IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/26/14

Guests: Marty Walz, Ziva Branstetter

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Amazing work tonight, Chris. Amazing show. Thank you, man. Thank you. CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: Thank you. MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. OK. Check this out. Let this paint a picture for you. On September 20th, 1996, defendants blockaded the two entrances to the facility. In order to block the entrances, defendants encased themselves in cars. Defendant 1 in a brown Buick at the front entrance, and defendant 2 in a dark blue Oldsmobile at the rear entrance. Specifically, defendants sat on the ground underneath the cars with their bodies extending upright into the cars through holes cut in the floor. The defendants facing the rear of the cars were then restrained by two I-beams sandwiched together with a circle cut out around each defendant`s neck. The I-beams were fastened together by a slide bolt mechanism and were filled with different sizes of pipes in order to conceal the release mechanism. When a receptionist for the dental office located in the blockaded building arrived at 7:45 a.m., she saw a tan colored car situated in front of the main building of the office building. She called the police and didn`t attempt to enter. The car occupied by defendant 2 completely obstructed the rear entrance. The car situated at the front entrance however had not been placed directly against the front door but rather was placed at an angle with its right front corner wedged out against bricks that extended out to the vestibule. That left an opening on the left side of the car, thus individuals could enter the building if they turned sideways and squeezed past the car. Imagine how disappointing that must have been. I mean, you go to really extreme effort, you cut a hole in the floor of a Buick. You cut a hole in the floor of the car and then get on the floor and stick your upper body up through the hole so your -- the top of your body is inside the car and your legs are on the ground. Then, you cut a circular hole, a neck- sized circular hole through the middle of a steel I-beam and bolt it to your neck inside the car that you drilled the hole in. You encased yourself in the vehicle and put your neck in an iron block. You`re trying to become the most immovable impassable thing in the history of immovable impassable things. But you are not very good at parallel parking. So, you do not actually succeed in accurately squeezing the car that encases you into a parking space close enough to the building to keep people from getting in. So, you`re there, you`re basically a human vault, but everybody is just scooching around you. It`s like getting yourself all psyched up to self-emulate, right? The gasoline all over yourself, you`re screaming about why you`re going to do this, you`re going to set yourself on fire and your lighter doesn`t work. It`s so emasculating. It`s so embarrassing. Must be such a letdown, right? But those tactics, building themselves into cars and all the rest of it, those were tactics used in a 1996 protest by radical anti-abortion activists who were trying to stop women from being able to physically get into a clinic that did abortions and provided other reproductive health services in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Wisconsin has had sort of an intense history of this kind of stuff. This is a photo from protests outside another clinic in Milwaukee a few years before. This was 1992. The person who took this photo in 1992 told us today what`s going on here is that the people on the ground you see in the foreground here, they`re crawling, they`re physically trying to get to, physically trying to stop a woman who was trying to get into that clinic to go to an appointment. So, the crawlers, activists are trying to stop her. The people standing upright in the left side of the photo, those are escorts. You can see three or four of them here in the photo, all physically surrounding this woman so she can try to safely get inside the clinic. You can see three or four of them here, but there are actually six or eight people all sort of forming a pod surrounding her so that she can get in without those crawling protesters being able to grab her and stop her from getting in. That was 1992. And this escort thing, this clinic escort phenomenon, this is a common thing at reproductive health clinics. Two years after that photo was taken, a clinic escort who was working in the south, a man named James Barrett, retired as a lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Army, he was shot to death in Pensacola, Florida, outside a clinic there as he was trying to escort the clinic`s doctor into that facility past a group of antiabortion protesters. Both the doctor, Dr. John Britton and the man who was working to try to escort him into the clinic, that retired colonel, James Barrett, both of them were killed and others were wounded in that shooting. Then six months later, a young man named John Salvi shot seven people at two abortion clinics in Brookline, Massachusetts. He killed two of the people he shot. He wounded five others. Some of the people who were witnesses to that shooting were people who were there at the clinic working as clinic escorts because of the hostile and intimidating and occasionally violent intense protests that had been happening regularly outside of those clinics. That day when John Salvi went into the two clinics in Brookline and opened fire and he shot all those people, there were antiabortion protesters right outside the clinic when he did it, as he did it. At the Brookline Planned Parenthood where he killed a 25-year-old receptionist that day, the protesters outside the clinic, one of the ways they regularly tried to intimidate people, one of their regular tactics was filming people, filming everybody as they arrived to work at the clinic, filming people as they arrived to volunteer, filming people who were working as escorts for patients coming into the clinic. And they filmed the patients, themselves, including taking great pains to be seen videotaping their license plates, trying to be very intimidating and very scary to people so they wouldn`t go into that clinic. But that day when John Salvi got into that clinic and shot it up and he killed the receptionist and wounded other people, as they brought the bodies of the wounded and the killed out of that clinic that day, the antiabortion protesters in the parking lot, they kept filming. They filmed that, too. There have been these politically motivated assassinations and shootings all over the country. Pensacola was the first one that happened, in the `90s. Then it happened again in Pensacola. It`s happened in Wichita. It`s happened in Massachusetts. It`s happened in Alabama. It`s happened all over the country all over the last 20, 25 years. And what is specific and knowable about these shootings is that they are connected. In the sense that the people who are shooting up abortion clinics and shooting doctors who provide abortions, they are part of a political network and political movement of people who support that kind of violence for political reasons. So this group, the Missionaries to the Preborn is their name, that`s the group that blockaded Milwaukee for the whole summer of 1992, and then they came back in 1996 and cut holes in the Oldsmobile and the Buick and bolted their necks into steel I-beams to try to shut down those clinics. The same group, the last time they made national news was in 2007 again in Milwaukee when they decided to celebrate, literally celebrate the anniversary of that doctor and escort, that retired colonel getting killed in Pensacola. They decided to celebrate the anniversary of that assassination by re-enacting the murder in Wisconsin. They re-enacted it as sort of a pageant. Celebration of what a great thing that double murder was. They used a snare drum to signify the gunshots during the re-enactment. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stood there with his Scripture, heart full of blood, veins flowing with courage. His hands holding a shotgun. With his defender, Paul Hill had made a choice. He had made a decision. Paul Hill had decided that no babies would die there that day. Meanwhile, two child predators were on their way, predators seeking easy prey. A filthy abortionist and his good-for-nothing bodyguard drew closer and closer. They didn`t know that this day was different. This day, the babies had a defender. This day, the babies had a hero. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amen. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes! Hey. Hallelujah. (APPLAUSE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the child murderers pulled into the center, Paul Hill was ready to meet lethal force with force. He fired once. He fired again. And then Paul Hill calmly laid down his shotgun. He raised his arms in the air and cried out -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thing`s for sure. No innocent people will be killed in that clinic today. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amen. Hallelujah. Hallelujah (APPLAUSE) (CHANTING) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Wisconsin antiabortion activists in 2007 re-enacting and celebrating the assassination of a doctor and a clinic volunteer in Florida. It`s interesting, that murder that they were celebrating and re- enacting there and applauding, that was the second murder of an abortion provider in Pensacola, Florida, specifically. The guy who did that second murder, who they were praising there, is named Paul Hill. Just as he was being celebrated by those antiabortion folks in Milwaukee for committing that murder, Paul Hill, himself, had published a national manifesto celebrating the guy before him who had already killed a doctor in Pensacola. A guy named Michael Griffin who ambushed and killed Dr. David Gunn during an antiabortion demonstration at his Florida clinic. In Wichita, Kansas, one of the antiabortion activists who is part of this network that celebrates killing doctors, celebrates these murderers as martyrs and heroes, she shot Dr. George Tiller outside his Kansas clinic in 1993. When she was in prison for that shooting, she corresponded with and got visits from a guy named Scott Roeder who`s also part of this movement that celebrates killing doctors in his way. When he got his chance, he didn`t just shoot Dr. George tiller and wound him the way Shelley Shannon had. Scott Roeder finally killed Dr. George Tiller. He shot him in the head while Dr. Tiller was at church. That was five years, in spring of 2009 in Wichita. When the police pulled Scott Roeder over that day, he had a post-it note on his dashboard that contained the phone number of the local Operation Rescue activist who he`d been in contact with, who, herself, was a convicted clinic bomber. Now, she writes a column at She gets quoted in the "Kansas City Star" as an antiabortion leader. She`s a convicted felon who pled guilty in 1988 to conspiring to blow up a clinic with a gasoline bomb. She`s considered to be a leader of the movement. People who shoot doctors and bomb clinics and try to bomb clinics and try to set clinics on fire, they`re not run-of-the-mill, crazy killers and vandals of the kinds who commit other sorts of crimes. They`re part of a movement that not only does this stuff but that celebrates this stuff and that supports one another when they do these things. In 1918, federal courthouse in San Francisco was hosting the trial of eight Indian nationalists. It was 1918, right? This was Gandhi`s site of the fight, right? They were trying to get India to be independent of Great Britain, and this group of Indian nationalists who were on trial in the United States for a conspiracy related to that activism. Eight of them were on trial all at once, and all together. And that ended up being really important because on the last day of their trial in San Francisco, one of the defendants pulled out a gun and shot one of the other defendants and killed him. Apparently, he thought the guy who was ostensibly on his side had been embezzling money from their Indian independence group. And so, he killed him there in the courthouse. And there is still a bullet hole still in the wall of the federal court house in San Francisco from that shooting in 1918. Shootings actually inside courtrooms are very, very rare. That`s why it was big news this spring in April when at the brand new federal courthouse in Salt Lake City, Utah, federal marshal shot and killed somebody inside the courtroom. The guy was actually the defendant in a gang-related case. That ended up being interesting enough. It turns out there are Tongan Crips in Salt Lake City, Utah. Who knew? One of the defendants in the Tongan Crips gang-related case was listening to a witness testify. In the middle, he reportedly grabbed a pen that was on a table near him in the courtroom and he ran across the courtroom with a pen and was apparently going to try to stab the witness with a pen in the courtroom. U.S. marshal in the courtroom pulled out a gun, shot and killed the defendant while he still held the pen and shot him in the courtroom. I don`t know if that had happened any time between the Indian nationalists in San Francisco in 1918 and the Tongan Crips in Salt Lake City in 2014. But that is a very rare occurrence. In federal courthouses and their grounds, they do see their share of American gun violence. A guy shot up the lobby in the Las Vegas federal courthouse in 2010 and killed a security guard. Last year in West Virginia an ex-police officer who was dying of cancer started shooting at a federal courthouse. He was killed, himself, though, before he killed anybody else. In 2012, a guy in Alabama killed himself at the federal courthouse in Alabama. It happens. We are a country with enough gun violence that there`s enough to go around. Federal courthouses have seen their share. Maybe they`ve seen more than their fair share? Court proceedings can be stressful, themselves. They can be potent symbols. Courthouses can be potent symbols for people. So, maybe it sets some people off, arguably. At the Supreme Court in Washington, one of the ways they have mitigated some of the physical risk that the justices may face there is that they have surrounded the United States Supreme Court building, itself, with a very large physical buffer zone. This is an aerial view of the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. The front entrance to the Supreme Court is these big grand doors that make you feel like you`re entering at least a great scene in a movie or maybe heaven, itself. Those grand awe-inspiring doors are closed now permanently for security reasons. They`ve got a much piddlier little entrance that you have to go now to get into the court sort of on the side of the front of the court. But in order to even get to that little piddly entrance, in order to get anywhere near it, you have to cross this grand marble public plaza outside the Supreme Court. It`s like 100 feet by 250 feet, this big oval-shaped plaza. And the Supreme Court has decided for itself that the whole public plaza, that whole big marble expanse, is a safety zone. It`s a buffer zone. You cannot be there. You cannot walk across it if you need to get somewhere. But no matter how strong your feelings are about something going on, or being debated or decided at the Supreme Court, you can`t protest on that plaza. You can`t hang around on that plaza. Must be nice for the people who work there, right? I mean, yes, there are lots of protests whenever the Supreme Court is in session. Protests on both sides of the lot of the cases the Supreme Court hears. People are sometimes getting arrested at those protests. Tensions are high. Sometimes, it`s a lot of people protesting. Sometimes, it`s a lot of people protesting in a way that`s purposely trying to be intimidating to people around them. It must be nice. If you work at that court, have a little breathing room from that. You can safely get in and out of your workplace without either the intimidation fears or the safety fears or just the hassle or the stress. For the people responsible for keeping the justices, themselves safe, it must be a great relief to them to have that buffer zone outside that courtroom, that no-protest zone. The Supreme Court has also upheld buffer zones, no-protest zones outside polling places on election days. You can do all sorts of things to make your political preferences known beyond just voting yourself. You can try to persuade people to vote the way you want them to vote. You can hold signs, hold demonstrations. You can yell at people, hold publicity stunts. You can reason with people and try to persuade them to do what you want them to do. But you can`t do any of that inside the polling place. Or in most places, you can`t do any of that anywhere near the polling place. Yes, you have First Amendment rights even on election day, but you cannot exercise your First Amendment rights to protest and to agitate and to do things you might be able to do elsewhere. You can`t exercise those rights inside the buffer zone, sort of no-protest zone, the no-politicking zone that exists on election day around our polling places. The Supreme Court also not that long ago specifically affirmed no- protest zones, buffer zones, around military funerals. If you are someone who believes that the best use of your time is to protest at the funerals of American service members, for whatever reason, there are people who believe that, well, the Supreme Court affirmed in 2011 that you do have the right to do that, however odious your speech is, you have a right to that speech. But the loved ones of this fallen service member, they also have a right not to be harassed and terrorized as they attend the funeral of that person who they love. And so, a no-protest zone, a buffer zone, can be established at those kinds of events. And, yes, the First Amendment survives even that. I mean, the Supreme Court in its own interest, and in the interests of these other settings and activities, they have been able to see that the First Amendment can be protected and respected alongside protection and respect for other things that people have a right to do. After all these murders and shootings and people bolting their necks into I-beams to block access to abortion clinics over the past 20, 25 years, to terrorize and kill people who work at those clinics, cities and states around the country have tried to find that same balance as well. In 2000, the court, Supreme Court, upheld a Colorado rule that calls for basically an eight-foot bubble around anybody going into a health clinic. It`s not a fixed space. It`s basically an imaginary bubble that moves with you where people can`t get closer to you than eight feet if you don`t want them to, if you`re trying to get into a clinic. They can still scream at you and show you pictures you don`t want to see and berate you and all the stuff they may want to do, but they can`t physically get closer to you than eight feet. In Massachusetts, where they had those murders in Brookline, two people killed and the five people wounded in that onslaught that day, in Massachusetts, they tried their own Massachusetts version of that Colorado law, but the protests were so vociferous, local police said it was not a workable law for them. In testimony before the Massachusetts legislature, seven years into Massachusetts trying to enforce their version of the sort of Bubble Law, the man who`s now Boston`s commissioner of police told the legislature the floating Bubble Law was basically impossible for police to enforce outside Massachusetts clinics. He said, "I like to make the reference of basketball referee down there. We`re watching feet. Watching hands." He said it was impossible to enforce. That year that he made that testimony, 2007, Massachusetts changed its law basically to make the whole thing simpler. And in Massachusetts now, there is a yellow line painted on the ground outside clinic entrances. It marks a fixed zone, a fixed space, 35 feet from the clinic entrance that is basically a no-protest zone, a bubble like you`ve got around polling places, like you`ve got around military funerals. Like the justices of the Supreme Court enjoy every day. And that fixed zone was designed to keep those clinic entrances open and people going in and out of those clinics safe, after decades of murder and mayhem outside clinics just like that. Well, today, the Supreme Court overturned that Massachusetts law. From inside their own protective buffer zone, the Supreme Court issued its majority ruling striking down the one outside abortion clinics. Ruling written by Chief Justice John Roberts chastises Massachusetts for trying to stop these petitioners who simply, quote, "wish to converse with their fellow citizens about an important subject on public streets and sidewalks." Massachusetts enacted this law, painted that stripe for a specific reason. There`s been a lot of discussion today since this ruling came down this morning about what options the state has now that this law has been struck down. How are they going to respond? What are they going to do next? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He drops the duffel bag, pulls out a rifle, and I was stunned when I saw the rifle. Before he hit -- he shoots the girl I`m talking to, she falls. REPORTER: Three people were injured at the second clinic, including one woman who died at the hospital. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was "NBC Nightly News" coverage of a deadly shooting incident at two abortion clinics in Massachusetts in 1994. Lawmakers in Massachusetts eventually established a 35-foot buffer zone, basically a protest-free zone around abortion clinics in part to deal with concerns like those. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Massachusetts law. Joining us now is Marty Walz. She`s former member of the Massachusetts state legislature and an author of now overturned law. She`s now head of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. Ms. Walz, thanks very much for being with us. MARTY WALZ, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Great to be with you, Rachel. MADDOW: First, let me ask you your reaction to today`s ruling. A lot of people had predicted that the law might be in trouble. Simply because the court took it up. What do you think of their ruling today? WALZ: Well, of course, we were disappointed. We think the buffer zone law worked very well to maintain a safe environment for our patients and our staff. Obviously, the court disagreed but as you observed into your piece leading into this, they didn`t do anything about their own buffer zone law. So, apparently, they think they have one set of rules and women seeking health care should be subjected to a different set of rules. MADDOW: One thing that has been interesting to me looking at the history of how Massachusetts has tried to deal with the issue about danger at clinics and protests at clinics, is that Massachusetts did, in 2000, Governor Cellucci, Republican governor, I believe, signed a law that created a different buffer zone, one more like Colorado`s which at this point is still standing according to the Supreme Court. That was sort of a moving buffer zone around individuals as they tried to get in and out of clinics rather than just a fixed space that was a no-protest area. Why didn`t that work? Why wasn`t that perceived to be working in Massachusetts? WALZ: That law didn`t work because it allowed the protesters to stand in the doorway of the health center. So, for someone coming into the health center to get health care, they had to walk up to the protesters and try to thread their way through a big group of screaming people just to get in the door. So, the law didn`t work because the patients had to approach the protesters. And in that instance, the bubble that surrounds somebody doesn`t apply. The bubble only applied when the protesters approached the patients. So, the law didn`t work because just stand in the doorway and the patients have to approach the protesters and try to figure out a way to sneak through large groups of people standing shoulder to shoulder screaming at you at full volume. So, clearly, that wasn`t very successful. MADDOW: Having seen that effort and legislative effort and seeing it fail, having been a legislator constructing the new law in 2007 that created the fixed zone, and with your responsibilities at planned parenthood right now to try to ensure the safety and continuing operation of your facilities, do you see a way to respond to the Supreme Court`s ruling today that is -- will both be workable and keep the clinics open and safe? WALZ: No matter what, our clinics are going to be open, and our patient center staff are going to be safe. So, that`s a given no matter what. We were open today. Patients came in and got their health care. We`re going be open tomorrow, be open Saturday, and patients are going to get their health care. We also have tremendous support from our local police departments. So, I was in touch with them today, and we know we will have increased law enforcement presence at our health centers. But that`s not really a long-term solution. You don`t want to solve this problem by having police there constantly when women are coming in for health care. So, what we`re doing is reviewing the laws that are already on the books that we might be able to use, as well as what new laws we might be able to craft. We have great support from our Governor Deval Patrick and Attorney General Martha Coakley, as well as our legislative leadership. So, everyone today said, all right, let`s read the decision and let`s find out what the answer is and what law might be constitutional and let`s get that law through the legislature. MADDOW: Marty Walz, president of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, and author of that law that was struck down today by the Supreme Court, the 2007 law, thanks for helping us understand this today. It`s pleasure to have you here. WALZ: My pleasure. MADDOW: Thank you. All right. So, a lot still to come tonight. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In Congress. Folks will tell you climate change is a hoax or a fad or a plot. It`s a liberal plot. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Oh, my God, he admitted it, President Obama confirming all their worst fears about the liberal plot, and also having considerable fun at their expense. The president is not laughing with you. He`s laughing at you. That story is ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If you`re a taxpayer in the state of Oklahoma, one of the things your tax dollars pay for one of the things the state government uses public money to do is kill people at the state prison. Most prisoners, you the taxpayer, are paying to feed them, shelter them and provide them health care, but for a small number of Oklahoma prisoners as in any other state, some of what the taxpayers are paying for is a deliberate, legal, formal process of taking a prisoner out of his or her cell and then slowly killing that person by injecting the person with deliberately misused prescription drugs. And because that process is sort of medical looking, it involves putting an I.V. line in, for example, it involves getting those pharmaceuticals in the first place, it involves somebody pronouncing the person dead once they`re dead. Because that process has elements of medical-ishness to it, there are people with some level of medical training who tend to be involved in that public activity. And the state has to pay them for that. But if you are the EMT or the medic or the phlebotomist or even the doctor the state of Oklahoma is paying to help out on the nights they kill a prisoner or two, you don`t get issued a paycheck for that. The way they pay you is cash. They pay you in cash money that they take out of some petty cash fund and they do it that way so there is no record of who they paid to help with the killing that night. You just walk out of the prison with an envelope stuffed full of cash. In 2011, the prison system in Oklahoma asked the state legislature there to please pass a bill that would keep secret the identities of anybody hired by the state to do that particular work. The bill sailed through the legislature with practically no debate, almost no decent. It was unanimous in the House. Got three votes against it I think in the Senate. That bill had the effect of not only keeping secret who gets paid in cash to help with executions, it also renders secret the locations of where the state gets its pharmaceuticals from that it uses in these procedures. So, if you`re a prisoner who`s going to get killed this way, in Oklahoma, you do not have the right to know whether the people charged with killing you have any expertise in doing this sort of thing. Like inserting an I.V., knowing what to do if something goes wrong or you have a seizure or something and all the rest of it. It`s also kept secret from you what exactly they`re going to inject you with because the source of the drugs is secret as well. And that is some of what has been reported this past week in a remarkable and ought to be award-winning investigative series by the "Tulsa World" newspaper. After Oklahoma had a terribly botched execution eight weeks ago, the paper devoted significant reporting resources to figuring out whether or not that was just an unforeseeable fluke or whether there is something wrong. Whether there`s something fishy or fly-by-night or subpar in some way about the way that Oklahoma handles this particular state function. The investigation found that Oklahoma does not require any regular training for its execution teams, unlike other states. The state does not require there to be in any backup drugs on hand in case they start the execution but something goes wrong with the first batch that does appear to have been part of what happened in the screwed up execution in late April. Other states require a backup set of drugs. Oklahoma does not. State also has no specific procedures on hand to determine if a prisoner is really unconscious, or what to do in the event that an execution goes wrong in some other way. There`s also the matter of how the execution chamber is set up. I can`t get this out of my head. "Tulsa World" found that the drugs in these procedures are administered from a room that is walled off from the actual person into whom the drugs are being pushed. They describe it as a cramped dimly lit room next to the death chamber where three volunteer executioners push syringes full of lethal drugs into the veins of an inmate they cannot see. The I.V. line runs through a hole in the wall. The room is dim enough that they have to use a flashlight to see in the room. They cannot see who they are drugging at all. If they need problems or have to communicate with the warden or staff in the next room along with the prisoner they are killing through the wall, quote, to communicate with them, quote, "the executioners stick colored pencils through holes in the wall where two I.V. lines feed into the inmate`s body. If you saw red, there might be possible problems", said a deputy warden. But if you stuck the yellow pencil or the black pencil through the wall, then everything`s OK. That`s the system. And then there`s the issue of autopsies. Between 2001 and 2010, during which time the state was involved in several lawsuits over their lethal injection protocols, state of Oklahoma stopped autopsying the prisoners who they were killing. Not one in the whole decade. For more than ten years, during which time the state altered its lethal injection protocol three times, the state of Oklahoma has done nothing in terms of physical examination to actually see how it is working or what it is doing in the process of killing people. It`s all too secret. Joining us now is Ziva Branstetter, enterprise editor for Oklahoma`s "Tulsa World" newspaper. Ms. Branstetter, congratulations on this reporting and thank you for being with us. ZIVA BRANSTETTER, TULSA WORLD: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Let me ask you an the autopsy issue. Oklahoma used to do autopsy of prisoners it killed as a matter of course and then they just stopped. Why did they stop? And what medical information were you able to access to do this story given that the autopsies stopped for so long? BRANSTETTER: Well, we don`t know really why they stopped. So in 2000, they passed a requirement that the state of Oklahoma had to autopsy, of course, anybody, any prisoner that died in state custody except for those the state actually killed. It was a senator, Glen Coffey (ph), who did not return my phone calls. They do a basic medical examiners report in every case. In some cases, the law says, which is determined to be in the public interest, they actually do a full autopsy. We found that since that law was passed in 2000, they`ve only done a full autopsy on 10 out of 50 inmates executed by the state. MADDOW: That number, 10, does not include some of the -- according to your reporting does not include some of the cases in Oklahoma that have received attention for executions that seem to go wrong. Including one man who said, "I feel my whole body burning." That was somebody -- he was able to articulate that before he died which would imply something was wrong since they`re supposed to be unconscious before they could feel anything like that. He was one of the prisoners who was not autopsied after he was killed? BRANSTETTER: That`s correct. I witnessed that execution as well. That was Michael Wilson in January, and there is only a very cursory report of his, you know, of his autopsy. There`s not a full autopsy as there was in the past from 1990, all the way to 2000. MADDOW: In terms of what information you were able to surmise looking at the medical examiner`s report, and the information that is there, one of the other things I found surprising an strange, I sort of can`t get my head around it, is this fact that in some cases prisoners` bodies after they were killed were sent to the medical examiner along with syringes full of drugs that were never injected into them. I`m not even sure I understand what that means. Do you understand it? BRANSTETTER: In a sense, the protocol calls for all of the drugs to be administered to the inmate, whether he appears to be dead or not. And in at least four cases that I could find a record of, there were syringes of full drugs that were returned with the inmate`s body. The practice is to put all those syringes with the inmate, return it to the medical examiner`s office. In most cases, they`re empty. But in at least four cases and possibly more, there were full syringes -- meaning the inmate may not have received all of the drugs, may not have been unconscious. It raises a lot of questions in my mind as to whether those drugs were effective. MADDOW: When Oklahoma had this bad problem with another execution that you witnessed in late April, with Clayton Lockett, it effectively started a sort of mini national moratorium on executions. They`ve started up again since then, but there was a while there for which there were none in the country because people were shocked by what happened there. Oklahoma is now reviewing that internally. Do you have any sense of whether the state has an appetite to change its policy, revamp its policies? Whether or not this internal investigation is expected to actually bring about changes? BRANSTETTER: I do think the prison system is pretty serious about changing the obvious flaws in the protocol which we pointed out in my report. My partner (INAUDIBLE) and I reviewed protocols from 20 active death penalty states including Oklahoma and most of the states were frankly doing it better than Oklahoma. Training was required. Execution teams were required to train routinely. In Oklahoma, they have, what, they called a strap down team do a walk through two weeks before the execution and that`s it. Other states train to place I.V.s into live volunteers. We don`t do that, backup drugs. Obviously, the dark room with the dark situation and colored pencils is something that`s pretty obvious that needs to be fixed. I think the prison system will address some of those obvious issues. Whether there`s deeper change in what drugs we use and how they handle the inmates` bodies afterwards in terms of testing, that remains to be seen. MADDOW: If there are changes, part of it will be because of the reporting that you and your reporters have done at the "Tulsa World." Congratulations, Ziva Branstetter, enterprise editor for Oklahoma`s "Tulsa World" newspaper, it`s an incredibly dark subject but you`ve shone a lot of light on it. Thanks very much. BRANSTETTER: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks. We`ll be right back. (COMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Remember where you were this time last year? Because it`s one year this week from Wendy Davis` epic filibuster in Texas. It`s one year this week since the Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Act. It`s one year this week since the Supreme Court struck down the anti- gay marriage laws. It`s one year this week since the Senate passed immigration reform. I haven`t heard anything from the House on that. It`s one year this week since the president launched his big climate initiative. And on one of those issues, which we are now having a year-long anniversary from, one of those issues, the popular perception is that nothing has gone the president`s way, nothing has gone the progressive way, everything has been stuck in the mud. That popular perception is wrong. And I`ll tell you which one of those stories that`s about, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Being president means giving speeches, lots of speeches, little speeches, big speeches, speeches that are so important they call them addresses. Speeches so unimportant they call them remarks. Even in a relatively slow summer week when Congress isn`t doing anything, and he just got back from a big trip, President Obama does a weekly address, and he speaks after a meeting with the prime minister of New Zealand, then speaks at a White House summit, then he speaks at a reception, then he speaks with a bunch of NASCAR guys, then he speaks at a fund raiser. I mean, that`s just a few days and that`s just the stuff that`s on the record. But for any president, maybe for this president in particular, for all the speeches he gives, it is rare to see President Obama appearing to genuinely have a good time when he`s giving a speech. But he gave one last night which he obviously was having a really good time, it kind of felt like he was ripping a little bit. I don`t know if this was in his prepared remarks, but it didn`t feel like it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: It`s pretty rare that you encounter people who say that the problem of carbon pollution is not a problem. They may not know exactly how it works, they may doubt that we can do something about it. But generally they don`t say no, I don`t believe scientists say. Except where? In Congress. In Congress. Folks will tell you climate change is a hoax for a fad or a plot. It`s a liberal plot. (LAUGHTER) And then most recently, because many who say that -- actually know better and they`re just embarrassed -- they duck the question. "I`m not a scientist", which really translates into, I accept that man made climate change is real, but if I say so out loud, I`ll be run out of town by a bunch of fringe elements that think climate science is a liberal plot. So, I`m just going to pretend like I don`t know, I can`t read. I`m not a doctor either, but if a bunch of doctors tell me that tobacco can cause lung cancer, then I`ll say, OK. (LAUGHTER) Right? I mean, it`s not that hard. Now, the good news is, the American people are wiser than this. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: President Obama apparently enjoying himself there, making fun of Congress is the one place on earth which it is expected you believe in science. And the construction the president uses there is interesting because he sort of says that Congress -- Congress is full of Republicans who do actually believe in science, but because they are Republicans in Congress, they have to pretend like they don`t believe in it. Almost like he`s embarrassed for them. President Obama made these remarks last night on the one-year anniversary of his big unveiling of his presidential climate agenda. That was a year ago in a speech at Georgetown, that unfortunately was very poorly staged. This was a big, important speech on a really big, important matter. But once they got the bunting all screwy, that bunting just has a wedgy, and that`s the one right over the president. It`s super hot day, no shade. The president had to joke at the top so everybody could take off their jackets. He said, "It`s not that sexy." The whole long speech went off for an hour. It was punctuated every couple of sentences by a plane flying over the president and drowning out his words because the venue they chose at Georgetown was on the flight path from national airport. They did not do a great job with the logistics on the rollout of that agenda, at that speech a year ago this week. But the president did roll out that agenda year ago. He reiterated it last night with some glee. Well, what`s now clearly important about that big speech a year ago, and about how the president approached this issue, is that everything he laid out in that big speech a year ago, everything he laid out in that agenda was stuff that he could basically do himself without Congress, because again, Congress is the one place we have to pretend that climate is not changing. But even though Congress has gotten no better on it in the past year, actually, despite popular perceptions, a lot has changed around the politics of this issue. Even in Republican politics. I mean, Republicans in Congress are stuck exactly where they are. But Republicans outside Congress, it`s actually been kind of an amazing year for them on this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, ACTOR: People are used to seeing me play the hero. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You probably know Arnold Schwarzenegger from his prolific film career and as former governor of California. SCHWARZENEGGER: To see me acting strong and brave, standing up to the toughest bad guys. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome, Governor Schwarzenegger. (APPLAUSE) SCHWARZENEGGER: Thank you very much. Thank you. But my career as an action hero was all make believe. Today, I`m taking on the real-life bad guy, one that threatens all humanity, climate change. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Climate change. That`s from the Showtime documentary series, "The Years of Living Dangerously." And Arnold Schwarzenegger is not alone. Last month, this guy, Jon Huntsman, the former governor of Utah, U.S. ambassador to China, 2012 Republican presidential candidate, he authored an op-ed in "The New York Times" about how Republicans specifically can`t ignore climate change. Then, there`s this guy, former secretary of the treasury under President George W. Bush, Hank Paulson, this week, Mr. Paulson joined forces with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a hedge fund billionaire to release a report they called "Risky Business", which basically says climate change is happening and not only is it happening, it`s costing our country billions of dollars. It`s an economic issue. Oh, but wait, there`s more. Just last week, four former cabinet members who served under these presidents, former heads of the EPA under Republican presidents, came out and testified before the Senate Environment Committee saying, yes, climate change is real and Congress should do something about it. It still doesn`t look like Congress is going to do anything about it anytime soon. But the president, that`s him a year ago and last night, appears to be acting on his own where he can, publicly asserting and assuming that Congress will come along someday on this issue. Republicans outside of Congress appear to be proving him right on that, so many of them are clearly coming along on this issue. And I think this is a big deal. On the issue of public opinion, when the president said last night the good news is the American people are wiser than this, meaning wiser than Congress, he`s talking about something specific there. This is the latest NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, people like what the president is doing on his own on this subject, even if Congress is pretending it`s all about a conspiracy theory. The public kind of down with it, they kind of like it. They strongly support what the president is doing, even though Congress is furious and treating it like a scandal. An increasing and large majority of the public is willing to pay more for their utility bills, if that`s what we need to do in order to deal with this problem. Public opinion going the president`s way. The opinion of almost all elected Democrats going the president`s way. The opinions of increasing numbers of very well known Republicans going his way, as long as they are not Republicans in Congress, as long as they`re Republicans who can actually make a decision on this. Congressional Republicans did stand unified on being pretty flat earth on this subject. But in the years since President Obama started saying he was going to act on this issue with or without them, congressional Republicans have turned into the nation`s lagging indicator on this issue. Everybody else on board. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Thanks for being with us. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END