The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/11/14

Guests: Ali Soufan, Noah Bierman, Rosa DeLauro

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Chris. Thanks very much my friend. HAYES: You bet. MADDOW: Something exciting is going on as we speak. The government, you may have heard, is about to run out of money. Not in some big, esoteric ideological sense, but literally about to run out of money tonight, at midnight. Government is funded through 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. And right now it`s due to shutdown tonight at midnight, again, if Congress does not gets it together to pass something to keep the government going. Now this was supposed to be an easy thing. If you have been reading the Beltway press about this, this is like, don`t worry about it, they`ll pass something, they`ve got a plan. It turns out, bad plan. (LAUGHTER) It`s not at all been an easy thing. And now we are really, really down to the wire. Do we have a live shot right now? What`s going on in there in the House of Representatives? I know we`ve been dipping in and out of that. Because what we`re told right now, the House went into recess this afternoon just after 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time after it became very clear that they didn`t seem to have the votes to keep the government funded. They went into recess at 2:07 they`ve now come back into session. We`ve seen Democrats at the microphone explaining what the problem is from their perspective. And we`re coming down to the wire in terms of whether or not something is going to happen within now less than three hours in order to get this done. We`re told that a vote, another vote trying to get a vote, maybe imminent. But joining us now from the Capitol is Noah Bierman. He`s a congressional reporter for the "Boston Globe" but he`s been watching this unfold over the course of the day. Noah, thanks for being with us. NOAH BIERMAN, BOSTON GLOBE CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: What`s the status of the status? What`s happening right now in the House? BIERMAN: Pure chaos. But actually, we`re starting to have some movement after hours of people waiting around wondering what was going to happen. They`re going to be at least one vote now on a big spending bill that will take the government -- make it funded or most of the government funded through the end of September. But there`s question as to whether that will pass. So if that fails, House leaders have a second bill that will be more piecemeal bill that will just be for a few months and then they`ll fight the fight all over again. MADDOW: In terms of -- I guess the unexpected nature of how we got here, it seems like, most of the press covering this, and certainly most of the casual press not covering it too tightly, have been -- we`re sort of thinking that this is going to be easier than it was. When they took their first procedural vote this afternoon, it seems like the fact that zero Democrats voted for it, they had to whip some Republicans into changing their votes on it. That seemed too take a lot of people by surprise. BIERMAN: Yes, there was -- it passed -- a procedural vote passed by two votes and they were about five minutes where it was just tied and the vote count was just frozen and they are apparently twisted a couple of arms and it passed by two votes. And that was a real sign. After that, you saw Nancy Pelosi send -- make a very passionate speech on the floor. Elizabeth Warren made a speech in the Senate, where she was actually appealing to the Republicans to oppose the bill. And Pelosi also sent an e-mail out to her members to say, hold firm, Democrats can get a better deal if you hold firm. And that seemed to throw everything into chaos. The vote that was supposed to come up has been delayed and delayed and delayed. And just before I came on with you, as we talk about, they finally decided to bring it up again. MADDOW: Noah, is it clear at this point if they`re -- if they`re going to vote, as we expect, in the next couple of minutes, is it clear, is anybody, I guess, confident in their count? Do we know which way the vote is going to go? BIERMAN: I don`t know which way the vote is going to go. And I think -- I was just down in the basement at a caucus meeting where Democrats were meeting and the White House sent Denis McDonough to try to persuade them to vote yes. And members were coming out and saying, they didn`t know how the vote was going to go. And one member said, anybody who tells you they do know how to vote was -- is going to go, you shouldn`t trust them. MADDOW: Wow. BIERMAN: And I think we`ve learned that from the last few years of the way the government and Congress has been working that we don`t know how any vote is going to go. MADDOW: Noah Bierman, congressional reporter for the "Boston Globe." Noah, thank you very much. BIERMAN: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: I appreciate it. And again, what you`re watching here on your screen right now is the House right now. They`ve been in recess since 2:00 this afternoon. The government is due to shut down in less than three hours unless they find something that they can pass. They`ve just come back into session, they`ve just come back essentially online in the past couple of minutes after being shutdown all afternoon and all evening until now. And we`re not exactly sure what they`re going to vote on. We have no confidence in what the vote total would be. And if the thing that they vote on fails, I have no idea what`s going to happen next. Joining us now is somebody who may have a clearer idea of these things, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut. Congresswoman DeLauro, thanks so much for being with us. I appreciate it. REP. ROSA DELAURO (D), CONNECTICUT: Thank you very much. Delighted to be here. MADDOW: I know that you`re right in the middle of everything because I can see it happening on our other camera. DELAURO: Right. MADDOW: What`s happening right now? And what should we expect over the next couple of hours? DELAURO: Well, you know, we`ve -- we`re coming back into session. The majority is call into back session. And the presumption is that we`re going to vote on the -- on what they call the Cromnibus. And you know, that is what will happen. If it goes -- it goes down. Then there will be a vote to extend -- there will be is what they call a continuing resolution, which will extend current spending for about three months, for about 90 days. MADDOW: Do you know how you`re going to vote on that first measure you`ll be ask to vote on which has the -- DELAURO: Yes, I declared early today. I spoke on the Florida House and I will oppose the legislation and I am the ranking member of the Senior Democrat on the Appropriations Subcommittee for Labor, Education and Health and Human Services. So I worked hard on the bill. And quite frankly, our problem with the appropriation is the allocation we received in order to fund education and health care and worker training and all of this is has been shortchanged over the years. That being said, that the term very serious problems in this bill and that is what was added in, you know, at the last minute. One, first of all, you`re going to see homeland security, the Department of Homeland Security not funded or not dealt with for about nine weeks. This is really deals with the national security of this -- of this nation. And it`s all because Republicans don`t like the president`s executive order on immigration. So they`re holding up full year funding because of immigration. Secondly, what has been added with regard to the unraveling of a Dodd-Frank and once again turning people`s lives over to the banks whose transactions, as you know and I know, Rachel, that the jeopardy that families were put in. They lost their homes, they lost their jobs, they lost their savings. And, my God, why would we want to repeat that again. And then we`re going to see that seniors are going to be shortchanged on pension benefits. These are people who have earned retirement, worked all their lives, and we are putting their security in jeopardy, as well. And I have encouraged my colleagues to vote against this legislation because I believe that it is -- one of the worst egregious pieces, and I think you will concur with this, is this allows individual contributions in campaigns of over a two-year cycle, $1.5 million. The country already believes that the government is being sold to the highest bidder. And the country is angry about that. So we are going down a bad road with this piece of legislation. And I will work hard to try to defeat it in the next hour or the next half hour, whatever it is. MADDOW: Congresswoman DeLauro, I know that you have to get back in there, I just want to ask you briefly. DELAURO: Sure. MADDOW: We know that the Republicans don`t think they can pass this alone. That they don`t think that there are enough people on their own side who will vote for this that that will be enough to keep the government funded with this bill. They`ve been counting on Democratic votes to get this done. Do you have any sense if any Democrat are going to vote with this on the Republicans -- vote with the Republicans on this? Do you have any sense of the Democratic count? DELAURO: I don`t -- I don`t have numbers. And I -- and I think that is -- you know, I don`t believe that anyone has numbers at the moment. I believe overwhelmingly the Democrats will vote against it. There will be Democrats that vote for it. And I don`t know if that will be enough to make up a deficiency in what the Republicans view as the shortfall in their vote count. And I have no idea what their vote count is. So it is going to be a very exciting time on the floor of the House of Representatives tonight and I`m sure you`ll be watching. MADDOW: We will be. And I know you have to race back there right now. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, thanks very much for helping us understand what`s going on. We really appreciate it tonight. DELAURO: Thank you. Thanks so much, Rachel. Thank you. MADDOW: This is -- you know, everybody says Washington is always the same thing over and over again. Cyclically over and over again. In a way, yes. But in a way, no. I mean, big picture, here we are again. Right? Incredibly. We`re here again. It`s not even six weeks since we had our last election and we`re already on the brink of another government shutdown again. Tonight. Right? But, on the other hand, the unexpected nature of what happened tonight is not to be messed with. Like not to be mis-underestimated, to coin a phrase. I mean, for a country with a national press that is so insolently focused on Washington, obsessive saturation coverage that we get of every little intricacy in Washington politics, and so much of the stuff doesn`t get covered. What`s happening tonight in Washington less than three hours away from a government shutdown, nobody knows if we`re going to have one. What`s happening tonight is something that the Beltway press totally missed. Our -- you know, our amazing, well-funded, very well-regarded Beltway press had no idea this was coming. Beltway press has been assuring us for weeks but there was no chance this would happen. All right. The leadership in Congress, particularly the Republican leadership in Congress, said they have a plan that would make sure this wouldn`t happen. And the Beltway press dutifully wrote that down. They say they have a plan. So they`re sure it will not happen. Therefore, we`re sure it will not happen. But, you know, if you don`t just write down what they say and instead look around you and report on the political activity you can see, this was not all that hard to see coming. The first signs of it were on the right. Once the House Republicans started explaining to reporters exactly what their brilliant plan was and how they`re going to keep the government funded and placate their angry Tea Party base and definitely, definitely, definitely steer very far clear of a government shutdown. As soon as they floated the basics of that plan, the right and the Republican Party got really mad in a way that was really visible. That you -- that you could report on for example. The Heritage Foundation, which used to be a think tank but is now just a conservative activist group -- the Heritage Foundation did more than anybody else in politics to bring about the last government shutdown. That was about a year ago. And when Republicans in Congress this year explained their plan for not having a government shutdown this time around, the Heritage Foundation went nuts. They`ve been saying over and over and over again that the Republican plan to avoid a shutdown was a blank check for President Obama`s lawless amnesty. And whether or not that makes any sense, whether or not you agree with their assessment of that, that was their line. Once the Republicans announced what they were going to do to avoid the shutdown tonight, that`s been the line from the Heritage Foundation. That`s what they`ve been telling their folks. That`s what they`ve been telling their activist, that`s what they`ve been telling members of Congress who want good score cards from them. So that`s been their very, very vocal position. They in fact would be delighted to have a shutdown and they don`t want to do what Republican leadership wants to do. They`re not going along with the plan. So that was one sign. It was also obvious on talk radio. And again, the Beltway press has been given us all these assurances about how nobody wants a government shutdown. Everybody agrees a shutdown would be a terrible idea. On right wing talk radio ever since the election, they`ve been salivating over the idea of another government shutdown. They`ve been talking about how shutdowns are not a bad idea at all. The Republicans shut down the government last year and then look they went on to win this election and win big. On talk radio shutdowns are not something that hurts Republicans at all and they do not want to do what the Republican leadership said. So that was a sign. Also there`s the ball thing. We had some fun on this show talking about the signs in the conservative blog world, that things were not going as well as the Beltway press said they were going. One of the more prominent conservative blogs organized the campaign to not just oppose the Republican leadership plan, not just oppose what John Boehner wanted to do to avoid the shutdown, but to go even further and instead mount this stunt in which they asked people to mail balls to John Boehner. Like super balls, racket balls, any kind of balls. Just send him balls. Balls, balls, balls. They ran a campaign to get conservative activists to mail balls to House Speaker John Boehner to symbolize, bluntly, their objections to the John Boehner plan. This plan that he had to avoid the shutdown and keep the lights on. And then just last week, more very obvious signs that there was something going wrong on the right here. The Beltway narrative was that John Boehner had a plan. That he figured out how to bring even the crazy super right wingers on the Republican Party along with him and this plan and everything was going to be fine. But speaking of crazy right wingers, there was that very chilly press conference just last week with Ted Cruz and Michele Bachmann and Steve King and Louie Gohmert and all the rest of them all saying that not only did they not fear a shutdown, not only they did not want to do what John Boehner wanted them do, they said any member of Congress who went along with and voted for what John Boehner wanted them to do shouldn`t be allowed to take the oath of office come January. So it`s not like the signs haven`t been there. All along, the Beltway has been saying it`s fine. John Boehner says it`s going to be fine, so it`s going to be fine. But there were these signs on the right. There were also signs at John Boehner`s office. Right? We all know the timeline now, the government is due to run out of money tonight at midnight. So as we`ve been approaching this deadline, which you can see mile away, there have been these signs starting like a week ago that maybe this plan that was going to make it all so easy was starting to become slightly less of an easy thing. First, we were told that the bill to avoid a shutdown was definitely going to be filed first thing Monday morning. Pushing it a little bit given that the shutdown happens Thursday if it doesn`t pass but still Monday morning, gives them plenty of time to get it passed in the House and then the Senate before the government shuts down. So first they told us it would be Monday morning. Then Monday morning came and went, then they told us no, no, no, it`s not going to be Monday morning, it will be late Monday. And then late Monday came and went, and then they told us no, no, no. It`ll be Tuesday morning. And then Tuesday morning came and went, still no bill. What`s going on here? Then they said don`t worry, it will be later in the day on Tuesday. What`s going on? Finally, they posted at Tuesday, at almost 9:00 p.m. Remember, government runs out of money Thursday night. They posted it Tuesday almost 9:00 p.m. They posted it and everybody sat down to read it. It`s like 1600-page bill. And as the Beltway press is combing through it, publishing all this little list about what`s in it and what your new government budget is going to be like, because this is the plan and it`s definitely going to pass. Easy Tizzy, everything is all done. As that`s happening, meanwhile, there are lots more signs that things are not OK. That this is not going to be easy. And this time, it`s not from just John Boehner`s office delaying over and over again. And it`s not from the Republican`s side, from the right plank of the Republican Party. All of those problems still stand. But now in addition, once they drop the bill, now there`s all of these problems on the other side, on the Democratic side. Because when they finally dropped the bill, and the Democrats read what the Republicans finally filed after all those delays late at night on Tuesday, by the time the Democrats went back to work on Wednesday morning, they all had their hair on fire. A lot of them were really mad and, also, as you heard Rosa DeLauro explain there, really surprised. I mean, they were expecting a bill they didn`t like. Republicans are in control, they`re negotiating stuff that Democrats aren`t going to like. They knew they weren`t going to like it. What they did not know was all the surprise stuff. Republicans stuck a bunch of stuff into this thing at the last minute. The Democrats say they had no idea what`s coming. And it`s really stuff that they substantively do not like. Particularly this thing about the big banks, right? And so once they started reading the bill, the Democrats started to bail. And this is where the two different problems that the Beltway never cared about on the right and on the left became one big problem that brought us to tonight where who knows if we`re about to have a government shutdown. The fight on the right started it, right? The Republicans knew they were upsetting their whole right plank. All these conservative organizations, all there conservative leaders and that part of the party, we`re not going to vote for this plan. The reason they didn`t care very much about that and they told the Beltway press not to care very much about that. And the Beltway press dutifully went along with that is because the Republicans figured they took it for granted that any votes they lost from their own party, they could more than make up for with Democratic votes. They just took it for granted that the Democrats would be happy to help them pass this thing. I mean, they could lose Michele Bachman, sure. They could lose a dozen Michele Bachmanns. They could lose a hundred Michele Bachmanns. The Democrats would give them whatever votes they needed. They took that for granted. And the way we know they took that for granted is by the fact that they put a whole bunch of stuff in the bill at the last minute that they knew Democrats wouldn`t like. But they figured they`d get the Democratic votes anyway. They were taking the Democrats for granted. They figured no matter what we do, the Democrats are still going to vote with us. They`ll still give us whatever we need. Maybe not. As it turns out. Because there`s Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor imploring Democrats to withhold their support for this bill unless these last-minute provisions get taken out. There`s the same senator, Elizabeth Warren, doing a press conference with the inestimable Maxine Waters, who was the senior Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee. And that Financial Services is not incidental to this fight because the main thing the Democrats are objecting to is this Republican provision which appears to have been written by city group, which would put the taxpayers back on the hook to bail out the big banks for all the kinds of risky things they did during the financial collapse. Maxine Waters according to "The Hill" gathered more than 20 fellow Democrats in her office this afternoon to plot strategy on this thing, to say no. Nancy Pelosi blew her top about this yesterday, continued today. She said she is not voting for this thing, she is not offering her vote to help out John Boehner. She said today, quote, "I would not put the name of my constituents in my district next to this bill." She sent a letter to the whole House Democratic caucus saying, she wasn`t explicitly going to tell them how to vote but she thanked anybody who was planning on voting no. The "Huffington Post" reported that at a private meeting with her Whip team this morning, Nancy Pelosi said, if Democrats stand up on this, the Democratic base will stand with them, quote, "The public awareness among our base is very high on this." She cited, quote, "All of the idealism for the people who support us." And, with that, everybody who just wrote down what John Boehner has been saying all this time and therefore reported that this was going to be a super easy thing, no drama, all those folks are having an unexpectedly long day at the office right now. Don`t eat the cold pizza. So they took the first vote which again was supposed to be no drama, no problem. They took it earlier today. Remember the plan was yes, they`d have a few Republican defections but they`d more than make up for with Democratic votes. Well, they took the first procedural vote on that in midday today. You want to know how many Democratic votes they got? Zero. And then John Boehner started personally working the floor. Lobbying individual Republicans who`d already voted no, that they needed to change their votes. Remember Kerry Bentivolio, the reindeer herder guy who dresses up like Santa? He actually has been voted out of Congress, he lost his primary but he was one of the Republicans who John Boehner personally prevailed upon today on the House floor and he walked back to his little voting machine and changed his vote from no to yes. The Republicans only won that procedural preliminary vote by two votes. They had zero Democrats to help them do it. This thing was supposed to be easy. But it almost died right there. And after that, the House went into recess at 2:07 p.m. Eastern Time. And they stayed in recess all afternoon long and all through dinner. And all into the evening and they have just reconvened. See the time remaining there? They`re taking a vote. Trying to do it. Nobody knows what the vote count is going to be. And the government shutdown is going to happen at midnight tonight if nobody gets to a majority or if they don`t come up with some sort of funding bill that they can pass. And everybody thought this was going to be no problem. Everybody thought this was going to be no problem. But you know what it is, it`s freaking chaos. To the point where the White House today got all these cabinet secretaries, the vice president, the president himself on the phone calling their own party, calling House Democrats, trying to persuade the House Democrats to go along with this John Boehner plan, because they, too, apparently thought this was going to be fine. House Democrats and the White House are usually on the same page. But not today. Not on this. Everybody took these Democratic votes to bail out John Boehner for granted. Everybody took this for granted. Except for the people who the votes had to come from. Who, right now, they basically taken the silverware drawer out of the wall, lifted it up over their heads and started shaking it and dancing around barefoot. You could have seen this coming, had you been looking. Almost nobody was looking but now nobody knows what`s going to happen. Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So this was about the Friday night news stuff we`re doing tomorrow. MADDOW: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So we have the usual price, the cocktail shaker. MADDOW: Right. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The mini cocktail shakers. But you have been consistently offering the players a little extra piece of junk from around the office so I thought, let`s see what we`ve got and we have -- MADDOW: Have we run out of junk that we need to, like, get selective about what we`re sending now? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I mean -- yes. So we`ve got those rocket balls that we did the other year you joggled, you have it. MADDOW: I have it here. (LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or we can make it this cheese head we`ve had sitting around. MADDOW: I`m not ready to give out the cheese head yet. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. No cheese. MADDOW: Not the cheese head. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. I grabbed the staple puller off my desk. Right. I think it`s -- MADDOW: Keep that. Keep that and some of these. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So as the battle to avoid an imminent government shutdown rages on inside the Capitol tonight right now, this was the scene outside the Capitol today, where -- look at this. Congressional staffers, predominantly African-American congressional staffers, as well as some members of Congress, staged a walkout from the U.S. Capitol today. See them holding their hands up? A walkout in protest of the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown in the decision to not charge the police officers who killed either those men. Protests over those killings have been a day after day news story across the country for weeks now as you know. But this was a very dramatic thing to see at the U.S. Capitol. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. BARRY BLACK, SENATE CHAPLAIN: Today, as people throughout the nation protest for justice in our land, forgive us when we have failed to lift our voices for those who couldn`t speak or breathe for themselves. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Senate Chaplain Barry Black leading a prayer at this dramatic walkout today of congressional staffers and some members of Congress protesting police killings. Lots more ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: In a limited number of cases, agency officers used interrogation techniques that had not been authorized were abhorrent and rightly should be repudiated by all. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: As far as we know, that was the first time that has ever happened in the United States of America, when the CIA director gave a public televised press conference, including taking questions from the press corps. We`ve been scouring the archives all day and asking the reporters who know these things. But as far as we can tell, we think this is the first time a CIA director has every done that on any subject. Director John Brennan speaking today publicly, and taking questions publicly, in a televised press conference, about the torture report. We will have more on that ahead. And to the points you don`t see much of, this happens sometimes in Congress, but not very often. This is a hearing in the United States Senate. You see that big black drape there? They`re interviewing a witness at this moment in the hearing, but you cannot see that witness because the witness is hidden behind that screen next to the black drape. At the time of this hearing in 2009, that witness could not reveal his face to the public. He was a special agent with the FBI. His name is Ali Soufan. And Ali Soufan is the guy who uncovered the first solid link between 9/11 and al Qaeda. And he accomplished that because he was a highly skilled, highly experienced interrogator for the FBI. That was his job -- getting information out of people whom we desperately need to talk. A few months after 9/11, Ali Soufan got sent to interrogate this guy, Abu Zubaydah. Abu Zubaydah was the first high-value member of al Qaeda that the United States captured after 9/11. U.S. troops captured him in a gun fight and he was shot multiple times. And so, when Abu Zubaydah came in to U.S. custody, physically, he was in terrible shape. Ali Soufan`s account of this has been redacted by the CIA, but he describes the guy waking up in the hospital. Quote, "As soon as Abu Zubaydah opened his eyes and it was clear he was lucid, someone gave him a stern lecture. `Don`t you try to make a scene? You just play along.`" And then, they started asking him questions. And Zubaydah, America`s first big get in the war against al Qaeda that, he talked to his interrogators. Over the course of that interrogation, he told Ali Soufan and his partner detailed information about the inner workings of al Qaeda. He revealed that the al Qaeda supervisor for the 9/11 operation was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Before then, the United States knew about this guy, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but they did not know he was al Qaeda. Once they learned that, our country learned, basically, who done it, right, which terrorist group attacked us. That FBI interrogation was successful. It produced real information that the U.S. needed and was able to act on. But then something changed. Abu Zubaydah was being interrogated by Ali Soufan and his FBI partner. And then, the CIA sent in some new guys. They sent in some contractors to start a whole different kind of questioning with Abu Zubaydah. And these contractors were not doing things in the usual way. They stripped Abu Zubaydah naked. They blasted loud music into his cell. They eventually went onto waterboard him dozens of times. These contractors were part of a new CIA torture program. They were sent to torture this al Qaeda prisoner, even though he`d already been talking without torturing him. Frequently, people make the case that the rationale for torturing people is supposed to be that there`s no time to waste, that a time bomb is ticking somewhere. But those CIA contractors who came in and took over from Ali Soufan and his partner, they seemed to have plenty of time for this guy. The first stage of their torture was that they put him in solitary confinement with zero human contact for 47 days before they ever asked him a single question. After 47 days of zero human contact, they went straight into 17 days of torture, including waterboarding him more than 80 times. And instead of talking, which he had been doing constructively before the torture begun, instead of continuing to reveal what he knew about al Qaeda, well, the elite FBI interrogators, special agent Ali Soufan, whose work to that point had been successful and productive, Ali Soufan described what happened next in that Senate testimony in 2009 from behind that screen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALI SOUFAN, ELITE FBI INTERROGATOR: When we interrogated him, using intelligent interrogation methods, within the first hour, we gained important actionable intelligence. SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: You say on the instructions of the contractor, harsh technique were introduced which did not produce results as Zubaydah shutdown and stopped talking, correct? SOUFAN: Correct, sir. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Since then, FBI agent Ali Soufan has been able to become more public. He`s written a terrific book about his experiences and about al Qaeda, and he has been a guest on this show. That appears to be Alaska Senator Mark Begich, which would be a very unusual disguise for Ali Soufan. Where did that come from? We haven`t talked about Mark Begich at all? That`s like from the back of the archives misfiled alphabetically. Anyway, Ali Soufan has written a book. He has been a guest on the show. He can now tell his story, or at least the parts that are not classified, about his non-torture interrogation works. And it worked. And then the CIA stepped in with torture and then the progress stopped. But there is still a mystery at the heart of this story. We still do not know why the CIA came up with this idea? Why did the CIA decide to start a torture program? They didn`t have an existing torture program. And it wasn`t that they had the people in custody and the normal methods of interrogating them weren`t working. Abu Zubaydah was the first high value target that we had and the normal methods were working with him. But even despite that, somewhere, away from that lived experience, an abstract policy decision was made back at headquarters to proactively come up with a plan to start torturing people even though there was no real world impetus for doing it among the people we had captured. Why? And who made that decision? We still don`t know that. But, again, why did that happen? Ali Soufan joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: If there is some unknowable value to these techniques, to waterboarding, near drownings, slamming people against the wall, hanging them in stress positions, confining them in small boxes or coffins, threatening them with drills, waving guns around their head as they are blindfolded, what or which of these techniques could be used, if as the director of central intelligence, you and another president, or this president, were faced with an imminent threat? Could there be another covert finding and rulings and advice from the attorney general that would lead you and your successors to say we should do this because there could be some value to prevent an attack on America? BRENNAN: As far as what happens, if in the future, there is some type of challenge that we face here, the army field manual is the established basis to use for interrogations. We, CIA, are not in the detention program. We are not contemplating at all getting back into the detention program, using any of those EITs. So, I defer to the policymakers, in the future times, when there is going to be the need to be able to ensure that this country stays safe, if we face some type of crisis. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: "I defer to the policymakers." Meaning, if they want do this again, they know our number. We know how to do this stuff. Joining us now is Ali Soufan. He`s a former FBI special agent. He took part in the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah. He`s the author of "The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al Qaeda". Ali, thank you for being here. It`s nice to see you. SOUFAN: Thank you, Rachel. Nice to see you. MADDOW: I have to just ask you as somebody who was the initial interrogator of the first high value target after 9/11, first high value al Qaeda target, your story and that prisoner are a big part of just what was presented out by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Did they get it right from your perspective? And how did you feel bringing that report? SOUFAN: You know, reading that report made me really angry and it opened old wounds. But I think everything they had in that report matches a hundred percent what I witnessed when I saw. I know they didn`t talk to any of us. They didn`t talk to people in the FBI or CIA who were involved in the program. But I think they did what we do sometimes if government. They say if it`s not on paper, they went and look at millions of documents. And they really compiled the largest report in investigative in Senate history, 6,500 pages, 38 footnotes, based on millions of cables and communications that they were able to read and they compiled. My experience, from what I was involved in, the part I was involved in, is a hundred percent accurate. MADDOW: Wow. Well, the key -- the few things that are key about your experience in terms of what we`re learning about this as a country, and one of them is that you were able to get quality intelligence that was actionable for the United States and that was, in fact, key to us being able to use say al Qaeda did it, without using any sort of torturous techniques. The other thing that we have learned is that despite that, some sort of decision was made the somewhere that torture techniques should be used despite the fact that this prisoner has been talking to you. SOUFAN: Sure. MADDOW: How did you experience that -- to the extent that you can explain, how did you experience that in real-time? Did you know why the CIA was doing this? Or in fact that the CIA was going to do it until it happened? SOUFAN: Actually, nobody knew. Even the agency people who were there didn`t know. I mean, a lot of people from the agency who were with us, they were shocked about this. And as I testified in my statement to the Senate in `09, it`s the only statement still under oath of anybody who was involved in the program, some of the people from the CIA even left before me. As you see -- MADDOW: Once the enhanced interrogation techniques, once the torture started, they left? SOUFAN: Exactly. Once they started seeing all the things happening, they disagree with it. And this is actually even before enhanced interrogation techniques, because enhanced interrogation techniques didn`t start until the summer. But they were different interpretation of what they called standards interrogation techniques, and what`s the level of the standard interrogation techniques. Just like the stuff that I described to the Senate, like the nudity or the music or sleep deprivation at the time to 24 hours only or -- MADDOW: And you hadn`t been doing that in terms of an FBI interrogator. SOUFAN: No, absolutely. MADDOW: So, when the CIA contractors arrived, they started that stuff right now. SOUFAN: They started that and people from the CIA who were there were shocked. I mean, that program, to be honest with you, my experience, and this is what I testified about, it`s not a CIA program. It`s a few people in the CIA with some outside contractors that they brought to run the most sensitive program in U.S. history basically after 9/11. So, they came over and decided to out source the most important thing we have -- getting information from detainees. Abu Zubaydah was not the only terrorist, nor the first terrorist that we arrested. We had investigated people who are involved in the East Africa embassy bombing. We were able to get confessions from them. We were able to disrupt the plots. We were able to interrogate people who were involved in the USS Cole and get confessions and identify other people. We almost stopped 9/11 based on our interrogations and our investigations. However, as we know, there was a Chinese wall between the intelligence and criminals so the information was not passed to the FBI on a timely basis to stop the investigation. This is not me who`s saying that. This is a 9/11 Commission who said that. And this is the CIA`s own I.G. report who said that. And so, we know how to interrogate people. What shocks me in the report is to see that there were some people in Washington at the time. They were convinced that no one should be involved but them. It`s an institutional thing. It`s their piece of cake in the fight against terrorism, and especially if the fight and in the interrogations of al Qaeda. They were actually having meetings with PowerPoint about how to wall off the FBI and military, because the FBI and the military have people who know how to interrogate, have people who know who to get the intelligence. So, basically, you have a program where 80 percent -- more than 80 percent of the people who were involved in it were outside contractors, were not agency people. The people who were from the agency who were involved in it were probably about like a few dozens. MADDOW: When they showed up and they started with the nudity and the shackling and the first stuff that they did that really departed from what you had been doing as a trained FBI interrogator, did you recognize those techniques that they were doing as something that was an option? I mean, when you trained to become a quality interrogator -- SOUFAN: Absolutely not. MADDOW: Those things were available to you but you decided not to do. SOUFAN: Even before EIT, some of the stuff that they were proposing it, if we see it in the United States and any police station or even the FBI office, people go to jail for it. And we`re not talking about the EITs at the time. So, when EITs happen, some of the cables have came out from the black sites, you know, when they were doing waterboarding on Abu Zubaydah, there`s one cable that said people -- you know, there were tears. MADDOW: Right. Some of the CIA staff were in tears. SOUFAN: And I know these guys. These guys -- those tears were not tears because there is any sympathy to a terrorist. Those tears were very similar to when you choked two days ago when you were talking about this. Those cheers are the real tears of patriotism. MADDOW: Ali Soufan, former FBI special agent, whose book, "The Black Banners", despite reactions from the CIA, is still one of the best sources that we`ve got on this subject and more. Ali, thank you very much. SOUFAN: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Good to have you here. SOUFAN: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Breaking news, we are just doing the math, but it passed. Avoiding what could have been a government shutdown in less than three hours had Congress been unable to pass a spending bill by midnight tonight, House Republicans added a bunch of policy riders to the spending bill to keep the lights on and prevent a government shutdown. House Democrats including Nancy Pelosi announced that they were not going to support this thing. The House shut down at 2:00 this afternoon when they thought they couldn`t get this thing passed. They reopened and started voting on the bill. They came back into session shortly after 9:00 p.m. tonight. Speaker John Boehner working the floor, trying to persuade both Democrats and Republicans to vote for the bill. The White House, including cabinet secretaries and Vice President Biden and President Obama whipping this vote, trying to get Democrats to vote for this tonight. And just a few minutes ago, the bill has now officially passed the House, 219-206. I`m still getting confirmation on this. Tell me -- control room, tell me if I`m wrong. As far as I can tell with the count, 57 yes votes from Democrats, and 67 no votes from Republicans. Is that right? So, 57 Democrats had to cross over in order to save John Boehner`s bacon, and after threatening all day long that they would not, they did. The House will now vote on another bill that would just -- that only serves the purpose of giving the Senate a couple more days to get this done. Senate, they need another couple days to get their own vote on the spending bill, provided that happens, which is no reason to think it won`t. That would mean as of now, government shutdown averted by 2 1/2 hours. Woo-hoo! (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: When conditions warrant, one of the things we do on this show is called "and now here`s a thing." Behold. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SUBTITLE: And now, here`s the thing. MSNBC`s Kasie Hunt interviewed Texas Governor Rick Perry about his plans to run for president again. She asked blunt questions. He had blunt answers. KASIE HUNT, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Are you smart enough to be president of the United States? GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: I think the standpoint of life`s experiences, running for the presidency is not an I.Q. test. SUBTITLE: "Running for the president`s not an I.Q. test." And that is a thing that happened. (END VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: And that is a thing that happened. I didn`t make it up. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: For the past couple of years now, the great state of California has been enduring the worst drought in a zillion years, kind of literally, the most severe drought in 1,200 years. Not that anybody is counting. Just this year alone, California has had the least rainfall since we started keeping rainfall records in California. The state is not just dry, it is freaking parched. Rivers and lakes have all but vanished. The state`s sources of drinking water, major reservoirs are way below capacity. Lots of farmland has had to go fallow. Some parts of the state, people no longer have running waters in their home, because the water table dropped so much, they today rely on water being trucked in. Everybody in the state has been directed to strictly conserve water. State and city ordinances have upped the fines for people found wasting water. And it`s been like this for a long while now. This has been a very severe drought and a very long one. Well, finally, this week, they are getting a bit of relief in the Golden State. But I`m not sure this is the kind of relief anyone wanted. This was San Francisco`s Embarcadero this morning where the city meets the San Francisco Bay. Water already crashing over the sea wall there, enough to close streets and knock out power, even four hours before high tide. That was just the beginning. Rain pounded the Bay Area all day. Hurricane force winds, flash flooding led to blackouts in more than 200,000 homes today. Heavy downpours stalled the morning commute in a major way. The big highway that connects San Francisco and San Jose, both of them at times are pretty much shut down due to severe flooding. Public transportation suspended in much of the city. Flooding got so bad on city streets that, as you can see here, people were practically swimming around. On a few streets, the sewer system was overflowing, to the point of blowing off manhole covers. Bay Area school districts canceled school today in preparation for what was anticipated to be this very big storm. Lots of residents were off work for the day, too. That said, this is California and so anything can be an excuse to get your kayak out. It also being California, some people cars oddly ended up being unexpectedly made for this kind of weather. They`re saying this is a once in a decade storm, although once in a whatever time period weather formats right now no longer seem do hold true anymore. They`re saying it`s the effect of an atmospheric river. They call these sorts of storms the "Pineapple Express", because they say this very wet air is coming from basically the vicinity of Hawaii. While this thing is absolutely dousing much of northern and central California today, eight inches on San Francisco today, the state still needs another 10 or 20 inches of rain this year to get out of this record drought. Let`s hoping it doesn`t all come in one day. That does it very much for us tonight. Thanks for being with us. We`ll see you again tomorrow. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Good evening, Lawrence. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END