All In With Chris Hayes, Thursday, April 18th, 2013
Read the transcript from the Thusday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
April 18, 2013
Guests: Dwayne Stanton, Susan Crawford, Adrian Chen
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Thank you for joining us tonight.
Tonight, three days after the Boston marathon was bombed, we have
photos, pictures of two men the FBI suspects in Monday`s attack. The FBI
released these photos just hours ago, asking for the public`s help in
finding or identifying them.
The man authorities are identifying as suspect number one is seen in a
Here`s suspect number two in a white hat.
According to FBI, this suspect, number two in the white hat is the
only one authorities believe they have seen on tape planting an explosive
device. They believe the two men were associated. Any who knows anything
about either of these men is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI or leave
information at Bostonmarathontips.fbi.gov.
The FBI emphasized tonight that they consider these men to be armed
and extremely dangerous, and urged the public not to take any action on
their own, which seems like wise advice.
Joining me now, NBC New justice correspondent Pete Williams.
Pete, this is a big development today. What is the latest?
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It is a big
development. The pictures are not -- they don`t show crystal clear view of
the faces, of course. There`s pictures the FBI has not released. As you
know, they do believe they have images showing the man in the white hat
planting the second bomb, the one in the front of the restaurant.
And, by the way, we have seen that picture from our affiliate WHDH in
Boston that shows the garbage bag next to the mailbox.
WILLIAMS: They say that is -- now, they can say that is not the bomb.
WILLIAMS: The bomb was actually planted on the other side of that
barrier. It`s just right near there but just on the other side.
In the release of these pictures, then, they`ve chosen which ones they
think will be most helpful to people in being able to recognize them.
And, granted, the faces are never crystal clear. They`re hoping the
totality of the clothes and where they were and what they were doing will
cause some people to call in. Now, they are getting the response that they
asked for or getting a response, anyway.
Lots of names, but having names and knowing the right names will take
some time. And so, it`s just way too soon to know whether this will be
productive. But they clearly have high hopes for us.
HAYES: What was the behind the scenes calculation in deciding whether
or not to release these photos? What does that say about, if anything, the
status of the investigation?
WILLIAMS: Well, I think it says the status at this moment is pretty
optimistic. What it says is that they could not by themselves, looking at
these pictures and using the other methods they have trying to cross-
tabulate with cell phone calls -- you see in the upper white on the screen,
the man in the white hat is talking on a cell phone. So, they`ve been
looking at cell phone records. But that`s only gotten them so far.
So, they concluded they`re not able to get over the finish line
without some public help here. They`re just hoping that people will
recognize them. Or have some -- and the other thing I should say, they`re
also hoping, now that they`ve shown the public what it is they`re looking
for, that they will now get more pictures, that people who are there at the
marathon, around the spots where these two bombs were planted, will now go
back to their cell phones and their cameras and their video-recorders and
see if they have any pictures of these men and send those to the FBI as
So, they`re not done asking for pictures. And they also say in the
coming days, if they get clearer images of these people, they`ll release
those, too, if they haven`t figured out by then who they are.
HAYES: I`ve already seen an image of the suspect in the white hat
making a right on Fairfield Street on the aftermath. That is already
circulating. People now combing through.
Final question for you and this is something we`re talking about. In
talking to people around the investigation, have they expressed any
frustration or misgivings the fact so many other pictures of so many other
people were floating around both the Internet and then today in certain
WILLIAMS: Well, I think -- I mean, I think they`re just sort of
disappointed it`s out there because it doesn`t help them any. And it`s
frustrating in the sense they don`t want to see innocent people have their
pictures out there.
And there has been a lot of that stuff. I don`t know that`s
interfered with their investigation that much, it probably generates tips
they have to wade through. But they`ve been more focused on their own
pictures and they`ve known all along what it is they`re looking for.
As you note, it`s one thing leading to another, getting pictures,
showing the man in the white hat planting the bomb and then finding that
the two of them were together.
NBC`s Pete Williams, thank you.
WILLIAMS: You bet.
HAYES: The pictures released by the FBI are the only photos that
exist right now of anyone suspected -- suspected -- of involvement in
Monday`s bombing of the Boston marathon. But as I just mentioned, they
were not the only pictures floating around, being tied to the
"The New York Post" for one apparently unable to wait for the actual
photos of the real suspects went with this one, of two young men seen among
the marathon crowd Monday, ominously carrying bags while watching the race.
I should note we blurred out the young men`s faces here because as you
might have noticed, these are not the suspects no matter how badly "The New
York Post`s" requisite screaming headline would like you to believe they
"The Post" described the photos of the young men they plastered all
over their front page as being distributed by law enforcement among
themselves and reports that, quote, "meanwhile, officials have identified
two potential suspects who are captured on surveillance videos taken
shortly before the deadly blast."
Of course, the part about officials having identified two suspects
turns out to be correct, but the two young men featured in "The Post`s"
front page spread were not those suspects.
Former FBI assistant director John Miller was quick to debunk the
photos like the high school kid featured in "The New York Post" today,
explaining this morning precisely how this latest iteration of journal
malfeasance came to be.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ve seen a couple pictures on the Internet and
in the paper today. Until we hear from authorities, should we discount the
pictures that are floating around all over the place?
JOHN MILLER, FORMER FBI ASISSTANT DIRECTOR: Those are not pictures
that will be released today by authorities.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, just wondering.
MILLER: And in fact, here`s what happens. Those pictures were on the
Internet yesterday morning and they started going viral in deficit sites
and difference intelligence infusion centers around the country pick those
up, and they post them into bulletins and say, any law enforcement agencies
who can name these people will take that information and then it ends up
leaking back to the newspaper. So, it comes out in one big circle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So, the pictures start on the Internet, and then, law
enforcement officials start passing them around internally and leak back
into the media. The next thing you know, a 17-year-old who runs track on
high school has been made his way from Web sites like Reddit and 4chan and
into a viral Internet presence, into law enforcement chatter and onto the
cover of the "New York Post."
And to be clear, the impossibly poor judgment of the editors of "The
New York Post" was not the only reason this kid`s picture was in the world
associated with the bombing. In fact, what I saw the front page of "The
Post" this morning, it was actually not the first time I`ve seen this
particular picture. And the reason I saw it before was because the other
night, I fell down a rabbit hole at my laptop at 11:00, browsing a Reddit
sub thread and a 4chan page in which Internet users had come together to do
the vigilante work of sifting through the publicly available images from
And it struck me as I sat there in the cold light of my laptop in the
middle of the night that we have just spent three day celebrating how
awesome it is that we have so many images of this event everyone was
turning over to authorities and that would be our salvation. And it
apparently was, or at least provisionally was.
Here I was staring at what the dark underbelly of what circumstance
looks like. The images are not only possessed by police. They`re also
effectively the property of the public at sharing them and uploading them
and consuming them, which is why this high school kid who had just wanted
to watch the marathon had to make his Facebook timeline private and go to
the authorities to clear his name as a potential bombing suspect this week.
The consequences of this Internet slotting, bad journalism feedback
system are not lost in the FBI as they try to find the actual perpetrators.
The FBI`s special agent in charge made a point to address the issue at
tonight`s news conference as soon as he had released the official photos.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD DESLAURIERS, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: For clarity, these
images should be the only ones, I emphasize the only ones the public should
view to assist us. Other photos should not be deemed credible and they
unnecessarily divert the public`s attention in t wrong direction and create
undue work for vital law enforcement resources.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Again, those photos released by the FBI tonight are the only
photos of the men actually suspected of involvement in Monday`s bombing.
What does it mean about privacy of the public and media in cases like this
that scores of other photos of other people have been circulating around
the Internet and even some cases gracing the front page of "The New York
Post" in connection with the Boston marathon bombing.
Joining me now from Washington, Dwayne Stanton, retired homicide
detective and director of Progressive Security Consultants, and Susan
Crawford, professor of Cardozo School of Law, with intellectual property
and information law program.
And, Dwayne, I`d like to begin with you. How common has it become in
this day and age for law enforcement to be using digital images, whether
video or photo captured by surveillance cameras, security cameras or
submitted by the public?
DWAYNE STANTON, RETIRED HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: It has become very common
over the last 10 or 15 years, maybe even 20 years. I`ve been involved in
law enforcement approximately 30 years plus. I`ve seen it transcend.
And I love -- I`m a huge advocate of video cameras. I`d much rather
have the pleasure of having the video camera than the misery of not having
HAYES: So, you have found it incredibly important in the
investigative you`ve done to have the images that are just sitting there in
the background as we go about every day life. I mean, we`ve learned a
department store in Boston or something like that?
STANTON: I`m here to tell you that video camera s deter and sometimes
prevent crimes. They solve cases. And in this particular case, if you
look at the video camera, video footage rather, that was released today.
And, sure, you see suspect one and suspect two.
But there are other things you want top see, as well. If you notice
there`s a young lady walking in front of the suspect with balloons, green
balloons in her hands. If you remember, when the first explosion went off,
those green balloons were set off in the air. That`s somebody you want to
locate, somebody you want to find.
STANTON: Other people who see other things.
HAYES: So, Dwayne talked about the usefulness of this and I
absolutely understand why that`s the case -- certainly in this case. But
there`s also another side of this, which is staring in the face the fact
that every second of our lives, we are being recorded by something. And
there`s a question of who gets control of that information?
SUSAN CRAWFORD, CARDOZO SCHOOL OF LAW: Absolutely. I mean, it`s very
important to think of the fact that this is the credible incursion on
privacy. And this is a moment, even in the midst of this crisis, to
recognize that we have absolutely no ability to protect our own image.
Actually the police take the idea if you are in public, that`s it. You
have no control over --
HAYES: Why isn`t that a fair idea? I mean, look, you go to the
Boston marathon, right? You are out in a public space. There`s no -- I
believe the legal term is expectation of privacy, right? That`s the key
legal concept. There`s no expectation of privacy when you are standing out
in front of a half million people at the Boston marathon.
STANTON: Exactly, exactly.
CRAWFORD: To step this up a notch, there is an electronic vacuum
cleaner that is picking up everything Americans are doing, not only their
images, but also all their communications and we seem unable to talk about
this. I mean, it`s important to recognize these are rights coming in to
conflict with fear.
HAYES: You think there are rights in conflict in this case?
CRAWFORD: In this case, we`ve got video captures of a disaster that
allows us to identify a suspect. I`m talking about elevating this to the
point where you can`t have any expectation in any setting that you are not
being captured. I think it is worth reflecting on that as a country.
HAYES: Dwayne, if you were working a case, do you just go to the
local grocery store and say, hey, can I take a look at your surveillance
camera, or is there an official means you have to extract it? Or is it
generally just hand it over?
STANTON: You can go and request it. In some cases, have it
But you know what? Our number one priority should be safety and
security and protection of life, you know? And put that on a scale versus
a privacy issue, to me that`s just a no-brainer. You want to save people`s
lives. You want to deter crime and keep people safe and out of harm`s way.
HAYES: So there`s no part of you, though, that wonders -- I mean,
look, I think in this case we are dealing with what looks like a best-case
scenario, right? A horrific crime was committed. Difficult to solve
crime. We -- it looks like leads have been generated through video, right?
But one can imagine there are all sorts of transgressions that are
captured in those same images. My question is -- do those images now live
officially -- if someone is smoking a joint, right by this -- no, I`m
serious. If someone is smoking a joint by the finish line of the Boston
marathon in one of these photos, right, does that image live somewhere as a
future conviction point?
STANTON: No one is going to address the person that may be using
marijuana at the finish line. It will be archived somewhere and never seen
again. The purpose of video footage, CCTVs is purposes just like this, and
cases like this and other cases where we have command centers and police
departments all across the country where these CCTVs are monitored,
constantly and repeatedly.
And there is one case where the person monitoring the CCTV was able to
relay to the police officer, via the radio, where the suspect was because
the suspect had perched himself in a position as a sniper to shoot the
police officer. So, it works across the board.
Now, if having cameras offends someone, sorry about that, but I`d
rather have them than not.
CRAWFORD: Extremists groups, let`s be clear, extremist groups
understand that our core appeal to other people around the world is our
reliance on individual liberties. It is in their interest for us to give
those up and our interest to remain a shining city on the hill, to be a
place where we have a real right of privacy that doesn`t exist in this
HAYES: You say right of privacy doesn`t exist. But is there a right
of privacy, is there a distinction between being in public place, where
this kind of thing and other more intrusive things like if the NSA is
reading your e-mail, for instance, right? There`s an expectation there.
You send an e-mail to someone, you`re expecting that to be private, or a
Being out in a public place, which is what we are talking about when
we talk about this CCTV, close circuit monitoring, do you think that that
is an incursion on our privacy?
CRAWFORD: There are tens of thousands of cameras in New York. It is
an incursion on privacy to have no awareness of those cameras and to have
no notice of what`s going on around you.
HAYES: Retired homicide detective Dwayne Stanton, I really appreciate
you coming on tonight. Thank you so much.
STANTON: Thank you very having me.
HAYES: Susan Crawford, stay with us. The best reporter in the world
on a very important internet subculture that first identified that kid,
that poor kid that was on "The New York Post." He is going to join us in a
HAYES: Let`s bring in Adrian Chen senior writer for "Gawker," who
writes a lot about Reddit. I just want to give people a sense of what
Reddit is, if they are watching at home, they never heard it. It`s
basically a message -- an Internet message board, right, a forum.
ADRIAN CHEN, GAWKER: Yes, it`s a forum. It`s also a community of
millions of people who call themselves Redditors. And it`s basically the
kind of dominant force in Online culture.
HAYES: Yes, look at these statistics. OK. This is the percentage of
daily Internet page views of Reddit. It`s there. It`s 0.06 percent of
every Internet page view is Reddit, way, way above "The Huffington Post"
and the "New York Times," right? So, this has a larger reach than a lot of
sites that you probably, if you`re watching this and haven`t heard of
Reddit that you have heard it. And it was a sub Reddit, a thread where
people started to go about the business of collating these photos, right?
CHEN: It was actually -- there was a subsection of Reddit. Anyone
can create a subsection called a sub Reddit and it was called "find the
Boston bombers." And it was just, you know, a few thousand people posting
every kind of lead or photo they can find and pouring over it and trying to
find who did it.
HAYES: The creator of the Boston Reddit sub, Ops 777 (ph), was very
clear he did not want to condone vigilante justice. "I didn`t create this
sub Reddit to post any personal information. We no way condone vigilante
justice. If any personal information posted that can identify someone, it
would be immediately deleted. The worse case scenario here is that we
waste our time. The best, if send something to the FBI that they missed,
if somebody looks suspicious, it`s sent to the FBI. We don`t try to find
anything out other their movements."
But, of course, the photos that were didn`t just stay there, right?
CHEN: Right. I mean, you know, journalists all over Reddit, you
know, religiously. And so, as soon this took off, people were paying
attention to see what could these guys do, because Reddit has this kind of
a reputation for being a force for good on the Internet. People were like,
can they do it? It became this kind of --
HAYES: They`re proud sourcing this.
Let me show the image of this 17-year-old who`s -- we decided to blur
out his face. This is the 17-year-old who is first identified I think in a
Reddit sub-thread and put on the "New York Post" cover. Do we have that
image? We don`t have that image.
CRAWFORD: There`s a difference between detective work and
CRAWFORD: The detective work was really interesting. And then the
Reddit community was surprised and chagrinned and actually quite polite
when the real FBI photos came out. They posted big headings saying, no
more discussion of any photos right now except for the FBI.
CHEN: Oh, yes. I`m sure the 17-year-old was thrilled about that.
HAYES: Right. I mean, that`s the thing. I mean, to me as I was
going through this, I was thinking to myself, you know, when we talk about
how many photos are out there, we talk about lack of privacy, the fact
we`re getting captured all the time, you think about it as between you and
the state, you and law enforcement. And that can be, in this case, it
might be really important to solve a horrendous crime. In some cases, it
seems like an incursion of privacy.
But I never thought until I was sitting there going through this, like
the vigilante potential that exists right now. And I feel like there is a
lot of vigilante justice increasingly on the Internet.
CHEN: Yes, I think there is this misconception distributing
surveillance and distributing the kind of tools that you need to
investigate will make things fairer or, you know, more efficient when it
comes to justice. But I think that, you know, this case kind of shows,
really, it`s not like that. They singled out, you know, tons of innocent
people. There was a lot of racial profiling going on, you know, every
brown person with a backpack was kind of circled and put on the front page.
So I think you have to question whether this is a better way or just
kind of --
HAYES: You seem more sanguine about crowd sourcing.
CRAWFORD: It`s like a human flesh search engine and can be some
terrible repercussion repercussions to people`s lives. But you wouldn`t
want to burn the village to save it. There is a lot of good that comes
through distributed -- looking at images and finding stars and new planets.
You know, we don`t want to give up on all that. What you want to do
is inculcate norms and ways of behaving online. So, you`re just out of
line if you`re attacking someone.
CHEN: Oh, yes, I think creating norms is a big part. But I think one
of the norms should be, don`t try to solve a crime on your own.
HAYES: What`s fascinating to me as I`ve been watching over the last
two or three days, two investigations happening in parallel. There`s the
official investigation and part of what we`ve been dealing with the line of
work I`m currently in, is this mismatch of supply and demand for it, right?
And so, then, there`s the actual investigation that`s going on and
then there`s the parallel, you know, crowd sourced amateur investigation
that`s going on. It`s very tempting to want to be part of that.
When I was sitting there reading that thread, looking at those photos,
I had this weird moment at the end of it, I got to the last photo, that`s
totally the dude, that`s the guy, right? Of course, it wasn`t.
CHEN: It`s kind of like this hyper gonzo journalism almost, you know?
It`s like these people are becoming part of the story. And I think that,
you know, in the end, it is a kind of journalism and I think it should be
judged on that.
And as far as finding out facts, I don`t think they did a very good
HAYES: Yes. Well, we should judge those in the world of traditional
media who chose to put those on the cover of their newspaper, the Rupert
Murdoch property that did that today.
Susan Crawford of Cardozo School of Law and Adrian Chen of Gawker --
thank you so much.
CRAWFORD: Thank you.
HAYES: When it came to gun law reform, we were told this time is
different. Well, it turns out it was no different. In fact, the outcome
was so predictable in Washington political terms, you could have scripted
We`ll talk to someone who scripted this stuff for a living, a
mastermind behind "House of Cards" joins me next.
HAYES: One day after a watered down background check gun bill went
down to defeat, pro-opponents of gun safety made it clear this is not over.
Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords in a "New York Times" op-ed promised an
effort to, quote, "Make sure we have a different Congress and ask for
mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them, you
lost my vote."
Her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, said fear of the gun lobby was what
lost them votes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK KELLY, AMERICANS FOR RESPONSIBLE SOLUTIONS: What a terrible day
for our country. (AUDIO GAP) with 80 votes. You know, we meet with a U.S.
senator who says they agree with the policy, they know it will save lives,
they can`t vote for it, and couldn`t really give us a reason why they
couldn`t. And that is unacceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And, today, we woke up to this darkly comic "New York Times"
analysis head proclaiming "Gun control effort had no real chance despite
pleas." We`re also presented with gloating in the form of Senate Minority
Mitch McConnell`s Facebook page which posts a fans meme literally mocking
the failure of the bill. Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid is pictured
there with a sad face. That was not the precise center of the sadness, was
As Ryan Grim tweeted, "Sandy Hook parents were in the gallery hoping
that would matter. Wayne LaPierre wasn`t, knowing it wouldn`t."
Yesterday was about the hopefully temporary defeat of the gun safety
legislation. But the day felt bigger than that because it was an object
lesson about what doesn`t work in Washington, who wins and who loses.
So, we thought as we were digesting this, who do we want to talk to
about what we just saw? And we thought, maybe the guy who wrote this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR: We need to close the shipyard in your district.
The BRAC hearing is up tomorrow. You won`t put up your usual fight. You
have zero testimony to add.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t do that.
SPACEY: Yes, you can, Peter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I spent months on that testimony. I lobbied the
commission, my entire office.
SPACEY: I`m sure you have done splendid work but, unfortunately, it
come to fruition.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s 12,000 jobs.
SPACEY: I know. It`s a shame.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me tonight, Beau Willimon, executive producer and
developer of "House of Cards" on Netflix and Academy Award nominated
screenwriter of "the Ides of March." It`s great to have you here.
BEAU WILLIMON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "HOUSE OF CARDS": Thanks for
HAYES: So you worked in politics quite a bit and then you had been
writing about politics. What did you make of the gun vote yesterday?
WILLIMON: Well, I think yesterday is a perfect example of how truth
can be far more terrifying than fiction. We had an opportunity yesterday
to do something special and unexpected. Legislation had been pushed
forward in the course of four months, which is light speed in terms of
Washington, major legislation. And then you saw the NRA spending millions
of dollars, a half million dollars on Wednesday alone that certainly
influenced a lot of the votes.
You saw people voting largely on partisan terms and folks like Max
Baucus, who just kind of turned his face on his own -- turned his back on
his own party.
HAYES: So Max Baucus, though, was -- what I think people love about
"House of Cards" -- our staff is like obsessed with "House of Cards," by
the way -- is the kind of minute granular depiction of the kind of
mechanics of power and these calculations, right? Max Baucus is just
making a calculation he`s up for re-election, he`s in a red state.
WILLIMON: Sure. That goes into play. But you had a lot of -- you
also had McCain, Collins and Toomey who were listening to the American
public. Nine out of 10 people want this to happen. And so they voted
HAYES: You sound so idealistic now, but you`ve written such a cynical
piece of work, right? The point is -- and from -- I`ve seen this in your
work in the book "The Ides of March" and in "House of Cards," right? The
point is that it isn`t -- the way democracy actually works on Capitol Hill
is not some sort of simple cause and effect mechanism between the will of
the people and the things legislators do.
WILLIMON: Absolutely not. Our show takes a dark look at politics.
We`re certainly showing an extreme view of how politics can work at its
best and its worst. I mean, France Summerwood (ph) is not bound by
ideology. And in a way, he`s able to achieve progress because of that.
HAYES: You know what`s really interesting is that to me, when I moved
to Washington and started covering Capitol Hill, was how surprising it was
to me how common that was, right? I expected everyone there to be like
true believers, on both sides. And it just wasn`t the case. Most of the
people there were just operators.
WILLIMON: Ideologically can be quicksand. The Republican Party is
going through re-branding right now because an ideologically that worked
for two presidential races failed them in the third. John McCain`s story
of going from progressivism to mainstream, that narrative failed because it
was too entrenched in right wing -- far right wing ideologically. So the
survivors, the people that are able to operate and get things tend to be
able to be a little loser.
HAYES: Like Max Baucus. Right, that`s the whole point.
WILLIMON: Max Baucus is also a good example of how politics is
personal and can be petty. For instance, the way he held of Daschle`s
confirmation for Health and Human Services, or even was the only westerner
to vote against Daschle in 1994 when Daschle was running for Democratic
leader. That just came down to petty rivalry and a grudge. And there`s
only 100 people in the Senate. Those sort of personal politics can affect
300 million people.
HAYES: That`s what I thought was interesting in the Manchin-Toomey --
and Joe Manchin I thought did an admirable thing, in that he took a risk he
didn`t have to, right? He wouldn`t -- the most cynical view of how Joe
Manchin himself would be operating in the Senate -- and that`s how I think
politics ends up being interesting, even if heartbreaking and infuriating
as it was yesterday, was that Manchin didn`t do the thing how you would
have scripted him out to do if you were writing the most cynical version of
how Joe Manchin was going to --
WILLIMON: Certainly the people who voted against the bill yesterday
were doing a form of political calculus. They say, OK, what`s more
valuable to me, what the electorate wants right now in April of 2013 or the
amount of money I can count on from the gun lobby?
HAYES: Or just hell.
WILLIMON: Yes, over the next however many years I`m in political
office. They -- a number of people made a determination that money was
more valuable to them politically.
HAYES: I think it`s important for people to take away this idea that
-- we superimpose such an ideological frame on our politics so much. And
the closer you get up to politics -- and you see this in Kevin Spacey`s
character in "House of Cards," right. The closer you get up to politics,
the more it looks more and more like power than ideology.
WILLIMON: Sure. Look, I think we have two divergent mythologies in
America. One is the meritocracy, play by the rules, do everything right,
you will succeed, you will have the American dream, which we know is not
always the case. The other is a deep rooted individualism that says, be
your own person, don`t play by the rules, you know, don`t be a subservient
to anyone. Those things don`t mesh.
HAYES: We like the rogue. Beau Willimon, who is roguish himself,
executive producer of "House of Cards," thank you so much.
WILLIMON: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: We`ll be right back with Click Three.
HAYES: Could anything have prevented the massive explosion at a Texas
fertilizer plant? Hard to say considering the last federal workplace
safety inspection of the plant was 28 years ago. More on that coming up.
But first I want to share the three awesomest things on the Internet
today, beginning with Patton Oswald`s improvisational genius. On the
latest episode of "Parks and Recreation," Oswald plays a man who
filibusters a Pawney City Council vote. The actor and comedian makes his
pitch for the forthcoming "Star Wars Episode 7," eventually linking the
franchise with the Avengers in one insane mash up. It`s eight glorious
minutes of delightfully offered, in the moment, improvisational comedic
genius that the producers have been cool enough to post online.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATTON OSWALD, COMEDIAN: After a beat, the gloved, Mandelorian armor
gauntlet of Bubba Fet grabs onto the sand outside the Sarlac Pit, and the
feared bounty hunter pulls himself from the maw of the sand beast.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is exactly --
OSWALD: And we realize that he survived his fall during the battle at
Jabba`s palace ship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: As "Entertainment Weekly" put it, "in nerd terms, Oswald`s
cross over filibuster is a like J.J. Abrams Sunday, covered in Christopher
Miton (ph) sprinkles, drowning in Grant Morrison chocolate syrup. If you
don`t know what that means, I urge you to check out this video.
The second awesomest thing on the Internet today, an amazing yet
sobering interactive graphic from "the New Yorker" showing income
inequality in New York City by subway stubs. The map uses census figures
to plot the median income of residents living near each subway stop.
Median income highs are found in Lower Manhattan. The low can be found off
the Sutter Avenue in my home borough, Brooklyn. The A and C Lines offer
the largest gap in income between consecutive subway station. And the Two
Train proves to be the ultimate roller coaster, reaching highs of over
200,000 dollars in Lower Manhattan to a low of less than 14,000 dollars in
These maps show in clear visual terms the topography of inequality in
the world`s finance capital.
And the third awesomest thing on the Internet today comes from Twitter
fan Vicki Eastiss (ph), who proclaims "how cool is New Zealand?" This
week, New Zealand became the 13th country in the world to legalize same sex
marriage. After the final vote, some lawmakers and spectators gathered in
the public galleries burst into song, joining together offering a
traditional Maori love song.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Even harmonizing. It gets even better. Here`s a member of
parliament, Morris Williamson, addressing the opposition in a monologue
that has gone viral.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORRIS WILLIAMSON, NEW ZEALAND MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: One of the
messages I had was that this bill was the cause of our drought.
WILLIAMSON: This bill was the cause of our drought. Well, if any of
you follow my Twitter account, you will see that in the Pacaranga (ph)
electorate this morning, it was pouring with rain. We have the most
enormous big gay rainbow across my electorate!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Here`s that enormous gay rainbow Mr. Williamson was speaking
of. Well done, sir. And well done, New Zealand.
You can find all links for tonight`s Click Three on our website,
AllInWithChris.com. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You OK? Dad --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dad, I can`t hear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cover your ears.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t hear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was amateur video of an entire building effectively
becoming a bomb. About an hour or so after we got off the air last night,
the West Fertilizer Plant in West, Texas exploded. The blast killed as
many as 15 people with three or four volunteer firefighters believed to be
among the dead, and injured some 160 others. Investigators say these
numbers are still estimates.
The thundering explosion sent a mushroom-like plume of smoke into the
air and just about destroyed a four to five block radius around the West
Fertilizer company. To give you a sense of the devastation, this is a
picture of the apartment building located just a few hundred yards from the
fertilizer plant before the explosion. And this is how it looked earlier
As of right now, Texas officials will not talk about exactly what may
have caused the explosion. But a spokesperson with Texas Emergency
Management said that the West Fertilizer Plant had both hydrous ammonia and
ammonium nitrate on site. In a genuinely bizarre historical twist, it
turns out that 66 years and one day ago, Texas experienced a similar
disaster involving the fertilizer chemical ammonium nitrate, which turned
out to be the deadliest industrial accident in American history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Night and day, for three horrible days, the
inferno that almost blasted Texas City from the map rages unchecked and
uncontrollable. In a little more than a square mile, explosion and fire
create a holocaust that baffles description and blocks out the sun for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That explosion on April 17th, 1947, in Texas City on the Gulf
Coast happened as fertilizer was being loaded onto a ship. The subsequent
chain reaction of fires killed almost 600 people. Ammonium nitrate can
become a powerful explosive. It`s what Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy
McVeigh used to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah Building on April 19th, 1995,
kill 168 people.
Just to be clear, there`s not reason to suspect any kind of foul play
in this incident. The point is that fertilizer is a very dangerous
substance. In 2006, according to the "Dallas Morning News," Texas
regulators knew the West Fertilizer Company had 12,000 gallon tanks of
anhydrous ammonia. In February, a nearby school was evacuated due to a
controlled fire from the fertilizer plant.
"The Dallas Morning News" is also reporting the plant told the
Environmental Protection Agency and local public safety officials that it
did not present a risk of fire or explosion, and that worst case scenario
would be a 10 minute release of ammonia gas that would kill or in injure no
And then there`s this: records from the Federal Occupational Safety
and Health Administration show that the agency`s last inspection of the
West Fertilizer Plant happened in 1985. And for a few violations that OSHA
considered serious, the company was find -- wait for it -- 30 dollars.
If 28 years seems like a very long time between OSHA inspections for
an inherently risky workplace, keep this in mind: according to the "New
York Times," while the number of inspectors has grown under the Obama
administration, OSHA still has just 2,400 responsible for overseeing
roughly eight million work sites, roughly one inspector per 60,000 worker
workers, a ratio that has not changed since 1970.
The federal budget for protecting workers is less than that set aside
for protecting fish and wildlife. We talked last night about fatalities
from terrorism and gun deaths. There`s a category we didn`t mention, which
is workplace fatalities. From 2000 to 2010, 3,033 Americans died from
terror attacks. During that same time, more than 335,000 Americans died at
the hands of a gun, while there were over 60,000 workplace deaths.
You would think, on the day after one workplace blew up an entire
town, that Tom Perez, President Barack Obama`s new nominee for labor
secretary, the department that oversees OSHA, the one that looks out for
people in dangerous workplaces all over the country, the day that he went
before a Senate committee -- you would think that the day after an
absolutely horrifying, deadly workplace explosion in a factory that had not
been inspected in almost 30 years, that Perez would be asked about it. And
you would be wrong. During the entire hearing, no one saw it relevant to
raise a peep about West or OSHA.
They did find a little time to ask about a favorite right wing
bugaboo. So we have another tally to bring you, total number of questions
about Occupational Safety and Health Administration, zero, total number of
questions about the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case, one.
When we come back, I will talk to one reporter who has covered the
failure of workplace safety regulation more than any other journalist I
know. Stay with us.
HAYES: Let`s bring in Mike Elk, staff writer for "In These Times,"
and Celeste Monforton, former policy analyst for the Department of Labor`s
Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Great to have you both
Mike, when you heard about this and when you started looking through
the OSHA records -- because I think I first saw them from your reporting --
were you surprised that it had been so long since OSHA had inspected the
MIKE ELK, "IN THESE TIMES": No. Literally this plant has never been
inspected in my lifetime. Last time it was inspected was 1985. So it
didn`t surprise me. Every -- there`s not enough OSHA inspectors to inspect
every workplace in the country. There are so few OSHA inspectors in the
state of Texas that it would take 98 years for OSHA to visit every
workplace in the state of Texas once.
So it didn`t surprise me that there wasn`t an inspection. Typically
there`s not -- there`s typically only inspections at OSHA when a worker
calls up and complains. And that typically only happens in a union
HAYES: So it`s prompted by a complaint and then someone comes out.
It`s not like there`s just people canvassing and knocking on doors of
hazardous work sites.
ELK: Occasionally, but not that often.
HAYES: Celeste, what is the standard? You would think a fertilizer -
- there`s about 20 employees, as far as we know, in this West Fertilizer
Warehouse where this happened. What is the standard for what would prompt
a kind of heightened level of scrutiny from OSHA or from any kind of
federal regulatory body looking into this?
CELESTE MONFORTON, FORMER OSHA POLICY ANALYST: You`re absolutely
right. I mean, the materials that we believe were on that site are
extremely caustic and can cause obviously catastrophic damage to both the
plant and the community. OSHA does target workplaces that are particularly
hazardous, but that`s such a small fraction of the work that they do. And
depending on how this particular plant was categorized, how they described
their industry, they may have even been exempt from OSHA inspections.
For many years, Congress has put a rider on OSHA`s appropriations that
prohibits the agency from doing inspections at small facilities if they
have less than 10 employees, in particular, industries that are designated
to be low injury industries. But what we know from injury and illness
records is that slips and trips and cuts are not predictive of what`s going
to happen in a facility like this, where you have , you know, releases of
highly hazardous chemicals.
So, I mean, really a lot of this responsibility falls on Congress,
one, for not adequately funding OSHA, but, two, for putting handcuffs on
the agency to really decide where it needs to target its resources.
HAYES: How does OSHA think about risks? How do you think? I mean,
you would think that, again, a fertilizer -- we know that there were EPA
regulators who were in there. We know that there were Texas air quality
regulators who were in there. The last time there was a real kind of
inspection, I think 2006. How does OSHA think about risk in the workplace?
You know, a mine versus a call center versus a fertilizer factory?
ELK: You know -- Celeste probably is better.
HAYES: Go ahead, Celeste.
MONFORTON: I was just -- what I wanted to say was, when you have an
agency that has such a huge mission, nine million workplaces, and so few
inspectors, it`s a real challenge to figure out where it`s best sending
those inspectors to spend their time. And so OSHA does have a number of
emphasis programs, particularly for those facilities that have highly
hazardous chemicals. But even that, they`re only going to get to a few
dozen of those plants.
And so, Chris, your question is an appropriate one. But I think it`s
a little difficult to think about risk when you are -- when you have such
limited resources to get to --
HAYES: -- too thin to be thinking in this kind of comprehensive way
about risk that you would want to prevent something like this. Has this --
Mike, you`ve been reporting about this a lot. Is this something that has
gotten better or worse in the last five years? Has it more or less stayed
ELK: Well, you know, if you look over the long run, if you look at
how difficult it is for OSHA to enact new safety rules, Obama has not in
his four and a half years in office initiated and completed a new safety
rule on any matter. There have been rules from previous administrations.
The average length of time it takes for OSHA to identify a new problem and
issue a rule is seven years.
The Obama administration is currently issuing new rules -- the Reagan
administration issued new rules at a rate four times that of the Obama
administration for workplace safety. So it`s gotten progressively worse
over the last 30 years.
HAYES: Yes, Celeste?
MONFORTON: If I might put that in context. I mean, we have to think
about what has gone in Washington, D.C., in terms of real attacks on
regulatory agencies. They`re vilified. They`re made to be responsible for
the fall of our economy. That`s not what happens. There is no evidence
whatsoever to demonstrate that workplace safety regulations by OSHA make
any impact on a business` ability.
And I would argue that a facility like this that blows up, not only do
you have the devastation of people who`ve been killed, you have now lost
numbers of jobs and you have a community that`s completely devastated by
HAYES: Yeah. This is a perfect example of -- I don`t -- I cover
public life for a living. I don`t think very often about who`s regulating
huge warehouses of nitrates that are sitting there and could blow up.
That`s someone`s job, right? Someone is out there doing this. One place
is the Chemical Safety Board. They do post -- they do post-disaster
investigations. They try to create recommendations.
Here`s a statistic to give you a sense, Celeste, about the kind of --
the squeezing there is on regulatory bodies more fully. Here is -- those
gray bars are recorded incidents, right, chemical workplace incidents. And
those orange bars are investigations. What you see is a gap opening up
between the two. Does that track with what you have seen, Celeste?
MONFORTON: Absolutely. You talk about the Chemical Safety Board,
their budget is 10 million dollars. You know, 10 million dollars. They
try to respond to high consequence incidents. But we have about 200 of
those in our country every year. They can do a handful, maybe five or six.
HAYES: They`re on the way to investigate the aftermath of what
happened in West with the fertilizer plant, along with a bunch of other
federal agencies. Right now, we don`t know what happened and we will be
continuing to follow that story. Mike Elk of "In These Times" and Celeste
Monforton, former OSHA policy analyst, thank you.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts
right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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