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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 8/16/21

Guests: Craig Whitlock, Azmat Khan, Niloofar Rahmani, Barbara Lee, Michael Hinojosa


Thousands of people are fleeing Afghanistan as the Taliban takes over. Today, President Joe Biden was unequivocal about his decision to leave Afghanistan saying, the forever war is not worth sacrificing more American lives. Rep. Barbara Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against the war in 2001. Dallas Superintendent Michael Hinojosa defies Texas mask mandate at the start of classes in Texas.





JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.

HASAN: Afghanistan has fallen.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By the way, I started the process. All the troops are coming back home. They couldn`t stop the process.

HASAN: Tonight, as desperate scenes unfold across the country, how 20 years of bad policy and big lies culminated in catastrophe. Then --

BIDEN: The developments of the past week reinforced that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision.

HASAN: The President`s rationale for getting out of Afghanistan and the only member of Congress who voted against the war and why we never should have gotten in.

REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): However difficult this boat may be, some of us must urge the use of restraint.

HAYES: Plus, as kids head back to school and COVID death soar in Texas, meet the superintendent defying the Republican governor`s ban on mass mandates when ALL IN starts right now.


HASAN (on camera): Good evening from Washington D.C., I`m Mehdi Hasan in for Chris Hayes. Just ahead of the 18th anniversary of September the 11th for nearly 18 years after the start of the war in Afghanistan, then- President Donald J. Trump was working on a secret plan to bring leaders of the Taliban to Camp David for peace talks.

It was a wild and grossly offensive idea. As the New York Times described it, "The leaders of a rugged militant organization deemed terrorist by the United States would be hosted in the mountain getaway use for presidents, prime ministers, and kings just three days before the anniversary of the September the 11th 2001 attacks that led to the Afghan war."

Donald Trump was determined to hold this dramatic show of diplomacy, even over the reported objections of his national security team and his vice president. But the plan fell apart as abruptly as it came together. Inexplicably, Trump revealed the whole scheme in a series of tweets saying that the Taliban "admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great, great soldiers and 11 other people. I immediately canceled the meeting and called off peace negotiations."

However, that was not actually the end of Donald Trump`s attempts to strike a deal with the Taliban. In late February 2020, the Trump administration and the Taliban signed a peace agreement calling for all U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan within 14 months. And in early March, Trump spoke on the phone with the leader of the Taliban describing their chat like this.


TRUMP: We had a very good conversation with the leader of the Taliban today and they`re looking to get this ended and we`re looking to get it ended. I think we all have a very common interest.

HASAN: How chummy. Now, as American troops pull out of Afghanistan and everything falls apart, there is an effort to rewrite history to make it seem like what we are seeing is all President Joe Biden`s fault. And let`s be clear, Joe Biden has a lot to answer for. But the reality is, of course, that is not just the Biden administration that got us here, as much as Trump and his acolytes might like you to believe.

Take a listen to how former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried to shift the blame on, where else, Fox News yesterday.


MIKE POMPEO, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It looks like the Biden administration has just failed in its execution of its own plan. The plan should have been much like we had was that we would have an orderly conditions-based way to think about how to draw down our forces there. We actually delivered on that promise.

Chris, it`s worth noting, this did not happen on our watch. We reduced our forces significantly. The Taliban didn`t advance on capitols all across Afghanistan. So, it`s just a plain old fact that this is happening under the Biden administration`s leadership.


HASAN: Wow, big talk from Pompeo, big talk. But hold on, Mike, who is this in Doha standing next to Taliban official Mullah Baradar who is now the de facto leader of Afghanistan? Oh, wait, that`s you, Mike. That is of course then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with Baradar who was released from prison in Pakistan in 2018 at the request of the Trump administration so that he could participate in negotiations.

The two of them first met in September of 2020 and again two months later in November, because one meeting with the Taliban was not nearly enough for tough guy Mike. And up until a couple of months ago, Trump himself was still touting his great deal and his decision to pull out all U.S. troops.


TRUMP: I started the process. All the troops are coming back home. They couldn`t stop the process. 21 years is enough, don`t we thing? 21 they couldn`t stop the process. They want to do, but it was very tough to stop the process.


HASAN: That was at the end of June. He wanted credit for Bringing the troops home. He did not want Joe Biden to get any credit for his deal. And now, Trump says, Joe Biden should resign in disgrace for what -- for what he has allowed to happen in Afghanistan. Donald Trump is nothing if not shamelessly inconsistent.

For his part, President Biden is making sure the American people know he did not start this mess, speaking from the White House this afternoon.



BIDEN: When I came into office, I inherited a deal the President Trump negotiated with the Taliban. Under his agreement, U.S. forces would be out of Afghanistan by May 1, 2021 just a little over three months after I took office. U.S. forces had already drawn down during the Trump administration from roughly 15,500 American forces to 2500 troops in country. And the Taliban was at its strongest militarily since 2001.


HASAN: As we see, the deeply upsetting themes coming out of Afghanistan today, like this video posted to social media showing utter chaos at the airport -- at the airport in Kabul as thousands of Afghans flub the tarmac in desperation. And this one is showing people running alongside a U.S. military plane on the tarmac. Some trying to cling to the side of it, just try absolutely anything to get out of the country, because they know what`s coming.

When you see all those images, it is important to remember, there are a lot of people responsible for where we are today. It`s not just Joe Biden. It`s not even just Donald Trump. It`s been 20 years of gaslighting, incompetence, and bad policy from four presidents from both parties.

Joining me now Craig Whitlock, investigative reporter for The Washington Post and author of the forthcoming book, the Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War. And Azmat Khan, investigative reporter and New York Times Magazine contributing writer. She was last in Afghanistan back in 2019 reporting from battlefield provinces.

Thank you both for joining me this evening. Craig, let me start with you. Is it fair to say that based on all your reporting, especially those leaked documents you got hold of in 2019, the Afghan papers, we were lied to by presidents of both parties, by generals, by diplomats for 20 years. They knew everything about the Afghan army and the government. None of this could have come as a surprise to them surely.

CRAIG WHITLOCK, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: No, it didn`t. One minor correction. Those documents were leaked. We had to sue the federal government for three years under the Freedom Information Act to obtain them. So, this wasn`t a leak. This is just old-fashioned reporting.

HASAN: Oh, good point.

WHITLOCK: But you`re absolutely right. You know, every presidential administration dating back to the Bush years, they haven`t been forthright with the American people about a number of things. But one of the most astonishing ones from these documents we obtained were the number of generals and ambassadors and White House officials who acknowledged they didn`t have any clue as to how things work in Afghanistan. They lacked a fundamental ignorance of how things operated there. They didn`t have a strategy. And really, they thought the war was unwinnable.

And yet in public, they told the American people that they were making progress, that there were twists and turns in the road, but they were always moving ahead. And what we`ve seen the last few days is obviously that`s the complete opposite of reality.

HASAN: For me, those public statements especially in hindsight are unforgiveable. Azmat, the Doha agreement that Trump signed in February 2020 with the Taliban, there isn`t one word in there about human rights or protecting women, not one. So, isn`t it a bit rich for Republicans today to be trying to play the emotional blackmail card about all the poor Afghans that were abandoning?

AZMAT KHAN, CONTRIBUTOR, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: There are so many Afghans who are being abandoned, particularly in Kabul. There are people who have worked with Americans, there are translators, there are journalists, there are female activists who are at great risk.

At the same time, you know, acknowledging this huge, enormous cost to incredible people who`ve seen so much progress over the last 20 years, especially women and girls in Kabul in major urban centers, what you often don`t hear talked about are the women and girls who live in rural areas.

Now, nearly three-quarters of Afghanistan`s population is the rural countryside. These are individuals who many of them women and girls who have wanted a stop to the war for a long time. It`s killed children, it`s killed loved ones, women, mothers who have defined a lot of their lives through motherhood, who`ve lost children in airstrikes, in nitrates in Taliban attacks have a long one and the war.

So, I think when we talk about women and girls in Afghanistan and who we`re leaving behind, oftentimes that majority of the population in the rural countryside which has been paying these really high civilian costs aren`t taken into account.


HASAN: It`s very true. Craig, general after general prevented American presidents from pulling out of Afghanistan, pressured them to stay. Do we need a real accounting of our military and defense establishment power in this country, the parrot wheels behind the scenes as you glimpsed in those documents?

WHITLOCK: Yes, I think that`s important. Because unlike the 9/11 attacks where we did have a public count accounting of how those attacks happened, how those terrorist attacks came to be, and we missed all the warning signs of what Bin Laden was up to, you know, we had this very extensive 9/11 commission report and testimony.

We haven`t had that for the Afghan war. You know, all along, just each president has said, we`re winning or we`re going to win. Bush, Obama and Trump all said we`re going to win even though the signs were at best, we could hope for a stalemate. So, no, there hasn`t been accounting and Congress has been missing in action on that too.

HASAN: Yes, definitely it has. Azmat, one last question for you. You mentioned the rural areas and women in particularly live in the rural areas. I wonder how much of that plays into what we`ve seen over the last few days, this idea that the Taliban can just retake big areas because all of those people in the rural areas, correct me if I`m wrong, they didn`t feel any attachment to the government in Kabul to Ashraf Ghani. For them, maybe well, it doesn`t matter who`s in charge, their lives remain pretty poor and pretty desperate.

KHAN: It`s important to understand how the United States led or held up this tenuous Afghan state and it was largely through air support, through incredible bombings. In fact, the United States dropped more bombs in Afghanistan in 2019 than in any previous year of the war. So, this war was continuing at record pace. And that government, the Afghan government was being held up by airstrikes.

Now, at the same time, those airstrikes were isolating and ostracizing local populations. These were massive bombings. I`ve been to place in Kandahar, in Helmand, in Nangarhar province where people have described some of the most gruesome and vicious attacks losing more than a dozen members of their own family in single incidents.

And these were happening at record pace in 2019 while the negotiations were happening. That`s a big part of it. At the same time, State Building was also not necessarily happening in these areas. In 2015, I spent a lot of time investigating U.S.-funded schools in battlefield provinces Afghanistan looking at over 50 of them, and seven of these battles provinces, and I found that a majority of them were falling apart. 10 percent of them had never been built.

When I would dig into why, in many cases, it wound up that the contract to build that school was given to a local warlord who was abusing the local population where the school was missing. It turns out it was built -- every level that counterterrorism mission was eroding these goals that this progress that`s touted (INAUDIBLE)

HASAN: Yes, the progress that was touted just wasn`t there. And that`s become apparent in recent days depressingly so. Craig Whitlock and Azmat Khan, we`ll have to leave it there. Thank you both for your reporting and for your analysis.

As we saw those harrowing images of Afghans at the airport in Kabul desperate to flee their country, it was a reminder of just how many people are at risk with the Taliban now back in power. That of course, includes Afghans who worked for the United States government, as well as family members of those who have gone against the Taliban like the family of Niloofar Rahmani who was the first female fixed wing pilot in the Afghan Air Force, and sought asylum here in the United States in 2018 after receiving threats from the Taliban.

I last spoke with her three days ago on Friday night when Kabul was still in the hands of the Afghan government. Tonight, Kabul is in the hands of the Taliban, and her family is deeply worried about their safety. Niloofar Rahmani joins me now.

Thank you so much for coming back on the show, Niloofar. How is your family doing tonight? Have you been able to be in contact with them? Are they safe?

NILOOFAR RAHMANI, FIRST FEMALE AIR FORCE PILOT AFGHANISTAN: Thank you for having me. And thank you, everyone, for their support. Let me start by saying how many Afghans in Afghanistan are terrified. Every African people are terrified with this situation. And we all seen the pictures that it`s published in the social media, that every Afghans are -- they lived under that situation, under the law of Taliban, under their regime. They prefer to die and not live under that.

And I hear recently everybody talks about how Afghans should have defend themselves. I absolutely agree with that. But the problem is that Afghan President abandoned Afghan people and Afghan soldiers alone themselves with no logistic, with no air support, it`s hard for them to defend the country, defend themselves. Civilians, they cannot defend themselves. And including those -- my family is part of that.

And of course, Taliban are going to destroy every symbol of freedom for a woman that America brought. And of course, I am one of the victims for them and I am in deeply concerned for my family`s life there as well.


HASAN: And you mentioned the images on social media coming out today. What was your reaction today when you saw those Afghans running alongside a U.S. military plane, clinging on to it. That`s how desperate they are to get out of the country.

RAHMANI: I can`t express my feeling. It has been terrible time for me absolutely. And, you know, I love my people. I love my country. But I don`t like what I see. Because those Afghans, as I mentioned, they are ready to be dying that way. Just flee and go and just live that life but not live under the Taliban as well. Because 20 years ago, they lived and they know how it looks like.

They are already going door to doors. They`re looking for the people that they work with foreigners, looking for the pilots, looking for their families, looking for the interpreters. It`s terrible to see that situation. Afghanistan fall in Kabul in one day. And it`s really, really scary to even look and see.

As an African woman, I am actually so scared for all the woman in Afghanistan. And I wish and I`m saying it from the bottom of my heart that I wish I could help them.

HASAN: One last question, Niloofar. As we watched the Afghan security forces collapse virtually in front of our eyes, a lot of people across this country want to know, what happened. Did those forces collapse? You were part of the Afghan military for a time. Did they collapse because they didn`t want to fight for a corrupt government in Kabul or was it simply they weren`t capable of fighting the Taliban?

RAHMANI: I can say both Afghan government first. A president of a country, a leader of a country, that should be the last person leaving the country. That person left and abandoned the country. The soldiers, the army, those - - they are all -- they are not motivated. Plus, they don`t have the equipments.

And just as I mentioned, the army, they cannot defend themselves just by going in fighting. So, airstrike, logistic, this was all part of it. And I would like to mention one more last thing, that as an African woman, I would like for President Biden to hear me, the government, that please save the families that they need you. The woman, the little girls, that they always look up to the United States, the great army that United States brought to Afghanistan. And also please save my family.

And the world right now watching, please, how would you feel how would you sleep if you would see in the TV that the Talibans are taking eight, 10, 9- year-old girls as their slaves. And they`re taking them away from their families. And I just asked everybody to pray for them and please help them.

HASAN: Niloofer Rahmani, I cannot imagine what you must be going through tonight. We appreciate you taking time out to speak with us. Thank you so much.

RAHMANI: Thank you for having me. The President struck a defiant tone in his address to the nation as he defended his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan.


BIDEN: I will not mislead the American people by claiming that just a little more time in Afghanistan will make all the difference, nor will I shrink from my share of responsibility for where we are today and how we must move forward from here. I am President of the United States of America, and the buck stops with me.


HASAN: But did he say enough to silence his growing army of critics. NBC Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss is here to put it all in perspective. That`s next.



HASAN: Today, President Joe Biden was unequivocal about his decision to leave Afghanistan. Despite mounting criticism, he said the forever war is not worth sacrificing more American lives.


BIDEN: I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years, I`ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces. That`s why we`re still there. We were clear eyed about the risks. We plan for every contingency. But I always promised the American people that I will be straight with you.

The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated. So, what`s happened? Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed sometime without trying to fight. If anything, the developments of the past week reinforced that ending U.S. military involvement Afghanistan now was the right decision. Americans cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.

I`m now the fourth American president to preside over war in Afghanistan, two Democrats and two Republicans. I will not pass this responsibly on --- responsible down to a fifth president. I will not mislead the American people by claiming a just a little more time in Afghanistan will make all the difference, nor will I shrink from my share of responsibility for where we are today and how we must move forward from here.

I am President of the United States of America, and the buck stops with me. I`m deeply saddened by the facts we now face. But I do not regret my decision to end America`s warfighting in Afghanistan and maintain a laser focus on our counterterrorism mission there and other parts of the world.


HASAN: Joining me now, someone who understands better than most the ways in which major foreign policy decisions like this can come to shape a presidency, Michael Beschloss NBC News Presidential Historian and author of Presidents of War. Michael, thanks so much for coming on the show this evening. These are the --




HASAN: Same here. And Biden has come to the White House today from Camp David to give these remarks to the kind of blunt, frank remarks that Joe Biden has become known for. The withdrawal itself is popular with the public. But did he do enough from the bully pulpit today to justify his decision in the face of mounting criticism from members of the media and from members of the Republican Party, not to mention ordinary Afghans?

BESCHLOSS: Yes, I think in terms of defending his decision, Joe Biden did the right thing and defended it really bluntly today. Oftentimes, presidents as you know, Mehdi, don`t tell you what`s really on their mind. He said what is the absolute truth? And I would say, as an historian, and Joe Biden studies history too, you look at presidents, you know, get involved in wars, they should never carry on a war and put American young people at risk if the American people no longer support that war and if they don`t understand why we were there.

We have been an America`s longest war, 20 years in Afghanistan. And the public support as public opinion polls will show in both parties and everyone else, ran out for the war in Afghanistan a long time ago. So, essentially, Joe Biden was faced with a decision between can I convince Americans it`s a great idea to keep this going, which I don`t think he felt he could because he certainly didn`t believe it, or do I take the troops out and basically, and this -- reflecting the movement of American public opinion.

Now, that having been said, Mehdi, the other thing is that you look at presidents in history who have shut down wars, Korea, Eisenhower, 1953. Eisenhower knew that Korea had become very unpopular. Vietnam 1975, Gerald Ford knew that there was no American support for renewing the Vietnam War, to resist the North Vietnamese. So, that`s what they were doing.

But another way that we look at presidents in history is what do they do to protect the people who gave their lives in many cases to protect democracy and help America and our allies. 1956 Hungarian Revolution, 170,000 refugees. America opened its heart, brought many of them here.

After a Vietnam was over, in 1975, we brought upwards of 130,000 refugees immediately, many more later on. And as Joe Biden honestly said in that speech, he didn`t anticipate that this would happen so suddenly, and they were caught flat footed.

HASAN: Michael, you mentioned Vietnam. The president invoked the memory of Vietnam during his remarks as well. Have a listen.


BIDEN: I made a commitment to the brave men and women who served this nation that I wasn`t going to ask them to continue to risk their lives in a military action that should have ended long ago. Our leaders did that in Vietnam when I got here as a young man. I will not do it in Afghanistan.


HASAN: How important do you think the memory of Vietnam for Biden and other politicians of his generation is? And how does he compare to an LBJ or a Nixon on this issue?

BESCHLOSS: Oh, absolutely crucial because Joe Biden, as you know, ran for the Senate and won in 1972, at a time that Richard Nixon was still carrying on the Vietnam War, despite his promise to end it four years earlier against George McGovern, the Democratic nominee, who said elect me president now and this war immediately after Inauguration Day.

Biden was on the good side, needless to say, of George McGovern. He knew how unfair that war was and how unsupported it was. Oftentimes, Mehdi, you`ll see a president who doesn`t learn from history or even from his own experience. Here is Joe Biden, aren`t we lucky that that experience almost 50 years ago put in his mind this idea that you can`t keep on asking young Americans and other Americans to give their lives and those of our allies if the American people don`t get what the war is about and don`t support it.

HASAN: Yes. And it`s interesting because we often talk about the American public not being interested in foreign policy, and yet presidents are often defined by foreign policy debacles, whether it`s LBJ in Vietnam, George W. Bush in Iraq, Ronald Reagan, both positively and negatively for the Cold War.

BESCHLOSS: Right. And Eisenhower who was seen as a commanding figure, 1956, there was a Hungarian Revolution, as you know, and Eisenhower allowed the U.S. government to say to Hungarians rise up against the Soviet tanks, implying that we Americans would help defend them which he had no intendant -- intention of doing. And as a result, there was a bloodbath.

Even Richard Nixon who was vice president even considered adopting a Hungarian child. There was so much feeling for those who had been brave at the time of the revolution. John Kennedy in 1961 sent so-called freedom fighters into Cuba in an effort to topple Fidel Castro. They failed. Over 1000 were taken prisoner and Kennedy humanely traded medicine and proctors to get them out.


HASAN: Yes. It`s amazing when you think about how many presidents have been defined by these things. And we will wait and see, I guess, how Joe Biden`s Afghanistan decision defines his presidency. Michael Beschloss, thank you so much for your time and your analysis tonight. I appreciate it.

BESCHLOSS: Pleasure always. Be well, Mehdi.

HASAN: You too. In 2001, the vote to authorize military force in Afghanistan happened a mere three days after the 9/11 attacks. And it passed with nearly unanimous approval except for one dissenting voice, Congresswoman Barbara Lee. She joins me next.


LEE: However difficult this vote may be, some of us must urge the use of restraint. Our country is in a state of mourning. Some of us might say let`s step back for a moment. Let`s just pause just for a minute and think through the implications of our actions today so that this does not spiral out of control.



HASAN: Now, as Afghanistan collapses, it seems to almost become the consensus view across the entire political spectrum that the war was a disaster. But back in 2001, a Gallup poll found that 80 percent of Americans supported invading and occupying Afghanistan, as did every single member of the House and Senate except one.


LEE: However difficult this vote may be, some of us must urge the use of restraint. Our country is in a state of mourning. Some of us might say let`s step back for a moment. Let`s just pause just for a minute and think through the implications of our actions today so that this does not spiral out of control.

Now, I have agonized over this vote. But I came to grips with it today and I came to grips with opposing this resolution. During the very painful yet very beautiful memorial service, as a member of the clergy so eloquently said, as we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.


HASAN: As a country, we did not listen to Congresswoman Barbara Lee back then. Let`s listen to her now. I`m delighted to be joined by Congresswoman Lee, Democrat of California. Thanks so much for coming on the show this evening.

People may not remember but that vote was on the Friday following 9/11 that same week. Emotions were running high. Even then, Congressman Bernie Sanders did not vote with you. What is your memory of that week and that vote? I`m sure you`ve been thinking about it these past few days.

LEE: Thank you, Mehdi. I`ve been thinking about it. And then I knew we had to do something. I mean, we had lost so many people, a terrorist attack against my country. Actually, my chief of staff, his cousin, Wanda Green (PH) was a flight attendant on Flight 93. And I was sitting in the Capitol when they took down that plane.

And so, reflecting on that and now 20 years later, is really very sobering in a lot of respects. But also, I knew then that it could spiral out of control and that if we didn`t think through the impact and the implications, and I`ve been thinking about this this week, because now I`m terrified and I`m really so worried, and like everyone concerned and working every hour to try to figure out how we make sure that no more lives are taken, that Afghans are transported out and evacuated. Those who supported us Americans, our diplomats, NGOs, women and children, how in the world are we going to get this done quickly because they`re in danger.

And so, that`s what I`m thinking about more so. And as I chaired the subcommittee that provides a lot of the funding for our refugee resettlement assistance, for our visas, and for all of the diplomatic and development funds that we have that would help in this terrible, terrible tragedy really of evacuating people so that they don`t get killed.

HASAN: I`m glad you mentioned the refugees and evacuation. I hope members of Congress will put pressure on this administration on the State Department to get Afghans out, get them those SIV visas. But let me ask you this. Is Afghanistan going to become a stain on America`s conscience and on our foreign policy standing in the world for decades to come, similar to the way in which Vietnam was for so long, especially, as you mentioned, given the way we`re leaving?

LEE: Well, let`s hope we learn lessons. You know, we cannot nation-build. This was a 20-year war, the longest war in American history. Whether you agreed or not with the use of force three days after the horrific attacks, the mission was accomplished years ago in terms of Osama bin Laden and al-- Qaeda.

And I think the President was absolutely correct in putting it in the historical context for why he made his decision, which I think was the correct decision. But the planning and the movement toward where we are today, I don`t think was well thought out and well planned, and so we have to do more. And so, I think we need to learn the lessons of the last 20 years and just know and recognize that we can go out throughout the world and nation-build. We have many, many issues that we must address in terms of global peace and security and recognize that military action is not going to solve the world`s problems. That`s a fact. And I think we`re seeing that right now.


HASAN: Yes. Not only do we struggle with nation-building abroad, we struggle with it at home. We`re still trying to get through infrastructure bill. Congresswoman, you were isolated back then after 9/11. You were the only person voting in that way very boldly, very courageously. Today, though, you have the very anti-war squad. You have AOC, Ilhan Omar, and others. You even have Republican allies in the House and the Senate when it comes to restraining presidential warmaking powers. I wonder what do you make of this shift on foreign policy that you`ve personally seen in the last 20 years in Congress?

LEE: Well, this took a lot of movement building, a lot of public education. Young people around the country, the public finally really realize that these forever wars one, takes away resources from nation-building here at home. But two, that we have to use our three tools in a way that`s more balanced of our foreign policy, diplomacy, development, and defense.

We have not used our development and diplomacy strategies in toolbox the way we should have. And so, I think the sentiment now is, look, we have to step back and we have to see what we can do to make sure that we`re safe in this country, but that we also support other countries but use the diplomatic and diplomacy tools that we have before we use the military option. The military option is always there to us in terms of our national security. And so, we built the movement. The movement built us. And we were able to finally pass the repeal of the 2002 authorization that authorize the use of force in Iraq. And we`re working now in 2001.

HASAN: Yes, you have. You were able to do that. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, we appreciate your activism and your movement building on that vote in 2001. I appreciate you coming on the show tonight.

LEE: Thank you. Nice being with you, Mehdi.

HASAN: Coming up, a public health rebellion in Texas. The Dallas Superintendent earning praise from the president for defying the state`s ban on mask mandates. He joins me ahead. Do not go away.



HASAN: We spent 20 years in Afghanistan and even halfway into those two decades, signs of America`s clear failure were evident. In the summer of 2010, my colleague, Rachel Maddow, went to Afghanistan for two nights of live shows. She traveled with NBC Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel and went to several different cities throughout the country reporting on what it was like to be an American serving there at the direction of civilian politicians.

She examined the country`s -- she examined the military`s counterinsurgency strategy and learned what it really meant to pull billions of U.S. dollars into the country`s central government.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: So, we`re in a neighborhood now called Wazir Akbar Khan. Talking about the distribution of wealth in Kabul in the effect of --

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: There is no distribution of wealth. This is where it`s distributed. This is where it ends up. All of the money from contracts and association with the government and association with the U.S. military has ended up here.


ENGEL: Because this was originally -- as you can see this, there`s no real pavement or anything like that. This was originally just empty land.


ENGEL: And when the Americans came in with the Northern Alliance, the Northern Alliance, which was the allies against the Taliban, took this land and then gave it away to all their cronies.

MADDOW: OK, so they created a new created a new wealth neighborhood out of nothing.

ENGEL: Exactly.

MADDOW: And so, we still got open sewers, and we`ve still got no pavement, but we have Rococo --

ENGEL: Castle.

MADDOW: -- nouveau riche castle.

ENGEL: That range from 10 to $25,000 a month. And if you were to build this one, it`s obviously under construction, that`s one million-plus house in Kabul with no paved streets.

MADDOW: America, it`s your tax dollars at work. This is the war economy as translated to landlocked Central Asia. We dump a ton of money here thinking that we`re paying for our military effort. Everything that goes along with our military efforts ends up flooding, or in this case, directing like a squirt gun instead of flooding American --

ENGEL: Well, the streets is flooded.


ENGEL: The streets become rivers of mud.

MADDOW: But the money doesn`t go to the country and trickle down and create an economy. It just goes to the elite and to the power brokers who can keep it for themselves.


HASAN: Tonight, Rachel will look back at the collapse of the Afghan government, the speed of the Taliban advance, and whether this marks the end of an era for U.S. military intervention. She`ll be joined once again by Richard Engel who will be live on the ground from Afghanistan. That is coming up at 9:00 p.m. You do not want to miss it.

Meanwhile, a remarkable public health showdown is taking place right now in Dallas County, Texas where COVID cases are spiking. And the state Supreme Court just upheld the GOP governor`s ban on mass mandates. Well, today was the first day of school in Dallas County and the superintendent is defying both the governor and the court by making kids wear masks. Dr. Michael Hinojosa joins me to talk about his decision next.



HASAN: It`s the first day of school in Dallas, Texas today where COVID cases are surging and schools are taking safety matters into their own hands. Today in Dallas County, one of the largest school districts in the state, over 100,000 kids were told to come to class with their masks on. That`s despite a ruling from the Texas Supreme Court which sided with Republican governor Greg Abbott`s ban on mass mandates.

The decision by the court which is made up of all Republican justices is temporary. But until a final decision is made, kids in Dallas County schools will be masking up regardless of the court`s order. That`s because the Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa is defying that ruling. And he joins me now.

Thank you so much for coming on the show this evening. You had a mass mandate in effect today. How did that go? Was it difficult to enforce?

MICHAEL HINOJOSA, SUPERINTENDENT, DALLAS INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: No, actually, it was quite positive. And in fact, it all started happening 24 hours ago. We were trying to plan as to how we were going to execute our first day because we got the last-minute volley. And then when I went to the schools today, it was amazing. It was nothing short of phenomenal.

I had -- we have over 140,000 students go to school today, and I have reports that there were three students who were not compliant. One -- two at one high school and another student. So, what this tells me is that we`re on the side of justice, we`re on the side that people believe in what we`re doing, as you can see by the pictures here, that they know that we`re in a very dangerous zone despite what the, you know, elected officials are saying in Austin, and our own reality.

You can`t control people this way. If they`re not going to be willing to participate, then they will shun us. But what this is very clear is that people are scared, and they are going to take precautions to make sure that we`re safe for the -- for now and for the future. So, I was very proud to be the superintendent in Dallas today.

HASAN: So on that note, anecdotally, as a superintendent, do you think you have the support of the parents in your district? How divided is your county over this issue?

HINOJOSA: Well, luckily, we`re the Dallas Independent School District, so we`re independent from the actual county. So, that order that was made was for the county and not for us. And to answer your question directly, I think we have very strong support from our parents, our students, and our staff.

They -- we asked them to comply, we told them we were going to make them do it, but we had no confrontations today. So, that tells me we have a lot of support in this community and in this city.

HASAN: Are you gearing up for a legal fight now, given the Supreme Court ruling, given Governor Abbott is not backing down? Is it time now for a legal fight? Do you have plans in place to fight in court?

HINOJOSA: Well, I was sued today. I`ve never been sued virtually. But I got a bunch of lawsuits on my inbox today. It`s the first time in 27 years that`s happened. Oh, absolutely, there`s going to be a fight. But I`m going to fight for our students and for our community. And, you know, we`ll let this -- the courts play this out. And I`m going to hang on as long as I can.

When the court actually rules that I cannot do what I`m doing, then I will comply with a court. But right now, we have the executive branch is telling us that we have to do this. And I just cannot put students in harm`s way when I know that if I did -- if I followed his orders, I would be doing that. I just can`t live with myself if I did that.

HASAN: But a genuine question, though, you say that, and I admire you for saying that you couldn`t live with yourself putting kids at risk, because clearly a lot of politicians in America right now are OK putting kids at risk. But then you also say, if the order comes down, it`s not a temporary order, it`s the real thing, the court says you can`t do this, you say you will comply with it. So, in that situation, you will be putting kids at risk.

HINOJOSA: I will have no choice. You know, we`ve tried this civil disobedience, as far as we can take it. But I cannot lead this district if I`m not here. And, you know, it`s my responsibility to follow the rule of the law, to take it to the full extent. And you know, there are -- there are other opportunities that we might pursue.

But we`re confident that we`re going to prevail in the end. And I would just ask the governor to just lift this temporarily, just like we have, just so that we can get through this terrible period. But I`ve had very little interaction -- actually no interaction with the governor instead.

HASAN: So, why is that? Why is the governor not talking to you directly? Why is he not talking to people who are affected by this? Why does he not seem to care that kids lives are at risk in Texas?

HINOJOSA: Well, this is some kind of showdown that I don`t understand. In my 27 years of superintendent, many of the decisions I make are very private. I`m a very private person. But now we`re up here, very public in front of everybody. And I guess everybody is infatuated with this showdown and I just don`t understand that. There could be some easy solutions we find a way to work on this thing, but apparently, there`s no compromise.

HASAN: I guess your independence, you can`t say this, but I can. I think it`s because Governor Abbott wants to be president, and this is all about his base in Texas. It`s about a GOP gubernatorial primary. It`s not about public health. Let me ask you this. The mask mandate for Dallas County was put in place by Clay Jenkins who we spoke to on the show last week.

When I spoke to him live last week, there were protesters, hundreds of them outside his house standing on his kids play area. Are you afraid at all for your own safety?

HINOJOSA: No. I`ve been doing this for a long time. And you know, I`ve been through that situation that Clay went through before. But right now, people aren`t doing that at my place. I don`t know. I guess I`ve been around for so long. I`ve built some strict credibility with our community. But if it happens, it happens. And if that`s what we got to do, that`s the penalty of leadership, you got a -- the cost of doing business in this big state of Texas.

And you know, I`m not angry at the governor. He`s got a big state to run. But I`ve got a very big, important complex district to run. And I need every tool in my toolkit to make this happen for the safety of students.

HASAN: You may not be angry at the governor but a lot of Texans are. Very quickly, did you ever think that you would -- that you would end up here?

HINOJOSA: No, absolutely not. You know, I`m a former government teacher and I -- you know, color inside the lines. But this time it was different. I had to take a stand. And I`m disappointed that some of my superintendent peers have fallen off the wagon when it`s gotten really difficult here.

HASAN: Well, I admire you for taking a stand. Dallas County Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, I appreciate your time tonight.

HINOJOSA: Thank you.

HASAN: That is ALL IN on this Monday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.