UP WITH CHRIS HAYES
November 18, 2012
Guests: Spencer Ackerman, Tara McKelvey, Tom Ricks, David Frum, Julian
Sanchez, Yousef Munayyer, Noura Erekat, Noam Sheizaf, Raymond Castillo,
Greg Fletcher, Heather McGhee
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
As part of his trip through Asia this morning, President Obama is right now
holding a news conference in Bangkok, Thailand. He just spoke about the
crisis in Gaza where Israeli strikes overnight reportedly hit two buildings
in Gaza City housing several media outlets. We`ll have more on that
including President Obama`s remarks later in the show.
But first, my story of the week, the real scandal of the Petraeus affair.
All right, here is the background context to the seemingly unending string
of revelations about General Petraeus` extramarital affair that I, and I am
not going to front, have been following with a mix of fascination and shame
for the last week and a half.
Over the last decade, two trends conspired to reduce our privacy. First,
there`s technology. Social media has allowed us to share every detail of
our lives often intentionally and often unintentionally. The photo
accidentally tagged on Facebook, the wayward strike of the reply to all
button that shares your thoughts about a friend`s disastrous significant
other. You get the picture.
We now leave a digital trail traceable by anyone with the resources to buys
access to it. Just this week, we learned the Obama campaign knew what TV
shows some of its targeted voters have watched.
And then there is the massive explosion of the surveillance tape in the
wake of 9/11. Thanks to the Patriot Act, its reauthorization, the Pfizer
reauthorization and a series of policies and precedents during the Bush
administration that had been continued and codified under the Obama
administration, the government has access to more info about us than at any
time in history. Just a small example of what this looks like in practice.
Check out this graph of U.S. government request from information from
These are requests that don`t require warrants and most crucially this
doesn`t include the secret national security-related requests which are not
For awhile, I thought the combination of these trends, the ubiquity of
technology, and the growth of the surveillance tape were pushing us towards
a very dystopic future one in which citizens would be unable to keep any of
their secrets while the government would be able to keep all of its
I feared it will eventually end up totally exposed both to each other and
to the state while the state and its doing and what it`s doing in our name
would shrouded entirely in mystery. Then somewhat miraculously, but also
when you think about inevitably, these two trends collided with each other
in the Petraeus affair.
The four-star general`s private communications with his biographer,
Patricia Broadwell and a widening group of ancillary characters reveal a
whole lot of mundane personal failings. Hurtful and shameful, sure, but
really, it seems not anything actually scandalous as far as the public`s
In fact, the only real possible public scandal here, as far as I can tell,
is the conditions under which the FBI came to read the private e-mails of
Petraeus and Broadwell.
We now know the investigation began because Jill Kelley, an acquaintance of
Petraeus who served as the unpaid social liaison in Tampa received hostile
anonymous e-mails that chastised her for allegedly flirting with Petraeus.
Kelley then complained to an FBI agent named Frederick Humphries and
somehow, against the odds, an FBI investigation into cyber stalking was
opened, one that led the FBI to read Broadwell`s e-mails, then Petraeus`
and now here we are.
Cyber stalking investigations appear to be rare. In fact, thousands of
women in this country are cyber stalked every year. The recourse for them
is often nothing, which itself is a problem.
Just ten cases have been prosecuted under federal cyber harassment law over
the past two years. Yet, somehow in this case, it seems just because Jill
Kelley knew a guy, an investigation got opened here.
If the thing that decides whether a case is open is someone has an agent`s
business card, then we are in trouble. But in the midst of all this
breathless coverage, it has been difficult to separate the substantive from
trivial and the prurient from the relevant.
And that`s because as gripping as the tale is as human drama, it is almost
entirely that, a human drama. People acting as people do. I`m reasonably
sure that a sweep of any cluster of citizens` e-mails opened at random
would reveal similarly sorted things.
That`s the point. We all have facts about ourselves we don`t want the
world to know and that`s precisely why privacy is so important, why control
over the intimate details of our lives matters particularly as a core
protection from state overreach.
The power that comes with inside knowledge of a person`s secrets and
intimate details of their private lives has been throughout history an
accomplished tyranny. Even if the days of J. Hoover are long gone, we
should remember his ghost still hovers over all of us.
Right now, I`m joined by Spencer Ackerman, senior reporter for "Wired,"
national security blog, and Tara McKelvey, a correspondent for Newsweek and
the "Daily Beast." David Frum, author of the e-book "Why Romney Lost and
What the GOP Can Do About It," which is a hilarious title because it makes
me think you started working on it five years ago and Julian Sanchez, a
research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributing editor of "Reason"
It`s great to have all of you here. Julian, you have been doing fantastic
reporting for a long time about the national security state and technology.
What do you make of this?
Tell me about the conditions under which the government can read my e-mail?
I think the first thought we had when he saw this is what does the FBI have
to do to get into your e-mail account?
JULIAN SANCHEZ, CATO INSTITUTE: Yes, it`s actually kind of shocking. As a
result of a series of weird Supreme Court decisions from the late `70s.
The government doesn`t have to meet that high of a standard.
There`s a 1986 law called the "Electronic Communications Privacy Act" that
governs federal access to electronic communications. While it requires a
warrant for access to essentially unopened e-mails, it permits a subpoena
or a court order based on a weak showing of relevance to be used to access
e-mails that have been opened, documents stored in the Cloud and also e-
mails that sat unopened for more than six months.
In this case, it looks like a warrant was used to get at Broadwell`s e-
mails. Since she is a sensitive investigative subject actually it seems
like probably the attorney general should have had to personally sign off
I`m curious if it was done in this case. But they don`t have the kinds of
added protections that apply if it were a wiretap to her phone line. So
for example, if it were a phone wiretap, they would have had to show there
wasn`t a less intrusive way to conduct the investigation.
They would have had to implement minimization procedures meaning, you know,
the kind of thing where they hang up the phone if it`s a mobster`s wife
calling her doctor as opposed to the actual target. If you think of the
vast amount of e-mail archives that are stored in a Cloud service like G-
mail, it is weird that we don`t apply this.
Because every constitutional reason you would want those added protections,
secret, because of the incredible volume of innocent information that`s
exposed seems to apply to e-mail, but they don`t.
HAYES: This basic fact which I have learned in reading about this and
prepping for today`s show, which is that 1986 act, the Electronic
Communications Privacy Act, ECPA, that e-mails over six months, the
government can go to the e-mail provider and say, can you give me their e-
mails and they can say sure.
I mean, everyone just think about e-mails that are sitting on their server
older than six months as basically having a big sign on your house in terms
of the amount of privacy that they confirm.
SANCHEZ: Yes. In the Sixth Circuit, there`s a case where a court did
actually say even for those older e-mails, the Fourth Amendment applies
there. It`s amazing to me it took as long as it did to rule the Fourth
Amendment is applicable to e-mails and all the kinds of digital
communications like that.
And there are providers like Google that actually has been pretty
aggressive about pushing back. They are able because they have a solid
legal team to insist on a warrant. It`s not clear why a warrant would have
been granted in this case once they identified the person who sent the e-
mails. Again, there you have it.
SPENCER ACKERMAN, WIRED.COM: This is a legacy of the days before e-mail
SANCHEZ: Yes, the logic behind the 1986 law, this is written, again, back
at the time when --
HAYES: Most people are downloading e-mail onto their actual computer,
which then becomes the physical thing that you have to search, right.
SANCHEZ: And the theory was right, e-mail is going to be protected once
you`ve downloaded it on your own computer by the Fourth Amendment. So they
can assume that no one is going to store all these e-mails out in the
Cloud. Because, you know, a megabyte of storage space cost $100.
HAYES: You guys, both of you are national security reporters and you
report on intelligence and stuff. One of the things I think have been
interesting in the post 9/11 era is that we have seen this growth of the
surveillance and there`s amazing reporting on this.
There`s been little political pushback. I mean, it just doesn`t seem like,
I mean, obviously the ACLU and CCR and a lot of groups do really remarkable
work in pushing against this. But in terms of constituency for privacy,
it`s hard to locate that. I wonder if you think why it is and if something
like these changes that dynamic.
TARA MCKELVEY, DAILYBEAST.COM: I think people are upset about the
violations of privacy than they are about a lot of policies of the
government. So I do think it`s something people get worked up about. The
fact that someone can read your e-mails though minor perfectly readable and
have access to them.
ACKERMAN: I think there`s a constituency you can see pretty across the
political spectrum that is searching for a champion. There`s a bit of a
projection in that community, you know, 2008, that it might be Barack
The former constitutional law professor who talked in the days when he was
coming to the Senate about the accesses of the Bush area surveillance
programs, who then when he sees he has a reasonable chance of becoming
And there`s an important senate fight over authorizing those somewhat
legally grandfathering them in and making them legal. He immediately jumps
to the side of enormous executive power. We haven`t seen -- you know,
there have been some people.
You know, Rand Paul is a good example. Ron Widen is another good example.
Jason Chaffetz in the House, of people who are recognizing that there is
across the spectrum, a tremendous, tremendous fear about how much
information the government can simply and easily have -- seeing someone
make it an issue. The irony might be the David Petraeus electronic
HAYES: That`s the interesting thing particularly for conservatives. I`m
curious where the right on this because it seems like it would be possible
to build some constituency there. David, I want to hear your thoughts
after we take this quick break.
HAYES: David Frum, it`s been interesting to watch conservatives respond to
the Petraeus news. Because I think he`s fought it well among conservatives
particularly because of his role in counter insurgency and the surge in
But then he is also working for Barack Obama and then there`s a scandal
around him. I wonder, do you think there`s a constituency on the right for
an actual privacy interest?
DAVID FRUM, AUTHOR, "WHY ROMNEY LOST": I`m one of the less liberal
conservatives you are going to talk to. To my mind, the really startling
thing about this case is there`s not enough secrecy. I think it`s
understandable the FBI would want to know that if someone has classified
documents whose had an intimate relationship with the CIA director, you
want to know about that.
You might have a leak here. That`s something to be investigated. Once
you`ve investigated it, once you`ve discover, it`s purely personal, the
question is why did it make it into the newspapers at all?
And you could imagine in a different time and place, the way it would have
been handled, the FBI would have concluded their investigation with
digression, would have shared what it knew with the president --
HAYES: They wouldn`t just let you know he knows this about you -- fighting
a bureaucratic battle.
FRUM: Right now, I`m reading the biography of Dwight Eisenhower, everyone
knew of his affair. Eisenhower at one point talked of divorcing his wife.
He was told by the chief of staff of the Army, if you do that, you will be
But if you don`t divorce your wife, we will all keep this entirely quiet.
The president could have refused David Petraeus` resignation. When you
said at the beginning of the segment, you said a very interesting thing.
That we face an invasion of privacy from technology and from the
surveillance tape, it seems to me it`s like saying New Yorkers are
threatened by a giant tsunami and the risk of great white sharks. One is
so colossal, so gigantic a fact --
HAYES: You are talking technology.
FRUM: Every terrible humiliating invasion of privacy story. Remember that
poor woman who wrote an intimate love letter to a man she met and he
forwarded it to 87 of his friends? I had nothing to do with it.
I don`t know where she lives now, probably New Zealand. The lives of the
younger people we know, the children, none of the things that ruined their
lives have anything to do with government. It`s all has to do with
ACKERMAN: Well, what do you say to General John Allen? At a certain point
in this investigative history, Allen`s e-mails that seem to be somewhat,
you know, just friendly and flirtatious.
What we know, the woman gets swept up for reasons that are not clear to
myself and other reporters, sent to the Pentagon for an inspector general
investigation because the flirtatious e-mails might indicate adulterous
affairs, which is illegal under the uniform code -- it`s a government
FRUM: If we never read about it, there would have been no problem. The
reason it`s catastrophic for General Allen is because it was leaked. This
is a story about leakage.
HAYES: It`s bizarre.
SANCHEZ: It`s not an investigation into the leaking of classified
documents. This was an investigation into half a dozen snarky e-mails.
And also, I mean, the comparison here -- I am libertarian, but I think
you`re being too individualistic about this.
The problem in the `60s and `70s when the FBI was spying on the sexual
activities of Martin Luther King and other civil rights activists, members
of the Supreme Court, members of executive agencies was not that it was
individually embarrassing for them, in violation of their personal dignity.
It`s that politically, in a democracy, the kind of power that comes with
that information is dangerous beyond, whatever indignity is on the
FRUM: We are going keep a very close eye on the private activities of the
director of the CIA. They have valuable information. There happens to be
-- that is something that -- counter espionage is a fact of life, but it
doesn`t have to appear in the newspaper.
SANCHEZ: Monitoring his e-mail from the CIA, you would be less disturbed
HAYES: General Petraeus actually have this sort of amazing thing he said
in March, when he was talking about the new era of tech. He said I would
like to briefly discuss three major challenges of this new era, the utter
transparency of the digital world. We have to rethink our notions of
identity and secrecy.
FRUM: None of us and certainly nobody in politics is more than 10 seconds
away from a career ending moment. When Mitt Romney, think of the two
biggest stories of the Mitt Romney campaign for presidency are all -- the
gifts comment, the 47 percent comment all produced because somebody had a
smartphone in his vicinity. It will happen again and again to people in
politics. It has nothing to do with the stakes.
MCKELVEY: I wonder what your career ending moment might be.
FRUM: It`s a delicious buffet.
MCKELVEY: I won`t tell anybody. It reminded me of what you are saying
about the investigation. Yesterday, I was talking to somebody from joint
operations command. He said the problem was with the FBI, they
As soon as saw the e-mails and what they said about Paula they should have
dropped the whole thing. I think they should double down and done a full
court press on this. There should be a heart break division at the FBI
investigating the crimes. I think things will be better there.
HAYES: Do you think that?
MCKELVEY: Yes. Sure.
HAYES: Here is the question. Now, there are some private things. I don`t
want to minimize this. The question is, as a matter of substance and
policy, then the question is, should what we learned about General Petraeus
cause us to rethink his relationship with the press?
FRUM: We should -- we have so few good generals. The president should
have refused his resignation. I don`t think a general can retire. You
remain on active duty. Call him back.
HAYES: His contribution to the cult of Petraeus. There`s a book of
history of generals. We are going talk to them about the legacy of General
Petraeus right after this.
HAYES: All right, the revelations about General Petraeus have occasioned I
think some rethinking of the general`s legacy and also I think more
specifically than the legacy, his relationship to the press.
I think it`s open for debate and as someone who is not a national security
reporter, but reads some of your fine reporting on this topic, is this
question of, should this make me think the Petraeus myth was hyped from the
beginning or should this be irrelevant. So what, the guy had an affair.
It`s heightened because the affair was with a woman writing an incredibly
adjuratory biography of him. I want to bring in Tom Ricks, author of the
new book "The Generals," also senior fellow for the Center for New American
Security, Pulitzer Prize former reporter of both the "Wall Street Journal"
and the "Washington Post," and now writing the best defense blog at
Tom, I`ll start with you. Do you think we should be this should occasion
us to take a hard look at the coverage of General Petraeus over the last
TOM RICKS, AUTHOR, "THE GENERALS": No question that General Petraeus
recognized that he needed to talk to the media. I think, what worries me
are the lessons that other generals will draw, which is, you are too smart
like David Petraeus, you engage the media and you end up getting in
I think that`s exactly the wrong lesson. Petraeus understood that one of
the roles of a general is to be a megaphone, to explain his policies, reach
out to his soldiers, to the American people and in Iraq to the Iraqi
people, and give his views out there.
So I think he was very good at on usually for an Army general, he has a PhD
from Princeton. He likes reporters and politicians, and had a successful
first tour in Iraq. In the army it`s three strikes. You are talking the
FBI scandal. I think there are two scandals in the Petraeus affair.
One is indeed the invasion of privacy, the FBI looking at a lovers`
quarrel. The other scandal, I think it`s more worrisome is that nobody
pays attention to these wars until there`s a titillating affair.
It makes me think that we as a people, care more about the sex lives of our
generals than the real lives of our soldiers. The scam is we tolerated
three years of lousy generalship in Iraq, Tommy Franks, Ricardo Sanchez and
George Casey because Petraeus actually quite improved it. The scandal is
11 commanders in 11 years in Afghanistan. It`s no way to run anything.
HAYES: Right, and there`s an amazingly brutal darkly hilarious headline
about Americans horrified to learn details of Afghanistan while searching
for sex details about Petraeus scandal.
MCKELVEY: Yes, we found out there`s a war going on.
HAYES: Spencer, I want you to respond to Tom here because you wrote a
piece that I thought was a really, really honest, great piece of
introspection about how you contributed to the cult of David Petraeus and
what you think about the relationship between the press and Petraeus
specifically and generals in the military more broadly.
ACKERMAN: Yes, it seemed to me while I was covering the Broadwell affair,
it was hard to understand the affair and how it started without
understanding the cult of personality that existed around Petraeus.
There`s a reason why he`s having an affair with the biographer. There`s
purchase for a lot of biographies.
HAYES: Four biographies published on Petraeus?
ACKERMAN: Something like four and a half depending on how you count them.
This was a media story. It would be dishonest not to look at my role here.
You know, I want to take a little bit of an issue with something Tom said.
You know, Petraeus likes journalists and so forth. I think Petraeus had a
mission to pull off, which is getting information out to the public that
was favorable about the war itself. That`s what I want to look at. It
happened to be the case as I think, you know, Tom experienced as well.
A lot of Petraeus` peers did not want the back and forth he made himself
available for. It was occasion for myself viewing Petraeus as being a more
intellectually honest stewart of this war. I want to account for that.
HAYES: Tom, also, one of the things that came out here, you hear now in
the aftermath, a lot of his peers really didn`t like him and resented him
and were frustrated and thought he was essentially a con artist, et cetera.
I don`t necessarily say, well, clearly they are right and Petraeus was a
terrible kind of con artist and he pulled one over on the American people.
I would have liked to have known that back during the period when all
coverage of him was positive than now in the aftermath.
RICKS: Well, you should have read my book.
HAYES: No, I did. You are an exception to that.
RICKS: I wrote about criticism of Petraeus in my book. Well, look, I
still think he stands out as an exceptionally good general especially in
comparison to his peer group. We have a lot of mediocre generals in the
We have very few really effective ones. The lesson here in the army is go
ahead and be mediocre as long as you keep your pants on. This is a
terrible outcome in which public performance, education of one`s duty`s get
a free pass. It`s like being a university professor. You can do a lousy
HAYES: That`s a bad --
RICKS: I wish we were focusing much more on how good generals are than
what they do at home at night.
HAYES: One of the legacies also of General Petraeus is the ways in terms
of counter insurgency, in terms of war in Afghanistan and his tenure in the
CIA is the emergence of an ongoing perpetual secret war the U.S. is waging
-- Special Forces and a militarized CIA tired of something you covered. I
want to hear your thoughts on that right after this break.
HAYES: I want to read you a headline from "The Washington Post," October
18th, CIA lobbying to expand its drone fleet. Officials say the proposal
by CIA Director David Petraeus would bolster the agency`s ability to
sustain its campaigns of lethal strikes in Pakistan and Yemen.
And to enable it directing to shift aircraft to emerging al Qaeda threats
in North African or other troubled spots. The CIA is shifting in quite a
remarkable way. I think it`s undercovered. How important do you think
this move to a paramilitary organization is for the agency and the future?
MCKELVEY: I mean, it`s extremely important. You know, Petraeus` affair,
for all the privacy issues certainly makes people talk now about the war in
Afghanistan and also what`s happening with the CIA. It didn`t start with
Petraeus. The military started a lot of years ago. The 9/11 Commission
report came out in 2004 saying the CIA need to get their act together and
conduct paramilitary operations in a way they haven`t done before.
ACKERMAN: Yes, the history of the agencies involved in these things tends
to be pin balling between the extremes between collecting and analyzing
intelligence and conducting operations. It seems like you are always
asking the CIA to do several impossible things.
One is these kind of, you know, untraceable operations that Max Milly
impact the foreign policy or you are asking them to predict the future.
Neither of which, you know, this expectation is healthy for the conduct of,
you know, the intelligence activity that the U.S. foreign policy actually
HAYES: I want to show this because it`s interesting. There was a lot of
concern when Michael Hayden was nominated to run the CIA about the fact
that the CIA should be a civilian agency. It is a civilian agency and the
militarization of it, and it being essentially folded underneath the
Here are some both Republicans and Democrats expressing their concern about
this back during the Bush administration when Hayden was first nominated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA) MINORITY LEADER: There`s a power struggle going
on between the Department of Defense and the entire rest of the
intelligence community. I don`t see how you have a four-star general
heading up the CIA.
REP. PETE HOEKSTRA, (R) MICHIGAN: We should not have a military person
leading a civilian agency at this time.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, (D) CALIFORNIA: You can`t have the military, I
think, control, you know, most of the major aspects of intelligence.
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS, (R) GEORGIA: The fact that he is a part of the
military today is the major problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Tom, one of the concerns there is the CIA would be an independent
check on Pentagon intelligence and overreach. I wonder where that
RICKS: Well, I actually think it`s overstated. The first director of the
CIA was a general himself. There`s always been a close cooperation in a
lot of ways. I think the tension seems to be between FBI and CIA.
You know, there`s also a direct connection between what they are saying
with drone warfare and the Petraeus affair. They both go to the issue of
American at attention to a great democracy, waging war, killing people
overseas and nobody here paying attention.
One percent of the nation fights 99 percent of the nation does not pay
attention. I think it`s reckless for this country.
HAYES: Yes, I think one of the really problematic worries about the secret
wars we are increasingly conducted via robot is that that only accelerates
the tendency, right. Now, if we can conduct the wars in secret and there
are not even human beings whose boots are on the ground, our fellow
citizens, that gives us one more reason to withdraw our public --
RICKS: It`s fire forget warfare with a Congress that doesn`t know how to
question, a media that doesn`t really understand the military or espionage
much anymore. The American public would rather not pay attention. They
are sick of the wars. It`s a potent mix.
FRUM: We are going have a lot of more of it in the next three years for
three reasons. Pressures on the defense budget will make the president
rely more on the lighter and cheaper agencies.
The frustrations of the second term, at least after the first three months,
drive the presidents to be more activists in foreign policy. Finally, the
legacy of Benghazi, the four Americans killed. That is now a major
It will continue to be one. The lesson the president will draw from that
is get a lot of robots killed and have no congressional investigations.
HAYES: This has to be said and a lot of Pakistani civilians.
FRUM: That really leads to no investigations.
HAYES: I know that. To me, that`s the big moral problem.
ACKERMAN: One of the things that tend to get swept up in these discussions
is that the lesson of the past 11 years of wars is we don`t know how to win
wars. We`ve lost the sense of waging wars that we can actually triumph in.
The mark of the past, I suppose 11 years of war for success is that we keep
fighting they will. That`s the measure of success. When we are fighting
wars in secret with no disclosure about their operations, there`s not going
to be any available metrics for what success in those things are. It`s
another reason the spread of these wars into the shadows is problematic.
FRUM: This is not a new thing.
ACKERMAN: It doesn`t matter -- it`s an accelerated series.
FRUM: Decelerated -- the scale of the secret wars between 47 and 89,
what`s been happening since 2001.
HAYES: Of course. But there was a national reckoning where we recognize
there was a tremendous amount of horrible things done, a lot of strategic
disasters for America committed in secret during the long secret wars of
the cold war. That`s something, a lesson we have not quite learned.
FRUM: We periodic reckonings, but you also not need not to give up because
that secret war ended in --
HAYES: We are overdue for a reckoning. Tom Bricks, author of "The
Generals," thanks for joining us this morning. Spencer Ackerman of Wired,
David Frum of "National Security" blog, Tara McKelvey of Harvard and Julian
Sanchez of the Cato Institute, you at home should be reading all of them.
Great reporters, thank you so much.
The latest on the fighting in Gaza, how it started and what happens next
when we come back.
HAYES: The bloody conflict between the Israeli forces and Palestinian
militants intensified this morning with Israel expanding its bombing
campaign to government and media buildings in Gaza and Palestinian
militants firing rockets towards Jerusalem and Tel Aviv where Israel`s iron
dome missile defense system intercepted at least one incoming rocket this
At a press conference in Thailand just this past hour, President Obama
asserted Israel`s right to defend itself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let`s understand what the
precipitating event here was that`s causing the current crisis. That was
an ever escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli
territory, but in areas that are populated.
And, there`s no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down
on its citizens from outside its mortars. So we are fully supportive of
Israel`s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people`s homes and
workplaces and potentially killing civilians.
We will continue to support Israel`s right to defend itself. Now, what is
also true is that we are actively working with all the parties in the
region to see if we can end those missiles being fired without further
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The troops are massed along the Israel-Gaza border for potential
ground invasion. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this
morning that Israeli military is prepared to, quote, "significantly expand
The back and forth has been escalating since at least Wednesday when
Israeli forces killed Hamas military chief Ahmed Al-Jabari in a pinpoint
aerial bombing. Since then, Israel has carried out a series of coordinated
air strikes on targets in Gaza.
Palestinian officials told Reuters the Palestinian death toll is now at 56.
Hamas has retaliated with a barrage of rocket fire killing three civilians
in a small town in Southern Israel on Thursday. Netanyahu said on Thursday
that Israel will not tolerate the continued rocket fire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: No government would tolerate a
situation where nearly a fifth of its people live under a constant barrage
of rockets and missile fire. Israel will not tolerate the situation.
Israel will continue to take whatever action is necessary to defend our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: In response, Hamas` prime minister said, quote, "a time in which
the Israeli occupation does whatever it wants and Gaza is gone." He was
not there at the time. So what ignited this most recent round of fighting?
Israeli officials point to ramped up rocket fire from Gaza in recent
months, which they say demands a military response. According to Israeli
defense forces, the Palestinian militants had fired more missiles and
rockets into Israel through October of this year than in all of 2011.
There is also undeniably in a symmetry in the death toll the violence has
taken even before this latest conflict. The end of the last major round of
fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in 2009 through
September of this year, 25 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians while
314 Palestinians have been killed by the IDF according to the Israeli human
One of those Palestinians casualties, a 13-year-old boy was killed by
Israeli forces in a gunfight with Gaza militants on November 8th according
to (INAUDIBLE). Many point to that as a major escalating incident that
precipitated this most recent round of intense fighting.
As for how and when the hostilities will end, the Israeli Defense Minister
Ehud Barak said Thursday, it`s unclear. We cannot predict exactly what the
end point is, Barak said. At the moment, there`s no reason to stop.
Joining me now at the table are Noam Sheizaf, an Israeli journalist and
editor of "Plus 972" magazine and a former IDF officer, Noura Erekat,
adjunct professor at Georgetown University and a legal advocacy coordinator
at Padil Resource Center for Palestinian Refugee and Residency Rights, and
Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the Jerusalem Fund, which presents
the Palestinian perspective on the Middle East peace process.
It`s wonderful to have you all here. I wish it were under better
conditions. I want I guess I begin as Americans watching this, the
conflict seems constant. Once this awhile, rockets start flying or there`s
a bombing strike and I think Americans look and say what happened? Why
I`ll start with you from the Israeli perspective, what is your
understanding of why this is happening now and what internal political
dynamics in Israel are leading to whatever strategic decisions are being
made to pursue this?
NOAM SHEIZAF, +972 MAGAZINE: There is, of course, the issue of rocket that
is have been escalating in the months leading to this assault on Gaza.
There is also a number of border incidents. Israel is controlled around
the Gaza strip. It defined an area of about 17 percent of the strip is in
no man`s land that nobody can approach.
And around this area, sort of security zone, if you want, there had been a
number of incidents in which several Palestinians were killed, soldiers
were injured and that contributed to the escalation.
But what`s important, I think, is from the perspective of the Israeli
leadership. There`s also a political window for opportunity here. We are
heading for elections in Israel. The public demand a more proactive
approach to the conflict. And I think the government in ways is responding
to that as well.
HAYES: There`s polling out showing why it`s massive Israeli public opinion
support for this, for the Gaza actions as of now. We`ll see if there`s a
ground invasion if that were to continue.
I wonder from the perspective of internal politics in Gaza, I guess, what
are the politics driving the increase in rocket fire is the first question
and what are the politics driving the response now in the midst of this?
YOUSEF MUNAYYER, THE JERUSALEM FUND: Well, look, first of all, there are a
number of different factions in Gaza, including Hamas and a variety of
other factions. The Israelis, through the Egyptians have been working with
Hamas to crack down on the rocket fire and that has worked, largely thanks
to one of the point people there who they just assassinated.
Obviously, that created a significant problem. One Israeli journalist put
it that Israel had eliminated its subcontractor in Gaza. The Palestinians
factions object to extrajudicial assassination and are willing to not, you
know, respond to what`s going on in Gaza as long as these assassinations
As long as they have continued, we have seen increases in rocket fire. The
bottom line is there`s no military solution to this issue. You simply
cannot bomb people into liking you. It`s not going to work so --
NOURA EREKAT, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: I just wanted to add to that. We
discuss what precipitated this. President Obama is trying to pinpoint
exact date and that seems to be the debate in our mainstream media cycle.
But if all rocket fire were to stop today and all aerial missile strikes
and ground offensive in Israel were to stop, the violence against
Palestinians would continue unabated in the form of occupation, arbitrary
detention. When we ask what started this, we are not getting to the root
of the conflict.
HAYES: Let`s talk about the context of Gaza and the blockade and what
that`s meant --
FRUM: It`s a little thick to hear it said that Hamas objects to
assassination. Stock and trade is mass murder.
HAYES: We`ll get back to that. The other factions we are referring to
just so people know is Islamic Jihad, the popular resistance committee.
They are the ones firing the rocket even if Hamas was essentially in this
rear backdoor way tasked with enforcing the ceasefire. More on this right
after this break.
HAYES: You referred to extrajudicial killing in reference to the killing
of Ahmed Jabari who Israel said was a terrorist and the mastermind of the
kidnapping of Israeli soldier, which of course, was a huge issue.
Just to get a sense I think of Israeli public opinion on this as we
understand what the politics are internally, this is the opposition leader
on target of killing as a policy. He says I`m in favor of targeting
killings is a policy that led Hamas to understand.
During the suicide bombing, they would pay a price should the bombings
continue and this is the IDF put up this -- on their Twitter account, this
graphic of Ahmed Al-Jabari sort of celebrating his demise with the word
eliminated plan multiple terrorist attack that killed Israeli civilians,
commanded the operation to kidnap (INAUDIBLE).
This is, I think, a popular policy in Israel. It`s seen as, essentially, a
targeted way of dealing with -- the term that`s been used is mowing the
lawn. If you essentially left them to fester, they plot and the rockets go
up. Every four years, you have to go in and do something.
SHEIZAF: It`s maybe effective in the short term. But what I`m concerned
about is the fact there`s no long term policy from the sight of the Israeli
government. Basically, the only thing the government is offering the
public is the targeted killings.
Had there been a vision of diplomatic solution with the Palestinian, we
might have seen some support to it as well. You mentioned former defense
minister as the leader of the position called for direct negotiation with
Hamas on some sort of a diplomatic settlement around the Gaza strip.
But the government, so far, is limiting its tools to military
assassinations to military assaults. So it pretty much makes it clear this
escalation would only leads up to further escalations in the future.
FRUM: One part of the context is Hamas had been building a much more
sophisticated rocket force over the past year. That was the spectre or the
force behind the curtain that was, I think maybe the driving of the timing
of this attack.
They were going to get a lot better rockets and they are arriving rapidly.
The second thing that needs to be said about the diplomatic vision, of
course, it`s right. I mean, you want to look for a long term diplomatic
But peace, because peace cannot be made with Hamas and you probably have
talks with people there, and you speak to them it`s not possible. The
vision always has required the Palestinian authority to exert power over
HAYES: They had their leadership killed by Hamas.
FRUM: That has been -- who is Michael Collins of the Palestinians?
Michael Collins being the Irish leader who went to war with his own IRA to
say we will accept --
MUNAYYER: A couple points here. First of all, in terms of mowing the
lawn, I absolutely abhor that idiom that the Israeli`s use, it extremely
callous. We are talking about a population of 1.7 million people, 80
percent of whom are refugees, 80 percent of whom rely daily on handouts
just for daily -- half of them under the age of 18. There`s no long term
strategic. If you sow seeds of hate, mowing the lawn is just not going to
HAYES: More on this after the break.
HAYES: Hello from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Here with Israeli journalist
Noam Sheizaf; Noura Erakat from the Badil resource center for Palestinian
Refugee and Residency Rights; David Frum of "Newsweek" and "The Daily
Beast"; Yousef Munayyer of the Jerusalem Fund, and we are talking about the
conflict in Gaza.
Yousef, you just talked about the context of what Gaza is. And Noura, David
From said this thing that I think is a consensus for you in Israel and in
the U.S. Consensus, I mean broadly shared, that you cannot make peace with
Hamas. And I`m curious what your thoughts are.
ERAKAT: Well, first, just the obvious: that Hamas is on record for
stating that it would enter into peace on the 1967 borders, for a two state
solution, even if it wasn`t permanent, that it was willing to enter into
those negotiations. But more importantly, more importantly, Israel had
said that it has not had a partner for peace well before Hamas existed.
ERAKAT: Hamas didn`t come into existence until 1987. And before then,
Israel didn`t have a partner for peace. Before Hamas came into
parliamentary power in 2006, Israel said that Mahmoud Abbas couldn`t be its
partner for peace and unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, and not until 2006
said Mahmoud Abbas (INAUDIBLE) then become the partner that Israel can deal
with and Hamas is the problem. The problem is not that. It`s whether or
not Israel indeed wants a diplomatic solution or whether it thinks that it
could pummel Gaza, pummel Palestinians into subjugation without having to
negotiate on settlements, on water distribution, on border rights, on the
freedom of movement.
HAYES: It does seem to me, I remember when I was in Israel and talking to
- I was in Gush Etzion where actually a rocket just landed recently and
talking to someone who was in the Ishra (ph) council of settlers. And he
was basically saying, I said to him, well, this just seems kind of
untenable, like is this the way it`s going to be? Just this, and he said
yeah, it`s fine. Basically, that this -- it`s not great. It`s not ideal.
But this is basically what it`s going to be as opposed to I think five or
ten years ago earlier, particularly before the second Intifada, but
earlier, in the Oslo process, there`s an idea that this is all heading
towards an end point, which is peace, which is the two-state solution. And
now it seems to me like Israeli public opinion is, this is how it is.
SHEIZAF: Yeah, I think that Israeli leadership with the great talent of
Netanyahu is recognizing the fact that the equilibrium point from Israeli
perspective is the status quo. Now, obviously, Israelis are concerned about
the rockets, and it`s right now things are unbearable there. But
ultimately, the status quo is the solution from the perspective of this
government. And for the Palestinian, it`s a perpetuate war.
SHEIZAF: The Palestinian have their war every day of the week. So in the
long term, this is a process that plays against Israeli interest. But
there`s no incentive for the current political leadership to move from it,
especially with the free hand it gets from the world and from the United
HAYES: Yeah, I mean, I would say to anyone watching, if you put aside the
question of who is responsible for the current state of affairs, and you
said yourself from behind a veil of ignorance, you get to be beamed down
into being a citizen of Gaza or a citizen of, say, Tel Aviv. You know, I
think anyone would -- but what the status quo means for the two peoples in
terms of what their daily lives are -- look very different. I think there
is no denying it. David.
FRUM: But you were talking about how -- you said a very wise thing earlier
on, about how Americans only become aware of this intermittently, these
spasms of violence. If you take a longer view, the defining factor for
everyone on the Israeli side, even more for the Diaspora Jewish community,
is the disappointment of the Oslo process, especially for the Diaspora
Jewish community in the United States and other places. But the Oslo
process was really believed in. And I`m an active member of the community.
We were -- we believed it.
And the Israeli politicians were most popular outside Israel were those who
spoke for people, like Shimon Peres. People like Benjamin Netanyahu were
mistrusted. And that -- what happened with the Second Intifada, and this
is the price we are all living in the aftermath of that war, was the
collapse of liberal opinion, both in Israel and even more, in the Diaspora.
Nobody believes in it anymore. The reason people think that this conflict
can only be managed was because of those two terrible years, in which 1000
Israelis were killed by terrorism. And what -- just about everybody, the
reason why Benjamin Netanyahu emerged as such a concerned leader within
Israel and even more amazingly, in the external Jewish world, is because of
the belief, you know what ...
FRUM: The liberals were wrong. It just didn`t work.
MUNAYYER: On this point, there`s no doubt that violence is happening with
complete asymmetry with a much more dominant Israeli military power over a
civilian Palestinian population, largely civilian Palestinian population.
That does happen. And it happens on both sides. Only one side, though,
which is the Israeli side, has the capacity to physically change the map on
the ground through extensive colonization of Palestinian territory.
And when we were talking about the Oslo process, which was, you know, the
objective of which was to have a Palestinian state emerge on 22 percent of
historic Palestine, that is the thing that is torpedoing that objective.
There is less and less and less of Palestine to talk about.
HAYES: Let me just -- just because people are tuning into this debate,
right, this is the way that the argument tends to go, right, which is that
when you talk about the current status quo, that people will say,
particularly on the Israeli side, or the American Diaspora side, you know,
the thing that`s driving the impossibility of peace, is the trauma of the
second Intifada and the belief that there is no negotiating partner on the
other side. And people on the Palestinian side will tend to say what is
driving the impossibility of peace, is the continued settlement activity of
an Israeli government, which is showing its hand, as someone said to me
once in the West Bank, negotiating over the pizza while eating the pizza.
ERAKAT: Well, I actually had a question for David. Because it`s precisely
about the starting point that the Second Intifada is what shattered this
faith amongst liberal Jewish community that there could be a negotiated
settlement. But what about the interim years between 1993 and 2000 when
under the leadership of Ehud Barak at the time, settlements doubled? This
was during the heyday ...
ERAKAT: ... of when we were supposed to believe in a two state solution.
So I wonder does that factor in to the liberal Jewish community`s, you
know, consolation of factors of what actually drove, torpedoed ...
ERAKAT: ... the peace process.
FRUM: Well, I think what certainly, what American Jews would think, and if
the American Jewish community would be more liberal that the Israeli Jewish
community on balance, was Israeli -- that if you are driving toward a goal.
And because the settlements are just about money in the end, these are
ERAKAT: But on the Palestinian lands.
FRUM: But if they are the future of Palestinian, the Palestinian
apartment blocks of the future, potentially. That`s the way we would have
thought about this in 1990s.
ERAKAT: But on destroyed lands.
FRUM: Apartments are useful things. And the thinking was then that there
would be a deal and probably these buildings would all be turned over and
the settlers would be evacuated as they were evacuated from Gaza, 8,000 of
them. That was the hope. And that is the hope that is gone. And when you
talk -- when you talk to probably the people listening to this show, that -
you know, that feeling of absent hope. And one of the things you have to -
that this process has to include is the restoration of the hope. That
there really is more than just (INAUDIBLE).
SHEIZAF: Well, and (INAUDIBLE). Yes, the problem is that by creating those
settlements, and right now, every fifth person in the West Bank is a Jewish
settler, you raise the political price of any move from the status quo for
the Israeli leadership. So right now, even if this prime minister or the
next prime minister will want to go to an agreement, the internal pressure
against it will be enormous. So Israel is actually feeding the trends ...
SHEIZAF: ... that put the long term survival of the state at risk.
HAYES: And let me say this, as someone who is not a pacifist, but close to
and basically loathes violence and when I read about Hamas executing
someone on the, you know, streets, for being a collaborator, it sends
chills down my spine. And when I read about a dead 11-month-year old -
11-month old child, I have a one-year old child dead, 11-month old child of
a stringer from the BBC in Gaza from an air strike, it`s devastating.
But the thing that bothers me about this or the thing that makes me really
upset, is that it doesn`t seem like anyone is creating incentives for
action other than violence. Right? That -- and this is particularly true
about the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which is that there have
been nonviolent resistance in the West Bank -- there`s been hunger strikes,
there`s been mass marches that have been peaceful. And essentially the
American media pays no attention, does nothing.
And whatever you say, well you know, you think their claims are bad enough,
it seems to me the first thing is to get the conflict on non-violent
footing before there is no resolution of it because violence is going to
untangle it, and there are no incentives right now for non-violence. So I
want to think about how -- what are the next steps to get to non-violence
after this break.
HAYES: We left off the conversation talking about, I guess, a path forward
that isn`t increasing bloodshed and violence. And there`s some talk about
whether it`s going to be a ground invasion. And I think the political
consequences of the last ground invasion were not fantastic in the
perspective of Israeli politics. And there is worries about what the
strategic end of such a ground invasion will be, so hopefully it won`t
happen, I think. What is the next step, I guess, in getting to a cease-
fire? There is now talk about involving Muhammad Morsi and the Egyptian
Brotherhood in Egypt as a way of negotiating a cease fire. And then, if
there is a cessation to the explicit violence at this moment, then what
ERAKAT: Well, I`m going to defer. Ceasefire is inevitable. It will
But let me just mention something about the first operation of this sort.
In 2008-2009 during operation Cast Lead, when Israel also thought that it
could just pummel Palestinians into subjugation, I was part of a legal
fact-finding mission in February 2009 in the direct aftermath, and did
interviews with families in Gaza. And in one part of Gaza City is the
(INAUDIBLE) neighborhood I met with members of the Samuni (ph) family. The
Samuni family was rounded up and placed into a single home, 110 of them
were in a single home. And then an aerial missile struck upon it.
And the Goldstone Report commented on this. There were dozens of people
killed. And we -- the Red Cross wasn`t able to remove the bodies for 17
days afterwards. This was reported in the Goldstone report. I was
personally involved in lobbying campaigns in Congress to exert some sort of
accountability on Israel. Israel refused any sort of external
accountability, conducted its own investigation and said it was a mistake
because there was -- there were a weapon storage nearby. And so, this is
to say, that in order to move to the next step, there must be some sort of
accountability for Israeli aggression and war crimes. In order to rein in,
it cannot have a blank check.
HAYES: But what does that mean? What does that mean? I mean ...
MUNAYYER: Listen, I hope you understand what that means. When we take --
and there`s going to be a ceasefire. And then what`s going to happen as
we`ve done in the past is forget about the issue. That`s the problem. We
cannot ignore the issue when Palestinian fishermen are being shot by the
Israeli naval blockade. We cannot ignore the issue when 12-year-olds are
being shot on their side of the border. We cannot ignore the issue when
non-violent demonstrators are being repressed.
If we say to the Palestinians we will not condemn Israeli repression of
nonviolent decent and we will not condemn Israeli repression of violent
decent, then what we are saying to the Palestinians is, you will take your
occupation and your oppression and you will like it and say nothing about
it. That`s the problem. The message that we are sending to Palestinians
from Washington is that you are the only nation that does not have a right
to self-defense. And no nation is going to accept that.
FRUM: The message that is being sent to the Palestinians is you started
war in 2001, 2000, and you lost in 2002. And now you have to seek peace on
the basis of having lost that war. And that one of the things -- that when
you think of incentives, that if you say to nations, start wars and if you
win, you win. And if you lose, you have no downside consequence, it means
you get to go back to the very first page you were on when you started the
war. Then war becomes, especially if the society is non-democratic and
they don`t have to consult the people who pay the price. War becomes a
And what is happening, what the Palestinians are living with now, are the
consequences of the defeat of 2002. And the wall is part of the defeat.
That is not to say that everything the Israelis do is wise. It is probably
not wise to build new settlements over and beyond the wall. I mean it
creates this -- creates all kinds of strategic problems. But we are living
in a post-war environment. And as to your dislike of violence, in fact,
what is happening is that these conflicts are progressively becoming less
violent and more symbolic. And that it is very true of this conflict as
compared to Cast Lead that -- it is the Internet that is becoming the
battlefield, the TV camera that is becoming the battlefield. Twitter that
is becoming the battlefield.
HAYES: There is actually real battlefield.
SHEIZAF: I think Gaza and the Israelis ...
ERAKAT: These are real life.
SHEIZAF: It`s a very real battlefield. They have spoken to my family.
And there was a siren alarming Tel Aviv, the sirens alarms all over -- all
the morning in Gaza. And what I would like to see is an international
involvement after the cease-fire is reached, because I think we actually
send the Palestinian the opposite message of what you are saying, because
what happened. Looking at holistic approach, after the first intifada, we
were willing to go to Oslo. After the Second Intifada, we gave the
disengagement. We pulled out.
Basically, the Palestinians have only gotten something through violence.
Even the only thing is that it had to be a greater violence than you could
have imagine in order to achieve something like that was in the Second
Intifada. And what are the long term consequences for Israelis and
Palestinians. I totally agree that there is an international indifference
to the conflict when it`s not contained or managed.
And in Israel, in this part, I do agree with you, there is a comfort zone
around containing the conflict. And we got to move away from this comfort
zone as difficult politically as it is. So I would like to see American
involvement, I would like to see international involvement. I would like
to see Jewish community involvement.
HAYES: And here is the thing that I would say, is that what I would like
to see as an American citizen is the American government and American
institutions, again, move the conflict to non-violent footing, as -- which
is to say support those people in Palestine and there are many who are
struggling for their interests in a non-violent fashion as opposed to
ignoring them or as opposed to just worrying about the conflict when there
is violence. Because that to me, seems part of perpetuating the problem.
I want to thank Israeli journalist Noam Sheizaf, Noura Erakat, the Badil
Resource Center for Palestinian Refugee and Residency Rights, Yousef
Munayyer of the Jerusalem Fund for joining us this morning. Thanks for the
The strike threatening Wal-Mart for the first time in years on Black
Friday, that`s next.
HAYES: This Friday is Black Friday, the shopping phenomenon that seems to
get bigger every year. For Wal-Mart, one of the big box retailer who
helped create Black Friday as we know, it, it`s a BFD. Sales on Black
Friday can account for over 40 percent of retailer`s annual sales. 40
percent. For Wal-Mart to make its earnings, Black Friday needs to go
smoothly, and that`s why a strike plan by Wal-Mart retail and warehouse
workers for Black Friday is potentially so important.
In the past, threats from workers and organizations to the retail behemoth
have been largely empty. Labor organizations have tried to hold Wal-Mart
accountable for its labor practices for years, but with little success.
Over the past several months, something has changed. Workers fighting for
better conditions and an end to company retaliation against workers who
speak up have successfully pulled off work stoppages around the country.
Retail workers have walked out of 28 Wal-Marts in 12 states, so have
workers in warehouses subcontracted by Wal-Mart everywhere from California
These actions are truly unprecedented and have raised the stakes for Black
Friday. In a statement to MSNBC Wal-Mart dismissed the strike`s
importance, saying, "This is just another exaggerated publicity campaign
aimed at generating headlines to mislead our customers and associates."
But they appear to be taking the planned Black Friday strike very, very
seriously. In mid-October, Wal-Mart Vice President Tom Mars held a very
rare meeting with three warehouse workers from Illinois and California.
And on Friday, Wal-Mart asked the NLRB, the National Labor Relations Board
for an injunction against United Food and Commercial Workers, the group
they cite as responsible for the actions in an unfair labor practice
charge. It`s the company`s first legal action of months of unrest. And
evidence that the strike planned for Black Friday is seen as a real threat
by a company that has for decades been impervious labor`s attempts to hold
Joining us now is Greg Fletcher, a Wal-Mart associate in Duarte,
California, Heather McGhee, vice president of the progressive think tank
Demos and Raymond Castillo, a member of Warehouse Workers United, who works
in a Mira Loma, California, warehouse, that`s a Wal-Mart distribution
center. Wal-Mart told us they had no one available to join our
Greg an Raymond, it`s great to have you hear. Raymond, let me start with
you. Can you just tell me about the work you do? You are working in a
warehouse. What does it look like, what is the actual work you do, how
much money do you make?
RAYMOND CASTILLO, WAREHOUSE WORKERS UNITED: OK. Thank you for having me
on the show. And the warehouse that I work at is in Mira Loma. And the
work we do is -- it`s like, it`s hard work but it`s doable work. And the
conditions, like the equipment is broken and the ramps are broken, which is
very dangerous as well as not having water. And I mean we had -- we used
to pay for our gloves and our masks and, you know, safety goggles, all our
equipment. And for the work we do, is like we lift heavy boxes and we from
trailer to trailer. And the weather out there, it, you know, it goes up to
like 120 degrees.
HAYES: So it`s 120 degrees, there is a trailer that gets pulled into the
warehouse center and your, guys, and there is a temperature there is 102 on
that thermometer. There`s stuff in the trailer and you, guys, go in and
bring -- I mean that`s the work, right?
HAYES: You go in and you -- you carry it out?
CASTILLO: Yeah. We carry, we put it on a cart and we pull the cart. And
the carts are normally, you know, broken, you know, like mis-assembled and
all that. And we pull the carts out and like another guy comes and takes
the carts and loads it in the trailer.
HAYES: And how much money do you make? And who are you working for
CASTILLO: Oh, I make $8 an hour and we work for Warestaff, which is, you
know, a company, an agency that NFI hired, which is, you know, Wal-Mart
HAYES: So Wal-Mart hires a company that runs the warehouse of that
company, then subcontracts out to a temp agency ...
HAYES: And they are the ones that hire you.
HAYES: Why did you get involved? I mean what are your complaints? What
do you want to see changed in your workplace?
CASTILLO: What I want to see changed in my workplace is better
opportunities to move up. Of course, a living wage. Because I have to
work two jobs and to support my family. Just to support and have a good,
decent, you know, life. And safety. Like I don`t - you know, I go to work
and I don`t know if I`m going to go home. You know, that`s ...
HAYES: Greg, you are an associate in a store.
GREG FLETCHER: I am.
HAYES: And there is a lot more of those, there are about 1.6 million
workers in the stores, I think. And I`m curious what your experience of
working at Wal-Mart has been like?
GREG FLETCHER, WALMART ASSOCIATE: Well, my experience with the company is
that, you know, Wal-Mart has this motto. This -- it`s on the commercials,
save money, live better. And what we find in the stores, and my store and
throughout the country is that they don`t really live up to that as far as
how it reflects in the way that they treat their workers. You know, a
great example is the holiday, Thanksgiving. For majority of the company`s
existence, we had that day off. And so, now, they are having that day
open. I work 5:00 p.m till 5:00 a.m., you know 5:00 p.m. on Thursday.
HAYES: You don`t work this Thursday 5 p.m., Friday.
FLETCHER: That`s right. That`s my schedule. And my wife from 3:00 to
12:00. So I have a six-year-old and a one-year-old, two sons. And this is
the second Thanksgiving that we are not going to have time with them. And
many families are like that. I have, you know, several workers in my store
alone who talk about how the grandparents - all of the grandparents of
their children get to have these family experiences, but we don`t. So I
would like to see more of, you know, family concerns for, you know, for
them living up to that image they have of being a family store.
HAYES: And you and your wife both work at Wal-Mart?
HAYES: And how possible is it to, I don`t want to pry into your personal
finances too much ...
HAYES: ... but how possible is it for you to essentially have a middle
FLETCHER: Um, we really can`t. That`s the honest truth. You know, a lot
of times, we only do vacations or trips ,it`s really more with the larger
family, you know, expenses shared. On your own, working at Wal-Mart for
the largest retailer in the world, the $16 billion profit, we can`t do
that. And that`s just not right.
HAYES: You guys are both here on national television. We have your names
on the screen. And I wonder if you worry about Wal-Mart taking action
against you in retaliation for, you know, having these - Warehouse Workers
United -- for starting to get involved in work organizations?
FLETCHER: Yeah. I`m not afraid. I`m not afraid. I mean I`ll sit right
here, I will be striking, for sure. And the reason why is because for me,
personally, this will be my third time I striked. The people of our store,
location California outside Los Angeles, I have been to home office twice.
We know our rights. And we know that this is something that we have the
right to do. And we are morally and idealistically correct in doing so.
CASTILLO: And the retaliation that we get against us, it`s like, what can
they do more? Cut our hours? I mean I made $29 on one check. You know, I
mean they`ve cut my hours dramatically. And to me ...
FLETCHER: Do you think they have done that because they know that you are
CASTILLO: Yes. That`s the main reason why. Because we went on strike
before. So you know, they didn`t fire us, but they just cut our hours. We
are working like one day, sometimes half a day.
FLETCHER: I`ve actually had an associate in my store who was fired
HAYES: Hold that thought. More on this, American Labor Law does protect
(INAUDIBLE) activity, even when it`s not happening by a recognized union, I
should just stipulate after the record. More on this when we get back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we live in America and we work for the world`s
largest company and we are still not making it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I have to choose between paying my bills and
having enough to eat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I`m 52 years old and I can`t afford my own
apartment on what I make at Wal-Mart.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because my management disrespects me in front of
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because my fellow associates have to use our local
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I`m tired of being discriminated by
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we have to depend on each other, check by check
and borrow money from each other just to make it to the next week.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I spoke out in my store and Wal-Mart
illegally fired me for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: There is some workers from Wal-Mart. I should say that Wal-Mart
says categorically that they do not fire people as retaliation. Just --
that`s on the record. That would be illegal under National Labor Relations
Act. Heather, the context for this, to broaden this out is that we have a
-- one of the largest employers and kind of setting a benchmark for post
labor practices, but also logistics, distribution practices, marketing
practices, pricing. And I guess people will say look, yeah, it sounds like
it`s not a lot of fun being a Wal-Mart associate, but that`s low wage work
and Wal-Mart guarantees their customers lower prices. And so, sorry, this
is the way the market works.
HEATHER MCGHEE, DEMOS.ORG: Yeah. And we at Demos wanted to actually dig
into this question. Because if we have seen a shift, a historic shift from
GM being our largest employer, an employer that basically helped create the
middle class in this country, to Wal-Mart, right? To a low wage employer
being the great American job. Is it necessary to actually have low wages
in order to have low prices? Right?
MCGHEE: Right. That`s the question. Everybody says, you know, that
that`s the trade off. So we dug into it. And we looked not just at Wal-
Mart, but actually all of the biggest chain stores. And if we asked the
question, OK, if we were to -- if those big chain stores were to raise the
wage floor so that the lowest paid worker made essentially $12.25 an hour -
- or $25,000 a year for full time employment, right, which would be about a
27 percent raise from that typical retail worker now, what would that do?
And we found, the report`s being released tomorrow, we found that it would
lift 700,000 people and their families out of poverty. It would give about
5.3 million workers a raise. And it would create about a 100,000 jobs.
Because you are putting money in the hands of people who are going to spend
HAYES: It would be essentially a stimulus.
MCGHEE: It would be a private sector retail-led stimulus. Then, OK.
MCGHEE: That`s great. That`s all I got for (INAUDIBLE). Exactly. But
you want your Black Friday flat screen. So the question was how much would
this cost? So the whole large chain store sector, right, would cost about
$20 billion to do this kind of a wage flip. How does that compare? One,
it`s actually less than just the top ten largest retailers spent buying
back their own shares in the market last year, which is something that they
do to sort of boost earnings per share.
MCGHEE: But it doesn`t have any real productivity improvement. It`s good
for executive comp. And then when it comes to consumers, right, it would
be, at most, on average, 15 cents per a shopping trip if they passed the
entire cost of that wage increase on to consumers. So 15 cents, less than
a quarter, can the American people afford a private sector stimulus that is
going to lift the wages of 5 million people? I think we -- I think they
FRUM: So how are you going to achieve this? You are not going to achieve
it when labor markets are slack? And one of the ...
MCGHEE: Why not?
FRUM: Because labor, like everything else, has its price tag in market
places. And when you have very high unemployment and when you have very
slack labor markets. That`s -- and we`ve had very slack labor markets for
a long time.
MCGHEE: But that`s jut a market theory. Obviously, we are going to
achieve this by the retailers themselves paying their workers more.
FRUM: But the retailers compete with other retailers. And people who are
now small retailers who don`t do it, will become big retailers. I mean the
question, the question that viewers have to consider that people take -
that people are thinking about this as a policy, if you want higher wages,
if you want the wages you had in big manufacturing companies in `50s, you
have to have what we had then, which were tight labor markets. And we have
-- and that was partly because of demographics. Few children being born in
the 1930s. It was also because of restricted immigration laws. What we
have done, we have had essentially open immigration since the early 1970s.
We have -- we had a huge sort of follow on baby boom and we had now very,
very slack markets. We have educational standards that happen to have
MCGHEE: I`m sorry, I didn`t -- I don`t understand how -- I mean we have
shown that the companies can afford it. But we are not talking about going
back to a $50,000 a year, you get a full pension job, we are talking a
minimum raise to $25,000 a year. And we`ve shown that the companies can
afford it. So when you put it on market forces.
FRUM: But why -- but companies maybe, they can afford a lot of things.
Why should they do it? Companies ...
MCGHEE: Why? Because it would be a benefit. Actually, the other part
that I didn`t say it would be a benefit to retailers as well, right? About
$5 billion would go back to the retail sector.
MCGHEE: Wal-Mart customers themselves would have more money in their
HAYES: But they are only going to do it, they are only going to do it, I
mean -- let me just insert myself into this discussion, which is that it`s
not just, it`s not just, you know, noblesse oblige by the Walton family on
one side or the slackness or tightness of labor markets. It`s about worker
power also, right? That actually we have ...
FRUM: Workers have power when labor markets are tight.
HAYES: Workers have power when labor markets are tight. Workers also have
power as guaranteed statutorily by the United States federal governments
and laws that we passed that we completely ignore. Right? I mean that`s
also the part of it, is that you have -- you have absolutely the right to
engage in concerted activity like you gentlemen are doing and not be
FLETCHER: Well, I`d like to add that it`s kind of where we fit into the
mix of that, is that -- I mean all of that makes sense if the workers are
passive and completely accept what is being handed to them. But what we
are -- and it`s why, you know, standing up and living better, the motto of
our group is so important. Because we are saying, look, you know, we are
people. I have -- my children ask me, why aren`t you here?
FLETCHER You know, we`d like to go to (INAUDIBLE), we`d like to do these
fun things, but we can`t, so as we can`t afford to rent a movie.
HAYES: Right. I want to talk to you also about the importance of wages on
one hand and then just some autonomy in your workplace. Particularly in
the warehouse setting. Right after we take this break.
HAYES: Here is -- David, you talked about what are the dynamics that are
going to raise both the wages and conditions for workers in both Wal-Mart
and retail more broadly. And there was just interesting -- a little catch
here. Williampool, he was then chief executive of the Federal Reserve Bank
of St. Louis. And he -- he is talking after there are some labor activity
that happened in 2006, largely spearheaded by the UFCW. He said my Wal-
Mart contact, he is telling people, what his Wal-Mart contact told him,
also said Wal-Mart is in the process of raising starting wages in about 700
stores. This is the first time in eight years of talking with them like
for any comment like that. He said some of these raises are part of the
Wal-Mart -- I call it social political agenda because of all the
controversy around Wal-Mart, which, you know, suggests that actually this
does have an effect. And you are actually -- you were in (ph), Arkansas,
HAYES: In a meeting with someone from Wal-Mart. Tell me about that
CASTILLO: Well, like, he spoke a lot. And what he had to say, I mean
really, wasn`t -- you know, it was like the history of it. But I mean we
all do kind of know about the history of Wal-Mart and how it got started.
But what he -- how he acted when I told him how the conditions were, he
acted like, you know, he didn`t know anything about it. You know, like,
you know, this is the first time I`m hearing of it, you know. And in one
sense, it is, you know, it was believable that he was telling the truth.
Then in the second sense, is like, he knew about it and yeah, I mean, he`s
not really doing anything.
MCGHEE: Have conditions changed at all since the meeting in--
CASTILLO: Yes, the conditions have. But it`s ...
HAYES: How, specifically?
CASTILLO: Well, like, we didn`t have water, fresh water at all throughout
the warehouse. And now we do. We were drinking from dirty water, holes
water, sometimes we didn`t even have water. And we do now, but, you know,
it`s still, you know, there`s still empty water containers and all that
around the warehouse. Like they don`t refill them, you know, quite fast
enough because, you know, we all drink water when we are working ...
FRUM: Sweating, yeah.
CASTILLO: Sweating and all that. But that`s just state law, though. You
HAYES: Right. Right. Right.
CASTILLO: So he was basically -- the bar is set, you know, this standard
and they were below it. So he kind of just set the standard bar, you know
what I`m saying? Like, as, you know, what it`s supposed to be.
FRUM: Chris, notice the date on that quote. Right. 2006.
HAYES: Right. Right.
FRUM: That was at the peak of the 2000 -- post-2003 economic expansion.
If you had -- if we`ve had an expanding economy, if we`ve had tighter
HAYES: But David, we`ve had -- but David, you have written about this.
We`ve had -- we have -- what we`ve seen in the sort of post-`70s area, are
periods of full employment that still had terrible distributional effects.
I mean you`ve written a lot about this to your credit.
HAYES: So there`s something going on other than just --
MCGHEE: And I`ll just say, I mean, so, you know, we all know what is going
on in the economy overall. And we sort of assume that that means that
retailers are suffering. The retail, the large retailers have their most
profitable quarter in ten years this year. This past year.
MCGHEE: So the profits are actually booming. And the reason why is that
particularly they have squeezed workers. I mean you can talk about this as
well. But, you know, people are working more shifts. They, you know, sort
of squeeze compensation, average compensation and the sector has gone down.
So this is the question, if the workers of these companies have been able
to help their companies rebound in a terrible economy, why is it that they
can`t gain a little bit of the reward for the work?
FLETCHER: Exactly. I mean one point I always bring up is that, you know,
if our workers in our store had an additional, you know, $200-300, the
first thing we would do is, you know, we`d buy our son an x-box.
HAYES: Right. Spend it at Wal-Mart.
FLETCHER: Because science is -- so, they would actually get all of it
back. And, I mean, that should be helpful, I would imagine.
MCGHEE: Are you going to say, we did see that across the sector, when we
did the calculation that it would essentially bring about $5 billion back
in retail sales the following year. I mean ...
MCGHEE: I mean the thing is, low wage workers are job creators, right?
Low wage workers are the people who are going to be spending 100 percent of
their income, not able to save any. I mean this is an unfortunate thing.
It links back to the show yesterday about debt.
MCGHEE: But if we are looking for, in a slack economy, if we are looking
for what is going to be the strongest multiplier effect, money back in the
pockets of working people is great.
HAYES: Low wage workers.
MCGHEE: We are not going to see a lot of action from Washington on that,
right? And that was the theory of the stimulus, and we are not going to
see it from the public sector. Let`s see it from the private sector.
FRUM: Do you get earned income tax credit?
FLETCHER: I do.
FRUM: Is that important to you?
FLETCHER: Yes. Yes. It is. Although it`s the kind of thing where if I
made enough to not receive it, that would be OK, too.
HAYES: That`s a great -- that`s very well said. I want to hear about
where your fellow workers are. Because obviously I think it`s -- you guys
are not representative in the sense that you are willing to come on
television and talk about this and (INAUDIBLE). I want to hear sort of
where the other people that you work with are on this right after we take
HAYES: There`s -- the Warehouse Workers United conducted a survey of
working conditions, and they found 63 percent of warehouse workers injured
on the job, 83 percent have suffered from job-related illness, 84 percent
have witnessed an injury of a co-worker.
So my question to you is, how -- what is the sentiment like of the folks
that you work with, do they sort of think, look, this is the job, this is
what I signed up for, do they think this is completely unfair? Do they --
is it somewhere in between? Like is there a constituency that`s going to
be mobilized around this, or is there too much churn in who is working in
the warehouse to make that happen?
CASTILLO: Well, that`s the thing about us. Like we don`t know if we`re
going to work tomorrow. You know, we don`t know if, you know, we`re ever
going to go back to work at this warehouse. And like with that, it`s --
you know, it`s -- yeah, it`s unsafe and there are a lot of, you know,
employees getting hurt. But they can replace them. You know, and that`s
what they normally do. Someone gets hurt, they fire them. And I mean,
that`s, you know, basically what, you know they do.
HAYES: You are working for -- because you are working for a temp agency
and you don`t have a set schedule, you`re not a full-time employee there.
You are basically just -- they say we need you today, we need you tomorrow
and then you go and work?
HAYES: You have a different relationship, your paycheck actually comes
HAYES: You`re inside the store. It`s not these layers of subcontractors
like Raymond has. The same question to you about where are associates`
feelings about this. Is look, I like working here, or this is the job, or
this is what I signed up for?
FLETCHER: They all like the job. They all enjoy it. But, you know, part
of what got me into the organization was I`ve seen too many grown people
crying, breaking down because of the stress, the abuse. The -- I mean so
many people are just talked down to. They -- no one has -- a very few
people have an argument as far as the validity of what we`re doing.
Of course, everyone`s reaction is aren`t you afraid of being fired? Aren`t
you scared? And they are terrified. You know, and Wal-Mart, you know,
they have their ways. Like you are saying, it`s illegal for them to fire
you for doing this, but they`ll find something. And everyone just tells me
they`ll find something on you. But, I mean, but then at the same time,
they say someone has had to have done this for a long time. Someone needed
to step up and we`re really doing that. They love it.
HAYES: Yeah. Please.
MCGHEE: I was just going to say, one of the key things, I think, for us to
remember here is that there are retail employers who take a higher road,
MCGHEE: It is possible to still be profitable. In fact, there`s a lot of
research that shows that better treatment of your workers makes for a
better store experience. You know, Wal-Mart knows this. They know that
they have customer satisfaction issues, right? And so, Costco, Safeway are
great examples of employers that actually do the right thing, pay a decent
wage for decent work and are still in the black.
FLETCHER: Yeah, if I give you a great example. Because I work in the
electronics and photo department, so I work in the high end, you know, high
merchandise area, and, you know, we are understaffed. I`ve seen numerous
times when someone comes in wanting to buy a $2000, you know, large, big
screen TV and they walk away. Because no one really helps them. And in
half of the department because of the valued merchandise is under lock and
key, so there has to be someone there to unlock it. And there isn`t.
HAYES: And one of the things, I think, that`s really interesting here is
that the -- these labor actions seem to have caught some fire or are doing
more than previous ones. And I wonder what you think the reason for that
is. What has changed essentially?
FLETCHER: For me, I think a lot of it is because, you know, people have
known for a long time how hard it is. The customers come in and they even
-- they are going to comment it like, you know, I notice people don`t
smile, I notice, you know, you guys look stressed out. And I think that
we`ve all known for a long time that this is what it is. So again, some of
my co-workers, they are so glad to see that someone has finally brought out
into the open the truth of things.
HAYES: How much for you is this about wages and how much of it is this
sort of more basic kind of self-determination or dignity or some kind of
control over what your working environment looks like?
CASTELLO: Most of it is about, you know, about that. Like for me going
home, you know, I mean, yeah, it`s, you know, the wages, because it is
tough out there. But, you know, I mean, I have a son and, you know, I want
to be able to play football with him, you know, when he gets a little
older. You know, and like with that, we`re not alone though. We`re not
the only warehouse.
CASTELLO: There`s a lot of warehouses out there for Wal-Mart that move
none but the Wal-Mart merchandise. And the same thing is that`s happening
in our warehouse is the same at theirs.
HAYES: Yeah, people that shop at Wal-Mart or have experience at the store,
you know, that essentially the store is the kind of tip of this massive
iceberg of this unbelievable global supply chain that is a kind of amazing
thing that happens. And it happens because there`s a lot of workers along
the way. And Heather, just one point to you. Is that -- there`s actually
within Wal-Mart, there`s a comparison of sort of high road labor, which is
the private Wal-Mart truckers who -- Wal-Mart owns the biggest fleet in
America and they decided very early on, and partly because they didn`t want
the teamsters to come in to pay their truckers very well, they have a lot
of autonomy over their hours. There`s -- but there`s actually some of the
highest compensated truckdrivers in the whole country, right? And this
says, they`ve decided that`s a place to invest and it`s actually brought
some productivity gains.
MCGHEE: I think -- I mean I think that goes to show the power of that, you
know, working people banding together has not just in unionized workforces
but to put pressure on companies that don`t have -- that don`t have unions
that resist unions fiercely, the way that Wal-Mart does. Unfortunately,
the retail sector is highly under-unionized for the type of work it is, it
is the ideal sector to have the stability, the lack of turnover. All of
those things that would actually have improvements for the retail sector
HAYES: Greg, thank you so much for coming in. Raymond, thank you. I
want to thank my guest and Wal-Mart associate Greg Fletcher, Heather
McGhee, who is doing a double duty this weekend, thank you for yesterday
and today. From the progressive think tank Demos. David, it was great to
have -- I mean David Frum, the author of the new book, "Why Romney Lost",
and Raymond Castillo from Warehouse Workers United. Really. Thank you
Thank you for joining us. We`ll be back next weekend, Saturday and Sunday
at 8:00 Eastern Time. Our guests will include Democratic Congressman Steve
Cohen of Tennessee. Coming up next is Melissa Harris-Perry. On today`s
MHP, America`s prison system in peril. The federal judge speaking out
against mandatory minimums and the latest on the fighting in the Middle
Plus, special bonus: I`m sticking around to join MHP for her discussion of
the Petraeus scandal. That`s "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" coming up next. It`s
great to have you this weekend. We`ll see you next week here on UP.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
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