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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/11/15

Guests: Carol Leonnig, Jay Ward Brown

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I would trust your algorithm any day. Other people, I don`t know, Chris. HAYES: That is the sweetest thing anybody has ever said to me. MADDOW: It sounded kind of robotic when I said it, but I did mean it the sweet way. HAYES: I would trust your algorithm. MADDOW: Yes, I love your algorithm. Thank you, my friend. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Wednesday. Good news for anybody who is rooting against ISIS. Look at this footage today. Look at this. This was shot today in a suburb of Tikrit, in northern Iraq. ISIS, the ISIS terrorists, has been in control of Tikrit and its surrounding suburbs for months now. What this footage from today shows is the celebration of the people of this one suburb, the suburb called Al Alam, people celebrating and dancing and cheering because the Iraqi government troops and the militias they`re fighting with defeated ISIS there, and kicked ISIS out of this town. At one point in this footage, you see a guy, he comes up to the troops and he`s holding a pot of coffee. This guy here, he`s holding a pot of coffee and you can hear what he`s saying here, if we up the sound a little bit. He says, and we translated the Arabic, what he said to them is "We welcome you. You are welcome, welcome. May God protect and bless you." He gives the coffee to these Iraqi soldiers. The little girl you just saw, she gets asked, again, in Arabic, "How do you feel right now?" The little girl answers back, "I am very happy, because you came and rid us of the militants." And then the soldiers here dancing, and cheering, and jumping up and down, also this group of Iraqi women who you can see dancing and cheering and chanting. What they are saying in Arabic is "Sunnis and Shiites are brothers. We will never sell this homeland." Sunnis and Shiites are brothers. And then, of course, a lot of this footage, because they`re happy, they shoot their guns in the air. Yay, we`re happy. Sunnis and Shiites are brothers. This is a reason to be cheerful all over the world, right? I mean, in part, because Sunni and Shiite able to get along is the kind of the big question in terms of whether or not Iraq is going to survive as a nation. But it is also 100 percent totally key to what it means to fight against this barbaric terrorist group ISIS. I mean, if you are rooting against ISIS, if you are concerned about the fight against ISIS, the fight against ISIS is not an esoteric thing right now. It is an active fight under way with real bullets and real guns, house-to-house, town-to-town, it`s underway right now in parts of western Iraq among other places. Western Iraq is a region in Iraq that is Sunni. ISIS is also Sunni, very Sunni terrorist group. And these troops and these militias that have come in to fight ISIS in western Iraq, for the most part, they are not Sunni. Most of them -- most of them at least are Shiites from the Iraqi military. And these mostly Shiite militias that the Iraqi military is fighting with. So, these Shiite groups are coming into this Sunni area and they are having some success fighting against the Sunni terrorist groups ISIS. And if that is making the people on the ground this these towns sing, Shiites and Sunnis are brothers, if that is making the Sunni towns people liberated from these terrible Sunni terrorists, if it`s making them give coffee to the Shiite soldiers who rescued them, to thank them, that progress across the sectarian divide in a place where that sectarian divide can be everything in the whole world, that progress is both fascinating to see, and it is very heartening. Here is the thing, as amazing as that footage is today, and it got some wide play today, here`s the thing -- here`s the thing that is tricky specifically for Americans who are, you know, understandably psyched about seeing ISIS get their butts kicked in this one part of Iraq, what`s tricky about that even as it is heartening, is that, yes, it`s the Iraqi military kicking ISIS` butt in this part of Iraq, but honestly, the only reason they`re able to do that is because they`re getting a lot of help from a country called Iran. The Shiite militias that are fighting alongside the Iraqi government and beating ISIS, in some cases in western Iraq, those Shiite militias are being coordinated by Iran. They`re literally being led on the ground by Iranian revolutionary guard generals who are there in person on the front lines in Iraq in the fight against ISIS. And that is awkward for Americans, because, right -- I mean, there`s us and Iran. Basically we`re the Great Satan to them. They`re the Great Satan to us. And so, you have to be able to absorb a little more nuance than that because Iran hates ISIS. We hate ISIS. Iran is fighting ISIS. We are fighting ISIS. And ISIS in places like this little town, this little Al-Alam, where we got this footage from today, ISIS is paying a price for that, for having powerful enemies of all different stripes. But our American politicians here at home are also paying a tiny little price for it themselves, because apparently, it is hurting their brains to try to understand this tiny little single nuance. In Washington today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held high-level hearings with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and secretary of defense and secretary of state, this high level hearings all about fighting ISIS. And that fight against ISIS, of course, is already under way, right? The U.S. has led more than 2,700 air strikes against ISIS targets both in Iraq and in Syria. But Congress has never weighed in on it. President Obama has just ordered those strikes, ordered this ongoing month- long offensive on his own authority. And even though Congress likes to talk about ISIS and likes to talk about how tough they want to be about fighting ISIS, Congress has actually not been tough enough to formally debate that action, let alone go on the record about it and take a vote about it, to decide whether or not it should happen, or if that military effort should happen in some other way. They like to talk about ISIS as a threat and how tough they feel about it. They have not yet done anything, anything practical about making any sort of decision about how to fight ISIS. So, today, this hearing in the Senate was supposed to lay the groundwork for Congress starting to have that discussion. Congress eventually maybe even taking a vote on the way President Obama has already started this war against ISIS. But Iran is also fighting a war against is. We are prosecuting a war against ISIS with or without Congress. Iran is fighting a war against ISIS. We are fighting on the same side as Iran against the same enemy. And, again, I think that is a nuance too far for some of the great minds in the world`s greatest deliberative body. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Iran`s goal is to become the regional hegemon -- ASHTON CARTER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Probably true, yes. RUBIO: And certainly, they`re never excited to see additional American troops present anywhere in the Middle East. That`s a fair statement? CARTER: I can`t tell what excites them. I can`t imagine that our bombing ISIL is unwelcome to them. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: OK. So, this is Ash Carter, the new defense secretary, saying, I don`t know what excites them, senator, but whatever else you think about Iran, honestly, Iran is psyched that we are bombing ISIS. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARTER: I can`t imagine that our bombing ISIL is unwelcome to them. But I don`t know that, because I don`t know what they`re thinking. RUBIO: Well, bombing ISIL is unwelcome to them. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: No, backwards. Bombing ISIS is very welcome to them. Again, there`s not that many pieces on this chessboard. Iran is fighting ISIS. We are fighting ISIS. Us bombing ISIS, Iran likes that. That is welcome. Marco Rubio thinks it`s the opposite. Marco Rubio office told us today that he misheard what the defense secretary said today at that hearing. But he must have really misheard it, because Marco Rubio kept repeating it today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUBIO: Because as we heard from secretary carter, they are not fans of us bombing ISIS because it involves our presence in the region. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: No! They are fans of us bombing is, Senator. He said the opposite. Iran is fighting ISIS. They don`t like us. But they do like us bombing ISIS. It is not that complicated. But apparently it is just too complex to grasp in Washington right now. Again, Senator Rubio`s office told us he misheard the Defense Secretary Ash Carter on this today. That`s why he kept talking about it backwards. But it was not just today. Senator Rubio has made this mistake before. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUBIO: I understand why the president has not put in place a military strategy to defeat is. If we wanted to defeat them militarily, we can do it. Here`s why he hasn`t done it, because he doesn`t want to upset Iran. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It would not upset Iran, for the United States to militarily defeat ISIS. Iran is fighting ISIS, too. We may disagree with Iran on lots of stuff. But when it comes to ISIS, when it comes to this one thing, us and Iran, we feel the same. But it is -- Marco Rubio is a part of this. But he is part of a deep tide of "I don`t get it right now" on foreign policy on one side of American politics. And I say it`s only happening on one side of American politics, because there is this tide now, of not just Democratic astonishment, but astonishment from the mainstream media, and from mainstream Republicans that is cresting right now against what Senator Rubio, and most other Republican senators just fundamentally don`t understand about this really big issue of Iran. I mean, "The New York Daily News" front page this week got so much attention, right, when they called these Republican senators who signed the letter to Iran this week, called them traitors. That is the thing that has obviously got the most attention in terms of the media response to what Republican senators have done about Iran this week and sending them this letter. But even "The New York Daily News" "Traitors" front page this week, the nation`s editorial pages on this subject are just as off the charts. For example, here`s "The Concord Monitor" from New Hampshire. The Republican senators who wrote the letter to Iran this week, quote, "are playing a political game, dangerously out of bounds. If the open letter to Iran represents the path forward for U.S. foreign policy, chaos is the destination." "It is simply stunning," they write, "that New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte and 46 other senators cannot see that. Unlike the thousands of other times Senator Ayotte has signed her name, she will remember this signature. How can she forget? It`s not every day that a United States senator attempts to undermine foreign policy and weaken the nation in one cursive swoop." That`s Kelly Ayotte`s hometown paper. Here`s "The Courier Journal" in Mitch McConnell`s home state Kentucky. They lead their editorial bluntly, "Has Congress gone crazy? That`s what many U.S. observers and much of the world must be wondering after a group of rogue Republican senators opted to communicate directly by letter with the leaders of the Islamic Republican of Iran. Among the 47 senators signing the letter, Kentucky`s Mitch McConnell, the new Senate majority leader, and Rand Paul, a first term senator with presidential aspirations." This is the paper calling out the two home state senators. "Mr. McConnell took over the leadership post this year to end dysfunction and return the Senate to a working body. That effort appears off to a poor start. And if Mr. Paul`s signature represents his grasp of foreign policy, Republicans should be justifiably leery about him as a presidential nominee. Whatever the outcome of negotiations with Iran, the 47 senators have done immeasurable harm to their image and U.S. credibility in world affairs. It is regrettable that Kentucky`s two senators were among them." "Louisville Courier Journal." Here`s a headline in "The Salt Lake City Tribune" in Utah. Look at the headline, "Utah senators increase risk of war. Senators Lee and Hatch join a foolish campaign." Quote, "It will be up to history to judge whether the latest partisan stunt joined by Utah Senators Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch amounts to an act of end times warmongering or merely another bit of cringe-worthy buffoonery on the global stage." Here`s "The Detroit Free Press", "The Republicans who dispatched this letter have disgraced themselves and undermined the credibility of the nation whose Constitution they took an oath to uphold. Among the signatories of this letter are Senators Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, all three potential 2016 presidential contenders. At minimum, signing such a letter should disqualify each man from holding the high office they seek to degrade." Here`s "The Pittsburgh Post Gazette". "The letter sent Monday by 47 Republican letters to Iran was damaging to America`s role in the world. The senators who signed the letter should be ashamed." Senator John McCain, who was one of the senators who signed this letter, now seems to be expressing some regret about having signed it. He told Greta Van Susteren on FOX News last night, quote, "Maybe that wasn`t the best way to do that." Senator Bob Corker, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, he told reporters that he`s surprised so many Republican senators signed on to this thing. He did not. Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who also did not sign on to it, he said he did not think the letter would be helpful. Senator Susan Collins who also did not sign on to this letter, she told reporters now, quote, "It did not seem to me to be appropriate for us to be writing the ayatollah at this critical time during the negotiations." After getting just absolutely shellacked, just absolutely beat up, coast to coast, within their own party, in the press, not just by Democrats and the White House, but by everybody, after getting absolutely shellacked for what they did with this amazing letter to Iran, in "The Daily Beast" today, Republicans in the Senate tried to do sort of a take-back. They tried to come up with an alternate explanation for what they just did, how they might have made this decision that everybody thinks was such a terrible idea. Their new explanation for what they did with this letter and why is that they didn`t really mean it, it was a joke. They didn`t mean it seriously at all. Look at this from "The Daily Beast" today, "Republican aides were taken aback by the response to what they thought was a lighthearted attempt to signal to Iran and the public that Congress should have a role in the ongoing nuclear discussions. Two Republican aides described the letter as a cheeky reminder." One top Republican Senate aide says, quote, "The administration has no sense of humor." Why don`t anybody realize we were totally kidding when we wrote this letter to Iran saying don`t listen to our country about your nuclear program, don`t listen to our president? Obviously, we thought that was hilarious. Why is nobody laughing? At one level, this is a 2016 story, right? I mean, here`s Hillary Clinton tweeting today that the Republican letter to Iranian clerics undermines American leadership. She says, "No one considering running for commander-in-chief should be signing on." Marco Rubio`s pitch to Republican donors about why he should be seen as a serious presidential contender this year for the Republican Party is that all these Republican governors in the race, they don`t have foreign policy expertise. Not like he, Marco Rubio. Not like he does, because of his time in the Senate misunderstanding what Iran is. If this is what passes for high level Republican expertise on foreign policy, we`re about to have another really stupid presidential election cycle when it comes to foreign policy. I mean, you thought it was bad with Mitt Romney, double Guantanamo, right? I mean, right now, among the 2016 Republican presidential contenders, the who guys who are trying to position themselves as the smart ones on foreign policy, are Marco Rubio, and also, yes, Rick Perry. Whoo! So one level of this Iran debacle this week, and the continuing problem, honestly, it just -- of Republican foreign policy illiteracy, it is at one level a 2016 story. And a more pressing level, though, at a more real level, that affects all of us, 2016 is a long ways away, right? And we have a lot to fight about when it comes to 2016. But right now, we really do have an active war going on against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. And it involves thousands of U.S. troops. And a very complicated set of, you know, not alliances, and very fragile coalitions where everybody`s very testy. That is happening right now already. That is under way. That is a military campaign of considerable scale, and it has been under way for months. And our Congress is technically trying to start, maybe, to debate that for the first time right now. The first day of formal debate on this today was humiliating for its ignorance. But the consensus in the Beltway media and among people who watch this stuff in Congress, when it comes right down to it, there will ultimately be no vote in Congress on the war against ISIS, no vote to authorize the military force that our men and women in uniform are already exerting in Iraq and Syria on behalf of a country and a government that cannot get it together to figure out what they are even doing, let alone make a decision about it. And that is not a 2016 problem, that is a here and now problem that needs to be fixed. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Developing news that we`re keeping an eye on tonight out of Florida. Search and rescue operations have just been put on hold tonight for the four Army National Guard aviators and seven United States Marines who are aboard a Black Hawk helicopter that crashed last night in Florida Panhandle. It`s believed to have gone down into water near the Santa Rosa Peninsula there, off the Florida coast, east of Pensacola. It happened last night around 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The downing of the chopper is believed to have happened shortly after it lost contact with Eglin Air Force Base nearby. There was very dense fog in the area when those 11 servicemen aboard that Black Hawk took off for a nighttime training exercise. It was already very foggy. At this point, it is thus far unclear exactly what brought that chopper down. Sadly, some human remains, and some pieces of wreckage from the chopper did wash ashore today. Pentagon officials said tonight that all 11 service members who are onboard the Black Hawk are presumed to be dead, even as search and rescue operations continued today. Vice President Joe Biden addressed this crash earlier at an event in Washington. He offered his condolences to the families of those who were lost. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The tragedy like this cannot go unspoken to. We -- I think we sorely underestimate the constant commitment that only 1 percent of all the population makes on behalf of our security. Ninety-nine percent of the rest of us owe them a debt of gratitude and thanks, and our hearts go out to the families of the servicemen and women involved. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Seven marines aboard that Black Hawk were reportedly from a special operations unit from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The four Army aviators were from the Air Assault Helicopter Battalion based in Hammond, Louisiana. Search and rescue efforts, as I mentioned at the top here, have been paused operationally, but they are scheduled to continue in the morning as weather permits. We`ll have more details on this as they become available tonight. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: I sort of hate having to say this but once again, we have late breaking news about the agency that is charged with protecting the president of the United States, the Secret Service. And the reason I hate having to say this we`ve got late breaking news on the Secret Service, is because lately when there has been late breaking news about the Secret Service, it has not been for good reasons, and tonight is no exception. "The Washington Post" broke this story tonight. This is almost unbelievable. Quote, "The administration is investigating allegations that two senior Secret Service agents, including a top member of President Obama`s protective detail, drove a government car into White House security barricades after drinking at a late night party last week." Carol Leonnig at "The Washington Post" cites two unnamed sources in her report tonight, one current and one former government official. A Secret Service spokesman has now confirmed that an investigation is, in fact, under way. These are high ranking officials within the Secret Service. One man is a senior supervisor in the D.C. field office. The other is second in command within President Obama`s personal detail. I`m just going to repeat that for a second. One of the two senior Secret Service officials under investigation for allegedly crashing a government car into a barricade at the White House after a night of drinking at a late night party last week, one of them is second in command on President Obama`s personal protective detail. Ga! This reportedly happened a week ago tonight. Late last Wednesday night, March 4th. The two men were reportedly at a retirement party at a D.C. bar, for the Secret Service spokesman who was leaving the agency, retiring. Later that night, sometime after leaving that party, Carol Leonnig reports that the two men allegedly tried to drive their Secret Service car with the overhead flashing lights on, onto the White House grounds. According to witnesses, the men turned on their overhead flashing lights on the car, they were showing their badges to be allowed unto a specific part of the White House grounds when their vehicle drove straight through security tape and then hit the barricades on the White House grounds. According to Carol`s report tonight, quote, "Officers on duty who witnessed the March 4th incident wanted to arrest the agents and conduct sobriety tests, but the officers were ordered by a supervisor on duty that night to let the agents go home." Again, that is reporting tonight from Carol Leonnig at "The Washington Post." NBC News has also now confirmed the story. In September, it was Carol Leonnig who was also the first to report on an incident in 2011, in which a gunman fired shots into the White House. How the Secret Service bungled its response to that incident. It took the Secret Service four days to realize that those shots had actually hit the first family`s residence at the White House, and they only figured it out then because a housekeeper showed the Secret Service the broken glass and a chunk of concrete where the bullets had hit the building four days later. The news surfaced around the same time that we learned that during a trip to Atlanta last September, members of the president`s security detail allowed a security contractor who was not cleared to be there to board an elevator with the president. The man had a gun. And the Secret Service had no idea who he was, and they let him onto an elevator with President Obama. Later that month, Secret Service agents failed to stop an intruder, who jumped the White House fence. The man had a knife on him. He made it all the way across the White House lawn, and into the White House, and through much of the first floor of the White House and all the way into the East Room before an agent finally tackled him. In the wake of all of this, the head of the Secret Service and a number of top officials within the agency resigned. Now according to the "Washington Post" tonight, the problems have apparently continued. Under the new director of the agency, a responsibility for the investigation into this latest alleged incident has apparently been given to the inspector general`s office at the Homeland Security Department. They reportedly did that rather than keep the investigation internal to the Secret Service, because the Secret Service officials involved in this latest alleged incident are so high ranking. Again, the breaking news tonight is that the Secret Service confirms that an investigation is under way into an alleged incident one week ago tonight in which the number two official on President Obama`s personal security detail and a senior supervisor at the D.C. field office for the Secret Service allegedly crashed a Secret Service field into barricades on the White House grounds after a night of drinking at a late night party in, D.C. God save us all. Joining us now is Carol Leonnig, the national reporter for "The Washington Post." Carol, thank you very much for your time tonight. CAROL LEONNIG, THE WASHINGTON POST: Sure. Glad to be here, Rachel. MADDOW: I tried to summarize the details of that as I understand them. Did I get any of that wrong? Did I leave anything important out? LEONNIG: You got everything right. I have two small tweaks, which are these are allegations that are under investigation right now. And we don`t know exactly what happened. We know what sources have told us. And it led to the Secret Service confirming that these allegations of two agents being intoxicated or suspected of being intoxicated are indeed something they`re looking into. The other small tweak is, as far as we can tell from the sources who have reached out to us about this, the car crash was relatively minor in the big scheme of things. They essentially ran into temporary barricades. We don`t know if there`s damage to the car. What we are being told essentially is, these guys appeared intoxicated, were behaving erratically, and again, sources are saying that they were driving essentially through a secure zone that had been cordoned off because of a suspicious package that was under investigation. And that was very worrisome to the Secret Service officers, and the metropolitan police department officers on the scene, because you don`t cross an area with a suspicious package in it, and these individuals were acting as though they were a big deal. And they could go through whatever they wanted to go through. MADDOW: Carol, do we know from -- in terms of the specific circumstance, do we know if the suspicious package is why they had come back to the White House? I mean, if they had been out drinking at a late night party, allegedly, there`s a question about why they ended up back at the White House grounds at all. Was it because of that suspicious package call, do we know? LEONNIG: It does not appear that their return to the White House had anything to do with the suspicious package. It appears that their reason was essentially they were in a downtown bar for this retirement party. The other senior official who is very, very well-respected and liked at the Secret Service, and he -- these individuals, rather, also very senior people, were returning to retrieve their government car. As you may know, or as some of our viewers, your viewers may know, Secret Service agents, particularly high ranking ones, have government cars that they drive to and from work. So this may have been the means to get home. MADDOW: I got it. One last question for you, Carol. You reported -- and this I thought was a particularly shocking thing in your report today other than the overall allegations -- that even though officers on the scene wanted to arrest these two agents, essentially give them sobriety tests, a supervisor said no, let them go home. In "The Washington Post" tonight, you published the names of the two men who were allegedly in the vehicle in this incident. Do you also know who the supervisor was? LEONNIG: I think I`d rather not answer that at this moment, Rachel, if it`s OK with you. I mean, we`re working on our reporting as we go. We published those individuals` names because we were very, very sure that those were the people under investigation. And as you know, from reading our account and others, the Secret Service is confirming that the two individuals under investigation have been reassigned temporarily. But I think we`ll just say, stay tuned on the other parts. MADDOW: I hear you. Carol Leonnig, national reporter for "The Washington Post" and a scoop machine on this subject recently -- Carol, thank you very much for helping us understand it. I appreciate it. LEONNIG: You bet. Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. We got lots still ahead tonight, including a best new thing in the world, that is pure joy on toast and that will not make me throw my pencil like I just did. I broke it. We`ll be back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If the Hillary Clinton e-mail story is starting to annoy you, if it`s starting to seem like a lot of speculative poking at something where people are trying to find political implications way before they understand the facts from which those political implications might reasonably derive, you`re not alone feeling that way. But there is at least one part of this story that is legitimately important, and already very, very well understood. We`ve already got the facts on it. It`s probably the most important thing about this whole scrum, and that story is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Trey Gowdy is the chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Ever since it was revealed that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used only a private e-mail account on a private server when she was secretary of state, Congressman Gowdy has insisted that his committee should have access to more of her correspondence from that time. Earlier today, I was on my colleague Andrea Mitchell`s program here on MSNBC, and I said this about that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The Republican chair of that committee, Trey Gowdy, saying on our network this morning, he wants the whole server, he wants to be the one who goes it, to go through all of her personal e-mails and decide to his satisfaction what counts as personal and what doesn`t. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Since I said that this morning, we`ve heard from Congressman Gowdy`s office. His office clarified to us he does not personally want to be the one who goes through Hillary Clinton`s e-mails. He instead wants to set up a system by which that will happen. He wants a third party am some kind to take custody of Hillary Clinton`s e-mail server from her House, and he wants that third party to read through all of Hillary Clinton`s e-mails and decide which of those e-mails are private and which are work-related. So, again, to be clear -- Trey Gowdy said he does not himself want to rummage around in Hillary Clinton`s personal e-mails. What he is demanding is that she hand over her e-mail server to someone else who will then rummage around in her personal e-mails and handle the ones that are not personal over to him. OK, then, I`m happy to clarify. After Secretary Clinton gave her big press conference about her email practices at the State Department yesterday, her office then put out a nine-page statement about her e-mails, and her e-mailing as secretary of state. And we did learn a couple of news things. For instance, when Secretary Clinton handed over more than 30,000 e-mails to the State Department, here`s a reasonable question, why was the State Department given printed copies? That is a fair question, right? I mean, you`ve got all these tens of thousands of e-mails, why not just put them on a flash drive, or send them via Dropbox or forward them. Hillary Clinton`s office says that is not allowed. So, maybe you`re thinking, oh, OK, that must be for security reasons. The printed e-mails are handed over in person to prevent hacking or leaks or something? No, that is not the reason. Quote, "The instructions regarding electronic mail in the foreign affairs manual require that, quote, `until technology allowing archival capabilities for long-term electronic storage and retrieval of e-mail messages is available and installed, those messages warranting preservation as records must be printed out and filed.`" They can`t handle it if you forward them to them. When it comes to e-mails, the State Department archives paper that are printouts of e-mails. We should all plant a tree in their name. The State Department is not alone in having a complicated relationship with technology. But as far as record-keeping and handling requests for the records it keeps, the State Department apparently is in a league of its own. A new report from an independent group called the Center for Effective Government ranked the State Department as the worst agency in the entire government for responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. The group gave the State Department a grade of "F" for how slowly it processes requests, and how unclear its rules are. Not only does the State Department just fail to respond to tons of requests for information, it actually flat-out denies nearly half of them that it does respond to. No other agency even comes close to refusing that many requests for what ought to be public documents. Remember, these are government documents, that the public has a right to see, or at the very least, has a right to get an explanation for why we cannot see them. But the State Department is in a league of its own when it comes to saying no to request to the public and from the press. Well, "The Associated Press" decided that they had enough. "The Associated Press" today filed a lawsuit against the State Department demanding that the State Department hand over public documents that its reporters and editors have been asking for for years, and for which they feel they have been stonewalled by the Department of State. Joining us now is Jay Ward Brown, he`s lead counsel representing the "A.P." in this new lawsuit against the State Department. Mr. Brown, thank you very much for being with us. JAY WARD BROWN, LEAD COUNSEL IN AP`S SUIT AGAINST STATE DEPT.: My pleasure. MADDOW: So, so when and why did "The Associated Press" decide that it was necessary to bring this as a lawsuit instead of continuing just to pursue it as a request? BROWN: Well, this has been a five-year odyssey for some of the requests that are at issue in this lawsuit. The earliest of the six requests at issue were made with the State Department in 2010. And although the Freedom of Information Act, the federal statute that requires agencies to release records to citizens, provides that the government is supposed to release those records in 20 days, as you just pointed out in the report that you cited, the statutory deadline is honored not even in the breach, but rarely if ever, and that`s especially so with the State Department. And it becomes a process of negotiation between the news organization making the request, and the agency. And you have to keep nudging the agency along, as the "A.P." reporters, and their editors did here. But there does come a point when as is the case here, the agency isn`t responding at all, that litigation is the only option. And the statute provides for litigation, to have a judge, a federal judge, resolve the dispute over release of the records when the agency doesn`t respond to the request. And that`s what`s happened here. MADDOW: Can you tell from what you know about your client`s case, or is it material to the case you are bringing, some theory about why the State Department is so much worse than everybody else? I mean, does the State Department give explanations that are different than the kinds of explanations that other agencies give? Are they nonresponsive more often than other agencies are? Do they just seem either confused or lost as to what they have? BROWN: I think the State Department would say two things. One, they mention publicly a number of times that they receive over 19,000 FOIA requests a year. Admittedly, that`s a lot of requests. Nevertheless, they`ve got a legal duty under a statute passed by Congress to process those requests in a timely way, but they would tell you they`re behind because they get so many requests. Secondly, in fairness to the department, some of the requests do implicate information that affects national security. That`s obvious that an agency like the State Department. But there are also procedures and protocols for dealing with that. And it`s really hard to understand how with respect to the requests in question here -- for example, the earliest request filed by the "A.P." in this case were for copies of Secretary Clinton`s engagement calendar, her official engagement calendar for a limited period of time during her tenure. Can`t be that many pages involved in that. And one would think in fewer than five years, the State Department could have responded to that request. But to date, other than playing vanilla communications saying we`re working on it, the State Department has produced no materials, no records in response to that request. Or to any of the six requests that are at issue, except for three documents produced in response to one subpart of one request about a defense contractor called BAE Systems. And it`s really hard to understand how that can be. MADDOW: How -- yes. And particularly, and this is not the scope of your case, but particularly given the other independently arrived at information about how poorly the State Department fares in its response rate, compared to other agencies, regardless of who the secretary is of that agency, whoever`s last ought to be forced by some means to catch up to everybody else. And it may be that your case may be the one that does that. Jay Ward Brown, lead counsel representing "The A.P." in this suit -- thanks very much for helping us understand this tonight. Appreciate it. BROWN: Certainly. MADDOW: Thanks. All right. Coming up, we did a thing on this show last month that involved the state of Oregon, and an owl. And there`s news on that tonight that makes me so happy, I almost can`t believe it. That`s coming up. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Good people of Salem, Oregon, beware, it has happened again. The angry owl patrolling your local park is still at it. The nice folks at the Salem Parks Department tell us today that after the four angry owl attacks on joggers that we reported in the state capital of Oregon earlier this year, now there has been another one, number five. This time, the owl did not go straight for the hurt or steal a hat or hurt anybody, but the owl did swoop in close and scary, according to the parks department, quote, "Warning them just who they were messing with." So, the owl scared somebody else. But let it be noted, this scared jogger was forewarned, after that string of earlier owl attacks this year. Salem, Oregon Parks Department installed owl attack warning signs, that was originally a graphic for this show. We were very happy to help. And those beware of owl signs went up last month in Salem, to our lasting delight. But it turns out they have a use beyond warning people about owls in the park, because it turns out people want to own them. One person wanted a sign so badly they tried to take the sign right off the post in the park. Well, now, you don`t need to resort to theft to get your very own scary owl sign. The Salem Parks Foundation has decided to make these scaled down 12 x 12 replicas of the sign and is offering them for a $30 donation. The $30 donation will be to the benefit of the city`s parks. Yes, I love this so very much. It might be the best thing that`s ever happened to this show. But it`s not the best new thing that happened today. That`s still ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: About a week after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last summer, there was one truly strange moment of news in the overall chaotic response to that shooting. It happened when the Police Chief Tom Jackson called a press conference which he said he would release the name of the officer who is involved in that shooting. But then in that press conference, to everyone`s surprise, the police chief also released some surveillance footage, which Chief Jackson said showed the victim in the shooting, Michael Brown, participating in a strong arm robbery not that long before he was shot. The release of that surveillance video of Michael Brown at a convenience store was totally unexpected. Then, the chief gave a second press conference that same day where he gave this verbal, elaborate explanation for why he felt compelled to release that tape. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) THOMAS JACKSON, FERGUSON, MO. POLICE CHIEF: We`ve got a lot of Freedom of Information requests for this tape, and at some point, it was just determined we had to release it. We didn`t have good cause, absent any other reason to not release it. What I did was release the videotape to you because I had to. I`ve been sitting on it, but I -- too many people put in a request for that thing and I had to release it. REPORTER: Why would you release the video of the robbery? What`s the explanation for the timing? JACKSON: Because you asked for it. You asked for it. I held it as long as I could. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Nobody asked for it. Nobody knew it existed. His explanation why he was releasing that powder keg of a tape was because reporters had been demanding it be released. There were no on-record requests for that tape because nobody knew it was there. It was one of the weirdest things that happened in the immediate aftermath to the Michael Brown shooting. Well, now tonight, that Ferguson police chief has finally left his job and became the latest high ranking official in Ferguson to resign. He would leave the force effective next week. With the chief`s resignation tonight, that makes it six people who have gone in the city of Ferguson so far. It`s his police sergeant, it`s also his police captain. It`s the clerk who were on the court where Ferguson police brought their cases. It`s one of the judges who heard those cases. It`s the city manager of Ferguson. We reported that last night, as he reported that he was leaving, but now, it`s the police chief. Ferguson still needs to fix itself, but the process of Ferguson sloughing off the people who did the stuff that made it nationally famous, the process of stopping the bleeding and holding people accountable for what they have done, that is underway. Who knows, maybe there will more. I should note that my colleague Lawrence O`Donnell will have much more next hour. So, please stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Best new thing in the world. There`s a whole range of emotions that can happen over the course of the day if you are a person who likes sports, even if you`re not watching a game that day. So like today, after several days of unrelenting dread and depression and resignation over the fact that this man was reported to be leaving my favorite football team. Today, I had the elation about the reports that maybe, maybe my beloved Vince Wilfork might find a way to stay at the New England Patriots, even though we thought they were cutting loss. Vince might stay. My spirits soared. Vince Wilfork, he`s enormous, he`s a well-conditioned athlete. He`s the pulsing, throbbing emotional core of the Patriot`s defense. His wife is as adorable as he is. I love the Wilforks. He might stay. The feeling of elation. Totally outside the news cycle about what`s important in the world, totally outside the rightness and wrongness of the business of sports and all the worthy rest of it, if you are a person who loves sports, you tend to have feelings about it. But even if you are not a person who love sports, the best new thing in the world today is something that feels really good. It happened last night in an exhibition tennis match between Roger Federer, arguably the greatest tennis player ever, and Grigor Dimitrov, who`s a 23-year-old up and coming star. An these guys put on a show for the fans. At one point, they exchanged between the leg shots, both of them. That itself is worth the price of admission. So, if you were catching this game, you probably felt like you were seeing something cool. But that was before this happened -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GRIGOR DIMITROV: Someone wants to challenge you! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grigor will bass the baton here to a young guy. Looks like he`s ready to go. Look at this. Roger freaked out. He hit the pass. (CHEERS) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Not only does the kid get pulled out of the crowd last night to play a point with Roger Federer, he then beats Roger Federer, fair and square with a perfectly placed lob over Federer`s head and the kid does it while wearing jeans. And Dimitrov was like, yes, that`s what I meant to do, too. That`s how it would have done. Look at him. So cool. Best new thing in the world today. That does it for us tonight. We will 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