Update, when President Obama nominated his chief of staff Jack Lew to head of the Treasury, created a tiny crisis when we all realized that signing our money was going to be part of his new remit. That`s a crisis because Jack Lew`s signature looks like this. There is a lot of speculation, including on this show on how we would survive it. But now, we know, because Jack Lew fixed the problem. He made himself a new signature, just in time to exercise his new responsibilities at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. This is what the new signature for Jack Lew looks like. Here it is on the $5 bill. The new bills will hit our wallets as of this fall, thus solving the potential national disaster of having giggle worthy squiggles on all of our money, also though helping our national obesity epidemic by making us not all subconsciously crave cream-filled chocolate cup cakes every time we decide to pay cash. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Thanks for being with us tonight. END THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END