updated 7/19/2010 3:34:56 PM ET 2010-07-19T19:34:56

Guests: Bob Cavnar, Ken Cook, Valerie Plame-Wilson

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over):  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The big test: Pressure reading of 8,000 -- ideal.  Pressure reading of 6,000 -- not good.  The early pressure readings in the capped well: 6,700 to 7,000 PSI—right in the middle.  Who knows?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I think it‘s important that we don‘t get ahead of ourselves here.
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OLBERMANN:  Bob Cavnar on the PSI and restarting the relief wells; and our guest, Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group, on the continuing human crisis caused by dispersants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN COOK, ENVIRONMENTAL WORKING GROUP:  We walked into this almost completely blind—almost completely unprepared to understand the impact of the use of these dispersants.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN:  The Republican solution to everything: nothing.  John Boehner wants a moratorium on federal regulations of anything.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER:  I think having a moratorium on new federal regulations is a great idea.  It sends a wonderful signal to the private sector they‘re going to have some breathing room.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN:  If that is, they can still breathe after all those unregulated dispersants.  “John of Orange” codifies the “party of no.”  Peter King wants to make sure Republicans don‘t tell the voters their real plans.  Gene Robinson tries to save us from the tall grass.
Keeping nukes from terrorism.  Not scare tactic, not phony war, but common sense.  The documentary film “Countdown to Zero”:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The objective of al Qaeda is to, quote, “kill 4
million Americans.”  You‘re not going to be able to kill 4 million people
by hijacking airplanes and crashing them into buildings.

(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN:  Our special guest, former CIA operative, Valerie Plame.
“Tea Time”: Michele Bachmann launches the House Tea Party Congress. 
Tea for one?
And his best friend among his classmates in the fourth grade was a 20-year-old kid named Floyd—just Floyd.  Part two of “I went to Sullivant” on “Fridays with Thurber.”
All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
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OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.
As day 88 of the Gulf crisis takes us past the first 24 hours of oil not spewing into those waters, the pressure builds over whether or not the pressure has literally built—built enough that the well is deemed safe and can remain shutdown and shut in.
In our fifth story: The pressure readings are less than ideal.  The word of the day has been ambiguous.  But at least the backup plan is not necessarily failure.
Now that the oil gusher is at least temporarily sealed, the all-
important pressure tests have been coming in to determine the well‘s
integrity.  And those results are, unfortunately, ambiguous.  After more
than 24 hours, the pressure reading stood at about 6,700 pounds per square
inch or PSI, or PSIs.  But not just—not—just as water in a non-
leaking garden hose would build to a certain level, the ideal level for
this pressure test would be normally higher, between 8,000 and 9,000 PSIs -
according to Admiral Thad Allen.

Pressure readings below 6,000 might indicate an undiscovered leak, possibly somewhere below the seafloor.  But Admiral Allen said that so far, seismic probes of that seafloor have not indicated a leak in the ground.
The other possibility, scientist say, is that the low pressure readings are simply the result of a depleted reservoir.
In any event, the pressure test will continue for at least six hours.  And with the well sealed, if the well needs to be reopened, Admiral Allen said there is no doubt there would be some discharge again into the environment.
This morning, the president urged caution, even while pointing out the obvious good news that if the flow of oil and containment must be resumed, it might soon capture up to 80,000 barrels of oil per day once BP positions up to four ships to collect the oil.  The president also stressed the work that remains even in the best case scenario.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA:  Now, in the meantime, obviously, we still got a big job to do.  There‘s still a lot of oil out there.  And that‘s why we‘ve got more skimmers out there.  There‘s better coordination on the ground along the shorelines.  There‘s still going to be an enormous cleanup job to do.  And there‘s still going to be the whole set of issues surrounding making sure people are compensated properly, that the $20 billion fund is set up and is acting expeditiously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN:  Let‘s turn once again to oil and gas industry veteran, Bob Cavnar, who writes about the industry for “The Huffington Post,” as well as his own Web site, “The Daily Hurricane.”
Bob, good evening, again.
BOB CAVNAR, OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY VETERAN:  Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN:  All right.  Give us your assessment of this latest data.
CAVNAR:  Well, as we feared, the results of these tests are inconclusive, and we‘ve also lost three days of drilling time on the relief wells—which got me more concerned than anything else.  This pressure of 6,700 pounds is below, obviously, the ideal that that they had put out yesterday.
But this afternoon BP actually moved the goalpost from 8,000 to 9,000 they set for good integrity down to 7,500, which is a lot closer to the 6,700.  So, I think, the next 24 hours is going to tell us something that if it actually builds more, but I‘m really not expecting it to build much beyond here.
OLBERMANN:  I was going to say, Admiral Allen indicated that the pressure would continue to rise.  But it was rising between two and 10 PSIs per hour.  So, if you knock the number down to 7,500, it‘s going to be quite a while before you get to 7,500, isn‘t it?
CAVNAR:  Yes, it‘s going to be next year.
OLBERMANN:  Yes.
CAVNAR:  It‘s only built about 20 pounds over the last 24.  So, I wouldn‘t expect it to build, you know, 500 or 600 over the next 24.
OLBERMANN:  Anything to the theory that the oil reservoir itself has been depleted over the last three months that it would produce pressure readings?
CAVNAR:  I think, clearly, there is some depletion.  I mean, we put out probably, you know, 4.5 million to 5 million barrels out of this reservoir.  And as we were talking about earlier, it takes more wells than just one to drain this entire reservoir.  So, what happens as you get a big pressure drop around that particularly wellbore, it won‘t drain as well.  So, there probably is some depletion going.
OLBERMANN:  Bob, this idea about the sort of failsafe on this being OK, we‘re not going to be able to keep this thing capped, but we are with that new stack cap going to be able to withdraw 80,000 barrels of oil per day, or that‘s the high-end number anyway—
CAVNAR:  Right.
OLBERMANN:  -- that could be captured via various relief efforts from the cap, if they resume the oil flow.  That‘s fine.
But the second part of it is, once BP positions up to four ships, why aren‘t those four ships in there in the last—since the beginning of April?
CAVNAR:  Well that—that‘s been the question that I‘ve been asking since April and May also.  You know, there are ships all over the world that would—that would volunteer their time to be here.
I think part of the challenge here has been building these free standing risers.  As I understand, they have three of the four completed now.  So they can probably take 60,000 barrels a day and the fourth will allow 80,000 barrels a day.  So, if they had to open it up now, I think they could get most all of the flow.
OLBERMANN:  What—what‘s the status on the relief wells and the work towards drilling them?  We know how close they were within what seems to laymen as a few feet.  Has that been resumed?  Is it going to be resumed?
CAVNAR:  Yes, this morning, at the 7:30 briefing, thank goodness, they announced that they recommenced operations.  The first thing they had to do is do another ranging run to make sure they were where they wanted to be.
Then they‘re going back in the hole now with the drill bit.  They‘re
going to drill 34 more feet and set the final string of casing.  After that
after they make sure that they have it set, submitted and tested, then they‘ll drill out and heads towards the intersect, which is about another 110, 120 feet.

OLBERMANN:  Any idea what the long end would be if this thing has, in fact, set up further breakages in the wellbore further below the surface and it‘s going to essentially sprout a new leak somewhere else on the sea floor?  What‘s the maximum period of time that the pressure could build up?  In other words, what‘s our delay—is there a point at which we are safe from the threat?
CAVNAR:  You know, I have to tell you: these kinds of wells, Keith, that have this kind of permeability, or ability to flow, their buildup curb is almost vertical.  They build very quickly, and then they flatten out.  And if they do gain pressure, it will be very, very little.
So, I think we see the maximum pressure here.  I‘m more concerned about the bottom-hole pressure, about where they intercept the well with the well shut in.  That‘s something to think about, because they could have some pressure problems down below if that was the case.
OLBERMANN:  Well, industry veteran Bob Cavnar—as always, thank you, Bob.
CAVNAR:  Great talking to you tonight, Keith.
OLBERMANN:  What if the toil has stopped for good, giving way to: what if the oil already spilled has done irreversible damage?  And what if the massive use of chemical dispersants will cause further and possibly exponential damage of its own?
BP has used 1.8 million gallons of dispersants on the surface of the Gulf and 5,000 feet below at the leak since the disaster erupted 88 days ago.  And this count is according to the “Associated Press.”  This week, the Senate held hearings on the issue alone, and lawmakers from both parties expressed dismay.
But the EPA and other federal agencies involved did not show a greater sense of urgency as to the dispersant risk.
Our next guest, the president of the Environmental Working Group, Ken Cook, says that the government allowed unprecedented use of those dispersants.
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COOK:  We walked into this almost completely blind—almost completely unprepared to understand the impact of the use of these dispersants on human beings, the marine environment, and the long-term health of the Gulf and beyond.
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OLBERMANN:  BP‘s dispersant is also now the subject of another lawsuit.  The nonprofit environmental law firm Earth Justice has filed a federal lawsuit to force the EPA to release safety studies on those chemical dispersants.
And let‘s bring in, as promised, the president of the Environmental Working Group, Ken Cook.
Thanks for your time tonight, sir.
COOK:  Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN:  We know what these chemical dispersants were supposed to do to the oil.  But what do these chemicals do to everything that is trying to live in the water?  Or do we not know the answer to that question?
COOK:  We don‘t really know the answer.  Lisa Jackson, our EPA administrator, has said on a number of occasions that with regard to the use of these materials to disperse the oil, in this fashion, the quantity being used, the fact they‘re now being used at depths they were never designed for and tested for before, we were in literally uncharted waters, her words.
We don‘t know the most rudimentary facts about the chemicals in full detail.  We don‘t know their ingredients.  We do know that workers are being exposed.  We know some of the constituents of these chemicals are showing up in their blood—the cleanup workers, the workers at the sites.
And so, we see another unfolding catastrophe here now, precisely because—as I said at the top—we didn‘t do our homework.  We didn‘t force BP to give us those answers and all the other oil companies in the business before this unthinkable—supposedly unthinkable—event happen.  Of course, most of us were thinking it might happen at some point, but we just weren‘t prepared for it.
OLBERMANN:  More to BP in a moment, but practically speaking, given the amount of time that you and people aligned with you had spent sort of game-planning or at least theorizing what might happen in these circumstances, what practically is needed to be done, you know, not in new regulations, but with the new sun in the morning to reduce the human health risk from dispersants?
COOK:  Well, we want to take care of the workers.  We want to make sure that we are monitoring their health.  If they have health problems that come up on the job, I don‘t think we want to be sending them, as we understand, they‘re being sent to BP medical technicians.
We don‘t want them to go to the company doctor.  We want to do air monitoring, water monitoring.  We need to develop a protocol—a method for detecting these chemicals in fish.  We learned yesterday from the federal agency in charge of that, NOAA, that they don‘t have a protocol to find these dispersant chemicals in game fish or commercial fish.
So, we‘re really far, far behind the curve in understanding these very basic questions.  And it‘s just one more reason why this unnatural catastrophe is really such a catastrophic failure of government, of regulation, of law, and of the companies operating down there who told us all along this is not going to happen.
OLBERMANN:  Well, and you say that, obviously, the knowledge of what these dispersants could do is so limited.  Even within that limited knowledge, did BP some way make it worse?  Did they do anything particularly novel or problematic in terms of how they used dispersants as opposed to how others are used it in the past, beyond sheer volume?
COOK:  Well, if you start at the first sort of controversy about this, BP first not estimating accurately what the flow was, and then suggesting that this gusher—the amount coming out—wasn‘t relevant.  Well, then how did they know how much dispersant to use?  What would be the right formula for determining that?
So, from the get-go, this has been a makeshift operation.  I think seeing planes flying over the water and dumping the dispersant was in part designed to show that action was being taken.  Clearly, nothing was being done very effectively below the surface until yesterday.  And so, as a consequence, I think—not to put it too cynically—I think there was an effort to demonstrate that we‘re throwing everything at it we‘ve got.
The problem is: we really don‘t know that more harm wasn‘t done than good by putting these chemicals at these quantities on the surface.  The EPA administrator finally forced BP to stop doing that at the end of May.  But by then, huge quantities of chemicals have been dumped.  And now, we‘re dumping them below the surface in the hopes of breaking up the oil before it causes more harm.  We don‘t really know if that will really work.
OLBERMANN:  And the stuff that we‘re seeing is mostly for show, as those berms indicated.
Ken Cook, the president of the Environmental Group—great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
COOK:  Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN:  So, Democrats, you say your president‘s polls are slipping.  Your voters are stepping on tar balls the size of Caroline Center in New York and they‘re slipping.  Is that what‘s bothering you, Bunkie?  Well, hold your head up high and shout hooray because John Boehner just announced the GOP wants a moratorium on regulating Wall Street, regulating insurance and regulation anything else.  And if you can‘t win the damn midterms pointing that out, we might as well be a one-party system, Bunkie.
Gene Robinson is next.
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OLBERMANN:  The orange man announces GOP policy that could save the midterm for the incumbent party, a moratorium on federal regulation of everything—you know, what‘s long been advocated by anarchists.
Her first cable news interview on a topic she knows all too well, the risk of nuclear materials in the hands of would-be terrorists.
Speaking of those kinds of people, he reveals all the racist signs at all the Tea Party events for the last two years have been plants by one group.  One group that was created four months ago.
And back in the good old days when a kid could spend 12 years in the fourth grade.  The conclusion of “I went to Sullivant” on “Fridays with Thurber.”
Ahead on COUNTDOWN.
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OLBERMANN:  We already knew about the Republican plan to repeal the increasingly popular health care reform law.  Yesterday, we heard John Boehner‘s pledge to repeal financial reform.
In our number four story: today‘s peek at the Republican playbook reveals two extraordinary events.
First, a plan for a moratorium on new federal regulation on things like Wall Street and big business and insurance because—well, sir, who couldn‘t use another mortgage meltdown, or maybe a Deepwater Horizon?  And two, keep the rest of the Republican plan a secret so no one could criticize it before the November election—like voters.
Yesterday, New York Republican, Peter King, a guest on the Bill Bennett radio show—not a lot of room—not a lot of air left in that room.  The host asked the congressman if GOP constructionism was enough to inspire voters.
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REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK:  It‘s a combination of being against what Obama is for, and also giving certain specifics of what we are for.  Having said, I don‘t think we have to lay out a complete agenda, from top to bottom, because then you would the national mainstream media jumping on every point and trying to make that a campaign issue.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN:  After what John Boehner said today, you can understand why Republicans might want to keep the agenda under wraps.  Speaking to reporters after a meeting with business owners, John of Orange was asked about one of the proposals floated in the 90-minute session: a moratorium on new federal regulations.
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REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER:  I think having a moratorium on new federal regulations is a great idea.  It sends a wonderful signal to the private sector they‘re going to have breathing room.  And I think there‘s probably a way to do this with an exception for, you know, those emergency regulations that may be needed for some particular agency or another.  But if the American people knew there was going to be a moratorium in effect for a year that the federal government wasn‘t going to issue thousands of more regulations, give them some breathing room.
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OLBERMANN:  Oh, OK.
According to last month‘s NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll, the majority of this country disagrees with that statement by the Republican leader.  Instead, it is in favor of new regulation of Wall Street, of big business, of the health care industry, and the oil industry—which Boehner‘s people do say—would fall into the emergency regulations category, you know, after the fact.
Democrats were quick to pounce on Boehner‘s remarks, Maryland representative and DCCC chairman, Chris Van Hollen, releasing this comment:
“Republican Leader Boehner‘s comments are Exhibit A of how Washington Republicans want to adopt the same policies that got us into this mess to begin with.”  I think he‘s being complimentary there.
Let‘s turn to “Washington Post‘s” associate editor, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, MSNBC political analyst, Eugene Robinson.
Gene, good evening.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Great to be here, Keith.
OLBERMANN:  No regulations so as to reassure private businesses.  Please tell me you that checked and Rahm Emanuel is printing up the t-shirts as we speak.
ROBINSON:  I have not checked to see that the silkscreen machine is running at this moment.  But, look, you could do a series of t-shirts.  You could have the Joe Barton BP apology.  You could have the Jon Kyl revelation of the Republican economic policy—and now, this.  I mean, it‘s not as if the Democrats don‘t have something to run on this fall.  So, get out there and run on it.
OLBERMANN:  Yes, I mean, it is an extraordinary statement, even for the Republicans who might as just come out and say, you know, we‘re in big business‘s pockets.  Because to talk about it being a wonderful signal to the private sector that they‘re going to have some breathing room.  You know, as I said, we don‘t have breathing room on the Gulf Coast right now because of the lack of regulation, because there‘s no breathing being done because of the dispersants in the water and the air.
What—how could—who said to Boehner, this is a good idea?
ROBINSON:  I have no idea who said to Boehner it was a good idea.  Whoever it was should be retired from his or her position.  This is—first of all, this would certainly not reassure big business.  Can you imagine a business trying to operate in a—in a complete regulatory vacuum?  No one would want that.
And second, the idea is just absurd on its face.  It sounds to me just like something to say.  So, he said BP, regulation, bad word.  Let‘s say moratorium and regulations.  It can‘t have been thought through for five nanoseconds, really.
OLBERMANN:  If you‘re trying to find something to say under these circumstances, what you say is: oil spills are bad.  Or, you know, we‘re against people losing their homes, or we don‘t want, we don‘t want a meltdown in the mortgage industry.  We don‘t want insurance people to—insurance agencies to collect 50 percent of your income.
If you‘re looking for something to say, just say hi.  Just say hello. 
I mean, this is—
ROBINSON:  Right.  Well, that‘s what you say, Keith.  And not only that, but that‘s what the American people believe.  Every poll shows that there is no desire out there for the federal government to get out of the regulation business and thus allow these sorts of catastrophes to befall Americans on—on an even—on an even more regular basis.  It‘s just a crazy thing for him to have said.
And maybe he‘ll take it back.  But who knows?
OLBERMANN:  Clearly, the Republicans could get much farther by just saying, we‘re the party of hello, and that‘s all that counts, between now and the elections—hello!  Because Peter King‘s comment is—that‘s another thing.  Has he been, you know, inhaling dispersants or something?  Because he‘s now saying we‘re not going to tell the voters anything because our message might get revealed by the—by the mainstream media.
Do—even people likely to vote against Democrats in that sense of the anti-incumbent purge, don‘t they want to hear somebody that‘s not just the—here‘s the blank check and pen, take all my money and all my liberty?
ROBINSON:  You know, I don‘t know about you and I hear echoes of Richard Nixon‘s secret plan to end the Vietnam War.
OLBERMANN:  But that was a secret plan for one thing.  I mean, obviously, it‘s the most important with time, but it‘s not as if he said, I have a secret plan for everything.  And that‘s what Peter King is saying here.
ROBINSON:  Exactly.  He‘s saying there‘s a secret plan for everything and his reasoning is that the maraschino cherry on top of a sundae that we don‘t want to tell everybody because then, the media will examine it and they‘ll ask questions and maybe, you know, it will turn out that people realize it‘s all kind of stupid.
OLBERMANN:  But is there any chance that Peter King and Boehner got together and they said, OK, the one thing we should talk about is how we‘re going to give breathing room to the private sector, we‘re going to be in big businesses‘ pockets, that you can tell them.
ROBINSON:  I don‘t know what they got together and discussed.  I don‘t know what they were smoking.  You suggested inhaling dispersants.  That‘s a possibility.  I don‘t know.
But, I certainly don‘t know who told King that it was a good idea to say we‘re not going to tell the American people what we would do if they were to put us in charge.  And if—again, if the Democrats can‘t make some political hay of that, then that‘s malpractice.  They should be—
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OLBERMANN:  Turn it—turn it over to the Bush family as a monarchy and just get the hell out.  That‘s something to say.  And I‘d also—I‘d like to apologize for the implications about huffing dispersants.  If there‘s anybody who is huffing dispersants, I‘m sorry.  I compared you to these GOP leaders.
Gene Robinson of MSNBC and “The Washington Post”—I‘m sorry, a little loss of oxygen in here, too.  Great thanks my friend.  Have a great weekend.
ROBINSON:  Have a good weekend, Keith.
OLBERMANN:  Valerie Plame on keeping nukes out of the hands of terrorists, live—coming up here on COUNTDOWN.
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OLBERMANN:  Valerie Plame on how to keep nukes out of the hands of terrorists.  Also, “Tea Time” and “Worsts.”
First, the sanity breaks starting with the Tweet of the Day from Eric Stangel of “The Late Show with David Letterman.”  “As of today, Mel Gibson has officially released more hate-filled audio tapes than Osama bin Laden.”  He and Justin Stangel now the first brother team to each win TOTD.
Let‘s play “Oddball.”
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We begin at a pet show in Taiwan, where every dog gets his day.  Good hair day that is.  On display here, the latest doggy hair trends.  You bastards.  There‘s the Raggedy Andy, and the Turtle, and the I just used whatever paint I had leftover. 
But if hair trends are not for you, there‘s also doggy yoga.  I believe that one is called upward facing dog.  The pets were groomed and mellow, until a cat showed up sporting the friends cut and was ejected because 1995 wanted its style back. 
From dog hair to invisible hair, where a team at the Tokyo Institute of Technology has finally made something worse than the Flow-Be.  It‘s called Air Hair.  It‘s designed to train barbers without ruining real hair.  The simulated scissors use an infrared LED to determine its position.  Even that has a motor that mimics the resistance of real hair. 
There are still a few bugs to be worked out.  For instance, half the pilots keep trying to cheat during the Kobayashi Maro (ph). 
Finally to South Carolina, where the Charleston River Dogs have an unusual giveaway.  It‘s the Alvin Greene bobble head doll.  The idea came about after Green was quoted as saying make toys of me as a way to create jobs.  I don‘t know how many jobs were created by pasting his face on a male Statue of Liberty.  When you press the button, it doesn‘t say a damn thing. 
Valerie Plame‘s first cable news interview on the anti-nukes movie, “Countdown to Zero.”  It‘s here next.
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OLBERMANN:  It is a neat trick to talk seriously and soberly about the prospects of terrorists gaining access to nuclear materials and yet not lapse into hyperbole or towards creating the terror for them.  Our third story, in a new documentary film, former CIA covert operative Valerie Plame tries that tight rope act.  She‘ll join us in a moment. 
First, the details.  We know that al Qaeda and its associates are interested in obtaining nuclear weapons.  We also know for sure that if they were to get one there would be little doubt they would try to use it.  The film “Countdown to Zero” outlines how just one misstep in policy in counter terrorism efforts, one simple accident could lead to global disaster. 
While the Obama administration is now taking the lead on nuclear arms reduction, it is hard to rest easy.  White House counter terrorism advisor John Brennan explained back in April, “over the years al Qaeda, including some senior al Qaeda members, have claimed that they already have such nuclear capability or weapons.  That‘s not proved, but also, at the same time, it‘s difficult to disprove something like that.” 
The crucial back story, explained by Plame in the film and other experts, al Qaeda tried to obtain highly enriched uranium in the Sudan in the early ‘90s, but was scammed.  Just before 9/11‘s attacks, Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Al Zawahiri, met with two Pakistani nuclear scientists to discuss nuclear weapons.  Nuclear terrorism expert Graham Allison summing up their motivation. 
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GRAHAM ALLISON, NUCLEAR TERRORISM EXPERT:  OLBERMANN:  The objective of al Qaeda is to kill four million Americans, including two million children.  This is, in his calculation, what is required to balance the scales of justice.  He takes various incidents from Shatila to the war in Iraq and counts up the body count and says that‘s how many people we‘re owed, four million. 
You are not going to get to kill four million people by hijacking airplanes and crashing them into buildings. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN:  Joining me now, as promised, former CIA operative Valerie Plame-Wilson.  She appears in the documentary “Countdown to zero,” which opens July 23rd in New York.  It‘s a pleasure to see you in person, finally. 
VALERIE PLAME-WILSON, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE:  Thank you for having me. 
OLBERMANN:  Without the fear mongering, without another phony war, what is the coolest solution to keeping nukes out of the hands of terrorists? 
PLAME-WILSON:  The movie “Countdown to Zero” I think makes a compelling and powerful argument that the only way to do this is ultimately to get to zero.  You have to, I like to use the expression, drain the swamp.  No one has any notions that this is either going to be done unilaterally.  It won‘t be done easily.  It will take time. 
This is—once you see the movie, you understand the only way we can make sure that there is no accidental nuclear explosions is to get to zero. 
OLBERMANN:  Do you not have to also essentially s roll back the knowledge of how to make these things?  Do you have to make it like sort of the future equivalent of alchemy.  Maybe they knew how to do this, and maybe they really didn‘t know how to do this? 
PLAME-WILSON:  Well, fortunately it‘s still very much a pro‘s job.  The good news is that there‘s never been a nuclear program that intelligence was not able to ultimately detect.  It‘s huge infrastructure.  It‘s very expensive.  The downside is that because now we‘re no longer in that bipolar world, the genie is out of the bottle.  When I was working for the CIA, I worked at that nexus of terrorism, WMD.  That is how the world has changed significantly.  That‘s where the proliferation rally—the concern is, the terrorists. 
OLBERMANN:  Is there, in the interim, while that long-term project is worked on—obviously, it would be a long-term project.  Is there a comfort provided by somebody like the Times Square bomber, who went and got potting clay instead of fertilizer, who thought he could light the thing up with fireworks, and who locked his keys in the car bomb?  And I‘m not trying to make fun of that, by any stretch of the imagination.  I live here. 
But detonating just an ordinary bomb was beyond this man‘s capability.  Detonating—as you say, nuclear materials are—if you‘re not a professional, something bad is going to happen, and it‘s going to happen to you first. 
PLAME-WILSON:  He was particularly feckless, that‘s for sure.  That doesn‘t take away how critical and how pressing this threat is.  This is not an issue that‘s been talked about much since the end of the Cold War.  It hasn‘t been in vogue.  The Cold War ended and we kind of put it to the side. 
However, as the film points out, there‘s, for instance, a scene with a car thief in one of the former Soviet republics.  On the side, he thought he would sell some highly enriched uranium, fissile material.  There—one of these commentators in the film says potatoes are guarded better than highly enriched uranium. 
OLBERMANN:  2002, as you will recall, we were told nukes—nukes to terrorists, Iraq.  Now we‘re told nukes to terrorists, Iran.  How much of it is hysteria?  How much of it is real?  How can that threat and the idea that a state sponsor for some sort of terrorism might actually—that connection might actually exist at some point? 
PLAME-WILSON:  That‘s the scary part.  It is not hysteria.  The threat is very real.  It‘s not just that—there‘s also with nuclear weapons the danger of miscalculation, of accidental usage.  Look at a country that is, perhaps, on the verge of anarchy, like Pakistan.  How can we be assured that their command and control structure is still—has the integrity to withstand all the volatility that that country is experiencing right now? 
No, it‘s unfortunately not hysteria. 
OLBERMANN:  The same centrifuges that make nuclear fuel can also contain and create nuclear weapons.  Do we have to rethink energy policies, too?  Not just in this country, but globally? 
PLAME-WILSON:  The film doesn‘t really focus on—it doesn‘t take a stance on nuclear energy.  I‘m certainly not an expert in that.  But I will speak to something that—last year, the United States signed an agreement with the United Arabs Emirate.  They called it the Gold Standard, whereby they would—the UAE would, in fact, buy their processed fuel on an international market.  So there‘s no question that that‘s what they‘re getting.  They‘re going to be using it at a particular grade of—they‘ll use it for nuclear energy rather than process it higher into what can be used in nuclear weapons. 
OLBERMANN:  Well, so far so good.  Former CIA office Valerie Plame, who appears in the documentary “Countdown to Zero,” a great pleasure to see you.  Thanks for coming in. 
PLAME-WILSON:  Thank you for having me. 
OLBERMANN:  Fridays with Thurber and his days as a fourth grader with classmates who were 20 and 21 years old.  The conclusion of “I Went to Sullivant.”
The racists claim there is no racists in the Tea Party.  They‘re reduced to levels of absurdity by her accusation that a national polling outfit is racist because it asked its participants what race they were. 
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, her special report on her trip to Afghanistan.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
OLBERMANN:  It‘s not just that there isn‘t much racism in the Tea Party.  The contention is there‘s none, zero.  That‘s next in worsts.  First, no, that‘s not your water coming to a boil.  It‘s our nightly checkup on the something for nothing crowd.  It‘s Tea Time. 
Fifty percent of life really is an imitation of a Monty Python sketch.  From Washington and the Committee on House Administration there comes this letter.  “I would like to register the House Tea Party Caucus as a congressional member organization.  The 111th Congress has Tea Party Caucus, will serve as an informal group of members dedicated to promote America‘s call for fiscal responsibility, adherence to the Constitution”—
(INAUDIBLE). 
Michele Bachmann, Chairwoman Michele Bachmann, Chairwoman Michele Bachmann of the House Tea Party Caucus.  Chairwoman Michele Bachmann of the House Tea Party Caucus, consisting of the following members: Michele Bachmann. 
Meantime in Kentucky, Rand Paul has vowed to start a Senate Tea Party Caucus.  He bets on Paul not blowing what remains of his once big lead or about his only potential other member, Sharron Angle, when she out-Tea Partied the chicken lady, Sue Lowden, to get the Republican nomination in Nevada, she led Reid by three points in the Mason-Dixon poll.  The new Mason-Dixon poll is now out, Reid by seven, a ten-point swing in six weeks. 
It is one thing to believe America agrees with you and your regressive, narrow-minded, prejudiced politics.  Go ahead.  Have a good time.  But to think you are winning when you are getting your asses kicked, that takes us back to the Monty Python sketch.  Or more correctly, the Eric Idol spoof of the Beatles called “The Ruttles.”  The band was suddenly influenced by the spiritual teachings of an Indian Yogi, who turns them on to a new hallucinogenic drug.  A new hallucinogenic drug is obviously a metaphor for LSD.  The new hallucinogenic drug is TEA, tea.  I think we just found out what the stuff is that Michele Bachmann has been drinking.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
OLBERMANN:  Part two of Thurber‘s “I Went to Sullivant,” that‘s next, but first get out your pitchforks and torches, time for tonight‘s worst persons in the world.
The bronze to right wing blogger S.E. Cupp.  Enraged at a “Washington Post”/ABC poll showing 43 percent of white voters strongly disapprove of Obama‘s job performance.  Her complaint, the Post and ABC were, quote, “injecting race where it does not belong.  Shame on the ‘Washington Post‘ and ABC for doing this poll, which clearly just serves to agitate racial tensions.”  Like this was the first poll to ever ask respondents their race.  There are a lot of dumb right-wingers.  A lot.  but if one of them purports to be a political analyst but doesn‘t know that virtually ever poll, from Rasmussen on the right to PPP on the left, always asks every respondent their race, she would have to be considered the dumbest of the right-wingers. 
The runner up, Tea Party Express Chairman Mark Williams.  You remember him.  Yesterday he released a fictional letter to Abraham Lincoln rejecting, supposedly on behalf of African-American, you know, emancipation, the one in which he used the noun colored 12 times.  He could he make that worse? 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK WILLIAMS, TEA PARTY EXPRESS:  It‘s impossible—it‘s impossible for there to be a racist element in the Tea Party.  You don‘t get it.  The Tea Party is about human rights.  It‘s about the United States Constitution.  The United States Constitution—
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What about the signs with the president as an African with a bone in his nose?  What is that?
WILLIAMS:  Again, those signs were brought to the Tea Parties by Crash the Tea Party, which was a coalition of anti-Tea Party groups. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN:  Yeah, that Crash the Tea Party group, they were created this year in April, pretty much fizzled out too.  The bone through the nose sign, the Obama monkey signs, all the rest of those were last year. 
Besides which there‘s our winner tonight, Billy Roper, Tea Party write in candidate for governor of Arkansas.  Quoting him in the “Kansas City Star.”  “I don‘t want non-whites in my country in any form or fashion or any status.  We go to these Tea Parties all over the country.  We‘re looking for the younger, potentially more radical people.” 
Does Mr. Roper represent every Tea Partier?  Lord, I pray not.  What he does do, by himself, is disprove the naive rantings of Mr. Williams.  There is, at minimum, a racist element to the Tea Party.  The Tea Party better do something about it and fast, before it kills off whatever good it thinks it is trying to do.  Billy Roper, Tea Party white supremacist write in candidate for governor of Arkansas, today‘s worst person in the world.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
OLBERMANN:  We end the week, as we always do, with a suggestion made by late father as I read to him in hospital room last winter that I should read these same stories to you, the works of James Thurber, 20th century writer, reporter and singular illustrator and cartoonist, one of the renaissance men of American humor. 
I read, as ever, from “The Library of America, Thurber, Writings and Drawings,” just reprinted, largely because of these readings, edited by Garrison Keillor.  Though those this story was originally published in “The Middle Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze” in 1935, the second half of this story.  It‘s of Thurber‘s eight years in the Sullivant School of Columbus, Ohio, particularly the fourth and fifth grades, where, as Thurber, “many pupils lodged there for years, like logs in a brook, where,” if he is to be believed, one of them, the dean of the squad, was a tall husky young man of 22, who was in the fifth grade.  The teachers of the third and fourth had got tired of having him around as the years rolled along, and they pushed him on.  His name was Dana Waney.  And he had a mustache. 
Waney and a fourth grader named Floyd—nobody knew whether Floyd was Floyd‘s first name or his last name—he apparently only had one—starred on the Sullivant baseball squad, whose fans were sure our team could have beaten Ohio State University that year, but they wouldn‘t play us.  They were scared. 
We rejoin Thurber in 1904 in the fourth great in Columbus, with his new friend Floyd, in the conclusion of my father‘s favorite Thurber story, “I Went to Sullivant,” by James Thurber.
“I don‘t suppose I would have ever got through Sullivant School alive if it hadn‘t been for Floyd.  For some reason, he appointed himself my protector, and I needed one.  If Floyd was known to be on your side, nobody in the school would dare be after you home and chase you home.  I was one of the 10 or 15 male pupils in Sullivant School who always—or almost always knew their lessons.  I believe Floyd admired the mental prowess of a youngster who knew how many continents there were and whether or not the sun was inhabited. 
Also, one time when it came my turn to read to the class—we used to take turns reading American history aloud—I came across the word ducane and knew how to pronounce it.  That charmed Floyd, who had been slouched in his seat, idly following the printed page of his worn and penciled textbook. 
‘How‘d you know that was ducane, boy,” he asked me after class?  “I don‘t know,” I said.  “I just knew it.” 
He looked at me with round eyes.  “Boy, that‘s something,” he said.  After that, word got around that Floyd would beat the tar out of anybody that messed around me.  I wore glasses from the time I was eight, and I knew my lessons.  Both of those were considered pretty terrible at Sullivant. 
Floyd had one idiosyncrasy.  In the early 1900s, long, warm, furry gloves that came almost down to your elbows were popular with boys.  Floyd had one of the biggest pairs in school.  He wore them year round. 
Dick Peterson was an even greater figure on the baseball team and in the school than Floyd was.  He had a way in the classroom of blurting out a long deep rolling “beeyah” for no reason at all.  Once he licked three boys, his own size, single handed.  Really, single handed, for he fought with his right hand and held a mandolin in his left hand all the time.  It came out uninjured.
Dick and Floyd never met in mortal combat, so nobody ever knew which one could beat.  The scholars were about evenly divided in their opinions.  Many a fight started among them after school when that argument came up.  I think school never let out at Sullivant without at least one fight starting up.  Sometimes, there were as many as five and six, raging between the corners of Oak and Sixth Streets, and the corner of Rich and Fourth Streets, four blocks away. 
Now and again, virtually the whole school turned out to fight the Catholic boys of the Holy Cross Academy on 5th Street, near town, for no reason at all.  In winter, with snowballs and ice balls, in other seasons, with fists, brick bats and clubs.  Dick Peterson always in the van yelling, singing, beeyahing, whirling all the way around when he swung with his right, or, if he hadn‘t brought his mandolin, his left, and missed. 
He made himself the pitcher on the baseball team because he was the captain.  He was the captain because everybody was afraid to challenge his self-election, except Floyd.  But Floyd was too lazy to pitch and he didn‘t care who was captain, because he didn‘t fully comprehend what that meant. 
On one occasion, when Earl Battock, a steam fitter‘s son, had shut out Mound Street school for six innings without a hit, Dick took him out of the pitcher‘s box and went in himself.  He was hit hard, and the other team scored.  But it didn‘t make much difference because the margin of Sullivant‘s victory was so great. 
The team didn‘t lose a game for five years to another grammar school.  When Dick Peterson was in the sixth grade, he got into a saloon brawl and was killed. 
When I go back to Columbus, I always walk past Sullivant School, I have never happened to get there when classes were letting out, so I don‘t know what the pupils are like now.  I‘m sure there‘s no more Dick Petersons, and no more Floyds.  Unless Floyd is still going to school there. 
The play yard is entirely still bare of grass and with gravel, and the sycamores still line the curb between the school house fence and the Oak Street car line.  A street car line running past a schoolhouse is a dangerous thing as a rule, but I remember no one being injured while I was attending Sullivant. 
I do remember, however, one person who came very near being injured.  He was a motorman on the Oak Street line.  And once, when his car stopped at the corner of 6th to let off passengers, he yelled at Shooty Davidson, who played third base on the ball team, who was a member of the Terrible Fourth, to get out of the way. 
Shooty was 14 years old, but huge for his age.  And he was standing on the tracks taking a chew of tobacco.  “Come on down off of that car and I‘ll knock your block off,” said Shooty, in what I can only describe as a Sullivant tone of voice.  The motorman waited until Shooty moved slowly off the tracks.  Then he went on about his business.  I think it was lucky for him that he did. 
There were boys in those days. 
“I Went to Sullivant.”  That‘s COUNTDOWN for June 28th—it‘s not June 28th, is it?  June 28th?  It said June 28th up here.  It‘s July 16th, isn‘t it.  My goodness, I thought I was having another seizure.  Portions written by James Thurber.
It‘s 2,633rd day since President Bush declared mission accomplished in Iraq, the 2,222nd day since he declared victory in Afghanistan, and the 88th day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf. 
Next, Rachel‘s special report summarizing her trip to Afghanistan.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, taking a couple of weeks vacation off now.  So we‘ll see you whatever two weeks from today is.  Good night and good luck. 
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