'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, September 10th, 2014
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
September 10, 2014
Guest: Ben Cardin, Robert McFadden, Phyllis Bennis, Ali Al-Ahmed, David
Rohde, Terry O`Neill
LAWRENCE O`DONELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. Thank you very much.
RACHEL MADDOW, "TRMS" HOST: Absolutely.
O`DONNELL: An hour ago, the president presented his plan for as he put it,
degrading and destroying the Islamic State.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our objective is clear -- we
will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL through a comprehensive and
sustained counterterrorism strategy.
First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrike against these
terrorists. Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts
beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we`re
hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense.
Moreover, I made it clear we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our
country wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action
against ISIL in Syria as well as Iraq.
This is a core principle of my presidency. If you threaten America, you
will find no safe haven.
Second, we will increase our support to forces fighting these terrorists on
the ground. In June, I deployed several hundred American service members
to Iraq to assess how we can best support Iraqi security forces. Now that
those teams have completed their work, and Iraq has formed a government, we
will send additional 475 service members to Iraq.
As I`ve said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission.
We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq. But they are
needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The president tried to make a particular point to distinguish
the choice he`s making tonight from President George W. Bush`s decision to
go to war with Iraq over weapons of mass destruction that did not exist, a
war that President Obama opposed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And anytime we take military action, there are risks involved,
especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions. And I
want the American people to understand how this effort will be different
from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat
troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be
waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they
exist using our air power and our support for partners forces on the
The strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting
partners on the frontlines is one that we have successfully pursued in
Yemen and Somalia for years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now from Iraq, Richard Engel, NBC News chief
correspondent. And from Washington, Rachel Maddow, host of "THE RACHEL
Rachel, the last point, that the president stressed, which is the
difference between what he`s doing and what his predecessor did in
initiating the Iraq war, do you think he succeeded in making a meaningful
MADDOW: The president is making a clear rhetorical distinction between a
large-scale years-long, multi-variant counterterrorism action, on the one
hand, and war on the other. And he`s saying this isn`t going to be a war.
In part, I have to take issue with him in saying this is not going to be
combat. As far as I`m concerned, once we`ve got pilots in the air dropping
bombs over forces that have anti-aircraft artillery on the ground, those
pilots are on combat missions already. The 1,100 Americans who are there,
soon to be 1,500 Americans, you may not want to call them combat troops but
they`re going to be in hostile territories engaged in hostile actions
against an enemy that wants to kill them, that`s very close to combat.
The question, though, is if you can -- if you stop trying to parse those
words and instead talk about the overall mission, can this be seen as
something that Congress doesn`t need to declare as a war, and that the
American people shouldn`t view as a war-sized commitment, it`s very hard to
say until we start doing it. But that distinction for me seems very thin.
O`DONNELL: Richard Engel, the president is using the machinery of war.
He`s using the personnel of war, but like everyone else in Washington, he
doesn`t want to use the word "war" and the distinction that everyone in
Washington seems to lean on here that makes this not a war, is what has now
become that cliched phrase, boots on the ground.
As long as no American boots touch the soil where you are now, then we will
not call it a war. How does that distinction play in the region?
ENGEL: Well, I think there are already -- I know there are already
American boots on the ground where I am now. They`re not necessarily
firing their rifles or kicking down doors, and we`re not going on imbeds
with these troops. They are troops who are staying away from reporters,
they are imbedded with local fighters, trying to guide in air strikes,
gathering intelligence, the kind of things you thought the Green Berets
would have done many years ago and which now are being done by Navy SEALs
and Delta Force and other Special Operation forces.
Can you conduct a secret war like this? A war by remote control to
dislodge ISIS, to dislodge this terrorist group this militant, murderous
group from large parts of Iraq and large parts of Syria? We will see. It
is an open question.
I think that biggest problem with this strategy is that the first part is
very clear, he wants to carry out airstrikes to kill enemies who harm the
United States. That seems very similar to the kind of things that the
United States is already doing in Somalia and Yemen.
The rest of the strategy seemed incredibly fuzzy, how there was going to be
this international coalition that lends its moral support of Sunni
countries that you would have to rebuild the Iraqi army which lost the
tremendous amount of credibility so far. And that you would work with all
of these local partners on the ground.
There are some local partner where is I am. I`m in northern Iraq and
Kurdistan, and there are some local partners here, and we`ve been out with
the Kurdish fighters who work very closely and very well with the
But in Syria, there aren`t any local partners. There are fictitious
partners that he`s talking about. In Iraq below where I am right now,
there`s the Iraqi army which has disintegrated and is not an effective
partner right now.
So, aside from the very specific idea of sending in special operators,
carrying out some drones, the rest of the strategy seems quite unclear.
O`DONNELL: Rachel, it seems to me an extraordinary moment in presidential
history, because it seems we now have a presidential position on these
kinds of things, which is to say -- Barack Obama ran as the 21st century
anti-war presidential candidate. And he won. We previously had anti-war
presidential candidates during the Vietnam War, but they didn`t win. So,
we saw one become president.
And then, when his moment comes now on a war decision, he makes what
appears to be the decision that is now -- what you would call -- what you
might call the presidential position, just as we now have in effect a
presidential position on international trade, for example. No matter what
they say as candidates, they all end up taking the same position in the
White House. It seems now they all end up at some point taking the
militaristic option in the Middle East when it is offered.
MADDOW: I think -- I think there is a case to be made for that. On the
other hand, having just sat here moments ago while Andrea Mitchell
interviewed John McCain, had we ended up with president John McCain, I`m
quite sure we would have had a lot more wars over the last six years than
we have had under President Barack Obama, only if you go by his judgment in
terms of who he thought we ought to bomb and who we ought have thought --
say we were, you know n one cause with in all the conflicts around the
world that he`s commented on since then.
I mean, I do think this president is disinclined towards war and I think he
is inclined very dramatically towards multilateral action and towards the
United States not doing stuff alone, and trying to ratify international
institutions that other American politicians may tear down. So, I think
there are some differences about the way he does stuff. I still think it`s
worth querying whether or not U.S. military force is the way that ISIS is
going to be defeated.
Ultimately, the most important thing that he announced today may be this
renewed effort to try to get, you know, countries like Qatar and Kuwait and
Saudi Arabia, other countries that have been a little sketchy in terms of
how much they support radical Islamic groups around the world, and to get
them all on essentially the same American page toward fighting this groups
instead of supporting them. That won`t be American military action. That
will be American diplomacy and arm twisting at work. That may be the thing
that works here, but coming from this president, it is hard to hear.
O`DONNNELL: Let`s listen to what the president said tonight about the two
war correspondents who were executed by ISIL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no
vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.
In a region that`s known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in
their brutality. They execute and captured prisoners. They kill children.
They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage. They threaten the
religious minority with genocide.
And in acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two American journalists,
Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Richard Engel, I`m so glad you`re here to talk about this as a
war correspondent. I don`t think there`s an analyst I`ve heard discussing
this in Washington who believes we would be making these war moves tonight
were it not for the beheading of Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff.
How do you and the war correspondents over there feel about these
executions of war correspondents who, like you, have voluntarily put
themselves in the line of fire in effect in this kind of danger, that their
executions have sparked this military action by the United States?
ENGEL: Well, no one would want to be in that situation for personal
reasons, and no one would want to think that their death is going to
necessarily change American foreign policy. I think that`s also a
dangerous precedent. ISIS has been around for about a year. It has been a
growing threat that many journalists have warned about.
We ourselves have done many reports about al Qaeda-like fighters streaming
across the Turkish border and going into Syria. It would be a dangerous
precedent just because a group of murderers decided to take someone hostage
and execute them and upload it to YouTube carrying a knife, that that
vicious murder would be enough to change U.S. policy. It shouldn`t be
enough to force us to engage on this kind of issue.
ISIS is a dangerous group. Every military analyst, intelligence analysts
I`ve spoken to, believes that this vicious group needs to be dealt with and
there needs to be a component. The problem, this is not the tip of Arabia.
This is not Yemen. This is not Somalia. These are not far away remote
places that can be more or less forgotten about.
We are in the heart in the Middle East. All of those Arab countries that
Rachel was just talking about has different visions of how this place is
supposed to turn out.
Iran has its own vision for how the Middle East and how Iraq in Syria
should be shaped in the future. ISIS is not an impossible target. The
U.S. military or many militaries in the region could squash it quickly.
The problem is, ISIS is fuelled and sits right on this sectarian fault line
between Sunnis and Shia, and if you get involved in that conflict and you
get involved with ISIS, and you really want to deal with it, you are
putting yourself as a mediator in this 1,400-year-old Sunni/Shia fight.
And the U.S. did that for ten years and didn`t do it very successfully.
O`DONNELL: Rachel, the president seems to admit that there is not now
certainly any actionable intelligence indicating the Islamic state
threatens the United States directly, but he did slip in as many references
to it after saying we didn`t have it. Including the last line where he
says our own security depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to
defend this nation. He actually said oh, we don`t actually have any
intelligence indicating they`re near doing anything like that.
MADDOW: Right, he drew that distinction. He said, we don`t know about
them operationally planning attacks on the United States, but they have
threatened us and they do pose a threat to both our allies and to lots of
the sort of things that Richard was talking about right there.
I mean, I will say, this is a little bit uncomfortable to bring up, but on
the point of the two American journalists who were killed by this group
within the last three weeks, which saw such a dramatic change in public
opinion and political attention to this matter, the president referred to
them by name tonight. We all know that`s a huge part of the political
I think it has to also be acknowledged that in the case of Steven Sotloff,
his family believes, his family at least claims publicly that what happened
to him in Syria is that he was brought across the border by the so-called
good rebels, the so-called moderate rebels, the ones who his family says
are the kinds of people who lots of people are clamming for the U.S. to be
arming and supporting. His family believes those are the people who then
essentially sold Steven Sotloff to ISIS. That they gave him over to ISIS,
and that there isn`t any meaningful distinction between the good rebels and
bad rebels in Syria. If the U.S. tries to make those sort of distinctions,
we`ll be indirectly or in some cases, maybe directly contributing to more
incidents like this horrible killing of Steven Sotloff.
So, if we are going to build foreign policy on provocations like that, and
we are going to cite those poor young men by name and talking about why
we`re doing what we`re doing, we ought to listen to their families, too, in
terms of what actually happened to them and what they think ought to happen
as the basis -- as a result of those tragedies.
And I think to ignore that and have them name check while we`re still
talking about in the same night, the same speech, talking about giving lots
of support to the supposed good rebels in Syria, it`s sort of beyond
ironic. It`s a little bit stomach-churning.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and the so-called good rebels in Syria have done at least
six beheadings of their own of their enemies.
Rachel Maddow, Richard Engel, thank you both so much for joining me
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence. Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, getting Congress onboard. Democratic Senator Ben
Cardin will join me.
And also tonight later, we have breaking news about the NFL commissioner
tonight. "The Associated Press" is reporting that the NFL was given that
video of what Ray Rice did to his wife inside that elevator months ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We can`t erase every trace of evil from the world and small groups
of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before
9/11 and that remains true today. And that`s why we must remain vigilant
as threats merge. I know many Americans are concerned about these threats.
Tonight, I want you to know that the United States of America is meeting
them with strength and resolve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Will Congress vote to support President Obama`s war plan
against the Islamic state? Senator Ben Cardin will join me next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL, but I believe
we are strongest as a nation when Congress and the president work together.
So, I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the
world that the Americans are united in confronting this danger. Across the
border in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian
opposition. Tonight, I call on Congress again to give us additional
authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, member of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator Cardin, could you vote for the plan President Obama outlined
tonight if it is offered as something to vote on in the Senate?
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: We`ll see how it`s worded and how it`s
presented to us.
I think what the president is suggesting that he wants Congress and the
administration working together, we share the same objective. ISIL is a
very dangerous organization, a barbaric, terrorist organization. We want
to marginalize and eliminate ISIL.
We are though very -- I think Congress is going to be cautious on the use
of our military. There should be an international response, but we don`t
want to be drawn into a lengthy conflict and we don`t want to be doing the
military work that should be done by the countries in which these terrorist
groups are located.
So, there`s going to be a great deal of discussion, but I do think that we
believe international action is appropriate. And the objectives the
president laid out are objectives that we shared and we want to work with
the president in a unified position because America is stronger as the
president has said when we work together.
O`DONNELL: So, you voted against the war in Iraq, but this -- which is in
effect an extension of the war in Iraq -- you would be willing to vote for?
CARDIN: Again, I will not support a resolution that could be used to draw
us into a long conflict or could be used to do things we shouldn`t be
It`s more than military. The president has talked about other things
besides the military actions. We`ve got to cut off the support base for
ISIL and terrorist groups. That means we`ve got to call off the funding.
That`s the so-called modern Arab states and what they have done.
We`ve got to cut off the political support for these extremist groups.
That means governments that represent all the people. We see signs of that
will in Iraq today. We don`t in Syria.
So, yes, I think Congress needs to be engaged so that we can marginalize
and eliminate ISIL, but it needs to be done in a way that does not make
America subject to a long campaign or a campaign where we`re doing a
military operations internally in a country that we shouldn`t be doing.
O`DONNELL: The president said, "I have the authority to address the threat
Do you believe the president already has all of the legal authority he
needs to do everything that he discussed tonight?
CARDIN: Well, I don`t know what he`s going to do doing from the military
point of view. That`s where the authority comes in. Also, of course,
there are resource issues that require congressional approval.
So, no, Congress is going to be engaged in this, we should be engaged in
this debate. The president has certain authority under Article II. He
also has the authorities on the use of military. There`s the War Powers
Act, the president has sent notifications to Congress on.
Congress needs to be engaged. But we`ll see what he`s talking about in the
use of our military from the point of view of a practical aspect.
I can tell you, we`re going to be cautious on the use of our military. We
want to see the international community. We certainly want to see the
Iraqis step up and take on the responsibility to defend their own country.
O`DONNELL: What would prevent the members of Foreign Relations Committee
and Harry Reid and others getting together tomorrow morning first thing and
starting work on a resolution for the United States Senate to vote on and
get that debate started by noontime tomorrow? What would prevent that?
CARDIN: First, I have never known Congress to take up a resolution such as
that that has not been requested by the president of United States. So, it
would be a very unusual thing for us --
O`DONNELL: Didn`t you hear him request your cooperation tonight and your
CARDIN: I did not hear him ask for War Powers resolution from the Congress
of the United States. If he requests one, I`m sure we`re going to see
specific language that he asks for.
So, I think we`re a little bit ahead of the game. He asked for Congress to
work with him. And as I pointed out, it`s more than just the authorization
and the use of force. There`s also issues concerning what activities do we
participate with the opposition in Syria. He talked about that.
There are areas Congress that needs to be engaged and should be engaged.
O`DONNELL: Senator --
CARDIN: Passing a resolution, we`ll see --
O`DONNELL: How many of your colleagues want so duck a vote on this?
CARDIN: Oh, I don`t know. I think we recognized responsibility here. I
can tell you, I`ve talked to my colleagues on both side of the aisle and I
think they would welcome Congress being engaged in this.
Now, we want to be engaged. This is an important matter, marginalizing and
eliminating ISIL, barbaric terrorist group, is a responsibility that we
also must --
O`DONNELL: Should we use the word "war" for what the president announced
tonight? And if not, why not? Using the weapons of war, using the
personnel of war, what about this that makes this not war?
CARDIN: If the president uses our military over a period of time that
exceeds 60 days, then the War Powers Act can be triggered. Then, to me,
it`s not whether it`s war or not war. Does it trigger the War Powers act
in which Congress needs to be engaged? That`s an issue I think we`ll have
some debate on.
But the military operations that the president is talking about, we believe
there are surgical airstrikes and not a pattern that would be a prolonged
engagement. If it`s a prolonged engagement, then I think the terminology
would trigger the War Powers Act.
O`DONNELL: Senator Ben Cardin, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
CARDIN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming up, the question no one in Washington is asking, what if for once,
what if for once we just did nothing? That`s coming up.
And later, the report that the NFL did indeed have the video of Ray Rice
and what he did inside that elevator with his fiance, and they had that
video months ago. Contradiction completely of what the NFL commissioner
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: In the fight against ISIL, we cannot rely on Assad regime that
terrorizes its own people -- regime that will never regain the legitimacy
that has lost. Instead, we must strengthen the opposition as the best
counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political
solution necessary to solve Syria`s crisis once and for all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Robert McFadden, an expert on terrorist
movements in the Middle East and Senior Vice President of the Soufan Group
and Phyllis Bennis Director of the new of the new internationalism project
at the Institute for Policy Studies.
Robert McFadden, the President said tonight, ISIL is a terrorist
organization pure and simple. Is it that simple?
ROBERT MCFADDEN, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, SOUFAN GROUP: Not quite that
simple. I mean, it`s a broad and complex and multilayered issue, whether
it`s ISIL or some of the other extremist groups in Iraq and Syria.
The speech tonight, very, very important terrific commentary from the
guests up to this point is all about the kinetic part of it, though. What
really is the devil in the details is addressing, not so much -- I mean,
the kinetic part is going to be relatively easy with the U.S. leading a
broad coalition. Not really address, though, up to this point for my time
in the near Middle East is the idealism, the al Qaeda is the Bin Laden-ism.
And unless that`s addressed we`re going to be at this a very long time.
O`DONNELL: And how do you address that?
MCFADDEN: Well, in the President`s, four different prongs he spoke about
tonight. The third in leading that broad coalition, finance, intelligence
sharing. One of the measures spoke to something that deals with the
So for example, the stakeholders in the area that have the most to lose
here, the Saudis, the Jordanians, the Turks, the Emiratis, how are they --
how does U.S. going to work with them to influence their populations that
this is the right thing to do?
One -- one -- a brief example among many, if, for example, air strikes are
called for in Syria, how will the Saudi Government explain to its
population that this is not to support the Assad regime, same thing in Iraq
right now with the new government which was the big positive step today,
swearing in a new prime minister. Is he working to explain to the Sunni
population, that look, this is not all about the sectarian fault between
Shia and Sunni.
O`DONNELL: Phyllis Bennis, we have watched now for decades as the United
States, the president of the United States, whoever he is, over the last
few decades. Whenever offered one of these military interventionist
adventures, it`s pretty much always the choice the president makes. And we
then live for years afterwards and sometimes very quickly afterwards, with
the unintended consequences of those interventions, the things that nobody
saw coming. We helped armed Osama Bin Laden when we thinks -- when we
think he`s one of the good guys. And then he`s the one who changes life in
America as no other person ever has.
And what we`ve never seen, what we`ve never seen is the American President
taking the risk of living with the consequences of doing nothing. What
would be the biggest risk in the possibility of doing nothing in the face
of what we`ve seen here?
PHYLLIS BENNIS, DIRETOR, INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: I think we have to
be very careful in our definitions. When we say doing nothing, most people
assume, as I think you do in your question that you`re referring to nothing
O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s what I mean.
BENNIS: And I think that`s a big problem. Because the assumption always
is the choice -- and we heard this over and over again around 9/11. You
either go to war or you let them get away with it.
BENNIS: That`s the two poles. And given that choice, people will always
choose go to war, because the option of doing nothing, letting them get
away with it is not okay. The reality is there is plenty to do. What
President Obama said some time ago was absolutely right. That the key is
not to do anything stupid. The key is not to do nothing, it`s to do
And right now, military strikes are stupid. Because while they may have a
moment of satisfaction where people in the U.S. see hooray, we`ve got the
bad guys. What people in Iraq see, for example, it`s a little different in
Syria, but certainly in Iraq, particularly Sunnis, but not only Sunnis, is
that suddenly the U.S. is a player acting at the air force of the Kurds and
the Shia against the Sunnis.
So the ideas that we can somehow do that and simultaneously persuade Sunni
leaders, the tribal leaders, the leaders of the militia, the former
generals who are Sunnis, who are leading ISIS, providing the military
support to ISIS. The notion that they are going to pull back from ISIS
because the U.S. says, "we want a new inclusive form of government here in
Iraq, here in your country." That they`re going to say, "OK, that`s a good
While the U.S. is there bombing on behalf of the other two main ethnic and
religious groups simply doesn`t fly. It doesn`t work that way. So what we
need to do is make the kind of diplomatic moves -- when we say there is no
military solution, we have to make good on that. And that means stop the
air strikes, stop sending more boots on the ground. We already have about
1,300, almost 1,300 pairs of boots on the ground. We just heard almost
another 500 coming in. Plus we don`t know how many pairs of -- well, its
maybe sneakers and not boots, of Special Forces and CIA on the ground in
Iraq and perhaps in Syria as well.
But that`s not going to answer the question. The question is going to be,
what kind of diplomacy, regional, international, as well as local.
Engaging with all the various forces in the countries, in Iraq, in Syria,
new negotiations sponsored by the United Nations, the ones that were
canceled months ago. They need to be restarted.
That would be a huge goal for a non-military U.S. action that some, perhaps
Senator McCain, perhaps others, would define as doing nothing because it
doesn`t involve shooting or bombing, but would actually have the potential
to bring about a real end of the civil war in Syria and perhaps a new
political situation in Iraq.
O`DONNELL: Robert McFadden, I for one believe the President is a
thoughtful and careful person when it comes to this arena. And he hates, I
think, to use oversimplification and exaggeration, rhetorically in this
But we saw him days ago saying he wanted to degrade the Islamic State.
That wasn`t politically good enough in Washington and he was pushed, we
watched it, pushed politically in to getting to the word destroy, which he
used tonight. So the mission is to destroy the Islamic State.
How many people have to be killed to destroy the Islamic State? And how
long will it take to kill those people?
MCFADDEN: Well, from my perspective in doing operations and government
work against a group like this, I`ll say first, if we take it in good faith
that there`s a broad consensus that it`s a dangerous lethal group, this
type of group really only responds to one thing. One stimulus, and that`s
It`s the other parts, the other aspects that we`ve been talking about, 360-
degree approach, diplomacy, the finance, getting the Saudis, for example to
stop their young men from going into places like Iraq and Syria. That`s
for the longer, even the midterm to longer-term approach for this problem
that we have now. But quantifying how many strikes? How many ground
operators those sorts of things?
O`DONNELL: How many bodies -- How many of fighting members of the Islamic
State are they? How many do we have to kill? Because we have to kill
every one of them apparently according to the speech --
BENNIS: And how many civilians will be among them?
MCFADDEN: Well, I would have to agree though as what we said,
characterized with Afghanistan. We`re not going to bomb our way and bomb
them into oblivions to stop this problem. It`s the other things that are
incubators to keep this problem going. For example, chronically and
tragically in these troubled spots we`re talking about, usually people have
two non-choices, autocratic rule or extremists. Those are the kinds of
things that really work -- the hard work has to come.
O`DONNELL: Robert McFadden and Phyllis Bennis, thank you both for joining
me tonight. I hope you both come back Thank you very much.
MCFADDEN: My pleasure.
BENNIS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the President call for support from the allies in
the region. How is that going to work?
And later, there is new information about when the NFL got the video that
was taken inside that elevator where Ray Rice was shown throwing the punch
at his now wife. According to the Associated Press, they got that video
months ago. That is a direct contradiction of the words the NFL
Commissioner last night.
O`DONNELL: President Obama talked tonight about how he will get the -- get
allies in the Middle East to join him in his plan to destroy the Islamic
State. We`ll discuss what the chances are of that actually working next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll
back this terrorist threat.
Secretary Kerry was in Iraq today, meeting with the new government and
supporting their efforts to promote unity. And in the coming days, he will
travel across the Middle East and Europe to enlist more partners in this
fight especially Arab nations who can help mobilize Sunni communities in
Iraq and Syria to drive these terrorists from their lands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and
investigative reporting for Routers, David Rohde, also joining us the
director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, Ali Al-Ahmed.
Ali, we just heard the President say that he`s going to round up these
allies from the Middle East. How do you think this is going to work for
ALI AL-AHMED, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR GULF AFFAIRS: I think that`s a good
strategy, knowing that these allies, the Sunni in the region, they have
been the ones who have been encouraging the insurgency and even funding
ISIS, especially from the gulf. It`s not private donors it`s -- because
nothing private takes place in the gulf countries. These are not
Jeffersonian (ph) democracies. Everything is done through the government -
O`DONNELL: So Ali, we`re not talking about getting people who are sitting
on the sidelines to join an alliance with the president. We are saying the
president is going to have to get those people to switch sides. They are
supporting the Islamic State. They`re going to have to drop their support
and their financial support for the Islamic State and then decide to help
the president of the United States?
AL-AHMED: Absolutely. I another thing that comes with you know giving
them some flowers, you have to bring some pressure, I think an approach of
a carrot and stick will work with the Saudis and with the gulf countries
because these gulf monarchies depend on the United States and the west for
So I think it would be easy. And let`s not forget Jordan as well. It was
playing -- it has played a role in that. Let`s remember, Sarkari Naukri
(ph) and Bin Laden, they all coming from U.S. allies, Saudi Arabia, Egypt
and Jordan. And this is a key element here because for 13 years that has
never been done. And we still have al Qaeda and ISIS growing because the
policy did not include bringing pressure on the sources the of terrorism of
ISIS and al Qaeda, its Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and Jordan.
These are countries that have provided everything, manpower, money,
ideology to the degree that ISIS is teaching Saudi Government school books
in Raqqa, in Syria. So the matching between ISIS, really you can say that
-- ISIS -- Saudi Arabia an edited version in terms of its policies,
ideology and the way it views other people and even in the beheading
business, it is copying the Saudi methods.
So it`s really a key element in the strategy to bring pressure, to push the
Saudis to change their policy really, not just --
O`DONNELL: Yes, so that the key point Ali.
David Rohde is really that last word, it said so. There`s Secretary Kerry
on September 11th, tomorrow in Saudi Arabia, the breathing grounds of the
people who brought them the World Trade Center, hit the Pentagon, asking
the Saudi regime to really help us out and stop helping the Islamic State.
What is to prevent the Saudi regime smiling at the Secretary State saying,
"we will help you every way we possibly can" and then secretly keep doing
what they`re doing?
DAVID ROHDE, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THOMSON ROUTER: Very little and that`s
what they have been doing for quite a while. It`s that they -- they`ve
said they help some of the moderates rebels mature to debatable in Syria,
but they also play a double game and back these Jihadists.
This is a good thing, this is a core problem is, are this governments going
to join us in trying to stop extremism, the Saudi keep, you know, preaching
us these extreme version of Islam. The ideological battle that, you know,
we`re talking about in the last segment, are they really going to step up
and do it?
We failed in Afghanistan because Pakistan never cracked down on the
Taliban. It`s the exact same dynamic but it`s a good moment. It`s good
that the president in a sense is asking these Arab countries to step
forward and do something. And this is the moment. It has to happen now.
O`DONNELL: We`re out of time on this. We are sorry to both of you. I
need you both back here to talk about this again.
David Rohde and Ali Al-Ahmed thank you for both for joining me tonight.
ROHDE: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, a new report tonight that the NFL did indeed have
and see the video of inside that elevator where Ray Rice threw that punch
that changed his life. That`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: The National Organization for Women is calling for the
resignation of the commissioner of the NFL whose story did not hold up for
24 hours after he told it last night.
O`DONNELL: The Associated Press is reporting tonight that what the NFL
Commissioner said last night is not true.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: So did anyone in the NFL see this second
videotape before Monday?
ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: No one in the NFL?
GOODELL: No one in the NFL in to my knowledge, and I`ve asked that same
question and the answer to that is "No".
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Associated Press is reporting tonight. A law enforcement
official says he sent a video of Ray Rice punching his then fianc‚ to an
NFL executive three months ago. While league officers insisted they didn`t
see the violent images until this week. The person played the Associated
Press a 12-second voice mail from an NFL office number on April 9th,
confirming the video arrived. The female voice expresses thanks and says,
you`re right, it`s terrible.
After the Associated Press was published, Roger Goodell canceled a planned
appearance tonight in Charlotte honoring the owner of the Carolina
Panthers. The law enforcement official speaking to the AP on the condition
of anonymity said they were unauthorized to release the video but shared it
unsolicited because they wanted the NFL to have it before deciding on
One of the NFL`s spokesmen, Brian McCarthy issued this statement tonight.
"We have no knowledge of this. We are not aware of anyone who possessed or
saw the video before it was made public on Monday. We will look into it."
Believe that at your own risk. NBC`s Bob Costas said this tonight on "NBC
nightly news" with Brian Williams.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB COSTAS, SPORTSCASTER, NBC: If the evidence indicates that he did see
it before this week and I take no pleasure in saying this, I think his
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today, Terry O`Neill the president of the National Organization
for Women said this. The only workable solution is for Roger Goodell to
resign and for his successor to appoint an independent investigator with
full authority to gather factual data about domestic violence, dating
violence, sexual assault and stalking within the NFL community and to
recommend real and lasting reforms.
Here is how that went over with one of the men in make-up on one of those
networks dedicated to the worship of football players.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN A. SMITH, COMMENTATOR, ESPN: I think this woman is off her rock.
I think she`s lost her mind. That`s right. I said it. This is the most
ridiculous nonsense I`ve ever heard in my life. Roger Goodell deserves to
lose his job? Because you know -- why are you acting like he`s Ray Rice?
Roger Goodell did not hit Janay Palmer Rice. He hasn`t hit any women.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is the president of the National Organization
for Women, Terry O`Neill.
Terry, what`s your reaction to ESPN voices like that who are fanatically
defending the commissioner of the NFL.
TERRY O`NEILL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN: You know,
Lawrence, look, the -- actually, it is a very good question to say "God,
Roger Goodell didn`t hit anybody, why should he lose his job?" The answer
is that Roger Goodell`s job as the CEO of the National Football League is
to respond in an appropriate way to this kind of incident. And Roger has -
- Mr. Goodell has failed to do his job, so he should be gone.
But I also want to say, when I first saw the video of that, I was very
taken aback by the intensity. And I get that people feel very intense and
very passionate. I think that we need to have a reasoned discussion about
There are good questions being asked. I think my organization has taken
the right route. Roger Goodell cannot credibly lead change in the National
Football League, and the NFL has a violence against women problem. It`s
not a Ray Rice problem. It`s a violence against women problem. You need a
new leader in there who will take on this problem and create real
And I do think there needs to be a fully independent, fully empowered
investigator to move us forward.
O`DONNELL: They also needed a fully empowered investigator in the New
Jersey criminal process. James McClean, the district attorney in this case
gave Ray Rice the easy way out. We had a former New Jersey prosecutor on
this program last night who said she absolutely would have tried that case
and not given him the easy way out after seeing that video. Is the
National Organization of Women going to ask for the resignation of James
McClean, that district attorney?
O`NEILL: Honestly, we haven`t been looking at that part of the Ray Rice
case precisely because we don`t think the NFL has a Ray Rice problem. We
think that it has a broader violence against women problem.
In fact, you know, when the first video surfaced and Rice was given only a
two-game suspension, we issued an objection. We thought, we issued a
statement , we said that it was -- we put out on social media that it was
completely inappropriate. When the second video came out, that`s when we
really started paying attention and concluded that it`s really -- there`s a
real problem within the NFL. That`s where we`ve been going.
You know, if we saw something in the DA`s office, we would go there too.
Right now we`re on the NFL.
O`DONNELL: All right, well, let`s get you to take a look at that DA`s
office too. Terry O`Neill, thank you very much for joining me tonight.
O`NEILL: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Our live coverage of tonight`s president address continues now
with Chris Hayes, live from Washington.
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