'Up w/Chris Hayes' for Saturday, December 22nd, 2012
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
UP WITH CHRIS HAYES
December 22, 2012
Guests: Rich Lucibella, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Haley Jenkins, Jackie Hilly, Spencer Ackerman, Glenn Greenwald, Hina Shamsi, Elise Jordan, Aaron David Miller, Nancy Giles, James Clemente
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris
Hayes. Egyptians have started voting in their second and final round of
the country`s constitutional referendum.
And police in Pennsylvania say they have no motive for why a man shot
and killed a woman at a Christmas party yesterday and left and killed two
men before finally being shot dead by police. The shooting happened about
the same time the NRA held its press conference in Washington, D.C. We`re
going to have more on the NRA in just a moment.
Right now, I am joined by Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor for "The
Atlantic" magazine, Haley Elkins, author of a recent piece for the website,
"XOJane: How a Gun Loving Texas Girl Learned to Fear Assault Weapons,",
Rich Lucibella, owner and publisher of "Swat" magazine, survival weapons
and tactics, and Jackie Hilly, executive director of New Yorkers Against
Gun Violence. Great to have you all here this morning.
All right. The NRA broke its week of silence following the Newtown,
Connecticut shooting in a big way yesterday. They had promised, quote,
"meaningful contributions" to help stop gun violence, but in a press
conference in which the organization took no questions, the executive vice
president and CEO, Wayne Lapierre`s, only country policy contribution
seemed to be his call for armed guards inside all of the nation`s schools.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA CEO: I call on Congress today to act immediately
to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every
single school in this nation and to do it now to make sure that blanket
safety is in place when our kids return to school in January.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: For 30 minutes, Lapierre went on a diatribe that was
steadfast, unyielding, and attempt to blame violence on things like
videogames and the unknown number of insane monsters who, in his words,
populate our society. But what it turned into is a glimpse inside the mind
of the man who makes the NRA, the lobbying arm of the firearms industry,
tick. It was easily the most riveting, chilling, and revealing spectacle
at a national press conference that I can remember.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAPIERRE: How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their
moment of fame? How can we possibly even guess how many given our nation`s
refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill? Add
another hurricane, terrorist attack or some other natural or
manmade disaster, and you`ve got a recipe for a national nightmare.
Vicious, violent video games, a thousand music videos isn`t
fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the
filthiest form of pornography. Throughout it all, too many in the national
media, their corporate owners and their stockholders act as silent enablers
if not complacent co-conspirators. The only thing that stops a bad guy
with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Well, I have to say, I thought this was really an insane
spectacle, this press conference, and I went into it thinking two things.
One, I thought -- I thought the NRA would take a page out of the Wall
Street post crisis playbook. Wall Street post crisis said, look, we get
it. We get it. It was a big crisis, and we need some regulation,
And they gave lip service to that and they even said we`re going to
work with you on regulation and then, behind the scenes, in the lobbying,
you know, in the back rooms, they were able to gut a lot of that regulation
and put in loopholes, and this seemed like a really smart, strategic
approach on the part of Wall Street because they were able to reap the PR
benefits publicly of saying, yes, of course, of course, of course we need
regulation and also escape the worst of the actual, you know, real
constraining effects of actual regulation.
And I was expecting a similar kind of approach from the NRA. And that
was clearly not at all the approach take up. Were you as surprised, Rich?
Was that what you were expecting?
RICH LUCIBELLA, SWATMAG.COM: Well, I think I expected, yes, the NRA
to be more political, to take a more political approach. And I think what
Lapierre did was, he took the more practical approach. And I think that if
we tease apart what he was saying, sometimes because we don`t particularly
appreciate the speaker, we don`t hear the message.
And, I think that there was some value in what he was saying. He was
not just talking about armed security in schools, he was talking about
redundant security for schools, if you will. And he was talking about
providing grants to do audits for access to schools for construction of
And to the extent that, you know, to the extent that he brought up the
media and the way we give these little monsters attention and the way we
give them an identity by mentioning their names and repeating their names
creates additional -- help to create additional little monsters. We find
that these types of crimes occur in clusters.
And so, to that extent, Lapierre is not that far off when he says how
many are out there waiting? We have no idea.
HAYES: The data, we looked into the data on this sort of copycat
effect, and there`s been really interesting findings in both directions.
It`s fairly unsettled. There`s some finding that do suggest there is a
kind of copycat effect that large publicity of mass shootings induces
people who may be on the border of committing this sort of thing to plan
There are other survey data that says that may be not the case. The
thing that I found interesting, one place just concretely about this is
that -- was the sort of focus on schools. And I understand why there are
books on schools because that`s why this act was so horrifying, but schools
are very safe places. I just want to show this graph because I think this
is important to like just put this.
This is homicides in elementary and high schools over the years. And,
you know, what you see is there -- you know, there are not a lot of people
killed in schools in America. Every time someone is killed in a school in
America, it is a horrific tragedy, but in terms of what are our social
problems, schools themselves as sites of violence are not the thing that we
-- is not really the problem in terms of what the data is saying.
And I felt like it, in focusing on the schools, that was maybe missing
the problem, Ta-Nehisi.
TA-NEHISI COATES, THEATLANTIC.COM: Yes. And I think also it`s very
important to understand that self-defense does not begin at the moment of
conflict. There`s collective self-defense -- there`s self-defense that a
society enables through regulations, through laws that have passed, through
norms that it tries to establish.
And, you know, one of the big things that, I think, is missing from
this debate, I mean, we can go back and forth and have a conversation about
whether armed security would, you know, stop anything from happening,
didn`t help in Columbine, but the bigger question is, we, as a society,
what does this say when you want to put more guns in your place of
education, in your place where you send your five, six, seven-year-old
Is that the message, is that the sort of society that we actually want
to be? Or do we want to take self-defense before the moment of conflict?
Do we want to look at legislation? Do we want to put policies in place
that allow us to defend ourselves before we get to a point where we say, I
wish that teacher had an M4 (ph). By the time you get to that point, it`s
HAYES: Haley, were your surprised by the press conference?
HALEY ELKINS, WRITER: I have been very optimistic about the NRA
statement all week, waiting for it, the official statement. And then, I
have to say I was very disappointed. I think that their statement was a
pretty huge disservice to their membership and all -- I know wonderful
members of the NRA who have fantastic expertise are very smart, are very --
could be wonderful resources in this.
And I really think that that statement did not reflect any sort of an
engaging discourse and engaging in dialogue. I was shocked at how much of
a monologue it was, actually.
HAYES: I mean, there`s this emerging idea, and I think it`s an
emerging idea that`s like sort of a hopeful idea in liberal circles, so I
want to sort of reality check it, that there`s this gap between the NRA and
its membership, right? This is something you`ll see this statistic about
polling about specific regulatory initiatives.
And I`m just curious how much you think, Haley and Rich, how much you
think that is the case? And this is something that exists, you know,
across the ideological spectrum, right? Large, particularly, beltway based
interest groups pursuing an agenda will sometimes have divisions from their
constituencies (ph), their memberships. This happened on the left,
happened on the right as this sort of organizational fact. And I`m curious
what your feeling is on that, Haley?
ELKINS: Well, I was raised in the sort of 1970s for lack of a better
term, style of -- thinking about the NRA when they were still having a lot
more dialogue and a lot of more discourse than, perhaps, they are now. And
I was also raised with the mentality of them not being a lobby organization
but being a resource of education and training for their members and being
kind of a collective resource.
And then, when I became a young kind of an adult woman, I realized
that was not the situation that we were looking at with the lobbying going
on like that.
JACKIE HILLY, NEW YORKERS AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE: So, I think one of
the things that we need to look at that happened this week is the way that
all the issues were defined by the NRA press conference was around the
issue of gun-free schools. So, as you brought out in schools in this
country are very, very safe.
But in addition to that, the premise of that argument is if it weren`t
for the fact that we have said gun-free schools, there wouldn`t be any
shootings in schools. But we don`t have national campaigns that say gun-
free malls, gun-free spas, gun-free religious institutions, gun-free
streets, and so, that doesn`t stop the killers from getting there.
The killers are, you know, coming there to do whatever they want to
do, and it`s the access to the guns that make whatever happens in their
minds a possibility. So, we should be talking about how we regulate who
gets the guns, because I don`t think it matters whether you`re a member of
the NRA or you`ve never touched a gun in your life, you don`t want guns in
the wrong hands.
HAYES: The wrong hands, I think, is the key thing. But before we get
to the regulation question, I just want to talk about gun culture for lack
of a better word, because I do think at this moment we say, well, you know,
if you look at the international data, right, it`s just a fact that America
has more guns than anywhere else in the world in terms of its relative to
The next highest is Yemen, and we`re almost doubled Yemen, right? So,
there`s something different about the U.S. This is American exceptionalism
in one form or the other. And I want to talk to you two particularly about
why that is right after we take this break.
LAPIERRE: We can immediately make America`s schools safer. The
National Rifle Association, as America`s preeminent trainer of law
enforcement and security personnel, for the past 50 years, we have 11,000
police training instructors in the NRA is ready, willing, and uniquely
qualified to help. Our training programs are the most advanced in the
That expertise must be brought to bear, to protect our schools, and
our children now. The NRA is going to bring all its knowledge, all its
dedication, and all its resources to develop a model national school shield
emergency response program for every single school in America that wants
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s the NRA`s Wayne Lapierre talking about this -- the
shield program yesterday at yesterday`s press conference. Rich, here`s a
question I want to ask you. There are two trends that, I think, are
interesting. And Jackie, you pointed this out last weekend right on the
show, which is one is, the total number of guns in the U.S. in, you know,
household hands is increasing at the same time that the percentage of
households that have guns is decreasing.
And so, you have a situation which a smaller -- or you know, it`s
still very widely held. I think 40 percent of all married households have
a firearm in the home, but it`s been going like this where guns (ph) have
been going on like that. And so, it seems like we`re on a trajectory in
which more and more guns are in fewer and fewer hands.
And I wonder how you think the culture around firearm ownership is
changing right now in this country or has been over, say, the last ten
years or where it`s going from now.
LUCIBELLA: I think that there`s a natural decline to some extent due
to population moving into urban centers. And the regulation within those
areas and the difficulty in obtaining concealed weapons permits in places
like New York, in places like Chicago, but I don`t know that I agree that
the percentage of households owning guns is decreasing.
I think there may be some underreporting there because we see every
time there`s one of these tragedies, in Newtown, Connecticut, there`s a run
HAYES: Yes. Across the country. I mean, we have places reporting
highest single day sales on record.
LUCIBELLA: And they`re also reporting highest first purchase sales on
record. So, people are -- people are understanding the fact that, to an
extent, Lapierre is right. Once we`ve missed on our first, second, and
third redundant areas of security, and it comes to guns, the only thing
that can stop a guy with a gun, a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a
HAYES: Is it not a totally dystopian vision? I mean, I saw this --
really, I mean, if where we`re headed, if the solution is, look, just arm
everyone, I mean --
LUCIBELLA: It`s not the solution.
HAYES: Well, but the solution -- if the solution is the only thing to
stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, then -- and we say
we`re going to miss these redundancies, then the idea of putting more and
more weapons in more and more people`s hands, particularly if you`re not,
there`s no training, right? There`s no licensing.
HAYES: No, but there`s no requirement for it.
LUCIBELLA: -- concealed weapons -- concealed carry permit there is --
HILLY: Not everywhere there`s not at all. It`s very erratic in terms
of the requirements.
LUCIBELLA: It can be erratic. There are certain states that don`t
require a concealed weapons permit at all. I agree.
HAYES: But here`s my question, the psychological part of this. This
is, I think, this is important to me, which is like the idea of safety like
gun as a means of self-defense, right? There seems to be there`s a few
ways, reasons people have guns. There`s shooting as a recreational
activity. There`s hunting as a recreational activity.
There`s home defense, right, the idea that like I`m going to have a
loaded weapon in my house because if someone breaks in, I want to defend my
house. And then there`s this kind of vision of just the enjoyment of
interfacing with the weapon and the gear and training yourself. And I`m
wondering how, yes, Haley, I know you want to say about the sort of
psychology of all this.
ELKINS: Well, because I`m not, by any means, an expert on firearms,
but what pushed me to write this article was the kind of vitriol that we
were seeing in the gun debate for lack of a better term. And, what upset
me was that we keep referring to gun culture in America as if it`s this
monolithic ideal. And gun culture means a lot of things to a lot of
And West Texas gun culture is very different than St. Louis inner city
gun culture, which is very different than Los Angeles and Miami gun
culture. So, to that point, I don`t think -- I think that your -- the only
place you have meaningful discourse comes out of the middle. And that`s
not because the middle is moderate, that`s because that`s the only place
that people are talking.
So, when, what you want to do is you want to have a set of dialogue in
the middle, because after Connecticut happened, what we saw was a dueling
set of monologues on either side and they were very, very loud and
everybody was shouting. And you can`t -- it`s physically impossible to
think and shout at the same time.
HAYES: Will you tell me what -- tell -- for viewers that haven`t read
this article, just walk us through the basics of what you wrote about.
ELKINS: Well, I realized after Connecticut and I was having this very
visceral (ph) reaction to how angry everybody was on both sides, I realized
that guns have been present in my life growing up in West Texas at a lot of
different milestones. They -- all of my milestone moments have had guns
present in them in some form of fashion or most of them have.
And then, I realized having married a man from inner city Cincinnati
who had never had any interaction with guns before, never even seen one in
real life, let alone, held one and used one, that that was a very different
upbringing and a very different scope from a lot of people. And my
milestone interaction with guns have been a lot of positive and a lot of
negative ones, obviously.
And so, that inspired me to talk about the gap between my husband and
I, because I thought it represented pretty well the gap between the nation
when we talk about gun cultures being a monolithic thing and, of course,
HAYES: You grew up, Ta-Nehesi, in Baltimore, and you`ve written about
gun culture there. I want you to talk about that right after we take a
HAYES: Ta-Nehesi and Haley just said that, I think, it`s a really
important point how we think about guns and our relationship to guns are
very different based on where you`re coming from and how you grew up. And
I`m curious where you`re coming from having grown up in Baltimore, how you
think about guns.
COATES: Right. There were two things. And I grew up in Baltimore in
the late 1980s and late 1990s when gun violence was just absolutely
ridiculous, I mean, just off the charts. At the same time, I`m African-
American. I came from a very politicized African-American family. My dad
was in the Black Panther Party.
The poster of Malcolm X with the M1 was very popular when I was young.
And I don`t say that just to talk about cosmetic things. I say that to say
the notion of self-defense is very important to me and was very important
in the community that I grew up in. So, when people talk about, you know,
the desire or, in fact, the need, I would go so far to say to have a gun in
the house because you don`t know when the cops are going to be there.
You don`t know if they`re going to get there in time. I`m very much
connected to that. I really, really am. I have a great degree of sympathy
and belief if I did not live in New York, I might have a gun in my house.
I don`t know if I`m supposed to say that, but --
COATES: I mean, when people talk about that, I`m totally there with
you. But when you get to the point where you say, there should be, you
know, no regulation or anything, any sort of -- when you start rolling back
regulation, when you start getting to a point where it`s easier for a felon
to restore their gun rights than it is to restore their voting rights, then
I begin to have a little bit of trouble. I think we`re going beyond self-
defense at that point.
HAYES: I`m glad you brought up the Black Panthers because I wanted to
make this point, because just last weekend, I was talking about right to
work laws and their origins which have some really unsavory origins and
essentially white supremacy in the south and the fear about unions being a
site of integration.
But gun control, actually, fascinatingly, the first big piece of gun
control legislation is introduced in 1967 after the Black Panthers show up
at the California State Capitol with loaded weapons. And Ronald Reagan,
the governor at the time, (INAUDIBLE) as the Black Panther strategy of arm,
self-defense became more and more effective at mobilizing members of the
Black community, the panthers attracted even greater attention among
On April 5th, 1967, Assemblyman Mulford introduced a bill, AB 1591 in
the California legislature proposing to outlaw the carrying of loaded
firearms in public. I should say that Ronald Reagan, governor at the time,
supported that piece of legislation, even though he was the first official
candidate the NRA endorse when he run.
COATES: And Chris, I mean, just to, you know, understate where the
Panthers were coming from in that period, immediately after a period of
reconstruction, the first thing people do is they try to take the guns out
of the African-American community so that, you know, the community can then
be disempowered and oppressed.
So, what I`m saying is there`s a natural sort of affinity for the
notion that I have the right to secure myself among many African-Americans,
but we`re going to --
LUCIBELLA: Explain the history of this. The history of this is very
important. This is Jim Crow laws, which is the original gun control
throughout the south. The Jim Crow laws which established all of the laws
against ownership, against carrying in certain places came after the civil
war. It happened to be a Democratic Party institution.
LUCIBELLA: And it`s those laws that we`ve been fighting against in
the conceal carry permit area for decades now.
HAYES: But let me ask -- OK. So, the context here seems important.
And I should also note that in 1956 after his house has bombed (ph), before
he fully adopted gun violence MLK (ph) applied for a permit to carry a
concealed firearm in Montgomery, Alabama, because the local police chief
had discretion over who could receive a permanent. That gets (ph) earlier
the state adopted the NRA and endorsed uniformed firearms act --
LUCIBELLA: So did Sen. Diane Feinstein.
HAYES: But here`s my question, explain to me why it is -- I`m asking
you this honestly. I hear about someone whose got a whole bunch of
firearms, OK? And spends a lot of time training with those firearms and
thinking about how they`re going to use them. And I think, I cannot help
but think there`s something paranoid and creepy about that.
That there`s this apocalyptic sense of fear, that we are not imposed
reconstruction south, right? I mean, the context here matters. You know,
premium (ph) and the post reconstruct himself MLK in the heart of Dixie in
the 1950s. I mean, the context here is very different about when people
had this psychology that seems to me quite paranoid. Explain to me why I
am wrong about that.
LUCIBELLA: That`s relatively easy. I`m the publisher of a firearms
magazine. Obviously, I have more than one or two weapons. There are
different purposes for different weapons. We own 22-caliber weapons for
flanking and target practice in practice. We own shotguns for hunting,
sporting place, and self-defense, perhaps, one by the bedside if we don`t
have children in the house, perhaps, one in a vault.
And we have handguns for personal protection for concealed carry.
Now, does that make you a gun nut? I don`t think so, but I do think this.
That if you own those weapons, you damn sure better be trained and safe
around them. I`m not talking about trained to kill somebody. I`m not
talking about trained to use them in self-defense, though, you should if
that`s what you purchased the gun for.
I`m talking about trained to be safe around those firearms. And in
order to be safe around those firearms, you have got to practice, like
anything else. You`ve got to go to a range. You have to, in your piece,
you talked about a firearms owner your entire life, you spoke about a
Glock, a pistol, that --
LUCIBELLA: -- that you took from somebody, that the slowest move you
ever made was unloading this, that you had to unload it based on how you
saw your boyfriend unload it. Thumb -- and it`s over.
LUCIBELLA: Well, if she had trained, received training with that
firearm, she wouldn`t have had that fear of having to unload it.
HILLY: You know, let me just say this, this discussion, I think, is
absolutely true that anybody who has a firearm should be trained and should
be very knowledgeable about how to keep it safely in your home and how to
load it safely and unload it safely, but the problem is there is no such
requirement nationally, and there`s no such requirement in most states.
So, once a person gets ahold of a gun, they don`t have those requirements
and they can go into any old state and go to a gun show and buy very, very
And, just let`s look at Mrs. Lanza. Let`s look at the facts of the
case of Mrs. Lanza. She is the person who bought her gun because she felt
that she wanted protection, and she was very experienced.
HAYES: And also --
HILLY: Enjoyed all the historical things that you`re talking about
and lived in an area where she could do it on a regular basis, and she was
killed in her own home by her son. That is so frequently the case when
guns go into the wrong hands. So, the things that we`re talking about, I
hate to keep going back to the regulations, it`s like who has the gun in
the first place?
What decision do we make around who gets the gun? And how do we
regulate that sensibly? That`s really what we need to do.
HAYES: I want to get your response to that right after we take this
HAYES: Talking about guns and gun culture and gun training and gun
safety. Haley, there`s something you wanted to say.
ELKINS: I was just -- I was really struck by what you said about how
we need to go back to the regulations. We need to talk about the
regulations and what is the solution about who can and can`t own a gun.
And I think it -- I think it bothers me that we`re not having more of a
conversation about what gun ownership looks like and what every tool is a
weapon if you hold it right.
So, what guns as tools look like and what guns as weapons look like.
And it bothers me that my husband who had never had any experience with a
firearm has now had more experience with firearms than I have, because he
went out shooting with me and then he went out with a bachelor party and
shot multiple handguns and multiple AK and a bunch of other things that
had, you know, recoil (ph) modifications.
And he did not -- he is still just as pro-gun control as he ever was,
which is much more than I am, but the fabric of his understanding
completely changed about what the difference was from firing my shotgun,
which he fired and was comfortable firing to an AK.
HAYES: Right. I mean, one of the things you say and one of the
things I think point you make in the piece, and I should just be clear
about -- you know, it`s about sort of recreational change from your
parents, it`s also about an abusive ex-boyfriend who held you at gunpoint
and the difference in the experience of that weapon in those contexts.
HAYES: One of the things you say in the piece that you seem to sort
of put a lot of it on the weapon itself in certain ways, right, that like
what the weapon is designed to do, like, there`s something about the weapon
in the context of shooting, it`s also the design and architecture of that
ELKINS: Well, here`s something else I don`t think we`re talking
about. We`re looking at guns as inanimate objects and they are. However,
guns just like people. Every single one has a story. It has a story of
everything that it`s done. It has a story of everything it`s capable of
doing, and it has a story of what it may do in the future. And I don`t
think that we`re having that sort of a discussion.
HAYES: Well, we sort of are, right? Because, I mean, what we`re
talking about -- here is exactly that, right? The Bushmaster, right, which
has become now famous because it was the -- you know, there were two
handguns we should note, but it was the sort of rifle -- I think it`s
called long rifle in the argot of the gun industry.
This is -- this ad was used to sell the Bushmaster. And again, I keep
wanting to not -- like be swept up in my worst caricature stereotypes, but
then, I see something like this. This is the Bushmaster firearm campaign
about getting your man card back, that like the way to buy the -- the
reason to buy Collin F. is just unmanly.
Collin F. avoids eye contact with a top-looking fifth grader. His man
card is revoked, revoked a man card, and then, when he gets his gun, his
man card reissued. And this just seems to be like -- this seems to cater
to the worst kind of impulses around guns.
COATES: I just want to say, I mean, this is like something I don`t
understand. Power changes people, OK? I grew up in a situation where it
was not unlikely that you might have an interaction in the street that
might end violently. If you put a gun on my hip, I would think that I
would be much more likely to escalate, to say things that maybe I would not
We know that if you were driving a car, we certainly have behaviors
that we will exhibit behind the safety of a wheel that we would not exhibit
as pedestrians or if we`re riding a bike.
HAYES: I`m slightly more profane driving my car than hosting my show.
COATES: I mean, I think that ad is a real manifestation to that --
LUCIBELLA: Let me jump in here. You`ve not carried a gun on your
hip, I do. OK? And I can tell you that, in my case, it causes me to
deescalate every situation. And the reason is is if I get into an
altercation with you, what am I going to do? I`m going to go fisty cuffs
with you with a 45 on my hip and go to ground? I`m certainly not intending
to shoot you. So --
HILLY: Well, you know, the thing is that, I think that`s --
LUCIBELLA: We deescalate in with those situations --
COATES: I mean, I certainly would agree that you are someone, perhaps
a really responsibility disposition, right? But we can`t legislate for the
best case scenario.
HAYES: Here`s my question, you talked about training before, right,
about knowing what you`re doing with these items that you`ve purchased.
And I got this interesting e-mail from a viewer who was talking about the
difference in the state that he was in between he has a commercial driver`s
license and talking about the amount of regulation to maintain a commercial
Now, this is just to drive around the van that essentially he runs his
small business with. And it was like every six months, you got to come in.
You have to pass a competency test. You have to -- you constantly have to
be -- all he`s doing is driving around a van that, you know, that he uses
to run a small business and there`s this very high standard for how to say
to essentially society and through the law that you are worthy of the
ability to do this thing.
And one can imagine some kind of world in which the training you`re
talking about was actually legally check. What would be wrong with that?
LUCIBELLA: Well, I think that it`s a discussion for an entire second
show. What would be wrong with that, first of all, it would require
registration of every gun owner in this country, which is against --
HAYES: Constitutionally odious (ph).
LUCIBELLA: Yes. I mean, you enter the slipper slope right there. I
COATES: Why do we have to register cars and have insurance and we
should not --
LUCIBELLA: Because it`s a privilege. Because it`s a privilege.
Because in our law, that is considered a privilege to allow you to drive.
It is not a privilege to allow you to own a gun. It is a constitutionally
guaranteed right in the bill of rights, which tells you that it doesn`t
COATES: OK. But from a moral perspective -- I mean, that doesn`t
bother you at all? I mean, the gun is intended to end a life, maybe not a
LUCIBELLA: No. A hatchet or machete does the same. Look at China.
Look at what they`re doing to school kids in China today with aged weapons.
LUCIBELLA: Do we register those?
HAYES: Although the lethality there is quite different there.
LUCIBELLA: Oh, the lethality. How many were killed most recently in
HILLY: No. Twenty-seven were stabbed and they all survived.
HAYES: They have other lethal ones as well.
LUCIBELLA: There`ve been several multiple killings with --
HAYES: We`re going to return this topic tomorrow when we talk about
regulation. But I would love to have you both back at the table and you
guys as well. Ta-Nehesi Coates from the "Atlantic" magazine, writer Haley
Elkins, Rich Lucibella from "SWAT" magazine, Survival, Weapons, and
Tactics, and Jackie Hilly from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. Thank you
As John Kerry secures his nomination for secretary of state, the
efforts to block former Republican senator, Chuck Hagel, from DOD continue
HAYES: Yesterday, President Obama nominated Senator John Kerry for
secretary of state, putting into place the first new member of his new
national security team for the second term.
Kerry will be the first bit of smooth sailing for the administration
nomination-wise after U.S. ambassador, Susan Rice, and more recently,
former Republican senator, Chuck Hagel, who was leaked by the White House
as a possible nominee for secretary of defense and is now being subjected
to fierce pre-nomination attacks from conservative columnists, anonymous
Republican staffers, and the "Washington Post" editorial board just to name
One anonymous (ph) Republican senate aide summed up the commit and to
take down Hagel in a statement to the "Weekly Standard" saying, quote,
"Send us Hagel and we will make sure every American knows he is an anti-
Hagel has a long record of backing the Republican foreign policy
establishment. Well, much of the campaign against him is focused on his
use of the phrase "Jewish lobby" during a 2008 interview with former Mid
East peace negotiator, Aaron David Miller, who joins us in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OF SEN. CHUCK HAGEL, (R) NEBRASKA: The political reality is
that you intimidate a lot, not you, but the Jewish lobby, intimidates a lot
of people up here. And, yes, I`ve always argued against some of the dumb
things they do because I don`t think it`s in the interest of Israel.
I just don`t think it`s smart for Israel. Now, everyone has a right
to lobby, it`s as it should be, and come see your senator, congressman, if
you can get the guy to sign your letter. Great. Wonderful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Much like what happened with the attacks on Susan Rice,
powerful advocates going after Hagel have been able to wage a very one-
sided campaign. After leaking his name earlier this month, the White House
has stayed largely silent. When asked on Thursday about Hagel`s Jewish
lobby comments, White House press secretary, Jay Carney, offered a tepid
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think you ought to address
that question to Senator Hagel. I`m not -- you know, we`re not in a
process and we`ve been through this before with Ambassador Rice where
there`s an effort to go after somebody and you want -- you know, we haven`t
nominated anyone, we have made no personnel announcements.
And I`m not going to engage in that. What I can tell you is that
Senator Hagel fought and bled for his country. He served his country well.
He was an excellent senator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The coordinated pre-nomination effort to brand Hagel`s anti-
Semitic offers a fascinating window into how foreign policy interest groups
operate, but it also obscured what should be the central question, is Hagel
an ideal candidate to lead the Department of Defense and just where is the
Department of Defense going in the future?
Joining us now is Glenn Greenwald, columnist at "The Guardian"
newspaper, Hina Shamsi, director of ACLU`s national security project,
former senior adviser to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on
Extrajudicial executions, Spencer Ackerman, senior reporter for Wires
National Security blog, "The Danger Room," and Elise Jordan, former
speechwriter to Condoleezza Rice. Great to have you all here.
I will admit and maybe I was not hit to this, I did not realize Chuck
Hagel was such a controversial, polarizing figure until this whole thing
went down. Were you, guys, surprised by the reaction to Hagel?
SPENCER ACKERMAN, WIRED.COM: Well, you know, Sunday -- you know, in
Jewish day school, we`re taught that Chuck Hagel will come and drink our
ACKERMAN: So, you know, I guess it`s not surprising, but the
manufactured outrage about this has been just disgusting to see. I mean,
you saw in a clip that you played, the audio clip, the very next thing he
says discusses the contradictory and the counterproductive elements that
advocates for Israel often engage in, that seems like they are now
demonstrating right now. That Hagel talks about what`s in the interest of
Israel, how can he (inaudible) Israel if that`s the consideration for.
GLENN GREENWALD, GUARDIANNEWS.COM: Well, I mean, I think there`s a
strain in Washington of people who have actually fought wars unlike the
people of the "Weekly Standard" who cheer for them that have really raised
the issue of what is the cost to the American people and to the United
States of this steadfast port to Israel.
Amazingly, you have David Petraeus of the time that he was the head of
the central command in 2010 testify before the Armed Services Committee who
said that our linkage to Israel is a major cause and that it makes large
parts of people in the Middle East hate the United States and he has to
then backtrack because of how controversial it is.
What this is about is suppressing the debate that we ought to be
having over what cost there is to the American public and to the United
States as a government to having this constant blind loyalty to this
foreign nation even when it damages U.S. interest. Hagel is one of the
military people who have raised this issue and that`s the reason why
there`s such a vicious attack against him.
HAYES: Do you not think that`s true?
HINA SHAMSI, ACLU: Well, I`m not going to address those issues
specifically, but from a civil liberties perspective, I think one of the
main things to focus on from looking at the Obama national security team in
the second administration is how will they help shape the Obama
Because any president in the second administration is now going to be
focused on legacy. And, so, one question for us from the perspective of
the Department of Defense is is this going to be someone who is going to
continue pushing the idea of an always and forever war where we, the United
States, are an outlier, virtually, (ph) no ally agrees with us or will
people within the administration now push what Jay Johnson talked about in
a speech recently --
HAYES: General council for the Pentagon who has just retired.
SHAMSI: That`s right.
SHAMSI: -- who`s a bout to retire. And he said that it`s an unwise
and dangerous thing for us to be in an always and forever war and that
we`re about to reach a tipping point against it.
ELISE JORDAN, FMR. SPEECHWRITER TO CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, I think
that Hagel is a good pick for Obama, because he`s going to aggressively
withdraw from Afghanistan. And I think that there has to be someone -- if
he is going to actually fulfill the mandate of the president, he`s a strong
pick in that sense.
HAYES: I think that`s a real -- everyone has been talking about Iran.
I think the Afghanistan withdrawal, there`s going to have to be someone in
that position who can hold the line against the massive political pressure
that`s going to be brought to bear, sometimes, internally and externally
to prolong the war. We`re going to talk to the man who interviewed Chuck
Hagel that has set off part of this firestorm, Aaron David Miller, right
HAYES: I want to bring in Aaron David Miller, author of "The Much Too
Promised Land: America`s Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace," vice
president of Woodrow Wilson Center, and non-partisan think-tank, and former
adviser on Arab Israeli issues in the state department under both
Republican and Democratic administrations.
Aaron, the interview you did with Chuck Hagel is the centerpiece for
some of the attacks being launched against him. I`d like to hear since you
were in the room and heard it in context what your reaction to this is?
AARON DAVID MILLER, AIUTHOR, "THE MUCH TOO PROMISED LAND": Well, I
mean, I think there are some realities here. Regardless of whether Chuck
Hagel is confirmed or not confirmed or even if he`s announced or whether he
should be the secretary of defense or not, there`s one basic reality that
needs to be laid out, I think fundamentally and clearly, and that is Chuck
Hagel is not an anti-semi -- he`s not an enemy of the state of Israel.
I would argue he`s not even hostile in the state of Israel. Chuck
Hagel, during the course of my interview, said some things that go beyond
what I would argue are the sort of norms that you do hear or do not hear
expressed in Congress. And the reality is, Hagel believes in a special
relationship with Israel, but I would argue not an exclusive relationship.
He senses the fact, I think, that the United States has certain
interests. We`re a country of 300-plus million people with a multiplicity
of interest to protect the world. Israel is a tiny country living in a
dangerous neighborhood, often on the knife`s edge, a small country. It has
its own interests. It would be fundamentally and logical to assume that on
every issue across the board American/Israeli interests should coincide.
But the reality is he`s a believer in shared values. I think he`s
sensitive to Israeli security interests. So, what is happening, and I call
it in my book, I have a name for it. At least part of what`s happening is
what I call the cosmic oy vey.
It`s the inability of many in the American-Jewish community to look at
the U.S-Israel relationship as a real living relationship driven by
political realities, by strategic realities, and sometimes, I know it`s a
shocker, the diverging interests that sometimes separate the United States
So, on the narrow issue, I just need to make this point because, in
part, it was that interview that has led to so much of the attack on Chuck
Hagel. And from that perspective, it`s really wrong.
HAYES: Anti-Defamation League president, Abe Foxman, talking about
the potential Hagel nomination, I thought, was interesting. He said,
"Chuck Hagel would not be the first, second, or third choice of the
American-Jewish community`s friends of Israel. His record relating to
Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship is, at best, disturbing, and at
worse, very troubling."
He then goes on to say they`re not going to oppose the nomination,
which I thought was interesting. I want to talk about why this attack is
happening and what it says about the strength of the interests that are
going after him right after we take this break.
HAYES: Hello from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Here with Glenn
Greenwald of "The Guardian", Hina Shamsi of the ACLU, Spence Ackerman of
Wired.com`s "Danger Room", and Elise Jordan, former speechwriter to
Condoleezza Rice. We also have Aaron David Miller, former State Department
official, on satellite from Washington, D.C.
And we are talking about Chuck Hagel and the attacks against Chuck
And there`s two things here I think that are really interesting. One
is this just new norm that I think has been established, which is going
after a nominee before they are a nominee, right? So the name gets
floated, in the case of Susan Rice. Then you go after and they are in this
weird position where they cannot defend themselves because they have not
been nominated yet.
But the other is ways in which the specific set of interests around
the relationship to Israel try to exercise muscle and push foreign policy
in a certain way. And I think it`s really interesting they are going after
Hagel partly because of this moment on the floor in July of 2006.
This was during Israel and Lebanon`s war and this is Chuck Hagel
(AUDIO BREAK) the U.S. to push for a cease-fire. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK HAGEL, THEN-U.S. SENATOR: How do we realistically believe that
a continuation of this system attic destruction of an American friend, the
country and the people of Lebanon is going to enhance America`s image and
give us the trust and credibility to lead a lasting and sustain peace
effort in the Middle East? The sickening slaughter on both sides, Mr.
President, must end and it must end now.
President Bush must call for an immediate cease-fire. This madness
The United States will remain committed to defending Israel. Our
relationship with Israel is a special and historic one, but it need not and
cannot be at the expense of our Arab and Muslim relationships. That is an
irresponsible and dangerous false choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: What`s so striking about that is that that war between Israel
and Lebanon, which the American political establishment essentially
supported unanimously as it wants to do in these sort of conflicts, was
seen in Israel in the immediate aftermath as an absolute disaster, it
almost brought down the government. And it`s precisely the ability to be
able to have some daylight between the policy of the Israeli government
happens to be pursuing at a moment and what the proper policy is from the
perspective of the United States, that Hagel was depending there. And
also, I think, in the sweep of history, he kind of also looks like he was
right about that.
GLENN GREENWALD, GUARDIANNEWS.COM: This is what is so amazing,
there`s more debate allowed about what the Israeli government does -- in
Israel, you`re allowed to say the Israeli government is doing the wrong
thing in Israel, much more readily than you can say that in the United
And what`s so amazing about that clip is what Chuck Hagel is saying,
I`m an American, I`m an American senator. My interest is what`s good for
the United States. And I think that aligning ourselves with Israel as they
bomb a long-standing ally of the United States is bad for American
That`s a very straightforward, common argument that we would make with
any war. But when it comes to Israel, it`s so rare for a member of
Congress to be willing to stand up and say something like that. Usually,
these resolutions supporting Israel are unanimous. But it shows you how
constricted, what a stranglehold there is in the debate over Israel.
And because he`s willing to do that and has been willing to, that`s
why he`s being attacked. And that`s why it`s important to depend
(INAUDIBLE) to make sure that we can have this debate that we need to have
about Israel and the United States.
SPENCER ACKERMAN, WIRED.COM: There also seems to be something of a
proxy debate about the scope of American power, in the way that this
Washington debate over Israel often happens. Because it`s not just the
Hagel said something that, you know, in the abstract is completely
innocuous, is basically on the side of saying what Israel has done is
counterproductive. That`s not good for a friend of the United States.
It`s also putting out a prominent American senator saying that a war
in the Middle East that does not correspond to any decent conception of the
interest of the country, it is being waged for, that implicates the United
States ought to happen.
ACKERMAN: And that something that has also been sort of working in
the background of the criticism of Hagel over his Israel comments because
he simply looks like someone who is a skepticism, who exhibits a skepticism
on our military power (ph), who would be at the helm of the Pentagon.
ELISE JORDAN, FORMER SPEECHWRITER TO CONDOLEEZZA RICE: But at this
point Obama is going to look really weak if he doesn`t own Hagel. And he`s
been so silent. I really just don`t understand why because he has
political capital right now, he should use it, but yet he`s not coming out
to defend these candidates who are, I mean, putting themselves on the line
HAYES: Well, he came out and defended Susan Rice quite strongly, but
that didn`t necessarily turn the tide.
Aaron, I`m curious if you think this ends up being a test case for how
-- for where we draw the boundaries of what is acceptable or unacceptable
outside the sort of boundaries of what we will allow if Hagel`s nomination
is sunk or are the stakes not that high?
AARON DAVID MILLER, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: Well, I think -- I think
they are high for the administration because, you know, I worked for half a
dozen secretaries of state. What I`ve seen over the last three weeks in
Washington is virtually unprecedented.
This is the second punitive nominee -- I mean, there hasn`t even been
a formal announcement of a nomination. The first was Susan Rice. And now,
she was preemptively basically forced to withdraw.
And, remember, she probably was the president`s preferred candidate
for the job.
MILLER: Now. Hagel is caught up in this. You know, on one hand, you
have -- Obama is one of 17 American presidents to be elected to a second
term, and yet we really understand now in some respects the illusions of
the power of the second term president. To have another nominee, perhaps
the president`s preferred candidate for the Pentagon, secretary of defense,
preemptively challenged is rather remarkable and extraordinary.
One additional point, Chris, that needs to be made, I think,
regardless of who becomes secretary of defense -- Barack Obama is most
withholding foreign policy president since Richard Nixon. There`s no
question about that. All power on the consequential issues of war and
peace, Afghanistan, Iraq, the war on terror, big think strategy in Iran,
the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, during his first term came in and
out of the White House.
Secretary Clinton, we`ll never know whether she could be a
consequential, let alone great secretary of state, because the presidential
essentially dominates. He doesn`t delegate.
And the reality is, both at State and Defense, the interesting
question will be it seems to me on whether or not in the second term, the
president will allow his national security team to actually help shape the
policy that the president validates and authorizes.
HAYES: That is a very interesting point. I have not actually heard
that before. I`ve heard -- I`ve heard other things that make me think
differently about the independence of State in this administration.
But one of the things I think is also at stake in the Hagel discussion
is the kind of amazing enduring power of neo conservativism in Washington,
D.C., long, long, long after it should have been really definitively
vanquished and discredited as a conception of the world.
It`s remarkable, Hina, "The Washington Post" editorial board, which
was kind of one of the key sounding boards to this world view, going after
Hagel, and again, going after Hagel in ways to make me like Chuck Hagel who
I did not have strong feelings about prior to them going after him, saying
Leon Panetta said the Defense sequester cuts that Congress mandated will
have dire consequences.
Hagel to a very different position, he says the Defense Department, I
think, in many ways have been bloated. I think the Pentagon needs to be
And they also attacked Hagel over his renaissance to escalate with
Iran. And in Iran policy dimension, you have the people who were the
masterminds behind a lot of what happened in Iraq, being the vociferous
voices in pushing to escalate in Iran and yet don`t seem discredited and
now, they are going to try to take down someone who was an early --
although he did vote for the Iraq war, on Iraq. This seems -- this got
(ph) to me.
GREENWALD: Well, you know, we had an incident very similar to this in
2010, or 2009, with Charles Freeman, who was a lifelong member of the
foreign service, a U.S. ambassador who was nominated to lead an
intelligence council, within the National Security Council, in the same
neoconservative faction attacked and maligned him for the same reasons that
he had express some tiny dissidence on the question of Israel. And they
If you look at who is getting nominated to the secretary of state
position, John Kerry, who is replacing Hillary Clinton. Even Chuck Hagel,
as we said, you basically have had to support the Iraq war to maintain
credibility in U.S. national security circles even though the exact
opposite should be true, that people who did that ought to be extremely
JORDAN: At the end of the day Chuck Hagel is a Republican realist. I
don`t know why that`s so toxic within the Republican foreign policy circles
because there`s just --
HAYES: It really is, though. That`s so remarkable. I thought after
Bush and after Iraq and in some ways, even after the second term and
Condoleezza Rice was a bit ascendant against some the more neocon voices,
that we would see the wake of that, that that would be the ascendant part
of the Republican policy and it is not.
JORDAN: And I think it`s really out of touch with the rank and file
JORDAN: And I know that I do talk about Ron Paul a fair amount so
I`ll limit myself. But that`s a strain Ron Paul captured this election
cycle with Republicans. They are sick of war, just like the rest of
GREENWALD: The reason is what Chuck Hagel that got him in to trouble,
which is the pro-Israel lobby in Washington is extraordinarily powerful. I
mean, we keep wondering why they still wield power, but that is ultimately
the reason, is they have extreme power in Washington.
It`s the same reason gun control is so hard to get. There are
powerful lobbies and the pro-Israel lobby is one of them.
MILLER: Chris, can I join in on one point here?
MILLER: I don`t want -- we don`t want to break the bank on this. The
real is the detractors of Israel think that the U.S.-Israeli relationship
is driven by the power of domestic politics. And Israel`s defenders on the
other hand believe that domestic politics is irrelevant, that the U.S.`s
relationship is driven primarily by value affinity.
The reality is, and Glenn should understand this, the pro-Israeli
lobby in the United States has a powerful voice, but it does not have a
veto. And the farther away you get from Capitol Hill where, in essence in
my judgment, there really is no genuine, serious or honest debate on the
issue of Israel or Arab/Israeli peacemaking, the farther away you get from
that, the less influence the pro-Israeli community has. And historical
record bears this out.
A willful president with a smart strategy will trump domestic
political interests every single time. It was true of Henry Kissinger. It
was true of Jimmy Carter, and it was true of Jimmy Baker. But it has to be
a president that was smart, has a strategy and finds a way to make
everybody, the Arabs, the Israelis and, of course, the White House a winner
HAYES: Yes, there`s an interesting -- there`s an interesting point
here, too. I think that there`s a longer discussion, obviously, but I
think that the power of what is called the pro-Israel lobbyists, it`s the
pro-certain specific vision of Israeli policy lobby, can be overstated
sometimes in ways that help it. I mean, in some ways, the lobby is as
powerful as the power is projected to be.
And I think we`ve seen that a little bit with the NRA as well, right?
There`s no difference how powerful you are and how powerful everybody else
in the room thinks you are. And sometimes, I think those two things feed
each other. We will see with Chuck Hagel, I think it is an important test
case in that respect.
Aaron David Miller, author of "The Much Too Promised Land," Elise
Jordan, former speechwriter to Condoleezza Rice, thank you for being here.
All right. I`m really excited to talk about this -- the movie that`s
being slammed by three senior senators for changing the record on torture.
"Zero Dark Thirty", next.
HAYES: The film "Zero Dark Thirty", out in theaters this week,
chronicles the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden and the raid that
killed him. The film, which has also already garnered critical phrase
across the board, has also reignited the latent debate over the use of
The controversy surrounding the film is focused on the way it portrays
the CIA detainee program. More specifically, it suggests the effectiveness
of torture not only as an interrogation technique, but is integral to
locating bin Laden. The film opens with scenes of a CIA interrogator
brutally torturing and humiliating a detainee who later gives information
that leads to bin Laden, that promises to break him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I be honest with you? I have bad news. I`m
not your friend. I`m not going to help you. I`m going to break you. Any
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: We know from transcripts obtained through several Freedom of
Information Act requests that the filmmakers were given access to people at
the Department of Defense and CIA to research their film. But Leon
Panetta, who was head of the CIA at the time of the raid, said the
information that led to bin Laden did not come from someone in the CIA
In the letter to the president of Sony Films, Senators McCain, Levin
and Feinstein, all members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, asked Sony
to correct the record saying, quote, "Regardless of what message the
filmmakers intended to convey, the movie clearly implies the CIA`s coercive
interrogation techniques were effective in eliciting important information
related to a courier for Osama bin Laden. Please consider correcting the
impression that the CIA`s use of coercive interrogation techniques led to
the operation against Osama bin Laden. It did not.`
The intensity of a backlash in the film stems from the fact I think
there has been no real reckoning during the Obama years with the Bush
administration`s use of torture post-9/11. No one has been held to account
for crimes against both U.S. law and international law, and what little
information or evidence remains about the program still classified.
Although our history of torture remains largely unresolved, those few
making the exhaustively debunked case for its effectiveness are still
talking, this time through "Zero Dark City".
Joining us now is Nancy Giles, contributor to CBS News "Sunday
Morning". Great to have you here.
NANCY GILES, CBSNEWS.COM: Hello.
HAYES: All right. I went into this film, I had read -- I started to
read a little bit of it.
Glenn, you wrote about it.
Spencer, you wrote about it.
You guys have different views which I want to hear about, but I went
in. I was like try to keep an open mind. I cut myself off from a certain
point from reading anymore because I did not want to divine impressions and
I was horrified by the film. I think it is really, objectively, pro-
torture. And I would say colludes with evil.
I mean, I really like -- I had a strong, moral revulsion to the film.
And, Spencer, I guess I want you to convince me that I`m wrong.
ACKERMAN: I thought that, first, there`s the utility to the film that
gets to the heart of what you said about a lack of reckoning with torture.
First, there`s kind of, I guess you would say an antiseptic debate when we
hear in the abstract without knowing what it means the torture techniques
that were used, particularly at the CIA`s black sites. You hear terms like
stress positions, you hear a lot of terms like sleep deprivation.
And in 2009, when the Obama administration declassified some of the
legal memoranda from the Justice Department authorizing the techniques, you
started to see between the lines and in footnotes a lot of what that meant.
And it meant things like keeping a detainee awake by hanging him from the
ceiling, making sure that if he physically slumped, when the human body
physiology, naturally gets tired, the amount of pain that he exhibits, the
stress put on his body that`s so intense that he simply cannot do that.
HAYES: The first detainee -- I should say for people who (INAUDIBLE)
-- the first detainee in the film, which is the sort of opening sequence of
interrogation and torture, is this detainee in a stress position in which
both arms are hung up. That`s one of the ways in which he is deprived of
ACKERMAN: And he`s shown to have soiled himself. He is --
HAYES: Sexually humiliated.
ACKERMAN: Sexually humiliated, starving. There`s also the terrifying
scene of a small wooden box, which actually was used against a detainee
named Abu Zubaydah, in which in a dimension much smaller than the human
body can accommodate. He`s shoved into the thing as a punishment while
screaming out I correct information --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
ACKERMAN: -- to his CIA torturer.
And I think there is some, in the -- with the lack of actual
disclosure about this program, there is some horrible value in reckoning
with what the United States did to people that I thought that "Zero Dark
Thirty", whether it meant to or not, I have no idea about the intentions of
the filmmakers, that I thought actually carried with it both a useful
disclosure that could lead to a reckoning of what this thing was.
And also a sense that in a movie that ostensibly ends with something
that the American public will applaud, the death of Osama bin Laden, you
see that for 10 years, in the name of supposedly ending the war on terror,
this was the amount of depravity that existed in the accordance to.
HINA SHAMSI, ACLU: Chris, I have a hard time concluding the movie is
affirmatively pro-torture, because it does not pull any punches. When
you`re watching those torture scenes, you are filled with revulsion.
My problem is with two other things. One is that the movie starts out
with, and this is a problem, with a heart-wrenching account with actual
phone, accounts of --
HAYES: It`s 9/11 calls of people inside the building, an actual
audiotape -- devastating. Yes.
SHAMSI: And then it`s followed by a frame that says this movie is
based on firsthand accounts of actual fact. And it leaves the impression,
because the first part of the movie is about torture, the last part is
about the killing of bin Laden, both of the most riveting parts of the
movie. It leaves the impression that the one torture led to the other, bin
Laden, and that is false.
HAYES: Let me fill in the blanks here and then, Nancy and Glenn, I
want you to weigh in. But the film bytes here, this person that we see
hung up, shoved in a coffin, that is made to soil himself, that is beaten,
I mean, we don`t see the beating of him but see that he has been beaten.
Ultimately, there`s a scene in which he is then given food, humus, and a
cigarette. And he`s basically broken in that scene and starts to give
And he gives names after the interrogator, the guy that we saw in the
trailer asks him a question, there`s a pause. He says, "You can sit here
and eat or I can go hang you up again."
GREENWALD: Immediately after --
HAYES: And immediately after he make that is tortured threat, he
gives up the name. I don`t think there`s any ambiguity -
GREENWALD: The information in which the whole film then hinges --
GILES: It pours out of him. It`s just -- I agree with everything
that`s been said, Spencer, except you.
GILES: No, I was revolted by what I saw. I felt the same way as you.
I thought by -- for starters, I just, it makes me sick to feel that the
people who are victimized on September 11th again are being victimized by
being used in the beginning of this movie. It gave it this impression that
you`re almost watching like a documentary. And it`s a movie.
From a movie standpoint, the strange thing is even though you know how
it`s going to end, I felt that there was -- I didn`t have anyone to root
for, you know?
HAYES: But having no one to root for, I think, reinforces Spencer`s
point, right? Because I --
GILES: In a way it does, because I thought that the actions by --
that were portrayed were so horrifying, horrifying to maybe get the results
that they got, which I didn`t really believe. I felt like again, we were
manipulated into believing that torture led to this spill.
HAYES: I want -- I want to get to you. I want to bring in a former
interrogator, actually, and put on the record a little bit about what we do
know about the way that torture was used and what information that led to
right after this break.
HAYES: I want to bring in James Clemente, a retired special agent for
the FBI`s behavioral analysis unit who was stationed at Guantanamo Bay,
from October to December 2002 to consult on interrogation methods.
James, I want to get your sense of the film`s depiction of the CIA
detainee program and the use of torture. And before that, I want to put on
the record -- this is a letter from then-CIA director Leon Panetta to
Senator John McCain, saying the detainee who gave information that led to
bin Laden was not in the CIA detainee program.
"We first learned about the facilitator courier`s nom de guerre," the
courier is this key, Abu Ahmed, who is the key figure in this, "from a
detainee not in CIA custody in 2000. It is also important to note that
some detainees who were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques
attempted to provide false or misleading information about the
facilitator/courier. These attempts to falsify the facilitator/courier`s
role were alerting."
What was your sense watching this film about where it ends up coming
down? And how truthful it is about the methods used?
JAMES CLEMENTE, RETIRED FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, Chris, thanks for
And, first of all, I would agree with Mr. Panetta. That was accurate
characterization of what I saw and what I experienced and what my
colleagues experienced there. But the film unfortunately at least leaves
the impression, and I think it`s a strong impression that were it not for
the torture that proceeded the rapport-based techniques that you`d see on
the film, were it not for the torture, that the report-based techniques
would not have worked.
In fact, in reality, the torture, all it did was delay the
effectiveness of the report-based technique that the FBI has been using for
decades, many decades, to successfully get hardened serial killers, for
example, to confess to very heinous crimes. It works with detainees as
In fact, what I did when I went down there and the first interrogation
plan they showed me was filled with just horrendous behavior, escalating
all the way to torture and to sending people to third countries to be
So that kind of stuff was ineffective. That`s why they asked us to
come down to help them improve their plans. And then to show them how
rapport-based works, I took the worst detainee -- a guy who was not talking
at all. He was doing nothing but reciting the Koran from memory when
And I took him and used rapport-based techniques to build a bridge to
this human being, and we can connect that way no matter who you are. And
the fact is, that in 11 days, I got him to go from complete silence to,
Jim, my friend, what can I do for you? He was working for us at that
SHAMSI: You know, I think -- I think part of what we are doing here
is going exactly where we don`t want to go as a country, which is having a
conversation about whether torture works or not. I don`t think anyone
credibly says that you can`t get information from torture. Of course you
SHAMSI: The question is, is that information reliable? And could you
have gotten it other ways without violating law and values? That`s what I
HAYES: And also, is it just -- should there just be a blanket
prohibition, the way there`s a blanket prohibition like --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On murder, on murder.
SHAMSI: There is a blanket prohibition.
GREENWALD: Well, I would like to --
SHAMSI: I think one of the issues with this movie is that it shows
war crimes being committed from the perspective of the CIA agents who
committed those war crimes. And what that leaves out fairly edited is the
perspective of everyone else who is under the same pressure, including CIA
agents who objected, who did not try to break the law, or the minds or
bodies of their fellow human beings at the time.
CLEMENTE: Yes, but if you -- really, let`s deal with the issue about
whether you can actually get information from torture, because you are not
dealing with average citizens here when you`re talking about detainees.
CLEMENTE: These are hardened people trained to resist torture, just
like our military people are trained to resist torture.
And in fact, what happens when you torture is that you reinforce the
negative stereotypes, you reinforce all the horrible things they have been
taught about us. You need to undermine those expectations by treating them
like human beings and building a bond with them.
I don`t believe that torture actually gets information.
HAYES: And --
GILES: I just -- all I want to say is going with what Mr. Clemente
said, I thought the most honest point in the movie was when the guy was put
in the box and he was just saying anything, anything. And it really, to
me, showed that torture will, you know, get someone to respond, but it`s
going to be bad information. That I thought was honest.
GREENWALD: Yes, but the whole film and so many people who watched the
film have said, the impression that you get both literally and
impressionistically is that in the absence of torture, we would not have
been able to achieve what Americans consider the greatest achievement of
the last decade, which is finding and killing Osama bin Laden.
And that is what one of the things that makes the film so disgusting
and so dangerous is, is that although you`re right and I think we can all
agree, that torture shouldn`t be allowed even if it is beneficial, the
reality from participating in torture debates is, Americans believe that
torture is supportable. The ones who do, not because they don`t realize
it`s brutal. So, I mean, you look at torture because you are an opponent
and look at the scenes and say, wow, I`m recoiling from the scenes.
Americans know torture is brutal. That`s why they think it works.
They have supported torture because they believe that the people we are
doing it to are primitive, violent, horrible savages who need to be treated
brutally because that`s the only way we can get information and that`s the
way we stay safe. That is what the film reinforces in every single,
The worst part about it, as Mr. Clemente is so persuasively said, is
that it is false. It`s propaganda. It`s CIA propaganda this film, with
hundreds of millions of dollars of a budget and all kind of manipulative
Hollywood techniques are propagandizing Americans to believe, and that is
what makes this film so pernicious.
HAYES: Spencer, I want to give you a chance to respond to that.
I also want to talk about the once-in-a-generation happenstance of
Glenn Greenwald and John McCain agreeing on something, right after this
HAYES: Spencer, respond to what Glenn just said?
ACKERMAN: I can`t -- I have no idea how people are going to see this.
I try not to base my judgments based on these things based on what I
presume other people see -- I have no idea.
I thought that the film, not just shows the objectively horrific
treatment of these detainees, but they show the degree to which the
torturers approach it in almost a casual way, like there, at some point,
they are not really interested in getting information. They seem
interested in toying with the people.
There`s something just -- in a gut-wrenching way, disturbing and
somewhat true about what happens when people are placed in positions
outside accountability. And there`s something that in the absence of any
real reckoning with torture that I would -- I would at least like to think
an audience would see as a critique of this thing.
HAYES: Let me just interject a few factual things about the CIA,
because part of the reason I think this is controversial as it is, because
this was done with some level of cooperation with the CIA and the
Department of Defense, unknown levels, I would say. We are not quite clear
This is an e-mail obtained through a FOIA of CIA spokesperson Marie
Harf talking about giving preferential treatment to the screenwriter Boal
and Kathryn Bigelow. "I know we don`t pick favorites but it makes sense to
get behind a winning horse. Mark and Kathryn`s movie is going to be the
first and the biggest. It`s got the most money behind it, and two Oscar
winners on board."
We know that there was cooperation with members of the CIA. At the
same time, you have Panetta explicitly saying this is not accurate about
what actually happened factually. And then Mark Morell, who is the acting
director of the CIA put out a statement yesterday that basically said, that
this isn`t really quite -- this is not a full picture of what actually
ACKERMAN: Can I intersect one thing there?
ACKERMAN: The Morell thing is self-serving for the CIA --
ACKERMAN: -- because they`re saying, well, of course, you know, any
form of enhanced interrogation technique didn`t lead to any of this thing.
We didn`t really do these kinds of things. It serves very much to
perpetuate the same kind of escape from accountability, that we`ve seen
time and time again.
And the other thing is this is a problem with the lack of disclosure
with what happened in these programs. Any time you see a senior official
say something like, a detainee we didn`t have in our custody gave up this
sort of thing. Well, what treatment did that detainee --
ACKERMAN: It`s not like they were held by -- as happened in Libya,
Pakistan, the sort of like, you know, the treatment of these people was
less brutal. And we need to have some kind of disclosure about --
HAYES: We need two things. We need disclosure and we need some sort
of accountability. And what`s amazing about this entire episode to me is
when you read the letter from Levin and McCain and Feinstein, they referred
to torture when they`re talking about it happening fictionally in the film.
When they switch to talk about reality, they say coercive interrogation
techniques, because, of course, they cannot say the word "torture", because
torture has a very specific important legal meaning and they can`t on
record accuse the U.S. government of committing war crimes.
GREENWALD: Well, let`s talk about this again, I know you want to talk
about the Obama administration`s protection -- active protection of the
people who did this torture from all forms of accountable, which is a
crucial context to this. But let me just talk for a minute about the way
in which the film was made.
What we know is that there were all kinds of groups, the ACLU, other
activism groups and media outlets trying to get information about the Osama
bin Laden raid. The Obama administration, as they always do, said we can`t
tell you anything about beyond what we already decided to release because
it`s classified. At the same time, these filmmakers are getting special
access to the CIA and the Pentagon where they`re getting non-public
So the Obama administration is passing classified information or
secret information to these filmmakers basically embedding them.
Peter Maass in "The Atlantic" said what`s really disturbing about this
film beyond the torture thing is that it`s basically government-embedded
movie. It`s basically the CIA working with filmmakers to shape the film.
It is a film told from the CIA perspective about the world, Muslims and
Arabs are evil and bad, the CIA is good. That is the worst part about it
beyond the torture.
HAYES: We should say Bigelow says they didn`t get unclassified
information, although it would be unclear that she would know whether they
did or not.
GILES: Well, that`s the part that really confused me the most was how
accurate and again documentary-like the whole thing seemed. And I frankly
just as a regular viewer was like, how did they find out all this stuff?
How did they know? How did they get this information?
SHAMSI: Well, here`s the problem, which is where you started out,
Chris, about the vacuum into which this movie is coming out. So, there is
right now a 6,000-page report of a three-year long investigation by the
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence headed by Senator Dianne Feinstein
that is about the CIA detention and torture program. And that report needs
to be made public --
SHAMSI: -- because that conclusively refutes any suggestion that
torture was effective. But the key thing about this also in going back to
what Glenn said is the vacuum of information created by the Obama
administration. I think we should talk about that.
HAYES: Jim Clemente, I want to get your thoughts on accountability
right after we take this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: People are going to sit in the movie theater,
Kathryn, and when they see the scenes of torture, they are going to ask
themselves if they think it was justified, if the ends justified the means.
Do you want to make a political statement with this movie?
KATHRYN BIGELOW, DIRECTOR, "ZERO DARK THIRTY": I think the film does
not have an agenda. I think it just shows the story as the story of the
greatest manhunt in history. And that`s part of that history. And so, we
needed to, you know, basically show all the pieces of that puzzle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Kathryn Bigelow talking to Matt Lauer on the "Today" show
about the film "Zero Dark Thirty".
Jim Clemente, former FBI interrogator, did you -- what is your felling
about this accountability question about getting first the kind of record
straight about what we know happened and then also there being
accountability? Because you`re someone who worked inside the government
and I would imagine, I would be curious to hear your thoughts on what you
would like to see done on the accountability side of this.
CLEMENTE: Sure. I couldn`t agree with you more. I think we should
definitely try to release as much as of that Senate report on the
interrogation techniques to the public as possible. Of course, protecting
sources and methods along the way, but unless the people actually of the
country actually know what has happened, they won`t know whether or not
they should be talking to their government about holding people accountable
for what they did.
I think it`s horrendous that people can get away with treating human
beings in such a manner and still be protected by the government for it.
So I think that`s the first stage of it.
But in terms of the movie, for example, what Kathryn Bigelow just
said. She said it`s the story of the greatest manhunt in history. Well,
it`s not just that story, but it`s a story about the characters in there.
And I think the very character of Maya who was used as the tool to show how
heinous torture was, her reactions to the torture and so forth were sort of
to show the human side of it.
And then she goes on, the same character goes on because she`s pissed
off now. She goes on to use somebody else to hurt the detainee she`s
CLEMENTE: I think it sends the worse message possible and I think
they missed an opportunity here, a real, you know, golden opportunity to
show people the real value of interaction with a human being with rapport-
building techniques. And instead they made it seem like torture is really
the key, or at least a part of the key to getting the right answer.
HAYES: And I think if there`s a ambiguity to me, that the ambiguity
is resolved, especially when you`re talking about the way that -- your
reaction at the beginning, two-thirds through the way of the movie, they go
to the White House and they say we think we have bin Laden in his compound
and the White House personnel, I think is supposed to be Brennan, it`s sort
of unclear who that person is across the table says, this is not enough.
You`ve got to bring us information.
The CIA person says, how are we going to get more information, you
guys ended the detainee program?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, that was --
HAYES: Yes, that line -- so if the movie was neutral on this, they
could have written the script without that line, which to me seemed
ACKERMAN: But don`t you think that particularly the character that
delivers that line has been portrayed as not just a monster but also as a
spineless bureaucrat? And then we go on the see how, in fact, you track
the raid through, you know, particularly sophisticated surveillance methods
and kind of old fashioned gum chewing. I don`t -- I think there was a
little bit more ambiguity there than you just discussed.
HAYES: I`m sorry, Jim. This is the last point I want to make is we
need to get to this and I`d like to sort of talk about this another time,
is that the broader issue over torture is I think thinking about the world
through the frame of the war on terror and thinking about the U.S. security
as being primarily and principally about defending the U.S. from terror
attacks, because that is the motivating desire of the agents of the film.
It`s the framework of the movie operates, and I think the framework for a
lot of intelligence agencies, with good reason in the wake of 9/11. it`s
not a crazy thing to think.
But I do think our assessment of risks to the U.S. 10 years on in
terror need to change about thinking about constantly being in this
permanent state of zealousness against the next attack.
Jim Clemente, retired FBI special agent -- thanks for joining us.
CLEMENTE: Thank you.
HAYES: What do we know now we didn`t last week? My answers after
HAYES: All right. So what do we know now we didn`t know last week?
Thanks to the latest monthly State of the Climate Global Analysis
Report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, we now
know where last month stands in the history books. It was the fifth
hottest November since the start of recordkeeping back in 1880. It was the
hottest November in the southern hemisphere has ever seen, and it was the
333rd consecutive month of hotter than average global temperatures.
Meaning if you were born after February of 1985, you have never experienced
a month of temperatures at or below the global average.
We know that when aberrational conditions become the norm, it`s hard
to recognize their dangers but we also know if we don`t recognize and act
on these dangers, it won`t be long before the current norms feel like the
good old days.
We now know what the U.S. Army wants to do with Staff Sergeant Robert
Bales, the man accused of murdering 16 people, including nine children in a
shooting spree in Afghanistan this March. The Army wants to execute him,
prosecutors revealed this week.
At a hearing last month, witnesses testified that Bales continued to
shoot as the victims shouted, "We are children, we are children." Bales
attorney says the Army is trying to avoid the issues of multiple
deployments and post-traumatic stress. We know that Afghanistan and
America share the grief of mourning for too many dead.
And, finally, thanks to a remarkable criminal case still unfolding in
Canada, we now know that the maple syrup there is just as valuable as it is
delicious. "The New York Times" reports that on Tuesday, three men were
arrested for allegedly stealing 6 million pounds of maple syrup valued at
$18 million from the country`s global strategic maple syrup reserve which,
yes, is a real thing.
Since Quebec can produce around 75 percent of the world`s supply,
excess reserves are stockpiled. Not, unlike global oil reserve, what oil
is to OPEC, syrup is to the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers,
which, yes, also is a real thing.
It went down like this. Thieves who weren`t part of the federation
but were, quote, "basically inside guys" entered part of a warehouse where
16,000 syrup drums were stored, then loaded up trucks with their bounty and
started selling to buyers in Canada and across the border in New Hampshire
We also know how seriously this crime is being taken. Roughly 300
people have been questioned and 40 search warrants enacted, so the five
suspects still on the run know that justice will likely be served and it
will likely be sweet.
I want to find out what my guests now know they didn`t know when they
began the week.
Glenn, I`ll begin with you.
GREENWALD: The country continues to mourn the deaths of 20 children
in Newtown, Connecticut, but at the same time, the U.S. government
continues a drone program in multiple Muslim countries that continues to
kill hundreds of children and innocent people around the world. We know
how much a community is devastated and a country is devastated by the death
of innocent children using violence. And it`s time we started thinking
about how communities are affected by our violence as well.
HAYES: Yes, I think you wrote something about this and I have longer
thoughts about the sort of emotional attachment and distinctions between
the drone program and an armed gunman shooting children.
GREENWALD: There are clearly differences.
GREENWALD: But in terms of impact on these communities, the tragedy
that occurs when innocent children are killed using force, I think it`s
time we give a lot more thought to the impact that we have with our own
actions in that part of the world.
HAYES: I think putting yourself in the shoes of a parent who has a
child, who has -- who had their life taken, I think the project of
enlarging the empathy that we can feel as a nation is a really important
one, particularly in the era of constant war.
SHAMSI: Well, this is picking up off of that. We now know the
government`s response to our lawsuit challenging the targeted killings of
three U.S. citizens in Yemen last year, one of whom was a 16-year-old
American boy, and the government`s response is the belief that not only can
it carry out those killings in secret, but it should be able to do so
without any judicial review at all. It`s harder to think of anything
further from the constitutional requirement of due process before the
deprivation of life.
ACKERMAN: Just now, I learned that Chris Hayes is soft on "Far Sides"
Inferior (ph) second record.
ACKERMAN: But this week, I learned that a mode for fueling robots for
deep space exploration, one version of that theory in the national research
labs is to use microbes and sugar to basically metabolize fuel that can
conceivably in a high radiation and low thermal environment possibly get us
to the far end of the solar system.
HAYES: Nancy Giles?
GILES: Well, not as much what I learned as my on conclusion. I think
that gun violence in this country should be treated as domestic terrorism
because I don`t see any difference between these poor children that get
killed in mass shootings and kids in urban areas that are caught in the
cross-fire of gang warfare, of drug intimidation and even I see it all as
the same kind of terrorizing of American citizens, innocents of all ages.
HAYES: I worry about that precisely because I worry that in the wake
of tragedy, the policy positions we bring do not come with a sufficient
level of rigor and analytical decision and conceptual clarity. And so,
we`re going to talk tomorrow on the show about trying to bring that
My thanks to Glenn Greenwald, columnist for "The Guardian" newspaper,
Hina Shamsi from the ACLU, Spencer Ackerman from "Wired" magazine, and
Nancy Giles from CBS "Sunday Morning" -- thanks for getting UP.
Thank you for joining us today for UP.
Join us tomorrow, Sunday morning at 8:00. We`ll have former New
Jersey Governor Jim Florio and Dean Baker from the Center for Economic and
Coming up is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY". On today`s "MHP", reaction to
the jaw-dropping NRA statement about school shooting in Newtown,
Plus, race talk, "Django Unchained" to open on Christmas Day. There`s
controversy about the film`s depiction of slavery. Its used of N-word.
We`ll hear from the film`s star Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington. That`s
"MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" coming up next.
We`ll see you right here tomorrow at 8:00. Thanks for getting UP.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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