All In With Chris Hayes, Wednesday, August 17th, 2013
Read the transcript from the Wednesday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
April 17, 2013
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Guests: Richard Blumenthal, Lori Haas, Donald Borelli, Hina Shamsi, Esther Armah
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Thank you for joining us on what is probably simultaneously the most active
and the most confusing news day of the year.
If you had cable news on TV today, like we did here at 30 Rock, or if
you were watching your twitter feed or checking in on the Internet at all,
you saw a lot of reporting thrown around that did not make a lot of sense.
So, we`re going to try to make sense of it all right now.
Here`s what we actually know. Here`s the confirmed reporting on the
Boston marathon bombing case right now. NBC News has learned that
investigators have obtained video of a person placing a black bag down near
the scene of the blast and that authorities are looking to question that
The footage has been described to NBC as providing, quote, solid leads
in the case.
As we told you last night, the FBI found black nylon bag fragments at
the blast site and believe that`s how the devices were transported to the
scene. The FBI has also recovered pieces of the devices themselves, those
pressure cooker bombs. And since last night, "The Associated Press" has
obtained official FBI photos of those fragments.
We can also report tonight on the identity of the third fatality
victim of the bombing. Her name is Lingzi Lu. She was a Chinese citizen
and grad student of mathematics and statistics at Boston University. Her
father told NBC News today that she was an only child and her parents had
declined interview requests because, quote, "every time we speak about
this, it is like a dagger in our hearts."
She was watching the marathon with two other students. One of whom
was injured in the explosion and is in stable condition at Boston Medical
Center. There are still about 60 people in Boston hospitals who were
injured in the explosions, 12 of them still in critical condition.
A law enforcement news conference was planned for this evening, but
that was postponed by federal officials. OK, now, if you had the
misfortune of watching those developments that I just recited play out in
real time today, you may well have just lost the thread entirely on the
day`s events, because this -- this is what it looked like in real time.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JOHN KING, CNN: An arrest has been made, both federal source and my
Boston source say an arrest has been made.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A federal law enforcement source tells me that
an arrest has been made.
KING: A federal source told her an arrest has been made.
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: A suspect is about to be arrested. The
suspect is to be taken into custody by federal marshals and taken to a
courthouse. That tells us a lot. And that tells us they`ve got him.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: One arrest, no understand really, even though this
vague description of brown skin, whether foreign or domestic.
KELLY: And now, it is being told to FOX News -- to a FOX News
reporter, indeed, an arrest has been made.
CUOMO: According to "The A.P.", the suspect has been taken by U.S.
Marshals to a federal courthouse.
KELLY: We are being told by our foxnews.com reporter that an arrest
has been made.
CUOMO: Take a half a step back, this has accelerated incredibly
KELLY: Some are also reporting that an arrest and some are reporting
that that is not the case. Here`s the truth, we don`t know.
CUOMO: Juliette, we`re getting some conflicting reports about an
arrest. We have Tom Fuentes with us right now. Tom?
TOM FUENTES, CNN ANALYST: OK, I have actually three separate sources,
but two that are very highly placed and close to the investigation that
have just told me that there`s been no arrest.
CUOMO: OK. Now, that would be, you know, we don`t know what`s right
or not right at this point. As Anderson always says, you don`t want to go
down the road of speculation wrongfully.
KELLY: No arrests have been made in connection with the Boston
marathon bombings and that`s all we can say for sure.
HAYES: Let`s just take a moment to appreciate the evolution of bad
journalism at work here. First, around 1:45 this afternoon, CNN has the
big breaking news, arrest made in bombings case.
By 2:17 p.m., as the pushback has begun to roll it, they are maybe
doubting themselves. It`s just breaking news with no further description.
Something somewhere is breaking, America, we just can`t tell you what it
Then, around 2:30, the breaking news is conflicting reports on bomb
arrest. Yes, conflicting because CNN is reporting something that conflicts
with what is actually happening in the world.
And then, finally, at 2:43, they relent and report the Justice
Department says no arrest has been made.
Notice, though, they are still counting that as breaking news.
Breaking news, the breaking news we`ve been bringing you for the past hour
is totally and completely bogus.
This wasn`t just some abstraction happening on cable news that no one
was paying attention to, and I understand people make mistakes. But the
bungling of the story today mattered.
This is video outside the courthouse in Boston after all that
frenzied, factually inaccurate reporting this afternoon, a crowd has
gathered. And to be sure, a lot of these people are reporters and media
folks, but a good healthy number of them, according to NBC`s now producer
on the ground there today, were people who show up in hopes of seeing a
suspect brought in.
And among them were likely anguished, angry people whose city has just
been through a terrible trauma who wanted to see with their own eyes
someone suspected of being responsible for it, a suspect who would not even
exist yet but who they were told by the news was already in custody.
And the one thing people knew about the suspect, the only thing they
thought they knew for sure, thanks to CNN`s reporting was the following
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It was described to me as a dark-skinned male individual.
I was told by one of these sources who was a law enforcement official
that this was a dark-skinned male.
Source had been briefed on the investigation, I should say, that the
suspect was a dark-skinned male.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Forget about the fact that CNN got wrong the information they
said they had. Just explain to me precisely what news value exists in the
adjective "dark skinned."
What exactly that`s newsworthy is communicated in that phrase, a dark-
skinned individual could be my swarthier Italian American relatives or the
Ethiopian who won the Boston marathon before it was bombed on Monday and
everyone in between.
No, that`s not the purpose of that phrase. That phrase is not there
to convey journalistic information. What dark-skinned actually
communicates, with a wink and a nod is aha, all you folks who thought it
was a bad Muslim who did this, you nailed it. And if you had al Qaeda in
your own private vetting pool, you were right.
Because, of course, let`s be honest, that is the subtext that suffuses
all of this. That is what our collective suicidal id is pushing us
towards. But our job, our job in the media is not to flatter those knee-
jerk presumptions for the sake of momentary titillation. It`s to wrestle
that id to the ground and get the facts right.
So, let`s go back to what we do know about the investigation at this
hour and for that let`s go to NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams.
Pete, thank you very much and thank you for getting things right
I want to ask you what we do know about how the investigation`s
developed and how you would characterize the progress that is being made,
given there was no arrest today, there is no single identified suspect, but
nevertheless, it does seem like the last 24 hours have been quite good from
the standpoint of progressing through this investigation.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think they
consider it very promising, and here`s the reason. They`ve been asking for
pictures, they have what they believe are pretty important pictures that
show from several different angles a young man at the second -- at the
scene of the second bombing talking on a cell phone, setting down a
backpack, and then dashing away just before that bomb explodes.
They don`t know who it is. They have a good look at that person, and
they are eager to do three things: figure out who that person is, find
them, and talk to them. And we are told they haven`t done any of those
things yet, but there are several angles that they are working to try to
figure out the identity of that person.
The fact that the person was talking on a cell phone is important,
because they can now try to go back to cell phone records and look at
probably thousands of people who are on their cell phone at that time and
start to work through that.
So, they`ve got the picture, they`ve got the cell phones, and they can
start now to work back and see if they can look at other pictures now and
trace the movement of that person through the crowd, through all the
pictures that they have. So, it`s a very, very promising lead. Can`t call
that person a suspect yet, because you never know. It could turn out to be
innocent behavior, but it`s one of the most promising things that they
have, and they are working very aggressively to follow up on it.
HAYES: I remember in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, of
course, there as that famous and iconic police sketch of the suspect and
then when Timothy McVeigh was apprehended, everyone saw this tremendous
resemblance between the two.
And I guess the question is, if they do have an image of this person,
are there plans to release that image to the public for the sake of
publicizing who this person is?
WILLIAMS: Plans, no. They have thought about it. It cuts both ways,
because if they think they can`t make any progress in determining who it
is, then they probably will release it, but probably will do that only when
they think they have run out the string that they have, because releasing
the picture causes all sorts of problems. It alerts the person that they
are on to them. It also causes all sorts of calls that come in from people
WILLIAMS: -- who will falsely say they think they know who it is.
You know, that`s the price of asking for public tips, you take the
good with the bad. You know, it may come to that if they need to do that.
It`s certainly something they`ve thought about.
HAYES: I want to ask you, finally, about the ricin question. This
has been this crazy sort of subsidiary story in the aftermath of Boston, a
series of letters tested positive for ricin sent to federal officials,
lawmakers, Roger Wicker, Senator Carl Levin, the president himself. We
have an arrest now I understand of a man named Kenneth Curtis of Tupelo,
Mississippi, as a suspect in that case.
Can you tell us the latest on that?
WILLIAMS: Well, the letters were sent to an Army laboratory just
outside Washington, in Fort Detrick, Maryland, for testing because these
initial field tests are often inaccurate. What I`m told is that after
doing 24 to 36 hours` worth of lab tests, they have a sort of mixed picture
on it. That the tests show it`s something, but they don`t know the potency
of it. Is it really dangerous levels of ricin or is it merely sort of a
junior league version of it and they are trying to find out whether it
really is dangerous or not.
And so, they are doing more testing. In the meantime, you`re right.
They have arrested this suspect in Mississippi. It`s someone that they`ve
been watching closely for the past 24 hours or so, because they had thought
as of last night this was the person who sent the letters.
It`s someone who`s written to Congress many times before, well known
to the Capital Police. So we just don`t know whether this guy`s going to
be appearing in court tonight to face the charges or whether that will be
And what the charges he`ll ultimately face will depend on the results
of the test. If it turns out not harmful, that`s one level of charge,
sending threatening levels. If it turns out to be a poison, that would be
a much more serious charge.
HAYES: And, quickly, we should state the FBI said there`s no reason
to suspect at this point any link between the Boston marathon bombing and
WILLIAMS: Right. The FBI, I think, goes a little stronger than that
and says there isn`t any.
HAYES: There isn`t any.
NBC`s Pete Williams, thank you very much and thank you for your
excellent work over the last few days. Really appreciate it.
WILLIAMS: You bet.
HAYES: Up next, why our political system has zero tolerance for
terrorism fatalities but it`s fine with 30,000 gun deaths a year.
Stay with us.
HAYES: If you want to see visible anger unlike any we`ve seen in
recent memory coming from the president of the United States, you will see
it and then some in his Rose Garden address after a Senate minority killed
gun reform. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The ayes are 54, the
nays are 46. Under the previous order requiring 60 votes to the adoption
of this amendment, the amendment is not agreed to.
SPECTATOR: Shame on you!
BIDEN: Order in the Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The grim irony of the past few days is that as cable news is
going to 24-hour wall-to-wall coverage and the country`s attention was
drawn to the latest mass casualty event, away from the cameras on Capitol
Hill, Republican senators were quietly filibustering and with that vote
killed last meaningful piece of legislation to address the last mass
casualty event, the one with just a few months ago, that one we all paid a
great deal of attention to, the Newtown shootings.
The cycle is the same, something horrible happens, we all watch it
happen in real time and we all feel terrible and we all want to know who
were the perpetrators, what are the circumstances, and why did it happen.
And we get some inkling of why it happened. We begin to have a discussion
of what the implications are for policy, what we might actually do to
prevent something from this happening again in the future.
When it`s guns, when the killer is a shooter, the answer is nothing.
We are told this just happens. But if it gets put in a special category
called terrorism, then the answer is, everything must be done, no cost
should be spared, no legal precedent should stand in the way.
Once it gets put in the terrorism bucket, we must do everything in our
power. No one ever says people are going to die from terrorism, that`s
just the way it is.
And if it`s in the gun bucket, yes, 30,000 people are going to die
every year from guns. That`s just the way it is.
Why is that the case?
In the last 30 years, there have been 30,000 to 40,000 gun deaths in
the United States per year, more than 900,000 people. In the last 40 years
since 1970, there have been about 3,400 terror-related deaths, depending on
precisely how you define terror according to the integrated United States
security database. More than 900,000 fatalities over three years, a
million gun fatalities in the 33 years since 1980 versus 3,400 terror
fatalities since 1970, 43 years.
Now, there`s a reason why terrorism has a significance and justifiably
so, it`s that the ideological political violence does a sort of violence to
the social contract itself that is distinct, and menacing, horrible. It
distorts society in a specific and special way, a way that a very deranged
murderous kid in a school with a gun doesn`t.
With the terrorist act, the perpetrator removes himself from the
social contract we all have, to resolve ideological disputes in a
nonviolent fashion. But the scale of mismatch between how our political
system responds to one kind of death versus the other is shocking,
particularly on a day when we`re watching this gun bill go down in flames.
In a seemingly unrelated Homeland Security hearing today, Senator
Claire McCaskill raised an incredibly intriguing question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Based on the evidence at this
point, is there any difference between Sandy Hook and Boston other than the
choice of weapon?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The answer, which Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano
conceded is no. There`s a difference so far only methodology. Underlying
the arguments used by opponents of gun safety measures is the implied
position that 30,000 people are going to die each year of guns and that`s
the way it has to be. Those people are murders in the altar of the Second
Amendment. It`s the price of freedom.
And it is absolutely true that some number of horrible events is, in
fact, the price of freedom. You cannot have total security without the
country becoming a police state. We expose ourselves to risk by getting
out of the house in the morning, getting in a car, going into a public
space. But there is a bizarre and perverse mismatch in our political
culture about what risks are acceptable and what are not, depending on what
the implement of violence is or what the origin of the perpetrator is.
So, today, the Manchin/Toomey background check amendment, the gun
bill, the watered down compromise, failed to pass the Senate`s agreed upon
filibuster of 60. Keep in mind, it got 54 votes, four more votes that
necessary to pass if it had been allowed an actual up-or-down vote. It was
President Obama responded to the loss with bracing indignation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The gun lobby and its
allies willfully lied about the bill. And unfortunately this pattern of
spreading untruths about this legislation served a purpose, because those
lies upset an intense minority of gun owners and that, in turn, intimidated
a lot of senators.
I heard some say that blocking this step would be a victory. And my
question is, a victory for who? A victory for what? Victory for not doing
something that 90 percent of Americans, 80 percent of Republicans, the vast
majority of your constituents wanted to get done?
It begs the question, who are we here to represent?
So, all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Opponents lied saying this bill created a gun registry when it
did exactly the opposite, created a 15-year prison sentence for anyone
creating a gun registry.
Opponents used the tried and true filibuster to prevent a regular up-
or-down. And so, as we follow the developments out of Boston, as we leave
no stone unturned attempting to find the perpetrator, another 88 or so
people will lose their life to a bullet tomorrow and the day after that and
the day after that. Meanwhile, we`ll all worry that if the suspect who
blew up the finish line in Boston isn`t caught, we can`t be sure that we`re
We`ll be right back with Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and
the mother of Virginia Tech student that was shot in that school`s massacre
six years ago this week. What was their reaction as the Senate vote went
down today? That`s next.
HAYES: We`re joined by Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat from
Connecticut who pleaded for support from the Senate floor, the
Manchin/Toomey gun bill, before it was killed by a minority vote.
Senator, I want to first just get your reaction to today`s vote. What
is your take away from what happened in the Senate chamber today?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: It was a shameful day. Not
only for Washington, D.C., but for the nation, a real indictment of our
democracy that there were 55 votes in the Senate, 90 percent of Americans,
a vast majority of gun owners and even NRA members, and yet we failed to
meet the 60-vote threshold, and it was heartbreaking.
The hardest part of the day was really trying to explain to the
families from Newtown and Virginia Tech and other victim families how
democracy could fail to work so deplorably.
HAYES: What did you tell those -- I mean, what would you like to tell
those victims` families, I don`t know if you got to talk to them, but when
you heard that one woman say, "shame on you," what went through your head?
BLUMENTHAL: Well, first of all, I spent some time with the Newtown
families after the vote, and I will tell you, they are resolute and
resilient as they`ve been since December 14th, and really inspired me. I
said to one of them, you know, we`re not done. And she looked at me
without skipping a bit and said, we`re not even close to done.
BLUMENTAL: So, they are coming back. This cause is not going away.
And my hope is that my colleagues will heed and hear the outrage that I
hope America will express, not just from the gallery, as I heard today on
the floor of the Senate, but really all around the nation so that people
can be swayed by that majority, that silent majority, may be too silent.
HAYES: I want to ask you about members of your own party. This --
even if every Democrat had voted for the measure under the 60-vote
threshold that been agreed to, to avoid a Republican filibuster, even if
every Democrat had voted for it, it still would have fallen one vote shy.
But four members of your caucus, Senator Heitkamp, Senator Begich, Senator
Baucus, and Senator Pryor, all voted to essentially sustain a filibuster of
this piece of legislation.
Have you had conversations with those colleagues of yours and how do
you feel about that?
BLUMENTHAL: Over the last weeks, Chris, I have talked to just about
every one of my colleagues, and many of them on the other side of the
aisle, but let`s be very blunt politically, we needed Republican votes.
Even if we had all the Democrats, we still needed a bipartisan support, and
that was the reason why the compromise forged by Senators Toomey and
Manchin was so critically important. It would have been a vast improvement
on the current law. Nowhere near as strong as I might have preferred or --
BLUMENTHAL: -- nowhere near as strong as many, including myself, but
the point here is that we need a bipartisan vote. There should be nothing
Democrat or Republican about supporting gun safety, and I think the brunt
of it may well fall on Republicans.
HAYES: Very quickly, Senator, what should be done next? It seems to
me if the current package is voted through, everybody gets to say they did
something, and in some ways that`s the most perverse result, or do you
think what`s left in the package is salvageable or meaningful enough you
want to see that passed out of the Senate?
BLUMENTHAL: This bill is coming back, Chris, there`s no running away
from it, and the Connecticut effect that the NRA hope would dissipate, it
said so specifically is not going away. So, I think a strengthened bill
and some measure of bipartisan compromise is still very much reachable.
Remember, four and a half months ago this issue was thought to be
politically untouchable. Now, we came very close to victory because the
Newtown families turned the tide.
HAYES: Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you for joining us tonight.
Let`s go to Laurie Haas, who yelled from the Senate gallery that the
voting member should be ashamed of themselves, was escorted out. Her
daughter Emily was shot twice at Virginia Tech six years ago this week and
Laurie, what caused you to yell out at that moment?
LORI HAAS, MOTEHR OF VA TECH SURVIVOR: Frankly, I was disgusted and
ashamed myself for the senators who are voting the wrong way. I can`t
imagine what their thought process was and how they are going to explain it
to their constituents and the rest of America.
HAYES: The president today talked about, obviously, the Newtown
families have been very visible in this lobbying effort and as well as
family members of those who died in Tucson and some in Aurora and Virginia
I want to play you some sound of the president talking about criticism
that he was, quote, using the victims` families as props. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I`ve heard folks say that having the families of victims lobby
for this legislation was somehow misplaced. "A prop," somebody called
them. "Emotional blackmail," some outlets said. Are they serious?
Do we really think that thousands of families whose lives have been
shattered by gun violence don`t have a right to weigh in on this issue? Do
we think their emotions, their loss is not relevant to this debate?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I wonder what your reaction is to that, Lori.
LORI HAAS, DAUGHTER KILLED IN NEWTOWN MASSACRE: Well, I agree with
him wholeheartedly. If I can`t speak to what happened to my daughter,
Emily, laying on the classroom floor -- she got shot twice in the back of
the head. You know, I heard your comments earlier. That was terrorism
laying in that classroom when the gunman came in three times.
Not only do I have the moral authority to speak to gun violence and
how it touched my family, I think I have an obligation. You know, friends
have said, Colin Goddard, I`m not doing this for me, I`m doing this for
someone else. You know, we want to stop the gun violence from harming and
hurting other families. All of the people that I work with -- I`ve talked
to people from Tucson and Aurora and Newtown. They are doing this because
they don`t want other families in America to be harmed by gun violence.
They don`t want that pain and suffering visited on anyone.
We all deserve to live free from gun violence. And we know what it`s
going to take. And these senators that voted the wrong way today, shame on
them. And we are determined and we are coming back. We`re not going
anywhere. I`ll be knocking on doors tomorrow.
HAYES: Let me ask you this question, the argument that ended up being
marshaled ultimately against the -- even the fairly moderate watered down
legislation offered in the Manchin-Toomey compromise was that it wouldn`t
actually prevent gun violence, that it was -- it was a kind of amazing
argument which the NRA argued to water it down. Once it was watered down,
they basically said this isn`t going to do much. I wonder what your
response to that is.
When you look at the actual scope of gun violence in this country and
the kind of legislation proposed, there genuinely is a mismatch between
what was proposed and the scope of gun violence. But how do you respond to
this argument about futility of the legislation?
HAAS: Who`s arguing the futility? Let`s be clear, it`s the gun lobby
that just wants to sell more guns. When we go to public safety experts,
the law enforcement, they tell us we need to stop criminals. And the best
way to do that is to do a background check on every buyer. We get our
information about public safety from those experts. We don`t listen to a
special interest group.
In Virginia, we know that criminals are arrested, you know, about 79
annually at gun shows attempting to buy firearms. That is a criminal
element. That`s who we`re -- exactly who we`re after, who we`re trying to
stop when we do a background check on all buyers. I just think it`s just,
you know, garbage, frankly. They want to stop the discussion and they want
to sell more guns.
I`d like to save lives, and I think Americans are with me. I think
after Sandy Hook, Americans became determined to do something about gun
violence in America. And after today`s vote, I think Americans are angry.
And I think those senators who voted no are going to hear from every
American. They`re going to hear from me. And I think most Americans are
going to be with me and are going to speak up, stand up, and let their
voices be heard.
HAYES: Lori Haas, currently working with Mayor Against Illegal Guns,
thank you for joining me tonight.
HAAS: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: We have a correction to make from earlier in the show in the
case of a letters sent to the Senate and the White House initially tested
positive for Ricin. Authorities at first identified the suspect in that
case as Kenneth Curis. They are now identifying the suspect as Kevin
Curtis, with a T.
We`ll be right back with Click Three.
HAYES: Last night I spoke about the disgraceful comments from Senator
Susan Collins, who said the Boston Marathon bomber should not be read
Miranda rights and should be held by a military tribunal if the suspect is
a foreign national. Make no mistake, when we find out who executed the
attack, there will be many advocating two different paths of justice. I`ll
explain coming up.
But first, I want to share the three awesomest things on the Internet
today. Click Three is back, beginning with a few online dispatches of good
news coming out of Boston. This report from "Mother Jones" was inspiring;
soldiers participating in something called the Tough Ruck 2013 started
Monday`s Boston Marathon before the other runners. They ran in full combat
gear, carrying 40-pound military backpacks, rucks, to honor their comrades
killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The soldiers were gathered near the finish line when the bombs went
off. They immediately sprang into action, aiding victims, pulling off
debris, assisting medics, and saving lives. One of the men supporting the
Tough Ruck group was Carlos Arredondo. Mr. Arredondo became an anti-war
activist after his son was killed in Iraq. During the chaos, he, too,
sprang into action. He helped save the life of another man`s son captured
in this amazing photo. Their unbelievable story is among the most viewed
and e-mailed on the "New York Times" website and worth your time as well.
The second awesomest thing on the Internet today came to us from our
Twitter fan, Skylar Hill, who told us "you need to see this Run for Boston
spreadsheet." A growing group of online organizers are showing their
support for the people of Boston through the act of running. Thousands of
people from all across the country have logged into this Google doc,
sharing how many miles they ran and why. Responses vary, "to support my
running family," "to keep fear from winning." A hash tag #RunForBoston has
also popped up. There`s also a Run For Boston Facebook page, where people
can upload photos of themselves post-run, and check out a map pinpointing
where all these amazing runners are. It`s almost enough to make someone as
fully distance running averse as myself go for a jog.
And the third awesomest thing on the Internet today came earlier this
afternoon amidst the chaos in conflicting and ultimately inaccurate
reporting from other news outlets. Hayes Brown from Think Progress Tweeted
out a link with this description, "CNN right now." Here`s what you see
when you click on that link, a GIF of a completely out of control inflated
yet frantic cartoon dinosaur on roller blades careening to his imminent
doom. This appears to be the runaway mascot from the Toronto Raptors. I
am, of course, anxiously awaiting the hologram version of this guy.
You can find all the links for tonight`s Click Three on our website,
AllInWithChris.com. We`ll be right back.
HAYES: Today this was the scene outside the federal courthouse in
Boston after several media outlets erroneously reported an arrest had been
made in the Boston Marathon bombings and the suspect was headed to the
courthouse. The reason why this moment is so charged is that when we
apprehend the suspect, we all know that our response will depend very much
on who the suspect is, their nationality, their ethnicity, their religion.
When we find out who did this, once again, depending on who it is,
there will be a tidal wave of political pressure to push them out of the
normal categories and structures of criminal law and into the categories
and structures to deal with terrorism that our political and judicial
system has constructed in the wake of 9/11. The fight will be whether to
treat him or her as a criminal in a federal court or as a terrorist in a
military tribunal, to treat the bombings of the Boston Marathon as a crime
or as an act of war.
Almost 12 years after September 11th, we are still operating within
the generally ad hoc legal regime, or at least conceptual framework that
the Bush administration created, centered on making a crucial distinction
between a criminal act and an act of terrorism. So the question we have to
ask now, faced with one of the most terrorizing attacks since 9/11 is, is
that the right way to think about what just happened? Does the distinction
between crime and terrorism clarify things and make us safer? Or does it
obscure what we should actually be keeping our eyes on?
Joining me at the table is Donald Borelli, former FBI special agent,
COO of the Sufan Group, security consultancy, Hina Shamsi, director for
ACLU`s National Security Project, and Esther Armah, journalist, author, and
radio host. It`s great to have you all here.
And I think there`s an extremely important point, precisely because
there was this early sort of contest and argument about whether the
president was using the word terror or not. He didn`t use it. And then
his officials said, behind the scenes, clearly an act of terror. The next
day he came out and said it was an act of terrorism. At some level, it was
sort of silly, stupid, political gotcha. But at another level, it`s really
important in how we all think about and react to what happens, right, if
something is terrorism or not.
I thought this Bill O`Reilly clip actually did a pretty good job of
exactly articulating how we think about those two things. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: U.S. intelligence, as I said, best in
the world. FBI, a first-rate organization. Talking points believes the
perps will be found and brought to justice and executed. But if this is --
if this is an international terror attack, the repercussions will be
severe. And if it`s home grown, that will be another stain on American
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Right, so brought to justice, but this other thing, which is
international terrorist attack. Donald, as someone who worked in the FBI
and has abroad on terror attacks, has worked at home on things that I think
fall under the rubric of crime, do you think it`s a meaningful, worthwhile
distinction to think about these as separate things, when we think about
Newtown and we think about Boston?
DONALD BORELLI, FORMER FBI AGENT: Terrorism is a crime. Title 18 of
the U.S. Code has a whole list of federal statutes that fall under the
auspices of terrorism. For example, what we saw in Boston, the reason, I
think, why it was easy for people to come out early and say it`s terrorism,
you had a weapon of mass destruction that was used to kill people. That`s
HAYES: Weapon of mass destruction, is that specifically the term that
we`re using for this pressure cooker bomb?
BORELLI: Well, you can use it. Under the WMD statute, a bomb of that
can be considered a WMD.
HAYES: I did not know that.
BORELLI: There`s your terrorism charge, potentially. So, I
personally believe that it -- terrorism is a form of criminality, should be
treated as so. Now that`s not to say there are other tools in the toolbox
that should be discounted. For example, when you have something that`s
considered a national security investigation, you get authority to do
things like FISA, national security letters, things like that. Those are
all valuable intelligence collection tools.
HAYES: So there`s this -- so let me get to this interesting point,
right, if it`s someone who`s a domestic U.S. citizen, presumably that
national security aspect will not be brought into play, right. If it is a
foreign national, presumably it will. I wonder what your reaction is to
HINA SHAMSI, ACLU NATIONAL SECURITY PROJECT: Well, Chris, I think
that what this really hones in on is the fundamental question we`ve had
since 9/11, which is does an act of terrorism cause us to change our laws,
our values, our principles. And the bottom line is that it doesn`t. If
there`s anything that we`ve learned, one of the main lessons of 9/11 has
been -- is that when we go away from our laws, values, and principles,
that`s when we do wrong to our national security, to the rights of
individuals, both innocent and accused, and we hurt our ability to bring
perpetrators to justice.
HAYES: But Don`s not saying that. Don`s saying that when we talk
about something in the special category of terrorism as national security
related, right, in the context of an international terror attack, which is
Bill O`Reilly`s phrase, that there is an additional set of tool kits that
are useful and necessary that allow investigators to get to the bottom of
SHAMSI: So, there are, you know, laws that have been put in place
that allow us to pursue terrorism, whether it is international or domestic.
And I don`t think -- I don`t want us to get into the kind of speculation
that we`ve seen raging over the networks right now.
HAYES: Of course, right.
SHAMSI: I think that the bottom line is that law enforcement right
now has all the tools it needs. And one of the things that we`ve seen at
this point is how responsible the debate largely has been amongst policy
makers, from President Obama to Governor Deval Patrick. The message
rightly has been one of resilience, inspired, I think, by the resilience
shown by the people of Boston.
HAYES: Should we care, Esther, about whether it is terrorism in the
sense of what the motivations were, whether they were ideological or
political in some way? Does that matter in terms how we, as a society,
think about how to prevent it, about how we should charge or punish the
person who did it?
ESTHER ARMAH, HOST WGAI RADIO: It matters because we are a nation who
has a particular relationship with violence. So once something is defined
as terrorism, it changes our relationship to how we think about who the
perpetrator will be, depending on who is caught. So that if the
perpetrator is white and male, it will not be the kind of -- we will not
think about it in terms of terrorism as if he were Muslim. That`s just the
reality of how we think about terrorism. It becomes the --
HAYES: We call Timothy McVeigh a terrorist, don`t we?
ARMAH: We call Timothy McVeigh a terrorist, but we do not then deal
with white men in America the way we`ve dealt with Muslims post-9/11.
There is a difference in how we relate to the perpetrator, depending on who
they are and where they are from. That matters because it speaks to what I
describe as our intimate and contradictory relationship with violence. And
once you put the T word in, once terrorism is defined, I don`t think it`s
just who the individual is, if they are a foreign national --
HAYES: Or a group of individuals.
ARMAH: -- or a group of individuals. It`s the way in which that
person then initially directly connects to our policy.
HAYES: Do you think that`s right from the perspective of law
enforcement? Do you think that division between the Timothy McVeigh`s of
the world and the Muhammad Attahs of the world is operationalized inside
the way law enforcement goes about this?
BORELLI: I think that it doesn`t really. I mean, I believe -- this
is from my experience, that you cannot and should not get tunnel vision
looking for a specific, you know -- well, because somebody has a particular
faith, they pray five times a day, so therefore it`s an international
terrorism versus a Timothy McVeigh type. We have seen so many cases where
you have --
HAYES: Let me just say, or it could be a left wing terrorist. Like
we literally know nothing. I just want to make clear, the universe for
someone who is mad at his or her ex-spouse who happened to be working the
BORELLI: What you need to focus on is the activity. The race,
religion, you know, all of that really is irrelevant when it comes to you
have to be able to prove that that activity is in furtherance of terrorism.
And that`s where you need to focus on. What are the actions?
HAYES: How do you respond? I want -- how do you respond? Because
this is what`s going to happen -- I guarantee this is what`s going to
happen: if the person caught is indeed a foreign national of any kind,
there will be a massive wave of political pressure for that person not to
be brought, arraigned, charged and tried in an Article Three court.
Absolutely, I can tell you here right now, Susan Collins already got out in
front of that. We saw it with Abdulmutallab. What do you say to that?
BORELLI: I say look at the track record. We have a very good track
record of bringing these individuals into federal court, using the statutes
that are available to us. Even in --
HAYES: Even a foreign national?
BORELLI: Even a foreign national, and even being able, at some times,
to take intelligence that was collected under those methods and being able
to use that in the criminal case. So I would say look at the record.
HAYES: I want to get more from you, Hina. And I want to play a bit
of sound about Peter King talking about what exactly incursions we should
tolerate in the name of never -- no one dying from terrorism, because it`s
an interesting contrast to how we feel about guns on this day of all days.
We`ll be right back.
HAYES: Hina, you want to respond to something that Don just said?
SHAMSI: Yes, I absolutely agree with Don, which is that the best way
to respond to terrorism is to use the tools that we have, that law
enforcement currently has with our article three courts. I think that
calls to treat either foreigners as different are unnecessary, ineffective,
and quite frankly, irresponsible. That`s what we did when we treated the
acts of a fringe group after 9/11 as a global war. That`s where we
expanded it to. And look where we`ve gotten, military commissions that
don`t work, that are an embarrassment, and that allow alleged terrorists to
claim that they are warriors.
HAYES: People also say, look where we`ve gotten, we`ve decimated al
Qaeda, right? We`ve gone years without a successful attack.
SHAMSI: And one of the best tools that we`ve had is through law
enforcement, through the hundreds of terrorism prosecutions that we`ve had
in our federal courts.
HAYES: One of the things I think is really interesting is that when
terrorism is on the table as a policy matter, right, no one ever argues for
cost-benefit analysis, how much should we do, right? Everyone says, like,
we should not tolerate a single death from terrorism. Here`s Peter King --
Congressman Peter King essentially making that argument, that kind of
maximalist argument yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER KING (R), IOWA: I don`t -- my idea that the right to
privacy is when you`re in a private setting. If you`re out in public, I
don`t think you have the right to assume anything`s private.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re not concerned we`re going to overly secure,
make it so going to a sporting event becomes almost impossible?
KING: Ask the parents of that eight-year-old -- I don`t want to bring
that into it. Just ask somebody who have lost somebody in one of these
terrorist incidents, and they say, would you rather have your loved one
dead or have a camera on the telephone pole. I think they`d say they take
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s the argument, right? Would you rather have your loved
one dead or a camera on a telephone pole. I think they would take the
ARMAH: There`s a universality about our reaction to what should
happen that is different depending on how we define the piece of violence.
So when it comes to terrorism, there`s this universal agreement.
Everybody`s a victim, child or --
HAYES: Anyone could be that person.
ARMAH: Absolutely, absolutely, child or adults, male or female, black
or white, we are one. In that moment, we are victims. Depending on who
the perpetrator is, that fundamentally changes when we think about notions
of justice, as opposed to retribution, and our identity as warriors, as
being willing to exercise revenge or retribution, but also to not simply
hold an individual responsible depending on who they are, but to make the
entire group from which they come responsible, too, if they are not white
and male specifically.
HAYES: Yes, Hina?
SHAMSI: Let`s look at how problematic that is. Extremist violence
comes from many different forms. And we don`t say to, for example,
perpetrators who are members of the Ku Klux Klan -- we don`t require
Christians to distance themselves and say that`s not part of Christianity.
And yet we`re equating falsely terrorism and Islam or Muslims. We actually
do deep damage to innocent people and we, I think, hurt the ability of --
HAYES: Do you think that equation has been made a lot in the last few
SHAMSI: I think that --
HAYES: I may be like sanguine about this. But I feel that it`s been
largely better than -- I think people have been very careful, with some
real notable exceptions, about that.
SHAMSI: I think that`s exactly right and that`s actually where I was
going, is that we have been more responsible right now. And that is the
exact right approach. But that must not change regardless of who the
HAYES: Don, let me just show you this chart real quick, gun deaths
versus terrorist deaths. And I know this is something of a strange
question, but you`ve worked in law enforcement for years. When you look at
that chart, when you think about where our priorities are, what we think
about as a society that we need to guard against to secure people, like
does that match to what the priorities and resources of the federal
government, for instance, are?
BORELLI: Well, if you look at it just in terms -- like an economist
would look at it, the cost/benefit or, you know, which is the biggest risk
here, obviously there`s more deaths from guns. But, you know, I think when
you -- terrorism, obviously, invokes something kind of more visceral in
people, the images of 9/11. So, you know, I think really the answer is, we
need to do both. We need to be tough on terrorism and tough on guns both.
HAYES: Part of it is the images, right? And I think part of what --
we all have been watching the video of the Boston bombing. There`s no --
of the 88 people or so people that are going to die of gun violence
tomorrow, we don`t have videos of them.
Donald Borelli, former FBI special agent, Hina Shamsi, the ACLU`s
National Security Project, and Esther Armah, host WGAI`s "Wake-Up Call,"
That`s ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now.
Good evening, Rachel.
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