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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/4/2015

Guests: Malcolm Nance

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: December 4, 2015 Guest: Malcolm Nance RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You`re great, Chris Hayes. You`re great at your job and you`re a great guy. Thanks, man. Well done. HAYES: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us this hour. He is great. I mean it. All right. The largest island in the Mediterranean is Sicily. You know how Italy is shaped like a boot? Sicily is like a little soccer ball that`s being kicked off the toe of the boot. That`s Sicily right there -- largest island in the Mediterranean. Second largest island in the Mediterranean is Sardinia, which is also Italian. Basically, if the Italian boot had kicked the soccer ball of Sicily up into the air, that would be Sardinia, where that soccer ball would go. Sicily and Sardinia in the Mediterranean, those are the two largest islands. The third largest island in the Mediterranean, though, is not Italian. It`s over on the other side. It`s its own nation. It`s called Cyprus. Cyprus, you see it`s on the right side of your screen there in red just above the MSNBC logo. Cyprus is apparently a beautiful place. I`ve never been there. I would love to go. But it`s over there in that part of the Mediterranean, over near Turkey and Lebanon and Syria. And Wednesday night this week, the British parliament held a ten-hour- long debate over whether or not they would vote to send British military jets to start bombing ISIS targets inside Syria, ten-hour debate. Prime Minister David Cameron had asked parliament to do this before a year and a half ago and he suffered a huge political defeat, a defeat so bad it could conceivably have cost him his seat as prime minister, when the parliament unexpectedly said no to his requests for airstrikes in Syria back in 2013. But this time, this week, Wednesday, the British parliament said yes. And it was not that much of a surprise, even though it was a reversal. After the Paris attacks, after the opposition labor party basically stopped fighting the conservatives on this issue, David Cameron and his government, they basically knew that they were going to win this time, that they were going to get that vote this week. And part of the reason we know that they were confident of that vote is because British Typhoon and Tornado jets had already taken off from Scotland and landed at the British air base on Cyprus. And those British warplanes were sitting there on the runway in Cyprus gassed up and bombs loaded and ready to go as soon as they got word that that vote had gone through in parliament. And the vote in parliament went through, and those planes in Cyprus basically immediately took off. And they took off for Syria with bombs loaded under their wings and they came back from those missions in Syria without the bombs anymore. And that started this week, the first U.K. air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria. It was overnight Wednesday night into Thursday morning. They apparently hit some Syrian oil fields with those bombs. And now, after Britain made that decision, today, it`s Germany. Today, it was the German parliament which also voted that they would send their military to support strikes against ISIS inside Syria. Germany`s parliament voting today to send 1,200 German troops and a naval frigate and a bunch of Tornado reconnaissance jets to support anti-ISIS strikes in Syria as well. So, our European allies, our closest allies, France and Britain and Germany, they are all now following us, following our military into what has been a long American military campaign already against ISIS. The U.S.- led military coalition against ISIS, which has mostly been the U.S. military, it`s already launched thousands of airstrikes against ISIS targets both in Iraq and in Syria. And whatever the effect of those thousands of airstrikes so far, those thousands of bombs dropped on ISIS targets, these months and months and months of bombing ISIS so far have not apparently done anything to stop ISIS-inspired or even ISIS-directed terrorist attacks around the world including deep in the heart of the West. Nevertheless, ISIS attacks in the West have now inspired more countries to get in on that ongoing military campaign. Whether or not it`s actually working, it`s about to get bigger. There`s going to be more airstrikes now. There`s going to be more targets hit. The airstrikes will be launched and supported by more countries` militaries. In those countries in France and Britain and Germany, these countries that have made recent decisions to get in on the fight against ISIS in Syria and those countries, our great allies, they at least bothered to vote on doing this. They believe that their parliaments ought to vote on new big military missions and how to fight ISIS. They had these big dramatic votes in their various parliaments in the last few weeks. In France, right after the Paris terror attacks, in Britain on Wednesday, in Germany today, they voted. They believe in those countries that it is a political decision of their democracies, whether or not to wage war, whether or not to join a big military campaign. In this country, on paper, that`s how it`s supposed to be. That`s supposed to be the way we do it. But in recent years, we have evolved in such a way as a country that our parliament, our Congress doesn`t really do that part of its job anymore. Our politicians now yell at each other about military campaigns and fighting ISIS but they never actually vote on it. And so, we`re in this interesting place as a country because we are engaging in no formal small-D democratic or political processes at all on this issue of fighting ISIS, and waging this military campaign against them in Iraq and Syria. At the same time our country is participating in and in many ways leading the international military fight against ISIS, which is rapidly escalating now not just in terms of the numbers of U.S. troops that are committed to that force, but it`s escalating now into something that is almost starting to look like a World War effort against ISIS. And that was all before the latest mass shooting in America was linked to ISIS. With today`s reporting one of the two San Bernardino shooters, the female shooter appears to have posted online an endorsement of ISIS and a pledge of allegiance to the ISIS leader just before Wednesday`s mass shooting attack in southern California. And whether or not any vote will ever be cast by any American politician as to how ISIS should be responded to, as to how ISIS should be fought, we are, even without votes, we are seeing a change in American politics because of this issue and we`re seeing it on the American political right in particular. Since Paris, the Republican presidential polling has shifted inexorably to solidify and increase the lead of the Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump. The latest Republican national poll is just out today from CNN and it shows something pretty remarkable. It shows Donald Trump`s lead leaping out to an unprecedented margin. I know Mr. Trump has been in the lead for a while. You`ve heard that. But look at that margin. This is almost a qualitatively different kind of lead. And if you need more evidence for that and you don`t want to believe me here on MSNBC, then watch how almost uncontrollably excited CNN itself was to present the results of their own poll, which produced this result, which they themselves apparently can barely believe. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A brand new CNN/ORC poll just released has some bombshell findings. Not only is Donald Trump still in the lead, he is leading by a stunning amount. Take a look. Trump is now at 36 percent. This is his all-time high. It is 20 points above his closest competition and that is now Senator Ted Cruz, while Dr. Ben Carson has slipped to third at 14 percent. Pundits got it wrong. First they said that he was going to hit -- 20 percent was his ceiling. He would never get higher than 20 percent. Then he hit 25 percent. Well, that was going to be his ceiling. Then it was 30 percent. He won`t get anymore. Last week, it was 32 percent. Today, it`s 36 percent. What`s going on? DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: What`s going on is total Donald Trump dominance over the Republican field. Alisyn, inside this poll where you`re right this lead is larger than we`ve seen all cycle long, he`s dominating on every issue, right? On commander in chief, on the economy, on how to deal with ISIS. You name the issue, especially an issue like immigration, he is the dominant force inside the field right now. So, yes, it bears out in these horse race numbers. But it`s even almost more impressive for him when you look under the hood at all those issues that are driving it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: In this new CNN poll, Donald Trump is at 36 percent. That is 20 points ahead of his nearest competitor, who is Ted Cruz. But the Ted Cruz part of it is almost immaterial. There`s Donald Trump way up ahead. The second tier all bunched together as Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio. That`s basically the whole field, though. Nobody else in the entire field even hits 5 percent. I mean, that`s just astonishing news for Donald Trump as a front- runner. It is, I have to say, equally astonishing news for some of those very far down ballot candidates including Rand Paul. Senator Rand Paul, who`s now nationally at 1 percent. He does not look like he`s going to make it onto the main stage for the debate, which will happen in a week and a half. Even more astonishing, though, than Rand Paul`s political death is what seems to be happening to would-be front-runner Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush may be the establishment favorite but he nationally right now is at 3 percent in the polls. And he`s at 3 percent in the polls despite this level of ad spending. Do you remember? This was the other shocking political data we got this week which is the combined ad spending by candidates` campaigns and the super PACs supporting them. Jeb Bush is almost tripling his nearest competitor in terms on how much money he has spent on ads. He has already blown through $30 million in pro Jeb Bush ads. And what that has bought him is a grand total of 3 percent in the national polls. At this point, he would be better off just setting his millions of dollars on fire because at least that would have the side effect of keeping somebody somewhere warm. But his $30 million burnt so far has bought him nothing. today quotes unnamed Jeb Bush staffers wondering out loud if the Jeb Bush campaign will even still exist by the time the Iowa caucuses happen on February 1st. One Bush donor based in New York City according to "Politico" tells the publication, quote, "I think staff morale is exceedingly low. I suspect they know they`re in a death spiral now. There is no getting out of this." Jeb Bush loyalists are trying to spin "Politico" into reporting they`ve still got a chance, they`ve still got confidence it might happen for them. They apparently are not going to run just more ads. But now they`re going to start running ads that are 15 minutes long for Jeb Bush. And sure, maybe voters who hate 30-second chunks of Jeb Bush will love something 30 times longer than that. But if that`s the big idea, I don`t see much reason to hope. I mean, one Bush adviser tried to sell the idea that even though they will definitely lose Iowa they think they have a chance of winning New Hampshire. This Bush adviser tells "Politico", quote, "We are right in the mix in the Granite State." In fact, if you look at the last New Hampshire Republican poll which is just out a couple days ago from PPP, Jeb Bush is not right in the mix with a chance to win New Hampshire. Jeb Bush in New Hampshire is in eighth place. He`s getting beaten there by Carly Fiorina and John Kasich. He`s getting lapped by Chris Christie. He`s losing to Donald Trump in New Hampshire by 22 points, which is better than the 33 points by which he is losing nationally to Donald Trump. But still. It may seem crazy but it appears now to be almost inarguably true that as national security and terrorism concerns increase in the United States and among the electorate in terms of things they say are most important to them, so does the prospect that Donald Trump really is going to be nominated as the presidential nominee for the Republican Party. And let me make one last point about the crazy aspects of this. One of the crazier things, one of the most seemingly insane things that has happened in the aftermath of the San Bernardino attack is the conspiratorial raving by this kind of wing nut lawyer who Syed Farook`s family has apparently hired to represent them in the aftermath of Syed Farook and his wife carrying out this attack in southern California. As part of I guess explaining or trying to explain away the San Bernardino attack, this lawyer in southern California has suggested to the press that maybe the San Bernardino attack didn`t really happen. Maybe it was all faked. You know, so the gun control people can get what they want -- the way the Sandy Hook massacre was faked. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FAROOK FAMILY LAWYER: You can`t really trust these -- first of all, none of the family members or anyone was ever aware of any pipe bombs. I can`t -- I don`t think you can really trust that information. And then also, this -- REPORTER: Trust what information? FAROOK FAMILY LAWYER: I understand that this evidence was particularly -- was supposedly found on the scene. REPORTER: We saw them with the helicopters. FAROOK FAMILY LAWYER: There`s a lot of motivation at this time to create -- to emphasize or create incidents that will cause gun control. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: There`s a lot of motivation at this time to create incidents that will cause gun control. He`s suggesting that all this news about there being some kind of massacre in San Bernardino was manufactured by people who want gun control. You know, of course it`s happened before. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FAROOK FAMILY LAWYER: It does seem plausible to us that this petite woman would be involved in this hyper caricatured kind of Bonnie and Clyde kind of crazy scenario. There was a lot of questions drawn with regard to Sandy Hook and whether or not that was -- that was a real incident or not. We just don`t know. But I mean -- obviously, these things were found there. How they got there we don`t know. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: There was a lot of questions drawn with regard to Sandy Hook and whether or not that was a real incident or not. We just don`t know. This is insane, right? I mean, I don`t know why the family of the dead attackers from San Bernardino have hired a lawyer or why they have hired this particular lawyer, but apparently, part of their public defense is going to be that maybe this whole thing didn`t really happen. Maybe the whole San Bernardino massacre was faked by the government or by some other people who want to take away your guns. Maybe it was a false flag attack. Just like all those questions we have about whether or not the Sandy Hook massacre of first-graders was faked or carried out by the government in order to create a desire for gun control and thereby steal away your guns. It`s insane. It`s so offensive I almost can`t describe it. I almost cannot speak of it. But conspiracy theories like this exist in our country, right? They circulate in our country. And they come from somewhere. And mostly where they come from is the Web site and radio show of a man named Alex Jones, who is the foremost and most insistent proponent of the idea there wasn`t a massacre at Sandy Hook and all those kids weren`t really killed, it was all faked for political effect by people who want your guns. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALEX JONES, INFO WARS: Yes. So, Sandy Hook is a synthetic, completely fake, with actors in my view manufactured. I couldn`t believe it at first. I knew they had actors there clearly but I thought they killed some real kids. And it just shows how bold they are. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The idea that the sandy hook massacre was faked, and also in his words that the Boston bombing was faked. And also, of course, that 9/11 was faked. And yes, this same guy, of course, is now promoting the idea that the San Bernardino massacre this week was faked, it was also a false flag conspiracy to try to come and take your guns. That guy`s name is Alex Jones. He runs a radio show and a popular conspiracy theory Web site. And lest you think there is some divide between the craziness in the world and the craziness in our politics, lest you think that by God, by right there has to be some distance between that kind of offensive insanity and the small-D democratic system of the greatest democracy on the face of the earth, lest you think there`s any distance there, let it be known that on the day of the San Bernardino attacks, that morning before we got word that that massacre had happened, that day, the prohibitive front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination spent that morning doing a half hour-long fawning mutual appreciation society interview with Alex Jones -- with the guy who says that those kids didn`t die at Sandy Hook, Sandy Hook massacre was a fake, and the Boston bombing was a fake and 9/11 was a fake and after we learned about San Bernardino, of course, he says San Bernardino was a fake, faked by these people who act these things out as elaborate hoaxes to take your guns because that`s what the U.S. government does. In his interview with the Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, he told Mr. Trump, quote, "You are a true maverick." He told Donald Trump that he thinks 90 percent of his audience supports Donald Trump for president. And so, yes, this is as nuts as nuts can be. But this is not the fringe anymore. This is the modern Republican Party, and it looks like they are really going to do this. Hold on. This might hurt. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So this just in, as they say. This just happened. As we were just talking about Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, new national CNN poll gives him the largest lead he has ever had in the race nationwide. He is 20 percent ahead of his nearest competitor. He`s now 33 percent ahead of Jeb Bush. You think that Mr. Trump would be happy. But earlier tonight he spoke to several thousand supporters in Raleigh, North Carolina. He started off by getting a warm reception from the crowd. But then this happened. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t want it. (SCREAMING) TRUMP: You know, the shame is that it`s one -- it`s one person. And the dishonest media, they are dishonest. You don`t believe how dishonest. They will make that one person into the headline. Trump has -- they can`t even use the plural. They can`t put the S. But they`ll figure it out. But they`ll say Trump has protester. (END VIDEOI CLIP) MADDOW: That would be incredibly dishonest, right? To make one protester seem like lots of protesters. But then Donald Trump went on to get interrupted by protesters nine more times. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (BOOS) TRUMP: That`s number four. (BOOS) TRUMP: OK. I think he came back. I think he came back. Don`t worry about him. We`ll do this quickly. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: You may have heard that some of those protesters were saying something that sounded like "Black Lives Matter." And that may be what they were saying. It is not clear at all, though, if the protesters were all from the same group. Donald Trump at this speech tonight in Raleigh, North Carolina, was interrupted by different protesters ten separate times in the speech. There was an NBC reporter in the room who counted them. That said, all reporters are dishonest. At the end of the tenth interruption, Mr. Trump ended his speech and walked off the stage. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So the amount of new information released about the San Bernardino attack, the amount of new information released today was small but significant. First, there`s the big news that the female shooter had reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS on a Facebook page basically as the attacks were getting under way. We also got our first photo of that female attacker. She`s a Pakistani citizen named Tashfeen Malik. In terms of the law enforcement response, the FBI now says they are investigating the attack as an act of terrorism, but they also say there`s no definitive indication the couple were acting in concert with anyone else. That said, at today`s press briefing by authorities in San Bernardino the local police chief also spelled out in careful detail another incident in San Bernardino that preceded the attack. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHIEF JARROD BURGUAN, SAN BERNARDINO POLICE DEPT.: On Monday night, Tuesday morning before the incident, so November 30th, December 1st, right around midnight, 1:00 in the morning, there was an incident at the regal cinema in downtown San Bernardino at 4th and E Street, and what that case was is that a gentleman that was described as appearing to be Middle Eastern came up and spoke to the security guard around the time the theater was closing, and he was asking the security guard some questions about the movies and times and things like that but the security guard kind of thought that it was odd. That person ultimately left in a silver Volvo four-door vehicle, 2012, 2013. We do not have a plate. The security guard thought it was weird. Shortly thereafter, the security guard then noticed a red late `90s Dodge Durango driving around the area with another person that was possibly Middle Eastern in appearance, that appeared to be taking some photographs in and around the theater. So, the security guard took it upon himself, notified our police department. We got out that day or that night, we took a report, and we put that out in a BOLO to every law enforcement area -- I`m sorry, every law enforcement agency in the county as just simply some suspicious circumstances that were noted. So, that is all we have on that. And then it went into the regular investigative channels and protocols where the local was notified and they`re doing an investigative follow-up, looking at video, that sort of stuff, to try to determine if there`s a real threat or to see if there`s any plates associated with those vehicles. At this point, we have zero connection that -- or zero evidence or information that connects that event with what happened here at the Inland Regional Center on Wednesday morning. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: They said they had zero evidence that there was any connection between that event just described by the San Bernardino police chief and the mass shooting that happened on Wednesday morning. But they did go through that incident, that previous incident Monday night, Tuesday morning in very specific detail. So on the same day that the FBI director said that the FBI has no reason to believe there was anybody else working with the couple who carried out the San Bernardino attack, we also got this new information and just this new information that you saw there about local police concerns at a downtown San Bernardino movie theater on the Monday night this week before the attack. The movie theater in question is about a nine-minute drive from where Wednesday`s attack took place at the Inland Regional Center. Once again, though, the word from the FBI today is that they have no indication that the attackers acted as part of a terror network or terror cell. My question is, what do we know about what gives authorities that sense? Joining us now is NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams who was at the FBI director`s briefing today. Pete, thanks very much for staying with us tonight. I appreciate you being here. PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: You bet. MADDOW: What makes the authorities believe that the shooters weren`t linked to any larger group? WILLIAMS: Found no indication of it. Most of the evidence that they have so far is pretty clear, is records that are in the possession of others. That is to say, phone records, e-mail, social media, that kind of thing. The primary source material would be the electronic devices themselves, their phones, their computers. The FBI has those, but it`s going to be hard to get any information off of them very quickly because the killers, as the FBI director calls them, went to great lengths to try to conceal what`s on them. They smashed them. They threw the cell phones away. They banged up the hard drives. So, it doesn`t mean they can`t get anything off of them. But it`s taking a while. And the electronic communications they have, they reveal, for example, this Facebook posting, phone calls to others, but they don`t give substance other than the Facebook posting of what they were talking about. So, it`s hard for the FBI to know what their plans were, who they were in communication with -- well, what the communication was. There`s no indication that they say that a foreign terror group was in touch with them or any own terrorists were in touch with them either in the U.S. or overseas. MADDOW: The information about the Facebook posting, specifically about the female member of the couple, we have not heard about any similar allegations of any profession of faith or allegiance to ISIS from the male part of the couple. WILLIAMS: Right. MADDOW: Is that feeding a thesis, a law enforcement thesis that she may have been the instigator, that she may have been the radicalizing force here, if that`s the appropriate thing to call it? WILLIAMS: I wouldn`t call it a thesis based on the people I`ve talked to. It`s certainly a question. And you can understand why. You look at the trajectory of Syed Farook`s life. He seems to be fitting in, doing well with his colleagues. And was there a change in his life? Well, a year ago he brought his bride back that he met online and picked up overseas from Saudi Arabia, where they had their first face-to- face meeting and brought her to the United States. So, she`s been here a little over a year. She became a lawful permanent resident a year after she got here July of this year. So the question naturally arises, is that the precipitating event? Did she become radicalized when she was here or did she come here with radical views? Was she a plant? All those questions are on the table. And they just don`t really have any information to answer them. They know very little about either of these two in terms of their radical views. They can`t say what the motive was. They can`t say why did they attack this place, was there some other attack they had in mind, why did they have all those bombs, why did they have all that ammunition" They`re haunted by those questions at this point, but they don`t have the means to answer them yet. MADDOW: NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams -- Pete, thank you very much. I appreciate you being here on a Friday night. Thank you. WILLIAMS: OK. MADDOW: We`ve got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Programming note: after this show tonight I am not sending you to prison because you are going live instead to NBC`s Chris Jansing, who`s going to be hosting "THE LAST WORD" tonight live from San Bernardino, in part that is because Chris Jansing today had an incredible get for an interview. She has been able to speak with the sister of Syed Farook, the sister of one of the San Bernardino attackers. Again, NBC`s Chris Jansing interviewing Syed Farook`s sister, here tonight on a live edition of "THE LAST WORD" that is after this show. You are not allowed to go to prison, at least not yet. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In 1972, terrorists kidnapped 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team at the Munich Olympics. All 11 hostages were killed. The hostage takers tortured and killed some of the hostages themselves, but most of the hostages` deaths occurred during a rescue attempt by German police that went disastrously wrong. The German military did have skilled snipers and the kind of commando training that would have been helpful in planning and executing a hostage rescue raid like that. But German law said their military couldn`t ever be used on German soil and the police just didn`t have the capacity to do something like that properly. So, after that, within less than a year after that disaster, Germany invented for itself a new domestic elite police unit made up of civilian police officers but with lots of elite military gear and military-style training. That unit still exists today. They`re called GSG 9. And that is the elite German force that to this day handles things like domestic counterterrorism operations and hostage rescue. The Munich disaster was 1972. GSG 9 was created in response in 1973. 1973 is also when the FBI created its first formal SWAT team in this country. In the late 1960s, the early 1970s, the United States had faced our own spasm of domestic terrorism, mostly from radical leftist groups and various separatist groups. Even if you just take the issue of hijackings as an example, between 1968 and 1972, there were over 130 U.S. airplanes that were hijacked, 130 hijackings in four years. In 1973, there was a 71-day armed standoff at Wounded Knee between members of the American Indian movement and the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service, 71 days. There was a lot of gunfire exchanged over those 71 days including sniper fire. In the end, 15 people were wounded, two people were killed. That was the winter of 1973. And later that year, the FBI`s New York field office decided that they would create that agency`s first formal SWAT team. Some local police departments had been experimenting with the idea. The Germans at that time were creating their own federal elite special weapons and tactics unit with its GSG 9 group. But the New York field office at the FBI in `73 decided they would take the leap for that agency. An elite team of FBI agents specially trained and equipped as almost a commando force to deal with kidnappings and hijackings and heavily armed suspects and explosives. New York field office was first and then a year later, the FBI decided every field office around the country should have its own SWAT team. Today, there are 56 FBI field offices and each of them, all 56 of them, have their own SWAT team. They call it a tactical team. FBI agents working at that field office volunteered for that job, they get special training, special vetting. And when the occasion arises, they can be called up for SWAT duty at a moment`s notice. Your federal taxpayer dollars at work. And on Wednesday this week, when San Bernardino police approached a house in Redlands, California, that was believed to have been used by the suspects in the San Bernardino mass shooting and the police took a look inside and realized they did not have the manpower or the training to properly deal with a house that was possibly filled with active explosives, they made a call. They called in the FBI field office in Los Angeles and asked them to please send over their tactical team to help. And it was that specialized unit, the FBI tactical team that took over that site, that conducted the search of that house, and indeed it was good it was them dealing with it because officials now say there really were 12 pipe bombs in that house as well as equipment and materials to make many, many more. A lot of the FBI`s resources are located at their D.C. headquarters. The agency has flown in a special team from there to reconstruct crime scenes in San Bernardino. They`re sending evidence from the shooting to their Washington laboratory by plane once or twice a day now. But one of the legacies of an earlier period of frequent terrorist violence in U.S. history and world history is that on Wednesday night when local police in San Bernardino basically ran out of resources, they had at their disposal an FBI-trained elite equipped tactical team ready to go, ready to handle it just a short drive away. Law enforcement has a lot of capacity in this country. Does law enforcement have the specific capabilities, the specific weapons and tactics that they need, particularly when it comes to preventing incidents like this, when it comes to stopping incidents like this before they happen, particularly when it seems like all the relevant contacts, all the relevant enlistment, these declarations of intent, they all now seem to happen online? Joining us now is Malcolm Nance. He`s a former U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence officer. He`s now the executive director of the Terror Asymmetrics Project. His next book is called "Defeating ISIS." Malcolm, it`s good to see you. Thanks for being here. MALCOLM NANCE, VETERAN U.S. INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Always good to see you, Rachel. MADDOW: I understand you as part of your work are going to be training some domestic tactical units on counterterrorism techniques and approaches. What are the big principles you that think need to be used for that kind of stuff in the United States right now? NANCE: Well, we actually do have a lot of capacity, as you said. Ever since that period in the 1970s, you know, when the first SWAT team started evolving after the Munich Olympics and all the -- as you said, American hijackings, a lot of American terrorist groups, small-scale terrorist groups like the SDS. That capacity has grown over that period of time. And then you accelerate that to the period post-9/11 where we decided to have this capacity in virtually every city, not just with the federal level but also with the state and local level. There is a lot of military-trained people. There are a lot of weapons systems out there now. People complain about militarized vehicles and things like that with their law enforcement organizations. But this capacity is needed to a certain extent. Now, we`ve seen this week and after the incidents that occurred in Paris people are starting to realize we need this kind of capacity. We need heavily armored vehicles. We need 50-caliber sniper rifles. That is there in place. As you saw in San Bernardino a large quantity of material came in. You had this local, you had the sheriffs, you had the state troopers and then the FBI tac teams come in from Los Angeles. MADDOW: But you had all of those people come in after everybody was already dead. NANCE: Right. MADDOW: And what we don`t have, or I guess what I want to know, if we are getting better at, is the kind of counterterrorism weapons and tactics -- and maybe I mean weapons in scare quotes -- but the kind of thing that would let us see these things coming before they happen eventually. NANCE: In fact, that would be anti-terrorism. MADDOW: Yes. NANCE: And we do have great anti-terrorism capacity but as you saw in this incident, these people were operating in a vacuum. And, you know, I`ve heard all day today why it didn`t they see it, how come the family didn`t know about this? Well, you have to know about what goes on in the intelligence level of the organization that you`re operating against. Let`s say we`re assuming right now we`re all up against ISIS and ISIS-inspired people, al Qaeda- inspired people. We know right from the bat, the first thing they do is isolate you away from your family. We saw that in the Omar Abdulmutallab, the airplane bomb. His parents in Nigeria went to the Central Intelligence Agency and said we don`t know what`s going on with our son, he doesn`t talk to us, we think he`s a threat to the United States. That`s how we learned about it, because they couldn`t communicate with him. So, it`s the level of intelligence that now needs to come out to U.S. law enforcement is almost the same that we had in 2003 when I was training state and homeland security departments. Foreign intelligence officers from the Middle East like myself now have to come to federal and local law enforcement to give them the same intelligence capacity and the same intelligence training as a U.S. special operations unit in Iraq or Afghanistan would have. MADDOW: So -- NANCE: That`s the factor that`s missing. MADDOW: And as we have seen the sort of physical up-scaling in our capabilities, the intelligence, the -- basically bringing intelligence home is part of it that we`re halfway down the path to. Malcolm Nance, former U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence officer - - Malcolm, thank you. I learn something every single time I talk to you. NANCE: It`s my pleasure. MADDOW: Appreciate it. We`ve got lots more ahead today, including an incredible story out of California that has absolutely nothing to do with terrorism but is jaw-dropping in its own way. That`s ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: I know you don`t read the physical paper anymore. I know you get all your news online and on TV. Here`s a reason to go buy "The New York Times" in print tomorrow. Tomorrow morning when "The New York Times" is published for the first time since 1920, they are going to run an editorial on their first page. A-1 of the "New York Times" tomorrow includes an editorial called "The Gun Epidemic," which argues that it is a "moral outrage and national disgrace, the state of our nation`s gun laws." Again, first time they`ve run an editorial on page 1 since 1920. That`s tomorrow morning in "The New York Times". (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: For gun control activists, it`s become a white whale. A loophole in our existing federal gun laws allows thousands of people a year to buy guns without having to have a background check. You just have to buy your gun from somewhere other than a gun store. That loophole was tacked into the Brady Act which took effect in 1994. Basically, the result of is, if you buy a firearm at a federally licensed dealer, yes, you have to get a background check. But if you guy a gun from a private seller, even if it`s a huge gun warehouse market place, like one of these gun shows, then congratulations, felon terrorist domestic abuser or certified insane person, no background check required. Here`s your gun. It wasn`t until years after the Brady Bill took effect in May 1999 after the Columbine massacre that Congress felt even compelled to try to fix that. It was New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg who first introduced legislation to say that even sales at gun shows should require a background check. The Lautenberg bill passed the Senate in a nail-biter tie breaking vote by Vice President Al Gore is how it passed. But in that year, 1999, it went on to die in the House. Since then, that loophole has remained. It`s survived lots of attempts to close it. Right after the Sandy Hook shootings in new town, Connecticut, in 2012, there was momentum from Democrats to revisit the issue once again, this time from help with a handful of Republicans, but still it wasn`t enough. Even now, immediately after the San Bernardino attacks, with even some Republicans coming out once again to say they would support background checks for all gun sales, the Senate once again this week failed to close that loophole. But could there be another way? "The New York Times" is now reporting that White House officials are looking to ways to try to close at least most of the gun show loophole without Congress. They think they may have a way to do it by President Obama alone. A White House official telling "The New York Times," quote, "the work is very much under way." Asked at a press briefing whether the president would wait until the investigation into San Bernardino is over before he took any such action, Press Secretary Josh Earnest today said no. He said the White House had been working on trying to do this, trying to close this loophole since before this week`s shooting anyway. If that is the case, if they`re working on it, if they have a way to do it, that, of course, is big news for the folks who have been trying to fix this thing for almost two decades now. Will it work? How can it be done without Congress? Congress really is never going to do it. It`s never going to happen unless President Obama does it, not unless the Republican Party somehow gets itself surgically separated from its conjoined twin, which is called the NRA. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is a story that would have been a huge deal this week had everybody`s attention not been completely riveted on what happened in San Bernardino. But this is also a southern California story. This is the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility. It`s basically some old oil wells now being repurposed to store natural gas underground. The gas gets injected deep underground, thousands of people underground by big compressors and the gas gets stored there in underground tanks until the company wants to take it out again and send it to consumers through it network of pipeline. Something went wrong there in October. One storage well, 8,500 feet underground started leaking, started leaking both natural gas and the additive that they put in natural gas to give it in rotten egg smell so you know when you have a leak. And the people of Porter Ranch, California, which is in southern California San Fernando Valley, they live about a mile downwind of this natural gas storage fields. And when it started leaking, they got a really big whip. And since then, for weeks now, since October, the gas company has been trying to stop that leak but it hasn`t worked. The private utility that owns the storage well is called Southern California Gas Company. And they say they think the leak is happening somewhere in the first few hundred feet below ground, in a casing around a particular seven-inch pipe. But even though they have this theory of what the problem is, their efforts to fix this problem haven`t worked at all. Their big idea was to fill that pipe with saltwater, basically as a cork so that the gas could get up and while they were figuring out where the league was and how to fix it. So far, they`ve tried their saltwater method six times and it has failed six times. Their next big idea was to try to kill the well altogether. You might remember this idea from the BP disaster. You drill a new well, a new hole next to the original hole and you intercept the leaky pipe somewhere below where it`s leaking. You pump a bunch of cement in to plug the well. So, that`s the new plan with this big natural gas leak as well. The only problem is, if all goes perfectly, that sort of plan will take months, up to four months. And for some residents of Porter ranch living with that the rotten egg smell, that means four more months of headaches and nausea and nosebleeds and respiratory problems. And aside from this as a potential public health disaster, this is also a budding environmental disaster because the primary component of natural gas is methane, which is a particularly potent greenhouse gas. State air quality regulators estimate the leak is releasing up to 50,000 kilograms of methane every hour, and they say if that well keeps doing that at that rate, then basically this leak will equal 25 percent of California`s daily greenhouse gags emissions. Or another way to think of it, this is roughly the same effect as driving 160,000 cars for a year. Meanwhile, the gas company is footing the bill to temporarily relocate residents from nearly 350 homes in the area. They may end up relocating hundreds of more people before this is done. The resident, not surprisingly, are gearing up far major legal fight here, including a class action lawsuit. They`re suing not only the gas company but state officials who they say have been negligent in allowing the leak to happen. Attorneys for the residents say they want the gas company to stop injecting gas into these underground wells for storage altogether. They want the state officials to require the companies end this practice. This week, L.A. County supervisors asked California Governor Jerry Brown to intervene and use his executive authority to have state regulatory officials take immediate action to figure out how to stop this leak. The company can`t do it. Let the state come in and do it. One thing it turns out we are great at in this country is drilling holes really, really, really, really, really, really deep in the ground for oil and gas purposes. One thing we`re not so great at is figuring out what to do with those holes when things go wrong with them. This leak is so big it`s a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions for all the state of California. Four months to fix it? Watch this space. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again Monday. Our live coverage continues now with my colleague Chris Jansing in San Bernardino. Good evening, Chris. It`s great to have you there. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END