'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, September 24th, 2014
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
September 24, 2014
Guest: Mia Bloom, Dexter Filkins
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: I`m willing to bet it won`t feature a
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You can lord that over me all that you
HAYES: Television bear-free, everybody.
MADDOW: Oh, oh, Mr. trash talk. We`ll have bears tomorrow and more,
man. Thanks, Chris.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Maybe we will
have bears. Maybe you should stick around and see.
President Obama chaired a meeting of the U.N. Security Council today.
He personally chaired it. He asked the Security Council to pass a
resolution, a legally binding resolution that would require all member
countries to take domestic action to stop their own citizens from traveling
abroad to support foreign terrorist organizations or from raising money for
those groups or anything else that would give them material support.
The U.N. Security Council was created after World War II. They first
met in 1946. Since that first meeting, today was reportedly only the sixth
occasion at which this many actual heads of state were sitting there around
the horseshoe-shaped table in the rooms of the Security Council when they
make a decision. Usually they send minions. Not today.
There are 15 members of the Security Council -- 13 of the 15-member
states actually said the head of their government today. The only two that
didn`t were Russia and China. They sent their foreign ministers instead of
their top political leader. And yes, that was meant to be catty and
superior but only because international diplomacy really is just like high
school and it always has been.
But even with the Chinese and Russian mean girls flair for insult
today, nobody there voted against this resolution from President Obama.
President Obama personally made the ask for this thing and he got it.
That success at the Security Council today followed President Obama`s
other big moment this morning with his big speech on terrorism -- a major
address from President Obama today in which we heard something new from
him. He did talk about terrorism in some of the same ways that he has in
the past, but he also went much further in terms of sounding very much like
a president who is waging a war right now and not a war that he inherited
from somebody else and he`s winding down, but rather a war that he has
decided to engage in, in his own right.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Terrorism is not new.
Speaking before this assembly, President Obama put it well. Terror is not
a new weapon, he said. Throughout history, it has been used by those who
could not prevail either by persuasion or example.
I made it clear that America will not base our entire foreign policy
on reacting to terrorism. But we reject any suggestion of a clash of
civilizations. Belief in permanent religious war is the misguided refuge
We must take concrete steps to address the danger posed by
religiously motivated fanatics.
The terrorist group known as ISIL must be degraded and ultimately
destroyed. This group has terrorized all who they come across in Iraq and
Syria. Mothers, sisters, daughters have been subjected to rape as a weapon
Innocent children have been gunned down. Bodies have been dumped in
mass graves. Religious minorities have been starved to death. And the
most horrific crimes imaginable, innocent human beings have been beheaded
with videos of the atrocities distributed to shock the conscience of the
No God condones this terror. No grievance justifies these actions.
There can be no reasoning, no negotiation with this brand of evil. The
only language understood by killers like this is the language of force.
So, the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to
dismantle this network of death.
Today, I asked the world to join in this effort. Those who have
joined ISIL should leave the battlefield while they can. Those who
continue to fight for a hateful cause will find they`re increasingly alone
-- for we will not succumb to threats and we will demonstrate that the
future belongs to those who build, not those who destroy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama today making remarks different than anything
I think he said in the past calling ISIS a network of death, with whom
there can be no negotiation. He called them evil. He said the only
language killers like this understand is the language of force.
After that torrent from the president today, remarkably he then
pivoted in his remarks and he devoted one of the final big sections of his
speech to speaking, in his words, directly to young people across the
Muslim world. The president said, "You come from a great tradition that
stands for education, not ignorance, innovation, not destruction, the
dignity of life not murder. Those who call you away from this path are
betraying this tradition not defending it."
President Obama speaking today at the U.N.
Last spring, May 22nd, there was an attack on the streets of London
that was absolutely unimaginable before it happened. Even once it did
happen, it was still almost unimaginable. A young British man, young
British soldier, 25 years old, an Afghanistan veteran, a drummer and
ultimately an army recruiter in Britain, he was apparently randomly
attacked on the streets of southeast London just outside the army barracks
where he served.
Two assailants began the attack by deliberately running the young man
down in a car and then as he laid in the street they attacked him with
multiple weapons apparently in an effort to cut off his head.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: We have to go overseas to a thoroughly
twisted and disturbing story out of London today. Fair warning, this is
tough to look at especially when you realize what it is we`re looking at.
A British soldier in plainclothes ambushed and killed on a city street
while his barbaric attackers wait for police to come while they take --
allow people to take video while they vent their message about religion and
politics and -- for reasons you`ll see, this is now being treated as an act
We get our report tonight from NBC`s Michelle Kosinski in London.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Move back, move back.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, NBC: In the middle of the day, in a busy working
class neighborhood right next to an army barracks, near an elementary
school, a seen of such raw violence few could believe it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The guy`s dead now.
KOSINSKI: People here say a young man who NBC has confirmed was a
British soldier wearing a charity Help for Heroes t-shirt was walking along
the sidewalk when two men in a car apparently drove into him, then got out
and started stabbing him with multiple large knives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were hacking at the poor guy, chopping him,
KOSINSKI: Some eyewitnesses say the victim was decapitated in attack
and that the two suspects then approached people in the horrified crowd.
One made a long political statement, weapons still in his blood
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We swear by the almighty Allah, we will never
stop fighting you until you leave us alone.
KOSINSKI: When police arrived, witnesses the men charged at officers
who opened fire. Both were hit, now in hospitals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was May of last year, a terrorist attack targeting a
soldier in plainclothes, but he was apparently chosen at random on the
streets of Britain. Both those attackers in that case after attacking him
just waiting around for apparently what was up to 20 minutes before police
arrived after the attack and they took advantage of that time while they
were waiting around to make these political statements about the
ideological terroristic motivations for what they did, standing there with
knives in their hands covered in blood, making their statements. They made
no effort to get away. Both of those attackers were arrested and
convicted. They`re both serving life sentences in Britain. That was last
Almost exactly one year later, one year and two days after that, May
24th of this year, a young Frenchman who had traveled with Syria and fought
with ISIS in Syria, he found a way to return home to Europe. He went to
Belgium, went to the Jewish museum in downtown Brussels and mounted his own
low tech attack on behalf of the ISIS ideology.
He killed four people at the Jewish museum and then calmly walked
away. He was ultimately arrested six days later in Marseilles.
Last week, in Australia, police in Australia launched the single
biggest terrorism raid that`s ever happened in that country. A huge number
of people involved in multiple cities across Australia. But ultimately,
the plot they were trying to stop was very small scale. Not a 9/11-style
spectacular attack, but an attack of the size of that attack on the streets
of London, a Jewish museum shooting style attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good evening. It`s an attack that would terrify
and horrify Australians. One that has no place in our country.
But early this morning, police launched the biggest terror raids in
the nation`s history. Thwarting a chilling plot to behead a member of the
public in the heart of Sydney.
We have reporters in key locations. Simon Boda begins our coverage.
REPORTER: Before dawn, 800 police activated, their mission to stop a
terrorist attack on our streets. Armed to the teeth, carrying search
warrants, counterterrorism police hit 15 addresses across the city. Ten
cars were searched. They were taking no chances. The targets allegedly
presenting a clear and present danger.
ACT. COMM. ANDREW COLVIN: Police believe this group had the
intention and started to plan to carry out violent acts here in Australia.
REPORTER: That violence, it`s alleged, involved random abductions
and beheadings, demonstration killings.
COLVIN: Very much about police disrupting the potential for violence
against the Australian community at the earliest possible opportunity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was last week in Australia, the largest terror raids in
that country`s history. They said trying to head off, as it were, the
efforts to mount some sort of demonstration killings inside that country.
Again, that was last week in Australia.
And then in the last 24 hours in Australia there was this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our top story. The Acting Prime Minister
Warren Truss has praised the bravery of two police officers injured after
being attacked by a known terror suspect in Melbourne. The 18-year-old was
shot dead with police, saying they had no option but to open fire.
Meanwhile, police, political leaders and religious leaders are all calling
for calm in the wake of the incident.
REPORTER: An 18-year-old is dead after pulling a knife and stabbing
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our men really had no choice other than to act in
the way in which they did.
REPORTER: Just after sunset, the teenager met with two
counterterrorism task force members. Authorities say Newman Heider (ph) He
had promoted the flag at the terrorist group Islamic State and had his
passport canceled a week ago.
The meeting began with a handshake between a federal officer and
another Victoria police officer. But then a fight erupted, the teen
produced a knife and lunged at the police, repeatedly stabbing the federal
officer leaving him with life-threatening injuries. The known terror
suspect then jabbed the Victoria police member in the forearm before the
wounded policeman drew his gun and fired a single fatal shot.
DENIS NAPTHINE, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA: This is an incident resulting
from the actions of one individual. It is not about faith. It`s not about
ethnicity. It`s about the alleged behavior of an individual.
And it`s important that our community continue to work together. It
is critical that no particular group within the community is singled out or
targeted. And it`s important that Victorians remain calm and go about
their business in the usual manner.
KEN LAY, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA POLICE: I understand that this and the
events of last week in Sydney will have made many people in our state feel
deeply unsettled. It is absolutely natural to feel concern about what is
happening. It`s a dynamic and challenging security environment we find
ourselves in. Dealing with new threats that stand so aggressively and at
odds with everything we value and we stand for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Local authorities and the national government in Australia
urging Australians to remain calm in the face of that raid last week and
then this shooting after this attack on police in the last 24 hours.
The local press in Australia judging from headlines like these,
they`re not particularly remaining calm about this. This is the "Age"
newspaper in Australia reporting that the man who was shot after stabbing
police officers, quote, "planned to behead them" and then drape their
bodies in an ISIS flag.
Within 24 hours of that incident today in Australia, while those
international proceedings against terrorism were still under way at the
United Nations, another terrorist group in Algeria released a video showing
the beheading of a French civilian. The group that killed the French
tourist and posted this video online today, they used to be part of al
Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, one of the al Qaeda affiliate groups that`s
pledged allegiance to Ayman al Zawahiri, the head of al Qaeda since Osama
bin Laden died.
Recently, though, really recently, last weekend, this group in
Algeria that posted the video today, they changed their allegiance and they
announced instead of Ayman al Zawahiri and al Qaeda central, they now
consider themselves to be allied with ISIS, affiliated with ISIS, the group
that the United States is now fighting in Iraq and Syria.
ISIS put out an audio recording a few days ago calling for their
supporters and sympathizers around the world to take action anywhere on
earth where they can target civilians from any of the 40 or 50 countries
who are joined with the U.S. in trying to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
That is, in fact, what happened today to end the life of a French tourist,
a French hiker who had the misfortune to be kidnapped in Algeria just this
In Iraq and Syria, the al Qaeda-affiliated Khorasan group and ISIS,
they are now learning how the U.S. fights groups like them. The Pentagon
announced today more than a dozen new air strikes on ISIS in Syria,
specifically, a dozen airstrikes targeting what the Pentagon describes as
modular oil refineries, which they said ISIS was using to refine oil, in
order to sell it, in order to get cash to finance their activities.
The Belgians and the Dutch announced they`d be sending their own
fighter jets to fight in Iraq if not in Syria.
Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno indicated today that in addition to
the 1,600 Americans serving in Iraq right now to support those U.S. air
raids, we might expect that a U.S. army headquarters group may also get
called up as well. There hasn`t been a headquarters group stationed in
Iraq since the U.S. war ended there in 2011, but apparently another
headquarters unit may be getting ready to go. That would 100 to 500 more
And we still do not know how long this campaign is going to go on or
if the U.S. Congress will ever authorize it or what the ultimate effect
will be on these terrorist groups or on the Syrian civil war or on the
Syrian government, or on the Iraqi government or on global terrorism, but
as those targeted groups in Iraq and Syria, they are learning what it feels
like to face this U.S.-led international military effort against them.
The rest of us civilians in the world are also learning what it means
to face a terrorist group that does have international sympathizers.
Enough that it`s attracted something like 15,000 foreigners to go to the
hell that is Syria to fight with them. It`s asking for sympathizers around
the world to now target us. To pick random civilians anywhere they can
anywhere in the world as their way of fighting this war.
So, we will see what these groups do on the battlefields of Iraq and
Syria now that U.S. air strikes are adding to the mix of all the combat in
Iraq and Syria, but these groups that the U.S. and all of our allies now
are fighting there, they don`t see the battlefield as just Iraq and Syria.
They see this as Battlefield Earth. They`re not the first to have done
that. As the president said today terrorism is absolutely not a new thing,
But what have we learned about fighting terrorism in the past? To
help us build a defense against a group that wants and is now soliciting
and is now starting to get lone wolf, low tech, one by one knife and gun
attacks against random civilians all over the world?
Joining us now is Mia Bloom. She`s a professor of security studies
at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell. She studies terrorist groups
and their tactics.
Professor Bloom, thanks very much for being with us.
MIA BLOOM, UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS: Thanks so much for having
MADDOW: So, do we have any good models for dealing with the threat
of dispersed, intermittent, small scale globally inspired terrorism? Do we
know anything about what works for countering those kinds of threats?
BLOOM: We have at least ten years of lessons learned at the
community policing level where police officers and, you know, all the
agencies have coordinated their efforts to learn as much as possibly from
the experiences of places like Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago.
What has worked and what hasn`t worked with regard to working with
communities to prevent radicalization and recruitment from those
But what will end up happening is it will be impossible to ever
control Lee Rigby, Woolwich kind of attack who there is an individual who
engages in violence. We`re up able to do that in American schools, we`re
unable to do that on American streets.
So, whether it`s called terrorism or something else, at the
individual level, that will always be difficult to control.
MADDOW: So, from the perspective of these groups, when they decide
that this is going to be their strategy, when they put out a call -- global
sympathizers do this on your own, freelance and we`ll take credit for
whatever you do and we hope that it will contribute to our overall
terrorizing strategy in terms of us getting what we want, why does a group
pick a strategy like this? What`s in it for them? And what can be done to
make that less of an attractive strategy for them?
BLOOM: One of the reasons this group is doing it is, in my opinion,
is that it`s desperate. It`s trying to project power in such a way that it
looks like it has a global reach when, in fact, ISIL or Da`aesh (ph), ISIS,
whatever we`re calling it this week, really is located specifically in
Syria and Iraq. Its ability to project power in places like Algeria with
Jund al-Khalifa, which is the group that committed beheading today, is
rare. Rarely are they able to go beyond Iraq and Syria.
So, the ability toe inspire people in the United States, in
Australia, in North America, it`s very limited, as well as the people who
would be inspired wouldn`t have the training or the wherewithal and the
know-how to really do significant damage.
MADDOW: Do you think that the U.S. air strike campaign that`s being
targeted at what they describe as ISIS headquarters facilities in Syria but
also in Iraq, do you think that those overseas air strikes will have a
knowable effect on the ability of them to carry out local attacks or to
inspire local sympathizers around the world to carry out these attacks?
BLOOM: I think that it`s already having a positive effect in the
sense that ISIL is no longer able to hold territory like the Mosul dam.
They`re losing their infrastructure control.
They`re also losing hearts and minds in places like Raqqa. Two days
ago, they had to cancel the smoking ban they had instituted because people
in Syria like to smoke. And they`re losing hearts and minds, you know,
So, I think that the bombing campaigns, especially the fact that it`s
coordinated with local actors, with, I think, the Jordanian air force is
going to get involved, you have European air forces. You have the air
forces of the combined Arab countries and the Arab league and the U.N., I
think the fact is, ISIS is being increasingly isolated, which is a good
And the appeal will decrease especially as we have religious
authorities across North America and Europe and across the world who have
said that if you join ISIL, you are actually contravening Islam. These
people do not represent Islam, and you will get no benefit from it. So,
it`s a multi-pronged approach.
MADDOW: Mia Bloom, professor of security studies at UMass Lowell,
thanks very much for helping us understand this. Thanks very much.
BLOOM: Thank you so much for having me.
MADDOW: All right. Lots more ahead. We`ve got long-time war
correspondent Dexter Filkins. He`s going to be joining us for the
interview tonight. You will want to see that.
Plus, our first ever RACHEL MADDOW SHOW deep dive into women`s
magazines, which broke a lot of important news stories today.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: When it comes time to vote for the best news photo of 2014,
I personally hope that this is at least in the running. This is a photo
taken by a "Reuters" photographer this past February. It shows a Ukraine
protester staring in absolute wonderment at a duck-footed toilet in a duck-
footed bidet both of which appear to be partially gold. And that wood-
paneled duck-themed bathroom one of the lavish touches left behind
Ukraine`s president, Viktor Yanukovych, after he fled his country earlier
Here`s another really good one. This is an "A.P." photograph of a
group of Ukrainians playing a pretend round of golf on Victor Yanukovych`s
private golf course.
Earlier this year after months of protests, Ukrainians managed to
oust their president from power. Viktor Yanukovych fled the country. He
fled to Russia, and when he did Ukrainians of all stripes descended on his
lavish estate and discovered the life of luxury he`d been enjoying
basically in secret, until just moments before they discovered his private
petting zoo, his opulent dining rooms, the private church he had built
They also discovered troves and troves of documents. When Ukraine`s
president took off, he tried to destroy all of his documents on his way out
the door but there were a lot of them. He didn`t get rid of all of them.
Enterprising protesters and journalists saved lots of those documents by,
say, plucking them out of the reservoir at the estate he`d thrown them
into. They dried them out, and scanned them, then posted them online for
the world to see.
Those documents have detailed among other things the immensely
corrupt financial dealings of Ukraine`s now former president.
When dictators are forced to plea, when they`re forced to leave in a
hurry, you can often find kind of a treasure trove of material in what
they`re forced to leave behind. Call it dictator detritus.
Well, on February 27th, 1991, the United States declared victory in
the First Gulf War.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Kuwait is liberated. Iraq`s
army is defeated. Our military objectives are met. Kuwait is once more in
the hands of Kuwaitis in control of their own destiny. We share in their
joy -- a joy tempered only by their compassion for their ordeal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The first Iraq war did not topple Saddam Hussein`s
government, but it did leave his regime weakened at least for a time. Gave
groups that Saddam tried to target and wipe out, the Kurds in the north of
Iraq and the Shiites in the south, it gave them momentary space to try to
strengthen themselves against Saddam`s surviving regime, to try to reclaim
land from Saddam`s forces.
And after the First Gulf War, at the urging of the Bush
administration, the Kurdish forces in the north, which had long been
oppressed by Saddam Hussein, they were able to reclaim some land that was
taken by Saddam`s government. When they reclaimed that land, when Saddam
forces left, Saddam forces left behind dictator detritus. They left behind
evidence. They left behind government documents and videotapes and orders
from the Saddam regime that showed an ethnic cleansing that had been
conducted against the Kurds in the north, including documents relating to
Saddam Hussein`s un-fall campaign, which was a systemic effort to wipe out
the race of the Kurds in Iraq. It included the gas attacks against the
Kurds in 1980s.
About a year after the First Gulf War ended, the Kurds had who had
gathered 30 tons of documents they said showed proof of ethnic cleansing by
Saddam`s government, the Kurds agreed to turn all those documents and
videotapes over to us. In order to assure that those documents would be
preserved, the Kurds turned them over to the American military. The
military working with secret rights groups and with the Senate Foreign
Relations staff, they smuggled those 30 tons of documents and videotapes
out of Iraq. That was March 1992, 30 tons of documents in total.
And some of those documents were later used by the Justice
Department, a now defunct DOJ office called the Regime Crimes Liaison
Office, was set up to advise the Iraqi government about how to bring war
crimes charges against Saddam Hussein. Some of those documents were used
That DOJ office relied heavily on those documents that America helped
sneak out of Iraq in `92. These are some of those documents. Many of them
now reside at the Human Rights archive at the University of Colorado at
Well, get this, next week a Kurdish delegation is going to travel to
Colorado to receive a copy of that archive. Those documents that have been
in American hands all this time for safe keeping for the first time since
1992, they will be back in Kurdish hands. And that history between Saddam
Hussein and the Kurds, that`s now very, very relevant to world affair
because, of course, parts of the Saddam Hussein regime are now back, back
in the form of ISIS. The Sunni militant group that the U.S. is waging a
war against in Iraq and Syria now, they are in part headed up by former
high ranking generals from Saddam Hussein.
And that fact helps explain the willingness of the Kurds to fight
against ISIS in northern Iraq even as the Iraqi army has certainly melted
away in parts of that country. To the extent that the U.S. strategy to
defeat ISIS is going to succeed, it will largely depend on the Kurds, and
their sort of legendary fighting force which is known as the Peshmerga.
The U.S. strategy to defeat ISIS up to this point has been a strategy
of airstrikes -- airstrikes in Iraq and starting this week in Syria. The
strategy does not call for U.S. ground troops in Syria or in Iraq. So, the
question has been what force on the ground is going to be able to secure
any gains made by these air strikes? Who can capitalize on strikes like
Well, west of the border in Syria, there`s this effort from the U.S.
to create a hardened force of some kind. There can be neither the regime
nor is. They want it to be a third group, right? That effort to arm and
train Syrian rebels that hasn`t really started yet on any large scale.
U.S. officials say it was just approved by Congress. It will be three
months until that training even begins. So that mission has been
authorized but is not operational.
On the other side of the border, in Iraq, there is the Iraqi army
which we`re trying to shore up again after spent eight or so years working
on that. But there`s also the strategy of directly arming and funding and
funding and shoving weapons into the hands of the Kurds. And the Kurds are
a special case. They`re these legendary fighters and maybe they will have
a big impact here.
But there`s something to know about the Kurds and what they want --
that is not at all what we want. And that is key to try and figure out if
America`s strategy here is going to work.
"The New Yorker`s" Dexter Filkins has just returned from the region.
He spent plenty of time on the ground with the Kurds. Dexter joins us
MADDOW: Joining us tonight in New York for an interview is one of
the world`s most accomplished war correspondents. He`s been covering the
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. He`s the author of the 2008
acclaimed book "The Forever War." He has just returned from Iraq where he
spent time reporting on the ground there, particularly with the Kurds in
northern Iraq. The group that`s going to be central to the U.S. strategy
against ISIS there.
Joining us now here in studio is "The New Yorker`s" Dexter Filkins.
Dexter, great to see you. Thanks for being here.
DEXTER FILKINS, THE NEW YORKER: Thank you, hi.
MADDOW: So, it seems like the Kurds are absolutely crucial to the
American idea of how success might happen against ISIS.
MADDOW: Do the Kurds see themselves strategically the same way that
the U.S. government does?
MADDOW: What`s their big idea? What`s their strategy?
FILKINS: I think, you know, the U.S. wants the Kurds to fight ISIS,
but they also want them to stay in Iraq. And the Kurds don`t want to stay
in Iraq anymore, they want the leave. They`re pretty close. They`re
sitting on an ocean of oil. They`re landlocked. So, the big problem is
getting the oil out and getting it on tankers so they need another country
to do that.
But they`re heading for the exit. So, that -- there`s a lot of
tension there in that relationship, but they need our help.
MADDOW: So, as the U.S. is now really ramping up all this military -
- and lots of countries ramping up military support to them because they
want them as a bulwark against ISIS.
MADDOW: The knock-on effect of that the same guns work just as well
against the Iraqi army.
FILKINS: Right. I mean, I think -- you know, the other thing to say
about that is I think the Kurds are happy to fight ISIS if ISIS tries to
come into Kurdistan. But I don`t see the Kurds going into the ISIS area.
Because really what you are talking about, ISIS has had all of its success
in Arab-speaking areas and the Kurds don`t want to go in there.
And so, I think they`re happy to keep ISIS at bay, form their own
country, but I think I`d be very surprised if they show any willingness at
all to push into ISIS areas.
MADDOW: If they are successful at defending their own territory and
ISIS, therefore, doesn`t go there.
MADDOW: Does that hurt the overall dream of ISIS? Can they survive
doing what they -- can their dream survive without also taking over Kurdish
territory? It seems like they can.
FILKINS: Yes, probably. I mean, you know, if there weren`t bombs
now raining on them.
FILKINS: Yes. I mean, I think the question is, will they? I think
that when I was there as I was leaving, ISIS was getting pretty close to
some of the oil fields around Kirkuk which is now a Kurdish City. And
there was some concern that, you know, ISIS, which I think now is making $5
million or $6 million a day shipping oil, smuggling oil out, you know, they
want to keep -- they want to keep expanding.
And that`s like groups like this. They only really survive if they
keep growing. And so I think it`s going to be a challenge for them or for
MADDOW: Are Americans in the way that our own government our own
media is characterizing ISIS, are we essential mischaracterizing them as
cavemen? Are we mis-underestimating them in a sense? Not to say that
there`s anything to admire about them, but when you talk about them as
barbarians, it`s hard to believe that they could manage refining oil in
modular units, getting that oil to market and running governance in all
these places that they`re holding. I mean, they`re a pretty layered,
complex, sophisticated organization.
FILKINS: I think those two things which is being a caveman and
cutting somebody`s head off and running oil refineries, those things are
not mutually exclusive. I mean, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the head of ISIS,
has a PhD. So, it`s weird. You know, it`s really weird.
I think the fighters at the bottom are -- a lot of them are pretty
uneducated guys. But I think the thing to remember about ISIS is, this is
the product of a society -- two societies, two states in total chaos, total
anarchy. So, it`s kind of out of this, this thing has come together.
And somebody described to me, they said, these are the guys that --
you know, ISIS is a direct outgrowth of al Qaeda in Iraq. And somebody
said to me, these are the guys we didn`t kill. It`s combat Darwinism.
But to answer your question, I think it`s really strange that you can
get guys who are as brutal and savage and bloodthirsty as these guys but at
the same time be as sophisticated as they are, but they are.
MADDOW: And it`s so -- but for us reporting on this and politically
for people describing it, accepting both barbarism and capacity is a hard
thing to communicate but I think that`s where we`re at.
Dexter Filkins, it`s really nice to see you.
FILKINS: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: And it`s really hard to report from these areas. So, you
coming here after being there is very helpful. Thank you.
All right. We`ll e right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: We had sort of a fierce but also fun debate in the RACHEL
MADDOW SHOW newsroom today. We took a picture in the middle of it.
Look, on the right side of your screen, that`s Corey Nassa (ph)
standing there, our new executive producer. Sitting in front of him that`s
Kelsey Desiderio (ph), trying to pitch Corey a solution to a vexing
They are trying to argue out what we can and cannot show on the cable
TV machine tonight. What Kelsey is suggesting with her hand on a monitor
is, how about if we cover up this part? If we cover up that much, would it
The result of that RACHEL MADDOW SHOW newsroom are just ahead. Good
news, turns out we can show it all.
MADDOW: And now we come to the part of the RACHEL MADDOW SHOW that`s
about women`s magazines. We`ve never had this part of the show before, not
in six years on the air. But then this happened.
Look, you should have put a vote on it. Save the date, November 4th.
Four is Beyonce`s favorite number.
This is from "Cosmopolitan" magazine, which is doing something called
Cosmo votes this year. Cosmo is endorsing politicians in congressional,
and Senate and gubernatorial elections every Tuesday between now and the
election. They have never done something like this before. And, yes, all
the most read articles at cosmopolitan.com are still like six reasons you
should sleep naked, should you stop shaving, waxing, whatevering down
there, and uh -- anyway.
Alongside all that though, Cosmo is not messing around with this
politics thing. They`re doing a lot of coverage and they`re being quite
aggressive on politicians that they thing are on the wrong side of issues
that Cosmo thinks are likely to be of interest to young women voters.
And this is not an insignificant thing, right? If young women voters
defy history and decide to actually turn out in big numbers in the midterm
elections this year even though they don`t in most years not to put too
fine a vote on it, but if young women voters do turn out in November,
Democrats will win the elections. And so behold, the first of two really
significant politics stories that were broken today by a women`s magazine.
This was "Cosmopolitan" magazine`s sexiest man`s center fold model in
1982. You probably recognize him. He was then a fashion model, but he
went on to become a United States senator from Massachusetts for about five
minutes before she was turfed out by Elizabeth Warren.
Scott Brown has kept the modeling thing surprisingly central to his
political campaigning over the years. When he was running against
Elizabeth Warren, when the on Boston talk radio and said how unattractive
he thought she was. He said, thank God she didn`t take her clothes off the
way he had as a model.
Scott Brown is now running for Senate again in New Hampshire, this
time against Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen. And even though his old
friends at "Cosmo" were friendly to his political career at first, they
have now abandoned him. They`re endorsing Jeanne Shaheen to beat Scott
Brown. Quote, "While we wish we could support the man who once posed nudes
in our page, his policy positions just aren`t as solid as his abs were in
the `80s. We support Jeanne Shaheen for Senate."
They go on, "Scott Brown said he disapproved of cutting family
planning funding but he also supported a bill to defund Planned Parenthood.
When reporters tried to ask him about his views on contraceptive access, he
literally hid in a bathroom to avoid answering the question."
Quote, "Jean Shaheen doesn`t hide in the bathroom."
And the Scott Brown hiding in the bathroom is for real. Scott Brown
ran into a bathroom so he wouldn`t have to answer questions from a reporter
for "The Guardian", who was asking about the Supreme Court ruling on
Look, "I found Brown at a table at a restaurant. I introduced myself
as a reporter and inquired if I could ask him questions. Brown smiled
nervously and replied, `What do you want to ask me about?` `Hobby Lobby",
I said. "I`m all set, we`re enjoying ourselves right now.` `But you`re
standing for Senate. It`s routine for journalists to ask you questions and
usually the candidates answer.` Scott Brown replied, `Not without
notifying my office.`
Scott Brown then stood up, walked to the back of the diner and took
shelter in the bathroom.
A campaign aide Jeremy, looked bewildered. He lingered beside me for
a few moments, before politely excusing himself, `Nice to meet you`, and
then he joined his boss in the bathroom."
And that has led to "Cosmopolitan" magazine giving up on its former
poster boy. I mean, literally, I think you were supposed to use him as a
poster. And they instead are endorsing his opponent. Quote, "Scott Brown
may have been Cosmopolitan`s sexiest man in 1982, but in 2014, we`re
picking brains over brawn."
And believe it or not, that is the first of two potentially big
political stories broken by women`s magazines today. And the second one,
which was not in "Cosmo" but a different women`s magazine, that is the
single most talked about political story in the country today, particularly
on the left. And that bombshell story is next.
MADDOW: OK. If you want to talk about not just politics but about
real power that really matters for the country in big ways over the longest
periods of time of everything in Washington, it`s the Supreme Court. At
least that`s the perspective of the biggest Democratic donors in the
country. You hear it over and over again from Democratic bigwigs. They
say what the donors care about more than anything is the Supreme Court.
Apparently, if you`re a big Democratic fish, that issue if nothing
else, that`s the reason you do everything you can to put a Democrat in the
White House and make sure the Democrats have a majority in the Senate.
Because, yes, the president nominates Supreme Court justices, but it`s the
Senate that has to confirm them.
The oldest justice on the court right now is the liberal hero Ruth
Bader Ginsburg. She`s 81 years old. When Bill Clinton nominated her for
the court in 1993, she was confirmed by the Senate 96-3. That wasn`t that
long ago, but confirmation votes do not go like that anymore.
If Ruth Bader Ginsburg steps down from the court while President
Obama is still in office, it will be President Obama who chooses a nominee
to succeed her. If she doesn`t step down while President is in office,
there`s a possibility that the next president will choose her successor.
And, of course, there`s a possibility the next president might be a
And that very thing drives Democratic donors into a frenzy. Both in
terms of their desire to see a Democrat elected president in 2016, but also
their desire to see a Democratic majority hold on in the Senate, because
even though justices used to be confirmed 96-3 like Ginsburg or Antonin
Scalia, 98-0, votes like that don`t happen anymore. And there`s a real
worry that if President Obama does have to make a nomination to the court
in his last two years of being president, if Republicans are in control of
the Senate, there`s a worry they won`t confirm anybody who President Obama
Constitutional crisis? Sure. Totally possible? Absolutely. If
you`re a glass half empty kind of pessimist about Democrats and Republicans
and the trajectory of Washington right now.
You know who not that kind of a pessimist? Justice Ginsberg, who has
just done an amazing interview with "Elle" magazine, from which they just
posted excerpts today. Check out this optimism.
Question: "Do you think the pendulum might swing back in a more
progressive direction on women`s rights in your lifetime?" Answer: "I
think it will, when we have a more functioning Congress." And she believes
that will happen in her lifetime.
Question: "When it comes to abortion right, does the pendulum have to
swing in a more conservative direction before it starts to swing back?"
Answer: "No. I think it`s gotten about as conservative as it will get."
See, that`s why she can do more push-ups than I can at twice my age,
But here`s the kicker. Question: "I`m not sure how to ask this, but
a lot of people who admire and respect you wonder if you`ll resign while
President Obama is in office?" Answer, "Who do you think President Obama
could appoint at this very day, given the boundaries that we have? If I
resign anytime this year, he would not successfully appoint anyone I would
like to see on the court. The Senate Democrats took off the filibuster for
lower federal court appointments, but it remains for this court. So,
anybody who thinks that I -- that if I step down, that President Obama
could appointed someone like me, they`re misguided."
In other words, this seat is taken. Ruth Bader Ginsburg not going
anymore is amazing optimism, it`s because she thinks that President Obama
couldn`t get a nominee confirmed right now, because there aren`t Democrats
in the Senate to beat an inevitable Republican filibuster of any truly
We`re on the eve of an election, after which we are virtually
guaranteed to have even fewer Democrats in the Senate than we have right
now. So, that road to confirmation for the next nominee is about to get
harder, not easier after the 2014 elections. And then, after the 2016
elections, nobody has any idea what will happen to the Senate or the
presidency, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a logic machine and she knows these
And now that she`s explained that she`s holding off her retirement in
order to strategize for another progressive making it into the court for
her set, that means she must think that in 2016, not only is there going to
be another Democrat president, but there will be Democrat elected with
enough Democrats in the Senate to either beat a Republican filibuster or
kill the filibuster altogether.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an iron woman. I don`t know you, but I know
enough to know that she could be you up now. And now, thanks to this
remarkable new interview in "Elle" magazine, we know that she is more
bullish on Democratic election prospects than anyone else in Washington
right now. If she is right, progressives, rejoice. If she is not -- well,
that is a big, big bet to lose.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Thanks
for being with us tonight.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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