'Up w/Chris Hayes' for Sunday ,February 24th, 2013
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
UP WITH CHRIS HAYES
February 24, 2013
Guests: Michael Hastings, Neera Tanden, Steve Ellis, William Black, Phyllis
Bennis, David Sanger, Gary McGraw, Brandon Valeriano, Kim Peretti, Robert
Gibbs, Ana Marie Cox, Oscar Joyner
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Pope Benedict XVI gave his final public blessing this morning to thousands
of people in St. Peter`s Square in Rome. Benedict will step down on
And Italians began voting today to elect a new prime minister. With polls
closing tomorrow, observers see the election as a two-way race between left
of center`s Pier Luigi Bersani, and remarkably, criminally, former Prime
Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Right now I`m joined by Neera Tanden,
president of the Center for American Progress and Michael Hastings, author
of the new digital book "Panic 2012: the Sublime and Terrifying Inside
Story of Obama`s Final Campaign," also a BuzzFeed correspondent and
"Rolling Stone" contributing editor, Ana Marie Cox back at the table,
columnist for the "Guardian" newspaper, founder of the political blog
"Wonkette," former Washington editor for Time.com and former Washington
correspondent for "GQ" magazine, and Oscar Joyner, president and CEO of
Reach Media, which produces the nationally syndicated "Tom Joyner Morning
Show." Good to have you all here.
There was a big stink made this week about the White House press corps
story or non-story. It went something like this, President Obama played
golf with Tiger Woods in Florida last weekend. And the White House press
corps was denied access to this epochal moment in the president`s second
term. Fox News chief White House correspondent Ed Henry, who`s the
president of the White House Correspondents Association released a
statement to Politico that underscored the press corps`s complaint. "I can
say a broad cross section of our members from print, radio, online and TV
have today expressed extreme frustration to me about having absolutely no
access to the president of the United States this entire weekend. There is
a very simple, but important principle we will continue to fight for today,
the days ahead, transparency. The subsequent piece in Politico on Monday
called "Obama, quote, "the Public Master" complained about the president
being a manipulator of the press and guilty of shutting them out. And
this, according to Politico, is an increasing threat to American democracy.
"With more technology and fewer resources at many media companies, the
balance of power between the White House and the press has tipped
unmistakably toward the government. This is an arguably dangerous
development and one that Obama White House fluent in digital media and no
fan of the mainstream press have exploited cleverly and ruthlessly."
But it seems to me this discussion is confusing. Two different things that
Ed Henry mentioned. Access on the one hand and transparency on the other.
According to political scientist Martha Kumar, President Obama has granted
674 interviews in his first term compared to just 217 interviews by his
predecessor George W. Bush. So it`s not like the president hasn`t been
accessible. It`s just that he`s granted that access to lots of outlets
that aren`t in the White House Correspondents Association, places like
"Ebony" magazine, "The Daily Show" and "The View."
Complaints about access are often born of competitive pressure and envy.
The public, though, has a stake in transparency, and on this front the
White House`s record has been far more troubling. I want to ask you guys
what you made of this little brouhaha. I found it sort of funny.
HAYES: Because it was kind of like -- it seemed like they did not realize
-- the White House press -- White House Correspondents association did not
realize the optics of going to war over photos of Tiger Woods ...
ANA MARIE COX, GUARDIANNEWS.COM: Yeah.
HAYES: And so they themselves ironically found themselves like trapped in
the 24-hour news cycle in which they come off looking bad.
COX: I don`t know if it`s coincidence that Ed Henry is, you know, with
Fox, and Fox really loves this story. You know, Fox loves to do this like,
but they`re hypocrites now because they know they claimed this under Bush
and they claimed this under -- they tried to do it with drone strikes,
which -- they sort of missed the opportunity to sort of side with
progressives sometimes. And like on the issue of transparency, a lot of
progressives are unhappy with Obama. It`s not about whether or not he
plays, you know, golf with Tiger Woods, it`s how transparent is this White
House, and they do have a problem. You`re right, like this is the nickel
and diming of this kind of access. This is -- this is like fighting over
the pennies on the table when you`ve just -- you`ve ceded like all the
other things that the White House can control, so you`re letting them have
it and you`re fighting over this.
HAYES: From your perch, not -- in Dallas, Texas, not in Washington, D.C,
as the head of a media company that has syndicated black radio stations and
shows, and Tom Joyner has interviewed the president I think about eight
times. That`s a lot of access.
OSCAR JOYNER, PRESIDENT & CEO REACH MEDIA INC.,: That`s a lot of access,
but it`s justified. I mean we are a radio show where one man reaches
almost 8 million people a week. So this is one black man that reaches
almost one in four black people. There`s no woman that reaches one in four
women, there is no Latino that reaches one in four Latinos. So, there are
times when the morning show when our radio at work reaches 70 percent of
the African-American audience, so you can`t blame the man for coming on and
talking directly to voters. And this is -- this is a new day. This is
back when FDR was doing his fireside chat via what medium? Radio.
JOYNER: He doesn`t -- he no longer needs to talk to the White House press
corps to talk to a reporter who`s going to talk to somebody else about what
he said. He can go on "The View" and talk directly to women. He can go on
the time during a morning show or the Al Sharpton show or the Yolanda Adams
morning show, talk directly to voters.
HAYES: But there`s -- OK. So, but the devil`s advocate in me said this,
right. Even if access is born of competitive envy, right? I mean people
complain about - it was like, look, who are we kidding? Chris Hughes, who
works for the president, right?
HAYES: But "The New Republic" just astonishingly, scored an interview with
the president for the first issue of his magazine. Now, it would be a
great thing to launch a magazine with the interview of the president. I
would love it if the first episode of "UP" with Chris Hayes happened to
have the president of the United States. I think that would have been
pretty good for ratings, right?
JOYNER: -- Reach Media, I`m sorry.
HAYES: No, the other argument is the reason you`re getting the access is
because Tom Joyner is a huge supporter of the president of the United
States, he`s not going to face hard questions, or he`s not going to be
subjected to any sort of like critical gaze with Tom Joyner. And another
thing, this is not a criticism of Tom Joyner, Tom Joyner is explicitly in
support of the president.
JOYNER: But there`s a reason why we interview him the way that we do.
We`re not here to talk to single -- we`re not here to talk to African-
American mothers with children about a $1.2 trillion debt. We`re not here
to talk about what we`re into to China or what we`re going to do about the
world economy. Our listeners ...
JOYNER: The African-American female that listens to us, wants to know
about kindergarten, they want to know about jobs, they want to know about
gas prices. You can`t talk over their heads the trillions of dollars,
which is numbers that our average listener and demographic doesn`t know
about, the 18 to 34 demo isn`t going to vote on a trillion dollar debt.
HAYES: Let me say that actually no one understands a trillion dollars ...
HAYES: Even the people who pretend they do.
HAYES: And no one actually cares about a trillion dollars.
MICHAEL HASTINGS, AUTHOR, PANIC 2012": OK, so to me, the golfgate revealed
one major thing about the White House press corps, right? Actually ,a
number of things. The fact what motivated Ed Henry to make this statement
was not transparency. That`s not the actual principle, it`s embarrassment.
HASTINGS: They got scooped by a reporter from ...
HAYES: "Golf Digest." Who was in the clubhouse, who was tweeting about the
fact, I`m here with Tiger Woods and they were like, dude, WTF.
HASTINGS: No, Ed Henry, who`s a character in my new book, "Panic 2012",
and Henry is actually a character in this, and I have a scene where Ed
actually sits me down at one point to complain about some of my reporting
because I reported something that no one else in the White House press
corps did. And what he said was, look, the reason you can`t do this is
because you`re making us all look bad. And this is the exact same
principle at stake with this "Golf Digest."
COX: I know (inaudible) with the White House press corps. You can`t do
this. You`ll make us look bad.
HASTINGS: Maybe because you know, over Tiger Woods, like planting your
flag over Tiger Woods made him look ridiculous and not self-aware.
NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I think there`s a broader
issue here. Which is if you actually think about what people are
complaining about, you know, I think there`s really two different things.
If everyone -- I have to say -- everyone in the White House thought what
the White House press corps was really interested in was a substantive
analysis of the president`s position on pre-K or a substantive analysis of
the president`s position on 50 different things in the budget, then there
would be a lot more respect for the demand for information. But the demand
for information is really all gotcha. It`s all about like what the
president did, Tiger Woods, this kind of -- like it`s the trivialization of
news that gets people in the White House thinking, you know what, you`re
not interested in informing democracy.
COX: But it`s not like ...
COX: It`s not like the White House has this grand like, you know, desire
for a really -- for a press that, you know, influences democracy, that has
these high ideals. They actually just want -- these are two, you know,
parties that have their own interests, and neither of those interests are
especially noble. You know. I don`t think that the White House has noble
interests in wanting to elevate the press. Like they want to talk to
HAYES: They want to win voters. And I don`t even think -- begrudge them
that. What they want to do, they want to manage their image in a way that
politically maximizes ...
TANDEN: I guess I`m saying is they`re aided in the argument that, you know
what, you really don`t need to have this picture, because it`s a joke.
HASTINGS: Yeah. And this -- right here in the argument by the end of it,
but the first question they get is who won, you or Tiger?
HASTINGS: But what about your gaffes? I mean, this is the question. That
being said, look, the White House also exploits the trivial nature and our
obsession with triviality. And that`s why they can get away with doing all
HAYES: I want to respond -- I want to respond in two ways. One is for a
moment to briefly defend the White House, a lot of White House
correspondents, because I think a lot of them do good work.
COX: Absolutely. Not actually -- not on that beat.
HAYES: Right. Then I would actually say in some ways the problem is the
beat. I mean actually it`s a very difficult beat because you`re locked in
that room. If you have the White House beat, and what being locked in the
room means is your job is to do things like let -- watch the president and
let us know who he`s playing golf with. That`s actually your job. And so,
if you`re not allowed to do that, then you can`t do your job, right? The
White House correspondent beat is a very specific beat. It`s about
covering the day in, day out of what happens at the White House.
HAYES: And so ...
TANDEN : ... but just to be fair, you can cover what the president is
talking about and actually do a somewhat in-depth analysis ...
TANDEN: ... of the actual policy he`s announcing.
HAYES: And I think some people do that.
TANDEN: And absolutely, many people do that. But I think also what drives
a lot of the coverage, is the personality ..
JOYNER: It`s relatability.
TANDEN: Think (inaudible) in 2012 --
JOYNER: Is it like you said. When he`s done with his round, the first
thing you don`t want to ask him is what he`s going to do about the debt
crisis, you want to know who won.
HAYES: You`re defending the trivial, though ...
TANDEN: Well ...
JOYNER: I`m not defending, I`m not saying it`s trivia, I`m saying it`s
relatability. These are the things that the consumers and the voters want
to know about now. They don`t want to read a long article about his
TANDEN: But you can`t argue ...
JOYNER: They just want to know how can he relate to me?
TANDEN: But then you can`t argue you`re defending democracy.
TANDEN: You`re defending readings. OK?
HAYES: But you`re defending -- you`re defending ...
TANDEN: By defending democracy, so, you need to give me ...
HAYES: I want to bring - I want to bring -- we have Robert Gibbs, who
knows something about this, former press secretary in the Obama White
House, now an MSNBC contributor. And Robert, I want to take a quick break
and bring you back after to get your side ...
ROBERT GIBBS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I was enjoying watching this.
HAYES: Through the looking glass, I know.
GIBBS: Let those guys go. Popcorn and everything.
HAYES: Right after this quick break.
TANDEN: That`s for ...
HAYES: All right, Robert -- Robert Gibbs, Robert Gibbs, you are in to
extend the puppet master metaphor, I suppose, the shriveled man who is the
Wizard of Oz behind the ...
COX: Shriveled man?
HAYES: No, I mean I was extending the metaphor.
GIBBS: Come on ...
HAYES: My point being here -- here`s my question. You get -- you get --
you get 600 requests a day for interviews with the president, let`s say or
a thousand or whatever, right? And I do think one of the points that`s
true in that Politico piece is that there has been a change structurally,
right? There`s still only one White House, right? There`s no competition
for another president or, you know, another president`s adviser, but
instead of ten outlets that the White House is dealing with, there`s 600,
right? And so now you have to make these choices, sitting in your role
formerly as the head of the White House press secretary of who gets that
access. And my questions, my first question to you is what is the
thinking? I mean literally how do you go about making that decision?
There`s got to be some spread sheet that`s like -- here are the 4 million
outlets that want to talk to us and what does that meeting look like where
you say him, him and her.
GIBBS: Chris, you`re right. I used to keep and my assistant used to keep
a spreadsheet of pending requests, but you also have spreadsheets of
viewership, you know, the reach of different things. I think two things
have changed this relationship a bit over the past few years, and that is
that just really the viewership being so dispersed in this country. In
1980, 50 million people watched the evening news ...
GIBBS: ... the nightly newscast. My first year in the White House, that
was a little bit more than 22 million people. So the viewership is very
dispersed. And the second thing is the advent of technology. You know,
social media and the Internet have not just for the White House, but
literally every brand in America produces now some of its own content to
deliver directly to people. Now, that does not mean that that content is
intended to supersede everything else that people might see. It just
provides a different stream and a different viewpoint or perspective, it`s
not to supplant that.
HAYES: So when you`re -- in your role, when you`re making decisions, it
sounds like what you`re seeing is, you know, part of it is who is the
audience. Which is Oscar Joyner`s point, right, look, we`re reaching --
out syndicated network reaches 70 percent of African-Americans, we want to
talk to those voters. That`s a layup for us, that makes sense for us too.
GIBBS: Very easy decision to do Tom Joyner. Very easy.
HAYES: Yeah. Right. Right.
HAYES: But isn`t it also -- isn`t it also an easy decision because Tom
Joyner is not going to ask you very hard questions or be particularly
disposed to be critical of you?
GIBBS: No, I think in some -- look, I think as Oscar said, Tom isn`t going
to ask you sort of the gotcha of the day or the some crazy thing that
Washington is all in a tizzy about from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on a Monday
afternoon. But I will say this. And if you watch President Obama, right,
he gives long, expansive answers.
GIBBS: I tend to think an interviewer that gives the president the space
to give an answer is actually going to elicit far more understanding about
what the president is thinking than somebody that looks like they`re
playing gotcha and interrupting him every seven or eight seconds, and he`s
never actually going to be able to spit out what his answer is.
We always look for -- we`ve always looked for places that were longer form
and that we could -- we had the ability to give those longer answers to.
HAYES: Do you -- in your role as press secretary, is your job to maximize
the political appealing-ness -- political appeal ...
HAYES: ... that`s the word we use occasionally, that`s why I`m not press
secretary, maximize the political appeal of the president of the United
States or do you view it as balancing two competing interests, which is
maximizing the president`s political appeal and guaranteeing some level of
public access as abstract principle that you`re committed to, which is to
say sometimes doing things that might not make the president look good,
because you also have a role as being a defender of the public`s right to
have access to the president?
GIBBS: Well, I think you have to do -- to be successful and to not cause
this to be a story literally every day, you have to do obviously some of
each. Obviously my job as press secretary was to maximize the president`s
viewpoint, to maximize his image. And look, because of the fact that you
have to explain things that are going on in this country, there are
definitely things that you`re going to do that are going to not necessarily
make you look good or paint you inherently good, in a good light, so you
have to do some of each. But, and, you know, there are things that each
president has to do. You do take questions at these things. You do have a
pool that you cart around with you. If the president goes to play
basketball this morning or if the president goes to watch his daughter play
basketball this morning, all these guys load up in a van and go with him
just in case something happens. So you have that with you. But obviously,
look, I was listening to that first discussion. The job of the White House
is not to lift the press corps in some noble fashion. That`s not what
they`re there to do. That`s not what the White House is there to do.
There will always be some tension, obviously, in this relationship and in a
democracy that`s probably a good thing.
HAYES: But do you think -- yeah.
HASTINGS: Robert, how would you have handled the Tiger Woods situation?
How would you have handled Golfgate if you had been stuck down there?
TANDEN: Shockingly, Michael Hastings is trying to make news.
GIBBS: I would -- I would have -- I would have probably laughed and then
thought not much more about it. I mean there are times in which - I mean,
look, the story obviously -- the guy that was tweeting for the "Golf"
magazine is a member of the club. You know, so I`m sure he got -- he might
have gotten some inside information about Tiger Woods or whatever. But
look, everybody has got a -- everybody that has a Twitter account is
basically a political reporter these days. But, you know, there are times
TANDEN: (inaudible) get away with something like this?
GIBBS: There are times in which the White House wants the president to be
able to just go be a real person and play golf with somebody. So you`re
not going to provide a picture. And I don`t think quite frankly there`s
some duty for the White House to provide a picture every time the president
HAYES: But here`s my question about access. You`re saying that there`s an
inherent logic to some of the access that`s granted, but it also seems to
me that access is an economy. I mean access -- you know very well that an
interview granted to, say, a magazine that they can put on their cover
literally means money for that magazine and it means ratings for a network
that can get it. It means -- it is -- there`s a pecuniary interest on the
part of the outlet of scoring big interviews with the president or the
first lady and that`s something that you have the power to grant. And what
it looks like from someone who isn`t getting those interviews is that
there`s essentially a kind of corrupt economy, in which that`s granted
tacitly in exchange for friendly coverage.
GIBBS: You should sit in on some of the president`s interviews, Chris.
HAYES: I watch -- I mean I watch them and I read them.
GIBBS: I -- The notion that I sit there and try to figure out who`s going
to make money off of the cover of a magazine, you`re giving us a whole --
you`re giving us way too much credit.
HAYES: No, no, that`s what I`m saying -- that`s what I`m saying -- what
I`m saying is when an interview is asked for from you, right, everybody
understands that the granting of that interview is a big deal to who gets
it. It means a lot. They are supplicant to you, when asking for it, and
so granting it to them produces a kind of gift economy of a favor. That`s
JOYNER: But Robert doesn`t grant the interviews so that I can get
ratings. I accept it so that I can. But he doesn`t grant them just so
that I can get page to use on Web site or so that I can get ratings on my
JOYNER: When we asked for it, we receive it because of who we are and
because of how we -- how the access, like I said, that we give directly to
the voters. The new 18 to 34-year-old voter that`s out there that the past
two campaigns have been trying to appeal to, they just don`t -- they aren`t
attracted to the same mediums. They aren`t attracted to these things that
are sitting all across our desk. OK? They`re on their Smartphones, they
are looking at things that are less than 50 words, they`re looking at, you
know, the characters you can get on Twitter and Facebook and that`s the
news that they want. They get everything they want in that salacious quick
headline without having to read everything that`s on page six.
COX: Yeah, and -- let me jump in on something. Which is that -- and
before Robert is -- and you said that you know, the reason that you care at
all about the sort of democratic freedom of the press aspect or the access
or the sort of noble transparency aspect is that you want to avoid
questions or avoid trouble. You want to avoid making access the story and
that`s why you kind of have to kind of grant some of these things. And I`m
wondering do you think ...
GIBBS: I don`t think that`s exactly what I said, but go ahead.
COX: OK, but do you think ...
GIBBS: No, come back in the White House pressroom.
COX: Oh, good. And I feel like I`m back there too. More comfortable in
their (inaudible). But I`m wondering like, do you think that there is a
purpose to having the White House press corps? White House Press
Association? Like what does it do?
GIBBS: That`s a really good question. Is it just an outmoded institution?
COX: Oh, absolutely. Is it -- it would be -- and I don`t want to like
make -- sure, I want to make news, but I guess I`m curious like what
function does it serve? Like is there -- if you`re not making decisions
based on looking at the seating chart, if you`re not making decisions based
on looking at the old hierarchy of media, like is there a purpose to having
GIBBS: Well, let me be clear, I didn`t say that you`re not making
decisions based on the hierarchy or you`re not -- you`re making decisions
based on reach, right?
GIBBS: I mean probably the president has done the most interviews with "60
Minutes." And why is that? Because more people watch "60 Minutes" than any
other news program in the country. Why do you talk to Tom Joyner?
Because, as Oscar said, you can reach 70 percent of African-Americans with
one phone call from the residence. I mean why wouldn`t you do something
like that? And quite frankly, you`re making decisions on that spreadsheet
from interviews based on the reach. As I said, 22 million people watch --
collectively watch the evening news broadcast in a country of 310 million
GIBBS: Any interview that you do, you have to hope for a factor of
exponentiality. So that if I give an interview to, you know, "Rolling
Stone" magazine or if I give an interview to "60 Minutes," that it`s not
simply going to be seen by the readership or the viewership of simply that
one outlet ...
GIBBS: ... but it`s going to be recreated, it`s going to be re-shown on,
you know, the platforms of hundreds of millions of people and that for the
message can get spread. Look, we don`t live in a society where you can
just put up a blog post and say I`ve reached 310 million people. They now
know what the president is doing. I can now go back to, you know, eating
popcorn and bonbons. That`s just not the way the whole thing works.
HAYES: I want to ask you -- I want to ask about the second concept of
transparency, which I think is different than access. Because I think that
access is about kind of internal press competition and transparency is
about what the public knows and what they have access to and I want to talk
about that after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The White House is where news goes to die.
Everything is canned. These perfectly prepared statements ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a prestigious job, Zoe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It used to be when I was in ninth grade. Now it`s a
graveyard. The only halfway interesting thing they do is throw a big
dinner party once a year where they pat themselves on the back and rub
shoulders with movie stars. Who needs that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Zoe Barnes, character from the Netflix series "House of Cards,"
who`s applying for a job, or considering applying for a job at the White
House Correspondents Association and deriding it. This question of
transparency I think is the deeper and more important one and I think the
point that we all kind of agree with at the table is that it`s -- there`s
no great democratic stake in whether we know -- whether we can see a
picture of the president and Tiger Woods golfing. I mean I think that`s my
own personal view.
HAYES: Like, you know, I don`t care about that. What I do care about is
HAYES: Yeah. No. But what I do care about is, say, the administration`s
-- the OLC`s legal rationale for its decision that it can kill American
citizens in certain circumstances if they`re an al Qaeda operative.
TANDEN: Whether they can do that here.
HAYES: Without due process. Whether they can do that here. And on that -
- on this issue, particularly on national security issues, I feel like
there really has been a transparency problem. I want to just show a little
bit of montage of the White House responding to questions about, say, the
drone program over the years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- Google Plus video chat he
acknowledged for the first time the classified drone program. Why did he
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I`m sorry, guys, can you be more
JAKE TAPPER, ABC NEWS: The former director of national intelligence,
Retired Admiral Dennis Blair, said, I believe, yesterday that drone
attacks, unilateral drone attacks can actually do more harm to U.S.
national security interests and that good. Does the White House -- any
opinion about these drones?
CARNEY: We believe our relationship with Pakistan is essential to fighting
terrorism and terrorists.
MAJOR GARRETT, CBS CORRESPONDENT: "The New York Times" reports that Vice
President Biden in these sessions talking about the way forward has pressed
specifically for a strategy that elevates the use of unmanned aerial
vehicles, drones, and de-emphasizes U.S. combat forces on the ground. Can
you tell us if that`s true?
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Major, I think you can
understand why I`m not going to get into internal discussions.
GARRETT: You can`t say one way or the other if that`s true or not?
GIBBS: I`m not going to get into it.
HAYES: Now, I understand, Robert, why -- why. I mean ...
GIBBS: You had to put that last picture up, didn`t you?
HAYES: Yeah, let me -- you know, we got the guy. I guess, you know, I
should say in defense of White House press secretaries, they do not make
the decision. They`re the person who has to get sent out to make -- to say
what we can and can`t talk about. My sense is that they don`t make the
decision about whether or not you`re going to or not going to talk about
the drone program. But do you think that the White House has been
forthcoming, sufficiently forthcoming? We have these seven memos right
now, we haven`t seen any of those.
HAYES: The white paper got released right before Brennan, not by the White
House, but leaked apparently. Do you think that you`ve been sufficiently
forthcoming and the White House has been sufficiently forthcoming on this
GIBBS: Well, I think you`ve seen recently the president discuss the need
and desire to be more forthcoming. I certainly think there are aspects of
that program that are and will remain highly sensitive and very secret, but
let me give you an example here, Chris. When I went through the process of
becoming press secretary, one of the first things -- one of the first thing
they told me was you`re not even to acknowledge the drone program. You`re
not even to discuss that it exists.
GIBBS: And so I would get a question like that and literally I couldn`t
tell you what Major asked because once I figured out it was about the drone
GIBBS: I realized I`m not supposed to talk about it. And -- but here`s
what`s inherently crazy about that proposition. You`re being asked a
question based on reporting of a program that exists, right? So you`re the
official government spokesperson ...
GIBBS: ... acting as if the entire program -- pay no attention to the man
behind the curtain.
HAYES: Right. Yes.
GIBBS: It`s -- I think in many ways and I think what the president has
seen, and I have not talked to him about this, I want to be careful. This
is my opinion.
HAYES: Yeah, yeah.
GIBBS: But I think what the president has seen is our denial of the
existence of the program when it`s obviously happening, undermines people`s
confidence overall in the decisions that their government makes. And in
order to bolster that confidence and bolster the belief that we`re making
those correct decisions on this policy, you do have to lift the veil some
to both acknowledge that it exists, as he`s done, but also to do it in a
way that provides better understanding. I will say ironically the time in
which the president probably talked most about the drone program,
interestingly enough, was in an interview on "The Daily Show" with Jon
Stewart. So going back to that earlier discussion, why do you give this
person and that person an interview. Jon Stewart asked a good question and
then gave the president the space to give an answer. And my sense is that
even though you might say well, I watch Jon Stewart and Jon Stewart
probably votes for Barack Obama other than Mitt Romney, Jon asked a very
smart question and then gives the president the space to give him an answer
and probably would have held him accountable if he would have not.
HAYES: Oh, yes, he took him to the woodshed two nights ago about these
COX: Well, I was just going to say, one thing if Robert says that`s one of
the first things that he was -- that they went through when he was becoming
press secretary, that means that they were thinking about this like in
2007, you know. I mean like they were thinking about that they were going
to hide the existence of this program, I mean before Obama even really
GIBBS: Well, to be fair on the calendar, this would have been ...
GIBBS: ... after the election in 2008. And I don`t think I`m -- the drone
program has existed, obviously, if you read any reporting, has existed --
existed well before Barack Obama got into office.
COX: Well, I get to make the decision -- that`s just something that you`re
going to go into the White House and not talk about ...
COX: Interesting one. An interesting statement about what the priorities
were for the administration. But I do also understand -- I think this is
an interesting sort of -- almost goes back to our previous discussion. Is
that in order -- the reason to talk about the drone program is to avoid
having secrecy about the drone program being the story?
COX: Is the pressure of what is the story?
TANDEN: But it`s not just like -- the drone program, it`s a little bit of
a tough case, right. Because In these cases, you know, you don`t actually
release information about CIA spies going to ...
TANDEN: ... kill enemies of the United States. So, you know, we would
never -- if people had information about particular names of spies, et
cetera, we would never -- Robert Gibbs when he was White House press
secretary wouldn`t do that. Now, but I hear and I think, actually, Robert
made a very compelling argument for First Amendment principles because over
time these things do actually make people cynical about the government.
HAYES: Yeah, and I think -- the key point here, though, is political
pressure. I want to talk about that right when we come back.
HAYES: Oscar Joyner, you were just making a point about transparency in
the age of social media.
JOYNER: It`s a conflict of the times. These days when you`ve got social
networks and everybody is able to find out that he did play basketball with
his friends and exactly who those friends and who was on the five on five
team and when you`re able to find out things about what he had for
breakfast via Twitter or social, people think that that means transparency
also across the board. Because I couldn`t find out these kinds of things
before about the president, now I should be able to find about the drone
program, I should be able to find about anything that anybody can tweet
about. If we paid attention to Twitter a little bit more, I think we would
have found out that they were invading bin Laden. Wasn`t that guy tweeting
JOYNER: In Abbottabad, right. So people -- people are thinking that just
because now we get this sort of new and sometimes unfettered access because
somebody has got a smartphone on them, that now I should be able to get
access to just any question that I ever wanted to because it`s now it`s
just so easy.
HASTINGS: And I think actually in those clips we did show, that was the
White House doing the noble work of holding the administration`s feet to
the fire. Now, it took ...
HAYES: The press corps.
HASTINGS: The press corps, holding the feet to the fire. And as someone
who -- I`ve spent six months investigating who the president has played
basketball with as well as spent another six months investigating what the
drone program is, and clearly there`s two sets of information there. One
set of information is for this sort of political elite Washington class
that`s very fascinated with the palace intrigue ...
HASTINGS: ... that wants the information that only a finite number of
people have. There are only a certain number of senior advisers for the
president, they have this information. That`s what you need access to.
And then you have this -- and then you`re also into the gossipy things.
And then you have these sort of larger, big deed democracy questions about
what you need to ...
HAYES: What is our government doing, who is it killing.
HASTINGS: And those are things that I think are much more important.
HAYES: And to bring it around -- to bring it around, I think to the first
-- the first discussion, and I think the point you made, Ana Marie, is that
in some ways the perversity here is the fact that it`s -- I don`t get the
names of Tiger Woods that become the story that force access much more than
it`s no one is acknowledging the drone program, right? I mean, and Robert,
what I`m hearing from you and I think this makes sense, is that ultimately
it is kind of political outcry that is the pressure that drives things,
right? I mean when you said like, look, you can`t just like shut everybody
out because people will get angry and then that becomes the story, it does
seem to me like these decisions really are based on political calculations.
I`m not saying that -- I mean that`s natural, it`s a political office.
That that -- if people are angry and up in arms about not knowing about the
drone program or that`s creating political problems, you`re going to see
more about it, and if not, not.
GIBBS: Well, yes. I think political pressure certainly. I want to -- I
want to maybe bifurcate this a bit, I don`t want to compare the drone
program to the notion that if you didn`t see Tiger Woods somehow that
causes you now to - I mean again ...
HAYES: That`s my point. Yes. Right.
GIBBS: But look -- there`s a White House briefing room for a reason. And
let`s be clear. In no other entity that I can think of in this country
does somebody walk out there virtually every day and answer questions ...
GIBBS: ... about different topics. And we do that not because we have to,
but because that`s how a democracy works. It only works if we`re providing
information on what the president and the administration are doing and how
that affects people and it only works if the press corps asks questions of
the administration, which may lead to more transparency on things like the
HAYES: MSNBC contributor Robert Gibbs, former Obama White House press
secretary. That was a lot of fun this morning. I`d love to have you back
at the table next time you`re in New York.
GIBBS: Chris, thanks for having me.
HAYES: Ana Marie Cox of "The Guardian" newspaper and Oscar Joyner of Reach
Media, parent company of the Tom Joyner morning show, really great to have
you here. Thanks a lot. Come back.
The political ticking time bomb no one seems able to diffuse, next.
GIBBS: We are now just five days away from the latest self-imposed budget
deadline in Washington. And lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are
panicking. Unless President Obama and congressional Republicans can reach
some sort of broader deficit reduction agreement or at least another
temporary deal, the government will face a series of automatic spending
cuts known as sequestration which will total to about $85 billion this year
and about a trillion dollars over the next decade. Half of those cuts will
be to military spending an half will be to discretionary programs across
the entire federal government. The past few weeks virtually everyone in
Washington has been condemning what has come to be known as the sequester
as a devastating policy that will affect nearly every aspect of American
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: These cuts are
not smart, they are not fair, they will hurt our economy.
REP. SCOTT PETERS, (D) CALIFORNIA: For the sake of our hard-working men
and women at our ports, at our national -- international trading commerce,
Congress can`t allow the sequester to happen.
SEN. RAY LAHOOD, U.S. DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION: Travelers should expect
SEN. MARK PRYOR, (D), ARKANSAS: It`s going to be very disruptive to our
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We can`t strand our
researchers, we cannot say to our scientists fold up your work.
SECY. LEON PANETTA, U.S. DEPT. OF DEFENSE: Why in God`s name would members
of Congress elected by the American people take a step that would badly
damage our national defense, but more importantly undermine the support for
our men and women in uniform?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So the sequester is sort of a ticking time bomb, but it`s also a
poorly designed time bomb. Budget law on the books since 1985, states that
"The same percentage sequestration shall apply to all programs, projects
and activities within a budget account." On the one hand, that`s
incredibly strict. It means all agencies must cut the same amount from
their budgets. But on the other hand, it`s somewhat unclear just what
constitutes programs, projects and activities. So, for example, if the
National Institutes of Health gives out X dollars for cancer research
grants, it will have to eliminate five percent of those grants or cut each
grant by five percent. Unclear, which it is. If the deadline does pass,
the Office of Management and Budget will be charged with figuring that out.
One thing we do know, the Congressional Budget Office projects that the
cuts may land us back in recession and result in 750,000 job losses this
year alone. On top of that the Bipartisan Policy Center projects sequester
won`t even have that much effect on our national debt. Debt as a
percentage of GDP will reach 100 percent just two years later than it would
otherwise if the sequester is implemented. So to recap, no one wants a
sequester, no one really knows how it will work. It could put us back in
recession and it does almost nothing to reduce the debt. If that`s the
case, then why don`t both houses of Congress simply pass a one sentence law
repealing it and the president can sign it. Problem solved. I want my
panel to answer that question right after this.
HAYES: Everybody hates the sequester, so why can`t we get rid of it?
Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress is back with us and
joining us now are William Black, associated professor of economics and law
at University of Missouri, Kansas City, Steve Ellis, vice president of
Taxpayers for Common Sense and Phyllis Bennis, director of the New
Internationalism Projects at the Institute for Policy Studies. Taxpayers
for Common Sense has done what -- it`s like the hot new thing in
Washington, it`s coming up with sequestration alternatives.
STEVE ELLIS, TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE: Right.
HAYES: How to avoid sequestration with some assemblage of cuts. There`s
been some stuff from the Center of American Progress on that. Taxpayers
for Common Sense put out a fairly detailed plan, some of which I think is
quite good. Even as a liberal, I think there`s a lot of places of
corporate welfare you guys went after.
HAYES: But why even have it? But before we get to that, I feel like the
terms of the debate have been artificially constructed around the need to
cut and this ridiculous time bomb that`s about to go off that everybody
hates. Why can`t we just pass -- why can we not pass a one-sentence law
saying no sequestration?
ELLIS: Well, I mean certainly we can. I mean -- I mean the Congress can
do that. But the question is, is that do we need to actually cut spending?
And I think that to some extent -- I understand.
ELLIS: But, no, but if you look at where we are and what we`ve done in the
last decade, you know, we have -- we`ve done -- basically we have
prosecuted two wars ...
ELLIS: ... we did the Medicare prescription drug benefit, we did several
ELLIS: We did the stimulus. All on the credit card of the country. So,
you know, you went through -- in the last 30 years -- 30 years ago, just a
little over 30 years ago our national debt was a trillion dollars. It`s
$16.5 trillion today. So 200 years of our country`s existence, we racked
up a total of a trillion ....
ELLIS: No, no, no, my point is, Chris, no, no, we`re looking it -- I`m not
defending the fact that sequestration by any stretch. I think everybody at
the table all agrees it`s stupid ...
ELLIS: It`s an awful tool. It was meant to be that way. I mean that was
the whole point. I mean the creation of it was in the budget control act
in the summer of 2011 which was basically this was so bad it was going to
inspire a supercommittee of the House and Senate to act. It didn`t work
and so now here we are, we`re faced with it, and it`s a problem, there`s no
doubt about it. But we can do some of these things. And I would argue
that our cuts, where you did sliding past sequestration, with obliteration
of TCS, is $2 trillion worth of deficit reduction. And let me just be
really clear, it`s deficit reduction. There are revenue raisers, there are
spending cuts that are included in this. You know, we`ve had -- and we`ve
had a massive buildup in the Defense Department. There`s a lot of room for
cutting there. We did a separate report looking at spending even less,
spending even smarter, looking at the Defense Department and cutting almost
$600 billion for the next ten years from the Defense Department. So there
are things that -- advantages and things that we can do here and also turn
HAYES: Bill, what do you think about the sort of inherent logic here,
which is the kind of conversation around finding alternatives so that we
can avoid it?
WILLIAM BLACK, UNIV. OF MISSOURI- KANSAS CITY: Well, there is no
fundamental logic. It`s completely incoherent from both sides, Republicans
and Democrats, because they won`t tell the truth about the fact that we`re
in a recession, recovering from it, and that the worst possible thing we
could do is austerity and throw the nation back into even depression level
a la Europe.
HAYES: I disagree, though. I think that`s the weird thing about the
conversation is that they are telling the truth about that. All of a
sudden, basically you have this conversation which was all about cuts,
cuts, cuts, right? Then they put in these terrible cuts and now everyone
is saying these cuts are bad because they will be -- they will hurt growth.
And that`s like -- I`m like that`s what we`ve been saying. That`s what the
good guys have been saying.
BLACK: But in the next sentence they say so, therefore, do the following
BLACK: ... instead. That`s what`s incoherent.
TANDEN: The reason why we have sequestration is because we should just all
be clear, because the Republicans were using the debt limit as a gun to the
head of the American economy, and it was a way to address that concern
without really coming up with a big budget deal. Now, the truth is we have
$2.5 trillion of cuts already.
HAYES: Right. Through the Budget Control Act already.
TANDEN: Through the Budget Control Act and through revenue.
TANDEN: And what everyone is debating is that we should actually have a
more balanced approach going forward. And I agree with you, we are in a
recession. We should not have these. But the difference is, just to be
clear, is people are talking -- when they talk about a balanced approach,
they`re talking about long-term deficit reduction and the president is also
talking about making investments now in infrastructure, hiring teachers,
here`s the whole thing. I mean there is a difference -- many progressives
believe we should have long-term deficit reduction and make those
investments now because we are still in an economic recovery.
PHYLLIS BENNIS, INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: But wait a minute. There`s
two big issues we`re dealing with here and it`s not just about the numbers
in the sequestration act. It`s about we`re fighting wars that are not
making us safer, that much of the world views as illegal ...
BENNIS: ... that are not doing anything to make the people of Afghanistan
safer, the people of Yemen, of Somalia where the drone war is being fought.
We have to look at the substance of where that money is going and we have
to look at how -- who in this country is not paying taxes, which is the
wealthiest people, corporation --
HAYES: OK, but here`s the problem.
BENNIS: But wait, until we talk about taxing the rich, taxing the
corporations, ending the subsidies to dirty oil, for instance, and ending
the wars, not just cutting the bloat in the Pentagon budget so that we
don`t have, you know, $500 hammers on a submarines ...
BENNIS: ... we`re talking about saving money. My institute, the Institute
for Policy Studies, my colleague, Marian Pemberton who knows the stuff more
than anyone else, has figured out way we could save $200 billion just this
year, not over ten years, in just the military side without doing anything
that would put us at risk.
HAYES: Can I just say this? So, that`s the -- what you have articulated
is the kind of progressive line on this, which I am basically sympathetic
to. But it also is, if you sift beneath it, it is an austerian line,
HAYES: Because if we`re talking yes, it is. Because if we`re talking
about raising taxes and cutting defense budget, it doesn`t matter if those
are your priorities, what you`re doing is diminishing the deficit, but not
ELLIS: But actually the thing ...
BENNIS: The military spending hurts our economy.
ELLIS: But the thing is -- (inaudible) words, it`s basically -- what is so
ironic about this is that it kind of goes back to Woodrow Wilson, why are
the fights so difficult because -- or so vicious? Because the stakes are
so small. I mean really in reality when you look at sequestration, and
we`re talking about $85 billion this year, really only about $40 billion in
real spending cuts, because of the way the budget operates with budget
authority. You`re looking at not a huge amount of money, but the fights
are very vicious.
HAYES: Let me just say this. The stakes are not -- wait, wait. The
proposition on the table, the proposition on the table is that the stakes
are small in Steve`s words. I think people at the table probably disagree
with that, so I want to talk about why the stakes may not be small right
after this break.
HAYES: Hello from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Here with me, Neera Tanden
of the Center for American Progress, William Black of the University of
Missouri, Kansas City, Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense, and
Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies. We are talking about
the dread sequestration process that is set to happen this week. Before we
went to break, Steve, you quoted a line from Woodrow Wilson about academic
politics, about the fights are vicious because the stakes are so small,
basically making the point that $85 billion, while obviously a tremendous
amount of money, in the context of the federal budget as a whole is a
relatively small amount of money, and I feel like there are other people at
the table who felt differently about that, and then we went to break. So,
Neera, a response.
TANDEN: First of all, I would say, look, they actually are going to have a
huge impact. There have been these countless -- I feel like it`s sort of
gotten out there that we`re going to have cuts to teachers, cuts to kids in
pre-K, mental health counselors. All these things.
HAYES: Head start, long-term unemployment benefits, job force development
and training, air traffic control.
TANDEN: And according to the Congressional Budget Office, we`ll take a
relatively sharp hit to GDP and economic growth. And actually, what is
really dumb about these particular cuts is that when you look at the
federal budget writ large, you are actually hitting the areas that make
America the most competitive. If you`re thinking about long-term economic
growth, these are the areas, when you`re talking NIH research, pre-K,
elementary schools, higher education, it`s the things over the long term
that generally have made us -- and we`re actually because of these deficit
hysteria, we`ve decided we need to hit the things that we should be most
concerned about in order to achieve these things.
ELLIS: But that`s the nature of sequestration. Let`s be really clear. I
don`t think anybody here is defending sequestration. The across the board
nature particularly of the cuts. And that`s where you start getting this
sort of OK, it`s going to have this effect on teachers, it`s going to have
this effect on this. But no, but wait, if you could look at it, if you
could target it, and I`ve talked to people, for instance, in the Pentagon.
They`re like give us a target, we`ll hit it. Give us some flexibility. We
can do Brac (ph), we do other things like that, and that will actually be
able -- it is the nature of this mindless across-the-board cuts where every
agency gets the same amount, we`re talking about between 8 to 12 percent,
which is ridiculous.
TANDEN: But you`re acting like we had nothing to do with this. The reason
why we have sequestration is because Republicans won`t raise revenue. OK?
Everyone agrees on this issue.
BENNIS: It`s not only that, it`s because we`re fighting wars and bloating
the Pentagon budget.
TANDEN: That`s not why we have sequestration.
BENNIS: It`s why we have a crisis. It`s why we have an economic crisis.
If we look at Afghanistan --
BENNIS: Wait a minute. If we look at Afghanistan, for every young soldier
that`s there, there`s about 68,000 soldiers that are there, every one of
them, it costs $1 million a year. Not because the soldiers make a lot of
money -- half of them qualify for food stamps. But because of the cost of
waging a war half a world away. With all of the challenges--
TANDEN: Do you agree that deficits are driving this?
BENNIS: No, what I`m saying is that the wars are a huge part of why we are
in crisis. If you bring home one soldier --
BENNIS: And move that money to real jobs, you could hire that soldier and
19 more like her at $50,000 a year, enough to support a real family in this
country. That`s the way we keep our country safe. Cut the military budget
is the best way to keep us safe.
BLACK: There are two conversations going on, and they`re completely
HAYES: And they`re tangled on purpose actually, right? They`re by design
BLACK: First, we are coming out of the great recession, and it is called
the great recession for a really good reason. It cost $20 trillion in
wealth, it cost 10 million Americans their jobs, it cost over 10 million
Europeans their job. And when they responded with austerity, it put three
nations into great depression levels, and the entire Eurozone is back into
a gratuitous recession they could have avoided.
As to that recession, we do not want our fourth act of contraction, fourth
act of austerity. So we`ve already had the 2011 act that you talked about,
and we had the tax cuts for the wealthy, and -- but the biggest thing is
the payroll tax, which had a devastating effect on GDP. And now we want to
do a fourth thing. So, yes, cumulatively it is a big deal, what we`re
proposing to do. We are strangling the recovery, and that`s insane.
That`s the net level. Now, of course you can cut things within, but you
increase spending in other areas.
HAYES: But here`s my point is that --
HAYES: Yes, OK. In the magical world in which we at the table of "UP With
Chris Hayes" can determine where the money goes, fine. But what`s coming
down the pike right now is this forced choice. Right? And my question,
particularly I was on "The Last Word" with Howard Dean, who said basically
-- he made the following argument, that the defense budget is so bloated
and has been so difficult to ratchet back, that we should strike now and
take this opportunity.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: I so badly want to cut all of the
fat out of the Pentagon that I`m willing to do this. It`s terrible. I
hope we can restore some of the things. A lot of the cuts, for example,
the 2 percent Medicaid cuts don`t have any effect on patient care
whatsoever. So it is true that there are some bad cuts in there from a
Democratic point of view, but we are never again going to get a chance to
cut the Pentagon back from where it`s been. The Pentagon hasn`t had any
significant cuts for 30 years. And a lot of the money that`s going to be
cut is money that was not asked for by the Pentagon. It was put in by
bloated Congresspeople who wanted to do stuff for people in their district.
We have got to cut defense spending in this country, and I`m fairly hawkish
on defense, but this is an enterprise that hasn`t been touched for 30
years, and this may be our only chance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Let me show you this graph. This is the defense spending from 1985
to 2011 with sequester. OK, including war spending in 2013 dollars. And
what you see is in real dollars that the budget coming down, which is very
hard to do. And so I guess the thing I`m saying is, if the choice is
Keynes or peace, for liberals, which is what`s on the table, right? You
can choose austerity, an austerity that actually cuts the Pentagon budget,
which has been very difficult to do, or get out of the austerity bind and
deal with the Pentagon later, what do you want?
TANDEN: So shockingly it`s a false choice, OK. Shockingly, you`re binary
between two extremes is a false choice.
TANDEN: We should cut the Pentagon budget, right? We at the Center for
American Progress would cut the Pentagon budget dramatically, not as much
as sequestration because we do think we need a glide path. We can do this
in a way that makes sense. But I actually disagree with this premise. You
are seeing on both sides, there is much more interest in cutting the
Pentagon budget. But the challenge is we should be focused on economic
growth. Economic growth for the middle class and competitiveness over the
And what`s wrong with sequestration is not to me in my mind the Pentagon
cuts, but the cuts to all the things that matter that we all argue about
matter to middle class families and poor families, which is pre-K,
education, learning, and other research brands that actually drive
innovation in our economy. So as a progressive -- I say -- hold on. So,
no, as a progressive, I say we can have a balanced approach that actually
thinks about competitiveness and growth, and inequality and reducing
inequality over the long term. We should cut the Pentagon budget, but this
is a dumb way to do it. And as progressives, we should care about having
BENNIS: I think it has to do both. Our strategy has to look at how to cut
the military budget not just because of budgetary issues but because the
wars are wrong, they`re illegal --
TANDEN: And they`re ending. The wars are ending.
BENNIS: The drone war is expanding, it`s not ending. The drone war is
expanding, but beyond that, it`s a huge component of why we don`t have jobs
elsewhere is that we do have so many jobs in the military, which as we know
is the least effective way of hiring the most people for the least amount
ELLIS: So after sequestration, you look at -- your graph showed this.
Even if we did the whole $500 billion, which is the ten-year target for
sequestration, the defense budget will be the same as it was in 2007.
(inaudible) post-9/11 buildup. And so to me, it`s not as difficult to
swallow that. And then secondly, I agree that you`re bringing up about the
awfulness of sequestration. I agree. I think we all agree it is awful the
way the thing is --
TANDEN: But they`re not letting us do these things. It`s not like you
don`t have a role.
ELLIS: I just said, we`ll put revenue on the table. We`ve definitely
asked -- called for additional revenue, limiting tax breaks, all sorts of
things along those lines. But for instance, in the Senate, the way to
(inaudible), the Senate Democrats, they`re talking about some of these are
sort of fictitious cuts as well. For instance, they`re talking about
eliminating direct payments to farmers, which is a bogus policy that was
set up in 1996, freedom to farm. It`s ridiculous. But they`re only
getting $28 billion out of that instead of $50 billion, which would be the
whole boat of that, because they`re keeping in place other farm subsidy
TANDEN: You`re for reducing farm subsidies.
HAYES: But here`s the grand point I think that has come out of this when
you talk about a balanced approach, which has been the signature line of
the president, is that there we`ve seen -- there was a Pew study and they
asked people like what do you want to cut, and this is the same thing that
everyone always finds, is, when you ask American people in the abstract, we
want to cut things, but when you ask them specifically, they don`t want to
But there`s a really worrying trend over time about the American public,
which I think plays to what this debate is about. I want to show that
graph right when we come back.
HAYES: Here`s the graph I want to show you. When Pew asked people about
what do you want to cut, right, this is a great timeless truth about the
American public. In the abstract we want to cut. Particularly, should we
raise spending on given priority, decrease or about the same, and what you
find is that most people want to either increase or about the same. But
over time, I think somewhat worryingly, if you go back to 1987, the trend
is downwards. Meaning the percentage of people that want to keep things
the same or want to increase funding, particularly increase funding, is
going down. Right? What you`re seeing there is that the conversation is
moving towards austerity, even if the public still mostly wants to either
increase or maintain funding and not cut. They`re more disposed to cuts
now in 2013 than just a few years ago. You see that sharp decline that`s
TANDEN: There`s like been $6 trillion spent. I`m telling people --
HAYES: That`s right, exactly.
TANDEN: -- that like (inaudible) American problem is austerity. This has
been the guiding argument of the Tea Party, of Republicans. Their argument
is that the government is in the way of growth. So the fact that they`re -
- after all of that media barrage, there are still people who recognize,
you know what, schools and teachers help us in the long term, I think is
actually a statement of how embedded those values are.
HAYES: How resilient public opinion is.
TANDEN: People don`t like things cut. And the truth is --
HAYES: Even Republicans I should say on things like education and health
TANDEN: Very high support. And the truth is, I think people, what we`re
dealing with is after 10, 12 years of lower wage growth, people are
actually more protective, given the media brush, pretty protective of
things that help them in their lives, and that`s what is ridiculous and
upside down about this entire debate about sequestration, because you`re
actually going to hit the things that affect people, and that they want,
and I realize that was the point of sequestration, but that`s why it`s
insane that the Republican posture or the conservative posture on this is
we have to take these cuts instead of just having a few more revenue
raisers and hiring some people.
BENNIS: -- a proposal to get rid of it. But the Congressional Progressive
Caucus has a proposal on the table that says they would repeal the whole
sequestration plan but they would go ahead and cancel the F-35 joint strike
fighter, they would move to reduce massively the nuclear arsenal. They
would engage in massive military cuts. That`s the kind of serious economic
progress we need.
HAYES: That`s serious, but also I don`t understand. I guess here`s my
point. Just forget it. I agree with all that stuff, but that`s a harder
political battle than just stopping. Just pass the thing that gets rid of
the sequestration. It`s like we`re all caught in this quicksand of what
are we going to replace the cuts with, but then you`re just opening up new
fronts of political battle. Everyone should just come together and pass a
one sentence thing that says we don`t do it.
BLACK: And why doesn`t President Obama ask for exactly that? So I`m a
Democrat, but I`ve got to tell you, sequestration was an administration
idea. It simply was.
TANDEN: In the context of trying to not have the default.
BLACK: I know why they did it, and, yes, the Republicans are involved
every step of the way. But it was actually designed -- and indeed what
hasn`t been in the press but I`ve written about is the president opposed it
when the Republicans tried to get rid of the trigger, and then he actually
issued a veto threat when they tried to get rid of it later when the super
committee was doing.
So this is one where there`s a lot of complicity, and where the
administration has not been willing to come forward with a clean deal and
just say get rid of the stupid sequestration, which is the right answer.
And that`s telling you that the president was trying for what he calls the
grand bargain, what I call the great betrayal --
HAYES: Look, I disagree with you on this. There`s this stupid litigation
that`s happening in D.C. about whose idea it was when it was passed by both
Houses of Congress and signed by the president.
ELLIS: Everybody is on board that therefore $1.2 trillion of deficit
BENNIS: They don`t represent everybody.
ELLIS: Bipartisan majorities of Congress and the president are on the
record of supporting $1.2 trillion -- I agree -- $1.2 trillion in deficit
reduction. I think we can get there with smart decisions that actually
make our country stronger and better. I mean, but I think that
sequestration, again, is a stupid, stupid idea, and needs to be stopped.
HAYES: So yes, right no, so everybody who`s watching in Congress, go to
work tomorrow, is today Sunday? Go to work tomorrow, if you`re in session,
which you never are. You will be in session for like half a day on
Thursday, maybe, but on the off chance you ever go to Congress, just pass a
one sentence bill that repeals sequestration.
I want to thank William Black of the University of Missouri Kansas City,
Steve Ellis, Taxpayers for Common Sense and Phyllis Bennis of the Institute
for Policy Studies.
All right, how real is the threat of cyber war? That`s next.
HAYES: An American computer security firm Mandiant this week released a
painstakingly detailed 600-page report that tracked Chinese hackers over a
span of six years. The report pinpoints the People Liberation Army`s Unit
61398 as relentlessly hacking U.S. government and business entities. The
report comes in the midst of what seems to be an escalation in cyber
attacks or at the very least an increase in media coverage of cyber
security issues. In late January, the New York Times reported that hackers
from China had infiltrated their network apparently trying to ferret out
the paper`s sources for its China coverage. The Wall Street Journal,
Washington Post and Bloomberg News also said they were hacked. The media
coverage of cyber security has been joined by a constant and growing drum
beat for action from government officials. In his State of the Union
speech, President Obama touted his new cyber security executive order, and
last year FBI Director Robert Mueller predicted cyber security would become
the top priority for the agency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: Counterterrorism and stopping terrorist
attacks for the FBI is a present No. 1 priority. But down the road, the
cyber threat, which cuts across all programs, will be the No. 1 threat to
the country. In the same way we changed to address terrorism, we have to
change to address cyber crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned of the threat last
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I want to urge each of you to add your
voice to those who support stronger cyber defenses for our country. In
closing, let me say something that I know the people of New York, along
with all Americans, will appreciate. Before September 11, 2001, the
warning signs were there. We weren`t organized, we weren`t ready, and we
suffered terribly for that lack of attention. We cannot let that happen
again. This is pre-9/11 moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The near apocalyptic rhetoric from the national security
establishment has been matched by a reorientation of the national security
state, both public and private, around cyber security over the last three
to five years. The Pentagon is dramatically expanding its cyber command,
adding more than 4,000 people to (ph) center (ph), up from 900 people, and
the FBI, DHS and DOD have all increased their cyber security staff and
budgets significantly over the past three years.
DelTech, which does research on the government contracting market,
estimates the federal government spent nearly $10 billion on cyber security
contracts in 2012.
So with both of media and national security state increasingly focusing on
cyber security, I want to step back and ask just how big is the actual
threat. Joining us now are Kim Peretti, chair of law firm Alston & Bird
Security Incident Management and Response Team, former senior litigator at
the Obama and Bush Justice Departments, Computer Crime and Intellectual
Property Section. And Brandon Valeriano, lecturer at the University of
Glasgow in the School of Social and Political Sciences, where he researches
the threat of cyber war. Back with us at the table, we have Michael
Hastings of Buzzfeed. We also have David Sanger, author of the book
"Confront and Conceal: Obama`s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American
Power," and chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times. His
reporting first revealed that the United States built and unleashed
Stuxnet, the cyber weapon sent to Iran to sabotage the country`s nuclear
program. And Gary McGraw, chief technology officer of Cigital, with a c, a
software security consulting firm.
OK, so I guess the first question is, and I want to like maybe
intentionally oversimplify just to litigate this up front, is when people
talk about the threat of cyber war, I as a citizen, like I don`t know, I
read what`s in the New York Times, there`s some classified information, and
my question is like, is this pre-9/11 warnings of al Qaeda or is this Iraq
and weapons of mass destruction? Because it seems to me like it could be
either. It seems to me like this could be a completely overexaggerated
threat or it seems to me like maybe this is something that genuinely is
really worrisome and problematic.
DR. BRANDON VALERIANO, UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW: I worry that`s (inaudible)
over-exaggeration of the threat. We need to be concerned about cyber
activities, cyber attacks, but it`s not necessarily something on the level
of terrorism or 9/11. It`s hyperbole, to me it is really troubling. And
it`s really this general nature that we have in America of the construction
of threats and what we fear, and I worry that we`ve gone too far with this.
HAYES: But back that up with data. Why do you say that?
VALERIANO: Well, me and my co-author, Ryan Meneso (ph), collected data on
cyber attacks, and we found that it`s very minimal in terms of actual
activity. And if you look at the magnitude, the magnitude is just not
there. Stuxnet is the greatest example of a cyber attack, but we`re not
actually clear how effective that was. And we haven`t seen a lot of other
HAYES: What do you think, Kim?
KIM PERETTI, ALSTON.COM: I mean, I have a little bit of a different
perspective. I think what`s really key is that cyber bad actors out there,
including nation states, have deep and prolonged access to military
systems, to government systems, to commercial systems, to just about every
industry. There`s deep and prolonged access by these adversaries. So we
are entirely dependent on what is their motive. What can they do with that
And right now we`ve seen very significant cyber espionage over a decade
stealing our trade secrets, stealing our negotiation strategies, our
blueprints. That is all quietly gone out the door. What happens if the
motives change? And there are examples where the motives have changed. We
have the situation of the financial services sector suffering these
distributed denial of service attacks. While it seems fairly benign to
take a website down for a couple of hours and not very painful, at the same
time, that`s destruction. That gets into the area of not just stealing
data but starting to destroy or starting to --
HAYES: Yes, but a DOS attack is like -- I don`t know, I feel like OK, are
we going to spend $20 billion on it? That`s not really the worry. The
worry is that they have access to something like the Chinese in that
article in the Times, the Chinese hacking unit, according to this report by
Mandiant, right, sought access to a software company whose software
controls oil and gas pipelines. Like, that is super scary.
PERETTI: Right, right, but it`s depending on the motive. That`s what I`m
saying. The motive of the threat actors that are in the systems right now.
HAYES: I see what you`re saying. Gary, you -- I saw a talk that you gave
that I thought was really useful in kind of distinguishing between a number
of different categories of this activity. To be clear about, what do we
mean when we`re talking about cyber war?
GARY MCGRAW, CIGITAL.COM: So I guess there`s a big confusion when it comes
to the term cyber whatever it is.
And I think we have to distinguish --
HAYES: I thought we were doing three blocks on cyber sex today, so I`m
actually really confused about this whole conversation, but continue.
MCGRAW: So we have to distinguish between cyber war, cyber espionage and
cyber crime. And in the lead-in piece, you had the FBI director say cyber
crime is important. That`s absolutely true. The Mandiant story is about
cyber espionage, and all of the apocalyptic scare stories are about cyber
war, which we haven`t seen yet, exempt for with Stuxnet.
And so the question is how likely is this stuff to happen? I think that we
do need to worry about the risks and we need to do something about them.
But what we need to do about them is build our systems properly so that
they`re harder to attack, especially when it comes to the kind of control
systems that you just mentioned.
HAYES: David, Stuxnet -- Gary just mentioned Stuxnet, and I think the
grand irony here is as we talk about the threat of cyber war, the most
concrete example we have of genuine physical destruction being engineered
by essentially a cyber war -- offensive cyber war operation is in fact
pulled off by the United States in tandem with Israel.
DAVID SANGER, NEW YORK TIMES: That`s absolutely right, Chris. And the
Stuxnet attack, which was really part of a much broader classified program
called Olympic Games, started in the Bush administration and was
accelerated in the Obama administration, is perhaps the leading edge of
what a highly sophisticated state can do. And it would be very difficult
for an individual hacker, a terrorist group to pull off. And that`s, I
think, one reason that the cautions that you`ve heard here from Mr.
Valeriano and others are absolutely accurate. That you want to distinguish
between cyber espionage, which is basically espionage by more high-tech
means, and attacks on infrastructure.
What made Olympics Games different -- and Stuxnet was just one variant of
the virus, it`s the one that escaped in the summer of 2010 -- was that it
went right after the computer controllers that ran the centrifuges that
enrich uranium in Iran. Now, those same kind of computer controllers are
very generic and they control all kinds of other things. You can imagine
them in power grids, you can imagine their role in factory production and
so forth. And so the fact that the United States was able, with Israel`s
help, to get into Iran, to do so even though that system was separated from
the web and it took human beings to go put it in, tells you what can be
done. It`s also difficult to do.
HAYES: I want to talk about what the Stuxnet precedent means. And also
what is -- what kind of deterrents there are out there. Right? Because it
seems to me like we`re in a situation of a classic arms race. Everyone is
scared that everyone else is going to have cyber war capabilities, so
they`re arming up with cyber war capabilities, which then will lead to
cyber war, so I want to see how that can be prevented, right after this
HAYES: So the Stuxnet virus, which was covered -- the story was broken by
David Sanger, it`s precipitated a Department of Justice investigation into
who talked to David Sanger about the Stuxnet program. It does seem to me
like a precedent, in that you have this -- it`s different when data is
interacting with data, right? You`re stealing data, and it`s all staying
in the world of data. This is physical destruction precipitated by a hack.
And so my question to you is, you and your co-author looked at, you know,
attacks thus far, but to me the issue is in the future, right? If this can
be done, what is deterring, what`s the logic of deterrence in the world of
cyber war that`s going to stop us from seeing more attacks like this?
VALERIANO: Sure. And I term it restraint. I`m not sure you necessarily
want to use the word deterrence, because that`s so associated with nuclear
warfare, but basically the precedent is collateral damage is a real
problem. That was certainly an aspect that David talked a lot about in his
book that was excellent.
The other thing is blowback and replication. That if we use these weapons,
they can come right back at us or they`ll be let loose into the wild, which
is what happened with Stuxnet and Flame. So that`s the real problem with
cyber attacks. It`s not like a missile, you shoot it, it`s gone and it
blows up. There`s nothing left. The cyber attacks can come right back at
HAYES: And Stuxnet actually did get out into the wild, like you said. And
David, was the White House aware of the -- was that part of the logic here
thinking about what kind of precedent are we setting for blowback and
possible revenge attacks?
SANGER: Well, Chris, as I reported in the book, President Obama in the
Situation Room meetings that he had held, was quite concerned about the
fact that when the word of Olympic Games got out, and he knew eventually it
would, that it would be used by others who might not follow the same rules
the United States does to justify attacks on the U.S. or others.
And one reason that you knew that the Stuxnet virus was written by a state
with lawyers involved is that it had a sell-by date in it. It actually
expired in mid-2012. That`s something that hackers don`t tend to do.
Let me get back to your point about deterrence, though. That`s very
important, because there`s a great tendency here to overanalogize with the
nuclear world, and of course that doesn`t always work. On the one hand, a
cyber weapon is not going to do the kind of damage that a nuclear weapon
will, at least to human beings, right, in the first order, unless there`s a
complete wipeout of a country`s emergency response systems and electricity
and so forth.
But secondly, they are harder to trace the source than a nuclear weapon.
You could sit in a mountain in the nuclear age in Colorado and watch the
incoming Soviet missile or the mistaken (ph) view, but in a cyber attack it
runs through many false servers, and it may take weeks or months to sort of
who the attacker really is, which was the key to the Mandiant report.
MCGRAW: That`s a super important point.
HAYES: Yes, Gary.
MCGRAW: Super important point. So the Mandiant thing probably took weeks
or months to put together that report, and they`re talking about --
SANGER: Years, actually, yes.
MCGRAW: -- an attack that was five years, six years in the making. You
know, it`s espionage, so these servers had been taken over, so you just
look through the log files and you do what`s called forensics to get to the
bottom of it.
In a cyber war attack, things are going to happen fast, in fact at super
human speed. And so this notion of watching the missile come in and taking
20 minutes to figure out what to do about it, that`s not going to happen in
a real cyber war attack.
I want to get to the point of deterrence, though. I think that we do have
a real possibility for deterrence, and in the United States we`re one of
the only countries that can do it, and the deterrence would be building
systems that are much harder to attack, that have much fewer
vulnerabilities, and that would kill all three birds that we were talking
about in the beginning of the show with one stone. You know, so to speak.
Cyber war, cyber espionage, cyber crime, they all have the same root cause,
and that is systems that were built without security in mind. We have to
fix that. We have to realize we`re living in a glass house and fix it.
HAYES: The takeaway to me, when you get beneath the hype, is that the
thing that seems inescapable, a lot of our systems are just super
VALERIANO: Yes, they are.
HAYES: As a matter of fact, whether the cyber war threat where state
actors exploiting those vulnerabilities has been hyped up, the actual state
of how open our systems are is pretty haggard.
MCGRAW: That`s really an important point, you know, because a lot of
people just get so stuck in the hype that they don`t think about the actual
risk and the actual vulnerability. Instead it`s all this apocalyptic
nonsense. So we have to realize there`s some truth to this risk and there
is some truth to the threat, and we have to deal with it like adults.
PERETTI: Two things on it, though. I think absolutely that we need to
raise the bar of our security standards, of our -- the security in our
systems. Some industries are much better than other industries, but some
industries are woefully inadequate in this space, and we need to get the
security defenses where they need to be.
But at the same time, if it is a state-sponsored attack that`s going to
happen on a system, a targeted attack by a nation state actor, they`re
going to get in no matter what the level of security is. So keeping in
mind that even if we had a state-of-the-art security system in place at a
commercial entity, if you`re targeted by unlimited resources by a nation
state actor, they`re likely going to get in.
HAYES: I want to get your response, Brandon, and you, Gary, and also talk
about one of the strange things about this is the kind of blurred line
between public and private, both in targets being private firms by state
actors, and also in the world of cyber security, which seems to me there`s
quite a monetary interest for a lot of firms to hype the threat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, there is.
HAYES: So I want to talk about that right after we take this break.
HAYES: Michael Hastings, you`ve been covering wars, conventional wars for
a while, and you had a question for Brandon.
HASTINGS: Brandon or David, who reported on this, what do you think our
response would be if we were Stuxnet? What is the U.S.`s -- do we have an
official policy on it or how do you think we would respond?
VALERIANO: We have said -- well, America has said that they will use
conventional attacks if a cyber attack was perpetrated against them. And
that`s the problem.
HASTINGS: Conventional -- so we would use --
VALERIANO: We would view it as a missile on our --
HAYES: If a virus got in and messed up some centrifuges or took out an air
defense or blew up an oil pipeline, right, anything like that.
VALERIANO: Yes. That`s the fear, making non-kinetic violence kinetic
violence. Going from digital to actual conventional, and this is probably
going too far with the cyber threat.
HASTINGS: David, have you, talking to your sources in Washington, what is
their thinking about this? Is it as Brandon says that they`re ready to go
hard if they get hit with the Stuxnet type virus?
SANGER: I think I`ve heard something a little different. If you read the
Pentagon policy, it is that they would use proportional force, and they
have not said whether or not it would be a return cyber attack or whether
it could go to conventional. I think they want to leave open the
possibility that it could go conventional.
The reality is that every cyber attack that I`m aware of that the United
States has ordered against another state, and Iran has been obviously the
biggest case -- there were some minor cases during the Iraq war, and I
think a few uses in Afghanistan -- have had to go to the president. And in
fact, this is considered a weapon like nuclear weapons and to some degree
like drone attacks, where the president has got to sign off on specific
uses, or at least routine uses of it. There haven`t been any routine uses
that I`m aware of.
However, if you don`t leave open the possibility that there could be a
conventional response, then you may have lowered the threat perception on
the other side about what the response could look like, and you might
encourage further attacks. I think the U.S. would only respond if there
was an attack on American infrastructure. Clearly, the U.S. has not
responded to many attacks on American companies, even defense companies.
HAYES: And this gets to this point of the sort of public/private nexus.
You have private victims of state attacks, if we believe the Mandiant
report. But you also have an industry now-- my fear is, there is a lot of
money in cyber security. I mean, it is a trough. I want to play quickly
this clip, Menlo Ventures managing director Mark Siegel talking about
investment opportunities in the world of cyber security. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On this issue of cyber security, I was actually at
the Council on Foreign Relations last night speaking about cyber security,
listening to someone else speak about how this is being handled, let`s say,
from a policy standpoint. But as far as a businessman and an investor,
this creates big opportunities for you. What are you seeing in this space,
how many more candidates are you seeing that you may eventually back?
MARK SIEGEL, MANAGING DIRECTOR, MENLO VENTURES: Well, there`s a lot of
security startups, so I guess the best thing you could ever hope for as a
venture capitalist is a problem that`s never solved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s really the worry, Gary, right? Like what we are creating is
a problem that`s never solved, and then we`ve got a huge crony capitalist
complex built around these security contracts, and then I really do have a
hard time separating reality from threat.
MCGRAW: That`s true, that`s all true. The thing is, you know, the part
that worries me about the discourse in Washington, where I`m based, by the
way, is this overemphasis on offense, and the idea that, you know, if we
build more Stuxnets and even more sophisticated cyber weapons, nobody will
attack us. And it`s kind of like piling up rocks while you live in a glass
house. And we`ve been throwing rocks, and I believe what the Department of
Defense wants to do, if I understand it, David, I`d be interested in what
you think about this, is figure out how to throw rocks faster and more
accurately. You know, and somebody has to say, wait, wait, we`re in a
glass house, let`s work on that first.
SANGER: You definitely have two different senses of this, because the
military is out there to throw -- to throw rocks, to figure out how to go
do offense. And if you look at how the government has organized itself,
defense is the job of the FBI and Homeland Security, and offense is the job
of the Pentagon and the NSA.
HAYES: Right, and private firms can`t throw rocks, right, Kim? They just
have to be defense.
PERETTI: That`s right, that`s right.
MCGRAW: They`re not supposed to, but they`re talking about this active
against thing now, right?
PERETTI: I think we need to be creative in our strategies for prevention,
detection and response to cyber attacks. Because -- and I think we need to
develop these technologies, be creative in how we`re going to respond to an
attack, because a typical just compliance-based approach of checking
security controls off of a box doesn`t work anymore.
MCGRAW: At all.
PERETTI: At all. So building in different -- building in cyber
intelligence into cyber security strategies, understanding building in
information real-time threat or near real-time threat is what we need to
HAYES: David Sanger of the New York Times, thanks for joining us. Gary
McGraw from the software security firm Cigital, it`s great to have you
MCGRAW: Thank you.
HAYES: What you should know for the news week ahead coming up next.
HAYES: In just a moment, what we should know for the week ahead, but
first, a quick update on our discussions about the battle for free and open
information. A cause that Aaron Swartz spent much of his life fighting
for. Swartz committed suicide in January, and at the time of his death was
being prosecuted by the federal government and threatened for up to 35
years in prison and a million dollars in fines for downloading too many
free articles from the online database of scholarly works JSTOR. On
Friday, the White House responded to a White House petition asking for
federally funded research to be posted on the Internet by directing all
federal agencies to come up with plans to maximize free public access to
the results of federally funded scientific research. A small but important
step in making taxpayer funded research free and available to the people.
Way to go, White House.
So what should you know for the week coming up? You should know that next
term, the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to yet another campaign
finance reform measure. Alabama resident Sean McClutcheon (ph) will be
joined in his suit by the Republican National Committee, challenging the
federal limits on the total amount individuals can contribute within an
election cycle. You should know this aspect of campaign finance law, which
caps total contributions per cycle at $117,000 isn`t even widely known as
some fascinating data compiled by NUY`s Jennifer Earwig (ph) shows. More
than 1,000 big contributors have violated the federal aggregate limits sine
1980, with many donors exceeding the max in the most recent elections.
You should know that after taking some heat, the Associated Press has
changed its style guidelines for how it refers to gay ant lesbian people
who are married. Formerly, the AP guidelines reserved the terms husband
and wife only to refer to members of heterosexual married couples,
instructing writers to use, quote, "couples" or "partners" for those in
same-sex marriages. They have now changed their guidelines, so it reads,
"Regardless of sexual orientation, husband or wife is acceptable in all
references to individuals in any legalized, legally recognized marriages."
You should know that evidence of monumental social change often appears in
the tiny spaces within sentences.
You should know tonight is the 85th Academy Awards in Los Angeles. You
should know we`ve been lucky enough to interview two nominees this past
year on "UP with Chris Hayes." In November, we had one of my intellectual
and artistic idols, Tony Kushner, legendary playwright who wrote the
screenplay for "Lincoln." He is nominated for an Oscar in the category of
best adapted screenplay, and in September we had on the show David France,
the director of one of the most riveting, moving, powerful films I`ve ever
seen in my entire life. It`s called "How to Survive a Plague," and it
chronicles the work of ACT UP, as it fought to save the lives of people
dying of the AIDS epidemic, by forcing those in power to do the right
thing. The best work of art about social movements I`ve ever seen, and you
should know the competition in the documentary category is tough, with a
number of fantastic documentaries out this year. But even if "How to
Survive a Plague" doesn`t win, you should do whatever it takes to see it.
Luckily, it`s streaming on Netflix, so it`s just a click away.
And finally, you should know I`ll be sitting in for Lawrence O`Donnell on
"The Last Word" this Wednesday and Thursday night for those uppers out
there who are not naturally morning people, you will be able to watch with
a beer instead of coffee.
Want to find out what my guests think you should know for the week ahead.
TANDEN: You should know that even though it`s before noon, I think I can
say transvaginal probe.
TANDEN: Both Indiana and Wisconsin are trying to pass transvaginal probe
laws. In fact, Indiana has a proposal that is even more invasive, that
requires women to have two probes and even have a probe before taking RU-
46. And if you have that facial expression, just think about how women
across the country feel about the idea.
HAYES: Michael Hastings.
HASTINGS: Chris, you mentioned Aaron Swartz, and as a sort of -- just to
tie the discussion we are having, one little point I wanted to make, he has
sort of become collateral damage in this sort of cyber warfare, I think,
and there is a number of other people, one of them is a former colleague of
mine, Barrett Brown, who is an unofficial spokesperson for Anonymous, who
is currently in jail for his civil disobedience activities relating to --
relating to the Internet and some of the activities he`s alleged to have
been involved in.
So I just think we as a government, we should just be careful. I`ve talked
to friends in Silicon Valley who said, look, we do not want to go after our
most talented and rambunctious youth and throw them all in jail for 20
years because they are hacking and doing things like that. We have to be
careful that we don`t just throw everybody into jail who get caught up in
sort of collateral damage of the cyber war.
HAYES: Kim Peretti?
PERETTI: You should know that as long as we are talking cyber security and
cyber warfare, last week was a watershed time. We had the administration
strategy for mitigating trade secret theft, we had the executive order on
critical infrastructure, the presidential policy directive on cyber
security, major accomplishments as far as moving forward in the area of
HAYES: Yes, I mean, there`s no question, it`s a genuine priority of the
administration. They have made that very clear. He talked about it in the
State of the Union. And I think I continue to want to make sure that it
doesn`t develop in the way that other threat industries have developed in
VALERIANO: Yes. And in relation to that, you should know that the cyber
community is trying to make themselves exempt from this sequestration
debate. And the worry there is that America will start to develop
offensive weapons. It`s not so much what America will do, but what China
and Russia will do in response to that development.
HAYES: Yes, so the thing we should be looking for is, we are talking about
Stuxnet, or what Gary is talking about, the difference between offense and
defense is really key in understanding this area.
I want to thank my guests. Neera Tanden from the Center for American
Progress, Michael Hastings, author of "Panic 2012: The Sublime and
Terrifying Inside Story of Obama`s Final Campaign." Kim Peretti, with the
law firm Alston & Bird, and Brandon Valeriano, from the University of
Glasgow. Thank you all.
Thank you for joining us. We`ll be back next weekend Saturday and Sunday
at 8:00 Eastern time. Our guests will include "Top Chef" star Tom
Colicchio, talking about hunger and the politics of food, and he promises a
makeover for the up pastry plate. Coming up next is "Melissa Harris-
Perry." On today`s "MHP," the constitution and the court this year so much
is on the line. Voting rights, marriage equality, affirmative action, and
the integrity of our democratic process. Melissa has set the table with an
overload of constitutional brainy goodness. That`s "MHP" coming up next.
We`ll see you next week here on UP.
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