THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
June 12, 2014
Guest: John Stanton
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us
These iconic images of the helicopter taking off from the roof of the
embassy apartments, right? This is what we think of, this iconic film. We
think of this as the end of America`s war in Vietnam.
In fact, that incident, those iconic images, this all happened two
years, almost to the day, after the American part of the war in Vietnam,
technically, ended. The United States pulled its American troops and ended
U.S. military operations in Vietnam in the spring of 1973.
And then this all happened two years later. This was April 1975.
When this happened, U.S. troops had already been gone out of Vietnam for
But that war in Vietnam, of course, it was not our war. That war was
happening there before we got there and that war was still happening there
when we left, about a year and a half after the U.S. military ended its
commitment in Vietnam, in 1973, the communist forces in north Vietnam
decided that they were going to launch a big new offensive that they
thought would allow them to conquer the south once and for all, take over
the whole country within two years.
In the end, it didn`t take them two years. It only took them about
four months. The North Vietnamese, the communists, they won.
And this picture, this iconic photo, showing the evacuation of the
last American personnel left in the country, as well as whatever Vietnamese
employees and allies could squeeze on to the proverbial off-ramp with the
last Americans at that point, this iconic American image shows two years
after the American military left Vietnam the desperate efforts to get the
very last remnants of American personnel out of South Vietnam and its
capital as they were captured by the North. This was April 30th, 1975.
Toward the end of America`s war in Vietnam, the United States was
going through some of our own upheaval at home. President Nixon, of
course, resigned in disgrace in 1974. That made Gerald Ford into the
president of the United States, even though no group larger than his
congressional district back home in Michigan had ever elected him to
In April 1975, two years after the U.S. had pulled out our troops from
Vietnam, when it was becoming clear that South Vietnam was about to lose
the war, they were about to be conquered by the communists in the North,
President Ford in April 1975, he went to Congress and he asked Congress for
a big new round of aide, to try to prop up South Vietnam in the face of all
of this obvious evidence that they were about to lose the war and Vietnam
was about to become a single communist country.
And yes, it was clear that South Vietnam was about to lose the war.
And yes, we did still have a few thousand U.S. personnel of various kinds
based at the embassy there. But when Congress in 1975, when they looked at
the size of President Ford`s aid request, he was asking for $750 million
for South Vietnam.
Congress looked at that request and balked. They said, no, no way.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at the time, they actually,
physically got up and walked over to the White House and sat down in the
cabinet room at the White House and demanded to speak with President Ford
about this aid request and why they were saying no. They said they
basically were not going to restart the war in Vietnam, no matter what was
going on there.
Senator Jacob Javits of New York told President Ford that day, in this
remarkable meeting, in the cabinet room at the White House, which the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Armed Services Committee, invited
themselves to, Jacob Javits told President Ford, I will give you large sums
for evacuation, but not one nickel for military aid for South Vietnam.
Senator John Glenn was in the room too, the famous astronaut and
pilot, right? He told President Ford, to his face, this is an amazing
quote, "The idea here is very different from what I envisioned", he said.
"I and most senators thought of a surgical extraction, not of a 10-day or
two-week operation with a bridge head."
Senator Glenn said, "This is a reentry of a magnitude we have not
envisioned. I can see North Vietnam deciding not to let us get these
people out and attacking our bridgehead. Then we would have to send forces
to protect our security forces." "That," he said, "fills me with fear."
John Glenn, famous astronaut, famous test pilot, says, "that fills me
Congress was willing to fund an evacuation. Congress was willing to
fund getting every last American out entirely. Every last one out of
Vietnam, even if it meant plucking them off the roof of the embassy by
But Congress was not willing to provide one nickel for further
military help for the government and for the south Vietnamese military,
which more than 150 million Americans had already died trying to prop up.
President Ford wanted back in to Vietnam, to stop that from happening,
and the Congress said, no way. They said it in dramatic fashion, to his
face, in the White House, when they were not invited.
I should note that one of the senators who was in the room that day,
when that super dramatic fight was happening, when that senate committee
got up from their seats on capitol hill and marched to the White House and
sat down in the cabinet room to see the president, one of the senators on
the Foreign Relations Committee that day, having that confrontation with
the president, was a very young senator named Joe Biden of Delaware. He
took part in that meeting when he was a senator in his first term.
The country was so against the Vietnam War, and Congress was so
determined that no president would ever be able to get us into something
like that ever again, but the Congress had passed something in 1973 called
the War Powers Resolution. President Nixon, he was still president then,
he vetoed it, but they passed it over his veto, anyway. It had that much
And that War Powers Resolution was an effort by the Congress to assert
that it was their job, under the Constitution, to make decisions about war
and peace. It`s Congress` job to make those decisions, not the
And while the power of that resolution has been questioned and some
say it has withered over the years, in 1975, when Gerald Ford wanted to
restart the war in Vietnam effectively, that was very fresh in Congress`
minds and Congress had no qualms about telling him no when he said he
wanted back into Vietnam.
So, that is how that iconic footage, those iconic images came to be,
because over President Ford`s objections, we did just evacuate as Saigon
fell. Those pictures were taken on April 30th, 1975, and that is the day,
the day, that Saigon fell. The communists from the north renamed Saigon
"Ho Chi Minh City". Two weeks later, the communists held a victory parade
And to this day, Vietnam is a communist country. And yes, that is how
we left it.
Since then, Vietnam went through a series of market-based economic
reforms. In the late 1980s, they opened up a stock market, in the year
2000. That`s the year that President Bill Clinton visited Vietnam in
November 2000, November that year.
For the past decade, Vietnam has had one of the highest economic
growth rates in the world. In 2007, Vietnam joined the World Trade
Organization. Right now, Vietnam`s big fight in the world is a standoff
they`re having over fishing rights and maybe oil rights or mineral rights
with China in the South China Sea.
Today, because he is required to, under the War Powers Resolution of
1973, President Obama sent this declaration to Congress, making his formal
legally required accounting of where U.S. military forces are deployed
around the world and for what.
U.S. forces, according to the president`s letter that he sent to
Congress today, are in Afghanistan and Somalia and Yemen and Cuba at
Guantanamo Bay, in Niger, in Chad, in Uganda, and in other unspecified
places in Central Africa, Egypt, Jordan, Kosovo, Libya.
There`s no mention in the president`s declaration today about U.S.
forces being in Pakistan. That maybe depends on what you define as forces.
For all the political debate about the U.S. using drones to kill people in
Pakistan, there`s actually been no drone strikes at least anybody knows in
Pakistan since Christmas.
Before last night, it had been six months since there had been a U.S.
drone strike in Pakistan, but apparently, there was one last night and
another early today. Reports are still fuzzy, because they always are,
because these things are secret, but it seems there were 11 suspected
militants in Pakistan killed in the first drone strike last night and
another eight people were killed in the second drone strike early this
These drone strikes, again, the first in six months in Pakistan. They
come just three days after the Pakistani Taliban launched an attack on the
biggest airport in Pakistan. They attacked the airport, a huge airport in
a huge city of Karachi. The attack left 36 people dead, including 10 very
The United States had reportedly stopped all its drone strikes in
Pakistan last year at the request of the Pakistani government, because they
wanted to stop them as a sign of goodwill as they entered into peace talks
with the Taliban. After this attack on a civilian airport three days ago,
though, there were notably no complaints about the Pakistani military about
the U.S. apparently starting its drone strikes up again last night.
So, the president`s letter today makes no mention of Pakistan,
although he did apparently fire something like 14 missiles into Pakistan in
just over the last 24 hours. President Obama in his letter, he does note
that a classified annex to this report to Congress provides some additional
information, so maybe that`s where they talk about Pakistan, but of course
we never get to see that stuff.
Also not mentioned in the president`s declaration of all the myriad
places we`ve got U.S. forces deployed right now is the nation of Iraq. And
maybe we do have some super secret classified force there that we`re not
allowed to know about, like we do in lots of other countries around the
world. But the fact is that conventional declared U.S. forces are not
there anymore at all, other than a small embassy protection contingent of
about 200 troops.
As the news from Iraq in the last few days has gone from terrible to
legitimately frightening, there isn`t a U.S. presence there. Nobody knows
if the next fall of Saigon is going to be the fall of Baghdad, but the
pictures today of these young men and teenagers in Baghdad, these are young
men and teenagers in Baghdad, voluntarily signing up to join the Iraqi
They did open air army recruitment events in Baghdad today. They`re
signing up to fight to try to save their city, as militant groups approach
And the pictures today of U.S.-made military equipment that was
provided to the Iraqi army, the pictures of that equipment being set on
fire in the streets of Mosul or not set on fire and instead driven over the
border into Syria to be used there in the war against Bashar al Assad, it
is almost as viscerally wrenching, right, to see those images as it is to
see those people reaching for the skids of the helicopter as it took off
from the embassy roof in April of 1975.
When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, under false presences,
the Bush administration and its supporters at the time, they played up what
turned out to be false threats about the existing Iraqi government and they
aggressively played down any possible negative consequences of the U.S.
invading Iraq and toppling that government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM KRISTOL, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: There`s been a certain amount
of, frankly a kind of pop sociology in America that, you know, somehow, the
Shia can`t get along with the Sunni, and the Shia in Iraq just want to
establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There`s almost no
evidence of that at all.
PAUL WOLFOWITZ, FORMER DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY: There are other
differences that suggest that peacekeeping requirements in Iraq might be
much lower than historical experience in the Balkan suggests. There`s been
none of the record in Iraq of ethnic militias fighting one another that
produced so much bloodshed and permanent scars in Bosnia. We have no idea
what kind of ethnic strife might appear in the future. Although, as I`ve
noted, it has not been the history of Iraq`s recent past.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Those kind of things never happen in Iraq, other than, you
know, Saddam gassing the Kurds, and the huge Shia rebellion in the South,
and the whole Saddam government, and the Baath Party and the army all
running as a despotic Sunni tyranny over the other sectarian groups in the
country and the other sectarian groups in the country resisting with all
they had. Other than that, there`s no reason to think there`s going to be
any ethnic or sectarian issues in Iraq. I looked it up.
That was how the Bush administration tried to silence anybody who had
doubts about the wisdom of invading Iraq in 2003, or what an undertaking it
would be or how big a problem it was going to be for that long.
Specifically, there in that clip that we just showed, that was Paul
Wolfowitz trying to shut up then chief of staff, Eric Shinseki, who had
said publicly, we would probably need a much larger force to try to hold
Iraq together than the bush administration wanted to say that we would have
Iraq did descend into chaos and then into sectarian and regional civil
war, as soon as Saddam Hussein was ousted and the army was disbanded. Over
more than eight terrible years fighting there, the American fight in Iraq
was not so much against the Iraqi army, which basically dissolved on
contact with the initial invasion in 2003, before it was formally
disbanded, the fight was instead between Iraqi factions and terrorist
groups and insurgent militia groups fighting against each other and against
And when U.S. forces ended their combat operations in Iraq, on the
timetable established by the Bush administration in 2010, and therefore,
the Iraqi government would not consent to any agreement to keep U.S. forces
after that point -- well, then, U.S. forces did leave, all of them. And
naturally, the battle between sectarian groups and terrorist groups and
militias and insurgent groups that Saddam had fought and strong-armed with
a despotic iron fist for all those decades, yes, naturally, those fights
kept going and now an army of several thousand radical Sunni fighters has
taken over a wide and growing swath of Iraq, and also Syria. And now they
say they are marching to Baghdad.
And here at home, the people who most aggressively argued that we
ought to start that Iraq war in 2003, those same exact people are now
arguing that the United States ought to get back in there again. Senator
John McCain, who based his 2008 presidential campaign around an aggressive
campaign to further escalate the Iraq war, who`d been one of the most
aggressive proponents for that war in the first place, today John McCain
went to a classified briefing on the situation in Iraq. He went to that
briefing for a couple of minutes. After a couple of minutes, he walked out
of the briefing in order to go get back out in front of the cameras, where
he demanded the resignation of President Obama`s entire national security
team, announced who President Obama should hire back from the good old Iraq
war days to replace all of his current team, and then he called the
security situation in Iraq now, quote, "the greatest threat since the Cold
John McCain has identified a lot of greatest threats since the Cold
War. This is the current one for him.
"The New York Times" today, apparently, with no self-consciousness
about it whatsoever, went back to this guy for quotes about not just how
terrible it is in Iraq right now, but specifically about how terrible it is
that the Obama administration is not sending the U.S. military back into
The guy`s name is Ken Pollack, Kenneth Pollack. He authored this book
you might remember, from 2002, "The Threatening Storm: The Case for
Ken Pollack was a leading mouth piece for the bogus Iraq weapons of
mass destruction claim. That was part of his argument. The other part of
his claim for why we should invade Iraq was that invading Iraq was going to
be super easy and super cheap.
Listen to how this guy sold it. Look. "In purely economic terms, it
is unimaginable that the United States would have to contribute hundreds of
billions of dollars and highly unlikely that we would have to contribute
even tens of billions of dollars."
He said, "Those who argue that the United States would inevitably
become the target of unhappy Iraqis generally also assume that the Iraqi
population would be hostile to U.S. forces from the outset. However, the
best evidence we have suggests that the Iraqi people would be pleased to be
He was basically the captain of team wrong in 2002, Ken Pollack. But
incredibly, today, "The New York times" goes back to him as an Iraq expert,
specifically to get his views on why it`s so awful that the Obama
administration is not putting the U.S. military back into Iraq again.
These pictures were taken the day before yesterday in Mosul, showing
some of the aftermath of the Sunni militants taking over that city. You
see on the ground there, on the median there, that`s -- that`s clothing.
Those are Iraqi army uniforms that were stripped off by members of the
Iraqi military. They stripped their uniforms off, left them on the street,
When the U.S. invaded Iraq 11 years ago, the U.S. government at the
time made a decision to disband the existing Iraqi army, and instead tear
that one apart and build a brand-new one from scratch. And the U.S.
government, the U.S. taxpayers have funded that project of building a
brand-new Iraqi army, arming them and training them. We funded that to the
tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.
Remember, that was the whole strategy for why we had to stay so long.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Our military is helping to train
Iraqi security forces, so that they can defend their people and fight the
enemy on their own. Our strategy can be summed up this way: as the Iraqis
stand up, we will stand down.
And as I remind the good folks of Idaho, our strategy can be summed up
this way: as the Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down. And what that
means is, as more and more Iraqis take the fight to the few who want to
disrupt the dreams of the many, that the American troops will be able to
Our policy is stand up, stand down -- as the Iraqis stand up, we`ll
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: That was the political bumper sticker justification in the
United States for why the Iraq war had to go on for so much longer than the
American public could stand it. It was because we had to build and train
up and stand up a brand-new Iraqi army.
Well, they are not standing up anymore. The battle for Mosul, for
that city in Iraq this week, that battle is estimated to have been a battle
between a few hundred, maybe a thousand of these Sunni extremist fighters
on one side. The Iraqi military forces on the other side, roughly 30,000
But it was the 30,000, it was the Iraqi military that turned, dropped
their uniforms, dropped their weapons and took office.
Les Gelb at the Council of Foreign Relations today calls this today in
Iraq, history as usual. He says, "The U.S. fights in Iraq and Afghanistan
and Libya and Vietnam provides billions of dollars in arms, trains the
first handily soldiers, and then begins to pull out. And what happens?
Our good allies on whom we`ve squandered our sacred lives and our wealth
fall apart. That`s what`s happened in all of those places. That`s what`s
happening in Iraq now."
"No amount of U.S. air and drone attacks will alter the situation.
This kind of outcome was inevitable for Iraq, given the political lay of
the land in that country. It is almost certainly what is also going to
happen in Afghanistan. There, too, we`ve fought and died, equipped and
trained hundreds and thousands of Afghan troops. There, too, America
should not be surprised if the Taliban soon regains the offensive and
afghan troops take off their uniforms, lay down their arms and run."
"Remember Vietnam?" he says. "The South Vietnamese had a million and
a half men under arms. These armed forces had plenty to fight with, but
they gave up too."
The United States military is the biggest, finest, most expensive,
most professional, most well-armed, most disciplined military in the world.
There is no military battle that can be waged against the U.S. military
that the U.S. cannot ultimately win. But that does not mean that
everything that we want to win can be construed as a U.S. military battle.
Right now, the people who thought it would be easy and a great idea
and cheap to invade Iraq under George W. Bush, they want us to restart that
war again. Frankly, if you press them, they`ll tell you they wish it had
never ended in the first place.
But if you look at those arguments today, and you`re overwhelmed by a
feeling of, oh, my God, we have been here before, that feeling is not just
because we have been in Iraq before. It`s because we have been here before
as a country, in a big way, and we know how this goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERALD FORD, FORMER PRESIDENT: We, of course, are saddened, indeed by
the events in Indochina. But these events, tragic as they are, portend
neither the end of the world nor of America`s leadership in the world. We
can and we should help others to help themselves. But the fate of
responsible men and women everywhere and the final decision rests in their
own hands, not in ours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So it was, and so shall it ever be.
Richard Engel`s in northern Iraq and he joins us live, next.
MADDOW: One of the scenes of our modern world runs through Iraq.
That means that when our world starts to fall apart at the seams, it
usually means that Iraq is one of the first places to start unraveling.
And when that happens, one thing you can set your watch by is that NBC`s
Richard Engel will be there in the middle of it so he can show the world
what it looks like and sounds like from the middle of the unraveling.
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):
Some American veterans might be able to recognize their old Humvees. Given
to the Iraqi army, some now shattered is, burned, others taken over by
Islamic militants, a splinter group of al Qaeda called ISIS, the Islamic
state in Iraq and Syria.
Today, they vowed to march on Baghdad. They`re only a hundred miles
away. And have surrounded the country`s biggest oil refinery.
And Iraqi troops who were trained by the U.S., most are putting their
hands up, instead of on the trigger. The goal, the militants said today,
to impose strict Islamic Sharia law, not just in Iraq, but in Syria and
beyond. They`re led by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, a militant who fought U.S.
troops in Iraq, was must custody for years, but escaped.
Many say he`s the true heir to Osama bin Laden, capturing more U.S.
weapons and equipment in every town and more followers.
Thirteen packed in one car, leaving Mosul. They said they heard
gunshots near their home and had enough. Others were just on foot.
What`s happening to Iraq? It`s splitting apart into three warring
pieces. In the west, the militants are taking over and being joined by
those nostalgic for Saddam Hussein.
In the south, the U.S.-supported Shiite government under Prime
Minister Maliki, who has excluded Sunnis from power, is struggling to
survive. And in the north, the Kurds, who have longed for independence for
a century, are now taking it.
Today, Kurdish troops seized Kirkuk, home of one of the biggest oil
fields in the world. This volatile patchwork nation the U.S. invaded and
then stitched back together with the sweat and lives of thousands of
American troops is rapidly coming undone.
MADDOW: Richard Engel, NBC`s chief foreign correspondent filed that
dispatch today from northern Iraq. Richard now joins us live.
Richard, thanks for being with us.
Give us a sense of what you are seeing and where you think this is
ENGEL: Well, I think we`re seeing state collapse. And where this is
heading is some sort of civil war. We are seeing now Kurdistan, the
Kurdish region where I am right now, expanding. We are seeing the western
Iraq, the Sunni, anger, disgruntled Iraq on the march, marching towards
Baghdad. And we are seeing the Shiite section, which still holds the
government, preparing for battle.
Today in Baghdad, mosques, Shiite mosques, were calling through the
loudspeakers on top of the mosque, for people to come and collect weapons.
Earlier, you showed the government holding these open recruiting sessions.
Already, there has been some violence in Baghdad. I think it`s going
to get a lot worse.
The question is, is this going to be a long, horrible civil war or is
it going to be some sort of short civil war that then leads to a coup or
some sort of military takeover, as has been the case in Syria, might be the
case in Libya in the future. That seems to be the emerging pattern in the
But if this continues the way it is, we`re going to a civil war. It
might be short, it might be long, but that seems to be where things are
MADDOW: Richard, one of the things we saw during the long U.S. war in
Iraq was that, even as the nation of Iraq could be divided roughly into
Sunni and Shia and Kurdish areas, Baghdad was enough of a mix that Baghdad
was always a question. It was neighborhood by neighborhood. And the
segregation among those neighborhoods changed during the course of the U.S.
Whether or not those Sunni militants can mount an all-on assault
against Baghdad the way they`re threatening, is it likely to become a
street-by-street fight in that huge city like the way we saw during the
worst of the earlier civil war?
ENGEL: Actually, it would be a lot year`s today because of the last
Initially, Baghdad was very much a mixed city. And you had a street
within a Sunni community that would have Shiite families and Christian
families. And there were little pockets.
Over the years, the pockets have changed and you have the eastern part
of Baghdad, that is pretty much all Shiite right now, and the western side
of the city, that`s divided by the Tigris River, which is pretty much all
Sunni. They have self-segregated after so many years of violence.
So, if the Sunnis came in and they came in from the west, which is the
way that they are heading, they have already established some sort of beach
heads in Abu Ghraib, it would be considerably easier than it would have
been, say, 10 years ago.
MADDOW: Richard, obviously, there`s no significant U.S. troop
presence in Iraq anymore, in any part of Iraq. But in terms of the
American presence more broadly, are there a lot of American civilians,
American contractors, other people that are involved in some ongoing way
with sort of nation-building efforts there, that are now, potentially,
thinking about getting out?
ENGEL: Security companies have already been advising contractors to
get out and get out now, to evacuate immediately. And some mandatory
evacuations have begun, from contractors at the Balad air base, that
evacuation will be continuing tomorrow as well.
We don`t know exactly how many contractors and diplomats, American
contractors and diplomats there are here. We`ve contacted USAID, the State
Department, the White House, and for security reasons, they don`t want to
put a number. It is several thousand. It is probably somewhere between
2,000 and 4,000.
But, I think, they are, frankly, at risk. And I don`t think Baghdad
is going to be a safe place to operate in the coming days.
You talked about the airlift out of the embassy in Vietnam. The U.S.
embassy in Baghdad is an enormous fortress. It is well-secured. But by
being so enormous, it also makes it easier to penetrate. It takes a lot
more force to control an embassy that is bigger than the Vatican City.
Maybe it was overreach in building that giant complex. But there are
quite a few Americans still left in this country.
MADDOW: Richard Engel, NBC News, chief foreign correspondent, joining
us live at the -- at an ungodly hour from northern Iraq. Richard, thank
you so much. I really appreciate it, man. Be safe.
All right, we`ve got lots to come, including American southerners with
giant beards doing something weird with an American governor. And that
story is coming up on tape.
MADDOW: Just a heads up that we`ve got a scoop coming up in our next
segment. John Stanton from "BuzzFeed" is with us and we think we`ve got
some rather smoking new reporting on a story that hasn`t got much coverage,
but I think it`s about to and that story is next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Last year, we reported extensively on a strange and
surprising story about the FBI. FBI agents were interviewing a guy who was
potentially a really interesting witness and/or suspect. He not only might
have been a relevant witness to the Boston marathon bombing, because he
knew one of the two bombing suspects, but he also might have had
information about an unsolved gruesome triple murder that took place in the
Boston area on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 back in 2011.
And what was bizarre and surprising about that FBI story is that the
FBI shot and killed that guy while they were questioning him. State
troopers and FBI agents outnumbered the guy 4-1. The FBI agents and the
troopers were all armed and the guy was not.
But somehow, the night they were questioning him in his apartment in
Florida, the guy ended up not just dead, but shot seven times by one of the
FBI agents who had been conducting the interview. It was a strange and
What was not surprising about that story was that when the FBI
reviewed that shooting, their review concluded that the shooting was fine.
No problem. It was a good shoot. No disciplinary action will be taken.
No further investigation is necessary.
And the reason that was not a surprise, when the FBI exonerated
itself, is because, in the immediate aftermath of that guy getting killed
in Florida, "The New York Times" reporter named Charlie Savage, who reaped
the benefits of a Freedom of Information Act request that he had filed for
the results of previous shooting reviews by the FBI.
At the time that Florida shooting happened, the FBI had been telling
the press, don`t worry, we have an effective process for addressing
shootings like this internally. Don`t worry, we know how to deal with this
And, yes, their process for reviewing shooting incidents is a time-
tested process. They`ve been doing it for a long time.
But what Charlie Savage found out is that the results of those reviews
are jaw dropping. It turns out between 1993 and 2011, so an almost 20-year
period, there were 150 cases where FBI agents shot someone, 70 times when
an FBI agent shot and killed someone, and 80 times when an FBI agent shot
and wounded someone.
In those 150 cases, the FBI shooting review process ruled that all 150
of them were good shoots. Every single one of them was fine. No
disciplinary action, no need for any further investigation, 150 for 150.
And so, of course, when they shot Ibragim Todashev in Florida last
year, they ruled that one was a good shoot as well. Of course they do,
they always do. Literally, every time. They have never, ever done
And maybe I`m just naive and everybody expects this kind of thing, but
I remain surprised, I remain even stupefied that it is not a national
scandal, that story about the FBI. Shooting and killed people with 100
percent impunity for two decades. Ask me how.
Maybe, though, we can top that now. Because a different federal law
enforcement agency, one that`s even bigger than the FBI, one with 50
percent more armed agents than the FBI has, their record of what they do
when they shoot and kill people is a black box. It`s a total unknown.
There`s no official statistics about how many people they`ve killed, but
unofficial data indicates that at least 28 people have been shot and killed
in this country by armed border patrol agents since 2010.
And maybe all of those, maybe every single one of them was a good
shoot and totally justified, but for those more than two dozen times that
an agent has shot and killed somebody, we have absolutely no idea what
happened next. There`s no official information available as to whether
those shootings were investigated or how they were investigated. We
certainly don`t know if any agent was ever disciplined. We have no
information about it.
And I mean it. Maybe all of those 28 fatal shootings were good
shoots. But we have no idea. We don`t even know if there really were 28
of them. They don`t even say that they have exonerated themselves the way
the FBI does.
If this law enforcement agency, they don`t release any public
information about it at all. How can this be? It`s not like this is the
CIA running black site prisons and this is a covert op or something. This
isn`t some military operation in central Africa run through JSOC and it`s
all secret. This is American law enforcement on American soil and we`re
not allowed to know when they kill someone, when they kill dozens of people
I mean, I don`t mean to suggest that any or all of those shoots are
necessarily bad shoots, but how can it be that we do not know at all? Last
month, an immigration advocacy group filed a FOIA for abuse complaints
against border patrol agents. These aren`t about deaths, just abuse
Again, this is a huge law enforcement force, 21,000 officers. The
number of border patrol agents has more than doubled since 2004.
OK, this agency is ballooning. How are they doing in terms of
discipline and use of force since they`ve been up-scaling so rapidly?
Again, we have no idea. There`s no single complaint process if you
want to tell somebody in authority about misbehavior or abuse that you`ve
seen by a border patrol agent. There`s no single official complaint
process, which, again, is amazing.
But the American Immigration Council filed this request specifically
for complaints about abuse that somehow made it to the internal affairs
offices at the border patrol. And they were able to get those records,
specifically, and what they found was FBI-level shocking and then some.
Again, this is abuse complaints, not killings, but look at what they
found. Over a three-year period, from 2009 to 2012, they got a list of 809
abuse complaints that made it as far as the internal affairs bureau at the
border patrol. A huge number of those complaints, 40 percent of them, were
never resolved. They`re still pending, still open, no decision made of any
kind, 40 percent.
And the other 60 percent of the cases where a decision was made, the
complaint process was closed out and in 97 percent of those cases, where a
decision was made, the decision that was made was to take no action, 97
percent. And that went down quite significantly. We start with 809
complaints. A total of 13 of them result in some action being taken, yes,
that`s the scale, and in most of those 13 cases, the action that is taken
is that somebody has to have counseling.
And this is the only information that we`ve got about this huge law
enforcement agency. A random snapshot of a three-year chunk of some of the
complaints filed against them at an agency that doesn`t have a single
complaint process. These are just the ones that happened to go through an
office called internal affairs.
Well, now the head of the internal affairs office at the border patrol
has been fired. He`s being kept on at the agency in some other capacity,
but he has been relieved of his duties as head of internal affairs as of
this week. He`s a Bush administration era hire, has been at the agency
In terms of the overall head of this agency, the Obama administration
just put somebody new in charge of Customs and Border Patrols. His name is
Gil Kerlikowske. He`s the former police chief from Seattle. He`s only
taken over the agency since March.
But as of this week, one major head has ruled that this totally opaque
agency all right, the numbers that we do have out of this totally opaque
agency are sort of shocking. The numbers we don`t have, the stuff we have
zero information about, the things about which they released zero public
information, it`s even more shocking that we`re not allowed to know.
Is this one head rolling this week, is that the sign of an agency
that`s starting to get its house in order, or is this the sign of an
agency, a really big and important agency with a ton of political pressure
on it that might be in the process of falling apart?
Joining us now is John Stanton, Washington bureau chief for
John, thanks very much for being here.
JOHN STANTON, BUZZFEED: It`s good to be here.
MADDOW: So, I understand you have been doing some reporting of than
story specifically, and that you`ve got some new stuff. What have you
STANTON: Well, sources of mine have told me that he was supposed to
actually testify before the Senate Oversight Committee on Monday, the same
day that he was conveniently fired or removed from office. And that the
agency did not inform the members of the committee until, I guess, the day
of the hearing, the day that he was moved out of internal affairs. They
weren`t going to send him over, they were going to send his deputy over,
because he had been removed from those duties.
And, you know, I think, for an agency that values its secrecy and is
unwilling to talk to the press or to members of Congress or the public,
really, at all, you know, it does raise a red flag when the guy who would
know where all the bodies are buried, sort of figuratively, and literally,
within the agency, is suddenly moved the day he`s about to go testify
MADDOW: Well, that`s, I guess that`s the crux of it. I mean, is
there -- I know you`ve been working on border patrol just as a story and as
a sort of government accountability issue for a long time. Is there any
indication from the firing, specifically, or from anything else about this
official`s past, as head of the internal affairs, to suggest that he was
about to be some kind of whistle-blower?
I mean, honestly, it wouldn`t seem likely, with since he was the head
of internal affairs and we know a little something about the record of
internal affairs at that agency. But then again, he was fired the day he
was going to testify and that seems really fishy.
STANTON: Yes, I mean, there are sort of conflicting pieces of
evidence here. I`ve heard some people who say that he had sort of become
committed to this idea of trying to rein in some of the cowboy behavior
that`s been going on along the southern border.
But at the same time, he`s also been at internal affairs during a time
where you`ve had the majority of these shootings, fatal shootings, that
have happened in the last, you know, four, five years. And he`s been in
charge of internal affairs. One would think that this would become a much
There have been lots of stories about, you know, agents being involved
with drug trafficking and other issues that have happened sort of
throughout his tenure. So it`s unclear whether or not it was something
like that, or if this was the agency trying to signal to the public and to
particularly advocates along the border, that they were beginning to take
this issue of the violence seriously. It`s very, you know -- and they
don`t talk. They won`t explain themselves, they don`t tell anybody
anything. So, it`s hard to know.
MADDOW: There`s so much Washington noise about the issue of
immigration, but the way that immigration is enforced, particularly in
terms of boots on the ground at the border, this is a really big story and
I think it`s about to get bigger. And we`re going to be doing more
coverage on this in the coming days.
John Stanton, Washington bureau chief at BuzzFeed -- John, thanks very
much. I think this is really something here. Thanks.
STANTON: It`s good to be here.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So this happened in our world. Seriously, this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys, the governor will be here any moment. And
you have got to get ready for Governor Jindal.
Hey, hey, how you doing? Welcome. Welcome. Welcome to duck
commander -- well, we are in the back of the warehouse here. I missed you
at the front.
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: Now, we just came back here. Got
here early. Guys invited me to shoot around a little bit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, shooting basketball day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You may think "Duck Dynasty", Bobby Jindal -- there`s no
chance that you think of "Duck Dynasty", Bobby Jindal and basketball. But
And then today, about six minutes from the duck commander compound,
basketball Bobby Jindal did something much less basketball, and much more
the kind of thing you might expect from him. And what he did at the church
down the road from the duck guys, it was a doozy. And it`s going to affect
a huge chunk of the United States.
And that story is straight ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Largest city in Louisiana is New Orleans, with a population
of about 340,000 excellent people. Second largest city in Louisiana is
Baton Rouge, about 230,000 people.
And today, far from either of the population centers in the town of
Monroe, Louisiana, at a church, Governor Bobby Jindal signed a new law that
will close all the abortion clinics in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. For
that whole state with a population of almost 5 million people, the law that
Bobby Jindal signed today is expected to close every clinic in the state
except for one maybe two. Neither of them in the state`s two largest
The Louisiana bill uses the same language used in Texas to close
clinics there. That same language has just been put into law in Oklahoma
as well. Expected to close all but one clinic in Oklahoma.
Same language put into law in Alabama.
And also in Mississippi. The one last place in Mississippi where
women can get an abortion is now fighting to try to stay open. The state
tries to shut it down.
And now today, in Louisiana, Governor Jindal has signed the same law
to start shutting down that state`s clinics as well. And, state-by-state,
across the American south, that is how the anti-abortion movement is
succeeding in making it so an American woman who wants to have a legal
abortion really has nowhere to go.
In addition to signing this law that will shut down either three or
four of the last five places in Louisiana, where a woman can get an
abortion, the law that Governor Jindal signed establishes a public registry
of doctors who do abortions in the state making public their names and
The Louisiana state legislature voted to overwhelmingly pass that bill
at the five-year anniversary of Dr. George Tiller being stalked and
murdered by an anti-abortion activist. And, voting in favor of a similar
public registry of abortion doctors a decade ago that`s all but ended the
nomination of a federal judicial nominee that`s never been able to explain
this thing might help more doctors get shot in this country.
But today, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed the bill to: (a),
close all the clinics and (b), publish the names and addresses of all
doctor whose do abortions in the state. He signed that legislation today
in a church in Monroe, Louisiana. And yes, in case you are wondering, yes,
there will be lawsuits.
Now, time for "THE LAST WORD." Thank you for being with us tonight.
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