'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, December 20th, 2014
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
Guest: Wesley Lowery, Jumaane Williams, Keith Sainten, Claudia Lacy,
Heather Rattelade, Sujatha Fernandes, Lisa Cook, Charles Sennott, John
Gutierrez, Adam Smith, Gordon Chang, Tara Maller
DORIAN WARREN, MSNBC HOST: This morning my question, just how big was the
Sony hack? Plus, police unions speak out in defense of their own. And the
mother of Lennon Lacey joins me live. But first, President Obama looks 90
miles offshore and says, hello neighbor.
Good morning. I`m Dorian Warren in for Melissa Harris-Perry. On Tuesday
President Obama made a phone call about 45 minutes long to Cuban President
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I delivered a
fairly lengthy statement at the front end about how we`re looking forward
to a new future in the relationship between our two countries, but that we
are going to continue to press on issues of democracy and human rights,
which we think are important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: There were some awkward jokes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: At the end of my remarks I apologized for taking, you know, such a
long time. But I wanted to make sure that before we engaged in the
conversation that we -- he was very clear about where I stood. He said
don`t worry about it, Mr. President. You`re still a young man. And you
still have a chance to break Fidel`s record. He once spoke seven hours
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: And then more awkward jokes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And then President Castro proceeded to deliver his own preliminary
remarks that lasted at least twice as long as mine.
OBAMA: And then I was able to say obviously it runs in the family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: But what is so remarkable about this conversation is it was the
first time in more than 50 years that the leaders of the United States and
Cuba have spoken directly to each other. More than 50 years since Fidel
Castro came down from the mountains and overthrew a government backed by
the United States. Since Castro declared Cuba a communist state and
confiscated all U.S.-owned private businesses. Since the U.S. broke off
diplomatic ties and imposed a trade embargo that exists until this day.
But the history of Cuba and the United States goes back much further.
Let`s start more than 100 years ago. It was 1898 when the United States
helped Cuba finally throw off Spanish colonial rule and what we know as the
Spanish American War. Remember Teddy Roosevelt and the rough riders? That
was this war. After the U.S. defeated Spain, it didn`t exactly release
Cuba to its own devices. We set up shop as an occupying force.
After five years the U.S. ceded Cuba its independence, but with a catch.
Americans pressured Cuba into including the Platt Amendment in its new
constitution allowing the U.S. to intervene militarily in Cuba at any time,
and interfere it did several times after a rebellion against the Cuban
government in 1906 and then again in 1912 to put down an uprising by black
Cubans and in 1917 to protect sugar plantations from insurgents. For
decades the U.S. supported governments that were friendly to its interests.
And no one was friendlier than Fulgencio friendly, who took power by
military coup in 1952.
Batista`s regime was corrupt and brutal. He embezzled money with gostel
(ph), and even took a cut at a gambling industry which was dominated by the
American mafia. He cracked down on dissent brutally, imprisoning political
opponents and torturing and killing the leaders of general strikes against
his regime. When Fidel Castro took power in 1959, he was able to portray
himself as fighting against the United States as much as he was fighting
Batista. A favorite chant of the revolution was, Cuba si, Yankees, no. To
some, Castro was America`s fault. Here`s then presidential candidate John
F. Kennedy in 1960.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN F. KENNEDY: -- continued to Batista, which was ineffective. We were
never on the side of freedom. We never used our influence when we could
have used it most effectively. And today Cuba is lost to freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Since then the American government has tried to turn Cuba friendly
again by attempting to assassinate Castro. By training Cuban exiles to
invade the Bay of Pigs and more recently, by trying to stir up dissent and
spark an Arab Spring type uprising on the island. And now after 50 years
we`re seeing President Obama call for a different approach.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: But what I know deep in my bones is that if you`ve done the same
thing for 50 years and nothing has changed you should try something
different if you want a different outcome. And this gives us an
opportunity for a different outcome. Because suddenly Cuba is open to the
world in ways that it has not been before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Joining me now from Havana, Cuba, is NBC News correspondent Jacob
Rascon. Jacob, what has been the reaction there in Cuba to the historic
shift in relations between the two countries?
JACOB RASCON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It`s very interesting. Because
unlike in the United States, there is no real controversy here. They don`t
really want to talk about the political consequences of what`s happening.
Some are afraid to talk, in fact, on camera about that in fear of
retaliation there. What they do care about is how the changes will affect
their day-to-day lives.
And in general the people that we talk to from all levels of society are
optimistic, that this is a step in the right direction. They`re optimistic
that there are going to be more tourism, they are going to have more
clients, for example, for the taxis. They may change and get a better
phone. They may get better food, they may get better parts for their cars.
A lot of the cars, if you`ve ever been to Cuba, or seen the video, are so
old, from pre-revolution times. A lot of those car makers have to go to
great lengths the to get their car parts. And they`re very excited at the
possibility of getting them directly from the United States.
Another thing people are talking about is baseball and ballet. They`re
very ambitious here in their baseball and ballet. Some of the players and
ballerinas end up going to the United States, but because of U.S. sanctions
they have to defect to do that. There`s optimism that could change. And
then there`s talk about family relationships and how normalized U.S.-Cuba
relations means normalized relationships between family members here and
some 2 million Cuban Americans in the United States. They`re also excited
Jacob Rascon, NBC News, Havana.
WARREN: Thank you to NBC`s Jacob Rascon in Havana, Cuba. And I want to
bring in my panel today. Charlie Sennott, co-founder of "Global Post" and
executive director of the ground truth project, Sujatha Fernandes,
associate professor of sociology at Queens College and the graduate center
at the City University of New York, Lisa Cook, associate professor of
economics and international relations at Michigan State University. And
John Gutierrez, assistant professor of Latin American studies at John Jay
College of Criminal Justice.
So I want each of you to respond to this question. What does opening our
relationship to Cuba, opening relations between Cuba and the United States,
how will it affect every day Cuban people? Sujatha?
SUJATHA FERNANDES, QUEENS COLLEGE: Well, I think that still remains to be
seen, it remains to be seen to what degree the Cuban government is going to
allow the kinds of increased growth of commerce, increased travel, but I
think definitely just like was said on the video, it`s going to have a huge
impact on ordinary Cubans. It`s going to build on the kind of changes that
have already been in place since the start of the Obama administration both
(INAUDIBLE) in trouble and the like.
WARREN: Let me come to you, actually, since --
JOHN GUTIERREZ, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Now I`m worried.
WARREN: No, no --
WARREN: Because you are Cuban, right. You have the family history. So,
how do you think?
GUTIERREZ: You know, I have to agree with Sujatha. There is - it`s
unclear right now, right? I think the big question mark here really is the
Cuban government. As Americans I think we have the bad habit of thinking
that our mere presence or involvement in something will make it better.
And what we have in Cuba is a government that has made very modest reforms
in the last five years. Reforms on the economic front that have yielded
very little. And so the question that I think we as Cuban Americans have
and I think that all Americans should have is how prepared is the
government of Raul Castro to make fundamental changes in the Cuban economy?
And there`s no amount of American policy changing, whether it`s the
tinkering that we have seen with President Obama this week or a fundamental
invalidation of the embargo that is going to make a change in Cuba if the
Cuban government does not say we are going in a different path. That
hasn`t happened yet. So, that`s a big question, I think.
WARREN: So, Lisa, Charlie, to John`s point, what might this mean for
increased economic opportunities for more freedom of speech and
association, and what does the Castro government have to do?
LISA COOK, MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: So I think the biggest implications
are going to be economic. And I think there are three realms in which we
should be looking at this. One is the long-term implications with respect
to foreign investment. So the Cuban government says that it needs 2 to
$2.5 billion a year to develop. So, how is that going to happen? They
passed a law earlier this year to allow more foreign investment. There are
200 venture, joint venture companies in Cuba right now. This is down from
400 in 2002. So they have seen this economic decline. So this is just a
trend that`s continuing and trying to open up Cuba a little bit more.
But the second thing that`s going to make a really big impact, I think, is
the effect on small businesses. So, a lot of these remittances have gone
to small businesses. Not just to families. But also to small businesses.
And their share is growing in the economy. These are not government owned.
So, now they can, rather than just being able to send $500 per quarter,
they can send $2,000. That`s going to make a big difference for a small
business. So, I think that`s the root for which democracy is going to
evolve to the extent that it can.
WARREN: So, economic opportunities will lead to democratization?
CHARLIE SENNOTT: Yeah, I think ultimately there will be business
opportunities. But I think it`s going to take a while. I think this is
not going to happen overnight. We are talking about years, and in the
short term what I`m really interested in is the academic openings that will
happen for historians, for others to really understand the country. It`s
been a black box for us, for journalists to get in there, to talk about my
profession. We need to be in there, and we need to have more of what we
call ground truth. You have to be there physically to really talk with
people, to open up. Your correspondent is doing a great job trying to get
out that on the ground. But you can hear him say in a very frustrated way,
no one wants to talk about the political ramifications because they don`t
trust it yet.
So, I think we have an opportunity to really dive in and get ground truth
COOK: And I think that`s happening to a certain extent. I mean so, from
the economic point of view. And I think this might be the easiest part. I
mean it might be the easier part, in comparison to politics. Because the -
in American Development Bank and the (INAUDIBLE) Development Banks have
been sending economists there for a long time. We have more economic
information than we have other types of information.
SENNOTT: Well, investors like good ground truth.
COOK: That`s right. That`s right.
WARREN: And you went there as a graduate student initially.
FERNANDES: Yeah, I mean - and I just - to put away the question. I think
there`s a lot of interest in well, how can we get in there? How can we
open it up for business, but market - the market has slowly been opening.
It opened to global tourism in the 1990s. And there have been negative
effects of that. There has been growing inequalities that have happened,
and particularly on the race lines. And so, I think that rather than just
sort of wait for this massive opening is to look at the ways that it can
happen that would not increase inequality in the way that it has so far.
WARREN: OK, don`t go anywhere. Much more on Cuba and especially the role
of American corporations, and I also want to come back to this question
about race. Don`t go away.
WARREN: There`s one group that`s quite happy about the fall in U.S.-Cuba
relations, American corporations. Corporations like heavy equipment maker
Caterpillar, which said, quote, "The reopening of diplomatic relations
between the U.S. and Cuba is a welcome development, a move which
Caterpillar has been a long standing proponent. Caterpillar, of course,
makes construction equipment that will be useful if Cuba were to say
upgrade its infrastructure, equipment that Caterpillar referred to as "the
necessary goods to modernize." Credit card companies like MasterCard were
happy that the U.S. will allow travelers to Cuba to use American debit and
credit cards on the island. Car companies also joined in. General Motors
said in the statement, "We`re very encouraged by the comments today. We`ll
certainly evaluate any opportunities that may present themselves.
Opportunities like the fact that no new American-made cars have been driven
on Cuba streets since 1960.
And, of course, hospitality companies are expressing their enthusiasm.
Companies like the hotel chain Marriott where former Republican
presidential candidate Mitt Romney who has been critical of the new
diplomatic effort with Cuba serves on the board of directors. Marriott
said, quote, we are very excited for the people of Cuba and the opportunity
in jobs that will be created when the relations with the U.S. open up.
Especially for travel and tourism. We will take our cues from the U.S.
government, we`ll look forward to opening hotels in Cuba. So, Lisa, let me
come to you first here. Is this a win for American capitalism?
COOK: Oh, big time. Big time. I`m at Michigan State University, right?
Of course. The Big Three are saying oh my goodness. The average age of
those cars on the road is about 50 years. And the average American car is
COOK: Yeah. The trade. The trade. They can be at the international
trade shows. All of the auto shows. I mean I think this is a big deal.
But it`s not just Marriott and the others. It`s also mining companies.
It`s Coca-Cola. I mean it`s across the spectrum. Cruise ship companies.
I mean --
COOK: Yes. And so, I think that there are openings. But some of that
will just be displaced economic activity. There are other firms that are
already there. They are French. They are European. They are Canadian.
They are Latin American. So, the question is whether you can get growth
going rather than just being -- .
WARREN: So, John, at this point, what has to happen on the Cuban side for
the economy to be able to grow and develop?
GUTIERREZ: Oh, I think the first thing would be to get away from this idea
that the government should own all of the means of production. But let`s
be honest here, right. I mean when we look at the Cuban economy, the
single most important conglomerate that you have right now in Cuba is run
by the Cuban military. Its director is Raul Castro`s son-in-law. So there
is a military elite in Cuba that manages the economy. And they are doing a
terrible job. So it seems to me the first thing that they should do is
free up the opportunity for Cubans to own land. I`ll give you an example,
right? So, the Cuban has decided a couple of years ago, the Cuban
government decided a couple of years ago to allow Cuban farmers to work
land in - essentially sharecrop.
GUTIERREZ: And agriculture yields have never met their targets. And the
reason for this is pretty simple. Those contracts that they have are for
about ten years. And after ten years the government of Cuba can say to
those farmers we want the land back. Now, I don`t know about anybody here
at this table, but I`m not sure that I would make an investment in land if
I can`t own it at the end of the day, you know. It just seems like - it
seems like a crazy - it seems like an amazing risk on the part of Cubans to
take with a government that has a history of opening up reform and then
turning around and saying well, we`ve had enough reform. We want to go
back to the system.
SENNOTT: Just to flip it around to say what about the risk to the Cuban
people to open up to corporate America again and expose themselves to the
forces of any cooperative forces of capitalism that hurt their country so
badly under Batista? Now, you can just see this come back.
WARREN: But here is the --
SENNOTT: Trust on the two sides. It`s going to come from what we were
discussing before. From the academic and the journalistic openings.
There`s a lot these two countries need to learn about each other. Should I
say, a sector, a business sector that I think is going to be a strategic
one will be technology. If you can get that --
WARREN: So, on this point - on this point, telecommunications and a key
part of what the president announced was allowing telecommunications
companies to come in. What we already know is that only five percent of
Cubans have access to the Internet currently. What will this mean for
FERNANDES: But you can see. I mean there`s the media has been - in the
United States so excited. We can get in there. We can change the whole
infrastructure. We can completely redo it. They have an antiquated email
system, the Internet system. Now, firstly, Cubans are a little bit nervous
about this after the sort of revelations of, you know, the NSA spying up on
citizens, I mean Snowden`s revelations. People in Cuba are not entirely
thrilled about the idea of having the United States coming in and setting
up their Internet structure, right? So there are concerns on that level.
There are also - it is true that the formal access to the Internet was
limited. But Cubans have this something called el pockete semanan (ph),
which is the weekly packet through which Cubans from - of Havana all the
way to the mountains of Guantanamo get material from the Internet
downloaded through the informal economy, and there`s a whole system for
providing Internet that way.
And so, I think that just like I completely agree with what you`re saying,
that there are different ideas about what Internet freedoms mean. There
are different ideas about what sharing information means and before people
rush in, we have to stop and think and learn about these.
SENNOTT: No one knows the tyranny like Cubans in terms of controlling your
information. But they also - they`ve been taught to fear us just as we
have been taught to fear their system. And I think this is - this is a
chance to really learn about each other. But that`s going to have to
WARREN: Well said. Don`t go away. Up next, Florida, Florida, Florida.
WARREN: The political assumption for years has been this, if you want to
win the presidency, you have to win Florida. And if you want to win
Florida, you have to win over the Cuban immigrants and Cuban Americans in
south Florida, a block that has long been opposed to the regime of Fidel
Castro. In other words, a strong anti-Castro policy. Including support
for the embargo and opposition to opening diplomatic relations has been
deemed an essential tenant for presidential hopefuls. So what`s different
now? Joining me from Tampa is Adam Smith, political editor of "The Tampa
Bay News." Adam, what is different now politically that the president
feels he can do this?
ADAM SMITH, POLITICAL EDITOR, TAMPA BAY TIMES: Well, it`s totally
different. It`s no longer that case. It may be that case if you want to
be mayor of Miami, but not if you want to win statewide in Florida. The
younger generation of Cubans, the Cubans who have - Cuban American who were
born here as opposed to Cuba, they overwhelmingly support this move.
WARREN: And I just want to put up a poll we have overtime, that looks at
support for the embargo. And it shows support going down over time.
Especially from the early `90s. From the high of 87 percent to less than
half now. This is a Florida International University poll. Adam, what
does this mean for the 2016 Republican primary in Florida?
SMITH: I think in a Republican primary, the Cuban American exiles have so
much clout, fund raising and political clout, that it`s very risky. But
it`s a different ball game in the general election. We just had Charlie
Crist, the Democratic nominee for governor, he was about to travel to Cuba
during the campaign. He barely lost in a Republican wave nationally. He
lost by one percentage point. So, it is nowhere near the issue it used to
WARREN: So, I want to come out to the panel and get Sujatha and John as
particular. Apparently this is partly Hillary Clinton`s doing when she was
secretary of state. She is in some ways the architect of this new - of
this change in our position in relations with Cuba. Does this help or hurt
her in 2016?
GUTIERREZ: Well, I think a lot of it if depends on Cuban American fund-
raisers for Clinton, right? I mean so - it`s important to realize here
that there are prominent Cuban American business people in this country who
are looking for a change in policy, right? The Cuba study group, which is
run by (INAUDIBLE) and has a number of leading Cuban business people, has
been calling for change in U.S. policy now for years. So I think that for
them, and this includes people like the Fanjul family, one of the most
prominent Cuban American families that we have in the country.
These people I think will be fine walking a line that says I can be both
anti-Castro and the anti-embargo. And I think in some ways for Cuban
Americans that`s going to be the new normal. Right? Sort of getting
accustomed to the fact that we have relationships with Cuba, but that
doesn`t necessarily mean that we embrace the Castro regime. I think that
FIU poll that you just put up there, said something. People don`t talk
about this. But in that poll, they asked people, they asked Cuban
Americans, do you think that things will change in Cuba? And it was
remarkable. The plurality of Cuban Americans said things will never change
in Cuba. There`s a resignation to this government.
WARREN: Sujatha, I want to get you in on here, because I know you know a
lot about Cuban culture and particularly race in Cuba and our image in the
state of Cuba tends to be a white Cuban. So, I`m wondering, where do black
Cubans fit into this whole discussion?
FERNANDES: Well, I think for quite a few years there have been Afro-Cuban
groups on the island who have been raising issues of racial discrimination,
who`ve been making that question visible. The revolution did create a lot
of opportunities for black Cubans to enter into professions, to improve
their economic status in society. But still there are differentials. And
what these Afro-Cuban groups have been doing has been really making Afro-
Cubans as a group visible and talking about racial discrimination. And I
think that`s going to be really crucial when these changes happen. Because
one of the things that is going to have to happen if there is money coming
into the society, if there is a greater opening, this is going to have to
be affirmative action.
And this is one of the things that Afro-Cuban groups on the island are
really pushing for right now. Is to say that we cannot have this further
increase the gaps between white and black Cubans. We have to have greater
investment in housing, which is where the Afro-Cuban population is
concentrated in more poor quality housing, than the white population.
There need to be jobs created for Afro-Cubans. And I think that`s going to
be really key in this transition.
WARREN: And Adam, let me get you back in here and ask you question about
the little fight between Senators Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. So, as you
know, Rand Paul attacked Rubio on twitter. And we have one of the tweets
here, "Senator Marco Rubio was acting like an isolationist who wants to
retreat to our borders, and perhaps build the mote. I reject this
isolationism." And then we have Rubio responding. What does this mean?
Is this a preview of what`s to come for the Republican primary?
SMITH: I think so. I think it`s kind of a tough issue for Marco Rubio.
It`s no surprise that he would take this hard line that is his position.
But he wants to cast himself - you know, it`s already tough enough if he`s
going to be competing with Jeb Bush who takes all of the oxygen out of the
air in Florida politics. But then he wants to sort of cast himself as the
younger energetic future oriented Republican candidate. And it`s hard to
square that with somebody who is so set on the same policy we`ve been
trying for 50 years.
WARREN: And Charlie, I saw you wanted to get in on this. Between Hillary
Clinton taking credit for this and the Marco Rubio Rand Paul fight? What`s
SENNOTT: I think President Obama goes into his vacation very strong. He`s
had a tough couple of years. But if he`s going to - he`s set up against
someone like Rubio, who is going to be resisting and stand up for no change
with the relationship to Cuba, I think Rubio is going to lose on that one.
Obama sees a lot of room to gain with young Hispanic Americans. Even young
Cuban Americans as that poll shows. I would just say that I think this is
a confident, bold strike by a president who has been distracted and often
just not convincing on foreign policy. Now he`s taking some steps that are
convincing, that are bold. And this isn`t the only one. There`s also
China and there`s immigration. And I think he`s going strongly forward
with his own policies. Sort of liberated by some of the loss of the
Democrats, have in a sense liberated him to do what he set out to do, and
be a little bit more bold. And I think this is - is one of those examples
WARREN: Great, thank you to Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times and Tampa,
Florida. Here in New York, thank you very much to Sujatha Fernandes and
John Gutierrez. Charlie and Lisa are sticking around.
Still to come this morning, President Obama, North Korea and Sony all at
WARREN: Speaking with reporters before he headed off for Hawaii with his
family for the holiday, President Obama had this to say about the hack on
Sony Corporation and the decision not to release its film "The Interview"
on Christmas Day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The Sony is a corporation. It, you know, suffered significant
damage. There were threats against its employees. I am sympathetic to the
concerns that they faced. Having said all that, yes, I think they made a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: The results of the hack attack next.
WARREN: The FBI has concluded the North Korean government is responsible
for the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures. Investigators found similarities in
specific lines of code and encryption algorithms to other malware developed
in North Korea. In the statement released Friday, the FBI said in part, we
are deeply concerned about the destructive nature of this attack on a
private sector entity and the ordinary citizens who worked there. Further,
North Korea`s attack on Sony pictures entertainment reaffirms that cyber
threats pose one of the gravest national security dangers to the United
States. This morning North Korea responded, insisting it was not behind
the hack, and is in fact seeking to join the investigation to identify the
Friday President Obama said there will be a proportional response. He also
said Sony made a mistake in canceling the release of the film "The
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I wish they had spoken to me first. I would have told them do not
get into a pattern in which you`re intimidated by these kinds of criminal
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: It didn`t take long for Sony to fire back. Sony Pictures
entertainment released a statement Friday evening that reads in part, "Let
us be clear. The only decision that we have made with respect to release
of the film m was not to release it on Christmas day in theaters after the
theater owners declined to show it. Without theaters, we cannot release it
in the theaters on Christmas Day. We had no choice. After that decision
we immediately began actively surveying alternatives to enable us to
release the movie on a different platform. It`s still our hope that anyone
who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so."
News of the attack first broke last month when hackers stole and then
released confidential documents in four unreleased Sony movies. The stolen
email correspondence exposed gossips between Sony executives and a
staggering gender pay gap among its staffers and stars. One Sony mail
exchanger go to part of Jennifer Lawrence`s compensation deal for "American
Hustle" and that she was set to make less than her male costars. It soon
became clear the cyber-attack was an attempt to derail the release of the
film "The Interview", which depicts a fictional attempt to assassinate
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The CIA would love it if you two could take him out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hmm?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take him out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take him out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like for drinks?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, no. Take him out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like to dinner?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take him out to meal?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take him out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like on the town?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Party?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, take him out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want us to assassinate the leader of North Korea?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: This week the film`s release was canceled after the hackers
threatened to launch 9-11 style attacks on American movie theaters that
played the film. Hollywood reacted on Twitter with some actors calling the
move to cancel the release "Disgraceful, cowardly and a threat to freedom
of expression." George Clooney and his agent circulated a petition to push
back against the hackers. Clooney wants "The Interview" released somehow.
Even if only online. He told Deadline Hollywood that no one would sign his
The relationship between the U.S. and North Korea is at one of its lowest
points since the Korean conflict. The Obama administration has so far been
unable to have serious dialogue or any dialogue at all, for that matter,
with North Korean leadership. Senior U.S. officials attempted secret talks
in 2012, making two trips which both ultimately failed.
The situation has continued to deteriorate over the last decade, since
North Korea admitted to operating a secret nuclear weapons program,
violating its 1994 agreement with the United States.
Meantime, experts say Kim Jong-un is following in his father`s footsteps
ruling by fear and severe punishment for dissent. According to Human
Rights Watch, a United Nations Commission of Inquiry founded in February,
quote, "The North Korean government committed systematic human rights
abuses that the U.N. described as being without parallel in the
contemporary world. Abuses included extermination, murder, enslavement,
torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence.
Today 80 to 120,000 North Koreans are living in political prison camps.
Only the elite can communicate with the outside world via the Internet.
North Korea is already one of the world`s most sanctioned countries. And
this all leads U.S. leaders trying to determine what kind of response would
have any effect on the extremely isolated country.
Joining me now, Charlie Sennott, cofounder of Global Post and executive
director of "The Ground Truth Project," Gordon Chang, columnist at
Forbes.com and Lisa Cook, associate professor of economics and
international relations at Michigan State University.
OK, panel. So what are the options here, and what would be a proportional
GORDON CHANG, FORBES.COM: First of all, I`m not so sure that we should
have a proportional response. What we should have is an effective
response, which may be proportional. Maybe not. You know, there will be
escalation. People want a proportional response don`t want escalation.
But there will be escalation no matter what we do. Even if we do nothing,
it could even be worse. So, clearly at this point we`re not in a good
situation. But there are a lot of things we can do and we`re not
sanctioned out. For instance, we could put in place the sanctions that the
Bush administration imposed in 2005, which were very, very effective. We
took those off. We should be enforcing Security Council resolutions on
ballistic missile and nuclear weapon sales and I think we should be calling
out China. Because China was very much involved in these attacks.
SENNOTT: So, this is not just, you know, a situation where it`s an attack
on a corporation like Sony. This is an attack on what we believe in as a
country. It`s an attack on freedom of expression. And so, one of the
great weapons in responding to this is going to be how we handle the
messaging. In that instance, the chief executive of Sony blinked in that
confrontation. And I think we need to have not only a government response,
you need an industry response that is bold and confident and that says we
believe in freedom of expression. And maybe we won`t put the movie out on
Christmas Day. We`re not going to let you ruin our Christmas. But we`re
going to absolutely put this thing out online, as George Clooney has
suggested. I think that President Obama is being really strong on this,
confident. I think he`s right to criticize Sony for doing it. I think
Sony has missed an opportunity to manage a message. I take their point
that they don`t own the theaters, but clearly their chief executive could
have been a lot stronger on this and been part of the battle against this
kind of tyranny.
WARREN: Yeah, so I want to play some sound from the president and then
come back to something Gordon just said. I`m sorry, it`s from the Sony
executive and then come back to something that Gordon just said. And I`ll
give you (INAUDIBLE).
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL LYNTON, SONY PICTURES CEO: We have not given in. We have
persevered and we have not backed down. We have always had every desire to
have the American public see this movie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: So this is an exclusive scene and interview with the Sony - the
head of Sony saying they clearly had not caved or clearly to him. Now you
mentioned something about China. And that seems unclear at this point of
their involvement. But Charlie, I want to ask you, if Sony does go through
with the film`s release, what effect could it have?
CHANG: Well, you know, basically the North Koreans are going to go after
Sony. They`re not interested or that concerned about theatrical release in
the U.S., because North Korean citizens aren`t going to go to your local
AMC in Omaha and watch this. What they are concerned, though, is South
Korean activists taking DVDs, putting them in balloons, which go over the
demilitarized zone which separates the two Koreas. So North Korean
citizens can pick them up and watch them. So, this is not just a question
of what we see in the U.S. This is a question of what North Korean
citizens can see. So, anything that Sony does now is going to cause it
problems. But, you know, it`s not Sony`s fault. They are not there to
defend American liberty, it`s the United States government that has really
failed in this for decades. And that`s why Sony was in an impossible
situation. So yes, they caved. But, you know, we can understand. Because
that`s what every CEO would do.
WARREN: Let me get you in on this.
COOK: And I would take a slightly different view. I don`t think from my
time in the White House, I think that Sony missed an opportunity. Missed
the message and was not in touch with the White House. It`s not that you
need to have everything screened. But if a country comes to you and makes
a threat, the first thing you should do is either call the White House or
congressman or something to verify the validity or that threat. I think
they missed the ball on this. Now, what I read this morning --
CHANG: As you can see, they might have been a little bit uncomfortable
approaching the White House.
COOK: Right. Right. Right.
COOK: That`s right. And it cost them $70 million. But, you know, we
found out this morning, is that Judy Smith has been engaged. Now, Judy
Smith, who is the source, the motivation for scandal, was - has been
engaged by Sony. They should have done that before. This is crazy.
Because there should not be Sony standing up for free speech for everybody,
but it shouldn`t cave as it did, as the president said. I think that there
was not enough communication. I think we don`t have all the information.
And when I was at the White House, many companies were coming to us in
confidence, of course, to ask us to help with a potential bridge or, you
know, a breach that had clearly happened. And I think that there is more
communication than Sony. And I`m saying the White House. But I`m sure
there are other parts of government that would have been engaged. But I
think that there is more that could have been done on the --
WARREN: OK, don`t go anywhere. Much more on this. Up next, the world of
cyber insecurity. Don`t go anywhere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We cannot have a society, in which some dictator some place can
start imposing censorship here in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Friday President Obama addressed the Sony hack in his year-end
remarks. He did not go into details about specific response options, but
he did promise a proportionate strike back against North Korea. Joining me
now from Washington, D.C., Tara Maller, research fellow in the
International Security Program at the New America Foundation. And Tara,
let me ask you first, how can a lack of legal infrastructure affect the
U.S. response? And what I mean by this is we know that Sony canceled the
film release. And it was not the U.S. government. But how can the actions
of a private corporation really impact U.S. governmental credibility?
TARA MALLER, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Absolutely. In this case what we`re
seeing now are the actions of a private corporation Sony impacting U.S.
credibility, because Sony`s decision not to release the film because of the
theater`s decisions not to show the film has really put the United States
in a position that`s sort of unprecedented. Particularly in the realm of
cyber security. We don`t really have clear, what you would call red lines
in the cyber security realm, in terms of what constitutes an act of cyber
terrorism. What constituted an act of cyber hacking. What constitutes an
act of war in the realm of cyber? So President Obama, you know, talked
about proportionate response. But we don`t actually know what that looks
like, although there are a lot of options on the table for what the United
States could do to respond.
WARREN: Charlie, I know you were thinking about what the U.S. government
should be able to do better. And so, is it the State Department or is it
other agencies? What should be happening now?
SENNOTT: Yeah, so, look, how we respond to a cyber-attack has been
something we`ve been able to think through for years. This is the first
time we`re hearing the president say openly he`s going to do a
proportionate response to a cyber-attack. One of the things that should be
considered in this response is how do you take the opportunity to get
corporate America to work with the United States government, with the State
Department on figuring out how to protect data? How do you really take
this opportunity as an initiative, a sort of call to action, where you say
we have an opportunity to work with the private sector to come up with much
better ways to protect our freedom of expression by having more secure
systems? And I thin, what I`m not hearing here, we`re hearing a lot of
beating up on Sony. And that criticism may be well deserved. I would like
to see the conversation shift and look at public/private initiatives.
Government and the private sector working together to have much better
security, so the attacks like this can`t happen. We`re less vulnerable to
this kind of attacks.
WARREN: Let me come back to you, Tara. In what ways is our changing
security climate unpredictable? And is what Charlie says the path forward?
MALLER: So, I agree with everything that Charlie said. But at the end of
the day, there are still infinitely not a target, so you still need to have
policies in place by the U.S. government. And I`m not saying they haven`t
been doing this. They are crafting these. But we`re at a new area of
security. So, if there are vulnerabilities and something were to happen,
what is the response? We have a state sponsorship of terrorism list. We
don`t have a list or an equivalent for what happened if there is a cyber-
type of attack. Is that included in that list in terms of the sanctions
that go into effect with these sorts of activities? There`s no really
articulated, you know, ramifications in the cyber realm. At least on
paper. Theoretically there may be. And I think we`re seeing that in the
muddled proportionate response language. Because I`m not sure that there
is a clear and defined way to respond. There are options. There are
banking sanctions, which can be placed on North Korea. But they already
have a lot of sanctions on them. There`s cyber retaliation, which the
United States can opt for and may very well do. But we might not see, you
know, what that looks like, because that might be behind the scenes.
There`s international pressure that can be brought to the table through the
U.S. Security Council.
SENNOTT: Just haven`t - say, you know, there are a lot of pressures the
government can bring to bear. But I still think the most effective will
come from the private sector because that`s where the real knowledge is
going to be to pry to protect the security of the Internet and resist these
kinds of attacks.
COOK: But I think that`s already going on. I guess - I guess that`s the
privilege of having been at the Treasury Department and at the White House.
There are these conversations all the time. I mean I saw Eric Schmitt (ph)
at the White House in Washington much more than I saw a whole lot of
lawmakers. So I think these conversations are happening. And the problem
is that given the nature of the problem, it`s not in public view. And it
So, there is a lot of cooperation.
WARREN: I have a question for you on this as well.
CHANG: You know, there might be a lot of conversations and a lot of things
may be going on behind the scenes. But, you know, the Blair Huntsman
commission last year talked about the loss of intellectual property by
American companies and it tagged it at about $475 billion a year.
Now, of course, it could be less. But even if we`re talking a quarter of
that amount, there is so much in the way of damage to the crown jewels of
the United States, which is our I.P. And, you know - this has been going
on not just a couple of years. This has been going on decades.
COOK: In terms of the loss of I.P., Canada is the biggest violator. And
we are now attacking Canada.
WARREN: But no one at this table, and I know Tara has something to say on
this. No one at this table has said that this is actually a success by the
U.S. to identify North Korea as the potential attacker of these hacks.
Tara, is that true?
MALLER: Well, sorry, if North Korea has been, you know, it has been
attributed to North Korea.
WARREN: Attributed, right.
MALLER: You all at the table raise a good point. But you`re talking about
intellectual property theft. There`s a lot of other areas that cyber-
attack can be carried out on. Infrastructure, you know, physical stuff,
kinetic attacks, that can be carried out in the cyber realm. And that`s
sort of the area in terms of U.S. policy that I think is unclear and that
we saw the gray area manifest. Because there was no physical attack here.
But there was a threat of a physical attack, and the question remains in
terms of our response for deterrence toward other countries or other
groups, using the sort of warfare, what would the U.S. response look like?
I was in Beijing last summer. And, you know, working with the Chinese on
this is going to be critical on both in terms of U.S., you know, China
cyber relations but also the role that the Chinese have to play with groups
like North Korea, since, you know, it`s been reported that North Korea`s
groups do operate with some access --
WARREN: So much more - So much more to say. And we`re out of time
unfortunately. Thank you so Tara Maller in Washington, D.C. And here in
New York, thank you to Charlie Sennott, Gordon Chang and Lisa Cook. I hope
you come back so we can argue this out some more.
Still to come this morning, when police unions speak out and defend their
own. Plus, the mother of Lennon Lacy. More "Nerdland" at the top of the
WARREN: Welcome back. I`m Dorian Warren, in for Melissa Harris-Perry.
In the wake of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, and other
police killings of black people across the country, there`s been a lot of
talk about the need for better community policing. President Obama on
Thursday took a step towards that goal by signing an executive order
creating the Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The task force is
chaired by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Laurie
Robinson, a George Mason University criminology professor.
That announcement came at a week that begin with a stark reminder from
Cleveland, Ohio, of just how far the relationships still have to go and how
police unions factor in.
The Cleveland Police Department has been under intense scrutiny after two
recent deaths. Tanisha Anderson, a 37-year-old woman with mental illness,
lost consciousness while in police custody, and died just a few hours later
on November 13th. And 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was in possession of
pellet gun, was shot and killed by a police officer, Timothy Lowman, on
Activists from Ferguson have joined the Rice and Anderson families in
Cleveland for a weekend of resistance, which began with a rally this
morning at the recreation center near where Tamir was fatally shot.
But one protest last weekend at Cleveland`s NFL stadium wrinkled the head
of the city`s police union. Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins
wore a shirt over his jersey, noting two recent Ohio police shootings of
black males holding BB-type guns. It read "Justice for Tamir Rice, and
John Crawford III," the latter being the Ohio man shot and killed by police
officer in a Walmart in August.
Outgoing Cleveland Police Union President Jeff Follmer voiced his anger
about Hawkins` demonstration later that day, saying, quote, "He`s an
athlete. He`s someone with no facts of the case whatsoever. He`s
disrespecting the police on the job that we had to do and make a split
Follmer added, "It`s pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law.
They should stick to what they know best on the field. The Cleveland
police protect and serve the Browns stadium and the Browns organization
owes us an apology."
The Cleveland police did not get an apology from the Browns or Hawkins
The fourth year NFL veteran delivered this response on Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW HAWKINS, CLEVELAND BROWNS: A call for justice shouldn`t warrant an
apology. As you all know and it`s well documented, I have a 2-year-old
little boy. That little boy is my entire world. And the number one reason
for me wearing the t-shirt was the thought of what happened to Tamir Rice
happening to my Little Austin scares the living hell out of me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Follmer made his voice heard on MSNBC`s "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES"
later that day, defending the officers involved in Tamir`s shooting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFREY FOLLMER, CLEVELAND POLICE UNION PRESIDENT: You know, there`s a
video of this, and everything speaks for itself. Their action, the male`s
action spoke for itself. I mean, the video clearly showed and by the
officer`s statement, that they were justified in the deadly force. And it
was cleared by -- these two were cleared by city prosecutor already. This
shooting was justified.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Actually, that isn`t quite the final word on the matter. In March
of 2013, the same month the Justice Department began the investigation of
the city`s police department, city officials announced that all future
cases in which the use of deadly force by Cleveland police results in a
death will go to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, not the city prosecutor.
That prosecutor will get the case after the police finish their
investigation and present evidence to a grand jury. It will be some time
before Follmer or anyone can officially claim the shooting of Tamir Rice
Joining me now, Seema Iyer, civil and criminal rights attorney, Wesley
Lowery, political reporter at "The Washington Post", Jumaane Williams, New
York City councilman, and Keith Sainten, former police academy instructor,
retired NYPD detective and a member of Black Law Enforcement Alliance.
Thanks to all of you for joining us this morning.
Wesley, I want to start with you, because you`re born and raised in
Cleveland, in Cleveland area. You spent a couple of weeks just a while
back reporting on police reform there.
Tell us what you discovered.
WESLEY LOWERY, THE WASHINGTON POST: Of course. I think one of the things
key here is you read the patterns and practices report that the DOJ put
out, very recently happened right after these two deaths, Tamir Rice and
And this report was very damning -- to read this, to imagine that you would
ever run an organization and have the feds come in and say these types of
things. In one line they say the police force, the Cleveland division of
police, is an occupying force in the city. They say that`s a direct quote.
They say that they talk to line officers, rank and file, and commanders and
none of them could adequately explain the concept of community policing,
much less carry it out.
And so, what we saw, though, as I talked to many, many people. Whether I`d
be elected officials in there, whether it`d be observers, whether it`d be
residents, whether it`s be my friends because I was meeting up with them
over the two weeks I was home, this report didn`t tell us anything we
didn`t already know. What we`re seeing in so many of these cities, whether
it`d be Ferguson, Greater St. Louis, whether it`d be here in Cleveland, in
Staten Island, New York, as the president keeps saying, we`re having a
broader conversation, greater awareness about realities and perceptions
that people of color have known about for a long time.
And so, this was kind of laying bare some realities that most of Cleveland,
certainly black Cleveland, has known be the true for most of their lives.
WARREN: I want to pull something from your article and get the entire
table to respond. And you write that "the Clinton administration grants
for community policing increase the number of officers on foot and bike
patrols in the neighborhoods, but that money dried up, and the local police
departments were hit with layoffs and budget cuts as the economy tank in
So, you just mentioned community policing a second ago, Lesley. How much
of a debate over community policing is simply about money or something
JUMAANE WILLIAMS, NEW YORK CITY COUNCILMAN: What I think most people are
not even sure what they`re saying when they say community policing, I think
that`s one big thing. Just having a cop in a beat is not community
policing, I think it may be part of it. So, I think one thing is we have
to all be clear on what community policing is.
And it`s a philosophy that the whole department has to accept. And it also
talks about partnerships with other agencies.
And I think one of the major problems I`m seeing -- while we have to focus
on policing as an issue, one of the problems is the police are the only
things that center the communities that have a lot of social issues they
need a lot of help. And so, other agencies should be involved. You can`t
send the police to solve every problem in these communities.
And so, I think, as we`re dealing with the culture shift that we need in
the police department, it has to happen. We have to get more agencies
involved. Here in New York City, we`re trying very hard, with some
success, getting the Division of Youth Community Development, Department of
Mental Health, Housing and Preservation, they all should be working in
tandem in these communities, using the same data that police use. But that
So, these communities cry out for assistance and they don`t get it.
WARREN: So, Detective, what is your sense? Twenty-five years, NYPD.
KEITH SAINTEN, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: Yes.
WARREN: What`s your sense of community policing? And is the money --
actually, is the lack of money related to the breakdown in police and
SAINTEN: Of course, finances is always an issue when you`re dealing with
budgetary restraints and policing.
But to me, as a law enforcement officer, the core community policing starts
with trust. Without trust, you can send your officers everywhere and we`re
not going to communicate with you. We don`t believe in your policies, your
And it starts with dialogue. You can send a thousand officers to a
community. I don`t believe you. It doesn`t mean anything.
More importantly, it`s a wide gap between the trust of people of color and
WARREN: So, let me -- I want to play some sound from the president and
then get you to respond. This is at the end of the president`s press
conference yesterday. He was asked about race, and this is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I actually think it`s been a
healthy conversation that we`ve had. These are not new phenomenon. The
fact that they`re now surfacing is in part because people are able to film
what was just in the past stories passed on around a kitchen table, allows
people to make their own assessments and evaluations. And you`re not going
to solve a problem that`s not being talked about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: So, Seema, the task force is going to report back within 90 days.
How do you think it could help, if t all?
SEEMA IYER, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I think it can help if we get this down to
an individual basis. When you sea community policing, it`s such a broad
definition. Like what Jumaane was saying, if there was a mediator, let`s
say what happened with Eric Garner and the police responded, but there was
a mediator from the community to oversee this, not as a police officer,
that the community so much distrusts.
And it`s very difficult to say something like you have to build trust
between the community and the police, without changing the perception of
each individual police officer because -- so I, like you, have been in law
enforcement. I`m a former prosecutor. And cops, whether black or white,
sometimes they look at a brown or black body and say that guy is up to
WARREN: Wesley, what do you think the task force recommendations could
LOWERY: I think you`re going to have, one, I think some of this is going
to have to do with diversity of police forces and in Cleveland you had an
issue again with home grown, the idea of where do these officers live? Do
they live in the communities that they`re policing?
But also, it will go beyond the police. It will also go --
WARREN: By the way, the Cleveland mayor is black, and the police --
LOWERY: Yes, and the police commissioner, and the congresswoman, and half
the council. And this is a city that has a lot of black leadership.
LOWERY: And I think that -- but then also this idea of how do you deal
with the grand jury process. How are you dealing with prosecutors who are
working with officers in cases of officers potentially facing crimes for
things they do on the jobs. And so, I think there are a lot of areas with
some of the forms we`re seeing right now in St. Louis, post-Ferguson, in
terms of changing the way payment plans are issued for impoverished people,
changing the way that speeding tickets are given out. Those are some type
of structural things that have been the casualties of being black in the
United States for a long time that maybe we`re going to start seeing some
WARREN: So much more to say on this. But we`re going to continue the
IYER: OK, I`ll pause it.
WARREN: Up next, the comments by police communion boss in New York City
that weren`t meant for the public to hear.
But, first, we want to update on the story of George Stinney, who was 14 at
the time the picture was taken in 1944. He was convicted and put to death
for the murder of two young white girls. Stinney weighed just 95 pounds
when he was arrested.
At the time of his execution, he was so small he had to sit on a phone book
in the electric chair. He is often cited as the youngest person executed
in the United States in the last century.
But this past Wednesday, more than 70 years after his execution, Stinney
was exonerated by a South Carolina Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen, who wrote
in an order, quote, "This court finds fundamental constitutional violations
of due process exist in the 1944 prosecution of George Stinney, Jr., and
hereby vacates the judgment."
Stinney`s younger sister, now 80, told NBC News that learning of the
exoneration was quote, "like a cloud just moved away."
We`ll be right back.
WARREN: Protesters took to the streets of New York City last Saturday in
the largest demonstration yet since a Staten Island grand jury decided not
to indict the NYPD officer whose chokehold took the life of Eric Garner in
July. More than 25,000 people marched, many of them chanting the words "I
can`t breathe", and pushing on the simple theme that black lives matter.
Last night, a few demonstrators wearing "I can breathe" t-shirts offered
support for the police at city hall in Manhattan. The notably smaller
event capped a week doing which private and incendiary remarks made by Pat
Lynch, New York City Police Union president, were made public, thanks to an
audio recording obtained by Capital New York. Quote, "If we won`t get
support when we do our jobs, if we`re going to get hurt for doing what`s
right, then we`re going to do the way they want it," Lynch said last
Friday, the day before the Saturday`s march.
"Let me be perfectly clear. We will use extreme discretion in every
encounter," he went to say. "Our friends, we`re courteous to them. Our
enemies, extreme discretion. The rules are made by then to hurt you.
Well, now, we`ll use those rules to protect us."
Lynch also added that the December 11th Capitol Hill demonstration was
stupid and that Mayor Bill de Blasio, quote, "is not running the city of
New York. He thinks he`s running an expletive revolution."
De Blasio and two of his aides met privately for 45 minutes on Friday with
five members of Justice League NYC, one of the groups that staged last
In a statement after the meeting, Justice League NYC organizers indicated
that the meeting was, quote, "productive," adding, "We expressed to the
mayor that there`s a sense of urgency in the community and a real crisis in
confidence, and not just the NYPD but in the entire criminal justice
So, Detective, I want to come out to you first and ask you -- as I read
through those comments from Pat Lynch, what does extreme discretion mean to
SAINTEN: OK. To me, it can be taken two ways. He could be stating to the
members that we have no backing from our political leaders, your
supervisors and obviously the mayor. So this is what we`re going to do.
We`re going to do everything by the letter of the book, all right? Since
your discretion has been taken away, use extreme discretion. And look the
other way. It can be taken that way.
Or it can be taken -- undercut words as in we`re slowing down until things
get better. One of two ways the members can take a statement like that.
But regardless, it is definitely not helpful. It`s very divisive towards
trying to build trust between the citizens of New York and the police
WARREN: Councilman Williams, I want to ask you because you`ve been a
leader in the city council, in introducing and passing reforms that shore
up and structurally change the policing in the city. I want to ask your
reaction to Pat Lynch`s comments and especially because he`s indicative of
essentially a revolt of police officers against legislation that you`ve
passed and against the mayor. What good will reforms do if they can`t be
WILLIAMS: The more he opens his mouth, the more obscene it becomes, which
is unfortunate. He`s lied considerably on a host of issues. Now he`s just
throwing fuel on the flames that many of us are trying to tamper down.
He has made it so that you cannot want better policing without being anti-
police. And those two things are so different. And he can actually assist
in many of these things. The bills I passed, he consistently said cops are
going to lose their homes. He said crime is going to skyrocket. They`d be
lawsuits up the wazoo. None of those things happened.
My hope is that the police officers themselves will listen to what is
happening and not the rhetoric that Lynch is posting. And I don`t say this
lightly, but more and more, it sounds more Bull Connor-ish than anything
else. This is a dangerous place to put us.
He`s putting New York City on the danger line. I feel he cares about
himself the most and he`s using his place of a police officer as a platform
to secure that. He`s in negotiations and he`s running for re-election.
WARREN: That`s really helpful information.
Seema, I want to come out to you and ask -- what are the legal implications
from his comments?
IYER: Well, it doesn`t seem like there are. I think it is more political.
I don`t think he has any legal implications.
WARREN: Well, he called for a work slowdown and stuff, but he didn`t use
WILLIAMS: That`s important. He didn`t use those words.
IYER: He didn`t use those words. And you made a good point. Is there
repercussions here? And because he couches everything with the word
discretion and will follow things by the book. But before he made those
WARREN: And then he drops F-bombs.
IYER: But before he did all of these things, I`ve spoken to police
officers that have individually said, I`m backing off. I don`t want a
lawsuit. I don`t want to be in the middle of the next Eric Garner
situation, I`m backing off, I`m walking away, which means you`re walking
away from true criminal activity and true victims and that could be the
WILLIAMS: That`s the danger. That`s what is important, because we can
have good policing. That`s all we`re asking for, is better policing.
There are a lot of police officers who are doing that. The only things
that people are talking about are the things that are wrong that everybody
agrees are wrong.
WARREN: So, Wesley, I want to come to you on this, because now we`ve heard
from the heads of police unions in Cleveland and New York. Obviously, the
words "not helping" come to mind, which we`ve said at this table. What the
heck do we do?
And, Detective, I want to get you in on this, too. Are there especially
cops of color that might take a different perspective?
LOWERY: Of course. (INAUDIBLE) myself as well when you have, in some
ways, two different police unions, you have a black union and white union.
The white union was basically the face of the police union for most of the
post-Ferguson. There was a black union for most of the time.
They weren`t pushing the same line. But one thing I`ll say, though, is we
do a lot of black -- when I talk to black officers, often they do tend to
be more sympathetic sometimes to the officer than you might expect them to
be. And I think this is in some ways the symptom, not necessarily the
problem. And it`s a symptom of this idea of the "us versus them".
And this is what we`re talking about. It`s what we see in the DOJ report.
It`s this idea that the police again, are they an occupying force in the
city where they`re working? Is this an "us versus them"? This is the
assailant. This is the suspect. And I`m -- is this good guys and bad
guys, or is this a group of people who are helping protect the other good
guys? And that`s the question here.
So, when you look at the police unions and what they`re saying and what
their leaders are saying, sometimes, I wonder, is this a symptom of this
deeper problem? And while they`re the figureheads of it, they`re the
anecdote. They`re showing us that yes, these officers are holding. Some -
- if this is what they`re willing to say on TV, what are they willing to
say at the bar, what are they saying in their cruiser? What else do they
WARREN: OK, hold on, don`t go anywhere.
Up next: an astonishing recording of a police officer in Ohio.
WARREN: The family of John Crawford III, the 22-year-old man shot and
killed by police in August announced this week that they are suing the
police and Walmart for $75,000. Crawford was shopping in a Beaver Creek,
Ohio, Walmart when he picked up an unpackaged BB gun from the shelf.
Police arrived at the scene following a 911 call about him and shot him
dead after he allegedly did not respond to commands to drop the weapon.
A lawyer for the family said Tuesday, quote, "John Crawford broke no law.
John Crawford threatened no one. John Crawford was shopping and talking on
this cell phone."
Tasha Thomas, Crawford`s girlfriend, was elsewhere in Walmart at the time
of the shooting. According to a recording released by "The Guardian"
newspaper by the Ohio attorney general, it shows the Detective Rodney Curd
aggressively questioning Thomas for more than 90 minutes following the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DETECTIVE RODNEY CURD: Tell me where he got the gun from.
TASHA THOMAS: Sir, I don`t know. I honestly don`t know.
CURD: And the truth is you knew at some point he did carry a gun, isn`t
it? Isn`t it true?
THOMAS: No, sir. No, sir. I didn`t know. I swear I didn`t know.
CURD: Tasha, I`m having trouble with this.
THOMAS: Please, give me a lie detector test. Anything, I`m being honest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: At the end of the questioning, after more than 90 minutes,
revealed to Thomas that her boyfriend had died.
Tasha Thomas was a guest on "ALL IN" on Monday. I want to show this video.
She spoke to the affect that interrogation and that day had on her. Let`s
take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS: It kind of took a toll on me. I mean, I live it every minute,
second by second, as it comes. I no longer make plans for anything because
you never know if you`re going to be here today or gone tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: So, I want to know what all of you take away from that tape.
I`ll start with you, Detective.
SAINTEN: I did see that tape. It was incredible to watch. Totally -- I`m
speechless, like I am now. How do you interrogate a victim who just lost a
loved one who is not a suspect at all?
IYER: But it was more than interrogation. It was a flat-out lie.
IYER: And I`m sorry to be a lawyer. She better sue, because --
WARREN: She offered to take a lie detector test several times.
IYER: The psychological damage that has been done to that woman, which I
am sure she can prove in the treatment that she will receive, deserves
IYER: And the loss of life that she`s suffered. This wasn`t an
WARREN: We could argue for all the indignities suffered from the police
action after these cases, right? So, Tamir Rice`s 14-year-old sister who
is handcuffed. The EMTs mistreating Eric Garner and now this.
So, are you saying this is the remedy for all the --
WARREN: What about the collective suffering?
WILLIAMS: The most fascinating thing with the whole discussion is we can`t
fix the problem because people are still pushing back that racism exists.
So, I -- it`s just fundamentally, that is a question. Being black and
white in America are two different things. And no matter what is
presented, no matter what`s on video, whether it`s Rodney King to Eric
Garner, we find a way to make it so that`s not the case. And that`s a
fundamental point we have to agree onto fix the problem.
IYER: Can I just say this? I had a white lawyer prosecutor say to me last
night that if Eric Garner was white, the same thing would have happened.
And I looked at that person and said, are you stoned? Are you kidding me?
Does anyone really think that? Please?
WARREN: I am curious about this, and, Lesley, I want to get your response
to this we have some video of Follmer who was on "ALL IN" earlier this
week, who is talking about the video speaks for itself. Let`s see if we
have that sound for everyone to watch.
And the point is, we all see the same video, right? Even the president
said this. We all see the same video, but we --
WARREN: How the heck is that possible?
OK. Let`s take a look. We have it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFREY FOLLMER: You know, there`s a video of this. Everything speaks for
itself. The male`s action spoke for itself. I mean, the video clearly
showed and by the offer`s statement that they were justified in the deadly
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: You`re saying the video clearly shows the 12-year-
old boy was an imminent lethal threat to the officers?
FOLLMER: Absolutely. I don`t know if you didn`t see it. But, yes,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Wesley, help us understand to what the hell.
LOWERY: Two different worlds here, because I think most people, many
people who watch this video, law enforcement or not, say I don`t know that
I don`t know that I see the imminent threat to an officer`s life in this
But let`s remind, because let`s talk about the reality of what happens
here. Why the video was so important, because it shows us the injustice.
For so long, we`ve had -- we`ve known, we`ve heard the story. The cops
beat me up on the way to work. They frisked us. It`s your uncle. It`s
But now, we have video of some of the cases. Go back to Eric Garner and
look at the police said happened before the video was put out. Tamir Rice
was, according to a police report, according to the initial narrative, with
a group of kids under the gazebo, asked four or five times, reached for his
waistband. And then we watch the video where he`s alone under the gazebo
throwing snowballs and within two seconds is shot and killed.
And so, it`s not just about what we watch in the video, but the idea
because we have video, we can go back and say, OK, even if you justify the
shooting, whatever the legal standard is. If it`s a strategy, it shouldn`t
have happened, but maybe it`s not a crime. Are any of these officers --
what`s happening internally about what officers are writing in police
reports about what happens in the instances and then what we see really
WARREN: Just very quickly and I`m going to get the detective to respond on
it. I mean, Wesley, the implication is the police officers are just lying
IYER: And that`s exactly the truth.
SAINTEN: Well, first of all, I want to go back to this video real quick.
That whole shooting should have been avoided. You do not respond to a gun
run within two feet of the person with the gun and start shouting
instructions. There`s a reason why you stay back. You use a loud speaker
and give instructions from a distance.
No different if this person was armed with dynamite. You don`t approach
that person. You stay distance. All right?
This could have been a second kid that picked up a firearm.
WILLIAMS: It`s accountability. There`s no accountability, police officers
will never change their behavior. But I`m happy that, and it seems that
America is waking up. Not just black Americans were part of taking the
lead, but I see, white, Asian, Jewish, Muslim, everyone holding up the
signs, black lives matter. And that gives me hope.
WARREN: We have so much. I mean, we could continue this for days.
I really want to thank Wesley Lowery, Councilman Jumaane Williams, and
Detective Keith Sainten.
Seema is sticking around, because still to come this morning, what happened
when the lawyer from New York went to Colorado to learn how to bake pot
cookies. Yes, you heard me.
WARREN: There`s a story this program has been covering since November. It
is the story of Lennon Lacy, the 17-year-old North Carolina student and
football player who was found hanging from a swing set in August.
Last week, the FBI confirmed that it is investigating Lacy`s death,
hopefully bringing Lacy`s family and community of Bladenboro, North
Carolina, closer to answering the central question: what really happened to
One of the people seeking answers, Lacy`s mother, joins us next.
WARREN: Last Friday, FBI officials confirmed their investigation into
Lennon Lacy`s death. The 17-year-old was found hanging from a swing set
near his North Carolina neighborhood on August 29th. The morning of a high
school football game his parents say he was looking forward to playing in.
Within five days, local investigators ruled out foul play, indicating that
it was a possible suicide.
But Lacy`s family was concerned about a possible rush to judgment by
authorities. They called on the North Carolina NAACP state conference to
help seek federal involvement in their son`s case. But even now that the
FBI is involved, several questions remain unanswered as the Lacy family
copes with the loss of a loved one.
Lennon`s mother, Claudia Lacy, and Heather Rattelade, legal counsel for the
North Carolina NAACP, join me now from Raleigh, North Carolina.
Thank you both for joining me this morning.
CLAUDY LACY, MOTHER OF LENNON LACY: Thank you.
HEATHER RATTELADE, LEGAL COUNSEL FOR THE NORTH CAROLINA NAACP: Thank you
for having us.
WARREN: Claudia, tell us why you reached out to the North Carolina NAACP?
LACY: My son is a very lively person. You would tell if there was a
change in his demeanor. As far as the suicide, it was not even something I
would think he would do or could think about, because like I said, my son
was so lively. He loved life.
And for them to say suicide without concerning, or talking to any family
members to see how his demeanor, his behavior was, was something that was
just not normal. You know? Just didn`t sit right or feel right to me.
WARREN: And, Heather, let me ask you, when the North Carolina NAACP
started looking into the case, what did the group find?
RATTELADE: We found a number of issues. First, we found that the
investigation was the initial investigation was cursory at best. We hired
an independent pathologist to review the autopsy report. And she made a
number of findings.
WARREN: What were those findings? If you can share with us.
RATTELADE: Some of those findings were, after reviewing the autopsy file
and interviewing the state medical examiner Dr. Deborah Radisch -- she
determined that there was no crime scene photos provided to Deborah Radisch
during the autopsy, before the autopsy. The explanation was the crime
scene technician was on another homicide when the scene was processed. So,
Deborah Radisch did not have any diagrams or photos to look at to determine
whether or not it was even feasible for Lennon to hang himself.
She also -- Dr. Roberts also had some concerns about the noose, the length
of the noose, the fact that the belts that were used to make the noose did
not belong to Lennon and were not consistent with belts that he had worn
Another issue was the shoes that Lennon was wearing when the body was
discovered. And the shoes were reportedly still on Lennon when he was
placed in the body bag and sent to the medical examiner`s office. When
Deborah Radisch received the body, those shoes were not in the bag.
WARREN: And they were different shoes, is that right?
RATTELADE: Yes, those shoes are very important in this case because they
were a size 10 and a half. They were not Lennon`s shoes. They were white
Air Force One shoes. Lennon wore a size 12 to 13. He had left the house
that night wearing a gray set of high top Nike shoes. And the following
morning when they discovered the body, found him with this strange set of
shoes on his feet.
Typically, those shoes would remain on the body until they got to the
medical examiner`s office so she could process that evidence.
WARREN: So, Claudia, let me ask you, is there a history of racial tension
in the community? And do you think Lennon`s death may have been racially
I want to read a quote from Lennon`s girlfriend, Michelle Brimhall, who
told "The Daily Mail", I believe Lennon was murdered. The police ruled his
death as suicide. But Lennon would never harm himself. He`s got too much
love for life. Neighbors had told me they were against interracial
relationships and it was not right, me being with black guy."
Is this indicative of the race relations where you live?
LACY: It is in a sense in you`re a resident. As a visitor, you wouldn`t
see it. But like I said, interacting with community and living in the area
you would be able to sense it, as far as it being right there in your face,
But like I said, if you interacted with the residents and got to know who
you lived with, yes, it was very clear.
WARREN: And how important is it that the FBI is taken over this
investigation and what do you hope for it?
LACY: Like Heather just told you, the pathologist report. And the suicide
thing was just -- I think it was because of me saying he was upset. We had
just buried a relative that day before. He was upset, but not to the point
where he was suicidal.
I`m his mother. And there`s a connection with a parent and a child that
you sense when your child is going through emotional distress. And that`s
something I hadn`t felt. No reason for it.
His demeanor, his whole routine stayed the same. He got prepared for his
football game. He was cheerful. We talked about my uncle`s passing. He
was relating to his family members how excited he was about playing the
position that he had went and worked towards all year.
There was no indication at all. And like I said, when I saw him, I knew he
hadn`t done that to himself. And I said it very loudly. And it was just
one of those things you don`t forget. It was too quick, too fast.
They never asked me to come and search his room. They never asked me
anything as far as what his day was before.
These are the questions that I want and I want justice because those
teenagers he interacted with, on that football team, in the school every
day, you could sense and feel it when they came to me and said, he wouldn`t
do this, and they knew also.
RATTELADE: In addition to the pathologist --
WARREN: We have to -- unfortunately, we have to go.
I want to thank you, Claudia Lacy and Heather Rattelade, in Raleigh, North
Carolina. And we`re very, very sorry for your loss. Thank you for joining
LACY: Thank you.
WARREN: Up next, my guest Seema Iyer has an original report. Pot cookie
baking in Colorado.
WARREN: In 2015, Colorado will decide if new guidelines will be placed on
popular marijuana infused baked goods. These pot-laden treats have become
a major part of the conversation on how to regulate the state`s booming
legal cannabis market, particularly where children safety is concerned.
Seema Iyer, host of "The Docket" on Shift by MSNBC, went to a Colorado
cannabis bakery to get a firsthand look at the commerce and the controversy
IYER (voice-over): It has almost been a year since recreational marijuana
has been legalized in Colorado, and business is thriving. Edible cannabis
products account for almost half of the nearly $70 million a month earned
by local marijuana businesses according to the Colorado Department of
But the market has not avoided controversy. Overconsumption and accidental
ingestion have generated considerable negative press.
So, I traveled to Denver to learn more about what goes into the production
of these sweetened, savory pot goodies, and to find out, is anything being
done to resolve its issues?
(on camera): Today, we are with Julie at Sweet Grass Kitchen.
Julie is one of the pioneers of the edible cannabis movement.
So, I heard you are going to let me cook some products, right? Let`s go.
I`m going to start baking. Ready for me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wish I could. The marijuana enforcement division
requires all employees to have a badge in order to work in a licensed
marijuana facility. Sorry.
IYER: I think it`s because my paralegal Greg told you I`m a terrible cook.
So, I don`t believe you, but I can at least help out?
UNIDENTIFEID FEMALE: You got it. I`ll let you help.
IYER: OK. So, what`s next, Julie?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, we got to put on our hair nets, our gloves, and
our aprons. And we can get started.
IYER: Hi, gang.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kitchen specializes in canni-butter edible products.
We make brownies, cookies and seasonal pumpkin pie, but on the medical side
and the recreational side.
IYER: So, when you say pot is in your food, it`s actually in the butter,
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Canna-butter is made when cannabis flower --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should we get that?
IYER: Lauren Finesilver (ph), you are the head chef at Sweet Grass
Kkitchen and giving up the duties of the day to me.
Oh, Lauren, come on. So, chef, do you mind if I help out a little?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we can help oversee the process.
IYER: OK, keep a close eye on me.
OK. So, what are we doing here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re making single serving peanut butter cookies
IYER: What`s the recommended dosage for a consumer? Someone who buys the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I recommend if you`ve never tried edibles before or
it`s been a long time to start with 5 milligrams or less and wait at least
two hours. If you aren`t feeling effects yet, you can at least eat more.
I tell people you can eat more, you can never eat less.
Something that has been a concern in the edibles market in Colorado is
overconsumption and accidental congestion.
IYER: The edibles industry is 45 percent of the market right now. The
backlash is mostly with edibles and while you can say, OK, I recommend my
consumer only have half a cookie, or one cookie, if it`s your first time,
there`s no way to control what someone eats. Right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
IYER: Take the pot out of the equation. If you send me home with a box of
cookies, who is just going to eat one?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s certainly a responsibility on the consumer
level to read directions and, of course, follow them. Something that the
Cannabis Business Alliance and the edibles council has done to minimize
overconsumption is create an edibles education handout.
What we found four important points. Start with one serving or less. Wait
up to two hours. Don`t mix with alcohol or other controlled substances.
And, of course, keep out of reach of children and pets and in the original
IYER: Since marijuana has been legalized for recreational use, there have
been many reports of children accidentally ingesting the product and then
ending up in the emergency room.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is true. And it`s certainly a valid concern.
Accidental ingestion by children is something the industry worked hard
towards minimizing, through very strict packaging requirements, including
child resistant packaging, very stringent labeling requirements. But the
good news is that, in the past several months, there hasn`t been a
hospitalization of a child. That shows me people are now more aware of the
intensity of these products and the importance of keeping it out of reach
WARREN: Back with us is my fellow shift.msnbc.com host, Seema Iyer.
IYER: We`re turning this into the "Shift" show, aren`t we?
WARREN: So, Seema, on a serious point. In your interview, Julie maintains
there hadn`t been instances of children in the emergency rooms because of
cannabis poisoning recently. But what did you find when you checked with
the children`s hospital of Colorado?
IYER: So, the children`s hospital said in the last year, there have been
14 children and 7 of those children were admitted to the ICU or the
intensive care department. And also, in May of 2014, the children`s
hospital told "The Denver Post", quote-unquote, "they are on pace to more
than double last year`s total."
WARREN: So, what are the implications of this, you know, minor smoke and
drink, despite packaging designed to minimize this, is it self-deceiving to
IYER: Right. I think it`s very similar to alcohol in the sense that there
is an age limit on it and it`s very hard to control.
But, Dorian, think about this. If a kid sees a bottle of Jack Daniels, it
then becomes more attractive to them if they want to drink. So, even with
the packaging that was demonstrated in the clip, all the protections make
it more attractive and visible almost, because then, you know, oh, those
aren`t the Oreos. Those are the cookies I really want.
WARREN: Right. I have to ask you this. I know you went all the way up to
Colorado, you saw the baking process.
IYER: Actually, no, I bake, I was baking.
WARREN: Well, you baked but I was kind of curious, I don`t know what is on
this plate, if you brought anything back, or can I ask you --
IYER: I didn`t. I did not want to get arrested. I didn`t taste the
cookies. You know the geek I am --
WARREN: And you`re also --
IYER: -- and an officer of the court.
WARREN: And you`re an officer of the court. That`s the right answer.
WARREN: Thank you to Seema Iyer.
And, everyone, make sure you catch Seema`s show, "The Docket" live
Tuesday`s at 11:00 a.m. Eastern on Shift.MSNBC.com.
And for much more on the business of marijuana, check out MSNBC for a
special presentation of the season premiere of "Pot Barons of Colorado: The
Grand Experiment". That`s Monday at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.
That is our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching and I`ll
see you right here tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Danielle and Aisha
Moodie-Mills will be here for a look back at everything that popped in
Now, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT".
Hey there, Alex.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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