THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
January 7, 2013
Guest: Noah Shachtman
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you very much, man.
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: You bet.
MADDOW: My thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
President Obama announced on May Day, on May 1st, a couple of years
ago that Osama bin Laden had been killed. The president said he had
approved a covert mission inside Pakistan that resulted in the death of the
founder and later of al Qaeda, the group that attacked us on September
11th, 2001, which led Congress to pass the authorization for use of
military force, which has justified the 12 years of war that have followed
So, the announcement that bin Laden was dead on May 21st -- excuse
me, on May 1st, 2010, May 1st, 2010. Two days later, two days later, on
May 3rd, 2010, two days after that announcement, retired Senator Chuck
Hagel gave an interview to his hometown paper in Lincoln, Nebraska, "The
He told the paper that the long pursuit and eventual killing of bin
Laden, quote, "should reassure America and the world that America is still
a leader, and we can and will get the job done." He said, quote, "That is
very important for the world to realize."
More the point, though, Chuck Hagel then said, "Well, now that we`ve
killed Osama bin Laden, let`s leave Afghanistan." He said that the pursuit
of bin Laden and al Qaeda was, quote, "the reason we invaded Afghanistan 10
Now that bin Laden was dead, the president he said has to, quote,
"start heading toward the exits." He said, "I believe the president will
come up with a cogent way to disengage. We need to start winding this
He said the Taliban and al Qaeda are two different elements. He said
that if we stay after killing bin Laden, we have lost our purpose, our
objective. The worst thing we can do, he said, is get bogged down with no
way of getting out.
It wasn`t that long ago, but it was interesting to look back a year
and eight months ago to when bin Laden was killed. I mean, at the time,
anybody else think that maybe that would have meant we would come home from
Afghanistan? It seemed like one of the real possibilities that opened up
with that almost unbelievable news on that cold night in May.
But we did not leave Afghanistan after this happened. This was
roughly 600 days ago. We`ve got another 700 days ahead of us before the
White House says this war will officially end, nearly two years from now.
But how many American troops are left there between now and then?
And what are those troops expected to do? How much fighting are they going
to be doing? How much of our 11 and a half yearlong war is going to
continue to result in Americans getting hurt and killed between now and
All of that remains to be decided. What`s going to happen in
Afghanistan this year and next year remains to be decided. And a lot of it
is being decided right now. And some of it is being decided in a very
I present to you Le Chateau de La Tour. It`s not just some fancy
place like in the Midwest that put on a French name to sound fancy. This
is actually place in France. It`s located about 40 miles outside Paris, in
a place called Chantilly.
It apparently has lovely some fine dining and live music. They have
a pool table in the bar where you can play billiard anglais. You can also
get hot stone massages.
And here is the entrance sign for the hotel driveway. You see the
little arrow there on the right? Those two guys who look like they`re
wearing matching ski jackets from an old Olympics opening ceremony, those
are actually the French police. And they are guarding the Chateau de la
Tour because the Taliban is there.
The Taliban is at the Chateau de la Tour, I should be clear, because
they were invited. See, technically what our troops are doing in
Afghanistan is supporting what is supposed to be the Afghan government`s
war against the Taliban. And representatives from the Afghan government
and the Taliban spent last month at this hotel in Chantilly, France,
talking about peace, talking about how the war ends from their perspective,
because when our war is over, over there, they of course will still live
there with each other.
You do have to kind of wonder, this is from the front page of the Web
site from the hotel, if the Taliban like went to the Web site when they
found where the talks were going to be. You have to wonder what they
thought about the hot stone massage iconography.
But regardless, the Taliban is at the table, maybe even at the
massage table. The various Afghan sides are talking to each other about
the end of the American part of the war and what it means for them.
President Obama listed ending the Afghanistan war first on the list
of -- on his list of priorities for the things he is going to work on post-
fiscal cliff at this new start of his second term. The outgoing commanding
general for the U.S. in Afghanistan, General Allen, the other guy whose e-
mails are being investigated in conjunction with the sex scandal that
caused David Petraeus to resign, General Allen, his outgoing recommendation
as he leaves as commanding general of the war in Afghanistan is that, of
course, we should leave tens of thousands of Americans there as long as
possible until we finally have to leave at the end of 2014, and then we
should leave tens of thousands of Americans there even thereafter.
Naturally, that is his recommendation. When is the last time a
general asked to please have fewer resources to work with?
But however many Americans get left in Afghanistan in some training
capacity in the long run after the end of 2014, after combat operations are
over, however many people are going to be around in some capacity doing
work other than fighting a war, once the war fighting is over, how quickly
we scale down to that number, which means how many of our fellow Americans
might die or get hurt in that war between now and then?
That decision is being made right now. This is a live policy
decision that the president is mulling right now in Washington. On Friday
of this week, he is scheduled to meet in person with the president of
Afghanistan, with Hamid Karzai. He is on his way to Washington already.
Before his Friday meeting with the president, Mr. Karzai gets the
privilege of one of the only in-person meetings that Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton is taking all this week after she returned to the office
this week following her very scary concussion and blood clot.
Of course, the job of replacing Hillary Clinton as secretary of state
had looked early on like it was going to go to this woman, a current
ambassador to the United Nation, Susan Rice. Susan Rice is a long-time
friend and ally of the president whose name was floated very early on as a
favorite for secretary of state.
Ultimately, though, before anybody was nominated for the position,
the White House sort of backed down from the prospect of nominating her.
They allowed her to take her name out of the running when Republicans
attacked her for the grave, grave crime of saying something wrong on Sunday
morning talk shows -- something that by the way turned out to be mostly
correct. But never mind, they criticized her anyway, and the White House
did not back her up in the face of that criticism, and her name was removed
Now, faced with another high profile nominee who has attracted loud
Republican nomination, this time it appears the White House is not backing
down. This time, President Obama has officially nominated Chuck Hagel to
be secretary of defense as of today.
Interestingly, another potential nominee for a big high profile
national security job for this White House who President Obama reportedly
initially wanted, but who also backed off from was this guy, John Brennan.
This was John Brennan with President Obama when President Obama first
took office. John Brennan was reportedly President Obama`s choice to lead
the CIA after he first became president in his first term. John Brennan
had been a career CIA figure. He had served as chief of staff to George
Tenet when Director Tenet, CIA, under George W. Bush developed their
torture and secret prison program. John Brennan`s association with the
torture and secret prison program of the George Bush era CIA is what sunk
his chances for being picked as director of the CIA at the start of the
It`s kind of weird. It`s almost a con foreign concept in American
modern politics that the left might block something from happening, but
it`s true. That`s how it works. Liberals who thought Obama stopping the
torture program wasn`t enough. That people tarred by association with that
program should not be promoted, that there should be political
accountability for people who were close to the torture policy.
Liberals raised enough noise about John Brennan`s potential
nomination to run the CIA in 2008 and 2009 that it never happened. At
least it never happened in the first Obama term. Now, it is happening in
the second Obama term. Now, apparently, with the official nomination of
John Brennan to lead the CIA today, now apparently we know that the White
House has decided to go for it.
Yes, the secret prisons are closed, and yes, this president outlawed
torture. But I think the administration`s calculation is that the
political statute of limitations on John Brennan`s liability for being
associated with the torture and secret prison policies under the previous
president, that statute of limitations means that it`s not enough to keep
him from the incredibly powerful job of CIA director in the president`s
Because President Obama signed that executive order against torture,
and because he did not reopen the secret CIA prisons, and because he has
been trying to shut down Guantanamo, even though he has not been able to,
because even if the idea of American troops flying covertly into a supposed
allied country and killing somebody on the ground there and taking his body
away with them when they left, even though that might not appeal to most
civil libertarian minded Americans, in the abstract, the fact that the dead
dude in question in that particular scenario for us as a country was Osama
bin Laden has pretty much neutered any concerns about how exactly that went
So, because of all those things, the big picture is that the most
controversial national security elements of this administration are two.
The first one is using drone strikes to kill people not in war zones. The
controversial expansion of drone power so that it is used frequently in
non-war zones to kill people who aren`t on any active battlefield after a
kill list targeting process that the White House describes as very much
like due process, but nobody else would ever describe as due process. That
is one of the two most controversial elements of the national security
legacy of the Obama administration, thus far.
John Brennan has thus far during the Obama presidency been the most
visible face of that policy.
When the Obama administration decided just this past year that for
the first time they were going to admit to the fact that they do this,
instead of just allowing it to be reported while they never confirmed it,
it was John Brennan they had give that speech. He is the man who has been
the face of the U.S. government basically outfitting a second Air Force
outside the U.S. military to kill people around the world without the chain
of command and authority and political responsibility that we expect from
the U.S. military.
If there were any doubts about how President Obama feels as part of
his legacy, about whether President Obama was going to be shy about that
being a central part of his national security legacy as president, those
doubts would presumably be laid to rest today when he nominated John
Brennan to be head of the CIA, offering this big promotion to the man who
more than anybody else in government stands for that drone policy.
The second most controversial element of the Obama national security
agenda, of course, has been the fact that he tripled down on the war in
Afghanistan. Now, this was not a surprise. He said he was going to do it
before he got elected.
Once he got elected, he did it. He tripled the number of troops
there, and he put this long, long end date on when the war was going to
end, at the end of 2014, even after killing Osama bin Laden when guys like
Chuck Hagel were saying OK, bin Laden is dead. All right. Can we go now?
We have not gone. And there is potentially another two years of it
not ending ahead of us.
By picking Chuck Hagel as defense secretary today, yes, the president
has picked a political fight, although probably I think it`s one that he
can win. But by picking John Brennan and Chuck Hagel together today, the
president has made a complicated but emphatic statement about national
security and how he intends to be remembered and how he intends to either
keep fighting or bringing Americans home from the fighting after 12 long
years over the course of this second presidential term.
Joining us now is Andrea Mitchell. She is NBC`s chief foreign
Andrea, thank you for being here. I appreciate you taking the time.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Thank you.
Happy New Year to you, too.
MADDOW: Thank you. I haven`t seen you since the New Year. Yes.
MADDOW: Why was John Brennan too hot a political potato in 2009, but
he is not too hot now?
MITCHELL: You know, I`ve been thinking than question. And certainly
the president had to be much more careful coming into office about his base
and about his campaign promises. And I think once you inhabit that seat at
the head of the table in the Situation Room, and you are responsible for
fighting terrorism, and you take on that commander-in-chief mantle, your
perspective changes. And clearly it did for Barack Obama. We see that.
I think the two sides of his brain are really -- his foreign policy
brain are really being exercised in these two nominations today, because
you have Chuck Hagel, which is the Barack Obama who as a state senator had
established his bona fides as someone against the Iraq war, and also
against expansion I military engagement overseas. And that is Chuck Hagel.
And the other side of that is he has also, you know, been slower to
fight the good fight some would say from his base perspective of shutting
down Guantanamo. He`s made compromises. And he`s also signed some of the
defense authorization and the FISA reauthorization acts which many civil
libertarians find deeply offensive.
MADDOW: Andrea, one of the interesting things about Brennan is that
his on-the-record comments about political controversies that have happened
while he was in office divert pretty strongly from what has happened as
policy around him. So, he said at the time he withdrew his name from
consideration in 2009 that he wanted to be known as somebody who was
against the Iraq war, known as somebody who was against torture, against
what they were calling enhanced techniques, specifically against
He`s now said in interviews recently that he is against the shifting
of military power to the CIA, treating CIA effectively as an Air Force.
MADDOW: He says a lot of the drone strikes should be carried out by
the military, under traditional military authority so we`re not doing this
exotic extra legal stuff that I think we`re doing in order to kill people
using the CIA. But those policies that he says he favors haven`t been
enacted by him. And he doesn`t seem to argue for them publicly in a way
that makes them happen.
How should we interpret that as he is being considered for this big
MITCHELL: I think -- I`m not exactly sure how that is going to
evolve, because the CIA clearly has been running the drone war, has taken
on more and more of the apparatus and the policies and decision-making that
formally had been with the Pentagon. And it has been a CIA mission, as you
know, in large parts of Pakistan and Yemen and other places.
So, seeing how John Brennan now in his new perch, if he is confirmed,
and he was a career, 25-year career person at the CIA, and they say today
they are welcoming him home if he gets confirmed, it`s going to be very
interesting to see how he decides to rebalance that, and whether he does
move it back to the Pentagon.
MADDOW: So much attention on the Hagel side of this has been paid to
the relative handful of Republican senators who have been complaining about
Chuck Hagel and the conservative media figures who have been complaining.
Is this one of the things where we`re sort of getting a squeaky wheel and
getting a lot of the attention?
My sense about Chuck Hagel is that he sort of a consummate Beltway
choice, that he`s very popular in the Beltway, even if he does have his
loud Republican critics. What`s your sense of the magnitude of the
opposition to him?
MITCHELL: Well, it`s always very hard to predict when the opposition
is going to achieve critical mass. He has extraordinarily deep roots, as
you point out, within the Beltway, and also without, outside the Beltway,
and in the military circles and retired diplomatic circles. Really deep
connection to the Brent Scowcrofts and the Colin Powells and the more
moderate wing of the Republican Party.
And what was really clear today, Rachel, is these two nominations
were really close personal friends and colleagues, and intellectual soul
mates, if you will, of Barack Obama. He really felt good about these two
This is not a team of rivals. These are the people he likes being
around. These are his friends. And it was personal and it was a happy day
for him, I thought.
Remember that when John Kerry was nominated on a Friday hastily in
the Roosevelt Room, Kerry was not even invited to say a word at the
microphone. And there was no acknowledgment really of John Kerry other
than a quick statement from the president, and then out.
And today, everyone had his turn, even those who, frankly, had not
been nominated. Mike Morell, the acting director of the CIA had been
passed over. And he had his opportunity. And Leon Panetta was given a
very nice moment there, a platform.
So this was a very expansive moment. They feel that they wanted to
make a big deal out of this thing today. They`re hoping that he is easily
confirmed, but you never know. You remember the John Tower nomination.
You never know when one little thing will take off and reach critical mass.
He does not have a ringing endorsement at all from many Democrats,
including Chuck Schumer. There are a lot of disparate groups including
some in the gay community who are waiting to see.
I interviewed Tammy Baldwin today, and the new openly gay senator
said she has a lot of questions that she wants to ask. So, the Wisconsin
Democrat is going to ask some questions as well.
MADDOW: This is going to be a fascinating process to watch. What
you`re talking about there, that sort of non-explicit endorsement offered
by the president`s warmth towards these nominees is itself a form of
endorsement saying, listen, if you get him, he is going to be effective
because he`ll have my ear because he is my friend.
It`s fascinating dynamics at times like this.
MADDOW: Andrea Mitchell, NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent --
thank you as always, Andrea. Appreciate it.
MITCHELL: You bet.
MADDOW: Talking about Tammy Baldwin there, one of the things that
has been interesting to watch with the Chuck Hagel nomination in
particular, is that a lot of the criticism that you might expect from the
left toward Chuck Hagel has been silenced or has at least gotten a little
bit quieter as the criticism from the right has gotten louder.
We are in an enemy of my enemy kind of moment right now, which makes
for some kind of bad strategic thinking. That`s coming up.
MADDOW: At the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North
Carolina, last year, the convention at which President Obama officially
accepted the nomination of his party for a second term, the guy who stole
the show kind of, the guy who had the audience in rapt attention for the
better part of an hour was -- yes, Barack Obama, well received speech, yes.
But the other than that guy, the guy who did that who wasn`t Barack Obama
was Bill Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: People ask me all the
time how we got four surplus budgets in a row. What new ideas did we bring
to Washington? I always give a one-word answer. Arithmetic.
We simply cannot afford to give the reins of government to someone
who will double down on trickle-down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Bill Clinton gave a stem winder of a speech at that
convention. He spoke for 48 long detailed minutes. He made a stronger
case for President Obama`s reelection than he had ever made before. And in
that process, he achieved the unlikely feat of winning over even a number
of his long-time political adversaries.
After that very well-received speech, Republicans across the country
came out to proclaim their previously secret inner Bill Clinton love
saying, oh, yes, Bill Clinton, I miss him. Now that was a guy we
Republicans could work with -- as opposed to this horrible Barack Obama who
we can`t work with at all.
The Romney campaign put out a statement after that speech saying,
quote, "Bill Clinton worked with Republicans. Barack Obama has not worked
across the aisle."
Bill Clinton`s long-time nemesis from Washington, Newt Gingrich, had
a similar reaction to the speech. He said that Bill Clinton, quote,
"worked with the GOP. Obama didn`t." Barack Obama won`t work with
Republicans the way that old Bill Clinton did. Yes, remember how much
Republicans loved Bill Clinton? Remember how the Clinton era was defined
by eight long years of harmonious bipartisanship?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TV ANCHOR: William Jefferson Clinton has been impeached by the House
of Representatives on at least one article. It will go to the United
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Kumbaya -- those were the constructive bipartisan days of
the Clinton presidency.
Even if Republicans were not exactly kind and welcoming toward
President Clinton as president, he did at least make a sort of gesture of
bipartisanship in their direction. He had a bipartisan cabinet. He
appointed one Republican to one job in his cabinet, former Republican
Senator William Cohen he appointed to his defense secretary.
And then after him, the next president, George W. Bush, he did the
same thing, he pointed one Democrat to serve in one job in his cabinet.
Former Democratic Congressman Norman Mineta was chosen by George W. Bush to
serve as transportation secretary.
In George W. Bush`s second term, Norm Mineta stuck around. He did
not leave until close to the end. So President Bush never appointed
another Democrat, but he did have that one Democrat, Norman Mineta during
that term in his cabinet.
Barack Obama, at this point, has doubled the record of cabinet
bipartisanship of his predecessors, and more that that. You`ll recall that
he picked Bob Gates to stay on as secretary of defense. So Republican at
defense. President Obama also picked Ray LaHood for the Norm Mineta
honorary bipartisanship chair over at the Department of Transportation.
Transportation was held by a Democrat under Bush. It has been held
by a Republican the whole time under Obama.
But beyond that, beyond defense and transportation, President Obama
also had another attempt at bringing another Republican into his cabinet.
You remember when he offered Judd Gregg the job of commerce secretary?
Judd Gregg initially accepted the job, and then he inexplicably
turned on a dime and decided that he was offended at the job and would not
take. He withdrew his name from the job after he was nominated and then he
went on to resign from the Senate. Nobody really knows what happened with
Judd Gregg there or since, but President Obama did try to bring him on as
yet another Republican for his cabinet.
And now, today, for the fourth time, President Obama has picked a
Republican, nominating Chuck Hagel, the former Republican senator from
Nebraska for the job of defense secretary. That is four Republicans that
President Obama has nominated to be in his cabinet.
And below the cabinet level, there have been a ton of other
President Obama named then Republican Governor Jon Huntsman to be
ambassador to China.
There was Republican Congressman John McHugh who President Obama
picked to be secretary of the Army.
There was former Republican Congressman Jim Leach. President Obama
picked him to head the National Endowment of the Humanities.
Former Republican Congresswoman Anne Northup, picked to lead the
Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Republicans would love to make stick this idea that President Obama
is rabidly partisan and can never work with Republicans. In the other
perspective, frankly, a lot of Democrats would love it if President Obama
were a little more partisan than he is.
But he is just not. He`s not that guy, which today is driving
Republicans crazy over this latest pick of Chuck Hagel. We will have more
on that in a moment.
But the question is: should it drive Democrats crazy that a
Democratic president is again, for the third time in 15 years picking a
Republican specifically for this one job, that is running the Pentagon?
Should that drive Democrats crazy that Democrats do that all the time in
terms of putting a Republican in charge of the military, but a Republican
has never done that for a Democrat? Should that make Democrats nuts?
MADDOW: Do you know what the Laserium was or is? But they still
have Laseriums? Laserium was from the 1970s and 1980s.
You and your most rockingest awesome friends would go to the local
planetarium, or place with the giant movie-like screen, preferably a dome
and watch a laser light show while the sound system blasted your favorite
rock music. Dude, you have not heard Zeppelin II until you have heard it
in Laserium. Dude, seriously, dark side of the moon, Laserium and so
Well, tonight Laserium was slightly formative for me. And today, we
have the best thing in the world that rivals the Laserium experience.
Prepare to have your mind blown, seriously. It`s amazing, coming up
right at the end of the show. Hold on.
MADDOW: This is a man named David Addington. In order to understand
who David Addington is, look back only as far as this former president,
George W. Bush.
During his eight years in office, President Bush set knew and really
quite radical standards for the use of executive power. President Bush`s
view of his office is derived from something called the unitary theory of
the executive, which basically amounts to I am the boss. And you`re just
congress or the courts or nobody, same diff.
The chief enforcer of the unitary executive theory in the George W.
Bush administration was of course the vice president, Dick Cheney. And the
chief enforcer of the unitary executive theory for Dick Cheney was his top
lawyer and later his chief of staff, David Addington.
Whenever Vice President Cheney sought to expand the unreviewable
power of the Oval Office, David Addington was right there with him, and
often leading the way.
Mr. Addington wrote that it was OK for the U.S. to torture people
suspected of terrorism. He argued that President Bush could lock up
terrorism suspects without charges or trials. It was his opinion that the
president could withhold information from the public, that a wartime
president should have broad powers of surveillance, and never mind what the
courts said. David Addington`s nickname in Bush era Washington, D.C. was
that he was Cheney`s Cheney.
Well, now David Addington, Cheney`s Cheney, is getting a new title.
Since leaving government office, he has been working for one of the top
conservative think tanks in the country, the Heritage Foundation. Now, Mr.
Addington has gotten a big promotion there. He is going to lead the
foundation`s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, focusing apparently on
President Obama having too much executive power.
Mr. Addington says the Obama administration has made some, quote,
And so, the conservative movement has installed its most famous and
perhaps most extreme modern advocate of unlimited executive power for the
presidency as the lunch monitor watching for this presidency exerting too
much executive power now that Bush is gone and there is a new guy in town.
But, hey, it appears to be new project season in Washington, where if
you are a certain political persuasion, being wrong never lasts long.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM KRISTOL, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Whatever else you can say
about this war, let me just make my point, George Bush is not fighting this
like Vietnam. Whatever, we don`t need to be fighting the whole history of
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saddam, maybe, that`s the danger.
KRISTOL: It`s not going to happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me take a call.
KRISTOL: It`s not going to happen. This is going to be a two-month
war, not an eight-year war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is going to be a two-month war, not an eight-year war.
He was talking about the war that did turn out to be an eight and a half
yearlong war in Iraq.
Now, Bill Kristol, the living, breathing symbol of wrong about
national security, Mr. Kristol has a fresh deal going. Now, his new
project is that he wants to stop the nomination of former Senator Chuck
Hagel as secretary of defense. President Obama today chose the Republican
from Nebraska for that job.
And despite having been fine with Mr. Hagel even as a possible vice
president for George W. Bush in 2000, Bill Kristol is now leading the
opposition to Chuck Hagel at defense. Bill Kristol, the same guy who said
Iraq would take two months, who said the only consequences of us bombing
Iran already would be good consequences, the man who thought up the Sarah
Palin vice presidency, the one man in America who can least be the arbiter
of what is reasonable in national security. That same one guy, Bill
Kristol, now bought ChuckHagel.com where you can go to learn that Bill
Kristol believes that Chuck Hagel is not a responsible option.
Oh, Senator Hagel, may you always be blessed with comically non-self-
aware enemies. It is not every nominee for secretary of defense whose foes
are their own punch lines.
The character of the opposition to Senator Hagel is now so laugh-out-
loud ridiculous in some quarters, including most especially Mr. Kristol`s
corner, that is it now driving some of Mr. Hagel`s would-be critics on the
left to support him. And I don`t mean that figuratively.
When he first heard about the nomination, for example, outgoing
congressman and likely incoming temporary Senator Barney Frank issued this
rather vituperative and Barney Frank-esque statement against Chuck Hagel.
He said, quote, "Then-Senator Hagel`s aggressively bigoted opposition
to President Clinton`s naming the first openly guy ambassador in U.S.
history was not as Senator Hagel now claims, an aberration. He voted
consistently against fairness for LGBT people, and there does not seem to
be any evidence prior to his effort to become secretary of defense of any
apology or retraction of his attack on James Hormel.
To those of us who admire and respect Mr. Hormel, to those of us who
admire and respect Mr. Hormel, Senator Hagel`s description of him as
aggressive can only mean that the senator strongly objected to Hormel`s
reasoned, civil advocacy for LGBT people. I cannot think of any other
minority group in the U.S. today where such a negative statement and action
made in 1998 would not be an obstacle to a major presidential appointment."
That was last week. Barney Frank last week. But considering the
character of the opposition to Chuck Hagel that has emerged in the interim,
Barney Frank has changed his mind.
Mr. Frank said today, quote, "With the attack coming out of the
right, I hope he gets confirmed."
This fight over check Hagel as a potential secretary of defense gives
us an interesting window to what going on in the right. The right post-
election is sort of devolving in some ways. An architect of wildly
expanded presidential power gets sent to nip at the heels of a president
over this new guy having too much power. Everybody is now supposed to see
Bill Kristol as the arbiter of reasonableness in foreign affairs.
But the fight over Chuck Hagel also gives us a window into what is
going on in the left, what is going on among Democrats. Does having the
correct enemies outweigh all the left`s other concerns about Chuck Hagel?
Will that be enough to get him confirmed in the Senate and to at least lock
up Democratic and liberal support behind him? Or do those concerns get
aired in full on their own merits?
Joining us now is Noah Shachtman. He`s the contributing editor for
"Wired" magazine and editor of "The Danger Room" blog, which I read every
single day, even when it is to my detriment.
Noah, thank you for being here.
NOAH SHACHTMAN, WIRED MAGAZINE: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Republicans are falling in line on a purely partisan base.
If Republicans are falling in line in purely partisan basis and supporting
Chuck Hagel for defense secretary because he is a Republican, do you think
we`d be hearing lots of creative Democratic opposition to him?
SHACHTMAN: Yes, I think we would. Look, this guy is not
progressive, OK? He is not even a little bit progressive.
He, you know, is with the Republicans or with the sort of bush Cheney
era Republicans on warrantless wiretapping. He was there on lesbian and
guy issues. He was there even to fund a giant missile defense shield.
So, yes, you`ll probably hear some sniping. But this has happened.
And now, to use a really terrible military metaphor -- battle lines have
been drawn. Sorry.
MADDOW: I think a lot of people are shorthanding the criticism from
the left of Chuck Hagel as being about those anti-gay comments from 1998.
I do think that that is a specific thing. But there are broader issues
about what he would be like as secretary of defense.
His opposition to the Iraq war after he initially supported it, his
comments in favor of withdrawing from Afghanistan faster than we already
are -- should we see that as being specifically on defense policies a more
SHACHTMAN: I don`t know that he is a dove or a hawk. I think he is
an old school, you know, sort of realist Republican. And guess what?
Pretty much so is Obama.
SHACHTMAN: Right? They`re pretty much of the same character. You
know, intervene here where you can, don`t intervene there when you can`t.
And, you know, I think they have a fairly strong and fairly sort of
realistic view of American power and exercising it where you can.
MADDOW: What about this idea that if the Obama administration is
going to oversee significant cuts to the baseline defense budget, if the
Pentagon is going to have to go on a diet, you can more effectively do that
with a Republican in charge than with a Democrat in charge because
Democrats are less vulnerable to the wuss charge?
SHACHTMAN: Not buying it.
MADDOW: Not buying it?
SHACHTMAN: Yes. Look, there is guys like Ash Carter who is the
current number two at the Pentagon who knows how that place works inside
and out, and is a nuclear freakin` physicist for real. So I think he could
execute the cuts just fine too.
MADDOW: Without the same -- without different levels of political
liability? Does the Republican affiliation insulate Hagel at all to be
able to do that?
SHACHTMAN: It doesn`t seem like it`s insulating him right now. I`m
not buying it for later in.
MADDOW: If John Brennan gets confirmed to lead the CIA, who do you
think that would mean for that agency going forward? Would you expect any
inflections from the Panetta era there?
SHACHTMAN: I think that makes the CIA maybe the most important shop
in town, right? So, theoretically, the director of national intelligence,
Jim Clapper sits over the CIA and the 15 other intelligence agencies. You
know, it was Clapper that said to David Petraeus, look, bro, you got to go
SHACHTMAN: -- after his affair.
It`s pretty hard to imagine Jim Clapper saying something similar to
John Brennan, who has been sitting with the president in the Oval Office
day after day, directing drone strikes, also working on cyber issues which
are very important both to the president and to John Brennan. It`s really
hard to imagine that.
So I think John Brennan may keep a lot of his bureaucratic power, but
have the entire CIA behind him too. And that makes him an extremely
MADDOW: It makes it such a double sided endorsement. Pick John
Brennan because he is so close to the president, he`ll be incredibly
effective as a director. Also, if crew want the CIA to be even more
powerful than it is, this is the guy who is going to bring presidential
power even to that agency.
MADDOW: It`s fascinating stuff.
Noah Shachtman, contributing editor for "Wired" magazine, editor of
"Danger Room" -- thanks for being here.
SHACHTMAN: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
All right. From the brass section, from the brass section, it`s not
each a metaphor for the military. I mean, the actual brass section, best
new thing in the world. That`s coming up.
MADDOW: Only two weeks to go now until the Obama administration
begins. The second Obama administration two weeks to go until the
ceremonial swearing in of President Obama and Vice President Biden at the
U.S. Capitol. It will happen on Monday, January 21st.
Now, that is also Martin Luther King Day. Interesting, though, the
Constitution says the president has to be sworn in specifically on the 20th
day of January, not the 21st. But the 20th of January falls on a Sunday
this year. So, they have decided to do this as kind of a two-step.
On Sunday, the 20th, Chief Justice John Roberts will swear in
President Obama for his second term. But they`ll do it at an official,
small ceremony at the White House at noon on Sunday.
The following day, on Monday, that will be the whole pomp and
circumstance giant vent. But that second swearing in ceremony, the big one
on the dais with everybody there, that is going to be ceremonial, because
the real one will have happened the day before. It`s kind of weird, right?
That this is the second time President Obama and Chief Justice John Roberts
are going to have kind of a hinky time with the swearing in.
Remember what happened the first time with those two? Chief justice
said part of the oath wrong the first time. And so, just to be safe, they
had to go back the next day and repeat the oath privately in the Map Room
at the White House.
This time, the private oath will come first and the public oath will
come second. And this time they are planning that in advance, not having
to improvise because of the screw-up by the chief justice.
The big show that will be on Monday is going to be just as big a show
this year as it probably was the last time. And the tradition is, no
matter who is becoming president, and what their party is and whether they
are becoming president again, the custom is that this is a ceremony that
Americans really like to watch.
We want to celebrate, chances are, statistically speaking, that your
guy won. Also, free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power
does not happen easily in much in the world, then it is a remarkable and
awesome thing even when that transfer of power is from a president to that
same president for four more years.
Last time around, nearly two -- look at this, nearly 2 million showed
up to watch the inauguration from the National Mall. They stretched all
the way from the Capitol to the Washington monument and beyond.
This year, there is a number of different ways to watch. You can
watch at home on TV, I will be anchoring the coverage with my MSNBC
colleagues that day starting at 9:40 in the morning. So if you want to do
that, no tickets required. You just need cable.
If you want to get closer, come out to the National Mall, like 2
million did last time. If you want a seat somewhere near the viewing
platform, those tickets are distributed by members of Congress to their
constituents, free of charge. There`s not a lot of seats, and they do go
fast, but they are free, you just have to ask your congressman or your
This year, though, another interesting thing, this year, the people
who planned the inauguration also decided to make available to the public a
certain number of tickets to one of the official inaugural balls. And also
the tickets to watch the general parade for the general public. Tickets to
the ball, 60 bucks, tickets to the parade, 25 bucks, which is steep, but
not that steep, right? And certainly not a bad idea, not bad prices.
But then it all went horribly wrong. The system for getting those
tickets was supposed to be this: first, you need to request tickets at the
Presidential Inaugural Committee`s Web site. And then somebody decided
that Ticket Master would be handling the sales thereafter. Ticket Master,
you know, the near monopolistic online ticket service.
Ticket Master sent out an e-mail yesterday to people who signed up on
the Web site, saying the public tickets for the inauguration ball would go
on sale today. They also said that before the tickets went on sale today,
on Monday, they would sent out another email with an exclusive link to buy
those tickets. That`s what they said yesterday, nothing more to happen on
Sunday, but today was the day for the link to the e-mail for the tickets
going on sale.
Except then they blew it. Four hours later, by 8:00 p.m. on Sunday
night, it was still Sunday, Ticket Master inexplicably sent out the email
with the link to start buying tickets and the link worked and people were
able to buy tickets before they were supposed to be on sale.
And yes, as a result, the Inaugural Committee says because Ticket
Master inexplicably, accidentally started selling tickets a day early,
quote, "a significant number of tickets were sold." And when they say a
significant number of tickets were sold, they mean all of them. They sold
all of the tickets, gone before this date on which they were supposed to be
Ticket Master is blaming a computer glitch. They say they are,
quote, "taking responsibility for the mistake." But them taking
responsibility doesn`t mean that they are going to fix the mistake.
They`re not going to say void the early tickets and start over in the
interest of being fair, they`re just going with their mistake. So
everybody who waited until tickets were supposed to go on sale, there are
no tickets for you.
And everybody who kind of illicitly accidentally bought an early
ticket yesterday ahead of the announced schedule, you get to keep your
tickets, unless you don`t want to keep your tickets. We don`t know how the
ticket resell Web site we came across today procured its tickets to the
inaugural ball, but the tickets to the ball were on sale there this
afternoon for almost $1,900 each.
If you`re getting them officially from the inaugural committee,
remember, they were 60 bucks. But the day they were supposed to go on sale
your option is a scalper for 30 times that much.
And yes, Ticket Master still collected their service charge, which is
nice work if you can get it. And tell me again why Ticket Master got this
MADDOW: OK, this might not work, best new thing in the world.
Do you know how there are kinds of extreme sports videos all over the
Internet these days? Videos shot from the point of view of the athlete,
they`ve got the camera on them so you can feel like it`s you hurdling down
the ski slope or catching a wave, or whatever.
The reason there are a lot of videos like this out there right now is
because the cameras that you do this with have gotten small and cheap.
Like the GoPro, a fairly cheap camera you can stick on a helmet or skate
board while you do something involving velocity. And once people figured
out they could do go fast stuff like that with a GoPro on them as they did
it, it was not long before people started to using these cameras to do
things other than just go fast.
Like for example, somebody came up with the idea to attach a camera
to a hula hoop, which alters your perspective on things and quietly
possibly makes you throw up just looking at it.
But now, one excellent American, one American musician, may have
discovered the single best awesome use yet of a GoPro camera. This is a
trombone, obviously, which is an inherently funny instrument.
And this is a -- can you see that? A GoPro camera that we have
attached to the slide. Remember the hula hoop thing?
Well, imagine the perspective of the GoPro from somebody playing the
trombone, OK? This is genius, watch.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: That is a professional musician, David Finlayson. He is the
second trombonist with the New York Philharmonic. The song incidentally is
an etude by Marco Borgonia (ph). Mr. Finlayson tells us he shot the video
a year ago just on a whim. He put it on his personal Web site.
This week, a friend shared the link and the world hive mind has
collectively decided that this must be seen. And when we watched it in our
show meeting today, we discovered a way to make the video even better. You
have to watch it with the sound off.
The last ten seconds are the best. Watch the end.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: Seriously, there is probably a master`s thesis in why this
works. Something to do with the sudden altering of perspective or the
slide moves, maybe it is the vein popping on the trombonist forehead.
Whatever the reason, the split bulb eye view of the trombone being played
is for obvious reasons, the best new thing in the world today.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL"
Have a great night. I don`t know how to do this.
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