Guests: Jack Jacobs, Joshua Trevino, Anu Bhagwati, Kayla Williams, Donald
Downs, Jeremy Scahill, Josh Trevino, Hina Shamsi, Karam Nachar
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris
Hayes. Former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, was sentenced to life in
prison this morning for killing more than 800 people who demonstrated
against his rule last year.
And George Zimmerman has until 3:00 p.m. eastern time tomorrow to turn
himself into the Seminole County Jail after prosecutors in the Trayvon
Martin shooting case argued that in Zimmerman`s bond hearing, he failed to
disclose the $200,000 he had in donations from supporters.
But I want to start today with my story of the week. I cringed when I
saw the headline used to describe comments I made on this show last Sunday.
"MSNBC`s Chris Hayes feels uncomfortable calling fallen soldiers heroes."
Here are the remarks that headline was referring to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It is, I think, very difficult to talk about the war dead and
the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the word heroes? Why
do I feel so uncomfortable about the word hero? I feel uncomfortable at
the word hero because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate
to justifications for more war.
And I don`t want to, obviously, desecrate or disrespect the memory of
anyone that`s fallen, and obviously, there are individual circumstances in
which there is genuine, tremendous heroism, you know, hail of gunfire,
rescuing fellow soldiers, and things like that, but it seems to me that we
marshal this word in a way that is problematic, but maybe I`m wrong about
(END VIDEO CLIP)
That`s two words, uncomfortable next to heroes went viral. And I can
understand entirely why someone reading those headlines would think at a
very minimum, what a jerk. And in fact, I heard from a lot of people
saying that and worse.
Many of the responses I received on Twitter and by e-mail were
profane, some including from veterans and active service members were
supportive or respectfully critical, and some came from people genuinely
anguished by what I said.
One basically said, "My brother died in Iraq. Who the hell are you to
say he wasn`t a hero. And uncomfortable, really, Mr. TV pundit? If causes
you discomfort that someone might call my brother a hero, well, too bad."
And reading those messages, I had to agree. Who was I to say who and who
is and isn`t a hero?
It hardly seems a designation that is mine to deny or even really to
confer, which is in a very clumsy way what I was trying to say, or at least
what I wanted to discuss. Not what makes a hero or who`s a hero, but
rather this. We have a society that on the one hand has become comfortable
with war, and on the other hand, wants to distance itself from it as much
To outsource it to contractors, to robots, and to the 2.3 million
volunteer men and women who`ve been asked to serve for longer durations
than in any time in recent history. Our political culture sometimes seems
engineered entirely to make us hate each other.
What we`re trying to do here on the show, and obviously, we don`t
always succeed, is to talk about sometimes quite sensitive topics in good
faith to explore ideas and perspectives that don`t always get a hearing and
to think through the news with understanding and empathy. To wrestle with
our shared public life grounded in real experiences.
We tried to do that last week. But I fell short in a crucial moment.
So, I want to try it again. And joining us in that effort today, Anu
Bhagwati, executive director and co-founder of the Servicewomen`s Action
Network, Texas Public Policy Foundation vice president for communications,
Army vet who went onto service and speechwriter for President George
W. Bush, and he launched the website, RedState.com, MSNBC military analyst,
retired Army Col. Jack Jacobs, author of "Basic: Surviving Boot Camp and
Basic Training," "If Not Now, When: Duty and Sacrifice in America`s Time of
And Kayla Williams, author of a great book, "Love My Rifle More Than
You," young and female in the U.S. army about her time as a sergeant in
Iraq, now a fellow at the Truman National Security Project and a project
associate at the military think tank, the RAND Corporation, though, I
should note she is not speaking on RAND`s behalf here today.
Jack, you wrote something in the wake of the controversy that emanated
from last week that I thought was really interesting. And, there was a
line in there where you said, you talked about the change in the
composition of the percentage of Americans that are actively serving or
have someone who`s an active service member or have served in their
And it`s been shrinking as the share of the population, even during
the period where we`ve had the longest sustained period of war,
essentially, in the nation`s history. And you have this line, and you
said, it`s easy to love the troops when you don`t have to be the troops.
COL. JACK JACOBS, (RET.) MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: You know, I was
thinking about when I came back from Vietnam many years ago. There are
riots in the street. It was a long and unpopular war, and there were riots
in the streets. And today, we have -- we`ve had a number of long and
unpopular wars. No riots in the streets.
And one of the independent variables is that you don`t -- there`s no
draft. And you can pause at the notion that says if we had a draft now, in
which people were arbitrarily selected to go into the uniform which is what
selective service really means, and it`s not universal, it`s selective
(INAUDIBLE), that you would have riots in the streets here, too.
And I`m very much concerned as you are of a wide gulf that`s opened up
between the people who are serving and the people who are being served.
It`s easy to be complacent about service when you don`t have to do it.
HAYES: The draft question is one policy solution to this divide. And
in fact, Charlie Rangel, obviously, a decorative (ph) veteran who serves in
Congress, at one point, was proposing. I think it entered legislation. I
JACOBS: He was looking for a way to get out of -- not him getting
out. He was looking for a way to get people to confront the notion that
he`s going off to war.
HAYES: That`s right.
JACOBS: And he didn`t want to go off to war, and that was his way of
HAYES: I mean, my instincts on that is that all volunteer services
were a good policy change from the days of the draft.
JACOBS: I think it --
HAYES: No -- yes -- no, I`m curious. I mean, I actually don`t have
particularly well form of thought of use on this. I`m curious that that is
-- if we`re talking about the military divide, if we`re talking about
exactly this issue I`m putting my finger on which is that we`ve been waging
war for a decade and a very small share of people have to actually fight
it, and a large percentage of population complacent that strikes is one
FMR. LT. JOSHUA TREVINO, U.S. ARMY: You know, the volunteer (ph) for
us, first of all, has performed far better, I think, than even its most
avid proponents could have imagined when it was, I believe, back in 1973 is
when they inducted the last draft -- the last of draftees (ph). The
solution or the problem that renewed drafts would purport us all strikes me
as a big pause (ph), this idea of bringing together the civil military.
I`m not convinced that it`s a particularly good one. I mean, I think
the colonel is entirely correct that we are able to have this long and
popular war certainly have now, specifically because we don`t have a draft,
because there isn`t --
JACOBS: Well, I`m not suggesting that the draft is the solution. I`m
suggesting that universal service is the solution. We don`t have anything
in common in this country. A larger portion of people in Iraq votes where
you get shot if you vote, than vote in the United States of America. I`m
not a fan of selective service. I think that`s a rotten idea, too. And
one of the reasons --
HAYES: That`s interesting. Just to distinguish, I mean, there are
countries -- just to be clear, this policy of universal service is very
common, for instance, in Europe, and people can choose different forms of
service. It`s not all military service. People have the option to serve
in in domestic capacities, but universal service is something that is not
uncommon in a lot of countries around the world.
TREVINO: But I think this is a bit of a different measure (ph),
though, because in America, we don`t consider service a state as such to be
the hallmark of being American when you`re American, the leverage of being
an American citizen about participating your life and by living it alone.
And so, you don`t need state validation, any serve -- any deform be at
universal service, be at military service to legitimize that.
FMR. CAPTAIN ANU BHAGWATI, U.S. MARINES: And yet, how do we measure
that, right? I`m a fan of selective service to women, because it has
actually implications for --
JACOBS: I think everybody should --
BHAGWATI: -- for women`s service in the military right now where
they`re perceived, in many cases, as second class citizens, because, you
know, they`re not allowed to do the things that many men are --
JACOBS: The one thing that you said, I`ll give you the averse of the
notion that service to the states should not designate you as a citizen,
and, yet, the other side of the coin is we have people who are aliens in
this country. We`ve decided that they`re going to wear the uniform of this
country while everybody else watches television, and yet, they can`t become
FMR. SGT. KAYLA WILLIAMS, U.S. ARMY: I had a theoretical
understanding of the public policy, valid good reasons for possibly going
back to that. But when I was on the ground, I had no desire to serve along
side draftees (ph). It was tough enough to be there with people who chose
to enlist and didn`t want to go off to war after having chosen to enlist.
And I thought, God, I don`t want to be here with people who are here
against their will at all. And that was widely shared by the people that I
was serving at that time. The opinions may certainly have shifted in the
year since then.
JACOBS: And, yet, those who have actually fought in combat will tell
you what I`m telling you, that in the crucible of war, the other guys are
trying desperately to kill you, we fight for the country and we fight to
accomplish the mission. But most of all, we fight for each other, whether
the guy was a draftee or left-handed or anything else. We didn`t care
about anybody but each other.
HAYES: Kayla, your point about -- I think that`s a really interesting
point. And I think, from my understanding of reading that history of the
conversion of the end of the (INAUDIBLE) force were concerns precisely
about that, right? There were concerns about the readiness of the force
and the nature of the force.
There`s a whole wave of literature in the armed services about the
fact that they felt that the draft force was not producing the best
possible soldiers, right? It wasn`t concern about -- you know, or maybe it
was just political pressure that didn`t want to, you know, keep implicating
TREVINO: There was this lovely debate that Milton Friedman had with
Gen. Westmill (ph) at that time, and then, I guess it was in the late
1960s. I forgot exactly what year it was, but -- in which they argued
about whether the quality of a draftee versus the volunteer was going to be
more on (INAUDIBLE) until I think we can take as a stand in for the
military establishment at the time argued that the draftee was just as good
as a volunteer. And in fact, we found that --
JACOBS: But he served in the Second World War, but we had plenty of
draftees, and we won the war. And he served in Korea, but he had draftees,
and although, we didn`t win, we weren`t fighting anymore. He knew as far
as that`s concerned --
WILLIAMS: Things are very different today. We have much more
complicated equipment. We have systems that are much more difficult to
use. Literacy is required in a way that it simply wasn`t necessarily in
World War II for your basic infantry soldier.
Things have changed tremendously, and I think to be able to maintain
the high standards that are required to produce the level of troops that we
see today, I think it would be much more difficult to do that if we opened
JACOBS: The whole point about service, it`s very easy to drift down -
- get down the road and say, we need "N" people in order to man the
military we have today, and they have to have "Y" capability. They have to
have these levels of leadership -- being able to lead and all of the rest
of that stuff.
This is Jacob`s talking. My notion of service has nothing at all to
do with feeling the force -- feeling the competent force in order to fight
the enemy. We can do that.
BHAGWATI: There`s a lack of public engagement and civic engagement in
this country right now, and we see it, you know, in the sense that only one
percent of -- or less than one percent of the country is serving in the
military, but you know, broader than that, you know, there are so many
programs that we could support right now.
I mean, you know, a two-year mandatory service after, you know, after
high school in a number of different field and sectors, you know? Teach
for America Peace Corps. You know, serving in your local community in any
number of capacities. We lack that sense right now in this country.
HAYES: Josh, your disagreement with that proposition, I think, is
very close to what my disagreement is. So, I want you to say it right
after we take this break.
HAYES: All right. We`re talking about the civilian military gap, as
people refer to it and particularly during this decade of war, and the
longest period of war with all volunteer force. Josh, you come from
several generations of people that served.
TREVINO: I do.
HAYES: You, yourself, served. And, Col. Jack was just saying
basically that he envisioned some sort of collective service or mandatory
universal service as a way of -- in trying in citizenship, a way of sort of
bringing the nation together in certain ways and not letting people off the
And you seemed uncomfortable with that idea when we first brought it
up. I`d like you sort of articulate why?
TREVINO: I am. You know, I don`t think there`s any denying that
there`s a decline of institutions in American life that`s been going on for
at least two generations now. And so, whether it`s the military, churches,
civic organizations, whatever you have, there is this kind of bowling alone
phenomenon that`s been going on for a long time, and it`s a real problem.
But I don`t think you can compel by government fiat any kind of
solution to this. It`s really a cultural issue, and it`s not something
that the state can deal much about. When you look at what (INAUDIBLE)
great about United States, and it is our participation in family, churches,
private institutions. And that`s what has to revive in order to reclaim
this idea of American citizenship.
WILLIAMS: As a soldier after 9/11, I was surprised by the nation`s
response and the response of our leadership that the solution to go
shopping as opposed to finding a way to serve. My aunts told me when I was
younger about using eye liner to draw lines up the backs of their legs
because nylon was rationed, but there was -- during World War II.
But there was no rationing, there was no sense that we, as a nation,
had to come together, because we, as a nation, were going to war. It was
those people get sent off to war. We, soldiers, got sent off to war
without the nation coming together to support us in that.
HAYES: And one of the things -- Josh you just talked about
institutions, and one of the things that`s a brutal fact about American
life right now, and I think it has all sorts of implications.
I`d like to hear your thoughts on is that the most trusted institution
in American life by far, in the general social survey which is the most
rigorous measure of this and in Gallup and I`ve looked at the state a lot
for the book I wrote is the United States armed forces. By far. Sixty, 65
percent of the people have --
JACOBS: And where is the congress?
HAYES: And Congress is at 12 percent.
JACOBS: It`s lowering Osama Bin Laden. There`s a lower approval rate
in Osama Bin Laden.
HAYES: And you have -- so you have a situation which I think would
make the founders incredibly uncomfortable given the fact that a lot of
them opposed yet. You had the standing (ph) army. You have a situation
which the most trusted institution in American life is the armed forces.
The least trusted institution is the first branch of the United States
government, the representation of government -- Congress. What do you make
of that? What does that say about our politics right now?
BHAGWATI: Well, it`s interesting. I mean, you say the most trusted
institution is the military, but when you look at the decisions made by the
99 percent who aren`t serving, or you know, who haven`t had numbers of
their family in the military, it doesn`t really add up to that notion.
I mean, I just read a study this year -- excuse me, this week, done by
Harvard about veterans who -- and apparently, veterans are much less likely
to commit fraud as CEOs than non-veterans, right?
So, there`s a sense that -- you know, if either those were joining the
military are serving grain (ph) with these values and were trustworthy,
they`re learning some of those skills and values in the military, but
there`s a great deal that we have to learn from the military as a society.
JACOBS: If the problem is that we don`t have any faith in our
institutions, and the of the institutions are greatest faith is in the
military, the solution to that problem is not to, at this -- you`re talking
about effectively aggression`s law --
HAYES: Right, yes.
JACOBS: -- is not to make the military worse, but to make the
JACOBS: And we focus a great deal on the presidential election. And
at the end of the day, it`s the Congress who really makes a difference.
This president of the United States decided before he was going to get
elected, it was a close one to him. What do you think it`s a good idea or
not think it`s a good idea?
The fact of the matter is that the president says closed one time.
Well, tell the secretary of defense to go ahead and do that. Staff study
was done. Determining required $80 million to close, and the --
appropriation`s committee decided not to appropriate the money. That`s the
reason. Focusing attention on the executive is probably misguided. We
need to focus much more attention on what happens on --
HAYES: But doesn`t it also create a subtle -- this gap, right, in
reputational capital, right? The degree to which people look at and say
General Petraeus, right? And they look at a senator, they say, they
largely say as someone like General Petraus, I trust what you have to say,
and they largely say to political leaders, I do not trust what you have to
When we have the conversation, a public conversation among civilian
and military alike about what the nation is going to do as a whole in our
war policy and our defense policy. It creates all sorts of imbalances, I
I mean, one of the things we`ve seen from the reporting about this
administration and the decision to escalate in Afghanistan, to send more
troops, is that they felt boxed in by the fact that the generals wanted
that, and the president did not.
Now, maybe it`s a good thing that they did that, maybe it`s not, but
that seems to me that is a result in some respects of exactly the
differencing in reputation.
JACOBS: Although, that decision was operational one. The whole idea
-- military is very good at one thing. Both business and government on the
take of page from the military book and that is that you start at the end
and work backwards. You ask first before you allocate resources, what is
it you`re trying to accomplish?
And when that decision was made, that question was asked and it was
answered that what we wanted to do was withdraw. And the only way that we
can withdraw, it seems like an irony, but it`s not in military terms is to
make sure that we are able to withdraw by increasing the force levels at
the time, because we knew we were going to get out.
WILLIAMS: I think the other interesting factor about your point of
giving so much respect to the opinions of military personnel is the false
assumption that military personnel can speak with a unified voice. That we
don`t have differences of opinion within the military community or within
the veteran`s community, which we do.
There are differences of opinion about whether or not women should be
able to serve in combat. There were differences of opinion about "Don`t
Ask, Don`t Tell" repeal, and the false assumption that one person can
represent what all military personnel think is, I think, equally dangerous.
TREVINO: I think it was ever thus, though. I think that you can go
back through -- I don`t think I know you can go back through American
history and see plenty of examples of generals and civilian leaders of
this, you know, back to the Mexican war, Lincoln with his generals, very
JACOBS: When McArthur got fired.
TREVINO: Rightly so, actually, but you know, McArthur pushed it
harder than anybody possibly could in these states, especially. I think
one thing to keep in mind, though, is that when we look at the military and
the respect in which it`s held, I mean, this is actually a success of
It` very rare throughout history -- throughout the history of the
world to have a military this powerful, this organization when unified
that`s not clothing some kind of coups. I mean, we`ve actually very much
succeeded the fact that Stanley McChrystal (ph) can lose his job and career
over "Rolling Stone" article, meaning that this isn`t working in a sense.
BHAGWATI: But I want to challenge this idea of the American society
really respects veterans. I mean, again --
HAYES: They say they do. They tell pollsters they do.
BHAGWATI: But you know, in our last Congressional elections, veterans
run for office were only (ph) not elected to office, and we`re seeing a
good number, you know, trying again this Congressional cycle, and
hopefully, we`ll get more veterans in office. But, even in terms of
businesses, you know, hiring veterans, we`re not seeing much of that.
There`s a lot of talk on Wall Street about hiring veterans, but you
know, they`re talking about just a few if you`re in there, you know, in the
WILLIAMS: Because I wonder if some of the respects is a little bit
WILLIAMS: Thank you for your service. I hear that a lot, and it
makes me profoundly uncomfortable. That`s another thing there`s
disagreement within the veterans which (ph) I know plenty of vets who like
being thank for their service, but it makes me uncomfortable. I chose to
enlist pre-9/11 partly to get college funds.
And, I was doing my job. I got deployed to Iraq. I went through
combat as a professional. It was my job. And when people thank me, do you
go around and thank police officers? Do you go around and thank
firefighters? Do you go around and thank TSA agents?
WILLIAMS: Nobody thanks TSA agents except me, I think. That`s my
little like --
HAYES: Thank you for your service, the TSA agents.
WILLIAMS: -- because they are roundly, you know, put upon.
HAYES: We`re going to talk to someone who actually studied this issue
and particularly how it plays out on college campuses and elite circles
right after we take this quick break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADMIRAL MIKE MULLEN, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: America
doesn`t know its military, and the United States military doesn`t know
America. We cannot afford to be out of touch with them. And to the degree
we are out of touch, I think it`s a very dangerous course.
And that it will generate an outcome some day. We`ll wake up one
morning, it will be an event that will cause us to examine this. And in
that, we will find out that yes, we are less than one percent, and yes,
we`re living in fewer places, and then, we don`t know the American people
and the American people don`t know us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Adm. Mullen,
talking about this issue that we`ve been discussing this morning. And what
I think was interesting about that, you made this point that there`s a
difference between what people tell pollster`s about the respect they feel
towards the armed forces and institution and veterans as individuals and
how the nation acts.
And I -- my theory is that there`s a connection between those two
things, that part of the -- that we -- there`s a lot of guilt in this
country about the fact that so few of us are serving. And that manifests
itself in all kinds of ways, but it doesn`t necessarily manifest itself in
the most effective ways in terms of policy.
WILLIAMS: When I speak to Americans around the country, I`ve been
shocked at how little they know about what happens in combat today. I have
people asked me if I was allowed to carry a gun because I`m just a girl.
And others asked me --
HAYES: You posed -- I should say that you posed on the cover of your
book with the gun.
WILLIAMS: And I had others asked me if I was in the infantry, which
is still not authorize under current regulations. But I also do get lots
of questions about what can I do. I think there is a desire to help, a
desire to serve. What can I do to help our troops? What can I do to help
our veterans? And that hasn`t been effectively tapped, so far.
There are efforts like the joining forces initiative to make that
happen. But what I struggle with as an advocate most is how do I push for
the proper supports to be in place to help those who are having a tough
time transitioning home, transitioning out of military service while not
perpetuating the stereotype that I think is starting to really deeply take
route, that that`s our broken, homeless, unemployed, homicidal, suicidal --
HAYES: Haunted by mental health and --
WILLIAMS: -- generally broken. And how do I push for having support
available for those who are struggling with demons or having a tough time
getting reintegrated while not perpetuating that myth, because over the
long haul, vets are more highly educated, and their peers who have never
served have higher unemployment than their peers who have never served.
And post-traumatic stress with early evidence-based treatment is
certainly something that people can recover from and continue to have
richful lives where they`re strongly connected to their communities where
they serve in numerous ways.
JACOBS: Well, the defense department is responsible for part of this,
you know? It takes three to four months to transition somebody from being
a civilian or being a soldier. And we get in three days to transition out.
I think the defense department has a lot to answer for.
The defense department and the services have a responsibility to make
sure that troops get the proper transition and support that they need. And
it`s great that we have civilians who really want to do that, and a lot of
corporations, A, pay lip service, and B, do a lot for veterans and citizens
do to, but I think DOD has got a lot to answer for in this regard.
BHAGWATI: And I would add to what Kayla said by just saying that, you
know, when it comes to things like post-traumatic stress and depression,
you know, there`s still quite a lot of stigma, not just within the
military, but also in the civilian where all, you know, among employers or
yes, you know terrorize -- whether spoken or unspoken, there`s a sense that
veterans are unstable.
WILLIAMS: -- of hiring managers say that they are afraid that vets
that they hire will have some sort of mental --
WILLIAMS: Even though very few have actually seen that once they`re
on the force.
BHAGWATI: Right. Right. So, this tendency of sort of, you know,
victimized veterans -- veterans, absolutely, many are and coming home from
war and leaving the service with enormous challenges, physical or mental
health challenges, but they`re not insurmountable, right? And so, you
know, we, as a nation, whether or not we directly work with veterans need
to understand that there are high-functioning, you know, Americans in every
WILLIAMS: -- as communities to come together to help reintegrate.
HAYES: I mean, it points to exactly this sort of caricaturing or
condescension that you noted before that that is part of what the kind of
divide that we`re talking about.
TREVINO: Let me speak up for the American public --
HAYES: Oh, yes. I love the American pubic --
TREVINO: One of the things --well, we hope they`re (INAUDIBLE).
HAYES: Yes. And e-mailing.
TREVINO: When I was boarding the plane to come here yesterday from
Austin, Texas, the they`re (INAUDIBLE) had arrived and wasn`t unloaded.
The sky run off of jet way, and it turned out he was an E-3 coming back
from likely Afghanistan -- right to the arms of his wife. The whole
terminal applauses (ph). It was very moving, actually. Even I, you know,
shed a manly tear, for briefly.
But, you know, in this respect of the point that you`re making, Kayla,
that, you know, that there may be some kind of (INAUDIBLE) or ease with
which they -- they`re grateful to you without understanding what you did.
I actually think this is much of a virtue among the American public than we
give them the credit for.
Because as I like it or not, whatever our motivation, I mean, I joined
the army so I could get a college education. You joined the army for your
own reasons. We all joined the service for whatever reasons, or unless,
we`re drafted in which case we have no choice. But, nevertheless, whatever
our individual motivations, you, you did what you did for them.
You went to war for them as an expression of this Democratic society
that we`re all part of. And so, in as much as they recognize that, that
actually speaks to their benefit. And I would be - I`m grateful that we
have a country that at least has that kind of awareness.
WILLIAMS: But I`m not sure that that awareness exists deeply enough.
I think Admiral Mullen`s point from the clip that you showed is very valid.
We have -- if you look at enlistment rates, they`re much higher in
communities around military installations, because there are people like
you who are from multigenerational families.
And when I came back from Iraq to Ft. Campbell, the Clarksville,
Tennessee, every sign, every mattress store, "thank you for your service,"
"welcome home, troops." And I went to visit my family in other states,
non-existent. You wouldn`t know the nation was at war, unless, you are in
a community right around a military installation.
And that sense of -- I don`t want to say oblivion, but the extent of
what you have to do as an American to recognize the service of our troops
is to put a magnet, not even a bumper sticker that (INAUDIBLE) but a yellow
ribbon magnet on the back of your car. That`s something that I find
HAYES: What you`re pointing, too, also, as you say, in terms of what
the numbers look like, I mean, one of the trends, and we`ll talk to
Professor Donald Downs who has written and studied this in just a second,
but -- is that the geographic areas that -- I mean, this is a huge change
that`s happened in the last 10 or15 years.
I mean, recruitment is happening in a smaller and smaller war ends,
and war geographically -- intensely geographically focused in American
life. I mean, just literally as, you know, in -- are there people serving
or are there recruiters in 50 square miles at me or 10 square miles at me.
The answer yes or no, it is two Americas in that sense.
JACOBS: That clip of Admiral Mullen was taken at the National Defense
University. So, he was talking to the greater American public. He was
talking a several hundred very high-ranking people in service. And so, his
message was to them, not to the American public. And I think that he was
then and still is absolutely right there`s a big gap between us.
HAYES: We`re going to talk with someone who studies the way in which
this gap plays out right after we take this quick break.
HAYES: I want to bring in Donald Downs, professor of political
science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and co-author of the new
book, "Arms and the University Military Presence and the Civic Education of
Non-Military Students." Professor Downs, really good to have you. Thank
you so much for joining me.
I want to ask you -- Josh Trevino said something a moment ago about
parts of the aspects of this relationship between civilians in the
military. It never was thus. I want you to say as someone who sort of
study this how much is that the case and how much has changed about the way
in which particularly in elite circles, the military and civilians are or
are not relating to each other.
DONALD DOWNS, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON: Right. Well, there
always has been attention between the military, civil society to some
extent, but since it`s pointed out by the panel already today, since 1973,
the gap has widened in various respects, especially different geographic
redistributions of resources, ROTC becoming somewhat more regionally
And military bases going more to areas in the south and parts of the
Midwest. So, there has been a kind of exacerbation. And of course, as was
pointed out by the panel earlier on in your show, because less than one
percent of the American public now is really bearing the full burden of
warfare. Most people just really don`t have that much connection to it.
So, there`s always been a bit of a gap. In some ways, a gap is
constitutionally good because we don`t want to have a militarized society.
But, once it becomes more extensive, that creates all the problems that
you`ve been talking about today in your show.
HAYES: Are there ways to change that? We talked -- we kicked off the
discussion, and we ended in the conversation about the draft, which I think
is probably, I would say the most extreme policy recommendation one could
give or even the colonel recommended something --
HAYES: Are there ways to change that in terms of policy that are
quite at that level.
DOWNS: Yes. Well, first of all, I like the point that someone made
on the panel about just cultural awareness. And, I`ve seen that in writing
the book, just what`s happened in the universities in the last five years.
Lot more discussion about the absence of military history, more discussion
about the need for more military input into strategic studies programs.
And of course, a lot of debate ROTC, especially the colleges like the
Ivy League, and there`s been so much more published about this just --
since in the last 10 years, since 9/11 especially. That there`s a lot more
awareness of the problem than it used to be, and I think that`s important,
so the first big step in the right direction.
In terms of policy, I think it`s a question of, you know, government
programs that fund programs that talk about the issue, make sure we have
scholarships for ROTC students, because ROTC is really important, bridge
between the civilian side and the military side, things of that nature.
But I think it`s really more of a cultural issue than a specific policy
But I could say, the -- it`s a two-way street that`s been pointed out
by your panel. Civil society has sort of retreated, the AWOL problem,
especially among the elite in our society. And -- but it`s also up to the
The military is focusing more on certain areas of the country, certain
rounds within our society for recruitment. And, so, it has to be --
there`d be more programs to bring the two sides together.
WILLIAMS: In terms of programs, I think that the post 9/11 GI Bill
can be a profoundly important part of bridging this gap. We have huge
numbers of military veterans going on to college campuses today, because
the education benefits are finally up at a level that really makes that
possible and to have military veterans, combat veterans sitting in class
alongside undergrads, sharing their experiences, and starting that
dialogue, I think, can be very helpful.
It was really tough for me coming home and engaging with civilians
who, you know, the worst thing that it happened to them was that their
lattes too long (ph) at Starbucks. At least this is the impression that I
got. You know, this is hyper finger (ph) complaining about, and I felt so
alienated, so disconnected.
And I really think it could be beneficial to have those who have not
faced severe hardship on college came as a long tie alongside of combat
veterans. You can say here`s what the third world really looks like, and
here`s what combat stress is really about.
DOWNS: There`s no question about that. We saw the two different
aspects. I mean, one is ROTC where you kind of water down version of what
we just talked about, but also the veterans. And this has just happened
with, you know, the Yellow River Program. We knew the people at Colombia,
in particular, the deed of the general studies program which brings in more
And, he just raved about the impact of the veterans on the campus in
terms of, you know, broadening the diversity of backgrounds, diversity of
experience, diversity of knowledge. And he said it really did have a huge
impact on the knob-military students. And we interviewed -- we surveyed
students in University of Wisconsin-Madison, which is, you know,
notoriously liberal, sort of question the military campus.
And we found large majority of the students that responded to the
survey, talked about the importance of that tangible relationship with
members of ROTC and with veterans. There are two things. One, it
humanized the military in a way it wasn`t scene as the sort of alien other.
And that sort of first grid psychological stuff. And the second thing
it did was provided more tangible knowledge sort of, you know, correcting
misinformation and things like that. So, there`s no question that that
personal connection is important.
HAYES: Madison, Wisconsin`s reputation for liberalness
notwithstanding. Dick Cheney did study there for a little while. This
fact should be noted. More on this right after a break.
HAYES: Colonel, you`re just talking about parallels between 1973,
which is the end of the draft and today, and I`m curious what you see those
DOWNS: Yes. We segued into an all volunteer force, almost by
default. I mean, we had to do that. The country was sick of it, but the
period, 1973 to 1976, those were the years when the current leadership of
the military establishment came into the service. Marty Dempsey and Rio
Denoce (ph), the chief of staff of the army, all the other services all
came in about that time.
And so -- I had some of them in class when I was teaching at West
Point, including Dempsey and (INAUDIBLE). Everybody said this business
about Vietnam, we`re never doing that again. We`re never going to get
ourselves into an environment in which we`re going to fight an unpopular
war and we`re going to do it for a long time, and we`re going to do it on
the backs of a relatively small number of our people.
And here we are now, 40 years later, doing exactly the same thing. We
have intensive bureaucratically not to learn anything.
HAYES: Well, so how do -- I mean, how do we learn? I mean, what are
the lessons of this period, then? Because that, to me, strikes me as the
most important thing. And Professor Downs, I`d be curious to hear you
speak to this as well. I mean, what are the lessons of the fact that we
are now in our 11th year, right?
I mean, 11th year of what is -- what has become an unpopular war in
Afghanistan. And that unpopularities of relatively recent vintage if you
look at the long duration of the war itself, butwhat are the lessons that
we`ve learned from this time around. Professor?
DOWNS: Yes. That`s really hard to say. You know, when Mark Twain
said that history doesn`t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. I consider,
you know, the war on terrorism to be a whole different set of issues from
Vietnam. And, it`s not clear to me what lessons we can learn from the past
in relationship to the war on terror.
WILLIAMS: A broader segment of our population can serve than we
previously believed. Gays can serve honorably and openly. And women
conserve in combat, particularly, in counter insurgency environments,
particularly, in the Muslim countries in a way that it is particularly
JACOBS: Yes. Let me tell you the similarity here between the two
periods. That is revolved solely around the use of the military
instrumental power. Of the three issues of power, economic, diplomatic,
and the military, the one we used to the greatest extent in 1973 and before
that was the military instrument of power.
And today, it`s the military instrument of power. The reason is that
we`re lousy at diplomacy, and we`re lousy at the use of the economic
instrument, and we`re lousy of integrating all three instruments into
coherent use of American power and invariably, our knee jerk reaction, the
default instrument of power is the military.
Why is that? Well, I`ll give you one reason. One is that we`re lousy
at the other two. The other reason is that we`re really, really good. We
have really good people in the military, and they know how to do their
HAYES: When -- we talked -- getting back to that institutional trust,
I mean, the reason there`s institutional trust is because when given a
mission, there is -- it is an institution that acquitted itself a
tremendous confidence over the last 10 years. And there`s a feeling that
the other institutions American life have not acquitted themselves a
tremendous confidence. And so, those two things, I think, feed on each
Donald Downs, political science professor of the University of
Wisconsin-Madison, thanks so much for joining us today. I`m sorry, we got
to go. I really appreciate it.
HAYES: Anu, do you have thoughts about where you think this
conversation or this relationship socially goes if Afghanistan does draw
down, which it`s beginning to look like it does, what next?
BHAGWATI: Well, my fear is that, you know, the American public has a
very short-term memory, right? And so, they`re very focused on when are
troops going to come home from Afghanistan. That`s sort of the end of the
discussion, but what we`re concerned with really is not only the
reintegration of troops, but the care and the benefits that they receive
when they come home.
And one of the reasons I`m so skeptical about this notion that the
American public respects, you know, the military, is that we have so much
work to do to make sure that veterans are cared for, you know, not just by
the Department of Veterans Administration, but also, by the institutions
such as the media, such as government, you now, such as business.
That there`s no actual proof that I`m seeing that the American society
is really learning about how to effectively integrate veterans over the
long term. You know, there`s still a lot of condescending attitudes in
these very privileged institutions about veterans who choose to serve, you
know, about young Americans across society. And for whatever reasons, she
is to wear the uniform.
And we have to examine those patronizing attitudes. And we hear it
pretty regularly, you know, the sort of implications that, you know, young
Americans who choose to serve are somehow, you know, less -- and they don`t
know what they`re getting into. They`re so naive, you know?
But they`re incredibly intelligent Americans serving in our armed
forces today. And I think, really, understanding means that you actually
elect veterans to office and that you hire them in your businesses.
HAYES: I mean, you made the point before Kayla which I think is
always important, and we talk about different parts of society on the show
in different respects. We`re talking about, I guess, there`s about 2.3
million people who has served in the last 10 years. At the lot of people,
There`s terms of what generation (ph) you can bring or what label can
we apply to 2.3 million people. There is a tremendous diversity as you
were saying before. I think that`s also something that kind of get lost in
these conversations because it (INAUDIBLE) generalized.
TREVINO: You know, whatever the critiques are of the American
public`s attitudes towards veterans now, I will take what we have today,
whatever what we had in the 1970s that can become such a long way, and I
think that`s actually to the American public`s credit.
The one thing that I would dispute -- I know we don`t have really time
to examine at this point is whether a veteran`s status entitles you to a
privilege place in society at this point. I`m not sure that it does. I
mean, we are a Democracy -- equitable citizens in which use to serve --
BHAGWATI: Certainly, I don`t think there should be a particular
privilege place, but by law and by policy, veterans are entitled to the
benefits and healthcare that you know --
TREVINO: I completely agree on the healthcare and the benefits and
the course of --
BHAGWATI: The number of veterans are still waiting for those
benefits, you know? I mean, if you`re lucky, you`ll get a claim pass, you
know, within six months, and there`s certainly the Vas improved --
TREVINO: But I think --
BHAGWATI: But, we still have veterans who are waiting years and even
decades for those claims to be processed or appealed. It`s the difference
between whether or not they survive.
JACOBS: If you`re an alien in this country and you decide that you`re
going to wear the cloth of this nation while everybody else is sitting at
home, I think you deserve to be a citizen of this country.
HAYES: Kayla Williams, Anu Bhagwati, thanks so much for joining me
this morning. Really appreciate it.
The so-called kill list in President Obama`s drone war, next.
HAYES: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris Hayes here with MSNBC
military analyst, Col. Jack Jacobs, HIna Shamsi from the ACLUs Natural
Security Project, Jeremy Scahill of "The Nation" magazine, and Josh Trevino
of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
All right. This week, "The New York Times" published an explosive
article about President Obama`s, quote, "kill list". A, quote, "top secret
nominations process that designates for kill or capture in which the
capture part has become largely theoretical," end quote.
The piece details the president`s role in the regular Tuesday
counterterrorism meetings in the White House Situation Room where he pores
over suspected terrorist bios and decide whose death to order next.
And then there`s this, quote, "Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method
from counting casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect
counts all military age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to
several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence
posthumously proving them innocent."
ABC`s Jake Tapper and White House spokesperson Jay Carney got into an
exchange about this on Tuesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don`t have the
assessments of civilian casualties. I`m certainly not saying we live in a
world where the effort in a fight against al Qaeda, against people who
would, without compunction, murder tens of thousands if not millions of
JAKE TAPPER, ABC NEWS: I`m not talking about them. I`m talking
about the innocent people that the United States kills.
That the assumption that if you are with a terrorist when the
terrorist gets killed, the presumption is you are a terrorist as well. And
even if we don`t know even know who you are, right? Isn`t that part of the
reason you`re able to make these assertions?
CARNEY: I am not going to get into the specifics of the process by
which, you know, these decisions are made.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All right. This issue has been bubbling a bit.
Jeremy, you have been doing a tremendous amount of reporting for a
long time. I felt like it really kind of enter the national conversation
assertively for the first time this week even though it`s been the case
that we`ve known much of what was reported on the article for a while.
I want to bracket the question of civilian casualties. I want to get
to that because I think that`s important. I want to talk about the idea
that`s embedded in the article and never quite explicitly stated and, Hina,
I`d like to talk to this, speak to this.
That part of this is we have a completely tangled legal landscape
about how you deal with detainees. And so, there`s been a shift
strategically from trying to capture, to trying to just kill them, because
if you kill them, you don`t have to deal twit with the tangle that is our
legal morass over detainees.
HINA SHAMSI, ACLU: Well, I think that`s an issue that has been
talked about so publicly, whether in fact as a result of the
administration`s detention policy, Congress` action to prevent Guantanamo
from being closed, which would help untangle the detention policy. There
is, now, an emphasis on killing instead of detention.
And administration officials themselves say that is not the case,
recognizing, I think, that it would be and is a severe violation of human
rights law as well as the laws of war for the administration to kill people
that it might otherwise be able to detain. The couple of things when you,
in the news story last week, which is the greater likelihood that that
might be the case according to the way that story was framed.
But I think what we have to do is step back and look at the targeted
killing process and the list itself and what the issues are here.
We have had a program that was begun under the Obama administration
but vastly expanded and accelerated by the Obama administration. And this
is a program in which the executive branch, president claims the authority
to unilaterally declare people enemies oft state including U.S. citizens,
and order their killing based on secret little criteria, secret process and
secret evidence. There is no national security policy that poses a
greater, graver threat to human rights law and civil liberties than this
Two other things that came that were very significant about the
article. One is that we really have a cynical secrecy game being played
right now. Over three dozen people, current and former administration
officials gave interviews Jo Becker and Scott Shane of "The New York
Times." But in court, in response to lawsuits filed by the ACLU, by "The
New York Times", seeking transparency about the targeted killing program,
the government still takes the position that it is a secret that cannot be
If this is a secret, it is the worse kept secret in the world.
FMR. LT JOSHUA TREVINO, U.S. ARMY: I think it`s important to not
leave the audience with the impression that the shift toward killing
suspects via drone campaign is driven by a desire to not capture them and
not have to deal with them, the illegalities of engaging and detention.
The drone campaigns, at least that we`re aware of, are waged in
places like Yemen, like the Pakistani tribal areas where there are no
effective military boots on the ground. And so, it`s not realistic to
expect that the Yemenis, the Pakistanis are going to exercise marshal
duties there and arrest these people. But, nonetheless, we are in a
position in making war upon them.
HAYES: Let me just make, Jeremy, I want your thought on that, but I
just want to make it clear that -- that the implication of this is because
of the legal morass of capturing people -- not from me, it comes "New York
Times" -- the administration`s very success at killing suspects has been
shadowed by a suspicion that Mr. Obama has avoided the complication of
detention by deciding in effect to take no prisoners alive. While scores
of suspects have been killed under Mr. Obama, only one has been taken into
the American custody."
JEREMY SCAHILL, THE NATION: Well, look, I was recently in Yemen.
Before that, I was in Somalia, examining the sort of landscape of these
undeclared wars that the Obama administration is waging around the world.
The fact is that Obama is out-Cheneying Cheney. And I think these
policies would have been totally unacceptable if a Republican was in the
White House. I think you would have seen a much greater scandal erupt much
sooner and it would not have taken a "New York Times" front page story to
be talking about this three years into this administration.
President Obama authorized his first known drone strike three days
after taking office, as he was announcing this radical shift from the Bush
era doctrine of preventive and preemptive war, he then doubles down and
starts escalating the drone campaign in Pakistan.
HAYES: What does that mean out-Cheneying Cheney? I mean --
SCAHILL: Look, look, President Obama is running an assassination
program where in a two-week span in Yemen, he killed three U.S. citizens,
one of whom have been indicted or charged with any crime.
One of them, in the case of Samir Kahn, his family have been told by
the FBI that he had violated any U.S. laws and that all of his speech was
protected First Amendment speech. And he was believed to be the editor of
the Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula magazine, "Inspire." The FBI met
repeatedly with that family and told them that your son has done nothing
wrong, or nothing against the law, not nothing wrong, but nothing against
And Abdul Rahman al-Awlaki is 16-year-old U.S. citizen who`s only
crime appears to have been that his last name is Awlaki, was murdered in a
U.S. strike and there has been no explanation as to why a 16-year-old U.S.
citizen. There`s no indication that any suspected militants were killed.
There`s no indication that any known al Qaeda figures were killed.
That family deserves an explanation. The American people deserve an
explanation. So, what I`m saying is that people talked about Cheney
running, you know, an executive assassination ring. What`s President`s
Obama`s policy? I mean, this would have sparked outrage among liberals and
they are deafeningly silent over this issue.
HAYES: To your point, here is Dick Cheney praising president`s
counterterrorism in an interview with Jamie Gangel of the "Today" show.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I think he`s -- in terms of
a lot of terrorism policies, the early talk, for example, about prosecuting
people in the CIA who have been carrying out their policies. I think he`s
learned that what we did was far more appropriate than he ever gave us
credit for while he was a candidate. So, I think he`s learned from
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s Dick Cheney gloating a little bit, to Jeremy`s point.
COL. JACK JACOBS (RET), MILITARY ANALYST: I think that Josh is
absolutely right. The reason that we don`t -- we`re not capturing anybody
anymore is because we don`t the political will to have sufficient number of
troops on the ground in places where we want to kill or capture their
enemy. We just don`t want any part of it. And as a result, we`re talking
a path of less resistance is really kind of astonishing.
I mean, to go back -- you`re talking about Cheney. If you had Donald
Rumsfeld here, now, this is the way we are fighting the enemy, is exactly
the way that Donald Rumsfeld wanted to fight the enemy, that is to send
remotely piloted vehicles and go and blow them and you don`t need troops on
The fact of the matter is the only way you can actually win wars of
any kind, of any duration, is ultimately to have troops on the group.
HAYES: Rumsfeld, I should note, part of the reason that he butted
heads with the general so much was that he had this vision of a sweeping
organizational transformation of the way that the force fights and --
JACOBS: And he was completely wrong. Rick Shinseki, who`s now
running Veteran Affairs, who at the time was the chief of staff United
States Army, testified among Congress and said, how many people is it going
to take? And he said effectively, it always takes more resources to hold
on than it does to take it in the first place. You`re going to need a
quarter of a million people.
And Rumsfeld who wanted to do it on a cheap, and wanted to do using
all kinds of electronic means because there was too much political trouble
in doing it otherwise, said, no, he doesn`t know what the heck he`s talking
SHAMSI: One of the things we`re assuming here is very important to
bring out which is that this has actually taking place as part of an actual
war. And part of the reasons it`s so controversial is that it`s being used
against people from the traditional battlefield, not in Afghanistan, no
longer in Iraq, where we are not at war. It has been used in places where
the laws of war simply don`t apply.
Now, targeted killing itself can be lawful under some limited
circumstances. So, just talk about laws of war, when people taking up arms
against the United States. But outside of that context, it`s only lawful
if it is used against a specific, concrete and imminent threat under the
human rights law.
HAYES: And there are two kinds of strikes that are being asked in
the program. One are called personality strikes which is a specific
individual with some intelligence about what he is doing, and the eminence
of a threat that he might broke. And there`s something called signature
strikes which were essentially as I understand, stopped by the Obama
administration in the beginning but now have reemerged. Signature strikes
are a group of area in a period that we have a high suspicion are engaging
SCAHILL: We believe we jumped into "Minority Report"/pre-crime
territory with these so-called signature strikes. And what I -- where you
have -- you develop a pattern of life. And as pointed out in the "New York
Times" article, you know, guys doing jumping jacks could be perceived as
being part of an al Qaeda training camp.
I mean, what I saw on the ground in Yemen, I was not just in the
capital Sana`a, but I was in Abyan province where there`s this insurrection
by a group called Ansar al-Sharia, that was a hodgepodge of al Qaeda in the
Arabian Peninsula, and tribesmen that were angry at the fact that he United
States was bombing their areas. And what I saw when I was there, is that
there are unexploded cluster munitions that were dropped under the Obama
In Yemen, kids have been blown after the fact by these unexploded
munitions. People were saying to me, we`ve seen Wuhayshi walking around in
Shabwa, the leader of AQAP, and he`s perfectly safe. But you just bombed
the Bedouin village and you killed all these women children. America can`t
seem to hit the people you claim to be fighting. So if you`re going to
bomb us, and you`re going to bomb us because there are some al Qaeda people
in our area, well, we`re going to join with those fighting against you.
The most dangerous thing I think the U.S. is doing besides murdering
innocent people in many cases is giving people in Yemen or Somalia or
Pakistan a non-ideological reason to hate the United States, to want to
fight the United States. Non-ideological reasons, meaning personal
vendetta, is much more powerful than we have your McDonald`s, we hate your
freedom, we hate your Christianity. That`s real to them.
HAYES: That`s provocative of wording murder. I think I want you to
defend the use of that word, right after we take a break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BRENNAN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COUNTER-TERRORISM ADVISOR: In fact,
I can say that the types of operations that the U.S. has been involved in,
in the counterterrorism realm that nearly for the past year that hasn`t
been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency,
precision of the capabilities we`ve been able to develop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s one of the chief counterterrorism advisors to
President Obama, John Brennan. Here`s PBS "Frontline" documentary in al
Qaeda in Yemen.
Again, Jeremy, you just got back from there and doing reporting on
it. And here`s a reporter pointing to where the American citizen`s son of
Anwar al-Awlaki, a 16-year-old boy who was from Denver was killed, take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GHAITH ABDUL-AHAD, REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: These are the spots where
the son of the American preacher, Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed. His son and
eight of his friends were sitting in this place having dinner. And they
were targeted by one rocket here and another rocket there if you see this
big circle, targeting them, and then another rocket beyond this area. They
say it`s an American targeted killing for an American citizen, of course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Jeremy, you used the word murder before when you talked about
the people who have been killed by these strikes who are not combatants, we
can establish. And obviously, that`s a loaded verb because it carries
certain moral and legal ramifications.
Why do you use that word?
SCAHILL: If someone goes into a shopping mall in pursuit of one of
their enemies and opens fire on a crowd of people and guns down a bunch of
innocent people in a shopping mall, they`ve murdered those people. When
the Obama administration sets a policy where patterns of life are enough of
a green light to drop missiles on people or to use, to send in AC-130s to
spray them down --
JACOBS: But that wasn`t the case here. You`re talking of person
SCAHILL: No, no, that`s -- if you go to the village of Amujula (ph)
in Yemen where I was and you see the unexploded cluster bombs and you have
the list and photographic evidence as I do of the women and children that
represented the vast majority of deaths in the first strike that Obama
authorized on Yemen, those people were murdered by President Obama on his
orders because there was believed to be someone from al Qaeda in that area.
There`s only one person that`s been identified that had any connection with
al Qaeda there, and 21 women and 14 children were killed in that strike.
And the U.S. tried to cover it up and say it was a Yemeni strike and
we know from the WikiLeaks cables that David Petraeus conspired with the
president of Yemen to lie to the world about who did that bombing.
It`s murder when you -- it`s mass murder when you say we are going to
bomb this area because we believe a terrorist is there and you know that
women and children are in the area. The United States has an obligation to
not bomb that area if they believe that women and children are there. I`m
sorry. That`s murder.
TREVINO: In the 60 days before D-Day, the U.S. Army Air Force based
out of the U.K. conducted an interdiction, a road interdiction campaign in
France. Basically, if you were on the road or you ran a railway anywhere
from Paris and Britain for about 60 days, you were attacked by the U.S.
Army Air Force. The intent was to shut down activity in advance of D-Day.
They killed thousands -- thousands of French civilians.
Were they murdered?
SCAHILL: Yes, they were.
TREVINO: No reasonable person thinks that these people were
SCAHILL: I`ve been to these places, and I believe when you drop
bombs knowing you`re going to kill women and children, that`s murder.
HAYES: Let me move from that historical question and move to instead
to the legal question of when we are dealing with American citizens. One
of the things that`s reported in this article is that the office of legal
counsel, which is in the Department of Justice has found that American
citizens who are on the kill list, Anwar Awlaki was just an example, are
covered by the constitutional provision of the Fifth Amendment and due
process. But that constitutional provision can be satisfied, not in a
court, outside the executive but wholly within deliberations that happened
inside the executive.
What do you think of that?
SHAMSI: Well, let me just first say that targeted killing of
civilians is wrong regarded of their nationality. With respect to citizens
-- citizens have a right in the court of law to judicial review. That`s
one of the important things that`s going on here, is the administration
saying that even with respect to U.S. citizens, it does not have a to have
a court review, its decision to kill or the standards that are used for
killing or the evidence that was -- that killing is based on either before
the fact or after the fact. That in fact, due process -- this is our
attorney general who said this, that due process, Fifth Amendments
guarantee of the right to life which cannot not be taken away without
process of law, that is somehow satisfied by an executive branch process
And to read the Fifth Amendment that way is to stripe it from its
essential meaning. I do want to talk about where we are legally in that
matter. In the 1960s, in 1966, at a time of great national turmoil,
Congress passed the Freedom of Information Act. And the goal was to
provide both transparency and but also informed public debate because at
that time, the House Republican policy committee recognized that there was
a credibility gap, an integrity gap when the government told half truths,
And at that time, a congressman named Donald Rumsfeld who came up
earlier said that the Freedom of Information Act was intended to guard
against the government, playing down its mistakes and promoting its
successes. Well, it turns out, history is repeating itself. We have a
debate taking place right now because the administration is choosing to
make selective disclosures, defending itself without providing transparency
where troop transparency is needed in the court of law.
HAYES: Jack and Josh, I want you to get a response out right after a
HAYES: We`re talking about the article in the "New York Times" this
week that had some new details about the drone program and the targeted
killings that U.S. has engaged in, in a variety of countries around the
world. The legal, moral, strategic clarification of that, political
Josh, you wanted to say something?
TREVINO: Yes, I did. You know, there`s a long history in American
history, going back hundreds of years of dealing with Americans who have
decided to make war in the United States. I think of the San Patricio, who
are reserves from the U.S. Army in the Mexican border, who were hung by
(INAUDIBLE), arguably an example of unilateral executive action. Then you
have the entire confederacy, it`s difficult to imagine Abraham Lincoln
prosecuting the civil war as he did and winning it, given the rubrics that
you all are establishing for Barack Obama.
I think that Barack Obama exists not in isolation, but he is part of
the continuum of American presidents striking back. It`s about our
SCAHILL: I agree with you 100 percent that Obama is part of the
continuum. I mean, this is -- part of why I was saying that this is sort
of Cheney`s pipe dream, what Obama is doing here, we have a dictatorship of
the executive branch of government when it comes to foreign policy.
Congress is largely boxed out and also asleep at the wheel.
JACOBS: No, no -- well, that`s right.
SCAHILL: I just met with Senator Wyden recently of Oregon who`s on
the intelligence committee and he has a legally-mandated right to oversight
of these operations as do other members of the House and Senate
intelligence committees. And he said that the administration will not
provide them with an explanation as to how Americans --
JACOBS: Congress can force them to do it.
SCAHILL: Well, I agree with it. That`s what I said. They`re asleep
at the wheel. I think that you have the Obama administration stonewalling
and you have Congress that wants its duties forever.
HAYES: But I mean, this is a key point, right? The question is: A,
how much do we know about this, such that we can have a public debate? How
much is being kept secret, how much, you know, needs to be kept secret and
how much is being kept secret in success of that amount? And, obviously,
the impulse of all government is to keep as much information inside as they
And then how much do our elective representatives in Congress know
about it, who are, let`s remember, charged with oversight and charged in
oversight in very specific ways, particularly that came out of a long
period of national soul-searching at the -- in the 1970s, with the Church
Committee about what kind of secret projects the U.S. government has
JACOBS: The treasurer of the United States cannot write a check to
fund anything unless so directed by the appropriation -- the money has got
to be appropriated. At the end of the day, the buck stops with the
TREVINO: And I think that`s part of reason that`s part of the
frustration of, you know, my friend Jeremy and Hina is that part of the
reason there is a back cry, the American people aren`t getting the policy
that they want. It`s not that controversial, these drone campaigns.
HAYES: When you say controversial, you mean narrow?
HAYES: If you look at polling approval.
SCAHILL: I think Obama has normalized assassination for a lot of
liberals who I think would have been outraged if it was President McCain
doing this. I mean, I agree with you. I think that we`ve developed an
incredible blood thirst in this society. We treat targeted killings like
sporting events and dance in the streets. I mean, it`s really --
HAYES: No, wait a second. In terms of -- wait a second. I think
that -- let me just say that the counter-argument here in terms of blood
thirst, right? The counterargument is, look, there`s people out there that
are plotting attacks in the U.S. and there are two ways to deal with that.
One way is go in big, right? The Bush doctrine and lots of troops in the
ground, and then the idea that if you harbor terrorist, you, the state, are
in an enemy of the United States.
The other way, and this is essentially what the administration seems
to be highlighting when they talk to these reporters is specific, targeted,
limited strikes at individual, individual companies, no matter where they
are, we will get them. And look, if you have to choose between one or the
other, you that --
SCAHILL: That`s a false choice, though, Chris.
HAYES: Why is that a false choice?
SCAHILL: It`s not just those two choices. What I would argue for a
number of these areas is our policy is actually giving a greater incentive
to people to become terrorist or to become insurgents, or to become rebels
against the United States. I think that we are creating -- we are laying
the groundwork --
HAYES: For the next year.
SCAHILL: -- to blowback. And I think that we should cease the
JACOBS: If you want to get rid of these guys, you`ve got only --
once you`ve made the objective decision that you want to get rid of these
guys, we`ve only got two ways to do it. We either put you in uniform and
lots of people like you and send you over there to do it. Or in the
alternative, which the American public is perfectly --
HAYES: Le met respond to that, right, which is that these guys is
the contested thing, right? I mean, one of the big questions is we don`t
know who we are striking in lots of cases. That seems to be part of
exactly the issue, right? I mean --
SHAMSI: That`s exactly right. And one of the things that came out
in the "New York Times" article was this very important thing that you
started the program of with, Chris, which was the presumption that
military-age males in targeting zone are combatants, unless they are proved
innocent after they are dead. Now, that`s the kind of thing that is
dangerous for a number of different reasons. One, it`s wrong. We`re
violating the law. And two, we`re establishing a very dangerous precedent.
HAYES: All right. We`re going to keep returning to this issue, as
we have been covering it.
Mitt Romney is calling for the U.S. to arm opposition forces in
Syria, another hotspot. We`re going to turn to that, next.
HAYES: This week more grim news from the uprising in Syria.
Opposition groups say yesterday that regime forces hauled 11 factory
workers off of a bus in the province of Homs, the center of Syria`s unrest
and summarily executed them. Those deaths come less than a week after pro-
government militias kill more than a hundred people in the Houla region of
Syria. According to rights activists, almost half of those were children
and there have been some very gruesome pictures of the aftermath.
The Houla massacre sparked global condemnation. But with Russia and
China stonewalling, the international community remains unable to reach
consensus about what to do. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday
accused Russia in particular in propping up the Syrian regime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We know that there has been a
very consistent arms trade even during this last year of violence in Syria,
coming from Russia to Syria.
Their position of claiming not to take a position is certainly viewed
in the Security Council and Damascus and elsewhere as a position supporting
the continuity of the Assad regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The United States has dispatched former Secretary General
Kofi Annan to Syria to pursuit the peace plan with President Bashar al-
Assad. So far, there have been few signs of progress.
With the U.N. deadlocked and Assad intensifying his crackdown, some
Republicans have called on the U.S. to take a more active role on the
conflict. At a campaign stop in California on Thursday, Mitt Romney said
the U.S. and its allies should begin arming the Syrian rebels.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hope the president takes
a position of leadership. The idea of simply following the Kofi Annan
peace plan, that has not gotten us to a point where the people in Syria are
safe. Nor is it advancing in a way I think we could be advancing a
leadership posture that worked with our allies there to make sure -- and
our friends there to make sure that the insurgents have the capacity that
they need to protect themselves and to execute regime change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining us now is Karam Nachar, a cyber activist and PhD
candidate at Princeton University, who has been working with leaders of the
You`ve been here before, thank you so much for coming back.
KARAM NACHAR, CYBER ACTIVIST: Good morning, and thank you for having
HAYES: You`re very plugged in to what`s happening to Syria, on the
ground. So, you just want to start telling us what is the situation there
right now, what is going on?
NACHAR: Right. So, I think one of the ways in which we can
summarize what`s a very complex situation basically is to reduce it to two
basic things. First is to talk about a staggering asymmetry of power
between the regime which continues to rely on terror to basically end its
own predicament and a popular uprising which for all of the talk of it
turning into an armed resistance or an armed revolution is still, by and
Now, along with this asymmetry of power, there`s the asymmetry of
persistence, which means that the regime continues to rely on force. And,
on conditional Russian support, which I think we should talk about. And at
the same time, the revolution continues to widen and continues to gain
grown and continues to gain momentum.
And not only in the hot areas like Homs for instance, which is now
deemed the capital of the Syrian revolution, but even in places or among
communities that have been perceived to be actually siding with the regime.
So, for instance in Damascus, for the five days, the mercantile middle
class has started a civil strike. Shopkeepers have been closing their
shops and not actually taking part in normal economic life. Aleppo and
other industrial capital of the country is also demonstrating -- yesterday,
the biggest demonstrations were in Aleppo.
The Alawite community for instance, which is perceived to be siding
behind the Assad regime --
HAYES: Of course. Because that is --
NACHAR: Exactly. And in Tartus actually, a city where you have a
substantial Alawite community, as a result of the Houla massacre, activists
try to organize several demonstrations and sit-ins.
And finally, and this is just important for me, personally, among the
Christian community, one of the last heroes of the Syrian revolution
actually passed away in Homs three days ago. A citizen journalist, he was
studying filmmaking at Syracuse University. He went back just to take part
in the revolution and died as a result of regime bombardment of one
particular neighborhood in Homs. And he`s a Catholic from Damascus.
HAYES: The reporting that has been coming out of Homs and the
reporters that are there, which has become the capital revolution, there
does seem a desire. There`s a truce or a ceasefire in effect right now,
which essentially is meaningless.
HAYES: As we see in Houla.
HAYES: That there`s more defections from the army, there is a desire
to fight a war because, clearly, nonviolence -- 14 months we`ve been into
this, it started nonviolently, it only turned rebels only armed after there
have been deaths, 10,000 estimated deaths in this 14 months.
The question is what is next. And I think that`s the terrifying
thing for people that are watching the region, a Syrian civil war seems
like it would be disastrous for the human tool, (INAUDIBLE) tool and what
it would mean for the rest of the world.
So, I want you to help us think about what`s next and what role plays
in what`s next right after we take this break.
HAYES: Karam Nachar, what is next? It looks like the current status
quo is unsustainable and everyone is saying that and people are pillaring
Kofi Annan for creating the status quo. But it also looks like there is no
will in international community to have some kind of coalition
intervention. It`s very hard to see Assad backing down. As you said, the
Syrian free army, the people who are in opposition or rebellion to
government aren`t going to back down.
What happens next and how -- is there a way out of this that isn`t
going to be massively destructive and involved a lot of bloodshed?
NACHAR: No, I don`t think there are any easy options in Syria, to be
honest. Just because of this asymmetry of power, along with the symmetry
of persistence, I think we are heading, and I think we already started to
see the beginnings of a civil war.
I`m wary of the term only because sometimes it started to talk about
two parties as if they`re equal in power or in terms of their political
positions that we have to mute to negotiate or mediate between. And that
definitely does not apply to the situation in the country. I think most
people would like to see a political solution and there has been talked
about some kind of a pressure by the American administration to talk to
President Putin to make sure what we have what they call now the "Yemenskii
Variant" -- like a solution ala what happened in Yemen.
HAYES: Yes, explain that.
NACHAR: So when the president basically steps down, there is not
complete and total regime change, we`ll only get rid of the family in
power. But we keep everything else in place.
HAYES: It`s a dictatorship cross ban basically.
NACHAR: Yes. And I think most people in Syria would like to see a
political solution because they don`t want to see any further destruction
in the country. However, everyone should know that this political solution
for them has to not include -- Assad has to be out of the picture.
HAYES: What should the U.S. be doing, Jack?
JACOBS: Well, we should not be arming rebels because we can`t even
identify who they are. If you`re concerned about having a civil war and
you`re not yet convinced that there is, the way to ensure having a civil
war is to start pouring and ammunition into the region. And the worst of
all possible things that I think is to encourage small-unit operations on
the ground in Syria. If you want to kill innocent people, that`s a good
way to do it.
HAYES: Do you agree with that, Karam?
NACHAR: No, I think arming the opposition alone will not solve the
problem. Definitely. And I think provided we know that -- I mean, I`m
just wary of the "Yemenskii Variant," the political solution, would any
plan B with a form of intervention, of some sort, because it basically
relies on exaggerated sense of how the Russians actually can pressure
Assad. We don`t know, actually, if the Russians actually like tell Assad,
please step down, if Assad would do that.
So we need to have a plan B. And this plan B to my mind should not
just arming the opposition, arming the Free Syrian Army. There has to be
some kind of an international coalition, ala Serbia or Kosovo. That`s what
I think would actually work.
HAYES: Right now, it looks like there -- I mean, that exactly is the
NACHAR: Unlike the Security Council, I think the American
administration should keep in mind, just the way they did in Korea in 1950
and `51, that in case we reach a dead end, in case we reach a dead-end,
then we have to be able to work through an international coalition through
the NATO. But -- and let me just add one thing, because we`re talking
about the civilian-military divide today, everything that the Syrian
opposition has asked for did not include American troops, which should the
Turks should be leading this, along with the Arab League. But America is
the most powerful country in the world and nothing will happen without an
American green light and American support.
HAYES: Let me tell you that Korea, as a precedent, sounds was
terrifying, because Korea was a massive, massive war.
NACHAR: I`m just focusing on the sense that you can actually embark
on an intervention without a U.N. Security Council, because the Russians to
my mind, seem completely uninterested in ending this. And without that,
there`s going to be civil war, there`s going to be --
TREVINO: Korea was validated by the UNSC, but I take your point.
It`s just very, very difficult to see a compelling American interest
getting involved on any military scale, whether it`s the provisions of
arms, whether it`s an actual intervention, whether it`s an Arab campaign.
The events of the past 12 years ought to have cured us of this idea that we
can assist or implement change and have a positive outcome. It`s something
that it`s not doing --
NACHAR: I don`t think it`s a regime change, if I can say. If I can
interject, again, when we talk intervention, people immediately think Iraq,
regime change, American troops on the ground.
I think most people who have talked about intervention said this is
going to be something much more circumscribed, they are much more specific
to change the rules, to change their realities on the ground. The reason
why Assad has been so defiant is because he has the upper hand militarily.
And so, as you intervene in the way, the Turks air force just to neutralize
his military capabilities in two weeks or months, and then afterwards, you
say, well, now, we need to leave. You have to step down.
HAYES: And then the big question is does it stop there? Is that
effective in that two weeks or month? I mean, it is opening a door. I
don`t think there`s any way --
NACHAR: If you do not to anything, because people are worried about
civil war, I think morally, in terms of how many people have died already,
and also in terms of the strategic interest of the United States of
America, and the neighboring countries of Syria, I think the regime now is
interested in civil war and it spilled over to Lebanon, to basically
implode the entire region.
TREVINO: The interest of the U.S. is stability, period. That`s it
in that region.
SCAHILL: You know, I think the other point with this, and it was the
case in Libya, too, is the U.S. is outsourcing a part of its clandestine or
covert operations to the Saudis, the Qataris, and the Emirates, and you
have mercenaries and you have these four foreign forces that are already
dabbling in it. And -- I mean, this is a very dangerous trend. We`ve been
down this road before and it seems like we`re heading down it also with
HAYES: I want to thank Karam Nachar, thank you so much for coming
today. He`s been working with the opponents to the regime in Syria. And
we`ll have you back.
NACHAR: Thank you. Thank you.
HAYES: So what do we know now that we didn`t know last week? My
answers after this.
HAYES: So what do we know now that we didn`t know last week?
We now know that another obstacle on the path to marriage equality
has fallen. On Thursday, a federal appeals court ruled that federal
benefits cannot be denied to legally marry same sex couples. And we know
the unanimous three-judge panel declared that the Defense of Marriage Act,
the federal law that defines marriage as a legal union between one man and
one woman is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. We know the case is
now likely headed to the Supreme Court.
We know that the median age of Mitt Romney`s mega donors, donors who
have given over a million dollars to elect him, is 66 and their median
wealth is $1 billion. And we know, thanks to "Rolling Stone" magazine,
exactly who they are and at least some of what they want in return. We
know, for example, that Romney donor Harold Simmons, age 81, made his
fortune of $9.8 billion as a corporate raider nicknamed Iceman, now owns
one of the world`s largest producers of titanium. We know he wants to
store radioactive waste from 36 states in an underground dump in Texas and
he has been sued repeatedly by the Justice Department for failing to clean
up contaminated superfund sites.
We know that the current era of unlimited spending by eccentric
billionaires, one of the most important things we can do is to shine light
on these outsize power brokers and bring some measure of accountability
back to the election process.
We now know that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is promising a crackdown on
big sugary drinks in New York City. We know that Bloomberg credits his ban
on smoking in public places and his requirement of calorie postings at
chain restaurants for having improved the life expectancy of New Yorkers by
merely three years. We know he hopes that the banning of sale of sweet and
sugar drinks bigger than 16 ounces in restaurants, food carts, movie
theaters and ball parks will also slim New Yorkers down and reduce their
heath care cost.
We know milkshakes and alcoholic beverages will be exempt from the
ban. We know that simply putting a tax on soda like those in cigarettes
rather than a ban on certain size drinks would almost certainly be more
effective and less easy to ridicule kind of policy, but we also know that
no politician ever wants to raise taxes for any reason, ever, even good
And, finally, we now know because maybe I`ve mentioned a few times, I
have a book coming out called on June 12th. It`s called "Twilight of the
Elites: America After Meritocracy," and it`s about the crisis of the
authority of American life and the national mood of distrust of our pillar
institutions, some of which we talked about early today.
It`s available on pre-order on my retailers. I`m going to be doing
book events in New York City on June 12th and June 14th. I`d love to see
you there, or at any of my other upcoming appearances around the country.
You can find those at Facebook.com/twilightoftheelites/events or in the UP
WITH CHRIS HAYES Web site.
I want to find out what my guests now know that they didn`t know at
the beginning of the week and I`ll begin with you, Colonel Jack Jacobs.
JACOBS: Well, I know a couple of things actually. And one of them
has to do with giving money to politicians, you just mentioned. Somebody
once asked me why I don`t you give money to politicians and I said it
encourages them. So, we should be weary of doing any of that.
I just came back from the United Kingdom. I spent a couple of weeks
over there. They are absolutely running around with their hair on fire at
the moment, because think are so terribly concerned with and economically
hooked with Europe, and we are extremely complacent here because we are so
far away. We`re a big country and we think that it`s not -- trust me, if
Europe goes down the tubes, we are not far behind and we`ve already seen
some problems here in the States.
HAYES: We have been covering the situation in the eurozone and
Greece and elections slated there for June 17th, and I could not agree more
that we -- the biggest determinant of the outcome in the fall for the
election for just simply crass political reasons probably is whether the
HAYES: What do you now know now?
SHAMSI: Two critically important things that we have been talking
about. One, the extent of President Obama`s personal role in targeted
killing decisions, and two, why it may have been that the administration
officials have claimed that there have been few to no civilian casualties
as a result of targeted killings, and maybe because of the way that they
are counting those.
And anyone who`s willing to trust President Obama in the role as
judge, jury and executioner must ask themselves whether they would be
willing to trust President Romney in that way, or President Hillary
Clinton. Anyone willing to trust the United States claim this authority to
conduct targeted killing far from any battlefield has to ask themselves how
we would react to Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, all of whom are watching,
would claim the authority to do the same thing.
HAYES: Yes, that was I think the double-edged sword of that article
was on the one hand, somebody saying, I`m going to take full responsibility
of this by signing off, literally putting my pen and looking at the
intelligence, and there`s -- if the buck does stop with me and I`m going to
be the one who is going to be held accountable and the same time the other
side of that is, maybe you trust President Obama to do that but that is
creating a precedent such that, there`s going to be someone in the office
somebody you don`t trust, and is that the precedent that you want to set.
And I think that was the gist of that article.
SCAHILL: I know now the discomfort of agreeing with Josh Trevino in
person on certain of Syria.
JACOBS: Don`t do it again.
SCAHILL: I won`t. I mean, we`ve had a long Twitter fight with each
other, and occasionally agree on things.
It`s sort of an off of the beaten path story that pertains to the
company formally known as Blackwater, I wrote the book on. The head of
that company Eric Prince moved to the United Arab Emirates, like a good
Christian American nationalist, he goes to the Middle East to sort of
There`s a trial going on of the five people under him in Virginia,
and they are accused of 30 felony accounts having to do with weapons
violations and attempting to bribe foreign officials. Watch that trial
because they are going to reveal, they say, but it was all part of an
official CIA operation.
HAYES: Josh Trevino?
TREVINO: As the Texan on the panel, I will say that now I know
something very interesting about what`s going on south of the border. The
Mexican elections taking place in mere weeks, I believe July 1st. Recent
poll from "Reforma," of one of the major newspapers there is that the
leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, affectionately known as
AMLO, is within single digits of the likely winner. So that`s very
interesting to see.
HAYES: My thanks to MSNBC military analyst, Colonel Jack Jacobs, his
new book is "Basic: Surviving Boot Camp and Basic Training"; Hina Shamsi of
the ACLU National Security Project; Josh Travino of the Texas Public Policy
Foundation; Jeremy Scahill of "The Nation" magazine -- thanks for getting
Up next, of courses, is Melissa Harris-Perry. She will be talking a
number of topics this morning. It`s going to be great conversation.
You can get more info about our show on Up.MSNBC.com.
Melissa will be talking about rich white men and why they pour money
into the campaigns, what do they think they`re buying. Health care,
Supreme Court uber preview, policy-wise, what is up next if it gets struck
down. And voter suppression, what one man/one vote is going to mean.
That`s Melissa Harris-Perry coming up next.
We`ll show you right here tomorrow at 8:00. Thanks for getting UP.
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