All In With Chris Hayes, Friday, August 30th, 2013
Read the transcript from the Friday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
August 30, 2013
Guests: Jim McDermott, Bill Richardson, Tamara Alrifai, P.J. Crowley, Tom Perriello, Eli Lake, Amy Goodman, David Sanger
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
U.N. inspectors tonight are preparing to leave Syria in anticipation
of an imminent strike by forces of the United States -- a strike which
seems all but assured after the Secretary of State John Kerry came before
the nation today with a stunningly aggressive case for military
intervention in Syria. He began what he called facts about the chemical
weapons attack that took place near Damascus last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: We know that for three days before
the attack, the Syrian regime`s chemical weapons personnel were on the
ground in the area making preparations. We know where the rockets were
launched from and at what time. We know where they landed and when.
The United States government now knows that at least 1,429 Syrians
were killed in this attack, including at least 426 children.
We know that a senior regime official who knew about the attack
confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime. The American
intelligence community has high confidence, high confidence.
This is common sense. This is evidence. These are facts. The
question is what are we collectively? What are we in the world going to do
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: After taking through the evidence in an intelligence report,
Kerry moved on to why a chemical attack on the Syrian people matters to the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: It matters that nearly 100 years ago, in direct response to
the utter horror and inhumanity of World War I, that the civilized world
agreed that chemical weapons should never be used again.
It matters today that we are working as an international community to
rid the world of the worst weapons. It matters to our security and the
security of our allies. It matters because a lot of other countries whose
policies challenge these international norms are watching.
What we choose to do or not do matters in real ways to our own
security. Some cite the risk of doing things, but we need to ask, what is
the risk of doing nothing?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Secretary Kerry speaking directly to the American people then
made two things very clear -- the United States will go it completely alone
if it judges it necessary, and the American people`s war fatigue is not, in
his mind, an excuse for inaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: President Obama will ensure that the United States of America
makes our own decisions on our own timelines based on our values and our
interests. We know that after a decade of conflict, the American people
are tired of war.
Believe me, I am, too. But fatigue does not absolve us of our
responsibility. Just longing for peace does not necessarily bring it
about, and history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned
a blind eye to a dictator`s wanton use of weapons of mass destruction
against all warnings, against all common understanding of decency. These
things we do know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: John Kerry`s extremely strong statement this afternoon seemed
to leave almost zero doubt the White House intended to act unilaterally in
Syria with military strike, but then rather confusingly, it was almost
immediately followed up with a statement from the president, himself, at an
event with Baltic leaders that if not substantively opposed to Kerry`s, the
opposite in tone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The world has an
obligation to make sure that we maintain the norm against the use of
Now, I have not made a final decision about various actions that might
be taken to help enforce that norm. I have had my military and our team
look at a wide range of options, without considering any open-ended
commitment, without considering any boots-on-the-ground approach. What we
will do is consider options that meet the narrow concern about chemical
weapons, understanding that there`s not going to be a solely military
solution to the underlying conflict and tragedy that`s taking place in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now with the latest is NBC News chief Pentagon
correspondent, Jim Miklaszewski.
Jim, what`s the latest from the Pentagon in terms of whatever
preparations are being made?
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI, NBC NEWS CHIEF PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris,
as the president said, he`d made no final decision. But I can tell you
that there is a final war plan in place here at the Pentagon. It would
require some last-minute tweaks as the Syrian military moves around some of
its forces and military assets, but the U.S. military is on standby and
ready to pull the trigger. They`ve got five guided missiles destroyers
there in the eastern Mediterranean. Each is loaded with as many as 50
And, by the way, most of the targets are already programmed into those
missile warheads, even this far in advance of any potential launch. In
addition, you know, there is the USS San Antonio, that`s an amphib ship,
with 300 marines aboard, that moved into the eastern mid part today and
they`re not going to be involved in this operation against Syria. But, you
know, any time, you`re involved in a military operation, things go wrong
and they`re just standing there just in case.
But the primary targets, again, are chemical weapons command and
control centers -- not the weapons, themselves -- and the delivery systems.
Artillery, rockets, and any aircraft that is associated with that chemical
HAYES: Jim, can I ask you this?
HAYES: Can I ask you, is there a tactical logic that I am not
grasping behind what has been essentially telegraphing this strike for days
now and the nature of what it might be, the artillery that might be
involved and the targets we might go at. What is -- what is the thinking
there about going about it in this fashion?
MIKLASZEWSKI: A tactical logic, no. As a matter of fact, there are
already reports that the Syrian military is dispersing many of those
assets. So, it may take many more cruise missiles than originally planned
to take them out.
And there are also reports that they`re taking prisoners out of their
jails, some militants, obviously, and they are dispersing them at some of
the potential target sites.
So, from a military standpoint, this might be considered one of the
worst things to do in advance of an attack. But from a political
standpoint, it appears that the president believes and the White House
believes this is absolutely necessary to win over the American public.
Polls have shown that most Americans are against any kind of attack against
Syria until you insert -- well, what if they`re attacked with cruise
missiles and there are no boots on the ground? And then, the favorable
rate for an attack on Syria increases.
HAYES: That actually makes --
MIKLASZEWSKI: So there`s a little bit of military and politics which
don`t always necessarily mix.
HAYES: That makes a lot more sense now. NBC News chief Pentagon
correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, thanks.
MIKLASZEWSKI: You bet.
HAYES: Joining me now is Congressman Jim McDermott, Democrat from
Washington state. He`s part of the growing bipartisan movement that wants
Congress to vote before any action in Syria.
Congressman, what was your reaction to John Kerry`s statements today?
REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: Well, it sounds very much like
Iraq. We`ve got the drumbeat of war, and we`re giving the bum -- they`re
giving us the bums rush that everything is all in line and everything is
I remember Colin Powell going to the United Nations and telling us the
very same sort of thing. They knew everything. And you can see what we
got out of Iraq.
I actually remember the attacks that Bill Clinton made on Sudan and
Afghanistan back in 1995. Those were also told that we were going to hit a
munitions factory where they were making weapons of mass destruction, and
we are rushing too fast.
The Congress should be brought in. We should all be made aware of
what`s going on. It should not be the president acting unilaterally.
It is not his army. It is the Army of the United States of America,
and we are the ones who are sending them to war and we should vote to do it
and take responsibility for it.
HAYES: I could not agree more with you, Congressman. Have you
communicated with fellow members about this?
One of the things I find troubling is the terms of the conversation
between Congress and the executives seem to be terms of consultation, of
briefing, as opposed to assertions of the Article 1 power of the
Constitution. People coming back from recess, joining in the Capitol and
actually calling a vote -- which you do not have to wait on the president
MCDERMOTT: Well, that`s my view. He could have called us back two,
three days ago. I mean, they`ve been making all these preparations at the
Pentagon as though we were just bystanders in this whole business.
We are the ones who tax the people. We raise the money. We buy the
weapons. We do all of that. And we put the president in charge of them.
But we don`t give him the responsibility by himself to pull the
trigger. He has to ask us for that.
And I come from the Vietnam era, so I have a long history of being
worried about presidents who act unilaterally and he`s doing it again just
like George Bush did. We made George Bush come back to the Congress and
get a vote before we went into Iraq. The Congress, I think, made a mistake
in doing it, but at least we all took responsibility for what happened.
In this one, the president is taking it all on himself. What`s the
hurry and what is the goal? What are you expecting to be the goal that we
accomplish day two after we`ve shot in 50 Tomahawk missiles? Will we have
taken out Assad? Is that the goal? Or is it take out the Syrian army? Or
is it to lay the country waste to make rubble?
What is it we are intending to get out of this?
HAYES: You clearly want a vote on this, and some of our viewers have
been tweeting about this and there`s a lot of consternation, obviously, as
we stand now in the precipice of what looks like another war in the Middle
East. One of our viewers writing into me, the president needs a vote here
if for no other reason to have cover for what happens afterwards.
I mean, do you think there will be political recriminations after the
fact if the president doesn`t go to Congress?
MCDERMOTT: Well, you know, we`ve seen how well the drones have worked
in Pakistan, and we`ve seen all kinds of collateral damage in Pakistan and
Iraq, and we had an 11-year war in which we killed thousands of people, and
the long-term effect of that is that it makes a burned memory in the Arab
mind -- in the Muslim mind about whether the United States is after
Now, I think you have to take this thing very carefully and have
everybody understanding what it is we want as a final result. What did we
get out of going into Iraq? There was no al Qaeda in there when we
started. We, it turned out, well, we got Saddam Hussein. Was it worth all
that mayhem and all the money we spent there for one person?
HAYES: That is the question, obviously, that`s weighing over the
Congress, it`s weighing over the citizenry as we head into this weekend
with everyone on tenterhooks.
Congressman Jim McDermott, thank you so much.
Joining me now is Bill Richardson, former Democratic governor of New
Mexico, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the Clinton
It`s in that capacity, Governor Richardson, I`d like to ask the first
question about the U.N.`s role in all this. New U.N. Ambassador Samantha
Power just has gotten the job in the last week or two. It`s clear that the
U.N. Security Council, unlike the Libya intervention, won`t be signing off
on intervention. Our closest ally, the U.K., has said they won`t be doing
Is there any grounding in international law? Is it legal under
international law for the U.S. to strike Syria?
BILL RICHARDSON (D), FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: First, Chris, I
support the president. I thought Secretary Kerry was very eloquent in
laying out the moral, the legal justifications. I was U.N. ambassador.
It`d be nice to get a resolution under Chapter 7 authorizing military
force. The problem is the Russians will veto it. They`ve said they would.
Short of that, I would try to get some kind of ban on arm shipments,
send Assad to the International Court of Justice that the Security Council
can do, a condemnation statement. I would continue this U.N. effort.
At the same time, what we need to assemble to get some legal
justification, as we did, for instance, with Libya, is what is called a
"Coalition of the Willing" -- European countries, Arab countries, the Arab
League has condemned this.
But I think this -- this is a very tough decision for the president.
I was also, Chris, a member of Congress. I would like the Congress to be
brought in, but I think here the president has to make the judgment on
what`s in the national security of the United States. And what he has said
and what Secretary Kerry has said is that there has been a violation of
international norms, the gassing, the killing of 1,500 people with nerve
HAYES: Governor, let --
RICHARDSON: At the same time --
HAYES: If I could interject for one second.
RICHARDSON: This is a violation of international law.
HAYES: Let me just say --
RICHARDSON: Go ahead, Chris.
HAYES: Two points on this. When you say -- I want to make this
clear. When you use the term coalition of the living, are you aware there
are Americans screaming at their television sets around the country because
it is precisely the term used by the Bush administration when the U.N.
refused to go along with this war in Iraq.
And, of course, we look back and say, you know what, the U.N. Security
Council was right to not go along with the war in Iraq. It has
uncomfortable resonances, doesn`t it?
RICHARDSON: Well, there`s no question. The American people are
skeptical. There`s no question about this. But the president has to do
what`s the best interest of the United States.
And I believe a case has been made for us to respond. Now, again,
we`re not putting boots on the ground. We`re not assaulting and trying to
have a regime change. It`s a very tactical effort -- degrade the bomb, the
military bomb sites, find ways to destroy the artillery, the launches of
the Syrian military. Find ways to shift the military momentum away from
the Syrian military that is winning the war right now.
Most importantly, a response to these butchering killings. Assad
cannot get away with what we did, and what I think the president is doing,
if you get a lot of countries taking stands, is they will put together a
coalition. Hopefully, there will be some action at the U.N. He is
consulting with the Congress. The major national security leaders of the
Congress are being brought in. But this is a very tough decision.
HAYES: Can I ask you this --
RICHARDSON: I support the president.
HAYES: You said Assad can not be allowed to get away with this. And
I think anyone who`s looked at any of the footage, the chemical weapons
attack, who is inclined to believe that it was, in fact, the Assad regime
that did it as was laid out by John Kerry, although I have no idea. I
haven`t seen the unclassified -- the classified intelligence. But let`s
say that is the case.
Even the strikes that we`re talking about do not mean that Assad won`t
get away with what he did. Which is to say if we have some set of limited
strikes that take out some kind of -- some artillery or some delivery
systems for these kinds of weapons, and then the civil war goes about its
business, what exactly is the message there?
RICHARDSON: Well, here`s a message, Chris. I trust, first of all, I
trust our intelligence capability. We have the best intelligence, the
facts have been laid out very strongly. I think the U.N. inspectors in the
next couple of days with their inspections, with their samples, are going
to certify what our intelligence people did.
Now, we have the best, strongest military in the world. These
missiles launchers, these cruise missiles, the tomahawks, they`re going to
do some damage. Now, it`s not going to be perfect, but they`re strategic.
They`re not aimed at civilian targets. They`re aimed at degrading the
military capabilities of the Syrian army, the command and control centers.
That`s what we want to do, Chris. The president is not asking for
boots on the ground.
HAYES: Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, I`m sorry --
RICHARDSON: This not Iraq. My last point. This is not Iraq.
HAYES: I have to go to break. I`m sorry. We have to go to break.
Thank you very much.
HAYES: Former Ambassador Bill Richardson.
The secretary of state on August 30th, 2013 trying to make the case
for intervention in Syria felt eerily like the secretary of state on
February 5th, 2003, trying to make the case for war with Iraq. There are
differences, but outside skepticism remains the same. We`ll talk about
that, coming up.
HAYES: Coalition of the willing. These are the facts. Those phrases
sound oddly reminiscent. In fact, these are the facts is what Secretary of
State John Kerry told the American public today when he laid out the case
for intervention in Syria, repeatedly insisting this isn`t Iraq redux. But
that is what it feels like to many people tonight.
We`ll have more on that, next.
HAYES: For many today was deja vu with the rationale for intervening
in Syria sounding a lot like the chatter leading up to the war in Iraq.
Joining me now is Tamara Alrifai, advocacy and communications director
for the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch. P.J.
Crowley, a fellow at the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global
Communication at George Washington University and former assistant
secretary of state for public affairs in the Obama administration. And
MSNBC analyst Kathleen Hicks, former principal deputy under secretary of
defense for policy in the Defense Department, now senior adviser for the
Center of Strategic and International Studies.
Kathleen, it was striking today how reminiscent John Kerry`s
performance was of the infamous Colin Powell performance before the U.N. in
2003. There was less theater. He was not holding up vials of substances.
He was not throwing to sound bite as Colin Powell did.
But one could not help but be struck by the parallels between the two
and it is precisely the hangover from the fact that that first one turned
out to be basically nonsense that it is hard to listen to John Kerry with
the same kind of open mind to the truthfulness of what he`s saying.
KATHLEEH HICKS, MSNBC ANALYST: I thought John Kerry did a fantastic
job of taking that issue head-on. Iraq is clearly the background against
to which this entire discussion about Syria is going on. Here he is trying
to present an intelligence-based assessment just as Colin Powell did, and,
again, in his talk he said right there and then why this is not like Iraq.
And I thought he was quite convincing.
First and foremost, there is no doubt that Syria has chemical weapons.
There is no doubt that the regime controls those chemical weapons. The
only doubt appears to be the extent to which Assad, himself, may have
personally been involved in any kind of decision about their use this past
HAYES: Can I say this? First of all, obviously, the Iraq situation
is weighing heavily on everyone involved in this situation. But, in fact,
he me just give a taste of that with the invocations of Iraq by David
Cameron, John Kerry and President Obama today. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
DAVID CAMERON, UK PRIME MINISTER: I am deeply mindful of the lessons
of previous conflicts. And in particular, the deep concerns in the country
caused by what went wrong with the Iraq conflict in 2003. But this is not
KERRY: Our intelligence community has carefully reviewed and re-
reviewed information regarding this attacks and I will tell you it has done
so more than mindful of the Iraq experience. We will not repeat that
OBAMA: I recognize that all of us here in the United States, in Great
Britain, in many parts of the world, there`s a certain weariness given
Afghanistan, there`s a certain suspicion of any military action post-Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
HAYES: Kathleen used the phrase, there is no doubt that Syria has
chemical weapons, that the regime has them and that -- I`ve heard that from
a million different people, and I am not a defense reporter.
P.J., explain to me how I as a citizen can listen to the phrase, there
is no doubt X about a finding of the intelligence community vis-a-vis a
foreign country`s weapons of mass destruction and not be skeptical?
P.J. CROWLEY, FORMER STATE DEPT. OFFICIAL: Well, I mean, there are
two facts. There`s the presentation today that suggests that 1,400 to
1,500 people were killed by a nerve agent. There`s also an undeniable fact
that 100,000 people have been killed in a civil war over two years. And
that also is the responsibility ultimately of the regime.
So, I -- I mean, Iraq weighs heavily in all of this, but I think
there`s a fundamentally different approach. I think the American people,
the world is skeptical about what military power can accomplish. The
administration is skeptical about what military power can accomplish.
They`ve made a basic point, we`re going to do a certain thing. We`re going
to do it for a limited period of time.
And as David Cameron said, there are lots of things we`re not doing,
and there`s a danger -- we saw it in Iraq, overreach. There`s actually
potentially the danger of under reach and not trying to accomplish enough.
HAYES: That was the case Kerry made today.
Tamara, one of the interesting findings in Kerry`s assessment today
was the number killed in this attack. That was far exceeded the numbers I
heard from third party groups, NGOs, Doctors Without Borders, 1,429.
Human Rights Watch has been doing work on the ground. What do you
make of that number?
TAMARA ALRIFAI, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: We do not have access that the
American intelligence has. So we are shocked by this high number. Just
like we`ve been shocked by successive attacks against civilians
Now, Kerry`s rationale on this is that Syria did breach an
international norm against the use of chemical weapons. but our questions
at the human rights organization is then what? What`s in store for the
What is the plan? What`s in store for Syrian civilians and Syrian
victims beyond this? Where are we heading?
HAYES: And that I think gets to a useful distinction as we think
through this issue between the finding of the intelligence community in
terms of chemical weapons, the amount of people killed by them, the fact
they were deployed by the Assad regime. And then, even if you concede
that, even if you say, well, this looks persuasive, as -- Kathleen, you
said you found John Kerry persuasive on that score, then the question of
what to do about it becomes the operational question.
And I want to talk about that with other folks about the legacy of
liberal internationalism and the scars from Iraq in just a bit.
Tamara Alrifai from Human Rights Watch, former State Department
Official P.J. Crowley, and MSNBC political analyst, Kathleen Hicks -- thank
All right. The liberal case for war. We have heard that phrase
before, it has not turned out very well. Now, we`re hearing it again.
Will it hold up this time?
We will go ALL IN on that question, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Now, we know that after a decade of
conflict, the American people are tired of war. Believe me, I am, too.
But fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES": That was
Secretary of State John Kerry making the explicit liberal interventionist
argument for military action in Syria earlier today.
Joining me now, former democratic congressman from Virginia, Tom
Perriello, currently serves as a president for the Center of American
Progress Action Fund. Progressive advocacy organization, Amy Goodman, host
and executive producer of Democracy Now! And Eli Lake, senior national
security correspondent for "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast."
Tom, you wrote today as someone who opposed Iraq war that you favor
military intervention in Syria and you favor it from the perspective that I
think John Kerry laid out, the perspective that I believe Samantha Power,
U.N. ambassador used to from a kind of liberal internationalist
perspective. What is the case there?
FMR. REP. TOM PERRIELLO (D), VIRGINIA: Well, you have 125,000 people
dead and you also have the use of chemical weapons. One of the great
progressive victories of the 20th century was to say even though human
beings have the capacity to use these particularly toxic and torturous
weapons, we are going to set them outside of what the civilized nations can
use. There have been exceptions but they`ve been rare. That red line was
not a random line drawn in the sand. It`s a line that`s been drawn for a
reason. As we try to put certain things outside the reach of what is
acceptable in the human community. Four hundred dead children. Fourteen
hundred killed by this gas.
Assad clearly poking to look and see how much further he can take
this. It`s an incredibly difficult situation. The stakes are incredibly
high of action and inaction. And we have to be honest about that. But
this is clearly a situation where we both have a broader humanitarian
crisis. But what the president is talking about at right now for the
moment is a more targeted intervention, specifically around this issue of
the use of chemical and biological weapons. This is not about a
hypothetical possession of those weapons as in Iraq, this is about an
actual use of those weapons against civilians in Syria.
HAYES: OK. So, Amy, my sense is that you`re opposed to this
intervention. When you hear that argument and when you see the footage of
what happened of the gassing of these 1,400 people which it looks like did
happen and looks like was done by at least the Assad forces, whether it was
through that chain of command, do you think enforcing this chemical weapons
norm is an important thing for the international community to do?
AMY GOODMAN, HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: You know, it`s really interesting
to listen to Secretary Kerry today because he went back in history. He
said how we have the chemical weapons ban from after World War I. You look
at the number of times the U.S. has violated that. Unfortunately, sadly.
And you look at napalm and Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. You look at
actually just some newly declassified CIA documents that foreign policy got
a hold of, the U.S. interestingly enough for Saddam Hussein in the `80s
knowing that he had chemical weapons gave him the coordinates of Iranian
soldiers and he gassed them using white phosphorus in 2004 in Falluja.
Terrible model that the U.S. has set. We don`t know who did this.
The U.S. government is saying, John Kerry said we know that it was the
Syrian government. Even if it were, though I am not so confident as a
journalist just to accept the word of the U.S. government, of course we see
what happened ten years ago with Colin Powell, who when he gave that speech
at the United Nations believed what he said and now says that it was the
greatest blot on his career, even if it was. I think the U.S. has to be a
model in the world for waging peace. What does his -- what is his goal of
not even destabilizing the government?
HAYES: Let me ask you this. Is there an -- Eli, I want to bring you
in. Is there a tipping point? Like, if it were the case that Assad gassed
10,000 people or the case that Assad gassed 30,000 people --
GOODMAN: Well, we know that close to, perhaps even 200,000 people
have died in Syria. And that is horrendous. And these images are
horrific. How does this end? Ultimately it`s going to be diplomacy. Why
doesn`t that start now? Why isn`t President Obama saying this is what must
happen now? Instead of canceling meetings with Putin in Russia because
Putin supports the Syrian government. Why not say we have to double down
HAYES: Eli, John Kerry both called Assad a, I believe, a thug and a
murderer today and then closed his speech by saying, but there`s no
solution other than a diplomatic and political solution. Those two things
it seems like fit uncomfortably together. When we come back, Eli, I want
you to answer whether there is a diplomatic solution and whether there`s a
diplomatic strategy, right after this break.
HAYES: All right. We`re back. Eli Lake, you`ve been covering state,
you`ve been covering the policy operator -- this question. Is there a
diplomatic tragedy? Is there an alternative to any kind of ending in Syria
that isn`t just the meat grinder of horrific civil war that we`ve seen for
the last several years?
ELI LAKE, NEWSWEEK/THE DAILY BEAST: Well, the administration has been
pursuing diplomacy for two years with this. They have promised to deliver
the opposition that they are giving some nonlethal aid to and conferences
in Geneva. They`ve reached out several times to try to get the Russians to
support some kind of U.N. Security Council resolution. They`ve tried to
negotiate on this question.
And the Russians have chosen to go all in with Bashar Assad who
appears or at least has been accused of launching a horrific mass casualty
chemical weapons attack. So it`s kind of stunning to think that it`s the
American side that needs more diplomacy. I think it`s the Russians and the
Iranians have supported their ally in this case, and as my colleague, Josh
Rogin reported this week, you know, the White House wouldn`t even send the
Syrian opposition gas masks.
So I think you have a -- for a president who`s been very reluctant to
get involved in this and has, I think, heeded the counsel of those who`ve
said that there really is not much the United States can do militarily in
Syria, and at the same time, I think he`s expressed what any president
would express, which is that there should be a red line on the use of these
chemical weapons. It`s not the first alleged incident.
HAYES: Here`s the problem, Eli. It seems to me --
LAKE: It`s escalated.
HAYES: It seems to me like the logic that we`re following here, and
Tom, I want you to respond to this, is something must be done. Which I
think anyone who looked at the evidence of the attack thought something
must be done. This is something, therefore, something must be done. That
seems like the logic here. And the question is, what happens after the
doing of it? What net positive do human -- what reduces misery and
increases joy? What reduces human suffering the day after we send a bunch
of cruise missiles?
PERRIELLO: Well, I think part of the --
HAYES: Tom, then Eli. And then we`ll come to you, Amy.
PERRIELLO: Well, I think part of it is there`s also a false
assumption that the second we start doing this, all other lanes of
conversation stop. The diplomacy which has been exhaustive will continue.
Samantha Power will continue to push for a resolution at the U.N. and try
desperately to get the Russians out of a morally untenable position. We`ve
put a tremendous amount of effort into that. That doesn`t stop when
there`s a strike of some limited capacity proportional to the use of
chemical weapons to try to deter that particular usage.
So, this idea that the second we do this, we forget all the other
options, this will, as diplomacy often happens based on who feels like
they`re negotiating from a position of strength. Right now Assad feels
like he`s in a position of tremendous strength. After this, potentially
that`s a different negotiating situation as with the Russians. So this
isn`t going in with one tool all of a sudden. This is using the full range
which will include diplomacy, will include the international community and
hopefully the ICC and not just look at one piece.
GOODMAN: You know, Chris, this is the week that we celebrate the 50th
anniversary of the march on Washington and not only Dr. King was
celebrated, who called the United States the greatest purveyor of violence
in earth when he spoke against the war in Vietnam. But John Lewis, the
only surviving speaker from that march, he is one of 54 Congress members
who said in a letter who signed on to a letter with Congress member Barbara
Lee and others who said this has too to Congress.
You know, there`s no more serious action a country can take than to
attack another country. Why shouldn`t we have our elected legislators
making this decision? And also when you talk about this is just one tool,
Tom, I think it`s very important to say the first tool should be diplomacy.
President Obama`s going to Russia next week. He canceled his meeting with
Putin to go to Moscow to meet with Putin. Yes, Putin is one of the major
backers of Assad. This is the time to double down and have those meetings.
They just canceled U.S. diplomats at the Hague meeting with the Russian
counterparts. Why? This is the time to use all efforts at diplomacy.
HAYES: But it goes in both directions. Right? I mean, and what Eli
was saying I think is true in the sense that John Kerry has worked very
hard to put this Geneva conference together, he`s been actually trying to
get part at the table against a lot of resistance. And the argument, Eli,
that I think state has made is their approach to meetings are not, you
know, are conditional. So if there`s actions like you gas 1,400 people,
then there are consequences for that diplomatically.
LAKE: Well, let me just put it like this.
GOODMAN: What about going to Congress?
HAYES: I completely agree.
LAKE: We know what Russia wants. They want Assad to win. But we
don`t know that the Americans want the rebels to win because they include
factions that include al-Qaeda.
LAKE: But I don`t think that there`s anything really from the
Russians` perspective to negotiate. They want Assad to win. He`s the
leader of Syria. He should put down the civil war. And they don`t care
how he does it. And they`ll support him throughout.
HAYES: And that support is going to be there I think also after
whatever, if there is a military strike.
LAKE: Sure, I know. And I -- but I would --
HAYES: And after that.
GOODMAN: And Iran should be brought to this as well. They have a new
HAYES: Former democratic Congressman from Virginia, Tom Perriello,
Amy Goodman from Democracy Now!, and Eli Lake from Newsweek and The Daily
LAKE: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, David Sanger of The New York Times reports White
House officials were calling one major development over the last 36 hours
embarrassing. He`ll tell us what it was, next.
HAYES: The Obama administration`s actions on Syria are made no less
difficult by the complicated politics in White House between the nation`s
Joining me with more is David Sanger, Chief Washington correspondent
for "The New York Times." Amazing news out of UK yesterday. And you`ve
done some reporting about the background to that. Did the White House see
DAVID SANGER, THE NEW YORK TIMES CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I
don`t think anybody saw this coming, Chris. I mean, at some point they
must have recognized Prime Minister Cameron was not going to win this vote,
but presumably if Prime Minister Cameron had realized that well in advance,
he wouldn`t have brought it to a vote. So it left the United States in the
extraordinarily odd position of going off into a conflict, no a prolonged
war, one hopes, but at least a brief military action, if you believe the
President`s description of it today, without Britain at its side. And
that`s unusual. It`s not unprecedented, but it is unusual. It`s certainly
unusual in the Middle East. A place where Britain has got great long
HAYES: Amazing moment today, John Kerry referring to the U.S. and its
oldest ally, France, kind of like revolutionary-era kick at the British who
had rebuked the U.S. yesterday. Do you have a sense, from your reporting,
I found the stagecraft of John Kerry`s statement today followed by the
President`s statement very confusing. Very strange. What is the thinking
behind Kerry being so far out and then the President seeming so much more
SANGER: Well, I think that much of this has to do with the
personalities of the two men. John Kerry has been pretty focused on Syria
for a long time. He certainly was when he was chairman of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee. I think that having traveled in the region, I
think he probably feels the humanitarian side of this more deeply. I think
President Obama, while certainly not callous at all to the humanitarian
issue, is quite focused on the credibility questions that come out of
Syria`s violation of what the president keeps calling international norms
on chemical weapons.
So, you know, we`ve always had this divide even before Secretary Kerry
came in. You`ll remember that Secretary of State Clinton and David
Petraeus, the former head of the CIA were arguing a year ago for arming the
rebels. The President was not anxious to do that at the time. And even
now, the President says he`s going in for the limited purpose of stopping
another chemical weapons attack. Now, as the conversation you previously
had indicates, it`s not clear if you just do a day of tomahawk strikes that
that in fact is going to have any significant effect on the ground.
HAYES: That is precisely I think the fear that even the most
optimistic advocates of this intervention have. David Sanger from "The New
York Times." Great, thanks.
SANGER: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, we will move -- to close a show because I think
it`s important to take a moment tonight to think about how in the same week
we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.`s "I Have a
Dream" speech we`re also possibly heading into a war. And it`s hard to
reconcile those two things. But I want to show you something I hope will
make you feel a little bit better. So definitely stay with us.
HAYES: Finally, on this Friday evening, I must say this week has been
a bit of an emotional roller coaster. It`s a week that began with the
celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King`s march on
Washington. We find ourselves here tonight on this holiday weekend, on the
verge of war. I see how easy it can be to lose that spirit that I felt in
Washington when I was there on Wednesday that we all thought I think
watching the transcendent "I Have a Dream" speech Wednesday night. It`s a
spirit of progress and hope.
And so before we go into this holiday weekend, I wanted to just show
you something. It`s a very short speech. It was supposed to be given on
Wednesday actually. It was on the program. It was to have been delivered
from the steps of the Lincoln memorial, but because the event was running
behind schedule, it was cut. The speaker was Phillip Agnew, the head of
the Dream Defenders.
You may have seen him on this show as recently as Wednesday night, in
fact. We`ve covered his group`s occupation of the Florida Governor`s
office in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict. They are still calling
for a Trayvon`s law to address racial profiling and the school-to-prison
pipeline. After he was cut from the program, Phillip decided to deliver
his speech anyway from a balcony in D.C. He gave his speech on camera and
put the video on YouTube. And I`ve watched it a few times now. I`ve
watched it today actually in the middle of all the Syria craziness. And I
think it does a better job of anything I saw all week of connecting me back
to that spirit of hope. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP AGNEW, DREAM DEFENDERS LEADER: By the time we finish our
conversation this morning, another black boy will lay bleeding in the
streets of Chicago. And as we rest our heads tonight, 3000,000 of our
veterans will lay their heads homeless. And I would love to explain to you
how the hate we spread abroad is the real reason that hatred washes upon
our shores, but I only have two minutes, and I could tell you that
Philadelphia just closed 23 of its schools. At the same time, it makes way
for a $400 million state-of-the-art prison. And that North Carolina and
Florida continue to silence their citizens at the ballot box, but I only
have two minutes.
I could tell you how even as we celebrate Dr. King`s dream, over
400,000 of our immigrant brothers and sisters languish away in privately
owned detention camps. And how we still find our queer brothers and
sisters in prisons in the shadows of their closets but I only have two
minutes. And I`ll tell you how our mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters,
still earn less, have no control over their bodies and are traded a
trafficked like slaves. And I can tell you how it`s easier for someone to
buy gun and put it to their head than it is to diagnose the illness within
it. But I only had two minutes.
And if there was time, I`d tell you that millions of young people and
queer people and poor people and people of color are asking, what do we do
with all this anger, all this fear, this disappointment and frustration?
This mad that we feel. But alas, I only have one minute. And with it,
this last minute of our conversation I tell you that though all may seem
lost that there is a generation of dreamers and lovers and defenders and
builders. Bubbling, bubbling, bubbling beneath the rubble. And beneath
your feet you may feel a collective quaking, tremors of a sleeping giant
Emanating from fault lines at the Arizona-Mexico border and in
Raleigh, Austin, and in Cleveland, Ohio, and Chicago, Illinois, and even
Tallahassee, Florida. And we`ve come here from every crack, crease and
crevice of our country to our capital to say that for all those whose cares
have been our concern, we`re ready. To say that anybody that believes
we`ll be co-opted, oh, we will not be bought. We`re ready. And for those
that got our energy and our resolve and our discipline, we`re ready. For
those that believe that future fingers may fail the torch, fear not. We`re
For all those that believe in the power of nonviolence and love as
unconquerable, we are ready. For 50 years ago, a man told us of a promised
land. And for 50 years, we`ve wandered and wondered where are the youth,
the constant whisper in our ears? And so we have come asking neither
permission nor questions but to answer one and say that we are here.
Believing, indeed, that we have a beautiful history, and the one that we
will build in the future will truly astonish the world. We`re ready. May
the outcome always prosper over income. Peace over profit. Revolution
over revenue. And all peace and power to the people. For anybody that
doubts us, don`t believe us, just watch. We`re ready.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I`ve had the chance now to meet this guy and I just have to
say, Phillip Agnew, man, remember that name. He is very much definitely
ready. It`s been a strange week here, and in D.C. and in New York, and my
hope goes out on the eve of this holiday weekend to everyone who is
anticipating what might be a military strike by U.S. forces, the people
that we have asked to serve this country, the folks that are in Syria that
are cowering, peace to everyone this weekend.
That is ALL IN for this evening. Rachel Maddow is off tonight. A
special edition of "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews starts now. Good night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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