'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, September 11th, 2014
Read the transcript to the Thursday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
September 11, 2014
Guest: Teresa Garvey, Christopher Dickey, William Greider, Phyllis Bennis,
William McCants, Nancy Armour
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, the NFL is seeking the FBI seal
of approval on how it handled the Ray Rice situation.
And not surprisingly, President Obama`s speech is getting approval from
everyone in Washington who has approved every one of our military ventures
in the Middle East.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As Americans, we do not give
into fear ever.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today with massive symbolic meeting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thirteen years later, are we safer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re being pulled right back in.
OBAMA: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Secretary of State John Kerry after all is traveling
in the Middle East trying to build support.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The coalition is growing and it now has a
clarity of purpose.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will others truly put boots on the ground in Syria?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Somebody`s boots have to
be on the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congress has been very timid. I like to see it step to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Major developments today in the Ray Rice scandal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The NFL is asking the former FBI director --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To launch an independent investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A report that a New Jersey law enforcement official --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We sent a video of Ray Rice`s elevator assault --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To the NFL headquarters here in Manhattan five months
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can`t begin to talk about how badly it is for the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Commissioner Goodell has been adamant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have not seen any videotape of what occurred in the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the NFL was back itself into a corner here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It really adds up to a leadership failure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The commissioner`s hold on his job and the league`s
credibility could be in serious jeopardy.
O`DONNELL: President Obama told the Defense Department to target and kill
key leaders of the Islamic State, according to "The Washington Post."
Today, the United States military conducted another air strike targeting
the Islamic State in Iraq today near the Mosul dam, bringing the total
number of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq to 156. But that`s just airstrikes.
That`s not a war, 156 air strikes.
Not surprisingly, Washington`s armchair generals in both parties are
supporting the president`s call last night to revise and extend the war in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: I support his ask. We`re debating this
right now in Congress and I think he`ll have bipartisan support.
Look, we don`t want to play armchair generals. We don`t want to second
guess. I`m glad he`s changed his policy. I think he`s going in the right
direction. I think he needs to be supported for doing this.
BOEHNER: We stand ready to work with the president to put in place a plan
that would destroy and defeat ISIL. Frankly we ought to give the president
what he`s asking for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Phyllis Bennis, director of the new
international nationalism project at the Institute of Policy Studies, and
William McCants who translated a 2006 book, "The Management of Savagery",
which was written by an Islamic extremist.
Phyllis McCants, you`re the -- my top of the list in mandatory ready today,
is your piece in the nation about the speech on diplomacy that President
Obama should have given last night. What would have been the highlights of
that version of the speech?
PHYLLIS BENNIS, INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: Well, I think if we had
talked about diplomacy, we would be talking first about the need to talk to
Iran directly and openly. This may be a moment to really reopen talks with
Iran. We`ve been hearing that maybe there are quiet secret talks already
But the talks with Iran on the nuclear issues are going well. This may be
a moment to extend those talks, to really get to the heart of the regional
role that Iran plays, and the regional role that the U.S. plays. And talk
about a grand bargain. That would be number one.
What President Obama gave us was four mostly military parts to a strategy,
four parts to a diplomatic strategy would start with Iran. Then, we would
talk to Russia, open up new discussions with Russia, specifically about the
question of the civil war in Syria, which has, of course, morphed into at
least six separate wars.
This would also be an opportunity to perhaps build on the goodwill that was
built between the U.S. and Russia in the joint effort to eliminate Syria`s
chemical weapons. And in doing so, it might eliminate some of the tension
around Ukraine just as an added bonus. So, that would be number two.
Number three, the question of a coalition, we heard a lot about coalitions.
We heard President Obama use the language of former President Bush when he
said we need a coalition of the willing. Well, that was a coalition of the
killing. We need a diplomatic coalition, not a military coalition, because
the military stuff is going to make it all worse. It`s not going to make
So, a real coalition that brings together the whole range of forces in the
region -- in Syria, in Iraq and all the supporting characters. It`s not
going to be easy, it`s not going to be quick, but a move towards creating
that kind of a coalition absolutely should be on our agenda.
And then, finally, the question of an arms embargo -- again, not something
that`s going to happen right away, but we need to open the discussion on
why flooding the region with more weapons ends up with more weapons in the
hands of ISIS, more civilians being killed, a harder struggle to end the
ruinous kind of conflict that we see in this region. And instead, go back
Those, instead of the four military things President Obama said would have
made for a much better speech.
O`DONNELL: William McCants, you`ve got inside the mind to some extent of
the Islamic State, translating their working document. I`ve been asking as
many people as I can on this notion of destroying the Islamic State -- is
it possible? And how many Islamic State warriors have to be killed to
destroy the Islamic State?
WILLIAM MCCANTS, TRANSLATED "THE MANAGEMENT OF SAVAGERY": I think what the
American people have to understand is that the idea of an Islamic State is
extremely powerful. And it`s one reason this new organization has gathered
so many jihadists under its banner. The book I translated was first made
available back in 2004 and it laid out a blueprint for how to establish
small pockets of control and move from those eventually to a caliphate,
which is an effort to reinvigorate this old Islamic idea of an empire ruled
by a single man.
For a long time, the Islamic State tried to implement this vision and
didn`t have any success. When the Syrian civil war broke out, it empowered
the Islamic State, brought them a lot of money and a lot of fighters. And
Assad`s brutal crackdown on the opposition also fuelled its propaganda.
And so, they`ve been able to implement the strategy set out in that book
and take territory and now control somewhere upwards close to $2 billion.
It`s a huge war chest.
O`DONNELL: And, William McCants, the president said last night, ISIL is a
terrorist organization, pure and simple. I`m not sure what he was trying
to convey with that line. It seemed to me like he was trying to convey to
the American public that therefore it`s something that can be surgically
removed, pure and simple.
But ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple? According to what
I`ve read from you, there is nothing simple about it.
MCCANTS: That`s right. That line really bothered me. It seems to me that
it was used for political expediency or perhaps not to rouse Congress to
demand a vote about the legality of the war.
And this is a war on an insurgent group that has pretenses to be a state.
It is not a terrorist organization by any classical definition of the
world. And it lulls the American people into thinking this was going to be
easy, quick, simple, and surgical. It`s going to be nothing of the kind.
It`s going to be very long, messy and dirty.
O`DONNELL: Phyllis Bennis, everything we know about Barack Obama as a
presidential candidate for the first time and then taking office was that
he was, as nearly as we would come to it, the first anti-war president that
we have elected. And he is the person who has said repeatedly there is no
military solution to these problems. And yet, last night, after many
years, saying there is no military solution to these problems, when he`s
confronted with the current version of the problems, what he reached for is
a military solution.
BENNIS: You know, I think that`s a very important point on the one hand,
but I think we have to be very careful not to put too much focus on what
Barack Obama the man may believe personally.
I agree that he seems quite reluctant on making these decisions. But that
doesn`t seem to change his decisions. There is no question in my mind that
this decision to ramp up the U.S. military response after all this time of
saying there is no military solution, and in the context of his own -- the
head of his counterterrorism center, the intelligence agencies in general
are saying there is no threat to the United States.
And maybe there could be, maybe if something changed sometime in the
future, there could be a threat. And saying that is suddenly this urgent
need to go to war, I think this was clearly a politically driven decision.
The horrific --
O`DONNELL: Phyllis, can I just hold you there for a second. There`s that,
but I want you to consider this additional element, which I know you know a
lot about. And that is the national security establishment in Washington,
which, as you watch this, it seems that they eventually, no matter which
president it is, no matter what era it is, that national security
establishment eventually imprisons the president, willingly or unwillingly.
And that this president, like all of his predecessors, was being hammered
with the military options every day by that establishment, in addition to
the clear political connection to what`s going on here.
BENNIS: That`s absolutely right. I think we have to be careful in how we
understand and how we define that national security establishment. I think
that, for example, parts of the military are quite averse to moving
BENNIS: Some of the intelligence agencies, as I mentioned have been very
clear they don`t see the big danger here. The pressure comes from the
military industry, those who make a killing, as they say, on selling
weapons. They`re going to do great from this escalation.
And then those in Congress and elsewhere who feel accountable to the shifts
in public opinion that with the media largely going along, there is this
sense of hysteria that emerged with the very brutal of two individuals,
that somehow that was quickly morphed into being an attack on the United
States. Despite the fact that these two were not targeted because they
were Americans. They were not killed for America in that sense. They were
nosey journalists doing what nosey journalists are supposed to do, and they
got into a lot of trouble.
The family of one of the journalists has indicated that their information
is that the kidnapping originally was carried out by not by ISIS, but by
Syrian opposition forces supported by the West, supported by the United
States, which is consistent with things that we know about those other
organizations -- the fact that the Free Syrian Army beheaded six ISIS
prisoners that they held, prisoners who could not do anything. They were
not fighting. They were captives. And they were beheaded.
So, this level of brutality is something endemic in this Syrian civil war
and in Iraq since the U.S. invasion and occupation. It`s in that context
that it becomes very easy for public opinion to follow this media-driven
hysteria that`s picked up in Congress so that no one in Congress is
prepared to say, wait a minute, this is not an urgent moment when our
nation is threatened. This is not an existential threat to our country.
It may be a threat to some individual American journalists -- perhaps it`s
an American diplomat or something. But that`s a far cry from a call to war
to mobilize our whole country. We`ve already spent $500 million just in
the last five weeks on these air strikes in Iraq. Who knows how many
millions and billions more we`re going to spend that will not be available
here for desperately needed things.
And that`s a political reality in which the president, as you say, is
responding to political and pressures in Washington that don`t reflect the
reality on the ground.
O`DONNELL: William, quickly, before we go, the two beheadings that clearly
have provoked the situation in Washington to where it is now, and you can
see it in the American public tracking polls of their reactions to where we
are now. When the Islamic State conducted those two beheadings, is this
what they were likely telling themselves was going to happen?
MCCANTS: It could be. It could have just been as a deterrence. They
could have been seeking to provoke us to take military action, put boots on
the ground. It could have been designed to get us out of the region. All
those sorts of reasons were floated after 9/11 by bin Laden and Zawahiri to
But if I could say -- the president did not take action because of those
beheadings. He took action when the Islamic State pushed close to Baghdad.
The beheadings came in response to that. And he was pressured to take
action, not by people in this country, or if he was, he didn`t listen to
them. He was pressed by our allies in the region that we have security
That`s where the real pressure is coming from, and that`s why he`s moving
to take action against the Islamic State now. That`s the reason why he
played down the direct terror threat to the United States in his speech
O`DONNELL: Phyllis Bennis and William McCants, thank you both very much
for joining me tonight.
BENNIS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the NFL is getting a former director of the FBI to
investigate the commissioner`s handling of the Ray Rice case. And in "The
Rewrite" tonight, a legal analyst understanding of the killing of Michael
Brown by Officer Darren Wilson is changed, suddenly change by two witnesses
who we heard for the first time yesterday, even though those witnesses have
been telling their story in the media for a month.
There`s only one thing that distinguishes those two witnesses, to
eyewitnesses from all the other eyewitnesses we have heard from. Can you
guess what that is? Tweet me your guesses about what is it about these two
eyewitness that`s different.
O`DONNELL: The NFL`s so-called independent investigations into the Ray
Rice case. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: The National Football League wants a former FBI director`s seal
of approval on their handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case, after
an unnamed law enforcement source told the "Associated Press" that the NFL
had access to the Ray Rice surveillance tape in April, Commissioner Goodell
has hired former FBI director Robert Mueller to conduct what he calls,
quote, "an independent investigation into the NFL`s pursuit and handling of
the evidence in the Ray Rice domestic violence incident."
Today, a spokesman for Mueller`s law firm confirmed he has been retained by
the league, but the NFL also says Mueller`s so-called independent
investigation will ridiculously be overseen by John Mara, the owner of the
New York Giants, who recently said the idea of Roger Goodell losing his job
was, quote, "misguided."
Mara will also be joined overseeing this investigation by another owner,
Art Rooney. The co-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers who in recent years
has had his own problems with players off the field.
Joining me now is sports columnist for "USA Today", Nancy Armour.
Nancy, the Robert Mueller`s law firm in Washington has the following
connections, NBC Sports has determined that the firm WilmerHale previously
has represented Washington owner Daniel Snyder, one of the most
controversial owners in the league now with the name of that team, and
several members of the firm, have taken jobs with NFL teams. One former
WilmerHale employee is the Ravens president, Dick Cass.
So, the independence of this thing is already completely tainted, no matter
what Mueller`s best efforts are and he could a completely honest job. He`s
coming from a firm that`s already deeply enmeshed in the NFL. He`s being
overseen by these owners, one of whom has prejudged the case already.
NANCY ARMOUR, SPORTS COLUMNIST - USA TODAY: Good evening, Lawrence. Yes,
it`s not a great way to start. No one has questioned Robert Mueller`s
integrity or his independence. He worked under two different presidents,
Republican and Democrat, and has always been seen as fiercely independent.
But the ties that his firm has had with the NFL and, as you mentioned, the
fact that John Mara and Art Rooney are overseeing the investigation. Now,
they both came out and issued a joint statement today saying they weren`t
going to have any role in the investigation, they`re just there to make
sure that Mr. Mueller gets all of the cooperation that he needs.
But it doesn`t exactly give the best impression of complete impartiality.
O`DONNELL: Yes, it`s that tone deaf thing the NFL has all the way through
this. If they`re not there to do anything, then why mention them at all,
why put them into this release? This informational press release about it.
I want to go to this thing that Stephen A. Smith said about the head of the
National Organization for Women after she called for the commissioner`s
resignation. Let`s listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN A. SMITH, ESPN COMMENTATOR: I think this woman is off her rocker.
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: It`s never good to sound like you`re out of your mind accusing
someone else of being out of their mind. But -- and he`s apologized since
O`DONNELL: But my point is there`s a Roger Goodell defender. That`s what
they sound like. And with defenders like that, it just makes the situation
ARMOUR: Yes. The NFL just has a complete mess on its hands. You know,
they`ve really kind of backed themselves into a corner and they`re trying
desperately to get out. But every direction they turn, they just seem go
back into a different corner.
And, yes, when you`ve got people like Stephen A. going off like that, it
does not help them at all.
O`DONNELL: Yes, they released this notion last night of the independent
investigation like 11:00 a.m. They`re in a panic over there. Oh, p.m.,
sorry, last night. Yes, not the normal business hours over there these
Nancy Armour, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Coming up next, the district attorney who gave Ray Rice the easy way out.
What about his resignation?
O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, Atlantic City district attorney James
Atlantic County prosecutor James McClain finally spoke publicly about his
decision not to prosecute Ray Rice after watching the video of Ray Rice
hitting his fiancee with a knockout punch in that elevator in Atlantic
He said, "People need to understand the choice was not PTI versus five
years` state prison. The parameters as they existed were, is this a PTI
case or a probation case?"
McClain added that he was, quote, "on the fence until very late in the
deliberative process, just like it`s not just or fair to go easier on
somebody because of who they are, neither is it fair or just to go heavier
on somebody because of who they are. I felt and still feel this
disposition was appropriate."
New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney is not satisfied with the
handling of the case and has requested that it be reviewed by the state`s
Joining me now is Teresa Garvey, a former assistant prosecutor in New
Jersey who specialized in domestic violence cases.
Teresa, how would you have handled this one?
TERESA GARVEY, FORMER NJ PROSECUTOR: Thanks.
When I was a prosecutor and I was a domestic violence prosecutor between
1988 and 19 -- I`m sorry, between 1999 and 2008, and during that period of
time, I am not aware of any situations in our county, in Camden County, New
Jersey, where any domestic violence offenders who actually used violence
and injured someone was ever admitted to PTI. It was something -- they
were certainly eligible. I can`t say no one would ever be admitted.
However, in my experience, that did not happen.
O`DONNELL: And to clarify for the audience, PTI is a pretrial agreement
you make with the prosecutor. You plead not guilty, and then if you stay
out of trouble for a year, then we just erase the whole thing. Is that
GARVEY: Well, that`s a little bit of an oversimplification. It`s not
actually -- it could be entered before or after a guilty plea.
Essentially, what it is, it`s supervision. Not unlike probation.
However, if you do successfully complete it at the end, in all likelihood,
assuming that the prosecutor has no objection and the court has no
objection, then ultimately the original charges would be dismissed.
O`DONNELL: And the prosecutor here is saying, look, I mean, he wasn`t
going to go to jail either way, you know, what does it matter if he gets a
conviction and probation, instead of me just letting him go now?
GARVEY: Well, a criminal conviction is intended to sting for one thing.
And what troubles me the most I think about the way the proper
justification for admitting this defendant into PTI is the fact that the
focus was on the victim`s wishes. And there is also a need to protect the
public, a need to deter other individuals, and admitting defendants who
commit acts of violence, especially in a domestic violence situation where
we know from experience it`s likely to be repeated. It is part of not a
one-time incident, but it`s an ongoing issue of power and control that
these abusers exercise against their intimate partners.
That -- that simply isn`t -- isn`t usually -- taking the victim`s wishes
and making that paramount isn`t usually the most appropriate way to analyze
O`DONNELL: Yes. And James McClain, this same prosecutor has used your
point, deterrence, to deny PTI to other nonviolent offenders that have come
into his office. And his refusal to prosecute Rice was used by the NFL as
their justification for them also going light on him. There was a lot more
at stake here than James McClain is admitting to.
Teresa Garvey, thanks very much for joining us tonight.
GARVEY: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, in the rewrite, there are two more eyewitnesses to
the killing of Michael Brown. They`ve been talking about it for about a
month. They have not identified themselves. And they agree with all the
other eyewitnesses, but there`s something different about these witnesses
that is impressing some legal analysts more than other witnesses have
impressed them. And it`s not what they say.
What makes them so impressive? Tweet me your guesses. The answer will be in
KELLY GONZALEZ, THE LAST WORD INTERN: And now for the good news. Good
Fred is a homeless man in Indianapolis. He`s often seen asking for money
for drivers stopped at a red light on an exit off of I-65. When an
Indianapolis police officer stopped him on Monday, Fred was sure he was
about to get a ticket.
But what happened next surprised both Fred and the NBA player who happened
to be stopped at the red light watching the whole thing from his car.
Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert tweeted, "Just seen an Indy police
officer, pull over, go into his trunk and give a homeless guy a pair of
shiny boots. #cops."
Hibbert later tweeted the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
saying "Wish I knew the officer`s name or badge number. I would like to do
something for him." The police department identified the officer yesterday
but requested anonymity. As for Fred, the boots weren`t his size so he
gave them to a friend who`s also homeless.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED, INDIANAPOLIS HOMELESS: It`s just luck. So gave someone the shoes.
Good luck will continue, I believe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GONZALEZ: A true story of paying it forward from all ends. "The rewrite"
O`DONNELL: Kelly Gonzalez our last surviving summer intern. Thank you
very much for doing that. This is an intern tradition here at "the Last
Word" on your last night.
You know, I thought you were never going to quit. Everyone else has gone
back to school but you`re still here.
GONZALEZ: It`s been wonderful working here, under some (ph) --
O`DONNELL: You don`t have to say that. I love that story, though. I love
good cop stories. You know why?
O`DONNELL: My father used to be a cop and he used to tell me stories like
that when I was a little kid. So you brought me back with that. I really
GONZALEZ: Well that`s great. Happy to hear that (ph) --
O`DONNELL: Now which one of us, why don`t you see "the rewrite" is next --
whatever is next, is "the rewrite" next?
GONZALEZ: "The rewrite"?
O`DONNELL: Forget I`m here.
GONZALEZ: Hey, guys, "the rewrite" is next.
O`DONNELL: In "the rewrite," CNN rewrite its coverage of the killing of
Michael Brown by Ferguson Police Office Darren Wilson. Yesterday, CNN
presented what the network claimed were two new witnesses to the shooting
and killing of Michael Brown. The only new thing about them was CNN was
talking about them.
One witness told his story to KTVI in St. Louis a month ago. The other was
quoted in the St. Louis post dispatch last week. Their account is
consistent with all the other eyewitnesses to the killing of Michael Brown,
and they stressed that Michael Brown had his hands up in the international
sign of surrender when he was shot.
The two witnesses were working on a project in the neighborhood that day
and coincidentally had an encounter with Michael Brown before he was shot
that, if true, offer us a neutral insight into Michael Brown`s personality
unlike anything else that we have heard of him.
One of the workers, whose names have not been identified by KTVI or by the
St. Louis post dispatch or by CNN said that Michael Brown walked by the
spot where they were working about an hour before the shooting occurred on
that same street.
Michael Brown struck up a conversation with one of the workers that lasted
about half an hour and was sparked by something that Michael Brown
overheard. As the worker explained to KTVI, he said something angry and
profane after hitting a tree root while he was digging and Michael Brown
stopped and said something to him about feeling some bad vibes.
The man told KTVI that Michael Brown said, quote, "The Lord Jesus Christ
would help me through that as long as I didn`t get all angry at what I was
Michael Brown said he had a picture of Jesus on his wall and the worker
joked that the devil had a picture of him on the wall. The two workers
were interviewed by a CNN reporter, but did not appear on camera. The
reporter then offered her verbal summary of what they told her to Anderson
Cooper. And it was essentially the same as every other eyewitness that
Michael Brown was running away from the officer, the officer shot him and
that the final shots were fired with Michael Brown facing the officer with
his hands up saying "okay, okay, okay, okay."
The only gruesome detail offered to CNN that we haven`t heard before,
according to the reporter, was that one of the workers said he saw Michael
Brown`s brain coming out of his head.
That report provoked this reaction from CNN`s Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFREY TOOBIN, SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: These two witnesses describe
what seems to me to be a cold blooded murder.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: A perfectly reasonable reaction. And that is CNN presenting
those witness accounts second hand, summarized through a reporter. Thad no
recording of what those witnesses actually said. But it was enough to
finally demonstrate to Jeffrey Toobin that there is testimonial evidence
now in the case of murder in this situation.
In fact, Jeffrey Toobin tweeted before that show, "Huge breaking news
#Ferguson on tonight`s @ac360 @CNN. It changes my understanding of what
happened to Mike Brown."
So, a hearsay account presented through a CNN reporter, which is completely
consistent with other witness accounts changed his understanding. In order
to have his understanding changed, he and other CNN analysts would have had
to completely ignore what Tiffany Mitchell said both on this program and to
Don Lemon on CNN.
TIFFANY MITCHELL, WITNESSED SHOOTING: As I come around the corner, I hear
tires squeaking. And as I get closer, I see Michael and the officer, like,
wrestling through the window. Michael was pushing like trying to get away
from the officer. And the officer was trying to pull him in. As I see
this, I pull out my phone because it just didn`t look right. You never see
an officer and someone just wrestling through the window.
So as I pull out my phone the first shot was fired through the window. And
I just like tried to get out of the way. I pulled into the parking lot
right beside where the cop car was. And that`s when Michael kind of broke
away and started running down the street. The officer gets out of his
vehicle and he pursues him.
As he`s following him, he`s shooting at him. And Michael`s body jerks as
if he was hit. He turned around and put his hands up. And the officer
continued to walk up on him and shoot him until he goes all the way down to
O`DONNELL: When Tiffany Mitchell told me that a month ago on this program,
I said what we had just heard was evidence of first degree murder, not
proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but evidence. And evidence that a jury
might find compelling of first degree murder. I was joined that night by
someone with more relevant law enforcement experience than anyone working
at CNN, retired ATF Special Agent James Cavanaugh who agreed with my
analysis of Tiffany Mitchell`s account.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CABANAUGH, SPECIAL AGENT, ATF: Remember in the first degree murder,
there really has to be a pause. I mean, there only has to be slight pause.
It doesn`t have to be planned for months and years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And so you can get your analysis of the evidence in the killing
of Michael Brown here or you can get on CNN a month later. And I wasn`t
the only one who was surprised that anyone at CNN would change their
analysis of the case based on a hearsay version of what two witnesses told
CNN that was completely consistent with what other witnesses have already
told me and CNN.
Here`s CNN`s legal analyst Sunny Hostin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I guess I`m just so surprised that from
the very beginning of this story, from the very, very beginning, everyone
was questioning the eyewitness accounts of the people in the neighborhood.
I don`t really understand why now? There`s this game-changer or why now
you have two white witnesses that are somehow not connected to the
community and now they seem to be the more credible witnesses. It`s really
befuddling to me quite frankly, because now we have six, seven, eight
witnesses saying the same thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: They`re white. Okay.
Well, befuddling is the nicest thing we can say about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: In left unchecked, this terrorist
could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United
States. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our
homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Christopher Dickey Foreign Editor for "the
Daily Beast" and William Greider the national foreign affairs correspondent
for "the Nation."
Christopher, the President has been compared today by some analyst. You
know, I`m going to let Rush Limbaugh do this. Let`s listen to what Rush
Limbaugh said. I know you weren`t listening to Rush.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO COMMENTATOR, RUSH SHOW: To a casual observer and more
importantly to an American citizen who thinks that every president is out
to defend and protect this country and is engaged in seeing to it that this
country triumph. That speech last night sounded Eisenhower, Reagan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Well, what`s true about it is it did sound like a speech that
his predecessors could have given under similar circumstances.
CHRISTOPHER DICKEY, FOREIGN EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: We are in a sort of a
George W. Bush moment right now with Obama. But that`s partly because of
the legacy of the Bush Administration. That`s because of the complete mess
that exists in the Middle East. And the dangerous growth really, very
dangerous growth of ISIS and other groups all over North Africa and the
O`DONNELL: William Greider, the President is dealing with the horrible
aftermath of the mistaken war in Iraq. Did -- do you see other choices he
could have made in this situation?
WILLIAM GREIDER, CORRESPANDENT, THE NATION: He could have not gone to war.
That`s the simplest one. And I recognized it that`s the hard choice,
because especially politically, but also in the complexities of the Middle
But by going the other way, he`s hoping to sort of shuffle is his way
through what --a crisis that`s already been wildly expanded by both first
by the pundits, but also by the usual hawks who want to shoot and do bang-
bang. And I -- as I had written in The Nation and will write some more,
this is -- this is a kind of deranged foreign policy.
It`s been deranged by our own militarism. The ideas that we can use our
military power to direct world affairs, doesn`t work. It`s crazy.
O`DONNELL: Christopher, what do you think can realistically be
accomplished in this situation with the tools that the President is talking
DICKEY: Well, I think there are certain things that could be done. First
of all, I think you`ve already seen the momentum of ISIS stopped. I think
there was a point, not so long ago when they was genuine fear that there
were going to roll toward a bill, they will roll out to Baghdad in some
fashion. There were going to take Tikrit (ph) and hold it all of that has
been stopped for the moment. That you can do with air power.
The next step is obviously to try and beat them down a little bit more with
air power with drones, whatever, in Syria, in Iraq. But ultimately there`s
got to be troops on the ground. And they`re not going to be American
troops. I think if you want to understand American Policy, or at least
Obama`s policy, he has one major red line and that is do not occupy another
country, especially an Arab or Muslim country.
That`s where he draws the line. I think he is very sensitive to that, I
think he understands that has colonial overtones that make it impossible
for us to deal with people on the ground and often in other parts of the
world. But that`s sort of his only red line.
Apart from that, he`s willing to use air power. He`s willing to use
special operations forces. He`s willing to use any kind of co-hearsive
power he can to go out and track down and kill people associated with al
Qaeda and related terrorist movements.
O`DONNELL: Bill Greider, should we get -- I`m getting kind of animated
about the use of this word destroy, which we watched the President get
politically pushed into saying. He didn`t want to say it for the first few
days. And then he got there. He start of to degrade, which make sense to
me, I understand what he means like that.
Christopher just said, you know, stop the momentum. But I guess today --
in today`s America, you can`t get up and say I want to stop someone`s
momentum. You have to say apparently destroy. Should we all just sit back
and go, well that`s the rhetoric of the modern TV presidency. We know he
doesn`t mean it. We know it`s impossible, we`ll just all as a country let
him say it and clap for that.
GREIDER: Well, what we should have learned is that the last dozen or so
years, is it those nice sounding brave promises turn into turn into
unfulfillable wishes, and then their bluff is called, if not by the other
side, the adversaries who keep surprising us with their tactics, but by our
own political system. And that`s what I mean when I say--
GREIDER: We`ve been deranged. We can`t -- we the governing elites and
the military for good, understandable political reasons cannot bring itself
to tell the people, American people the truth about our situation in the
And I find that deeply dangerous in a way that the President doesn`t
control, the joint chiefs did not control. The media does not control.
And they keep upping the ante (ph) with their redirect (ph) and their
wishful thinking, and look where that got us for the last ten or fifteen
O`DONNELL: Christopher Dickey, I`ve been thinking a lot lately about
something my great surgeon who put my bones back together this year said to
me about what makes the great surgeon is the line of course you have to
have the great hands on. Most importantly, he said you have to be humbled
because surgeons at the modern technology and all that stuff, start
imagining they can do things they really can`t do. And we want to talk
about this as a kind of surgical strike in this region.
We can`t call it war, it`s not war. It`s just this surgical thing were
doing, but whenever the American power goes in there surgically, whether it
is to install a Shah in Iran (ph) or any -- or everything we`ve been doing
there since 1950`s, we never do it with humility. We can`t bring any
rhetorical humility to it at all.
DICKEY: Well, sure. That goes back a lot further than that. If you go
back and read Kipling`s White Man`s Burden, it`s dedicated to the United
States of America after it took all the Spanish colonies and declared that
it`s going to do wonderful things.
DICKEY: Round up in a horrible war in the Philippines. But the -- I think
the real problem is very much what Bill is talking about. The President in
a sense is trapped. You can see him, you can see him. One of the things
he came into so much criticism for the last couple of weeks, is he was he
was trying not to use the words that Bill was talking about.
DICKEY: He would say destroy and then back away and say we want to manage
it. But his real thought is, that in fact, you`re going to have to manage
the terrorist problem. You`re never going to destroy this. We`re going to
be living with it forever. These guys are going to be a problem. You`re
going to have to limit the space they`re operating in. You going to hunt
them down as best as you can. But sometimes they`re going to breakthrough;
sometimes they`re going to kill Americans or even here at home.
And he doesn`t -- he can`t say that to the public. That`s what Bill is
saying. You can`t say that to the public, Bill. You, I mean -- maybe you
can, maybe it would be more honest, but for a politician to say that, that
would be death.
And his ratings are already low enough in the polls. Also, you can`t move
anybody by saying that.
GREIDER: Well, but look -- look at the pattern we`re in, and the track
we`re on now and it keeps going off the rails, big waves, small waves. And
the people each time absorbed the lesson our government says is going to do
these things but it can`t do them or whatever.
I believe we`re in a pattern now which that will continue until the cost of
it to us, are so immense that some new politics will arise, I can`t tell
you which party, maybe neither, that says we want out of this game. It`s
looser, the generals don`t understand that. The politicians refuse to tell
the truth about it. We want out.
And to me, that`s more dangerous politics. I think it`s down the road if
we keep going this way, than anything else that faces us in the Middle East
or anywhere else in the world. And I -- I just -- I trace this back to the
American hubris at the end of the cold war. On the people in power and the
people thought and said we are the indispensable goliath, we can run the
world now with all of our overwhelming military power, and we will do it
for good stuff. And that was false. It was a false solution. And we`re
learning it every day.
O`DONNELL: Christopher Dickey and William Greider, thank you both very
much for joining me tonight.
GREIDER: Thank you.
DICKEY: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Stay tuned for an MSNBC special -- 9/11 As It Happened.
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