'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, June 19th, 2013
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
Past transcripts by month
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
June 19, 2013
Guest: Tom Weiner
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the
Map time. This is Canada. Canada is enormous. Canada is the second
largest country in the world by area. It`s provinces and territories
stretched from Yukon territory in British Columbia in the west, all the way
to Labrador and Newfoundland in the east.
The eastern parts of Canada are way further east than you think they are.
There is a whole time zone in Canada that is an hour further east than the
time zone in U.S. East Coast. And then beyond that, there`s another one
that`s even further east. For Newfoundland alone, and that`s one of those
weird, half hour time zones.
Canada is huge. But the Canadian province that sits roughly on top of the
state of Montana is the Canadian province of Alberta.
And earlier this month, just outside a place called Zama City in northern
Alberta, there was a plane full of oil company officials flying over that
part of the province. And they noticed there was something wrong. They
noticed than an oil pipeline had burst, even though nobody had heard
anything about it.
An Alberta oil pipeline that was being operated by a Texas company called
Apache just leaking all over the place. The spill was first noticed that
day by company officials flying -- they noticed it from the air. They in
turn notified the government of Alberta.
But something weird happened after they notified the government of Alberta,
nobody said anything. The company and the government just kept quiet about
the whole thing for days and days and days and days. The spill was first
spotted from the air on June 1st. It was not until 11 days later, on June
12th, that the government finally said anything publicly about the fact
that it had happened. Some local residents learned about the spill before
the government announcement, quote, "after somebody reported it to a local
But the rest of the public was essentially left in the dark. Asked why
they kept quiet about the whole thing that entire time? An official from
the oil company told a local reporter out there, quote, "It didn`t affect
people in general. There wasn`t anybody harmed. There wasn`t anybody that
was directly affected."
That is not at all true. Here`s what spill looks like, just oil and
wastewater and toxic goo everywhere. As you can tell, this is a heavily
wooded area. This is actually an environmentally sensitive wetlands region
that a local Indian tribe relies on for hunting and trapping and their
A chief for that tribe told a local official that every plant and tree died
in that area that was touched by the spill. The newspaper describes it
this way -- across the broad expanse of northern Alberta, the landscape is
This spill which the oil company and the local government decided to not
inform the general public about for 11 days after they knew about it, turns
out to be giant. It turns out to be one of the largest spills of its kind
in recent history. It covers an area of more than 100 acres, 9 and a half
million liters of this toxic goo has been released.
And even though the oil company has insisted publicly that what was spilled
was not actually that harmful, they say, it`s mostly just saltwater, trust
us. The images that have been released by those who actually live in the
area seem to show a heck of a lot more oil mixed in with that fresh clean
salt water that was spewing out of the pipeline. In response to this
spill, there was a lot of initial questioning about whether enough was
being done to maintain the aging oil infrastructure in that area, whether
these old pipelines were meeting the necessary safety standards, whether
more should be done, whether more should be invested in safety sake in
replacing all the old stuff.
And that worry is why it freaked everybody out so much when they realized
this big disaster in Alberta was not because of the old stuff. The
pipeline that failed and that took those 100 acres with it when it failed,
a pipeline was only 5 years old. It was a 5-year-old pipeline designed to
last for 30 years, it didn`t even make it one sixth of the way through its
expected life span.
A spokesman for the oil company said it was, quote, "kind of puzzling" as
to why the pipeline leaked. Hmm, we have no idea. I wonder why that
Pipeline spills have become a fairly common thing in North America. Not
just in Canada, but here as well. There was, of course, the big Exxon
pipeline spill that took place earlier this year in Mayflower, Arkansas.
That was actually an aging pipeline. None of the area residents in the
area knew their houses were on top of a pipeline, but it was there. The
burst pipeline that sent oil flowing through the streets like a wave. That
pipeline that burst in Arkansas was nearly 65 years old.
It was also the giant Yellowstone River oil spill in Montana, July 2011.
That was also an Exxon pipeline. That one fouled one of Montana`s
legendary natural assets. And there was the Enbridge oil spill right near
the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010. That one has taken years to clean
up. Cleanup costs are up to a billion dollars and counting so far. In
part because that`s Alberta tar sands oil and no one really knows how to
clean up Alberta tar sands oil.
But up in Alberta, up in the oil fields up there, it`s the Red Deer River,
a major source of drinking water for the province, that the oil spills have
been fouling lately. Oil spills have been fouling a lot up there for a
long time, the network of infrastructure through Alberta have had an
average of two crude oil spills of some kind or another every single day
for the past 37 years. Two spills a day.
And it is easy to conclude that that`s Canada`s problem to deal with,
right? But President Obama right now has to decide whether that is going
to be our problem, too.
President Obama personally has to make a decision very soon about whether
or not to approve construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline that will carry
oil from Alberta, Canada, all the way through the United States from our
northern border, to the Gulf of Mexico. That project requires a
presidential permit in order to go forward because that pipeline crosses
the international border with Canada.
The company that`s trying to get that presidential approval to build the
pipeline is a company called TransCanada. TransCanada`s public pitch about
why President Obama should approve their permit immediately is all about
how safe this pipeline`s going to be.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSS GIRLING, TRANSCANADA CEO: We can build a safe pipeline. This will be
the safest pipeline that has ever been built in the United States. And I
don`t think that the process needs to take this long.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This will be the safest pipeline that has ever been built many.
That was the CEO of TransCanada. They`re going to make this as safe as
This week, we learned maybe not. TransCanada has reportedly decided to
reject the latest most state of the art technology that is out there for
catching oil leaks in pipelines.
There is a system out there of infrared sensors and fiber optic cables that
are laid outside the pipeline in order to detect a spill as soon as it
happens. That system exists. That sort of technology has officially been
recommended by the U.S. government for this particular pipeline project.
But TransCanada says actually we`re good. We`re not going to do that.
They say employing that sort of technology would be impractical for this
project. So, they`re just not going to do it. Yes, they said they would
be the safest pipeline ever, but not that safe.
The spill detection systems that they are planning on using have what`s
called a spotty record of catching leaks, according to the U.S. Department
of Transportation. TransCanada is going to go with the spotty record stuff
anyway, instead of the state of the art stuff.
That sort of attitude toward safety on this project is part of why there is
so much political consternation and attention and protests when it comes to
this one particular pipeline. And, you know, honestly, this would not be
the only pipeline in the United States, it`s not like we don`t have others.
We`ve already got more than 19 million gallons of oil moving around the
country by that means every single day. But this project and a few others
like it, would add another 5 million gallons a day to what we`ve got
already, which would be a big increase.
There`s also consternation here because this pipeline is huge. It crosses
the whole country. It essentially cuts the entire country in half. And in
so doing, it runs through a lot of really important, very large sources of
American drinking water and groundwater, which has caused concerns even
among pro oil Republican governors who find their jurisdictions to be along
the planned route.
Honestly, the other reason this is such a hot button political issue is the
fact of who gets to make the decision. Because it crosses an international
boundary, this is on President Obama personally to make the decision. It`s
his thumbs up or his thumbs down as to whether or not we can bear the risk
of this thing as a country.
So, the fact that this company is not trying to lower the risk as much as
they could, that does ratchet up the pressure even further in terms of
whether or not the president is going to approve this thing.
As does the president`s own insistence on keeping the issue of the
environment and climate change at the top of his agenda. On the list of
things that he says he wants to do, something about in his second term. He
keeps saying that over and over again. In all these high profile speeches,
even with congress saying they have no interest at all in helping him work
Today was just the latest instance of President Obama doing that. The
president travelled to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to give a speech. He
stood under a broiling hot sun, wiping sweat off his brow, he had a broken
teleprompter, forced him to read his speech off paper.
The president said we must confront the crisis of climate change before it
is too late.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The grim alternative affects
all nations -- more severe storms, more famine and floods, new waves of
refugees, coastlines that vanish, oceans that rise. This is the future we
must avert. This is the global threat of our time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The global threat of our time. That was today in Germany.
But it echoes exactly what the president said in the longest treatment of
any policy issue in his inaugural address earlier this year when he said,
"We will respond to the threat of climate change knowing the failure to do
so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny
the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating
impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.
America cannot resist this situation," he said, "We must lead it."
The president followed up those strong words with even more talk about more
climate change, during his State of the Union Address, which is a few weeks
later. But from that, we have one interesting political point.
So, the president I very publicly urging action on this issue, saying that
we`ve got to do something on this. But behind closed doors, he has
apparently been telling sort of a different story. He`s been apparently
acknowledging the very real political dangers in choosing to act on this
issue. This is according to reporting from "The Washington Post."
They say that during a recent private fundraiser in California, quote,
"President Obama expressed concerns about the political pain involved,
saying that dial testing of his State of the Union speech showed that the
favorability ratings plummeted when he vowed to act on climate change if
Congress refused to do so."
So, interesting that dial testing would show people not liking the idea of
the president saying he would act on this if Congress didn`t. But even
more interesting that President Obama is telling his donors that at fund-
raisers when he`s explaining to them what`s going to happen in the second
So, behind closed doors, President Obama acknowledging that acting alone on
this issue because Congress won`t carries with it a certain amount of
political risk, but acting alone even with that acknowledged political
risk. One that`s on his mind that he`s talking about in unscripted
moments, even with that, it is apparently what he intends to do. Because
paired with the speech of the Brandenburg Gate today, the White House now
says that as soon as next week, we should expect a major presidential
address announcing new policy on the issue of climate change. None of
these new policy efforts will require any money from Congress or any
legislative action from Congress. This is the president acting on his own.
The president, we are told will be acting directly despite what he was
telling everybody privately about his worries about the dial testing.
So, how does President Obama weigh the strategy here? And are there
lessons from how previous presidents have dealt with strategic dilemmas
like this, that may be informing what he is about to do?
Joining us now is my friend, Steve Kornacki. He`s host of MSNBC`s weekend
morning show "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI." He`s also a senior writer at
Steve, thanks for being here.
STEVE KORNACKI, UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI: Happy to be here.
MADDOW: Are there historical parallels for other presidents consideration
decisions like this, whether or not it`s on the environment?
KORNACKI: I think the biggest thing to keep in mind is, it`s the second
term, not the first term. There are political calculations here because
he`s the head of the Democratic Party. So, the party, there`s a certain
amount of -- any political decision he makes, any policy decision he makes
that has political ramifications, it will affect the entire party, it will
affect Democratic candidates in 2014.
But you are talking about a president that does not have to face the voters
again for the rest of his life. He will not be a candidate in 2016. He
will not be a candidate ever again.
There`s a little bit of freedom that comes with that, and I think there`s a
little bit of urgency that comes with it, too, because of the gridlock and
because of the Republican obstruction and opposition that he states. I
think you sort of have this realization on the part of the White House that
there`s an opportunity here for immigration, if you get beyond immigration
legislatively, where are the opportunities to make a big lasting impact on
an issue that really matters.
And there really isn`t anything on the horizon right now. And you look at
an issue like climate change, this is something that Obama`s base cares,
you know, deeply about. This is an issue that he tried to do something in
his first term, got stalled legislatively. And this is an issue where
there are executive powers, he has executive powers that he can use to go
around Congress on this.
So, I think if there`s a time to face the political risks of it, it`s the
MADDOW: In terms of putting this agenda out there as a non-legislative
agenda, putting this out there things I can do with a Congress that won`t
act. What do you make of the fact that President Obama has been bringing
up that dial testing with donors presumably California donors rich enough
to be hearing the president talk off the cuff and an off the record
meeting, I guess where supposed to think are interested on the environment
and pressing him about what he`s going to do on those issues. And he`s
responding talking about what an unpopular action he thinks it might be to
take steps on his own.
KORNACKI: Yes, I think there`s a few things. First of all, you have the
Keystone thing in there. And the expectation, I don`t have any real
intelligence from the White House. The expectation you hear as well as I
do, he will end up approving the Keystone pipeline.
So, part of it is I think sort of tempering the expectations of his base
and saying, look, you don`t want the Keystone pipeline, you want me taking
action on climate change. You may not necessarily get everything you want
out of this. So, I think that might be part of laying out the political
risks for them.
Also, though, I do think there`s a risk of -- not a risk, but there might
be a possibility of overstating the political risk of all this too, because
if he takes the executive actions we`re hearing about now, what are you
going to have? You`re going to have Republicans saying Obama`s divisive,
he`s radical, he`s refusing to work with us, he`s going around us, he`s
engaged in a job killing war on coal.
You`re going to hear everything you heard since the day he became
MADDOW: Right. That they`ve been saying all along --
KORNACKI: Right. It`s been effective to a point. I mean, there are
states and parts of the country that are off limits to Obama and Democrats
right now for all intents and purposes electorally. You think of West
Virginia which used to be a Democratic state where Obama just got wiped out
last year. There`s a lot of reasons he doesn`t have a chance in a state
like West Virginia.
But I think, in a lot of ways, they`ve already paid the political price
that they would pay for having an aggressive environmental agenda.
MADDOW: What do you think the political calculation is about the midterms
and if this is something that is done by this president who is never going
to face the voters again, does that insulate Democratic voters --
Democratic members of Congress who you would otherwise be putting on the
spot to vote for his agenda on this and then having to defend it in
borderline states? Would that might be relevant?
KORNACKI: Right. It frees them from the vote. Obviously, you know, in a
state where West Virginia, for instance, you`ll have whoever the Democratic
unit is for any race would be tied to the radical decisions of the Obama
But I also think there might be a second calculation here quickly that`s
worth pointing out, and it`s tied in with rules reform in the Senate and
it`s basically this: Obama`s EPA administrator is facing the potential of
filibuster of Republicans in the Senate. Obama also recently nominated
three judges for the appeals court, the D.C. circuit appeals court, also
facing potential filibuster for Republicans in the Senate. It`s the EPA
administrator who would have to impose all these new rules Obama would be
posing. If there`s litigation on those that t will go to the D.C. circuit
court of appeals.
So, potentially, he`s picking a fight over rules reform that could get in
place in EPA administrator who imposed the rules and judges who would
uphold the rules in court.
MADDOW: Right. All the while worrying about what the dial testing in the
MADDOW: I love this. I mean, the substance of this issue as a policy
matter is fascinating. I think TransCanada made it a lot harder for the
president by rejecting state of the art safety equipment for the pipeline,
with all of these other pipeline spills going. But his calculation on here
is ornate by necessity and it`s fascinating.
Steve Kornacki, host of MSNBC`s morning show, "UP WITH CHRIS KORNACKI" --
Steve, as always, thanks a lot.
KORNACKI: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: All right.
The Republican Party doing its best, trying to reform our immigration
system. It`s a big deal for immigrants. It`s a big deal for Republicans.
What is in the Republican Party`s way? The Republican Party, of course.
It`s been kind of a big day.
That story is next.
MADDOW: Late word tonight that the great American actor James Gandolfini
has died while on vacation in Italy. There are unconfirmed reports that it
was a heart attack. We do not know exactly.
Mr. Gandolfini`s portrayal of a neurotic, powerful mob boss in HBO series
"The Sopranos" is justifiably an icon in modern American story telling.
Tony Soprano is among the great characters in dramatic television history.
More recently, Mr. Gandolfini appeared as the unnamed CIA director in the
movie "Zero Dark Thirty". In a statement tonight, HBO calls James
Gandolfini a great talent and a gentle and loving person. He was born and
raised in New Jersey. He graduated from Rutgers. Among many other things,
he was a strong and visible and proud booster of his alma mater.
James Gandolfini was only 51 years old when he died tonight in Italy.
I`ll be right back.
MADDOW: About a month ago, a researcher at the conservative think tank the
Heritage Foundation caused a round of political consternation for his think
tank and for the conservative movement more broadly when it turned out that
his doctoral dissertation was little on the white supremacist side. So
much so that he got fired from the conservative think tank, Heritage
Foundation, which was supposed to be leading the charge against immigration
reform, in part using a major report on immigration report that he had
"The Washington Post" first reported the story. Jason Richwine had
written, quote, "The average I.Q. of immigrants in the United States is
substantially lower than that of the white natives of the country. And the
difference is likely to persist over several generations. The consequences
are a lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low I.Q. immigrant groups
and more underclass behavior."
The only reason anybody cared about Jason Richwine and his tome of eugenics
he was also the author of the big Heritage Foundation report on immigration
reform and why we shouldn`t do it. The bottom line of that report, the big
pull quote, the headline, the boil down, the data point heard around the
world was that immigration reform could not happen in the United States
because it would cost $6.5 trillion, trillion with a T. That`s more than
it costs to go to the moon and back 1,000 times but they decided that`s
what it cost to let all these low I.Q. immigrants in the United States get
While the racial purification guy ended up getting fired, his report
stayed. His report that immigration reform would cost a bajillion dollars,
that report has stuck around and heritage is just still trying to use it.
It`s idea that stuck around on the right edge of the American political
spectrum. Immigration reform will be very, very expensive.
As it turns however, the Congressional Budget Office which actually scores
things like immigration reform, they say the truth is the opposite, the
nonpartisan research arm of Congress just crunched the numbers on
immigration reform and they estimate that the bill that Congress is now
considering would save the country about $175 billion over the first 10
It would save the country that much money. And over the next decade it
would save another $700 billion. It would make the deficit shrink, not
grow. It would be economically beneficial not economically bad. And that
makes the politics of this awkward.
Exemplifying the awkwardness today was the juxtaposition of the two things
that congressional Republicans did today to try to reach out to Latino
voters. On the one hand, Speaker of the House John Boehner, for the first
time on the history of his speakership, met with the Congressional Hispanic
Caucus. The caucus is not a partisan body, but it does happen to be all
So, John Boehner met with the Hispanic caucus. Yay, that`s outreach.
That`s a good sign, right?
On the other hand, yesterday, John Boehner said he would not bring to a
vote any immigration bill that did not have the majority support of
Republicans in the House.
This is what other Republicans were doing today. And all day essentially
filibuster, and all day filisbustery news conference that lasted from 9:00
in the morning until 5:00 in the afternoon, all about their opposition to
immigration reform. All about how immigration reform would be disastrous
for the country.
On the same hand, only way out in right field, you also have everybody`s
favorite Internet star Glenn Beck who is now comparing the peaceful pro-
immigration protesters who protested at the Kansas secretary of state`s
house, he`s comparing them to the Ku Klux Klan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, RADIO HOST: Seven hundred protesters got into buses at a
church and went to his house to protest. This is, I believe, the same
exact tactics used by the Klan in the 1960s.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: By tactic, you mean travels from point A to point B in a vehicle
powered by a combustible engine, then, yes, immigration reform protesters
are exactly like the KKK, Mr. Beck. And thank you for proving beyond
reasonable doubt the infallibility of things like Godwin`s law.
When the Heritage Foundation let the eugenics guy write its report on
immigration reform, the big boss at the think tank, of course, was Jim
DeMint, used to Senator Jim DeMint. He used to be the Republican senator
from South Carolina before he up and quit in the middle of his term in
order to go run the Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation was
supposed to provide the intellectual backbone for the anti-immigration
movement. That is how it was suppose to go.
Then, it turned out the backbone was sort of really ostentatiously racist
and the researcher got fired. But Jim DeMint did not get fired. And
today, when FOX News needed a guest to talk immigration reform, they booked
Jim DeMint. That was their go-to expert guy.
Over in the Senate, the bipartisan group of senators working on the
immigration reform, the immigration reform bill, they reported a few hours
ago, they have made significant progress. One Republican senator said a
deal could be reached as early as tomorrow.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: At the start of this week, the FBI called a big, very highly
covered press conference to announce a new addition to their 10 most wanted
list. This is the list of the 10 people who the FBI considers the most
dangerous people in the world.
The new addition to this list that they wanted to announce was this man,
Walter Lee Williams, who is wanted for the alleged sexual exploitation of
children. The FBI had their big press conference on Monday announcing that
Walter Lee Williams was now on their 10 most wanted list.
That was on Monday, he`s on the list. By Tuesday, he was captured. One
day after the FBI put him on their most wanted list, he was caught in
That`s kind of an impressive thing, right? And that is not the shortest
stint someone has had on the 10 most wanted list. In 1969, it was a man
named Billy Austin Bryant who was caught on murder charges after two hours
on the list. The FBI put him on the 10 most wanted list, two hours later
they had him.
The 10 most wanted list is some list. More than 90 percent of the people
who go on that list eventually get caught. The whole reason the 10 most
wanted list exists is because of publicity. It has been around since 1950,
when reporters asked the FBI to please name some of the toughest guys who
they were pursuing. The resulting list the FBI gave to the reporters
created so much publicity, that the FBI`s director, J. Edgar Hoover,
started the 10 most wanted fugitive`s program that same year. It has been
proven to work over time.
So, now, the FBI holds these press conferences announcing who the top these
10 worst bad guys are, and they get a ton of coverage, they got a lot of
headlines out of those announcements. And then more often that not, they
catch the bad guys and that, of course, gets them even more headlines.
The FBI can marshal a whole lot of press attention whenever it wants to,
and it does so all the time, when it comes to things they want to get
attention for and things they feel are their own successes.
And then there`s the opposite, when the FBI does something that actually
needs explaining. Not publicizing or bragging about it, but explaining.
Something that maybe even needs investigating, but that the FBI would
rather everybody shut up about.
And that story is coming up next.
MADDOW: We`ve got that FBI story coming up, along with the interview
tonight in just a second. But, first, one news note particularly to watch
out for tomorrow, to set the scene for you, this is the screen in Sao
Paolo, Brazil, today. Demonstrators took to the streets in big anti-
government demonstrations in Sao Paolo. About 50,000 people shutting down
the main roads leading into Sao Paolo, which, of course, is Brazil`s
In another city in the northeast of Brazil, at least 15,000 people rallied
outside a soccer stadium before a match between the Brazil and Mexico.
Police there fired teargas and rubber bullets into the crowd to try to
Important thing here, and the reason for the news note on this is that
today was supposed to be the day off from protesting. Today was supposed
to be Brazil`s day off from protesting, after a nationwide demonstrations
swept through at least 10 major cities in Brazil, in the past week, today
was the day that protest organizers said nobody would protest. They would
take the day off.
But in a country as big and populated and apparently as annoyed with the
government as Brazil is right now, a day off is not a normal day off -- a
day off means that just 65,000 people took to the streets anyway. This
past week in Brazil has seen hundreds of thousands of Brazilians out in the
streets, demanding better public services, demanding an end to public
The protesting in Rio alone is estimated to include 100,000 people. The
relatively peaceful protesters have been met with an aggressive police
crackdown in certain cities. Protesters walk-through the streets, police
have shot into the crowd with rubber bullets, and paper spray and tear gas.
There were also reports of intensified police brutality in certain cities,
including this video of a Brazilian reporter being beaten up by a police
officers while covering the protest in Sao Paolo earlier this week.
One startling photo that has become the iconic image of this conflict thus
far. This is on the front page of "The New York Times` this morning. It
shows a woman being pepper-sprayed from point blank range.
She`s being dressed casually. She got her back over her soldier. She does
not appear to be posing any threat to anyone. But this is how the police
are treating her.
The story behind this photo that this woman was reportedly standing
completely alone in what appears to be a deserted, and these three riot
officers approached the woman and told her to leave. She objected to them
verbally and this is what they did.
The police appear to have taken an aggressive stance. Brazilian President
Dilma Rousseff has tried to diffuse the situation by praising the marchers.
Yesterday, she said, "My government hears the voices clamoring for change.
My government is committed to social transformation. Those who took to the
streets yesterday send a clear message to of all society, above all to
political leaders, at all levels of government."
President Rousseff, it should be noted, is up for re-election next year.
The protests in Brazil started last week over a bus fair increase of 10
cents but Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro suspended today. They also now plan
on reducing public transit fairs following the protests.
But, you know, just about the protests in Turkey are no longer about the
preservation of a park, which is where all those protests started, this
protest that took place countrywide in Brazil this week have come to be
about much broader complaints about Brazilian governance and about social
services and about national priorities.
Last year, Brazil became the sixth largest economy in the world. But
income inequality is a huge issue. About one in five people live below the
poverty line, about 6 percent of the people in the country surviving on a
dollar and 25 cents a day.
Demonstrators are protesting in part against billions of dollars being
funneled not into education or health care or other basic needs for the
population, but into big spectacular events, into stadiums and facilities
being built for Brazil to host the World Cup for 2014, and the Summer
Olympics in 2016. The cost to Rio de Janeiro to host the World Cup is
estimated to top $13 billion.
And the protests today around the stadium, following on the start of the
soccer confederation`s cup, which is a tournament that`s a precursor to the
World Cup, this is Brazil today. This is Brazil today, a supposed day off
from the protests. These have been incredibly dramatic, incredibly big
But the main organizers say tomorrow is not the day off. The tomorrow will
be the day to watch for when everybody should be expected to hit the
streets. It`s going to be a big news story tomorrow. Watch it here.
MADDOW: About three weeks ago in Moscow, there was a really dramatic press
conference which I have to warn you includes the display of some graphic
images, the press conference was called by the family of Ibrahim Todashev,
who was shot and killed by FBI agents in Orlando last month.
Mr. Todashev was 27 years old. He`s originally from Chechnya. The FBI was
questioning him because years earlier he had been friends with one of the
suspects in the Boston marathon bombing.
Mr. Todashev himself was not a suspect in the bombing. There were never
even allegations that he had anything to do with the bombing.
But while agents were interviewing him at his house in Orlando, something
happened and he ended up dead. The photos his father displayed at the
press conference, he distributed them as well, they appear to show his son,
his body with six bullet wounds in his torso and one to the back of his
head, at the crown of his head, left side rear quadrant.
We have not authenticated these photos. Nobody has.
But the family says the photos were taken by a family friend in Florida who
went to the morgue in Florida and saw his body there. And if these photos
are real, and he was shot seven times, including one in the back of his
head, that is a little hard to square with the idea of him being shot in
self-defense by FBI agents.
At the press conference, Mr. Todashev`s father said he would try to travel
to Florida himself, to at least try to collect his son`s body to bring it
back to Russia to be buried. That was three weeks ago, that press
conference. Well, today, the father finally got the body home. An
overnight flight last night took the body from Florida to Russia.
"The Boston Globe" reporting that part of the reason it took so long to get
the body is because the FBI is still holding on to the man`s green card and
his passport which made it hard to get the body shipped home.
Officially, the cause of death from the medical examiner is just listed as
homicide. We have nothing else from them. The FBI will not even let the
medical examiner`s office release the information about how many times Mr.
Todashev was shot.
On the day of the shooting, the FBI said officially that he was killed
after he initiated a violent confrontation of some sort during his
interview. Initially three unnamed law enforcement sources leaked to the
press that actually Mr. Todashev had been armed with a knife and that`s why
they had to shoot him. Within 12 hours of those initial claims, though,
two of the three law enforcement sources recanted and said, he did not have
And there were other unnamed law enforcement sources that said he was
totally unarmed. Why did they have to shoot him at all then? And
apparently shoot him a bunch of times? Time for a new leak.
Then, we got another new set of leaks from unnamed law enforcement sources,
saying, OK, he didn`t have a knife, he didn`t have a blade of some kind,
but he wasn`t unarmed either, he had a pole or a broomstick or maybe it was
a sword. He threw a chair, he tipped over a table. Maybe lunged for a
ceremonial sword that was right there, maybe it wasn`t right there, it was
across the room, somewhere in the apartment maybe.
There have been FBI law enforcement leaks about what happened from the
beginning. All contradictory, but all making it seem like the FBI did the
right thing by shooting and killing this guy. And in the face of all that
unnamed source leaking, the official word has been nothing.
So, unofficial self-exonerating leaks by the dozens. But officially,
"The Boston Globe" describing the FBI in this case as being unusually
tight-lipped, saying their refusal to clarify anything about how and why
they killed this guy in Florida, quote, "contrasts sharply with past
shootings involving agents." The only word from the FBI officially at all
was that violent confrontation press release the day of the shooting, and
then a week later, they put out another statement that gave the address
where the shooting happened and the guy`s name.
But the only thing they said is the shooting was under review internally.
Quote, "The FBI is conducting a review. While this internal review process
is occurring, we cannot comment regarding investigative details, the FBI
takes very seriously any shooting incidents involving our agents and as
such, we have an effective time tested process for addressing them
internally. The review process is throughout and objective.
Time-tested process. This was supposed to be a reassurance, be patient.
Sure, this whole thing kind of makes no sense and hasn`t really since the
very beginning, but the FBI itself will get to the bottom of it,
You want to know how that`s going to go? According to the blockbuster
scoop in "The New York Times" today, the FBI has used this internal review
process to investigate 150 shootings by FBI agent over the past two
decades, 70 people shot and killed by FBI agents, 80 people shot and
wounded by FBI agents. And if you add those together, in all 150 of those
cases, the FBI internal review process said that the shooting was
justified, all 150.
In a FOIA lawsuit, "The Times" got 2200 pages of documentation from the FBI
showing that perfect 100 percent exoneration rate for all FBI shootings
that killed or wounded someone. Those documents are for shootings between
1993 and 2011. And since 2011, quote, "same pattern". An FBI spokesman
says that since 2011, there have been no findings of improper intentional
shootings by FBI agents.
So, more than 150 shootings that killed or wounded somebody, all reviewed
internally, all of them -- every single one turns out it was just fine,
That was even the finding in one shooting in Maryland in 2002, where an FBI
agent shot an innocent man in the head after mistaking him for a bank
robber. They shot him in the head, he survives and the bureau settled the
lawsuit with him by paying him $1.3 million. But still, the internal
review said the agent did nothing wrong. So, then why did you pay him $1.3
They have never in at least 20 years ever said an agent did something wrong
when an agent killed or wounded a person. Not once. If that seems
sketchy, don`t worry. Law enforcement sources, as always, have an
explanation. Quote, "Current and former FBI officials defended the
bureau`s handling of shootings, arguing that the findings of improper
behavior were attributable to several factors, "Agents tend to be older,
more experienced and better trained than city police officers and they
generally are involved only in planned operations and tend to go in with
overwhelming presence, minimizing the chaos that can lead to shooting the
So, they never shot the wrong people, except for sometimes when they shoot
the wrong people and have to pay them $1.3 million. But even then, trust
us, it`s fine -- 150 out of 150 all clear. And that is the perfect review,
perfect record process that is under way right now in the thus far totally
unexplainable killing of the young man who the FBI shot and killed while
questioning him about the suspects in the Boston marathon shootings. That
is the review process that the FBI says justifies the agency saying nothing
about the shooting at all, other than their incoming, self-exonerating
unofficial leaks to the press.
And this is the only review that will ever happen of that shooting. This
is no other official inquiry of any kind into the shooting. Not the local
prosecutor where the shooting happened. Not an independent federal
inquiry, even though two Massachusetts state troopers were there at the
apartment when the guy got killed. There will be no other kind of internal
review process, that in 20 years has a 100 percent perfect record of
exonerating the FBI every time.
No wonder the family is livid. How can this possibly the system that we`ve
Joining is now for the interview is Tim Weiner. He`s a Pulitzer Prize-
winning reporter. He`s author of three books, including "Enemies: A
History of the FBI."
Tim, it`s great to see you.
TIM WEINER, AUTHOR: Hello, Rachel.
MADDOW: Why do you expect or what should we understand about the total
information blackout about the Todashev killing?
WEINER: The FBI is our secret police. And they do a lot of dirty,
difficult, dangerous jobs, working against spies and terrorists, like white
collar criminals. But there is one job they can`t do, and they`ve never
been able to do in their 100-year history, which is to police themselves.
MADDOW: If a prosecutor in Orlando said you know what? This has been
ruled a homicide by the medical examiner and this happened on my patch, I
want to investigate. Could that happen?
WEINER: No. I mean, a giant comet will hit the Earth before that happens
because the FBI jurisdiction is nationwide, and it trumps local law
enforcement in every case. There is only one force that is able to
investigate the FBI, and that is the inspector general`s office at the
Justice Department, which on the flow chart of the government is above the
FBI. That is a small crew of over-worked and under-paid lawyers. They
have investigated misconduct by the FBI before, but not individual
shootings. They will get after great systemic problems but not a pattern
of misconduct as revealed in the nifty scoop by my old newspaper today.
MADDOW: Well, pattern of conduct. I mean, this scoop is astonishing.
It`s a result of a FOIA lawsuit. "The Times" has received and posted
online 2,200 pages of documents that are all of these review, but the
bottom line is, is that in 150 of them, the record is 0-150.
Shouldn`t we expect that that pattern is too suspicious to go
WIENER: This is one of the great problems with democracy. OK? We want a
secret police to keep us safe. And we want to be free and have civil
liberties, freedom of information and knowledge, but who is going to police
the police? OK?
This has been a problem of democracy ever since they came up with the idea
in Athens a while ago.
MADDOW: Has there ever been an effective effort over the course of the
life of the FBI while it has existed in this way, to police it better than
it has been policed?
WEINER: I can think of two. After Watergate, after Nixon fell, the FBI
had to investigate itself, because under Nixon and Johnson, going back in
the `60s, they had broken into people`s houses, tapped their phones, gotten
their mail, without warrants in pursuit of domestic terrorists like the
Weather Underground. OK.
WEINER: Policing people with illegal tactics in the name of national
security. And the FBI did investigate itself and wound up indicting it
number two guy, Mark Pelt, also known as "Deep Throat" and his intelligence
They were convicted of conspiring to violate the civil rights of Americans
and pardoned by Ronald Reagan during his first months in office.
The second is an inspector general report of the take-down of a terrorist
who had been on the lam for 30 years, a bomber, lived in Puerto Rico and a
member of the FALN, which conducted a number of bombings in the city of New
York, and across the country, in the name of liberating Puerto Rico from
the United States.
Well, the FBI went in there in 2005 and it was, they have a term they used
in the Marines we can`t say on television, but the first two syllables are
clustered. And the chain of command in a lethal operation should be like
the chain of command of the military. But it was screwed up beyond all
The bureau`s self-policing depends on the senior FBI officers, who tend to
turn over every two years, and, you know, go into private security industry
jobs, and have no effective oversight of themselves or the agents under
their command over the long run.
MADDOW: If there is not a political outcry to exert political pressure on
the FBI to make this right after this "New York Times" scoop, I don`t know
what will happen in modern times toward that end. But it was a fascinating
WEINER: It would be helpful to have a strong attorney general.
MADDOW: Maybe a new director of the FBI.
WEINER: There will be a new director of the FBI in September, and good
luck to him.
MADDOW: Tim Weiner, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of among other books
"Enemies: The History of the FBI." Tim, thank you. It`s great to have you
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Update, when President Obama nominated his chief of staff Jack Lew
to head of the Treasury, created a tiny crisis when we all realized that
signing our money was going to be part of his new remit. That`s a crisis
because Jack Lew`s signature looks like this.
There is a lot of speculation, including on this show on how we would
survive it. But now, we know, because Jack Lew fixed the problem. He made
himself a new signature, just in time to exercise his new responsibilities
at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
This is what the new signature for Jack Lew looks like. Here it is on the
$5 bill. The new bills will hit our wallets as of this fall, thus solving
the potential national disaster of having giggle worthy squiggles on all of
our money, also though helping our national obesity epidemic by making us
not all subconsciously crave cream-filled chocolate cup cakes every time we
decide to pay cash.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Thanks for being with us tonight.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2013 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2013 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
WATCH 'THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW' WEEKDAYS AT 9:00 P.M. ON MSNBC.
MORE FROM RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Add Rachel Maddow Show headlines to your news reader: