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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/21/13

Guests: Jessica Farrar, Colum Lynch

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. We are having a moment right now in Republican politics. The last 48 hours all across a broad swath of the country, we`ve had a flurry of really remarkable, like, "Ripley`s Believe It or Not" kind of politics. First of all, Iowa. In Iowa, the Republican governor of that state, the most important mustache in American politics. He signed a bill that I think is the first of its kind anywhere in the country ever. I mean, we have seen a lot of anti-abortion bills from Republicans, both at the federal level and at the state in the past couple years, but never before has an individual Republican politicians reserved for himself the right to personally decide if you can have an abortion. It`s not some vague stance that the state should have a say or the state government should weigh in and decided about your pregnancy, instead of you or your doctor, or your family. In this case, it is him, personally. Terry, in his capacity as governor, with the bill he just signed into law, Terry Branstad reserves for himself personally the right to decide whether or not you get an abortion. It`s his personal role on a case by case basis to decide whether Medicaid will be allowed to cover an abortion if that is your health insurance in the state. He decides for each person, yes or no, ask Terry. It`s kind of an exclamation point day for me when the Iowa state legislature passed a bill like that, but today, it is law in Iowa. As of right now, if you live in Iowa and your income is below a certain threshold so Medicaid is your insurance company, if you live in Iowa right now, this is your doctor. He will personally decide what happens to you. For the record, he is a lawyer by training and also he did time in the Army in the 1970s. So that`s Republican governance in Iowa right now. Republican governance in Wisconsin right now is also having a bit of a moment. You might remember from a few days ago what it looked like in the Wisconsin State Senate when they passed their new omnibus anti-abortion bill, this is a bill that makes this your doctor effectively. The new bill forces women in Wisconsin to have an ultrasound, usually a vaginal ultrasound, even if it`s not medically necessary, even if it is against your will and your doctor does not want you to have it. The bill forces you to have one by order of the legislature. It will also close more of the women`s health clinics in Wisconsin that the Republicans have not already set down in that state by defunding Planned Parenthood. Now, you might remember, that this is what it looked like in the Senate, in the state Senate, when the Republicans passed that bill. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ST. SEN. MICHAEL ELLIS, WISCONSIN STATE PRESIDENT: Call the roll. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Darling. (INAUDIBLE) ELLIS: You`re out of order. Sit down, you`re not recognize. The question before the House is non-debatable. Call the roll. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Carpenter, Coles. All members are voting in the affirmative, exceptions are Senators Carpenter, Collin, Erpenbach, Hansen, Harris, Jauch, Larsen, Lassa, Layman, Miller, Risser, Schilling, Vinehout and Wirch. ELLIS: Question before the body now is passage of the bill. A roll call will be required. The clerk will call the roll. The clerk will call the roll. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Carpenter, Coles -- (INAUDIBLE) ELLIS: You are interrupting a roll call, sit down! Right now! Call the roll. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Carpenter, Coles, Collin -- (INAUDIBLE) ELLIS: You are interrupting a roll call and that will not be tolerated. Sit down! (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That is how that bill passed in Wisconsin. But it`s not actually signed into law yet. It still sits on Governor Scott Walker`s desk. He says he will sign it but he has not yet done so. And Wisconsinites who are against this thing are still protesting, still trying to come up with some way to try to keep it from becoming law. Yesterday, for example, they tried to get into the state Senate chamber when the state budget was getting debated. That led for the sit down/shut up guy that we just saw, that led him to call for help. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, with the demonstration, it`s impossible for my colleagues to hear. Could we just wait a second and I think the police will clear the chamber. (INAUDIBLE) ELLIS: The situation will be managed by the capital police and the page staff, and we ask the senator from the 17th to proceed with his comments. Senator, the floor is yours. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we wait a couple minutes until this is all clear by the authorities, so we can hear the senator from the 17th? (INAUDIBLE) ELLIS: Here, get me Fitzgerald on the phone. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: "Here, get me Fitzgerald on the phone," he says. I think maybe Senator Sit down/shut up bragging there about how softly he gavels now. I think when he says, "Get Fitzgerald" on the phone, I think he is calling for the head of the Wisconsin state police there. Maybe Steven Fitzgerald, I`m guessing. In any case, that same day, the protesters against the new anti-abortion they tried to deliver coat hangers to the supporters of the anti-abortion bill, that even knock on Senator Sit down/shut up`s door. We are told they refused to accept the coat hanger. So, that`s Wisconsin in the past 48 hours. And that`s Iowa in the past 48 hours. And then there`s also Texas. And what is going on in Texas is almost impossible to believe. Even if you are not the biggest sports fan, you may be aware that last night was game seven of the NBA finals between a team from Florida and a team from Texas. And so, you would think everybody in the Texas would be glued to a TV set watching their beloved Spurs. But, actually, quite a lot of contingent of Texans spent the night of game seven kind of pseudo-barricaded inside a state capitol building until 3:45 in the morning. It was a takeover in Austin. They completely upended the Texas legislature. Now, what`s going on here has been odd politics from the beginning. We should have known something weird was going on when we started to see headlines like this back in May. "Texas lawmakers put down their swords." Headlines about how the super conservative, super Republican Texas state legislature have decided they were going to stay away from all these hot button abortion issues they spent so much time on the last time around. This time around, they are not going to work on that stuff. They`re going to leave it be. They`re going to put down their swords. It seems so not in keeping with what they`ve been like, right? Why would they change all of a sudden? Ah, it turns out they didn`t change all of a sudden. It was a scam. They did not try to pass new anti-abortion legislation ding the regular session this year. And that bought them months of coverage about how Republicans were putting down their swords, giving up on the whole war on women thing. The truce has been achieved. Texas women have nothing to fear from the giant Republican majority in Texas. They`ve got months and months of that kind of coverage. They waited. They did nothing on abortion for the whole legislative session. But then they had Republican Governor Rick Perry call a special session, as soon as the normal legislative calendar was done, and in that special session, they have decided to do all the anti-abortion stuff now, which means they got months of coverage for them not being obsessed with abortion, and then afterwards, they still get to push all their abortion stuff. It means because it`s a special session, all of their anti-abortion legislation can pass with smaller majorities, and it means it can all happen really fast. They put together a bill quick that`s likely to have the affect of shutting down 37 of the 42 clinics in the state of Texas that provide abortions, and they boom, passed it through the Senate. They shifted it over to the House, go, go, special session, it`s an emergency, let`s get this through the house. But an amazing thing happened in Texas, which is that even after months of press coverage telling everybody, don`t worry, nothing to worry about from the Republicans this time around, after this stealth move of calling the special session when they`re only supposedly passing emergency legislation, in the middle of the NBA finals when people are paying a tension to something else, that the Republicans are trying to get this done, get this signed, get this it into law before anybody notices -- Texas noticed. It`s like a bat signal went up. Within hours, people across Texas through existing political networks, through word of mouth, through social media, people got in touch really fast. And within hours, they decided that they were going to do a citizens filibuster. They decided as citizens they would slow this thing down, by showing up they would like to please comment on this bill as it was being heard in committee, which is the first step in being passed by the assembly. The special session has to end on Tuesday, and the idea was that if they could -- if everybody showed up, if they could get, I don`t know, hundreds of people to show up on no notice, if everybody would show up and take their allotted three minutes to speak as they witness about this bill -- well, you know, with hundreds of people three minutes starts to add up. And people started to arrive from all over Texas. People apparently started to arrive at 1:00 yesterday afternoon. The bill was supposed to start being debated at 5:00. By 7:00 last night, there were 200 people signed up to comment on it. They each get three minutes, right? Two hundred people, two hundred Texans, they`re signed up, register to testify at that hearing. As the evening went on, that number climbed to over 700 people. All registered, all there, all present, all waiting to give their three-minute testimony, please. Seven hundred people, three minutes each, do the math, that`s like 35 straight hours of testimony. Did I mention that game 7 was on at this time? When word started to get out that this was going on down in Austin, that this was happening at the state capitol, people from all over the state apparently started calling in pizza orders for the witnesses. So, East Side Pies in Austin shows up for a whole bunch of pizzas for everybody. Then, the giant Gatorade cooler full hot coffee from a local coffee shop called Bennu. Then, it was cookies from Titt`s Treats, people from all across the state essentially phoning in carbs, phoning in carbs orders to keep everybody fueled and caffeinated and able to stay there to stick it out to have a citizens filibuster to try to stop this bill from passing. And it rolled on into the night, with the House state affairs committee somewhat bewildered by how much citizen interest turned out to be in this thing they probably thought they could real fast with nobody noticing. And with hundreds of people still on the list to talk, 300 people still there to testify -- the Republican chairman of the committee, a little bit after midnight announced that he was cutting off the testimony. He said he had heard enough, and he felt like it was repetitive what he was hearing. So, everybody was saying the same thing over and over again and he didn`t want to hear it anymore. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The next thing that happened is I went to visit with my doctor, and after she examined me she confirmed I was having a spontaneous miscarriage. She also told me that the sonogram was medically unnecessary, but had been performed in case I needed the DNC, in order to comply with the legislative session that came out in 2011, legislative session. I have wondered when I first got pregnant -- thank you very much for your time. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. OK. Before we go to the next witness, we have had a lot of very compelling testimony. We have had a lot of passion on both sides. Also, over the last several hours, the testimony has become very repetitive. And when it gets to that point, it`s not adding a lot of value. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: The committee chairman announcing essentially that he was bored with the testimony about the miscarriages and all this stuff. It`s getting repetitive. Ultimately, people still did not leave after the additional hour that he said he would allow for testimony. Eventually, that committee chairman himself got up and left. But the citizens filibuster in Texas, the pizza and coffee and cookie fueled we are going to stay here all night, we are each going to give our three minutes of testimony citizens filibuster in Texas, it went on until almost 4:00 in the morning before they finally, finally kicked them out. That is when they finally wrapped up. They wrapped up without voting. So while it was all happening that night, at some point, a group called the Austin Audio Co-op, that`s what`s reported to be, we don`t know for sure. They have showed at the state capital that night, initially planning on doing their own thing. They`re initially planning on projecting on to the federal building in Austin, their free Bradley Manning projection, which they did. But while they were there, they decided to freelance on scene, seeing what they became part of, and they moved their projection off the federal building and on to the state building. It turns out last night, in Austin, that`s really where the action was, and that`s what it looked like in the middle of the night. Last night in Austin, on state building in downtown Austin, end the war on women, three stories tall. So there was kind of a bat signal, and it was a very dramatic night in Texas. And then this morning, while everybody was rubbing the sleep out of their eyes and trying to wake up out of their cookie comas, that same Republican chairman who said he was bored by all the miscarriage stories, it was all getting repetitive, he heard too many of them, he didn`t want to hear anymore, he want to go home, the same guy who tried to call the hearing off in the middle of the testimony, very quietly announced the committee would reconvene. He gave two hours notice and reconvened in a room with no live camera and you could fit only 30 people, thus evading the bat signal by moving that quickly and that quietly into that small of room, the committee convened, voted, passed it and they`re gone. But, overall, the session does end on Tuesday, and nobody knows when the full assembly is going to reconvene to take it back up again. Word that we got, thus far, is that it maybe Sunday, they may convene the state assembly on Sunday to pass this anti-abortion bill that will close down 80 percent of the clinics in the state. We do not know for sure if that`s when they will convene. We do not know for sure if the bat signal will go up again, if the citizens` filibuster will be re-activated and everybody will reconvene at the state capital on Sunday. And if it is, will they be able to stop it? We do not know. But we do know that Texas is awake, even at odd hours right now, and they seem to be very unsettled by what the legislature is trying to do. Joining us now is Jessica Farrar. She is a Democratic state representative. She`s the only person on that House committee who voted no. She`s the chair of the women`s health caucus. Representative Farrar, thank you very much for being with us. STATE REP. JESSICA FARRAR (D), TEXAS: Thank you for having me. MADDOW: So, the members of the committee, and yourself as a member of the committee, how did you all react to this, I guess, citizens` filibuster, to these hundreds of people showing up to testify? FARRAR: It was quite surprising. I don`t think we have ever seen that many people show up for everything, and to stay. And to watch the list on my iPad as the night grew on, and people testified, the list continued to grow by the twos and the threes, every couple or three minutes. And so, it was - - it was astonishing. MADDOW: In terms of the procedure here, obviously, this passed through the Senate. There were some very visible protests against this bill as it moved through the Senate side of the legislature. I imagine you expected something, but from what I hear you saying here, it sounds like it`s sort of more ferocious level of protest than maybe you had been expecting on the assembly side, is that fair? FARRAR: Exactly fair. MADDOW: OK. What`s going to happen next in the House? Are you going to convene on Sunday to vote on it as a full assembly? FARRAR: We are. It`s scheduled for Sunday afternoon. We will reconvene at 2:00 p.m. and hear other bills, and including these bills. And so my understanding is there is a rally planned that afternoon, and the citizen filibuster will reconvene as well. And I invite you and your viewers and thank your viewers and this country really for sending that pizza and such because it came from all over the country. MADDOW: Well, let me ask you procedurally about how this works. I mean, what was interesting to me on looking at the footage last night, is that when you eventually shut things down at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, there had not yet been a vote. And, ultimately, then you did reconvene and vote today. If there was a citizen filibuster effort again on Sunday, is there time for witnesses to speak? Would it essentially be a symbolic protest or could it slow down the bill further? FARRAR: I think this -- I think these legislators need to look at these men and women in the face when they basically strip away a basic constitutional right. And I think that my colleagues responded to the -- they need to respond to the rest of the state. Right now, the Republican majority responds to the right flank, and that`s basically what they are doing right now is running for state-wide office and to flank each other. The Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst was defeated by Ted Cruz, so he has been one of the largest proponents of the legislation. And so, I think that the Republican majority needs to understand that they represent the rest of Texas, not just -- they don`t need to be just looking at a Republican primary, because they are doing the citizens of the state a disservice in doing so. MADDOW: Texas State Representative Jessica Farrar, thank you very much for your time tonight. Good luck this weekend. FARRAR: Thank you. MADDOW: It sounds like it`s going to be interesting if nothing else. Good luck and thank you. FARRAR: Thank you. Bye-bye. MADDOW: Again, this legislation in Texas, it`s -- Texas is always important because Texas is part of the country, but Texas has tens of millions of people in it. It`s a really, really large part of the country. If they close down 80 percent of the abortion clinics in Texas with the young female population in Texas, it`s going to affect millions and millions and millions of American women of child-bearing ages. This is one of the most consequential abortion policies that has been debated anywhere in the country any time in the last few years. This is a big deal this weekend. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Breaking news tonight: the government has tonight disclosed it has filed charges against Edward Snowden, the intelligence contractor who says he leaked classified information about secret surveillance programs to two newspapers. Earlier tonight, we have learned that charges had been filed against Mr. Snowden but now we can record what those charges are and their likely penalties. Mr. Snowden is charged with theft of government property, giving national defense information to someone without security clearance, and revealing classified information about communications intelligence. These charges were apparently filed one week ago, but they were unsealed tonight. Each of the charges carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted. Now, in terms of what happens next, if this goes the way the U.S. government wants it to go, the next thing they would expect would be the arrest of Edward Snowden in Hong Kong. And then a process of extradition would start in courts run by the Chinese government. That process could presumably take months. But again, the breaking news at this hour is that Edward Snowden who revealed details of domestic surveillance by the federal government to Glenn Greenwald at "The Guardian" newspaper and to Barton Gellman at "The Washington Post", Edward Snowden has been charged by federal prosecutors as of a week ago. Those charges unsealed tonight. Certainly more to follow. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If there is a Republican president, Democrats tend to pick up seats in the House and Senate in the mid-term elections. If there is a Democratic president, Republicans tend to pick up seats in Congress in the mid-term elections. It`s just a general rule of American politics. If the pendulum has swung in one direction in the past election, Americans tend to like to swing it back a little bit. And so, yes, in 2008, Democrats run the table. They won the presidency. They added 20-plus seats to their majority in the House. They added eight more seats to their majority in the Senate. But after the pendulum swung that far towards the Republicans in `08, in the next election in 2010, it swung back hard. The Democrats in 2010 lost six of those seats in the Senate. They lost their majority in the House. And in the state`s 2010 was a Democratic disaster. Democrats lost more legislative seats in the states than in any time since the 1920s in that election. In all of these states mark here, Republicans picked up the governorships, a dozen states. It was just a coast to coast Republican rout in 2010, almost. In 2010, New York state was in a kind of weird position. New York had had its first Democratic governor in 20 years, but he had had to resign in a hooker scandal, which is surprised everybody. This is the first Democrat to have that job in more than a decade, and kersplat. He quit. His lieutenant governor took over to serve out the rest of the term. But when it came time to defend the seat in November 2010, the lieutenant governor decided he wasn`t going to run for it. So, yes, New York, blue, but New Yorkers had kind of gotten used to the Republican in the statehouse for a long time. When Democrats finally got their chance at it, they blew it, so to speak. So, 2010 elections. It`s going to be a huge Republican year nationwide, New York Democrats lost their first governor to a hooker scandal and their second governor to dropping out, and that election in New York state in November 2010, that was going to be a tough election, or not. On paper, Democrats should have had trouble there but look they won the governor`s race by 30 points, even in 2010, that huge Republican year. And that huge margin, that huge election for the Democrats is in part because Andrew Cuomo was a good candidate. But let`s not kid ourselves, that, including the 30 point margin was also because this is the guy he was learning against. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARL PALADINO (R), FORMER NY GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: If we learned anything tonight, New Yorkers are mad as hell and we`re not going to take it anymore. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was Carl Paladino`s victory speech, the night he was nominated by New York Republicans to run in what is the strangest governor`s race in the country right now. Despite winning, Mr. Paladino was angry about something and he wants you to share in it and delight and swim in that anger until you are nice and pruny. You think he wants you to get off his lawn? Not crazy Carl, he wants his anger on your lawn. This is a lawn sign. I am mad too, Carl. Very, very mad! Before Mr. Paladino was nominated by the New York Republicans, the thing that had a lot of people angry at Carl Paladino was his super racist e-mail forwarding habit. It wasn`t just the one where the president and the first lady were PhotoShopped as pimp and prostitute. It was also the one with the chimps doing the river dance, labeled, "Proof the Irish discovered Africa." That wasn`t the last trash that Mr. Paladino would circulate after he was nominated. His campaign sent out a mailer, which again we have it in our position that literally smells like trash sent to 200,000 New Yorkers. He`s going to clean things up, see, perhaps starting with your mail box, when a week after he sent that to you, you still had the scent on garbage stinking up your "Sports Illustrated." That is who the Republican Party ran for governor in New York state in 2010, and that is in part why the Democratic candidate won that race by 30 points. That was a really Republican year. Can you imagine it would have been like if Carl Paladino had won that race, with the trash mailers and the racist emails and the calling President Obama a pimp? Can you imagine if a guy like that had actually ended up being governor of a U.S. state? Oh, say hello to the governor of Maine. Not Carl Paladino, but if you squint you could be forgiven for mixing them up. In the great state of Maine, they`re now leaving that future that New Yorkers narrowly avoided for themselves in 2010 when Carl Paladino didn`t win. "The Bangor Daily News" keeps a running tally of just the things that Governor Paul LePage says that embarrass himself and the state. Not even the stuff he does, just the stuff he says, like telling the NAACP, that they should kiss his butt, like contributing this scientific wisdom in arguing for chemicals in baby bottles. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. PAUL LEPAGE (R), MAINE: Take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and if heated up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. And, so you know, the worst case, some woman might have little beards, but we don`t want to do that. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Then there was yesterday, when he said about a Democratic state senator who is a logger by trade, that people like him, they ought to go back into the woods and cut trees and let somebody with a brain come down here and do some work. That ought to go over well with the blue-collar vote in Maine. And then he finished that same rant with punctuation of a real Carl Paladino variety, so much so that reporting on it last night on Maine`s local newscast had to come with a warning. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TV ANCHOR: We`re about to put on screen what the governor said in response, and some of o viewers that may find it distasteful may want to hit the mute button and turn away for the next 20 seconds or so. The governor told the reporters, "Senator Jackson claims to be for the people but he is the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline." When he was asked if he realized some people might find that comment offensive, he was reported to have said, "Good, it ought to, because I have been taking it for two years." (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Again, the quote here is he`s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline. This is how the local NBC affiliate channel 6 in Maine, had to headline their online version of the story. LePage uses sexually vulgar face to describe actions of legislative opponent. As "Portland Press Herald" columnist Bill Nemitz noted today, "Little tykes all over Maine are asking right about now, `Mommy, how come Governor LePage is talking about Vaseline?`" This is a unique variety of Republican politicians right now. You know, sending out racists bestiality porn videos and cartoons of the president in New York and it`s refusing to apologize for your violent lube references in Maine. And, yes, Carl Paladino lost, but Paul LePage won. He is a governor of a state that`s one of the United States. How does the Republican Party deal with this part of who they are now? They deal with it awkwardly, because after the beards things and telling them to kiss him on his butt and all the rest of that stuff, but before the Vaseline/rape stuff, genteel Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush had already committed to doing a Paul LePage reelection fund-raiser. Jeb Bush is in the awkward part of running for president now where you put out your book denouncing all your old positions. In his case, it was his book denouncing his own ideas about immigration reform which came out right at the exact same time when his party was embracing those ideas. Jeb Bush has since said that he likes immigration reform because immigrants are so fertile. So, that`s his new try. Jeb Bush is at the part of trying to run for president now where he tries to bunch every elected Republican`s dance card all over the country, in the hope that they will punch his dance card back and support him once the primaries start. And Mr. Bush does have connections to Maine, the Kennebunkport thing, right? So he is doing this stuff, and he said he would do a thing for Paul LePage, and then Paul LePage said the thing about bending people over and doing them without Vaseline, and then when the biggest papers in the states in the state did their big expose about this cabinet, he responded by trying to stop the biggest papers in the state from covering state government at all, issuing a blanket, indefinite "no comment" on all matters to three of the largest papers in the state. And then in response to all the controversy, Paul LePage said today, ah, I think I will run for Congress, why not, I`d be perfect. In fact, his exact quote was, "It can`t be any worse in Washington than it is here." Here, meaning Maine, where he is governor. Where he thinks it`s terrible. How is Jeb Bush going to squirrel out of this? Jeb Bush has to squirrel out of this, doesn`t he? How does he escape this? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Happy Friday. Map time! Here is Europe and the top of Africa. On this map on the western side of it, you can see a point where Europe where France and Spain and Portugal, they sort of dip down towards Africa. And that part of Africa, Algeria and Morocco, kind of swings up toward Europe. The split between Europe and Africa is the Strait of Gibraltar, that little narrow strip of water between Spain on the top and Morocco on the bottom. Here is an interesting thing about that part of the world, though. There was a part of Spain that`s on the wrong side. In northern Morocco, so on the Moroccan side of the strait there, sticking out like a little thumb into the Mediterranean, off the Moroccan coast is a piece of Spain. It got stuck on the wrong side of the water. It is a 7-square-mile autonomous city that is part of Spain even though it`s basically in Morocco. It`s a place that is spelled C-E-U-T-A, and I don`t know how to pronounce it. I consulted approximately two dozen different sources today. They all had radically different pronunciation. So, I`m just going to punt and show you what it is, you can work on it at home. Today in this city that is part of Spain, even though it`s in Morocco, police arrested eight people who they say were recruiting fighters for al Qaeda. The group was suspected of recruiting dozens of fighters, some to be suicide bombers. They weren`t gathering the recruits and providing them with money and the means to travel under the orders of al Qaeda. Where were they sending the fighters? They were sending to Syria, to join the rebels in Syria fighting against the Syrian government. An al Qaeda funnel from Spain/Morocco allegedly funding and training dozens of young men to go blow themselves up in Syria. This is al Qaeda specific, but it follows recent reporting that the Shiite groups blocking to Syria to help the government side against the rebels, that`s led to a Sunni backlash and sent militant Sunni fighters from all over the Muslim world, flooding into Syria to go fight the Shiites there. A new study this month by Evan Kohlmann`s group, Flash Point, says that Syria is now the international cause celebre for Sunni fighters, pouring over international borders to go wage war. The most famous previous mobilization like that, of course, is still the mujahedeen warriors in Afghanistan who fought the Russians, who ultimately became the core of al Qaeda, who are apparently now sending the new round of Sunni recruits into Syria via a part of Spain that I thought was part of Morocco. This news out of Spain today, about al Qaeda funneling fighters to the Syrian rebels, that news today pops alongside this news from "The L.A. Times" that even though President Obama only said last week that we would start to provide military aid to the rebels, apparently for months now, since late last year, the CIA and the U.S. military have been training the rebels on heavy weapons, like anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns. We haven`t even announced that we are supplying that weapons that heavy to the rebels, but apparently training on those weapons has been happening under our watch for months. The White House today not commenting directly on those allegations, but frankly not denying it either. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have stepped up our assistance, but I cannot inventory for you all of the elements of that assistance. And as the president said, you know, I cannot and will not get into some specifics of the assistance that we provide. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, who knows? But new reports today that we are way more into arming of the rebels than our government has admitted publicly and that it started way before President Obama announced it out loud last week. And, of course, we are wading into the war along with the fighters being sent there with al Qaeda, and the side we are sighting with are not fighting against the al Qaeda guys, they are fighting on the same side. And, of course, the whole justification for us wading into this in the first place is chemical weapons, right? President Obama saying last week that the U.S. had determined to a high degree of confidence that the Syrian government killed had 100 or 150 people using sarin, using chemical weapons, which he said all along would be a red line for the United States and which would change his calculus in deciding how and how intensively we will get ourselves into that Syrian civil war, which brings us to the really big story of the day. One of those "print this out and tape it to the wall because you`re going to want to refer to this later" stories. It`s this story from Colum Lynch and Joby Warrick at "The Washington Post." Do we really know for the sure the chemical weapons that is being sighted as the justification for us getting involved in this war now, do we know that that allegation is true? Independent experts interviewed by "The Washington Post" saying that the evidence is basically just circumstantial evidence, that the claims are unverifiable, that there is a real chain of custody issue for the samples that were reportedly tested for evidence that chemical weapons were used. Quote, "Western governments have relied on physical evidence smuggled out of the country by rebels or intelligence operatives. Precisely who acquired the evidence and what methods were used to guard against tampering may be unknowable." "If you are the opposition and you hear the White House has drawn a red line on the use of nerve agents, you have the interest in giving the impression that some chemical weapons have been used. There are so many people who would like to believe that the regime used chemical weapons. You have to question whether any of those advocates were involved in collecting the evidence." Is anybody else having deja vu? 2002, 2003 was a really bad year. I am not interested in living that all over again. This seems like very important reporting to me. Joining us now is Colum Lynch, "Washington Post" reporter who covers the U.N., defense and foreign policy. Mr. Lynch, thank you very much for being with us. COLUM LYNCH, WASHINGTON POST: Thanks for having me, Rachel. MADDOW: My understanding of the importance of your reporting here is that independent experts, who are experienced in these kinds of issues, looking for evidence of the use of weapons of mass destruction, think that there are serious issues about what we don`t know about this case. LYNCH: Right. I mean it`s exactly that question, it`s what we don`t know. I mean, the issue that we focused on, we stepped back and looked at the administration that made this case that is going to arm the rebels on the basis of the Syrians having crossed this red line and used chemical weapons. The problem is, is that majority of the information and the evidence is coming from the British, the French and the United States. It`s evidence has been collected by the intelligence agencies. It`s secret. And we have to take it on faith that it`s -- that they are confident they have used chemical weapons. The problem is that we have talked to number of weapons experts, including a number of them who served in the Iraq operation, including the former head of the U.N. inspection mission commission in Iraq, and their view is that there is no capacity, no ability to verify, to challenge, to look seriously at these issues and we are taking it on the faith of these governments, and they have a little bit of difficulty with the track record. I think a lot of the scientists have had particular difficulties in dealing with American and British intelligence in the past, and so, they are skeptical about the claims and not able to take it on faith. The other side of this issue is this evidence is being passed on to the United Nations, and the United Nations has a chemical weapons scientists or a scientist who is supposed to verify the evidence, and they are hoping to feed this intelligence to him, and that he will use it to reach a conclusion. But on the sort of evidentiary standards that he uses and the U.N. finds acceptable, they can`t use this stuff as basic evidence. They have to establish the chain of custody. They have to get into the country. They have to take the samples themselves and look at the autopsies. They have to interview medical professionals. They have to go to hospitals -- all of these things which they can`t do because the Syrian government is not letting them in the country. So there is all of this evidence, and it`s not going to reach a point where this evidence will be able to help the U.N. establish firmly whether chemical weapons are used and who has been using them. And so, it`s really this question of the lack, I think, of trust that a lot of the sort of experts are willing to entrust the United States and the British with. And, I think that, you know, I our piece, we`re not challenging the evidence. We`re not questioning it, because we don`t know what it is. So, in my expectations, it`s the administration, these questions keep arising, that they will be put in a position where they will have to make more of a public case on what they have, and they`re going to have to do it more in a public way and more persuasive way than so far. MADDOW: I appreciate that the U.N. standards would be the gold standard here. It would be the closest you could get to a smoking gun if what you were looking for is a smoking gun. But I also do not expect that Syria will let the U.N. inspectors in. So what`s the closest tier in terms of the closest we can get to that if the U.N. inspectors are not going to be given direct access to evidence? LYNCH: Well, there`s two things and this is sort of problematic. I mean, the notion that the Syrians have a veto, and that they can block any investigation which might reach the conclusion that they don`t want reached. So what I think some of the Europeans -- what I know the Europeans are pushing for is they`re saying to Ake Sellstrom, who is the chief weapons inspector, they said, look, we have all this evidence. We`re going to give it to you. You know, we understand the difficulties you have, but you can use this stuff and you should, you know, compare all the stuff that we have. You don`t have to believe our case, but look at the samples and look at the evidence. I mean, we have -- there are dozens of soil samples, the tissue samples, that they are now going to be going to Turkey and Lebanon and Jordan, interview doctors who have fled the country, interview witnesses, eyewitnesses, and see if you can come up with some picture. And there is enough information to draw a conclusion. The U.N. secretary general after the U.S. made its announcement that it was convinced that they had used chemical weapons, they came out with a strong statement and said, look, we need to have -- we need to collect evidence ourselves, and if we can establish the chain of custody, we can`t reach a firm conclusion. So, what I suspect will happen is at the end of this process, that the U.N. will come out with some information and it will be inconclusive, and that the security council will continue to be divided. Russia has already tried to seize on the ambiguity to raise doubts about the integrity of the intelligence. So, I think it`s going to be problematic. And it`s interesting that normally you would wait for the U.N. conclusion, but that`s not going to come for a long time, and it may never come, and I think the Americans and the British and the French have kind of reached that conclusion on their own, that they`ve got to go with what they have because they`re not going to get that smoking gun in several months down the road. MADDOW: Even while recognizing the peoples` inability to trust assertions from Western governments on things like this without actually seeing it problem isn`t earned distrust because of our history. Colum Lynch, "Washington Post" reporter, covering defense and foreign policy, thanks for helping us understand this. LYNCH: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. MADDOW: We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Ninety percent of Americans do not want a hippocampus for Christmas. It`s been polled. It`s true. What that has to do with the big Massachusetts Senate election coming up next week is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The answer is -- snakes. Snakes, according to Americans, are the single scariest animal in the entire animal kingdom, snakes followed by alligators followed by sharks. Then, in order: bears, cockroach, tigers, bats, spiders and finally wolves. In terms of animals that we as a country are afraid of that is our list. Zero percent of Americans named an animal that is not on that list right there. That`s the entire list. So, snakes officially win the scaring the bleep out of us contest. And if you are not afraid of snakes, have you ever done a YouTube search for snake opening door? See, now you`re afraid of snakes. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good job. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Here`s your question. Here`s another question. Based on their personalities, do you think a dog or cat would make a better president of the United States? It turns out we are a dog country: 37 percent of Americans say a dog would make a better president, 19 percent say a cat. But nearly half of the country can`t decide which would be better. So, this was the polled about animals and pets that was recently done by the polling firm, PPP. There are a lot of weird polls that go around all the time. Weird and funny polls with all sorts of ridiculous questions, but sometimes poll questions can be funny without necessarily intending to be funny. For example, do you agree or disagree with the following statement, "Democrats are closer to the leaders we had in Latin America, always giving handouts to get votes. If we let them have their way, we`ll end up being like the countries our families came from not like the America of great opportunities we all came to." Agree or disagree? That was a real polling question. A question put to Latino-Americans in a poll hyped by none other than Dick Morris, the former FOX News analyst who was run out of FOX after claiming right up until the election that Mitt Romney was definitely going to win by a landslide. His polling told him so. Don`t you agree that Democrats are like Latin-American dictators? Having pushed that out there, Dick Morris then wrote up the results of that poll under the headline, Latinos could be GOP allies. Yes, if only we kept asking them questions like that. That crazy push poll was not done by Dick Morris himself, though. The small print says it was organized and funded by a man named John Jordan of Jordan Winery in California. Well, hello. Dick Morris seems to have gotten his hand into this California winemaker`s guy` pocket lately. And so, this guy now seems to be the main funding source behind lots of different Republican polls that have been yielding lots of really strange result . It`s not just the "aren`t Democrats just like Latin-American dictators" poll that was laughed at by every real pollster out there but hype by Dick Morris. Also this poll right here. Look at that. This survey was organized and funded by John Jordan. This poll funded by this California winemaker guy was a poll done for the U.S. senate race that`s going to happen on Tuesday in the great state of Massachusetts. And this poll found something amazing. It found that the Republican candidate, the private equity guy Gabriel Gomez, ex-Navy SEAL, found he was trailing the Congressman Ed Markey by only one point. No other poll showed the race anywhere near that close. But this poll funded by the California winemaker guy found that to be true. Amazing. Also, it turns out that the wine guy who put together this too good to be true poll for Gabriel Gomez is the main donor for Gabriel Gomez`s side in this race. "The Wall Street Journal" had glowing literally glowing profile of him today, complete with sort of glamour shot of him and his winery. They reported that, quote, "In the last two weeks, John Jordan has single- handedly spent more than $1.2 million to help Gabriel Gomez in his uphill race against Ed Markey." $1.2 million spent by this one guy. Just to put that in perspective, the Republican Party itself, the Republican campaign committee in the Senate has spent $900,000 on Gomez. But this one guy in California with the wine glass is pumping more money into the Gomez cause than the whole Republican Party is. And even though the actual polls in this race so that it is really not very close anymore, even though the real polls show that Ed Markey opened up a 20-point lead, Gabriel Gomez is all set according to the wine guy who is paying for his whole campaign, because this is apparently the way our elections are run now. You get one super rich guy and he funds you all the way until Election Day, including the polls that tell him that it`s worth it. Election is this upcoming Tuesday in Massachusetts. Ed Markey versus Mr. Merlot money. I cannot believe this is how we do things in this country but it`s true. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again on Monday. But right now, I need you to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and take a leap into prison. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END