'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, March 14th, 2014
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
March 14, 2014
Guests: Jim Tilmon, William Taylor, Alberto Mora
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Ari Melber is sitting in
Good evening, my man.
ARI MELBER, GUEST HOST: Good evening, Chris.
HAYES: Go get them.
MELBER: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Rachel has
the night off.
We begin tonight with a mystery and map. Very latest reporting about
the missing Malaysian Airlines flight. It has now been a week since Flight
370 left Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, heading north for Beijing. Air traffic
control last contact with the plane at 1:20 local time on Saturday.
The flight path should have taken the plane over the Gulf of
Thailand. And that is where the search began. Early on in the search, we
got conflicting reports from Malaysian officials about radar data that
might have indicated the plane veered far away from the original flight
plan west over the Strait of Malacca and toward the Indian Ocean. It`s
been hard to know what to believe in this story with theories and reports
floated and dismissed, one after another.
But check this out. This spot here right over the Gulf of Thailand
is the last known location we have for the plane. A late breaking report
from "The New York Times" suggests that the flight may, indeed, have veered
Now, "The Times" reports that U.S. officials who have seen the
Malaysian data say military radar picked up the plane here heading
southwest toward the island Penang off the coast of Malaysia and then again
heading northwest across the Strait of Malacca toward that vast, vast
Indian Ocean, which we know is large and hard to search.
Now, that reporting from "The New York Times" sourced to U.S.
officials who say they`ve seen radar data from the Malaysian military says
the plane may have changed course twice after it disappeared from civilian
Now, if this reporting holds up, then we might possibly finally be
getting closer to understanding at least where that Boeing 777 was heading,
with those 239 people onboard. And that remains a mystery at this point a
week after the incident. Tonight, U.S. officials also tell NBC News that
the question is whether the plane turned again after it reached that
northern edge of the Strait of Malacca.
Malaysian officials believe the plane went north, but U.S. officials
say it appears far more likely that the plane went south toward the Indian
Now, these accounts fit, of course, a pattern with this story. There
are clues. There are multiple sources investigating and conflicting ideas
about the missing plane.
Now, from the outset, this search has been complicated by the
sometimes difficult relationship among officials from all these different
nations involved. Malaysian officials have taken the lead since the plane
is Malaysian under the precedent.
But more than a dozen countries have joined the search for the plane.
Officials from the U.S. are now expressing increasing frustration with the
pace and the quality of information that they have gotten from their
counterparts in Malaysia. And now, the U.S. has begun shifting its
military planes and ships toward the vast Indian Ocean where the search
area is big enough to challenge even the most advanced technology.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
COMMANDER WILLIAM MARKS, U.S. ARMY: There`s no way you can search
the entire Indian Ocean. A ship, it is an amazing platform, but it can`t
be done with ships alone, and even our P3 and P8, with a range of a
thousand or so miles, they`ll have to return.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, at this stage of the search, investigators have no
choice but to consider a huge swath of territory. We also got confirmation
today that the plane continued to send pings, those are those little
automated kind of electronic hellos once an hour to commercial satellites
Now, based on the record of those pings, U.S. investigators are
saying the plane continued flying for those four or five hours after it
disappeared. And the company that owns those satellites, well, it
confirmed today that, quote, "routine automated signals" were registered on
its network from that flight.
We also know that many of the sources and announcements about this
international incident have not held up compared to less intricate stories.
In fact, there are more tipsters and anonymous sources that prove off base
or really flat wrong and still if this reporting today holds up, if the
data from the military radar and the commercial satellite proves to be
solid, then here is the emerging picture -- a plane drops out of contact 40
minutes into its flight. Then it continues flying in the wrong direction
for hours, changing course at least twice and then mystery.
Over the past week, investigators have followed leads about oil
slicks that turned out not to be connected to the plane. They followed up
on the supposed sightings of debris that turned out to be logs lashed
together in one case and a lid of a large crate in another case. On
Wednesday, the Chinese government released satellite images taken near the
plane`s intended flight path. That seemed interesting, maybe even cool.
Pictures can usually offer a view of the facts on the ground of at least on
the water, right?
Well, not this time. The Chinese government later said it was a
complete mistake to even release those pictures.
But we do know the plane`s communications system shut down soon after
takeoff. First, the data reporting system, 26 minutes into the flight.
Then, the automatic transponder several minutes later.
Now, it is rare that big commercial airlines disappear for any
reason. When it happens, and the plane remains missing, there are a few
basic theories of the case. Either this is a complete accident, a
technical or human failure, or it`s a result of someone acting on purpose.
The hints and clues emerging today -- well, they did turn toward that
second and honestly more frightening possibility. Here is "Reuters" today
pursuing that second theory, reporting unnamed sources say the evidence
suggested that someone deliberately flew the plane west. Now, again,
that`s away from its original intended route. The sources in that
"Reuters" article assert it appears the plane was following standard
established navigational points.
What does that mean? Well, it was on a course even if it was not on
the course it was expected to take. Now, does that reporting hold up and
get more solid in the hours and days to come or does it fall apart as we
If this is not an accident but an act of terrorism of some kind, a
deliberate act, it`s worth noting no one appears to have tried to take
credit for it.
On the other hand, we looked at this today and found most acts of
terrorism do go completely unclaimed.
We have seen credible claims for just 14 percent of all terrorist
acts since 1998. A lot of them start as mysteries and confoundingly,
frustratingly, they stay mysteries.
Whatever the outcome of this mystery, the disappearance of Malaysia
Airlines Flight 370 entered their second week with investigators hoping
they`ll get enough information to narrow this seemingly infinite search. A
senior U.S. official has told "The New York Times" today that investigators
expect to get more satellite and radar data over the weekend. Quote, "It`s
gotten better and better every day. It should provide more clarity to the
flight path. It`s not a given, but it`s a hope."
Joining us now is Jim Tilmon, a former pilot for the U.S. military,
who also spent 28 years as a commercial pilot for American Airlines. He is
now a science and aviation expert based in Chicago.
Mr. Tilmon, thanks for being here.
JIM TILMON, SCIENCE AND AVIATION EXPERT: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: Let`s start with what we`ve been discussing. If the plane,
did, in fact, alter its course more than once, what does that tell us,
there was definitely a live human being at the controls?
TILMON: I would think so. You know, we`ve had all kinds of theories
about it and all kinds of things, catastrophe that took place and it was
all of a sudden in all kinds of things began to happen and failing
communications gear and navigation gear and all that.
But apparently there`s somebody that was at the controls. What they
were doing, I`m not so sure. There was one report where the airplane was
unexpectedly climbed to some crazy altitude above its surface ceiling and
then dropped at a rapid rate to another altitude.
And there are all kinds of reports that the airplane turned one way
and then back another way and then another way. It`s pretty obvious
somebody was in there doing something.
Was there a fight going on in the cockpit? Was that creating this
kind of crazy flying? When they did finally finish all this up and down
and everything else and the airplane was flying relatively smoothly, was
there somebody at the controls that was doing that? Did they do it on
their own? Was there a gun in the ear or the captain?
We have all those questions. We have a lot of bad answers we`ve been
getting throughout this entire week.
MELBER: Yes, I understand what you`re saying there.
And, Mr. Tilmon, when you look at this around the country and around
the world, people are both fascinated and scared, when you have this kind
of mystery. In the newsroom, everyone is talking to each other, asking --
well, does it usually transpire this way that there are so many theories of
the case and even reports that turn out to be so off base?
TILMON: Well, there are almost always cases that we do get some
wrong information early on in an investigation. That`s not so rare.
What`s rare now is that we`re getting conflicting information from places
that we`re not supposed to get conflicting information.
And think about it, Ari. Look at all the times we`ve been getting
information from a source unnamed that cannot reveal their identity because
they`re not authorized to make statements.
I want to hear from the guys that are authorized. It`s about time.
Is there anybody in this thing that`s authorized to talk? Is there anybody
that can just say, OK, I`m John Doe and I have such and such credentials
and telling you now this is what I`ve found?
That`s what we need. We need clarity to this situation. We`re not
getting it so far.
MELBER: Yes, walk us through that. You have experience as a
military and commercial airline pilot. What would the authorization be, at
least in the American context where we would have some kind of chain of
command or formal process whereby presumably we`d get more briefings, more
TILMON: Yes, when we have incidents in the United States and our
airspace, we end up having a spokesperson from the NTSB or whatever,
sometimes from the FAA. But we have a person that you can go to and say,
OK, what`s the latest? This is it.
That person is not going to give you guesswork. They`re going it
tell you what the true skinny is, the best they know. If they don`t know,
they`re going to tell you, I don`t know that yet.
So, you know, some people are saying, well, maybe they`re shrouding
this in secrecy because they`re going to give away all their secrets if
they tell us the true facts.
Come on. What`s so secret about an airplane full of people that`s
missing for a week? Just tell us what you know, and make sure what you
tell us is true and accurate.
Think about this, Ari.
MELBER: Well -- yes, go ahead.
TILMON: Think about a timeline that we would love to see. They went
from the time of takeoff until right now. And we can program and plot on
that timeline these different events and these different claims that are
coming down the pipe. That would give us a lot more information than we`re
getting right now, and I`d like to see it.
MELBER: I would, too. I mean, that`s what people want. It goes to
something deeper here which is, of course, when there are affirmative
statements out there, the unnamed sources as you mentioned, that puts, I
think, a greater obligation on the authorities including the authorities in
Malaysia to suss out what`s real here.
Jim Tilmon, former military and civilian aviation pilot -- thanks for
your time tonight.
TILMON: My pleasure, Ari.
Now, we have lots more to come including a critical moment in the
Ukraine crisis, an escalating feud between Congress and the CIA, very
important, and a U.S. senator getting absolutely owned in a debate about,
yes, the Affordable Care Act.
Stay with us.
MELBER: So in 2003, the state of New York all-out banned smoking.
No more smoking in restaurants. No more smoking in bars, at work,
basically anywhere in the entire state of New York. So that year the U.N.
secretary general decided that that ban should extend to the U.N.
headquarters which is based here in New York.
That annoyed many diplomats including then-Russian U.N. Ambassador
Sergei Lavrov. He is a chain smoker. Not only did it annoy him, he made a
case like a diplomat that the secretary general had to right to stop them
from smoking, that he`d exceeded legitimate authority.
Quote, "The U.N. building is owned by all the member nations. While
the secretary general is just a hired manager", he said at the time.
Yes, Lavrov questioned the legal basis for creating a new rule at the
U.N. And, look, he at least had an argument here. The U.N. is not
actually technically American property. It is in New York but designated
as an international zone. So, he said the rule required an international
So what`s a Putin diplomat to? Well, Lavrov decided he would ignore
that new rule and continued to smoke in the building. Now, whether or not
Lavrov`s argument holds any water, the incident does kind of provide a
window into how he operates.
Mr. Lavrov is now, of course, the Russian foreign minister and not
much has changed. He was known to clash with former U.S. Secretary of
State Colin Powell, made a habit of pushing Condoleezza Rice`s buttons. In
2012 he called Hillary Clinton`s comments about the Syrian conflict
Yes, he has a history of being gruff with a lot of his counterparts -
- until 2013 rolled around and things actually did seem to change a little
bit. This is now Secretary of State John Kerry and Mr. Lavrov. This is
not a one of a kind photo. Last year these two were able to negotiate a
groundbreaking deal to get Syria to eliminate weapons, a deal that possibly
saved us from bombing Syria and promise to rid another country of chemical
But whether it`s Syria or getting Iran to sign on to a nuclear deal,
these two have at times, at least in the old times been called a diplomatic
dream team and they have until recently been known to get things done.
They appear to have what we would call a relationship. "The New York
Times" reported last year they formed a bond quickly over late-night
dinners and drinks and even garden strolls. John Kerry loves soccer.
Lavrov loves soccer.
And now, their shared hobbies are by no means a defining way to
understand the entire geostrategic issues in the region -- diplomacy is
words and deeds between counterparts, not just a shared love of wine. But
these guys have been able to work together diplomatically and because they
see eye to eye diplomatically, President Obama did dispatch John Kerry to
London last night to meet with Lavrov, to see if they could get together
and ease some of this escalating tension with Russia.
In, of course, a part of Ukraine called Crimea. Two weeks ago Russia
moved into the region. President Obama announced sanctions. And Putin
sent more troops in. The situation continues to escalate, tensions at an
Last week, Crimea, of course, announced plans for a specific
referendum to vote on secession from Ukraine and possibly join the Russian
Federation. The vote for that happens in two days on this Sunday. And
yesterday, we learned of a growing buildup of Russian troops along the
eastern Ukrainian border. Rachel talked about that last night.
It`s leaving everyone worried this is some kind of prelude to another
invasion, possibly of the rest of Ukraine.
So, the diplomatic dream team had their emergency meeting of sorts
today, a last-ditch meeting at the home of the U.S. ambassador in London.
They sat in the garden and talked. After three hours of talking, look
here, they decided to take a walk. Four hours later, they then took a seat
there by the flowers.
And after six hours of walking and talking and doing more talking,
they emerged looking like -- well, looking like that with no real easing of
any tension. Now, Kerry said the talks were direct, candid and frank, but
with no diplomatic conclusion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I was clear with Foreign Minister
Lavrov that the president has made it clear there will be consequences if
Russia does not find a way to change course. And we don`t say that as a
threat. We say that as a direct consequence of the choices that Russia may
or may not choose to make here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: All right. Words matter. Not a threat, Secretary Kerry
said, but a consequence of Russia`s own choices.
And Secretary Lavrov walked out of that six-hour meeting with his own
strong and clear words that Russia and the U.S. have no common vision of
this situation. Making it clear that Russia isn`t prepared to commit to
just about anything in relation to Ukraine before that referendum on
Sunday. Six hours of talking -- usually, six-hour meetings of diplomats
means three hours of conversation and then, well, three hours of
But in this session, Kerry and Lavrov actually spoke English. Lavrov
is perfectly fluent. This really was a six-hour power session with
apparently no real diplomatic conclusion.
So what do we make of that? And what does that mean in the light of
the referendum on the succession of Crimea this weekend?
Well, joining us is William Taylor, former U.S. ambassador to
Ambassador Taylor, I should mention, is now vice president at the
U.S. Institute for Peace.
Ambassador Taylor, thanks for joining us tonight.
WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Glad to be here.
MELBER: Let`s start with words and diplomacy. We are accustomed to
following these meetings whether long or short and hearing very parsed,
careful summaries. We heard something, I think, more blunt today, right?
TAYLOR: We did. It`s clear that through the six hours of
discussions, they did not agree. Secretary Kerry made it very clear what
we had in mind and Mr. Lavrov had a very different view. We have different
views of what should happen on Sunday which is this referendum. We don`t
think that should happen.
MELBER: And we don`t think, according to the U.S. policy at this
point, that it`s legitimate, and yet, ambassador, when you look at these
kind of meetings, they`re surely not designed from the U.S. side as window
dressing. Walk us through, especially with your experience in these kind
of forums, what happens when you have one side like the Obama
administration trying to get something out, and apparently Putin happy to
talk and talk and listen and listen but not moving an inch?
TAYLOR: Not moving an inch. Mr. Putin does seem to be sure that
he`s going to allow this referendum to go forward in violation of the
Ukrainian constitution, in violation of international law, in violation of
his commitments to the international community.
He understands, I believe, that this will isolate him. He`s already
been isolated. The Europeans have been very clear that they will take
measures as sanctioned people around the president. They will not be able
to travel to Europe. They`ll not be able to have access to their London
townhouses. This is a big problem for many people in Russia, and yet it
doesn`t seem to bother President Putin.
Secretary Kerry has made it clear that we will take further steps.
The United States will take further steps, if this referendum takes place
and if the Russians proceed on that basis to annex Crimea. So, this
discussion apparently went back and forth for some time, and neither side
convinced the other.
MELBER: And, Ambassador, as the U.S. says it will take those further
steps and Secretary Kerry, again, spoke at least about the Russian markets
and severe economic consequences in result of further action, it is clear
that Russia is amassing, as we`ve been reporting last night and today,
troops on the border of Ukraine in a different area looking towards eastern
Ukraine. Russia is taking its own actions here.
How concerned should we be?
TAYLOR: I believe we should be very concerned. The size of the
troops the Russians have amassed on their side of the border is very
troubling. It`s not just troops. It`s equipment. It`s mobile equipment.
It has the capability.
These troops, equipment, these forces have the ability to move across
that border. They`ve been putting other things across the border already.
That is provocateurs.
The Russians have been busing young men into Ukrainian cities across
the border in Ukraine and causing difficulties, causing problems, causes
ring riots. People pushing back and forth. There was a man killed
yesterday. One of the people who are supporting the Kiev government was
killed in one of those pushes that was prompted by the Russian provocateurs
coming across the border.
So, that is a very dangerous situation with those kinds of troops
sitting close by.
MELBER: And briefly, Ambassador, how much of this conflict
ultimately turns on the fact this is much more important land to Russia
than it will ever be to the U.S. or many European countries? This is not
our Cuba. This is not our Hawaii.
TAYLOR: This is not territorially important for the United States,
but there`s a very important principle for us and even more important for
the Europeans. If Europe goes from the Atlantic to the euros, then Ukraine
is smack in the middle.
Ukraine is in the middle of Europe. It`s a European country. It
hopes to be able to live by European rules. It hopes -- it would like to
join European institutions. It would like to have the ability to make that
And this is a value. This is a principle that we care about as well.
Rules that have governed the European continent since 1945, through the
Cold War, since the Cold War meant borders don`t change. What president
Putin is threatening is to change borders by force and this ought to
concern us all.
Appreciate your insights tonight especially given all your service in
the region. William Taylor, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine -- thank you
TAYLOR: Thank you.
MELBER: Now turning to some politics. If you are a fan of amazing
verbal smack downs of U.S. senators, who isn`t? Well, we have a piece of
tape I think you should see. It`s on the subject of health care, but it is
about -- well, total ownership. It`s coming up.
Stay with us.
MELBER: Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is no longer a
senator. And he`s apparently no longer from Massachusetts. Today he was
in, yes, New Hampshire, where he`s now from-ish, speaking at a GOP
leadership conference and though he no longer is a senator from
Massachusetts anymore, he does still have his reliable pickup truck and
he`s got stories.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT BROWN (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: For about a year now, I`ve
been traveling all over this state talking to folks and supporting good
candidates, good people. I`ve traveled so much in New Hampshire, I`m
focusing on a new personal milestone. The truck now has about 300,000
miles on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Scott Brown is also officially out of work as of today, but
he does have his eyes on a specific job. Who might be hiring? Well, that
story is coming up next.
MELBER: Happy Friday.
It is a Friday, and one way to know that it`s Friday, if you`re in
the news business, anyway, is this is the day politicians use for dumping
bad news or releasing documents. Sometimes in a newsroom, you kind of only
realize the week`s winding down when you see e-mails flying about thousands
of pages of political memos that are suddenly available.
And, yes, today being Friday, the political world just got 4,000
documents newly released by the National Archives from President Clinton`s
two terms in office. It`s another installment in a larger serious of about
30,000 files. Such as presidential notes and memos and speech drafts which
have always been withheld until now, 12 years after the Clinton
An earlier look doesn`t suggest big problems for Clinton. We now
know that he wanted to underscore how big his budget surplus was by calling
it a certain kind of pocket full of cash. But, hey, a big surplus can
bring out the LBJ cursing in any president.
So why the delay? Well, this category of documents had been
technically exempt from certain rules that would have required earlier
disclosure. And if there`s a rule or exemption or a delay that presidents
and their agencies can use to hold back files, even like uninteresting
files, well, they often try to use it.
Now imagine what a fight looks like over interesting files, or
incriminating files. Well, you know, that`s what we often call evidence.
And that is, of course, the issue facing the CIA and the Obama
administration right now. Will they declassify and release documents that
the Senate Intelligence Committee is seeking? There are the 9,000
documents the committee would like to get its hands on and the intelligence
agencies won`t give those up. The White House so far isn`t making them.
Now, according to the committee, thousands of pages of secret
documents are crucial to the ongoing investigation into CIA detention and
so-called interrogation carried out during the Bush years. The committee
also wants the CIA to stop thwarting the declassification of the Senate
committee`s own investigative report about the program.
And yet, at the same time, we already have some of the most pivotal
government memoranda on this issue. Why? Well, back in 2009, President
Obama in what was one of the first big calls he had to make as president --
well, he had to decide whether or not to release some important legal
memoranda that were drawn up during the Bush era that made a legal case and
purported to provide legal authority for those practices that appeared to
The Obama administration was actually being sued over those documents
and the files many of them became to be known as the torture memos. In
2009, President Obama stopped the government from fighting a lawsuit and
released many torture memos to the public. He also importantly
discontinued their legal authority, effectively ending any protection for
that kind of interrogation or torture.
Now, even with redactions, the torture memos showed the Bush
administration lawyers constructed illegal authorization of the practice of
what amounted to torture in late 2002. A practice that was ongoing in the
months and years of 9/11. The memos specifically okayed things like
putting a prisoner in, quote, "stress positions" or slamming them against
the wall and as many remember, waterboarding.
Those were some of the techniques used against detainees after 9/11.
And while at first some did claim that accidents like Abu Ghraib were rogue
actions by a few bad apples, we know these actions were far of the official
policy because -- well, because those incriminating memos were released.
At the time, the CIA had requested a cover there, a request that being
granted it ended with the drafting of the torture memos by senior lawyers
at the Justice Department, and the rest -- well, a lot of it is history.
There are officials who did resist the program, who raised red flags. But,
ultimately, most of those people lost and most programs went on.
That`s how the U.S. came to pursue detention and interrogation in
ways that are being investigated to this day. And -- well, whatever
happened to those people who wrote the legal justification for the U.S. to
engage in torture who are the subject of this investigation? Have they
paid a price?
Well, let`s look. The main lawyer at the DOJ who drafted many of
those documents is now a law professor at the University of California at
Berkeley. The guy who literally signed the memos, assistant attorney
general at DOJ at the time, well, he is a federal judge. Yes. He got a
White House chief counsel Alberto Gonzalez who`s said to have signed
off on the details day-by-day. Well, Mr. Gonzalez is back in private
practice. He teaches courses in -- well, the constitution and separation
of powers because irony.
As for the CIA lawyers who initiated all of that authorization of
torture, one of them just wrote a book about his 30 years doing legal work
at the CIA. Some of the others are still at the CIA. Some are defending
the aftermath of these activities during the Bush era.
It`s that aftermath the Senate Intelligence Committee is seeking to
unravel. This past Tuesday, that`s when we saw on the Senate floor that
long, detailed and sharply critical speech from the normally CIA friendly
chair, the senate intelligence committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein.
She held the floor for 40 minutes and she admonished the CIA, not
just for withholding the information about enhanced interrogation from the
committee, but also for literally trying to cover up these activities. She
accused the CIA as going as far as illegally monitoring and spying on
Congress to keep information out of the committee`s hands. That`s what
Rachel called death of the republic-type stuff.
She accused one CIA lawyer specifically, a lawyer who was allegedly
involved in crafting the torture program, someone who`s a key subject of
this investigation. A guy who until today, get this, was still working as
CIA lawyer in charge of coordinating with the Senate, the keyword there,
until, because he was effectively sidelined, finally.
This is the news today. The CIA got a new top lawyer, a post that
had not had a permanent occupant for some time because of that feud between
the intelligence community and CIA.
Now, there`s still a tooth and nail fight to keep the investigation
sealed. Like many, the secrets being withheld from the public seem closer
and closer to coming to light. Will the White House and CIA make this
evidence accessible to the public? Are we closer to holding those
accountable 10 years later?
Well, our next guest tried a third way to put a stop to torture when
he was the top lawyer within the Defense Department at the Navy during the
Bush administration. He was on the inside. And he challenged and tried to
undo practices that had been justified in part by those same torture memos.
Joining us now is Alberto Mora, former general counsel of the navy.
He`s now a fellow at Harvard University.
Mr. Mora, an honor to have you. Thanks for being here.
ALBERTO MORA, HARVARD UNIVERSITY FELLOW: Thanks so much, Ari.
MELBER: Let`s start with this report that is still, as I mentioned,
classified and the CIA, according to Senator Feinstein, is in the way of
releasing the Senate report.
Why would it be important to actually get that report out now?
MORA: Well, I think President Obama had it just right. He said that
in discussing this week, his support for the release of the document. He
said that it was important to know where we had been. And it`s important
to serve as a guide to where we`re going and he got it right on both
MELBER: And when you look at these tensions between the CIA and
Congress and they`re playing out so publicly. I want to ask you, does it
have anything to do in your view with the fact we have never really had a
reckoning for those torture practices?
MORA: That`s exactly right. The nation hasn`t really yet come to
grips adequately with what we did and what the consequences of those acts
were. What`s more, there are a large number of American people according
to some polls, maybe 50 percent of the American public that believe vaguely
or generally it may be OK to use torture in defending the country.
And it`s important we understand that that would be a mistake, as it
was a mistake to use torture and official cruelty during the war on terror.
In making these critical decisions, we have to understand the facts of this
ill-fated experiment with torture.
MELBER: When we talk about separation of powers, it can sound so
abstract to people or sounds like a constitutional law seminar. Yet what
Senator Feinstein alleged here as we`ve reported is very serious because if
her allegations are true, it is the CIA potentially illegally using these
tools against the very Congress that`s investigating its conduct. Walk us
through that combat. That pitched combat between these two branches.
Contrast it if you would to your experience. You are on the inside
of the executive working within the Navy, overseeing hundreds of lawyers.
Yet you`ve made strides from within the system pushing back against those
MORA: The case for the concern about the CIA actions was laid out by
Senator Feinstein in her 40-minute speech on the Senate floor, if you read
the transcript and watch her presentation, you saw that the Congress had
reached an agreement with the CIA concerning the way that the CIA documents
would be handled. And then the independence of the Senate investigators in
looking at the documents and analyzing them without interference from the
Senator Feinstein is alleging that the CIA broke those rules,
interfered with the Senate`s investigation by withdrawing documents and
then in essence spying on the Senate investigators who were preparing the
analysis of the interrogation activities.
Now, the CIA through the personnel Director John Brennan, who`s a
very serious man like Senator Feinstein is, takes a different view. They
say that`s not exactly what happened and frankly it`s unclear who`s got the
better side of the argument yet. We need to allow the Justice Department
to take a look at this and come to their own conclusions about the merits
of each set of allegations.
But let`s remember the larger question, which is equally a
constitutional question. Will we continue to use cruelty and torture as
weapons of war in defense of the United States or in defensive activities?
Those are also as serious a question as whether or not Congress is able to
establish and maintain separation of powers and engage in independent
oversight or executive branch activities.
MELBER: Mr. Mora, briefly, your view of the CIA acting general
counsel making that crimes report referral to the DOJ regarding the Senate
MORA: That`s also not clear. There may have been basis for, in
fact, maybe an obligation for the CIA acting general counsel to make that
kind of report. But, of course, Senator Feinstein takes a very different
position. She felt it was clear that the agreement between the CIA and the
Senate was such that there was no possible allegation of criminal activity
or suspicion of criminal activity on the part of Senate investigators.
So, again, it`s one of these investigation the outcome of which will
depend upon the facts of the case. Those aren`t clear yet.
MELBER: Understood. Appreciate your noted caution there and how we
interpret that. Her charges being very serious, as you mentioned. And
appreciate your time with all of your service and your work on these
Alberto Mora, former general counsel of the Navy -- thank you.
MORA: Thank you, Ari.
Now back to some politics. What happens when senators who are not
doctors ask leading questions of, you know, real doctors? Amazing video of
actual doctors schooling senators. You might have seen that coming, but
the video is up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The number of people
who signed up is already large enough that I`m confident the program will
be stable, but we look forward to seeing more and more people take
advantage of it as some of the politics of the thing get drained away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That is President Obama saying in no uncertain terms the
Affordable Care Act and its reforms to the insurance market are working,
and viable right now.
So, as a matter of policy, even doe spite the glitches in the rollout
and political messaging problems and despite the many, many Obamacare
horror stories we`ve heard about, including some that were missing key
facts -- well, according to the president the new insurance markets have
enough new participants to work as planned.
Of course, while the president briefed the nation on how the ACA is
reaching critical mass, what were congressional Republicans doing? Well,
they were opposing the evils of Obamacare. Of course. In the House, they
held what amounted to the 51st vote against the core of the ACA. This was
a measure to delay the individual mandate for a year. And it passed.
This stuff always passes the House. It`s like, you know, their best
thing. So, the president says the ACA has enough signups to sustain
itself. The House passes a dead on arrival bill, number 51, trying to
wreck the ACA.
And what was going on in the senate about health reform? Well, it
happened earlier this week at a Senate subcommittee hearing on health care
systems around the whole world. Senator Richard Burr, Republican from
North Carolina who opposes just about anything associated with the ACA,
well, he thought he had a testifying doctor there boxed in about the flawed
health system in her country which happens to be Canada where they really
do have socialized medicine.
Her name is Dr. Danielle Martin. Dr. Martin is the vice president of
the Women`s College hospital in Toronto, a hospital that worked within
Canada`s single-payer system.
And Senator Burr is senator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Dr. Martin, in your
testimony, you note that Canadian doctors exiting the public system for the
private sector has had the effect of increasing waiting list for patients
seeking public health care. Why are doctors existing the public system in
DR. DANIELLE MARTIN , WOMEN`S COLLEGE HOSPITAL IN TORONTO: Thank you
for your question, Senator. If I didn`t express myself in the way to make
myself understood, I apologize. There are no doctors exiting the public
system in Canada.
And, in fact, we see a net influx of physicians from the United
States into the Canadian system over the last number of years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: OK. Fact check.
And then, the senator referred to testimony from Dr. Martin that
apparently didn`t exist. That`s not great. But he was -- well, e wasn`t
done. Waiting times for those in the Canadian health care system are a
problem that people criticize. So, Senator Burr picked up on that point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURR: How many Canadian patients on a waiting list die each year, do
MARTIN: I don`t, sir. But I know there are 45,000 in America who
die waiting because they don`t have insurance at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I think it`s fair to say Dr. Martin came prepared for that
kind of question from Senator Burr and her numbers are backed up by a study
from the American Journal of Public Health.
So lesson learned, maybe. If you`re going to be talking to a doctor
about her health care system, it pays to come prepared.
But Dr. Martin didn`t simply counterpunch in that hearing on the fact
checking. She also -- this was really interesting -- she left the
subcommittee with a final thought on those wait times if lines a big issue,
and the allocation of resources.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: You know, I waited more than 30 minutes at the security line
to get into this building today. When I arrived in the lobby, I noticed
across the hall there was a second entry point with no lineup whatsoever.
Sometimes, it`s not actually about the amount of resources you have, but
rather about how you organize people in order to use your cues most
That`s what we`re working to do because we believe that when you try
to address wait times, you should do it in a way that benefits everyone,
not just people who can afford to pay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Yes, there are two major routes into most Senate building,
which I remember from working there. There`s the security line, which Dr.
Martin mentioned, for everyone. It`s got long lines and about everyone is
forced to wait there.
And then there is, of course, the senator`s only lines. They whisk
the privilege 100 into the building, where they get to ride the senator`s
Now, you want to talk about wait time, Senator? Have you thought
about the wait times where you work?
This was a stealthy and substantive dig. The fate of the Affordable
Care Act remains to be seen. The political fate of the Democrats who
support it will not be certain for months or even years, depending on how
you count. But the fate of the Republican talking points about health care
systems here, about how we count and how many people we include and whether
we care to count everyone, everyone`s health care and everyone`s wait times
-- well, those kind of talking points, they rarely survive sustain contact
MELBER: On election night in 2012, the night President Obama was
reelected, it was Mitt Romney, of course, who came out on the losing end.
That night marked the end of Mitt Romney`s political career, we think.
There was another Massachusetts political loss however, Scott Brown
for Senate. In November 2012, Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts was up
for reelection. He was facing what everybody considered to be a pretty
uphill climb. Massachusetts is, as you know, a blue state. President
Obama was on the ballot, which is going to drive up Democratic voters and
he was up against the strong challenger in someone you may have heard,
And so, to the surprise of -- well, almost nobody by the end of it,
Mr. Brown lost that night. He handed that Senate back to the Dems, and he
handed his top adviser, a guy named Eric Fehrnstrom, who worked for Romney,
his second loss in one night. He handed the political chattering class in
this country a big question that actually up until today, up until today
Friday had remained unanswered, what will Scott Brown do next, almost from
the minute that he lost that Senate seat in 2012, there`s been -- well,
there`s been an unending stream of speculation from politicos about what
this short term Republican senator would do from Massachusetts? Would he
run for John Kerry`s old Senate seat? No, he would not. Would he follow
the well-worn path of failed Republican candidates of the past and join FOX
News? Yes, he would, he did that.
Will he continue to provide unintentional comic relief on Twitter?
He would. So, those who remember that one.
But, today, Scott Brown answered the biggest unanswered question of
them all. Would he attempt to win back his U.S. Senate seat from another
state? Yes, today, Scott Brown answered that question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: I`m announcing today that the I formed an exploratory
committee to prepare a campaign for the United States Senate in New
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The most important words there were "in New Hampshire."
Former Republican Senator Republican Scott Brown of Massachusetts made if
official that he is moving towards running for the U.S. Senate in a brand
new state. Scott Brown was introduced at that event today as, quote,
"Scott Brown from New Hampshire", end quote. He spent much of his speech
detailing his roots in New Hampshire. Scott Brown and his family have,
actually, for a long time, maintained a, well, a second home in New
Hampshire, which is where they now reside.
Right after he was done with that speech today, the New Hampshire
Democratic Party said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Nobody does it better than Massachusetts, folks.
I`m going to do what I think is right for Massachusetts first.
I`m a Republican from Massachusetts.
I`m a Massachusetts Republican.
I`m proud to be from Massachusetts.
I`m proud to be from Massachusetts.
I`m also a proud citizen of Massachusetts.
I`m from here. I care very much. I`ll probably die here.
We still live here. I`m from Massachusetts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Scott Brown has been flirting for months now with pursuing
the Senate seat, and that ad right there is, well, politically it`s what he
has to look forward to if he does fully jump into the race. He`ll first
have to get through a GOP primary. If he does, he`ll be taking on a
sitting Democratic senator, Jeanne Shaheen, who has held the Senate seat
since 2009. Before that she was the governor of New Hampshire. For three
terms before that, she was a member of the state senate.
She is -- well, she`s a known quantity, a local quantity. Scott
Brown -- well, he`s had a vacation home for a long time. He may call it
something else. And if he decides to get into the race which looks
probable, he faces two big challenges. Number one, he`s got to convince
New Hampshire voters that he`s the best person to represent them in the
Senate. That`s always the case.
Number two, though, he has to convince these voters that he is one of
them. Now, it`s not like that`s ever been done before. But it hasn`t been
done that often. It`s actually happened a few times. Well, right here in
New York. Former Democratic Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Hillary
Clinton, they weren`t from here, but they did manage to shed any of that
carpet bagger stigma and win over the hearts and the votes of New Yorkers.
Neither RFK nor Hillary Clinton tried to win those Senate seats
however after already serving in the same body from another state.
According to the U.S. Senate Historical Office, that thing that Scott Brown
is trying to do has only been done twice in U.S. history and not since the
Today, Scott Brown took the first steps towards trying to pull it
off. He has less than eight months to do it. A whole lot of "I`m proud to
be from Massachusetts" video to scrub from the Internet and a whole lot of
Well, that does it for us tonight. Rachel will be back here on
Monday. If you want to follow me on Twitter, it`s @arimelber.
And now, as Rachel would say -- well, you got to go to prison. Good
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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