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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

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THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
May 8, 2013

Guests: Ed Smart, Elizabeth Warren, E.J. Dionne, Rep. Steve Israel

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Today in Washington, here in Washington,
Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced her first piece of legislation.
Tonight, Senator Elizabeth Warren will join me in a LAST WORD exclusive.

We will also have the latest from Cleveland and a review of what we
learned in today`s hearing about Benghazi.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: We are learning chilling new details in
the case of the three Cleveland women.

TAMRON HALL, MSBNC ANCHOR: Kidnapping case out of Cleveland, Ohio.

JANSING: Who were kidnapped and held captive for more than a decade.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amanda Berry has just returned home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has been a long time since I`ve seen a crush of
cameras and reporters like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would encourage everyone to give them a little
space.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Meanwhile, we`re getting new disturbing
details.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The women were bound in chains.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were kept isolated from each other.

HALL: There are questions today about the Cleveland police department
itself.

WAGNER: Whether police missed key warning signs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just signed criminal complaints charging Ariel
Castro.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifty-two-year-old Ariel Castro --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mastermind, the ring leader, if you will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These seven criminal complains are first degree
felonies.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Meanwhile on Capitol Hill --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some Republicans are calling it a scandal bigger
than Watergate.

WAGNER: Putting the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi under the
microscope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Benghazi.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Benghazi.

HALL: Benghazi.

WAGNER: Again, and again and again.

JANSING: The Republican spotlight returns to the Benghazi tragedy.

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: This is a partisan play now.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: The full scale media campaign to
smear public officials.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I expected a real bombshell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like I know what happened in Benghazi.
There was no news today. I`m fairly satisfied.

AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: This has nothing to do with the facts or the
truth.

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: The search for truth about the Benghazi terror
attack is now under way.

O`REILLY: That`s a tough one because now it is a partisan issue
rather than a truth issue.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: For the first time in out ten years, Amanda Berry and Gina
DeJesus are resting at their homes tonight. Family members of both women
spoke to the media and asked for privacy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETH SERRANO, SISTER OF AMANDA BERRY: I just want to say we are so
happy to have Amanda and her daughter home. I want to thank the public and
the media for their support and courage over the years. At this time, our
family would request privacy so my sister and niece and I can have time to
recover.

NANCY RUIZ, MOTHER OF GINA DEJESUS: I want to thank everybody that
believed, even when I said she was alive, and believed. And I want to
thank them. Even the ones that doubted, I still want to thank them the
most, because they`re the ones that made me stronger, the one that made me
feel the most that my daughter was out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Michelle Knight, the third woman who escaped, is still in
the hospital. Tonight, we have a new recording of police radio traffic.
Here is an edited version of communication between the dispatcher and the
police on the scene.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DISPATCHER: I have a call tick on the phone with a female, who says
her name is Amanda Berry and she had been kidnapped 10 years ago. And
she`s at that location now. She`s still on the phone right now, she`s
saying that the male, Ariel Castro, 52-year-old Hispanic male, that lives a
2207 Seymour, and that he`s been holding her here for 10 years.

POLICE: This is Adam 23. You have a boss coming? This might be for
real.

POLICE: Adam 23 radio.

DISPATCHER: Go ahead.

POLICE: We found them. We found them. We got a female conscious and
breathing. She`s got a young child with her.

Make it two. We also have a Michelle Knight in the house. I don`t
know if you want to look that up in the radio. The system, 32 years old.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Police have charged Ariel Castro with four counts of
kidnapping and three counts of rape. People say that Ariel`s two brothers
who were arrested with him on Monday, will not be charged in connection
with the kidnappings.

Tonight, we`re learning more about how the women were kidnapped and
what went on inside the house on 2207 Seymour Street. According to the
police report, Michelle knight who went missing in August 2002, said that
Ariel offered her a ride home, and then took her to his house.

Amanda Berry, who went missing in April of 2003 said that she was
walking home from her job at Burger King when Ariel offered her a ride
home. After he told her that his son worked at Burger King. And Gina
DeJesus, who went missing in April of 2004, said that Ariel told Gina he
would give her a ride to his house to meet up with his daughter, who Gina
knew from school.

All three women say that Ariel chained them up in the basement, but
eventually let them free from the chains and let them lived upstairs on the
second floor.

Cleveland police today denied that they received any phone calls to
check on that house and they say they`re confident that they haven`t missed
any leads in this case.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED TOMBA, CLEVELAND DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF: I`m just very, very
confident in the ability of those investigators and those law enforcement
officers that they checked every single lead and if there was one bit of
evidence, one shred of a tip, no matter how minute it was, they followed it
up very, very aggressively.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now from the scene in Cleveland is MSNBC`s
Craig Melvin.

Craig, can you sort out for us this situation with the police? There
are reports over the years of people saying that they indeed call the
police about occasional activities at that house. What do we know about
that record?

CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Lawrence, you know, that`s been
one of the biggest questions here, today and quite frankly yesterday as
well. A number of neighbors say, insisted, in fact, on our air throughout
the day said they called 911.

I talked to a council member earlier today who said maybe that did
happen, maybe a neighbor called 911, but there is a chance that, you know,
somehow, some way, that the calls slipped between the cracks. There still
seems to be a bit of disconnect between law enforcement and some of the
folks in this community when it comes -- when it comes to that question.
We should note that there is going to be a public meeting here tomorrow
night at 7:00 in a church at the end of the block.

They`re going to spend a great deal of time talking about the
relationship between the people who live in this -- live in this
neighborhood, and the police, to describe -- to describe that dynamic as a
complex one would not be doing it justice. There has been some long-
standing issues in this neighborhood between the police and between the
folks who live here. You mentioned how all three of the young ladies were
taken captive. They were all lured, all lured with the ride.

One of the things that we found most interesting, Lawrence, was in
this police report, you start to look at the geography of where these girls
were picked up, Amanda Berry, for instance, West 110th Street and Loraine
Avenue. Georgina DeJesus, 105th and Loraine. And then the last one, 106th
and Loraine, 106th and Loraine. All of this happened within five or six
blocks.

We talked to the investigators today who basically said that he had an
M.O., and he stuck to that M.O. Fifty-two-year-old Ariel Castro will be in
court tomorrow morning. We`re told that he waved his Miranda rights today
and that he began when questioned, he began to talk fairly quickly, giving
police detectives, giving the investigators a lot of information, some of
which we expect to hear more about tomorrow morning.

O`DONNELL: And, Craig, what about the brothers, the Castro brothers,
the police now seem to suggest they were not involved.

MELVIN: Yes, Pedro and Onil Castro are the two brothers in question
here. And the thinking throughout the course of the day was that they
would be charged with something. Come to find out, again this is after
some conversations with law enforcement, come to find out according to
police they had absolutely no idea what their brother was allegedly doing
inside this house of horrors behind me. They will be in court tomorrow
face some misdemeanor bench warrant stuff, but no serious charges for the
two Castro brothers.

We should note, though, that according to a number of sources, all
three of the Castro brothers are well known to police in this neighborhood.

O`DONNELL: Craig, thank you very much for joining us with the latest.

MELVIN: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, a man who knows better than anyone the
road that these families have ahead of them. Ed Smart, whose daughter
Elizabeth Smart spent nine months in captivity.

Mr. Smart, I can only imagine what feelings this story brings up for
you. I want to listen to something that your daughter, Elizabeth, said
yesterday about these three women.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIZABETH SMART: You can still go on. You can still make your
decisions. You can still become who you want to be. And anyone who can`t
see that, they just don`t know you or their eyes just aren`t open to see
who you really are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Mr. Smart, your daughter was captive this way for nine
months. What do you think are the parallels for these young women who are
captive for nine years or more?

ED SMART, FATHER OF ELIZABETH SMART: Well, I think there are a lot of
-- a lot of things. The one thing I think that really comes home is that
they are home now, that they have a chance of having a life, not in
captivity, but free, and to be rejoined with your family. I mean, that day
that Elizabeth came home was so overwhelming to us.

And for those families who are still out there, waiting to find out
what happens, the not knowing is the worst of all. And certainly to be
rejoicing at the return of these girls, but, you know, the girls went
through who knows how many assaults as Elizabeth did. They were, of
course, finally freed.

The manipulation, the captivity, I know Elizabeth was, you know,
chained, not chained, but cabled by her ankle between these two trees and
unable to leave this area for three months. And certainly the manipulation
that these predators have is just amazing. And to think that he would be
able to, you know, keep them hidden from society. I mean, Elizabeth was --
had that veil over her face, nobody thought to tear it off, even the police
officer, and here there were three women there in that house. It`s just --
it is unbelievable what can happen.

And, you know, I`m sure there are many others out there that we don`t
know about. And we really need to be vigilant in keeping our eyes open,
and, you know, I think more importantly than anything is we need to prepare
our children as a society to be able to deal with bad things that happen.

And we don`t do that. I hear about life skills that are taught in
school. But that really doesn`t focus on horrible things that can happen.
And I`m not talking about scaring the children, but preparing them. I
think radKIDS is one program we work with.

O`DONNELL: Mr. Smart, what do you say to your daughter after the hugs
and the "I love yous" and all of that, and they`re home for a few days, how
do you approach talking about what happened? Do you just follow her lead?

SMART: You know, we certainly follow her lead, but we make sure that
she knows that we do not hold her responsible for anything. Usually the
predators will try to keep them in control, making them feel some guilt or
some responsibility for what has happened to them, and, you know, they need
unconditional love, they need support from family, from friends, from the
community, and as Elizabeth said, it`s so important for them to be able to
move beyond this, certainly there is going to be a court case. But their
life doesn`t have to be defined by these 10 years. Certainly they were
stolen from them, but they have a whole life in front of them to enjoy.

O`DONNELL: Ed Smart, I`m sorry for what you had to go through to
become something of an expert at this very difficult subject, and thank you
very much for joining us tonight.

SMART: You bet. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, how is it that these senior senator -- the
senior senator from Massachusetts is just now getting around to introducing
a bill in the Senate for the very first time? Well, it`s because the
senior senator from Massachusetts is only in her fourth month in the
Senate. And so, she`s actually ahead of schedule for first year senators,
introducing their first bills.

The senior senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, will be my
next guest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: One Fund Boston, the fund created to help the survivors of
the Boston marathon bombings, has raised more than $28 million. But the
fund`s administrator worries that that may not be enough. Kenneth Feinberg
said on Tuesday that the fund won`t be able to pay everyone who expects
payments and to meet their needs in full.

You can still contribute to One Fund Boston. Go to onefundboston.org.

Coming up, my exclusive interview with Senator Elizabeth Warren on the
day that she introduced her first of legislation in the Senate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: If the Federal Reserve can
float trillions of dollars to large financial institutions at low interest
rates to grow the economy, surely they can float the Department of
Education the money to fund our students, keep us competitive, and help
grow our middle class.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Massachusetts Senior Senator Elizabeth Warren
introducing her first piece of legislation in the Senate today. The bill
is designed to give students relief from high interest rates on federal
loans which are scheduled to double on July 1st from 3.4 percent to 6.8
percent.

Senator Warren`s bill would allow students to borrow at the same rate
that big banks pay to the Federal Reserve, which is currently about 0.75
percent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN: In other words, the federal government`s going to charge
interest rates nine times higher than the rates they charge the biggest
banks, the same banks that destroyed millions of jobs and nearly broke the
economy. That isn`t right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Senator Warren, thank you very much for being here on your
debut as a legislator on the Senate floor. How did that feel out there and
do that?

WARREN: It felt good. Yes. It did.

O`DONNELL: And you`re ahead of schedule of the other first year
senators. They usually wait a while in doing this. But this thing just
makes so much sense.

WARREN: That`s it. And we can`t afford to wait.

O`DONNELL: Exactly. The deadline is coming up.

WARREN: You know, if Congress does nothing, July 1st, July 1st,
because they`re going to face a doubling of the interest rate of their new
student loans. We can`t just do that.

O`DONNELL: And so, what`s the process for this. What committees it
have to get through and --

WARREN: So, HELP would be the right committee. That`s what I fought
to get on. So, I`m Banking and HELP, Health, Education, Labor and Pension.
Although we could take it straight to the floor.

O`DONNELL: Right. That`s a very simple -- this is a simple bill. I
have my copy here. I want to get an autographed copy before you.

But it`s very simple. It`s just changing some numbers. It is easy to
legislate.

You know, it has the one flaw that it has, I think, as something for
the United States Senate today, it makes too much sense.

WARREN: Now, now.

O`DONNELL: Senator, this makes perfect sense. Why would they do
that?

WARREN: Yes.

But, you know, that is the point now. We really have a chance to do
some things that make sense. This for me is about grassroots legislation,
getting lots of people involved, getting students involved, their families
involved, anybody who looks at this and says, wait a minute, let me get
this straight.

We, the taxpayers, make this investment in big financial institutions.
Can`t we make us the same investment in our students who are trying to get
an education? Because, look, we do this for the banks, because we believe
that this is going to help the economy, right, help us on a shaky recovery,
same thing is true for our students.

The Fed came out with a study in March, they said that student loan
debt, which has a real impact on the families` bottom line is threatening
our recovery.

And so, let`s do the same thing for the students. Let`s help them get
their education, lend them the money, make them pay it back, but just help
them out on the interest rate. That gives us a first start in helping our
students get an education. It is not the whole fix, not the whole deal,
but it`s a good first start --

O`DONNELL: So, for me to oppose your bill, I have to stand up there
and say, yes, sure, less than 1 percent is a perfectly reasonable interest
rate for giant banking institutions. But you don`t want a student to get
an interest rate like that.

WARREN: That`s right.

O`DONNELL: That would be my --

WARREN: That`s what has to be your pitch. That`s exactly right. And
you might point out that student loans right now for every dollar that the
U.S. taxpayer is putting into student loans, right now, the government is
getting 36 cents back in profits.

So, the students are a profit center right now for the government.
The kids are out there struggling to get an education, but not those big
financial institutions. Come on.

O`DONNELL: It is such an interesting cross current of Elizabeth
Warren expertise. You`re an educator. This is an education and a tuition-
oriented bill.

But also involves the big financial structures of this country, the
advantages they get against the little guy who has no advantages. You
always have been in this zone of the consumer versus the big financial
structures.

WARREN: This is why I ran for the United States senate. This is what
it is all about. The big banks -- they got an army of lobbyists out there.
They got an army of lawyers to fight for them.

Our students have just their voices. And they call on us to do the
right thing. And that`s what we need to do. That`s what we need to do
here.

O`DONNELL: So, Senior Senator, that`s got to feel pretty good. John
Kerry was --

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: I think he was a senator for about 75 years waiting to be
senior senator. He gets to be senior senator and then immediately leaves.

WARREN: That`s right.

O`DONNELL: You`ve got this fresh face in the House, little Eddie
Markey, running to be the junior senator from Massachusetts.

WARREN: Yes.

O`DONNELL: How is he doing so far?

WARREN: Ed Markey is great. I mean, come on. He`s been out there
fighting on behalf of families forever. He`s been out there on gun issues,
you know, banning assault weapons, going to be a big difference I think in
this race. He`s been out there on environmental issues.

I`m really out there for Ed Markey on this. He`ll be a good partner
in the Senate. He`ll do the right thing. He`ll be in, fighting this kind
of fight.

O`DONNELL: As last Democrat who ran through a Republican opposition
to get to the United States Senate, in Massachusetts, did you see any new
plays run against you that Ed Markey needs to know about and be ready for?

WARREN: Well, you know, the point I think for the Republicans is
don`t talk about being a Republican and don`t talk about what it means to
be a Republican.

O`DONNELL: And do not mention that name Mitch McConnell.

WARREN: Right. Do not mention Mitch McConnell and don`t mention the
things that the Republicans are in the United States senate fighting for.
For me, and my race, what it was all about is if we would just talk about
how it was at the other guy was voting, voting with the Republicans, how he
strengthened the hands of those who opposed gun control, how he
strengthened the hands of those who wouldn`t support equal pay for equal
work, how he strengthened the hands of polluters over our kids, who needed
help and needed support.

And I think the same is true with Ed Markey in this race. If it is
about the issues, if it is about who we want to have represent us in
Washington, the values they`re represented there, the votes that are
represented there, I think Ed is going to do great in Massachusetts.

O`DONNELL: Senator Warren, congratulations on your first bill. If I
could just get your autograph here on my copy of the first Warren bill,
this is very exciting.

WARREN: For Lawrence, you bet.

O`DONNELL: This will be the framed and then I`ll -- then I`ll get a
copy of the one the president signs when it becomes law.

WARREN: Oh, your mouth to God`s ears.

O`DONNELL: Senator Warren, thank you very much for joining us
tonight.

WARREN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, President Obama has just finished dinner with a
group of House Democrats. And one of the House leaders who was at that
dinner will join me.

And a House committee actually held a hearing on Benghazi today in
which some of them actually did talk about what actually happened in
Benghazi.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The House of Representatives had another hearing about
Benghazi and this time it was actually about what happened in Benghazi.
Yes, of course it included what happened on the Sunday talk shows after
Benghazi that featured U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. The focus for once was
actually more on what happened that night when the American ambassador and
three others were murdered in Libya.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK THOMPSON, BUREAU OF COUNTERTERRORISM: Later, when I heard that
the situation had evolved to them going to a safe haven, and then the fact
that we could not find the ambassador, I alerted my leadership, indicating
that we needed to go forward and consider the deployment of the Foreign
Emergency Support Team. I notified the White House of my idea. They
indicated that meetings had already taken place that evening, that had
taken FEST out of the menu of options. I called the office within the
state department that had been represented there, asking them why it had
been taken off the table and was told that it was not the right time, and
it was not the team that needed to go right then.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: What clearly emerged in the testimony is that in
Washington, the State Department and the White House recognized the
severity of the problem all along and were intently focused on the action
in Benghazi. Republicans at the hearing believed that the passage you just
heard proves that the Obama administration handled the crisis badly because
they did not immediately send the Foreign Emergency Support Team. But no
one who could have explained why the Foreign Emergency Support Team was not
sent was allowed to testify at today`s hearing, which was exclusively
focused on three men the Republicans kept calling whistle-blowers.

But a whistle-blower tells you something from inside an organization
that the organization doesn`t want you to know. I watched the hearing
hoping to learn something that the government didn`t want me to know. And
the Republicans had the hearing hoping to find out something that Hillary
Clinton didn`t want you to know. And here`s what their star witness had to
say about Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREGORY HICKS, FMR. CHIEF OF MISSION IN LIBYA: At about 2:00 p.m. --
2:00 am, sorry, the Secretary called -- Secretary of State Clinton called
me, and along with her senior staff were all on the phone. And she asked
me what was going on. And I briefed her on the developments.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: What emerged clearly in the hearing today is that there
were no military assets within range that could have prevented what
happened in Benghazi that night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HICKS: At about 10:45 or 11:00, we confer and I asked the defense
attache, who had been talking with AfriCOM and with the joint staff, is
anything coming? Will they be sending us any help? Is there something out
there? And he answered that the nearest help was in Aviano, where there
were fighter planes. He said it would take two to three hours for them to
get on site, but there also were no tankers available for them to refuel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And Gregory Hicks told of the -- of a disturbing
disagreement with the military that night about when to send a rescue team
from Tripoli to Benghazi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HICKS: People in Benghazi had been fighting all night. They were
tired. They were exhausted. They wanted to make sure the airport was
secure for their withdrawal. As Colonel Gibson and his three personnel
were getting in the cars, he stopped and he called them off and said --
told me that he had not been authorized to go. Colonel Gibson was furious.
I had told him to go bring our people home. That`s what he wanted to do.

He paid me a very nice compliment. I won`t repeat it here. So the
plane went, I think it landed Benghazi around 7:30.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So what you have there was a disagreement between the
people on the ground in Libya and the military commanders somewhere else,
who delayed the authorization of the flight to Benghazi, but even if the
flight had gone as soon as possible, according to the testimony we heard
today, it would have arrived after the damage was done. And if this was a
hearing run by a chairman who actually wanted to get at the truth of how
and why things happened, the next witness you would turn to would be a
military witness, who could explain why there was a delay in the flight,
perhaps the military officer who ordered the delay.

You would also call a witness to explain why the Foreign Emergency
Support Team was not authorized to go to Benghazi, immediately. Democrats
actually requested that the chairman include those witnesses. But the
chairman refused. And so in today`s hearing, we learned what it felt like
to be with the embassy staff in Tripoli that night, knowing that your
colleagues were under attack in Benghazi. We learned how confusing the
flow of information was to and from Libya that night. We heard about some
things that weren`t done. But we never heard even the slightest possible
explanation for why they weren`t done.

And we didn`t hear about one thing that could have been done that
would have changed the outcome of the attacks. But, of course, we did hear
about Sunday talk television.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: So fast-forward, Mr. Hicks, to
the Sunday talk shows and Ambassador Susan Rice. She blamed this attack on
a video. In fact, she did it five different times. What was your reaction
to that?

HICKS: I was stunned. My jaw dropped. And I was embarrassed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now is "Washington Post" columnist E.J. Dionne.
E.J., so no changed facts. Nothing in the condition of this Benghazi
situation here in Washington changed as a result of this hearing, unless I
missed something.

E.J. DIONNE, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I missed it too. I mean,
we`re almost at the point where some people seem to believe if you say
Benghazi backwards five times, a conspiracy will magically appear. If you
look at today, Dana Milbank has a piece up tonight where I think he got it
exactly right. He said they summoned a whistle-blower to Capitol Hill, but
instead they got a virtuoso storyteller.

Mr. Hicks was amazing. You could see it in the -- in that video. And
as Dana goes on to say, his gripes were about bureaucratic squabbling
rather than political scandal. Yes, there are some questions to ask. And
as you suggest, there are answers we might get. But these her hearings
don`t seem to be about that.

What really struck me is the difference between this hearing and the
actual Watergate hearings. They keep trying to compare this to Watergate.
If you go back to Sam Irvin, a conservative Democrat who is very
nonpartisan, those were bipartisan hearings where they got to a conspiracy
after assembling the facts. In this case, they seem to have several
conspiracies in mind, and keep looking to see if there are facts that can
back up their preconceived notion.

O`DONNELL: The Watergate hearings had humility. Hard to believe, but
the questioners were kind of humbly going forward. And you could see with
a lot of them, it was a grim duty. They kind of didn`t want it to be this
bad. And these guys had a political conspiracy from the start, which was
Susan Rice was sent out there by the campaign to say it was a movie that
did it, not al Qaeda that did it, because President Obama protects you from
al Qaeda. There was this campaign idea.

And now they`re trying to reengineer the scandal stuff all the way
into what happened that night. They`re trying to get it going at both ends
of this thing.

DIONNE: Right. And I mean, when I watched Susan Rice say that, I
myself was surprised. Because it struck me at the time that this started
with the movie and the reaction against the movie, but it looked like there
was something organized there, which eventually is what happened. But she
was briefed to say that. And she said that. And the CIA was worried about
naming al Qaeda and creating all kinds of other problems. So she was kind
of stuck.

But the notion that what somebody says on a talk show at all is
related to some vast conspiracy, the administration did its own
investigation. And it wasn`t like it was a whitewash. They said a whole
bunch of things went wrong. And they -- you know, and Mr. Hicks himself in
the testimony today -- Mr. Issa is trying to say, well, Hillary Clinton
signed all these cables. He testified she signs every cable. It is the
normal thing. I wish we could just investigate and not start out with a --

O`DONNELL: And Elijah Cummings brought out what the military leaders
have already said about this, both what Secretary Panetta has said, what
General Dempsey has said. General Dempsey said it might have taken them 20
hours to get any kind of airplanes there. And you know, Elijah Cummings
invited Mr. Hicks or any of the witnesses to disagree with the military
leaders, and they did not.

These weren`t witnesses trying to fight this political fight that the
Republican members were trying to fight.

DIONNE: And it is interesting because you wonder why don`t, if the
Republicans are trying to say the military guys made a wrong decision, and
that`s not -- that`s not a crazy view. The military makes mistakes. Go
say it, and have them come and challenge them. But they don`t seem to want
to do that.

O`DONNELL: And the likelihood of people making bad calls somewhere in
that 12 hours is very high. You`ve got a minimum of a 50 percent chance
that some of the military involved made what we now know is a bad call.
But let`s get to that if that`s what you want to investigate here.

DIONNE: Right. And the other thing I hope comes out of this -- I
mean, I think we agree we haven`t done enough to honor our troops when they
get home and to help them out. We pay no attention to the risks that
people in the State Department take. I`ve been abroad. I`ve watched these
folks. They are very courageous folks. It shouldn`t take four people
being killed to remind us.

O`DONNELL: That was one of the great things about Gregory Hicks`
testimony today, to actually get that point across clearly. E.J. Dionne,
thank you very much.

DIONNE: Thank you very much.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, a special guest Rewrite tonight with George
Takei and Jerry -- Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

And President Obama just finished another dinner, this time with House
Democrats. We`ll find out every single word of what was said in that
dinner from one of the Democrats who was at the table.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In gun news tonight, a five year old in Houston shot and
wounded his seven year old brother last night with a 22 rifle. The boys
were in the bathtub when their mother stepped away. The seven year old is
expected to survive. Both parents may face charges.

In Tampa last night, a three-year-old boy found his uncle`s gun and
shot and killed himself. His mother, father and uncle were all in the
apartment. The uncle bought the nine millimeter gun at a gun shop and had
left it in a backpack in a bedroom. The uncle has a concealed weapons
permit and faces a culpable negligence charge.

On Saturday night, a 13-year-old boy accidentally shot his six-year-
old sister near Ft. Lauderdale. He accidentally pulled the trigger of a
handgun he found while the two were alone at home. The girl is in critical
condition.

On Friday, a four-year-old boy in Brighton, Alabama, was shot when he
and a four-year-old girl found a gun, and one of them pulled the trigger.
The boy is in critical condition.

The Rewrite is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Tonight`s guest Rewrite is by George Takei and Jesse Tyler
Ferguson. Funny or Die and Tie the Knot, an organization that supports
marriage equality, have produced a short video with George and Jesse hoping
to Rewrite our country`s marriage laws to achieve marriage equality.

George and Jesse are hoping that maybe a little humor might soften the
opposition to marriage equality.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE TAKEI, ACTOR: I`m George Takei. I`m a person, a trekkie and a
bow tie enthusiast. I need to talk to you about something very important:
marriage equality.

This is a typical American neighborhood, friendly faces and quiet
streets. But there is one person living on this street whose orientation
threatens to destroy society. There is Dale Wilson, struggling with his
lawn mower. What you can`t tell about Dale is that he`s sick. He opposes
marriage equality.

Dale looks normal, but he gives off clues of his prejudice with
buzzwords like pro-family, traditional marriage, or poll smoker.

Dale wants to restrict marriage to a man and a woman. He doesn`t care
whether the couple just met on a drunken trip to Vegas, a reality show, or
if they`re only marrying for a green card. Dale would let any two idiots
marry, unless those two idiots are gay. Dale likes to say that same sex
couples will hurt marriage, but Dale has been divorced twice. His third
marriage to Joan is, well, take a look at her. She doesn`t look happy,
does she?

Dale`s dangerous opinions threaten to keep over 1,100 rights away from
gay couples. Everything from tax deductions to property rights. But
that`s not the worst part. The most offensive symptom of Dale`s ignorance
is that he robs same sex couples of their big gay wedding.

Nobody throws a wedding better than the gays. The music, the flowers,
the costumes, a party like that could cure Dale`s illness, if only he
wasn`t so sick. The good news is that feelings are changing. Many people
are evolving into champions of equality by participating in reparative
therapy that includes watching a Broadway musical, attending a WNBA game,
buying a bow tie, or simply meeting a gay person.

The most important thing to remember when dealing with people who
don`t support marriage equality is to be kind. They are most likely hiding
their own homosexuality. Besides, these people don`t know they`re being
ass (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: President Obama has just concluded another big dinner with
members of Congress. This one at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington, with
nine Democratic members of the House of Representatives, including Minority
Leader Nancy Pelosi. A source close to the dinner says the president
contacted Nancy Pelosi who then organized the dinner.

Joining me now, a source who was at the dinner, Congressman Steve
Israel. OK, go ahead. You got a few minutes. Everything. Everything.

REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: Dinner with the president, dessert
with you.

O`DONNELL: What did he say? What did you say? Word for word, what
is the hottest thing said? What was the thing said at that dinner that
could get you all in the most trouble? Just that.

ISRAEL: I`m not going to tell you that. I will say this, we had a --
the same kind of dinner time conversation that most Americans have at their
dinner tables. We talked about how you grow the middle class, how you
protect jobs, and help people get a little more in their paychecks, how
they recover their home values, how you protect retirement securities. And
the one thing we need to get all those other things, how you get House
Republicans to compromise. We talked about --

O`DONNELL: Go ahead. You have the floor. How do you get them to
compromise? Everyone listening to us right now thinks that is impossible.

ISRAEL: It is very difficult. In fact, just before the dinner, what
did the Republicans pass in the House of Representatives? They passed a
bill to assault overtime rights of working Americans. So how do you build
paychecks when you`re taking cash overtime away from people? Very
difficult to do. I think the --

O`DONNELL: Can you explain to me, you`re physically close to these
guys during the day. Why in the House do they vote on things like that
that they know will never be law? Why should they be recorded as having
said, I want to take your overtime away?

ISRAEL: Because they either live in an echo chamber or they`ve been
hijacked by their base, because they live in a world where they believe
that you cannot be extreme enough. And so they vote on irrelevancies and
they vote on things that really won`t help the middle class, won`t help
working families, but will help them with their political base. And that`s
why this country is in the mess that it is in right now.

O`DONNELL: The -- one of the statements from the White House on
background said that the president discussed ongoing efforts to find common
ground with both sides to reduce our deficit in a balanced way. The most
controversial way he has proposed deficit reduction in a large package of
other things -- you have to include all those other things for him to do
this -- is, as we know, chained CPI, an adjustment in the cost of living
increase for Social Security, veterans benefits that would probably reduce
those incases somewhat. Was that part of the discussion?

ISRAEL: No. It didn`t specifically come up. I will say this, I have
my own concerns about chained CPI. But I think the president unmasked the
Republicans. When he proposed that, he wasn`t proposing it as his idea.
It was the House Republicans` idea.

(CROSS TALK)

ISRAEL: That`s right. And what did they do? They rushed to the
television cameras to condemn their own idea. So how can you be optimistic
about House Republicans` ability to compromise when they condemn their own
ideas? It is why the last poll I saw says that 70 percent of the American
people believe that House Republicans are just too extreme.

O`DONNELL: Now, does the president in this kind of dinner, does he
say to you guys, all Democrats, listen, give me some running room on
certain things, give me some maneuver room on certain things, which would
be things like chained CPI, and don`t worry about when you see me
maneuvering this way, because Republicans are nuts and they`re probably
going to blow it up anyway, and this will actually help unmask them, as you
just said.

ISRAEL: He didn`t talk about running room and he didn`t talk about
maneuvering. He talked about where he is dug in on three things.

O`DONNELL: Let`s hear it. Where is he dug in?

ISRAEL: He`s dug in on three core principles. And we agree with him.
We share these principles. Number one, we need a balanced approach to
budgets. Number two, we have to have priorities that are fair to the
middle class and protect the middle class. And number three, we have to
have smart and sensible investments in things like infrastructure.

So we talked about specific ideas and solutions in those three areas,
and where can we find Republicans to join us in -- on common ground on
those three areas?

O`DONNELL: We`re showing endless video of you guys going into and
coming out of the dinner. Couldn`t quite get our camera in there. So did
you get to order individually or is it just he tells you what --

ISRAEL: No, there was a menu. Here was a fascinating glimpse of the
president. He came in. He likes to get right down to work. This was a
two and a half hour working dinner. He came in and he said, well, let`s
order. And then he said, I`ll get the waiter. He stood up and headed to
the door until somebody said, Mr. President, I think I can do that for you.
That was a fascinating glimpse of how he likes to just get right down to
work.

O`DONNELL: He doesn`t want doesn`t want to waste a second.
Congressman Steve Israel, thank you very much for spilling all the beans
about what happened --

ISRAEL: We didn`t have beans.

O`DONNELL: -- at the ultra-secret dinner tonight. Thank you very
much, congressman. Chris Hayes is up next.

END

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