updated 3/18/2009 9:43:30 AM ET 2009-03-18T13:43:30

Guest: Ron Wyden, Chuck Hagel, Mark Danner, David Kilcullen, Dale DeGroff

High: Interviews with Ron Wyden, Chuck Hagel.

Spec: Politics; Government; Policies

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  And thank you at home for staying with us for this hour.

Former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel will be here this hour.  And in addition to talking about Russia encroaching into the western hemisphere again—Cuban Missile Crisis, anyone—he‘s also not happy with former Vice President Dick Cheney, and how.  That‘s coming up in just a moment.

Also, Republican phenom, Ron Paul, makes a very strange cameo on the show this hour.  And we‘ve got a St. Patrick‘s Day cocktail moment to end all cocktail moments.  It‘s all coming up on the show this hour.

But, first, New York‘s attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, today, revealed the results of the subpoena that his office served on the fallen former financial colossus that everyone loves to hate: AIG.  AIG, the American International Group, formerly the largest insurance company in the world, now the world‘s largest repository of American taxpayer and politician outrage.

What we knew before today was that AIG gave out $160 million of their bailout money in the form of bonuses, mostly to employees who worked in the division of the company that ultimately caused the firm to meltdown.  The firm has been defending the bonuses, saying that their hands were tied by contracts with these employees.  And besides, they really need to pay bonuses so they can keep employing the best and the brightest.

Today, we learned from Mr. Cuomo that the biggest AIG bonus-earner got $6.4 million.  One person, one check—from that firm.  Yes.

The top seven bonus-earners all got more than $4 million a piece.  The top 10 got a combined $42 million.  Twenty-two bonus-earners at AIG got at least $2 million each; 73 people at AIG got more than $1 million.

Remember that AIG said these were so-called “retention bonuses” to hold onto these valuable employees who melted down their company.  These were the best and the brightest the CEO simply had to retain in order to turn AIG around.

The awkward detail of the day?  Eleven of the people who got more than $1 million of your money as a retention bonus payment from AIG—don‘t work there anymore.  Retention bonus?

Yes.  One guy took $4.6 million bailout dollars as a retention bonus.  Then he left the company anyway.  Did I mention that 79.9 percent of what he got paid was your money?  Yes.

So, what now?  Obviously, the next thing to do is to get the money back.  How?  There are literally dozens of suggestions.  Pencils ready?

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is already probing AIG for possible fraud.  That would be a criminal offense.  That‘s one way to do it.

The Treasury Department may use the latest AIG bailout fund, $30 billion, as leverage against the bonuses.  Late tonight, Secretary Geithner revealed that he is working with the Justice Department to try to recoup the money, the bonus money.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is directing three House committees to come up with legislation to figure out how to recoup the money, maybe tapping the attorney general of the United States to recover it, maybe just banning retention bonuses from bailed out companies, maybe using taxation legislation to try to get the money back through the IRS.  That idea is proving to be very popular in Congress.

Representative Gary Peters of Michigan wants a 60 percent surtax on bonuses over 10 grand at any company where the U.S. government has a 79 percent or higher stake.  There aren‘t many of those companies.  Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York wants 100 percent surtax on non-commission payouts in the government‘s majority share companies.  Representative Steve Israel of New York and Tim Ryan of Iowa introduced a “Bailout Bonus Tax Bracket Act” that would 100 percent tax bonuses exceeding 100 grand.

Now over in the Senate, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid is asking AIG to renegotiate the bonuses or else his fellow Democrats are singing from the same hymn note.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK:  Take this money back by taxing virtually all of it.  So, let the recipients of these large and unseemly bonuses be warned, if you don‘t return it on your own, we‘ll do it for you.

SEN. HARRY REID, (D) MAJORITY LEADER:  Recipients of these bonuses will not be able to keep all of their money and that‘s an understatement.

SEN. MAX BAUCUS, (D) FINANCE COMMITTEE CHAIR:  And so the basic question is: what‘s the highest tax that we could impose on those bonuses that is sustainable in court?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Those are all Democratic senators.  On the Republican side, the suggestion that‘s getting the most attention is that of Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa.  We will let his suggestion speak for itself.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY, ® IOWA:  The first thing that would make me feel a little bit better towards them if they‘d followed the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I‘m sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Gosh, maybe not that.

But as the Congress and outraged citizens are essentially standing on the sidewalk, yelling “Stop, thief” at AIG, the question is: do we have faith that they will be stopped and that we‘re going to get that money back?

Joining us now is Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon.  He‘s a member of the Senate Finance Committee.

Senator Wyden, thank you so much for joining us.

SEN. RON WYDEN, (D) FINANCE COMMITTEE:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Back in early February, you and Senator Snowe added an amendment to the stimulus bill that, I think, would have prevented AIG from giving out these millions of dollars worth of bonuses.  That amendment was taken out of the bill.

Am I right that your amendment would have stopped what we are experiencing right now?

WYDEN:  You are right.  And that‘s what‘s so sad about this situation.  It simply didn‘t mean to happen.  What happened, Rachel, was we got it through the United States Senate and then like, with so many issues, all the lobbyists came out in droves and somehow magically, the amendment disappeared.  It seems to me now we‘ve got an opportunity to get this job done right but it didn‘t have to happen.

MADDOW:  I wonder if it‘s frustrating for you now to hear outrage expressed by people like Senator Shelby, Senator McConnell, about these ridiculous payments.  And they have really united the country in being mad about these bonuses, but those Republican senators were the people who sort of led the charge against blocking compensation limits tied to bailout money.

WYDEN:  There was bipartisan support for it, but the fact is, Wall Street had a lot of friends on this.  I was listening to your argument about all of these intelligent people would leave Wall Street if they didn‘t get these excessive bonuses.  Frankly, it seems to me AIG and the country would be better off without some of these masters of the universe running AIG and the economy into the ground.

MADDOW:  In terms of how to get this money back, how to respond to this—it‘s not even a proposal by AIG, they‘ve already done it; they‘ve already paid out the money.  Just a little while ago, the treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, sent out a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying that Congress could create some kind of resolution authority.  I guess that it would be similar to what the FDIC does when a bank goes under.  They would create some sort of resolution authority to help a company go under.  Help the company sort of wind down.

What happened do you think of that suggestion?

WYDEN:  I‘ll look at that approach, but I think what I was able to get through the United States Senate with the help of Republican Olympia Snowe is a faster way to do it.  We‘ve also got a legal opinion saying that you can do it quickly.  We know that‘s going to work.  The company will have a choice, either pay the bonus back or face a stiff tax.  And it will also be a strong disincentive of doing this again.

Now, people are talking about renegotiating some of the terms.  I think we ought to renegotiate some of these contracts with the executives and whether they ought to have jobs at all.

MADDOW:  Late this evening, Senator Grassley from Iowa and Senator Baucus came up with a new proposal as well.  One that does not involve hara-kiri.  The new proposal would tax a company 35 percent and an individual 35 percent for a retention bonus.  Is that sort of approach seem to be—you‘re on the finance committee—would that be enough to get your vote on the finance committee?

WYDEN:  I‘ve worked very closely with the chairman and Senator Grassley on it.  In effect, what they‘re talking about mirrors what we‘ve already done.  That‘s why we know it‘s going to work.  I‘m sure the Wall Street lobbyists are going to come out again, but what we saw last time, Rachel, is nobody would oppose what Senator Snowe and I were doing in broad daylight.

They know it doesn‘t the smell test to defend these bonuses and I think finally, we‘ll get it done.  The tragedy is it should have been done a month ago when we had bipartisan legislation that got through the Senate and then somehow mysteriously disappeared.

MADDOW:  Do you think that hypocrisy should be called on people who are outraged about the executive—about these executive payments when people have not supported legislative efforts to keep them from happening?  Do you think that these people sort of get nailed for their hypocrisy here?

WYDEN:  Rachel, don‘t get logical, this is Washington, D.C.  It just seems to me we ought to have some accountability.  This should have been done.

When something gets through the United States Senate, it doesn‘t happen by osmosis.  It got done because Senator Snowe and I spent a lot of time.  We got a legal opinion.  We knew Wall Street was going to come out and fight this aggressively.  Now, I think, we‘ll finally get it done, but unfortunately, it‘s a little late.

MADDOW:  Senator Ron Wyden, thank you so much for your time tonight. 

It‘s nice to have you on the show.

WYDEN:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  Coming up next: Former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel will be here.  I‘m very excited to have him on the show for the first time.  And Republican Ron Paul makes a cameo appearance that he is probably really not all that psyched about.

Plus, for St. Patrick‘s Day, we are doing a cocktail moment blowout. 

Who cares that it‘s Tuesday?  It‘s all coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Candidate Barack Obama got compared a lot to President John F. Kennedy.  Both give inspiring speeches, both looked rather jaunty in a suit.  Both married glamorous charismatic women.  Both had young children.  Both ended up having to deal with a nuclear standoff with Russia in this hemisphere?

Over two weeks in October 1962, the U.S. got right up in Russia‘s grill and the Soviets got right up in our grill, after the U.S. found that the Soviets were building missile bases in Cuba.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OCTOBER 22, 1962)

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT:  I call upon Chairman Khrushchev to halt and eliminate this clandestine, reckless, and provocative threat to world peace and to stable relations between our two nations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  That standoff, 47 years ago, was as close as we know we ever got to war between the superpowers.  Today, the Soviet Union is no longer, and the Cold War is therefore ostensibly over.  But you know, this weekend we learned that the Russian air force is talking to both Cuba and Venezuela about maybe putting some long-range Russian bombers at air fields in Cuba and Venezuela.  This will be the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis that Russia would have an overt military presence in this hemisphere.

Then today, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced a, quote, “comprehensive rearmament of Russia‘s military,” saying the primary goal would to be, quote, “increase the combat readiness of Russia‘s forces—first of all, our strategic nuclear forces.”

All right.  First of all, the nukes.  You know, that whole Cuban missile thing, was called a crisis for a reason.  I may need to be talked-ski down-ski here.

Joining us to try is former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel—a leading foreign policy voice in the U.S. Senate for 12 years, a Vietnam combat veteran, an outspoken critic of the Bush administration‘s Iraq war policy.  He now heads the Commission on the U.S. Policy toward Russia.  Alongside former Senator Gary Hart, he‘s also chairman of the Atlantic Council of the United States, succeeding General James Jones who left to become national security adviser to President Obama.

Senator Hagel, it‘s a real pleasure to have you on the show.  Thank you.

CHUCK HAGEL, FORMER U.S. SENATOR:  Thank you.  Rachel, thank you very much.

MADDOW:  You have just returned from Moscow where I know you met with the Russian president.  Are they really being as aggressive militarily as it seems like they are being?

HAGEL:  Rachel, I think we, first, always have to deal with the realities of any nation‘s national interest.  I would start answering your question by saying this: as you led into your show regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis, today‘s Russia is not yesterday‘s Soviet Union.  The leaders today are different.  Sovereign nations will protect their own national interests.

I think, at least in my sense of spending the last five days in Russia and being part of a foreign policy arena that studied these kind of things and had significant exchanges and engagements with these people over the years, that we have an opportunity today to take this relationship, which is a very critical relationship for our country, for Russia, for the world, and move it to some high ground.  We live in a world, Rachel, and you know this, most people do, that‘s combustible, dangerous, complicated, interconnected.

When we met with Medvedev, we met with all of the national security senior people there, as well as the foreign minister, Mr. Lavrov, and others.  I think they, too, are looking for a way to be able to cooperate in a new way to address the great challenges that face Russia and the United States.  We are now interconnected into these areas where every major challenges we have, our national interests, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, energy, environment, Western Europe, Ukraine, Georgia, is connected into Georgia.

Their national interests are connected into our national interests.  And we‘ve got to be smart and wise in how we now move this relationship back onto a track that is far more productive.  The last point, I‘ll make, there are disagreements.  There will be disagreements.  But we should define our relationship based on common interests, not on disagreements.

MADDOW:  In terms of the way that we talk about national security, Vice President Dick Cheney is criticizing the new president, criticizing President Obama here, sort of right out of the gate, something that other newly-turfed out vice presidents and presidents have avoided at least for a few years.

What do you make of Vice President Dick Cheney‘s allegation that President Obama has made the U.S. less safe?  He‘s been rather bellicose about that recently.

HAGEL:  Well, that‘s ridiculous.  That has no merit on fact or by any measurement.  Come on, this guy hasn‘t even been in office two months.

The mess that the Bush administration left the Obama administration—

I‘m a Republican—we ran up more than a third of the nation‘s national debt under Republican president and a Republican Congress six out of the last eight years.  We‘ve got America into two wars.  We‘ve done great damage to our economy, to our fore-structure, to our standing in the world.

And for a vice president who participated in that, who led in that, to come on and say that this new administration has really put America in danger is just folly.  Now, maybe in four years, that will be the case.  I don‘t know.  We‘ll see.

But to say that now makes no sense and I‘m sorry the vice president said that.

MADDOW:  Senator Hagel, one last question for you.  Since you left the Senate, the Republican Party chairman has threatened to run primary challengers against Senator Snowe and Collins and Specter because they voted with the Democrats on the stimulus bill.  I wonder if that makes you happy that you are no longer in the Senate.  I wonder if you think that‘s not a wise move.

HAGEL:  It‘s not a wise move.  It‘s a very foolish, foolish move.  You know, Rachel, those of us who have had the privilege and do—still have the privilege of serving this country in some capacity, take an oath of office to the Constitution, to do what we think is right for our country.  We don‘t take an oath of office to our president, to our party, to any other allegiance than the Constitution.

If you are governed by what you think is right for your country, you‘re going to be fine.  And to have this kind of nutty prescriptions out there by either party, saying you have to have a total party loyalty dynamic to you or we‘ll threaten you or run you out of office, that‘s not going to work.

Listen, I think Snowe and Collins are so overwhelmingly popular in Maine, you could run anybody against them.  And they‘d beat them.  I think Specter‘s doing pretty well.  He has done pretty well in Pennsylvania.  Based on what he thinks is right for his state and his country.

There‘s no room for that kind of silliness in this business.  I think that was what this election was all about.  People expect serious people to deal with serious issues and to govern seriously.  And when you don‘t do that, you become irrelevant.

MADDOW:  Former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, it is a real pleasure to have you on this show.

HAGEL:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  Thank you for joining us.

HAGEL:  Rachel, thank you.

MADDOW:  Republican presidential candidates and phenom, Ron Paul, has a very, very, very, very, very, very, very strange cameo in a new movie.  I am both horrified and thrilled to tell you about it when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Happy St. Patrick‘s Day.  That for THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is sort of all the excuse we need.  Master mixologist, world-famous, world-changing bartender Dale DeGroff, will be here to tell us in a couple of minutes to tell us the best story about Irish coffee you have ever heard.  You will want to take notes on what he says and then pretend that his story is your own.  I‘m just saying.  That‘s coming up.

First, though, it‘s time for a couple of holy mackerel stories in today‘s news, beginning with a meeting.  Now, I know what you are thinking.  A meeting—what‘s so holy mackerel about that?  I go to meetings every day.  Meetings are when I spend all of my creative energy doing really important doodling.

That‘s one my most important doodles ever.  War crimes, prosecutions.

Anyway, this holy mackerel meeting today happened at the White House, and it is remarkable for who was in attendance.  Let‘s just say one of these folks does not like the others, OK?

First, you‘ve got Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, who is perhaps most famous for telling FOX News that people in favor of sex education in schools are only doing so because they hope they can cash in in all of the extra abortions that sex-ed will cause.  Yes.

Joining Ms. Wright, Tom McClusky, the senior vice president of the Family Research Council—an organization perhaps most controversial for its insistence on linking homosexuality with child molestation.  Also, at the meeting, Jonathan Imbody, vice president for government relations at the Christian Medical and Dental Association, which holds that the gay can be the cured.  And they‘re a medical organization.  Finally, joining this merry bunch was Joshua DuBois, the 26-year-old director of President Obama‘s White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Steve Bennett at “Washington Monthly” today summed up the irony of this meeting by saying, quote, “to put this in perspective, imagine George W. Bush aides agreeing to meet with representatives of the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and People For the American Way, in order to discuss culture war issue.”  I guess the Obama folks are taking this reach-across-the-aisle thing really seriously.  And they mean all kinds of aisles.

We tried to reach the new faith-based office for new comment today but we did have a hard time with that.  If you Google White House Faith-Based Office, you get network error.

So, for lack of a better way of reaching the faith-based office, Mr.  DuBois, if you would like to give us a comment on how things went with the really right-wing religious people meeting today, please let us know.  We don‘t know how to Google you.

Next unto Congressman Ron Paul.  He may not have won the Republican nomination last year, but movement that built up around his candidacy for a long time was vigor and more creative and more enthusiastic than anything the Republican Party could do on its own.

Now, Ron Paul is back in the national spotlight.  And this time on the big screen.  He has what is—seems to be an unwitting minor role in the news Sasha Baron Cohen movie.  It‘s called “Bruno.”  It‘s a follow-up to Mr. Cohen‘s last film, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.”

In the new movie, Bruno is a gay Austrian television host whose show is canceled.  He comes to America to revive his career after apparently becoming convinced that the key to success in America is having a sex tape.

While filming the movie last fall, according to two sources who saw an early screening of the film, Mr. Cohen and his crew were able to trick Ron Paul into filming a scene with Mr. Cohen—a five-minute scene in which the character Bruno tries very unsuccessfully, I have to say, “very unsuccessfully,” to seduce Dr. Paul.  There‘s reportedly some dancing and some fencelessness—which may in fact be a “cultural learning for a make benefit glorious of libertarians.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Former President Bush gave his first speech as former President Bush today.  So popular is he in the U.S. where he was, in fact, president that he gave his maiden citizen‘s speech in Canada.  Citizen Bush spoke at a luncheon for a lot of money.  It was totally close to the press. 

We only know that Mr. Bush says he will not criticize President Obama, Dick Cheney - and we know that the former president plans to write a book about the 12 toughest calls he says he made as decider-in-chief.  The only images we got to see of his big Canadian trip today were these ones here - the big protests ahead of bush‘s speech because of the specifics of the alleged crimes of Bush administration officials during the Bush era. 

The former president traveling abroad actually raises questions of whether he might - want to be stripped some day, find himself arrested.  Last night on “COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN,” a Canadian attorney named Gail Davidson argued that the Canadian government was obligated legally to investigate President Bush for war crimes while he was on Canadian soil, specifically, crimes related to torture. 

That did not happen today.  But this week, there was major new news about the Bush administration and torture, specifically, at secret CIA prisons that everybody calls the black site prisons.  News was report the by American author and journalism professor Mark Danner who obtained a confidential report from the Red Cross. 

This report, for the first time, details torture at the CIA‘s secret prisons.  Now, we know quite a bit about what has happened at prisons run by the U.S. military, places like Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram. 

In the case of prisons run by the CIA, we don‘t even know what these secret prisons are exactly, or even where they were or how many of them there were.  We only know that they existed and that President Obama has ordered that they be shut down. 

That was essentially all that we know, until now.  Mr.  Danner has published parts of a Red Cross report that says in no uncertain terms, that the U.S. tortured prisoners at these black site CIA prisons. 

Take, for instance, Abu Zubaydah, captured in March 2002.  Zubaydah describes to the Red Cross his experience in a prison that‘s believed to be in Thailand, waking up naked, strapped to a bed in a very white room. 

After being shackled to a chair for two to three weeks and deprived of solid food, Mr. Zubaydah recounts, quote, “I was taken out of my cell and one of the interrogators wrapped a towel around my neck.  They then used it to swing me around and smash me repeatedly against the hard walls of the room.” 

The Red Cross reports that Zubaydah was then placed in a coffin-like tiny box that restricted his air supply.  Then, he was moved into a smaller box where he was forced to crouch for an extended period of time.  That was just weeks after he was treated for gunshot wounds to his legs and groin. 

Mr. Zubaydah continue, quote, “I was then dragged from the small box unable to walk properly and put on what looked like a hospital bed and strapped down very tightly with belts.  A black cloth was then placed over my face and the interrogators used a mineral water bottle to pour water on the cloth so that I could not breathe. 

Water boarding, and then some for about a week.  That‘s torture.  And Zubaydah‘s account is strikingly similar to the accounts of 13 other prisoners held in the CIA black site prisons and interviewed by the Red Cross before they had ever had an opportunity to match up the stories that they would tell their interviewers. 

Joining us now is Mark Danner, a journalism professor at the University of California at Berkley.  He published his full account of the Red Cross report in the latest issue of “The New York Review of Books.”  He is also the author of the 2004 book, “Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib and the War on Terror.”  Mr. Danner, thank you so much for joining us tonight.  

MARK DANNER, AUTHOR, “TORTURE AND TRUTH: AMERICA, ABU GHRAIB AND THE

WAR ON TERROR”:  Thank you, Rachel.  

MADDOW:  Why do you believe that this Red Cross report is credible?  Why should people believe what these prisoners say about how they were treated? 

DANNER:  Well, the Red Cross is in the business and indeed is given the right in international law to go in and supervise the treatment of prisoners of war.  They have professionals who do this, who interview the prisoners individually. 

And in this particular case, all of these prisoners, all 14, were kept rigorously isolated throughout their detention.  That was both at the black sites and at Guantanamo, when they were moved there in September, 2006. 

So before the Red Cross interviewed them, they had no chance to compare their stories.  No chance to compare their experiences.  And they gave accounts to the Red Cross interviewers over a period of days in long individual confidential interviews that are strikingly similar in almost every minute detail. 

And as the Red Cross writers themselves remark in the report, it‘s strange credulity that all 14 people could essentially fabricate precisely the same stories in all their details without having any contact with one another. 

And so the Red Cross people who are, as I say, professionals in this, believe that these accounts are credible.  And I think one of the reasons I published these long quotations in “The New York Review of Books” article is so that readers, American citizens, can judge for themselves. 

And I think the accounts are compelling, chilling.  And frankly, those who are worried about their authenticity, I would urge them simply to read them.  

MADDOW:  One of the remarkable things about the similarities between these different prisoner‘s descriptions is not just that it implies that they couldn‘t have all come up with the same story.  It also implies that this is a very organized situation.  This is not rogue CIA officers taking the gloves off and deciding what do in the moment.  What do you know, what do you believe, what do we know about the level of coordination between officials at these black sites and officials in Washington who might have pursued this as a manner of policy? 

DANNER:  Well, we know first of all that the interrogators were in constant touch with their superiors at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.  In fact, there is - one of the interrogators of Abu Zubaydah, Mr. John Kiriakou, gave an interview to ABC News that is - you can find it on the Internet - in which he detailed this rather extensively. 

I quote from this report in which Mr. Kiriakou essentially says, you know, “Every time we had to use a new procedure if we had to hit him, slap him, whatever - you would have to cable headquarters and get approval from the deputy director of operations which is a very high position in the CIA.” 

Meanwhile, the director of Central Intelligence at the time - this is the spring and summer of 2002 -- in the case of Abu Zubaydah, was George Tenet who was traveling across the river every day to principals meetings at the White House. 

A Principals Committee includes the National Security advisor then, Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, the then-attorney general, John Ashcroft, the highest law enforcement official in the United States of course.  All of whom were briefed on this day by day. 

Not least because George Tenet apparently was worried that he would get stuck with this and he wanted to be sure that he had explicit confirmation that these procedures could go forward and he wanted to consult with other cabinet officials to get that approval. 

John Ashcroft supposedly said at one point, “We shouldn‘t be discussing this in the White House.  History will not judge us kindly.”  That again is according to an ABC report.  And so the chain of decision-making from the interrogators in these black sites around the world to CIA officials in Langley, Virginia, and from the CIA to the White House itself is very well established. 

These weren‘t rogue officers who were doing these things.  There‘s a fairly concrete line of responsibility down to the minute details of the interrogation techniques that were used.  

MADDOW:  And of course, this Senate Intelligence Committee says that they will spend the next year investigating CIA interrogation and detention.  I think you‘ve just done the first 10 months of work for them. 

Mark DANNER, UC-Berkeley professor.  Thank you for your work in this field.  Thank you for your time tonight.

DANNER:  Thank you, Rachel.  

MADDOW:  It is still St. Patrick‘s Day, we haven‘t forgotten.  Master

mixologist Dale DeGroff will be here momentarily to unlock the mysteries of

well, just wait.  It‘s coming up in a second. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Do you see the “this way out” sign, back there?  It‘s weird.  I never look back there.  It‘s over there.  We keep asking that question on the show, “This way out?”  So I thought maybe it should get its own sign, as a question mark, as in, “Dude, we‘re entering year seven in Iraq and we‘re in year eight in Afghanistan.  Are we getting any closer to finding the way out?” 

So we made a sign.  For Iraq, the president has at least told us when we will get to the way out.  We will get to it, not by the end of this year, not by the end of next year but by the end of the year after that.  That‘s Iraq.  For Afghanistan, we‘re still waiting to hear. 

But through our “this way out” effort, which I‘m pretty sure is total cable news suicide, we‘re making an ongoing effort to introduce everyone to the people who are driving this effort to figure out what to do, the people leading the decisions about what is going to happen in our nation‘s wars.  Which President Bush started but which President Obama may finish. 

On last night‘s show we had one of those influential decision leaders on, John Nagl, who wrote “The Counterinsurgency Field Manual” along with Gen. Petraeus.  Check out how Mr. Nagl did not even flinch when I raised the prospect of another eight years in the war in Afghanistan.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Tell me that when the next president is inaugurated, we are not going to be talking about prospects for year 16 of the war in Afghanistan. 

JOHN NAGL, CO-AUTHOR, “THE COUNTERINSURGENCY FIELD MANUAL”:  I‘d like to be able to tell you that, Rachel.  I‘m afraid that American interests in Afghanistan are going to remain.  We‘ve got an awful lot of work do in front of us.  I‘m afraid more in front of us than behind us in this war in Afghanistan. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  We don‘t even get to start looking for the way out of Afghanistan until year 16 of that war?  What‘s more, the “Field Manual” that John Nagl helped to write says that we need a combined U.S.-Afghan force, security force, of say, 600,000 to 750,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan.  That‘s more than triple by what any conceivable counting we‘ve got now. 

This is really the only way to win in Afghanistan?  Meanwhile, the American public seems to be moving on.  A new Gallup poll out this week shows 42 percent of Americans think it was a mistake to send U.S. troops to Afghanistan in the first place.  That is the highest that number has ever been since they started polling on it in 2001. 

Joining us now is Dr. David Kilcullen, a military strategist who has been a senior advisor David Petraeus and the State Department.  His latest book is called, “The Accidental Guerilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One.”  David Kilcullen, thanks for coming back on the show. 

DAVID KILCULLEN, MILITARY STRATEGIST AND ADVISOR TO GEN. DAVID

PETRAEUS:  Very happy to be here.  

MADDOW:  All right.  1996, you‘re in Indonesia.  You are studying a guerilla movement there.  It‘s midnight.  These four young guys walk up to your campsite.  Then what happens?

KILCULLEN:  Yes.  I was hanging out in this very wild part of west Java.  There are 22 peaks of about 10,000 feet. And this one, a little bit of jungle, and half of them are volcanoes.  So it‘s a pretty wild place. 

And yes, it‘s midnight.  I‘d been out in the jungle for a week and I‘m just trying to take a break and these guys pay me a visit.  Two of them were local guys from the valley from where I was staying associated with the movement called Darul Islam, which is a 1950s, 1960s guerilla group which I was saying.  The other two were Arabs. 

And we spent several hours talking and trying to explore the issues of the local area.  The Arabs got pretty bored with that.  And one of them said to me, “You know, hang on a second.  Forget about this discussion.   What about Israel?  What about the United States?  What about western culture undermining the Muslim world?  What do you have to say about that?” 

And they started to put me through a fairly rigorous stress test of my views.  And for whatever reason, I seemed to have given them acceptable answers because they left peacefully a couple of hours later. 

But I got thinking about that and I realized that actually a lot of the people that we‘re dealing with now in the war on terrorism are local fighters who don‘t really care that much about global issues.  They‘re all about protecting their local society from what they see as the encroachment of damaging external actors. 

But then you‘ve got that very small proportion of people who are

like these two Arabs in west Java, not necessarily that interested in local people‘s issues.  They‘re more interested in exploiting those local people to their further their global agenda.  

MADDOW:  So end up with a sort of global, anti-western, internationally-minded terrorists, like al-Qaeda in a vanguard, sort of, but linking themselves, linking their big fanatical cause with local people, the people who you call accidental gorillas, people who have more understandable grievances.  So fighting that means splitting those two people apart, not allowing the vanguard to exploit those local grievances? 

KILCULLEN:  Primarily, yes.   I think it means taking some really substantial and almost entirely nonmilitary steps to deal with local people‘s grievances and to bring governance, development, the rule of law and all of those sort of things that we tend to take for granted in the west, to people that need them. 

But they have to be done on a local basis and in accordance with the local standards.  Because when we turn up and try to lay down the law about how things should be, it tends to make these people more vulnerable to extremists coming in and saying, “What are you siding with these guys for, when you should be standing up for your own rights?” 

So I think we have two classes of enemy.  A very, very small but a very violent and fanatical group that hates the west and wants to bring us down.  And then about 90 to 95 percent of the other people we‘re dealing with just don‘t like us being in their face.  

MADDOW:  That makes so much sense to me, and it‘s academically and intellectually elegant.  It also just resonates with what I understand about what have gone through as a country for past eight years since we‘ve all been paying attention to this.  But doesn‘t that mean that the solution in a place like Afghanistan where we‘ve already been for eight years is massively expensive and takes tens if not hundreds of thousands of troops and takes a very long time? 

KILCULLEN:  Well, there‘s a couple of issues there.  I think we need to separate doctrine from strategy.  Now, what John Nagl was talking about last night is doctrine.  And doctrine tells you how to do things.  It doesn‘t tell you whether to do them. 

Strategy is about making decisions.  I mean, let‘s use the analogy of - let‘s say you‘re building a pipeline across the desert.  You need some kind of guide or handbook that tells you, you know, you need this many pipes and this rivets and so on to build it.  That‘s the doctrine. 

But that doesn‘t tell you whether to build this or that particular pipeline, right?  So what we did in 2006 in putting together the counterinsurgency handbook and what we did recently in the State Department in putting together one for policymakers, is try to say, “Look, if you decide to do this, these are the sorts of things you need to have in place to make it work.” 

That is not about whether we should or shouldn‘t go into any particular place.  And I think if you listen very carefully to the pronouncements that Vice President Biden, Richard Holbrooke and others have made about this administration‘s policy in relation to Afghanistan, they are saying and the key phrase is, “We want to have achievable objectives and adequate resources.”  I think it‘s a very, very sensible way to be thinking about it.

MADDOW:  I wait with bated breath.  David Kilcullen, military strategist, author of “The Accidental Guerilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One.”  It‘s really nice to meet you.  Thanks for coming in.  Nice to see you.

KILCULLEN:  Thanks, Rachel.  Good to see you.

MADDOW:  Coming up next on “COUNTDOWN,” Markos Moulitsas from “The Daily Kos” will be here to talk about left-wing smear machine week.

And here, world-renowned cocktail expert Dale DeGroff drops by for a very special St. Patrick‘s Day cocktail moment. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Fountains spouting green water at the White House?  Is it a horrible toxic spill, a remnant of last week‘s coal ash sludge spill in the Potomac?  No, this is thanks to First Lady Michelle Obama who‘s inspired by her hometown Chicago‘s tradition of dyeing the river green for St.  Patrick‘s Day.

And tonight, we are celebrating with a special St.Paddy‘s Day cocktail moment.  Helping us celebrate is the king of cocktail, master mixologist Dale DeGroff.  Dale is the author of the book, “The Essential Cocktail.”  Dale, thank you so much for being here.  It‘s so nice to see you.

DALE DEGROFF, WORLD-RENOWNED MASTER MIXOLOGIST:  I‘m absolutely delighted to make the inaugural cocktail on the RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.  

MADDOW:  It is true.  Also, you‘ll have to talk about counterinsurgency. 

DEGROFF:  Oh, my god. 

MADDOW:  But we‘ll start with this.

DEGROFF:  I‘m going to start with coffee in these nicely-warmed mugs.  We‘ll have sugar cubes in the bottom.  And we‘re going to make the world famous Irish coffee.  And I‘m making these three glasses that are perfect for making it.  Because these glasses are the right size and they force you to make a great cocktail.  Why?  Because you can‘t put too much coffee. 

MADDOW:  Aha.

DEGROFF:  If you put too much coffee, you drown the Irish whisky and the whole gig is off. 

MADDOW:  OK. 

DEGROFF:  So what we‘re going to do is put the shot last after I‘ve had the chance to dissolve these babies.  

MADDOW:  So we‘re looking at like, a six-ounce glass, maybe?  

DEGROFF:  Oh, yes.  No more than six to eight ounces.  No more.

MADDOW:  OK.

DEGROFF:  We want to fit that nice ounce-and-a-half.  Let‘s get the sugar nicely dissolved.  Let‘s do our Irish whiskey.  And the cream is the fun part.  The cream lays on top.  The whole idea of this is a perfect delineation between black and white.

This little beauty was created in Foynes Field during the Second World War by Joe Sheridan who was a chef. 

MADDOW:  OK.

DEGROFF:  And he used to make this one.  It was nasty and cold and foggy for the arriving - the only way to get into Europe was through Foynes Field on the flying boat.  It was so nasty all the time that Joe - isn‘t that beautiful?

MADDOW:  I could never do that.  

DEGROFF:  Just laying - that‘s the cloud.  If you whip it just right

so that it‘s got enough air to float, but not so much stiffness -

MADDOW:  Is this whipping cream?  Or is it -

DEGROFF:  This is whipping cream.  Yes. 

MADDOW:  It is whipping cream.  So OK.  So you don‘t want to beat it so it‘s stiff.  

DEGROFF:  Exactly.  Now, in the home, you might want to just use a white wine glass, the one on the end, because you probably don‘t have all these fancy glasses.  That will work just fine.  It‘s exactly the right size. 

MADDOW:  Spectacular.

DEGROFF:  I want to give you the pretty one.  

MADDOW:  Oh, thank you.  I never get the pretty one.  

DEGROFF:  Kent, let me give you the largest one.  

MADDOW:  Can check with the producers?  Am I allowed to take a sip of this?  Yes.  Cheers. 

KENT JONES, POP CULTURIST:  Cheers.

(CROSSTALK)

DEGROFF:  I have another quick one if you‘d like.  

MADDOW:  Oh, yes, please.  

DEGROFF:  I know you‘re in a hurry so I‘m going to do this.  It‘s half Irish.  

MADDOW:  No, it‘s OK.  I feel suddenly very relaxed. 

DEGROFF:  Half really good Irish whisky and Irish mist.  And we‘re going to shake them together.  But I‘d like you to do that if you don‘t mind because I know you‘re an expert cocktail maker. 

MADDOW:  Tada.  I‘m shaking Dale DeGroff‘s cocktail shaker right now. 

Oh, my god. 

DEGROFF:  I have this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) around here.  That‘s good, what‘s cooking.  And I‘m going to break the seal.  Do you know how to do it, though? 

MADDOW:  No, I know.  

(CROSS TALK)

DEGROFF:  Look at that.  Unbelievable.   Here we go.  This is going to get a little layer.  It is a cold, coffee-less Irish coffee called the Dubliner.  And I did this in Prague, where they told me the cream didn‘t whip up properly.  But they were just lazy bartenders. 

MADDOW:  You made this in the Czech Republic, and they were like, “No, we don‘t whip in Prague”? 

DEGROFF:  Here‘s our little guy.  Yes, they were just too lazy to do it.

MADDOW:  Tell me.  What is this called again?

DEGROFF:  It‘s called the Dubliner.  Actually, I called it “Molly‘s(ph) Milk” after the name of the bar.  But I thought Dubliner sounded better when I got back here.  

JONES:  Isn‘t that delicious?

MADDOW:  Oh, that‘s spectacular.  I think that I have a problem with

hot cocktails.  I think that I -

DEGROFF:  You drink them too fast? 

MADDOW:  Maybe that‘s what it is.  Something about cold feels, “Oh, this is right and this is wrong.”  But this is delicious.  I kind of get around this.

DEGROFF:  And easy to make.  It‘s just a cup of coffee with a shot.

MADDOW:  A cup of coffee, shot of Jamisons and then lightly whipped cream.  

DEGROFF:  No sugar in the cream, sugar in the coffee.  

MADDOW:  And so does it get sweeter as drink it down? 

DEGROFF:  Sort of.  Isn‘t it that good?  Just like light, should I think?

MADDOW:  What about - so the Buena Vista in San Francisco lays claim the original.  

DEGROFF:  Stanton Delaplane found this in Foynes Field, actually in Shannon Airport.  Then he brought back this guy name Jack Koeppler who owned the bar at that time. 

MADDOW:  He learned the drink in the airport?

DEGROFF:  He learned it at Shannon Airport.  He brought it back and said, “You‘ve got to do this.”  Well, by 1960, they had sold 30 million of them.  I think they made a pretty good choice.  They‘re still making thousands a day.  It‘s the whole deal over there. 

MADDOW:  But the Dubliner is your own?  

DEGROFF:  That‘s my own.

MADDOW:  Tell me the proportion again.

DEGROFF:  Half and half.

MADDOW:  Half and half of Jamison and Irish mist. 

DEGROFF:  Irish mist - yes. 

MADDOW:  And then you top it off with the whipped cream. 

DEGROFF:  It‘s a beautiful thing.  Look at that. 

MADDOW:  Dale DeGroff, you‘re very, very fancy.  You‘ve changed the way the country drinks for the better.  Thank you very much.  Enjoy responsibly.  I want to say happy St. Patrick‘s Day to everybody.  Dale‘s book is called, “The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks.”  We have a link to Dale‘s Web site with his Irish coffee on our Web site, “Rachel.MSNBC.com.”  Cheers, everybody. 

Thank you for watching tonight.  We will see you here tomorrow night.  “COUNTDOWN WITH MR. KEITH OLBERMANN” starts right now.  Have a great one.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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